You ever have one of those moments where you just want to stand somewhere and just scream as loud as your lungs and vocal chords would allow you to scream?
Yeah, I see those nods … imagine I am giving you a high five you right now.
Today at noon was one of those moments for me. I had just left a 10 o’clock meeting with my publisher . and my head was swimming with about a 100 new ideas. It had been a good meeting – really. My second book’s final draft was accepted and being published in two weeks. The book tour will start a week after that.
Two weeks … Wait … They are going to publish my book in two weeks, and the book tour is in three ... but my cousin is getting married in three weeks … and I am her maid of honor.
And after walking off the elevator, and out the lobby, that is when the feeling hit me, and hit me hard, “AAARRRGGGGHHHHHH”
No, I didn’t scream out loud. Are you kidding? A white woman dressed in a button trim, fancy dress from Ann Taylor, a pair of matching Cory Cork blocked heel sandals and a pair of pearlized stud earrings standing in front of one of the most populated office skyscrapers in New York, screaming for bloody murder would cause pure panic.
And a 24 hour hold at the local hospital’s psychiatric wing.
But I stood there, screaming in my head for a few moments, while peering out into the masses of bodies, swarming like ants on the sidewalks, and in the crosswalks. My green eyes were hidden by a pair of Pantos round sunglasses, and my dark brown hair was pulled back into a bun. I gave off every bit of a false impression of a woman with confidence and a woman who had it all together.
I didn’t at that moment.
See … there is a little secret that most people don’t know about me. This woman in this outfit is not me. I am more of a blue jeans, t-shirt, tennis shoes, hair up in a scrunchie kind of girl.
The Ann Taylor dress is one I borrowed from the wardrobe department from the morning talk show that I produce. The earrings are my mom’s. She lent them to me without knowing she lent them to me.
Who wears high heels in New York City? I borrowed the shoes are from one of the hosts of the show. She said I needed to look professional, and the sunglasses, well, the sunglasses were mine.
I have a fetish for sunglasses and reading glasses, and tend to probably spend a little too much on this obsession. My boyfriend says I need to into detox. I have to wear prescription glasses for being both far sighted and near sighted, so I am always looking for frames that are wild, colorful and just make you take a second look at them.
Part of that is probably because then I know people won’t be looking at me. I can run a television show, wrangle writers, guests, hosts, handle budgets, do power lunches and power dinners, survive on power naps and coffee, but there is this thing that I don’t let on to just anyone.
I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself, and really, would rather be in the shadows as much as I can. For years, I was bullied and made fun of because I wore glasses, my head was a little big, and I was overweight – still am a little, but I am healthy.
Even at age 32, I still have the ‘fat, four-eyed kid’ insecurities … big crowds are OK, but intimate small numbers bother me. I have dealt with the challenges of an anxiety and panic disorder for years. There are days at work when I start feeling overwhelmed that I will just go hide in my office for several minutes, and just cry. Then the anxiety and panic disorder developed into obsessive compulsive disorder.
So, doing this ... the woman meeting her publisher, the woman waiting to hail a taxi, the woman in the middle of oh, a zillion crazed people, the woman who has to be in front of a bunch of folks signing books and talking and reading ... is just this costume I put on each day.
The taxi pulled up just as I felt my heart pounding. How in the world was I going to do this and do the wedding at the same time. “The corner of 42nd and Madison, please.”
The Hispanic man in the front turned, “Jade!” His brown eyes glittered in the sunlight reflecting off the windshield.
I laughed as I settled in the seat, putting my pocketbook beside me, taking deep breaths. “Tio Henry.” Sweat was slowly beginning drop down my back – not real sweat – just the anxiety stuff that comes when I get flustered.
Henry Andrade was my dad’s best friend in high school. He owned the cab company, but every once in a while, he would come out and drive the routes. And wouldn’t you know, today would be the day. He was my godfather, and oh, yeah, he knew my secret.
“You OK?” He looked at me, as he turned the clock off.
“Oh, you know me, Tio Henry, I just am rocking and rolling through this,” I smiled and opened my pocketbook, and reached my hand in, and felt it.
Henry nodded, “Back to work?” He looked toward traffic.
“No, gotta meet Mom and Aunt Sylvia and Liv for lunch. How is Tia Maria?” Maria was Henry’s wife.
Henry said, “She is good.” I could feel him watching me through the mirror as my hand moved about in my purse. “Is that Phineas?”
