We Need A Little Christmas?

we-need-a-little-christmasIf you don’t know, the 1958 movie Auntie Mame by Rosalind Russell is one of my favorites of all time.  There’s also the 1966 Broadway Musical Mame which starred the incomparable Angela Lansbury.  (There is also a 1972 musical movie version of Mame that stars Lucille Ball, which I’m told is great – but it’s hard for me to watch because of my love for Ms. Russell’s version).

Either way – it was the Broadway version of Mame that first brought us “We Need A Little Christmas” – a song I also love.

Mame has just lost her entire fortune in the Wall Street crash of 1929.  She has no way to provide for herself or her young nephew Patrick, or her faithful household help – her own little family.  Things are the bleakest they have been, with no hope of change any time soon.  Mame declares they “need a little Christmas” even though it’s several weeks too early – and insists they all open their Christmas presents right then.

The tune itself is deceptively cheery – and when I first heard it – I had no idea of the deeper meaning behind it. The forced gaiety, the permission to laugh and smile for just a while, to shake off the burden and stress of the moment – knowing there was still a hard road ahead – strikes a little close today.

Don’t tell me to cheer up – don’t tell me to shake it off – don’t tell me to get over it.”  I’ve seen this dozens of times in my Facebook newsfeed this morning.  And I get it.  And I’m not telling anyone that their fears, their concerns, or their sadness needs to go away.  That’s not my right, and that’s not my point.

But the burden of this new reality is exhausting. We will break our own spirits before anyone else does if we don’t give ourselves permission to find joy amid the rubble.  Maybe not even joy – just time to renew and rebuild so we have strength to carry on.

Don’t pretend this isn’t happening.  Don’t give up the fight.  But when you can, give yourself comfort and lean on each other for a little Christmas in the midst of crisis.  Because we need a little Christmas now.

Searching for Signs

gaffney-peachI wrote the numbers down on a 3×5 card that I carefully pinned to the visor of my car.

 

  • 90
  • 84
  • 91
  • 287
  • 78
  • 81
  • 77
  • 85
  • 385

Those were the roads I needed to take to reach my destination – going from Massachusetts to South Carolina for school. As I got behind the wheel of my ’88 light blue Honda Civic Sedan, I checked the list again.  Then I fastened my seatbelt, turned on the ignition, and headed out the driveway and on to the Mass Turnpike to start my journey.

I had taken this route many times – in my parents’ car, with friends, by tour bus, but this time I was driving it on my own.  No cell phone, no GPS. No exit numbers. Just me, an index card, a back up road atlas, and my car.

I knew how long it was through each state – Massachusetts to Connecticut to New York to Pennsylvania, and then 3 hours. A quick jaunt through Maryland and West Virginia followed by 5 grueling hours through Virginia.  Then North Carolina, and finally South Carolina.  The Gaffney Peach was always the welcome sign that we were almost there.

I now live by the GPS app on my phone (WAZE) and even when I’m just driving home – I still turn it on to help me avoid traffic jams and unforeseen road delays.

Yet there I was, barely 20, driving myself almost 1000 miles with no clearer direction than searching for the signs to tell me where the roads led, and then choosing which way I wanted to go.

This morning, I woke up and felt lost.  The road ahead for us is not clear, and many dangerous things lie ahead. With all my technology, there is no confirmed route that will ensure a safe outcome for any of us.

I took the roads that I thought would lead me where I wanted to end up – a place that would provide safety to my friends, equality for all.  I woke up and found out – the orange glow was not a familiar landmark telling me we were in the home stretch.  Instead, I know we have some new routes to plot out, some new travel plans to make, and a long, long way to go.

I’m still confident we’ll get there.  I’m just not sure when. And I hope my fellow travelers will be safe along the way.

 

This weekend, SH and I went with a group of our friendsdoctor-strange-movie-composer-cumberbatch to see Marvel’s Doctor Strange.   Don’t worry – I’m not going to spoil the movie in any way – but I did want to talk about just one aspect of it.

