29 December 2011

Realistic New Year's Resolutions. And by "realistic", we mean, "Not realistic at all"

New Year's Resolutions 2012

1) I will not be 5'2".

2) I will not be Norwegian. -Voluntarily.

3) I will not do drugs. -Unless, of course, I can get them. *

3a) I will smoke more, gain that last ten pounds, and resist the temptation to go to the gym instead of napping.

4) I will forgive myself everyday. So I can do the same annoying thing again, only this time with "awareness", which apparently makes it okay.

    [note:   Addendum to people who say, "I KNOW I'm talking too much about myself," and then keep talking about themselves: 

"You're right. Shut up. Ask me how I am. Great! Thanks!]

5) I will remember that all food has calories. Unless it's eaten standing up, or someone else is paying. Or it's after midnight, or it's your birthday, or Arbor Day, or possibly even Wednesday. -Whoa. Apparently, NO food has calories, then! Am PSYCHED!!!

6) I will not tell people I'm a vegetarian when what I mean is, "I eat vegetarians." .But, I mean, cows are practically VEGANS, right, man? So maybe being a vegan is, like, catching.

7) I will stop getting impatient with friends when they ask questions** like:

"But WHY did he do this? WHY? I just need to understand!"

Here's what I will say instead, with love and hardly any impatience at all:

"No. You don't need to understand. You need to get the fuck over it and move on.

"Perhaps, in the fullness of time, you will find out every single detail of why he or she, did this,or that.

"But the good news is, that by then, you won't give a shit. I promise."

Addendum: I will stop being impatient with people who expect any other human beings, to "be reasonable", to "make sense", or to NOT destroy his/her/their lives, by falling in love with him/her/them, at the wrong time in the wrong way. -And, sometimes, backwards.

Here's the thing:

People are crazy. We ALL are. And, people are also delightful, kind, funny and amazing.

-When they're not being fucking NUTS.

8) I will remember that "on sale" does NOT mean, "Yes!! This is FREE!".

9) I will return calls and emails within a day of receiving them.

Well. Maybe not a "day", exactly. Maybe a week. 

Ten days?

How does "eventually" work for you? Or, "eventually, maybe."?  -Gotta start slow.

10) I will live in the moment. I just have to figure out which one.

11) Anytime I feel like whining about something in my incredibly lucky life, I will go read about, say, life under Pol Pot's regime. Then I will shut up and be just insanely grateful, all the time, for everything.

12) I will do more volunteer work.-I mean, if the pay is right.

12a) I will continue to be open to what life teaches me and what the Universe is telling me. Even-okay, maybe especially-when it's not what I thought I knew...or not MY plan. Grrrrr. I will expand my thinking and spiritual life every day, not contact into what I already know.- This will still involve coffee. -Truckloads.

14) I will remember that every day I wake up, is a good day right there. (Trust me on this one, okay?)

15.) In 2012? To sum up? Will meet MORE amazing people, eat great food, stay in touch, be radically loving  (well, "radically loving" that hopefully stops short of "restraining order'); will listen; and get a shitload of plastic surgery. [Okay. Not that one. Just wanted to see if you were still listening.}

Will continue to lie about having read Proust, and ...and...Okay. Never be late again.

YOU, my dear, are going to have your best year yet. Your 2012 will be filled with friendship,

love, great food, health, massive amounts of plastic surgery, and, if you ask nicely, drugs. - No. Wait. Sorry. Those last bits were, um, typos. But everything else?


Love you. No, really. And Happy New Year!!

* Note: Despite what my sister-in-law insists on telling people, including random strangers and the clerk at Duane Reade, I do not do drugs. Nope- not ever! Some people are just naturally odd. true!

** Friends who are asking these questions usually ask them about 14,640 times, in the first months after a break up. Try not to hit them. instead, encourage them to drink more, especially if they're buying.

Oh, and if you're not me, ask them to get you drugs! ***

*** Oh for Heaven's sake. Just kidding!

25 December 2011

Nostalgia For The Present

       Christmas telescopes time.

       As an adult, one Christmas becomes all Christmasses. You become who you were, in every Christmas past....The seven-year-old you that was delighted into awestruck silence by the beauty of the lighted tree, at five in the morning when you snuck down to see if you could actually catch santa; the eighteen year old you, being a bit mouthy, feeling impatient with these older people who JUST did not GET it, rolling your eyes at your parents, and antsy to go hang out with your friends; the you in your twenties, who almost doesn't go home for Christmas dinner because, well, your family will always be there, always...all of you laughing, trying to top each other's jokes, waving a turkey leg around to emphasize a point at the dinner table...and finally, the later you. The you who means to have time for your brothers and sister but you're busy, and time goes by fast, and they live so far away, and besides, they know you love them...the you who watches with loving trepidation as your elderly mother insists on taking the huge pan out of the oven herself; the you who would give anything, anything, to have five more minutes with the father you rolled your eyes at, so long ago.

