Saturday, December 26, 2009
i look at the heavy hanging cord now neatly wrapped around his neck, his red face with it's bulging eyes.. looking so startled as he discovered death was waiting for him...and i think i may want to change those window coverings before the spring.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Standing in line, she dropped the paper with her name on it into the kettle....then stood back with the rest as Michael reached into the pile of 39 pieces of paper, one from each of them, and paused before he read it aloud. Around her, cheers broke out, the frail volume masking the sounds of sobbing from the person who was named. Amanda sighed--wondering if Michael had fixed the outcome, wondering how long he could continue to do so without being caught.
That night, Amanda and Michael sat with the other 36 survivors; each enjoying their first meal in weeks, each accepting there would be another lottery, and soon. Amanda put her concerns and fear aside, turned to her husband with a smile and remarked she was surprised the meat didn’t taste like chicken, but, like salty pork instead.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
it had taken everything shelly had to sign up for the event. she knew that she’d be there, in front of so many, exposed for all to see, all of them--waiting. standing backstage, there in the wings, she rubbed the material of her dress between her fingers...her chewed nails catching on the fabric. she worried it was too long, too plain, when all the other girls had on much shorter, much prettier ones...hers was simple, theirs sparkled and glittered in the reflected lights. she noticed their hair was perfect, while hers tended to go wispy, and they stood in circles whispering and giggling to each other. sure, a few stood alone, as she did, some with eyes closed, some looking about, all of them with the look she knew she wore--a bold facade overlaying a intense fear.
in the midst of her stress, ana baker pinched her arm, hissing, “they called your name... GO!!”. shelley moved forward, a stumble of a move, almost falling as she went into the bright lights, sensing the crowd beyond them, hearing the gasp that arose over her ungainly entrance.
there she stood...the others already in place; she was feeling isolated, feeling she had made a mistake. it was silent, still... coughs coming from the place beyond the lights, all of them in the line breathing lightly, rapidly. the group waited, to see how they’d do, how they’d be accepted.. if they’d be laughed at---this, this was their greatest fear.
“shelley? will you step up here, please?” she followed the disembodied voice, her throat dry, her brain skittering from what was going to happen.
“shelley podber? it's time. now, please spell the word, ‘brave’ for us.” the voice of her second grade teacher spoke out of the dark.
licking her lips, hands locked together, she faced the microphone and opened her mouth....
Saturday, November 28, 2009
i've moved over the three part ending to my outrageous telling of their lives; from children to careers to silly things they've done. the actual couple are quite serene, very amusing, and devoted to each other.
so, here is part 1 of the telling of neville and margaret:
It's something she never talks about.
Long ago, and far away, our Margaret had a secret life. It started the summer before she and Neville married. They had met at a mutual friend's home...she found him dear and sweet, and knew from the moment they shook hands he would be her future husband--a man of stability and kindness and, she knew, never ending British middle classness; she knew and accepted that would be her place in the world.
She yearned for one bit of life to hold on to, the thing she knew in her bones she'd been created for, the something to take out of her memory chest late at night in her old age... that she could roll over in her mind, so crisp and clean she'd again be able to taste and smell and touch all that occurred in that time.
Our Margaret wanted An Adventure.
So, in her Gap Year, she took her future in her hands, packed her bags, and hopped the train and boat to Paris with her best friend, Amanda Smythe-Barnes of the Malmsbury Smythe-Barnes', going there to seek their fortunes.
Amanda fancied herself an artist, and our Margaret was svelte, and blessed with clear skin and intense eyes. They roomed in a garret in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, surrounded by students, artists, and jazz clubs. They absorbed everything around them, dwelling in that place of living forever you have only once in your life. They were alive and careless of that fact and nothing could touch them.
Margaret found modeling for the House of Dior and Oleg Cassini along with other famous designers, she was never a top model, still, she made enough to make her portion of the monthly bills. She and "Mellie" spent their nights dancing with the various friends they made or being taken out to dinner and being wooed by a few of those older, wealthy men who purchased the designer clothing for wives and mistresses; this was, of course, Paris.
Margaret wrote Neville, who was slogging out at University, light frothy letters telling him of the art work and simple things, never mentioning the men who asked her to be their mistress, or the artists who begged her to become their lover, men she laughingly refused. Her way of defusing the situation was always so light, egos were never damaged, friendships ensued, she carried on immersed in all that was young, free and Paris. This was going to be a part of her life she would never share, a part that would shape her, changing her from the untrained dabs of Mellie's art to the defined intensity of Dali.
Tragedy struck, and Mellie was called home, her Father had gout, and her Mother needed help getting the dogs ready for the round of shows coming up, the spaniels always listened to Mellie's brash voice, and off she went, her time done, ready to face life as a country wife. With a month left on their lease, Margaret chose to stay on, to finish out Spring in Paris.
It was two weeks later, on the 14th of April, it happened. Walking down the street, the last of her modeling done, determined to do nothing more but enjoy Paris as a tourist, the heel of her shoe broke, she tripped... and fell into the arms of a man so beautiful, her breath caught in her throat... He tried to speak to her in terrible French, and she laughingly told him in her clean British tones she was fine. He insisted on giving her a taxi ride to her flat... by the time they reached it, they were in each others arms, something a small portion of Margaret's mind told her was very, very wrong. The larger portion said, "The hell with it!" and she sank into the world she'd waited for, prepared for, longed for--this was what she had waited to find.
They spent the next two weeks lounging about, talking, touching, passion interspersed with laughter as it should be... doing all the things you do when you are young and in love and in Paris. Sprawled on her bed, drinking wine, strolling the City of Lights in the dark, holding hands. They spoke of their lives before each other, but, never mentioned a future--they knew they didn't have one. It was the now that consumed them.
One afternoon, she went to meet him, and their embrace was so intense, so telling of a couple bound to each other, a photographer snapped it, giving them a copy that Margaret keeps hidden away; it is the essence of all they were to each other.
Time is not always our friend, it was not theirs, and, like all love stories, this one has a sad ending. The man had to go on to his future, mapped out for him long before he met Margaret. She closed up the flat, touching the sheets, looking out over the roofs, breathing in the last of him in the air around her.
A month later, Neville proposed, she accepted, they married with a beautifully done wedding, her dress a gift from Cassini. They waited to have children... she wanted to see if she'd ever find the same layers of knowledge in this man that she found in the other in those 14 days... Although they found comfort and a deep respect, with Neville adoring Margaret, and her initial knowledge of who he was in her life settling into an abiding love... she never understood him in the same way, and he found her looking over the garden at times, wondering what she was thinking about.
He wondered about the interest she took in American politics for a time, and supported her belief the bright young President would change how America took on the world. He was puzzled by her deep grief and depression following that day in November, putting it to her pregnancy and her soft heart.
She thinks on those days in Paris, and feels his presence, waiting for her.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
here it is, walter... not much, only a minutes worth of writing...but, it's all yours.
it was there, in the middle of the stage, that single spotlight where his mark was set. moving into it, he gave himself over to something he'd never known before and he knew his character had become his reality, his soul, his self.
opening his arms to embrace all there, to pull in the feel of the energy of the audience, the crew, the words he was to speak... the eternal power of the stage itself. with the first words, he went from simple man to legend.
Monday, November 23, 2009
walking to school, trying not to wince as the ones on her inner thighs occasionally rubbed together, her calf muscles tense under the perfectly placed marks there, face flaming as she pretended to not see the looks of the other kids, their parents whispering, knowing the teachers would tutt once again.
she wore her stripes with shame.
and plotted her revenge.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
"hey, baby, give me som' sugar!" he sang as he walked through the living room into the kitchen.
she swung the 25lb burlap sack of sugar at the back of his head when he walked past her, snapping his neck.
