I think about my funeral a lot. I know that sounds morbid, but it’s actually one of the my go to thoughts to get me through the days. At my funeral I see Benno AND JACOB. They both speak. Benno is as eloquent as can be. He seems calm/ at ease. Maybe he finally channeled that anxiety or is as high as a kite, it’s nice to see either way. Jacob is oddly a mess (my strong one) but he speaks too. His eye lashes on full display as they glisten with tears.
I am sleeping and at rest.
It feels joyful, at least from my perspective. I see people crying, but I’m so happy. Look there is Katie, Carly, Marni, etc. All of the incredible people I’ve picked up along the way! All in one room! It’s pretty incredible. Most haven’t met. They are just going to love each other.
And it is planned to perfection!
Of course it is. I’ve planned out every second of it. I don’t burden my family and friends with what I would want. I’m good at this. Let me do this.
I’m good at throwing parties. This is MY thing. Its hereditary. It’s in my genes. It comes from my mom. And unlike most people who throw a good party, I don’t throw money at a good party, I throw meaning. Everything has meaning. You may not know it, but everything does. Every little detail has meaning. It’s the way I show my love to you, my friends, my Friends of Nightwing.
New Years is the best party I throw. It’s MY favorite holiday. It is the only holiday (especially for us Jews) that doesn’t require praying, guilt, or a food coma. It is a DO OVER holiday. It is a day of looking forward, not back. It brings in all of the world, all of its colors and religions. It is the only universal holiday I know of.
It’s undeniably the best.
The real party work begins every December 26th. The day after Christmas. I hit every big box store: Target, Walmart, Home Depot, you name it. All of them sit nicely in a row for me in Riverhead. I hop from each with a bee line straight to the clearance aisle. It’s a tinsel extravaganza! It’s all basically free. I fill the cart with twinkle lights, fake snow, Christmas ornaments. and of course, tinsel.
I should mention that we are Jewish. However, lately I pray to all, God, light, rocks. Put in front of me and I’ll bow to it.
All Jews have Christmas envy. How can you not? Mariah Carey has yet to release her Hanukkah album. The Christmas lights! I love the lights! We go light “critiquing” every year. Benno was a born critic so it is only fitting that we drive around the streets so Benno can critique their Christmas displays. “They should have really put the lights on both sides of the house. It would look better if it was symmetrical.”
When I get home with my santa’s bundle, I throw it all over the floor. I build. I make. I create table centerpieces. I think they are gorgeous. I’m sure they look like a home made craft, but I made them for you, my friends of Nightwing, so they are gorgeous (and definitely one of a kind).
I then spend HOURS on table arrangements and the number one rule of our party, NO ONE knows everyone. That includes Steve and me. Every year we meet new people at our New Year’s table. We welcome people into our home and life. We don’t have to plan this. We don’t have to pick up a stranger on the street, it always just happens (sometimes just an hour before!). “My sister is in town, is it okay if I bring her?” “My friend Sally just had a baby and is living in the hamptons, I want to get her out of the house, can I invite her?” The answer is always yes. It will always be yes, so you can stop asking.
Hell, you all are invited!
And it’s fun sitting down for hours and thinking about all your friends and loved ones. Thinking about who they are and what they like. Then arranging them in unique combinations so that everyone can enter the new year with a new connection, a new friend.
And then I write about each of you. I write funny things that hopefully make you laugh. I create bios and I send them to all of you so you can get to know each other prior. One thing I’ve learned in my career is that there are all types of learners and people. Some people, like me, can walk into a room and not know a soul and feel perfectly at home, but others…that is torture. So I write this for you all. No one walks in without feeling totally prepared to meet some awesome people. We only know awesome people.
And the entertainment. It’s always something different, and yes, has MEANING. After Trump got elected, I wanted the entire New years of 2018 to be about positivity. We’ve got to change the direction of the world. I put condoms of everyone’s pillow that said FUCK 2017.
I guess at that time, that felt like the worse thing that could happen, losing an election.
