Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Help me figure out what to write next!

August 4, 2010

Where do I begin? I am lost. I have about 17 unfinished projects on my desktop and no inclination as to where to begin or what to tackle next. This is what I’ve got….

  • A story about a husband who loses his job due to the recession and so he takes another  job as a singing banana telegram. But things go awry and he refuses to take off his costume to the point where it starts to jeopardize his marriage. (fiction)
  • A story about a woman who goes nuts trying to have a baby (this is in editing stage) Fertility (fiction)
  • Boob Girl (personal essay): about breasts and identity
  • Boob Job (personal essay): breasts and how they have shaped a life
  • Joe Boxer (personal essay): this may be finished, may not…about a pair of stray underwear I found in the laundry one day
  • Bits and Pieces of a Marriage (fiction): a collection of one page flash fiction pieces that create a larger work about the end of a marriage but the beginning of a woman
  • Oacoma (fiction): about a woman and her son
  • Greenland (fiction/personal essay/creative non-fiction): travels, tales of bartending on the ice cap
  • B, the story of a 17-year-old who loses her virginity (fiction)
  • Twelve (a story of the meaning of the number 12)
  • Where Refrigerators go to die: about a Brazilian cleaning lady obsessed with labels.
  • How Ed did it: personal essay about growing up with a con man as a father
  • Mary Jane: a story about my father’s love slave
  • Money: personal essay about growing up with a con man as a father
  • The Love Addict (fiction) (could be combined with “B” (see above)
  • Untitled 1 (A road trip about a retired couple who decide to separate or stay together) (fiction)

And on and on….none of these are even remotely finished. HELP! WHat sounds remotely interesting. I need someone to tell me what to do!

Dust balls

August 25, 2009

So. I’m invited to this woman’s house over in one of those new, treeless McMansion developments. Her name is Gisa, and as she explains, it’s short for the Germanic Gisela meaning “to pledge” (why I even mention this will make sense later). The development, like all suburban upper-class new construction sprawl is a development I’ve passed many times before, but never felt privileged enough to enter—us middle class types know well enough to stay out of cul-de-sacs called things such as “The Sanctuary,” or “Le Grande,” figuring membership cards are required in order to lurk around. But, her son and my son go to preschool together and as she wanted her little Merlin to grow up with “the people, ” for whatever reason, she denied him a private education.  I’d be in the parking lot of the school waiting for the closing bell and Gisa would always pull up with minutes to spare in this hideously grotesque conversion van with like, 20 doors on it. She never wore makeup and just moved here from Germany. I thought, yes! My kind of friend. Surely we have lots in common. So, she invites me over one afternoon. And as a mother who is incessantly looking for ways to occupy her kid, let alone herself, I took her up on the offer. Besides, I thought, it might be nice to bring a pie or something. If that conversion van is any indication of her newly acquired “status,” in this country, a pie will certainly be appreciated.

So, we head out, one Tuesday afternoon, me and my son, in my 2003 mini-van, driving a bit farther than our town’s comfort zone. According to my printed-out Mapquest directions (I don’t have a GPS) it’s the next left. I pull onto her street and one by one the houses get bigger and bigger and as they do, me and my mini-van seem to get smaller and smaller. Huge houses, then mansions, then estates. Her house is, of course, one of the biggest. I’m intimidated by the size let alone the two front doors. I didn’t know houses had two front doors. After about ten strenuous minutes of hoping that some previously learned, front-door etiquette comes back to me I end up choosing the door on the right. This one leads to the mud room for people who might have dirt on their feet (that’s us). We say our hellos and I hand her the pie, which she casually places atop the laundry machine and quickly redirects our small talk back to the fact that we need to take off our shoes.

A few awkward moments later, we go in. And even though I’m catching site of a three-story high cathedral ceiling, a fireplace with Texas longhorns above the mantle and not one living room but four, all I keep thinking of is the atrocity that I’m wearing sweatpants. My favorite line from Seinfeld re-runs streams through my brain when Jerry tells George that “wearing sweatpants in public is like telling the world you’ve given up.”

