Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Apparently when I leave Brooklyn I turn into Nordic Larry David; A Play in One Act

There are moments when you realize that you are not as mature as people perceive you to be. 

A Conversation with a Tribeca Mom,  while walking the dog  *

Me: So do you work in the area?
Lady: Oh no I'm just waiting. Going with my daughter on a class field trip -we're walking over the Brooklyn Bridge. 
M: That's great. Cold day for it.  You going to go to Patsy's after?
L: Nooo they don't let them eat that. 
M: ...Right. 
L: Yeah. My daughter goes to PS150 over there. 
M: How old is she? 
L: Seven.
M: Oh that's great. 2nd grade? Does she like it?
L: We love it. She could have gone to 234 but we like 150. 234 is good but 150 is comparable to Hunter, or  Chapin, Brearley...Fieldston.
M: ...Totally... That's good to hear about the public schools in New York. I think about that sometimes. 
L: Oh yeah. We're really happy. Do you have kids?
M: No, but I like them...(strange look) 
Or would like  to have them (stranger look)...come out of me someday...(Even stranger look) 
I mean I'm not there yet, but someday I will be there, or here... or wherever I am.  
L: ...Yeah you don't seem like you'd have kids. 
M: Yeah... After conversations like this apparently not..ha...but hopeful...very very hopeful.... Only takes one right? 
                               (Joke not accepted.)
M: Well, nice meeting you, have a great field trip at the bridge. Don't jump!
 (Another awkward look as the dog sits there and refuses to go as I pull him.)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Heartbreak before Myrtle Ave

AYANA, 6 sitting on the  J train, to the little boy across from her. 

Okay. Nah. Nah. Nooo! You do it like this.
(She takes her hands and makes a heart over her chest.)
Yeah, yeah yeah, you make a heart and send it to me. No come on send it to me- give it to me.
Like this!
(She places the 'hand heart' on her chest, and pushes it out into the air.)
Now catch it! For serious catch it. You catch my heart. I gave it to you. You catch it. I ain't gonna play with you no more if you jus drop it. Nooooo take it.
(She tries again.)
It's special. You can't jus be dropping it and not even tryin.  Like this.
(She makes a hand heart.)
Now you give me yours...
Awhhhhh for real? I ain't give you nothin if you ain't give me nothin back. What you just playin? 'snot funny, 'snot.  Come on! Yeah that's how you make it, not give it. Cause it ain't real till you give it away. Then I catch it and I give it back. I'll be careful.
(They send the 'heart' across the subway aisle, back and forth once.)
Now don't you drop it. It's almost my stop.
(Back and forth again. He gets bored drops his hands.)
IWell ain't you gonna give it back? You took it, you gotta give it back. You gotta give it back. You gotta. You gotta.  Mommy he dropped it! I'm sitting. 'Kay. I'm sitting.
 (She scootches back on the seat. Quiet. Then...)
It ain't stupid, you're stupid. You don't now how to do it right. Like this.
(She holds up her hand heart to her chest.)
I just keep it, I just keep my heart. I don't need yours. I got mine.

(Apparently this movement was patented. My apologies to google.-mo)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The first sleep

One of the best compliments I ever got from a new boyfriend  involved napping together. To me that first sleep says a lot about a relationship. 
photo by Paul Schnegge 

LIZ, 29 (to her non-live-in boyfriend of less than a year)

The thing is...the problem is you're not good at sleeping, with me. At first I thought it was because of me, that we didn't fit. I don't know, maybe that's it.  You're a horribly insensitive sleeper. And it's not because of the snoring, I can deal with the snoring, that could be cute. It's just sometimes you hold me, obligatorily, and you let go, and I wake up and you're across the bed. And sometimes I inch my hand, my arm, to touch yours and you flinch. In your sleep you flinch. The most real honest deepest part of you flinches minutes, hours after being intertwined with me.  It doesn't matter- it doesn't matter how intimate we are before or after, because then you can't touch me. Unapologetically, you just don't want to. You flinch.

 And i remember the first night, before you told me that you had a problem with it; with sleep. Before I noticed the pacing and Charlie Rose, and that stuff...before I knew that it was a thing with you.  I'm laying there awake, so utterly alone, wanting to just touch you, be held. And I inch over and just let my leg hover near your hand, just hover, and you roll over. You just roll away. And I felt cheap and used and alone. And I stared at your ceiling, and I watched your fan move, and I thought I guess that's it. I'll wake up early and he'll offer to make coffee I'll say no thanks and I'll go and we'll both know what it was. If there was any confusion before, the after always makes it clear what it is.  But we woke up the next morning and I stayed for breakfast, a sympathy breakfast I thought, and we walked to the train and you held me, you held me tighter than I had ever been held in my life. Like you didn't want to let go, like if you did, something would happen. And you do, you always hug me like that with this extra squeeze at the end - like you're afraid to let go. Like if you let go you'll just crumble, and who knows maybe you hug everyone like that? Maybe that's just how you hug?

