Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day to All of Our Dead Moms

Happy Mother's Day to my dead mom and yours!!!!

A few weeks ago, my friend Kate took me to see the sublime RadhaMUSprime at Joe's Pub. You may not have heard of her, but she is awesome. Anyone who starts their show with the line, "YO WHERE MY PERIOD AT?" is okay by me. You should definitely watch the video at the bottom of this post, but first I want to talk about RadhaMUSprime and how she is like a safety flare guiding us through the dark night of this Mother's Day holiday.

Because I see you on the other side of this screen, hate-reading Mother's Day cards and blog posts and all the tributes on your Facebook feed. And I understand that you might want to throw your computer out the window because sometimes having a dead mom can feel like someone poked a hole in your floaties right before dropping you off in the deep end. Maybe you feel like singing this:



But it doesn't have to be that way. Girl, I got you.

Because the other important thing to know about RadhaMUSprime (and excuse me if I get these details kind of wrong, because I heard them during her show while chugging a $14 glass of rosé so I may not have been listening with my most sober ears): the way I heard it, RadhaMUSprime turned 40 the year her mom passed, and it was ROUGH. So what did RadhaMUSprime decide she needed to do? She decided to launch her hip-hop career. BAD. ASS. Don't mess with daughters of dead moms, amirite?

In RadhaMUSprime we trust.
Let that be a lesson to us all: When life gives you a dead mom, go out and get famous. Boom!

At the end of the show, RadhaMUSprime performed a song in front of her mother's picture. I was on my third glass of overpriced rosé, and I was feeling it. And by feeling it, I mean I was crying and clutching my sternum while trying to look hip, like oh what a poetic voice I really enjoy this fresh, provocative talent cough cough excuse me while I rip my heart from my chest and burn it to ashes. What I mean is, she got me. And because I was three drinks in I can't recall all the words except this line, which I wrote down in my iPhone during the curtain call:


Let love flow instead of leak.

There was also a bit she said about stop complaining and live all the dreams your dead moms can't. That got me too, because like I said last time, I'm just a few years out from my mom's age at diagnosis, and plenty of times I wonder how much longer I have to live out any of my dreams, or my mother's dreams. What were her dreams, anyway? I never asked her before she died. I was too busy wanting spaghetti for dinner and crushing on my music teacher's step-son. 

The reason I wanted to share that line is that on Mother's Day, it's easy to want to stop up your heart, curl up inside yourself, and hoard your love so that no one else can have it. Because one of the things that sucks about having a dead mom is that you keep on loving them even after they're dead, and that hurts. What also hurts is watching other people get to lavish all their love on the people who are still alive to receive it, whereas your love just circles back around to yourself, digging in like a burr that stabs every time you worry it. It's easy, then, to plug up your love, so you won't feel the pain. That's a dangerous way to live. You could end up corroding your own heart, like the crumbling acid gathered on a dead battery. But it doesn't have to be like that. That doesn't have to be your life. Your life could include an amazing hip-hop career, or whatever your version of an amazing hip-hop career would be. You just have to make like RadhaMUSprime and turn your pain into poetry.

This Mother's Day, here's what I prescribe:

  • Watch RadhaMUSprime's video below.
  • Call someone else's mother. Call anyone who's mothered you, even though it wasn't their job to mother you. Call someone who just became a mother, call someone who's been a mother for decades. Wish them a very happy Mother's Day, and mean it. There's nothing like doing something nice for someone else to make you feel better about yourself. And there's nothing like reminding yourself about all the people who love you back.  Let love flow instead of leak. Do yourself a favor, and don't corrode your own heart.
  • Live your dreams, go out and get famous, or at least speak your truth. All the dreams we have for ourselves can only happen now, while we still have time to make them. Your dead mom will be so proud of you.

If all that fails to comfort you, write some really amazing/awful dead mom poetry, and share it here. We can't all be RadhaMUSprime, but we can still rhyme! (See what I did there? You're welcome. You are so pretty.)

Love,
Laura

 fyov teaser final from Radha Blank on Vimeo.

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I don't always write about dead moms. If you want to see what else I do, follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Happy Dead Mom Day #22: Can You Turn Into Your Mother Even If She's Dead?

Happy Dead Mom Day #22, everybody! To those ladies who, in the desperate hours of the night entered "dead mom" into their Google search bars, welcome. Lay your head on my heaving bosom and stay awhile. There's no need to pretend anything here. In fact, we prefer it if you're gleefully unhinged. Shhhh...there you are now, you're so pretty.

