Nora, Tommy & the Hispano Bloggers Awards

We’re halfway through 2012, and the Fifty/Fifty challenge is looming LARGE, taunting me, as if it already knows I’m not going to make it.

For, I’m falling behind like nobody’s business.

But, cut me some slack, okay? You all know how busy I am. Frankly, I don’t know why I agreed to this aggressive challenge, anyway, but the fact of the matter is I did, and now I just have to deal.

So here’s what I did this month: I embraced my romantic side.

Yes, this jaded Latina from Queens, who still has the scars of divorce imprinted on her heart, still wants to believe in that happily ever after ending. Maybe it’s a dream. Maybe I’m in love with love, or, rather, love, as it appears in the movies. Too bad life doesn’t imitate art.

And no one portrays love in the cinema like Nora Ephron, the greatest, happy-go-lucky romantic of them all, who, sadly passed away this June. Nora looked on the bright side of life, and her movies resonate with her upbeat style and sensibility. Which is why I decided to have myself a Nora Ephron movie marathon, which I started in June and, time got the better of me, so my marathon sort of wiggled its way into early July (Happy Fourth, Nora!) and I haven’t quite finished (Mixed Nuts and Julie and Julia, you’re next!)

I watched Heartburn (the most empowering movie about divorce, ever!), Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally. I have to tell you, after watching these four films, I’ve come to the conclusion that Nora’s movies are not necessarily love stories centered on two people. Nope.

What these films really and truly represent, is an exquisitely gift-wrapped homage to what was undoubtedly Nora’s greatest love of all:  New York City. Manhattan, the city that never sleeps.

These movies celebrate all that is beautiful, dreamy and sublime about the city. The music sets the tone and the stories capture the jazzy mood of Manhattan, much like the films of Woody Allen.  Even, Sleepless in Seattle comes to a rousing, starry-eyed finale at the top of the Empire State Building, which is all lit up—thanks to technical wizardy—with a giant red heart. Ah, love! Ah, New York!

Ah, Nora! Ah, Tommy!

Singer/Songwriter, Tommy Torres

Tommy? Yes, Tommy.  For, when it comes to love, what better way to express the feelings it stirs than through music? As Shakespeare himself, wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on.”

Sure, Harry Connick, Jr. and Jimmy Durante have it down in Nora’s movies. Their love songs trip the light fantastic, building upon the idealistic feelings the films convey. But, any Latina knows, that when it comes to genuine, heartbreaking, passionate, die-for-love romance, Latin lovers have a way with words—and song.

And lately, here’s whom I’ve been listening to: Tommy Torres. He’s a big sensation in Latin countries, but that’s changing, so watch out. Tommy Torres is crossing over.

Now, I love coming across new talent. But, Tommy’s been around for over a decade, writing songs for the likes of Alicia Keyes and Ricky Martin. He’s got a voice and a way around a keyboard that reaches into the depths of your soul. His music and his voice, which reminds me of the style of Jamie Cullum and James Morrison, are very sexy, indeed.

I could listen to Tommy Torres all day long. And, if you ask me, there’s nothing like a love song enhanced by the sound of a piano, guaranteed to tug at my heartstrings.  Listen to his latest, titled “Querido Tommy” (Dear Tommy) and see what I mean. It is a love letter, an impassioned request for advice from a lovelorn fan:

What’s special about this song is its roots in social media. A fan named Paco, contacted Tommy through Twitter, asking for his advice. At first, Tommy didn’t respond, so Paco sent him another message. This time, Tommy replied by creating this song. Released through social media in late May, it became an instant hit, and to date has received more than 800,000 visits on YouTube.

Tommy has an album coming out in August (The album release date was actually moved up as a result of the song’s success). So, stay tuned. For, I am certain Tommy and his music are going places!

Hispano Bloggers In other news, Ashley (who you may recall, recently adopted a puppy) has nominated me for a 2012 Hispano Bloggers award! This is such an honor–and incredibly flattering. It is also unexpected (I did not put her up to this!), but, now that I’ve been nominated, I must do my part to help Ashley help me win!

So, here’s where you come in: Ashley and I would love it if you tweeted the news about my nomination. Here’s the info for the tweet, which you can copy and paste:

@AshleyR125 just nominated @monicastangled for the 2012 #HispanoBlogger Awards: http://HispanoBloggers.com! #2012HBAwards #Hispz #Latism.

The more it’s tweeted, the better my chances, so I’m counting on you!

