Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In defense of unicorns (free write)

HER: Is a norwal real?

HIM: Excuse me?

HER: Narwha- Norwhale?  No. Norwhal, I think. The whale with the horn.  That’s real.

HIM: Honey, I don’t know.

HER: No I think it is.  It has a horn. 

HIM: A tusk.

HER: Right. It’s like a tusk, or  horn something.

HIM: But what does it do with it?

HER: With what?

HIM: The tusk? Does it have an evolutionary purpose.

HER: Not everything needs a purpose.

HIM: It had to be there for a reason.  The tusk.

HER:  This is the difference between men and women.  Scientifically.

HIM: Oh so now you’re dealing with science?  Let’s google it. They exist. 

HER: No that men want actions and thoughts, and women want feelings.

HIM:    Now it’s psychoanalysis? What does that-

HER: I heard it on a lecture.

HIM:    See you’re into facts too.  Can we just google it?

HER: It’s just an observation, it felt accurate to the moment.

HIM: What does this have to do with a narwhal-whale- whatever?

HER: Exactly, you want answers.  Action.  Proof. I don’t need it.

HIM:    Scientifically there’s a reason.

HER: I don’t think there needs to be a reason. Maybe it just likes it the horn, so it kept it. Maybe it’s just how it was made. Maybe it’s just pretty.

HIM:  That doesn't make sense. Maybe it’s a big tooth or something.

HER: I don't care if it's a tooth.

 HIM: A tooth/horn. To attack its prey, and it's been rendered obsolete.

HER:  The how doesn’t matter.

HIM: Yes it does.

HER: No, it’s a rare beautiful thing, that we’re never going to see. The how of the horn doesn’t matter.

HIM:  I think it does, but whatever.  What are you getting at?

HER:  If this horned thing exists,  The narwhale.

HIM: Narwhal.

HER:  And it makes no sense that it has a horn.  You agree that it makes no sense?

HIM: Sure. That I know of. 

HER:  Well then what about unicorns…

HIM:  Excuse me?

HER: Unicorns.

HIM:    What?

HER:  You’ve never seen a narwhal?

HIM: No. I’ve never seen a narwhal. How much did you drink?

HER: One glass.  Okay you’ve never seen a narwhal and yet you say it exists.

HIM:  Sure. Just one glass?

HER:  Yes! So how do you know a unicorn doesn’t exist?

HIM:  You mean like Lisa Frank shit?

HER: Stop it!

HIM: No it was all over the trapper keepers with rainbows. I think unicorns crap rainbows.

HER: I’m not joking. I’m asking how you feel.

HIM:  I feel like... you’re a thirty year old woman asking me if I believe in unicorns.

HER:  Why can’t you just believe?

HIM:  In a unicorn?

HER:    In anything. In something intangible, in something hopeful, in something possible, magic.

HIM:  Honey-

HER:  Not everything has a purpose. You and I together don’t have a purpose.

HIM:    Sure we do.

HER: If we don't have kids societally we have no purpose. "Evolutionarily". You seem to be very into evolution.

HIM: What?  This isn't the scopes monkey trial. This is us. We have a purpose.

HER: Evolutionarily?

HIM: We have a purpose.

HER:    Fine, what is it?

HIM: We’re together to…to combat loneliness?

HER: I’m not even going to acknowledge that.

HIM: But you'll acknowledge unicorns.

HER: You're with me to deal with loneliness?

HIM:   That's why people are in relationships.

HER: Funny.

HIM:  You’re mad at me because I won’t believe in unicorns.

HER:   You won’t entertain the possibility.

HIM:  Of unicorns?

HER:  It’s not about unicorns.

HIM:    Then what is it about? I’m not having a fight about ugly tooth whales and unicorns.

HER:  It’s about faith, it’s about’s about God.

HIM: We went from unicorns to God.

HER: You won’t even entertain the possibility of something existing without it being rational. I need magic.

HIM: Then let’s go to the castle. You can see some tricks.

HER: I need someone who believes something bigger.  Why do you think we met?

HIM:  Because we were set up, and your sister thought I was cute. 

HER:  I need to be someone’s unicorn. I need to be with someone who is okay with not knowing exactly but hoping. I don’t know shit.  I need someone to entertain the possibility of what they don’t know, even if they don’t exist.

HIM:  You’re breaking up with me because I don’t believe in unicorns.