The entertainment that year was an artist friend of mine and now ours. He would bring in the positivity with his message.
I met Joe in the park over 12 years ago. You have probably met Joe in the park too. He goes to public parks around NYC and makes sand art. He is usually in some floppy hat and has a jar for money collections. He spends 5-8 hours on his knees creating art with no easel, just the dirty streets of NYC. He makes beautiful work. And you know what he does after he is done? He just sweeps it up.
Just sweeps it up.
The first time I met him I was alone. It was dusk in Washington Square park and I was coming home from work. I must have come when he just finished. I saw him circle around it and then grab a broom. What is he doing?!!!
He just swept it up.
I think about that a lot now. Working all that time. Creating all that beauty and then without a thought, sweeping it up. It didn’t bother him one bit.
Things don’t really matter. It’s the experience that does. The creation part. The ride.
Here is the sand art Joe made for New Year’s in hyper speed (it took 5 hours) and below is a picture of the children playing with it. Destroying it. Jumping in it, and ultimately, making sand piles.
Joe told me that whenever he watches children do this, they always do the same thing. They run, they destroy and then they all get to work. Working together to make piles. It happens every time. Every time and he has done this hundreds of times. That is a pretty wild statistic (I love statistics). But doesn’t it just tell you the innate nature of humans. We build civilizations, in the end every society has created community.
My second favorite part was watching the parents. I recall all the adults looking in horror for a bit. How can we let our kids destroy this art? Is this really okay?
But the kids, were all in.
They get it.
It was the best. It was the best. I love these memories.
But back to my funeral, my best and last party.
I felt best to document it as I won’t be able to execute it. I have more notes, but I’ll send those to just a few. Don’t want to burden all with these notes, but here are the general guidelines.
But in general, this is what I want:
- I want everyone to sit next to someone they DON’T know. I know that may feel hard /uncomfortable, but it’s important to me. I’ve collected so many incredible people, I wish they knew each other better.
- Music. I want to hear both my theme songs, one at the beginning and one at the end. Surprise me!
- Carbs. I want the shiva to be full of carbs and I want you bitches to EAT them.
- No flowers. What a waste. There hasn’t been a flower/plant I haven’t killed. Not into them. No need to decorate, but if you feel the need, write! It helps. Write a story/note. Draw a picture. Whatever. Then give everyone a piece of scotch tape when they enter. Done! Decorated.
- I would like Jenna Arnold to say something spiritual. Dana Fabrikant to say something profound about life and Lauren Hanin to talk about how ridiculous I am. However, I have a feeling that will each take a bit of Lauren’s. I’ve seen it play out in my mind. It’s not a feeling. I know. Normally, I would write out some ideas for them. Don’t think I won’t. I did that for Steve’s friends for his 40th, I gave everyone speaking notes! I also only gave them these notes 1 hour before the party. I don’t believe in planned speeches. From the heart. As Steve jokes as he has seen me give speech after speech over the years for work, “Levin’s don’t do notes.” I always speak from the heart. But these three ladies are incredible speakers. They are my sisters. Public speaking runs in the fam.
- And I want this said: “Life dealt her a hard hand, but it also gave her so much happiness too.” I don’t want my funeral to be a relapse of the all the pain. I know it will inevitably come up, but promise for every negative, there will be a positive. Pinky promise.
I know you want to know if it will be religious. I’m unclear about that part. I’m having a hard time with religion right now. Writing a lot about it, but just so unclear, confused, and frustrated. My writing doesn’t even make sense. It’s a bit hard when you are surrounded by children with cancer. Its a bit hard when you want a miracle. Just cure him!
Nothing makes a lot of sense. Luckily, I also know I have a lot of time until this happens (I’m going to live a long life) so I have the opportunity to make edits. Nothing has been able to kill me yet and damn have I had some rough rides, even before cancer entered my life. I also have two grandmothers both 99 years old. One is still dating and dancing:) I’ve got time.
This is a google doc that I copy into WordPress. I can edit.
But only one thing is in stone. Benno and Jacob.