    And since all Christmasses are this Christmas, because Christmas telescopes time, we get to keep all Christmasses as now. It's not about what-and who-we've lost. It's about having had the family, the friends, the comfort and joy; the seven year old inside of us who opens the box under the tree with the gift we REALLY WANTED, and in that moment, combines the joy of anticipation, the joy of possession and most of all, the joy of being KNOWN. Someone knows us as we know ourselves. Our secret wishes matter. Someone sees.

      This Christmas, for the first time, I felt myself lucky in the moment. Nostalgia for the present. YES, things could be better...but maybe happiness- actual happiness, as opposed to the IDEA of happiness-lies in knowing that we are so lucky, in so many ways, every moment. That things CAN'T be better, not in this moment. The best is THIS breath, the best is THIS hug, feeling my beloved Mom's frailty in my arms and knowing she's here NOW.

Maybe Voltaire's fictional "Dr. Pangloss" was right, after all, even if his creator meant him as a satire of fatuous optimism. Maybe Dr. Pangloss has his own revenge, two hundred years later: maybe, as he always said,
    "Everything happens for the best, in tHis best of all possible worlds."



14 December 2011

Christmas memories: Retail Division

This time,some years ago,your humble correspondent was working at the Louis Vuitton Flagship Store. Here are some notes from that time: my Last Days Of Retail.
If you are a store, and you're French (which I'm going to assume you, dear reader, are not), here is how you assert your Frenchness during the Christmas retail season:

1) Leave your front doors open when it's 22 degrees out, ensuring that people shopping for $1600 handbags can see their own breath as they utter the words "I'll t-t-t-take it".
Expecting to be warm indoors during a luxury shopping experience is simply not chic. One must suffer for beauty. Also? We don't like you. Or care. And your hair is funny.

2) Refuse to play Christmas music. Instead, play depressing emo girls wailing about how their lovers have left them and it's probably their own fault, but if said lover doesn't return to make thm miserable again, they will probably either take pills or continue wailing. Or both. "Rudolph the RedNose Reindeer" is a bourgouis construct, and has been denounced by LeviStrauss in his famous tract "The Deconstruction of Rudolf de la Nez Rouge"., in which reindeer are proven to be a failed neo-Marxist syllogism.Parce-que: Christmas music at Christmas is so...predictable.

3) Refuse to have sales. Sneer openly at those customers who ask. Sneer openly at customers who don't ask, for their lack of courage. Sneer openly at anyone who happens to be walking by and within sneering distance. Nous sneerairons.

4) We spit on the concept of Christmas decorations. Instead, we have a conceptual artist who walks around the store before it's open and murmurs the single word "holly". So spare. So simple. So chic.

5) Your hair is funny and your shoes are a laughable relic of the former life you have now outgrown. Your children are sad and your wife has a lover. Do not ask me what is the price of this purse. You can not purchase back the strayed affection of your spouse, who is sleeping with a german art student who moonlights as a garbage man in order to impress his marxist, much younger other girlfriend, with a $420 beach towel. Do not try, either to do the first thing I suggested or to understand the structure of this sentence. Pah- I spit on conventional sentence structure.

There ya go. If you ever want to be a huge, French, luxury retail store at Christmas, you now know everything you ned to be a huge success with people who would not want to belong to any club that would have them as a member. I.e., all of humanity.

18 October 2011

After The Storm, It's A Pretty Shiny World

  I'll be darned...it turns out what I've been telling my reading clients all these years is actually true.

   I mean, I knew it was true, but was having a wee bit of difficulty taking my own advice. Metaphysician, Heal Thyslef! -So: while I was telling other people that the Universe/God/Spirit really DOES have our best interest in mind, and that the things that aren't working in our life, aren't working because we simply need to course correct...I was right.

A year ago, I was enfolded in pain, selfpity, and helplessness. A health scare, a bad breakup, and unexpected move or three...money worries, the kind of depression that says "oh, go ahead..stay in bed! You're kind of a big dope anyway, so why bother going out and taking risks?" Resentment--"How could this happen to me?"...Swelfpity..."I'm a good person, I don't deserve this"! and self-criticism.." I bet this wouldn't have happened if I'd gotten my roots done!' -I know...fun, right? The next word after these phrases is usually, "Bartender!"

  And then you do start to course correct, because no one can stay in bed forever.-Not alone, anyway. -And you have to look at what's broken so you can fix it, because you can't live the way you're living for another minute. So you make a decision to be happy and successful and loving. Even if it feels, when you're saying out loud during your worst misery moment, about as realistic as "And then, I'm going to climb Mount Everest in rollerskates! Backwards! In the nude!"

   The thing is...when you take one step towards the Light? The light takes a thousand steps towards you. Really. Truly. No backsies. Some part of you means it when you decide to give up an addiction to misery, victimhood and resentment..because that ain't the real you, mister. Or Sister. The real you--buried under all of that crap--is actually, naturally, like a flower that turns its face to sun as the sun moves across the sky. Our real selves always want to turn towards warmth, nourishment, love and joy.-It's a wee bit cheesy. But it's true.

