I spent a summer interning for a Supreme Court justice. She was old, her hands translucent as onionskin, and she told me to think. “I mean really.” I watched closed family court trials in Kew Gardens, criminal cases in Jamaica, and sorted estate papers for an attorney on Fifth Avenue. A man micro waved his baby. The D.A. told me all he did was deal with scum all day. I wasn’t going to be that type. Corporate law, M & A, Entertainment… it’s neat and clean… manicured fingernails. I was certain I would be a lawyer based on the smart-ass, never-mess-with-Stephanie thing I had going on. Teachers tell you. Your parents tell you. Everyone thinks because you’re quick and sass you should be a lawyer. The freedom music swells. Lawyers push papers, spend most of their days trying to find billable hours; some of them go home to sob, dreading Monday. Surprisingly most of my closest friends are now lawyers: my college roommate, my ex-boyfriend, my cocktail chiclet partners (there are at least 5 of them). Some of them hate it. HATE IT. Others are optimistic. I’m certain many law school students are there because they’re uncertain about life. Everyone always told them; everyone can’t be wrong. Cut biscuits. Learning, studying, libraries, essays. I could lick it up, like salt off a palm before the shot and lime. I excelled. So what stopped me from joining the ranks of the confused? A doctor’s appointment… “Okay, now you’re feeling a cotton swab. Just taking some of the cells.” Oh, God. “It might pinch a little, is that okay? You’re going to feel this. Okay, now I’m staining the cervix with acid; it might sting.” Oh, god. “Okay now you’ll feel that 10 seconds of severe cramping I told you about. Are you ready?” Just do it already. Don’t tell me about it. Get this over with. “Yeah.” “Now, you’ll feel quite a few pinches. Those are the biopsies.” Quite a few? Oh my God, that means that there are a lot of abnormal cells. “Okay, here’s the first.” I felt my arms stiffen, pressing into my chest. “You’ll feel a pinch— ready?” I heard a snapping sound, a clip, like a lock of hair out of the way and the sides of the blades clicking back together. It was as if something hard was just snipped away. My legs jumped like they do just as I’m falling asleep at night—quick, involuntary. “Okay, now another.” Oh my god, that was the worst part, like clipping off a fingernail too low, snap. “Now, I’m going to put on this black medicine to stop the bleeding. Your discharge will look like tobacco for the next few days. Okay, you’re all done.” I was shaking, and I wanted to cry. He moved the electronic table to a seated position asking me not to get up too fast. “Are you okay? Dizzy?” No! I’m fine. Get the fcuk out and let me put my pants on. Let me get out. Hurry up and leave already! Get out of here. “I’m fine.” He left, and I was able to finally stand, the groin towel fell, damp with my sweat. Before I sat on the chair with all of my things, I slipped a few pieces of tissue in my underwear and put on my socks. I started gulping in air; I was too nervous to stand. I had to get my pants on before the nurses came in. I was hot and nervous and the next thing I knew, I was back on the table with two nurses, one on each side of me, one taking my blood pressure and the other waving an ammonia packet in my nose. I thought of gray chopped meat that had passed its expiration date. “Her pressure is 75 over 40.” I knew that was low. The nurse that had just taken my blood pressure began to wipe my face with damp gauze. I kept thinking of the fact that she was taking off my make-up and I worried that my skin would look uneven. They asked me how I was feeling, but I wanted to be silent. There was no use for language. I didn’t care to explain to anyone what I just went through or how I felt about anything. I lost interest in speech, nodded my head, and went mute. That cancer scare was as real as a Buick. In retrospect, it was my oars. I turned around, said no thank you to law and decided to do anything creative. Yes, we know, even accountants can be “creative.” I’m talking getting your hands in it, glue, markers, and colors. Thank the governing forces, okay God, that I was fine, cancer-free. I wouldn’t be the writer, photographer, art director…
