Archive for the ‘essay’ Category

Catcalling season is here. As it has been for 30 years, if I had a dollar for every man who’s already said something sordid and gross to me, I could get 10 people dinner at Peter Luger’s today. 30 years.  Since I was 11. Guess how young I looked at 11? I would be a multimillionaire with all those dollars.

Two days ago, some guy talked about my bottom for an entire city block. “C’mon, girl, gimme dat azz!” He was serious. I almost felt sorry for him.  And he was about the 7th or 8th rude man that day.

Perhaps you think that at my age, I’d feel complimented by men loudly talking about my body as I go along, minding my own business. “Listen, old broad, you should feel flattered”, right? Imagine your wallets, fellas, in clear view to passers-by; your money exposed, no matter how modest you were being with it. Every few yards, some woman loudly remarks about your money, how she’d like to get with your money, and “Ooh, baby, you know you wanna give me that money!” Would you consider her for your next date? No? But why not? She’s only complimenting you on your money!

Is there no other way for these dudes to feel manly other than trying to assert some masculine privilege on strangers? Do they somehow really believe they can roll up and get sexual favours from women? Not. Happening. Idiot!

I won’t look back on it at 82, thinking, “Damn, I was something in my day.”


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For the sake of argument,  let’s say the man’s dead.

I must ask: all that money he had, and it only went to fighting? He couldn’t funnel money into, say, researching and creating an alternative to oil so that entire regions of the world wouldn’t be dependent upon one energy source? If he had, the West wouldn’t be there! Maybe that was just an excuse. And for what?

I don’t cheer, but I don’t feel sorry for him. He had a chance to use his money and education for more than a pissing match with the West. He could’ve led the Middle East to a future that went beyond oil, but he didn’t. And for what?

In those last seconds in the firefight, I wonder, was all of this death and destruction worth it to him? Was there a moment when the horror of realization struck, that “this never changes”? Was he so wrapped up in being the holy martyr that he forgot: it never changes? That no one ever wins?

Eurasia has always been at war with…

As seriously as these men on both sides take these wars, in the end, it’s still the same old “mine is bigger than yours” racket that’s gone on since the savannahs. Thus, hundred of thousands more have had to die since 2001. Why?

Jay and Jackie, whom, granted, I didn’t know well, are still gone.  Hundreds of thousands of civilians, men, women and children – gone. Thousands of troops – gone.

And for what, again?

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The numbers titling the previous posts were an experiment. I bet myself that I wouldn’t make it to 100 “real” entries, because I know me. I start a new endeavor with a parade down Main Street, with fanfare and cheering, put ads in all the papers, make grand announcements that break up that night time soap opera people love so damn much, that sort of thing, and then it all collapses like a kid’s balloon 6 days after the birthday party.

Well, I won. Today I’m getting an vanilla ice cream from the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

With numbers, I psychologically shielded myself from the world. My “#56” would be way below a slew of other webpages with “#56” in them. But can’t be a coward all my life, can I?

So I’ve actually done it. I’ve begun something and have seen it through to at least 100 posts.

In order to make this blog more of what it can be, I will use actual titles in the headings now as I continue to refine and share my small craft here; stories, dialogues and monologues with the occasional observational essay thrown in, matched with a photo I’ve taken. I’ve come to that point in life where I’m putting my real self out there and just have to say, “Fuck it. This is it, this is me, this is what’s fomenting and fermenting in my imaginings, OK?” Granted, I don’t know about you. I wouldn’t presume to judge.

Thank you all for being here with me.

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“The magic hour.”

That’s what they call it, right? Two times a day when the sun is at just the right angle, and even trash piled in a pothole-filled street can look like treasures. Do our lives have magic hours? Can I look at the moments and, even if those moments were times when I’ve been frightened or sad or anxious or guilty, can I look at those moments and see them as being magic? As being miracles of consciousness? Because they are, whether I recognize them or not.