"ask, and ye shall receive!", she whispered, dragging his body down to the basement, where it fit perfectly in the deep freeze.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
my husband; wither thou goest, i will go (even if it is rockford, il) wither thou stay, i shall stay (even if it is living in the unfinished basement in your uncle's house. in rockford, il). the commands thou gives, i shall... i shall. iiiii shhhhaaalll. wait, give me a minute. i can do this. okay, let me try again. the commands thou gives, i shall.... no. no. i’m not going any further. i am not going to say the word obey. i don’t care if karma comes back to take a pound of flesh from me, there is no fuckin’ way i’m going to say much less mean the word ‘obey’. i don’t care what my parents spent on this week long circus of a wedding. i don't care who flew in from how far away, i am stopping this fiasco right now. right. now.
i don't care about the whole next life payback i’ve heard about all my days! i’d rather worry about being a mealworm in my next life than go though this! do you hear me? do you? yeah, and good luck with that whole ‘wither’ shit on your next bartered for bride.
i’m outa here.
powerful, full of white teeth, framed by friendly dimples, and made charming by a slightly wonky incisor, she used it though most of the day, meeting both friends and those she wasn't sure of, hiding true intentions behind the shield of that smile.
it worked beautifully; giving her access to the best tables, excellent customer service, and allowed her to easily remove from her life those who crossed her, with no one the wiser.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
what i know is certain is my love for you, my belief we are this couple that are bound by emotions; we are soul mates. what is certain is the knowledge these beliefs will carry on until my death.
ah! if only you felt the same way!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
in the end, the teen boy's body fit nicely into the hefty bags, and they fit nicely into his trunk, allowing him to neatly place them into a hole in the old landfill he discovered not too far from his house.
when a sign says, "I ENFORCE THE RULE OF NO TRICK OR TREATERS OVER 12", it is best one heeds the unspoken warning.
Monday, October 26, 2009
it was a gem of an idea....until she fell out the window into the snow, got her nightgown caught on the fence, and finally having him shoot at her with a gun she didn't know he had as she scratched and moaned outside his window.
the next time she had a gem of an idea--she stayed in bed.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
he remained quiet, reading his book... no notice given her way.
she remained vigilant, focused, and as he turned the page, she moved up and toward him, leaning in as if to whisper her secret love-- she slipped the ice pick into his eye; and gone before a soul knew she was there.
Friday, October 16, 2009
when all was said and done, when i woke up from that living sleep of the dead, i discovered that i was wrong.
changing sex was not going to change my basic personality, i have remained the solitary individual i was before and now i find myself not only a woman, but, a lesbian to boot.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
“if nothing else, your writing is... ambitious. it is incredible how, well, um..how well stuffed your work can be... um, it’s, well, it’s a testimony to your dedication to use every word ever created within the fiction you create i mean, i’ve never seen such a razzle dazzle display of language. unique... yessss, that’s the word i want, unique. that is what i think every time i read one of your pieces.”
the publisher paused, not sure where to go when faced with the beaming smile given by the author whose work she had agreed, in a fashion, to print after a drunken night in a hotel room following a convention in des moines.
if nothing else, she’d learned a valuable lesson for a woman whose word was his bond; never discuss business after an orgasm. what she saw as nodding off to sleep, he took as a yes--and an ugly alliance was formed.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
there is a mist that hovers over the street, made up of blown oil, ddt and a bit of water. a truck drives through the neighborhood every week, spraying the area for mosquitoes, keeping them away, killing them with the poisons contained within.
we run behind it; my cousins and i...allowing it to settle on our skin so we can stay out later in the heat of a louisiana summer, delighting in the glistening coating that we rub in, happy in the knowledge it will protect us from annoying bites. thanks to this magic oil, we can run off to play night games of tag and hide and seek and jump rope under the street lights until we are called in to go to bed.
decades later, three of us have cancer. some say it was hidden bad luck, some say it was hidden in our genes..
i'm pretty sure it was hidden deep in that mist we reveled in so long ago... knowing i can change nothing, knowing it was a mistake...and still, with the harsh consequences of that long ago decision, i think back on those nights with remembered joy.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
he said those two words.
you know them, the ones said to make up for the shit storm the thoughtlessness the attack.
those words that leave him with everything, that keeps him in control--putting me in a place of having to say, sure, it's okay... i understand.
he doesn't say; forgive me. that would admit culpability.. words that would let me feel he really was repentant, that my pain had weight. that one phrase gives me the power in choosing how i feel.
he said.. those two words.
and, as usual, i said...sure, it's okay, i understand--even though it isn't, even though i don't.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
she and the child waited in some odd place, hovering between the two worlds... not sure which was the one they should dwell in for eternity.
they each chose one... and life on earth moved on, leaving the one who picked that place to always wonder what could have been.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Margaret Mary Doyle set Saturday aside for shopping when she moved to a Chassidic neighborhood off the Jamaica subway line in 1970. This meant the shops were fairly empty and she could wander at her leisure, humming along with the Muzak, looking over the meat in the butcher’s section, finding relaxation in the beigeness of the chore. A change in her job schedule found her going on Sundays, when it was crowded with the women of her neighborhood; Brooklyn-made wigs in place, lists at the ready, children in tow-- each one wanting the biggest chicken, the nicest kinsh, the freshest vegetables.
Eventually, they would congregate in the produce section, squeezing fruit and looking over vegetables with a small frown of concentration between their eyebrows... daughters learning the subtle trick to finding good ears of corn, sons standing patiently with yarmulkes bobby-pinned to cropped hair, payez tucked behind their ears. It was there, the second summer of living in the area, that someone finally answered the murmured hello she had offered many times. Weeks became months, and the two saw each other enough to share a smile and a nod when their eyes met... accepting that the produce department and discussions of food would always be the extent of their friendship of sorts. The boys would watch Maggie from under their lashes, not wishing to speak to a stranger, much less a gentile stranger...wondering why their mother did. Maggie never failed to smile at them, comment on their growth--they never failed to ignore her existence.
Over the next year or so, she watched the boys grow taller... knew when the elder made his Bar Mitzvah by his sudden absence. She congratulated her acquaintance on the upcoming birth of a child, bringing a small gift the week after she’d seen them back in the market. Passing the gift from one set of hands to the other caused them to touch--this action brought on the odd forced laugh one does in uncomfortable social settings.
Time passed, seasons brought squash and vine tomatoes and finally, the glory of summer melons. It was in late August when Maggie dashed in, late for a barbeque she was attending, focused on her list of items to buy, whispering under her breath and mentally ticking each thing off as it went into the basket. Unconsciously, she sorted meat from dairy, never allowing them near each other.
Cheese. Buns. Hamburger. All that remained was lettuce, two tomatoes and the cantaloupe she would cut up over at the gathering, letting it chill while they all ate...knowing the fruit dripping with it’s juice would cool throats rough from too many cigarettes, conversations and wine.
Looking the fruit over, she heard the voice she knew coming up behind her, speaking to the baby. The two women had never exchanged names, however, the children were known to Maggie from their mother saying them as she sent them to get a bag of potatoes or some apples. Asher. Samuel, who was now a man. Yakob. Baby Rebekah, sitting strapped in the front of the cart, content to suck on her fingers, not caring who you were; if you smiled at her, she responded with her whole body wiggling. Maggie felt a twinge of irritation...she didn’t have any time to converse, not even for their brief conversations. The manners drummed into her head by Sister Mary Paul put a smile in place, the words of Hello, how are you? already leaving her mouth... a question put forth that she silently prayed to God wouldn’t be answered.
They fell to discussing the price of cantaloupe, comparing it to larger, messier watermelon...never stopping in their testing, searching. Each had a different technique; Maggie sniffed the end, trying to scent the distinct flavour of the fruit. The other used the shaking method...holding them close to her ear, listening to hear if the seeds were at the point of coming loose from the flesh--a sign of perfect ripeness. As they stood and sniffed and shook and debated if this week or next would bring forth the best of the season, an older woman walked over, the younger boys holding her hands, all of them speaking rapidly in Yiddish.