 I love you. Against all my better judgement I do.  I love you when you're awake but when you're sleeping, when you're sleeping there's a part of you that doesn't want to let me in. It's this unapologetic cold part. It's  there when you're awake too, I guess.  I'm starting to see that. Maybe it's there when you're lost in work, or disappear for a few days. When you go someplace else and just let me talk, and pretend to listen when I go on about school or my family. It's there in those moments where you're just done, and for a split second it's like I'm a stranger. It's rare, but it happens.

 This whole time, nearly a year now, I've been afraid that that's actually you. I've been afraid that you at night, the you that flinches, is actually you. It could be, because you're not trying to be polite, or a good a guy, you just want what you want.  And what if  what you really want isn't me?  Would we both be better off? You spend half your life asleep, and what if we don't fit?  What if you were just nice and made breakfast? What if I just left and you didn't walk me to the train?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cry to me.

(Just imagine Solomon Burke's "Cry to Me" in the background fading out).

DEBRA , 45 to her younger co-worker, who is in a bathroom stall.  

I don’t mean to do the whole I’m older than you thing, but I am. So I will. I don’t know what this is about, or why you left the room, and I know you’re embarrassed that it happened like that, during the presentation. Okay, that was unfortunate. You can get some extra tears out on that one. But you can stay in the restroom as long as you want. If you want I can tell the guys that you’re on your period and your grandma just died. No, don’t tell me what or who it is, I don’t want to know. Just stop saying, “I’m sorry” Okay? Just stop. Stop. Please stop. Don’t be sorry just get it out.

(She sobs even more.)
It’s fine. Really. And you’re not crazy. Stop saying you're crazy. Stop. Sometimes it just happens. You know me. I don’t feel emotion. I mean I pretend to socially. I fake care so people like me, but it’s not my thing. I get sent cute pictures of puppies and I just sort of feel sorry for them, and the people that wasted 2.5 seconds of their life looking at them. But years ago, this was before I got married. Joe and I had only been dating for a couple of weeks and he ended it, did the whole slow fade thing. I didn’t care, he was just some guy. 

And I’m uptown at Fairway or Zabar’s getting something to go visit my great aunt.-  I think it was a knish- and I just start to cry. And I’m crossing 72nd street, standing in the middle of the street, and I’m just sobbing. Sobbing gripping onto this knish for dear life.  I almost fall into the ground I’m crying so hard, and I’ve never… This went on for what felt like three minutes, just squatting and crying like I was going to throw up.  Heaving. I was crying so hard that I just started laughing, laughing like an insane person in front of Urban Outfitters, just laughing through sobs.  Teenage girls were just staring, and I’m in a standing fetal position on the cement with a knish.

The thing is I wasn’t crying about Joe, he wasn’t important enough for that. I was crying about me.  I was crying out me. I was crying out everything that I hadn’t. Everything that I was afraid of that I knew and that I didn’t know about. I was crying for everything that I hadn’t felt, and then I was happy that I had the chance to feel all of it.  I was ringing out my system.  So I finished. I've completely lost control, which I don't do. I have mascara just pouring down my face, my eyes look like raisins, and my hair is a mess. I look like a mental patient. And I rounded the corner, and the fucker is standing right there. Joe -who lives downtown mind you- is standing right there, and I thought. “Okay now I am ready, now I can do this, now I have space for this”.

It’s like getting the flu. If you get it once a year it’s healthy because it purges your system. Not to be gross, but you get things out. And I think that’s what you’re doing now. You’re cleansing the system. You're making space. And that’s okay; it’s just easier to put it on a person.  But that person's just a person. I'll watch the door if you want to keep going. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Drunk Girl Prophet

SARAH or MEGHAN (You're not really sure, it was loud). 

You ever want to say to someone- to a guy- ‘You can’t treat me like that, because I am magic….because I am special.’ But you can’t, you can’t say that because you’ll sound like a fucking insane person. It goes beyond being immodest you’ll sound like a nut job. And why? You know, why can’t we say that we’re special and we deserve that back? I mean everyone’s special relatively right? Actually no that’s wrong everyone isn’t… that girl over there...not special. But we deserve like the same level of specialness…speciality. Magic-ness. I don’t know, it’s the wine. I’m saying this cuz of the wine. And like that, like I’d feel stupid saying this without the wine. So, thank you wine.