So much of the time, I’ve gone through life in a daze, partially from beating myself up over things that aren’t even going to matter ten minutes hence, much less six months or twenty years from now, and rob myself of the joy of existing in this moment. When I’m not careful, I allow my thoughts to fill my heart with regrets over what I’ve said or done (and some of those things should definitely have been said and done) instead of realizing that they’re all just lessons. To rub those memories like a worry stone doesn’t allow me to learn anything, and then I make the mistake again. It’s all of a piece, if I forget the truth of things.

This moment is, as are all our moments, awesome. As in “to be filled with awe and wonder” and not restricted to when you’ll look your hottest in photos taken outside. Even the mistakes are awesome. Maybe especially the mistakes.

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For almost three months in 1985-1986, my aunt/guardian worked at Patrick Cudahy, a meat packing plant in Cudahy, Wisconsin. They’re the “home of sweet apple-wood”, as the animated pigs on their commercials sing. I’ve never gotten how animals, no matter how domesticated, were supposed to sing happily about their looming demise and consumption by humans. Dissociation? I digress.

She worked the second shift separating fat from pigs and came home reeking of pork. I was unfazed. Her despair at how much money it cost to care for me was always palpable, and this job paid a lot better than doing laundry for Goodwill Industries, which was what she was doing previously. I hoped that more money would lessen the extreme stress for her. From the uptick in earnings, she could finally get a used car, real leather shoes for herself and buy decent food from the “good” supermarket.

After three months was when she, like all new hourly workers, joined the union. At the time, they were on strike.

One day in January 1986, two days before her membership would’ve begun, she got a call that she was being “laid off”. She ended up working in a hospital’s laundry. I don’t blame the union, which even today battles the management of the plant, and the plant still has “surprise” lay-offs. What I didn’t understand was why management was so reluctant to pay $14/hour. How can one expect people to do such hard and dangerous work for so little pay? Dissociation?

Go, unions!

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Green shoots! I didn’t expect to see those for a few more weeks. This is the first winter ever that I became thoroughly sick and tired of it, it was so damp and cold. It’s too bad, really, because for hurf-durf-burf years, I have reveled in winter, including the sloppy, slushy New York City ones. After all, Mother Nature was just doing her thing. But this year, around about 26 February, I thought, F this. Seriously. Just F Winter! even though I knew Spring was on its way and I reckoned that, for all intents and purposes, I was relatively assured of sticking around long enough to see it arrive.

I wondered at first if things felt out of whack because of the job-or-lack-thereof. Impending mid-life crisis? Existential angst? Then I realized: Every year, there’s a hint around the end of February that hits me by the nose, just for a second and then it’s gone, and then I feel better. That didn’t happen this year. I suppose I somehow need that little reminder of what’s to come to stave off the Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I walked outside this morning and there near the entrance of my building, the shoots from the daffodils and tulips were poking out of the soil in the planters that are so carefully tended by resident volunteers. All my anomie fell away. For all my feelings of coziness during winter, my adoration for autumn and my excitement for summer, there has always been  something about spring.

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This weekend, I’ve been unwell with a bad cold, stuffed-up and achy. I get so few colds, the ones that show up are humdingers.

I’ve had time to think. Usually, that’s dangerous, as I overthink instead of take action, fearing the hammer of the nebulous “they”, and… well, never mind that story again. Today, the past is just a fairy tale.

Believing I’ll “do everything wrong” and be punished or shamed is the bad habit of thinking I’m struggling with. When I smoked, it took a long time to quit because it was a security blanket for my nerves. Forced to lie around this weekend, I asked myself, What am I still getting out of being anxious? “Security”?

I’m no longer 7. I’m not “getting in trouble”. Whatever I do is OK, barring hurting others. No one has it as together as I think. No one thinks I’m selfish or a show-off except me – and it’s my choice to believe such.  How childish and self-centered are these beliefs?  Haven’t I been laughed at before, publicly, anyway? Physically punished for making “mistakes”? Don’t many people dislike me? Yet here I am, safe in this moment.  Isn’t life short enough without living it in fear of being shamed?

My inner 7-year old, loathe to be humiliated, thinks I should be quiet, obedient.  Shut up! We have to be good so we won’t get hurt!

Better to be “bad” – hurt, even – but live freely as an adult than to live as a frightened child.

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