I did Christmas all right this year.
First time in a long time that I had all my presents bought AND wrapped before Christmas Day. I made a meal for a lot of people and it all came out on time and people seemed to enjoy themselves. I saw most of the people I wanted to see at home and a few that I didn't expect to.
I enjoyed myself.
Still cried for much of Christmas Eve, but that was OK.
Huh. Who knew it was possible?
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
I did Christmas all right this year.
Remember when a
interrruption on TV meant that something BAD was happening? Super bad. Heavy and bad and scary and possibly life threatening - to the lives of the people watching.
Perhaps it's just the time I grew up in. And my rarified terror of dying in a nuclear first strike (thank you Matthew Broderick, Leah Thompson and War Games). These are the things that we got a Special Report for when I was a kid. Libya. Tianamen Square. Russian Tanks. Do not ask why, with this in my head, I decided to move to the pinnacle of first strike targets. Let's just assume that I'd like to go quickly and not delve any further.
Don't get me wrong, I feel for everyone involved in the Tsunami and I do feel we should help but Bush wanking off on how sorry he is for those people is not Special Report material. Plus as soon as he was done talking about the relief for those people the questions are all about his idiotic war and his unbelievable mishandling of Iraq's new government.
I believe that W is going to give us plenty of opportunities for Special Reports. The real ones, the ones where we need to stockpile water and throw funerals and hug our children extra tight.
This is not it. And I do not need to get that cold pit of fear in my heart and stomach every time the Special Report logo comes on. And I do not need to listen to this ass monkey any more than necessary.
Sigh. Yes, I'm so dissatisfied with everything. If I ran the zoo....
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
A friendly suggestion for the state of Massachusetts.
Post the godforsaken payment amount for the toll. Don't make me guess. Just let me know how much change I'm scrounging for as I speed toward the booth. Let me know when I can haul my arm out from between the seat cushions. Do not make me ask the toll person.
The $3 fare for the Ted Williams tunnel doesn't change with the weather does it? Are you planning to raise the rate quietly every so often? Here's a hint. They make digital signs now. Easy to change.
Look into it.
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Up to now I was mostly paying lip service to my annual holiday funk. Good prior planning, scaling down, and apparently a healthy dose of denial was making me feel like it was all a lot worse than I remembered.
Tonight, though, I got the call. I hooked in to the reality of setting oneself down in the middle of a family, one whose daily life you aren't part of, one who, like any of us who see eachother 7 days a week, ends up hurting each other more and more.
Still didn't hit me for an hour or so. But now, I recognize the feeling. That hopeless sort of dread. It's similar to the feeling of facing an enormous job that one doesn't relish. You can see all the steps ahead, you know that you're capable of whatever is required to do the job and yet there's not a piece of it you can see as a reward.
It's not that any family is different. At least not any that I've known. And I've had the prvilege of joining probably 5 or 6 of different families for Christmas. So far.
My holy grail? A Christmas where everyone has fun and feels rewarded and relaxed, relishes in the accomplishment of a tough year and feels grateful for the people around them.
Yeah, I know, and I've never even seen Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street.
Monday, December 06, 2004
I am by no means fashion forward. I'm not entirely fashion backward either. I am fashion sideways.
Company holiday party tonight. I wore the fabulous ass pants, the Payless-but-doesn't-look-like-it shoes and my impulse checkout buy Target cami. I looked pretty good. spent the requisite 5 minutes on the hair so it looked like the hairdresser promised. I felt good about the whole ensemble.
About halfway home in the car service I realized that I never cut the tag out of the blouse.
Fashion Sideways, baby.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Monday, November 29, 2004
I want href="http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/show.cgi?show=113">Joan of Arcadia to do an episode where Joan comes to New York and encounters all the street preachers and subway evangelists and quiet, firm, bell ringing Jehovah's Witnesses. I want her to greet the experience with a mixture of, "I AM NOT ALONE!" and "No, nuh no, THAT is not what it's like to talk to the Big G." Because Joan? Joan would not put up with the yelling and the berating and the threatening. I can see her saying, "I'm sorry, what? Did you say that God gave you answers? Yeah right."
"The only good thing that happened this year was the Red Sox winning the World Series and even then Curt Schilling shilling for Bush wrecked it."
"It all depends who you voted for."
In that second questions were backed up against my soft palate. ("Why would you do that? You need your health insurance, do you know what he's doing to those drugs? This is about the war isn't it? You can think whatever you want about the start of it but he's doing it BADLY!") A flood of emotion and none of them good. I swallowed. Then swallowed again.
"Are you trying to pick a fight with me? Am I supposed to let you do that or can we just let it go?"
"Start a fight? Politics aren't emotional. We can let it go. It's gone."
It wasn't gone. I lay awake and tried to think of something else.
Politics are emotional for me. Very.
But I've made this pact to start discussion, to find out, to do what needs to be done to get information out and convince people. I couldn't even speak to him. All I wanted to do was get off the phone.
So much for starting discussion.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Walking the dog this morning I saw a young gentleman head out his front gate as fast as his little bow legs would carry him. Seriously, he's either got HUGE balls or he's the last working cowboy in Brooklyn. SO bow legged. But the point of interest was his backpack, stuffed to bursting. He's clearly traveling for his turkey this year.
As the Cowboy passed another house a young lady came out of the gate. On one shoulder she balanced the straps of a classic monogrammed L.L. Bean tote and one of those painfully preppy paisley weekender bags. The poor woman was bent over like a palm tree in a hurricane but it wasn't slowing her down one whit as she power jay walked to catch the bus.
The Exodus has begun. 37 million travelers across the US between now and Sunday despite the high cost of all kinds of travel. At least that's what Dave Price tells me.
Me? I'm staying right here. After I volunteer tomorrow I might not even get on a subway until Monday morning.
Travel safely, my friends, and wear elastic waist pants.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Sunday, November 21, 2004
I drop the remote a lot. I lie on the couch with it on my stomach and forget. I put it on the couch arm and a cat knocks it off. I butterfinger it off the couch, a table and hard on to the floor. It's a failing.
Friday night I broke it. The cable button was permanently lit and the only thing other buttons would do is turn that light off. Not ALL the buttons did that but that was the only action the whole machine would perform.
It's not easy to get to the place to get a replacement. So I thought I'd try to fix it. I clicked the top back into place. I slapped it gently against my palm. There was something plastic rattling around in there. I slammed it a little harder against the couch cushions. Nothing.
Also, nothing to lose.
So I dropped it again.
That thing is still rattling in there but everything works!
Sunday, November 14, 2004
I broke the law on Friday. Yep, I'm a rebel. I went to the park in the pouring rain in the middle of a work day when absolutely no one was around and for about 5 minutes...I let my dog off the leash. It was well outside the parameters of off leash hours people, but did that stop me? No. I flouted the laws of my beloved city for the good of my precious pooch.
Now, I told you that to tell you this, as they say on the Blue Collar Comedy tour.
This week someone called me honest and it pissed me off.
I know, it sounds crazy but the implication was that I am the sort of person who is blindly, hurtfully, even foolishly honest. And, clearly, I'm still not over it.
Last Monday was the beginning of a good week. The Big Cheese was away, the Big Cheese of Secretaries was on vacation so there was time to relax and slowly clear my desk of all the stuff that hadn't been done that could oh so easily get me in trouble. I luxuriated in the day and I spent probably half an hour counting up the vacation days left and dotting them around the calendar between now and December 31st. I had 12 days left. I could barely fit them in around the Cheese's days in the office and trying to be fair to my co-workers. I was only going to work one 5 day week between the 15th of November and my birthday in January. It gave me strength to move forward. I'd been saving those days in case I had a chance to perform my show this fall. I wanted to have them to use so I could make it in this job through bonus time while still doing what I love. And, though the performing hadn't panned out, these days were providing me with great joy now. But, since I consider the #2 in command, Big Mistake (BM), a friend I wanted to run them by her to make sure they didn't interfere with her plans.
I sent BM a message asking if the days looked OK with her. She fired back a quick note saying they were fine and wishing me well.
My week continued on bliss of not having to be at work much at all 'cause DAMN I HATE MY JOB!
On Wednesday morning I was working outside of the office. I was hurrying because I had to train someone back at the office by 11 and I had some other things I needed to do. The phone rang and it was the Big Cheese of Secretaries. That's weird. I mean, she's on vacation and didn't bring a Blackberry. I've got to have made some enormous sort of mistake if she's calling me from vacation while I'm outside the office. As you can tell the BCoS is a force to be reckoned with, not someone one feels safe or comfortable around, not someone, frankly, that I trust.
Turns out that BM has resigned.
Turns out BM left the BCoS a message to that effect on Monday night.
You know, the day that I asked her about my vacation days.
Now, I'm sad about the fact that my vacation days are probably lost now. And I'm sad about the fact that there's going to be back breaking work until we find someone to take this job. Last time we did this I about had a breakdown. It sucked hard. I'm also sad about the fact that this is going to make me feel bad about ditching this job altogether in January. I wanted there to be easy all signs point north stuff going on in January so I could feel great about leaving this damnable job. Instead I've got another 4 years of Bush, some health problems and the prospect of leaving a supervisor in the lurch, something I've endeavored never to do.
So, I felt betrayed by her lying and foolish for trusting her and furious about all of it. I thought we were a team, working together to shield us both from the wrath from above. Apparently I was the only one who felt this way.
When confronted with the possibility of having sent me a heads up e-mail after she'd left her message for the BCoS on Monday BM stood on the high ground of "Proper Business Protocol". She said on 2 separate occasions, "I couldn't tell you. You would have told her." and "You would have told her. You're an honest person."
I'm not an honest person! I'm an outlaw! I let my dog off the leash during on leash hours...as long as there's absolutely no one around and she stays very close to me and I watch her every little nanosecond.
Yeah, yeah, I know, honest isn't bad. But it's awful if you use it without tempering it. It's not an absolute. I think of honesty like crossing the street. Yes, there's a light that lets you know if you have the right of way but you have to look both ways despite having the right of way because cars might be turning or stopped in the box or bikes not following the rules of the road or any number of other hazards.
In the case of choosing who to be loyal to when faced with the resignation of anyone in BM's job so far I've got a perfect record of staying loyal to the #2 job and not the BCoS. And I'm batting .500 on getting any return on that. Whoever we hire next could be the tie breaker I guess.