   Now..the learning and change process is not pretty. Not fun. Not easy. Becuse before you have a field of daisies to skip through, you have to clear the field, take out the rocks, cover the big empty field in fertilizer, plant the seeds and then...wait for the suckers to grow. For a long time, it can look like an empty field covered in manure. Not inherently exhilerating. You weed daily, try and take out the rocks that sneak in (no one knows how. I personally believe they have little tiny legs.) and know that flowers eventually bloom.

     My own personal version of this was to just take action every day. Something. (I also am a chanting Buddhist..that speeds the process up.) After my relationship broke apart, and my best friend and my Dad died, and my Mom almost did, and I came back to my family to hear really terrible (and vastly untrue) rumors about myself-and lost my extended family because of gossip--there was a moment when I said "Okay. This sucks. I'm outta here." -Luckily, right after that, there was a moment when I decided that I could either go lie in front of a truck, or take my own advice and use everything-everything-as a damn lesson.

  Yeah. THAT was fun.

   But it was the only way out. So--if people are hurting you terribly with gossip, what's the lesson? Don't gossip ever, myself. Which led to my organization "StopGossipin'". I've got an ever growing board of advisors (shrinks and the like) helping us put together a curriculum about the power of choosing positive speech. And, if I didn't have any money because my fiance was very kindly supporting me? Put together my own business and make my own money. Done! (I LOVE being a businesswoman..and it turns out being psychic really, really helps with picking stocks. My intuitively-picked stocks have all gone up at least 10 percent!)  -If I'm jealous of someone because she's more proactive than i am? Turn envy into admiration, and become more proactive. If my identity seems tied up in my romantic partner's? Get my own identity, and glue it into place firmly with active self-respect and self-love. -Done, done and done.

   In the same way I always used to make myself feel better by doing for someone else, what i wanted done for myself (i.e: want someone to give you flowers? Give someone else flowers and watch their face light up. Etc.) , I had to look at everything i was complaining about, and turn it into a to-do list, essentially.

   It worked a treat. 16 months after I thought i was the most put upon creature ever, I actually DO see all of the seemingly "bad stuff' as blessings. After doggedly pursuing my dreams for the last year--and sleeping on people's floors and going hungry to pursue the dreams--I am seeing really lovely "daisies". I am making my own good money doing something I love and am good at; I can genuinely say I am grateful to my exfiance for having the bravery to know when something wasn't going to work;I don't feel jealous of ANYone, cuz I like myself just fine, thank you; I have friends whose love and brilliance lights up my world; and we'll just stay mum on the romance stuff, but let's just say I smile a lot these days. Ahem.

    I know this is the same template for recovery that one sees everywhere: make a commitment to happiness no matter what; take the necessary steps even -especially-when you don't want to; believe in asomething greater than yourself, even if it's nature and the cyclical seasons; and never, ever take a victim stance again. Keep your communications about others positive and loving or stay silent; work your ass off; love yourself; and, um, get out of bed.

Unless there's someone else in it.

That's all. This is a simple entry, mostly to express amazement and gratitude and joy. Thanks for reading.


13 October 2011

"What I've Learned" - Lessons learned the hard way. But learned!

[author's note...who am I to be giving advice...? Um, no one. ...but this isn't advice:it's just stuff I've noticed from living, and written down on cocktail napkins over the years. I don't live this every day, but it's a good feeling to try. Thanks for letting me share what I've learned from falling down a million times...but always getting up one more time. -Eventually. love xo pl}

Greatest Hits: "What I’ve Learned" all rights reserved c Peri Lyons

"what i've learned'

1) Appreciate and accept people for who they are. Don't try and change 'em, or want something they can't give. They're giving what they can give. Enjoy it for what it is.

2) Trust your gut. If your head is saying "no, he wouldn't do that" and your gut is saying "but this is definitely what I'm feeling...", trust your gut. If a new job seems perfect but your gut is saying "NOOOOO!!!!", listen. Etc etc. Mostly, what you feel is happening? It's actually happening. Yup.

3) EVERYthing is there to learn from. How did you contribute to a situation in which you seem to be the pure and unadulterated victim? Okay, cop to it and then don't do that anymore. Usually, the bigger the "victim" you feel like, the bigger the lesson there is to learn.-Which doesn't take away from the bloody awful thing you just went through, but it gives it a much more empowering shape.

4) Have a spiritual practice. I don't care if you worship Kermit the Frog, do SOMEthing. Pray, meditate, chant "nam myoho-renge-kyo"...

5) Don't lie. -Just don't. It hurts you and everyone around you, even if you think you're doing it to be "nice." You're not being nice: you're actually being- um, how to put this tactfully- cowardly AND self serving. Being GENUINELY "nice" is respecting other people enough to be honest with them. Not lying seems hard at first, but then your life gets exponentially better. Besides, you will always get caught (if not at the moment, then-trust me-eventually) and you'll wonder why you feel subtextually awful even if you do get away with it at the moment.

6) Don't cheat. If you are with someone and meet someone else, be honest about it, and/or end the other thing first, before acting on a romantic impulse.Otherwise you've doomed both your chance for a real relationship with the new person, and you've also diminished your own greatness, for a time.

