multitasking as i often do, i was unwinding from a long day, casually scrolling through facebook and attempting to sneak in a few pages of reading while trying (unsuccessfully) to tune out tad, the singing frog, who was instructing my little one on letter sounds, while the older one was engrossed in the adventures of frodo and sam on the “lord of the rings” trilogy (for the 3rd time).
“the b says “buh”. the b says “buh”. every letter makes a sound…”
“ugh. damn you, leapfrog,” i thought, knowing that the incessant tune would haunt me for hours after the last verse was sung. until someone figures out how to teach phonics by osmosis, i’ve accepted that my reality for the next few years will consist of loud, sing-songy gadgets that go on ad nauseum until a lightbulb goes off in his cute little head. it will be worth it, i know—a necessary evil on the path to learning and development…but did the toys have to be so repetitive and annoying?
“now where was i?” i read the same sentence for the 4th time, finally absorbing about 75% of the words. another realization: i now have the attention span of a flea. i pictured myself transforming into a large insect, like the protagonist in kafka’s “metamorphosis.” it’s not that i wasn’t completely interested in the subject matter at hand (an art exhibit by prada debuting in venice). it’s just that i’m simply finding myself stretched these days. distracted. spread too thin. a shell of my former, focused self. best of intentions. worst of execution.
i turned the page. then something grabbed me. pulled me onto the page. and held me there like a vice grip. it was one of the most beautiful photos of elizabeth taylor that i had ever seen. piercing violet eyes. wild chestnut mane. vibrant coral lips. pre-diva, pre-“foxy cleopatra,” even pre-“cat on a hot tin roof”—which i think is hands down the most amazing assemblage of blindingly beautiful people to ever hit the big screen (hello, paul newman in his prime)…
“the h say hot, the h says hot…”
she was the original goddess. beauty incarnate. glittery. glamorous. even deliciously scandalous.
i thought about the irony of reading about this supreme diva as i sat there in my sweats, chocolate chip cookie in one hand and the faint smell of a dirty diaper from clear across the room.
but as i read more, i was reminded: perception is far from reality. her reality was chronic back pain and health issues, a trail of 7 husbands, and a best friend in michael jackson, who shared her feelings of youth lost in pursuit of stardom. despite her stunning beauty, the jewels, and the one $1 billion she left in her estate, she was, in many ways, damaged goods. in true hollywood style, her fails were probably as epic as her success. she had warts and blemishes to go along with the bling. she was, in a word, human.
she passed away on march 23 to much fan fare in the media. in her later years, she had grown to be such a caricature that all the retrospectives focused on her technicolor glory days, relegating her twilight years to a footnote at the end of the segments.
who doesn’t want to believe in the ideal? that somewhere on the other side of life, they’re “livin life like a video, where the sun is always out and you never get old, and the champagne is always cold.” but they’re also licking wounds. hiding skeletons. wishing. wanting. dreaming of things that, despite their riches, they don’t have.
elizabeth taylor. princess diana. arnold and maria. the calvacade of A-listers being paraded on stage during oprah’s last hurrah. we all love the spectacle. the fantasy. the fabulosity. (and I would’ve been the first one aboard that crazy train if a ticket dropped into my lap!) but don’t forget: it should be about inspiration, not exultation. it’s not about perfection, but perspective.