In the 24 years of my career, I have not spent ONE New Year's Eve with my family. in the career of music, New Year's Eve is the most important night of the year. And that is true because of this: for the most part, you get paid double!!! Yep!! And if you have 2 or 3 shows in one night - the mortgage/rent is paid; the car insurance is paid (for the year!)...and there's lots to invest & put away for emergencies or to reinvest in recording, wardrobe, etc. And like any other "normal" human being, the money can be very alluring! And in the last three years, I have been on some stage somewhere about 25 minutes before midnight. I do my show and then my job is to count down. 10, 9,8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...HAPPY NEW YEAR!
And there I am...on stage...happy that it's the New Year; happy to see everyone hugging and showing completely inapppropriate public displays of affection....and....I am alone. At some point I walk over and hug my road manager...but he always has some date there, lol. And so this New Year, for very first time...I had NO show booked. Part of me was terrified. Why doesn't anyone want to book me for New Year's Eve? Um, hello, anyone there? Part of me knew that I had an alternative: to sing with the band, Mirage. I really wanted to, God knows, because I'd been so busy during the year, I barely got opportunities to sing with them. Also, a member of the band is preganant, and unfortunately her mom had just passed away - I know I was needed. BUT...I had a chance to finally be with my family. As pressured as I was feeling - and the pressure was only coming from me, lol - I decided to go with family. Life is far too short, and with the passing of my friend's mom, oh, no...I was going to be with Mom!!!
Allow me to divert for one second...
I made a decision a few months ago to restrain from blogging about my love life, or lack thereof. So I'll update you and save you all the ugly details so that I not sound depressing . Here's the long, short story. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl crazy about one another. So they get into the car of couple-dom. Boy & girl are driving down the lane of love...he's speeding and they are laughing, holding hands. Then...Boy SLAMS on the brakes....and because girl didn't wear seat belt (in other words because she let her guard down) girl gets ejected from the passenger side. End of story. Heart broken A G A I N ! ! ! Ah, the lessons of life...when did this all happen?? You guessed it: just before the New Year.
Okay back to before...
So you can just imagine the mood I was in. Ugh...I was angry...no, scratch that, I was ENRAGED! I mean I'm talking I wanted to break something, burn something, smack someone hard in the face...the kind of smack that leaves a mark. No, no...I don't condone physical violence. The last and only time I broke something out of an enraged tantrum was about 8 years ago...and let me tell you, that was the worst betrayal of my life. But that's for another blog, another time...perhaps when I feel I have nothing major to write about. Oh, sorry, did I digress again? I was not only enraged, but profoundly disappointed, tremendously hurt, and well, feeling quite betrayed. Say what you mean, and mean what you say...is that really so hard? I was in my car, listening to only angry songs by Evanescence, Limp Biskit, My Chemical Romance, Pink...yea, I get kind of in a rock mood when I'm mad. LOL. I drove the hour and a half to my mom's house, and as soon as I parked the car, I began to cry. I wanted to go in, and run into Mommy's arms...when I feel extreme emotional pain, my mom's hug is kind of the only thing that makes me feel better.
I walked in through the door and feigned happiness. Well, I hate coming over to mom's and before I can say hello, I'm crying to her. And then, in an instant, my sadness was erased (temporarily, at least.)
It was my niece, Jennyce...my ray of sunshine that pierces through my cloud every single time I see her. Thank God. I hugged her as hard as I could. I was gratefully distracted as we played Operation and Chutes and Ladders. As soon as she said, "I won,"...the urge to cry emerged.
Mom: "Judy, why dont' you go upstairs and say hello to your brother?"
Me: "No, ma...not now. Not yet. I'm angry with men right now."
Mom: "Uh, oh....don't worry...it'll be a new year, new things...You're angry, huh?"
Me: "Mom, you have NO idea...I'm tired of being disappointed, hurt, betrayed...especially when I know I have done nothing wrong." And a single tear came down. Enough. Nope. Not gonna cry.