Stephen Strange is a doctor – a brilliant neurosurgeon with all the cockiness that often accompanies brilliance.  He is precise, impeccable, seemingly impervious to error.  And then that is taken away from him and he has to start again.  (See not spoiled – just summarized.)

As his life changes, people keep asking him his name – calling him Mr. Strange, Master Strange, Stephen. One person even says he can no longer be called Doctor Strange, because he’s no longer able to do surgery.

At a key moment, he explodes:  “I am Doctor Strange.  Not Mister, Not Master . . .”  He goes on to talk about who he was then, what he learned while a doctor, is part of what it took to make him what he is now.

SH and I often talk about how what we went through in our past is what led us to each other.  One change, and we might never have wound up together.  The things I studied in college, the jobs I took in my past, the people I knew and surrounded myself with – all these things, no matter how successful or unsuccessful, made me who I am now.

Sometimes, it’s easier to ignore who we were.  Perhaps it embarasses or saddens us.  Perhaps it makes us regret things. But the more important thing is that we learn from it, use it as we move forward, and make our world better because of it.

And then, as the Ancient One points out, remember – it isn’t always about you.

Cleaning Out The Closet

Today I grabbed a shirt that I haven’t worn in a while and threw it on.

Oh wow – this is cute – forgot I had this.” I thought.

No wonder – my closet is getting full again.  And now that the Gala and other things are over, it’s time to go through and pull out all the things I’m not wearing and give them away.

My co-worker Harley and I were discussing closets this morning.  She recently moved in with her boyfriend and her closet is driving her a little crazy.

It’s just not the way I like it.  I like to categorize things together – shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, etc. Right now it’s just everything all jammed in together and it’s driving me nuts.

I thought about my closet and agreed.  It’s not as orderly as I would like it to be.  But I really don’t have a right to complain – because my husband spoils me and does the laundry and hangs up the clothes.  If I’m going to complain, I’m going to have to be willing to do it myself.

My test when I go through my closet is how I feel when I look at it.  Life is too short to wear clothes that don’t give me joy. I would wear one shirt until it’s threadbare if it gives me joy, rather than have 20 shirts that I put on that just make me sigh.  Besides, there are other people that might find joy in them or need them more.

When I was going through my divorce, I had this small 450 sq ft. apartment – with one big closet.  Every few weeks I would go through and just re-organize it.  Partly because I was poor and bored, but also because my belongings were at a very controllable level.

Since moving back, I’ve seen my “things” take a sharp uptick – especially with the wedding and the merging of households and the general happiness.  The Gala allowed us to clear out all the donations, and before we start collecting again for 2017, I want to get things back in control.

I have this gigantic urge to go through and declutter my whole house – but I’m going to start with my closet.  Next up is the kitchen, then the spare bedroom and the office.  And then the mother of all challenges, the garage.

But first, let’s get to that closet.

 

 

From Briefcase to Purse

Today, I used my orange purse.

Big deal, right?  Well, actually, yes.

18 months ago, I decided I needed a change from where I was working.  I could feel my attitude towards my job changing, and I found myself under an incredible amount of stress.  I actually woke up with night terrors from the pressure.

I left the company at the end of January 2015, taking a higher level, better paying job with a smaller firm.  This new job added more pressure for performance, but at least I had more control and ability to implement the changes needed.  I found myself working long hours, and soon purchased a briefcase so I could take my laptop home with me every night and weekend just in case I needed it.

I also began to travel for my job – something I enjoyed but that often exhausted me.  My health, which was already suffering, became worse. The plantar fibromatosis has grown increasingly more painful, and treatment only cured things temporarily. And even though my work environment was better, the weighty aspects of my job continued to wear on me.

With my wedding in May of 2016, I felt like I couldn’t make any major changes before then – but I also realized that with all the cost-saving budgeting we had been doing to afford our nuptials, I could afford to take a pay cut if it meant finding a job that gave me a better quality of life.

