"Yay," I say to Dan. "My package just arrived!"
"Yay," he says.
I tell him I cannot open it yet. I'm saving it for later, after I've completed
a work project I find particularly aggravating.
"It will be my reward!" I say.
(P.S. All of the exclamation points are
He reasons that if I was going to open the package anyway,
how could it be a reward. I should just
open it now.
I say no, I need an incentive to get this work crap done.
He reason that I'd be getting it done anyway.
A little thing like dusting the apartment makes me feel so
much better the place. It doesn't take
long to accomplish. Still, there's no
way to make it fun so that I'll want to do it more than I do. I've tried blaring music, especially show
tunes, which you'd think would help. But
no. I've tried pretending I'm "in
the moment" and enjoying the "process". Good god, no.
I've tried telling myself, "You have a wonderful home and are fortunate
to HAVE stuff to dust." Not
The only thing that
gets me through it is knowing that happiness follows.
Frank has been
seeing Ben Gazzara's face everywhere: the
crumbling brick of a soon-to-be-demolished building somewhere in Brooklyn; a
splotch of melting frozen yogurt in the middle of West 75th; clouds, of course;
a scattering of dog crap he almost stepped in because he was too busy marveling
that it looked like Ben Gazzara; a chunk in his wife's red bliss potato salad; a
cocker spaniel's wet-mouthed face; and his own reflection as he shaves. Odd, because he'd never seen Ben Gazzara at
all until he introduced himself as opposing counsel in a courthouse in a dream
two weeks ago.
On Facebook, a friend posted a link to "Better
Things" by The Kinks. This is one
of those songs that I "forget" about every so often, and then when
I'm reminded of it, get all super-happy. Like finding a Hershey's kiss in the
pocket of last winter's coat. Others
include "Sunshine Superman" (Donovan) and "Acrylic
Afternoons" and "Don't You Want Me Anymore?", (Pulp), the latter
whose name I couldn't remember and would have become obsessed with remembering
had it not been for my good pal Google.
There are others, of course, and I hope they resurface and
make themselves re-known.
hand my check to my landlord, who's in the hall doing recyclable stuff. He says
(paraphrased), "Woo! Wow!" I
say, "I'm your best tenant, right?" He says, "You'd be surprised
how good the tenants are!" I say, "Pfffft! I'm better!" He says,
"You're certainly the CUTEST!" I make a hideous face and say, "Gosh! Thanks! That's a bigger honor than being
named Miss America!" and make the face two more times. We laugh. He implores
me to not make that face again. I scoop
up my cat, who's crept out to investigate the hilarity, and retreat to my lair.
Veronica Porchnick tells me I have misspelled her last
name. I tell her I haven't written it down
anywhere, that this is the first time I've ever even heard of her.
"But you're spelling it wrong inside your head,"
I told her I hadn't given it any thought. I remind her that we just met 30 seconds ago and
if she doesn't mind, I would just like to swipe my Metrocard and get on the bus
like everyone else.
"Later, when you write to a friend about this, though,
you'll spell it wrong. I'm sure."
She's probably right.
I'm on the phone with my mom. I don't remember what we're talking about,
but given that all we ever discuss is if I've seen any friends lately or if I
have a lot of work or my cat, or her cat or if she's seen her boyfriend or
something cute my sister did with a goose, I'm sure it was one of those
things. Somewhere along the line she
says, with a fair bit of a judge-y tone, that I like to keep everything
"haha" and on the surface.
She's right, natch. I suppose I'm
a bimbo of sorts.
I can't decide who in my tap class I have more of an instant
crush on: the older student who reminds
me of Roy Scheider as he appeared in "All That Jazz" or the groovy teacher
who's got a Gregory Hines thing goin' on. I
need to know in whose direction I flutter the luscious Liza lashes I'm going to
start sporting next week, in whose direction I laugh coquettishly, and whose
cookie preference I determine and scour recipes for and make dozens of test
batches of before presenting them with a cute little shuffle to secure his
As much as I like standing out in a crowd and wearing stuff
that not everyone has, largely resurrected from the '70s, thanks to Etsy or eBay, from someone's closet
in Cleveland or Detroit or some other place I'd think unlikely, or even from my
own closet from the '90s, and as much as I feel giddy when someone compliments
my gogo boots, I often think how much easier it would be just limit my get-up to
faded old boot-but jeans, black or gray T-shirts, boots, and a scarf, leaving the
most colorful part of the ensemble to my language.
Brian's dad finally says he gets it. He's willing to concede that his son may have
a crush on the number 8.
"Heck, it's got a great figure," he says.
"A lovely bust and hips," Brian's mom says.
"It's got nothing to do with that," Brian says.
He doesn't see the number that way. He tells his parents it embarrasses him to
think of the number as having human characteristics, objectified like this.
"Is this your way of trying to tell us the number 8 is
a man?" his dad says, pausing the tamping of cherry tobacco in his pipe.
