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The idea of traveling is a romantic notion. Planning the trip, deciding what to bring and buying those exciting little bottles of sundry items. Going to faraway places has a mystique about it. Istanbul. Paraguay. Milwaukee. Wait. Milwaukee? I know. The state of Wisconsin doesn't really bring up the notion of enchantment. No siree. The Brontes never wrote a story based there. And besides. Cheese gives me migraines. But that's where I'm headed today nonetheless to attend a wedding of people I don't know. Because when you get a new boyfriend you do stuff like this. And you love it.
Are you from New York? When someone in the Midwest says that to you, it means something like, 'Jew.' No one at the wedding did this; they just ignored me. Which I find to be sorta refreshing. Gives me more time to daydream, feel the sun on me and look at Douglas. He was holding up a handmade chupa as the bride and groom exchanged vows that nobody could hear because of the low flying airplanes and passing tourists. I don't know what he was thinking but I wanted some more hotel sex. Weddings do that to me, I guess.
Too. Much. Cheese. My sinuses don't like it but what can I do? I like food. Plus, well, hotel sex can make a girl hungry. Last night the moon was full and yellow. We holed up in the fake Inn and watched reruns of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Which seemed oddly like the exact right thing to be doing. Up early for a drive around the lake and a stop at a scary luncheonette called Henny's before we head for the airport. Green Day plays on the radio as we drive past endless corn fields. Doug and I haven't fought once.
It's always been hard for me to find good women friends. So when I do it's like, wow. This person (ital) gets (ital) me. And you start to hang out and it seems to be ok. Even fun. But then (always) they start to get strange and tell you stuff that you don't ever want to know about. Like how they were really a twin only their twin died and lived inside their stomach for twelve years. So you back off. But they keep emailing you. Like today. Is it mean not to write back? Or is it actually kind?
They keep calling me ma'am. At the Duane Reade, at the bookstore, in line at the cafeteria at work. Ma'am is a contraction of madam. I like madam a whole lot more. Sounds fancy. But ma'am. Who's a ma'am? Frankly, I'd rather be a sir. Now, there's a majestic sounding salutation. Ma'am sounds like I'm missing teeth, have black wiry hair in a snood and slap my knee with spoons. Like Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies (who always creeped me out). Anyway. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't like being called ma'am. So please don't.
It's the type of workplace where if you sneeze no one notices. They hear you all right, but they're too mired in answering emails or windexing their desks (yeah, thanks for the smell!) to take time to see what could be going on with the girl who just sneezed ten times in a row. It's also the kind of environment where people don't say Hello to you unless they need something from you. On a good day you feel insulated, a This Is How I Make My Money Stance. But today? Today I just want someone to say Bless You.
Someone got killed last night on the L train. Upsetting enough. But it also meant that I had to hoof it over to 8th Avenue. Which is a long promenade when your shoes are rubbing, giving you instant blisters and an immediate bad mood. I felt like that guy in the Verve video who bashes into people recklessly. I took the uptown E, which unpleasantly surprised me by going into Queens. Who knew? I'm an early person but was 45 minutes late when I arrived at Doug's talk. Sitting down, I looked at my feet and thought: Dang. Walking hurts.
I had been looking forward to this train ride all night long. Two hours with nothing to do but look out the window, listen to music and daydream. But mostly I wanted to sit there and do nothing. Nothing is important. All week I rush about, make deadlines, get headaches about the deadlines and then always end up finishing everything early. My father used to say that I need to learn how to pace myself. But it's my nature to become addled, I guess. And I think that's good. Otherwise I'd never get anything done given how lazy I am.
We slept for eleven hours straight. Must be the country air. Or maybe I can just let go more easily without blasting sirens and noisy neighbors slamming their doors at four in the morning. I wake up feeling good; the best I felt all week. Doug makes coffee as I take a long peppermint shower. Tingling, I walk to the kitchen as Doug ponders how the spiders have already begun to web around the house again. He looks perplexed as I go outside and swat a couple of spiders with gusto. Hey. Maybe THAT'S the best way to wake up.
