Thursday, January 28, 2010

GIRLS


















A girl walks down a dirt road, balancing a pail of river water on her head. A girl sells small paper cups of lemonade on the sidewalk in front of her step-father’s house. A girl leads her family’s sheep down a mountainside of green. A girl sits with a small black chalkboard on her lap, practicing her letters. A girl eats a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich alone in the lunchroom. A girl walks swiftly and silently to her secret school. 

A girl sings GIRLS ARE BETTER THAN BOYS on the jungle gym and pronounces publicly that GIRLS RULE by writing it all over the cover of her notebook. She plays on a basketball team. She is the only girl. She wears a tee-shirt, ponytail, mesh shorts and black high-top sneakers. One day, while scrimmaging another team of boys, she is singled out by a red head on the other team. He has to cover her. He doesn’t like that very much and so to prevent her from doing anything he’d be embarrassed to let happen, he pushes and fouls until the coaches blow their whistles and the boy is subbed out. As he walks to the sideline, the girl throws the basketball and hits the back of his head. Humiliating him. I am this girl.  

A girl buys a bouquet of wild flowers at a crowded street market. A girl dances, spinning her red dress until the morning after her brother’s wedding. A girl is raped and murdered in the woods beside her elementary school. A girl has her first kiss outside the local ice cream stand on a rainy afternoon in July. A girl is swept through her window and into the warm, hard waves of a sudden tsunami. A girl sits in the courtroom while a gentle judge asks her to choose between her father and her mother. A girl is married off to an old rich man who smiles at her strangely. A girl giggles with her friends at a small salon on the corner of Childhood and Womanhood. 


Every girl everywhere is given different shoes to wear and every girl everywhere must learn how to walk. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

My mind dresses in long black dresses




The tremendously tragic thought of Scott dying has bewitched my brain. The roads are really icy today.
What if there's a school shooting? What if he has some horrible, hidden disease we don't know about and one day he just drops dead?

Putting these thoughts to type frightens me to think that I have jinxed it all into making today the day it happens. Is jinx politically correct? Or is it like saying you got gypped? Because if he died, I would be gypped from having jinxed myself.

I would be a widow. A twenty-six-year old widow. Married not even a year. He, dead after twenty-five incomplete years. He fears time passes too fast for him to keep up with now. If he died, I know he would float around the world staring at people and wondering why he couldn't be among them like Bill Cosby in Ghost Dad.

Part of my fear is that I would have only selfish sadness. What would happen to me, me, me? I would lose my husband, my best friend in the whole wide world, my theater director, my bed mate, the person I wake up early with to make coffee, breakfast and a bagged lunch for, my personal comedian, my love. I would lose all of these people. Numbers that could compete with Hamlet's Act V, scene ii. Everybody in my world: dead, dead, dead.

Ok, it wouldn't be everybody, I have many others. But no one who can wear all of those size-twelve shoes.

I've thought this through so thoroughly, I've actually convinced myself that it is going to happen soon and my thoughts have been a heads up. An enjoy these last two weeks, they're your last with him warning. But I haven't done anything different. I hug him a little harder I guess, but really that's about it. What else can I do? Keep him from leaving the house? I've considered it, but it could happen here too. He could be sleeping in while I'm at work and a fire could be blazing around him, trapping him in our bedroom. A coyote could walk in and beat him up, while our puppy, Penny cries in the corner. A robber could break in and steal our computer and then shoot him! He could get eaten by a bear.

See? Morbid, unprovoked thoughts. I am sick, sick, SICK.


While I am on break at work yesterday. I text him,Love you!” But it isn't to say that I love him. It is really to say. Text me that you love me back so I know you are alive.
He doesn't message me back. So for the last three hours of my shift, whenever the store phone rings (twice every minute), I wait for someone to announce, Good afternoon team members, Rachel in Customer Service, your husband is on Line Two, he's dying.

This call doesn't happen.

I think this all started a couple of weeks ago when I asked him about the psychic he once saw. He had always told me that she said he would be a lawyer when he grew up. So I always took this to mean that he would be alive to grow up.

“She was just some lady hired for a bar mitzvah. She just read my palm.” He said.

And that was that. My backbone broke. All this time I thought he had seen a real psychic who would have warned him of a young death. Showed him the flipped Death Card. But no, she was just some weird lady hired for a twelve-year old's party.

