In Her Shell
"We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one." ~John Updike
The Kids Are All Right
This week in class we discussed William Blake's Songs of Innocence
and Songs of Experience
We read "The Lamb" and "The Tyger" and talked about symbolism, looking at Blake's illustrations for his work. And because every high school junior needs a mental break once in a while, I asked them to team up and draw their own parallel symbols of innocence and experience.
One of the teams drew a cow on the "innocence" side of their paper, and for "experience," they drew a steak.
"You have to wake up a virgin each morning." ~Jean-Louis Barrault
We only went on two dates, but I went way too far with him way too fast. I spent the night in his bed after our first date, partially because I thought it was romantic that he kissed me when I was mid-sentence on a couch at Bar Nine. Now I realize that he just wasn't paying attention to what I was saying, and I just wanted someone to make me feel attractive again.
He was short and smarmy with curly blond-tipped hair, a recent transplant from California. He really liked Robert Downey Jr., which should have been a red flag. I mean, I like Robert Downey Jr., but he REALLY liked Robert Downey Jr. After the whole drug-addled breaking and entering incident, one has to distance oneself at least slightly.
I woke up the next morning, New Year's Eve morning 1999, facing the wall of his apartment and a window that looked out on a dingy courtyard in Hell's Kitchen. I heard helicopters and felt my chest tighten; I thought for sure that everyone's paranoid Y2K fears had come true and I was going to have to face the end of the world with him.
When the world didn't end, I took a bus to my parents' house, and spent what I intuitively knew would be our last holiday together as a family unit. I took the car and drove to the end of Jocelyn Court, where they hadn't finished building the new houses yet. Copeland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" was playing on the radio, and I got out and lay on the hood and stared into the blackness. Out of it came a shooting star.
The Troll had wanted me to go with him to Times Square.
We went on one more date, to that crappy Stuart Little movie because he bragged that he had read the script when he worked at Disney. I wore the "Regardes-moi dans les yeux" shirt that I got at a street fair in Paris, but did not brag about that. Taking some bad advice from a friend, I also did not bring up the fact that we should not have snogged so intensely on our last date. Consequently, things were awkward, and doomed.
doesn't just mean staying still.
An object at rest will tend to stay at rest, but an object in motion will keep moving, unless acted on by an outside force. This is physics.
Which holds more danger: sitting still by the window, or rolling slowly forward, without will to stop or change course?
Momentum can be inertia too. That's scarier, I think.
Marriage Proposals I've Received
Over the headset while Assistant Stage Manager at a summer stock theater at the Jersey Shore, I agreed to a safety net proposal by one of the crew members. I was 19 at the time, and if neither of us is married by the time we are 39, each has a ready spouse in the other. Soon after sealing that deal, everyone else within earshot (i.e., everyone wearing a headset) became engaged to everyone else within earshot. If the first deal falls through, I now have a backup for every following decade, though we'd have to go to Massachusetts or Hawaii for at least one of them. I think only the first agreement is binding, though, because it was later sealed with a candy ring.
Wandering through London's SoHo on my 21st birthday, a homeless man with an Irish accent asked me for some change. I shook my head and said, "Sorry, I don't have any," walking on. He shouted after us, "Will you marry me then?" "I'm too young!" I shouted back. Later that night, I performed my final exam for a Comedy class: a 10-minute stand-up routine in a club. Floating on the laughter of the crowd, I was offered another gig and several free drinks and cigarettes, and my mates and I spent the wee hours drinking beer and eating Greek salad in my professor's flat.
On the phone with my on-again, off-again boyfriend during grad school, once again having a state of our union discussion, I tearfully told him that he was the only guy I'd ever seriously considered spending my life with. After a pause, he told me about a vision he'd had, one of those random flashes of how your future might play out. In it, he was walking down a lane near where he grew up, and I was walking towards him, holding by the hand a beautiful three-year-old girl. "And I knew she was ours," he told me, which is the closest to a sincere marriage proposal I've ever gotten.
The creator of the Wonder Woman character, William Moulton Marston, also invented "the systolic blood-pressure test, which lead to the creation of the polygraph (lie detector).
Because of his discovery, Marston was convinced that women were more honest and reliable than men and could work faster and more accurately." You can read about him, and all things Wonder Woman, here
For when you feel like throwing in the towel
I found out today that another one of my students has been raped. Like the other girl, she suspects that it may have been a gang rape, but was too intoxicated and out of it to be sure.
Actually, I should say another one of my former
students, since she too has since withdrawn from school. She is living with her grandparents, and the family plans on moving when the school year is over.