I'm afraid of snakes, gory movies and Passover dinners with my family. I'm not afraid of spiders, big dogs or needles. Growing up highly allergic I used to get two allergy shots a week for years. It became normal to have a bag full of used hypodermics (with the pointy tip cut off) to play with at the local swimclub (the needle girl's here, yay!). Nowadays to relieve my migraines, I get my spikes in the form of acupuncture needles. They feel warm and heavy going in and immediately relax me. Let's see how long I can feel this way…
Being a New Yorker is almost synonymous with being untouchable. Nothing gets to us. We're a tough people. Maybe you've even said these things yourself. Then you look out your window and the World Trade Center is on fire. Then it collapses. Shocking, horrifying images on the TV that you for some reason you cannot tear your eyes away from. I walked home from work in a daze. Went to my boyfriend's house and watched more TV. How many people did I know that got killed? The migraine is back. And I think I'm gonna need something more than needles.
I have to get out. Doug and I hop on our bikes and visit his friend uptown. The city is quiet, except of course for the sirens and jet fighters. The people at David's house pretty much sit there, unable to move. One girl talks about her upcoming wedding. I want out again. On 42nd Street the smoke is foul-smelling and it gets in our eyes yet it feels freeing to be a on bike. I look at Doug and see a huge cloud of smoke. We quicken our pace. Then an Army tank passes us. We hasten even more.
Back at work. I'm attempting to be back into the swing of my routine. It's weird. People on the subway this morning were talking to me. Everyone is so nice. I saw a lady walk into a wall this morning. Hey Lady, Laaaady, watch out. Usually New Yorkers would laugh at such a site, but today everyone can relate. Doug is on his way out of the city. He has survivor guilt because he is leaving me here. But I need to stay, to feel that the city is mine again. I don't want to leave it. Not this way.
When I'm inside, I want out. When I'm outside, I want in. It's started to stink bad again tonight. Locked airtight into my air conditioned box of an apartment, I've vowed not to turn the television on tonight. But I need some noise other than sirens. So on goes the TV set after all. The Birds is on. I watch it until the birds start attacking. When Doug calls to tell me how much he loves me, I can hardly manage a smile. What's the opposite of a panic attack? I just feel numb and scared and very, very small.
Waking up in a new place, breathing fresh air should have made me feel better. But I feel like I'm in a Hitchcock movie. It all looks beautiful on the outside but you know that something underneath is lurking. But I am trying to act normal. Doug bought a pinball machine last weekend and it arrived this morning. He didn't feel right playing it. Like we shouldn't have fun. It's the same feeling I had when my dad died. That sensation of not thinking that you deserve to live and be happy. But honestly that's all we really have now.
It's official. I'm sick. Cranky, achy and hot and cold at the same time. I used to do this when I was a kid. That is, get sick a lot. It was always oddly comforting to be able to put actual symptoms to my psychological state. Now I can blame all this depression and crying and despair on something. On Being Sick. Sounds like a clever book title or a short story for The New Yorker. But it gives Doug something to do too. He can take care of me. And I can let him. Maybe we'll both feel better.
At least the police guards are gone from the streets. I called in sick today and spent my day in a sweaty, clammy stance, out and about doing my laundry and buying sundry items when I should have really been in bed. I still can't make long distance calls from home but my mother sure can. She calls a lot without saying much. Like a new mother who checks her infant's crib every few minutes to see if her baby is still breathing. The burning smell continues to invade my apartment, miles away. But I am indeed breathing. Just heavier.
It's Rosh Hashanah and I'm at home. It's just not right to have to dole out eighty bucks to sit in a synagogue (couldn't you get Knicks tickets for that, my non-Jewish friend asked?). See, Jews don't go to shul all year long but when The Big Ones roll around, all of a sudden they gotta go. And that costs. I guess shelling out major coin isn't such a big deal in exchange for a new shiny slate. Me? I didn't sin that much this year. And since I'm home with the flu, I'm paying in another way. Believe me.
My acupuncturist says I should be taking herbs called Perpetual Shield. And I don't know what that consists of, but I sure do like the sound of it! It's time to take care of myself. (Besides the Advil ain't working anymore). It's a sunny day today and people were back to being crusty to me on my subway ride. Which is actually more comforting than it sounds. It means people are feeling more normal. In New York that means crotchety. Well, okay then. If I'm feeling up to it, I'll try my best to bodycheck someone on my way home.
I love it when my headaches go away. Not only because the actual pain is gone but because I am fully aware that I feel good. And I don't take it for granted. But it is at these same times that I almost forget how much my noggin aches. When the pain is gone, I can hardly remember it. I don't even try today. Instead I immerse myself in work, fact checking the Puzzle section of the magazine. It's stupid, stupid work, but it keeps me busy and my mind is occupied for a bit. Albeit with silly blank spaces.