7) Share your strengths, not your weaknesses. No one wants to hear ALL your problems, not really. Maybe for a bit, but NOT all the time. Share your triumphs and joys more. Try bragging rather than complaining!

8) Don't overshare. Especially in a romantic context.

9) Learn to forgive. But don't pretend to forgive before you have. If you're nice to someone when you actually are still hurt, it just muddies the waters. Retreat until you've processed it. Or talk it through. If you can't forgive for a while, dont talk to em. You'll forgive AND forget eventually, then you can reach out. Or? not.

10) Don't make up stuff to torture yourself with. You can't know what's really going on in someone else's head or heart. If your beloved is now with someone else, and you are picturing their life together as one long feast of milk and honey, you may be right--but you are probably not. No one goes dancing down the flower laden path hand in hand singing show tunes together forever. -Unless there are serious drugs involved. -Get on with what makes YOU happy. Guessing about what's going on with HIM/HER, is a waste of time, because? you just can't know. Don't make up stuff to make yourself miserable about.- Besides, everyone turns into a human being (rather than an idealized Other) eventually, in a romantic relationship. She might be gazing at Prince Charming right now and saying "That whole crown thing? Really bugs me."

11) Get some exercise, eat good stuff, don't drink too much. Your mom was right. You'll feel better.

12) Look outward. Reach out to a friend or do some volunteer work. Amazing how good it feels to help.

13) Support your friends. lean on them too --but not too much.

14) Go to every party you're invited to.

15) Say YES. If someone says, for instance, "Do you want to go to East Harlem for the world's most amazing pastrami sandwich?", say yes, not "nooo, it's laaate.' Take reasonable precautions, but say yes to adventures. Fun is good. Pleasure is healing.

16) Keep an open mind. Not so open that things fall out of it, but open enough that you can change your thinking if new evidence presents itself.

17) Fall in love. If it doesn't work out, it hurts, but it's always, always better to love than not to love.

18) People tell you everything you need to know about them on the first date. Listen.

19) Don't gossip. That juicy story about someone else's perceived weakness/bad behaviour/meanness? Don't tell it. It ONLY makes you look insecure and mean. And if someone wants to tell you something? Change the subject. EVERYbody has something good about them you can point out, even if it's your exes new gf. Maybe she's beautiful and makes him happy. Isn't that what you want for people you care about? Don't repeat or start rumors...it's always comes back. Say something good. Or stay silent. Truly.

20) Trust me, karma exists and she is NOT a nice goddess to mess with. Err on the side of respect, kindness and honesty. It may not feel good at the time...but you will be happier, luckier, and healthier later.

19) Always have fresh flowers and perfume!!

22) Find pleasure in EVERYTHING!!!!

And 23) Please: Tell me what YOU've learned!

love and happiness



10 October 2011

The Real, True Meaning of Love. This Time For Sure.

Author's Very Serious Note: 
     The National Enquirer recently printed a simply heartwringing true story, giving the details of a lawsuit filed by a disgruntled magician. It seems  the magician's young wife and assistant, "Bambi" (no, really...Bambi.) attended marriage counseling with Pastor Bob, a former former soap star. Bob  DID help the couple achieve closure. Unfortunately, Bob did that, by running off with  Bambi. 
The poignant note in this story, and the reason for the lawsuit, was this:
When they vamoosed, Bob and Bambi took with them-at least according to the details in the lawsuit--
the magician's--wait for it--
"Specially trained Kangaroo".
And so...a poem was born. Yes. Some things are so..so...well, amazing, that only Poetry can describe them. Deep, dark, heartwrenching poetry.

See below.
Thank you.

kangaroo doggerel: a plea

How could you do
This to me, who
Has loved you so long!
Oh the disaster!
You ran off with our pastor
And that’s not all too!
When you ran, 
you took my heart
My money; most expensive art;
turned my heart deep blue:
Was that you took-
You awful crook!-
You took
My Specially Trained

I see you now, you three-or two;
Just two, without the kangaroo
Or three, if you include him too;
Or four: my poor heart makes one more;
All of us-I mean all of you-
Are riding into a sunset, ooh.
Just you and him,
And me and you,
And a wellworn
And of course,
-That’s not a horse!
It’s way too cool:
it’s our specially trained
but-who knew? so cruel!-

Now I am not a bitter man,
But dear it does seem cruel;
After all that I looked past,
To  do this last thing too:


I forgave you
When you strayed with my best friend
My catchers’ mitt
A vat of organic peanut butter
Some Filipino acrobats
And a cockatoo-
I thought it was just an amour fou!

But now I know better
Since I got your letter.
It was a picture of You.
With Bob,
that swine with whom you flew,
And worst of all,
What hurts of all,
It’s true-
In the middle of the two
of You
is .... Jim:
My Extremely
Specially Trained,
And Ungrateful,

By Peri Lyons, The Poet Who Understands. -Sort of. 2011

21 August 2011

Cat Doggerel c peri lyons 2011

the cat                                    peri lyons c 2011
love leaves by the window;
love sneaks out the door.
i think Love must be somewhere near-
cuz it was here before...
the more you ask Love where its gone;
the more Love cannot say.
the more you tell it to come home?
the more it stays away...
when I was weeping earlier,
my Cat jumped from above
to comfort me: but now I know,
who Love reminds me of.

