Friday, December 07, 2007

Stairway To Heaven

When I was young, I attempted to ski. This is me in Val D'Isère, France, circa 1856. And way before I discovered hair dye.
I was afraid of ski lifts. You're strapped into an open cage hanging over mountains without a parachute? I gamely took some ski lessons and felt I was ready for the Winter Olympics. Because I'm not right in the head.

I look like I'm shooting a commercial and now that I think about it, Suzy Chapstick STOLE MY LIFE. This above shot is my favorite one. I would like to point out that in every picture I'm doing nothing but posing. I'm pretty sure that was the best part of the whole trip. Because it certainly wasn't those ski clothes from the Shin Dynasty.

A few years later my sister and I went to Switzerland to ski. My sister was a great skier. She did all the pistes noir while I was on the pistes pink, where 9 month old babies whizzed by me because they're notoriously competitive and really, really mean. Bored, I attempted a harder piste. Because I had taken three lessons.

I was eventually taken off that mountain by the ski patrol, on a stretcher, in fucking Switzerland, the neutral country that was trying to KILL ME.

Later my sister said, "You know, I saw this blond girl up there and she had one leg up the mountain and one leg down the mountain and I thought, Man, what a retard; get off the slopes before you hurt someone.

I tore a ligament and had a full leg cast on for like a hundred years.

When the cast came off, I was afraid to put weight on the bad leg. So of course I did what you're not supposed to do and put all my weight on the good leg, because you know, I'm a genius. I did that for so long that eventually all my friends were making fun of me. I would walk down stairs one step at a time, like a two year old. Shut up.

Then I got a big job. When I showed up for rehearsal, the director gave me a tour of the cabaret and showed me the stage, where I was supposed to glide down a staircase with a two and a half foot tall headdress in a skin tight gold sequined dress.

"Is there any other way to get down those stairs? I asked. Yeah, Francis Ford Coppola can airlift you in a chopper, like in Apocalypse Now, and deposit your ostrich-feathered ass at the bottom of the stairs. The director did not say that. Sadly.

I went home and told my mother that I wouldn't be able to take the job. She said I had to immediately go to La Chappelle de St. Rita, the patroness of impossible cases. Now, I'm not a religious person and abhor all organized religion, believing it is the opiate of the masses. I am, however, a spiritual person and yes, there is a huge difference between the two. Spirituality does not require a building nor a particular deity to worship. I was brought up Catholic but thought it was bullshit from the age of 13. But I was desperate. I went to the bullshit Church.

I prayed that if St. Rita fixed my leg, I would give her 200 francs a month (forty dollars) for the duration of the show, which was seven months. I came home and tried to figure out how I was going to tell my bosses the truth. I had already signed the contracts. The French government was in the process of issuing me a permis de travail, a work permit.

That night I watched my sister get ready for a date. I sat on the edge of her bed and started swinging my right leg, the good one. And then I started involuntarily swinging the left one, the bad one, and it didn't lock up. I stood up and walked to the front door. I went from our second floor apartment down to the first floor. The doctors who had told me that I had bone fragments floating in my knee were apparently upstaged by St. Rita.

This is me at the finale of the show which I did seven days a week, three shows on the weekend, two during the week.

That's me with the giant headdress sitting on that guy's knee. I kept my word and gave 200 francs a month for the duration of the show. One month before my contract expired I was in the chapel and noticed that the 'candle guy' was there. All churches have votives and metal boxes where you can put the money for an offering. I saw the man open the box, take out the money and then lock it up. All that time I had been giving money to the CANDLE PEOPLE, not St. Rita's. I was really upset until I realized the candle people must have needed it more.

End of chat.

23 comments:

  1. Beckie6:11 AM

    I thought of you last night when I was at Bed, Bath & Beyond (not in a psycho stalker way), and now I'll think of you whenever I see Vegas Showgirls (with tops on of course - and again - not in a psycho stalker way). I'm still kinda sorta new here, but dayum reading about your life will totally keep me around - it seems to be quite eventful!

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  2. We're going to New Hampster between xmas and New Year so that my kids can see A LOT of snow and learn to snowboard. Sadly, they have talked me into learning, also. On the good side, I used to surf and skate and water ski (not at the same time) so I have some idea of how to do it, and my health insurance policy is pretty good and all paid up. On the bad side, it will be very cold, and I don't heal so fast because I'm, like, older.

