Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Good, the Good, and the Good

I admit that I've spent a fair amount of the  31,536,000 seconds I was gifted this year, deeply submerged in the muck. In fairness to me (and anyone else who made it through this year with the luxury of feeling bad and then being able to dwell on that feeling) this year has been a cesspool of nonstop horrible shit happening. But, and I find I have to un-suction my rubber boot heels from the mud drenched floor of my state of mind to admit this, it wasn't 100% bad. I mean it WAS all bad if you empathize with the world at large. But I'd be remiss to not acknowledge the pinpricks of starlight in the black sky. In the spirit of not losing the memories I have from 2016 that DON'T make me wish I was in a coma achieved by eating too much ice cream, I've decided to share a list of some here. This post and the list within it will be my vial of antidote serum when life (and Facebook) sprinkles dirt in my fries. Mind altering, laced with cyanide dirt. So here are some moments worth remembering, in no particular order, from 2016:

Getting two of my poems published in June

I don't ever expect anyone to like my writing, ever. It is always a pleasant surprise when someone does and I was thrilled that two of my pieces were published. I truly appreciated that.

Seeing Hamilton in November
There was a moment, during the song "One Last Time" when Chris Jackson as George Washington was ripping his heart out through his lungs and handing it to us all in the audience, when I felt like own heart would burst and I must have reacted physically because Javier Munoz, playing Hamilton, caught my eye and smiled. It was a remarkable, subtle and quick moment that I will always remember. Also, seeing Brandon Victor Dixon stretching in the wings just before the start of the show... it just made me feel with the show. Like we were all snugly protected inside a snowglobe with a beautiful, musical tableau.

Seeing Ireland in September

A hundred and twelve things stand out about this trip: the memories with friends, the flavors, the sounds, the images. The beer, and orange spiced marmalade. The Dublin writer's artifacts preserved in glass cases, the hundred bookstores. But two things stand out above them all.

Since childhood, I have had one recurring dream: that I am inside a house that has neverending rooms, hallways, doors within rooms that lead to other rooms. Invariably in the house, I am charmed and longing to belong there forever. Yet the house, though it is always different, always belongs to someone else, either a friend or someone I just met in the dream. (I had this dream a few weeks ago and the house belonged to my uncle.) Anyway, in Kilkenny there is a restaurant called Langton's. We stopped in there for dinner and quickly realized that one front room/bar was the entrance to a series of long hallways with rooms branching off them, each one either elegantly small and intimate or ornate and ballroom-like. There seemed to be no end to the rooms within and walking through it was walking through my dream. That's a cool thing that will likely never happen to me again. But I was lucky it did, even once.

The second memory is this: Standing on the lunar landscape of the Irish coast in between destinations on a chilly September afternoon, belly full of the most delicious seafood soup I have ever eaten in a lifetime of eating soup, is a visual, aural, and sensory fingerprint on my brain. I envision the future me, maybe having lost my mind to age or sorrow or some other thing that happens to us all and closing my eyes and feeling all of it all over again. That happened this year.

Radiohead Concert at MSG in July

From the moment I first heard Radiohead in the wee hours of a lonely dorm room night in the winter of 1995, I was hooked. For life. And though I've seen Radiohead many, many times I don't think I needed to until this year. I needed that switch turned on. And the opening bars of "Let Down", the first time I've heard that song played live, did it. I was high fiving strangers and crying and it was beautiful.

Harry Potter World in June

Nancy and I sat in the shade on a bench in between rides and drank frozen Butterbeer and laughed. Is there a more fun sentence?

Maine in November

I took a girls' weekend to Camden, Maine this November and the road trip was so fun that I was able to think about everything but my sad, broken heart. There is nothing better than friends (and booze) to help you and don't let anyone tell you differently.

All year long

I am surrounded by love and support, by friendship and comfort and I would never have made it without you, you know who you all are. I get the same feeling around you as I do when I'm tucked underneath my electric blanket.

So there is always that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


For the last week or so I've been grieving. One of my best friends left the world and took with her a cookie cuttered section of my heart. My cat Thelma died unexpectedly of kidney disease, something I had no idea she had until the last day of her life. She lived her entire life, health problem free with only one kidney. In true cat fashion, she hid any and all discomfort she ever had from me and every vet she ever saw. Feline, thy name is stoic. It has been exactly a week since I had to say goodbye and I still await her ashes to be delivered to me to punctuate the sentence. Thelma is gone

 I have taken this loss right to the center of my soul, my days unspooling and me, undone and completely bereft by nighttime. I've walked around with boulders at the bottom of my stomach and until today, dreaded any social interaction with anyone because it takes too much energy to glue my psyche together long enough to behave like I'm not made of limp, creased, damp cardboard. I knew when I brought that little cat home almost seven years ago that I was signing up for losing her. We start our lives in contract with death as a fine print agreement. And every interaction we choose from the moment we are able is checking the box over and over again: In consideration of the mutual covenants set forth herein, both parties agree to lose one another to death. I simply, humanly thought I'd have time to prepare my goodbyes. I have not one basis for this assumption and I won't make that mistake again.

I've gotten through the worst of it with the undying support of my sister who was with me in the room when I said goodbye and has not left my side since. I feel sorry for any and everyone who doesn't have a Lorraine in their lives. You should get one. I've also gotten by with the distraction of work and action films, with Radiohead and booze and ice cream and my remaining cat, Greta. With the reassurance of my trusted vet who listened to me cry over the phone and said that I made the only choice I could and with the long, human chain of friends and acquaintances who have been through all of this before and come out on the other side with just the parts of their beloved pets that are worth preserving...the love. It's part of the sales pitch that gets you to sign the contract to begin with and it is worth every single tear.

This morning I felt certain that Thelma the cat visited me. I felt the pressure of her paws land on the bed and skirt around the pillows and head to the windowsill at my head. I felt it and have chosen to believe that she stopped by to say hi and I feel better today, I am still sad, I can't deny it. But the boulders feel whittled down to large stones and I think of Thelma with more smiles than tears. I thought about what to share in here about her, for the knowledge of all the deeply unfortunate souls who never got to meet her. But I don't suppose it would mean much to learn that every night she would follow me into the bedroom and meow impatiently for me to lie down and wouldn't settle down until I did because she was impatient to plant her large little body on top of my stomach or my chest. Or that of all the bellies on all the kitties in the world, Thelma's was the fluffiest and if you ever got to pet her there, you passed the good egg test. She wouldn't let just anyone do it.

Those little things about my little friend mean the world to me and will for the rest of my life. But I guess what I want to get across here, for future me, for future contracts, in case of the likely possibility that my brain will age like shredded wheat is that I once had a cat named Thelma and she was my friend and I miss her a lot.

Thelma Marie (2008-10/11/2016)

Monday, September 12, 2016

New Things With Old Eyes: A Getting Old Tableau

Ever feel like you closed your eyes when you were 20 in 1996 and then you opened them in 2016 and you were feeling so very deeply all 40 of your years? Did your knees pop a clickety-clack melody as you literally creaked out of bed, thinking one really long thought about how the years have tenderized you, covered you in salt, and left you to marinate like a rare steak left out on the counter too long? Did you think about getting married for the nine hundredth time this week and do that thing where you scroll through disingenuous profile after profile of your dating app swiping away any desire to do much more than head home and eat popcorn and watch a fictionalized version of romance until you fell asleep? Did you ride the subway to work while feeling the sweat evaporate from your skin into the clogged air around you and struggle through squinted eyes to remember what it was about NYC you loved so much again? No? Anyone?

It's a Monday again here in aftersolonggirl-land. I got a lot accomplished this morning. Workwise, I've stuffed the afternoon into a large burlap sack and tied it around my ankle, dragging it behind me everywhere.

Normally I find myself out of the country during this time of year but this year I've had to push my badly needed vacation plans to the end of the month. In two weeks I'll be three or four Guinness deep, pondering different shades of green and what to call them all. I'm hoping Ireland is as it has been in my imagination ever since I first contemplated going there, when I was 15 and obsessed with the Dublin of The Commitments. (Unrelated: is it bad that I can't spell the word commitment correctly on the first try, ever? Is there something Freudian there? You tell me.) At the moment I'm contemplating what to pack and, like every chore that requires me to make choices about what to wear, I want someone else to decide perfectly what all I should bring. I'm easily distracted when a task like this is set before me and so I have been searching Instagram for #dublin to see what people are wearing in their photos. I apply very scientific methods to everything, even things that really don't need them.

I am really ready to be away though. It's been a minute since I've stretched time with a lot of distance. And for the past few months, I've wrapped my brain in the compression bandage of stress and I'm ready to release it now. I do have some residual anxiety about leaving my sickly cats home and having a catsitter tend to them, but honestly, I've made every precaution I possibly can and I have to learn to let go. I'm also ready to not spend any more mental or emotional energy on worry. I simply want to sleep late, and drink too much and see new things with my old eyes. I need the next two weeks to fly.