Our mom has been dead for twenty-two years. Our dead mom could graduate from dead mom college! That's a big life transition, just like dying! Speaking of transitions, I'm sending a very Happy Dead Mom Day to Princess Diana, who must be very busy rearranging the stars to spell "Prince Georgie Forever!" I'd also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Kate and Will on the birth of my first stepchild. I'm a little obsessed with the royals, and our dead mom connection, but look at this picture:
My stepson's first family portrait! His mom is not dead, good for him!
That hair! Those dogs! I'm thinking I'll just screw going after the crown, knock Will out of the way, settle down happily at the palace with Kate, and spend the rest of my life reading paranormal romance novels aloud with my face buried in her hair while the baby and the dogs play at our feet. Then on Dead Mom Day, I'll write out these blog posts on a scroll and have the town crier read them from the palace steps. It will be a beautiful life.

Now that Wills has a baby, the pressure is off! I wonder what my own dead mom is thinking about the royal baby. Is she looking at her stopped watch, shaking her head at me and whispering, "Tick, tock. Tick, tock." Or is she too busy turning cartwheels on the moon with Mae West to care that I haven't yet brought forth fruit from my womb to turn my dead mom into a dead grandmom? What are my dead mom's feelings on progeny?

I am 33 years old (thank you, I know I look good!), which means I am in my Jesus Year (because Jesus was 33 when he died...and was resurrected, depending on your belief system). According to Google, a Jesus Year is also an opportunity for transformation and magical thinking, which I decided to accelerate by going on a vision quest and doing one new thing a day. So, on the themes of transformation and dead moms, today I am wondering: can I turn into my mother, even if she's dead?
Jesus had a mother. Was he worried about turning into her?
Apparently turning into one's mother is a thing that happens, and a lot of people seem afraid of it. I don't know why turning into one's mother is a bad thing. It seems to involve elaborate organization systems for tupperware and taking all the individually-sized jam packets from the diner "because they're free," but otherwise it seems pretty harmless. But if your mom is dead, can you turn into her? Is it even safe to do so? How can you turn into a person whose memory fades in and out - sometimes she's a flickering shadow, a cool breeze felt behind your ears, and sometimes she's a hurricane,  a visceral recollection that knocks you to the floor while you cry out, "I don't have a mom!" How can you turn into that? How can you survive turning into that? 

Here are ways I am turning into my dead mom:
  1. Wearing big sunglasses and pink lipstick.
  2. Telling inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times.
Here are ways I am not turning into my dead mom:
  1. Still alive.
  2. Not a mom.
What does turning into your dead mom mean? And does it involve either being a mom or dying like your mom? Here's the thing about being a 33-year old daughter of a dead mom who is also in her prime childbearing years: I'm a year past the age my mom was when she had her last child, five-ish years* from the age when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and seven-ish years from the age she was when she died. Here's another fun fact about having a dead mom who died of breast cancer: when you are ten years from the age your mom was when she was diagnosed, they start intensively pre-screening you for cancer. Since I was 28, I've thrown myself under a wide variety of screening devices - the kinds of machines where I sadly have to leave my oversized earrings in the changing room and bring with me only my courage and a surprisingly good recall of Mariah Carey lyrics. The closer I get to my mom's age-at-diagnosis, the more intense it gets. I'm five years out from "D-Day," and sometimes I wonder if that tick-tock I hear is my biological clock or my countdown to cancer-town. 

The thing is, if I have the same dance with destiny as my mom, shouldn't I get busy living, making babies, winning prizes, and generally smashing my legacy like wedding cake onto the face of the world? If I make it to the age of 41, I will have outlived my mother. At which point I can breathe a sigh of relief, but my eggs will be cooked. It will be "safe" for me to be alive for my children, but a bit on the late side to have said children. As the unfettered bachelorette that I am, what kind of gamble do I make? Have a kid and hope I don't die like my mom did? Do I start charting my ovulation cycle like a grown-up, or hide in a corner until my 42nd birthday and wait for it all to be over? Or do I take a full bottle of whiskey into a bar full of sailors and let fate decide? I'm kidding. I'd only walk into a bar full of firemen, obviously.

So there it is, the annual question I ask on Dead Mom Day, and the annual re-commitment to myself and my life. The question: Do I live my life worrying about my dead mom, or do I just live my life? I don't feel like being sad this year. I'm a little annoyed that I even remember this anniversary. But I'll take this occasion as an excuse to get a pedicure, and then get on with my life. In the gentle moments when my mother's memory hangs like a faint shadow, I remember mainly that she was really good at being alive, and that she loved me. So I don't feel like being sad. I feel like having a good time, because I'm still alive, and a lot of people love me.
My mom loves me, even if she's dead.