"I'm cured? The
chemo and radiation? It's all
over?" Evans nearly knocks over the
bedside stack of books as he struggles to sit up.
"Well, yeah. I
mean, you never had cancer," his dad says.
Evan's elated. He's
also confused. He wonders if his best friend's
dad will take on a malpractice case.
"We faked it," his mom says. "We shaved your head for
"We thought the scare would make you become one of
those people who gets off his ass and actually does something with what little
time he has left," his dad says.
"But we were wrong."
Every year, around Pride, my long-time friend Chris A. thanks
me for being an "ally". And
every year I think, "Why does he need to thank me for that?" It seems like such a natural thing to
do. Indeed, I don't even realize there
is even anything TO do. It's as natural
as, say, breathing or blinking or loving dogs.
In light of the Orlando massacre and my gayboyfriend's relaying
of a hate-filled incident he witnessed from his rooftop during the Brooklyn
Pride parade, I see now why Chris thanks me.
You're welcome. I'm
an ally for life, my loves.
The thought of going on a "sketch crawl" with a
bunch of "urban sketchers" fills me with dread. The notion of being among a group of people
sitting around with their little sketchbooks and pens and paints, sipping coffee
drinks is nothing I have any desire to do, and nobody has asked me to do it. Just reading about it online, in Sketchbook
Skool comments and blogs makes me want to scrawl the word "NO!" on
people's faces with a Sharpie. This,
like almost everything else in my life, is something I must do alone. "Community" is not my thing.
How is it that it took this long for me to finally meet an
adorable groovy guy who lives in this building, whose name I'd been seeing on
packages for a while now, who was immediately enchanted with Lola, who'd tiptoed
into the front hallway before he entered from outside, and who I'd just scooped
up to impede her exploration, and about whom he said, upon learning of her
one-eyed-ness, "Oh, that's beautiful!" How
long do I wait before I can announce that we're "in a relationship"? Should I try to find him on Facebook
first? What's the proper protocol?
It's too late.
I've made the mistake of not only looking in the general direction of
the pretty new trainer but I made fleeting eye contact. And now she's behind me, giving unsolicited tips
about the exercise I'm doing, and I'm indulging her so she'll feel useful and
then go on her way. I make the even
bigger mistake of engaging her in a minor discussion and now she's offering an
Equifit evaluation and when I make general declining sounds, she says she'll
get back to me about it. Instantly I
hate that now I'll have to find another gym.
Is there a unit of
measurement, Jonathan wonders, to gauge the pressure of the contents of his
bladder pushing against his stomach? Is
there an official instrument for such a thing?
All he knows is that in the four hours since he sat at his desk to write
the paragraph he'd promised his therapist he'd write every morning before doing
anything else, he's watched his belly distend at least six inches.
"Even pee?" he'd
pee," she'd said.
That way, she said, he'd
be sure to get the writing done. But
what to write about? Imminent bladder
I just wasted about ten minutes on the "Live With Kelly"
website, watching Kelly Ripa do a series of exercises I have no desire to do
with a fitness "guru" named Anna Kaiser who makes me want to punch
her in the throat almost as much as I used to want to punch Tracy Austin in the
throat in the '90s, and then, if that weren't enough, watching Kelly Ripa twirl
in a succession of outfits worn on the show, narrated by her stylist, while clothed,
myself, in perhaps the last pants I bought, in, like, 2004, from Lucky. Whyyyyy?
"No, these are my paws. I'm not wearing Keds today," my cat
"You haven't put on your Keds? I don't know.
You don't zip around the room like a lunatic when it's just your
paws," I say.
"I'd know if I put on my Keds or not."
"Well, it's hard to tell. Your paws are white and so are your
"This is stupid anyway. I'm a cat.
I don't own sneakers, let alone wear them. And I don't even talk."
how are we having a discussion?"
She knocks a book off the desk and jumps down.
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Whether you *or* your kids are mammals,
crustaceans, birds, lizards, bipeds, quadrupeds, "tripods", legless,
armless, hairless, hirsute, scaled, finned, or whatever, I hope you have a splendid
day doing whatever it is dads of your kind do, e.g., if you're a tap-dancing Daddy
Long Legs, I hope you've surrounded with Eleanor Powellses and Ginger Rogerses. Whatever makes you the happiest, dads, do
it. If it's telling endless punny jokes
that make everyone within a 500-mile radius groan, do it. Even if it's smacking your lips when -- uh,
watched tutorials, read articles, daydreamed about my own eventual
participation, but here I am with a fresh page of 140-pound cold-press
watercolor paper and a size 6 round brush and I'm stymied. Dare I sully the perfection with what I'm
sure will be an unmanageable mistake that I'll try to corral into something "good"
even though I know this medium is rebellious?
suppose there's a "lesson" about "letting it flow" in
there, but if I admit that, I'll have to punch myself in the face, resulting in
a black eye (which could be a cool thing to paint).