A significant number of people told me, "Don't take it personally, it's just business." It's interesting, I've worked in a number of businesses since I started working when I was 16 and I don't think I want to work in a business where the strictest of business protocol is the norm, not basic human interaction. Maybe that's the sign I'm looking for that it's OK to move on.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
In case you haven't noticed I'm a staunch supporter of the importance of non-relations in the lives of kids. Could be an only child thing. Could be just weird parents. I don't know, I don't question. Just know that I'm trying like hell to uphold the tradition.
When I was born my dad was the band director for the local high school. No shortage of babysitters in a situation like that. I could tell you so many stories about what it's like to grow up with legions of teenage brothers and sisters who dote on you. But I won't because it'd surely come across as creepy.
Two of my babysitters bought me a teddy bear. I don't know how kids get attached to certain toys and not others, there's probably a study out there somewhere with a theory and I bet it's a bunch of crap. This teddy bear, a tall, stiff panda, became my favorite. Despite the fact that my family named everything I refused to name the bear. He was just bear.
He still is.
My dad can't stand that. He tried everything to get me to slap a name on my teddy bear. But I couldn't do it. He's just Bear, it's all he has to be. PapaKizz has contented himself with naming Bear T. Edward the Onboard Bear and religiously uses the name whenever my Bear is referred to. I have steadfastly refused to take up the name. We agree to disagree and pretend not to notice the other's glaring error.
The name comes from the fact that Bear has accompanied me to many different states and on at least one trip to the UK. Until I was probably 12 I took Bear everywhere I stayed longer than a day at school. He rode in the car, he slept in the bed, he sat outside and watched me play, he even came to New York to do sightseeing back when King Tut was staying at the Met. And I'll admit it, even now, on a particularly bad day or night (November 3, 2004 anyone?) I'll curl up with my Bear.
On Saturday my 3 year old friend, Alita, stopped by. We were just dropping off the pooch. While I was peeing she wandered into my bedroom and emerged with Bear. Glommed onto him might be more accurate. She insisted that he come with us to the diner for lunch and everything. It took all I had as the cool pseudo-aunt not to scream and grab Bear and hug him tightly to me when she laid him out on the grimy floor of the diner and almost let waitpeople stomp all over him. I think I was remarkably restrained.
As we walked home, though, I had to resort to the old saw, "Bear has to come home with me. If you take him home what will you play with when you visit me?"
Through the green film of consuming possessive jealousy I'm really glad that she loves him. It's fun to share him with her. And it makes me feel less guilty about neglecting my traveling companion.
Plus, now I've got an excuse to bring him out to eat again!
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
As I said earlier, I know what my grandfather wouldn't want me to do.
The problem. The problem I couldn't quite get to as I wrote earlier. The problem is that I don't know what he would want me to do.
And he isn't here to ask.
And that is the reason, one of the many reasons, that I miss him today.
I'm in need of a little direction, a path even slightly hopeful, some tools to deal with the tools who keep calling me at work and leaving nasty messages for my boss since "we" lost and "they" won.
Perhaps it's better that he isn't here to ask. In the days after 9/11 my dad said to me,"I'm glad Robbie isn't here to see this." I'd been thinking the same thing. And, as much as I'd like his help I think I'd be ashamed to have to have him see what's going on today.
I'm ashamed anyway. It's disgraceful.
I missed my grandfather a lot yesterday. I miss him more today as I watch the returns.
I think that happens especially when adult responsibilities come up. For instance watching this election swing in a direction that honestly frightens me.
My grandfather was a politician for some of his life. He served on the ethics committee of the NH State Legislature as well. I can't really think of anyone better for such a job. He was a strong proponent of doing the right thing in all sectors of your life.
All day yesterday I thought of a picture of him. It's not an event I attended, I wasn't even born. My step-uncle told this story at Robbie's funeral. One year he took ORUncle to the town hall with him on election day. On election day Robbie's position was behind the ballot box. Apparently that box has a crank on it to enter the ballot and when you turn the crank a bell rings. ORUncle remembers standing beside Robbie and watching him greet each voter by name and ring the bell with their ballot.
That picture helped me to be hopeful all day yesterday. Except that the man who did that is from another era and he isn't alive any longer. Voting, and politics aren't quite so simple.
He was not a man who would scream and rage at the outcome of the election. He would want me to face the next challenge, to realize that despite this loss we should take the opportunity to become more involved in the politics of our country.
Me? I'm at the screaming and raging stage. I want to get on one of those get out the vote buses and head around to the houses of people who voted for Bush and yell at them at the top of my lungs. HOW? HOW CAN YOU THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA? HOW CAN YOU FEEL SAFER?
The uncharitable person inside me asks these people who feel unsafe when was the last time someone flew a fucking plane into part of their home town? For me? It was just over 3 years ago and George Fucking Bush makes me feel far less safe. It is my considered opinion that anyone who is goddamned SANE would feel the same way.
I could go on about Supreme Court justices being appointed, about being a woman in a country run by a party that demeans and devalues them, about spending money that will no doubt be paid back with what should be my social security. But my arguments would be emotional and not well crafted. My plan of attack for survival in the next four years is completely unformulated. So, check back with me in a couple of days. After I've stopped crying.
And if you voted for Bush? It's probably best to stay away longer.
Monday, November 01, 2004
Friday, October 29, 2004
The future, or at least my fears and predictions.
It was worth it to see the Sox win. So worth it. And unbelievable as well. My sphincter didn't relax until the last out was in the glove. Even then it wasn't real for a while.
I'm noticing that none of those Yankee fans that made fun of me during the first games of the ALCS have taken the initiative to apologize to me. Or even congratulate me. I'm not pushing, I don't want to get into that "Let's look at the record over the last 86 years, shall we?" conversation. This year was something to be proud of and I don't need anyone trying to rain on that.
What's been cool is meeting new Yankees fans, the ones who just like baseball. Always good to meet more baseball lovers.
I have been met with horror, however, at my suggestion that we might get either a World Series win OR a Kerry victory. I'm thinking about it and really it's not quite a fair trade.
Revision: We have no hockey this year (IDIOTS!) and that has paid fate for the Red Sox sweet, sweet victory. I'm just hoping that 4 years of Bush is payment enough for a Kerry win.
I sure hope the Get Out the Vote people are out in force at the Red Sox victory parade. They're expecting 5 million people tomorrow.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
I think anyone that knows me knows that I think this year's election is of dire importance. "Wicked important" in the parlance of my home.
Tonight I sit here watching the 4th, and possibly deciding, game of the World Series. Tonight the Red Sox have an opportunity to win the World Series for the first time since 1918 (as I'm sure anyone with a pulse and a TV has been told countless times).
Now that's wicked important.
My baseball upbringing began in the summer of 1986. Some boy peaked my interest. No surpise there. I was 17 for cripes sake, give me a break. I was alone with him during the 6th game. If you don't know why that's wicked important google "Bill Buckner." I still didn't actually get it. I believe I had the gall to say, "It's OK, there'll be a 7th game, they can still win it."
For the next 17 years I learned that we play well but August is a bad month and we tend to strand runners on base for like the whole of it. I learned that it's never over until it's over. If there's the slightest chance we can lose a game we'll make a stab at it. And I learned to keep loving the game and the team no matter what. My fledgling knowledge and near ignorance of the infield fly rule have not stopped me from questioning the management and giving spirited mid-game advice to players.
It's probably best that they couldn't hear me.
The thing I appreciate most about the people that have taught me about baseball, and about being a Red Sox fan, is that it's about the game. And if you love the game then you appreciate every play that's made, even if it means you go home empty handed...again. You appreciate how beautifully Ken Caminiti played, his speed and strength. You appreciate Paul O'Neill and even Derek Jeter from behind a haze of hatred for the Yankees. You separate Pete Rose's playing from his betting and voice your opinions on both. That's what being a good sport is all about.
So here we are on the verge of a sweep and I watch the glazed stares of the Cardinals fans and I see myself. I see that boy fall to his knees in front of the television in the 10th inning of the 6th game in the 1986 series. A car wreck of grief from the deeply loyal. You cannot look away because every moment could be the one where your team comes back and they need all the help your fervent hopes can bring. And it's just not happening.
That part of me wants the Cards to win just one.
The presiding part of me wants to wrap this baby up right now.
There are bigger things going on in the world, though. Voters are being scammed and suppressed. Emotions are riding higher than knowledge. Ignorance is proving to be anything but bliss. I am frightened of what might happen to me; the single, lower middle class artist, only child of 2 parents who may both be retired in the next 4 years. I am frightened about the precedents being set that will haunt us for many years to come. Supreme Court Justices. I am frightened of what will happen to me when it's time for me to retire or have children or if I lose my job.
Fate is a complex thing. It requires payment.
What if fate is willing to give us only one good thing this year? My experience with 2004 to date has been that fate is being fucking stingy with the good stuff. What if we can either have a Red Sox World Series victory or John Kerry for president?
I'm a loyal fan and a patriotic American.
I choose Kerry. But it ain't easy. In fact, it's wicked hard.
I hope it doesn't come to that.
Monday, October 25, 2004
Part of my job is to answer the phone. Not like find out who it is and transfer them to the right person but to gate keep. I talk to the people who want to talk to my boss but don't know him and I don't let them talk to him.
People will ask for anything. From a foster dad to a million dollars for hot women and fast cars to backing for plays about politics.
Today I had a repeat customer. He's a lovely man, far away, who wants to get to know my boss and to sell him collectibles. We've chatted for a few minutes once or twice a week for about 3 weeks. Up until today he seemed over eager and has way too much to say but harmless and nice enough.
Today, however, he signed off like this, "My daddy built this nation. He's been around for a long time, probably 200 years. He's an extra terrestrial. I've been around extra terrestrials."
So much for my stellar people-reading skills.
Monday, October 18, 2004
Updated: Last night, just about the time I posted this, Teatown Jenny passed away. She took a turn for the worse and when dad arrived at the veterinary hospital it was clear it was time for her to go. Stay tuned for more Jenny stories in the next couple of days.
My dad, Papa Kizz, and his girlfriend have a greyhound named Jenny. She came to them off three winning years on the track. She sports an ear with a bit of a chunk out of it and a Nike swoosh of a scar on one flank as well as a few other dings and scrapes, most of which she arrived with.
This evening as she ran across the kitchen floor she slid and fractured her leg quite seriously in a manner that suggests the presence of cancer. So, while some difficult decisions are likely being made back at the Ranch by the Sea I thought it best to bolster Jenny's strength by telling stories about her.