Her friend turned, greeted the three, then said to Maggie, “This is my Mama. She is visiting us.” Smiles. Nods. Stepping up, she added another set of hands to join in the testing to find a cantaloupe that surpassed the usual standards.
Like daughter, like mother...the older woman, too, shook each round bit of fruit, moving from one to another, her wrist near her ear, listening for the ripe sound. All three concentrated on the task of finding that fruit; it bound them in the way only women are bound, the ancient voice hidden in DNA reminding them they were once the gatherers in tribes. It was then, as the older woman held up the yellow globe she had chosen, shaking it next to her ear, the long sleeves worn even in this weather slid back....Maggie had looked up to watch, a smile on her face...
There. On the forearm. Right. There.
Maggie stared. All else became unimportant. Those black-blue numbers held her eyes, her focus...stopped her breath. She wasn’t sure if it was the pale skin or the black knowledge of how it came to be there that caused them to suddenly stand out even more. With it, this woman had been listed, tracked, made a thing. Maggie stared, knowing it was her memory for life.
She heard something, focused on it, realised it was the older woman speaking to her.
“..... in August, 1943. I was 17. My Lilach stared that same way, the first time she understood this.”
Lilach took her mother’s arm, turned it so the tattoo faced up, kissed it.
Putting the melon down, Maggie turned, leaving her cart, leaving the group that suddenly seemed closed to her. Swinging her purse over her shoulder, she moved towards the doors, towards air. Towards something she could comprehend.
Maggie reached the bus, her seat, her stop....it was habit, and required no thought. In the apartment, sitting on the sofa, purse still in one hand, house keys in the other, she sat, trying to find some memory that didn’t have a dark place. She thought of the Leon Uris books she’d read, Mila 18, QB VII,...the works of Chaim Potok, books read since her move in some odd attempt to ‘understand’ her neighbors-- the books discussed the events, none had given her the skills to process what she’d seen.
The loss of six million was there, in that number. The loss of homes, security, freedom...of generations that would never be born. All of that and more was contained in the cheap ink, the badly drawn characters.
Maggie sat on her sofa, letting all of this settle into a brain that was still skittering over those details she’d never grasp, and knew something in her had changed.
With that knowledge came a great fear she’d do nothing about it, nothing to step up and voice her anger over genocides that still occurred. Standing, she let that fear find a hiding place in her soul, accepting it would stay hidden, accepting she’d live her life as it had always been...turning her head, remaining passive.
Margaret Mary Doyle unfolded her newspaper, and started to circle apartments in Manhattan.
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
----Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Once upon a time, there was a boy and a girl--who felt the universe completely revolved around their beloved, and could not imagine life without the other.
So, following tradition, he gave her a ring and they were engaged. They stood before their peers, their parents, their God, and vowed to stay with each other into death. Secretly smiling when they repeated the age old words; they knew they'd be together beyond death, into eternity. Running out beneath a shower of rice (for this was in the long, long ago...before eco-friendly birdseed was tossed in the air), they went forth into the mayhem that is life.
Jobs, cars, houses, children--all of those things and more darted into their existence. There were times they lost sight of each other in every way. Times when they turned on the one they loved the most, because there you can do the most harm. You see, those are the ones, those people disarmed in emotional battle by the love they bear for the other combatant... the ones who, when they are finally put too far into the zone of heartpain, strike back with full word weapons... both squaring off, saying things that cause wounds deep and hidden, feeling a small zing of victory, ignoring the shame that comes with it...holding on to the zing, to the strike, to that shivering surge of power.
Words, phrases never forgotten, forming a plain of pain that eventually forms into a suppurating--for that is the only word that really describes it--wound. A black hole that consumes everything else; the good, the joyous, the times when you lay with each other, the sound of your breathing weaving into a song of love.
One day, one of them spoke a word...a word not connected in any way to the rush of anger and pain that followed it...filling the space between them. Atom bombs disguised as phrases coated with bile were hurled, each dedicated to the sole purpose of emotional destruction. They chose to take no prisoners. The battlefield--disguised as the master bath--was set for full scale war.
As sometimes happens with these situations, the attack becomes so powerful, the atomic blast so intense, it makes Hiroshima seem tame. What was rich between them dissipated--all that was left to show that anything had ever existed were the shadows burned into concrete.
Yet, there are those times, times when breathing slows, memories that heal rise and they find their way back to that place in their universe again and, lying together, new words made of love and goodness and joy rise up on their breath, again believing their loved one is 'home'.
Even if it's just for the moment.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
the heart monitor kept up the steady sound, letting all of us know he clung to life. my parents sobbed, sitting there, watching my brother, who had been my friend in childhood and grew to be my nemesis. the man i deleted from my bio's i submitted when my agent asked for one.
would anyone notice i was the only one praying for it to flatline?
Friday, September 4, 2009
he looked at the gun, at her face, at the resolve he saw there, then turned away, as if that would remove her existence. i’m not sure that’s something i’m comfortable creating, he said, his voice breaking at the end, in a way that shamed him.
her eyes were the same steel blue as the gun's barrel, and from the shadows, there was a glint of light on the gun, a glint of hate in her eyes. do it, she repeated...write what i want you to write, something i can understand, something i can relate to--something i can work with; not that high brow schmaltz you insist on giving me.
he sighed, and turned to his typewriter, feeling the air around him shimmering with the unspoken threat to his person-- and typed what his editor wanted and needed and demanded.
“blake snuffed out his cigarette, then slugged back a shot of rye, wondering if taking this case would be the worst idea he ever had as a p.i.”
the other chides me to behave, to follow the good book (of my choice) and to never do anything that would make my mother ashamed.
the third reminds me that all decisions have consequences, and to think long before i do or say anything.
far too often, i listen to the last one, that says, "fuck 'em if they can't take a joke", letting me go my own way into that dark night.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
red vines licorice, air dried to a nice chewy texture, sits on my desk in a cup, right where i can reach it at any time. not twizzlers, those pretentious bits of cherry flavour, but, thick, well flavoured, perfect sized red vines...
with these around, you can survive anything. bad day, bad hair, writers block, broken heart, that feeling your stomach is a big empty pit of sadness. biting in, long session of chewing, the taste flowing over your tongue... yes, with these, you know tomorrow is another day.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
that thin grey stream carried her anger, her hurt, her wish that he'd die in some huge crash, leaving her a wealthy woman. for a few mill, she could look tragic and forlorn.
pulling air into her lungs, she huffed out a huge breath, cleaning all those little sacs out, or so she told herself. done, she turned to the garbage disposal, flipping it on to destroy the evidence of her secret cigarette addiction. it remained the thing she needed more than sex, more than food, more than being happy.
it was her drug of choice.. well, that and hating him deep in her heart.
meh. not my best.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
over the idea of poems
i find myself irritated
over the car being towed
with no reason
being stranded doesn’t make me
i find myself stewing
cat litter needs changing
i find myself grinding teeth
and smoking far too much
poetry is beyond me
beyond my thought process
beyond my knowledge of how to craft
i struggle and
my insides heave
in the midst of
a dry birth
Friday, August 28, 2009
here's the full list of what time has taught me:
Saturday, August 22, 2009
i know that as sure as i know my name and that the sun rises in the east.
here's the thing.
the gym is a block away.. i'd have to walk down the two flights of stairs to the garage, drive to the gym, find a place to park, schlep all my stuff into the very chi chi building that houses the gym, find a locker, get changed, go find a machine or five to work out on, reverse the entire process and make it home, sweaty and hot from the car which has sat in the sun for the hour or so i was in there.
i can do that, or, i can sit here and watch 'drop dead diva' and eat stale red vines (never twizzlers!).
i think not only am i clear, but, i've made sense in this explaination...don't you?
