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At the risk of spilling syrup, I lift the bottle by its tiny jug handle, its concession to olde-tymey splendor, and drizzle 100% pure maple goodness atop my oats. Even though my fingers are small, they're too large to grasp the handle the way I'm sure it wants to be grasped. I feel sorry for the little guy, a vestige of something once utilitarian and now purely ornamental. I make a point to hold the handle just to make it happy, just like if I were to encounter my appendix, I'd tickle it to make it feel like it mattered!
My sister and I have moved the "trundle" part of our bed (the crappy thing I sleep on) away and are hunched underneath, seated on the pillows upon which we rest our heads at night. A sheet serves as a curtain to keep out curious tourists. A desk lamp provides sufficient illumination for this oasis. Our suburban Philadelphia paradise may as well be the finest harem in all the land and she and I the fairest hostesses. All we need is a small dorm-style refrigerator stocked with cans of Tab, and maybe two Etch-a-Sketches, and we'd be living the dream.
I could have used a different word, I could have split that one sentence into two or expanded one sentence into an entire paragraph. I could have made a better impact with staccato instead of arpeggio after arpeggio. I used too much alliteration, I didn't use enough. The picture I've painted is as crappy as a fingerpainting done by a handless toddler with his toes and nose but with less heart. I want to slash the canvas, splash paint all over it, and not in a Jackson Pollock way. I curse having clicked on "send" too soon. Damned crippling perfectionism.
On the train ride out to your house, you'll show me abandoned decrepit telephone poles in various stages of falling down, graceful still in their descent. Our shared appreciation of the soul of inanimate objects, the anthropomorphism which reared its head on our first date, I cherish beyond measure, so here, awaiting an example that you've studied on many trips between my home and yours, I'm filled with as much giddy excitement as if the curtain is about to rise on a play. When finally the pole parade starts, I'm breathless at their grace. I have never loved you more.
At the risk of sounding like a geezer, rotting away in a rocking chair on a petrified porch, I've gotta say, I really miss milk cartons that don't have a plastic-capped spout , that didn't always open perfectly and often required a bit of destruction to open at all; pull tabs on soda cans that could then be dropped into the soda itself, thus risking parental admonishment and the lodging of the tab in my trachea; juice cans that required piercing with a can opener, one large hole and one smaller one on the opposite side; and Fudge Town cookies.
Every 6th and 28th I feel not a little better but a lot worse. The pain of not being with you anymore is not a bruise whose blue and purple and yellow blotch fades to gray and then vanishes, but a broken rib that refuses to mend. Walking, typing, riding my bike, bending over to pick up a clump of cat fuzz, its presence is known all too well. Every sleep position rewards me with a jab in the side to accompany the sob. People tell me to ignore it, but how, when the mere act of breathing is excruciating?
In 1971, I idolized my purple Schwinn (high handlebars, banana seat), showing off my no-hands skills that proved to the world that I wasn't a girly girl despite the plastic flowers adorning my white basket. I didn't replicate that feeling with my next bike, a cobalt blue ten-speed, in the mid '70s. When I got my next bike, a dark blue Schwinn cruiser, with a removable black basket (no plastic flowers), I surpassed the old level of grooviness as I began using it for transportation, riding in rush hour traffic in New York City. What a difference 40 years makes.
Here's how much I didn't want to marry you. I composed vows in my head while in the shower, while on the stationary bike and treadmill, while walking home through Central Park, while lounging on the sofa with the cat, while waiting for the bus, while on the bus, while food shopping. While watching you quietly eating a lone pancake at the diner. While you were miles away, making eggplant parmigiana to bring to me, while closing my eyes as I ate it because it was the most delectable eggplant parmigiana I've ever had. Yeah, this I did. I do.
How I long to lose myself in fiction again, to create worlds where a girl has eight fingers on each hand or three or maybe even just a boring five, where a goldfish can speak Pig Latin to a an old-fashioned bicycle on a veranda in Florence, where a broken heart can be mended with embroidery floss or toothpaste or licorice whips, where the good guy wins if I want him to or loses if he's only pretending to be a good guy, where I can curl up inside sentences, snuggle between letters, and dream whatever I want to dream.
I only see this group of people when we're out and about at some social function where a bunch of people are gathered for a fistful of minutes devoted to the cause or concern at hand, the rest of the time indulging in free wine and cupcakes and chocolates and other stuff that, come the next day, we will have regretted. Or, rather, they will, because I don't indulge. Even as I'm dressed much to the admiration of the people surrounding me, all I can think is how much I'd rather be home in flannel, with my cat. And you.
The daffodils reside in a plot no larger than a king-sized bed in the middle of a concrete median/curb-type thing in the middle of Broadway just east of the Flatiron Building. The sun is new for the day, and several of them raise their faces toward it while others lag, and others, somehow already trampled despite the low black fencing around the plot, peer only at the feet of passersby.
