Archive for April, 2009

Bits & Pieces: the Manzanares

April 29, 2009

Manzanares

There is a river that runs through Madrid. It’s called the Manzanares River, and he’s right. It is ugly.

“It’s not like the Seine, Tracy.”

“I know, I know. But I’m just curious. There’s got to be something to see. Can we go anyway?”

“No, there’s nothing to see. It’s ugly and you have to take the Renfe Cercanias.”

So, I go alone and he’s right. It is ugly. Maybe he told me to get off at Principe Pio. Maybe it was Alto de Extremadura. I can’t remember now. But I walk quite a ways through low-income, orangy brick tenements, with green awnings before I see the river and cross it. It’s nothing to see. And I cross it pretending it’s the Pont Neuf or the Pont Alexandre III. I speak French to myself, “bien sur,” “absolument,” “oh la la,” and remember the nights Karen and I crossed at the Pont St. Michel on our way back home at three in the morning from Le Violon Dingue. It hurts to do this. But the Manzanares is ugly, and I am trying to be happy anyway. The water is murky. The air is cold. And there are huge concrete cinder blocks left like trash on the sides of the black water.

I head back down the subtle arc of the overpass. It’s late in the afternoon and  I don’t want to be alone after dark. But I end up lost, looking for the entrance to the Metro, wandering down streets where old widows still wear black and sing sad old Castilian songs of lost love and broken hearts.

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Bits & Pieces: the day after

April 29, 2009

The_rear_view_mirror_by_theofficesupplies

It’s the day after. I’m married. I’m taking my husband back to the airport so that he can catch his flight back to Spain.  But my car breaks down on the side of the road in Cherry Hill. It just dies at 276,000 miles. I think it’s symbolic. The official end of my old life so that I may begin the new. I break down across the street from a hotel where a Rapid Rover is parked by the valet. I race over to the driver and asked if he will take “my husband” to the Philadelphia International Airport. He says, sure, so I pay him because R has no money. I kiss R goodbye. I cry. He zips off down Route 70 in a van. I won’t see him until Christmas Eve.

I am alone.

I go inside the hotel and call triple A for a tow, from the hotel payphone. I wait by the side of the road for two hours, counting on my fingers the days until I will see him again, catching the sparkle of gold around my finger at nine, then nineteen, then twenty-nine.

Confession Mondays: Buzzzzzzz

April 20, 2009

Despite D pleasing me enormously, as always, without any threat of dissatisfaction, I will still be taking my trusty vibrator to Nassau with me. How can a girl escape to paradise without her one true friend???????????

Tragedy

April 16, 2009

What was it that Elaine and George Costanza concluded about men’s and women’s brains and sex? That men can think much clearer when they’re not having it and women can think much clearer when they are?

Bullshit. Or, I’m loaded with too much testosterone.

Since D, my brain has turned to mush. Literally, it produces nothing but sappy cliches. Too horrible to ever post.

It’s not that I’m thinking less- through the mush I am still having deep thoughts. It’s that I can’t seem to hold on to them long enough to get them on to paper. Or perhaps, it’s just that I could care less. The thought of D going down on me is far more thrilling than any pontificating I could do about anything else I seem to come up with during leaner times.

And it’s not that I am not busy or physically doing less either. My life has changed little in that respect. I’m still running, still reading Grodstein’s book and Spinning Will, still chatting up an intellectual storm with KVM and D and whoever else. But again, thoughts of lust and sex and all that fun stuff have pushed out whatever else might have had the chance to form and grow. And I am left with the “duh” effect. The sad truth is that the overpowering stranglehold of lush, abundant love is growing in my soul like a weed and taking over. And I am slowly being destroyed.

Need…to….step…back….Need…to…reclaim…my….soul…

What a tragedy.

And speaking of tragedy, last night I went to see Daniel Mendelsohn read from his book “The Lost” at Rutgers in Camden. The reading itself was no tragedy. Mendelsohn was an excellent reader. The dinner was great. I shmoozed with Lauren Grodstein and Lisa Zeidner and a few others. I had the lovely D by my side. Etc. Etc. What summoned the idea of tragedy was Mendelsohn’s masterful comment on why classical Greek literature is so important to him. “The Greeks understood tragedy,” he said. And went on to add that we have done ourselves a huge disservice by not accepting pain and suffering in life. We take pills to erase our pain. We go to therapy for constant awareness and answers (even he claims 16 some years of analysis). We file lawsuits– all in the hopes of regaining some sort of restitution or peace. We are always looking for compensation for the bad things that happen in life. We want constant pleasure. Constant and perfection producing. This is pure silliness, of course. There is no guarantee that you will be “healed” or repaid or repaired for the suffering you incur. There is no life without pain.

I, of course, applauded his sentiments. I too, believe we have become culturally dependent on the notion that happiness is a right, not, as it were, a privilege. Or perhaps, more likely, that those who are happy are merely lucky.

I have worked a great deal over the past year with very depressed individuals, women mostly, addicted to one thing or another. Almost all of them hit bottom and come to recovery angry and self-loathing, and in pain, wanting to be healed, wanting answers, wanting desperately for the pain to stop. And yet, only a small fraction of them are able to grasp the concept that pain and tragedy happens. That the idea of recovery is not to avoid pain, but rather to deal with it. We have very little control over the suffering that befalls us. Most of these women want to live a Hollywood movie. They honestly believe that that is what a “normal” life looks like.