Friday, August 21, 2009
The question startled me, I'd not thought of any particular place when I boarded this train...simply sat down and allowed my thoughts to settle into the cold oatmeal that was my brain.
What's your destination?
He repeated it, never losing patience, needing to mark his list with the newest passenger.
I sat a moment longer--actually, I sat longer than it has taken me to write this. I sat, waiting for the answer to leave my puzzled mouth.
What's your destination?
It came forth, borne on a sigh of fear-- sanity.... that's my destination.
(Written on my blackberry while sitting in a hospital room)
Monday, August 17, 2009
However, Sisiter Mary Patrick refused to change out the old ways, and kept it in place, ignoring the rolled eyes and heavy sighs of the uniformed students under her care, secretly enjoying their discomfort.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
thing is, it didn't stop.
i had to scratch that itch....
....so,i turned on the sci fi channel..on a saturday, when the films tend to be really, really crap.
it's my addiction.
Friday, August 14, 2009
your sister said she'd give me a piece of hers, and i can't figure out why you don't love me enough to offer me a piece of yours. this is why i am so much closer to clarissa than you.
i sat, stunned. all of that swirled around in my head, trying to make sense of what is on, what she was babbling about.
i leaned forward, and spoke slowly. mother, i said to her, trying to keep my temper, mother--i can't give you a piece of my liver because our blood types don't match, because i am 25 and you are 65, so why should i give up a huge part of myself and finally, i have cancer. but, i'm betting my cancer riddled liver is still in better shape than clarissa's.... or have you put aside the fact she's a hard core drinker??
she blinked once. twice. settling into her chair, she spoke with dismissal of my comments-- perhaps you are right, but, at LEAST she offered.
i knew then i'd never win, and left knowing i was finally okay with my decision to not speak to either of them ever again. with that thought, there came the discovery i was smiling...and life looked good.
(okay, i adjusted the last sentence... )
Thursday, August 13, 2009
he carried on through life, dodging those who had stains that couldn’t be removed, secrets best not told, dreams even they were afraid of in the light. he moved forward, silent and alone, never trusting. he knew their wells of despair, and had no reason to want to be part of that pit.
he met nate. wonderful, warm, loving, giving nate, who shared his aversion to the bulk of society, who was happy to stay home, stay away from others....nate, his nate. it was on a trip to maine, to stay for a week in a distant cabin when things changed.
it was a shock to find out nate was one of those with deep dark holes in the place where a soul should be... a shock to discover nate didn’t suggest the handcuffs and gag as a sexual stimulus, that the game of 'capture the bad boy' wasn't a game. it was a shock realising his nate was adept at hiding a great deal of his own life. a shock to find those who find no wrong in what they do, have nothing to hide, to be ashamed of...they see themselves as perfectly acceptable humans. yes, all of these shocks were far more painful than the feel of the knife moving through skin and muscle and stopping a split second away from his heart... “you said you wanted to give me your heart,” nate said, leaning in to smile. “we just have different ideas of how to hand over your present."
with that, nate pushed the knife forward that nth bit and full understanding hit william at the same time--allowing him to accept you may know strangers intimately, but, you never, ever really know the one you love.
he stepped back, away from the gray haired woman, away from the train tracks, away from the line of coins she'd carefully placed on the rails.
and, like her, waited to see if they really could derail a speeding train.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
nor for anyone.
we are left, once again, with the radio to tell us who is winning/losing/who cares? and it's been silent for days.
still, i sit, and i hold my hand on the back, and i wait... i refuse to accept the last words of mankind was that ass who broadcast, "oops, my bad!", right before it all went away.
Monday, August 10, 2009
i've the need to cleanse. to remove all the concerns and cares and worries that litter my life... i want them gone, and replaced with ease, love and light.
of course, i also want to wake up and be 20 lbs lighter... i have to wonder which one will occur first.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Sunday, August 2, 2009
i wait through the day, living life as it needed to be lived, dealing with kids and jobs and chores... through it all, i wait.
setting sun, dinner served, tv watched, kids in bed... through it all, i wait.
shower, turning the bed down, dogs out and then back in...through it all, i wait.
lying between my excellent sheets, i waver between fear the pattern will be broken and confidence it will not, and i wait.
the daydreams, the memories--little things--they create my universe of anticipation, and, yes, i wait.
10.30. i need wait no more. my skin sings, and in joy, i sink into the sound of his voice so far away-- “hey”.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Perhaps there was a time I called her 'Mama', back when I first learned to form words, back when much of your life is spent in the darkness of ignorance. Perhaps there was a time I used the word 'Mommy', because that is what my friends called that parent.. and who was I to be different? I do not ever remember using the word "Mom"--it is too personal, too dear a title for me to have bestowed it upon her.
She is now, has almost always been--will remain-- 'Mother', a word that distances me from her. I do not use it to patronise, I use it to set boundaries, keep me out of her reach. It is formal, cold, detached; much like the woman herself. I will not weaken in my resolve... I will not bend to give her a softer title.
I loved her at some point, I hated her at another, and now I struggle daily not to become her.
So far, I've succeeded.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
she wasn’t in the plan... that plan i’d built for my life. that plan included university, a masters degree, the necessary ph.d, investing in real estate, the all important career that put me in a corner office with surround windows and my own staff. no, she wasn’t in that plan.
turns out she had a stronger will than i did, and a well thought out plan of her own.
her plan included finding someone with a ph.d, a large, paid for house in the right suburb, and a career that brought in large bundles of cash, allowing her to remain at home and rule all she surveyed.
her plan would lift her out of that place in life where moving up to white trash was an accomplishment, where cars lived on blocks and far too often, your first lover was a blood relative.
she read and watched and learned how to put on the face, the clothes, the manners, attitude and polish that gave her access to the places where she’d find someone to meet her carefully thought out plan, one written down in a notebook, step by step. she could teach those 'secret' people lessons in how to focus on what you desire in your life.
the one thing she did retain was ‘how to use yourself’--we met, we kissed, she showed me things i didn’t know existed outside of a brothel. moving along with her plan, during one of our dates, she smiled and told me her news. again, according to her plan, there was a short, beautiful wedding in a far away place, where her family couldn’t attend.
no, she wasn’t in the plan, nor was my son... i saw myself as a carefree, eligible bachelor, and she saw me as her way out.
i let her make our life plans now--she's proven she's far better than i.
she put her hand in to move them around, feel the edges, the odd shapes... it was difficult to sort them by feel, as she had hundreds in the cargo pants she was wearing.
he'd collected them in his travels-collected the coins and collected the various women he'd slept with during their time together.
on the edge of the pool, looking into the deep end, she moved to become one with the water, knowing he'd have to also collect her when he finally came home.
closing her eyes, she took that first/last step.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Sharp, able to take out your eye should you get too close, they parry and thrust … until one goes down, gasping, drowning in the water pouring over the twitching body--the victor scuttles away, the much smaller body moving quickly among the others of its kind … triumphant in its victory.
No, it’s not a battle of crabs on a beach … it’s Fall in New York.
The time we fear most; not because of slush or bad sweaters or despondent Yankee fans (who simply will not quit riding the 4 uptown, convinced the season isn’t over...or even worse, become pseudo Red Sox fans in the hope of winning votes). We do not worry about dashing through intersections, ignoring the helpful RedHand O’Death or the Friendly WalkingMan to guide us, instead taking our lives in our hands as we dodge traffic and rogue taxis. We scoff, HA! at black limos that careen down Park, and the multitude of delivery men who scream at us in a variety of languages, in a tone that lets us know they are not wishing us a good day. No, because it is fall, we know what is coming, what we must gird our loins against, what lurks around every corner...the biggest fear of all the Fall Fears--
The Umbrella Wars.
