Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Secret Life

When I was younger, maybe 10 or so, my girlfriends and I had decided that we were going to be world-famous pop stars when we grew up. Either that or cheerleaders. Or possibly hairdressers. All of these future professions were easily practiced in the privacy of our childhood bedrooms; braiding hair, working on our herkies and kicks, and singing longingly into hairbrushes, locking eyes with the fifth-grade heartthrobs we imagined were sitting in the “audience,” swooning over our fabulousness. For me, that was the best, (and possibly the most telling), part of the fantasy. Eric, Trevor, Noel, Jody — they were all there for the show, ready to fight to the death for the opportunity to make out with me under the bleachers after school. First I would have to figure out what exactly “making out” entailed, but my friends and I were pretty sure it had something to do with making sure you didn’t bump noses, and then swapping gum. How hard could it be?

In high school, when my activities took on some reality, I still fantasized about who might be watching in the audience. Even though there was an actual living and breathing crowd present at my tennis matches, track meets, and school plays, I was always searching for my father’s face; hoping he’d made it this time, that he’d been able to leave work early, or drag himself away from the football game, or later, the bar. I would imagine him sitting there, proud of his talented daughter, getting ready to buy me ice cream afterwards and pat me on the back. More fantasy.

Once I got married, my need for an invisible audience faded — I’m not sure if it’s because my life had become a little less Walter Mitty and a lot more open and real. I’d still bust a move in the kitchen every so often and wave to the adoring crowd, but mostly I just found happiness in having someone who actually did share my life, and was there to cheer me on, even if only to compliment a lasagna or appreciate my skill for a swift diaper change. However, married life does require a shared mystery, even when all the facts are known. I guess, over time, we both started seeing less and less of the selves we wished we were famous for, and started re-instituting the inhibitions we had dispensed with when things were good.

Now that I’m alone again, and often alone, I find myself wandering back into that mental place where I wonder what people would think if they saw me now. Not on stage, not styling the locks of some movie star, not dancing in a spangled halter-top to We Will Rock You. What they would think if they saw me picking up kids for playgroup. Cheering on Calder during soccer games. Picking tomatoes in the garden and relocating stray snakes in the yard. Going to the dump. Hanging upside-down from the monkey bars just to make Calder laugh. Crying over the legal paperwork. Crying over nothing. All the little things that make up a day, and eventually, a life for me. It’s not very exciting, but it requires little in the way of a microphone and a fake audience.

The people I have been turning to the most in the past year, for company, friendship, love, advice, etc., have been wonderful. Helpful. Inspiring. And yet, these people I’ve chosen to lean on are the people whose lives are the most unlike mine. Despite not being immersed in marriage and divorce and child-rearing and small-town politics, they can relate to pain and stress and uncertainty. Perhaps they superintend all the things about me just by being alive and sharing ineluctable history. Perhaps they just fucking ROCK. Sometimes they physically become part of my life for a short while, sharing in my daily stuff, but mostly, we just meet in the middle, and in my fantasy life, they observe from my imaginary sidelines. I do the things I do each day wondering if they would be proud of me, or discouraged at my choices. Whether they would think I was funny, or cool, or dorky, or pretty. I remember reading something about how we do not really become adults until we suffer a good whacking loss, and our lives in a sense catch up with us, and wash over us like a wave. Well, I’m hangin’ ten in the barrel, and I can only hope my audience is up there on the beach, cheering me on. Maybe someone will even have gum.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Lost Cause

Angel, won't you call me?
Could I be the only
though I am a lost cause,
Angel, won't you call me?

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Et Tu, Double D?

Dear Dunkin’ Donuts lady,

No. I do not want a muffin or a donut with that. Please stop asking me. You already put seventeen sugars in my coffee. Are you trying to kill me by suggestively selling me a delicious chocolate-glazed donut? Or a four-pound blueberry muffin? Don’t you understand that I’m WEAK? Please don’t make me boycott you, Dunkin’ Donuts lady. Please don’t make me go to Starbucks where I have to learn all sorts of fancy ordering instructions. I just want my 2000-calorie coffee. Thank you.


Monday, September 17, 2007

This is REALLY good.

If I thought I could pull it off, I would…

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Longest Day

One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul, and yet no one ever comes to sit by it.

- Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I've just reserved my place in Hell.

Calder and I had to run a few errands this morning; I needed a new color cartridge for my printer, so we trotted into the local Staples. Sold out. Office Max: on backorder. “Try Wal-Mart,” suggested the 13-year old clerk with the sapphire (sapphire!?!) braces.

I know better. Every time I set foot in a Wal-Mart, Calder has to use the bathroom. No matter if he’s just gone, no matter if he’s been deprived of food and water for days; the moment we set foot in the place, some mysterious force overtakes his bowels, where there will be NO rollback, and he informs me, fortissimo, that he has to go poop. NOW. And so off we go, into what has to be the nastiest chain of public bathrooms in the history of elimination. Why do these places ALWAYS smell like diaper pail? Or mildewy mop, with a soup├žon of… what is that? SACHET? No matter how fancy the Wal-Mart (and the one near me is far from fancy), the bathrooms always smell like ass. There’s invariably a mob in there as well, everyone avoiding everyone else’s eyes, feigning ignorance of the stench. It's fine! Fresh as a daisy! My goal, when I have to take Calder into one of these places, is to get in and get out, preferably holding my breath the entire time. Trying to get him to avoid touching anything is another story.

Today was no different. We were headed for the ink cartridge aisle when Calder made his pronouncement. I grabbed his hand and beat it towards the bathroom. Stinky. All the regular-sized stalls were in use, so we went into the oversized/disabled stall. I would never ever ever park in a handicapped parking space, but I usually don’t hesitate to jump into the big stall, especially when there’s no one else waiting and I’m trying to squeeze a hyper kid in there with me. There’s all that extra room for bouncing off walls and pointing to the feminine hygiene receptacle and loudly asking “why is there a mailbox on the wall?”

As we were, you know, hanging out in there, I heard mumbling from right outside our door. I said “just a minute!” More mumbling. There was also a lot of typical bathroom noise; flushing, sinks, blowdryers, gagging, etc., but there was no mistaking that the mumbling, and maybe even some tapping was really close to our particular stall. Kind of obnoxious, no? I stopped holding my breath long enough to say “coming!” and went to get some toilet paper for the kid. I think we got the last three squares. The roller-thingy was completely empty. No reserves. Nevertheless, I managed a solution and we got ready to get out. Just as we were gathering our things, there was yet another nasty-sounding mumble and a distinct rapping on the door. Now, I can only hold my breath for like, two minutes, so I know we couldn’t have been in there for very long. I opened the door, laden with purse and germy child, and said “hold your fucking horses, please.” Right into the face of a nun.


I forgot to tell her there was no toilet paper.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I can't fail if I don't give up

a man who had fallen among thieves
lay by the roadside on his back
dressed in fifteenthrate ideas
wearing a round jeer for a hat