I'm six years old. I
live in a new house in New Jersey. We
spend all of our time in the avocado green kitchen with the wall oven and the family
room, which is decked out with a chilly-cushioned Naugahyde sofa that I want to
marry, a long red Parsons table, a fuzzy black ottoman inside of which resides
my cherished Smess game, a glass coffee table, a neato push-button phone, and a
red and tan dinette set with chairs that I'd swivel in all day if it didn't
make me nauseous. How I wish I had that
I have been working all day.
At 5:30, I check my phone and see a text from 2:30 from a friend inviting
me to a Broadway show at 8:00. I really
don't want to go out, but the play sounds good, I only have to pay $5, and I
figure, hey, I live in New York City, I should take advantage of this opportunity. I text back with exclamation points I'm not
feeling and say yes, I'd love to go! He
texts back within a few minutes with an apology; he already sold the tickets. I'm incredibly relieved. Exclamation points!
Lola could not be less like Shana if she tried. She's brash, athletic, nosy as a bloodhound,
acrobatic, brush-averse, and lets me gently use her as a pillow. Most of the time when I'm at my desk, she's
on it, sometimes blocking the monitor, but more often lounging directly in
front of me, offering her services as a stress reliever.
Although I miss my other cat like mad, I don't want this one
to be that one. Still, sometimes when
her back is to me and I can only see the black part of her fur, I imagine she
Why my sister and I wear matching toreador outfits for our
second and fourth grade school photos is beyond me, but there we are. Purple bolero jackets, patterned knickers,
white tights, and black shoes, both of us.
The resulting photos don't reflect our joy at our ensembles; indeed, my
sister looks downright pissed-off and I look wasted, but trust me, we adored
our groovy get-ups like crazy. None of
the other kids in 1972 were wearing duds this darIng. I can't believe that despite my shyness, I
was not only willing to leave the house like that but dying to.
This spring I'm venturing to parts of Manhattan that I
haven't given enough time to exploring. Usually
when venturing out, I go south, and then a little east, but there's much buzz
about a bridge called High Bridge in Washington Heights that has recently
reopened for the first time in 40 years, and it demands my attention. There's Fort Tryon Park, near the end of the
"island", which I've been to but only minimally. And oh, Roosevelt Island, via the marvelous
tram on the East Side, visited only once with a friend who wasn't as
adventurous as I had hoped.
In ninth grade, my new best friend, Kathy, a tiny blonde
cheerleader, suggested sharing a locker.
I thought this was premature, and had I known about the lesbian/instant U-Haul
stereotype, I would've made a hilarious joke.
I was so impressed that a "cool kid" wanted to take such a big
step that I agreed, even though I wasn't keen on the idea of sharing her
space. We spent a fair amount of time
sketching the interior layout, including a cloth sling/hammock that we'd create
to hold sundry items. How is it that I
can't remember if we actually did it?
Neighborhood Playhouse, 2000: I'm the only one in class unable to do a pirouette. Even the most ungainly and/or flat-footed
and/or klutzy other students have managed to do at least one, and some of the
more enterprising (translation: fucking showoffs) have managed two or three
non-stop. (This, of course, excludes
Sara, a real ballet dancer, who is an obvious outlier and looks like she was
born on pointe.) The teacher had held
out high hopes for me, given my "dancer's body". I should pirouette like an egg beater,
yes? But nope. I'm more like a fork with a bent tine.
At least ten years ago, before all of the gross
"plazas" overtook the area, I was hanging out in the little park called
Herald Square on my way home from the gym.
Usually I don't sit at any point during my treks. This time I did. Several feet away, sat a gorgeous girl, alone,
sobbing. I asked her if she was okay and
learned she was crying over a guy. I
told her the guy was blind, an idiot, and she could do so much better. I think of her often when passing that spot, and
hope she eventually did.
A few years ago, at or around the same day as I either lost a
knit hat or left it behind on the bus, I found a beaded bookmark on the street
with a vaguely Native American pattern/design.
I was sad about my and tried to console myself by imagining a hatless
girl being delighted to find it and make it her own, just as I did with the
bookmark. Now I'm sad because I can't
remember what the hat even looked like.
I wonder if the person whose bookmark I found wonders if someone gave it
a good home.
I don't need every bakery to serve gluten-free artisanal hemp
berry scones hand-crafted by two best gal pals who quit their corporate jobs to
pursue their girlhood dream. I don't want
to order my lunch from a large blackboard hanging on a wall above the
counter. I don't want to wait for my
coffee to be individually brewed into a cup by a guy with egregious facial hair
and a tattoo on his inner wrist. I want
the word "bespoke" to go away.
I want young men in bow ties to follow suit. I want skinny jeans to fatten up.
I just spent a great deal of time Googling images of
Columbus Circle pre-Time Warner Center.
I had coffee with a friend at the Starbucks at the northwest corner of
West 60th not long after construction began in late 2000. I remember thinking the area was a mess of dusty
ground, chain link fence, and debris. I didn't
know what had been razed or what was to rise.