I admit to being skeptical when dad brought home a greyhound. They'd been looking but had been keeping a long list of reasons not to. That list was swiftly trumped by teh face of a fawn colored greyhound. The entire family immediately began to learn the special care and feeding of the average greyhound. One major lesson is that, having been brought up on special vegetarian diets the breed often has delicate digestion. About 4 days after Jenny came home with Papa Kizz we all attended my cousin's fancy schamncy wedding. Dad is late and I'm doing a reading so I don't get to see him until after the ceremony when we're standing in front of the church. As we catch up I notice that my father is covered in tiny pink dots. He's flecked all over with the color of pink Canada mints. If it were an acquaintance, or even a member of the extended family I might have let it go. Couldn't do it. Apparently Jenny's delicate stomach had come into evidence. All over the house. So a dose of Pepto Bismol was administered with the syringe provided by the adoption agency. Well, if you're not in practice with the equipment you don't get the Pepto down the gullet and once you remove the syringe there's a gap in the teeth on the side. When she shook her head she Jackson Pollacked everything within a 10 foot radius.
The four footed guests and residents of the Ranch by the Sea are given pride of place. Treats are administered on a nearly hourly basis. Human dinner plates are held for you to lick. At some special events you are even taught how to beg properly by Auntie Gette. And she's a serious teacher, she'll keep trying until you get it right. If that means cracking a whole new tub of brie and sending someone out for more crackers Auntie Gette will have it done, all in the name of education. So if a dog were to perhaps slip an hors d'ouevre off the coffee table it's really no big deal. One night Papa Kizz has his back turned and Princess Jennifer nabs herself a cracker with some pate. He watches as she leans over and sticks her pointy nose into his wine glass for a sip of wine. That got a chuckle since he bet that she was looking for water and got a surprise. Until she grabbed herself another cracker and followed it up with another sip of wine.
PonyExpress and I always joke that the Powers That Be took a greyhound sized lump of clay and decided to fashion a swift companion for man. They started with gargantuan thighs. And they built a beast that could run like the wind and were just working on the finishing touches, like the head and realized that they didn't have any clay left. A number of solutions were put to the committee and a decision was made, "Screw it, tease out the neck, throw some eyes on it and forget about it. It'll be going so fast no one'll be able to see the head anyway."
Since I started the entry I've checked in and Jen is resting comfortably and waiting for the surgeon to decide tomorrow if she gets to keep the leg. Your good thoughts are appreciated.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
I am pressed for change. Like nothing will work if I don't change something, everything, anything.
The show isn't selling. I did some good work today and people are actually calling me back but no yeses. (PB says you've got to get 50 nos and I think I'm down to 47 now, possibly 46.) I feel like I've got to change something to make it change. Change the price? Write a new show? Change who I'm approaching?
But it feels like those choices are not enough. Maybe I scrap the show. I can't stay in this job I'm in now. Full time writing? Same problems as full time acting this show only with even less chance of swift, regular income.
All the dreams and fantasies and stories with which I entertain myself involve writing professionally and being in a romantic relationship with a famous actor. At least one. And usually the writing is in the form of TV or Film scripts and then when I've made myself comfortable with those I write a play and all my famous friends are in it. (It's a FANTASY people, work with me.) Usually I'm acting in a show for which I was originally hired to write. So should I be pursuing that? And how? I don't have the faintest idea how to do that.
I'm a Capricorn. I'm generally a really good example of one. We're practical and single minded and walk in quick, straight lines from Point A to Point Z by passing through all the correct points in between in order dammit! So, change? Not exactly something I crave.
Selling this show is hard and it's been discouraging of late. Facing the scary parts has not brought satisfying result. Yet. It's possible that this craving for change is craving for an excuse to run away from the tough part. An excuse to not be rejected again.
One might remind me to look at all the above plans for change and ask myself where in them there's an option that doesn't involve rejection of some kind. If I really think I'm going to be married to a movie star one might think I crave rejection more than change.
Or maybe this is the voice in my head I'm supposed to be listening to. Maybe my path is veering to a side and I'm supposed to take it. Maybe I'm supposed to read Tarot or write the next great adventure series of books or the next gritty cutting edge series on FX.
I know it's impossible but I want someone from outside my body, someone I can trust completely to say, "Yes, this show is the thing. Keep working, I know it's going to come through." or "This is a sign, make the biggest, boldest change you can fathom right NOW!" or anything definitive in between.
Something has to change. I don't know what or how to change or even why I want to so much but it has to change.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
"There is a park bench on my route home from work to the train. Sheltered by trees but on the main thoroughfare.
One evening he was there. I didn't know he'd be there but for some time I'd been expecting to see him sitting there, if that makes any sense.
He sat just off center of the bench, anchored by the necessary detritus of parenthood and holding fast to the helium filled balloon that is his daughter.
I saw them from about ten steps away. Too close to turn away. He cradled her with both muscled arms and she slept the sleep of the just. So I didn't turn away.
I didn't check my stride but walked over, pocketed my keys and held out my arms for the tow-headed toddler. He easily gave her over and I sat within the circle of his protective embrace. Her palm sized skull rested just below my collarbone while on the other side her legs dangled over my arm, almost gangly for someone not yet two years old.
He didn't know better than to talk. He had, however, learned his lesson on the priority of a child so he spoke of nothing important. An article he'd read, a game he'd seen, a man he'd spoken to. I can't really tell you what. His voice was far away. My head was full to the brim with her smell.
She smelled good and clean. She smelled of fresh air and clean diapers and sweet melon. She smelled of the future. T-ball, soccer practice, birthday cake, Junior High dances, graduation, the road less traveled. I couldn't breathe it in deeply enough. You can't take it in all at once. And, like food, you digest it and are hungry again too soon.
I nodded once to keep him talking, discouraging a direct question. Then I closed my eyes and truly felt her. That smooth skin, divots around her chubby knees, the exact weight of her head, her tiny fingers grasping my t-shirt convulsively. Her sighing breath made condensation in my clavicle and her feathery hair tickled my shoulder.
I gathered her marginally closer and thought, "I love you." Strong, hard, desperate thoughts sent on mission impossible.
After short minutes she stirred. I jiggled her gently, hoping she wouldn't wake. If she did and saw me it wouldn't be her own mirrored face she would look into. She doesn't know me, has no reason to trust me. Her terror would be justified. Because she isn't mine. By blood or document or hours spent - so far as she knows I am nothing to her.
I do love her, though, and I wouldn't wish her even the moment of fear before I could spill her into her father's clutches.
Once she settled again I stood and carefully arranged her on his lap. He'd run out of words or was concentrating on her again. After I kissed her delectable cheeks and sent my love on another fool's errand I stood and his look was expectant. I might have kissed him too, at least on the forehead, but I was too far away by the time I let her go.
I turned and headed to the train. I wanted to cry. I wanted buckets of tears to soak her scent out of my jacket. And it would have felt good. Dramatic and final and cathartic. But it wouldn't have been real.
When I held her I only borrowed her from her parents. I borrowed her father as much from my memories as from his wife - her mother. It wasn't my life. And when I stepped in like that I was only part. Partly me, partly living. Now, here, walking home I am whole. And while I love her she's not mine to keep or teach or hold and that's OK."
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
I was talking to Chili on the IM today and she was telling a stressful story about having a big family lunch at MILChili's house. Chili (and all the kids) knew that MILChili wouldn't have any food. Apparently there was an incident with spoiled grape jelly for dinner one night and caution has been the watch word ever since. So Chili went to the store and got meat and cheese vegetables and condiments and bread, a whole cooler full and brought it to MILCHili's house along with the delightful grandchildren, PunkinChili and BeanChili. Enough, one would think, to make any Granny happy. Not MILChili. MILChili had also gone to the store and returned with what's reported to be 1 loaf of bread and 7 slices of roast beast, for 7 adults (one vegetarian) and 2 children. Chili broke out the cooler and all would be well for the lunch but MILChili was offended and upset. I don't get it. Neither does Chili. It's possible that MILChili doesn't either.
But of course, it made me think.
There was this night at least 2 lifetimes ago in my apartment in the West Village and there was a dinner. My kitchen was the size of a grain of rice, or possibly cous cous, the other room of the apartment was the size of the rice grain. I had 3 dinner plates, more mugs than glasses and not many of either, completely unmatched cutlery and questionable numbers and types of cooking utensils and pans. Everyone was there; PonyExpress and her Ex, JAM, OtherIzz, BaldSug, TV and probably a couple of others. We had roast chicken and roasted potatoes. OtherIzz made the gravy because she hadn't taught me how yet. PonyExpress brought a milk crate full of plates and probably silverware too. BaldSug did all the dishes after dinner and while he did we talked for real for the first time. TV and PonyExpress had a drinking contest. PonyExpress won. TV sang Oh Danny Boy at my request. It was the first time I knew that PonyExpress really considered me a friend. It was, possibly, the last night that OtherIzz and I were truly friends with nothing the matter. TV tried to kiss me as I poured his ass into a cab.
That was family. People brought Tequila and dishes. They did the dishes which I hate and made the gravy that I love. We gave and took and talked and laughed and laughed and laughed. It was fun and it was sad and it didn't matter who did what because we liked each other. Well back then we did at least. I wasn't embarrassed to ask for dishes and PonyExpress didn't think it was foolish of me to ask for them. And, really, she and I have thrown a bunch of parties together since then and we still wouldn't think anything of it.
MILChili is really missing out.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
Theme of the week has been humiliation.
From the usual to trying to explain that I'm not a new patient to the practice but the last time I saw them was so long ago that most of the people there have never even heard of the doctor I saw. And it's not over. The peripheral fun was sitting in my cubicle, which is in a hallway, and having to call to make the appointments for the follow up bilateral mammogram and transvaginal sonogram. So I've got that to look forward to as well. What's particularly fun is that no one in scheduling at radiology organizations ever listens to what you're calling about the first time. "I need to schedule a mamogram and a transvaginal sonogram." And they take all your personal details and then they say, "Now what procedure do you need?" "Mammogram and a transgvaginal sonogram." "OK, I can get you in for the mammogram in 2 weeks and what else do you need?" "A transvaginal sonogram." My hallway cube is right out side of the 2 co-Deputy Chairmen and the CEO. They almost always have their doors open. And I've got a colleague on either side of me, not separated even by partial walls. I'm a rock star.
Elvis, feline boy wonder, has a urinary tract ailment. Common. Treatable. Requiring, however, a vet visit to diagnose and treat. By the time I'd gotten him into the crate and to the vet and we got into a room he'd wet himself. A lot. The cat I dragged out of the crate looked part drowned. And he was angry. Wet, angry cat tail slapping back and forth, whatever it could reach. He wasn't happy and he wanted to get out. So I had to hold him. Clutching urine-soaked cat to my chest. I am glamorous.
