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If my cat were just any other roommate I would have kicked her ass to the curb months ago. She brings nothing to the table. She sits around the house all day and cries when she's hungry. I read once that while dogs help to relieve your stress by making you happy, cats absorb your negative energy. I think my cat is an anti-cat. She
Still, I don't think I could relieve myself of her. I like to hear her purr when I read late into night. And it's nice to have someone to come home to.
I feel funny writing to you, in fact sometimes I'm not sure why I don't close the door and let you go. I think I keep you close not so much in hopes that I'll see you again (although that would be fantastic!) but rather that I hope to be the girl I was when with you.
I revealed the real, authentic me. Uncensored, natural, free. Never worried what you thought of me or if I was acting ok. You made me feel funny, smart, attractive and appreciated- and believe me- I usually rely on myself for that positive reinforcement.
The unmistakable sound of quarters hitting steel holding trays and the delighted shrieks of a sweaty fifty-something businessman comes from a row of slot machines to my left. Orange, purple and red swirls of carpet guide me through the disorienting forest of card tables and brightly lit game consoles. As I pass the big money tables, dealers stand at the ready, sizing me up- wondering if I've got enough cash to play more than one round, but not caring enough to coax me over.
The emergency c-note in my bra burns against my breast like a cross on a vampire.
Better one. Better two. Better one. Better two.
Close left open right. Close right open left. Repeat.
Coffee cup jumps right, granting access to the window on the other side of the room.
Cup now back where it started, blocking the sunlight from my view.
Gentle switch in perspective- but not enough to cause real change.
When I open both eyes I'm still inside, holding a paper cup from Boulevard. The window is a tease. It's not big enough to tell you what's really going on outside; just sunny, cloudy, early late.
I take a sip and think "Better there."
Big breath. Big step- but I'm a big girl. Just a girl in the world. Heading out on my solo excursion to Santa Fe to decompress from months of mildly rewarding work. Hoping that I can keep my soul fulfilled (refill?) and my heart to heal.
Will three nights be enough? What if I didn't come back? What if I found my place in Santa Fe? Would I have the courage to leave what I have and risk my financial security? I have nothing to lose otherwise. What if I
that I could be happy if I left here?
I think the official hairstyle of Santa Fe, New Mexico is a gray ponytail. Men and women; old and older; white, Pueblo, Navajo, Mexican- I'd guess that one out of every 5 people I've seen so far have had a ponytail- and half of those folks had gray ones. It's tough not be judgmental. Where I come from a gray ponytail is a desperate cry to be young again. In Santa Fe, it's just because. If you want a ponytail- wear it long with pride. Now if I could just figure out why so many women have such short hair…
I made peace with my body today. I was at 10,000 Waves taking a soak in the outdoor hot tub. I was alone- except for 3 hummingbirds whirring overhead, fighting over the feeder. I slipped off my robe and there I was- the pale, soft, Reubenesque body that has become mine. I felt free being so naked and outside with nothing around me but warm water and cool breeze. The tub's jets allowed me to disappear for a few moments- but when I turned them off- there I was. Just me and my body. And I was okay with that.
As he signed his bar tab, I noticed he was left-handed. "I'm left handed, too" I said. He looked at me, paused a second- but held my gaze.
"I feel as though I should proposition you," had said.
I felt my face flush. I was wondering what the cost of a beer in this bar might be- but since he hadn't even asked my name, I thought I'd get away.
What an opportunity for a one-night stand. My last night in town, walking distance from my hotel, curious about what lay behind his blue eyes. I smiled back at him.
Ready to go back to work? Not even.
Tan? No, but some glow from the New Mexico sun.
Spend too much money? Of course.
Get your groove back? Oh honey please!
Best part of the trip? The hot tub, the margarita and the music
Worst part? Finding a place to gas up the rental car.
Best meal? Best food was at the Old House- tuna tartare, duck with chanterelle mushrooms and pears. Favorite overall experience was at Pasqual's with huevos rancheros at the community table
Best purchase? black and white photo of Horse Near Cuba, NM
Pink is not my favorite color. Except on this day. On race day my favorite color is pink. 18,000 people ran the Race for the Cure this year. Sprinkled throughout are women in bright pink hats and shirts. Survivors. More this year than the last. At this time last year, some of these women couldn't brush their own hair. They had none or were too weak from chemo treatments. But they are here today. Laughing, sweating, hugging, celebrating.
But there are many who are not here. Their names pinned to the backs of many runners. Pink "in memory of" signs.
The store holds all kinds of curios, custom tables, wine accessories, items for the garden. Near the cash register was a simple pewter block that contained an engraved message.
