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I'm aces at jacks and I have the bloody knuckles and scabs to prove it. My jacks have been tossed on the asphalt, the sidewalk, and the linoleum so hard and so often that several of them are worn through, gray-ish silver exposed like tooth dentin. You may have more friends than I do, you may have the long blonde hair and the dad who doesn't yell, you may have the boys drooling over the outline of a training bra under your T-shirt, but I've got this skill you don't, but you wouldn't care about it even if you knew.
My mother still hasn't done anything with my dad's ashes. I don't know what she's waiting for or if she has any intent of doing anything with them other than stashing them in the back of a closet along with maybe one other item of his that she saved. Or maybe she didn't even pick them up and they languished long ago in a dumpster on their way to a landfill where his remains now reside along with plastic six-pack soda holders, coffee grounds, non-flat-screen TVs, tangled string mops, empty toothpaste tubes, and countless mouth-stained down-filled pillows. Perish the thought.
She's happy she's got nothing to smile about as she's on her way home from being out and about downtown, because she doesn't want to risk opening her mouth enough so anyone glancing her way will see the gums that have been intermittently bleeding for the past three days, causing her to panic and almost constantly prod the three teeth served by those gums to make sure they didn't abscond from her jaw when she wasn't looking. By now she's accustomed to the warm metallic taste, but wonders why it feels as thick as catsup as she sucks it out.
Charming conversation I just had with myself, aloud, after I took half a package of tempeh from the refrigerator and measured out brown rice to make in the pressure cooker, enough for at least four meals, after bemoaning the fact that I can't afford to order in right now and don't have anything "good" to eat in the house: "You have food in the house. You have good food. You have more food here than many people have, asshole. You have good food, this is good food, more than a lot of people have, so shut up. Asshole."
Obviously the "PT" designation on my physical therapist's bronze name plaque next to the building's entrance doesn't just stand for "Physical Therapy". It also stands for "Pop Tart", as evidenced by the delicious aroma of a strawberry *toaster pastry* wafting a warm welcome as I sashayed and shimmied my way across the threshold this morning. Now I want to bake my own vegan version of Pop Tarts, which means I'll be spending an inordinate amount of time today researching recipes online and baking them this weekend. And, of course, scarfing them down like there's no Monday. Viva la ripple effect!
Dear scruffy DILF with adorable little son in sunglasses,
Please be walking on 73rd and Madison around 10:12 this morning. I'll be the petite flower raven-haired lass in black gym clothes, turquoise running shoes, and a "camo" canvas bag worn "cross-body" for good health and safety who looks like she was just tortured to the point of expletive expression in a pleasant physical therapy office environment and is in need of a large mango-pineapple smoothie, air-conditioning, and your phone number. Thank you.
The Grinny Girl Who Exclaimed "Oh, Come On, You Two Are Way Too Cute!" Last Friday Morning.
Shana Shornstein and I often try to beat each other through the open doorway into the kitchen. Every time we race toward it, tripping over each other's paws, I imagine us getting stuck there and squeezing our way through, like Archie Bunker and "Meathead", with Archie all pissed off to the point of red-faced flailing and Meathead resigned to enduring Archie's wrath and frustration. And every time I wonder which of us is Archie, and spend an inordinate amount of time dwelling on it. Even as I sit here, I hate to admit that I may be the Archie here.
On West 72nd: Two people engaged in conversation, and at their feet, on leashes, a Rhodesian Ridgeback on his/her side "wrestling" with a black long-haired Dachshund whose squirmy little body was trying to cover the Ridgeback's chest like a bib, gently responding to the little guy's peppy and spirited advances, open mouths scissoring, tongues lolling, tails wagging, paws jumbling, ears flopping, sunlight glinting off of their bright, excited, happy eyes. I wanted to get down on the sidewalk and join in the fuzzy fun but instead grinned until my face fell off. But that's okay. It will regenerate by tomorrow.
I don't know this guy at the gym and I've never talked to him and I don't think we've ever had eye contact, but every time I see him with his white/gray hair in the bandanna, his trim body in a workout ensemble just stylish enough to be cool but not too much to be desperate, pedaling steadily on a stationary bike as he peers at something on his iPad, I have a desire to tell him that seeing him makes me happy in a small way and that I like his shoes. Maybe one day I'll just do it.
I'm going to bed at 8:45 p.m. I've been up since 5:30 this morning, at which time I immediately started working. So, really, going to bed now isn't THAT pathetic, given that if I'd rolled out of bed at, say, noon like the cool kids do, this would be the equivalent of going to bed at 3:15 a.m. Never mind that second graders are staying up later than I am tonight, and I'd be sleeping through dinner if I lived in Spain, and Shana is putting the finishing touches on her "smoky eye" to go out dancing, right? Buenas noches!