I can't bear to look, so I stare straight ahead, and it is then I hear, "The fence is not here to keep others out. It's to keep us in."
Some days I sit here and type something that feels about as natural as wearing a stifling string of pearls, demure twin set, and loafers at a country club. I force words to work even as they're false on my fingers, and I backspace more than advance. What I write reads like such an incredible, soul-shriveling lie that I want to put myself in an old-fashioned washing machine, force the bullshit out in the wringer phase, and then pin myself up to a clothesline with old-fashioned wooden "pegs" to dry to gorgeous perfection with creases I never intend to iron.
My right knee has been clicking for about two months, causing some pain extending to my hip if I move it into certain positions, so instead of dealing with pesky doctors and their MRIs and x-rays and the possibility of having to remove my pants, I assess the situation by placing my ear on my knee, extending the leg, circling the ankle, listening to what sounds like a moped rolling over a sparsely-filled baggie of gravel, and trying hard not to panic because I've just watched 50/50 and thus have no choice but to diagnose myself with late-stage multi-syllabic cancer.
All of a sudden, dumped into my lap like an enormous bowl of wet linguini, is the realization that when I'm old and watching TV or old and going to bed or old and sitting around being sad because I hurt or it's Tuesday, Shana won't be around to share it with. Assuming I get to become old (knock wood) and some dread disease or transportation accident or "act of God" doesn't claim my life first, that is. This propels me to the sofa, and pulling Shana onto my lap, as heavy as wet linguini but a lot more welcome.
Fantasy, every time I get a roll of quarters at the bank:
I stroll over to the coin counter, break the paper roll against its side, empty the coins into the tray, enter my "guess" as $10.16, collect my receipt, get back in line (it's NYC, of course there's a line already), and hand the teller the receipt to claim the prize they owe me for guessing the total of my bounty within the parameters posted in the instructions. Dilemma: Do I toss in a few smaller coins in addition to the 40 quarters so the teller won't be suspicious?
A friend recently described my apartment as a cocoon after he was shocked back into the reality of windy wintriness upon nearly dozing off on the sofa mid-conversation, the lullaby of steam heat and the whisper of three windchimes on my patio and the cooing purr of my cat the only contributions to sound after our gabbing subsided. People feel comfortable here. They like looking at my stuff. They're amused by my cat.
They break the spell, however, when they're compelled to remark that their house is ten times as big and their mortgage is a third of my rent.
Left: Montage of me jostling my way to Union Square, snappy black gogo boots, whispering "hello" to him in the crowded bookstore, him turning with a start and furrowed brow, ready to pounce on the dimwit who shocked him, then, realizing it's the girl he hasn't seen in two months, eyes smiling like the Irish whose day is being raucously celebrated just outside. The End. "The events depicted in this movie are fictitious." Audience dabs eyes.
Right: Black screen, sole credit a song list containing only Eric Carmen's "All By Myself". The End. "Not fictitious." I dab mine.
This is the twelfth envelope Lila has torn into 16 pieces today. She is not happy with the placement of the five-pointed star she's created in lieu of the traditional dot under the vertical line of the exclamation point she's drawn after her landlord's first name. (This is, after all, her first day with her new black ink gel pen, so she can't be expected to have warmed up to it already!) Her rent is already overdue a week, but she cannot possibly place the check, which took her a week to fill out, into a less than perfectly-lettered envelope.
First day this year without a jacket and I feel like I'm walking around without skin, my bashful pancreas poking out from behind wherever the hell it's usually tucked. I'm not showing any more flesh than if I were wearing a coat (okay, so my wrists and half of my forearms are exposed) but I feel the need to hide. Never mind that people twice my size and four times as pale are fumbling and blubbering their way down Broadway with aplomb. This may as well be one of those dreams where I'm without pants, on stage, forgetting my lines.
My mother calls o say that yes, it was cancer in my dad's bladder, but they got rid of it, or so they think, and he should be okay. He must undergo weekly treatments, and, again, he should be okay. "Oh," I say, like a numbskull.
"Oh," says the girl who is often described as eloquent and articulate.
Who embarrasses herself with chronic motor mouth syndrome and wants to put her own hands over her ears to drown out the deluge.
I talk to my dad on the phone. "Ugh," I say. What, is "I love you" so difficult?
If you're feeling a bit down in the dumps on a random Wednesday night and need a li'l cinematic pick-me-up escapism, I strongly suggest you don't choose "Requiem for a Dream". I'd seen it years ago and knew it wasn't sunshine and light, so why I watched it tonight is beyond me. To get a glimpse of gorgeous Jennifer Connelly's "bush"? To witness sweaty Jared Leto stick a needle into his festering, oozing, gangrenous forearm? To tell myself, as I quaff strawberry seltzer, "Well, you may be feeling a little pathetic right now, but there's always someone worse off?" Maybe.