"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"
Right! Just another silly little empowerment motto. Some random Tony Robbins message that's meant to help you actualize goals and realize potential and other–ize-isms. But then I read it again. What would I do? Have I ever really failed at anything? Do I not try enough to fail at something? There might be something to this question.
Can you hear it? It's not the clicking of the roller coaster's wheels as the cars are slowly pulled to the top of the first big drop. It's not the sound of passengers screaming in fear and excitement for the ride about to begin. It's not the sound of the other rides at the park, the carnival music or the obnoxious midway barkers. It's blood.
The blood that your heart tries so furiously to push through your body, preventing shock. Your ears don't pick up the outside world at all- just the steady, ever-increasing sound of your heartbeat. It's time.
Do I take his offer? Do I call his bluff? Learning more about the opportunity wouldn't be a mistake. The mistake comes when deciding whether or not to take the job, should it be offered. I think of passionate hotel room embraces, covert smiles and distracted nights. I remember the relief when he finally said, "I've left". But he meant the company. He gently closed the door by removing himself from the situation. No longer coworkers, no more opportunities. Now an invitation is extended. Am I to take it as a coworker? Or did he only leave the door ajar?
I know I'm the hottest thing in here. And I'm dancing with the second hottest thing in here. He's got moves. He sweats in the right places. I'm going to turn and let him look at my ass. That's right baby! He's smiling now! And you don't know it yet but these hips can spin you like a top! Time for a hair flip. Oh yeah! He's totally into it! What are you looking at girlfriend? I think you should back off! You're looking at what? My what?
Nothing humbles like toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe.
I'm not into it today. I feel like crap. I'm writing like shit. Must meet the quota. Just a hundred goddamn words. I should not be using contractions as they only take away from my word count. Which is lazier, brain or hands? Must be brain- because my hands will type whatever it tells them too. I'm overdue for a haircut. I need to get back to the gym. I realize I like broccoli- but not when it's overcooked. In fact, I don't think I like anything overcooked. Just give it to me raw if you think you'll burn it.
I feel like someone is playing the warmer-colder game with me. You know the one where someone hides an object and, as you look for it, they call out "warmer" as you get close and "colder" if you go in the wrong direction. I'm wondering if that happens on a cosmic scale. Some days I feel like I'm not who I am supposed to be and there is this voice shouting "Colder!" over and over. But there is no sideline to look for. No one hinting at the right direction. I think I need to start carrying a personal thermometer.
There is one yellow finch who feeds at the feeder in the late afternoons. He's smaller than most and he's often alone. In between pecks he sings his song of an ascending set of notes and holds it for a second. Its one of the prettiest sounds I've ever heard. I can't tell if he's calling to others or bragging that he's found food. He is very deliberate when he eats. He looks around in between "bites" and lets out another sustained chirp. Occasionally, he'll be with a small flock of finches but I like it when it's just us.
"Her name is Doris," Ellen whispered.
"Doris? What is the deal with Ross and these betties with octogenarian names?" I snorted. "Ida, Marge- not Peggy or Margaret- but Marge and… Who was the other one?"
"Oh, Lana is a cool name," I conceded. "What's Doris doing now?"
Ellen opened the door a crack. "She's getting into costume."
"No shit. She's gonna do that here? Now?" I said.
Doris is a stripper and has a habit of breaking into spontaneous fire dancing if she feels neglected. She lights her sparkler pasties, wiggles, then performs fellatio to a flaming sword. Hilarious.
I'm glad to see Annika in the men's golf tournament. I think she's in it for all the right reasons. This isn't a big achievement for women. It's not about seeing if chicks can compete with the fellas. It's about testing yourself and finding ways to improve your game. It's about comparing yourself to the best regardless of gender. I think any athlete should be inspired by this event. It takes courage to find out what you are truly made of- and to broadcast those results to the world. What have other athletes done to test their mettle so publicly?
The sheets were still warm. He had just gotten out of bed. I rolled to his side and burrowed into the covers, surrounding myself with his lingering warmth. The shower started and I heard the metallic ring of a curtain being drawn back. The morning sun fought through the darkened curtains, only able to pour in through cracks along the border- giving the illusion of a square solar eclipse. My clothes were in a perfect line from chair to bed starting with one sock, then shorts, blouse, bra, panties and ending with the other sock. What lead to that configuration?
It is so hot outside. And the air is that heavy, still, kind of air that makes everything feel like its moving in slow motion. Only bees and flies move quickly now. All I can do is sit and sweat. As soon as the fan moves off me the heat builds again. Its only May. What will summer bring? Maybe I can all my idle weather talk out of the way now so I can delve into deeper topics later. I'm still unsure whether I should be journaling in this place or not. Some days this feels more like confessional.