Now that I live about three-quarters of a mile north, I pass it all the
time and can't imagine it any other way.
I wish I'd thought to take photos back then.
Since moving to Austin in 2011, Chris has been back to NYC
often enough so that I don't have to miss him too much. Every time he's here, we have breakfast or
lunch at his favorite spot on the Upper West Side, he warns me that he's going
to eat like a pig, I smile stupidly as he orders a toasted muffin in addition
to the rest of the stuff, and we pick up as if we'd stopped mid-conversation
during his last visit. I always come
away from our time together feeling so giddily good about myself. The kid's magical.
I subscribe to NYC Notify messages to inform me of transit
issues, weather alerts, and missing people (mostly "vulnerable"
adults and senior citizens, which are categorized as "silver alerts"). The transit and weather stuff hasn't been
that helpful yet, but I keep thinking that if I unsubscribe, that will be the
day something big will happen and I'll miss out. When the transit issues resolve or the weather
alerts are no longer valid, I receive an update. However, this is not the case with the
missing people alerts. Are all of these
sad people still wandering around, untethered, unaccounted for?
Ahhh, yes. The water
is the ideal temperature. The bubbles
are Doris Day/Rock Hudson "Pillow Talk" perfection. The pink lemonade is poured into a vintage
glass. The tea lights and other candles
are lit. The hair is atop my head like
Pebbles Flintstone. The fluffy towel is at arm's length, waiting
to hug me when I step out.
Which is five minutes later, after I'm sliding around the
tub, squeakily, even though I'm not yet squeaky clean. Indeed, I feel like I'm the meat in a filth
soup. This is bullshit. I blow out the candles and take a shower.
A neighbor whose windows face my patio taped a polite note
to my building's front door asking if the person with the wind chimes on the
"terrace" could remove them since they're keeping him/her awake at
night. My landlord leaves a note saying
there are no wind chimes on a terrace here.
I feel a bit bad, so I write my own note saying yes, a tenant (me!) has them
and will bring them in when windy. It
was windy the other night, but I neglected to bring them in. A second polite note ensued. Must I really "make good"?
In the morning when he's making us coffee, I sing my
Celebrity Boyfriend song to my celebrity boyfriend. We drink the coffee at his desk, where he
goes online to see what's being said about him on any number of websites. We laugh at him in a tuxedo. We laugh at him with his arm around an
actress he can't stand. He says he
wishes it were me, and I say, no, it's better this way; I'm a private person
and know the private man and like reading about him online where he's just the
celebrity and not the boyfriend.
He wasn't the first to make you a smiley-face breakfast with
fried eggs for the eyes and a few strips of bacon for the smile, and he won't
be the last. I'm telling you this as you
loudly crunch the Cap'n directly from the box.
"And you know, it wasn't even original," I
say. "I could see being upset if
he'd done something that a dozen other shmucks haven't done for you before, but
You tell me that's not the point. I silently marvel at how the cereal remains
crisp even when doused by all those ridiculous tears.
Why are you no longer on Facebook that much anymore, Jodi?
Because I just don't care.
I don't care about your daughter's flute recital. I don't know your daughter. I don't know you.
I don't care about your trip to Arizona or London or Saturn. I don't need to see you in front of a cactus,
a big clock, or the rings of a planet.
I don't care about your political affiliation and how much
you hate the other guy and his hair. Or
I don't care about your yoga pose and toes.
Your self-aggrandizement is a snooze.
The apartment cuteification is coming along nicely. It sadden me that Shana isn't here to witness
the changes. However, although I don't
think she would've stood in front of the oven, admiring its simple beauty, I think
should might've been slightly amused by the vintage lazy Susan storage containers. She may have looked down her adorable fuzzy
nose at the new bathroom mat at first, but she would've sprawled on it, quietly
commending me on my choice. But oh, how
I could use her advice on what else to do on the patio, one of her favorite
places to be.
A friend who lived in Brooklyn moved to Philadelphia less
than two weeks ago. Her apartment is
right across the street from the building I lived in 26 years ago. Although I adore my apartment here in and am
still in love with New York City, I couldn't help but be envious. However, when I last visited in late 2013,
the neighborhood was much more "happening", which made me sad. If I lived there again, I'd want it to revert
to the late '80s, with the diner down the street and the eggplant parmigiana
"grinders" at the corner pizza place.
A guy jumped or was pushed, no one knows yet, and a lady said
she saw a severed arm still holding an iPhone and some kid says he saw a head
with its eyes still open on the third rail.
Marissa finds this out from bystanders who aren't permitted access to
the subway station thanks to this jumper or pushee, many of whom are taking
videos here on the street where there's nothing to be seen. She makes a mental note to Google "third
rail" and sighs. Maybe one day she'll
be lucky enough to witness something so exciting firsthand.