Professor Tim Martin (English, Rutgers) came up to me last night and congratulated me on having been accepted to the MFA program. “You must be quite talented,” he said. I felt like a fraud, especially considering that I have written so poorly over the past few weeks. I felt like saying, little do you know that my brain has turned to split pea soup and I will produce little or nothing for the Rutgers English department. But I nodded a thank you. Some where deep inside me I am grateful for the opportunity, believe me. And there is a tenth of a part of me that believes I am somewhat talented, if only I worked a little harder for it.

So, Tim shook my hand once more and went on his way.  Moments later there was a pause. D and I stood finishing up the last of our Cabernet before heading out. I pulled him close into me and whispered in his ear, “how many of these folks do you think are going to go home tonight and get laid like us?”

Confession Mondays 4

April 13, 2009

There’s a malevolent self-saboteur inside me that I battle daily. Today I am winning.

Very small lines

April 10, 2009
  • Delores my cleaning lady is now on “Big, Beautiful Women.” It’s a dating site. She found a match from Seacaucus.
  • I finally stained the back porch door. It’s only been three years.
  • When you order a “fresh pork” at the butchers and ask that they de-bone it and give you the skin, they look at you with respect and awe, like you’re a chef.
  • D and I are going into the city tonight, across the river, with dark sunglasses on and black clothes.
  • He bought me a little plaid schoolgirl skirt, but it doesn’t fit. Still, I like to imagine wearing it while sitting on his lap.
  • I am working on a blog for PBQ about “disintegrating culture.”
  • My ex-husband and his fiance are coming to Easter dinner on Sunday. They will meet my new boyfriend and actually eat at my table. 
  • I dreamed about a guy who looked like Russell Brand and drove a red and white, 1956 Belair convertible. I was in some rundown suburb of Paris watching fireworks from a hilltop with him and a bunch of other seedy looking characters. I asked him to drive me to the Eiffel Tower and he did. 
  • I’m still reading Lauren Grodstein’s book, “Reproduction is the Flaw of Love,” but I prefer “Spining Will,” by P.M. Woods
  • There is no more S. 
  • I’ve signed up for my first graduate class. A Fiction workshop with Lauren Grodstein. 
  • Work is actually bearable this week. 

Deeper, bigger, better, real

April 1, 2009

kiss Last night D came over in his suit and tie, after a late night meeting. He looked beautiful. I fed him leftovers from the spaghetti dinner I’d made for Susan the night before, and we sat at the kitchen table and talked. He brought me home a gift that he picked up down in Florida. A kaleidoscope. Not just any kaleidoscope. This one was a variety I’d never seen before; an iridescent, oil wand kaleidoscope in a pearly stained-glass casing.

I couldn’t get enough of him from the moment he walked through the door to a little after midnight. It was mutual. I always find it to be amusingly rhythmic, the lilt of time spent between two people newly in adoration. How we move from the kitchen, to the bedroom, to the office, back to the bedroom, to the kitchen again, to the bedroom. If someone took a time-lapsed video of us, we’d seem as senseless as ants in an anthill. And yet, there’s a purpose to all that movement—if only the fact that it’s a dance. By twelve I could barely keep my eyes open, and so that was that. I kicked him out. He has the key now, so he can see himself to the door and lock up. And I can be lazy.

There are several others on facebook who are having romantic relationships parallel to mine and D’s (as far as timeline is concerned, that is). SF is at the three-month mark and he’s asking everyone via his status updates if it’s OK to just start calling this chick his “girlfriend.” Among a variety of yeses and nos, I wrote, “isn’t that something you discuss between the two of you?”

Then there’s CG who’s having a relationship with some guy out in Indiana or Ohio or something. She keeps posting her discontent at how much she misses him. From what I gather, they were together years ago and it didn’t work out. Now they’re back at it. He calls her “the bees knees” and she calls him “pooh bear” and “honey bunny.” She posted all these photos of the two of them when he came out for a visit last week, and then a few from twenty years prior when they were engaged. He didn’t age well. That’s for sure. Looks like he had a rough life. Totally weather-beaten. Broken. Apathetic. Dismantled. Wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he’s a drinker. She, on the other hand, looks a mess; desperate, pathetic, a bottomless pit. I feel like sending her an email or something: He’s not the answer, honey. You’re going to get hurt. There’s got to be more to this story, and quite frankly, I want to find out. Why didn’t they get married twenty years ago? Has she waited for him all this time? What the hell has she been doing since then? I don’t know what it is but the whole story kind of disgusts me and yet lures me in. Like that Two Girls One Cup video that’s been going around for a few years now. So grotesquely disturbing, yet you can’t look away.

I have this air of superiority when I’m confronted with these other love stories. It’s like my relationship is to theirs as  Necker Island is to Clementon Amusement Park. The inference being that I have been blessed with a far deeper, bigger, better, more real relationship than these others. Case in point, I just checked facebook and CG has deleted all her previous status updates and posted this new one: ok she takes it back, he just txt’d her…so she is a little less cranky…

Even at my lowest point with G or S, I never based my happiness on the consummation of a fucking text message– and then went and told a hundred people about it.

I suppose my projection and my feelings of superiority all go with the territory of romance. I am yet one of a billion or so victims that finds herself mumbling nonsensically that she is presently experiencing something far deeper and more profound than any other person on the planet or in the history of time. Actually, I take that back. All I am really saying is that these other freaks are making fools of themselves and I’m not.