Gee whiz, what a cryin' shame. For several months you were taken in by the thrill of a new association, the promise of a solid relationship, and allowed yourself to skip down the street with excitement over plans you were making, finally being able to do stuff you'd wanted to do for such a long time, and although you pinched yourself to make sure you weren't dreaming, you knew it was real and you finally felt truly happy. And then, oh no, just like that, it was snatched away and you were left standing there alone, bewildered, and devastated. Good.
I watch 1970s movies set in New York and think how much cooler it was back then, how much grittier, how much realer, how much more urban and individual and hip and scary and filthy and sexy and horrifying and dangerous, and I lament, as I stride down its streets now, that certainly it was so much better then because of all of that. But really, would I want to take my life in my hands when taking the subway, the Upper West Side to be strewn with needles, and hookers to loll around Times Square? I don't know. Maybe?
I am making a conscious effort to make my phone off-limits in Central Park except for checking the time, taking photos, or using the GPS if I find myself unable to extricate myself from wherever the hell I've Ramble-rambled. There is no need to see if someone "liked" an earlier Facebook post or left a hilarious comment. There is no need to check email. I do not deliver babies, operate on aneurysms, intervene in hostage crises, or do air traffic control. I don't need to know what's going on in the outside world while I'm actually outside in the world.
A woman peddling empanadas on the street of a town in Argentina would not be impressed by my empanadas. Anyone who has ever sampled her wares and given her the thumbs up would not be inclined to do the same after sampling mine, if told that my offering were the same type of food that hers is. Mine are not "authentic", especially in the non-flaky yeast-raised dough (often whole wheat) and the vegan spinach/mushroom/cashew "parmesan" style cheese filling, rubbed with a stick of Earth Balance immediately after removal from my E-Z Bake oven. But that doesn't mean they're not delicioso.
Rather than loll around thinking about how one day we'll all be dead, sometimes I consider other stuff. For example:
"Grit-eating shin": What you get when you fall off your bike and gravel embeds in your lower leg (to be removed by your mom with a wire brush). This is what happens when you wake up way too early on a weekend and lie in bed thinking about spoonerisms. Ahoy!
Thank you, Mr. David Duchovny, for making an appearance in my dreams. Please return any time you like, especially if it means there is no room for Kelly Ripa anymore.
You are sexier on the subway, fellas, if you choose earbuds over enormous headphones. You are sexiest if you choose neither and listen to music stored in your brain. You are sexier if you choose an actual paper-based book over an e-reader. And sexiest if that book is a classic and you almost miss your stop because you're lost in its pages. You are sexier if you choose a puzzle in a newspaper over Candy Crush on your phone. And sexiest if itís a New York Times crossword and you're using a pen. The choice is yours, fellas. Choose wisely!
Two years and counting, two years and counting, two years and counting. You don't need to know what it is, the significance, and why I'm counting, you just need to know that it's two years and counting. And you don't even need to know that. It's none of your business, it's mine. And maybe I should stop counting, maybe I should just pretend I've come to the end of numbers. But then I'd be tempted to create a new system to keep track, so I could have a way of quantifying something that is of secret significance only to me.
If someone broke into my house and told me I had to eat eggs again or they'd kill my mom (because these sorts of scenarios are very common), and that person showed me, on FaceTime, his accomplice at my mom's house with a gun pointed at her temple, and they offered me eggs in any style (but not as an ingredient in, say, cake), I'd go with egg foo young, hands down. Even now, fervently anti-egg and a little nauseated by the mere thought of eating them, I must say I miss that goop and its odd brown starchy gravy.
Mrs. Snodgrass overheard some of the less discreet ladies whispering that a wasp was walking in confused circles around the bruschetta, and was on the verge of jotting on her tiny notepad a tasty tidbit about " a certain Upper East Side charity fundraiser at which way too many glasses of something snooty were consumed by a lockjawed jackass in a bowtie". Imagine her dismay to learn that her intended "blind item" would have to be squashed, when she saw a white-jacketed servant do the same to a buzzing winged insect before it had a chance to sully the buffet.
Although Trader Joe's workers are friendly, the store is cute, the store brand is generally good , and the red carts are cheery, I'm not as enamored of it as I would be if it weren't for other stores in the neighborhood that have more of a "local" flavor. More my style is Westside Market, with its narrow aisles and strange little alcoves, nooks, and crannies packed with a vast variety of brands and items and stuff you will never see at Trader Joe's. I'll never forget it's where I found pink toilet paper several years ago! West(side) is Best!
The best thing about making smoothies in my beautiful blue Vitamix is the part where I drink, directly from the container in which it was made, whatever won't fit into my very large glass, with all the eager trust of a newborn bird. When I do it, I can almost hear Erma Bombeck clacking away at her typewriter, sipping Sanka in her robe, writing with wry exasperation about her teenage son throwing open the double doors of the refrigerator, drinking directly from the milk carton and leaving a large bowl in the refrigerator whose only inhabitant is a peach pit.