Yes, it’s that time when the first drop of moisture in the air signals the automatic response for a field of colourful sea anemones to dot the streets of New York. Black, blue, red, black, yellow, black, plaid, black, pink, black, black, black …okay, it’s a desolate group of sea anemones, but you get my metaphor.
As they open, the rib tips touch lightly at first … measuring the distance, the strength of their opponent. The crowd moves forward, tipping the umbrella to maximum advantage for facial and clothing protection … causing you to become completely blind to where you are going. The occasional lifting of the edge brings you into the "I'm defenseless" zone, your guard is lowered … they come at you, a solid wall of nylon… spikes at the ready … all aimed for your eyes.
Swiftly, you raise your own weapon, letting the rib tips shield you. CLICK! CLACK! Battles erupt as people jockey for position, desperate not to be pushed into the nameless muck that flows in the gutter, picking up strength with the storm … picking up strength, cups, small dogs, it waits to soak though those shoes, be they Payless or Ferragamo. A gasp can be heard …there is rumour someone is taking out people up ahead, fighting against the crowd on her way from Penn Station to the huge 99 Cent Store, where you never spend just 99 cents.
Businessmen fall aside. Women scream when small almost-but-not-quite-Burberry umbrellas flip inside out, caught by the larger ribs and tips, allowing their owners to be drenched, as they too, slip and are taken away, succumbing to the swift gutter flood, floundering like some poor one claw crab.
There she is, her 4'11" frame moving with a steady pace … her huge golf umbrella in one hand, her shopping cart in the other. Track suit Bedazzled, hair permed, patted, pinned and in place, a look of determination on her face, she triumphs in the battlefield.
She is proof that it’s not the cost of the umbrella; it’s the size and the steady hand wielding it that wins the day.
We have no choice but to bow to her, to the green and white stripes as they part the sea of wet, weary commuters. We bow, we curse, and we walk against the lights into the path of some idiot who thinks holding his horn down is going to scare us after we've dealt with her.
Who is he kidding? Did he see the size of that umbrella??
I used to be a Nanny.
Yes, me. Imagine! I worked for CF, and took care of her three children in Brooklyn, dealing with steam heat (oh! how I miss that!), brownstones, the joys of Hasidim neighborhoods (the house across the street has 23 children in it. Yes, 23. You never hear a peep.) All of the fresh vegetables on 86th Street, the D train... yes, all of it.
I'm helping her out a bit, filling in as Nanny Quin again until she finds someone to do the job on a permanent basis. The kids and I get along, I'd known them since my days in Utah, and it's an easy thing to do.
I had one thing I looked for every day, one landmark, when I walked the youngest two children to school...I'd check to see if he was still around, if the winter hadn't taken him away, if he'd survived another season here in New York.
He was. He'd survived.
The Brooklyn Cowboy.
He's still there, a sturdy, yellow plastic cowboy embedded in the asphalt on Bay two and a half steps from the curb.
He's one of the old plastic cowboys, the kind that sat on a horse, with very bowed legs, his chaps embossed in plastic, his trusty Winchester at the ready. The ten gallon hat remained firmly in place, no matter how hard he rode Blackie or Rusty or Bob out on the Plains looking to protect the wimmenfolk and turn the West into civilisation.
I don't know how long he's been there.. he was rising out of the asphalt before; now, his surface area is larger, but, he's wearing thin and you still can't remove him...I don't know if he was there and the last layer of asphalt is worn down so he's showing again, or, if he was put in on top of the last repaving, an offering to the steamroller gods. I can see some child squatting on the sidewalk, after carefully placing him on the hot asphalt where he's trapped like some modern Mastodon in a flat version of the LaBrea Tar Pits... waiting...waiting.... having the huge steam roller pass over his sturdy body that survives the heat and the weight, feeling the black grit cool around him, and there he'd be, for you to pass over on your way to school or the deli, until one day, you aren't there anymore, you've moved on, something you kept him from ever doing.
One day, a woman with cropped hair and real cowboy boots is standing there, dodging traffic, taking a photo of your offering, a thousand thoughts floating in her head as to how that cowboy ended up as part of a street in Brooklyn.
Yes, I was pleased to see him still there, still bright yellow, still holding his own.
You see, I used to love my plastic cowboys.
They came in packages with a thin cardboard top, hole in the center to let it hang on a rack there at TG&Y... with cowboys and horses (my favourites where the black horses, they looked sooooo sassy), there were some cowboys with rifles, others with a lariat frozen in a perfect circle, ready to lasso that dogie, and each pack always contained the now very politically incorrect Indians in full war regalia.. war bonnets flowing down their backs. Their horses only had blankets, so, you had to be careful to not mix up these horses with the cowboy ones until you started to lose the mounts a lawnmower.... or, as usually happened, one of the extended legs of the perennially trotting mounts would have a leg weaken from the constant galloping it did to the stick fort and finally fall off, causing a burial. In our case, we broke up the monotony of the day and mixed up the normal burial by melting them with a magnifying glass and the hot New Orleans sun.
When you played with either group, they didn't walk properly... the fixed legs made it difficult for the cowboys to be menacing when advancing towards each other in a gunfight, or either group to attack with any sense of violence, so, you did this rocking back and forth motion as they moved forward towards each other...not very menacing at all when you think about it. Add to it their wimmin folk were usually some Kewpie doll that towered over them, causing Napoleon complexes to all those multi-coloured men of either group... thus leading to huge numbers of gunfights, now that I look back on it...and it was all very surreal.
My cowboy was always named Gary. I had a thing for High Noon and it's handsome star....I passed the name onto my yellow cowboy in the asphalt. His tenacity fit the name better than any other plastic cowboy ever did before.
The pack would almost last the month of August, that time after my trip to Monroe. They made it though the Bermuda grass under the trees, the forts built in dirt, the dogs making off with horses or a scout or two. Eventually, you were left with some chewed up pieces, which went off to die to the outside toybox, and finally were thrown away when my MawMaw grew tired of the smell of old socks, flip flops missing chunks that had been left behind on the bark of various trees we'd climbed, and the tired remains of plastic cowboys.
I was glad to see Gary was still there. That he was holding strong, brighter than my photo shows him to be last year, defiant in his refusal to disappear into the road, into the atmosphere, not going into that last sunset.
I leaned over, planting my own cowboy boots next to his, and wished him well.
Then, I jumped quickly out of the way of a bus, that cheerfully rolled over Gary's face.
Gary will survive these streets.... he's part of them, a Brooklyn Cowboy, happy in his asphalt bed, content to be smushed daily, waiting to be seen by someone else aside from me, I reckon.
I'd been walking, stopping off deliberately in the deli next to the Evil Empire coffee shop to buy a cup of coffee.
I'm defiant that way.
He was sitting on a piece of cardboard on the sidewalk, reading Trout Fishing in America, a book I've not seen in, well, forever. Richard Brautigan gave me one of my favourite sayings in my verbal world..."I'm up shit creek without a pair of snowshoes". I felt compelled to talk to someone who was reading Brautigan.
It wasn't just the book, it was the luggage, the blanket on his legs, and the sign that said, "STRANDED IN NEW YORK CITY. PLEASE HELP!"
"Why are you stranded?" I gave him the cup of cocoa I'd gone back inside the deli to buy and I sat next to him on the cold sidewalk, offering a cigarette.
He looked startled as I settled in, taking the cocoa, gratefully lighting up. It was cold Saturday, crisp in the city, dry though, the drizzly air contained to Staten Island when I'd left hours earlier to make the audition.
"Ummm, well, me and my girlfriend, we came here and things aren't working out. She went back to our place in Ohio 'cause we could only afford one bus ticket, so, she took it and we found out we'd been evicted from our apartment there. So, she came back here. Now, we're on the streets."