I've just entered the room.
I don't see anyone else I'd ever seen other times I've taken this class. There's at least a half dozen younger women,
all of whose tap shoes look worn beyond this beginner's class. I'm insta-timidated. I don't see the instructor I've come to
really dig. I don't want to be here. I don't have a "buffer" of anyone
familiar. I pretend I forgot something outside
the room and bolt. Instantly I'm transported
back to being a Brownie who can't figure out how to make a tambourine out of a
paper plate, dried beans, and yarn.
My cat insists on waking me up on around 4:00 a.m., 20
minutes before the alarm is set for the weekdays. This is aggravating enough Monday through
Friday, but when she does it on the weekend, when I don't even set an alarm, it's
particularly uncute. Her meow, I hesitate
to say, because it makes me sad to admit it, isn't the most endearing sound in
the world. It's about as subtle and elegant
as her indiscreet trampling across my face as if she can't tell the difference between
my cheek and a pillow. When I know she
On my walks home from the gym I often stop into Jack's, a 99-cent
store on West 32nd. When I enter, music
that reminds me of high school greets me, and I get giddy with purchase possibilities. Most times my bright blue Kleen Kanteen swings
from my index finger. And every time, I
think everyone in the store thinks, "You can afford that fancy
bottle. This store is not for you. Get out."
And then Eleanor Roosevelt texts me, saying, "You
wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how
seldom they do."
"Do you mind if _____ joins us?" my best friend
Yes, I do. I don't
want anyone joining us. I'm not saying
I'm a misanthrope, even though I kind of, like, am. I'm just saying that I don't want to share
you, I don't want to have to accommodate this person's sense of humor or have
to censor myself in any way, and from past experience with this person, that would
be a requirement if I don't want to come across as, well, a dick.
Or as a baby who says, "I don't like to share my
How is it that I've been daydreaming so much about the vegan
pizza recipe my friend J from Seattle gave me a while ago but still have not
made it? I know the recipe can be
trusted because when I visited him and his husband in 2013, they had made some
and I had some of the leftovers, cold from the refrigerator, and it was
absolutely perfect and delicious and I wanted them to offer me at least two
more pieces. I need to stop thinking,
"I need a pizza stone" and "My oven won't get hot enough"
Okay, so the pear paintings are getting a bit better. I'm still heavy-handed with the watercolor
but significantly less so. I'm remembering
to leave spots white to indicate shine/light.
I'm pretending I'm okay with patiently allowing a "wash" to
dry first before proceeding to the next layer.
I'm reminding myself I'm not going
for exact representation, that these are drawings/paintings, not photographs. And even more so, I'm reminding myself that
I've only been doing this for a few weeks, so it's okay if my pear isn't
perfect. I am giddy each time I learn
the smallest thing. That's good, right?
Craving something sweet that's not fruit but too lazy to put
on real clothes to dash to the store, I open the bag of mini chocolate chips
that I've had in the cabinet for longer than I've ever had chocolate in the house
without touching it. I pour some into a half-cup
size stainless bowl for at least the illusion of portion control. A stroke of genius leads me to add a few
pinches of coconut flakes. I triumphantly
enjoy this ersatz Mounds bar for a good ten seconds before feeling sick to my
stomach. Still, I soldier on stupidly.
My cat and I are on the patio. Although I'm nervous that she'll try to do
something stupid, like quickly jump up on something and rappel down the side of
the building to what appears to be a sub-sub-basement level that I've noticed
next door (how is this even possible when I'm on the "parlour"
level?), I think she's even more nervous.
Her little head is pivoting to the point of Linda Blair in "The
Exorcist" at unfamiliar sounds, sights, smells, and sensations. (I won't put the sense of taste there since I
haven't seen her try to lick anything.)
Several attempts to render a watercolor pair range from
heavy-handed to slightly less heavy-handed back to woefully heavy-handed. The latest is accompanied by a top-heavy blue
"wash" that embarrasses the sky.
"I've never looked like that," the sky says.
"I'm sorry," I say.
"You can't post that on Instagram," the sky says.
"Trust me, I won't," I say.
"Who does she think she's kidding?" the sky says.
"Right?" says the pear. "Look what she did to me. Jesus."
"Guess we both feel pretty blue now," the sky
"How can you joke at a time like this?" the pear
Tomorrow marks my tenth anniversary with my colorful, quirky
UWS apartment. When an agent showed it
to me, I passed, thinking I could do better.
II came to my senses shortly after we parted and shouted into the phone
that I had to have this place. I couldn't
get back here fast enough. This crazy
old house with the front hallway that looked like the "Sanford and
Son" set needed me.
Still, sometimes I look
around and think. "I've accomplished nothing." Then I realize I'm home, working, in ripped
jeans and an old tank top and think, "I have everything."