This time the attackers were graduates of the school. Last time they were current students. One of them is one of my
Once again I am enraged that these girls' lives, their friends' lives, their families' lives, are upturned and shattered, and those assholes who attacked them continue to move through their worlds unscathed--pitied, even, for being inconvenienced by their victims' audacity in naming them.
And I am repeatedly stunned by how little has truly changed: the girls' most vicious critics are other girls. They are blamed and branded. In the court of high school public opinion, the rapists are coddled, then exonerated.
The righteous rage with which one girl will condemn another is heartbreaking.
Disheartening too are the attitudes of many faculty and staff members, which are reflected in the entire school culture. The dress code focuses almost entirely on female flesh. Disparaging remarks about a girl's character, based entirely on her clothing, are frequently heard in the faculty rooms.
So what can we expect to trickle down? Trying to make a model of myself, I sometimes feel like I am pushing through sand, watching as it fills in the gaps just as soon as I've made them.
"There is no textual evidence to indicate that Sir Lancelot sells women's bodies for money."(He's a pimp, yo...)
"The Wife of Bath was married five times; she doesn't have sex for money."(She's a whore...)
"Please don't use my gender as an insult."(He's acting like such a girl...)
I know that there will always be people who think that women are temptresses and boys will be boys. But I thought that in a metropolitan area in 2006, things wouldn't be quite so depressing.
And these girls, these two smart, funny, interesting, talented and outspoken girls--will they believe that they were the agents of their own exile? Watching the media crawling over any rape case accuser's "character," will they join in the judgement? What will become of them?
At least one thing is different this time.
This one is pressing charges.
Thanks to Becky for this ...
Why I Dislike Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
When I was small I was watched during the day by an overbearing Dutch woman. When she spoke, she BELLOWED. Good-hearted and well-intentioned, she was also terrifying.
The worst of the traditions at her home, which functioned as a daycare center, was the poop lineup. If she suspected that one of her young charges had had an "accident," she would line us all up and go down the line, smelling everyone's butt. The guilty party would then be led away in shame--a miniature perp walk, or poop walk, as it were. The experience was mortifying, though I was never the culprit.
Another common occurance was her scrutiny of our eating habits. Always a relisher of my food, I recall being chastised as I nibbled delicately on the Twinkie we had each received as a treat. "WHAT, YOU DON'T LIKE IT? MAYBE I SHOULD TAKE AWAY?" I took my Twinkie and hid in the closet.
"The Farmer in the Dell" was a popular game there, and I was the cheese, more than once.
My mother tells a story I had forgotten, about the day my parents' car broke down and it was several hours before they could pick me up. When she finally arrived, the house was full of the warm smells of dinner, the family was seated around the table, eating, and I was sitting in the next room, my little legs dangling over the edge of the couch, having been told to wait there. Clearly my mother was more traumatized by this incident than I was.
And every day, every day
, for snack, we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
A few years ago I was the maid of honor in my old babysitter's son's wedding. It was a marvelous time, until he told her that I had been afraid of her in the old days. When she bellowed up to me to verify this, I immediately felt a little of the old panic, until I realized that I was three inches taller than she was, and she was smiling. I had to laugh, and admit to her the truth.
My downstairs neighbor is a bad parker. She is such a bad parker that, in fact, we have taken to referring to her as "The Bad Parker." Better I suppose than having to nickname your neighbor "The Smelly Cooker" or "The Inconsiderate Nudist."
But in a driveway with a regular stock of five cars that regularly grows to seven or more on the weekends, not observing the standard two or so foot distance between cars creates a bit of a logjam. Her distances are awkwardly long enough for a Cub Scout to lay down in.
Most aggravating is when one is forced to park beside The Bad Parker and then she leaves. It then appears that you
hold the title.
The Bad Parker is a nice lady. She is an older nurse who decorates her door (and the inside of her car) for every upcoming holiday. The fact that she drives a VW bug inexplicably decked out with surf shop seat covers is endearing but no less irritating. Only if she drove a Mini Cooper could her space-hogging be more nose-thumbing.
Questions and Answers
The question that you are afraid to ask is the question that you have to ask.
The fear means that it is important to you. It works like a signal, alerting you that something is wrong. Also like a signal, if not dealt with right away, it jangles incessantly, muffling everything else.
Amid the din, you speculate: the pros and cons of asking. The possible responses. Worst- and best-case scenarios. Tones of voice. Timing.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." You cannot do otherwise. To not ask that question is to live in the jangling, to feed the fear, and ultimately, to lose the thing you think you are preserving by remaining silent.