But yeah, no, we can’t like call people out on their shit, because that like makes us weak. That means like we’re sensitive when really we’re just like sensitive to people being assholes.   No we have to pretend that we’re okay, that we don’t care, that we’re okay with these random texts of "Hey how r u?” How am I?  “I’m confused as to why you can text me yet not see me like a human. I'm confused as to what you're getting from this. I’m confused as to why I’m even responding, I’m generally just confused.  How am I? Confused. I am confused that is how I am.” Like my grandmother didn’t get random phone calls of ‘Hey what’s up’ and then a hang up.  Like you had to have like an actual conversation, like you had to be human, like you had to connect or at least pretend to connect. You didn’t like waste your time.
            (She touches both your shoulders, pulls you closer)

You, you are MAGIC, and I’m just gonna be like some girl you met saying it. And you can like write it off like those crazy people on the subway who spout prophetic things after insanity. But you ARE.  So YOU are NOT going to SETTLE. You have these eyes, these eyes and they see stuff, they see too much, and it’s like hard you know, to like float. Like this, this right now for you this, this party, this bar, this is hard because you see all the bull shit. I like just met you but I can see that you see the bull shit. You you are MAGIC so don’t you dim that for anyone. Don’t you float on the surface, and if you have to leave shit like this early you leave… you leave.  But just like trust it, okay? Cause you like listen, beyond your eyes and ears you listen. And it hurts to hear and see so much, but you hold out. Okay?  You hold out for that person, where you're like 'Yeah that's it', and you'll like know cause like you'll be nervous in a good way. And in the meantime when those guys ask you how you are “How r u?” like 1:00 AM you say “I’m fucking magic”. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

the pill

A short in honor of those going through breakup season. 

She didn’t want to take it, but it sat in her palm. It was hard enough to puncture the silver foil, to place it in her hand. It sat there staring at her. A glass of water, and it would be done. Her friends urged her it was the right thing to do, “You don’t let things like this go on for too long”. "It's been a few years on and off, you know it's not right. ". She still wasn't sure. “It’s not something you abuse, but you don’t want it do you? It’s too risky to keep.”
She did and she didn’t…want to let it go.  Maybe that was the guilt, she wasn't sure what was guilt and what was right. 
She thought back on all of it, and he came in parts now. He had left just last night, but already he was in parts. His hands that were always chapped, always. His eyes, and this sad face that looked too old for his age. Too many lines, but always seemed to smile. It was probably because of the smoking, that he had quit now that he was out west, perhaps the west was good for something. They had fought one final fight, after it happened. An attempt to break the intimacy that was barely there. It was a slip up, a one more time thing, then a fight.  It didn’t seem explosive enough, as if they both hadn’t cared to fight anymore. She exploded wanting a response, and got nothing. He took it.  He left, she went out to get coffee, take a walk, and his things were gone, the few things he left there. He left his sunglasses, he was always leaving his sunglasses places. She wondered if he left them on purpose. 
“You might feel a little sick” they warned her "that's normal, it's a lot to let go". It was a lot to let go, she thought, it was a person. A person is a lot to let go.  She wasn’t sure she wanted it to be done with. She wasn’t sure she wanted to be done with his too tall stride and laugh, she thought at least this way she could have a piece of it when he was gone. She could maybe try and forget that the stride was somewhere else.
The pill sat in her hand, the glass of water in the other. She stuck it on her tongue, and pictured his face and she washed it down, tried to hold onto his eyes, his eyes smiling one last time, and she washed it down.
“So after this nothing?” She asked.
“You won’t remember any of it, any of him, not even his name. You’ll just wonder where you got this pair of sunglasses”.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NICK, 38

You always remember what you were looking at. You don't remember what exactly was said or the syntax, or order, but you always remember what you were looking at when it hit. The reality that your life would never be the same. That you're parents weren't perfect. Ducks. I was looking at ducks. My parents took me the Zoo. In Philly they have this big pond, they're famous for it. It's in that book about a swan by the guy who wrote Charlotte's Web? No? Anyway it's huge, huge pond. And my Dad sits me there, and I'm so excited, so excited to go to the zoo with my parents, together. And I'm looking at these ducks, this duck family, with the mom and the dad with the green head I think, and these little baby ducklings,  and I think that's just like us, the three of us, together, and then he says it. That he's leaving my mother, moving back to Charlotte.  My mother doesn't say anything, she just cries, holds my hand. And it was done.  He said he'd see me in the Summers, he didn't even offer to take me with him. Like I was some consolation prize for her. "Sorry the marriage thing didn't work out, but here's this kid".  In one sentence my father managed to ruin Zoos and water fowl. And I just smiled and I said "Okay". I didn't ask any questions. I didn't ask about the work trips on the weekends, and sitting in the volvo when he ran into a friends house. I didn't want my mom to hear, or try to answer for him. I was a kid, he was my dad, and what he said I believed. Until the ducks. I went to Charlotte every other Christmas, every year she'd get me fishing equipment, and I don't fish.  He didn't get me in the Summers. The drive was too far for her, and she didn't want him to leave her alone with the baby. My mom tried to take me to the zoo, but I'd always get sick the day before. 