    Can we maybe throw a joint pity party? Oh, wait - those things never work. It's always better when you don't have to share the pity.

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  3. You are so cute. Great pictures. So you will get through this. Your stategy works regardless of occasional false starts, and i see some inspiration here for all of us. You've done some amazing things.

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  4. beckie, thanks for staying around.

    jami, joint pity party. I'm all on board that train.

    anne,I was always fearless, which explains all my successes but more importantly, ALL my failures.

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  5. I've never actually tried to ski. I'm pretty sure just thinking about skiing would cause me to get hurt really bad. In fact, just commenting about it is causing a pain in my right hip.

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  6. You look like you are having fun skiing. I have live in Vermont for 15 years and haven't been skiing since.
    I always knew Suzy Chapstick was a bitch.
    And no wonder you expect guys to know how to dance.

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  7. P.S. I came here from Diesel's blog cause you said that I rock in comments. You might not have really meant it, but I don't care. I'm easy that way. ;-)

    But, seriously, you do rock!

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  8. Anonymous10:31 AM

    I never wanted to ski as snow and cold weather were involved. Inquiring minds want to know -- do you have a closeup of you in the faboulous showgirl outfit?
    Aloha,
    Martha Jane

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  9. I love your old photos. Did you have to give back the headdress?

    I think skiing is actually MORE dangerous now, with the fancy bindings and people blowing out their knees and needing surgery.

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  10. I just can't decide which of the outfits I like most.....

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  11. Plus, this should be a lesson to all of us: OUTSIDE=BAD, INSIDE=GOOD.

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  12. gm, I was having fun POSING.

    Jay, you got SO robbed on that last caption contest. Sniff. But thanks for stopping by. And you DO rock.

    Mj, I have a closeup of me in another getup, with RED HAIR. (wig)

    Eden, they made me give all the clothes back but I still have the sets of fake eyelashes pasted into my scrapbook. And don't mention SURGERY to me.

    Denise, yes, we all know outside is berry, berry, bad.

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  13. Thaaaaat's better. I could barely make you out in your favorite photo before!

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  14. Dave2 enhanced the photo that I had originally loaded. Now that's what I call a REALLY good blog reader/friend. 99% of my friends are so ball-less that they can't even post a comment so when someone from the internet goes out of their way for you? Pretty fucking cool.

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  15. allen enlow6:05 AM

    Suzy: You are a woman of many talents and many past lives. Who knew you were a showgirl?
    How many more untapped stories have we yet to hear?
    You need to be hosting a talk show...
    "Suzy's Soros"
    later,
    allen
    Ps- And the reason I'm up so early is I'm visiting palm springs for a nephew's wedding and the time change be messin' wit me.

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  16. Ah, so your current travails are the vengeance of St. Rita. It all makes sense now.

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  17. Hey, Suzy, I know you weren't asking for a religious debate, but these statements got me thinking, so I thought I'd throw them your way for what they're worth:

    "Now, I'm not a religious person and abhor all organized religion, believing it is the opiate of the masses."

    --You must have heard some of the same sermons as I have...or sat through 13 verses of "Just As I Am" during an altar call (or the Catholic equivalent, if there is one). : )

    "I am, however, a spiritual person, and yes, there is a huge difference between the two. Spirituality does not require a building nor a particular deity to worship."

    --Religion doesn't require a building, either; I know of groups that meet under trees in Africa. But not during lightning storms.

    I'm curious as to what spirituality does require; according to some people's definition, Hitler and Manson were very spiritual dudes.

    I think I understand what you're getting at, but seriously, I always wonder when I hear someone say things like this if they realize how arrogant it comes across.