I need to take myself and my imagination on a vacation with Scott so that I may follow him around and sooth my mental madness.



Friday, January 22, 2010

Growing Away


This cold morning, I am listening to sad music and mourning the friendships I have lost. Some of them, I could probably find if I looked hard enough. But most of them are so well hidden in the camouflages of time passage, that we wouldn't see what we once were together even if we crashed into one another on top of our old stomping grounds. Instead we would talk about what has happened since we have become strangers. We would decide that we should meet up soon, but neither person would have the full intention to follow through, to call, to email or even to purposely see that person ever again. We may even avoid one another, simultaneously sneak out opposite side doors of the grocery store we are both in at the same time, ducking like cowards into parked cars, bathroom stalls and pausing trains. Scared of our inability to deal with growing up and growing away.

Perhaps
I am blaming others when really it is all my fault. It was and is my carelessness. I did not put them in safe places. I should have been more organized. If I was more organized, I would not have lost them. But I was busy and when I am busy, my things pig pile in shambled dresser drawers and boxes of unopened bills, bent photos, reread letters, pants that no longer fit, sticky notes and dried flowers. And when too much time goes by and it is warm outside, I clean. This is usually when I decide what to keep and who to throw away. Because the warm sun brings optimism for a new beginning and blinds me from my present lonely middle and my future dwindling end.

Life is like a box of chocolates, Tom Hanks once poignantly pointed out on a park bench in an Oscar winning performance, you never know what you're going to get. A sugar rush. An explosion of drippy raspberry filling. Five pounds clinging desperately to your hips. A sharp tooth ache. A momentary distraction that can quiet city traffic and even the nightly news. But it isn't only what you get that matters. It is how well you preserve and savor the good chocolates (the ones with coconut or peanuts or caramel). Freeze them. You can freeze them. Or you can just eat them more slowly. I had never thought to freeze anything because I had always eaten everything too fast. I'd barely chew, let alone enjoy the comfort of a mouth full of sugar and cacao.


I'm going to get organized. Figuratively organized (my actual dresser will never keep my clothes folded past laundry day). I'll keep in touch with everyone. Never lose another friend to Time.




What am I saying? I am a clumsy, lazy mess. I won't do that.


I'll take smaller bites. That's what I'll do. Enjoy whatever piece of sweetness I have melting between my fingers at the moment.

Yeah, I can do that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

CAUTION: needless profanity about poop and sex










As we brush our teeth late Saturday night, Scott berates me with silly, crude questions that make me laugh, gag and question our maturity.
Would you rather take a small bite of poop OR drink a large vat of saliva... someone else's saliva that has been sitting out, so it's warm saliva.
Saliva.
Ok ok ok, would you rather poop every two hours OR fart every five minutes?
Poop every two hours.
Would you rather have three boobs or no boobs at all?

Do I get nipples?

Yes, but you can't ever breast feed.


No boobs. My turn, would you rather be ass-raped by a crazy goblin who wants to snuggle with you in his dark scary cave until the sun comes up OR eat a steaming bowl of poop?


Ass rape. Because if he wants to snuggle that means he's not that bad, he's got a sensitive side.




Would you rather?

I would rather NOT.



But if I had to choose between eating a bowl of poop drizzled with maple syrup or a bowl of poop dressed with lemon juice.


I would choose maple syrup.






Monday, January 11, 2010

I ring up groceries. Then I bag them in paper bags.




“Can you put all the cold stuff together? Double bag please, they ALWAYS break....and bread on top.”

I agree with their requests like they are new, brilliant discoveries of grocery bagging technique.

Ok, let me see if I understand you correctly. You'd like the fish separate from the bag of flour and you'd like the hot soup not in the bag with the goat cheese? Got it. I GOT IT ALL UNDER CONTROL. I think I understand now. Thank you for your thoughts. Really I was about to put your ice cream with the rotisserie chicken and the frozen peas in your coat pocket. THANK GOD YOU TOLD ME TO PUT THE COLD STUFF TOGETHER.

We are encouraged to talk about the food customers are buying.

“Lemons are great, I cook with them all the time. Mmhmm!”

This cake is so beautiful. I love this cake. This cake looks good.”

“This bouquet is pretty enough for a wedding proposal. Are you proposing to the woman of your dreams later on? Cause I think the weather is just right, not too windy, not too cold, but crisp and the sun is out, thank goodness for the sun!, except it goes down so early. I cannot wait for Spring.”