Yesterday I did get out of the city, a goal to be observed whenever possible on September 11. Lambden and Lorraine and myself went to the Jersey shore to say goodbye to summertime by dipping ourselves in the ocean and frozen custard. The waves were chopping and sectioning off the lines of bronze bodies who dared go in but it was the perfect temperature. In the hour just before getting in, I was bitten by 4.5 million demon flies and submerging in the water felt like a sizzle of comfort. I stupidly lost my sunglasses to a bullying wave and I feel terrible that I've polluted the ocean in such a stupid way. I hope the tide left them behind and someone who needed them was able to find them. I also had that brief few minutes of being convinced I was going to drown when I got separated from Nancy and was dragged a bit under by a series of aggressive swells. I was simultaneously tumbled backward and forward, swallowed a pony keg's worth of salty sea water, got a leg cramp and couldn't stop laughing. It was wild ride, I tell you. We followed our lovely afternoon at the beach eating seafood and laughing, staring at the endless sky and taking full advantage of having made the journey of 15 years together, mostly intact. To understand how good it felt, you would have had to have been there 15 years ago. Some of you were, so you get it. We passed a flag at half mast yesterday and I had to be reminded why it was at half mast. Here we all are, another year further away.

So, I'm in a holding pattern for two weeks. Things have stabilized for me and I'm cranking through the motions. Or I'm creaking through them. I'm stiffening up by degrees today. I'm sure getting blendered by the sea yesterday didn't help but, as though on cue, I feel physically older. Do I look different?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

32 (w/ a side of oven fresh perspective)

I've taken to reading old journal entries like I'm sorting through items of an estate sale. There are things that shine like new with indeterminable value and things that have seen better days and could use some polishing. I'm kicking up the dust and it is settling quietly on my brain and I'm remembering, remembering, remembering. Today's year is 32.

From my journal dated 8/5/2008:

today is my birthday. i'm 32. i can't really say i'm not doing something i thought i'd be doing by now. my life is pretty happy. and every second i'm given i'm grateful for. 32 might be a very positive year for me. i mean, the ladies here at the office brought me a hershey's chocolate fudge cake. so, that's a good sign.

A couple of things about this:

I only actually thought I was happy on that birthday. The truth is, I was in an unhappy, mentally denigrating relationship (more on that later), I had left NYC to live in a place I didn't actually feel I belonged. I actually ended up being totally right about 32 being positive in the end, but man was it a torture. I got my heart broken but I also ended up getting in the best shape of my life and I traveled pretty much everywhere that year. 32 was a huge year of growth for me and if I was outlined in pencil sketches when I was 15, traced over in permanent marker when I was 25, then I was colored in with oil paints when I was 32.

Also, I remember that cake. The women I worked with at the law school gave that cake to me and I think I may have eaten two huge pieces of it.

More from the journal entry:

last friday he took me to huntington to the cinema arts center to see "brideshead revisited" and to eat indian food. he had never had indian food before and i could tell he was impressed. he was bored out of his skull by the movie but he remained a sport about it all. which rightfully he should since i've had to sit through roughly 29 hours of baseball this year.

If I were to write a book about that relationship, I'd call it: Delusions and Denial. I remember that movie night really well, largely because it was the moment when I realized I might be with the completely wrong person for me and then I'd spent the entire evening wishing I was alone. He was not, as I said "a sport about it all"; he acted put out at every turn that evening and when we talked about each other over dinner, he didn't know pretty basic facts about me. It was that conversation that slashed through the rest of the evening and was really the beginning of the end, though I was in deep, deep, dumbass denial. A lot of people experience this type of thing when they are young and impressionable. Not I. I do everything late in life...and I mean everything. (Expect a wedding invite at some point this decade). I'm happy this happened when it did because, knowing myself at 22, I likely would have fragmented and drifted off into space. Also, he wasn't a genuine food lover. The Moroccan dinner I mention would have been way more enjoyable if he hadn't been there. I have forced my memory to snapshot that dinner with one very tall, ex-shaped hole in the middle. It's better that way, trust me.

That same night:

we also made a stop at the huntington book revue which is probably the best bookstore i've ever been to. i bought a copy of the "golden notebook" to add to my ever growing collection. this time i was able to limit myself to one book though i kept picking up and putting down others.

I still love the Book Revue something fierce, though I haven't yet read that copy of the Golden Notebook. I did try a few years ago but my heart wasn't in it. I should find it and pick it up again.

The end of the journal entry:

this weekend is radiohead. i think you could say i'm pretty excited about that.

That was just after In Rainbows came out, I believe. It was at an outdoor festival, back when I used to do that kind of thing. Now that I'm older and looking back, I'm mature enough to understand that just because Radiohead usually releases a new album and tours around one's birthday, doesn't necessarily mean one's soul is inexorably linked to the band, their golden creative output, and their unrelenting genius by the sheer fact of being born. After all, just cause you feel it, doesn't mean it's there. Except that last week I saw the one of the top two concerts of my life and it just happened to be Radiohead. And it was a week before my birthday so......

To sum up:

When I was 32, my heart broke, then grew back with a light scar across the middle. I learned how deeply I enjoy being alone, particularly when compared to being with someone who should know me, but doesn't. That year, I renewed my passport, got on planes and saw a thousand pathways unfurl before me. Maybe it happened a bit later for me than most people, but just remember that I'm (almost) 40. I don't care about that.

Monday, August 1, 2016

July Goodbye (to my thirties)

Welp, this week has arrived. It took 40 years, but it is here. On Friday, I turn 40. From this point forward, I'll be older than my imagination could ever seem to conjure before now. In fact, up until a few years ago, I could only ever be bothered to envision myself in my 30s. This is likely due to the fact that when you are young, you can't wait to grow older and when you are old, you wish for time to stop. I never thought of 40 as old but apparently my subconscious does because I've been feeling the anxiety in pinpricks all over my psyche lately in light but persistent jabs. I mean sure, I could chalk it up to the garbage fire of the state of the world lately. However, if I'm ever going to have a midlife crisis, this would be the ideal time. Then again, the people in my family live well into their 90s so maybe I'm still five years off from my true midlife.

As is pretty typical for a woman reaching this milestone, I'm taking inventory; ticking off accomplishments, perceived or otherwise with chewed up pencil is a laborious process. In addition to looking forward to a time in my life when I cease to actually give more than half a fuck about what people think or say about me (releasing that ball and chain was the greatest thing I ever did), I'm looking back on the decade that was and damnit if I don't really like what I see.

I didn't pass any typical milestones in my 30s...didn't get married or have kids (are these things typical anymore?) and I didn't buy a house or become the head of anything in my career. I am less worried about any of those things (though the career stagnation/backwards current is a constant source of frustration for me lately and I'd still like to be married one day). What I did do is travel the world and collect experience after experience that I consistently have to remind myself belong to me, that I didn't read about them in someone else's memoir. I finally realized that I have no more time to lament all the bullshit I don't have but want or don't want but have. Again, a revelation that changes life as we know can actually decide to be happy. Sometimes.

I'm compiling a highlight reel. And I'm going to be sharing a few bits of it all week. Here's scene one:

On my 30th birthday, my sister threw me a surprise birthday party at Botanica Bar on East Houston. It was 2006 and the biggest song that summer was Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy." I drank a lot of Chimay (a new discovery of mine after being marooned too long on Whateverischeapest Island) and I have photos of myself in a green skirt and white shirt, my hair long and curly and I don't appear to be even thinking about leaping over a milestone. The photos from that night are peppered with smiles and sweaty faces (August birthdays) and old friends and new friends and boyfriends who are no longer around and husbands of friends who are around but not around us. I was working in Jamaica, Queens and living in Astoria and I was in love with every man I saw and feeling so optimistic. In a style very uncharacteristic of me, I wrote only the following in my journal that week:

i had a great birthday. so there's that. oh and there is always sushi. and dignity. always dignity.

But I remember. It was, in fact, one of the most memorable nights of my life and it augured well for my new decade. I look back at photos like this one...

Note the Chimay glass

...with two of my oldest friends and I think about how that was just yesterday only it was ten years ago. I can still feel the air in there. I can still remember what we talked about and how it felt and how lucky I was and still am. I like this memory because it is a salve to those aforementioned pin pricks. It's a massage. Or a message. A message from the dewey skinned old me: you are ok.

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Amtrak Ambling

ETA: I just now realized this is my FIVE YEAR anniversary of this blog! Holy crap! I'm so glad I'm still as aimless and rambling as always. If you read this or anything on here, I love you. I really do. Back to my regularly scheduled nonsense....

I took an Amtrak train to Albany last week and had the usual stream of consciousness vortex of thoughts as I sat and waited for my train. Most people call this thinking. But I have always had the impression that if I let it, my brain would just pull me under like a pernicious riptide and I’d be dragged away gasping, far from the sun drenched shore by degrees. So, I decided to write them down and share it here, hoping to come up with something worth reading. I’m not sure that I’ve done that. I’m only sure that I want to be able to take long train rides everyday because the movement of the train stills the vortex. Temporarily.