HER:  No, because you don’t believe.  And maybe you’ll meet a girl who will immediately google narwhal and the conversation will be over.  But I’m not her. It'd be easier if I was. 

HIM:  I like when you ask questions.

HER: You like when they have answers.
 I'm sorry.

HIM: It doesn't make sense. 

They stand there in silence, he picks up his phone.

HIM:  Narwhals can get to be about 2100 lbs.

HER: I didn’t know that.

HIM: Neither did I.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The (de) Terminator

FOR WES  (who said something like this..,)
So men are like... what's that movie? You've seen The Terminator?  No. You haven't seen The Terminator?  (I lie about seeing 'The Terminator'.) Okay, Anyway...  Men men are like the Terminator. They're not robots, but like... The Terminator is sent back in time to like kill one lady. Sarah Connor, Laura Connor... whatever her name is. And if someone gets in the way he'll kill them too. But his target is Laura Connor. This is a bad analogy, I can see you think this is a bad analogy. I'm not advocating killing women.
But it's like okay... a guy will pretty much sleep with any woman, like innately. Like in this restaurant you could go up to any guy, and most likely they'd go for it.  Even that guy. We're not that advanced. That lady over there might not be able to go up to anyone, but bare with me... The thing that stops us, you know from like humping everything is logic. The repercussions, the 'is this person my friend?' the 'do I want to see them the next morning?' 'Is this going to get messy?'  But basically we are like sexual terminators there's an ideal one and then the others. We're looking for our Laura Connor, our mark, but we'll settle for like protestor #2 if they get in our way.  No, no you shouldn't feel bad about it, you should just know that we're stupid and you have like this power. We're easy. I mean listen, you'll probably shoot me.

Friday, November 7, 2014

EVERYTHING (A relationship in two pages.)

HER: Well,I want you to tell me everything.
HIM: Everything?
HER: Yeah.
HIM: Everything is a lot.
HER: Okay.
HIM It’s just---
HER: No you’re right.
HER: Okay maybe part of everything, maybe I don’t want to know everything.
HIM: Which part?
HER: I don’t know.  Don’t you want to…
HIM: I mean, sure, yes. I don’t know. I guess.
HER: You guess?
HIM: I mean I just thought I’d know what, you told me, when you told me. What's the rush? 
HER: Yeah, but how much time do we have?
HIM: As long as we want.
HER: But what if I want less time than you, or you want less time than me?
HIM: Should we think about that now?
HER: No. Not yet. 
HIM: And I’m going to get new everything, I mean I’m going to live, my life. And you are too. I hope. 
HER: Yeah, I’d assume so. Hope so. 
HIM: But I do want to know things. Like the things you want to tell me.
HER:  Are you just saying that? Like what?
HIM: Like whatever you want to tell me.
HER: But that’s like a setup.
HIM: What?
HER: It’s like you playing a game to find out what it is I want you to say that you want me to tell you.
HIM: I don’t...that sentence was confusing-
HER: I mean if you want to know something ask. Ask for what you want. 
HIM: Yeah, but that’s a game too.
HER: Okay so it’s all a game then all of it.
HIM: You mean this? Us?
HER: Is there an us?
HIM: No. I don’t know. Do you think there is?
HER: I asked you first.
HIM: Okay, let’s table that. The us thing.
HER: Sounds good.
HIM: Good...Okay, so it’s a game.
HER: I mean I guess so.  I mean we could gather all this information and it could go nowhere. We could know all these things and for nothing. 
HIM: Like the fact I know my ex girlfriend hated socks.
HER: Yes, right. Like that.
HIM: And beards.
HER: I hate beards.
HIM: You do?
HER: Yeah.
HIM: So I’m going to have to shave.
HER: No, it’s your face.
HIM: But you’d like it better if I shaved.
HER; I'd like your face regardless. It's not my face. 
HIM: But it’s better shaven?
HER: I just don’t know why you’d hide it, but it's your face.
HIM: It’s not hiding it’s adding.
HER: It could be hiding pock scars. A lot of times people have beards to hide pock scars. 
HIM: Do you see pock scars?
HER: It’s your face. I don’t want to make decisions about your face.
HIM: But you have a preference.
HER: It hurts.  If you had to kiss a beard it would hurt.
HIM: So if I want to kiss you I have to shave?
HER: This is what I meant about only sharing part of everything. You have to build up to this stuff. 
HIM: Right.
HER: So what I was saying those facts…
HIM: The beards and the socks?
HER: Yes the beard and the socks are just taking up space in your head and you’re never going to use them.
HIM: Right, there’s not like an ex pop quiz.
HER: Right, so maybe I was wrong maybe I shouldn’t know anything.Don't tell me anything. 
HIM: So now you want to know nothing?
HER: I don’t know.
HIM: But what would we talk about?
HER: We’re talking now?
HIM: Yeah, but we’re talking like robots we’re talking like Mamet characters.
HER: You like David Mamet?
HIM: Sometimes.
HER: You know who David Mamet is?
HIM: I’m not a moron I know who David Mamet is.
HER: That’s sweet.
HIM: Good. It's not pretentious?
HER: No, it's sweet, smart.
HIM: Oh. 
HER: I like socks by the way. I mean who doesn’t like socks.  They’re like a necessity if you have feet. 
HIM: I’m glad you like socks.
HER: Thanks. 
HIM: What I’m saying is we have to know something.
HER: Even if it’s pointless?
HIM: Incase it’s not.
HER: And when will we know if it’s not…pointless.
HIM: At the end I guess? We won’t know until the end.
HER: Right.
HIM: And we won’t know everything...