I got my first rejection of my play, Susanna Shakespeare from a school. I had a personal connection, I've got family that was and is well involved with the school. I thought I'd get a little break. But no. There's good that came out of it. But I'm not ready to dwell on that yet.
I was finally feeling pretty good. Going out to see a friend's play. I did my hair, I put on some make up, I'd put together the casual but hip outfit - so far as I can manage in that regard. I headed out just a few minutes later than I'd wanted feeling confident and fun and ready to mingle and enjoy. Halfway down the block I saw the bus so I ran. I've run for this bus from that far in those shoes hundreds of times. Truly. Checking the light as I rounded the corner I have no idea what happened. The thought, "I'm going to fall." flashed in my head. There was nothing I could do about it. Slow motion. Right down on my side in the street. I skipped once or twice like a nice flat stone on still water. No one did anything to indicate that they'd seen me. The bus didn't even slow down. I thought for sure everyone was watching me, though, so I popped up and felt that I had to keep on walking despite pain. Lot of pain, man, you slam my 140 odd pounds down on one leg and it can really hurt. And I ended up walking the 15 minutes to the train. Didn't feel so goddamn confident and cool then now did I?
Tomorrow we begin all over again. A whole new week.
Monday, September 27, 2004
I asked some friends about their voting habits. It was by no means a scientific polling, I mean, I got like a 40% return. The Gallup organization should fall at my feet...except that I polled like people. And I'm counting myself in that response percentage.
Nonetheless I did identify a pattern. We are more likely to vote in a nationwide election than in something local.
My concerns with this are twofold.
First, as important as I think it is to vote in any election I have to admit that my vote in a nationwide election is a drop in the bucket. And we're talking a 10 gallon pickle tub here. A local election has fewer votes. In the right town a school board vote can be decided by one vote and that vote could be yours. Not to mention the fact that you're going to be even more closely affected by the outcome of these votes.
Second, a reason that I'm hearing for not voting in smaller elections is that we don't feel informed enough. By some transitive property does this mean that we do feel better informed for a national election? If we're true to form in our research we're getting our information on these nationwide elections from commercials, the occasional press conference, and maybe an article on the web. So, we're better informed by political commercials? Have we WATCHED political commercials?! Propaganda does not make for good education.
I can hear you asking, "Well great, you've identified more problems, what about solutions you big downer?"
Well, I'd say that the local politician that could inform a local voter without pissing them off would be on to something. I don't know how one would do that. A nice half hour sitcom? This is the girl who learned more about politics and foreign policy from The West Wing than from anything else in her life.
Suggestions are welcome.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
These 2 things happened ages ago. I've known about them the whole time. Yet somehow I just noticed that they have certain similarities.
For many reasons my family on my dad's side is very inclusive. So throughout my parents' slow tearing off of the band aid of marriage (it's not quite off but signs point to a possible end) my mother has always been invited to everything; Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, funerals, weddings. My parents started the slow burn when I was around 12 (possibly earlier but actions were taken around my 12th year) and mom tells me that at a family gathering (Christmas I believe) some time after that my grandfather apologized to her. An acknowledgement of the failing of his line I think. I picture it as one of those quiet moments, maybe when mom and I were going one way and dad another with separate bags full of presents in separate cars and when Robbie was hugging my mother goodbye he looked at her and said, "I'm sorry."
A few years later I got a boyfriend, JMaster. Many years later we broke up. It was all civil and pleasant and be the bigger person. I learned well from my parents. Then something happened (whole. other. entry.) that gave me the opportunity to sever ties with the JMaster completely. At some point I was on the phone with my dad and we were talking and I explained that ties had been severed, phone numbers had been erased, photographs has been put in a box and shut in the back of the closet. Many phone calls later my dad asked again about JMaster and I had to re-explain and I probably got a little uppity about it. My father's response was, "He was my friend too." My reaction to that gem was to be pleasant and accomodating and see his side of it and feel bad for my dad. This was almost a decade ago now. Last week this little nugget came up in a conversation with my friend, PonyExpress. She was horrified. I never thought of it like that. But she's right, it's pretty horrifying that my father would give me a tough time about screwing up his friendship with some guy.
OK, now that I write them down I realize that similarities might not have been the right word to use. But there's something about them that speaks in the same voice. The echo of your relationships on other people.
I was recently hanging out with the girl half of one of those couples that you can just see being together in a hundred years. She was frustrated at the boy half and discouraged and she said so. All of a sudden I wanted to get the hell out of there, I didn't want to be talking to her any more and I had no blood in my tongue, could absolutely not get a word out for her. Last night I passed both halves attached at the elbows smiling and chatting and walking down the street and it was like some little knot of tension in me slid out. I learned so well from my parents.
Monday, September 20, 2004
It's important, don't you think?
I do. I really, really do.
Also, I'm a person who's kind of all or nothing. So I vote whenever I can. Circuit court judge, council member, congressperson, President. I'm all over it.
Do not take this to mean that I'm one of those super informed people that reads every tiny little thing that comes into the inbox about every issue. 'Cause I'm not and I don't. I'll tell you what's interesting about that, though.
You can still vote even if you don't know every last little thing about the Junior High School transcript of Velmanette Montgomery.
One time I went in and there were 3 referendums on the ballot and I didn't know anything about them. You know what I did? I read them. Then I spent a minute or 2 and I thought about them. Then I voted my conscience.
I'm not the perfect voter. I can get better.
Think of it this way, I've probably got as much room to improve in my physical fitness as in my electoral fitness. If I can do just 10 minutes a day of exercise then I'm getting better and eventually I'll be able to work longer and do more and some day become comfortably fit. I vote. And I try to stretch the best of my ability to vote every time I do it. I try to listen more to what's going on around me in politics and to read more and vote in a more informed way. Now you move that analogy along and you get this: if one doesn't vote until one knows enough about all the issues on the ballot then is it not the equivalent of not working out at all until you've got the absolute perfect 1 hour work out planned, every second of it? That's not going to do you nearly as much good as just doing something.
I don't think that the system is perfect. And it may well be getting less perfect as each day rolls by. But it's the system we have and it is a good one. The only way to make it better is to work out just a few minutes a day until we achieve that perfect one hour workout.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
My creative self roams the world free; developing, living & enjoying all the things of which I dream. In February I am touring Susanna Shakespeare. Fitness is a pleasing habit. My home is a comfortable and inspiring creative haven. In a year the 2nd Susanna Shakespeare play is written and I am reading my first piece of writing in an established publication. In 2 years my touring educational theatre company is thriving and I have a schedule of dance and theatre classes that I am teaching in a safe, fun home base in NYC. The first performance of my Chekhov piece happens in this year. In 5 years my educational and independent theatre pieces and my classes live and grow in a dedicated space, fed by the creativity of a core of like-minded artists and we’re selling copies of my first critically acclaimed, best selling novel in the lobby.
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Monday, September 13, 2004
...instead of discussing their eating habits at many decibels outside my window from 11:30 to 2 last night.
- Worked. Might I suggest jobs like bartending in a crowded club or teaching in an unruly high school, something that makes you hoarse so you can't talk loudly afterwards.
- Written down the eating habits and sexual stories. That's quiet. And creative! I'm pretty sure the scratch of pen to paper wouldn't have woken me up.
- Studied. Say, take some classes in psychology, specializing in conflict resolution even and do your studying after the quiet curfew at 10pm. I'm telling you, that conflict resolution stuff is going to come in handy when I lose my shit and start shooting them with my water pistol.
- It's another work one but it's worth mentioning, manned the 311 phone lines. They need help all night long and it would have shortened my wait on hold last night.
- Aren't there some after midnight volunteering opportunities? They say that charity begins at home, they could have at least gone home and maybe cleaned the bathroom or done the dishes for whoever puts up with their inconsiderate asses every frigging day.
If I hadn't been so fucking tired I would have gone downstairs and registered them to vote. It wouldn't have shut them up but it would have been useful and it would have confused the hell out of them.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
So, I'm waiting.
It's OK, I guess, I'm used to it.
I've been waiting all my life, really.
This time I've only been waiting 2 hours.
My mother said she'd be here, "Right away."
On the second phone call she was "On her way."
As I dialed the third call I realized what I was doing and hung up.
I washed the dishes, threw in a load of laundry, balanced my checkbook, dried the dishes, put the wash in the dryer, wiped down every surface in the kitchen, put the dishes away.
I could be done before she ever shows up.
Except that that's not fucking fair!
She promised she would help.
And I believed her.
The thing is, I said I'd do it myself. I did the good girl, martyr thing. I told her I'd just come up today and do it on my own. She said she'd help. So I said she should if she WANTED to but if she didn't WANT to it was fine, no truly, fine, I promise, I'm happy to do it. It was too much. I should have left well enough alone. Now she thinks I'm trying to put one over on her, do something behind her back.
So now I have to wait.
With my dad there is no waiting.
With my dad you head out the door at the appointed time, preparation be damned! If you end up in Timbuktu without your ice pick and your Himalayan-American dictionary so be it! At least you got there on time.
If my dad were meeting me here we'd already be done.
My dad would never have met me here for this. He'd have had a pressing prior engagement.
One he certainly needed to be on time for.
Maybe I'll go out for coffee and when I come back she'll be here.
Maybe it's just hard for her and that's what's keeping her.
Fooling. Myself. Thirty years running.
I mean, I'm sure it IS hard for her but that's not what's making her late. She'd be late if we were just going to lunch. There is no task too small or too great for which my mother cannot be late.
I could clean the bathroom. And probably the refrigerator without her getting too upset. Maybe wash the floors.
Or, you know, I could just wait. Get some coffee, sit on the porch steps and just wait quietly until she gets here.
But I don't want to wait.
I'm sick of waiting.
I've been waiting all my life.
I have waited to be taken to work, to school, to friends' houses, to piano lessons, to movies, to the mall, to Thanksgiving dinner, to the airport.
I have waited to be picked up from all those same places. And more.
I have been forgotten completely at least twice.
I have waited for things promised; dinner, candy, presents, stories.
I have waited for things needed; medicine, towels, toilet paper, to be listened to.
I have waited in stores, in restaurants, at tables, on porches, in bed, on the couch, in the car. In the car. So long in the car.
I never go anywhere without a book to read in case (when ) I need to wait.
There are plenty of books here but none I can sit down to right now.
When I was little I used to work at waiting. First to be patient enough and later to speed her arrival.
If I cross my fingers she will come sooner.
If I can find every letter of the alphabet on the signs on this wall I will turn and she will be here.