Oh, and getting back to my Fifty/Fifty challenge, I actually read a book and saw a couple of other films in June, and you can find them on my Fifty/Fifty page.

So, tell me, what have you been up to, vis-à-vis, movies, music and/or mayhem? And, while you’re at it, any books to recommend?

And I Quote, Part 3

I know what you’re thinking. It’s been far too long since I’ve posted any quotes. Well, fear not. This is your red-letter day!

On the Dissolution of a Marriage:

Incidentally, I also recommend the film version with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson!

The first time I read Nora Ephron’s book, Heartburn, I cried when I came to this passage. As far as I was concerned, Nora hit the nail on the head. It was as if I had written this, not her. For, she seemed to be describing my life at the time, and those thoughts were my thoughts, too:

“I am no beauty, and I’m getting on in years, and I have just about enough money to last me sixty days, and I am terrified of being alone, and I can’t bear the idea of divorce, but I would rather die than sit here and pretend it’s okay, I would rather die than sit here figuring out how to get you to love me again, I would rather die than spend five more minutes going through your drawer and wondering where you are and anticipating the next betrayal and worrying about whether my poor, beat-up, middle-aged body with its Caesarean scars will ever turn you on again. I can’t stand feeling sorry for myself. I can’t stand feeling like a victim. I can’t stand hoping against hope. I can’t stand sitting here with all this rage turning to hurt and then to tears. I can’t stand not talking!”—Nora Ephron, Heartburn

In the Blogosphere:

Now, here’s what I love about blogging: I’ve met so many bloggers and have enjoyed perusing their posts and comments. Here are a few that I absolutely adore:

On Aging:

This blogger never ceases to crack me up. Here’s her take on getting old:

“Now I dash from one low lit area to the next to camouflage the vicious effects of age…a zoo mauling if you will. It’s as though my body got caught in a twister and hasn’t touched down.”Annie Off Leash

On Relationships:

I admire the blogger who wrote this, for her spirituality:

“People are not mean to us because they do not like us. They are mean to us because they do not like themselves.”

Jodi, Heal Now and Forever Be in Peace

This next one is from a blogger who seems to question whether she can write poetry. Well, if you ask me, poetry is her forte.

“Each memory once wrapped
delicately in layers of pink tissue paper,
then stored,
now savagely exposed,
dropped in haste
clothes strewn at our feet
our renewed passion
spent
on the sheets
of the rented bed in
room 619.”

— From “When the Heart Decides,” a poem by Brenda Moguez, Passionate Pursuits

On Being Female:  This has to be one of my favorite comments left on a blog, ever, and it happens to be in reference to a poem written by Brenda:

“I so love visiting your site, Brenda. Whenever you write about womanhood, I hear a chiffon dress whispering, smell lipstick and strawberries, and feel like I glimpse pieces of my soul. Thank you.” – Beverly Diehl, Writing in Flow

On Writing a Group Mystery

One of my favorite lines, in the recent mystery on the high seas story that Bella and I asked for your help in writing, was from Bella, herself.  She posted this to the story on her blog, and when I read it, I couldn’t stop laughing.

“Raoul!” The deep, booming voice of Captain Alvarez Mendoza Santiago Perez sliced through the tension-filled room like a knife! “I’ve got two women engaged in a cat fight on the Lido deck, another snapping pictures and spilling her drink everywhere, Bartholomew fighting off the crowd single-handedly, and the dead woman on ice in the dining room. What the hell are you waiting for?” – Bella, One Sister’s Rant

On Crime & the Law Not Mixing:

Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham in “Downton Abbey.”

This next one is from Weeds, a TV series centered around Nancy Botwin, a suburban single mom who sells pot for a living.

“Babe, these are cops. I’m a drug dealer, you’re a murderer. We can’t all play on the same kick ball team.” — Nancy Botwin to her young son, Shane, on why he can’t befriend a police officer

On Mothers

I chose this one because, well, dammit, it’s good. That’s all.

“I wanted you to love me—no, I wanted more than that: I wanted to be like you, just like you, wanted to wear those scarves and that scent, to hang that pendant around my neck, to put on those stockings and pearls, to dress in silk dresses the way you did, and wear your favorite shade of lipstick on my lips. You were all beauty to me, Mother. You were everything female, everything woman. I loved you so much that I wanted to grow up to be exactly like you, and the thought that I had done something bad choked me with guilt and grief.” – Mary Mackey, from I’ve Always Meant to Tell You: Letters to Our Mothers – An Anthology of Contemporary Women Writers

A Chuckle with a Dowager Countess

Earlier this year, PBS’ Masterpiece aired a new season of Downton Abbey, one of my favorite British series. Maggie Smith, as Violet, the Dowager had some delicious lines. Here’s a sampling:

 “Will someone please tell me what’s going on, or have we all stepped through the looking glass?”