Oh well, I think. At least they’re not gathered with elastic at the ankles.

So as Gisa leads me around, from room to room, I secretly feel like a third class citizen from coach peeking into first class. But suddenly, I notice what I’d like to believe is a personality tick—Gisa, as it turns out, is hyper-neurotic about dust. In instances like these, you can only hope for such an obvious shortcoming. “See? See? Do you see the dust?” she says to me in her thick German accent upon entering each expanse of a room. Her finger courses over blond wood table tops. But there’s no dust. Literally. It’s as if there’s a plastic bubble free of all pathogens encircling the house and all its immune deficient inhabitants. I’ve never seen a cleaner place.

I think of my home. My little rancher. I have dust balls bigger than Arizona tumbleweeds. They roll around my floor like city trash caught up in a wind pocket, attacking me and my socks and my kids. I have the massive lint ball that hovers between the laundry room and the kitchen. There’s the clump of my husband’s chest hair under the baseboard heater in the bathroom. And there’s the ever-present motionless entity of dust and Fruit Loops that, fortunately, live under the sofa in the living room and cannot be detected by the untrained eye.

No, I say. I don’t see the dust.

As we make our way back to the kitchen, hovering over her granite bar and cherry wood cabinetry, I come to the bitter conclusion that this woman and I have nothing in common except maybe the van. I think: this is how envy gets a hold of people. This is what the Christians warn about, coveting thy neighbor’s goods. This is not “keeping up with the Joneses” because you’re not even one of them. Maybe you clean for them. But you’re certainly not a Jones.

I think how it takes massive amounts of confidence to be content within your own life when you are confronted with so much luxury and wealth. And despite the fact that every appliance in her house was shipped over from Germany, all her furniture too, that she’s got a sunken tub in the master bedroom with Andalusian tile and a fireplace the size of my living room, four walk-in closets, and a bathroom in all five bedrooms…despite all that, I think of my little life and I wonder how I can still feel quite proud of what I’ve got.

Very possibly, I think, it’s because I’ve got nothing. As a child growing up, we had nothing. My family came from nothing. My grandparents before them came from nothing. For generations we affectionately and proudly described ourselves as “peasant stock,” vindicating the obvious deficiency of worldly goods. Instead, we assigned value to immaterial things– our voices, our musical talents, our minds, our creativity, our humor and our closeness as a family. Those were the things that really mattered. Not all the “stuff.” Even my unconventional religious upbringing– a combination of Buddhism, Christianity and Native American spirituality–taught me the importance of giving up all but a few necessities in order that we may not be deceived by unconsciously clinging to worldly possessions. So, it is at these moments, when I am faced with such abundance, that I recall the worth and value in that which cannot be seen, touched, shipped overseas or purchased with a Visa card.

Gisa and I notice how well the kids are getting along. And aside from the occasional assault upon the children she makes to not touch the white walls, she seems happy that Merlin has found a friend. I want to say that I imagine it’s quite lonely for the little guy being so far from him native country and family. I even want to tell her that her obsessive-compulsive fear of dust is merely a manifestation of Freudian guilt for having too much stuff. But I hold off. I don’t want to seem contemptuous.

“How about we come to your place later this afternoon? You can show me your house,” she says. And I choke on my Chai tea latte she just whipped up for me on her espresso maker from Norway.

I have a pizza box still sitting on the counter from the weekend, month-old oatmeal ground into the Berber, and the lingering smell of a diaper that was discarded three diapers ago is possibly still wafting out of the family room. I imagine little Merlin playing some middle-class version of blocks at my house, rolling around, as kids do, on the floor. It would take eons to pick the dustballs off his Karl Lagerfeld designer toddler wear.

“Well,” I manage to say, “I’ve been having problems with my Audi (I don’t have one). I simply must get it into the shop. And, to be quite honest,” I add, as I clear my throat, “my cleaning lady took the month off (don’t have one of those either). The place is a little messy.”

So much for pride in peasant stock.

