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WBG in NYC
I was a film snob. I had gone to film school to make art, feminism, truth. I was bored sitting on the sets waiting for the grips to quit smoking and move the lights, and I hated the giant insecurities of the actors. I was trying to be patient, remembering it was all a means to an end. But still, it sucked.
I had to take a video class. Reluctantly, I picked up the video camera. Sitting on the floor in my giant Chicago apartment it all just clicked. I could make colors and sounds instantly! I never looked back.
Something seems to be wrong with me. It is like my body has had it with everything. I have been sleeping to beat the band, and I have no more interest in work. All I can do is dream about the year I am going to take off from work and travel south to surf.
Maybe I’m just bored with my everyday. Maybe all I have to do is throw caution to the wind and do something crazy—quit my secure job and go away now.
Or maybe I just drink too much caffeine and it is weighing me down.
Today I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge with a group of people. A man next to me walked a little too closely and I wanted to tell him to give me a little space. I didn’t want to think or explain or keep up my side of the conversation with him. I wanted to feel what it was like to look at the sun over the city. He kept punching me in the arm to bring me back whenever I got quiet. Space in this city is always such a premium, even if it is just space in your head.
The day Dave walked into the office I thought “this is my perfect man.”
He had dark hair and white skin. His eyelids drooped, so his eyes were always half-closed and sleepy. He was tall and thin and stooped slightly. He was our new story editor. A writer.
I was a clumsy flirt in those days, so when his office was safely empty, I left a cookie on his desk. Later I stopped by to explain that it was a welcome gift from me. I figured he’d be non-plussed. Instead, he flashed me this goofy, big-toothed smile and said “thanks.”
Slowly, I got to know Dave. I’d ask him if he wanted to go out to get some coffee. He would always smile and say “okay!” He was always flexible and game.
He was a flirt, and he made my day better. He was smart. I found out he had gone to Princeton. I’m Jewish, so Princeton for me has the exoticism of all things gentile. He told me he had a twin brother, and we laughed about the dirty connotations of there being two Daves.
He was easy fun, and we soon became friends. The crush-from-afar feeling started fading.
One day we left work together. I had my bike, and he was walking to the bus. He was trying new combinations of public transportation to get home. I was walking him to his stop.
We were chatting about nothing at all, with Dave throwing in his usual flirts. “You’re a hottie,” he’d say to me, with no pressure at all on either side.
Somehow I knew that a window was closing. Sure, Dave had everything I wanted in a man, but we were becoming too familiar. We were becoming just friends. If I didn’t do something, I’d never know.
At the corner Dave turned to look at me. He grinned with one side of his mouth in the way that made me think that he was the only one for me.
Suddenly I felt as if I were seeing him through a tunnel. Wriggling electric fishes swam in the air around his face. I was dizzy and spacy, like the time I fainted at a rock show.
A car drove up behind me. The windows were rolled down, and I could hear the radio playing “Who’s That Lady?”
I stepped toward him, looked up at him, and we kissed.
I’ve made out with two gay men in my life— at least, I’ve kissed two men who at that moment knew they were gay. They were both good friends who I adored. But kissing them was terrible.
They kissed like they wished I were a man. They used their tongues too forcefully, like they were lifting weights with their mouths. We weren’t meant to kiss, me and those gay men. We were meant to be pals.
Dave was most definitely straight, but I got the same feeling when I kissed him. This was not, in any way, meant to be.
The stoplight changed, and the car on the street with the radio playing drove away. Dave stepped back. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say about this. Disaster.
He just nodded his head. He still had that grin. “Kind of like kissing your third cousin when you get drunk at a wedding,” he laughed.
I was glad we saw eye-to-eye on this.
We’ve been friends ever since. He has a girlfriend who I think is great. But every time I hear “Who’s That Lady” I remember the worst kiss I ever had, and want to brush my teeth.
Chaos. Woke at 4:30 am, tried to take train to Brooklyn. Elected to take taxi. Got to Peter’s at 5:30 am. Drove to Rockaway, discussing setting him up with an acquaintance. Surfed for two hours. Showered and drove into Williamsburg. Got panicked call from sister-like friend. Calmed her down. Got on train and came to work. Returned all emails. Revised script for show 74. Helped friend hire assistant. Had meeting about new locations and decided to go on whirlwind countrywide tour. Talked on phone to Executive Producer. Revised script for 73, but just taking a break to write 100 words.
