It’s December 4. Get ready. (Can you hear the collective sigh about the speed of time?)
The days will now fly, in full swing, to the rhythm of the holiday season.
There will be parties to attend. And cookies to be baked. Trees will be lit up; candles will be lit. Some of us will sauté latkes; others will hang stockings on the mantle.
We linger in the past with our rituals. And we usher in the future with toasts. But there is an interstice before the craziness envelopes. A small window of time, when you can sit for a bit with a cup of coffee on a cold winter day and prepare for the countdown. Breathe with us!
More Short, Shorts: four, separate, brief, and self-contained shorts. With summer in the air, our line of thinking is returning to less is best:
*It will be a June divorce. And she will finally be un(bride)led.
*Every night he sharpened his pinking shears to a pointed edge so that he could cut the rosy sweetness that wrapped around his wife. And then, one evening, a thorn pricked his prick, and he fell on his beloved scissors.
*First kiss; second wind.
*He gazed with lust at the vision of beauty standing before him because here was a woman with hair that swung, eyes that danced, and a smile that knew the meaning of merriment.
I once described my friend Lee – who died this past Tuesday – as “so much cooler than the rest of us.” That remains true. But I would add that Lee, more than anyone else I’ve ever met, aged into his 50s with unmatched elegance.
Elegance that endured. An elegance that was born and bred into him. An elegance that defined him, and was the essence of the no-nonsense, intrepid determination that took him to the top of his field as a drummer. Elegance that faced off forces-unpredicted and hurdle after hurdle. Hurdles that would have halted a lesser man.
I will carry the lessons I learned from Lee for the rest of my life. I had often thought of Lee when the stuff of life, that we all have to ward off at times, would come at me with a thrust. I was inspired by his grace and his grit.
Lee was the drummer for Joan Jett & the Blackhearts from 1981 to 1986. It’s his unrelenting, crazy-with-the-sticks, pounding that drives the iconic “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll.”
He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1993. In 2006, I was interviewing him for a magazine article. I was just getting to know him and his wife, Maura. We had mutual friends, we had spent News Year’s Eve together, but I had yet to spend a big chunk of time with Lee.
We had just sat down in his living room for the interview. I had only been there for about 15 minutes, but he had already given me about 25 minutes worth of smiles and chuckles. His wit was quick.
We moved into the den. He wanted to turn on his stereo to play a piece of music for me. His hand started shaking as he moved it towards the knob to turn on the stereo. I instinctively jumped in and offered to do it. He wouldn’t have it.
He cursed his hand, made a joke about his hand, and then cursed his hand again. He could have asked me to turn it on. He could have decided that he didn’t want me to see his hand shaking. Or he could have decided that it was simply easier to just use the other hand. But he didn’t.
Because Lee didn’t settle. Instead, he grabbed his wrist with the steady hand and commandeered his trembling fingers to the knob, and turned on the music. We did a four-hand high five.
And that was my Lee-moment. That’s when I got to know the Lee that those who had known him for decades already knew. He never gave up. He insisted on excellence. He remained gracious in spite of unimaginable odds and resistances. He did not stand for mediocrity.
So “cooler than the rest of us,” falls a bit short. Lee once told me, that to be a good drummer, you must first understand the basic operation of what goes into forming a solid beat, and then … “make it your own.”
So just as a Lee Crystal drum-beat was solid, and was his own, so was his pluck, his mettle, and his elegance. All outlined with cool.
Tomorrow, The Write Side of 50 turns six months old. Since November 19, we have posted, without fail, six days a week, every week. We could not have done this without the consistency of our contributors. So we raise a glass to Bob and Frank (they’ve been with us from the get-go), Margo, and Jeannette. And a clink to our readers, for your continued comments, support, inspiration, and for giving us a reason to bring out the good glasses. Salud!
BY LOIS DESOCIO
An integral part of our blog’s beginnings were incessant e-mail exchanges between Julie and me, with ideas for what the blog should be about. Threaded into the scores of business e-mails and blog ideas, were some slices of raw revelation, as the ever-evolving voice of the blog drifted from a focus on food and travel to one about navigating our 50s. The e-mails generated tons of ideas, so we diligently filed them away in our queue.
One day in May, Julie dashed off a short poem and e-mailed it to me, thinking it was quite a witty characterization of being on the right side of 50. Her poem, and my e-mailed response, copied and pasted below, sums up how differently we view the physics of aging. For Julie, the two lines conveyed how fleeting the time is between the dewiness of youth, which we take for granted, and the next moment, when it has evaporated. As she sees it, it doesn’t come at one point in time, but throughout the transitions in life. You assume your oyster pearl complexion will always be a part of you, and then … it isn’t.
My poem was better:
On Wed, May 30, 2012 at 3:04 PM, Julie Seyler wrote:
One day you are the oyster pearl
the next time you looked you were the tree burl.
On Wed, May 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM, Lois DeSocio replied:
OOH – that hurts. Props on the poem, but I refuse to be deformed. I will be:
One day I was just a girl;
The next time I looked I was the oyster pearl.