    Say you heard a woman saying, "Oh, you're actually DATING someone...in PARTICULAR...and TALK to him, and buy him gifts and tell people his name and even keep his picture on your desk? I'm so glad I'm above all that common old-fashioned stuff. Why, I'm in love with ALL men everywhere, I think loving thoughts all the time--I'm always throwing kisses to the wind...no, I never actually go out with them... but just because they never call me doesn't mean they don't care deeply...I believe in TRUE love, without limits." Would you admire her for having a highly-evolved love life...or wonder if she might be a little unclear on the concept of relationships? And would you wonder whom she calls when a bug needs to be killed in her apartment?
    : )

    "I was brought up Catholic but thought it was bullshit from the age of 13."
    --Frankly, from what I know about Roman Catholic teachings and how they're often rigidly applied (or misapplied) in practice, and seeing how much bad theology and superstition has been mingled in over the centuries by clergy and members alike, I'm not too surprised to hear people reject it when they get a chance. Did'ja hear about the Reformation? But then my Southern Baptist upbringing doesn't exactly give me the most objective of viewpoints on Catholics ("Y'all pray to WHO?"). Someone asked the ol' redneck Baptist if he believed in infant baptism; he replied "BeLIEVE in it? Hayull, I seen it DONE!" : )

    "But I was desperate. I went to the bullshit Church."
    --So was this an act of temporary repentance or simple hypocrisy? : ) Glad the apparent results were memorable, at least.

    I agree that religion--what people do to act out their beliefs--is empty without the spiritual content those activities are supposed to point to...but I think if you look past your own (understandably mixed-at-best) experience, you will find that most religious people agree that the stuff we do (the rituals, the gatherings, the songs, etc.) are about acting out a loving relationship with a Higher Being. As long as people are involved there will be failures in practice...God knows there've been plenty of those...but fortunately spiritual "success" depends on God's grace, not our performance.

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  18. Mark, I'm not a Buddhist but I think they experience the closest thing to spirituality, and yet people will tell you there is only Jesus or Allah. A Buddhist would never tell you that there is only Buddha.

    I don't believe there is a wrong way to pray or to worship or do whatever it is that people do. I believe true faith comes from within, not from without.

    I don't believe in evangelists who take the money of the poor to finance their own lives. I don't believe in Christians who kill in the name of Jesus at abortion clinics. I don't believe in Jews and Arabs who kill in the name of God and Allah. Or Mormons, who believe that Jesus will reappear in Missouri. At least that one is funny.

    I believe that religion is the opiate of the masses because so many people all over the world need something to believe in, having lost belief in themselves or the world they live in. I also believe God/Allah/Buddha and anyone else you worship simply lives in ourselves. We are the Higher Power, and that is the way it was intended. Not to lean on some one or thing we can't see, but upon ourselves.

    As a long time studier of metaphysics, I believe in reincarnation and that the soul is all there is, for it goes on to other planes, sometimes for long times, sometimes for shorter times, only to reincarnate again. Some never do.

    I believe we are here on Earth to either teach or learn and our mistakes are our greatest lessons. They help the soul not have to repeat them in another body, in another lifetime. And more importantly, to become the most perfect, the most kind, the most loving, the most generous person you can be.

    That is spirituality....to me.

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  19. Suzy,

    Eloquently said; thanks for responding. Obviously we agree on much and disagree on some basic things. If we were in the same room with plenty of time on our hands we could have a very interesting (to me) argum—er, conversation. As it is, I can only pray that our individual journeys will lead us to the same happy place, eventually. Then we can share a laugh at those crazy Mormons! HA! Kidding. Mostly. Love ya.

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  20. Mark, I forgot the part about the pedophiles hiding in the Catholic Church.

    I know there are bad individuals everywhere, but if people are going to pontificate that their way is the only way, then I expect them to hold that truth and walk that walk.

    There are 4 things I usually never discuss: Religion, politics, gun control or abortion. If red is your favorite color and mine is blue, I'm not going to waste a whole lot of time telling you you're wrong. So you got more out of me than I've divulged in years.

    And yes, let's hope we meet up in the same place.

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  21. one- that first picture of you is really marcia brady isn't it?

    two- i can't ski worth shit- i grew up in the tropics so not my fault

    three- are those boobs i see in that pic? did you go topless in that show as well? ;)

    great story!

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  22. Suzy, your post brought back some painful memories; I had to link to it and share a skiing story of my own. I am sure you had better luck than I did!
    http://northernoutpostpa.blogspot.com/2007/12/adventures-with-gravity.html

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  23. Mark Jabo8:17 AM

    Sure the little kids can ski, but can they hold their hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps in the lodge afterwards?

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