Within 2 weeks of returning from my honeymoon, I accepted a new job with a small but solid digital marketing firm. The changes to my work life were immediate.  But I still couldn’t break the habit of bringing my briefcase every day just in case.

My new boss, however, did not expect us to work nights or weekends.  “We are not curing cancer here, there is no reason to work past 5 PM.”  And she often will be the one shooing us out the door at 5:01.

A few months ago, a friend told me about a sale on laptops, and we snagged one on the last day of the sale. And even though I’ve not used it for work, it’s there if I ever did really need it.

This week, my boss called me in to the office and gave me a 5-minute, highly positive review and a raise.  It was official, I had found my new work home.

And that was it.  My last reason for carrying around the briefcase, and the significance attached to it, was gone.

So today, I pulled my well-loved orange purse down from my closet shelf, transferred over my few personal belongings from my briefcase, and left the house.

Big deal, right?  Yes, yes it is.

 

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The Quilt

img_4545The quilt was an idea I had several years ago.  To get t-shirts from past Geek Galas, along with from some of our sponsors, and put them together as an auction item to help raise money for the event.

It took a while to get it together – to gather enough shirts, to find someone to quilt it, to get it done in time for the Gala.  I had been talking about it for a while, and I know that some folks started to lose faith in it ever getting done – because sometimes projects are just pipe dreams you talk about but never do.

But this year was the year.  I’d found someone willing to help me, I had piles of t-shirts from various movies, films, tv shows, and sponsors.  Donna (my quilter extraordinaire) and I had set a date to meet up so I could hand over the 2 bags of options, and she could get started.

As I made sure I had t-shirts from all the past years (2010 – 2015) – I knew that some of the t-shirts were the last ones I had for that year – which meant this quilt would truly be one of a kind.

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Donna holding up the quilt right before handing it to me for this year’s auction at the Gala.

Donna dropped the quilt back off to me a few days before the Gala.  As my hands passed over all the beautiful stitching, and all the shirts with their memories, I knew I wanted to keep it.  But this was for the Gala, and I had strict rules about stuff for the Gala.  Anything someone hands me for the Gala never belongs to me.  I don’t bid on things, I don’t buy raffle tickets, I would never want to do anything that would make people feel like they couldn’t bid against me or that I had rigged the raffle.  It’s just not okay.   People are so kind and generous with their donations for the Gala, it wouldn’t be right for me to keep it and not have it go where it is intended.

The quilt was amazing – and I happily showed it around to various folks – took it with me to the CW TV station, showed it around my office, told everyone about it.

On the night of the auction, I gave the emcee the list of descriptions and the order of the auction, making sure the quilt was last. I busied myself and ensured we had the card machine ready to process the payments as pieces were bid on.

When the quilt came up for auction, it made me glad to hear some of the “oohs” and “aahs.”  It seemed like 40 hands immediately went up to start the bidding.  The emcee chuckled and just started going up by fives until eventually just a few hands were left.   I tried to focus on processing payments – I didn’t want to see who was lucky enough to take my prized project home.

Finally, the bidding stopped – it had brought in over double what any other piece had earned. I looked up from my tablet to see 3 of my dear friends in front of me.  “We need to split this 3 ways – we bought this for you.”

And I just lost it.  I cried and cried.  I cried so hard, I had to put my hands up over my face to hide the ugly cry.  My friend, LC, just kept saying, “Oh Joey, don’t cry.  Oh Joey.”

Another friend, hearing the good news, told the emcee what had happened.  I tried to wipe the tears from my face as he relayed the news to the crowd.  I covered my face with hands again, and opened them to see a group of folks standing up and clapping in excitement for me.  I cried some more.  I’m even crying some now as I type this. It was one of the most precious moments of my life.