I stopped, and made a fish face with my lips, and looked at him sheepishly, “Yes sir.”
Tio Henry said, “Bring the little guy out in the open, mi sobrina. You must have got some tough news today.”
I lifted a small, six inch, tan, stuffed monkey out of my purse. He smelled of Irish Spring, and sparkled in the sun. His name was Phineas Ezekiel, and he has been my “therapy monkey,” for two years now.
My therapist said it might help. I used to have a dog – but we had to adopt him out when he got too big for the apartment and was miserable from not being able to run freely.
So, I guess that is my even bigger secret. I carry a stuffed toy monkey around. Normally, he is in my pocket or purse, or if I am in my office, he is sitting by my computer. It is just something about rubbing his fur in the topsy turvy moments of life that calms me.
“No, Tio. Actually good news … my new book is being published in two weeks, a book tour will be soon, and it just hit me, with the wedding, the book and work, life is going to be very colorful for a bit.” I said.
I held Phin in my lap, and rubbed him with both hands, listening to the talk radio that Tio Henry was listening to, and occasionally answering a question or asking one of him. The ride didn’t take long.
“We’re here.” Tio Henry said, pulling up to a spot near the front of the restaurant. I stuck Phin back into my purse, straightened out my skirt, and licked my lips.
I tried to pay him, but he shrugged it off. “Jade, you worry too much.You know that. You know because you have faith, you love God, that everything is going to be OK. This, this stuff you mentioned, it is nothing. Remember what your Nana used to tell you ... in light of eternity, this doesn’t matter. Just be you. Let God handle all the rest. Everything will fall into place.”
He touched my hand through the window, and kissed it. “I love you, my girl.”
A tear started to form as he mentioned my grandmother. I squeezed his hand. “I love you, Tio!” I backed away and started walking around the back of the car to the entrance of the restaurant.
Looking at me, you wouldn’t know I was a basket case with a stuffed monkey in my pocketbook would you? Oh, wait, you can’t see me. Just picture it. Imagine me as the actress Sandra Bullock, except 15 pounds heavier, green eyes and a tan, and a New York accent.
I walked toward the door, stumbling for minute on an imaginary pebble. I hate high heels. Opening the door, I hold it for an elderly couple coming out.
“Ms. Muldrano, your mother called, they are running a few minutes late. We are preparing your table for you.” The maitre’d … oh, what is his name … Max called to me from his post.
Nodding, I point toward the bar, “I will be over there.”
Lunch time in New York City – no matter where you are is a madhouse. Mason’s Grille was always busy. Some of us from the studio would walk over at least once or twice a week.
Sitting down on one of the stools at the end of the bar, I had to remind myself I was in a fancy dress. I put my purse on top of the bar next to me, hand on top of it. I could feel Phin’s shape. The tint on my sunglasses went lighter – you get what you pay for most of the time with these expensive glasses, and I liked that.
The bartender, Leo, walked over with a small glass filled with brown liquid, round ice cubes, a lemon, and a straw. “Hey Jade, here you go.” He put a napkin down. I smiled. Leo was my boyfriend, Corey’s cousin and roommate. No, he didn’t know all of my secrets.
“Hey. Thank you. Best glass of Coca-Cola in this whole town. Thank you for my lemon.” I smiled, taking a sip.
Leo smiled, “You are the only one I know of who puts a lemon slice in her caffeine free Coke.” He shuddered. “How was your meeting with your publisher? Corey said they were going to let you know about the book?”
Crap. I forgot to call Corey. I unzip my purse and grab my phone. “It was good.”
Someone said, “Bartender.”
“I will be right back,” Leo said. I watched him walk down to the other end of the bar.
The phone rang … straight to voice mail. After the beep, “Hey baby. Well, Harvey signed a good deal. Looks like the book will be out on the shelves in two weeks, and then will have a three week book tour … And the wedding … and .. But, anyway, I am about to meet Liv, her mom and my mom for lunch. Love you.” I clicked off.
Just the thought of all the stuff going on ignited the butterflies again. I turned off my phone and took off my glasses, and slipped everything back in my purse, giving Phin a quick stroke before i zipped it back up.
My drink was gone before my lunch dates arrived. “Jade!” Liv called, pointing toward the table as she led our moms through the crowd. I grabbed my purse, and slid off the bar stool, catching Leo’s eye, pointing at the glass.
“I got you, girl.” He nodded, waving me on.