My day has been beats of modulated movement. A progression of chords moving to a harmonic close–a sense of resolution. Cadence. Maybe it’s the dandruff weather in the city today, but I miss college. At school, I never had to abide bad weather; underground tunnels weaved through streets, beneath buildings, like something out of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I tunneled to class, then broke through, up stairs, and sat buried in a coat, glutting a lecture, observing the plump flakes float, hanging in the air like smoke. I absorbed time until it was severed with a bell. Everyone can be culled. Now that I’m out longer than I was in, my brain is beginning to limp. My photography and writing classes help, but I need to feed on some philosophy or literary theory. I need a deep pore cleaner for my literary brain. Something with the word super or extra in it. There is a remedy for this of course. Poetry. Kicking back with some Anne Sexton or Sharon Olds is the perfect night. I’m beginning to think I’m really a loser. The past few nights, all I’ve done is gone home to write fiction, to jot down lists of lines with edge. I need some help. Sexton and Olds are my collaborative muse. Ladies, you’re gorgeous. I remember –Anne Sexton– By the first of August the invisible beetles began to snore and the grass was as tough as hemp and was no color — no more than the sand was a color and we had worn our bare feet bare since the twentieth of June and there were times we forgot to wind up your alarm clock and some nights we took our gin warm and neat from old jelly glasses while the sun blew out of sight like a red picture hat and one day I tied my hair back with a ribbon and you said that I looked almost like a puritan lady and what I remember best is that the door to your room was the door to mine.
I might have been the president of the science club when I was in high school, but I did not eat hot lunch. I can hear it even now, “Ew, gross, he’s eating hot lunch.” Meatballs and overcooked spaghetti, oooh and garlic bread—bring it on. Hot lunch envy. What’s up, though, with those tiny juices? The nugget of a drink, like a mini box of milk, but it’s got an apple smiling at you. Ah, portion control. Well done. When I’m a mom, I’m going to google good ideas for kids’ lunches. Carrots? Pahleeze.
My nose is running and periodically throughout the episode my hands sweep over my face, pushing tears into my hair. The final episode of Sex and The City aired tonight. I couldn’t watch it with anyone… I feared someone might talk or cry or do something to cause me to miss even a second of my life on screen. It’s only my life because of the search to feel complete within myself. Like my dog, the show has seen me through boyfriends and breakups. Through a marriage, through some crap ex-boyfriend actually stealing the first three seasons on DVD from my apartment. I’m sure of it. I realized after watching that episode why I cried so much. Because I’m still searching, too. Looking for that love, the kind that is inconvenient, and consumes you, and makes life filled with those memories that taste good. Aftertaste. I want that passion and love and devotion in my life again. I don’t feel empty without it, but it certainly is missing. Perhaps I analyze too much, am too critical or not critical enough. When life seems unbearable, after finding my ex lied to my face, the whole time coming home trying to get me pregnant… and after living through an abortion for a baby I wanted… for a life I wanted, I didn’t mourn. I picked myself up, said fcuk you, wiped my tears and began to date again. I’m sick of never choosing men. I was fat all my life, and fat girls get chosen last for everything from kickball, to seven minutes in heaven, to dance. I had no choice. I liked the boys that liked me growing up, the ones who played chess and dungeons and dragons… lets face it. I didn’t have choices; I had Mexican gardeners who pushed leave blowers staring at me. I didn’t get to choose boys. Now I have choice, and I always pick what is safe, the one who likes me best and shows it. I pick the men who fall all over themselves showing me how much they like me, how great they think I am. But if they didn’t, would I even want them? Then I think of times when I was in pain, curled in fetal position, crying for god to please take the pain away, please protect me, please give me strength to get through this, please. Then I swallow and let the tears go. I remember that pain and wonder, what’s wrong with a safe bet? I look in Hallmark stores with the rows of sympathy cards. We all suffer, and we all want someone safe there to catch us, to wipe our tears, to bring us ice cream and hold our hand. What’s wrong with someone who loves me to death… is that so bad? It’s what we’re all looking for… but it can’t be everything… I have to love myself to death first. And I’m not there yet. But I will be.