I left work that day smiling. Knowing I wouldn’t have to return to a place where I am not myself for hours at a time was relieving in the way taking a bra off at the end of the day is freedom in action and I felt loose and relaxed. I didn’t even mind that no one would return my eye contact on the subway, what with the Pokemon they were all hunting on their phones; I got to observe, unobserved. By the time I got to Penn Station, it was full blown rush hour and I coasted on a wave of worker drones, headed east or south or north to 3 bedroom ranch houses and smaller versions of themselves, to spouses or girlfriends/boyfriends and other things that seem to elude me. There were bewildered tourists with backpacks and high heeled ladies with charm bracelets and young masters of the universe shooting toward the sprawl in a strange serpentine rhythm through underground Penn Station.

I rarely take train rides longer than an hour. The last long train ride I took was in Belgium, traveling from Bruges to Ghent and from Ghent to Amsterdam. I had been hungover with a vengeance then and my brain was just looking for sleep. But my heart managed to do what it always does when a new landscape rolls out in front of me; it emitted a pinprick of hope that I'd find my own personal Jesse Wallace to take a European stroll with for hours. Christ. Films have ruined my life. I guess I enjoy train rides because they make me think of possibility, that great American fable. So, I was going to enjoy this one too (though the non-European-ness of the setting muted the Before Sunrise daydream).

Anyway, I arrived early for my train and got a seat in the waiting room. It struck me that the Amtrak wing of Penn Station is the only thing that retains its 60s mod-ish design. I don’t know how old exactly that room is but sitting there, waiting inspired a melancholy in me. I don’t know what it is about me and nostalgia for things and times I have never experienced. I feel irrational when I experience a longing for something I just missed out on but I can’t help it. Seated a few seats away was a young couple, two women who were so clearly new to each other… they seemed nervous to be together. They spoke to each other with self-consciousness, eager to learn whatever new information about each other they could. It made me lonely.

Maybe I had the 1960s on my brain because of the room but I started thinking of Mad Men. It isn’t unusual for me to think of it since I consider the show, without hyperbole, to be one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. I thought about the episode when they address the demolition of the old Penn Station in favor of what we have today. It is my understanding that it used to be a beautiful space, on par with what Grand Central Station is now. In the episode, the character Paul Kinsey, rebellious, nearly fucks up the account. In the end, (spoiler alert), Don Draper is forced to fire the new Penn Station company from their list of clients due to lack of vision by his British overlords. I always wonder what midtown would look like now had we kept the beauty and ditched the grit.

I also started thinking about the actor who played Paul Kinsey, a man I knew in college. My college wasn’t very big and he had that mysterious Renaissance man personality to go with his looks so everyone kinda knew him. I, like virtually everyone else I knew, had a huge crush on him and we were friends towards my senior year there. He’d likely be bored to know that he's served as the archetype in many of my own stories. I’ve discovered over the years that his impression on me likely had very little to do with him; though we were friends who hung out some times, I can’t say I knew him very well. Still, I follow his career and his Twitter account and my sudden thought of him led me to just that. I discovered that he had recently proposed to his girlfriend. Good for him! I’m happy when people I used to know have happy middles (I don’t know endings yet). I also got melancholy because people move on and on and away from how I remember them and sometimes I just want things to stay as they are. The urgency of my age makes me lonely. There might be a theme here.

It wasn't long before the train was boarding and it was beautifully air conditioned and empty of hustling crowds, my first indication that I was bound for places away from the city. As I chose my seat, I remembered the last time I took an Amtrak up north to visit these same friends. On my way home from that trip, I arrived at the station to find my train, all trains headed anywhere had been cancelled due to a horrific derailment that resulted in fatalities. Going back to my thoughts about train travel, I always stupidly assumed it was the "safer" way to travel. I think for a few weeks after that incident, I read everything I could on train derailments and their frequency, mostly because that's how I face my fears...I read about them. As my thoughts veered toward catastrophe, the train blessedly pulled into the station and I released myself from the tangle of my neurons and into the hot July night air and the care of one of my oldest, dearest friends.

And there you have three hours worth of rambling, ambling thoughts. If anything, it allowed me to shut off the din of a Tuesday afternoon, one of the most ennui inspiring times of the week. So, there's always that.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Unsigned underwear

I saw The Cure recently at Madison Square Garden and it was easily one of the top 10 shows I've been fortunate enough to attend. It was my third time seeing them, the last time being literally 20 years ago on their 1996 tour. The Cure is what I like to think of as an "old friend band"... no matter how much time passes, or how many new bands or songs or albums come in between us, we just pick right back up where we left off. This most recent show was no exception.

It probably didn't hurt that the concert was at a venue where I spent a decent percentage of my teenage years and my 20s. I still remember when there used to be a bookstore right at the entrance of MSG and the time before there was a "Paramount Theater" on the second level. I have vivid memories of waiting for a Nine Inch Nails show there, decked out in the goth gear I was sporting in those days and browsing books in that store while waiting for my concert buddies. There was an older gentleman in a three piece suit who approached me then and said "I'm not being weird, but I love your look." And he just walked away and it wasn't weird. Unexpected, but not weird.
I always felt like the luckiest person alive when I was on my way to a show. I still do feel like the luckiest person alive when I'm doing that...lucky that my musical heroes are still alive and kicking and doing their thing. When I think of the afterlife, I imagine it as an outdoor concert at dusk on a perfect weather day.

The band was in top form. Robert Smith's voice hasn't changed in 30 years and I had a list of songs I wanted to hear that was 10 deep and he played all but one. The one I didn't hear was "Untitled" from Disintegration but I can't blame the band. That song is long and not the most popular from that stellar album. I love so hard that I have The Cure to make me feel like I felt a long time ago. I'm running out of things that can do that. Whenever I'm alone with you....etc. etc.

Speaking of feeling like a long time ago, it had been a few years since I saw a show at MSG. Some things remain unchanged, others are unrecognizable. I think the last time I was there was to see Arcade Fire in 2010 on my birthday and a lot has changed in six short years. Gone is the bookstore (btw, that's a good way to describe NYC in general these days: gone is the bookstore), though I suspect it left a long ass time ago. It has been replaced by some generic tourist trap called "The Pennsy" which is just a really stupid name. Gone is the film of dirt that used to cover the inside lobby of is actually pretty clean and modern looking now. The concessions were always overpriced but they have now reached ridica levels. People still try to scam their way into seats that aren't theirs and it is pretty pathetic when they do and the seats aren't even that good. Like, if you are going to go through the trouble of lying about shit, at least make it worth everyone's while, not some perplexing lie about how you hold tickets for a pair of crappy seats. It makes me sad for you. It reminds me of this one girl I went to high school with who turned out to be a bit of a total liar. She came to school one day and told us how she had seen Stevie B perform the night before and claimed that he signed her underwear yet, when pressed, could not produce said underwear. And it just made me feel so sad for her because again, if you commit to lying, go all out. Mick Jagger signed my underwear or Bruce Springsteen did. Damn at the very least, Stevie B kissed me. Just not some freestyle singer signing your skivvies. That requires tangible proof.  You are going to have to prove you have ticket stubs for the seats you are in. Think your lies through, people. Or you know, just don't lie at all.

I was seated next to a young man who, at first, I assumed was The Cure's biggest superfan. I was wrong however and I strongly suspect he was just high on meth or its more subtle equivalent. We arrived in the middle of the opener's set, a band called the Twilight Sad (best. gothy. band. name. ever.) and they were good. The guy next to me seemed to be fiercely in to them because he was beating the shit out of his thigh in rhythm to every song they played. You really have to love something in order to beat the shit out of yourself to express it. The enthusiasm he was emitting was nothing compared to what was to come. When they finally took the stage, the band played Pictures of You and my seat neighbor fell into a paroxysm. With every new song he screamed "HOLY FUCKING SHIT" or an equivalent exaggerated exclamation. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fervent concert goer and I don't ever stand stock still or just stare at the stage with the impassive observational stare of a scientist, the band my test subject. I go to live shows to feel something and I feel it. But there is a fine line between being moved by the music and being...well, high on something. Homeboy was way over the line. My assertion was vindicated when, about 35 minutes into the three hour set, he was fast asleep in his chair like a post-tantrum toddler.

A couple arrived super late to the show and sat in the row in front of me and proceeded to check their phones every 20 seconds for the following apps: Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Their Own Selfie Collection. I definitely take photos at concerts. It is usually a maximum of two and it is always of the band. I don't want a photo of myself sitting in a chair at MSG DURING the show. That's just stupid. But these two...they were recording entire songs because they are clearly video archivists who will most certainly watch the video they took all the time as it takes up space on their phone; it was worth the sacrifice of missing the live performance in front of their faces. Again, my fellow concert goers just inspired a melancholy in me. Or maybe it was the music?

Aaaaanyway, I'll leave this entry with the two photos I took in between songs.

Also, Simon Gallup signed my underwear.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Dear Blog

Dearest Blog,

I've neglected you. There is no better or kinder way of putting it. You + Me = On the outs. But it is not me, it is definitely you. It's ok though. It really is, because sometimes it has to be you. It can't always be me.

