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"Wake me when it's June," she says, settling against her mama again despite just being roused.
"I had a great dream," she says softly to her mom, who smiles at her. Then a pause, and: "Don't you want to hear it?"
"Was someone chasing you again?" her mom says.
I'd been chatting with the mom a bit while her 9-year-old school-uniformed daughter was curled against her, snuggled partway in her lap. Now the three of us are talking.
"I dreamed about this lady before," she tells me quietly. "This time she was chasing me with cantaloupes, the fruit."
"I've had dreams like that too," I say.
"She dreams like this all the time," her mom says softly, her eyes showing the exhaustion we'd been talking about before her daughter woke up.
"I'd love to have a big pool like in Willy Wonka," the girl says, "but without water. I'd fill it with all kinds of candy. But I can't swim, and I don't want to dive in and die, so I'd just sit on the edge and eat."
"You should be a writer," I say. "You have a wonderful imagination!"
Her face lights up. She's awake.
Coming here to catch up on my life, are you? Got that portable periscope that collapses just as easily as a Totes umbrella, ready to press your face against its glass to get a clear view? Or the telescope perched by the window of your observatory, through which you can spy from a greater, safer distance? I'll move my lips to form words I'm not really saying, in case you've taken to lip-reading. My real words, the collection of infection and syllables you should really hear, are only felt when you're in my presence, pressed against me, heart to heart.
I hate "note to self", but really, NOTE TO SELF: Don't fall for it again. Never mind opening the door, don't even go *to* the damned thing and look through the "Magic Eye" peephole to see who's standing there. Avon calling? Cookie-bearing Girl Scout? Land shark? College coed in a filmy white nightgown, barefoot, knees bruised, having just been chased through a forest by a machete-wielding lunatic? Don't open the door. Puppy in a basket? Just a ploy to open the door. The puppy will morph into a man wielding a butter knife with which to cut out your heart.
It is with an oh so heavy heart that I regret to inform you that I did not participate in your Kickstarter so you could record an album that could probably just find a home on YouTube before fading into inevitable if not immediate obscurity, but, well, I have rent to pay. If I don't pay my rent, will you start a Kickstarter for me so I can pay it because I participated in your Kickstarter instead of paying my own rent? See, if I don't pay the rent, my ass is kick(starter)ed to the curb. There is no choice.
Street Notes No. 5
Just outside the gym, two fresh-scrubbed people, early 40s-ish, are laughing in a way not often witnessed at 6:45 a.m. They're on rollerblades, in street clothes. The guy is taking photos/video of the girl. I exit, and soon they're alongside me. They pause by a restaurant, and the girl poses for another photo. I turn around to look and we grin at each other. Soon they're alongside me again. "You're tourists?" I say. "Yes, we're from England!" she says. "We just got here!" "You're marvelous, on your wheels!" I say.
We need more tourists like this.
When I was little I thought the Dick Tracy wrist radio was the coolest thing ever and wished it were a reality, resigned, however, to accept that it would never happen in my lifetime. Fast forward a few decades and we're way beyond wrist radios, and oh yeah, the X-ray specs from the back of the comic books have almost been realized in the form of Google Glass too, and I want to rewind those decades and "unlike" the idea of both of these items just in case my wishful thinking was actually being transmitted to a so-called higher power.
I awaken, glance at the clock, and cannot figure out if the 5:00 means a.m. or p.m. or somehow both simultaneously. I wonder how I missed Thanksgiving, before I realize it's the beginning of March, not December, and I don't have to worry about buying Christmas presents even though if it truly were December I wouldn't be shopping anyway because I haven't celebrated Christmas in years. I remember my father is gone, my grandparents are gone. I want to escape back into sleep but remember that I just dreamt my mother was gone, so I force myself to stay awake.
If you know me at all in real life, you've heard me say -- not quite as often as I say, "Hi, puppy!" to dogs on the street, though -- "Everything is a tradeoff." I don't say it with a slump-shouldered, resigned, black-cloud-over-my-head-as-dense-as-Pigpen's-floating-filth sigh, but with cheer, because I recognize, as someone who is not only physically but emotionally over the age of four, that life is comprised of compromise, and that we cannot always have our Bundt cake and eat it too. But realizing that is the icing on the cake, which I lick from my fingers with glee.
Today, happiness is:
1. A warm apartment
2. A cat cooing like a pigeon
3. Fresh almond milk
4. Raw fudge thanks to No. 3 (not "No. 2") (ew) (sorry)
5. A new batch of chickpea cutlets
6. Leftover celeriac sauce (white pepper, je t'aime)
7. Transcribing the deposition of a stunning (albeit annoying) Lithuanian woman (still, it's litas in the bank)
8. Zoe Deschanel for lunch (if only on my computer monitor)
9. Cookie cutters ordered for weekend bakefest
10. Just knowing my wonderful fella is in this world
11. The Hocus Pocus by Focus video posted last night
The ugliest family in the world just boarded the "1" train, headed somewhere south of 66th Street. They're laughing and chatting and joking, the mom and dad and three kids who all appear under the age of 12, and the youngest kid is softly singing to herself about chocolate ice cream. The boy says, "Butter" and the other girl says, "fly", and the parents whisper, "Butterfly." Everyone on the subway gasps at how ugly their faces are, and the ugliest family in the world looks around to see what the fuss is about, finds none, and carries on as usual.