I was later told that the other group bidding on the quilt had planned to give it to me as well. Which made me cry some more.   I had my friend Tiffles take the quilt home with her that night – she was one of the 3 bidders along with LC and KSmiles – and I wanted to make sure nothing happened to it.

Tiffles brought it back over to me last night.  It made me so happy when I saw it.  I didn’t even take it out of the plastic protector I had originally placed it in – I wanted to wait and just make the moment last.

This quilt, this amazing quilt, is just a thing.  But the love and kindness and the friendship that are now stitched in to it by the generous people that fill my life – that is what it means to me now.  And I’ll probably cry about it some more.  And that is okay.

 

Up, Up, and NaNoWriMo!

Welcome to November! In honor of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) – I’m going to try to work on a few writing projects. No, none of them are an actual novel – but I just want to get in the spirit of getting back to writing. After all, they say that a habit is formed after 21 times, right? So if I write a little bit every day this month maybe I’ll get back in to the habit of writing again.

I’ve felt bad about this blog – averting my gaze when it would come up on my computer while I focused my attention on other websites I work on. Kind of like that friend in high school that you would hang out with if no one else was around. (I was that “other friend” so I know where of I speak.)

When I first started this blog, it was cathartic – helping me work through my feelings about being back on the dating scene in my 40s. When a dating interaction went bad, I turned that frown upside down by using it as material for my blogs.

Then I found love, and not wanting to over-expose it (especially since I thought I had found love before and was wrong) I hesitated to write too much about it. So I stopped sharing with my blog and just focused on my new relationship.

I tried to change my blog – talking about cooking, and TV shows, and other things. Reality? Not as appealing, and therefore it too trailed off to the nothingness.

So now what? Well, we try again. Being honest, talking about my life, lessons I’m learning, things I find funny. I’m not going to go back and try to catch up – let’s just draw our line in the sand and say, “here. this is where we start. With a little bit each day for the next 30 or so days. And then – let’s go from there.”

Ready? Let’s do this.

Back on Track

I haven’t driven for over two months. So it was a strange feeling yesterday when I slipped back behind the wheel of my beloved Gypsy Rose Squee and put the key in the ignition. My husband came over to kiss me goodbye for work, and I had to fumble to find the button to lower the window.

“Are you going to be okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” I said. And I mostly meant it.

As I headed on my way to work, I had to remind myself to increase my speed as 60 seemed so fast. But I didn’t want to hinder the flow of traffic. I only made one wrong turn, but I blame Siri for that. She told me to bear right and then to bear left and I couldn’t change lanes fast enough.

My whole life has been a series of changing lanes these past few months. Good things and bad things and just . . . things making each day a new adventure in failures and successes. Another birthday, a new marriage, a new job – all things to celebrate. Trips to the ER, mistakes from the past, digging through piles of paperwork and faded memories trying to find solutions. Cutting back, clearing out the closets of things we no longer needed, venturing forward to things we’ve never tried before. Trying to be a good wife, a good friend and a better person.

I know we are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Losing the ability to drive was humbling and eye-opening, to say the least. Even though the challenges were not solely of my doing, having to deal with the past and rely on others was difficult. Not being in control, and letting it be okay, and admitting I needed help – were all hard things to be humble about. Inside I was going crazy.

At one point, SH said to me, “You really don’t like to drive anyway.”

That floored me. I was always been the traveling gypsy in my mind: the one ready to take off at a whim for the beach, a cross-country move or just an adventure. I was the one who always picked everyone else up for whatever mischief we were managing. I just couldn’t imagine me not being in the driver’s seat.

But then I really thought about it. The truth is I’ve not been that person for a while. As my car and my health went in to disrepair, it was easier to sit in the passenger seat and let others take the wheel. I still got myself where I needed to go, but given the option, I was content to ride shotgun.
Now that I’m back in the driver’s seat, I’ve noticed a difference in myself. Some of it is feeling like my old self again – but a lot of it is feeling like the upgraded version. Happier, freer, more confident in what the future will be. I don’t need to be a gypsy to be happy, but I’m not afraid to move forward.