I've come here many times over the past few weeks and I plop piles of words in different entries, as though you were a suburban lawn but nothing seems right or cool enough or, I don't know what enough. I know what you'll ask. You'll ask what the hell else have I been doing. Well, blog, that is the upside to our breaking up for a bit. I have started writing more and more and more of the things I should always have been writing and it feels like work and you know I am nothing if not a worker. I would put the feeling of accomplishment right up there with friendship and infatuation and yuca con chicaron. It is that good.

Unfortunately, you have fallen by the wayside there. I'm aware we never get close anymore lately and I'm sorry. I know you offer me the ability to communicate with the outside world, and it is always a pleasure, when I'm standing inside my three dimensional life and facing the beautiful collection of atoms and cells that makes a face, and they reference you in conversation and I know that they have been reading you and thinking of you (and by extension, me). But as my birthday imperceptibly inches toward me like a summertime slug, I feel my time expiring and I've got to work.

But I'll make an exception today because I miss you.

So what shall I regale you with today? I am working on a series of poems about homonyms, I'm going to fucking finish the same goddamned short story I've been writing for eight months and I've booked a weekend at a writer's retreat in August to finish my bitchingly difficult novel. That's what I've been spending some time doing. Not enough time, of course...let's not be foolish here. But I'm at the top of the hill at the moment and I'm just about to tumble down. Any second now...any second. I wanted to spare you having to throw yourself down with me like Buttercup to my Wesley.

I did want to share something I thought about, for the gajillionth time this morning as I walked to work:

I discovered something about myself recently. I am the type of person who will eat something she doesn't like out of sheer politeness. To wit: awhile ago I met some work colleagues at a bakery before we headed to a conference. My intention was to get a coffee and that's all; I'm not really a "sweets" person. I do like sugar but what I prefer is generally on the bland side of sweetness. My favorite dessert of all time is a vanilla soft serve cone with chocolate sprinkles. I'm dessert simple. But the people I was with had sweet teeth and insisted on buying me something to enjoy. So I just said "I'll have whatever you are having." Well, it turns out they were having cannolis and cheesecake flavored tarts. And it also turns out that, in all the endless permutations of dessert items, cannolis and cheescake are my least favorites. No, I'm understating it. I actively dislike both of those things. But what does one do when two dessert items are placed in front of one, the direct result of my inability to commit to a choice of something else? One eats it. Or I do. And then I internalize my bad feeling about not being able to choose what I want when pressed and not being honest about not liking something out of politeness and not being forthright enough to say no thank you. Do you understand what that's like, blog? I know what you are going to say. Minor, in the even slightly bigger scheme of things. And you are right, blog. It is a minor thing. However, since that morning, I've been having a long think about what else I do out of politeness and whether or not that makes me a weak person. And that's why I don't like cannolis or cheesecake: they give me identity crises.

O blog, what will we do with ourselves. It is summer. The sky is blue and I can breathe in and out with ease. I have money in my pocket (my dresses have pockets!) and books to read and I live in New York City! Did you ever think we'd make it back, blog? Because I had my doubts. But how can you doubt something so totally unpredictable as your life? More importantly, when will I learn that lesson?

I should go, dear blog. It is nearly lunchtime and the tree leaves, just visible over the lip of the library window, are waving me outside, asking me to stroll for a bit. I'll be back. I just don't know when. Maybe tomorrow, maybe at the end of summer. Remember what I just said about doubt and prediction? Jesus, you have no short term memory.

Take care of yourself. Go treat yourself to a movie and a cocktail. Maybe send a winky emoji at that guy you've been cyberstalking? Take care of you.

I'll probably talk to you tomorrow.

K, thx bai.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


The Word of the Day is:

urbane (adj)

: notably polite or polished in manner

Yesterday I had the inestimable pleasure of meeting the most urbane fifth grader I've ever met. She approached the reference desk, all big eyes and glasses, long, shiny brown hair in a messy ponytail. She was so well spoken but seemed a bit anxious when she asked if she could use the computer more than once a day. When I told her yes, she put her hand to her chest and breathed a sigh of relief, like an old, southern lady clutching a tear stained handkerchief and said "Phew. I have one more project to finish." A kid worried about finishing her homework? It was me, 30 years ago.

She then proceeded to tell me about her dance program afterschool and how she was concerned (her word) that she wouldn't do well on her finals next week. I walked away from the desk for a moment to tend to a computer issue and when I came back she said, "By the way, do you have anyone in your life to tell you that you are so, so pretty. I really mean that. You are beautiful." Speechless, I just smiled. I never know what to say when complimented, much less so earnestly. I finally just said, "You are so SWEET!" And she said, and I quote, "Nah. I just think everyone should know the truth about themselves and everyone should feel good at least once a day. The world would be a nicer place if we all believed that." !!!! I have been racking my brain trying to remember the last time I met a child who had that level of empathy, emotional intelligence and the ability to express it so eloquently! I came up with zilch. I later found out, to my heartbreak, that this little girl is currently living in a homeless shelter with her mother. It made sudden sense to me that she was so put together and wise beyond her years; some children just have to grow up faster than others.

In unrelated, other news:

Last week was eventful in that it started out with me feeling dizzy while standing in stationary positions and ended with nausea crawling slowly over my body like a summertime inchworm across a hot, metal mailbox. I had to threaten it with permanent sleep and/or some antibiotics in order to get it gone. If miracles were a thing, I would be under the distinct impression that I was pregnant. Turns out, my body is just allergic to my job. That's a self diagnosis but I have spent my entire adult life getting sick maybe once a year but since starting this most current job nine months ago (there's the preg thing again), I get sick two or three times a month. Since my life is measured on the last day of every month in one infinite Excel spreadsheet of a timecard, I've kept a tally of the days I've been sick and it ain't pretty. I'm either going to have to quit or...I think I'll just quit.

Spring has sprung and time whorls around my head with impunity and an ever growing cluster of omgsomuchshitihavetodo. I spent the winter wanting a relationship but I'm actually super maxi extreme ultra happy it didn't happen because I just have less than zero time for my first and only love: writing. There is no way I could have squeezed regular stroking (of the ego you PERVERTS) into my schedule. All in due time and things come when they are supposed to and blah blah blah.

Also, the phones at my job have been down for days. Literal days. I would say this was surprising and frustrating but that would be a lie; it has been downright par for the course at this job that things never work as they are supposed to and the silenced phones have been a welcome respite from the noise. Now I can hear all the children moaning while running in place because they have been gifted with so much energy at a time in their lives when they don't need it. So, breaking news there: Youth is Wasted on the Young.

I have some travelling to do and I'm not sorry to be away from this petri dish. Things are happening in my professional and creative life that feel on verge of gathering momentum. I hope that isn't me projecting but time will tell.

I just noticed it has been almost three weeks since my last blog update. I guess I've just been busy doing other, no less senseless things. Like, for example, I just spent way too long reading about train derailments. I find myself at the moment, unsure of how to end this blog post. I really just wanted to write something in here to get my brain thinking about writing. That's all I ever aim to do in this blog. So, um, bye, I guess.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Underneath the Purple Rain

Where last week I languished in my bed, donning three week old pajamas, doing my best Mrs. Havisham impersonation, stricken with a depressive state of mind brought on by my eternal state of liking someone too much who didn't like me back enough (the fog on this one was blessedly short and is lifting...or I've just gotten really good at rejection), the beginning of this week found me in a flurry of creative/career/sun fueled happy busyness. I feel some wings sprouting; little, bloody nubs breaking through the skin and any day now I'm taking off, man. Or I should see a doctor.

When the week begins with a day off during a spacious, sunny Monday, it is easy to feel better. Even if you weren't feeling down already, you still just feel better. I had a floating holiday so I jumped on top of it and rode it all the way downtown to watch a film and do some gliding around. There was a new film showing at the Angelika by the same director that fed my heart through a shredder with Oslo, August 31.  His new film, Louder Than Bombs, was well acted but ultimately, didn't live up to the hype I alone created in my head. (This is a good metaphor for the pattern of my life, btw. So many things are way better in my head.) But that's not really the point. The point is, I was given the opportunity to see a film on a Monday afternoon in an empty theater! A private screening where I could chew my popcorn loudly and put my feet up, pretending the world was made up of just me and the movie. Is there anything better?

The answer is a hard maybe. I got to go to Housing Works bookstore where they had all of their poetry books on sale in honor of National Poetry Month. I walked away with three "new" books and the impetus to attend a poetry reading/open mike that a friend of mine puts together every month which was happening the next night. I kept planning to go each month and life kept interrupting my plans but not this time. I spent Tuesday evening listening to extremely talented poets read their work and I got a chance (after being convinced by the very persuasive two Summer Shandys that whispered their lemony confidences to me all the way through my bloodstream) to read two of mine, one of which I wrote five minutes prior. There were about 10 people in attendance but, just like Jeff Tweedy I shake like a toothache when I hear myself... speak in front of more than two strangers. No matter. I did it. I'm hoping that next time, the tremor in my voice will move down a level on the Richter scale.