Some cashiers are the queens and kings of comfortable, thoughtful small talk. And often I hear them turn their small talk with customers into real conversations. From weather to the stock market. From cantaloupe ripeness to big weddings. From corn flakes to the local crime scene.

All the while, I stand quietly listening to my register beep bar codes. Because there is something in my blood that prevents me from successfully acting artificial when my shoulders ache and my legs are stiff from standing all day. But occasionally I try. The result is usually creepy and awkward.

Recently, cinnamon came down the belt toward me in a plastic bag.

I love when people buy cinnamon because then I get to SMELL it.”

The customer nodded his head. He looked slightly confused. And I thought: never again.

Many times, customers do not know what to do during the process of buying groceries. When I look at them and say, hihowareyou?, they shove bottle return slips and coupons in my face. Then tell me that their yogurt is on sale 10/$5.

Then the demanding, obvious and/or sometimes strange bagging requests begin.I have a long driveway. So can you make them extremely light BUT double bag them, please double them.”

Many customers simply don't care. “Naw, just throw it in, I'm not picky.”

And then I start to wonder if this person can actually handle the responsibility of carrying the groceries into his/her house. Are these groceries safe? I wonder. What if this customer just throws the bags into his trunk and things fall down? WHAT IF THINGS FALL DOWN? Bagging groceries for the worried has made me feel like I am working in an adoption center, handing out bags of babies all day long. I tape every lid that might open and stretch elastics around every plastic container of strawberries. I'm just as bad as the crazies who want their milk gallons in bags. 

Then there is the end of the transaction. “Your total is $65.01”

The customer has already been standing on the other side of the counter with her money in hand, ready like whenever I take a taxi. She wants this to be as fast as possible. No one wants to be the one holding up the line. Unfortunately for them, I don't mind. I will wait for a penny. “Do you have a penny?” I ask.

Huh? Ah... I might.” And then the customer goes hunting. Pockets, fanny packs, bottomless Mary Poppins pocketbooks, change purses. “I don't. I don't have a penny. I used all my change at the last place.” Yeah, likely story. “Can I give you $81?” That's dumb. “You don't have a bowl for pennies?”

No, sometimes people leave them, but I don't have any now.So I take the $81. and hand her back the change. The customer slaps the four pennies onto the counter.”

“For the next guy.She says. This infuriates me. This should not infuriate me, but it does because this is exactly the reason why she didn't have a penny in the first place.


I ring up groceries. Then I bag them in paper bags. Then I look at the clock and count on my fingers how many hours I have until I get to leave.



Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Putitdown.

We run down Depot Road, my dog and I. Almost home.

Then I feel Penny pull. I look down. She has a flat brown thing between her teeth. A dead bird, a small corpse covered in slippery wet feathers, I decide.

And like an idiot who yells at someone who doesn't know his/her language, I yell and yank for Penny to understand me, "
PUT IT DOWN! DoOooownNa.Putitdown. Penny! Drop it. DROP IT!"


She twists her neck to avoid my tentative fingers, but I reach and pinch the mystery meat and pull it away. It looks like beef, cooked and seasoned. Is it the thigh of a rodent? Could be. Could definitely be. But then I see the cooking skewer hanging from her jaw like an old fashioned cigarette holder. I throw the cig into the snow and dangle the last piece of greasy roadside meat above her head. I do not ask her to Sit, Come, Stay or lay Down. I throw the kabob to the cold cement and wipe my fingers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Self-Inflicting Ego Injuries

There are nine small red candles sitting on the small green Christmas tree on New Year's Eve. Sheila and Liesel decide that every candle represents something in the year 2010 that we each need to let go of. Nine excuses that keep us from our creative pursuits. After the candles are lit, we write these things down and as the candles burn out one at a time, we are to let go of that number on our list.

My nine things:
one. My lack of time.
two. Fear that I will run out of things to say.
three.
Inexperience.

four.
Lack of education.

five. Fear of rejection letters.
six. Fear of my own stupidity.
seven.
Doubt. I should, for once in my life, be focusing on a real career.

eight.
Fear that my work is boring because I am boring.

nine.
Fear of failure to succeed at anything I pursue.
This is not for pity. This is for honesty. Everyone has self-inflicting ego injuries regarding his/her own life, own person pursuits. I recommend you know yours and write yours.

Then try to keep all of the nine flames out.