HER: We can’t.
HIM: Should we order.
HER: I think so.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Excerpt from a short play SWIPE. Sarah slightly drunk has just been stood up by an online date. 
I just- I'm going to be honest with you. Okay? Balls to the walls. I don't have balls but if I had them they would be on the wall. 
I'm not an exceptional person. 
No it's okay I'm not. I'm not beautiful, I'm pretty -okay I'm not even pretty, I'm cute. I’m nice. Which is basically what people say when they don’t know what to say. I get jokes, but I'm not funny. I'm moderately intelligent. I have an okay job, It's a job, I pay my bills, and I do it. I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm never going to be the best at anything, and I’m okay with that, I’m totally okay with that because I'm a good person. I’m not exceptional, but I’m a really good person. And that doesn't matter anymore. 

Think about it. Our generation - our parents told us our entire lives that we were special. That we could be whatever we wanted to be. That we could do anything, get anything. And it's this big fucking lie because we can't ALL be special. We can't ALL be exceptional.  And because of it most of us end up always looking for the next best thing and never commit to or DO anything. PEOPLE DON’T KNIT ANYMORE!
(You lost me there.)

It's not enough that you like to knit now you have to open up a fucking Etsy store full of artisanal coasters. You can’t have a dog from the pound it’s a ‘rescue’. You can’t just have normal wedding chicken or salmon it has to be fair trade or organic or something. We’re updating our operating systems all the time, you get the 5 you want the 6. There’s always something better around the corner. It’s exhausting. I tried and I couldn’t keep up. 
I don't want to be special. I want to be happy.  

So what I would say, not my imp, ME. What I would say to this guy, this internet guy, not text him or e-mail him or say to his face his actual face is:
(She looks him dead in the eye. )
'You are not special, you're just a guy, who can't make a choice, and thinks people are disposable and whatever you do, whoever you’re with, you're always going to be miserable and alone. And I feel sorry for you'

Friday, May 30, 2014

Manic Pixie Dream... Woman?

Dear Manic Pixie Dream Girl,
Yes you, the girl whose entire instagram is devoted to you making faces wherein you naturally look pretty holding a stranger's dog, or in front of some silly sign. You are very pretty, and the signs are very smart.  But I think you could do better. 

At one point in my life I'm sure I was cast in your role for a few moments by boys I didn't know. I had all the outward window trappings at 25/26 /27.  I bought into it too, but perhaps was not  tiny, whimsical or dangerous enough.  I can speak to you because I'm not sure you fully exist; you're an idea created by men that we women appropriated.  It's a story, a persona,  a haircut you're trying for a while, a dress you got at Urban that you pretend is vintage. This goes beyond thinking the world looks like an Anthro catalogue, you're not only hurting yourself, you're hurting others.  You can't be a girl forever. 

What happens when the Manic Pixie Dream Girl grows up? 
A Manic Pixie Woman; not such a dream. 