Weaving through the people near the door, I slid finally into some breathing and moving room, and got to the table by the window just as the waiter was sitting my mother and aunt. “Hello.”
My mom smiled. “Look at you. Don’t you look nice?” She leaned up for me to kiss her cheek, which I did, and I scooted behind her, and leaned over and kissed my aunt, who patted my back.
Liv stood, and gave me a hug, as we sat next to each other. I put my purse over the chair back. Aunt Sylvia said, “Your purse is bulging a little, Jade, what have you got in there?”
My aunt doesn’t know that I carry Phin with me. Liv does – we are best friends. She is like a big sister to me – since both of my sisters are way older than us. Liv ordered him for me from Amazon.
Mom saved the day. “Oh, she always has to carry her phone, her notes, her inhaler for her asthma and her, I bet there are a couple of pairs of sunglasses in there.”
I smiled at my mom as she gave me a wink. “I learned from you, mamacita. Oh, guess who picked me up in the cab today … totally random.”
Mom said, “Henry?”
“Yup. Today is his day to be like regular people, I guess,” I put my napkin over my lap, and took the menu from the waiter. I don’t know why. I knew what i was getting, and I am sure the waiter knew since he waited on me lots.
Liv was looking at her menu, “Tio Henry cracks me up … the man is worth millions, but he still likes driving the cab.”
We made some idle chit chat, as we looked at the menus – you know – regular stuff – what we were going to order, who was going to do this and that, what so and so was doing … the waiter came back about the time that Leo walked over with a tray of drinks.
Mind you, no one at the table was drinking alcohol. He had Mom and Aunt Sylvia glasses of his famous raspberry, honey and vanilla iced tea, my Coke and a Club Soda for Liv.
Talk then was polite with Leo for a few minutes, and there was some laughter. I don’t remember what we said. Once the food was ordered, and the menus taken up, Liv turned to me. “We have a problem.”
Aunt Sylvia made a noise. “You have a problem.”
I looked at my mom. She shook her head, and rolled her eyes.
The word ‘problem’ seemed to escalate the flight of the butterflies in my stomach. I took a sip of my drink.
“Problem?” I had not even told her my news yet.
Liv played with a curl of her golden blonde hair, and took a deep breath. “I miscalculated the wedding date, a bit.”
I looked at her, “What are you talking about?”
Mom and Aunt Sylvia both laughed. Aunt Sylvia said, “Miscalculated? I am so thankful we were not doing invitations and the announcement has not come out yet.”
“What?” I put my hands in my lap, and started clasping them and unclasping them. Mom gave me a look and breathed in and out … her reminder for me to do so.
Liv said, “We are going to have to move the wedding back about three more weeks.” She shut her eyes, and then peeked at me. “I made a scatterbrained boo boo in booking the church and caterers.”
I stopped. She wants to move her wedding back – three more weeks. Relief hit me like a delicious strawberry pie with whipped cream in my face. I started to giggle.
Mom looked at me, then at Aunt Sylvia, “Jade?”
Liv touched my forehead, “She is not feverish. Why are you laughing? I goofed up my own wedding date.”
I stopped, and caught my breath. “I was just told today that my book will be out in two weeks, and the book tour starts after that – a day or two after your wedding. I would be gone for two weeks.” I wiped my eyes with my napkin.
Mom said, “The book, it is going to be out, they liked the final draft?” She clapped her hands.
Aunt Sylvia exclaimed, “That is good news.”
“What? Live and Jade’s Big Adventure is going to be out? Oh wow!” Liv hugged me. “That is great.”
Sighing, I said, “I was freaking out trying to figure out how everything was going to work out, and Tio Henry said, God would handle it all … I don’t know if he meant you would make a scatterbrained boo boo, but hey, I will take it.”
Liv laughed and picked up her glass, “Well, here’s to scatterbrained boo boos and your new book and my wedding.”
We all clinked glasses, and took sips. I turned to Liv, “Have you told Shawn yet?” Her fiancee is Shawn.
Liv’s eyes went wide. I knew what she was thinking. She forgot. Liv grabbed her phone out of the outer pocket of her purse, and walked outside the restaurant dialing.
Mom and Aunt Sylvia were gossiping about something, so I reached for my purse, to see if Corey had called, and decided not check my phone. Phin was looking at me face up. I smiled, and rubbed his fur.
Should I tell about him? … nah. somethings are better kept secret. Shh, don’t tell.