Thursday, December 16, 2010
Today was a hard one.
Today was rough.
Let's just say it was one of those days I felt so insignificant - so unimportant. I feel like a failure. For five long hours I worked on writing a song. I poured my heart and soul into it. I deprived myself of sleep for it. I wrote and rewrote. And rewrote again...because it HAD to be perfect. There were hundreds of papers unapproved, filled with rejected words and ideas. I became a bit of a mad woman while trying to write this song. Now I understand why writers lock themselves in mystery rooms, and won't come out until the work is complete.
People come up to me all the time and say, "Judy, when are you coming out with something new?" I know it is somewhat a rhetorical question. I also know it's a question that any fan would ask an artist. The question says, "Hey, I like you and your music so much, I can't wait to hear what you do next." But, my God, it is not easy. The songs just don't come out of thin air...wait. Yes they do. But the air is usually full of inspiration. The challenge is not to just write a catchy tune, but to express something in a way that has never been expressed before. How do you set yourself apart from other songwriters? I have thousands of songs in a book, all unsung, never recorded, never brought to life. Why? Simply because I don't think they are good enough. Or. When I do have something I think is good enough, that's when someone of some position of power that says, "It's good, Judy, but not good enough." It is very hard to not take those words personal. Why? Because so much of who you ARE is put into a song. And when someone says it's not good enough, you can't help but feel you aren't good enough either.
So I worked on this song for days, and finally on the last day I worked on it for five hours. I was so happy about it. I felt like I had written a real hit! I went to bed exhausted but exhilarated. And today I went to the studio to sing it to the producer and expected to record it as well. I went there with a smile on my face. I sang it to him, proudly...and then it happened. Silence.
Silence after singing is a sure sign that it doesn't work. I sang it again and again, and even I became silent. The producer wasn't mean or harsh, but I knew the truth. If you both aren't jumping up and down...if you're not anxious to jump on tbe microphone and record it...if you have nothing to say...it simply doesn't work. And so, we talked about what was good, what was not...we even tried to rewrite it. I spent four hours there and left with my silly lyric sheet that will probably be burned before I go to sleep. Back to the drawing board.
And then it happened. I got in my car...I drove...I parked...and I cried my ass off!!! S!%#T! Damn!
F&*%K! I couldn't move. And it didn't help that I was listening to a freaking depressing song called MISSING by Evanescence. Yes, that's right...surprise! I love Evanesnence. BUT feeling the way I was, it was a wrong move to press repeat on that song. But at some point in our lives, aren't we all guilty of that? Playing a song over and over again because it expresses what we cannot at the moment? Here is an excerpt :
You won't cry for my absence, I know -
You forgot me long ago.
Am I that unimportant?
Am I so insignificant?
Isn't something missing?
Isn't someone missing me?
Even though I'm the sacrifice,
You won't try for me, not now.
Though I'd die to know you love me,
I'm all alone.
Isn't someone missing me?
...Please, please forgive me,
I breathe deep and cry out,
"Isn't something missing?
Isn't someone missing me?"
I think I stayed there in the car for a good, I mean for a bad 20 minutes. It's been a rough week. Once again my week became about taking care of others. I DON'T regret it at all, but I think I am having my own problems right now, and need to pay more attention to them. Sometimes I go somewhere with the idea that it will be a restful time, and it turns into Judy's Taxi Service or Judy's Office of Psychotherapy, and even sometimes Judy's bank. Sometimes it leaves me depleted...and I guess that's how I feel - depleted. My friend's mother died too. Going to my 5th wake in less than 6 months - depressing. And of course it makes me think of my own mother...and the terror of being faced with having to go on without her. And Mom's been okay, but not great...everytime I see her, I wonder...is she really okay, or is she just saying that? And then I received news today warning me that a man who stalked me years ago, and made my life a living hell, was released from prison. I'm not afraid. Not at all. BUT...I cannot lie...it just put me right back to that time in my life...and it's not something I go around desiring to remember.
So, I don't know. Perhaps the crying came out because I've tried to be so strong, while others leaned on me, but in truth, I need to lean this time. I need a good hug. Hugs you can get by the dozen, but let's be very honest: very few people give the kind of hug that heals. LOL. This is a time when I feel so profoundly alone..although I am not..that is the way it seems. And that is when I most wish I could call someone at 1 in the morning, and say, "Can you come over? I don't want to be alone..." Once again, I am not looking for sympathy, but i figured if I wrote about it, I may stop crying. Let me check...Nope. It's not working, lol....