You're bored because you were so busy inspiring random dudes to embrace life, that you didn't inspire yourself. They, not having the wear withal to sustain that in themselves,  have moved onto younger pixies for inspiration, or those that are less challenging.  Your random secretary/waitressing/bartending job is not enough to pay your student loans for the three semesters you took in fine art or philosophy, so you've defaulted. You've been priced out of your magical apartment, the neighborhood is changing as the hip have grown up.  Your landlord is upset due to all the noise complaints of your ukelele, and late night Shins, and Smiths records playing. It's been waking up the neighbor's kids. The neighbor's kids dont like you, not all kids like you. Your singing at restaurants, and in the middle of conversation now just makes you seem like you have tourettes. Everything in your wardrobe is patterned. You're 30 years old and don't own a pair of pants. Your stray cat is dead, who knew they couldn't just eat tuna and drink milk? It worked for Audrey Hepburn. If you want to do drugs people make you pay for them now.   All of those selfie campaigns now make you a little nostalgic and sad.  Who were those posts for? You're tired after years of dragging man-children behind you (Josh Radnor, Zach Braff I'm looking at you.)  They've all eventually left  you because being with someone who only challenges you,  whose moods swing, and may actually be more than a plot device is tough. You woke up one morning and realized that women in their late twenties/early thirties are not meant to be great unsolvable mysteries, and eventually when guys figure out you're a real person they may bolt. In the story those people are the ones you want,  this should not be true in real life. You MPDG have groomed them for this; wanting a beautiful mess, wanting a girl not a woman. 

I know writing this to you may be redundant. It's been done I get it, but as a young woman who came of age with this trope is still affecting our relationships and cries for attention. I acknowledge that I'm being a slight hypocrit. I speak too quickly, wear large framed glasses, love Annie Hall,  and talk to small animals. Most people have not seen me wear pants till this year. Although cliche these idiosyncrasies are mine. Yes, I tend to date boys instead of men, and have been a pro at justifying whatever choices they have to make for their story.  'It's his work. It's his family. It's his past. It's timing.  He's going through something, It's this thing he has to do on his own.'  IT'S BULLSHIT. I can justify the narrative because it's not my story. I've been just a supporting character ; 'The Girl' no... just 'A girl'.  As I've gotten older I've grown tired of this. When you realize you're just a supporting character it doesn't feel so cute. Reduced to being the 'supporting girl' you turn into the 'crazy girl'. No one knows they're the 'crazy girl', you're just attempting to get back into the narrative, even if it's a story you weren't sure you wanted to be in. The main characters take you back in bits because they like the inspiration, but it's still their story.  

What if we focused on our own stories? What if all the energy of those clicks and likes, and photos were put back into the narrative that was happening now with us? What if that energy wasn't given to what or who we wanted to create or attract? What if we lived out our own ideal? One in which other people's stories come and go. One in which feminine can be silly, grounded and strong; without being scary.  

I'm never going to not be weird or quirky.  No matter how many times someone calls me ma'am I'l probably always look behind my shoulder, but I'd rather be curvy than a pixie, and I'd rather create for myself than an audience that isn't  really listening in the first place.  

(And I don't care what anyone says I still love Annie Hall.) 

(Drawing by Seamus Gallagher) 

Friday, February 28, 2014

The first cut is the deepest (an essay)

I remember the first person who broke my heart. I was six, sitting in the backseat of a volvo. It was the first time I realized that you can't make people feel what you feel. It was the first time that I realized that I feel a little harder than most. Her name was Maude Pinter**, and she was my best friend in the world. She had a pet rat that would sit on her shoulder, short curly hair,  and she was the coolest person I had ever met. She had this magical confidence that only children have, and this quiet adventurousness that turned trees into nature expeditions.  I'd tell strangers about her, starting multiple sentences with "My friend Maude…" which probably prompted a lot of Cat Stevens, and funeral  jokes that I was not aware of at the time.

 She had moved away a few months earlier, and was visiting our suburban neighborhood. We were driving back to my house where her parents would pick her up. I don't remember the pre-amble to the conversation, or if it came from nowhere. Most 'break ups' seem to come out of nowhere for one party. I do remember just staring at the door, at the button you press down to lock it, at the handle that let me out.
"You aren't my best friend" she said.  "I have a new best friend. Her name is Jenn*."

