Tag Archives: Frank Sinatra

Old Blue Eyes and Me

 

In high school, seven people wrote in my yearbook “Dear Weird Barbara”.  Graduation is this Thursday, so I was thinking about these things.  I also was on the committee that organized the prom, but I didn’t go because back then (1971), I didn’t have a date. No one asked me. I couldn’t go stag because it was 1971.  My friend Susan  stopped by my job, where I worked as a dental assistant, and she showed me her wrist corsage, and her dress, and her purse, and her shoes, and her boyfriend… .  It’s been forty-six years and you can tell I’ve worked  that through and I am over it.

I didn’t have crushes on the Beatles or the Rolling Stones like my contemporaries.  I liked Elvis long after he stopped swiveling those hips and when he ate a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I sang along with Nat King Cole in my sunken living room.  My relationship with Frank Sinatra was long and enduring.  Though we were 38 years apart in age I hoped some day he would be in the neighborhood, need a glass of water, push the button to come up to apartment 5G and the rest would be history.  That dream followed me wherever I moved to from New York to Illinois to Massachusetts. I just thought even though he had married Nancy, Ava, Mia, and Barbara, that our paths had not yet crossed.  Just think about the last woman he married, Barbara Marx. Don’t you think I was in his subconscious?  Well, I do.  I was a mental stalker, long before that was a thing.  When my FHB and I met, I asked him what he thought of Francis Albert Sinatra and he said he didn’t care for his music.  Sometimes, you just have to take a chance on love, until the right one comes along. When I was single he was married and when he was between wives or with a wife etc. I was married so it just wasn’t in the stars.  Then he died, and I mourned.  I was single then.  Too bad.

I had dated some “bad” boys along the way.  There was one guy in college who was travelling to California between semesters and invited me along and he was somewhat of a Marlon Brando type. He was a great cartoonist and we were in the same political science course.  I didn’t know him well, but I thought a road trip might change that.   I tried to figure out the best way to tell my parents.  I was over eighteen and thought just telling them that I was taking a vacation to the coast and that I was driving with a friend would be enough information.  Needless to say,  it was still several years before I saw the Pacific.  Somehow, as cool as I thought I was, they didn’t.  Seemed like a good idea in the moment.  It was the 70’s.  Another interesting fellow took my picture in Central Park while a friend and I were hanging out there.  He said that he would call me and show me the pictures and we could have dinner.  He seemed nice.  When he did call, he said to tell my mother his name was something different than he had said it was in the park.  My mother wanted to know where he lived.  I asked him (this is when I would put my hand over the receiver and whisper to her as she stood next to me).  He told me he lived in Manhattan in a place called Phoenix House.  Sounded like a mythological place to me.  My mother pushed the button on the phone as she said “You are hanging up NOW”.  I didn’t know Phoenix House was a very well known drug rehabilitation place.  I figured he was probably on staff there.  My mother was not convinced.  A bit naive I was.   There was no dinner and no pictures.

I asked my mother to consider hypothetically,  if Frank Sinatra was lost in our neighborhood, and somehow he found our apartment, would she let me let him in.  I knew that she might crack under the pressure, as she had seen him at the Capitol Theater in New York City in the 1940’s and she told me she “swooned”.  She told me that if Frank Sinatra showed up at our door, she would knock me out of the way.  I guess I know where some of the weird comes from and where the interest in the “bad boys” also came from.  My father would roll his eyes as she sang along with Frank.  My FHB sort of does the same, but he sings along.  Oh the bad boys come and go, but the good ones you should hang on to.  It’s Witchcraft!

 

 

 

 

The Stubborn in Creativity

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Playing hide and seek with inspiration can be exhausting.  There are many things that my wishing to be able to do them, doesn’t make it so.  Flying a plane, walking a tightrope or a plank, swallowing fire….things I ponder and reject pretty quickly.  Singing the National Anthem at a Red Sox game, doing a voice over for a Disney film, making and baking the perfect eclair, probably not going to happen.  Being in the right place at the right time for me is like being at the airport when my ship comes in.  However, I don’t stop thinking about how to achieve certain goals, and knowing that possibility includes the root of possible makes me smile.