So tomorrow I will begin writing the song again. Today I feel defeated but tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I may find a better melody and find the perfect words. How I handle this song is a direct reflection for how I handle life. So, today sucked but tomorrow will be better. I don't know if I believe that, lol, but it's better to fake it before I make it. I just have to look at this song as a unique challenge, and believe that the answer will be inspired...it has to be GREAT - not just because I need a new hit record, but because I care about the person I'm writing it for.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Hm, this year I'm a little of each one. This year I am mourning in a way, that because all my siblings are all grown up now, each Christmas it seems someone is "missing". I am not too excited this year, because I am usually the one in my family who comes with HEAPS of gifts for everyone...this year I have to be more conscientious about spending (yes even I am affected, lol.) I feel just a tad lonely...I have no reason to be, really, but it's like the second year now that I haven't put up a tree in my home. My friends have simply been too busy to help me...BUT. I am still a kid inside. I still LOVE Christmas!! Christmas is supposed to be about celebrating and remembering the birth of Jesus. It's supposed to be about quality family time; about gathering around to talk and eat, and talk and eat some more. Personally I enjoy the "corniness" of the holiday. Yeah, that's right. I BLAST Christmas carols! I still see Christmas with a wonderment that has never left me. It is still a magical time for me,where miracles are possible, blah, blah, blah. I love sending Christmas cards, love wrapping gifts with bows and tags; choosing the PERFECT gift for a person and watching their eyes inflate when they open the gift. It just brings me complete satisfaction. Yes, I know Christmas is so commericialized now that it is shoved down our throats.
My favorite things: When people walk into the home with their cheeks rosy and they try to shake off the cold from their bones, watching children tear the wrappings to shreds just to find the gift inside, hearing O Holy Night, watching Charlie Brown Christmas and sitting with my family, knowing we are all alive, safe and healthy. And if we're lucky enough - hearing the snow fall silently at night. Cool. Quiet. Peaceful.
I have just one wish for Christmas. I really do. The thing is this: my wish doesn't cost a dime; it doesn't need to be wrapped in a bow...and it is something that SO many people take for granted. After all, the best presents in life cannot be bought. I don't want to spoil it for myself...but, on Christmas, like a dork, I will look at the tree all lit up, and I will pray and still hope for it. And if and when I receive it, I will reveal it.
So no matter how you look at Christmas, it will come...and it will go...and I hope that you make the best of it. If you have no money, remember you are alive - and for sure someone has it much worse. If you lost someone, honor their memory by celebrating what their life stood for (and wouldn't they want you to celebrate?). If you feel it's jsut a ploy to get people to spend, don't buy a thing & just use the day to be with loved ones. If you are lonely, pick up the phone and get yourself over to someone's house. Don't choose to wallow in your own sadness. So, please....Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!!!
Friday, December 3, 2010
"Titi (that's me "auntie") Judy, when I come back from school, will you be here?"
"Yes, mami...Titi will be here."
"Yes, I promise!"
It was about 3 o'clock when she burst through the door. I was in the living room and I could hear her from a mile away. "Titi Judy! Is Titi here?"
She flew into my arms with the biggest smile. Words cannot describe how that little girl makes me feel loved. Her eyes are wide open with wonderment, and hope. Her little arms wrap around me with such fierce intensity. But it is the smile on her face that says it all! It makes me feel warm, wanted...that's love.
"Titi, can we play now? Can we build the thing? Can we have a tea party, and then you can read me a book? Titi, are you staying over?"
"Okay, one thing at a time, ok?"
There was a small kit for children that I'd brought to her a couple of months ago that creates a little soccer game, complete with 2 little people, a ball...of course instructions for the adult. I asked her where the hammer was. Jennyce was so cute as she attempted to bring me a tool box that was almost as big as her. We put it together, and then we played...the little kit was so simple, the materials so "cheap". She didn't even care that the stickers that made it look like a soccer field, and gave the soccer players faces, were not even there.
"Come on, Titi! Let's play! Titi, are you Titi Judy Torres?"
I laughed out loud...first time I heard her say my last name.