I'm the minor key, the rainy day, the cancelled social event. An upbeat tempo occasionally stirs me, but only for the duration of the song. A song that sounds like it would accompany a suicide moves me and stays attached long after the last note has dissolved into the ether. The sun's aggressive insistence on happiness pisses me off, and I find camaraderie in dark clouds that don't just threaten a downpour but carry through as if it were promised. I'm overjoyed when I don't have to even think about getting dressed for an event I'd dreaded from the get-go.
I'm still a girl who won't knit you a hat. I'm not going to knit that hat and surprise you with it for your birthday or Christmas or any other special occasion. Ditto goes for crocheting, so don't get all semantic-like on me, all right? I am however, the girl who will cook dinner for you while singing and wearing a cute vintage apron and serve it on a pretty plate while still singing. And food, unlike a hat, is meant to be shared. And can be offered more frequently. I'll help you shop for a hat, though, okay? Deal?
Peabody McPherson has no idea where all these nickels are coming from, but he supposes he shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. He should just accept that every day he finds five nickels in a new location in his apartment, always in one spot but in different configurations, sometimes in a tiny pyramid, sometimes neatly stacked, and one time all balanced on edge. "Ugggh, why can't it just be a simple quarter?" he wonders aloud after two weeks. "Five nickels make too much of a racket in my pocket." The next day, 25 pennies clog his kitchen sink.
If you need me, I'll be in the kitchen making vegan jambalaya and vegan hamentaschen, but not in the same cooking vessel, because as hilarious as it would be to create jambentaschevegan, they will only BECOME ONE ENTITY when both of these creations find themselves in my stomach at the same time later in the day, where they will either just cursorily shake hands or link arms and skip together through my digestive system. Or one of them will stab the other 23 times in the back. I have no Ides-ea what will happen. But Happy Purim, regardless. Thank you.
There's nothing quite like shivering in your apartment, deciding to take refuge in a hot shower, entering the shower, turning on the water, and despite waiting, waiting, waiting for the water to heat up beyond "wrist warm" because the last time you checked, you were not a bottle of baby formula but instead a person who likes the water so hot that, if you were so inclined, you could make a delicious soup from yourself to please even the most discerning of cannibalistic palates, you are not properly rewarded and must cut your shower woefully short. Ahhh, my simmering rage!
"There is some scripture that people didn't die of hunger, they died of shame."
This whole video, and that quote in particular, got me all "misty". Often when I'm delivering "meals on wheels", the people to whom I'm bringing the food are quiet and look humble and somewhat embarrassed. I always offer to bring it into their apartment, and they apologize for the surroundings. I find myself chatting with them longer than I "should", and make them laugh, and I hope that when they eat the food, I will have made them a little happier for having engaged them.
Ahhh yes, what a shocker. Two big shot lawyers talking over each other during a deposition, each with a tone of voice suggesting that he's weary of the other's pomp, each thinking he is the end-all and be-all, a mighty jewel-encrusted king on a throne among threadbare paupers cowering at his feet. Hey, gum-flapping fuckfaces, for the record, don't you realize that when you engage in what is commonly known as a "pissing contest" you don't come off like big, big men but instead you both sound like infantile, ineffectual, limply wagging micro-dicks? Objection! Zip it. Just fucking zip it.
Ladies, please, tell me, how does that baby voice bullshit serve you in real life? Once you're over the age of, say, 4, and you're still talking like you're trying to convince your daddy to buy you a big cone of soft-serve fro-yo at the food court before going home to mommy, please tell me what purpose that serves other than to make anyone with two brain cells to rub together regard you as a pampered princess with an IQ hovering somewhere in the low double digits. Anything that comes out of your mouth may as well be zwieback mush.
Variations on a theme. Take note, fellas.
"I'm not like other guys" makes you one of them.
If I had a dollar for every time a guy I dated or a guy who wanted to date me said, "I'm not like other guys", I'd have enough money now to afford the surgery to permanently sew shut the mouth of every one from whose throats those words have spilled and every one in to the future.
Show me you're not like other guys by not telling me the same thing.
And yes, in other news, it really isn't us. It's you.
Oh, that moment when you spy a dollop of something on the kitchen counter, are too lazy to spin around for a sponge to wipe it up, so instead you swipe it with your middle finger, put your finger in your mouth (a la Coco/Irene Cara in "Fame", heeding the off-screen direction of a sleazy "filmmaker", except with conviction) , and realize, "Oh, fuck, that wasn't the insides of a veggie potsticker, it was cat food," and are more nauseated that it wasn't vegan than you are that it was cat food. Thanks, middle finger, for the big "Fuck you."