Click here to see all the pictures from that night. The chicklets gather to celebrate our beautiful Jen’s 28th at Zitoune on Gansevoort in the meatpacking district. Somehow I ended up eating a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery with my wine. It’s all good. Then, I headed to Rhone with some of the ladies… then home to cuddle with Linus come 3am. Jen and Erin took off to Marquee. I abhor clubs… really, just kill me now. All in all, oh what a night. Love my girls. And of course best birthday wishes to our lovely Jen Choi. Thanks to her new fiance Richard Kang and to the ultra fabulous Kimberly for putting the bash together!
All morning I’ve been listening to Tom Waits sing “I hope I Don’t Fall in Love with You.” Repeat. I was never a Tom Waits fan, and I’m still not. I first heard Natalie Merchant sing it, and once I learned it was a cover, I had to hear the original. Tom Waits does it better. Once an ex seduced me by playing it on his guitar. Point for him. The music I listen to might as well be a chick flick. I’m such a sucker for acoustic guitar. If my life had a soundtrack, all the songs but one would be played with an acoustic guitar. The ACDC pole dance song, You Shook Me All Night Long, would remain hard. When men meet me for the first time, they sometimes ask, “What do you listen to?” Notice when women meet for the first time, we never ask this question. And the thing is, if you’re a woman and interested in a guy who asks you this, you’ll answer something safe most times. U2, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band. A better question, “What’s on your ipod recently played list?” I believe that we all have this deep desire to connect with someone, and to do it, we look for common interests or tastes. Wow, you like Pearl Jam too? Big deal, who doesn’t? And any guy who right off the cuff tells me he likes Norah Jones, Dido, or The Indigo Girls… I’ve got to look down at his drink and make sure it doesn’t have more color than a dirty martini. Fruit Salad. There’s so much judgment passed on people based on what they listen to (and what they drink). And those of you who answer back, “I listen to all different stuff.” Just come on. We all listen to myriad types of music. Duh. Pick something, will you? Anyone who gives you that answer… they are a people pleaser… be warned. Red Flag. See, I told you. Judgments. And just FYI, I listen to The Shins, Colin Hay, Coldplay, Dido, Nick Drake, Amel Larrieux, Barenaked Ladies, Crash Test Dummies, Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, Erika Badu, Eva Cassidy, India Arie, John Mayer, Joni Mitchell, Kasey Chambers, Lauren Hill (I LOVE HER, BUT WHERE IS SHE?), Louis Armstrong, Moxy Fruvous, Nikki Costa, Patsy Cline, REM, Remy Zero, Radiohead, Renaud, Simon & Garfunkel, Susan Tedeschi, Taj Mahal, The Postal Service, They Might Be Giants, Tina Turner, Tori Amos, Tracy Chapman, Train, Travis, The Wallflowers, Vonda Shepard, and of course my Natalie Merchant. Please, no judgments. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t get along… um, except if you listen to White Fang, White Snake, or any other band that sounds scary. Then you can just forget it, you whack.
We’re in a cab headed north. He is headed south. My pants are pulled to my ankles. I assume he tipped the driver well. We’ve arrived at his apartment, and suddenly we’re even past his doormen and in his elevator. I’m going home with this guy. I have never in my life done anything like this.
St. Valentine’s day isn’t about love; it’s about envy. Instead of pink and red, everything should just be green like St. Patty’s Day, except without the stout.