She tries to be laid back about the fact that I might have a messy house. “You don’t have to clean on my account,” she says, but she flinches and quickly adds, “another time might be better.” Her name in German doesn’t so much mean “to” pledge, I think, as it means to keep a bottle of Pledge handy under any circumstance.

I coolly agree.

We head back into the mud room to put on our shoes and say our goodbyes. Tonight, she says, she and her husband will take a stroll through “their woods” (three acres worth). He’s a triathlon. An Ironman. A glass designer by day. Oh. I say. How nice. I’m headed over to Wal-Mart to buy a pizza cutter. Mine mysteriously disappeared (could have been the dust ball in the kitchen). We don’t have much more to say. Finally, she asks me, “you work out?” I know she’s referring to my sweatpants.

Tapas & Wine Party

June 29, 2009

Table of Spanish tapas and wines

Next Tuesday, I’m planning a little wine and tapas party for a few of my friends. I wanted to share what’s on the menu:

Wine
I’m hoping to have a nice Spanish, Argentinian, and Chilean wine. Maybe a summer white. These are my hopeful picks:

Reds
Marqués de Riscal (Spain)
Sangre de Toro (Spain)
2006 Montes Alpha Series Syrah (Chile)
Cuvelier Los Andes Gran Vin 2004 (Argentina)

Calamaries Fritos
One of my all time favorite tapas (although I don’t recall ever eating them “as” tapas in Spain, Calamaries fritos are fried squid. Love to eat them with a chunky marianara sauce or with nothing but a little mayonnaise and a chunk of baguette.

Tortilla Espan~ola
Possibly one of the most popular and simple tapas in Spain is what’s commonly known as the Tortilla, or potato omelette. When I first lived in Spain, I must have made this every day for an entire six months. They’re very addicting. Basically just potato and egg. That’s it.

Jamon Serrano con Melon
This is a perfect mezcla of sweet with salty. Jamon Serrano is a thinly sliced deli ham, akin to the Italian Prosciutto. Wrap it around a thick slice of honey dew and it’s perfect flavor.

Chorizo con pan y Queso de Manchego
Bread, cheese, sausage. Can’t live without this combo! I’ve chosen Manchego, which is a hard cheese and chorizo sausage, which, despite a million varieties, I will have no choice but to pick up whatever the supermarket carries at the time. hopefully sweet and not too smoky.

Gazpacho
My mother-in-law makes a great gazpacho, or cold tomato soup. Most people are surprised when it comes out looking so “pink” as opposed to the classic red. This is usually due to the variety of tomatoes used and whether or not she’s added watermelon.

Sardinas y pan
More bread, but this time, I’m pairing it with sardines and maybe even mussels. We’ll see… But these are very popular tapas in Madrid.

Music
A little Paco de Lucia, Carmen Paris, Lola Flores, Jose Mariano, etc.

Ole!

Heels to Jesus

May 10, 2009

Surprise at N’s house.

A friend of mine recently moved back to town and so I went for a visit. She invites me and the kids over for dinner and gives me the tour. It’s a typical house. Nothing unusual. Then she tells my kids to wait downstairs, she needs to show me something in private. I’m wondering what the heck it can be. So, we go into her bedroom and it’s a typical master bedroom, except for the fact that there’s a little Alice in WOnderland sized door that’s locked and has a sign on the door that says something like: “Do Not Enter.” She opens the door and inside is an A-framed attic-like room that she’s converted into a sex room. Literally a den of iniquity, fully adorned with black shag carpet, red walls, mirrors on the ceiling, gold wall sconces with red candles, black curtains with purple tassles, videos, DVDs, sex books, a side table filled with dildos and vibrators, a twin bed covered in black sheets, and a rack of costumes and sexy outfits galore. The following themes were present: catholic school girl, wonder woman, cat woman, playboy bunny, amish girl (?) whore, etc. etc. There was a leather bull whip, black pleather boots and stripper heels tossed about the room. She had it all except a heart-shaped bed and a sex swing.

I found this to be quite amazing. The only other person I’ve known to have converted a room  for the purpose of pure sex was, dare I say it, my father. He turned his basement into a dungeon.

