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Posts Tagged ‘observation’

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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There are no two more different people on earth than my sister Lenya and myself, according to people who assume they know us well.

She is stunning. I am plain; such is the basis of all other assumptions about us.

And also of strangers. One day as we were walking, I stopped to tie my shoe on a busy city street and told her I would catch up. As it was, she loped ahead and I didn’t meet her until shortly after this:

The hot dog seller, the construction workers at lunch on the kerb, the university students; they all stared at her in awe of her litheness, her long, shiny chestnut hair, her perfectly proportioned oval face. One man’s jaw dropped. None spoke.  As I strode to catch up, I was greeted with vile cat calls from the construction workers.

“Yo, baby, shake that fat ass!”
“Hey, smile! Smile!
“Ungh! Ungh!”

I wanted to burst into tears, but dared not. I didn’t want to embarrass my sister or myself. When I finally did catch up to her, the innocent look she’d been wearing for those men dropped as she smirked at me.

“I’ll bet it really sucks to have to deal with that.”

Why do people think that just because someone is beautiful that they are all other good things? That biological indicators of symmetry, fitness and health equals honesty, intelligence or compassion?

I am a good person!

I must stop allowing the bitterness to take over.

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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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“Could I see a little more gravitas? Your father is dead and you think something’s going on, but you’re too afraid to find out, yes? Again. Please.”

“’K. Ahem! Oh, that this tootoo solid FLESH wouldmeltthaw and resolveITSELF in to a DOO! Or that th’Everlasting had not fixed hiscanon against self-slaughter! O God! GOD!”

“Stop.”

Rebecca Nelson warily regarded Colleen Lucas.  Rebecca hadn’t cast this all-woman Hamlet; she came on to direct only today, when Sheila Rodriguez called begging for help. Millicent Taylor had fallen ill. “Walking pneumonia”. No matter; the problem now was Colleen Lucas was terrible and Rebecca suspected Colleen had gotten extremely cozy with Millicent to get the part. There was no denying that she was lovely to look at, but seemingly that’s all she was. Was it too late to reframe the show? Rebecca knew several actors who would be splendid, including one who looked like a younger Kevin Kline.

Try to work with what you’ve got, Becs.

“You have read Hamlet?”

“Yes, ma’am. It was sad.”

“What do you think Hamlet’s problem was?”

“Hamlet’s the real king, and his uncle stole the crown.”

“Are you sure that’s the issue?”

“Yeah!”

“’Mad’ here means ‘crazy’, not ‘angry’.”

“Oh… OK. I’m so silly.”

Colleen batted her eyes.

Poor thing. I’m not gay.

“Why do you want to do this play?”

“’Cause it’s famous!”

Oh, Millie. You must bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, because this child must go.

“Come sit by me, Colleen. Let’s chat.”

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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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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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A whiff of lilacs takes me back to a corner of a thumbprint-sized, somewhat dangerous patch of lawn,  “dangerous” due to pricklies, burrs and brambles that seemingly popped up in different spots every year. In that corner was an enormous lilac bush wedged between the tumble-down garage and Mr. Schmidt’s white picket fence. Mr Schmidt had lived next door for years before we moved in, and he’d enhanced his lawns, front and back, to perfect carpets of country club green. Our “lawns” embarrassed 6-year-old me deeply, covered as they were with weeds, crabgrass and brown patches, but there was no money to fix the damage we’d inherited, and no amount of pleading to the landlord got him to fix it, either. How two such disparate incomes lived next door to each other is an inequity I’ve never understood, to be honest.

For all that, we had the lilac bush and Mr Schmidt did not. Underneath the bush was a small patch of ground where I’d take cover with a book during springs and summers. When red-tinged envelopes arrived in the post that meant the gas or electricity was about to be shut off, again,  I’d just go lay there, taking in the scent of blooming flowers and dreaming of my own vast estate and acres of gardens, with not a bramble, a cockle-bur or a bill to be seen.

Am I wrong today for looking out my window across the road to the park and wishing it were all mine?

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