1. Larry Johnson made an L signal with his arms only during Knicks playoff games. 2. Baseball is only team sport where: a) manager wears uniform; b) playing fields are not the same from stadium to stadium; c) you can fail 65% of the time and be considered the best in the business; d) where the offense does not have the ball 3. Stephon Marbury, who was just traded to the Knicks, grew up in Brooklyn and went to Lincoln High School. 4. Karl Malone is the “Mailman” cause he delivers. 5. Julius Erving is “The Doctor” cause he makes howze calls. 6. Kobe Bryant is named after Kobe Beef 7. Peyton Manning is quarterback for The Colts. His father Archie was a great NFL quartback for the Saints, and Peyton’s younger brother Eli will be a first round draft pick in this year’s NFL draft. Keep it in the family boys. 8. Yao Ming, who is from China and plays for the Houston Rockets is 7’6”… his mother is 6’3”, and his father is 6’10”. 9. I love grandfather clauses, which permit old-school players, who joined the NHL prior to mandatory helmets, to now play without any protective headgear. So old school. 10. I sometimes call my dog Linus “Lebrinus” after LeBron James because the boy can catch some air. People say athletes are thugs during interviews, perhaps as well spoken as last night’s Best in Show champion Newfoundland (pictured above), but Sprewell is very articulate. Go ahead and add Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo (Dikembo Mutombo for short) to that list. He can answer in English, French, Spanish, Portugese or any one of five African dialects. Well done, gentlemen. Now, if I could only say the same of their spectators. At any sporting event in Madison Square Garden, it’s no surprise to find men wearing sports jerseys and duo-toned face paint screaming about the ref’s wife. They’re the type of men who go to Irish pubs and have goatees; they have definitely mooned more than one person in their lifetime. They use toothpicks after meals. These men all played football or hockey when they were younger, but now, they play softball. Take that scene and reverse it. You now have the spectators at The Westminster Dog Show, housed in Madison Square Garden. The space is the same, but the players have changed. Security isn’t just checking bags for explosives; they’re ensuring no one is smuggling in another dog. Bouffants, powder puffs, hairspray, I’m talking about the women, not the dogs. Lots of white haired women with spackled makeup wear their fur coats; it’s becoming cliché. Fur to a dog show is like wearing red to a funeral. Bored married men wearing Hushpuppies smile a little too long at me—their heads turn, and their Chanel-pin-wearing, Manolo’s-even-in-the-rain, I-get-my-hair-blown-smooth-every-third-day wives notice. They clutch his arm and lead him. They become their husband’s handler for the night. Since when is a Dachshund a hound? Excuse me, but they’re Gray’s Papaya’s bundled in knit and should not be in the same ring as a Bloodhound whose shite is bigger than the dachshund by two. The Briand is not something you smear onto a baguette and pair with a tasty Chianti; it’s a dog. What the hell is the difference between working and sporting groups? Every time I attempt any sport, it feels like work. These poor dogs get an unfair wrap. Like the above list of interesting sports tid-bits, you’ll hear similar facts (and rumors) in Madison Square Garden… about dogs. The dog nerd beside me (yes, the kind that buys the program) drip-feeds me information throughout the evening. “Pulik” flashes on the board in lights as a mop of a dog struts his rump. “Aw, what a cute Pulik.” Dog nerd corrects me, “It’s pronounced Puli.” Her voice is nasal. “Pulik is plural, like oxen.” Dog nerd goes on, “And that dog’s owner brings terrible shame to the community.” She then leans in closer; I can smell her breath. She whispers in a voice reserved for dreaded things, “puppy mills.” She brings a new meaning to “Dog Whisperer.” (If you enjoyed this post, check out Dogs & Their Owners)
I had a project in kindergarten to make a cookbook. Everyone in the class had to bring in a typed copy of a favorite recipe. Cheese Puffs. Photocopies were made–hole punches included. We had to bind the recipe pages with yarn and create our own covers, which would later be laminated. Some kids traced their hand and made a turkey. Some drew fish or family members. Rainbows were popular. I told the teacher I wanted to sew. I sewed two pieces of construction paper together, sewing my name in thick colored yarn. The e came out backward: very Toys R Us. Construction paper, rubber cement, yarn and glitter contained behind the lamination. Cooking 101. Kindergarten is about playground carpeting–sprawling out on your stomach, sore elbows, your