She will turn the corner at the end of 6 choruses of Happy Birthday, or 3 verses of O Come All Ye Faithful or 64 bottles of beer on the wall.
If I go into the bathroom to pee she'll arrive.
But what if she leaves before I come out?
Better wait. To wait better. I wait better than anyone else I know. I am a champion waiter. You need someone to wait for a phone call, a delivery, a sign from the deity of your choice? I'm your girl. Because I have waited for things that are far less likely to come.
Not so long ago we waited.
Not for my mother.
For my grandmother.
For her to die.
My mom, Uncle Joe, Cindy, Auntie Glin, sitting in a hospital room with Gammy.
It's pretty close quarters. There was squabbling.
"You should get something to eat."
"Come with me?"
"I don't want to leave Cindy alone."
"I'm not hungry."
"You haven't eaten anything since breakfast."
"Well, you need to eat to take your medicine."
"Cindy can go get something."
"Alone?" With raised eyebrow.
I finally sent them all away. I decided to just do it alone.
So I waited with my grandmother. Talked to her. Cried. Stared fuzzily at the television. Held her already cold hand. Covered our jointly chilly fingers with the blanket. Thought about how silly and useless that gesture was. Prayed for Gammy to go, go before they all get back and start talking again.
But my grandmother was a woman unaccustomed to being either early or late so she was not encouraged to hustle along to fit my accelerated schedule.
They all came back.
I moved so mom could hold Gammy's hand.
And we waited some more.
Listened to the undignified whine of Gammy's breathing. Then to the more dignified intakes and outbreaths. And, almost unexpectedly, to silence.
"I think that was it."
It didn't feel to me as though the waiting were over.
I didn't expect that.
And I suppose in a way it isn't. I'm here, chin in hand at my grandmother's counter waiting for my mother to get her so we can clean out the house.
Monday, September 06, 2004
I'm freakishly linear. Anyone who knows me is possibly wondering how I'm just figuring this out now. And I'll tell you.
I keep rearranging my furniture. I do it in my head and I do it for real every so often. I'm looking for the perfect exact arrangement so I never have to move anything ever again because I like things to be set and understandable. No pressure there, "You better think carefully about where you put this couch because it's going to stay there for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!"
I just moved the ridiculous number of chairs I have and my table and when I looked at them after moving them in what I thought was a pleasantly logical way and discovered that they're all lined up against the wall like dodgeball victims.
My bed is actually at a jaunty angle in the bedroom. For about 3 days now I've been dreaming about lining it up flush with a wall.
I crave more room in a city where there just isn't much. I have too much stuff. I could probably cut down on some of it but that's going to take a while. In the meantime lining up all my furniture against the walls opens up a straight corridor from the bathroom to the front door and that makes for wide open spaces.
I am so Capricorn it's not even funny.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
...named after my mother...
OK, no, I'm not named after my mother but I'm getting old, and crochety. I'm the old lady that's always standing in the town hall with polaroids of the damage to her rose bushes demanding to have a police escort back home to arrest the offending children and send them off to military school.
But Jesus! I need my rest.
I know, I know, it probably wouldn't KILL me to stay up past 11 once in a while. And I didn't absolutely keel over when I didn't get to sleep until after 2 on Thursday. I like things regular. I'm boring and regular. I go to bed at 10 and that's OK with me.
Here's the thing though. I like stuff to be my own damn choice. I don't like to be forced to do shit...um..ok, in the right context I'm pretty pleased to be asked firmly if you know what I mean, but I don't like taking orders in everyday life. I don't like bending to the will of the many. Maybe that's because I'm so damn good at following the rules. I do that without thinking so if you're telling me what to do then you're probably going to piss me off, I'm rarely coloring outside the lines and if I am then I deserve the break!
So on Thursday night the same damn group of boys were distinctly NOT following the rules. They were sitting in the courtyard talking, very loudly. Laughing and screeching and discussing how long each and every one of them had been sexually active. As boys will do.
But after 10pm there's no talking or loitering or screwing around in the courtyard. And FYI the courtyard is RIGHT BELOW MY WINDOW. By the time I'd torn my sobbing ass away from the travesty of justice that was W's speech at the Republican National Convention it was like 11:30. At 12:20 I snapped. How can they have that much to say? They've only got a 15 word vocabulary, how can you put 15 words together in enough combinations to keep talking this long? So I call Security. I know I'm supposed to call 311 but refer to the above about how when I break a rule I've already paid my dues for it. The conversation goes like this:
"North Side Security"
"Hi, I'm in 165, is there anything you can do to move those guys in the courtyard."
"I have already asked them politely twice. The only thing we can do is call 311. These are YOUR families!"
He said more but the film of red rage had descended over my eyes and ears by this point so I can't remember much of it. I think it involved an apology after I growled, "Not MY family!" (Believe me, if it was my family not only would they each know more than one measly way to say "fuck" I'd have already kicked their asses out of the courtyard long since.) I waited until I could draw breath to explain that I would be calling 311 and that yelling at me for calling and asking for help was NOT making the situation better but thank you for your help blah blah blah.
Why exactly do I feel the need to be polite even when someone is treating me like shit? I think it's probably about being the better person, i.e. feeling superior to the ass monkey. You know what? Superior is not as satisfying as you hope.
So I called 311. I told them my name and address and the address of the noise complaint and how long it had been going on and I even got up and wrote down the mother sucking confirmation number. And the next day I called the management office and I registered my complaint with them. I told the manager about the noise and I gave him my confirmation number and I repeated it 3 times so he could get it right and I had my moment about the damn security guy too.
I am so old I'm organized about my anger.
Look for me next week to be soaking them with a hose and calling their mothers and disparaging their parenting techniques.
It's a good thing I left the small town life. Can you imagine what I'd be like in a community that encouraged this sort of behavior?
"You kids get off my lawn!"
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Monday, August 30, 2004
So, this is what they're calling it now?
Do they think terrorists might be planning a prom? Is someone getting their 20 years of suicide bombing gold watch?
Should I get my evening dress cleaned?
Or maybe it'll be more sporting themed, inspired by the Olympics. A track meet, perhaps. The hand grenade throw. The 100 meter building is collapsing dash.
Feh. It's probably just a small dinner party. And I NEVER get invited to that stuff.
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Grandmother's House by Deirdre Flint ( http://www.deirdreflint.com/ta_grandmothershouse.asp )
Grandma's Hands by Jen Cohen
It really doesn't matter that it's the right thing to do. It doesn't change anything to know that she's made the decision for herself and that she's made a deal to do it on the best terms possible. Strangely it doesn't even matter that she needed to go and that she's safer now.
It still hurts to see her there and to hear her talk about the things she misses about her old life.
She lived for 39 years in the same apartment. She was already 55 when she moved in there. It was 4 years before I was born. She'd lived my life and already made almost all the decisions that I'm wrestling with now and moved on to a point past them.
It's possible that for her this move is just a new section of life. She had to have had at least a couple of those before she ended up in the apartment where I knew her first. But for me, this has been her whole life and mine too.
That sounds selfish, I suppose, but it's really only a matter of perspective. If you haven't seen anything else, it is at the very least difficult to imagine a different view.
I went home this weekend to take in the view. It's mostly quite nice. Peaceful, pretty, comforting on some basic, logical levels. But it competes with a view that was spectacular, that sustained a beauty over the course of over 35 years that shaped my life.
I believe that one's commitment to those you aren't related to can be, and quite often is, as strong as your commitment to those who share a family bond. I believe it because I have seen it happen. Someone showed me that sometimes you choose people and you do not let them go. You teach them piano, you cook them chicken pie or American Chop Suey, you drive them to the beach, you walk them up and down the street, you brush their cats and feed their dogs and display pictures of their children and send them money and a million other little things. You don't do any of this because you've been told you have to, you do it because you love them and they love you back in their own quite different, and usually flawed, ways.
My grandmother, who isn't my grandmother, moved into a nursing home 2 weeks ago, just a few days shy of her 94th birthday. It's a nice place. It's the place she chose and they like her there. Why wouldn't they? I went home yesterday to see her, to lay eyes on this new life for her first hand. It's the right choice and she's doing well and I've seen that with my own eyes. My brother, who isn't my brother, said that we should all just let her make her own decision, she'd make the right one. And she did. She usually does. And maddeningly, somehow, he was right, I knew he would be.
It's petulant but also honest of me to say so but I still don't like it.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
This morning at 5:45 it seemed that someone was racing Pavehawk helicopters around my building.
I live a couple of blocks from the BQE, a major thoroughfare, it's not unusual to hear the gentle whir of rotor blades checking out a traffic snarl. Heck, in my neighborhood it's not that unusual to hear the gentle whir of rotor blades in pursuit of a felon.
However, it's usually high up, they must have some sort of high powered binioculars or something. The rhythmic thump of the helicopter blades is something you can work into your unconscious ramblings, say an overzealous hummingird flapping through your personal field of dreams.
Today there was no mistaking it, no changing it, no going back to sleep once I knew what it was. The wind the chopper kicked up was blowing my window shades around like a gale. I swear that at one point a rotor blade squeegeed my windows clean. If they didn't land on my roof this morning, if they weren't whipping around the tops of the streetlights I'll eat my hat.
At 6, I was unable to ignore the problem, I mean, what if there was an emergency I needed to know about. Clearly with this much activity, making tight circles within a four block radius, something serious had to be happening. They were probably chasing alleged terrorists down Myrtle Avenue, or the neighborhood was combing the streets for a lost toddler or it was Ed MacMahon identifying the latest winner and I should probably get some pants on before he rang the bell. I flipped on the news, I scanned all the channels. There was an accident on the approach to the Manhattan Bridge, over half a mile away.
The pilot must be new. Probably trying to show off on his first day on the job. Maybe his high powered binoculars are broken. I don't care what his excuse is, I want him fired.
I'm at least coming to his house and poking him in the ribs for half an hour before he's supposed to get up.
Monday, August 23, 2004
Friday, August 20, 2004
When I was about 12 my grandfather bought me a diary. It must have been on a remainder table because the lock was broken. When he gave it to me he pointed out that the lock was broken and told me he thought that was all right since he was sure I wouldn't ever have anything to say that I'd need to keep a secret.
Now, many years later, I have this blog. And I'm keeping it a secret. I've told 2 people it exists. Because releasing the steam valve with even one person makes the secret easier to hold on to. And only one of them knows the address.
My web designer (www.SusannaShakespeare.com) knows about it. Eventually perhaps he'll read the blog and since he's a friend of my dad's....