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*My sister and I are really bad at dead mom math. We can never remember exactly how old she was when she died, and every year I have to call my sister the day before Dead Mom Day and remind her, "Don't be sad now. Save it for tomorrow."

Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy Dead Mom Day #21

Happy Dead Mom Day, Prince Harry!
Okay, maybe putting a picture of naked Prince Harry on your blog about your dead mom is not the most polite or respectful thing to do, but it's my dead mom day and I'll celebrate like I want to. You see, as I mentioned last year, our dead mom day is the same as Prince Harry and Prince William's dead mom day. Yes, Princess Diana and our mom died on the same day, several years apart. And like I said last year, I've always felt like there were all these bizarre connections between us and Princess Diana and her poor motherless princes. For instance, Princess Diana and my mom look alike, Princess Diana and I like the same chocolates and I ate a whole box of them the night our mom died, and Princess Diana and our mom have the same dead mom day. (Also, one time I danced booty-to-booty with Prince William, but that's another story.) And then, last week I was having a marvelously shit-tastic day (which is funny because my dead mom days are never that shit-tastic, but wow was this day I had full of emotional shit-storms). So in the middle of this emotional shit-storm, I turned to Twitter for solace and distraction, and what did I see? Naked pictures of Prince Harry!!! How did he know that this is exactly what I needed???? Thank you, Harry!!!! The shit-storm clouds drifted away and all I could see was rainbows, unicorns, and a grainy shadow of some royal dong. We are never alone, people, never. Not even in our darkest moments. If you have a dead mom, the Universe will always send you presents.

So, this morning, I realized it was dead mom day, and I wanted to call Prince Harry and thank him for sending that naked picture into the Universe so it could come to me. But that's ridiculous, I can't call William or Harry because I don't have their phone number, even though we share EVERYTHING else. So, I will put this into the Universe and hope it reaches them through the Dead Mom Coconut Wireless:

Dear William and Harry, Happy Dead Mom Day! If you ever want to hang out on our Dead Mom Day, I would be totally down to eat hamburgers and drink champagne and talk about our dead moms. And if you want to do any of that naked, I'm okay with that too. Love, Laura p.s Call me maybe! (I can't wait to read that joke next year and then facepalm myself.)

I think this just shows what a gentleman Harry is, protecting the lady from the camera. Our moms may be dead, but chivalry is not.
So, what are we doing for dead mom day? Well, first of all, Mele thought yesterday was dead mom day, and she texted me to wish me a happy dead mom day. When I told her that she had the wrong day, she was pissed because she'd already spent a whole day mourning. I understand. It's exhausting mourning your dead mom, and it's just poor time management to spend two whole days doing it. Like, how are we supposed to go to the gym and remember to pay the electricity bills??? We have a dead mom! We are busy!!!!!

Our mom has been dead so long that now she's 21, so of course I wanted to go to Vegas to celebrate, and this was even before I knew there might be a chance of seeing naked princes in Vegas. Now that I know Prince Harry might be swinging in his birthday suit, I want to go to Vegas all the time!!! When I told Mele we should go to Vegas, she replied, "I am unemployed and I live with my dad. Now is not the time for me to go to Vegas." She is so responsible. Harry lives with his dad too, but he still went to Vegas. I really think people shouldn't give Harry a hard time for all his Vegas partying. Sometimes moms die, and sometimes you gotta play pool naked. I get it, Harry, I GET IT! Anyway, I am not going to Vegas. I am going to some rooftop and I am going to drink cocktails. And Mele is pretending that dead mom day was yesterday.

Last year on dead mom day, my friend Liz heard that I was alone, and so she came over to my house, dressed as what she interpreted my dead mom would look like, and brought me flowers and coconut water. It was really beautiful. Not everyone can be visited by Floridian Tropical Dead Mom Barbie on their dead mom day, and I am supremely grateful to the Universe for always directing me towards the right people for my tribe.
Liz as my Floridian Tropical Dead Mom Barbie.
Rule #1 of having a dead mom: Find your tribe. If you can't have a mom, have good people.
Also, here is my anniversary tribute to Prince William and Kate, performed on aerial silks. And by "tribute" I mean, "sorrowful remembrance of the day I realized I would have to be Prince William's SECOND wife." Is it incest if you marry the son of your dead mom's kindred spirit twin person?


Happy Dead Mom Day, everybody!
May love, light and other worlds surround you.