21 July 2011

Thundering Lettuce and The Jane Hotel

Standing in the produce aisle of an Annapolis, Maryland "Safeway", I was surprised to hear a rolling peal of thunder.
Puzzled, I turned to my mother. "Is there a storm coming?"
A stockboy said, "No, that's just the lettuce."

Feeling that I must have missed a beat somewhere, I asked him, in a slow, thoughtful voice, "Why is the lettuce thundering, sir?"

He looked at me in a kind way, the way one looks at one who is obviously a few sandwiches short of a picnic. "So it doesan't dry out," he explained.

Oh. Well, that answers that question. Silly me. -As it turns out, Safeway has a built in "tghunderstorm" produce-refreshing system: it makes a loud thunder noise and flashes light, before spraying the veggies with a fine mist of water. No word on whether the playful performance artists who have taken over the fruit aisle, occasionally throw in a tornado, just to keep customers on their toes. I DO know that when Mom and I left the market, it WAS, in fact, storming outside, with golfball size hailstones in July. I don't know why I want to move back to NYC: the art scene is sort of better--and a lot more subtle -here.


Actually, even DRIVING to the market was an adventure of sorts. Mom and I were being quiet, when, out of nowhere, she said, "I want to look at meat."

I said, "I beg your pardon?"

"Meat." She said simply.

I paused. "Mom, you sound like you're in a Beckett play."

Mom remarked, "Actually, Beckett was more about turnips."

Another pause. Hard to know what to say to that.

I said, "If you'd like, I can go in and shop, while you wait in the car. I know you're not feeling great."

Mom said, "Darling, I don't think that's a good idea."

I thought for a moment. "You think I'm going to emerge from the store with a basket filled entirely with Froot loops, don't you."

Mom said, "And creamed herring. Yes, actually."

I said, "Let's not forget the turnips. Froot Loops, creamed herring, and turnips."

Mom smiled. "And meat," she said quietly.

We drove the rest of the way in puzzled, beckettian silence.


I do take the occasional foray into NYC, now that Mom is recovering nicely. It's exhilerating [that's code for "terrifying, but in a good way"] to start one's life anew at whatever age I last said I am. I stay at the Jane hotel, which I was madly in love with even BEFORE I found out that it's where the Titanic survivors stayed when they were taken off the Carpathia.

Here are reasons to love the Jane with a wholehearted passion:
1) If you go to "Getaroom.com", you can find a room for 80 bucks. Admittedly, the room will look like a small ship's cabin, and you will be sharing a dormitory style shower/bathroom arrangement, but I have whatever the opposite of claustrophobia is, and delight in small cozy spaces. Also, it certainly takes a lot of the work out of seduction: if you take your date up to your room, you are not leaving he/she/it with any doubts about what your intentions are: there is barely room for two people, and if you're going to be at all comfortable, it certainly won't be, by remaining standing. [Note: This is hypothetical, on my part. Yup.]

2) The staff wear 1920's style outfits that, counterintuitively, really hot looking. "Hot" as in "adorable"...just realized that, as it is 120 degrees Celsius outside today, that should be clarified a bit. They are also extremely nice people. I was especially fond of Zach, who looks a little like Tyrone Power, and Carlos, who has a devil-may-care gleam in his eye that offsets his utter professionalism very nicely. But everyone was adorable, which is NOT the norm in a hipper-than-hell hotel. I am even now secure enough, not to mind that the waitresses in the Cafe Gitane, downstairs, all look like Brigitte Bardot's younger, betterlooking sisters. [That's because i was in my 20s once too, and got enough hugely enjoyable mileage out being cute, that I don't begrudge anyone else theirs....and in fact, enjoy it vicariously.]

3) Somehow, the staff knew who I am, which is often more than I do, and would occasionally take me aside for a moment and ask earnestly about the various ghosts they'd encountered, or if they could ask a psychic question about their love lives. That was cute. And flattering.

4) The Ballroom is a GREAT bar, especially early, before the music gets cranked up too loud to talk. It's a little like taking your date into the ballroom in "The Shining", which has always been a fantasy of mine. It's also a great "adjustable" date bar...depending on who you're with and how you're feeling about him/her/it/them, you can maintian a mysterious degree of aloof allure by perching perpendicular to their couch, or you can snuggle attractively yet appropriately on the massive couches flung around as though by a very large and peevish toddler.

Coming back to the city tomorrow, to go see "Three D Hamlet" and then go haunt the Hamptons. Looking forward to seeing Tommy Mottola's new popup gallery "Valentine". Even more looking forward to lolling about with loved friends. 

Hoping you, beloved reader, are reading this while being lightly sprayed with cooling mists, while lettuce thunders in the background,

05 June 2011

the family you choose

"Friends are the family that chooses you."-Hopi Proverb

Swinging through New York before I move back here in September, and having the brilliant pleasure of seeing a very small number of the lovely and amazing people I am privileged to know. Because I'm doing a couple of things professionally-luckily, mostly with friends- I got to combine business with joy: always a gift.