But none of the people I've told are avid blog readers. So it will be some time before word gets around on its own I'm sure. And I'm debating with myself (because no one else knows about it) whether to tell people about it. At first I wanted to get in the swing of things. And now I've posted some other writing here as well, I'm building up some content.
I want feedback but I'm not sure I'm strong enough for bad feedback. Do I need a disclaimer or a warning clause? Or is that sort of chickening out? I don't know.
So, if you've secretly discovered this blog and want to weigh in on the topic please do. But I bet I'm on my own with this decision. Which is OK too. I wonder who I'll tell next.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
I, like so many people, have been watching a lot of Olympic coverage. I'm trying to watch out of the norm stuff. Well, my norm at least. Which teaches me a lot and leaves me a lot to wonder about.
How could I possibly think, "He might be washed up." about a swimmer who is 21 years of age?
How does a badminton shuttle get going that fast if it's got the little wings to slow it down?
Doesn't that hurt?
But the most niggling questions of these Olympic games thus far comes from women's beach volleyball. These are some lovely women, and damn good at what they do. (Please note that I have nothing but respect for all these athletes and I am not against scantily clad athletes of any stripe.)
That being said, though, these women are serious high level athletes at the top of their game and they are wearing outfits that cover less of their bodies than my underwear does. Some might remind me that there's more body for my underwear to cover but that's still not what I'm getting at.
There's diving. Into sand. And these ladies are wearing teeny tiny bikini briefs. Any 3 year old who has tripped in the shallow surf can tell you how long it takes to work the last grain of sand out of your intimate hills and valleys. So, wouldn't you be better off with a little coverage? Don't you want to make the trek that much longer before that Norwegian or Greek sand (depending which side of the blue line you land on) hits home? Apparently not.
And then, there's the one picture I cannot get out of my mind.
Being a hard hitting, aggressive sport, teammates tend to slap each other in encouragement. Around the sand entry areas. The ones that are barely covered. You know, the ass.
And all I can think is that sooner or later, on international television, purely by accident, someone's going to get a handful of sandy coochie.
Monday, August 16, 2004
Perhaps I'm hopelessly uncool. Perhaps hostess gifts are completely passe (I have no idea how to put an accent on that e). Or perhaps my weekend has been over run by rude people. What do you think?
Let's say that you're staying with a friend in another state. Other members of your traveling party are staying in other locations. These other members might need to get in touch with you but you have become separated from your cell phone. Do you
a. Give out your friend's home/cell number without telling her?
b. Ask if it would be all right to give out her information as it would be a great help on your trip?
You are one of the other members of the traveling party and you need to get in touch with the cell phone deprived member. When you call the number do you say
a. Is Jorge around? in your sullen pseudo Euro trash voice.
b. Hi, this is Magdalena I'm sorry to bother you but I'm trying to track Jorge down and I was wondering if you could help me? in your "for company" voice.
You are another member of the traveling party and are staying with the friend. You need to borrow a computer and internet access in order to do some vital work for the project necessitating the trip. Which question do you ask?
a. "So, uh, internet access?"
b. "I need to do some vital work on the project, would it be all right if I borrowed your computer?"
You have a huge and exciting project happening in another state. You have friends in that state. You are bringing a huge bunch of friends from your state and they all need inexpensive or preferably free places to stay. Do you
a. Call a friend from the car on your way to their state and tell them that all the good places in the center of town fell through, you're going to need a place to stay the next night can you crash at her place?
b. Call all your friends in their state who are excited about your project and offer them a free ticket to your project and/or undying gratitude and/or thanks in the program in exchange for invading their home for a couple of weeks for this very important event.
You have managed to secure a place, pretty near the exact spot in town you wanted to stay. The hostess has roommates and is working 6 jobs in order to keep this lovely dwelling in its prime location. Do you
a. Arrange to get keys or to arrive at her home before she goes to sleep?
b. Arrive late at night waking up one or both of the apartment's inhabitants not once but two nights in a row?
I could go on for hours with "hypothetical" examples using names from a 9th grade Spanish text book. However, it's only making me more angry and I think you get the idea. If I'm wrong and all the answers should be a then someone needs to tell me posthaste before I go around pissing people off by asking for help politely and giving them gifts and thanks and praise when they do.
Saturday, August 14, 2004
At the time it seemed like a good idea. Thrilling and daring and, in some frightening way, a step in the right direction.
We waited in line and got the tickets together. Four tickets, two sets of two, each set far from the other.
I ended up going alone. I just couldn't find the right person to take on this kind of adventure. I don't think that there are guidelines written by Miss Manners or Martha Stewart for who to take to a play that your lover and his wife are also attending.
It's embarrassing to think about now. I've been trying to think about it, to write about it, for a couple of months now and the embarrassment is so acute even now, over 5 years later, that I can't dwell on it for even a full minute.
I remember spending most of the play trying to find them without looking like I was looking. I don't remember when I located them, but I must have, because as everyone filed out of the theatre I maneuvered myself to follow them.
Oddly I don't remember what they looked like or what they were talking about. I just remember me. I was wearing tight fitting brown peg leg pants from the Gap and a brown shirt and ankle boots and was carrying a straw purse that I'd inherited from a dancer friend. I felt tall (as tall as I can be) and long legged and sexy. Well, I felt as though I was projecting that and that's what was important. It was important that when he looked at me he wished he were sitting with me instead of with her. Even if he didn't change seats. That he should feel as dissatisfied in the moment as I.
The whole evening was dissatisfying. I go to theatre and movies and stores and countries by myself all the time. Most of the time. That night was the same. I was alone. I was watching someone who didn't, at least then, and probably not now either, do much of anything all alone. I was just an observer in what is labelled an adult relationship. I didn't learn anything more about him or her or them. I didn't get anything out of it.
I have no idea, really, what I was supposed to get out of it. It was my idea to go to the play, his to do it this way. I'm sure he had a good reason. At least one that seemed good at the time. He always does. I'll be damned if I can remember it though.
All I can remember is walking through the edges of Central Park in a crowd waiting to be noticed.
And I wasn't.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Most days I get at least one million dollar idea.
If you look at it the right way.
Today's example is Cranberry Toilet paper. Not the color. TP with actual cranberry properties for the urethrally challenged among us chicks.
Have terrible yeast or UTI battles? Here's another weapon in the war. And you don't even have to add anything to your day, it heals while you're doing something you'd do anyway.
Brilliant I tell you. Just need a little venture cap.
Friend of a friend's going away party. She's moving to Scotland.
Stupid Theatre Friend calls with no warning needing a place to stay, oh yeah and also his TD who I don't know from Adam.
They show up at my house after bedtime.
TD is assmonkey.
Get the call that tells me they're moving her to a nursing home...today. First I heard of it.
Call dad to vent on the first I heard of it. Find out that not only did he know about the move (assumed mom would tell me) he spent last Thursday asking mom for a divorce. (n.b. This is not a big leap as they haven't lived in the same state since I was in Jr. High but the fact that the word divorce has left someone's lips is a monumental change in status quo.)
Spend 45 minutes discussing mother's and father's emotional state. For those reading the fun meter on this one it's at about a .5.
Crying. Lots of crying. I can't stop thinking about her spending her first night in that place all by herself tonight. I just wish someone had told me.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
He rode aimlessly through the streets of the housing development. They all looked the same. He could ride to the next town and it would look the same too. Like God got bored when he got to Michigan and just die cut everything like car parts. It wasn’t so much like that up north but down here, below the tri-cities it was all alike. And everyone seemed happy with that. Happy kids playing street hockey, happy dads cutting grass, happy moms unloading cars full of happy groceries and happy dogs seeing everyone at home.
As he rounded the corner onto Pine, or maybe it was Spruce? Elm? Better yet, Hemlock. He couldn’t tell. But as he came around that corner someone wasn’t happy. Two someones in fact. A teenage girl and a young boy of maybe 5 or 6. The shock of this break with the norm slowed him down and he recognized the girl, Annie Jensen. He knew her from church, school. They’d grown up together but weren’t particularly close. He stood up on the pedals and pressed on for about a block until the street was filled by another street hockey game and the handlebars just turned all the way around.
On this pass he got close enough to hear what she was saying. Only snippets of it, above the kid’s rhythmic wailing.
“…you OK?…I know…hurts…no blood…”
At the edge of the perfectly manicured lawn he unceremoniously dumped his bike and strolled up the grass beside the walkway. “Hey.”
Annie’s head snapped up and her look was purely suspicious until she recognized him, then she softened up all the way to noncommittal, “Hey.”
“What happened?” he asked.
“Face plant off the slide.” She bobbed her head in the direction of a jungle gym in the side yard.
“Ow. He OK?”
“I think so but he won’t stop crying. It’s been like 10 minutes.”
He knelt down and reached out for the boy’s curly hair. “You’re OK. Let me see what happened.” The boy turned the full force of his sobbing directly into Rob’s face. Rob blinked and that was it. Caught the boy’s face in his hands and gently touched every part of it, then moved on to the arms, legs, the ribs and the wailing went on uninterrupted, clearly not from physical pain, “Well, I’ve got bad news for you.” Annie blanched. “You’re gonna live. Except maybe for these ribs here. They might have a terrible problem.” Both Annie and the boy looked worried. All sound had stopped. “I think they might be ticklish.” And Rob proceeded to tickle the boy’s ribs, belly, chin and armpits. It took a few seconds but he got the laughs he was looking for. They built until the boy squealed and ran onto the lawn.
Looking back over his shoulder he yelled, “Chase me!”
With a brief glance at Annie, Rob obliged. They ran all over the lawn under and around the jungle gym until Rob caught his foot on the edge of the damned slide and fell, crashing from his 6’4” to the grass with a thud. Before he could even roll over the boy had jumped on him and was yanking his shoulders yelling, “Get up! Get up!”
Annie rescued him by picking the kid up, “Joshua, give Rob a break, OK? He needs a moment. Why don’t you swing.” When Joshua had been dispatched she leaned down to where Rob was continuing to enjoy the feeling of cool grass on his cheek. “You OK?”
“I’m fine. It feels pretty good down here, you should try it.”
She went so far as to sit down cross-legged near his head so she could watch Joshua. He had belly flopped onto the swing set and was twisting round and round getting ready to lift his legs and enjoy the unwinding. “He’s going to throw up.” She observed.
Rob heaved himself over onto his back and tilted his head to look. “You think?”
“Choked on a cheerio and face plant off the slide and I’ve only been here half an hour, puking has to be in my future.”
“So, what are you doing here?”
"Just riding around. You baby-sit here often?”