"Have you gone to the shelters?"
"Yes, we sleep there. Problem is, you can't get a job without a license to drive and and all that stuff.", he continued, sipping and accepting donations into his cup.
"Why New York? It's pretty miserable here in the winter."
He went on to tell me how they'd met in high school, dropped out together to see the country. His eyes never stopped checking out the crowd as he spoke. He said they had hitchhiked and panhandled over the width of the U.S., making it to 35 states. He knew the number because she collected little pins and put them on her coat.
He said he'd been to Bryce Canyon, and he was in a little town near there, and he loved it, they almost stayed, but, they knew no panhandling would be allowed. I laughed, and told him I had a house in that same town.
He looked so cold, you could see some warmth returning to his skin from the drink. His mouth was ringed with cold sores, and his hands were chapped... and it's still early in the season... Mommode kicked in, hard. I was starting to think of leaving him my gloves, my last $5.00.
He asked me the time, said he'd be leaving soon, to go to get his girlfriend.
He worries about her. She has a temper, and gets into fights with people. If they say the wrong thing, she'll "... be in their face. I can't have her picked up again. She is small, but, she can punch hard. It's never her fault, though. People just pick on her, you know, say the wrong thing and she has to defend herself."
She was on another corner, near Central Park. They didn't panhandle together, they made more money this way, split up.
He worries until he sees her at their appointed time and place.
"We try and get to the shelters early, get a bed next to each other. I go to the Apple store and check my email, send letters to my mom, let her know I'm okay and shit."
I asked if he'd gone to craigslist, looked for gigs there... told him he didn't need to have a license, that you can find occasional jobs doing labour.
He said he'd not thought of that.. and his eyes drifted to make contact with people walking, shaking the cup.
As he talked, telling me of what they'd done while traveling, how they'd gone from city to city, with no real destination, settling on New York because of the free stuff they could score, the medicine, the housing, the hands dropping money in his cup... that this was a good place for them.
"So, you really aren't stranded."
"No, not really. We can really score here in New York, you know."
I stood up.
"Yeah," he said, warming to his subject, "I don't like having change. At the end of the day, I put what I make into bills, then I dump the leftover change into cups of, you know, the 'real' poor people. I share what I make."
He smiled up at me, as if I should pat his head.
I walked away, glad I was only out a cup of cocoa. I guess everyone has a profession, I have joked that panhandlers are a union gig, and it's a tough union to join.
I think I met the local steward.... who went back to his book, and looking pathetic, and holding up a sign that was a lie. He did this, and I walked away, angry I'd been snookered. Angry I struggle at times, the same way my friends do, and this...this... faker and his anger issue girlfriend more than likely make more money than I do.
Still, was he any more dishonest than sales clerks who say you look great in that fushia skirt in order to make a commission sale or the hucksters who push a fake designer bag on you? Or a President who says we need this war? Was he what he was made to be by his background, or something of his own creation?
All of this rolled in my head, while I walked from 23rd down 6th, looking for bus stops, not paying attention that the traffic was going the opposite way from me, moving uptown as I walked downtown, feeling the air grow colder as the sun dropped down behind the urban mountain range I live in now, listening to the call of the wild tourist as it sang out "Which way is it to South Ferry?" and for once, not giving directions the way I usually do ("Take the 'R' to Whitehall... the station is just there across the street"), ignoring, as always, the pedestrian signs on the street, making my way down to the old stomping grounds by the Soho Grand, only pausing to talk to Josh at the front door, and coming to the realisation I needed to go to Broadway to find my bus.
I was still pondering it all, the decision to be a bum, to let society take care of them, to happily be sickly looking in the hope people like me would help him out, relying on the fact we would do just that, when I went past someone collecting for the Homeless in New York, and I gave them my $5.00.
The bus arrived, I climbed on, and found out my all powerful MTA card didn't work on the 1X bus, it's not all powerful on an Express bus, it seems. A nice driver, however, overrides that, and I was given a free ride back home.
I guess we all get free rides of one sort or another. Leaning back in my seat, opening In Cold Blood, looking out over the water as we drove over the Verrazzano Bridge, I had to ask myself...
Am I any different, or, because I was better dressed, do I think a free bus ride is a small thing in the big picture?
With that in place, who am I to judge him?
one of us will win the stand-off... and one will walk away, either in tears or relief.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
So, I just talk into the microphone?
Right. We’d met via the internet, the shadkhen for the 2000’s... who needs a person? You use the internet for dating, hooking up...marriage. We met, we courted.. we had our first sexual experience . On computers. A year of talking, emails and a lot more virtual sex later, he flew to Chicago from Los Angeles, I’m at baggage check, holding a sign, in case the real me didn’t look like the virtual me. We had the initial greeting, our faces not sure which way to go as we moved in for the hug/kiss--awkward, right?
So, off to a great place that served famous pizza in a town known for pizza. There, it all started to crumble. I noticed when he spoke to me, he moved his fingers on the table as if typing. I ordered a beer (with pizza, you have beer, right?) and he chose “...a nice red wine, not too earthy”. Then, then, he did something that proved this had become a momentous FUBAR. I could have lived with the girth I’d never seen before, his staring at my chest when he spoke, even the fuckin’ pretentious wine. It ended when he eschewed my suggestion of sausage and olives, choosing ham and pineapple.
Ham. And. Pineapple.
Okay, granted, sending him back to L.A. was a smarter choice than the one I took--that whole stabbing him in the eye with my fork.
But, really, ham and pineapple?
She had two choices, once she discovered that this guy was, as her grandmother would have said, a drip; put on the sulk of a two/thirteen year old, or, go into a hypnotic trance that allowed her to think she was out with Greg Roberts, who took her heart and her virginity when she was 17.
She chose the latter.
Monday, July 13, 2009
she's lazy when it comes to moving on, making you be the one to break it off, break it up. that way, she's never to blame... she figures if you have to have a sin, sloth is a good one... and if someone tells her differently; she's too lazy to listen.
Friday, July 10, 2009
need to stay awake, stay alert... be on the lookout. i used to take the little facebook tests, you know, how long would you survived in a zombie attack, and i would laugh about dying in the first day.
i've lasted five days since it started. they say after 21 it's over...so, only, what? 16 more to go? i need to believe that..16 more days, and i'm safe. still, they said it would never happen, either. and it did. it was a fluke, they said. if i keep the belief in them, and believe the 21 days to the cycle, i can keep my sanity.
the day i stop thinking that...well, i've kept one bullet, just in case, just for me.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
thankfully, she never did succumb to the dictates of her mother, never losing that huge guffaw that was hers and hers alone.
it's what i still remember when i think back--glad i inherited it, mindful only of what i am laughing about when i let loose, and not what people think of the sound.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
It was her hope to be like the other one in the house, to be able to walk the way she did and hold things firmly in her hands. She dreamed of it at night; images of what she’d seen during the day touching her, connecting, becoming real enough that she knew when she awoke, she’d look for a pair of shoes to slip on and wear while she did her daily errands.
With each morning came the abrupt awareness that she was still not like the other, that they had basic differences in so many areas, especially the one that kept them from conversing in a manner that would possibly bring satisfaction to both. This fact made her irritable every morning....she’d shun the other and stay silent and still until coaxed out of her bad temper.
No matter how she desired it, how she yearned for it, how she concentrated, focused her strong will to cause her body to change...she knew she'd never be like the other, the one she relied on for almost everything.
Her long ago far away memories told her there was a time when the other was inferior, and those like herself were gods. Times changed the order, and now, the human was in charge... and she, the feline member of the duo, could do nothing more than be secretly envious of the other’s abilities, falling back on open disdain of any and all attempts to befriend her.... taking bitter pleasure in watching the other try to woo her into accepting a subservient role; and completely rejecting the advances. And, occasionally, when she was particularly peeved or had a deep desire to remind the other who was really in charge--she’d wee in the clothes hamper, just because she could.
