A Song of Thanksgiving, Part 4: Jannicups

panda There are only two people I've ever met whom I believe to be capable of unconditional love: my paternal grandmother, who never even said a bad word about Hitler; and Jan Kostner, my oldest friend in the world.

Or, as Jan prefers to say, "my friend I've had the longest."

For a woman who's managed to move through the world at impressively high levels, Jan is jaw-droppingly guileless. I consider myself a fairly earnest fellow, but I am Machia-fucking-velli compared to Jan. Plus she's nice. And loyal. Holy crap, is she nice and loyal. I can spew the worst kind of bitch-venom around Jannicups and feel secure that (a) she will not judge me and (b), what goes in the moment, stays in the moment. Hell, she even puts up with me calling her "Jannicups."

Which is not to say Jan is above a good, chatty evening of gossip and Chardonnay; she's not. When I'm starting to feel a little butch, a dose of Jan sets me right up. When we meet to eat, it's usually for tea or cocktails (or tea AND cocktails) at some fabulous hotel bar. She took me for my first pedicure and gave me my first gift certificate to a Four Seasons massage (which, three years later, I still haven't used;I swear, they're going to take away my girl card if I don't start stepping up my game).

Legend has it that our mothers met when we were two, pushing strollers on Michigan Avenue. Neither is around to confirm or deny this any more, but it doesn't matter: Jan and I are long past needing reasons to be friends; we're family, and family, for better or for worse, is yours for life.

Jannicups? She's all about the better...

xxx c

A Song of Thanksgiving, Part 1: L.A. Jan

smoke 'em There is the family you are born into, and the family you choose. The lucky few find as much joy, comfort and solace in the former as they do the latter.

Me? With the exception of a slim few (you know who you are) I'm all about adoption.

Meet L.A. Jan.

Writing partner, oft-wet shoulder, best audience I've ever had, bar none. She will be the first to downplay her myriad abilities, protesting ignorance, stupidity and all manner of other ridiculousness. And then she will excuse herself to offer directions to the nice French lady who seems to be lost. In French. Which she taught herself in Paris...where she moved to live, on a whim, in her 20s.

Jan is a Jew from Kentucky, a real actress in a land of glassy-eyed posers, a bit of a kvetch, a constant source of light and delight and inspiration. You think I'm brave? Ha. In her 30s, this girl flew to Jamaica by herself to collect the remains of her fiancé, who'd been murdered at random whilst vacationing there. She fought her way back from a disease ten times more painful than mine, and progressive, to boot. When I countered her challenge to collaborate on a screenplay with a challenge to write a comic play about our diseases, she stepped up. Even after I added music.

She is the first to laugh at me, which drives me crazy. She is the first to laugh at herself, which always humbles me.

When I was in the hospital, too weak to fend for myself, too naive to know I needed to anyway, she was my advocate. Now that I am stronger, she has the grace to let me help her when she needs it. I stand in awe of her strength and courage and goodness every day of my life.

For this, I am truly thankful.

xxx c

P.S. All Frima and I want for Christmas is for you to quit smoking.