“Too often.” Joshua’s swing had come to rest. He got off and was wobbling around on the grass looking very much like he might vomit. “The parents are friends of my parents from church.” Joshua finally stumbled and fell, giggling in the grass.
“I can’t wait to be a dad. Slide with my kids, teach ‘em how to ride a bike, read stories.”
“What 15 –year-old guy wants to be a dad?”
He looked her straight in the eye for a moment. She thought he might be trying to figure out whether or not she was kidding. Then he said, “No.”
She broke from his gaze when Joshua came flying by and belly flopped across Rob’s chest. “I’m hungry.”
“Mac and Cheese with hot dogs?” Annie offered.
Annie pushed herself to standing and headed to the house. When they stepped onto the patio she checked over her shoulder and instead came face to his feet. Rob was carrying Joshua over his shoulder. She looked around, confused, at the lawn, Rob’s bike, the neighbor’s houses and finally sighed a bit and pushed open the door, standing back to let the boys in.
She pointed as they walked, “Family room, TV, his room is up there, bathroom and game room downstairs. It’ll take me maybe 20 minutes to make dinner.
About 20 minutes later she walked into the family room and had opened her mouth to tell them dinner was ready when she got interested in what they were doing.
They were lying on the floor staring at the Chutes and Ladders board. The pieces had been swept to the side on the floor and they had covered the board with paper. Rob had a pen and was writing and talking, “This one means hello and you say it _____”
“_____” Joshua tried.
“Pretty good. Here, I’ll make you a big one.” As he picked up the pen again he noticed Annie lurking. “It’s Japanese. I took those summer classes.”
“Cool. Umm, dinner’s ready.”
“Thanks.” The boys popped up and followed her to the kitchen.
Rob rescued nearly spilled milk, he picked out cool pajamas and he read stories in different funny voices. He also negotiated a night-light instead of an open door and only one glass of water. It was possibly Annie’s most successful Joshua-sitting experience since he’d learned to walk and talk. She thought that she should be taking notes. She also thought that when the small audience was asleep he would probably leave.
Annie knew Rob, she would even call him a friend but not a close friend. They’d never been to each other’s houses or gone out for ice cream. They had some friends in common though, sometimes ate at the same lunch table and had hung out a couple of times at church functions. She wasn’t surprised that he’d stopped to give her a hand when he saw her struggling. She was surprised that he’d stayed.
After he’d delivered Joshua’s water he sat back down at the kitchen counter to finish the milk from dinner while Annie loaded the dishwasher.
“Why did you decide to teach him Japanese?” she asked.
“Out of the blue he asked, ‘Do you speak Japanese?’”
“No, I was speaking Japanese to make him laugh and he asked what it was.”
“It seems like the farthest place from here you could ever go and they offered it at the University summer school thing so I decided to check it out.”
“Isn’t it really hard? I mean, at least with French or Spanish you get to use the same old alphabet.”
“Yeah, I guess. They’re pictures, though, and they’re kind of fun to draw. I picked it up pretty quick.” He drained the glass and stood up to put it in the dishwasher before she closed the door and started it. “Where are the parents?”
“Detroit at a concert or something. They’ll be back around midnight.” It was 7:30.
“Do you want some company?”
“Yeah, sure. I mean you’ll have to go way before they get back and everything but sure we could uh, play a game or watch some TV. Do you want to bring your bike up to the patio? You know for safety’s sake.” OK, so apparently she was nervous.
“Let’s see,” he said coolly, “Sure, of course. No thanks, I just got my ass whupped in Chutes and Ladders. What’s on? And sure, I’ll go do that now.”
“I’ll…I guess I’ll go turn on the TV. Family room, you know?”
“Be right back.”
With 6 premium channels plus all the regular cable you’d think it’d be easier to find something good on TV. She settled on Win Ben Stein’s Money then curled her feet up under her on the couch.
Rob came back and sat on the other end of the couch. While he quietly answered the questions on the show he took his sneakers off and bent his long legs to put his feet on the sofa between them.
Over time teenagers are like magnets, they’ll come together. First it was just feet, then, when Annie shifted uncomfortably he invited her to turn and sit in the circle of his arms and legs. By now they were watching The Breakfast Club, something they’d seen a million times so neither of them was concentrating on it. Rob laced the fingers of one hand through hers and used the other to stroke patterns on her forearm. When the subtle whiff of her shampoo became too much for him he nestled his chin on her shoulder and that nestling led inevitably to kissing the curve of her neck.
Up to then Annie was too nervous to do much but accept his attention but when he started kissing her, her hand flew up almost involuntarily to the back of his head to hold him there, keep him from stopping. His hair had been shaved earlier that month for a swim meet and by now it was fuzzy, like a teddy bear. It felt delicious under her palm.
Turning to kiss for real was only a little awkward. Eventually his hands slid under her shirt and she let him touch her breasts. She kept herself mostly to his arms and back, though.
At some point after they had rolled onto the floor she heard a zipper. Trying to be cool she pulled back slightly, “Rob?”
He pulled back and looked at her. The same look he’d had earlier.
“They might come home…I just don’t…”
“It’s OK.” He rolled onto his back and pulled her close with one arm. “It’s still early.”
“Yeah, but Joshua…”
“…knows we’ll come if he calls.”
They were silent for a long time. Annie couldn’t look at him. Rob started to stroke the fingers of her hand resting on his chest. He took his time so that she wouldn’t stop him, gently sliding her hand down over his stomach, letting her rest and wait.
When the side of her hand brushed the tip of his cock she flinched. She hadn’t meant to. It wasn’t as though she didn’t know where they were going with this whole hand thing. Now she was embarrassed. Bold and ridiculous honesty were her normal fall back positions so she went with them, “Um…I don’t know if I… want to…” he waited for her to go on, “to well, touch it.”
“You don’t know if you do?” he teased.
She didn’t like being teased. “No, I mean I don’t want to touch it.”
Not unkindly he asked, “Have you ever touched one?”
“Then how do you know?” he was almost teasing again.
Annie got the giggles, “I don’t know I just don’t think…”
“He won’t bite.”
“Well, I didn’t think that.”
“Here,” Rob linked his fingers with hers and brought her hand down until they were both holding his cock. He led her to stroke it and when she’d gotten the hang of it he slid his hand away and leaned up to kiss her again.
So they went on like this for a bit. She didn’t know what else to do so she just kept doing what he’d shown her and that made her wonder if she should be doing anything else and that meant her mind was about as far from enjoyment as she could be and that meant that fears of being caught and rumors spreading around church got the better of her. But he hadn’t stopped before. The panic started to rise in her, she was forming arguments in her mind and then suddenly she slipped sideways and their teeth clanged together so hard that tears came to Annie’s eyes. “Ow!”
“Yeah. You OK?”
“I guess.” She took her hand off his penis, “Ow.”
He was doing that intense staring thing again.
Annie drew breath, “We need to stop this and you need to go. I’ve got to put away the dishes and this stuff in here before they get home.”
He stared a minute longer, assessing perhaps, “OK.” Then he lay on his back on the floor and let out a breath. Annie lay back next to him and they just stared at the ceiling breathing, not touching for a minute or two.
Eventually he zipped himself up and they sat up together. Annie passed him his shoes and walked him to the door when he was ready. Before he opened the screen door he turned and kissed her gently on the forehead, just at the hairline. As he mounted his bike on the walkway she mustered up, “Thanks.” He turned his head and smiled then rode away.
Monday, August 09, 2004
I knew this would happen. But I did it anyway.
I took Friday and today off work because if I didn't take some time away someone was going to get hurt. Because, in case you haven't noticed, I hate my job. (Apologies to anyone from work who is reading this. Although no one who disagrees with me about the hating thing could ever find this because they don't know me AT ALL so they could hardly even search this.)
The problem comes with the going back tomorrow. It is so much harder to go back after 4 blissful days off than after a regular 2 day weekend where the ire keeps me asleep for half of it.
It's always this way and I know this but there was nothing else to be done for it.
I wish I could make this funny but I just can't find anything funny of it on this the night before.
A guy walks into a bar with a poodle under his arm and a 6 foot salami under the other....
Anyone know the end to that joke?
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Sometimes I just don't do things the way other people do. Sometimes there's even a good reason for it.
I'm making these marketing packets for my play which I'm selling to schools (www.SusannaShakespeare.com "A valuable complement to standard English curriculum!"). I think I've done a good job with them and lord knows it took me long enough. That said, I'm now at the point where the tweaking is ended and it's all about printing and collating. Including getting out the big honking can of spray adhesive and trying to spray it only on the back of the cover page and not onto cats or dog or furniture or electronics or too much of me, despite the blowing of millions of fans at high speed in the colossally humid heat of the New York summer.
Last night there was much printing, a lot of printing. So much printing. And then some re-printing to cover for the fact that I failed to notice that one picture had migrated to the page above completely misaligning the rest of the document or that I'd used my costume designer's premarital name or that the cat had jumped onto the computer and added wewererwfrwefsdfiohysifdj to the cover page. I found the last error at exactly the time I was supposed to be in bed so I fixed that and did not do any collating.
"I'll collate before work" said I.
Which is how I found myself at 6:30 this morning standing half naked in my tub madly spraying adhesive on the backs of cover sheets and sticking them to the fronts of folders.
The logic here was that I could scrub the tub later, after work (like after work some time this fall) if need be and no extra ill would come of it. So, no drop cloth, no newspaper, no animals walking onto drop cloth and newspaper and becoming stuck and necessitating stoppage of collation for adhesive/fur removal. And the half naked thing was because it's much easier to remove the adhesive from skin than from clothing.
It all makes perfect sense.
Until you take a moment and really see yourself and think, I'm a reasonably intelligent adult female standing half naked and sticky in her bath tub before 7 o clock in the morning...in the name of ART. What is up with that?
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Picture a man, barefoot, shirt unbuttoned, standing in a hallway in front of a door. A woman comes down the stairs with a suitcase and a coat. She reaches for the door and he stills her hand. His fingers unconsciously rub back and forth over the rings on her finger. Not angrily she pulls her hand from his grip and looks him pointedly in the eye. He tries to speak and finds that he can’t. She looks away and then looks at him and breathes in as if to speak but decides against it. She lifts her suitcase again, skirts the man and exits the house shutting the door firmly behind her.
I hate flying. It’s better if I have someone to talk to so usually I travel with someone. But sometimes that just isn’t possible.
“Those are beautiful.”
So I have to go on a recruiting mission.
This woman is pretty, not beautiful or drop dead gorgeous but attractive, well put together, even though she’s not flashy, all monotone clothes and small earrings, short hair. The only thing that stands out about her are her rings.