Friday, July 3, 2009
the best i've done is get to the point of if i don't like it, i say nothing. i can't pretend to like or be someone i'm not. it may not earn me friends, but, it lets me face myself in the mirror and know i'm true to myself as well as those in my life.
maybe i shouldn't be a film critic after all... this method of working isn't really the best idea when you are in the business of critique.
Monday, June 29, 2009
it was ours, however, and we loved every moment of growing up there... the creek, the picnics, the town green.
i miss that place, now that i'm in new york... and i dream of going back to raise my own children there, so they too can have memories of ice cream, fireflies and soft summer nights.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
How easily we shed being mature mother, 20 year old son—we are children, lying wrapped in down comfort, the gently pitched roof our bed, our high mountain Utah town stretched out in the valley beyond, again enveloped in pioneer pre-Edison night.
Orion marches in stately majesty across the crisp skies, with his attending court moving in astral dignity, swirling in colours bold; red, gold, blue, green, white stark against the thick black.
My hand rests in his, reversed from what was, this lanky child who is like me, struggling in a world of stimuli when we long for routine and quiet.
Our breathing is so soft, the sound blends into the movement of the leaves and the smell of my roses and lavender moves upwards in that cold summer air and I wonder if he's drifted off to sleep when his long arm moves languidly to point out a star in what normally would be a vast dark area, it’s blue white light shimmering there.
I can hear his love, so hard for him to voice, wrapping around the words, “I can’t put it in one of those gift bags, but, it’s there, just for you….Happy Birthday, Mom.”
we never actually met; i was italian, she was hasidim.
but, oh, how i dreamed of her winding her arms around me, holding me close, whispering in my ear. i'd see her walk past on her way to the yeshivia, and dream.
funny, it's 30 years later, and i can still remember her, remember those days, and i wonder what ever happened to the girl whose face forever haunts my dreams.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
scandals are good. they keep you alive and fresh and they allow people to overlook the fact you've only had one good role in film, and the rest of the time, you've been known for being known.
it's a good life, one i relish. so, did you hear about my vacation with the midget and the trained monkey??
Friday, June 26, 2009
i handed him the new pair i'd bought, giving the wifely glare that says, wear these or no more sex.
amazing how that glare works... looking like a saviour was preferable to being chaste...he put them on, and i discovered he was right. with the beard and the sandals, he was rather holy, in a hot way.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
six days a week
Monday’s Child is Fair of Face
Her face would never be her fortune. It would neither stop traffic nor curdle milk, her grandmother said, it was nothing more than ordinary. “Don’t be picky, girls like you are lucky to get anyone so don’t go thinking you’ll find some Prince.” He proved them wrong, being all the things she’d ever dreamt of; handsome, witty, wanting a life with her. It was the night she was tired, giving an abrupt answer to a question, that he picked up his tennis racquet to finish their conversation. Later, when he held her and kissed the marks he’d left, she accepted the trade off--and willingly took her place in the game.
He ambled through life with an ease that belied his large frame. Using his voice, his soft smile, his ability to make every woman he met believe she was the one, he never stumbled in the field of relationships. Perhaps it’s because he had never had one; he saw only the ‘I’ part of a ‘we’. Saying what had to be said, he achieved what he wanted, leaving behind those who had believed, trusted, given their all. He offered a glimpse of what could be to each one, slipping out before the serious questions could be asked--effectively spilling ink on the stories of a future they wrote in their hearts. The brutal honesty of his lies created their own version of paper cuts, shallow, but, painful to the touch.
Kristen had the world on a string, sitting on a rainbow--you know the words. There was nothing she could do that was wrong; meeting the right person, finding the perfect job, the apartment that was pre-War and rent controlled--her life was luck and serendipity all rolled up in one. She celebrated the highlights of your life, and was the strong shoulder when you were down. Kristen excelled as a cook, a housekeeper, an employee, mother, daughter, wife-- friend. There was serenity found in her presence and confusion at her death. Whoever said suicide was painless?
I asked Jack, while we lay curled together in bed, in the dark, during that time when you give over secrets and trust, “I’ve never told you the story of getting my glasses, have I? I was 12, and Sister Mary Joseph called from my school, telling my mother she was tired of my struggle to see the blackboard and if my parents didn’t take me to have my eyes checked, she would. When mother and I walked together in the heat to the appointment, she said if I didn’t have bad eyes, she’d beat me all the way home; I started praying then for God to strike me blind. While the doctor fitted my glasses, he said he couldn’t believe mother never noticed I had problems.”, I paused, remembering her frown of annoyance. “Looking through those thick lenses changed...everything and, for the first time, I actually saw my mother’s face.” Lying together, in the dark, I felt him weeping.
I dole out pieces of myself to everyone I know. I self-sacrifice when we have a disagreement, make time when I don’t have it, give full attention to their stories of paltry issues they tell me. I say the right words, make the proper moves, bite my tongue to hold back things that would hurt or cause pain to another. Here’s the thing; it’s boring as shit to be this nice person-- boring, irritating, maddening. What I really want to do is take an AK-47 and go postal, you know? One day....one day, I’m going to make it all about me, and then I’ll give to them in a way that will make me smile.
Who knew she’d end up here, with the job on Wall Street, an apartment in Soho, and the kind of Chanel purses that weren’t peddled on Canal Street? Who knew that such a recession would hit, and put so many of her friends out of work, desperate to find something to do? All she knew, she had rent to pay, food to buy, expenses to meet, and unemployment wasn’t going to last forever. She updated the resume, slogged to interviews and scrambled to put herself at the top of the field of applicants for every job, finally landing one. Her sense of accomplishment faded after the first day, but, a job was a job, right? She repeated that phrase like a mantra as she picked up yet another pile of shit, adjusted her charge's leashes and set off for the park.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
one of mine was when danny boudreau kissed me under the bridal wreath bush, promising me eternal love and giving me a ring made from a dog's choke chain.
our love lasted until third grade, when he met and left me for a girl from the public school down the street.
i still remember the freckle in his left iris, that i'd watch become covered as he slowly closed his eyes to kiss me.
Using her index finger, Sparkle pulled the skin taunt around her left eye, trying to see how she’d look if the area was smooth once more.
She’s spent her youth swearing she’d never go the way of The Establishment; that fixation on youth and the status quo. She’d never married the fathers of any of her children; Seagull, Creek nor Bishop. Later, she was shocked when they changed their names to Rose, Henry and Bob and became a stock market broker, a teacher and an engineer, respectively. It was too much for her to watch them happily blend in with the rest of the bourgeois. After all, she’d raised them to be free thinkers, to love nature, to find the commune a way of life...lessons they gladly abandoned as soon as they started high school. By college, they were far away from her way of thinking and living, and it was with a sigh of relief they all parted ways.
Sparkle had been swept up in that last wave of hippidom...she grew up in a time when protesting was a way of life, free love a way to live, rebellion something you strived to help accomplish. Her generation remembered Laugh-In and the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate and read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time soon after it was published. She’d started life with the name Susan in Cleveland, and became Sparkle in 1978, when she ran away to San Francisco, too late to catch the full impact of the Haight/Ashbury crowd, but in time to catch crabs from a guy who told her he’d once slept with Joplin. He took her virginity, leaving her with the aforementioned crabs and a ruby ring, that she later pawned to buy a bus ticket to Oregon, to live with a group there who were still searching for love, happiness and a way to live without working.
It was there she had her children in a teepee, letting them run naked with others of their age. She gave them names that linked them to an event in her life, names that set them apart from the children they met in public school, where all of the group's children were forced to go by Social Services. That started them on the road away from the place they lived; set them to yearning to be seen as ‘normal’. The status quo became their Holy Grail.