 In two sentences my identity was shattered. I had so many questions; what did I do to be replaced? How could she leave me? I was the one, I was her one. You don't leave your one, right?
 My eyes filled up. I stared at the door handle as the car moved past my elementary school. It's funny, I don't always recall exact conversations but I always remember what I was looking at. My memories of emotional conversations are filled with snippets of looking at street corners, ceilings, chairs, dugouts, but rarely the person involved. I'll remember upholstery fabric but not someone's eyes.   I remember the worn door handle and patch of grass in the school yard out the window. I remember wanting to open the door, and just roll out of the moving car,  but I kept it together until she left. At six I was wise enough to not give her the satisfaction of losing my shit in front of her.

My mother recalls me throwing myself on the ground sobbing the entire night.

"MAUDE!!!!"  I couldn't breathe.  "MAAAUUUUUDDEEE!!!!"

 I was choking on tears, a flailing pink, blonde, bony mess. I asked why it hurt this much,  and when it would stop? She didn't have answers. I imagined this... Jenn. Who was this JENN? Was it 'Jenn' or 'Jen'? Who was this girl was who was better than me, who'd replaced me as the best? Was she seven I bet she was seven! Who was this person who was now the chosen friend of my chosen friend?

 "I want to turn it off!" I said.

"You want to turn off what?"  My mother asked.

"My heart. I want to turn it off."

"You can't turn off your heart Lissa."

"But…I…I…I…want t-t-t-t-t-to."

"You can't, it's what makes you you."

"Then I don't wanna be me! I want to turn it off."

I cried the whole night, and went into the guidance counselor's office the next morning on my own accord. When asked what happened I replied "I lost my best friend." My mother got a call from the counselor asking if there was a death. No death, she just moved to Downingtown. This was the second time in first grade that I had pulled myself into the office. Months earlier I had snuck out of class, and inquired if there was 'a support group for children of divorce'.  This time the counselor looked at my puffy pink blue eyes with pity.

"Well Melissa, perhaps you can make new friends too?"

 Sure lady, and while I'm at it I'll get a new father and new nuclear family. Why don't you give me a pamphlet for that too?

Over twenty years later my mother brought up the 'Maude' incident after a recent break up with a guy.  It was nowhere near as earth shattering, but then again I wasn't six.

"You just crumpled on the floor" she said. "You just couldn't understand, and there was nothing I could do to make it better. You cried until you threw up. You were just in it."

I pictured a small heaving child in a jumper screaming like Brando, and my mother waiting it out by her side.  I asked her if she thought at the time that I was a lesbian; in love with Maude, or emotionally imbalanced?

"No, I just knew then and there that you were going to be incapable of not feeling with everything, and that that would be a scary thing for other people to reciprocate."

 I looked at her and smiled, "Well I haven't thrown myself on the ground since, or vomited. So that's good."

*The girl's named was not actually Jenn. It was something stupid that I kept repeating to myself but now can't remember because I was 6.  I do remember saying "Who names a kid ___?"
** Maude Pinter grew up to be a lawyer in Ohio, and is a pretty nice person.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Eyes of Troutman

for Annie the best eyes a building ever had. 


You know they're just trying to kick us out?  I don't wanna call. I call them and then it gives them more reason to have me go. And I'm old and on this thing. This breathing box. This machine that gives me life. Ha! Some life. Attached to a box.   They don't tell you to save, you know? Don't have kids okay? You have kids, you don't save anything.  No I'm not gonna call them, have em get me out so they can sell the place.  No one's here. The girl downstairs, a neighbor said she saw her crying over a lover. She's gone, and that window out front, a crackhead could slip into it. Never underestimate crackheads. I'm sure you've never had to consider them before, but they'll get in.  They're like human accordions crackheads. This whole place is empty except for you and me, and maybe the guy upstairs, and I'm just stuck- with this box.  It gives me the herby-jeebies. It's a siv. It's a cesspool. A siv.  And they don't care cause they sold it, to the hasids. And they probably thought they'd get a million for it and then you sit down and they say 750.  They change their number when they get to the table, and I'm not being racist or anti-semitic or anything. It happens. They get to the table they give them a lower number.  They knock down this place build a high-rise. Drug dealers still live next door. Crackhead's sneak into it as the build it. And you'll go somewhere, back west of whatever, and me? I don't know where I'll go. WIth this box. I lived in Soho, had an antique shop in the West Village. Lived on Mercer. Lived on Jane. This was years ago, when my son Jesse was little. I could have had an apartment in Battery Park, rent controlled but I was stupid. And now they got Brooklyn and I got this thing. I got this box.