She'd tell you she was 4'11", but she was including her four-inch bouffant. She'd tell me I was a maniac when I jumped up and down on the bed, shouting, "Jodi, stop it, Jodi" in her Russian accent. She'd ask why the dogs hovered at her chair, as she fed them blueberries under the table. She'd shoulder-dance in the backseat of the car to The Beatles, smiling at me in the rear-view mirror. She'd wave three bony fingers to me from her nursing home bed, their nails still painted pink. I miss you, Bubby. Today makes it 24 years. Already?
Check yourself. If you've got a roof over your head, food to eat, and one person on this or any other planet who gives a fuck about whether you laugh or cry or live or die, you've got much more than so many other people in the world. Boohoo to you, you upturned-spaghetti-bowl-on-your-head red-faced baby, if this week you can't afford a first-class flight to Paris or Gwyneth Paltrow snubbed you as she strolled arm-in-arm with Tracy Anderson past the long line at Nobu or wherever you're waiting and posing and moping. Get over it and yourself, and get grateful.
Marlena sucks in her breath, crosses her legs, and moves her elbows from where they'd rested by her sides to her lap. Folds her hands. She thinks "small thoughts" in an attempt to minimize the space she inhabits. One-third of her seat is now available to her left, should the rotund woman who just entered the subway want to sit. She does, and wedges herself in, sighing with relief. Marlena lets out her breath slowly, expanding, she thinks, to fill the imperceptible space between herself and the woman. This is the closest thing to a hug she'll have all day.
Welcome to my new reality of crying myself to sleep every night. And crying to myself in the bathroom at the gym and almost on the subway and always in the shower and often while I'm working and at every movie I watch regardless of genre. Welcome to my wonderful reality of pretending I'm strong when I'm not, of pretending I'm okay when I'm far from it, of barely being able to keep it together. Thank Dog I work from home. Thank Dog I don't have to be around people if I don't want to. Thank Dog for my cat.
When all else fails, take some leftover cumin-cayenne mashed potatoes with caramelized onions, top with several dollops of freshly-made creamy celeriac sauce, make yourself a big ol' glass of iced coffee with a straw, get on the sofa under a blanket with the cat, and watch Ricky Gervais in "The Invention of Lying". The work that you're not doing right now, if you're fortunate enough not have a deadline or anyone hovering over your shoulder, can and will wait until you can focus on it. Staring at the computer and taking "breaks" every five minutes is getting you nowhere. Toodles!
The only good thing about my dentist being on the Upper East Side is that it gives me an "excuse" (not that I need one) to walk home through my beloved Central Park. Today was my first walk through the park in months (thanks, snowy, windy, freezing-ass winter!), but the thrill of the stroll was somewhat diminished because it followed a visit to the dentist. Somewhere in there there's a Catch-22 or a conundrum or a turducken or an Escher etching with staircases going up and down simultaneously or one of these things: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v51/tournamentmaster2000_au/Blivet.png. I definitely need a do-over, pronto.
Hey, you know the fuck what? If your kid taunts a dog, pulls his tail, gets in his face, pokes him, prods him, and in acts like a spoiled little dipshit around the dog to the point where the dog turns around, says, "Enough of this shit!" in the form of nipping at your kid, it's not the dog's fault. And as much as I want to beat the hell out of your kid put the little fuck on one of those kid leashes I hate so much, it's YOU I want put to sleep, you shitty shitty shitty parent.
Hey, you know the fuck what? If your kid taunts a dog, pulls his tail, gets in his face, pokes him, prods him, and in general acts like a spoiled dipshit around the dog to the point where the dog turns around, says, "Enough of this shit!" in the form of nipping at your kid, it's not the dog's fault. And as much as I want to beat the hell outta your kid and put the little fuck on one of those kid leashes I hate so much, it's YOU I want put to sleep, you shitty shitty shitty parent.
No more crying myself to sleep. No more acting like a teenaged girl pining for the boy who moved away and transferred from Riverdale High to Overbook High in 1974 and there's no way in heck we'll be able to rekindle our love because the Internet doesn't exist yet and oh yeah, there's no texting either. No. I knew our bond was too strong to stay apart for even a week, and if we can't be, uh, the way we were, at least not now, there's always a slow simmer. Boiling too quickly can cause a mess. And often burns.
Marjorie's annual teeth-cleaning makes her mouth feel like a million bucks thanks to the tender care of Fabrizia, her favorite hygienist. Dr. Holloway himself even came into the room for a peek and told her she's got great gums (he's such a flirt!), and now as she's grinning at herself in her lighted magnifying mirror, she notices a black sprouting from her chin like a defiant exclamation point. She replays her dental visit in her mind for the rest of the day, positive that Dr. Holloway noticed and finds her repulsive. Would it have hurt Fabrizia to have warned her?
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