(Am going to change all names here, as nobody asked to be written about.)

First and foremost, a shout out to my amazing pal Erik, a musician who has played with every legend from Dylan to Dave van Ronk, and is known as "the straight Cole Porter" for his ability to write witty yet heartwrenching songs. Every woman should be lucky enough to have an Erik in her life...he lets me sleep in his spare room, brings me delicious foodstuffs at the slightest indication of peckishness, and will pick up his guitar and play something astonishing in a casual way, to illustrate a conversational point. -Of course, I have to relinquish him occasionally to the giggling gaggles of ravishing chorusgirls who stop by and implore him to come tot Minetta Tavern...but such are the vissitudes of friendship. Hooray Erik!

Last night, I pulled on a killer red dress, that  a friend custom made after I expressed an interest in wanting to look like Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock's "North By Northwest". (Tippi's outfits in "The Birds" were pretty great too, but who wants to deal with holes made by pecking?)  Strode out into the NYC dusk. -It ain't easy to stride in 5 inch heels, so maybe "hobbled confidently" might be more accurate. Forgot that a (newly strawberry) blonde who is 6'3" in heels, attracts a bit of attention no matter WHAT she looks like, and wearing a fire engine red dress might have been a wee bit of a miscalculation. By the time I got to Union Square, I had had Cheesy 80's Song "Lady In Red" sung to me by bystanders, 14 times, a total that would rise precipitously and annoyingly by the end of the evening.

Swung by a dinner party with artist friends. Walked into a discussion consisting of many colorful threads, including what it was like for one couple to walk into a fabulous Hollywood party, only to discover that the main part of the party was taking place in The Nude Room. Ahem. Although both of these folks are physically beautiful, they also cling to the possibly oldfashioned idea that one shouldn't have to eat canapes wile naked, as the crumbs become a health hazard.-We also discussed the Medieval Fashion show at the Morgan, and how much we all want to own shoes that come to a 14 inch curly point at the end. Then our hostess brought out her two week old son, and we stared at him in a fascinated and hypnotized manner for 20 minutes, until he woke up and said "Quit it guys!" so we did. 

Off to the the Regency hotel, to meet with a goddess friend who is in the same field I'm in....if you're going to pay 20 bucks per glass of champagne, it better be deductible.-As it turned out, we didn't have to pay at all., because we both are exuberant humans who talk while waving our hands around, so we spilled three glasses of champers and the management finally gave in and comped us. Gravity...it's not just a good idea, kids...it's the law!

And so home to write a few champagne inspired emails. After re-reading these in the cold light of a morning [that brought new meaning to the phrase "The Wrath Of Grapes"] , I realized that I will now have to change my name, move to Borneo, and live among the gentle natureloving indiginous people, who rather importantly, don't have access to the internet. So this might be my last entry for a while, except for ones that are written on bark and thrown into the ocean. Which sometimes take a little while to post.

Yours, in gratitude, headache and joy,

29 May 2011

Memorial Day

Five years ago, I accompanied my friend Lisa Ramaci to Greenwood Cemetary. We were there for three reasons, two small and one unimaginably large:
!)We both wanted to see the Civil War re-enactors in a ceremony honoring the Union Soldiers laid to rest in Brooklyn's most history-laden graveyard;
2) I wanted to find the grave of my great-(times ten!-)-grandfather, who had fought in the Fighting 19th Irish Brigade out of NYC, and who won the Congressional Medal of Honor at Gettysburg [and whom I like to think about when my own store of bravery runs low...]; and, finally and most most importantly,
3) to go spend time with her husband. her husband was a brilliant Journalist named Steven Vincent, who went to Iraq at the very beginning, to make sure he knew what he was writing about. His grave now sits on a sunny hillside, lit by birdsong and tended by breezes. There is a bravery in needing to tell the truth, that doesn't let consequences stop it. Steven had that bravery.

I have been insanely lucky in my life to know almost nothing of war, except from the witness of others. I wouldn't, and won't, get into any discussions about war. All I can do, is respect, honor, be grateful for, and remember the voices, stories, and sacrifices, of those who know, too well, what I don't know at all.


When I was barely sentient--that is to say, about 17- I fell in love with a much older musician, in chicago. i was attracted equally by his brilliant songwriting, and a gravitas and wisdom that I didn't understand, but enjoyed, Someone told me he had fought in the Vietnam war, been decorated, but to me that was such a far-off time, that the information sort of bounced off me...and He certainly never mentioned it. But sometimes? While sleeping? he would yell something; not very often-but often enough to the "eedjit" I was- he would yell and jump to a standing poisition,full defensive readiness, all while sleeping.

