i keep a Daily Gratitude Journal. i began doing this in 1999 or so, back when Oprah still had a show and the focus was on the books Simple Abundance and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. and O was my girl. it's a long story for another time but i ended up being a front row guest because when i saw that one of the Be On The Show topics was "What would you like it to say on your Epitaph?" well, thanks to my gay male best friend, i had the answer. i was bitching about yet another painful break-up and he turned to me and said, very kindly: "you are a character and not everyone likes characters." he paused. "you're an Acquired Taste, like caviar or artichokes."
so when i saw the epitaph thang? i gleefully replied, "I was an Acquired Taste." and the segment producer called me. i had to convince her that keeping a gratitude journal had exponentially enhanced my life when i had spent my day searching for the best Psych ward in town because i was clinically depressed. but, shit, it was Oprah.
So i became one of the Front Row Guests, but much more importantly, and the blessing in all of this, is that i began keeping a Gratitude Journal. for real. And i've been making daily entries in it every day since then. I can't recommend this more highly. now you might be thinking, shit, man, this woman can hardly Leave her House and is a freaking mess. which is true. but i think that if i hadn't had this daily practice (and cats and dogs) -- in the same way that I now also have Meditation -- well, i might have jumped off something.
I'm not sure why i'm writing about this except that there is so much abundance in my life and i've been recording it all and it's a miracle. Yesterday's entry: Godiverse -- i believe in Spirit and the Universe but not so much in a Deity but i want to keep all my bases covered just in case so... He/She/It looks pretty much like Obi Won Kenobi and i address this entity every day.
please bear in mind that i had had that recent Anti-Semitic experince, that i live in a city and state that i hate -- turns out i'm not a fan of Rain , i live in senior subsidized housing and it's awful, and a couple of weeks ago a fellow resident left a plastic bag of Urine in my apartment. There is a lot more creepy crap but you get the idea.
yesterday's entry: Godiverse, i am grateful for taking a shower and being clean clean clean, for meditating an hour and a quarter when i woke up, for having a giant crush on my kitten Gloria Steinem -- i got an email from the human version today, about women needing to show up and vote and immediately donated. Feels like i spend more time on Act Blue these days than on almost anywhere else -- while Gloria has a consuming Passion for my Canine-American Cocoa Chanel. so it's a kind of Interspecies Family Threesome. not to worry, it's purely platonic.
okay, well, you get the idea. there was also the going to the Hypnosis Center -- it is substantially outside of my Agoraphobic Safely Zone so it's a miracle that i get there almost every week -- for a Class and an Acceleration tape, exercising Cocoa Chanel and myself by powerwalking all around Target where we did some shopping but most importantly my Cocoa Bean got tons of good attention from strangers and staff members alike. if she had her druthers -- and what the fuck are druthers anyway? -- she would travel the world meeting everyone she could and loving on each of them while vigorously rubbing her face on their shoes to get her Gentle Leader or Halti off her nose. it's not important but it's a training tool.
she has been doing this for 9 years. i LOVE her optimism. it's like "i don't have cognitive thought so i don't know how long this pesky device has been on my snout but i am sure that YOU -- the millionth stranger or one of her fans -- will be the one who will take this darn thing off me." but it never happens because she is Chi/Min Pin/Dachshund and they are all stubborn barky breeds. so she wears this thing and, since my official Service Dog Ella Fitzgerald died a few months ago, she wears a Vest that says In Training and she always will.
oh shit, i have made this whole freaking post about the Gratitude thing. which was not my intention. but it's what is on my mind because of all the abundance i gave thanks for last night and because i've had a ridiculously painful life and one of my many missions is to share any and everything that helps me get through Life and deal with People, who scare the shit out of me, and enables me to celebrate the myriad moments of Joy that i experience because the Daily thankfulness has become a habit which means that my Brain is programmed to look for the tiny miracles of life that are what happiness is made up of. well, it is for me. one hour, one day at a time, I don't jump off a building even though there are way too many days when those Critical Voice in my head, what Anne Lamott calls KFuck Radio -- which i LOVE -- go right to the I Want to Die place because bipolar 2 is mostly about depression. and i have to talk back to that Inner Asshole and say, "no, you don't really want to die. you may want to do the Rip Van Winkle thing and go to sleep for a long time, until they have learned how to Fix Your Brain, but forgetting to go to the UPS store is not a terminal offense.
okay, well, i didn't address the other Two Painful Jewish experiences that i remembered yesterday. but i will now, somewhat briefly, and i will maybe go in to detail in another post.