(Images: TMZ)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy Birthday To Our Dead Mom!

I'm running out of time to write this, with just minutes left on the East Coast for our dead mom's birthday, and just a few minutes left before the clock turns and it's my birthday. Mele proclaimed (via text message) that in honor of our dead mom's birthday today, we should wear big sunglasses, bright lipstick, and tell people that we love them. So, please enjoy today's photographic evidence of our big sunglasses/bright lipstick tribute to our dead mom, including an archival photograph of our dead mom, circa 1986. Also:

I LOVE YOU!!!!!

Happy Birthday to our dead mom! We have the best dead mom ever!

And...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Thanks to our dead mom for having me! I'm so glad I was born!

Love,
Laura

p.s. Mele got married a few weeks ago, and of course our dead mom could not attend, but that's a whole other story, which I'll save for next time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Dead Mom Day #20


Happy Dead Mom Day!

Our dead mom has been dead for 20 years. That means our dead mom has been a dead mom for half as long as she was a living mom. Whoa! Our dead mom is way dead.

So, what did we do this dead mom day? Well, Mele texted me to ask if I knew that Princess Diana's dead mom day is the same as our dead mom day. Of course I know that! I remember because I was at one of my high school dance's thinking, This is totally weird that my dead mom has been dead for 6 years and I'm at a dance and [Fartface v. 1997] won't ask me to slow dance! Then someone said, OMG Princess Diana just died! And then I was sad because I kind of thought of our dead mom as being the same as Princess Diana, and now there were two dead moms, and I didn't have William or Harry's phone number to tell them that my dead mom would look out for their dead mom.

See, when our dead mom was a living mom, she and I talked about Princess Diana a lot. Actually, they looked very similar - dark blond hair, big blue eyes, ability to wear a tiara on Tuesdays, etc. One time, my mom bought me a box of chocolate-covered cherries at the grocery store because she'd read that Princess Diana liked them too. It just so happens that someone had brought me a box of chocolate-covered cherries a few days before our mom died. After my step-dad woke me up to tell me that our mom had died, I remember picking up the box of chocolate-covered cherries and eating a lot of them, and feeling comforted that at least, in my darkest hours, I could stress-eat just like Princess Diana. That is sad and gross, but so is having a dead mom, and I can narrate the E! True Hollywood story of my life as it happens to me however I want to. Anyway, to re-cap, our dead mom looks like Princess Diana, our dead mom gave me Princess Di's favorite candy, and then, a few years later, I met Prince William in a pub and he hit on my best friend, and then Prince William married Kate Middleton just a 2 days before my birthday, and on my birthday I wore a Zac Posen for Target dress, and if my dead mom were a living mom, she would totally wear a knockoff of whatever Zac Posen dress Princess Di was wearing, if Princess Di were a living princess and not a dead princess. And then, on my birthday, Osama Bin Laden became a dead terrorist instead of a living terrorist, and we still don't know who killed Princess Diana, so you see, IT'S ALL RELATED! Kind of.

Anyway, back to how we celebrated our 20th Dead Mom Day. Well, Mele hasn't done anything yet. She's busy finishing work so she can go on vacation and visit me and see my big aerial silks performance, celebrating the end of my one-year challenge to learn aerial silks. What did I do for this Dead Mom Day? Well, you'll never believe it, but Apple gave me a new iPhone! Just for having a dead mom! I know! It's great, right? Just kidding. They didn't give me a new iPhone because I have a dead mom, they gave me a new iPhone because the first one they gave me was a piece of crap and it was broken, and pretty soon I was gonna have a dead iPhone and a dead mom. Phew! Glad we avoided that tragedy!

But in all seriousness, Mele and I keep wondering how we should mark these dead mom days. Should we make a bucket list and cross something off each year? Should we run marathons for breast cancer (ha!)? Should we get a mammogram so we don't become dead moms too? (Too late, I had my mammogram in April.) Or do we dress up really fancy and do fancy things, because our dead mom was way fancy, and our dead grandma was even fancier, and Princess Diana was the absolute fanciest, and their cocktail party in heaven is absolutely hopping today, so maybe we should try to replicate some of that back here on Earth? Or do we just keep on doing our thing, being awesome, loving our dead mom and living large? Just because we've got a dead mom doesn't mean we have to live like we have a dead mom, right? Happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin, and I like to save all my change and cash it in for mani-pedis and prosecco.

p.s. This weekend I was in a gay wedding. My dead mom would have really liked my glittery bridesmaid shoes. Dead Moms for Marriage Equality!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How to Have an Adult Relationship with Your Dead Mom

