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A Typo Artist
To my utmost surprise, the cab driver is NOT on the phone when I scramble into the back seat. He turns and smiles and actually greets me. I ask him what it is that’s so important that all those other cab drivers need to be on the phone talking about all day. He laughs and shakes his head.
I guess at the origin of his accent. We chat about the news that day and the hostage situation uptown. I tip him well and he tells me I am a “lovely, polite young lady.”
It’s the nicest thing I’ve heard summer.
…so I burry my face in his neck and smell him; shampoo, soap, cologne, sweat. Silent, rocking, as if to put me asleep. Over his shoulders my knuckles graze rough brick and I imagine it must be hurting his back but his eyes are clear and his face is soft without a hint of tension.
I want to move back but his arms are so sure that I suddenly feel that he must know something I don’t. I’m afraid of where he’s taking me, but realize it doesn’t matter because I am trapped between the dark and his pounding chest.
In the smoky haze of their living room two conversations haphazardly run into each other, share company briefly and then part again, each wandering off in its own direction. I’m sitting on an inflatable exercise ball, foggy with sleep and a comfortable high. She is speaking quickly, with small gestures, legs wrapped beneath her while her fiancé absently rests an outstretched foot in her lap.
You’re there, in a chair, slightly removed. You’re telling him a story I have heard before, but in a voice I don’t fully recognize. I am distracted by this strange new man in the corner.
The band takes the stage just minutes after our arrival. I finally tear my eyes away from the heart-stopping scenery and the cloudless sky to pay attention to the main event. Your elation is almost tangible (not to mention your excitement, deafening) as their first words ring out over the sound system, bouncing off the enormous rocks looming around us that join the crowd together in our separation from the rest of the world.
As a writer it is humbling to experience something so perfect that in my wildest dreams I could have never created it with words.
I wandered down the street with him, destination in mind but unimportant, pointing out houses and puppies and an overgrown trellis. I said things that in retrospect seem exceptionally out of character; opining for porch swings, and flower boxes and shady urban-suburban side streets.
We asked a friendly man jogging in jeans for directions to a park we’d been walking away from for 30 minutes. I was secretly glad we’d been lost and daydreaming about this quiet life, and wondered silently where this shift in mindset had come from – was it a loss of inhibitions or a loss of self.
He could be a stranger there in front of me, silent, headphones in place, shaggy-haired, close beard and quiet green eyes. I wonder if I would have taken special notice of him as I passed in the aisle. I wonder if I would have wished my ticket, stuffed hastily into a copy of The Red Queen, read 16B.
I wonder if there have been other hims on other planes in other seats that happened to be in front of or behind me, rather than next to me; Fate, playing mind games, placing my lover just one wrong seat number away.
She could feel the little man following her constantly. He was a midget (or a dwarf? The distinction always alluded her) who smelled faintly of cinnamon gum and the aftershave her father used to wear when she was a child.
She walked fast everywhere she went, and he often had trouble keeping up with her. Every time she thought she had lost him down a long escalator or through a crowded restaurant she would relax into her seat only to suddenly catch him out of the corner of her eye, perched precariously, little shoes swinging seemingly miles above the floor.
Today someone observed that my hands are small and exceptionally wrinkly. I, of course, have always known these things to be true, but had forgotten in the same way one forgets they have a nose on their face until they sneeze.
When I was 8 or 9 my only chore was to wash the dishes after dinner. I complained about the hot water and the slimy, cold spaghetti stuck to plates, but I secretly enjoyed the quiet of the dim kitchen and the opportunity to play in the soapy water. Those hours in the dishwater have apparently left their marks.
Waking up, the first sensation noticed is the chill of a small, cold foot on the back of his leg. He marvels at the size of the foot – tiny, tiny, barely reaching from mid-calf to ankle. Rolling over he sees two masses of curly hair obscuring sleeping eyes. One blond, one brunette, just like Barbie and Skipper.
The blond looks like his 13-year-old daughter will in four years. Or maybe the brunette does – children’s hair often darkens with age.
He rolls out of bed and pulls on wrinkled pants. He dials his wife and tells her voicemail he’s coming home.
After the second period he suggests I jump up on the couch and bounce around for a celebratory photo op. I do, with little hesitation (thanks to liquid lack-of-shame) and bounce away as my ex-colleagues look on with chagrin from the plush corporate box seats.
He beams at me from the corner of the room, counting down and trying to hold the camera still between laughs. I almost knock a beer off the coffee table as I clamber down to review the photos, which make my face flush a little.
That night the Caps won and I fell in love.
An orangey glow consumes the skyline, which I can see between the bars of the iron security gate. I can’t tell if my stirring woke him or if his waking stirred me, but we both lie still, sensing the other’s slow come-to-life.