The first leg of PT involves me lying on my back, hooked up to a TENS unit with heat. For 15 minutes I am left with the option to do nothing but entertain myself inside my head. Apparently I'm not capable of entertaining myself enough because I invariably nod off quickly. Many times I've startled myself awake with a snore and am thus horrified, wondering how many snores preceded that one? Or, if it was just the one, did anyone else hear it? So, I clear my throat in a lame attempt to divert, which probably only makes it worse.
I was chatting with a new Facebook friend the other day about something rather nonsensical, and I mentioned Lauren Bacall peripherally. Instantly she said, "Please. I can't", as if it were too painful for her to even consider, for a flash in time, anything having to do with the recent death. I responded with something like, "Yes, I saw on Facebook that you adored her" and was admonished not to continue, with such a terse and stern tone that you'd think Ms. Bacall were this person's own beloved mother. I wondered if she could sense my eye-rolling through her monitor.
I still can't stop thinking about Robin Williams' suicide. Several times I found myself crying like a baby, not just for the loss of his brilliant life but for the loss of the beautiful life of my friend Chloe Weil, who also suffered from depression and committed suicide a month earlier. I, an atheist/agnostic, found myself thinking that if there were a "heaven", the two of them would find each other, look around, look down, and see us all down here with big Cooper Bold question marks dangling above our heads, wondering what we could have done to help them.
The coat closet in the front hall of our house was almost impossible to close thanks to the bulge of jackets, coats, hooded sweatshirts, and scratchy afghans that one of both of our grandmothers had crocheted over the years. I admired the closet of my mom's best friend, "Aunt" Elaine, in which, as they smoked Kools in the kitchen, I'd seek shelter, among the evenly spaced things she called "wraps", each roosting on its own smooth wooden hanger, unlike the carnage of our closet, which once opened, unleashed a jangle of wire hangers like so many skinny elbows. Or bats.
We weren't one of those families that ran together in the mornings before breakfast. Our dad wasn't square-jawed and thick-haired and didn't lead us through the quiet sleepy streets of our suburban neighborhood like a champ. We barely ate at the same table, and if we did, there was no conversation that I can even remember. Fortunately, the apartment we lived in for several years was so small that the kids ate in the kitchen while my parents ate in the tiny cramped and cluttered dining room, and we stupidly amused ourselves while they were busy not talking or something.
My family dog, Bogart a/k/a Bo a/k/a Buddy a/k/a Charles a/k/a the man of the house and one of the sweetest, gentlest, most loving, beautiful creatures ever to grace the planet with his presence, has left this world. Words cannot even express how I feel right now. I have no idea how I walked home Monday morning after my mom called to tell me. I have no idea how I'm managing to sit upright. I have no idea when I'll ever stop crying. I have a feeling "never" is about right. Sweetest of dreams, beautiful Bo. I miss you already.
Maybe this isn't very "feminist" of me, but I really don't give a damn if a guy on the street addresses me as "baby" or "honey" or "sweetheart". I'm not going to lash back, "I am NOT your baby!" and not because I don't want him to call me a "bitch" or worse instead to lick his wounded ego, but because I actually like it, just like I like being called a "girl" instead of a "woman". I know I'm supposed to think it's demeaning or that it diminishes me as a female-person, but I don't. And I'm not "sorry".
It is an INSANELY gorgeous day here in NYC. Paul Newman's eyes would be green with envy over the blueness of the sky, the air is almost as delicious as a chilled slice of watermelon, dogs are trotting with pep in their pup step, and I'm maniacally step-ball-changing instead of simply strolling. While sitting by the Conservatory Water (a/k/a "the sailboat pond") before physical therapy, a dog named Grover trotted by, another dog bounced over to give me kisses, and on my way home after that, I met 9-week-old lab Daisy, biting on her pink leash. Life does not suck.
When I first started going to physical therapy earlier this summer, I looked around the place and couldn't imagine that I would ever feel "at home" in those strange surroundings. I couldn't imagine going to the ladies room without feeling awkward or signing in upon arrival without feeling self-conscious or even just entering the building at all without feeling like I didn't belong. But now I feel like the therapist and I are chums, and we laugh like idiots during my session, and I find myself lamenting, in advance, when the day comes that I no longer need the services.
I haven't left the house since Saturday morning, when I went to Whole Foods. I will be able to say the same thing until tomorrow morning when I leave for the gym. There. I said it. No more trying to convince myself I "should" go outside, especially since a friend just told me it's "soupy" out there, and I don't approve of summer rearing its humid head when after we've been mercifully spared most of the season. If you need me, you'll find me on the sofa, drinking iced coffee, watching Brady Bunch DVDs with my cat, in her pajamas.
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