Monthly Archives: July 2011

Abraxas NYC

Vile blueberries

sleep beside mustard covered glass

withering with despair over the detritus of lost dreams

and splintered bridges with seams torn asunder by fear, accusation, projection

and the knowing that it is too often too easy  to be alone in a city

where polite vomit is a clue to ATM receipts

where taxis sail to Harlem—the last stop before Heaven

where you can’t use your Metro card after dark.

All this she said, as she crumpled her dirty tissue

into her pocket but not before

wiping it clean with the Truth

of her own withholding.

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Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive

We pursue or dismiss romantic possibilities based on our evaluation if someone can give us what we want. In my opinion, we usually do get what we want, even if we think otherwise.

A long time ago I was involved with someone who gave me exactly what I wanted at the time: a narcissistic safari. He was a writer and NPR commentator who was very funny, smart, and predictably self-absorbed.  I had just landed a VP position, had a brand-new iMac, a cool apartment, and was eager to plunge into the world of JDate.

Then, I was an Internet novice with an AOL email address who was the perfect quarry for a literary AIM addict. One night I was sitting at my computer and an instant message popped up. I was startled, and it never occurred to me to not respond. Before I knew it we were “talking” for over an hour. I told him that one of my favorite quotes was “marriage is one long conversation” to which he replied, “that’s my favorite too!” And I believed him.

This was a very exciting interlude in my life and it was a great deal of fun to listen to his recounting of his interviews with celebrities. One of my favorites was his recollection of Sammy Davis Jr., who, in the middle of the interview, growled “I like you kid…you know why? Because have a real ‘fuck you’ attitude. But remember kid…you need ‘fuck you money’ to go with it.”

While it didn’t go the distance, I remember him fondly. Looking back, I realize that he was a male Fran Lebowitz, with a little Oscar Levant thrown in for good measure.

So what did I want then? Another only child with an extensive vocabulary who was emotionally unavailable and familiar with Leo Rosten. But, instead of enjoying the pastrami, I lamented that there wasn’t enough salad.

One of the many joys of not being 30 is realizing that in this life we get heads or tails, not both. And that for better or worse, we cannot get anything other than heads or tails.

 

 

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Splinters in My Platform

Every day I come across hundreds of posts on the Web that speak to the necessity of establishing a platform and not deviating from it. Mine is relationships, and I address them via non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. There’s a school of thought regarding genre singularity, though there does seem to be wiggle room in genre delivery. Thankfully.

As I approach my next piece of work, I can say that there is an attractive array of possibilities. Should I  continue the novel I started last year, Auntie Clyde’s Home for Elves, or go forward with The Liars’ Club-like memoir that began five years ago in my writing group, tentatively titled Insaneasylum.  Auntie Clyde is about all sorts of relationships that are nested primarily in a renovated Victorian house in the lower-Hudson Valley. Insaneasylum is about growing up with a Christian-Scientist mother and a Jewish father and all the dichotomies that were created out of their coupling. Oh, and then there is my outline for a play, Der Dunkler, which was inspired by a former boyfriend’s definition of his life: work, sex, and take-out.

It occurs to me that a central feature of my childhood summers were the inordinate amount of splinters that would end-up in my little feet. I grew up on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, and despite my mother’s stern warnings, I insisted on going barefoot, exposing myself to endless episodes of sterilizing needles to remove the sharp fragments. The pain eventually evaporated and the risk of another sliver was soon forgotten.

Clearly, this is still a preference.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing Platform

Independence Days

Tonight we had dinner outside at a local Greek restaurant, sitting in exactly the same spot as we did one year ago today, licking the last few walnuts off of the baklava fork as the sky darkened and the lights started flickering.

I felt wistful when the fireworks started, because it reminded me of previous July 4th get to-gethers with friends of ours…who are no longer friends of ours. They used to live about a mile down the road from us, but moved to a more rural area about three years ago.We had colorful and often hilarious bar-b-ques that took place in a backyard that was a garden of beautiful and well-cared for plants and flowers. Tim and Ivy were an interesting couple who emanated a certain austerity. One that was amusing, more than offensive, because it was such a contrast to our excess. While they may never have taken a vacation for most of their 20 year marriage, they did own their house outright, had no debt (or children), which provided a certain amount of independence that, in our view, was not enjoyed as fully as possible.

I always felt a certain kinship with Tim, because we both had grown up with volatile fathers and mothers who had fallen ill far too prematurely. He was never able to shake-off the guilt that her illness had brought about and he was committed to putting rocks in his knapsack, ensuring that every climb up the stairs would be as arduous as possible. Physical pain made him feel better in a curious sort of way, so along with the austerity thing, it made perfect sense that they never turned on the heat in the winter. Tim and Ivy were an interesting couple, because they seemed so different on the surface. In truth, I think their marriage has been able to endure because Ivy has such simple needs. She, even more so than Tim, has no desire to travel or see the world. She is content to work, read, knit, care for the house, and pay the bills.

Tonight I thought about them and wondered if they ever think about us, and miss the 4-5 hour dinners that usually contained at least 30 minutes of strained expression of divergent political views. Tim was a staunch conservative, who was paranoid and angry. Ivy, on the other hand, was actually quite socially liberal and it was often difficult to understand how two such different people could sustain a life together.

For awhile, Tim did freelance audio-visual for my company, and our “break-up” came about over a work-related  misunderstanding.With Tim, there was no middle ground. You were either friends or you were enemies, and he had a very low threshold for ambivalence. He had been in bands for many years, and one day he decided that he didn’t like the work ethic of a particular guitarist and packed-up all of the equipment that wasn’t his own and left it on the back porch to be picked-up the next morning.

Over the last few years, usually around this time, I have wanted to send them photos that I took of their house and garden right before they moved. Whenever I bring this up, my husband says, “that ship sailed.” But where did it sail exactly? Are some friendships truly of a certain vintage?

As difficult as it is, I have come to understand and accept the necessity of endings. I try not to take them personally and view them more objectively, but it isn’t easy. I think of the symbolism of the Hindu “vajra” (metal weapon or small sword). I remember once being at a seminar led by Robert Bly and Marion Woodman. He was talking about the vajra and how it separated things that were no longer meant to be connected, stressing the freedom and independence that resulted in the act of severance.

I imagine that the writing and publishing of my recent book may propel some frayed ends to finally snap. While I am saddened by this, it also confers a sense of relief, and perhaps, a subtle independence from the past, and that which is no longer relevant to who I am today.

Now it is my turn to deal with ambivalence, i.e., not being too distracted by not knowing if they miss us as much as I miss them.

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