I’m back on track, and I like it.

Joey Watches: DWTS Elimination #2

Last night was part 2 of the Hometown Glory theme for Dancing with the Stars. On Monday, the pairs danced to songs representative of the stars hometowns but tonight the focus was on the dance pros. As the judges and the co-hosts noted, it was really nice to learn a little bit more about the dance pros and see a side of them we don’t usually get to see. However, there was also the potential for more drama and errors: firstly because this was the second dance the stars had to learn in only the second week of competition, when everything is still new and the rigorous practicing is still something they have to adapt to; and secondly, many of the pros were emotional and trying to pay respectful homage to places or people in their lives and both the pros and the stars felt the pressure to “do it right.”

First up was Hayes Grier of Vine sensation, performing to the quickstep with dance Pro Emma. I liked this dance much better than the motorcyle, orange jumpsuit number from Monday. He still dances like a teenager, but this was a very earnest and eager teen and I thought he did really well. There is some sophistication lacking in his movements, but he was invested in doing well and it showed.

Next up was Carlos PenaVega and dance pro Witney doing a cowboy version of Elvis Presley’s Hounddog. Did I mention I’m over this couple? I do feel like they are little too buddy-buddy with his wife on stage a few feet away and it just doesn’t work for me.

Gary Busey was next, performing with dance pro (to Russia with love) Anna. Their outfits were over the top, and so was his opinion of how great they danced. We know he’s just there for the trainwreck aspect, and he delivers. I waffle between fear for Anna’s being (as he continues to hug and grope her every chance he gets) and pity that they would put a dementia patient out on the dance floor. His dancing on Monday was relatively sharper. The word that kept running through my mind was “coherence”: he doesn’t have it in his perception or his dance skills and unlike past bad dancers on the show who may be funny – this time the humor is a little one sided as America laughs at him but he’s not in on the joke. I understand he’s good for ratings, but he needs to be put down gently.

Andy “Dancing is Hard” Grammer was next with pro Alison. (You may know Alison’s husband – he’s Twitch from So You Think You Can Dance.) I love Andy’s enthusiasm to do well – but I do think this dance was a little jerky. Still – he did well and I hope he continues to improve.

Next up was dance pro Mark Ballas with star Alexa PenaVega. First thing I have to note – what was up with her dress? It looked like a beautiful gown covered in leftover mummy wraps. One of the pieces was wrapped horribly over one boob and was very unflattering. Nevertheless, I really like Mark as a dance pro – and the video package about his mom and dad was just very emotional. Even though I am over the PenaVega Saga for this season – I do think she danced well and loved the choreography. However, she still has problems moving her hips and I do think Mark looked a little Fleetwood Mac with his hipster bun. His mom was in the audience and they danced to Somewhere in Time, which reminded me of a my romantic teenage self (which you probably couldn’t see with all my snarky wardrobe criticism).

Paula Deen with dance pro Louis was up next and I just don’t really know what to say. I just have this “awkard to watch” thing still. Her hair was less scary, but she reminded me of a vamped up Cruella DeVille in the red grandma gown. She does have great legs, but she just reminds me of a matronly dame from a Marx Bros movie. She still grips Louis too hard with fright which limits the fluidity of their dance. She can’t hear, or doesn’t focus, so she responds out of sync with the others. The judges commented she was light on her feet – I just don’t see it. I really wanted to see her be a comeback kid – but she looks more like Gary Busey’s sister.