Today I never fully wake, but wander somewhere between life and dream, ignoring the parts that don’t fit in with the gauzy, imaginary world I’m creating.
We’ll walk through empty city streets in the morning sunrise, we’ll watch men fly through the air, we’ll defy gravity, we’ll fall in love with everyone and create something we’ll call art.
It’s so gray when I wake up that for a moment, through my hung over haze, I think it must be evening.
I burry my head in the mountain of white lavender scented pillows and try to remember under what circumstances I crawled into this bed, topless but still wearing jeans and stiletto ankle boots.
The feeling comes back, damp and cold as the air outside, weighing heavy on me. Expected, but met with reproach.
Like a son realizing the fallibility of his father I am suddenly left standing confused and unprotected. Isn’t this always the beginning of the end?
My job is slowly killing me with meaningless tasks and research assignments that no one ever reads, but leaves on a shared drive somewhere on the network collecting virtual dust.
Some days I spend hours reading the New Yorker on my phone or trying to hide the huge, strange characters from The Oatmeal by leaning so close to the computer screen that no one can past my shoulders.
I should send resumes around but I have become so mentally lethargic in this place I can’t even force myself to update my resume with all the important work I’ve done here.
She hummed as she sharpened the knife, keeping time with the metallic whistle released as the blade slid quickly along the stone. She steadied her hands as she turned toward the task, trying not to think about the damp, heavy flesh or the fact that not long ago blood coursed through its veins.
There was a rush of adrenaline the moment the blade pierced through the flesh and then nausea and horror at what she done when the blood began running onto the counter.
She promised herself this would be the first and last time she cooked a non-vegetarian meal.
We had terrible food and abysmal service on a roof deck that was too humid for a relaxing late dinner. The waiter had a blue Adidas sweatband on, and I was slightly disgusted by the possibility that he was perspiring enough to be wearing the sweatband for utility and not as some ironic hipster fashion statement.
My date couldn’t seem to go more than a few minutes without a drink in front of him, and helped himself to mine whenever there wasn’t one, which was often.
Someday these things will annoy me. Right now I will enjoy that they don’t.
I find you at the main bar, sipping on watered down whisky or maybe coke – I am not sure can tell the difference either. You turn to me as I come up behind you, glassy eyed and slouched. Your drink almost slips off the edge of the bar but manages to teeter precariously until I reach out and push it back.
I’m lost. Who are you? You and he are blending, faces mingling, and I’m thrown back two years. But you’re so smart and so put together and so wonderful. How can this be?
Baby, don’t scare me like this.
At a round table during a very late dinner we argue about the evolution of human sexuality and the validity of the threat of the Tea Party. The wine is delicious and overpriced. You all look lovely in the warm candlelight.
I step outside myself momentarily and observe. I imagine we seem a little loud and very full of ourselves – neither assumption would be entirely untrue.
I wonder when we have to grow up. Maybe never. Maybe I will just run around this city for the rest of my days – a life of revelry, love and doing as I please.
He wanted yogurt for breakfast but my hangover demanded something more substantial - a toasted bagel with cream cheese and veggies. We ate, mostly in silence. We disagreed regarding the relationship between the couple next to us. He thought they were an oddly matched romantic pair, I saw a mother and her surly 19-year-old son.
Then we walked for what seemed like hours - through upper NW, through Rock Creek park, through Georgetown and all the way to the movie theater.
I’m Still Here
at 11:50AM. We were the only people in the theater. I felt strangely at home.
I’ve ever been to a baseball game with so many people. Being a Nats fan leaves one wanting for the electric feel of a huge crowd...
We climbed all the way up to the very top row. I turned and peered through the wire fence to the street far below. The sun was sinking and I could barely make out the windshields on the cars below.
It was a good feeling, the energy of thousands of people around us, the furthest thing from alone. But with my back to the sky and my thoughts far from you, perhaps I was.
Dear Mark Zuckerberg:
Because of you…
my mother e-stalks me 24/7, leaving hundreds of messages reminding me to drive safe, fly safe, walk safe, breath safe…
I nearly drove myself insane during an epically bad break-up by constantly checking the ex’s status to see if he would post about the other girl, which he eventually did, luckily after I had decidedly stepped back off the ledge.
I’ve obtained massive hangovers from concerts/parties/benders I may had not otherwise suffered if I’d not been swayed by the list of friends who had clicked “Attending”.
my work productivity hovers around 37%.
The gentleman who works in the cubicle adjacent to mine takes 2-5 minute naps roughly three times every day – at his desk. I can’t see him over the high fabric partition, but I can hear him snoring softly, head dropped, arms at his sides, chin tucked comfortably between his tie and his neck.