“Your rings, they’re beautiful.”
I probably would have talked to her anyway. I really need to talk to someone. Did I mention that I hate flying? But the rings gave me a good way in. There were maybe 6 or 7 of them winding around the bottom of her left ring finger. All silver, or maybe platinum, what do I know? All plain, rounded except one in the middle that was flat with a deep blue sapphire channel set into it.
“Are they all wedding rings?”
She looks up. I might snag her.
“No, just one.”
Monosyllables, not a good sign.
“But my husband did give them all to me.”
She’s falling! I need to be creative here, keep working.
“Are they all from special occasions then?”
She puts a finger in her book to hold her place.
“Yes, he’s been giving them to me for 8 years now. Says they’re like rings on a tree so you can tell how old the relationship is.”
“Actually it’s kinda sappy. Fortunately he’s cute when he’s sappy.”
I run out of steam so we sit in silence looking at the rings on her hand, which lies on her book. She finally flips the book open again to read.
“How do you tell them apart? Which one for which occasion? Which one he gave you when?”
I am not making a good impression.
She doesn’t look up for a moment. Waits, takes a breath and then moves her bookmark and stuffs the book into the seat pocket.
“It’s on the inside. Here.”
She starts to tug the rings off 2 and 3 at a time, working them back and forth over the knuckle until she holds them in her right fist then she drops them into my palm.
“Go ahead, you have to hold them up to the light.”
Each ring has a word engraved on the inside in simple block letters. STRENGTH. PEACE. LIGHT.
“Which one is your wedding ring?”
“Guess.” She smiles.
Even though I figure it’s gotta be a trick question I pick the one engraved LOVE.
“Where were you married?
“On a beach in California. Right out front of our favorite restaurant.”
“You rented the whole restaurant?”
“No, it was only us and our parents. We’d been together a long time by that point. A big wedding seemed kind of silly and none of anyone’s business, really.”
Picture a man and a woman standing on a beach. The setting sun over the water washes them in soft light. She wears a simple, ankle length white dress. He wears a deep blue suit and white shirt, no tie. They are barefoot. She slips a ring from her thumb and slides it onto his finger. He reaches into his jacket pocket and removes an identical platinum band. Before he places it on her finger he holds it up for her to read the inscription. She holds his hand in hers to steady it and her eyes tear as she reads the word. After he fits her with the ring their fingers lock together and he pulls her close enough to kiss her forehead and linger there breathing her in.
Weren’t your friends mad?”
“Some of them but by the time anyone found out we’d been married almost a year so anger was kind of superfluous. My husband started saying, ‘What does it matter to you if we got married? You thought we were going to break up?’”
“He’s a smart cookie.”
“What’s LOVE for then?”
“I was hit by a car and he gave me that when I got home from the hospital.”
“Oh my god. That’s horrible.”
“It wasn’t my best day. The getting hit part. The coming home was pretty good.”
“I don’t mean to be nosy but how …you don’t have to answer if you don’t…”
“No, it’s OK. It’s my little Public Service Announcement. Always bring ID when you leave the house. No matter how short the errand. You never know. I went out to walk the dog. It was summer. I had on a dress, shoes and was carrying keys, plastic bags and a dog leash. That was it. I got hit by a drunk driver, let go of the leash and there I was. We live up in the hills and I walk the dog in some woodsy areas. A jogger found me in a ditch by the side of the road and called 911. They took me to the hospital but no ID so no one knew who I was or how to contact my family.”
Picture a door at the end of a hallway. Stairs to the right lead to the second floor. A living room opens off to the left. Hear shuffling and fumbling before it swings open revealing a woman in a man’s arms about to be carried over the threshold. The door bangs against the wall and swings shut again. Hear laughter. The door swings gently open and the couple steps awkwardly through the door. Now see bandages on the woman’s hands and face, her right wrist is in a cast and she holds a pair of crutches in her hand. He maneuvers her into the living room and onto the couch. While he arranges pillows for her she opens a bag and pulls out a prescription bottle. He takes the bag and moves toward the kitchen but checks himself and returns to perch on the arm of the couch behind her and present her with the velvet box from his pocket. She tilts her head back and winces. He leans down to gently kiss the top of her head and bolts toward the kitchen but she reaches out to grab his hand and pull him back for a proper, long, loving kiss. He runs his hand through her hair, along her cheek and his lip trembles slightly before going to the kitchen. She opens the box and reads the inscription before laying it alongside the other two.
“I’m sorry, I have to ask, was the dog all right?”
She laughs. “Yes, she was fine, got scared by the noise and ran home. She was sitting on the front step when my husband came home. It took him 3 or 4 hours to figure out where I was. Then he found me in a recovery room all stitched and bandaged and bones set. I think it scared him even more than it scared me and that’s going some.”
“He gave it to you then?”
“No, after, the day I came home.”
“This is fun!”
“Glad you’re enjoying yourself.”
What about STRENGTH?”
“That one goes with JOY. There. They’re for our daughter. I got JOY when we found out about her and STRENGTH when she was a month old.”
Picture a woman with bags under her eyes, wearing a tank top, sweatpants, hair disheveled. She carries a dirty diaper in one hand. She enters down the stairs and crosses into the kitchen. She re-enters and re-crosses the other way with a full bottle in hand. He meets her halfway, jeans, t-shirt, wild hair, untied shoes and open leather jacket. From behind his back he pulls a small black velvet box. She musters a smile but it doesn’t have much behind it. He opens the box and holds it out to her. She extracts the simple platinum band and peers at the inside, when she reads the word her smile deepens. She quickly slips the band on her finger and stands on tiptoe to wrap her arms around him and hold him tightly.
“Is her name Joy?”
“Oh god, no, I am the sap police. Don’t think he didn’t think of it.”
“How old is your daughter?”
“She’s 5. Her name is Delia.”
“No. I really put my foot down.”
“Must have been hard to stop wearing these when you were pregnant, swelling and everything.”
“I didn’t take them off then. I wasn’t pregnant. Delia is adopted.”
Picture a woman with a phone to her ear. She signs off with distracted thanks and holds the receiver to her chest for a breath, then hangs it up calling, “Honey!” He appears and she looks him in the eye, thrilled. He looks back, questioning. And she nods vigorously, grinning from ear to ear. He picks her up and swings her around while they whoop and laugh and grin. Finally setting her down he pulls open the drawer underneath the phone to pull out the red velvet box. She has a fresh bout of giggles while she opens the box and picks out the platinum band, holding it up to read the word inside which sets her to laughing so happily again that she can’t put the ring on. He steps behind her, wrapping his arms around her body, stilling her and taking her hands in his. This way they are able to let the ring slide down against the others on her finger and resume laughing with their lips touching.
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Nothing to be sorry about. I think things worked out just fine. She’s a great kid, the light of our lives.”
“Oh! So LIGHT is about her too?”
Picture a woman in a coffee shop. She is reading a book propped open in front of her meal, fully absorbed. A man enters and slides into the booth next to her. She is startled, looks up. She’s surprised and ecstatic, she kisses him passionately. When they break he steals a French fry with one hand while sliding a small velvet box across the table to rest in front of her with the other. Her eyes widen and she questions him with a look. He pushes the box toward her in response. She kisses him again before opening the box to reveal a single, simple, platinum band. She leans in for another series of mumbling thank you kisses while she fumbles the ring out of the box and onto her finger. He pulls away abruptly and takes the ring off her finger, putting it in her palm and admonishing, “Read.” She spins the ring, looking at the outside. “Inside.” He explains. She looks again, reads and is kissing him again before he can even see the expression on her face.
“No, sorry, just an expression I use. LIGHT was the first one. I met my husband in New York but he was living in Los Angeles. On one of his trips to see me he brought that. He probably used the ‘light of my life’ line too.”
“How did you meet?”
“We ended up at a bar where we each had friends with bands playing. Mine was finishing a set and he asked about them. I piped up from across the table and we started chatting. I e-mailed him about the band and the rest is history.”
“You moved to Los Angeles?”
“Yeah, that’s when I got FAITH, so to speak. Apparently I spouted off one too many times about how stupid it is to follow a man across the country. So I was admonished with a permanent reminder to trust him.”
Picture a woman entering with suitcases. A man opens the door for her, helps her in with her luggage. She is uncomfortable in the surroundings. He is showing her around. An empty drawer here, a closet there. He shows her a beautiful bed, big, open, made up but not taut. On the pillow, centered, a small box of deep blue velvet with a white ribbon tied around it in a bow. She smiles, checks with him and he urges her forward. She crawls onto the bed, up from the bottom and sit cross-legged to untie the bow and open the box. A single platinum band sits inside. She smiles and turns to find him kneeling behind her, looking over her shoulder. She grasps his face and kisses him deeply. He tries to press her back to the bed but she fights him with playful shoves working around him to slide the band out of the box and onto her finger with the identical one she wears. Then she locks her wrists behind his head and flops back, bringing him with her, laughing all the way.
I’m running out of things to ask. And rings. I run through them all. LIGHT, FAITH, LOVE, PEACE, JOY and STRENGTH. I’m done. Except for the one with the stone.
“What about this one?”
“Uh, he said it matched my eyes.”
Picture a man and a woman sitting at a small table in a dimly lit restaurant. One dessert lies between them with a spoon propped on either side of the plate. He hands a velvet box across the table to her. She smiles slightly and lays the box on the table to pull the bow loose. Inside is a flat platinum band with a deep blue sapphire set flush into it. She is surprised. Gingerly she slides it on top of her other rings then looks up at him. He smiles back somewhat uncertainly. She kisses her fingertips and reaches across the dessert to lay them on his lips. He kisses them lightly before they both reach for their spoons and begin eating toward the middle.
“So it’s a symbol of how your relationship has moved beyond words. Eyes as the windows of the soul and everything?”
“You know, he never said.”
I have to hand them back.
They pour into her open palm and she slowly slides them on her long finger one by one.
“Any particular order?”
“Lots of people ask that. No. Well, some days. Depends how I feel but usually I just try to get them all safely on.”
“Excuse me ladies,” the flight attendant breaks in, ”could you please fasten your seatbelts we’re about to taxi for takeoff.”
I hate flying.
Picture a man standing alone in an airport terminal. His shirt is untucked, his jacket is open. His jeans and shirt are wrinkled. His hands are stuffed in his pockets. He is waiting. He checks a monitor, he looks around. Then he reaches into the pocket of his jacket and removes a small velvet box. He squeezes it in one hand then the other then replaces it in his pocket before putting his hands back in his pockets and looking toward the gate.