Courtesy of Tenacious A's vacation:
Did you know that the New Jersey State Police website has a Missing Persons
page? I learned this in obsessively reading about the John Fiocco disappearance at TCNJ
The Missing Persons aspect is what's most haunting. No closure to be had, just an endless mental struggle between pragmatism and hope. Just fragments: a birthmark, shirt color, last known whereabouts... sometimes an age-advanced drawing. Some have whole paragraphs--life stories painted into tiny text boxes. Some have the jewelry they were wearing, identifying birthmarks. Some were too small to have paragraphs.
Where do the families shelve their suspended emotions? What story must you tell yourself to put one foot in front of the other each morning?"The Sixth of January"
by David Budbill
The cat sits on the back of the sofa looking
out the window through the softly falling snow
at the last bit of gray light.
I can't say the sun is going down.
We haven't seen the sun for two months.
I am sitting in the blue chair listening to this stillness.
The only sound: the occasional gurgle of tea
coming out of the pot and into the cup.
How can this be?
Such calm, such peace, such solitude
in this world of woe.
"in celebration of surviving"
by Chuck Miller
when senselessness has pounded you around the ropes
and you're getting too old to hold out for the future
no work and running out of money,
and then you make a try after something that you know you won't get
and this long shot comes through on the stretch
in a photo finish of your heart's trepidation
then for a while
even when the chill factor of these prairie winters puts it at fifty below
you're warm and have that old feeling
of being a comer, though belated
in the crazy game of life
standing in the winter night
emptying the garbage and looking at the stars
you realize that although the odds are fantastically against you
when that single January shooting star
flung its wad in the maw of night
it was yours
and though the years are edged with crime and squalor
that second wind, or twenty-third
is coming strong
and for a time
perhaps a very short time
one lives as though in a golden envelope of light
In Praise of Geeks
Brian: I'm in the physics club.
Bender: Excuse me a sec. What are you babbling about?
Sam: You look a little bit like my grandpa.
Bill: Oh, is your grandpa super cool?
Duckie: I love this woman, and I have to tell her. And if she laughs, she laughs.
Dennis, even though we were never meant to be together, I think we could have had a nice high school relationship had I not been so freaked out by the open way you looked at me. When we went Christmas shopping together at the Phillipsburg Mall, it was one of the sweetest non-date dates I've ever had. I knew that you would have been good to me and quite frankly, that scared the sh*t out of me.
Karen, when the rest of us decided to drink for the first time at the Carlton Holiday Party, we should have told you first. I will not forget the look of betrayal on your face when you saw us gathered around that box of white zinfandel. I know we promised to stay sober together in college and I think that moment was the first severed tie in our friendship. You ended up moving to Florida, which was also unfortunate for unrelated reasons.
Josh, I am sorry that I acted weird when you tried to start something with me. I cared too much about the fact that my roommate thought you were weird. You were
weird, but I really liked it when you came over to play Asteroids and kissed me goodnight wearing your big Russian hat.
Breanne, I still feel bad about breaking your collectible McDonalds glass. I think it was the Hamburglar. I never did try to find a replacement on e-Bay, even though I told you I would. I was just jealous that you had a boyfriend and pissed that he left his stinky sneakers in the kitchen and lonely because none of my friends would come all the way out to Astoria to visit.
The Mean Cat
This is one of my favorites. Some guy I worked with at Broadway Video
said he was going to use it in his screenplay, so if you ever see it (doubtful--every damn person in the industry is working on a screenplay) just know that it's mine.
The Mean Cat Theory
You go to someone's house, and they have a cat. And as soon as you walk in, the cat is all up in your grill, rubbing against your leg, trying to get on your lap. The owner says, "I'm sorry, he always does this. Let me know if it gets annoying," and even if you like cats, after awhile, you're like, 'c'mon dude, give me some space.'
Or. You go to someone's house, and as soon as you walk in, the same thing happens: the cat is all over you. This person says, "Oh my god, I've never seen him do that before! He hates everyone!" And even if you don't
like cats, you feel kind of special. Chosen. The mean cat likes you.
You and the mean cat, against the world! No one else could possibly understand.
Some people (myself included, I'm working on it) do this with relationships. Over and over again. They are the guests, and the boyfriends/girlfriends are the mean cats, over and over again.
The mean cat can be very alluring.
I noticed this morning
that one of the ingredients in my eye drops is boric acid.
Intuitively, that doesn't feel right.Answers.com
says that boric acid is used primarily as an "antiseptic and preservative," while Wikipedia
reassures me that it may also function as an "insecticide" or "flame retardant."
I guess that's good.
Yes. Yes it is.