I could smell the food a little later on. Inhale aroma. Exhale joy!!! Mom was making one of my favorite dishes: Breaded steak, white rice, beans and tostones (fried plantains). Yummmyyyy!! I walked into the kitchen and Mom was not only cooking, she was dancing to Gipsy Kings! It was quite a different picture from last year. Last year this time, Mom was crying, she wasn't walking, she had to be taken care of by my sister and I as she was recovering from hip replacement surgery. She was a mess, lol. Now, she still walks with a limp, but there was no better vision right there and then - to walk into the room and seem Mom dancing!! And that's when happy Judy, deliriously-drunk-with-joy Judy joined in the party. I began doing the crazy, arabic-sounding, Native-American sounding, Gypsy-sounding trills that the lead singer does. I LOVE doing that, okay, I love making believe I can do it, lol. And as my sister was doing her hair, I began singing to her...my niece came over to see what the noise was about, and I began to laugh. God, laughter truly is healing! Laughter immediately dissipates the sadness...it's nature's natural cure!!
We were dancing to Baila me, Bamboleo, Djobi Djoba, Bem Bem Bem Maria and Volare! If you've never heard them, you need to. I began to teach my niece the basic salsa step and she, of course, took it to the next level: "Wait, Titi Judy. Look. look. Watch what I do: the Samba." And I don't know what the heck she did. It was some sort of out-of-control twist. It was great. My sister joined in, and we were all over the place, dancing, singing, laughing. It was the best hour I've had in a long time. When dinner was ready, we sat together at the table, just us girls and listened to Kool and the Gang; musical selection brought to you by Mom. Gosh, my mom can cook! It was so good. I ate too much - my stomach was hurting. From there we drove to my other brother's house. For those of you who have followed my blog, he is the brother who had the hand accident with the snowblower. By the way, he's doing great! He did all the physical therapy...there are scars BUT he's back to work, and has full use of his hand.
At my brother's house, it looked as though the party had begun without us. My brother, sister-in-law, niece, three of his friends were surrounded by food. There was no way I could even look at it...that's how full I was! But my brother introduced us to something called a short beer: 43 Liquor with heavy cream on top, served as a shot. It looks like a mini beer. So he insisted we all do a shot together - including Mom! LOL. LOL.
"Come on, mom...you HAVE to do this with us!" I felt so conflicted. One side of me felt like Mom doesn't need to be drinking. But the other side of me that knows Mom doesn't do ANYTHING crazy, that side of me wanted her to do it. You need to understand that in all the years of her lifetime, my mother has somehow found a way to maintain her innocence. You need to think Shirley Temple, Three Stooges, Marx Brothers' kind of humor. Here's the great part. Mom agreed to the shot, and in a second as we said 'cheers', it was over. But there was Mom stil holding it, and sipping it. My brother cried out: "Nooooo, Mom! What are you doing? It's a shot!!" I interjected: "Mom you don't sip a shot. You have to take it in one gulp." My brother continued, "Yea, Mom...drink it like you drink NyQuil." And then she answered us, "Okay, well show me." So we all had to do another shot just to "show" her, lol. And there we all were...and we all did it together. My mom's reaction? "Okay, guys...that's it? Pss..no big deal...it's okay." LOL. As we watched Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve, I remembered being a child and staying up to watch that big ball drop. The sense of collective anticipation is inspiring actually, and it was no different as an adult.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! And for the first time in more than 20 years I had a LOT of people to hug...I was NOT alone. And I felt good. For a moment, I had to stop and pray for my other sister-in-law, Claudia who had lost her father that very same morning. It was impossible to be too happy...my heart bled for her. 2011...a chance to begin again, to write and sing new songs, to be loved by someone who loves me equally and in the way my spirit needs...that is my wish, my personal wish. As I went to go to sleep, the insomnia had set in yet again. The rage had been diluted to anger..but really anger is just my soul's way of saying, "Ouch! You hurt my heart! You hurt it, and it did nothing but be kind and loving to you..." Okay, let me not be so dramatic. The pain was still there and I allowed it flow. But I know when I look back at New Year's Eve, the memories of dancing, laughing, taking the shot, being hugged by family...will ALWAYS bring me joy!! Happy New Year to ALL!!!