i worked at a Barnes and Noble in So CA that was not a lovely place to be. my manager told me that no one liked me, the assistant manager criticized everything from the way i vacuumed to my fabulous earrings -- they were exquisite charms that my Bloomingdale's aunt had given my sister and me every year for birthdays and Chanukah -- because they did not match. she found my small bag containing a tampon because i had a heavy flow that day, in a drawer under the register and reamed me out because we were not allowed to keep any personal items in that place.
but the last straw was the day that she stomped over to me and asked if i was Jewish. i said yes and her response was, "no wonder we don't get along. i don't like Jews. I'm a follower of Louis Farrakhan." again one of those things you cannot even make up. she was black, she was Afro-American. she knew all about bigotry and hatred but this is what she chose to focus one.
i quit, of course, and i actually contacted the Jewish Anti-Defamation League and filed a complaint because this was such an egregious act, not to mention ugly and evil. turned out that my complaint wasn't documented enough since no one else heard this giant Bitch say those things to me. it was so painful that i put it away for safekeeping and blocked it out of my mind until a few days ago.
last thing and this is kind of a tease and i apologize. but when i was at Harvard, my roommate and I became good friends with Benazir Bhutto. we called her Pinkie. that was her nickname because she had been a very pink baby. now she was a Character. Charming and fascinating and fabulous company but also exhausting and sometimes a giant pain in the ass. but, shit, her father was the President of Pakistan and she was being groomed to take over for him -- he would late be hanged but that is part of the long version of this story -- and he had told her that if she ever had sex, he would cut out her tongue. so to say she was pressured, well, it doesn't even begin to cover it.
my roommate and I were invited to visit with the Bhuttos in Pakistan. it was an extraordinary opportunity and one of the few times that my shrink father was ever interested in my life.
we went everywhere: Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi, Islamabad, driven in air conditioned limousines while desperately poor people clawed at the windows. it was after the Bangladesh war and we saw so many who were maimed in various ways, some of whom had apparently done this to themselves in order to be more effective beggars.
it's an understatement to say that my roommate Lizbe -- nickname for Elizabeth -- and I were shellshocked and horrified. Pinkie was hurt and furious, which i completely understood. we both did. but we didn't know how to hide our feelings. Benazir was proud of her country and was showing it off to us and we were overwhelmed and sad. not always, of course. there were so many impressive and magical sights. so much history. we were flown in the presidential plane to Hunza, one of those Himalayan places where people live to be over a 100. there were stones containing giant rubies and emeralds just lying around the gorgeous palace. we were given a helicopter ride through those magestic mountains. something i never forgot and never will. and thegenerously Bhuttos paid for us to go to Afghanistan. we were given the option of there or Iran. it was 1971 and the Soviets had not yet invaded. Kabul was a real city. i'm glad now that we made that choice.
there was a strange and dark side to all this. Pinkie was enraged by our shocked reactions to the poverty and got revenge on us in small but pernicious ways. i don't blame her. she was deeply hurt by us.
she began speaking Urdu to her brothers, to anyone who was present, leaving us out of almost every conversation. she insisted that we wear the customary harem pants and tunics at all times. unlike Benazir who was thin and lithe and gorgeous, we were chunky with saddle-bagged thighs, so these outfits could not have been less flattering. there were myriad other stings and slights -- which again i understood. but it was challenging for us. we were strangers in a strange land. we felt very lonely and isolated.
the most difficult for me was that i was not allowed to tell anyone that I was Jewish. Lizbe was half Jewish and in the closet -- she was the one who dated the preppy who hated Jews and uninvited me to be in our room when he came over -- so it was no big deal to her. but, for me, well, this was a huge part of my identity. my "mother's" favorite topics of conversation where Crime, Poverty and the Holocaust. most of both sides of the family were wiped out by the Nazis. it was a constand refrain. When Nixon came in to power, she believed that they were going to come after the Intelligentsia and wanted us all to move to Canada.
so i was not just jewish. i was JEWISH. culturally, not religiously. but still JEWISH.
i understood why i couldn't share this information. Pakistanis hated Jews with a red hot passion and vice versa. it was a tumultuous area and time and it's become immeasurably more so since then.
Not being able to admit that i was a Jew, to stand up for myself and my people, while having to listen to infinite anti-semitic comments and jokes? It was tough. it was really challenging.
okay, i've run out of steam. if anyone wants to hear it, i will write more about this visit. i was an idiot and did not make one note or take one photo. so i only have these undocumented small memories, which is a crime. something i deeply regret. i didn't realize that i was a writer until my late 30s, didn't know that i could tell a story that might interest anyone else. but that is no excuse. i was just ignorant and lazy and unprepared and stupid.
so, too possibly be continued.