I can’t help but wonder if this sort of thing crosses any lines. I mean, there are any number of ways you can look at this. Sex as a hobby. Sex as a healthy obsession. Sex as an addiction. Which is it? And what are the behaviors that throw you into one category or another. For example, D buys me sexy lingerie all the time. And, he bought us a fairly dirty DVD (topic not disclosed). I, on several occasions, have already made mention of my trusty vibrator. But I haven’t built a room to house all these things. They’re tossed into a drawer or hidden under the bed. But what separates mine and D’s passion for sex from someone like N and her husband? Is she obsessed? Or is it simply a matter of being more devoted to her hobby? And what might others think of me and my drawer of goodies? What’s the difference really, if you have a drawer or an entire room dedicated to sex?

Oh the questions. And none can really be answered.

Bottom line, I guess we’ve both got our heels to Jesus. It’s just a matter of logistics, space, style and commitment. And the fact that she’s a lot more Martha Stewart about it all than I’ll probably ever be– unless, of course, I end up like dear old dad. Let’s hope the apple fell far from the tree!

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.

Sleeping beauty

January 9, 2009

 

The Lovers

The Lovers

 

 

It’s cold, it’s winter and so starts the dreaming…

I had this really sexy dream about, dare I say it, someone from FB. Pretty sad when that’s all you’ve got. I’d give the initials but it’s just too risky. I don’t want anyone to know anything about what’s going on inside my little head aside form what I write here.  I will say that I think about this person from time to time, whenever they happen to pop up on a comment or post. But not more than that. And he’s not a good friend, mind you, none of the usual suspects, but just this guy for which I have been able to form some sense of curiosity. Good enough for a dream, anyway.

I can’t remember where I was but it must have been a party at someone’s house we happened to be both be at, he and I and a bunch of other friends. But it was getting late and I found myself to be very sleepy, so I laid down on the floor in front of the TV. He came and sat beside me. He leaned down, very close into me and whispered in my ear, “don’t go to sleep,” and all my senses awakened. I could smell his clean skin and feel his breath, and hear his voice so clearly. And i remember thinking at that moment, I want this. And as i turned toward him, smiling and sleepy, I kissed his lips and touched his face. His hands ran down the length of my arm and over my hips and around to my belly and his face remained quite close to mine, smiling tenderly. And then I woke up. The moment was so sexy it woke me up. So…as is my custom, I will dream of this person all day.

This dream followed one of great horror. I was at another party, looking for G and someone said he was out in the courtyard. I went outside into this beautiful, Spanish-style sunny courtyard and there he was, in the corner, looking very sick and pale and he was sitting on one of those toilet seats on wheels with rail guards for handicapped people. Right out in the open courtyard. And he was shitting himself. And there was shit every where, all over the patio. But worst of all, I was barefoot and stepping in it. I ran over to him and being the caretaker I am, I said, “what are you doing? we need to clean you up.” And he just laughed at me and said, “this is who I am, baby. Get used to it.” I was so disturbed. 

This second dream was hugely symbolic. I had recently written an article about G on his uncanny ability to live green. As we’re dumping some 20 metric tons of C02 into the atmosphere every year, he’s only dumping about six. A heroic feat. So, I have been in contact with him more than usual. He came over last night with a beautiful bracelet that he had “acquired” for me. It was a Christmas gift. And the thought was quite nice. But my brother was over when he arrived and I was nervous about the dynamics. Mikie doesn’t like G too much. Never has. Anyway, G comes in looking more homeless than usual (are there actual degrees of “looking” homeless- yes). The dingy layers of black and gray hoodies, the dirt under the fingernails, the wirey Grampa Herman-looking side-burns. Oh! And the smell of fried foods from the diner. I have always loved G for who he is inherently, underneath the shoddy exterior. And when we were together I had a certain amount of influence over how he kept himself. But I was actually grateful last night that we are NOT dating anymore. I don’t know how I was able to put up with that. I see it as a sickness now. An inability to care for oneself. 

Anyway, we watched Superbad with Mikie and he left around 10ish. No hugs, no kisses, no nothing. I was content about that. 