I'm thinking for one exercise that I will show a progression of drafts over a period of a few days. I think, depending on my mood, that I could get several pretty interesting writings. Each draft would be rewritten from scratch- hoping to distill the very best work on the last attempt. How many edits does it take to get it right? Or is your gut instinct- the original pen to paper version the best and most pure? Maybe for poetry- which I'm happy to say, I can't write well enough to burden anyone else with. Why mess with perfection?
I have hampered memories, which, I think, is due in part to my lack of sense of smell. Were it my sight, I'm sure I'd be legally blind. But when I can smell something, the memories are so vivid they're blinding.
Soil- planting annuals in the backyard with my mom, making a little hole for each cluster. I never minded the dirt beneath my fingernails. Tapping the plant out of its plastic container and gently spreading the root systems. Then placing it in it's new home, watering thoroughly and standing back- looking at the fresh mosaic of colors we installed.
It was a dark and stormy night and my writing became worse and worse as my head filled with clichés and unoriginal thoughts. Just 100 words. Any words. Just pick some at random, and type them in. Ugh! Maddening! Does ugh count as a word? It passes spell check so if Microsoft says it's okay, then it's cool by me. How many words do we utter in one day? Couldn't I just transcribe some conversations here and get it over with? Or try my high school trick or writing other people's song lyrics? No. Plagiarism bad. Whining not much better.
Old T. used to be the kind of dive where dirty old men pretended to be sweet until you got close enough for them to smack your ass. They'd cackle, ask to see your tits and shuffle off to play cards in the back room. We didn't really mind them. We were there for the darts. On the jukebox, three versions of "Ring of Fire" were available: Johnny Cash, Wall of Voodoo and Social Distortion. It was a smoky place with a neon blue haze before anti-smoking legislation. The old guys and their cigars are relegated to the back room.
She walked in to her house and place one armload of groceries on the kitchen counter. The bag in her other arm held sorbet and felt cool against her ribs. She turned to set it down and noticed a photograph held to the refrigerator by a magnet. She didn't recognize it. The photo had been taken from a moving car. In the middle of the photo, slightly off center was a billboard that read, "Are you satisfied with your life?"
In the lower right hand corner was the car's rear view mirror. The image the mirror reflected was her house.
My sunburn tingles in my skin. Resting contentedly along my arms, shoulders, knees and claves. I willfully ignore the pain sensations, believing instead they are reminders of summer days gone by. I am not hoping for the cooling relief of aloe, but long for more sun as the deeper the burn, the more vivid the memories of salt, sweat, laughter, the sweetness of summer air.
I pretend I am sixteen, dismissing fear of wrinkles and skin cancer with false ignorance. Even memories of Mary, my leathery-skinned sailing instructor, can't sway me. No one could tell how old she really was.
She was jealous of me all right. I could tell by the agitated way she jingled her mini-van keys in her hand. She had a mom's "I've given up" hair cut held back by a cheap pink plastic visor.
My own hair, pulled back in an impromptu ponytail for the gym, swung behind me as I walked freely to my late model Volkswagen.
No car seat. No soccer practice. No dinner on the table. No disinterested husband.
I had never before thought of who might be envious of my life- or at least my life at that one particular moment.
Apparently, I am an asshole. I recently read up on Narcissistic Personality Disorder to see what I connected with. Of course I recognize certain behaviors I am guilty of. You can do the same thing reading descriptions of astrological signs. I want praise and acceptance. I'm extremely self-conscious and sensitive to how people perceive me. But I can't say that I agree with one of the key defining characteristics- lack of empathy. I've got buckets of empathy- my "talent" lies in turning it on and off. Perhaps if you have that kind of control, it means you aren't authentically empathic?
I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later. He asked if I was happy. "Happy enough," I replied. The woman he walked in with stood back insecurely. I guessed she was interested and he didn't know it or they had just started dating. Either way, she clearly knew who I was and decided to keep her distance.
"I don't want to keep you from your..."
"Coworker," he finished my sentence. "You aren't. I haven't seen you in months."
"Yes. That's what happens when a couple breaks up."
"I've been…" his voice faded off.
He still has no clue.
Pink Lemonade. Not your little sister's pink lemonade. Something sour, something refreshing- and definitely very cool. Absolut Citron vodka, triple sec, something else and a lemon slice- not just the obligatory wedge. A drink all too cheery and way too girlie for this dark dive bar slowly filling with local college boys. A Playboy pinball machine in the corner offered titillating tilts and an occasional boobie flash if you hit it in the right…ahem…hole. My new friend Claudio tried to buy my affection with quarters as he sponsored my pinball habit. Impressed with my way with the ladies, I suppose.
The Tip Jar