On Wednesday, I attended a meeting in midtown where I got to hear a group of authors discuss their forthcoming books and I ran into many of my colleagues, met people who are a big deal in my field and just generally felt as though I was getting away with something. I have been taking notes on how to sustain such a feeling so am currently in the market for such situations. I then spent the afternoon headed up to Westchester County for more career reasons than are able to be disclosed and got a chance to do yet more of my favorite things which are, in no order of importance:

  • spend some time in Grand Central station
  • sit on a train and stare out the window
  • visit a new library
  • walk around a new neighborhood
Oh this week! How I wanted to take a daguerreotype of you and keep you safe in an old wooden box where I could take you out every now and then to polish you and remember you with fondness!

But then Thursday came and Prince died and it depressed me because it reminded me that this year is unspooling into a long train of loss for music and art and memory. With the death of people who have seemingly "always been there" as superstars on center stage in my memory and more on the dependable periphery of my adulthood, I feel the loss. But instead of the blood draining, carving out feeling of deeply personal loss, it is more like the feeling of malaise or existential melancholy which can sometimes be worse. It lasts longer and covers more surfaces.

I was watching Purple Rain with my sister last night and (aside from the overt, very 80s sexism in a LOT of the film), during the performances, I just felt a wave of sadness that a true original is now gone. It feels trite and cliche to even use those words to describe him, but I don't have anything better or more true. I wish I did. I wish I had words that felt just like his aching vocals during the last few verses of that title song. But I don't.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Fabric Softeners

My brain has been in the tumble dryer for the last week or so. The buzzer went off this morning and I took it out, all wrinkled and hot but smelling fresh. I like to think of my support squad, my peoples, my friends as my fabric softener sheets: they keep me from the occasional electric shock and soften me up, no matter how ardently life tries to harden me. I should get some t-shirts made up: The Fabric Softeners. The FSs. Badass.

A few weeks ago, my horoscope advised me to travel to shake off the lala land blues and I took the advice to heart. I have booked plane tickets to various destinations, part work related, part fun related and I look forward to stories and connections and meeting people. My satellite has been in orbit around one star for a bit longer than it should have and it is time for reinforcements from ground control, reminders that the universe is infinite and that I (and plenty of those fish in the sea) am/are made of the same stuff. Or something.

So, where am I going? Chicago, Orlando (which really just means Harry Potter World), Ireland and, if I can sneak it in a trip to a beach somewhere when the only thing I have to think about is pool or ocean, sleep or swim. If I'm REALLY lucky I'll find a quiet place to take a writer's retreat where the only thing I have to think about is finishing my novel. But we'll have to see about that last one. I realize that I am pushing my luck in even considering that possibility and I don't want to tempt fate. But if anyone has a spot with a desk and a chair and a kettle for boiling tea for an introverted, considerate, mostly quiet, always hungry good listener who will require one good conversation a day but can be left alone for the rest of the time, let me know. I'm in the market. Or on it.

I deleted my Facebook account for four days because the bleating sheep of my compulsions to check up on, to stare at photos of, to be in the know, to invent narratives, well they just couldn't be corralled into a manageable section of my world. But, like a bad ex-boyfriend with whom you share mutual friends, Facebook kept up with what my friends were doing and didn't call me. Still, I needed that break, however short. And I've limited my exposure to that kind of useless knowledge in a way that is pretty unprecedented for me (i.e. NOT once an hour). It wasn't exactly freeing. It was more like withdrawing. And reactivating it is a form of methadone. Or maybe it is nothing like either of those things. The point is, the only reason even a fraction of you are reading this is because you followed the link from Facebook so I offer both thanks and apologies to you for that, especially since that is all I have to share for today. Sorry. But would it kill you to share with ME once in awhile? Geez.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Mile Low

I type this from a darkened hotel room in Denver. The sun outside my ninth floor window is...aggressive. Did you ever notice that? How it hovers there, burning everything? It might just be me and my frustrated, hairline fractured psyche this trip. Naturally, I'd find myself in the sunniest, healthiest, most glowing mountainous city in the country. I miss NYC and not looking anyone in the eye. I'm not anonymous enough here. Yesterday, I found myself having to network and smile and care and I just would prefer not to right now.

Forgive my morose brain. It's just that my life feels so much like a jigsaw puzzle and the pieces surreptitiously change shape as soon as I pick them up. I've got the picture on the box of what everything should look like: a bright two dimensional tableau of two bright people, mid conversation, laughing. They easily gather and collect every line of conversation that passes between them, understood and understanding, making each other laugh. Sometimes there's a goddamned rainbow in the background, I don't know. But when I spend some time searching for the right piece to put in the right place at the right time and I finally think I've got it, the picture has shifted a few inches, or what was day is now night, or in place of a man there is a shadow. And while I was busy noticing all that, the piece in my hand has morphed, or crumbled or vanished. It is exhausting.

And that's how I feel today: exhausted. Anti-sun. Hungover. Over caffeinated. Cynical. I should probably put in some effort today at the conference, to meet new faces and network for new opportunities. And I almost gathered the necessary energy to do so. I went downstairs to get some free coffee and while I stood, staring blankly at factory commissioned artwork on the wall and waiting for it to sputter into my cup, I overheard a man say "I can't wait until I get my truck back...this rental is full of girl juice." So I came back upstairs to type this from a darkened hotel room, in Denver. I've got a meeting in an hour and I'm defying my brain to not run the phrase "girl juice" like a Fox News ticker along the bottom for the rest of the day.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Jamaica Station

A recent horoscope I read quoted Rimbaud in its advice to all the people of planet Earth who happened to be born between July 22 and August 23:

I sought voyages to disperse the enchantments that had colonized my mind.

How beautiful is that? The gist of the horoscope was to take a trip because I (and all people who happened to be born between July 22 and August 23) have been living too much inside my head. No shit, Free Will Astrology. I'm an introverted writer. You want I should do standup comedy at an open mike night in the West Village? I take the point about taking a trip, though. I have been nowhere of note since last summer's trip to the Netherlands. So my original plan was to travel to Peru and back pack around for a bit, see Machu Picchu, a bit of Bolivia, learn how to spell either of those correctly on the first try. But that is going to be my 2017 trip. This year, I'm thinking Ireland and Wales...something about green cliffs and rocky coastlines, something about pastures and accents and dark beer...just seems like the right time for that. I have lately been just wanting to skip town, not tell anyone where I am or what I'm doing, and just seeing where I end up. I've never done that and, like most things I've never done, it seems so appealing, so draped in sequins and mystery. 

To disperse the enchantments that had colonized my mind.

Over the past week that has run through my head often. This week was the one year anniversary of my grandmother's death. I took the day off from work and headed home the night before to attend a mass in her honor and to visit her grave. Scheduling and train times found me waiting for 40 minutes for a train at Jamaica station, that grey behemoth of a building in the middle of the walk through/flyover/rollover neighborhood where people are perpetually just passing through, eyes down, hands gripping rolling suitcases like coal miners with dying flashlights.  It is amazing how little eye contact is exchanged in the cacophonous tangle of train tracks and platforms. I suppose more exciting or in my case at least, more familiar places await and Jamaica is just a place to get through.

I stood on the outdoor platform near the elevators and digital schedule board and watched people with stern faces or lost faces or relaxed-just-back-from-Florida sunburnt faces as they wheeled past me and my cold hands and grumbling stomach. I thought about how easy it would be to just keep walking through the little alcove where the Long Island train station becomes the AirTrain becomes JFK airport becomes the gate becomes the open air becomes destination. I had credit cards on me, I had a day off work; it could have happened.

I often feel like a walking version of unrealized potential and so I stood and waited.

I looked out on that brown and grey landscape, dotted with old looking new buildings, haphazardly placed in the middle of the long, long island just west of the Atlantic ocean and felt those colonizing enchantments leave my brain and float out above that sky line and land at the foot of the tall digital clock in the distance, a clock that stood taller than all of the surrounding buildings and kept the wrong time. It was actually an hour behind.

And I felt so ready to leave this place where I had so many times waited for trains or for people or for my life to begin or a period of my life to end. I thought about that time my ex boyfriend made me walk him to the train that would take him from Queens to Long Island (a trip I had to convince him to make every time) and, as we waited for his train (which was late and, subsequently made me late for work that day) told me he'd never read anything I wrote because it would just make him want to laugh. And even though it hurt the me of back then, the me of now laughed because I know that he was giving me a gift right there on that train platform. He was giving me a story.

My train finally arrived and I inserted myself inside the living Tetris of the train car and was on my way to erstwhile home to think about my grandmother and the many times she took the same trip in her lifetime, only she was wearing heels and was going home to a full house. I wondered if she ever thought about escaping to other places and where she might be now.

I never would have thought of the Jamaica train station as a good place to meditate but then again, every day I'm surprised at how things are never what they seem. It is Sunday now and I'm going to do some work and head off to the planetarium and hopefully get even further out of my head. I wish for similar journeys to everyone who has done me the favor of reading this far.

Monday, March 28, 2016


Forgive me for writing in what will likely sound rooted in the abstract but I had too much caffeine, too late today and I can't escape the fact that I don't know anything and that I feel too much, too soon. Usually I can ignore that and supplant it with what I want to be true. I'm a virtuoso at assumption...except when I've had too much caffeine. I'm too aware and awake to run away from the fact that I don't actually know anything at all.

