Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.


“Love life. Dream Big. Be positive.”

Last night I ventured out into Hollywood-land to attend a fundraiser for an organization that helps sick children make small ‘legacy’ films. I’ve been volunteering with them as a film mentor ever since Kaz died. It just so happens this is the second industry fundraiser I’ve been to in a week. The first one (last Saturday night) was for a friend’s short film, took place in her backyard and I brought my puppy. Last night’s was at the Writer’s Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills and there was a red carpet. Naturally, I came late to avoid the red carpet and sneak inside while the lights were off.

One hour into the show of comedians, singers, speeches and short film clips, there was an intermission. I walked into the bright lobby to join other attendees searching for refreshments. A filmmaker acquaintance I haven’t seen in a long time flagged me down and struck up a conversation. “How are you? What’s the latest? What are you working on?” I managed to stumble through my answers. I’m directing a play this spring, I’m writing a book, I’m trying to get out more… Then he asked about my late husband and how I’m doing now emotionally.

When I answer these types of questions in a crowded setting with only a few minutes before the listener’s attention drifts, I sometimes experience the sensation of leaving my body and watching myself give the answer. What I hear myself saying always sounds ridiculous.

“I’m doing better. You know, one day at a time.”
“Are you dating again?”
“No,” I responded. “I tried last year, but it didn’t feel right.”
“That must be so tough, to come back from something that intense.”
“Yes, it–.”

The lights blinked on and off signaling Intermission was over. The acquaintance said a quick goodbye. I turned to look for a traschcan for the coffee I didn’t get to drink, and to ponder if anyone would notice if I left now. I decided against this and returned to my seat.

In the second half they showed a trailer for a film recently made in honor of Rina Goldberg, who had Mitochondrial disease. Rina wrote this short film before she passed away at age 15, and this organization made the film a reality. The clip is amazing and beautiful. After it ends, a slide remains on the screen while they tell us Rina’s mantra: “Love life. Dream Big. Be positive.”

I begin to cry silently in the darkness. I want to hug this little girl and thank her for the message. I want her to know that I hear her and appreciate her and she will never be forgotten. We are all sitting in the dark listening to her weak voice say repeatedly, “Be positive, be positive, be positive.”

Other sick children went up on stage. One sings an Adele song. Another plays Bach on the piano. We give them standing ovations.

When the program ended and the lights came up, I headed over to the founder of the organization to give her a big hug. Several goodbyes later, I paid my valet ticket and drove back home to let the puppy out of her crate. In her groggy state, she stumbled around the apartment like a drunken sailor before collapsing in bed for the night. It was much later than I expected, but I was grateful that I had gone out. I fell asleep thinking of Rina Goldberg.

Rina Goldberg and her mother

Rina Goldberg and her mother

If you want to learn about Rina and her film, check out http://www.rinasmovie.com/PublicPages/Home.aspx

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Musical Memory

Yesterday I met up with a friend who works at Scholastic, the company that publishes Young Adult and Children’s books and educational material. She was kind enough to give me a tour of their very cool building, right in the middle of SoHo. In the lobby, they have about half a dozen letters from famous authors, journalists and (for some reason) Alec Baldwin, meant to inspire children writers. The best note was from Arthur Miller, which I will have to add later (I forgot to write it down).

At lunch my friend and I got to talking about my late husband K and how music played such a big role in his life. He used to work in the music department of DreamWorks Animation, contributing to the soundtracks of some of the biggest animated films like Shrek, Madagascar, The Prince of Egypt, and many others. Later he worked at Capitol Records (in the famous Capitol Records building), licensing their catalogue to films, television shows, commercials, sports, etc.

It still amazes me how much of our relationship revolved around music. When we first started dating he would give me CDs as gifts, both music that he received at work and thought I would like, and music compilations that he put together specifically. He was an expert at hip hop, heavy metal, rock and blues, he rarely went to see a band unless he was on the list (the exception being bands he really loved like The Black Keys), and he always got the VIP treatment.

We once had an argument at a Brother Ali concert at the El Rey (Brother Ali is a white albino rapper). He surprised me with tickets to Atmosphere (another hip hop group) for my birthday in 2008. We listened to hours upon hours of music during road trips. We saw shows at venues all over Los Angeles and Gogol Bordello, Clutch, The Roots and Wu Tang Clan at the 9:30 in D.C.

When he got sick we started going to less shows, and near the end, I was choosing the music for him. After his seizures, when he was unconscious, I played his favorite band Clutch on Pandora in the ICU, hoping somehow the music would bring him back. When he woke up, he couldn’t remember what year it was, but when the doctor asked him “What’s your favorite band?” he answered without hesitation, “Clutch!”

Later, when he was on hospice, I played blues and reggae softly in the background. I was surprised to find dozens of Chopin pieces on his iPod. “I didn’t know you liked Chopin,” I told him. “Lotta things you don’t know,” he replied with a smile.

At his memorial, I asked a friend of K’s to play two Chopin pieces live, including this one (which was also played at Chopin’s funeral):

To this day, my most treasured possession is K’s iPod. I take it with me everywhere I go and listen to it almost exclusively. It used to be ahead of its time because he was always listening to music before it came out. Now, it’s frozen in time because I will never change his playlists.