When we visited his mother for the first time,she took me aside one day when he was out, and told me, quietly, about his Vietnam service. I couldn't understand much, being a 17 year old from a sheltered background. I didn't know what a "tunnel rat" was. I didn't know any of the terms he said in his sleep. I did find out,  from very straightforward empirical evidence, that everything she had told me was true.
I also knew that our fights were much more loaded- carried much more baggage, somehow--than other couples' usual tiffs about "who didn't do the dishes." Sometimes, I would not be able to take the intensity, and would go sit in a greek diner on North Clark Street (this was in Chicago) and order food I couldn't touch,and for that matter, could barely pay for. I was in over my head. I was a model who sang and did Improv. I didn't have a receptor for this kind of unintentional darkness. I wanted to understand. But didn't know how...and with the self-absorption of pretty youth, secretly felt I shouldn't have to. Poor me, I thought. And occasionally, "Poor him". Hey- I was 16.

One night, I had retreated at the diner, in a huge booth that dwarfed my huddled, too-slender self. I'd turned my head away to look out the window, because I didn't want the tears that were falling onto my cooling cheeseburger, to attract attention from the couples munching contentedly around me. But I didn't know what to do. Love is a start, but as Auden once said "love gave the power but took the will" to understand.

There was an attractive woman, at a nearby table. She and her companion, a dignified and mustachio'd man in a wheelchair, were talking intently, and laughing, but also obviously having a serious discussion, the kind where everyone gets animated and starts interrupting each other enthusiastically. I didn't understand why they kept glancing over, although now I know it was because truly kind people have a high sensitivity to-and empathy for-other people's distress.

I looked out the dark window and watched the cars go by and sniffled, surreptiously. My reverie was interrupted by the sound of a very kind voice saying "Hi. Are you okay?"

I smiled brightly and lied "I'm fine."  she burst out laughing and wordlessly handed me her compact. In the mirror, I saw that my mascara had run down my entire face. Every tear had its own traceable dark faultline. -I grinned and handed the mirror back.

"Well, maybe not TOTALLY fine," I admitted ruefully.

She said, "sit with us. We'd like your company. Maybe it'll cheer you up. We're safe." Her face was remarkable for a kind of serenity that seemed hard earned...the kind of peace you have to work at for years to achieve, although she wasn't in the least old or toughlooking.

"well...Okay. Thank you. Um... promise you won't drug me and put me onto a boat to Buenos Aires, bound for a strange new life in anonymous houses of joy? I just have to check," I asked.

She blinked. Not sure she was expecting that from a weepy 17 year old model. But she was great. She said, "Not until you finish your cheeseburger, anyway," and we grinned at each other and i got up and joined them.

I think her name was Joy. I might be wrong. His name was Ron. I didn't get his last name, so he spelled it for me, on request. "K-o-v-i-c". (I guessed it was.. Czech?) He had a quality I haven't encountered much, and don't know how to describe ...that's not a writerly cop-out [well, okay-yes it is!]  I just remember a tired, funny, bone deep gentleness, and a patience that I wouldn't have guessed at from his big guy appearance.  Whatever it was? We just really hit it off.

I couldn't have known this, but the "Universe/God/The Big Love" or whatever you call the force that knows us better than we know ourselves, was very specific in its blessings that evening, in a Chicago diner. Ron was a Vietnam vet. His life was the basis for a great, very powerful film, called "Born on the Fourth Of July." He had a story behind him that contained pain, and courage, and a way of being ethical , that I still can barely understand, but admire beyond telling.
Somehow, even though at the time I was NOT a very confessional chick, Ron and Joy asked the right questions, without being too personal. In fact, they were so tactful that talking about what was going on, seemed like MY idea, to me.

And boy did they help. Maybe the hardest thing to do in conversation with someone so mucH younger, so much emotionally less experienced, is to meet that person at her level of understanding. No preaching, no scolding, no lofty judgmental pronouncements that would have bounced off my ears anyway. What they both did, was talk to me at my own level: a loving, too-young-for-this-but-well-intentioned young woman who had a brain that had lots of sparkle and buzz but not a lot of focus. We stayed there for three hours, telling jokes and talking about Chicago and food and laughing our asses off. And somehow, when I left, I had numbers to call that would help me. And help my friend get help. I never even noticed when that happened...who remembers having someone write down helpful numbers on a piece of paper and hand them to you, when you're all laughing about the fact that the Lemon Meringue Pie slice the waiter has just put down, is bigger than the table it sits on?

We talked on the phone a few times. I don't think he'd remember me. But he helped so very much.

Flash Forward: Today, I'm friends again with my then-boyfriend, who got back on his feet so successfully that he has to move to Switzerland so his taxes aren't so high, and who spends his summers at his palace in Italy. He reclaimed his best self in more important ways, as well, by being a great father and the most trustworthy friend imaginable. In fact, he and his family very kindly invited me on a fishing trip next week, and  am really looking forward to a week of Scrabble, terrible puns, unlimited swimming and having his kids kick my ass at Badminton and croquet.

When I'm in Brooklyn, I sometimes go and visit Steve. I tell him how much I enjoyed his company, his writing, his swashbuckling sartorial flourishes, and his kindness. I thank him for bearing witness, knowing, as he did, what might happen.

I don't ask him about war. I don't feel i have that right.

Then? I sit quietly and breathe in the birdsong. The silence. The miracle- of being able to live in safety. I so try not to take it for granted...peace.