You know what makes reality really quite exceptionally hard? Social media. It is a haunted labyrinth created by our collective efforts to connect and I spend the majority of my time following the digital breadcrumbs back to where I'm positive I started out, only to find myself toe to toe with the Minotaur. And then I just get depressed because I've always felt pity for the Minotaur in the same way I've always felt pity for Judas...bystanders of angry deities who would, in fact, be nothing without them. Imagine how shitty the labyrinth would have been without the Minotaur or how lame the story of Jesus would have been if Judas was all "Nah, I don't need that silver. I'm good, bro."

Look, the point is, I'm awake, alone and caffeinated and I can't stop thinking about sheer nonsense and I'm running out of internet and I have a million things to do. Here's a list of the most important ones:

1) Wake up early tomorrow to do something productive before work (to lessen the dread that settles in around 2pm)
2) Finish reading my novel
3) Finish writing my novel (maybe invert 2&3)
4) Try to be healthier (or just look like I'm healthier by losing more weight)
5) Make peace with unrequited status (maybe invert 4 &5)
6)  Listen to Abbey Road
7) Don't forget to go to the cemetery on Thursday
8) Wear a rubber band around my wrist and snap it every time I think about checking Facebook
9) Buy aloe vera for wrist
10) Learn how to fight loneliness before my work trip to Orlando in June

I think this list is realistic and fair and if I can't accomplish at least one of these, I should seriously consider either a) packing it in or b) taking a Valium and going to sleep.

Oh here's another thing to add to the list;

11) Practice saying no to espresso after dinner.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Math for Writers

I've been reading about galaxies today (because why not?) and naturally I sought out something that could whittle down a complex astronomical event into a few paragraphs: Wikipedia. I eventually ended up at the page for "Interacting galaxy" which describes what colliding galaxies are:

Colliding galaxies are common in galaxy evolution.[2] Due to the extremely tenuous distribution of matter in galaxies, these are not collisions in the normal sense of the word, but rather gravitational interaction. Colliding may lead to merging. This occurs when two galaxies collide and do not have enough momentum to continue traveling after the collision. Instead, they fall back into each other and eventually merge after many passes through each other, forming one galaxy. If one of the colliding galaxies is much larger than the other, it will remain largely intact after the merger; that is, the larger galaxy will look much the same while the smaller galaxy will be stripped apart and become part of the larger galaxy.

Because I am utterly incapable of reading about science or math without ascribing some kind of poetry, symbolism or meaning to it, I read galaxy collision as a beautiful, raging love story.  It's why the only class I ever failed in my entire life was Introduction to Astronomy. And man, did I fail that shit. Failed it with the speed and spectacle of a comet (the trajectory of which I cannot calculate). I mean sure, it was my first semester, freshman year, my first roommate was spending several nights a week hand jobbing her way through missing her boyfriend back home, and the class was Friday mornings at 9 a.m. but the main reason there is a huge F that sits atop my undergraduate transcript is that I couldn't learn about stars and their dominion without putting it all into stanzas or making it romantic.

I remember one winter, taking a road trip upstate with my friend Bridgit and one of her friends, a math genius who, at the time, was being recruited by the FBI to break codes. I was falling in and out of sleep in the backseat when I heard them discussing a math theory and, it could have been my half dream like state, but I swear it sounded like they were talking in verse. I obviously don't remember the details of the theory or the specifics of what they were saying but I have a clear memory of closing my eyes and picturing a crystalline landscape covered in cracked ice with a black, starless sky suspended just above it. Each time the math guy talked about another facet of whatever theory he was explaining, another part of the landscape would appear in the distance until I had a complete picture in my mind of some other planet in some other universe. I didn't learn a damn thing about math, though.

I always wished for a course of study called "Math for Writers" or "The Poetry of Science" or something along those lines. But I suppose there is no way to learn math or science through metaphor; I always (probably correctly) assumed that I just don't get it. I still think it would be fascinating. Or maybe just loopy. 

In keeping with understanding the universe through metaphor, here's a subcategory inspired by the same Wikipedia article that describes galactic collision: Understanding  Modern Love Through Astronomical Metaphor:

Galactic collisions are now frequently simulated on computers, which take into account realistic physics principles including the simulation of gravitational forces, gas dissipation phenomena, star formation and feedback.

Tell me that doesn't sound like online dating to you! I defy you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Day I Became Middle Aged

Word of the Day : March 22, 2016

hie (verb)

1 : to go quickly : hasten
2 : to cause (oneself) to go quickly

It happens every time I have a day off: I make plans and spend the morning of those plans wishing I hadn't. My days off are few and far between and lately I have never waned in my sole desire to sit quietly and do something passive like watch a film or read a book. But I have not arranged my life this way (still kicking myself about that) and I have obligations and work to do otherwise. So with the morning of a day off stretched out ahead of me in an opaque fog, I measure my time in coffee cups and give it to the end of one for staring off into space, thinking about this or that. I do that every day but workdays and appointments mean I hie through the process so that it feels like one moment I am taking a hot sip, thinking about the dream I had and the next I am running to catch the bus at a pace that sets the day. On days when there is no timetable, it is entirely possible for me to sit and stare, undisturbed, knowing how guilty I'll feel about it around 4 p.m. when the light outside is changing and I haven't typed a word. Today is just such a day and, would you lookit is 5 p.m.

Pretty much every day.
I blame the weekend. When comparing my one day weekend on Sunday to the weekends of the past few months, I'd stick it firmly in the "eventful" column. (Other columns include "boring", "family", "boring family", "productive", "sexy", and "forgotten" case you were wondering.) I actually had plans on top of being at work and so time was a mini tornado and by Monday I was a row of exposed house foundations, shredded bits of wood piled jaggedly around exposed bathroom fixtures and abandoned dolls. I might be exaggerating. But only a little. I felt incredibly old and feeble by the end of it all.

It's just that I got on an escalator on Sunday morning, freshly deposited from the 7 train at the 34th Street Hudson Yards terminal which was just opened six months ago but today looks like it was built in 1967 with a design that was meant to look like the future back then. And I was adrift in a reverie about this, about how city buildings can never look modern and even when it seems like they try to make them modern or at the very least semi-contemporary, they still somehow manage to leave an air of "this needs to be updated" everywhere which seems to me like it has to be intentional because how could a brand new train station already feel so old and in need of repair. And maybe I was cranky because I had gotten home too late the night before when, against my better judgement, I convinced my friend Lauren that it would be fun to go dancing after we had spent "An Evening with Noel Fielding".

Should have just ended the night on a high note.
And I was thinking about how it WAS fun to be out and theory. But in practicality, I was being flirted with by people inappropriately younger than me and dancing to songs that were "classics" to about 90% of the room and as a result of this realization, maybe I had had a touch too much vodka. And then I thought about how booze doesn't do anything for me anymore other than make everything seem a lot bleaker the next morning and how I kind of just want to give it up altogether because I may have finally reached the point of it just not being worth the money or the calories or the, I don't know, wanting to die the next day. That death wish mood is likely why when, midway up that escalator, which really should have been a funicular at this point, I felt three solid drops of something wet from the ceiling above me and said aloud to no one in particular, "This is what we pay taxes for??" forever adding about 15 years to my current age.

I hied into middle age during that escalator ride. Those three mystery liquid drops from the ceiling of a six month old train station on a day when it wasn't raining served as my baptism and for the last two days, I have been feeling comfortable, not giving a good goddamned about what strangers think or say and I've been okay with staying home and doing a crossword puzzle and reading my book.

Unfortunately, I don't qualify yet for reduced subway fare.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Thoughts and Purchases

Here's some stuff I "did" today.

I had today off and I didn't leave the apartment until 5 p.m. I had every intention of trekking into Manhattan to check out the library at Poets House, to savor the air of downtown, to ram unintentionally into tourists and see something gross on the subway. But it never happened. I spent the morning being my own assistant, planning my springtime tune ups with brand new doctors and a brand new insurance card. And by the time I finished the pathetic toss up of limbs I call exercise, it was already late afternoon and the day had flown away from me and took all my vim with it. Vimless, I experienced existence as something totally pointless so I did what I usually do when that thuggish part of my brain threatens a hijack: I went for a walk. After passing by hundreds of people either talking to someone else through their earbuds or talking to themselves through a diseased brain, I found myself in search of some retail therapy. And I ended up wandering into my favorite boutique store in Astoria, the one with the salesgirl who once told me I had curves meant for red dresses which was the best line I'd ever heard from someone trying to earn commission. I saw the one article of clothing I had tried on with optimism a few weeks ago that seemed to have a will of its own, a bratty obstinate will: it just wouldn't zip up, no matter how I pleaded. This time it was marked down and hung there on the sale rack, the last of its kind like some stylish, contrite, dodo bird. So I said, aloud, "fuck it" and tried it on (because I often don't know when to give up) and, in a rather surprising turn of events, it fit. I surmise that not drinking to excess for a few consecutive weeks in a row helped that along. So I bought it and was given a cookie by the salesgirl (who I might marry one day...she calls me pretty and gives me cookies, what more does a woman need?) and I came straight back here to sit in the quiet living room and stare off into space for a little while.