She wore a pink wig to her daughter’s fortieth birthday party. She had flown in from New Mexico that afternoon, and had spent the afternoon drinking champagne in her daughter’s third-floor walk up. She was starting to be drunk, and the wig had caught her eye. She put it on, and she felt sixteen again. Everyone told her so too. So she figured, hell, why not? It’s the West Village, and no one will even look twice.
She liked how the wig’s hair swung when she shook her head. Her real hair was dyed blonde and was short and brittle.
She drank her red wine more quickly than the younger woman did. Tonight was family sushi night. She could see faint lipstick marks on the girl’s glass. The girl spoke quickly and just a little bit too much.
The girl was dressed for spring, with a smart skirt and a pretty lime-green coat. She looked like something out of the fifties. Only the white gloves were missing. Her smooth legs were crossed, and the woman saw that her calves were strong. She asked why the girl didn’t have a man, and watched as the girl struggled for a casual answer.
In the airport waiting room, three slight men sit opposite me. The first is black. He is crocheting a grandmotherly, intricate design from white yarn. The second man, a Latino, has a knee brace on his left leg, which is slung over the first man’s. He is speaking in a thin voice and illustrates each sentence with fluttering fingers. The third man, also Latino, wears a military cap. His oversized mirrored sunglasses read “Dior” in big letters on the side. He is on the phone: “all the other dancers got on the flight,” he says peevishly. “We are waiting standby.”
Airports are ridiculous places. Everyone is rude. No one looks where they are going. Everyone is dragging huge amounts of carry-on luggage that they should have checked intead of running the wheels over my feet. I am walking to my gate when a man with an intense look approached me, came a little too close for my comfort. “Where did you get that?” he asked me desperately, pointing at my cup of beige frozen yogurt. It took me a minute to collect myself, swallow and say “café over there.” He thanked me and looked so relieved as he headed off.
As I walk through security I glance at my ticket to make sure I’m going in the right direction. (A bit of compulsiveness overtakes me every time I have to fly.) I notice that my ticket reads, in big, beautiful letters, FIRST.
I am in first class! Hurrah! At the beginning of my two-week work tour through middling cities of America, I am going to be treated to a seat wide enough to sit without crossing my legs, two arm rests that are unarguably my own and a neighbor who probably won’t want to know a damn thing about me.
The magical GPS system in my Hertz rental car allows me go places even when I don't know how to get there. The woman's voice who gives the directions grates on my nerves, but I've heard there are different voices you can program in there. I'm thinking you could have Sean Penn's voice guiding you around LA.
Or as a joke, you could break into a friend's car and mess with their system so that it's their mother's voice in there, going "you moron! You were supposed to turn left. I always knew you'd never amount to anything. Call me."
Doesn't the fact that I can say that I am "on the road" sound kind of glamorous? Hot and sexy? Don't you want to hang with me?
I can also say that I am "in the field," or "traveling for business." Both sound like I am some kind of high-powered person with very glossy hair and a Blackberry.
The reality is that a mere hour ago my niece was jumping up and down on me screaming "I farted on Auntie Wendy!" Oh, and she did. Loudly. Several times. And I didn't even have to teach her how. I couldn't be prouder.
On the way home my brother and I stopped for gas, and I told him to buy his wife some flowers. "Chicks like that stuff," I explained to him. I added that I am one of those chicks.
For a measly six bucks you can get your chick to do whatever you want. Small price to pay. It works if they are just gas station flowers.
Men seem so puzzled by what women want, but it is so damn simple. Just remember we can change our minds at a moment’s notice, but hey, men are strong and can take it.
The four adults lie all around the living room in the positions in which we landed. We are all mere detrius in the wake of a three-year-old. We just need to dump 300 toddlers in Iraq and we’d have them begging for mercy in minutes.
It’s like being inside a tornado. Whenever I leave the room my niece screams "AUNTIE WENDY! COME BACK!" over and over. I have to admit that I love my rock star status. I gave her chocolate before breakfast as a reward. She has to stop telling her parents about it when I do that, though.
The homicide commander gave me some interesting information. There are two things you can’t be arrested for in Texas, he said. The first is speeding. The second is having an open container of liquor. He told me great stories, including one about a killer who shot his wife and then barbequed her up. They think he ate a little of her. Allegedly.
I didn’t even have to worry about my pottymouth. I love my job.
Now I just need to convince him to be on TV, right after I pound this forty and push my little Saturn to 110 mph.
1 am, airport. There was the older African-American guy with a gray moustache and a back brace hauling carts stacked high with baggage. There was a young Latino man with a gold wedding band sweeping the car rental terminal. There was the gentle valet guy at the Marriott with a Turkish accent who patiently gave me directions. The guy at the Avis desk said he had three kids and had worked the night shift a long time.