I don't want that for my kids, with Julie and I. I know things change, people change. I'm not saying I'm going to stay in a marriage that doesn't work. But if it does happen, if I do have to tell them, I'm going to make sure they're looking at me. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's the silence.


It's the silence that kills you. The deafening silence and an idle mind. Friends stop calling because they don't know what to say, and you don't know what to say either.  So you're glad they don't. Her parents don't know how to treat me, and mine are useless. My mother keeps sending me cards.  And I hear people, I hear people saying it because I'm sure I've said it. "At least they didn't have children".  Like that's better, like I can just wipe it away with no record. No one to be accountable to. We almost did, I guess it wasn't a kid really it was an almost. We had broken up for a year, got back together. We'd only been dating six months, and I was just about to take the bar, and she didn't know what to do with her life. We weren't really solid. We just weren't ready, it just wasn't- and I wouldn't have been a good dad, not then at least, but um "Thank God!" No one to explain this to. Not that I could explain it to anyone you know? People just look at you different. I have this buddy from grade school, who I haven't told, because he looks at me, how people looked at me from before. He looks at me like me. And when he asks how I'm doing, he's genuinely asking, not asking to make himself feel supportive. There's no congratulatory empathetic pause when he asks, he just asks, and if he listens for a response it's cause he chooses to.  I'll tell him eventually, when it comes up. But it's waking up at six in the morning with no shower running, no clothes left on the bathroom floor, no half drunken french press. No sounds of the clinking, the heels in the hall.  She liked the idea of a no shoes household but we never got there, she had to see how they looked, every morning. She could have worn them with the same outfit a million times but she had to see. Like it could change. So there was the clicking. She was small but loud, always listening to music, always humming, always moving.  Sometimes it annoyed me, she'd never stay put. But it's the silence that's what does it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Manatee Baby; Voicemail.

Left on a voicemail at 2AM.  (Not actually, but use your imagination).

I dreamt we had a baby, and it had huge blue grey manatee eyes and asked a lot of questions. And we fought sometimes, and laughed sometimes, and I got sad when you got sad. And we carried him on our backs up mountains, and on subway cars. And he had big lips and would cry  the deepest cries, cry scales,  and make noise, and keep time on a plastic drum.  And we weren't ajways happy, and we weren't always sad, and we (the manatee baby and I)  would make pancakes when you slept in, tired from work. I'd let you sleep in. Let you dream. 

And this is odd, an odd thing to wake me, an odd thing to say, to call you and say. Not because it couldn't happen, because anything could, but because someone else is dreaming of an actual baby - with real eyes, and  sadness, happiness, slings, and breakfasts, and that's hers. It's tangible, almost, it's a thought that could be real for her, a wanted day dream that she deserves to piece together to have ownership in. I don't have that. This was just an image that woke me one night, of huge manatee eyes that looked like you and me . It's been a while so I forget what your eyes look like, but they were ours I guess.  Yours and mine.  
But the truth is it woudn't work.  I wouldn't let you sleep in,  I'd need your help and wake you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A poem (sort of).

And the world is small, and the world is big, and the world is many things in between.  And love is not what I thought it was, nor what i think it'll be. And nothing much is what it seemed, or seemed to me, when things used to rhyme, or seemed that they did... And perhaps my wants are getting closer to the want, I wanted before I wanted anything, before I really knew what it was like to want, stomach ache want, fear want, empty want, eggs and peanut butter want, and thought that someday we'd all just have. And my wants and haves are different now, different than my seems and woulds, due to could haves and shoulds. I thought I'd have a specific should but I don't. A should to hang my hat on.  There were a lot of shoulds who seemed like shouldn'ts, and shouldn'ts who seemed like shoulds, and for the most part, they were mostly good. And you wake one morning, take a bath, and realize that there wasn't one that got away, that perhaps it was you that got away, and there you are. So you get out of the tub and you dry yourself off and get dressed for your day.

(I haven't written a poem since I was a teenager, please forgive me).