first rug burn incident. Small chairs and wooden desks. Monkey bars and glue. Concentrating, yet lost in time–your tongue curls itself outside the corner of your mouth. Finger painting. At what age do we stop getting dirty–stop digging our hands in? Brushes get introduced to keep fingernails clean, like a fork or a knife. The only time now I get my hands dirty is when I cook or have really dirty seex. Crushing tomatoes in my hands, letting the jelly and seeds seep through my fingers, pulling the pulp into strips. Viscous and lovely. I suppose they make hand blenders and food mills for this task. I know why I stopped jumping on the bed. I broke it having seex, so jumping on it wasn’t a good idea, but when did we get so clean? Freud would have so much more to get wrong these days. The sublimation of fecal fixation as displayed by artists and chefs is no longer apparent. We’re not getting in it anymore. We’ve become sterile. And now, we’re aware of every hour, minutes are accounted for. Time sheets submitted. My New Year’s Resolution was to let my tongue hang out. It’s not about panting, picking fights, or making a pass. It’s about letting hours feel like minutes. Getting dirty and involved, letting my tongue out. It’s just not living anymore with neatly arranged catalog lives, polaroids taped to shoe boxes, everything in it’s place. Manicured nails and lawns–a holder for your kitchen sponge. I miss wearing a smock. I’d be wary of anyone who can cook and keeps their hands clean. They can’t fcuk at all, and when they do have “intercourse,” it’s probably clean and orderly, like boxes of soap. Get dirty, sing with your eyes closed; let your tongue do what it wants. Get a heap full of life on your hands.
Hair in a bun, big tee shirt, sweats. Bundled beneath white down, ready to read, “Bird by Bird” resting open on my chest. My little bully comes along, decides he’d like to be my necklace. Pushes the book closed with his paw, swift as wind he’s in my face, his warm pink belly on my breasts, his tongue lodged in my nose.
Here’s what you don’t know about B&H Photo. They have food stands to keep you there. Restrooms and food stands. Free Coke, seltzer and lots of pretzel nuggets. And sugar, bowls filled with hard candies on nearly every corner. They’re not dumb, fueling you full of stimulants. Shop, shop, damn it, shop! If you know what you want, you can walk right up to a man, wait for a cue, “I’m listening,” then bark your list, he types, you’re done. A green plastic basket is then awaiting your arrival at checkout. 5 minutes flat. I went in control this time. In and out, easy. Going to B&H Photo is a little like grocery shopping when I’m hungry. Before going next time, I’ll check my Amex balance first, maybe print it out and pocket it. Today I went with a list. The list was strict and written on a folded index card in black pen. No pencils here. I brought with me every bit of camera equipment that I own, pulled over my shoulder, just incase I questioned straying from the list. The weight of it all would keep me questioning any reckless purchase. 105 Macro lens was third on my list, but definitely the most expensive item. Fujipress 800, Kodak HIE, 105 Macro lens, 500w EBW bulbs (2) with brackets, gold/silver reflector card. What I left with: 81A Amber filter for a 62mm, Fog Filter 62mm, Close-up filter kit of 3, Filter Case, 105 Macro lens, and all the film, plus two more. $570.79 bill in hand, 2 hours later. Okay, sure, I rationalized that the new digital camera that I just spent $2,000 on would save me money in the long run, right, no more film to buy or develop. Wrong. With a digital camera, you feel like you’re cheating. Photoshop it up if it’s not what you hoped for. It’s like re-writing an old story with a few strokes of a red pen. It doesn’t count; it’s not original. All week I was somehow too busy to shoot for my photography class… the one that meets on Monday nights. Assignment: to shoot 2 rolls of film in the style of your favorite movie or movie director. The problem, of course, with this assignment is that I have too many favorite movies, yet none of them seem classic. The one movie I recalled as being beautifully shot is Unfaithful. Modern crops, some grain, good aperture. The trick is not picking a movie just because it’s beautiful. I certainly can’t replicate Antarctica, Africa or Thailand. It’s about replicating style, not subject matter. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, too cliché. I came home and watched Unfaithful until it was time for “Sex and the City.” Then I cried. I want babies. So that leaves Monday afternoon for my photo shoot. Hello Grand Central Terminal. Unless any of you have any good ideas… “I’m listening.” Here’s where I ended up, an homage to Pleasantville.