20 May 2011

A Cautionary Note

In this blog, not everything is as exactly confessional as it may seem.
I'm not deceptive...but am a writer. Which is to say, someone who rummages around in the sock drawer of other people's unconscious looking for hidden and helpful inspiration.

As Evelyn Waugh said in his preface to "Brideshead revisited":

    "I am not I; thou art not he or she; they are not they."

who likes a good mystery as much as the next goddess.

19 May 2011

name. date. occupation. a sudden poem

 name. date. occupation.   a sudden poem

 Today I clean the kitchen.
Walk the dog.
Check on my sleeping mom, to see
If she's still breathing.
My Dad kicked that habit two months ago, though he breathes
through his children
as we sleep. We dream and cry. We wake and shower:
I make breakfast. Wash the dishes. My Mom dries.

Today I change the catbox.
Make my bed.
Ignore the broken boxspring.
One year ago today, I walked the red carpet at Cannes.
I was wearing borrowed glory and thirteen dollar shoes.
I still have the shoes. At least that. But: why?
Hard to be famous when you don't know your own name.

Now I know my name. It is not my father's, although
he is still my father, as I am still his life.
It is not my mother's, although I watch her breathing.

My name is nothing: it is a bird who can fly
without singing
My name is something: it is who you see me as,
with judgement or with longing. i cant try.
My name is everything so it can stay my secret.

A year ago, i posed for pictures with a man who did not love me.
Tonight I love us freely though both of us have gone.

Today i walked the dog.
Cooked the dinner.
tried to hug my hurting mother free of pain.
today a friend told me the man who did not love me, loves again.

Tonight i can't remember that man's name.

Tomorrow i will clean. And do the laundry. Singing softly.
Tomorrow i will call and try to be here through your pain
Tomorrow i will cook the oysters. While they're still good.

Tomorrow will be pretty much the same.
tomorrow i won't tell you my real name.

Tomorrow I might tell you my real name.

peri lyons annapolis may 19 2011  copyright, dude. word.

15 May 2011

A Simple Life Philosophy. In Song.

I Can’t Be Arsed                                                          peri lyons c 2011
there's laundry in my living room
it's certainly not clean
it's starting to evolve into a life form never seen
There's dishes in my kitchen
The color of old litchen
Is this what they mean by going green?
But I am calm and half amused
Im almost never stressed
If I don't have clean clothes to wear, why bother getting dressed?
Tranquillity is mine at last
Those days of worrying are past
here's the philosophy I fin'ly feel is best
I can't be arsed
I can't be arsed
I can't be bothered shamed cajoled or even forced
I can't be arsed
I can't be bothered
In fact, I can't even be arsed enough to find a rhyme for bothered

When you give up
Then life is sweet
the world falls at your slightly stinky feet
I don't return men's calls
It drives them crazy
They think I'm hard to get but really Im just lazy
I just don't care about
The daily grind
It was either lose my standards or slowly lose my mind
I did try yoga
And chanting too
But here's what worked for me and it'll work for you
Just don't be arsed
I cant be arsed
I cant be shamed cajoled or ever ever forced
I can't be arsed!
What's worth the bother?
If you do one dish, there'll always be another
So don't clean your house or do the laundry, be an utter roundheel
The first five years are tough but after that it's simply downhill
And when your friends stop coming by or visiting or calling
Because they love you but let's face it, the smell is just appalling
They will all keel over young of heartattacks and ulcers
But I'll live to one hundred two, because I just say "NO SIR--

13 May 2011

new song/lyrics "HERE."

(the song of the happier woman )  (love, gratitude and Goodbye)
       c Peri Lyons/Valley Cottage Music 2011

You asked me to write you a happy love song
I said, I didn't know how
You laughed and told me that I was just wrong
  Because YOU were loving me now

this is the song, the one that you asked for then
I'm sorry that it took a year
this is the song about leaving the past back then
For what is already here
You taught me love can be stronger than fear:
You showed me love that was simple and clear
Too bad you're no longer here

It doesn't matter the way that things ended:
Protecting each other with lies.
Love doesn't die- but it can be suspended,
To make human room for the role of surprise.

I can't say I loved you much after you vanished.
I can't say forgiveness was part of my plan;
God I felt angry, abandoned and banished-
An angel who'd fallen with no place to land

But somehow, in all this,I knew you were wise
And that didn't change with the seasons.
love gave me the power to see through your eyes:
Love doesn't have to explain all its reasons

this is the song, the one that you asked for then-
Sorry that it took a year,
this is the song about leaving the past back then
For what is already here.
You taught me love can be stronger than fear
You showed me truth can be simple and clear
Too bad you're no longer here

But you will always be here laughing;
The way that we laughed when we got that kitten-
The way that I cried as when you gave me that ring.
And this is the happiest song that I've written:
This is the happiest I've been for years
Though it might be hard to tell through these tears

this is the song, the one you that asked for then
Sorry that it took a year
I've finally learned about leaving the past back then
Trusting what's lovely and here.
You taught me love can be stronger than fear;
You showed me truth can be simple and clear-
And so you will always be here.

If I never see you
You'll always be here.

peri lyons 5/15/11