He takes lunch after 2:00pm because that’s when the 25% discount kicks in at the Federal cafeteria downstairs. Sometimes he asks me to remind him how to attach documents to emails. He has Robert Frost poems tacked to his bulletin board and his shirt is never wrinkled.
You look so lost. Now especially, but faintly all of the time. Lost in a perpetual way - having wandered too far, standing forlornly at an ominous fork in the road.
There is a seed of insecurity putting down roots inside you. It’s been growing - slowly then, quickly now. Haltingly, stopped up by proud moments too brief.
You feel the leaves growing inside, tangling themselves in your lungs. The pressure builds against your chest and you know it might burst out of you at any moment. You try killing it with something bitter, than something cold.
But you’re only killing us.
Penny was the prettiest girl in third grade. Billy liked to watch her coloring on her nametag - her tongue would poke out between two pursed lips and curl up towards the upper corner of her mouth. The morning sun filtered through dirty blinds set her red curls on fire.
At the end of each day she clambered up on his desk to complete her daily chore, wiping the whiteboard down with a damp cloth. Billy sat on his hands on the reading carpet, resisting the urge to run up and pull her to the floor by her shiny, fiery, ponytail.
I observe silently. All three are good-looking. Two are witty. One is tall. One is well-built. Two are wealthy. One will be. They all have quite beautiful eyes.
What is it that sets someone apart for someone? Why him and not him? Sometimes I find myself able to acknowledge that a man might be better looking, smarter, richer, and more successful than another man, but unable to prefer him thus.
I swear, I don’t believe in love outside the idea of it being a just-right mix of hormones, pharemones and basic instinct, but then how do I explain my decisions?
I clap my hands somewhere in the middle of a mostly ambivalent crowd of people 3 to 4 years younger than me. Maybe a few are dancing excitedly and smiling, heads turned up to the sky, eyes closed – but it’s hard to tell if it’s the music or the drugs.
I imagine I look somewhat ambivalent too, swaying and clapping and trying to hold a conversation with a young shirtless stranger while simultaneously singing along:
“Wait for the summer…
yeah, from DC…
we’ll sleep when we wanna…
nah, near U St…
don’t tell your mother…
oh, I love Solly’s…
we’ll leave when we wanna…
I still pick up an occasional shift at a huge sports bar in DC to supplement my “real job” salary and support a deeply seeded shoe buying habit.
Today was a big day in the NFL world (apparently), and being behind the 4 sided bar under 8 large, flat screen TVs for 8 hours felt a lot like being in a pit surrounded by starving wolves – everyone was yelling about something, looking crazed and rabid with dilated eyes.
Americans are NFL fans. Just imagine if the same energy and passion could be directed towards something that matters.
I ride the escalator down without walking – something I never do – reading the
and not at all in a hurry because I’m already late.
It’s another world down here. The storm swirling outside quickly disappears as I descend into the dimly lit concrete burrow. Girls in rain boots and skirt suits shuffle quickly through the turn styles, shouldering multiple bags and juggling cell phones, iPods and metro cards.
On the platform people mill around and read or gaze down the tunnel, waiting for a glimpse of train headlights. So many people so close, yet the silence is deafening.
“No, no, like this,” she says, snatching the Skittle sized pill from his hand. She places it on the table and in one fluid movement, produces a spoon and crushes the pill into a million pieces. A few deft movements delivers two skinny lines of fine whitish dust.
“This is you,” she refers to the shorter line. Stringy black hair obscures her face as she leans over the table with a dollar bill to her nose. When she sits up her eyes are closed. She hands him the rolled up dollar and he is scared. Thirty seconds later he’s not
Their seats are right behind the dugout, the night is beautiful and the air is crisp with autumn anticipation, but she spends more time checking Facebook than she does watching the game or talking to him.
Sometimes she watches the man in front of her – he has thick curly hair, gray eyes and the kind of skin you get from working outdoors. But he is wearing a dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a Tag Heuer watch she knows is worth more than her boyfriend’s car. His wife looks a little overweight and she imagines taking her place.
You fall in love with Ethan/Jackson/Elias the moment you see him in the produce aisle/laundromat/late-night video store because he has a quality about him that sets him apart from any other man you’ve ever seen - something simultaneously overwhelming and unidentifiable.
You stand near him for a few awkward moments admiring his eggplant corduroys/skinny jeans/Tevas until he turns and smiles, and for the first time you see that charming smile/hairlip/Jewish nose that 3 weeks/7 years/2 decades later you’ll wish you’d never seen.
But now it’s beautiful – so beautiful you can’t look away. And this is the beginning of the end.
The Tip Jar