Fortunately, Bindi Irwin was next and danced with dance pro Derek. She did a beautiful waltz and even though they got dinged for doing a slight lift (a big dance no-no) she still scored well. I love the polish and courtesy she brings to the show. She is very gracious when accepting compliments (something I struggle with) while still always giving back to her partner and those around her. Someone said she was a “real life Disney Princess” and I agree. I also noticed how her mom and brother stood out from the rest of the crowd when the cameras panned to them – they are like unspoiled goodness in a sea of American selfies. I really want her to stay in the game. (Incidentally, for those of you wondering why Beau Bridges was sitting in the audience with Bindi’s family – Bindi and he did a straight-to-video movie together – Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove)

Housewife Kim Z was next with dance pro Tony. This was another wardrobe malfunction in my opinion – as a busty woman I can tell you that was not a good look. (It also doesn’t help when judge Bruno equates you to a sofa – he must be focused on her . . . pillows) Just like she needs structure and energy in her wardrobe, she needs structure and energy in her dancing. Once again she danced – but there was a dip in energy from her performance the night before. Granted, this was a slower song, but still – she needs to maintain. Still on the fence about this star, but for the sake of the show I hope she improves.

Alek Skarlatos and pro Lindsay were next and although I could have done without the white tux and gown with the red white and blue accents, he danced incredibly well again. They called him Alek the Great, and I think he was. I look forward to him continuing on in the competition.

Jockey Victor Espinoza was next with dance pro Karina. The continuation of short jokes continued – with scenes of her carrying him and various others treating him like a little doll. Also continuing was the mini Latin lover stereotypical wardrobe – and the awkward ending of him on his knees with his face against the lowest edges of her stomach (aka – right between her legs). He did dance better, but it was obvious that he was the object of much kidding, and not being treated with the respect he deserved. (There was an interesting moment where he kept comparing Karina to taming his horse American Pharaoh – and he just kept repeating it.)

Backstreet Boy Nick Carter was next with aussie Sharna. As you may recall, Nick slipped and fell in his dance number the day before, so he was very concerned about being sent home. But tonight’s dance was about Sharna, and the video package strongly reflected that Nick’s focus was on doing a great dance for her. And he did! It was beautiful, so well done, and it was obvious that when Nick switched his focus from his mistakes to honoring his partner, he just did so well. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere. And with that, Nick as a gentleman, not just a boy band singer, really emerged. I’m rooting for him now as well as Bindi and Alek.

The finale dance was with Tamar Braxton and dance pro Val (last season’s winner). Although Val emigrated to the US, he considers NYC his home and there was a very cute Charleston number done outside a brownstone stoop. Her outfit was a bit much for me when she wasn’t dancing. This was the first night I felt like Tamar could really be a contender. It was cutesy but well danced with Tamar having much more life and less surreality star quality. Although not on my list of favs yet, if she continues this route, she could make it there.

SPOILER ALERT – ELIMINATION RESULTS REVEALED – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
Once the dances were done, we were again given another speedy elimination round. The bottom two were identified as Gary Busey and Triple Crown jockey winner Victor Espinoza. And since America loves insanity over short jokes, Victor was eliminated. At least he can move back to his dignity soon hopefully.

Joey Watches: DWTS 1st Elimination

Tonight on Dancing with the Stars, each dance pair was assigned to dance under the theme of Hometown Glory – where they talked a little about their hometown and what it means to them. There are 2 nights of dance this week, with an elimination each night which means all the celebrities had to learn 2 full numbers their second week in, which is unprecedented and a little cruel.

Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys was the first dancer, and unfortunately, he just looked terrified the entire time. He went from a strong final dance last week to a much tenser dance this time around, further complicated by slippery shoes and an unfortunate fall. Still, he powered through the dance and ended on his feet, even if his score drops.

Paula Deen was next and even though her dance improved, she is definitely still on my awkard to watch list. (Shorty Hulk says she looks like an aged and wasted Britney Spears) I’m not sure what they were thinking with her hair, and she still looks like she is gripping on to her dance pro Luis in an inappropriate manner. She did however seem to impress the judges and her scores went up from last week.

Vine sensation Hayes Grier had a touching week, with lots of tears and touching moments with his mom. He’s also from Mooresville, NC so hometown boy. I don’t see the connection with dance pro Emma that the judges rave about – but I’m glad he improved from last week. I’m sure his fan base will keep him in action.