Time passed, people changed, the group disbanded, and Sparkle found herself living in a trailer park in Yuma, Arizona with a man named Grey whom she’d met in a biker bar in Phoenix. They stayed in the life of hipnoids--those people who never really accepted that the 60’s were over--going to Rainbow Family gatherings, growing their own pot in hidden fields, and making a living by selling handmade articles at Renaissance Fairs and various other events that catered to their kind.
It was finding Grey flirting with a much younger woman who had stopped to buy one of their stone pipes that put her where she was right now--in front of a mirror, pulling on her eyes and thinking about asking Creek if he would front the money for her to get a face lift, just a little one... wondering if her kids had the right idea about life after all.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
six miles every day, then he was done. life moved on on it's own imperfect track, while he held the comfort of the memory of the smooth oval in his heart.
(gargh, i ran out of time! the italics finish the work)
Monday, June 22, 2009
he ignores me and points to the form where it asks "do you have implants?"
i check yes, for the thrill of it, even though he makes me fill out another form telling the truth.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
His planned demise turned out to be just as chaotic as his life had been.
He’d decided to choose his own way out of this mortal coil--whatever the fuck ‘mortal coil’ meant. Although he often quoted Shakespeare, he’d never really liked the guy, finding his writing tiresome to slog through and the iambic pentameter made him feel fidgety. What also made him fidgety were people who had more than 12 items in the 12 item line, the use of the word ‘like’ over and over in a conversation, hedgehogs, birthday parties and Thanksgiving.
His life had never run smoothly; if something was going to go wrong, it usually did. A friend told him once it was as if before he was born, he decided to pay back all of the crap karma he had coming in one fell swoop. Every time he became involved with someone, it ended with the person cheating on him. He’d even tried having a relationship with a guy he’d met and found oddly attractive. It looked as if it was going to work out when he came home and found his lover had left him for a transgendered woman. His love life now consisted of a once a week masturbatory session in the shower, because it was easier to clean up after he was done. Afterward, he’d make a cup of hot chocolate and read a book until he felt sleepy.
Promotions had come and gone; never really his fault when he was passed over. He didn’t make a strong enough impact to give cause for anyone to want to move him up, so, he stayed in his cubicle, which always had enough paper on his desk to cause spontaneous combustion.
Pets ran away. Plants died. His parents moved and didn’t tell him the details. The last he’d heard was via a distant cousin he discovered on Facebook. Turns out they were in Boca, and enjoying their savings. Soon after this bit of news, the cousin blocked him from her account, and his friends dropped down to three, including the advertising company that promoted hair growth.
He'd put things down, and couldn’t find them again. He tried to move to new apartments, hip lofts, only to discover they’d set aside his deposit, and rented to someone else. His weight went up thanks to his habit of eating ice cream at midnight out of the carton while standing in front of the freezer. His car died. So did his neighbor, who wasn’t discovered until a slightly disgusting odor drifted into the hallway.
It was this event that got him to thinking about his own death. How would it be handled by others. Who, if anyone, would come to his funeral. What would happen?
Thus, he decided to take matters into his own inept hands. He had a vision of what should happen, and he moved forward with a purpose to make sure everything would be in place. He started to make lists, losing some along the way, discarding others as too vague. He worked and thought and wrote notes, wanting some kind of peace of mind on his way to ending it all. This way, too, he'd avoid Thanksgiving for once, a fact that made him oddly content.
First, he called around, then went to pay for, a cremation. Not being sure of how many would attend, he felt he could hope for at least one person to carry the urn out of the chapel. Next, he taped the music he wanted played, since it seemed silly to pay for a musician for what could be a small number of mourners. He chose the flowers and pre-paid a caterer to bring both the flowers and the food over to the small banquet room he rented at the Best Western near the airport. Cleaning out his savings was a small price to pay for knowing he’d be taken care of, that a decent funeral would be in place, that he could die knowing this time, he’d controlled the event, the event hadn’t controlled him. For once, things looked as if they would be neat and tidy and everything coming together so neatly brought him pride in his planning of his death.
The Sunday morning of the Big Event, he rose, showered, dressed and had his favourite breakfast of Capt’n Crunch and a bacon sandwich. Two cups of coffee later, he stood up to start this last day on earth... his elbow catching the bowl with the yellowish milk in the bottom, knocking it to the floor. It took him a good 10 minutes to clean up the mess, rinse out the dishrag, and make sure the floor wasn’t sticky. He wanted to finally be able to make a good impression.
Going into the small bedroom, which had been advertised as ‘quaint’ (a nice way of saying a bed will fit, and that is it), he started to put on his suit fresh from the cleaners, only to discover it had a button missing, and that they hadn’t removed the grease stain from the fly area, where he’d dropped part of his tuna salad sandwich the week before. While tying his shoes, one of the laces broke just below the eye, and it wouldn’t thread through to allow him to tie a small knot and still use the lace. Switching out the black laces for a pair of white ones from his sneakers, he moved into the bathroom to brush his teeth and comb his hair...clean and tidy was the final goal.
The blue toothpaste left a small smear on his white shirt, even after he’d dabbed at it with a wet washcloth. His hair refused to obey, being too long to lie straight on his head, instead going into an unattractive wave that flopped over his forehead. He wet it down, slapped on some gel, and again combed it into place, something that only served to give his hair that creepy sex molester look you see on ‘America’s Most Wanted’---stiff with the grooves left from the comb showing.
Finally, he was ready. Exhausted, but, ready. He opened up the bottle of sleeping pills he’d managed to get from his doctor, citing insomnia, and washed them down with a half empty (in his eyes) glass of tequila. Making sure his apartment was unlocked, he taped an envelope marked “CALL THE POLICE BEFORE COMING IN” with his note to the world inside, along with the instructions on how to carry out his funeral and his small Will, which left everything to that same distant cousin; it was the least he could do to pay back the information he’d been given. As he shut the door, the draft from it closing caused the envelope, held up by cheap tape, to lift off the door and slide under the hallway rug, where it wasn’t found until the following Spring, too late to do any good.
He went to the sofa, and lay down upon it, waiting to go to the other side.
He drifted off, never knowing it took three days for anyone to realise he’d not been into work. Four days before anyone remarked on that same matter during a coffee break. On the Monday of the week following his Big Event, his supervisor wrote him up for not coming in, recommending he be fired. It was the next day, a Tuesday, before they finally sent someone over, who, along with the Super, realised the door was open, giving them easy access. They came in and there he was, not on the sofa (where he’d planned on being discovered, in his some what rumpled suit and the green tie he really loved with his hands folded peacefully on his chest), but, in the bathroom, quite dead.
The autopsy said the pills and booze had mixed in his stomach, churning and gurgling...and it must have roused him enough to realise he had to empty his stomach. The bruises on the back of his hands were from hitting them against the doorway on his trip to the bathroom, to deal with his sickness. There, he’d sank to his knees, bent over the open toilet, and passed out into the BluClean water, thus drowning.
The landlord took possession of everything he'd left behind, selling it on Craigslist, to pay for the complete fumigation of the apartment. When his parents came into town that March, finally stopping to visit on their way to see the distant cousin, they were told he had left no notes, no instructions, nothing, and his body been handed over to the city to bury. His grave was unmarked, his funeral unattended, and the pre-paid food had been dutifully delivered to the Best Western, where it sat for a day, finally being thrown away by the cleaning crew. The maids took the flowers home, enjoying the beauty of the roses and lilies, never wondering who had ordered them nor why no one had shown up.
In May, when the building owners decided to renovate the common areas, the rug was picked up, and the envelope found. It was too late by then to do anything, really, so, it was crumpled up and thrown away, as forgotten as the man himself.