Next up: Learning how to rollerskate using my new-to-me Skechers quad skates, coveted Britney Spears model plucked from eBay for what seems to be a song! Right now they lie in wait by the entrance to the kitchen, all red, white, and true blue with perfect red wheels, a matching glittery little red "B" dangling on each lace, silver sparkle trim ready to dazzle the admiring eye of every tween this side of 1999. Never mind that right now I can't even stand in my apartment in them without toppling over. This will happen! Hit me baby one more time!
Thank you for your kind note acknowledging receipt of my payment. Although I am pleased that you are happy, I question your use of an exclamation point to convey your pleasure; to wit: "Thank you for your payment!" To what do you ascribe such obvious elation? The fact that I paid more than the minimum payment? The joy of realizing that my payment coincided with the first tender buds of Spring? Your own purchase and subsequent use of an espresso maker from The Cellar? I suppose I ought not question and just join in.
The gallery displays several of my acquaintance's paintings, and I'm trying not to roll my eyes at the realization that his vocation affords him the opportunity to be in the company of a variety of topless women, one of whom I suspect is his girlfriend, given the long brown hair. "Is that K___?" I say, half in jest, trying not to let them see that I'm comparing her not-so-large tits to those in the painting, each the size of the model's head. They laugh. Is that a yes, a no, or an "Ugh, yet another imbecile asking that same question"?
The boxes of the dead lady's stuff impede my exit to the world of sunshine and daffodils and barking dogs and traffic. She died a month ago, and my landlord has decided to ignore anything resembling a fire hazard, what with all this stuff that, if it wasn't paper to begin with, started turning into some sort of mummified or petrified substance like paper from having resided in her apartment for aeons without having known the touch of her fingertips, fresh air, or light. Everything is dark amber around the edges, like rotted putrid corn or, no doubt, her teeth.
Ray Bradbury's slim volume implores me to proceed with zest and gusto, yet here I sit, refreshing my email what seems to be every 30 seconds, tracking the status of a package that's days away from delivery, perusing endless Facebook photos of a friend's marginally attractive baby, all of this causing my heart rate to drop as dramatically as if I were lapsing into some sort of vegetative state where healthcare professionals could quite reasonably declare me brain-dead. Ray Bradbury urges me to write, and I want to pirouette across the page. So why can't I feel my fucking legs?
My favorite stomach-happy-making tofu baking in the oven; a work file sent to the client sooner than expected; a cat whose hunger meows are sated, is curled into a fuzz-ball somewhere snuggly; the sofa telling the bike that as much as the bike wants to take me out tonight, it's just not going to happen and the sofa wins the prize of my coveted company; enough coffee for tomorrow already made; quiet in a Manhattan apartment. The only thing missing is anticipation of a Friday from months past, a huge piece of the puzzle, diluting the joy of the rest.
The polka-dot glass refuses to accept anything poured into it, recoiling at the notion, turning a cold shoulder to rebuff anything I attempt to pour into it. The pomegranate shampoo warns it will frizz my hair and slides down the drain, of its accord or mine, I cannot tell. The left side of the bed nudges me to the other side. Any potatoes that pass through the door are told by the spatula that they'd better think again if they're thinking about becoming home fries. The cat allows me to brush her, but closes her eyes and pretends it's you.
Not wanting to upset my mom by asking the exact day Bubby died 22 years ago (I forget every year), I search online and discover today's the day. However, the birth year's listed as 1915, not 1910 as I'd always thought. I call my mom to acknowledge the day and bring up the issue of the birth year. She says she never knew the real year and just guessed. I wonder if she's thinking, as I am, that, given that she's already out-achieved her mom by a year and a half -- I can't even bring myself to type it.
Dressed up, strutting down Broadway en route to the glamour of a bus stop, to meet friends at a gallery across town, and something that feels like the size of a sesame seed flings itself into my right eye. The eye flutters and tears up, and I lower my head in an attempt to dislodge the rogue irritant, appearing to passersby, I'm sure, that I am crying. This would be a prime opportunity to indulge in the real tears I'd like to shed, but I must press on and at least present a face not marred by mascara or emotion.
He asks if he can tag me on Facebook in the photo he's taken with his iPhone in stark daylight after I've ridden my bike 25 minutes to meet him. I pretend I'm not the kind of person who needs to approve every photo ever released to even a limited public, not the kind of person who cares if a photo isn't corrected for color or contrast or insanity. Meanwhile, when it appears on my "timeline", I'm obsessed with the laugh lines around my eyes, only visible when I'm grinning maniacally, and hope viewers will mistake them for Liza-like lashes.
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