Three Hundred and Fifty Six…making each day the best…just in case the Mayans got it right.
The day of the great Mayan prediction is upon us. According to their calendar, on December 21, 2012 the hourglass will tip on its side and time as we know it will cease…bringing about the end of days. It isn’t specific to the actual hour, and since they are well into Friday on the other side of the planet, then there are only a handful of hours to consider the “what if”.
What if we are out of time? What if there are no more chances to make a new start?
Time is always changing speed. A minute, in the wrong situation, can seem like an eternity…an day can go by in a flash.
If we knew there was precious little of it left, how would we spend it?
Or what if it’s just a huge cosmic joke and those crazy Mayans were just messing with us?
I’m counting on the sun coming up. But just in case it doesn’t, I’m spending the day thinking about what is most important to me.
My daughter was born on a blue moon in the Year of the Dragon. When she was three months old we were working on a Mountain Dew commercial in Lake Placid. We went to eat dinner at a local dive. The waitress looked like Mama Cass. She had a gray braid down the middle of her back and was sporting a two inch long chin hair. She was wearing peace beads and a long skirt with sandals that looked like she made them that morning.
She asked me when Carly was born and I told her. Her jaw dropped and she asked if I would mind if she touched my baby. Uh….well…okay. She touched her gently on the cheek and told me that she was destined for greatness. Because of her astrological chart, she was gifted and would lead an extraordinary life. She told me that she felt privileged to be in my child’s presence. At the time I was thinking she had a little too much wacky weed out in the alley on her break.
But her prediction is unfolding exactly as she said it would.
Carly was a very social child. It wasn’t unusual for me to see her holding court surrounded by the other kids in the play yard at preschool. I later found out she usually had a dead spider or some other kind of bug tucked in her pocket for her schoolyard show and tell.
Back then, her father was a stunt coordinator and second unit director and I was doing stunts. The two women running the preschool knew that we worked in the movies, but not in what capacity.
One morning they asked if they could speak with me about Carly. I sat down in one of the little chairs and they placed a picture she had colored in front of me. It was a man setting a lady on fire.
“Carly says her Daddy sets you on fire.”
They didn’t think it was too funny when I started to laugh. They would have been horrified to see her wandering around our shop with her miniature Freddy Krueger doll or one of the various body parts we kept for explosions tucked under her arm.
The first time she rode a bicycle she refused to have training wheels. She was mad that her father was holding onto the back of the seat. She told him to let go and peddled off down the street. We both looked at each other in shock and then realized that she had peddled around the corner. He had to run after her.
The first year I let her pick her own Halloween costume she told me she was wearing all black and going as a mouse hole.
When Carly was nine we moved from New York to Tennessee. She had picked up a Brooklyn accent from the preschool teachers but liked the Southern one better so after about a week in school she began speaking with a Southern Brooklyn accent. It was hideous. Thank goodness it didn’t last long.
When she was in elementary school she started playing basketball. She was a chubby kid and not very fast and not very good. If she wanted to play in high school she was going to have to up her game. She spent the summer practicing with a private coach and developed a work ethic like I have never seen. She shot five hundred shots a day until she could put up a three point fade away like a guy. She began playing on a intramural team for her private coach. She played hard and one day slid under the bleachers and hurt her hip. I noticed her limping after high school practice. An X-ray and MRI later revealed a broken hip…which she had been playing on for three weeks.
Rather than riding the pine and watching everyone else practice, she shot foul shots. She rarely missed. She recovered and spent hours in the gym after practice shooting until she could put up three point shots with her eyes closed. She became a post player because she was the only one aggressive enough to do it, even though she is only 5’4″. She was a thorn in the side of many of the bigger girls because she was all over the place.
She worked for hours with the younger girls. It was great practice for her and even better for them. Their parents had nothing but praise for her and the time she took with their girls. She lived, ate and breathed basketball.
By her senior year her father and I separated. Our charmed life changed. Her brother was openly devastated. She struggled silently. She gained weight and got slower.
Her high school basketball coach never liked the fact that she got private coaching even though she never challenged him about his techniques. She did it to be a better player.
He had a history of punishing his senior girls and he turned on two of them, Amanda and Carly, even though he knew she was going through a rough time. Basketball was her only solace and he made her life miserable by trying to destroy her love for the game.
During one particular game, Carly and Amanda were not allowed to start. They were put into the game during the last quarter to play with the freshman girls because we were so far ahead in points. The other parents were stunned. I could feel their eyes on me.
I made eye contact with Carly. She tapped her heart…our signal that it was go time. I sat and watched as my daughter and Amanda schooled those frightened freshman girls out on the floor, telling them where to move and throwing them the ball so they could shoot. Our coach sat with a scowl on his face because they made a fool out of him.
The rest of the season went pretty much the same way. From starter and First Team, ranked 14th in the state for three point shots, she became a bench rider.
She loved the game more than she hated him and even if he only played her for a few minutes, she was playing. It was enough.
She cried at night. I heard her. I showed the greatest restraint of my life. I wanted to beat the living daylights out of him for humiliating these two girls. But that is not what she wanted.
She shot for hours after regular practice, like she always had. Her last game, she took the floor for warmups and looked up at me and tapped her heart. That night I cried.
After the season was over she gained a lot of weight. She struggled with depression and I was helpless to fix it. But like she always has, she fought her way back. She started to train in Crossfit, which is a radical exercise regime. She became a certified trainer and developed a program for a group of women who were recovering from cancer treatment. She is currently developing a Crossfit workout for a blind woman.
She lost ninety pounds and can dead lift more than most men. She did it for herself.