"Yes, Jennyce....but you call me Titi, Judy, ok?"
We played for almost an hour, and then I told her that before the teap party we had to eat dinner. She set her own plate and cup, and we sat together at the dining table. I teased her that there was more fool on the table than on her plate. And we talked...one of her favorite things is when I say to her, "Jennyce, let's have a conversation. What would you like to talk about?" She wanted to talk about her best friend, Jasmine. No problem. As I listened, she said, "I told her my Titi Judy loves ladybugs and feathers..and I found a feather today." I was immediately brought back to the day my sister announced that she'd come up with a name for her unborn daughter: Jennyce.
When I was about 10 years old, I'd read a book called A Woman With Substance (still a cool book to me), and there was a character in the book called Jenice (same pronunciation). I thought it was the coolest name. In fact, I thought it was SO cool, that I decided that day that if I ever had a daughter, I'd name her Jenise. I never told a soul, never wrote it down, never shared the idea with anyone for fear that someone would steal it. So on the day my sister announced the name I had a heart attack...ok, almost a heart attack! "That's MY name! You can't use that name, I've been saving it my whole life!" My sister laughed at me...and that was the end of it. When my sister was giving birth, my sister honored me by asking me to stay in the room. The nurse was there saying, "Come on...breathe..." and the murse began counting. My sister's reaction was the same reaction used in sitcoms when women are giving birth: "Judy, tell her to shut up! I don't want her to count!! You count." It was a GREAT day, and when Jennyce was born, I cried...joy. Since that day, Jennyce and I have an inccredible bond...I don't know if it's because of the name or not, but we are close. I feel protective of her - hot just physically but mentally and spiritually. I want her to suffer in life as little as possible. Back to the dinner table.
So there we were talking about ladybugs and feathers, and then she says what I would never expect:
"Titi? When I grow up, I want to be like you. You know what? I don't want my body. I want your body, your face, your smile...everything, Titi! "
I laughed, and said, "Oh, no, you don't want this body."
"Yes, yes I do...you know why Titi?"
"Because it's perfect! You're perfect!"
And you know what? I believed she was telling the truth...that is unconditional love right there...for her to love this chubby body with a bad complexion and hair all wild...that is unconditional! And I smiled with tears in my eyes..."No, Jennyce. YOu are perfect!"
My mom called out, "Judy? Jennyce? You're too quiet over there...what's going on?" LOL.."Grandma, we're having a conversation!" LOL. Afterward, we had our little tea party and all were invited: her mom, me and Grandma. She poured apple juice, served granola bars and fruit snacks for dessert. The best thing was that she actually set the table really well, lol. Unfortunately, my sister had to go somewhere and was bringing Jennyce along, so we had to call it a night, and that's when all hell broke loose. Actually all hell breaks lose EVERYTIME I am about to leave, or we are being separated.
"Titiiiiii!! Titiiii!!! Noooooo!!! I want my Titiiiii!" Tears bursting out so fast and hard they were almost shooting out the way they do in cartoons. That child can SCREAM!! LOL. And it breaks my heart EVERY TIME she says 'I want my Titi.' I tried to comfort her. "Listen, Titi will be back. I always come back, right? Look, when you're on Christmas vacation, you can come to my house and stay with me for a few days, ok?" Immediate silence...as quick as a flick of a switch. "I can stay at your house?" "Yes, Mami." "Okay." My sister took her hand, and I said goodbye, and it began all over again.
"Titiiiiiii!!!" I want my Titiiiii!" With Jennyce's free hand she grabbed at my sweater. "Nooooo...I want Titi!" My sister's eyes look at me like, "Oh, well...she loves you that much." Funny thing is that my sister, when her age, did the EXACT same thing! She pulled away from my sister and threw herself to the ground, and wrapped her strong, glue-like arms around my leg. She held on like her life depended on it. After being pulled from me, she was in the car, and I waved good-bye.
I woke up this morning, remembering her smile and the glow on her face when she saw me. And I realized. What I had heard through many people my whole life: Children don't care what you do with them...they just want your time!! Time with children is a gift, the best gift you can give them. And it is quality time that matters...to sit with them and exchange with them; to treat them like a little adult and listen as if everything they say matters - because it does! Titi Judy loves Jennyce, and Jennyce loves her Titi Judy...and that is perfect!!!