I felt happy-ish about my purchase but sad that I couldn't seem to make any eye contact with anyone on the sidewalk. I miss eye contact. It is damn near impossible to get even when you are on a subway facing each other. Everyone is so shifty. Or maybe it's me.

I've made progress in the book I'm reading about the death of American presidents. Seems appropriate reading since the current election feels like a death of sorts. I just read about William Howard Taft who is, sadly, known as the "fat" president. I mean, he was fat, there was no question. But he was also an accomplished guy. He was an emotional eater (I feel you, Tafty) and he had a sense of humor about his weight but it got to him. That story about the bathtub wasn't even true! No historian has been able to find evidence that he ever got stuck in a bathtub. Just one more stupid urban legend about a fat person and how people just can't believe that fat people aren't walking around all the time thinking about and doing fat things. He probably did some mad shady stuff during his presidency, like all of 'em but on the legacy of just being the fat guy, I feel bad for him.

I really can't believe it is almost 10 p.m. and tomorrow I'll wake up and have a million things to do and be pining for the day I just wasted in thoughts and purchases. I really should take up a hobby. Like mastering the art of blinking contests. With myself.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Guts of a Beggar

Earlier today, as sometimes happens with me, I was thinking about one of my dead crushes: Buster Keaton. (Keaton died in 1966, a terrible, terrible year of loss for me, despite the fact that I was not born until 10 years later....Frank O'Hara also died that year). It wasn't a random thought (though I do sometimes randomly think about silent film stars); it came from a gchat conversation I was having with my friend Lauren. We were discussing her natural optimism and my natural pessimism and how she thinks the universe has meaning and so do our lives whereas I think the universe is basically indifferent and that our lives have no meaning (in the very large and grand sense of the word). And I don't honestly see that as something negative because it doesn't affect the way I live my life. I still pursue happiness and practice things I am passionate about. I still give and love and laugh and all the platitudes that people hang on their living room walls and tag each other in Facebook memes about. I just always know in the back of my mind that ultimately, as soon as the last person I knew in my life dies or loses his/her memory, I will be confined to oblivion, as will we all. But I'm not really that disturbed by it because I will be dead and I'll care less about someone reading something I wrote than I will about...well, anything, because I'll be dead, whatever that will end up meaning. And that's the human experience and all the good stuff that happens in between birth and the moment of death is the only thing that truly counts.

Anyway, we were discussing all this, as one does on a slow Wednesday morning, and as I was explaining what my views were, I started to remember a Buster Keaton film I saw a few years ago called "College". It can be seen here on YouTube in case you are interested. It runs at a whopping one hour and four minutes. It features the inimitable Keaton as a newly graduated high school student getting involved in hilarity and falling for a girl who he thinks is out of his reach. It is funny and cute and romantic and all the things I love about silent comedies and in particular about Buster Keaton (who I also consider foine) and you spend the majority of the hour feeling good and laughing and being involved in what's in front of you. So, spoiler alert, he gets the girl. And in the last minute of the film, maybe less, you see them walk out of a church after getting married, sitting together in their living room with small kids in the background, then growing old in the same chairs (as he hilariously looks at her, annoyed) and the final scene of the film is a shot of their headstones, side by side. Even as I type this I am laughing because this is one of the funniest sequences in any film I've ever seen, and it is mostly due to its total unexpectedness. The entire film is a slapstick comedy and a romance and you are feeling good and happy by the end. Then in the very last frames of the film, you are reminded...oh RIGHT! THIS is how it all ends! It is totally unexpected but also, universally expected: everyone dies at the end. (Another fantastic example of this kind of hilarity/brilliance is Atwood's Happy Endings) "College" isn't even one of Keaton's most critically acclaimed films but had he never made anything else, I'd love him for that alone. And also for his face. Anyway, that's kind of a perfect example of my philosophy about life and its meaning and/or lack of purpose...kind of like this whole post.

Side note: who knows where the title of the post comes from? Let's hang out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Memory 1: Benediction and a Broom

One writing project I have for March is to write about a memory a day: Memories for March. I'll share some of them here because if a memory is written about and no one reads it, does your blog get any traffic? A question for the ages.

Once upon a time I did not have a cell phone. It was the 90s, I think. The memories tend to get hazy as the years go on. For example, the very last memory I can conjure at this moment that involves me NOT having a cell phone is when I visited my old roommates in London in the spring of 1999 and I had to borrow my friend Katie's mobile phone version -0.1 to let her know when we could meet up after spending the day wandering through Hyde Park. It was awkward and heavy to carry but I enjoyed the ironic freedom of being able to be found and met without worrying about loose change for the pay phone.

So, when I got back from that trip, I realized that "everyone" in NYC was getting one and my curiosity won out over my troglodytism (patent pending on that word) and I got a very, very small flip phone since back in the aughts, we were determined to have small cell phones. If you don't remember that, then we can't date because you are too young for me. But today's memory is not about that. We'll have to discuss our relationship another time.

Anyway, it was an exciting time for me...I was 23, I was living in Manhattan on a bookseller's salary and I was now able to use my teeny phone to call roughly half of my friends who also had teeny phones and tell them to order me a margarita at Tio Pepe's on West 4th because it was two for one night and I was on my way.

During this time, one of my friends, Bridgit, had been living in Brooklyn, studying for her PhD in Queens and, just for giggles, joining choral groups that gave concerts in Manhattan at places like Lincoln Center.

She would always give me tickets and invite me to see these concerts and the first time her group sang at Alice Tully Hall, I felt like I should rent a fur coat and a silver cigarette holder. Lincoln Center, fuck, the entire Upper West Side lived in my mind as a place for 1930s rich people to drink champagne. Needless to say, I was excited to attend. It was a packed house and we had nosebleed seats, optimal for people watching and seeing the stage. I didn't see any fur coats or meet anyone named Chauncey or Bitsy. As it turns out, regular people attended shows at Lincoln Center, too. Because of Bridgit, I felt like I was “with the band.” 

Choral music lends an air of the sacred to any space (I wonder if any choruses have ever recorded anything in a subway station…those could use some benediction. And a broom.) I tend to feel like composers and performers open the door to the other side and that music is just a brief glimpse we are allowed before the door shuts in our stupid faces. The atmosphere was reverent and solemn and it put me in a state of reverie. I wish I could remember what was being performed that night but alas, it was 16 years ago. I distinctly remember it had a gorgeous adagio section and the reason I remember this is because it felt as though all the air was sucked from the room and the audience sat still and attention in awe of the sweet sounds from the stage. Oh, and also, my fucking cell phone went off at that very moment.

The phone was on a setting that when it was receiving an incoming call, the ringing would begin faintly, in long drawn out beeps and gradually get louder and louder, like a petulant child being ignored by its parent. It would only stop beeping if I manually opened the phone. TECHNOLOGY. Because I was so involved with listening to the music, it took me a solid minute to realize that it wasn't some other moron who neglected to silence their phone. No, the CALL WAS COMING FROM INSIDE THE BAG...AT MY FEET.

Here I was inside this historical musical landmark at Lincoln Center, frantically searching for my complaining, miniature phone in the cavern of my purse as it got louder and louder by the second. 
My mortification was tangible. The other audience members were petrifying me in place like a hundred Medusas. At last, I found the phone at the very bottom of my bag (of course) and silenced it. I contemplated throwing it to the ground and stomping it to death, envisioning three cheers for how wonderful I was for destroying the enemy but instead I whispered a lame "sorry", only to be shushed Tammy and Chadley, cousins to Chauncey and Bitsy. 

The me of right now wishes I could go back, take my own hand and whisper to myself of back then that, a scant 16 years later, people will talk openly about their yeast infections on the subway in detail within earshot of dozens of strangers and in the grand scheme of things, the outsized ringing of this phone at this time, was as small in relevance as it was in size. But, I can’t do that. I simply have to live with the memory of my cell phone beep echoing through the past.  

I am only able to relax into a performance if I treat it like I'm on the ascension part of a roller coaster ride wherein I obsessively check if my seat belt is tightly fastened and the shoulder straps are locked into place. I will take my cell phone out over and over until the lights are dimmed to assure myself that it never happens again. People might think me strange, but as god as my witness, I will never interrupt a performance with my phone again. 

I have to cut this memory post short now because I have to call my OBGYN while on the subway. Bye!