Someone from the United States Parcel Service writes to me
with obligatory apologies for the disappearance of the package that was
supposed to be here over a month ago. This person realizes an apology is not a
substitute for good service, but that's just lip service and this person
doesn't give a hoot and/or holler about the package that was supposed to be
here over a month ago. This person just
wants to go back to sitting on a folding chair in a dusty windowless room,
picking Pringles out of the canister with her fingernails and licking off the
I don't see my love affair with roasted vegetables ending
anytime soon. I don't see a lean, lithe
carrot slinking by me, crooking its finger, and me saying, "Can it,
carrot!" I don't see a swarthy
mushroom stopping dead in its tracks, gazing at me, and me saying, "Move it,
mushroom!" I don't see a beautiful bell
pepper bouncing toward me, and me saying, "Beat it, bellsy!" I don't see a comely cauliflower pirouetting past me, and me saying, "Forget it,
floret!" Nope. I see this groovy veggie orgy love-in continuing
indefinitely, with me as hostess in a palazzo pantsuit.
Celebrity Boyfriend says, in a mock old lady voice, that's
"marvelously refreshing" to be with someone who is not in "the business".
Of his relationship with his ex-wife, he says, "It had
the potential to be very A Star is Born-y.
I won't say which of us would've been the Barbra Streisand character,
though. Or whoever played the role in
one of the old-timey flicks."
I stare at him in disbelief and tell him I'm deeply wounded. Offended.
I'm famous too, after all. Well
sought-after. Has he not noticed my impressive
collection of 748 Facebook friends, my 223 Instagram followers?
I have not seen her in four years, but instantly we pick up
where we left off, as if it was literally just yesterday that we laughed like
hyenas over coffee, giggled like idiots over big cookies, traipsed up the
streets of Manhattan talking about everything and anything, and sat riveted in
Verdi Square, slackjawed, unable to believe that the chunky older lady with
white-blonde hair, in a bright pink dress and horribly sensible black shoes, sitting
across from us on a granite wall seat, quietly reading a book, is affording us
a horrifying view of her undeniably naked crotch.
One of my oldest friends is with me when I open the big box that
arrived earlier in the day. It contains
a seven-piece set of Francipans cookware from the early 1970s, in pristine
condition. Since finding it on eBay,
I've gazed at the photos accompanying its post with all the admiration and
anticipation I would have reserved in the early 1970s for Keith Partridge, Greg
Brady, or The Fonz. I've been in the
company of two of those icons face to face, and I squeal with my friend upon
"meeting" the cookware as if I'm finally meeting the third.
Some nights we sleep in the back room/office of my parents'
record store in a market called Normandy Square Mart in Northeast
Philadelphia. The place is a cross
between a farmer's market and a mall.
The individual places of business/vendors aren't quite stalls but
they're not quite enclosed stores either.
There are no doors, but heavy canvas curtains that roll down and are
secured to the ground with padlocks.
When everyone is sleeping, my sister and I crawl underneath the curtains
and dash to the restrooms far, far down one of the two main corridors. Peeing is a terrifying pursuit.
My landlord is in the bathroom struggling to repair a drawer
in the vanity. He says he doesn't like
that he won't be able to improve the way it glides on the track and that it
bothers him because he's a perfectionist.
My eyebrow doesn't just raise; it torpedoes off my forehead and
ricochets off the ceiling. Fortunately I
catch it on its descent so it doesn't break anything, thus requiring my
landlord to fix anything else. This is a
guy who would remove chewing gum from his mouth to fix a leaky faucet if he didn't
think I'd notice.
USPS sent my package, which had been lost in transit for
over a month, back to the seller. She
writes to ask if I still want the items.
If so, I can have for half price and we'll meet in Union Square to avoid
this shipping nonsense again. Or maybe
you've moved on, she says?
Although I did buy something else, I must have the
original stuff. They've been through so
much! And yes, I want all, not just a
few, because the "family" has to stick together!
I apologize for my crazy anthropomorphism, but she says she
Your 2- or 3-year-old son with the light brown hair tousle
and his faintly caramel skin dashed past me clutching a cellophane-wrapped
bunch of purple tulips as if on a mission to deliver them to a girl he intends
to woo in 15 years. His little legs have
to run, run, run to jump-start the time travel.
He will be sacrificing all the growing-up years in order to appear on
her dimly-lit doorstep, breathless, his hair a-craze, but he doesn't know that
because he's only a toddler now. He
hands them to you, though, and you take them without comment.
Let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we, that my landlord's
handyman, who is finally going to take a look at the door that has been off of
the corner kitchen cabinet for at least a year, deems it unfixable, and my
landlord replaces all of the cabinets as a result. I'd guess the cabinets are at least 25 years
old, and not "vintage" in a nifty way. No, they're just old and decrepit and, I must
cringingly confess, filthy on their very tops.
The mere thought of fresh cabinets almost brings tears to my eyes. I'm such a fucking girl.