But I now see how my brain is translating the events and why I dreamed the dream about the sexy guy. G represents where I was and where I no longer wish to be. And the FB guy represents where I am headed. Whether anything ever comes of this FB guy and me is not the point. The point is that my brain craves maturity, intellect, sexuality, cleanliness, normalcy. For a few years now I have been seeking out the superficial stuff– the musician, the rebel, the super sexy Rockabilly guy with tattoos and long hair. There is definitely a side of me that is drawn to that. But I have learned the hard way that those types of men don’t seem to answer my craving for normalcy— of which a huge part of me needs. It’s not that I have dated “bad” men or cruel-hearted men. It’s just that their goals and dreams are quite different from mine. 

I remember when I dated M, briefly. He used to say to me all the time, Tracy, I’m a family man. This freaked me out. Scared me. I didn’t want a family man. I wanted a rebel. I wanted a man who represented  where I wanted to go, who I wanted to become. I wasn’t able to make peace with the fact that I am a family woman. I’ve always resisted it. Like my friend SD always says, “I am not a suburban housewife.” Well, I too struggle with that reality. I am an artist. I belong with an eclectic clique of writers and illustrators and musicians. Don’t I? OK, in fantasy-world, yes. But my reality is quite different. My reality is that I am very family-oriented. I am a homebody. I enjoy my children. I can’t really live the life of a rebel. I’ve never been able to. When will I finally realize that?

Oh anyway…Despite needing to make peace with my reality, I’ll take a night of sexy dreams for now. I can’t come to terms with my whole life too fast. Besides, I quite enjoy the freedom of fantasy. And at least I am dreaming of a man who has kids. That’s a huge step for me.

The City

November 19, 2008

I went over to the University of Penn tonight to have a coffee with Maggie and then go to this info session on a “master’s of applied positive psychology.” I’m glad I went, but..i was largely apathetic. I need something a little more concrete, and no one was really talking in terms of “action words” when it came to discussing the actual application of this knowledge. Sure they said things like, “I created a company that teaches corporations the skills of positive intervention.” But, please. Get out of the ivory tower and describe the WORK of positive psychology.  Give me a title. A name. I “coach.” I “teach.” I “counsel.” “I help people get along better in the workforce.” But nothing like that. Which led me to believe that “positive psychology” is one of those amorphous niches that you must create for yourself, and that Marty Selegman is merely looking for an army of salespeople to go out and sell his amorphous ideas.  

Sure, I’m all about happiness (see Authentic Happiness, Seligman), but these people were just too damn happy, almost to the point of shoving it down your throat. That may sound hostile, but perhaps I am jaded. It’s not the happiest time in my life. But come on already with the fact that we should ALL be HAPPY. Buddha makes more sense: he did not deny that there is happiness in life, but he pointed out it does not last forever. Eventually everyone meets with some kind of suffering.

And speaking of which, I was given a fleeting glimpse, a little gem of a gift, as I noticed a look of absolute frustration and disgust on the director of the program, Dr. Pawelski. He was rather annoyed that his colleague wasn’t following along the format quick enough as he had designed it. You could almost see him mumble under his breath, what are you doing, you stupid fuck. It was kind of funny and really added to his sickly, pale, worn out professor of philosophy look. 

So…it’s back to the drawing board for me. And once again, a change of plans. Perhaps a master’s in creative writing. Much more concrete. Writer. 

 

KVM called me afterwards. There was a launch party for a new food and culture magazine called Table Matters, and of course, it’s right near 13th and Locust. I wasn’t very comfortable with that. So…we parked in an obscure lot, put our dark glasses on, took a back road down Samson to 13th and made it to Apothecary unseen. Shockingly, who do we bump into but Frank Sherlock, heading in the opposite direction. With signature scarf.

Anyway. It felt good to get out. To be in the city. To see weirdness. I had some horrible drink made with gin. I hate gin. But the people were happy. The food was great. And KVM and I laughed out asses off over the usual. I was home by ten. And now I am bleary-eyed and tired and know that when I wake up, I will pay.