Monday, February 29, 2016

A Big Pile of Dumb, Frayed and Worn Thread

It was my intention to submit my writing to a publication that has called for essays, short stories, or poetry on the theme of distraction. In researching my own writing for a seed to plant (I was hoping some crops would yield in time for a Monday deadline...or at the very least maybe,like, a small, bruised tomato), I was struck by the living, breathing irony of getting distracted by memories of writing about being distracted and distracting myself by writing about how distracted I am. When I first heard the theme, I assumed it would be easy to find something and expand upon it. I must have volumes of poetry, essays and stories on distraction. And I was able to find a bunch of stuff I could work with and expand. I just don't see it happening in time for this deadline. I am, ironically, so distracted by my own distraction and it isn't cute or meta. It is an obstacle. Ultimately, crafting a piece about distraction will boil down to honing in on one or two ideas and adding water, maybe some Miracle-Gro. Or I could show up to work on an average day and let an example of how distractable I am just unspool in front of me like a big pile of dumb, frayed and worn thread. Here's a great example:

Last week, the library patron I call the Haitian professor brought me both an article on feminism to read as well as a piece of violet chocolate so violently fragrant and rich from a Belgian chocolatier that I sighed when I bit into it. Chocolate and intellectual discourse... sometimes my job works for me.

I was able to kill around 30 minutes or so researching the brand of Belgian chocolates that made the delightful violet candies which then led me to look up those Belgian boys I met last summer and which Facebook provides ample photographic evidence that yes, they were incredibly good looking and no, I did not invent them. Then I got to reminiscing about the liquid gold of Orval beer and that glorious Belgian street waffle that cost me a euro and changed the way I look at and eat waffles for eternity. I remembered that one of those Belgian guys was on his Tinder account while we were at the bar and I remember thinking how easy it would be to date in Brussels. Or how easy it would be to date ME in Brussels since you would only have to give me beer and waffles. And moules et frites. And say something in Dutch.

Ahhhhh dating. In mining my archives I found some notes about the one time I tried speed dating. That glorious event resulted in my going on two dates with two guys, one of whom was just horrendous and the other of whom, looking back, I can only describe as vague and forgettable. I feel bad about that but, that's life. Sometimes people are a slightly more fleshed out version of a memory of a person. That was that dude. 
It was jarring to remember that I ever did a speed dating event. I am so spectacularly bad at dating, it is really just ridiculous. I learned early on in my life that I'm bad at small talk, bad at being polite for polite's sake, bad at inflating egos for the sake of being liked, bad at talking about myself (but exceptionally prolific at writing about myself, apparently), and really just abysmal at flirting, innuendo and taking things to the next level. I develop crushes easily but always assume they are unrequited and often need to be told directly "I like you, let's go out." So speed dating, at the time, seemed like a structured, direct way to do this. You'd see someone's face, hear his voice, pick up on any sociopathic vibes and fill out a handy little checklist and if the feeling is mutual, boom. Date. I've said it before, I'll say it again, we should extend the "If you like me, check yes or no" notes from childhood into adulthood.

And an hour had passed and I hadn't finished my essay and I hadn't done anything productive and short of turning off portions of my brain, I don't have a fix for this.

I just have this stupid blog.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


I don't have a mind made for meetings. This has always been true, from the moment I entered the working world. Sit me around a table with a group of others, pens gripped in their hands, fluorescent lights above us buzzing and my body appears present while my brain is out to lunch. My mind works in a way that absorbs every detail of the room around me anyway. So, when given leave to sit quietly facing other people and allow me to get away with half listening and I'm taking a trip. It's why I'll likely never be a manager anywhere. Managers of things see value in meetings. I see talking in circles and fodder for characters.

I took notes. Reading them back now, I learned a few things and none of them had anything to do with the other. For example:

  • There is still money in the budget to buy testing guides and my boss has incongruously sparkling nails. They match nothing on her person, not her age or style or personality.

  • A coworker was brazenly reading the paper during the meeting. If my boss noticed this, she ignored it. I suppose I can't point fingers since I wasn't listening to anything that was being said, really. 

  • Administration is pushing us all to do more things, regardless of whether or not they are needed or make sense and the break room where the staff meets, eats lunch, and takes naps is located underneath the public toilets. Whenever anyone upstairs flushes, there is a sound not unlike a dying lawnmower being revved. It is difficult to eat lunch in that room and not think about the general public flushing the toilet.

  •  I'm not being given a key to get into the building, ever and I've worked here for six months and I know for certain that it isn't for me and I'm depressed about it. 

That's what I learned in today's meeting and it was just as productive as every other meeting I've ever attended.

I had yesterday off, during which I did some freelance work and wrote quite a bit. I had started a long blog post about being very sick ten years ago but as I was writing it, it turned out to be the beginning of a short story. So it likely won't make an appearance on the blog but it marks one of the only times my writing a blog post functioned in the way I envisioned it would: as a jumpstart to my fiction. Who knows if it will become anything but I thought it was interesting.

Other than that, not much else is going on. February is mercifully nearly done and I reach out for springtime like Indiana Jones reaches for the Holy Grail. I can almost reach it.

I've been wanting to spend some time in an art museum lately. The last visit I took was to PS1 and I had a buzz going and it was just inundated with the one factor that generally ruins art museums for me: too many people. I just remember looking at a series of miniature cities that had mismatched landmarks and what I got from it was confusion. There was also a group of young women who kept asking people to take their photo in front of one of the art pieces. So PS1 is out. Where else should I go? I'm thinking about Expressionism. I just feel in the mood to see the world in bold colors and jagged edges, maybe a distorted face or two. Do you want to come with me?

Friday, February 12, 2016


I face the world with whatever courage I can muster. Most days it doesn't even feel like an effort but more of a rote habit, like the way I make my coffee or the pleasantries I exchange with the people around me most of my daily life.  I wrap myself up in a cocoon, in layers of cocoons that I've spent years spinning out of sarcasm and experience and humorous deflection but Jesus, sometimes. Sometimes I'm walking home from the train and the streets are empty and my head is empty and my apartment is empty and it strikes me as ironic how the absence of something has the identical impact of a million somethings. And then, when I get inside and I turn on a light it feels so good to let everything splash to the floor, disperse and trickle slowly in between the myriad cracks in the floor, like an offering to this old man of a building. This room has probably seen actual problems had by actual people over the years. So the eroded shadow of a silly little woman shaped bean is just a small addition to the hill.

So now that that's out of the way, now that I've had my occasional (still can't spell that word on the first try) good, hard cry,  now that I've gotten up and made myself something to eat and poured a glass of wine, now that I've talked myself out of feeling a certain way with all the rationale in my arsenal and now that I'm okay with being alone again, I can work on my epic sarcasm about how I have spent the better part of the last thirteen years of my life. The upside of all THAT is that this shit is writing itself, every single day I'm employed. It is, in fact, the only thing I enjoy about my current job....the potential for it to be part of my book.

So what else happened today?

During my lunch break, I went outside to get something and realized that the closest liquor store, to my job is quite literally called the following:

Wine + Liquor = 

I'm not making that up; that name is on the awning in front of the store. Just Google "Liquor stores on 104th street in Corona" and the image that accompanies the results proves it. I've gone in there a few times and, despite everything, including all of the inventory, being behind bulletproof glass, the owners seem to be savvy and have their shit together. So I have to assume they were dipping into the merchandise when it came time to name their business.

As I passed by this afternoon there was a group of about six men, all wreaking of booze and eating white rice and chicken out of take out containers, laughing loudly about some slurred thing or another. At what point does a group of friends convene of a Friday afternoon, pickled and laughing and eating rice outside the Wine + Liquor= Drunk Face? A question for the ages, really.

I also passed a man today who was unloading a truck of produce into the side entrance of a supermarket. I noticed he was holding a crate of avocados and I suppose my eyes were following the bright green fruits, nestled snugly into place and how they conjured warmer than 25 degree climates when I made Accidental Eye Contact (AEC), one of my lifetime weaknesses. He responded to this by saying, "Chulita adonde vas?" (Cutie, where are you going?) And I wondered how, underneath my heavy down coat and wool hat underneath a fur lined hood and scarf wrapped triple around my neck....I still managed to make AEC and about how, short of wearing a blindfold, I could prevent myself from doing it. I do practice with my cats from time to time, so maybe that'll stick eventually.

Anyway, I don't have much else to add today. Except that I was reading some old writing and I wrote the following about my day in February, 2005 and I like that I wrote it because, like today, I want to be able to read and remember what it was like on an average day, ten or eleven years before.

February 1, 2005
over a rather sickly, sticky, syrupy breakfast the young greek waitress asked if i was an actress and would i consider being an actress and "you just have one of those faces." she was glancing peripherally at the manuscript i was reading, droplets of coffee soaking through the top two pages as i stirred horrible sweetener and noticed my pinky toe sliding through an unseen hole in my sock.
"no, i'm not an actress." i said, and i wanted to add "but i feel so dramatic all the time. so, maybe i am a little bit of an actress." 
instead i just chuckled nervously and said i was reading an unpublished novel (the truth) that i was enjoying (a lie). she asked if i knew the author. i said no (the truth) but that i was kind of proofreading it(a lie). i had no real reason to punctuate with lies, small as they were. i just acting.
and i wanted to sit in there all day long. just me, my coffee, the manuscript and the waitress. just bullshitting the day away.
then, later, as i trudged my way up the subway stairs i tried to remind myself that someday very, very soon, i'm going to have to stop twiddling my thumbs through day after day.

....also, to remember that apparently nothing really ever changes. Jeez.