Chaka Khan was next with dance pro Keo. She told a good story in her video package about wanting to improve every week. However, good intentions not withstanding, Chaka again lost her place and even though she did better, it was still a struggle.

Andy Grammer is a little cutie that reminds me a little of Chris Isaak. He had the best comeback of the night when the judges got on him for losing the beat when he’s a musician: “Dancing is hard.” Based on his effort and charm, I think he will be okay.

Side bar: What was up with judge Bruno’s mouth? I truly think he was having problem with his flipper or denture or something. Every time he talked, he had a hand in front of his mouth. I think that is why he swore and why the camera stopped focusing on him.

What did deserve our focus was Housewife Kim Zolciak (evidently she’s dropped the Zocliak-Bierrman from last week.) Unlike last week where she literally walked through her routine, this week she actually danced! She danced, she smiled, and she got great reviews. I was ready for her to get kicked off last week, but knew she wouldn’t because of her fan base. But after tonight, I might actually root for her.

Alek Skarlatos was great again this week. He is such the everyman hero that middle America (and I) want to root for. And it doesn’t hurt that he has a little hair on his chest! I think co-host Erin Andrews stated it well last week when she pointed out that he is our surrogate celebrity – that we can pretend we are on the show through him. My favorite part? At the end of the judging conversation, Alek turned to host Tom Bergeron and put out his hand to shake it. Total class.

Married couple Alexa and Carlos PenaVega tied for scores and judges responses. I realize they are supposed to add an extra element to the show, but I’m over it. I don’t connect with either star at this point. They said Alexa was great, I found some of her moves jarring and off beat. Same with Carlos.

Triple Crown jockey Victor Espinoza makes me want to do the southern “bless your heart” response. This week he was subject to short jokes, sombrero stereotypes and penis jokes, obscene gestures, and he just smiles and does whatever dance pro Karina tells him to do. I realize he has short term memory issues and that Karina is just fighting for votes, but this is just not giving this man any dignity. The sooner he is voted off, the kinder it will be.

Tamar Braxton and Val turned in a nice performance. Tamar tends to be a little reserved and doesn’t have the emotional connection she needs, even though she has great musicality. It was nice to see big sister Toni in the audience to support her – but I think Tamar still needs to find her way to stand out.

Gary Busey looked so strange with his crazy hair tamed. Is it just me, or does he look like he’s just trying to figure out how to touch, hug, and kiss his dance pro every chance he can get? Not that I blame him – Anna is lovely. But as Shorty Hulk mused, we wonder how many tasers they have on standby at any given time.

Last dance went to bubbly Bindi Irwin, who surprised the crowd by admitting that she loves listening to heavy metal. So she and dance pro Derek danced to “Shook Me All Night Long” and tore up the dance floor. Well, as much as we saw as there were at least 2 camera transition miscues. She did an amazing job – which makes me hope that both she and Alek end up in the semi-finals as I would already be happy seeing either one of them win the famed mirror ball trophy.

SPOILER ALERT: ELIMINATION REVEALED – PROCEED WITH CAUTION
Unfortunately, the unfun part had to happen quickly due to running over (does DWTS ever NOT run over?)

We quickly found out that the bottom 2 were Chaka Khan and Gary Busey. Although I would have much rather seen Chaka Khan continue her “gradient upward” – I knew her fan base would not compare to the mesmerizing train wreck that is Gary Busey. And America loves a train wreck so much more.

So first person out? Chaka Khan. This does not bode well for dance pro Keo – who never seems to make it past the first few weeks. It will be interesting to see if they utilize him again next season as a dance pro, or if he will be just a background dancer.

Tomorrow night is the second night of dance this week, and will include another elimination round. Will Gary still be in the bottom? Will Victor Espinoza win out as the comic fodder? As long as Bindi and Alek survive – I’ll be okay.

Until then – keep dancing!