I accept that I am not conventionally brave, which rules out a lot of risky business.  It is mostly the physical pursuits that are elusive and practically, I don’t want to hurt myself, so I avoid them.  Spending time imagining is often the path to exploring my creative side.  This in concert with my stubborn (tenacious) abilities makes me want to try things that I have in my head.  Translating them from idea to reality is often frought with dogged arguments with my FHB.  We are often on opposite sides of the seesaw. I say PoTAHto and he says PoTAYto.

In December of 2015, we went to Nantucket for the weekend. It was unusually warm for December and for Nantucket, having a bright blue sunshine-y day, on the 100th anniversary of of Frank Sinatra’s birth, made everything that I could imagine, seem like the perfect opportunity for inspiration.  We walked down the cobblestoned street and looked in gallery windows.  It was the weekend that most businesses were closing or preparing to close.  The local folks were relaxed as they headed into their winter to enjoy and prepare for the onslaught of tourists, but not for another four or five months or so.  Something caught my eye and I crossed over to the other side of the street and stared in the window of a gallery that was closed for winter.  I didn’t need to go inside and the proverbial cartoon lightbulb with lots of exclamation points lit up in my head.  There was a large installation of a series of battered and painted pie plates in a few colors organized in a checkboard pattern.  I fell in love with it.  My FHB traversed through the oncoming traffic (which was not much that day) and lumbered behind me as I waved him across the street.  I was shouting (which did not necessarily NOT draw looks…people are a bit put off by my often unbridled enthusiastic New Yorker rooted shouts).  You might have thought that I saw a celebrity or a rare bird (in which case I would be very quiet and shy) but this was something that made me react in a big way.  I turned back to stare in the window and saw the shadow of my FHB with his ever rolling eyes walking slowly , trying not to let people see that he knew me.  Sometimes it’s a curse.  Oh, well.  I pronounced that the object of my affliction (as my father might have punned) was this piece of art.  Deep sigh.  It was clear that it was an unrequited love, only in my eyes.  That’s okay because it wasn’t the first time, I was the one with a vision and he was the one with a headache.  That’s what marriage is about.  Giving and getting. I give headaches…you can figure out the rest.

This is when he says, in his martyred gentle tone “Calm down…talk slowly, you are babbling!”.  I am successful as I now have his attention and so I opine.  I explain that I have a plan for something that I want to create.  I see I am losing him.  Sometimes we don’t see the same things the same way.  Probably for the best,if the world was that way, one of us would be redundant.  Backtracking in time, I remember when I told him that I wanted to weave a wall hanging.  He is such a good guy. He went out and bought me a loom.  That’s what a partner does, listen and follow through.  The problem was, I didn’t imagine doing it with a loom.  That seemed way too complicated for my brain and too orderly and normal.  I didn’t want to make placemats….I was thinking big.  We had found a yolk for a steer at a flea market.  That was the top of the weaving.  I used twine, rags, copper wire,and a plank of wood and it was perfect (in my mind).  I had to rely on my FHB to help put it together. But it hangs in our bedroom, my interpretation of my imagination. He stares at it nightly. I smirk.

What I was inspired to do was to take a series of old rosettes found locally in a place that specialized in demolition and deconstruction of old houses.  It was one of our favorite haunts.  I liked going through the dusty, dirty and lead painted pieces of houses and found exactly what I was looking for.  I drew it out, I presented it to him to help me make it real.  I am not the practical one in our relationship. I am not precise.  I can’t always do it without help. I am also not so patient when I want it to be done.  I mixed paints, organized the rosettes and my FHB helped create the finished product.  Maybe it was the spirit that day on Nantucket, of Frank Sinatra singing “My Way” that led me to know that my stubborn would end up hanging in our loft.  When my FHB and I  met,for the first time, many years ago, I asked him if he was a fan of Frank’s.  He has always been  one of my fantasy hearthrobs.  He said “no, I don’t like him at all!”.  I remember thinking “this is not going to go anywhere…”.

Anybody want to buy a loom?