It feels like I am in the middle of all these Fight Club members, except these guys didn't get to fight Brad Pitt.
The man at the rental car place had to give me a minivan, since that’s all they had. Is it wrong to admit that I'm digging it? It's sort of nice to ride way up high, and the thing actually has a lot of zip.
The one thing is that when you want to crank the stereo when some Donna Summer comes on, it doesn't really play all that loudly. You have to turn the dial a few times in order to get a bounce out of the bass. Which I suppose is to be expected in a family car.
In person I’m funny. So they say. I talk and think a million miles a minute, I’m told. But the stuff I’ve been writing is somber, not funny at all.
I think writing humor is a different thing than being funny. I have always thought of myself as cocktail-party funny. But using it in creative work has never really happened.
Maybe it’s easier just to write things seriously, so I’ll have to push myself to insert the humor into the work. That’s my mission, and I’ll have to choose to accept it. I mean, what else am I doing anyhow?
My niece cried when she realized I wasn't coming home with the family tonight. I picked her up and we looked at the stars and I explained what they were, and also how the moon reflects the sun's light. I hope I got all my science right. I consider it a victory that I didn’t just tell her the moon is made of cheese, which I always thought was pretty gross when I was a kid.
What if, when I finally get around to having a kid of my own, I don’t love her as much as I love Lexi?
I finally dared to unpack my booties and gloves from the Fed Ex box. They didn't smell as bad as I thought they would, but they didn’t smell good, either.
I rinsed them and put them in the bathroom to dry. I am hoping the cleaning staff at this McHotel isn't scared by them. It looks at first glance like I've cut off some hands and feet and lined them up against the bathroom wall. Fingers crossed that I don't end up in federal custody.
Then again, maybe the press I’d get would help my career, whatever that career is.
I love to eat on airplanes. I think that despite our complaining, everyone in this country does. They bring you food you don’t have to pay for. It all comes at the same time. They bring you dessert whether you want it or not, and it’s no big deal when willpower fails you. You have nothing else to do but eat.
Today I am in first class. They serve me food and I eat it all. Pasta, salad, wine. They refill my glass without asking. Cheese for dessert. I love it here on the plane. I never want to leave.
I flew first class last night. The Swiss guy next to me was kind of foxy and smart, and he insisted that I help him finish his liquor. So I'm thinking, man, this is exactly what I've been hoping for. But I wasn't into it. Go figure. I got off the plane rocking drunk, so I guess he was good for something.
Am off to go applaud Lexi for taking a shit in the toilet, after which I have to wipe her ass. She is chanting my name from her perch on the toilet. Holy crap.
Thank god I’m single.
She is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Not in an unapproachable, glamorous way, but just effortlessly pretty. She has a good job and an advanced degree. She has this sharp sense of humor that sometimes turns to the dark, even though she comes from a family obsessed with the white-picket-fence kind of life. Sometimes she gets too pessimistic, but I like that in a girl.
She and her boyfriend have broken up because he ‘has commitment issues.’ When I saw her she was crying. I wish she’d go get stinking drunk for like a month straight.
He’s been doing his job for as long as he can remember but what he can’t remember is how he started doing it. At some point his life faded into black and white.
Most of the bruises on his body are large, but they stopped surprising him three months into the gig. Now he just assumes when he undresses that he’ll find big black blotches on his arms and torso. Sometimes he gets one on a shin, but interestingly, not that many of the assholes kick him. They shouldn’t, either, because he hates it, and he’d probably make them pay.
For a while it was great to be an outlaw. For more than a while. But now he wants more. Actually, he wants less. He wants to sit in a house he pays a mortgage on. He wants to argue with a three-year-old daughter about how many pieces of gum she can have. He wants to fight with a neighbor about whose turn it is to sweep the sidewalk.
Living outside the system seemed dangerous, cool. But it’s gotten humdrum. You can’t really tell your boss to fuck it when that means you’ll wake up bloody in the hospital.
My closest friend makes cakes. I don’t mean a round, double-decker cake—or at least, that’s not the most important part of it. Ever since she was a kid she always makes these colorful, insane masterpieces. I’ve seen one where she drew a whole farm and had cupcakes for mountains. She makes dirty ones with naked girls fucking each other. They are sugary and delicious and beautiful. She makes her own colored frosting.
She used to have a photograph of herself as a three-year-old girl frosting one of these cakes, but it was in her bag when it was stolen once.
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