She spent most of this past summer nursing me through cancer recovery…pushing me and pulling me through the worst of it. If she was ever worried or scared, I only saw a flicker of it. She is the strong and kind and funny and beautiful. And she could kick her former high school coach’s ass from here to California if she wanted to…but she won’t…because she has places to go where he can never dream to be.
She was born on a blue moon in the Year of the Dragon and she is extraordinary.
My son Cody is two years younger. He prefers to be called PC now…so I call him Mac.
He never crawled as a baby. He was sitting on the floor one morning and just pulled himself up by the coffee table and walked across the room. He was eight months old.
Keeping him in a crib became moot. I would hear a thud over the baby monitor and I knew Cody was up and out of the crib.
We got bunk beds and he slept in the bottom bunk at nine months old. Gates were useless…he just climbed over them. We taught him how to go down the stairs on his rear end. He had a little Ninja Turtles chair which he would pull up in front of the television. Sometimes the television would jolt us awake in the middle of the night.
There he was, downstairs in his Ninja chair, in front of the t.v. He was the only one who knew how to use all the buttons on the remote control.
Cody didn’t talk until he was three. He only said one word…Dad…and he called everyone Dad.
One day he just started speaking in complete sentences. He was sitting at the table with a giant loaf of Italian bread in his hand and he looked at me and said, “I want some spaghetti.”
Carly and Cody have always been close. They have their own language and their own life between the two of them. When Cody was about two and a half, I put him in the preschool that Carly went to for a couple of hours two days a week.
They did a little program at the end of the year. Carly was doing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and Cody was the spider. The morning of the show he didn’t want to do it and sat on my lap with his arms around my neck. The music started for Carly’s song and Cody jumped down from my lap and ran down to the stage in his spider costume, all eight legs flying. He stole the show and he has been doing it ever since.
He loves movies…has since he could first operate that remote control. He has a tremendous recall of film detail…a headful of useless information…and is usually right. The only time his sister ever tripped him up was when he insisted that Mickey Rooney’s name was Mickey Maroon.
Movie sets are second nature to my children, as they have spent so much time on them.
So it is no surprise that one of them would get the acting bug. Cody is my actor child. He has the gift. I believe he developed it as a defense mechanism. He’s a big kid, but a gentle giant…and was bullied through most of school. Although my kids have traveled all over the world and enjoyed great privilege, they are very humble, so I have to assume it was because of jealousy, coupled with the fact that he wouldn’t fight back.
The smarmy son of one of the teachers in the school was the worst bully of them all. And they pretty much let him get away with it. I told Cody to knock his lights out…he was about ten at the time.
He looked at me very seriously and said, “Mom…if I hit him then they will put it in my file and then I will never be able to be elected the President of the United States.”
He’s no longer interested in being President…though he might like to play one in a movie. Just as well…politicians are the worst bullies of them all.
When the kids were in elementary school I put on plays that I wrote. They were huge productions with costumes to rival Broadway. It was my therapy. Cody was only in third grade when we did the first one and he was in every scene. He had his lines learned by the second week of rehearsal.
The bullying continued through high school. Cody took mixed martial arts. He is really strong. At any moment he could have crushed one of their skulls, but he doesn’t have that in him and never will. He just dealt with it. It killed his soul and it crushed my heart.
Cody joined the drama club. I cringed because I knew it would up the anty and would give them more ammunition.
But something happens when he steps on stage. He takes control and he holds the audience in the palm of his hand. He changes like a chameleon and his bravery is incredible. And they clapped. He could make them hear him…he could make them want to listen. When he is acting he has no sense of fear or failure.
The divorce was hard for him. I don’t think he has ever really gotten over it. He believes in fairy tales. He can believe in them for as long as he wants to. I won’t ruin that for him.
He never felt like part of the “gang” at high school and when it was time for graduation, he decided to skip the ceremony and go to visit his father in Vancouver where he was second unit directing one of the Twilight series “New Moon”. They had a graduation ceremony on the set, complete with cap and gown and a New Moon diploma.
None of the rest of his graduating class will ever have that experience. He goes to a performing arts college in Los Angeles now. One day his former classmates will say they knew him…but they never did. And he doesn’t need them now.
He was taking a summer session at school when I got sick. It was just as well. If he saw me then he would not have gone back to school. He would have felt he had to protect me and take care of me. He was that kind of kid and he is that kind of young man.
He got made fun of for being polite…for holding doors for ladies…and saying please and thank you. I never heard him say an unkind word to anyone, even when they were being less than kind to him. There was one boy who thought he got the best of Cody. He’s in jail now. Cody is one year from college graduation. He lives in Los Angeles and is the resident in his dorm.
His father is a director and extremely critical. He went to Cody’s showcase a couple of months ago. I was not yet well enough to go. It was the first time I missed one of his shows. I waited to hear how it went. The phone rang…he was blown away by his son’s performances. I was not surprised.
My children are kind and generous and brave. They are interested and interesting…they get knocked down and they get up again and take another chance. I got lucky.
This stone in my cyberpyramid marks the end of my blog…writing about a year that according to the Mayans, was going to be our last.
When I started it, I had no idea that I would have to deal with a life threatening illness. I already faced the possibility of the end of days for me…so I’m not really worried about December 21st.
I am writing about the two most important people in my world…so if the Mayans are right, and it is the end of days…then my last thoughts will be of love beyond compare.
I hope that someday explorers from another galaxy dig up my pyramid and read about human beings…how we’ve lived and loved and laughed and cried…how we’ve hurt each other and saved each other…and never stopped believing that we could fix the problem.
It is two o’clock in the morning…and the dogs are barking. The coyotes are howling back…just like they do every night.
Those crazy Mayans…what cutups…
In the words of “Annie”….
The sun’ll come out tomorrow
bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow….
there’ll be sun
Tomorrow is only a day away.
Day 356…We’re still standing.