“Don’t be a defeatist dear. It’s very middle class.”

“Wasn’t there a masked ball in Paris when cholera broke out? Half the guests were dead before they left the ballroom.”

“Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would ever dream of dying in someone else’s house, especially someone they didn’t even know.”

 

Now, it’s your turn. Any of these thoughts quotes strike a chord with you?

Do you have one of your own to share?

 

Songs in the Key of Divorce

When I was a kid I’d imagine a soundtrack to my life, just like the people in the movies. When Audrey Hepburn goes traipsing through the streets of New York, Henry Mancini‘s haunting melody, Moon River, follows her all the way to Tiffany’s. It’s the same for John Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy, only this time it’s Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’.

So why not a soundtrack for me as I jauntily made my way through the streets of Flushing, New York? No such luck.  Henry Mancini wouldn’t give me the time of day. Ditto for Harry Nilsson. And forget John Williams. My Star Wars theme song just wasn’t in the cards.

But then something happened when my divorce was larger than life—consuming every waking moment—and haunting my dead-of-night dreams. Hands down, this was one of the most agonizing, unforgiving chapters of my life.

And so I invented my own soundtrack.  One created out of necessity, to help me cope and find sanity—and a bit of comfort, too. There are many stages in divorce and, lucky me, I didn’t miss a single one. So herewith are the songs that accompanied me during each of these phases:

Phase One: Shock, Denial  – Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You

Whitney Houston’s songs in The Bodyguard soundtrack got me through this stage. I was still having strong feelings for my ex, despite his shameless ways. I was still in denial that my marriage was over and my damn heart wasn’t ready to believe the worst, let alone move on. Perhaps, I needed Cher to yell at me to “SNAP OUT OF IT!” Sans that, Whitney voiced my emotions best.

Phase Two: Mourning – Carly Simon’s Coming Around Again

This was the period when Carly Simon’s songs from the film, Heartburn, became my constant companion. In Heartburn, Meryl’s character is pregnant and married to Jack Nicholson, a louse who cheats on her. Boy, could I relate! I wasn’t pregnant but, at the time, my youngest was still in diapers. A lot of the songs on this album are empowering, including my favorite, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, which is a twist on the childhood ditty. Coming Around Again gave me the kind of hope that springs eternal, representing my “I’m-a-survivor-like-Meryl-Street-in-Heartburn” period. It also showed me that the only solution to my divorce hell was the one that involved leaving my marriage behind, and moving on.

Phase Three: Rebuilding and S-l-o-w-l-y Moving On – Sting’s album, Ten Summoner’s Tales.

Can you believe I never listened to Sting before my divorce? Sure, I was familiar with The Police, but  Sting was already on his own and my marriage was unraveling around the time that this album came out. These songs put me in a different state of mind, making me feel like I was worth something. Sting’s music helped me rebuild my shattered self-esteem. Songs like, She’s Too Good for Me and Fields of Gold.

Phase Four: On My Own – U-2’s Joshua Tree

Pre-divorce, the only Bono I knew of was Sonny. But Bono of U-2 fame became my latest obsession after hearing a duet he sang with Frank Sinatra on, I’ve Got You Under My Skin. And boy, did Bono get under my skin, with his ultra sexy, bedroom voice.  I couldn’t get enough of this guy and then my friend Hellen, told me about U-2 and gave me the Joshua Tree CD. One play and I was smitten. Three songs made all the difference for me:  Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and With or Without You.

Phase Five: The Single Life—or to Hell with Being Married! – Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell II

Some may find this hard to believe, but during this time, I became a Meat Loaf junkie. Bat Out of Hell became my anthem.  Thanks to a gym I belonged to, where they’d play Meat Loaf constantly during some intense step classes, I became a dancing queen, finding new joy in my singleton life.  Best songs on this album include: I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire, and Good Girls Go to Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere).

The songs I chose to listen to became a part of my therapy and ultimately contributed to my healing.  So for all of you currently going through your divorces, or just thinking about it, now you have my “Divorce is Hell” playlist to add to your iTunes library.  Consider it my gift to you. Trust me, you’ll feel better.  And, you’ll also owe me one. So, you’re welcome.