I don't know how old you were when your mom died, but I was eleven. Here are some of the things I have experienced (directly or indirectly) since she passed: flat irons, chocolate croissants, menstruation, eternal bridesmaid-hood, abortion, Kentucky Derby hats, voting, happy hours, iPhones, watching someone you love marry another, vomiting into a plastic bag in the back of a cab, pot brownies, attempted suicide, war, George Bush, 9/11, phone calls from boot camp, opening nights, first kisses, helicopters, glitter eyeliner, the Internet, personal trainers, Barack Obama's presidential campaign, birthday parades, sex changes, college diplomas, miscarriages, scrunchies, BumpIts, strapless bras, Spanx, Paris, France and Iowa City, Sarah Kane and Stephen King, sex in all kinds of forms I wasn't supposed to ever know about, bosses with multiple personality disorders, Prince William, houses sold, houses bought, companies started, companies lost, gay boyfriends, brunch, 1000-thread count sheets, hangovers, coffee, Forever 21, godchildren, W-2's, fame, glory, disappointment, transcendence, heartbreak and a three-day juice cleanse. Point being, there's been some things we could have talked about in the past 20 years. That's the thing about being an adult with a dead mother - no matter how many times you program a random 1-800 number into your phone and name the entry "Mom," you'll never reach her. But it's Mother's Day, and rather than pump a bunch of narcotics into your veins or whine into your bourbon, you could just be a grown up about it. From me to you - because we all sometimes feel like a motherless child but only some of us can claim the honor - here are a few tips on acting like a grown up around your dead mom.

1) Get Over Yourself. You're still alive, aren't you? Chances are, quite a few people made sure you stayed that way. Don't be a whiny nincompoop and throw away the good efforts of other good people. You probably have a step-mother, a godmother, an aunt, some lesbians you met in college, or just a very earnest father looking out for you. If these people want to be your mother, let them. You can never have enough people waiting up for you with hot chili, or making sure you cut the price tag off of your dress. Whining would just make you ungrateful. Go tell one of your living mothers that you love them. Just because they didn't breastfeed you doesn't mean they wouldn't bail you out of jail or a steep bar tab. Get over yourself, and go love the one you're with.

2) Deal With It. Write a letter, start a secret blog with your sister, invade a southern country. Just do what you have to do to honor your feelings. It sucks having a dead mom. Sometimes you will miss her. Sometimes you will miss feeling like you missed her. Sometimes listening to your friends complaining about their meddling moms will make you want to slap them in the face. Sometimes going to work with a mean hangover and being thankful that you don't have a mom to call you and ask about it makes you want to slap yourself in the face. Sometimes you will want to wear her perfume and hope strangers accidentally call you by her name. This is all okay. Just do what you have to do to get through it, and don't hurt anyone else in the process. Remember, it's no one's fault that you have a dead mom, but it's everyone's fault that someone else bought the last individual Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche. What were people thinking??? Don't they know you have a dead mom????!!!! People can be so insensitive.

3) Forgive Her. She was only human, you know, and all of us have to go sometime. No one meant to leave you, and no one sets out to have a child just to leave them alone. You think you've made some mistakes - try dying on your kid! That's not something you would write in a time capsule for yourself: "Have kid, then die on them." Shit happened, and it just so happened to your mom. Have a little compassion for your mother. She loves you, no matter if it's from really, really, metaphysically afar.

Okay, that's all I got. Took me twenty years to learn this stuff, too. The only other thing I can offer is that, just because it sucks that your mom died, doesn't mean the rest of your life has to suck too. May there be more glitter eyeliner than hangovers in your future. May you have deep, existential conversations with one of your living mothers. May the brim of your Kentucky Derby hat grow wide and the distance between your heartbreaks grow long. May you live so far in time that having a dead mom becomes not about having a relationship with an absence, but having a relationship with all the ways you grew into that empty space. If all else fails, have some ice cream. None of those fuckers with moms can judge you for it.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Dead Mom Day #18

This Dead Mom Day, I took a red-eye from a boozy, sunny lazy weekend in Oahu with Mele and my step-sisters (Their mom is still alive). Mele probably spent today working on her thesis paper thingy. Our mom's so dead, Mele's going to have a Masters! Wooo! Also in honor of Dead Mom Day, I'll be flying to Paris tomorrow to shoot the 2010 von Hottie calendar. We don't know if our dead mom would approve of her eldest daughter gallivanting around the world in her bathing suit, but I guess I'll do it anyway, because she's dead and she can't stop me!

Happy Dead Mom Day!