New York has a new pollution. A new scent, if you will. No, it's not the stuff we're used to: the urine, the body odor, the subway car full of morning breath, horse manure in midtown, trash, gutter punks, bad perfume, dog shit, that greasy food smell that lingers just outside of Veselka (you eat there anyway), your neighbor's stinky fish meal, pot smoke, rotting Chinatown vegetables, dank water, cat, guilt, desperation, frustration and all those other emotions that only a New Yorker can really appreciate. Now it's actual people. Yep. What do you think all those ashes are anyway?
The weekend. The weak end is more like it. I always joke that I'm an old lady, but I actually feel like one now. I live in a small apartment and today the walk to the kitchen (all ten steps of it) seems like a faraway journey. I know what you're thinking. Psychosomatic syndrome. Totally, dude! I'm not arguing with you. But even psychosomatic illnesses have real symptoms. And today's is blanket lethargy with stomach cramps. I looked forward all week to this one day where I get to do absolutely nothing. What a relief. Nothing is important. Remember that.
I've been resting up for this all of my life I think. Meeting the Mother of the one that I think is The One. I get up early and shave my legs real careful. I even stop to buy some flowers. As I arrive to Doug's house a new doorman is there who mistakes me for his sister. Sigh. See, Doug and I look alike. Which is kind of a disturbing site when you're walking and holding hands. I try not to think about that as I open the door to meet Mama. Luckily, she treats me like a daughter.
The smoke still blows outside as I am in my insulated Can't Open The Windows kind of building. This vacuum seal is somewhat soothing. Nothing can get in. But alas nothing can get out. Doug says he wonders when people will stop buying gas masks and start purchasing parachutes to bring to work with them. In an emergency people can smash the sealed windows and parachute to safety. Sounds silly, but it's not a bad idea, really. But what's the protocol? If you're in a meeting with clients, do you provide parachutes for them as well? No, says Doug, wistfully.
Did you ever have some kind of thing? You know, some kind of malady where you call all your girlfriends to see if they've ever had a thing like this before. All the talking and reading on the internet just makes you more nervous so you reluctantly call your doctor and make an emergency appointment. As you make your way to doctor's office, you almost feel entirely better. He examines you and your "ailment" and declares that it's stress. Duh. Then he gives you a prescription. Placebo or not, just getting that slip of paper makes me feel better immediately.
It borders on being ridiculous to discuss weather here. You know, with ya'll. But something has changed climatically. It's cold outside. That first autumnal wave of cool air has hit. I first felt it last night and then today I awoke to my radiator churning out stifled coughs of hot air. Which is strange considering I had on the a/c the other night. But the weather. Yeah. I talk about the weather now because when the atmosphere changes it marks a passage of time. And inhaling that familiar scent of autumn lets me know that everything's going to be ok.
I hadn't been to services in years so when Doug's friend offered us seats for Yom Kippur, we acquiesced. There we were, an overflow of people from Central Synagogue sitting in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria. Never mind that I can't even exercise in a room full of people ; there was no way I was going to pray out loud. Instead I skip ahead in the newfangled prayer book trying to block out the cantor with the guitar (no shit). I spent most of my time counting rhonoplasties. That's it. I'm going to hell. So much for atoning.
I wake when my body tells me. It's such a treat to be able to rise when I feel physically ready instead of being jolted awake by a throbbing alarm clock. I run into people I haven't seen in months. And it feels like a luxury. Usually I am so drained when I come home from work that I don't make plans to see these very people. This is life, though. Walking around and seeing friends and being inspired. I gotta remember this the next time I am wigging out at my desk because some freak steals my "special pen."
The woman who cuts my hair is a bodybuilder with a thick New York accent, the kind I like -- all syrupy with r's. She's pretty in a tough girl gone soft sort of way. I can tell she gets a kick out of me and we decide what to do with my hair. I notice a picture of her husband, Caprice, on her mirror. Liz starts gabbing with me, like she's an old friend. I ask how Caprice is and she says that they finally did it. That is, they measured her leg against his arm. They're the same size.
I had an idea today for a website. It'd be called 1word.net. People would just post one word. Gangrene. Caffeinated. Dumbwaiter. Or maybe it would be a story or sentence and would only make sense at the very end of the month. It's a rainy cold Sunday and I've indulged in an afternoon bath. I'm warm now, slightly red faced and I feel like I did when I was a kid after my nighttime bath. My sister would comb out my hair and we'd fall asleep smelling of CrazyFoam. So yeah. Crazyfoam. That would be my one word for today.
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