- Fairuza Balk
- Katie’s shirt
- Papa Smurf
- Blue raspberry twin pop
- Classic iTunes theme
- Katie’s beach towel
- Boiling water
- Curling iron
- The past few days
- Bath water
- Indian food
- Summer nights
- Black pepper
- Light bulbs
It’s these lyrics that keep running through my head but the song hasn’t been written yet. They wake me from black sleep, and I carry her in my pockets like memories of a trip to Paris, which is somewhere I haven’t been. There are so many stones in my pocket that I wear my pants at my ankles. She’s this candle on the windowsill with a snow white wick and my fingers are warm. An apple in my stomach that I will eat at my desk tomorrow morning. It’s like this to love her. I am weary with love and I slept the soundest sleep last night in my black bedroom. Singing birds woke me when the night was still on its knees. I did not want to shoot them like I normally do because they were singing the song that I sing in my head. That’s what it’s like, loving her. It’s like birdsong, singing a song that hasn’t been written, in a black bedroom in a blue night.
- Money, bills, credit
- Sick children
- Sick parents
- Addictions- self and loved ones. Anorexia, alcohol, drugs, shopping, porn, sex
- Depression and anxiety- self and loved ones
- Job security
- Providing for family
- Getting into college, getting a new job
- Extreme debt
- Strained family relationships
- Natural disasters
- Kidnappings (a parent- a dad would be interesting- who struggles to bond with child because he worries about kidnapping)
- Sick pets. This is an awful one if you’ve been through it.
- Lost dreams. Crippling.
- Fights- work, personal
- Legal issues. Divorce, DUIs, arrests, cleptomania
Freedoms we’re still working on:
- Religion, to have or have not. We’re all of us holy, and some of us believe that to be an extension of God and some of us believe that to be an extension of the universe or of life or of anything pretty.
- Gender expression/gender identity.
- Marriage/commitment rights for all.
- Civil rights…in regard to everything and nothing, simultaneously. Civil rights are human rights and should have nothing to do with anything other than humanity.
- Animal rights/protection, specifically in regard to abuse. As living creatures, animals should be afforded care and safety. No questions. Humans who abuse animals should be treated as abusers. End of story.
- Fair taxation that doesn’t reward the wealthy and exploit those who struggle
- Access to healthcare for women, including reproductive rights.
- Access to education, in regard to children in need of FAPE
- Reasonable and affordable access to education, in regard to adults who wish to be able to learn and to eat simultaneously
- Access to mental health care if desired. Peace of mind is a human right, and each individual’s peace of mind contributes to the well being of our world.
- Access to healthcare, regardless of and probably in direct response to level of need. Those in need get what they need. Done.
- Safe housing. Hallways that aren’t dark. Stairwells that aren’t scary. Doors that lock, windows that open. Quiet. Joy.
- Access to support with addiction treatment if desired regardless of financial circumstances
- Access to culture, knowledge, and experience: libraries, museums, technology, parks…in all cities, everywhere
- Gender equality
- Access to safe childcare
- Freedom to childhood. Freedom from abuse in any form. Freedom to feel safe and valued.
- Freedom from exploitation. From domestic abuse. From trafficking, racism, sexism.
- Freedom to be forgiven without punishment when it doesn’t endanger others to do so. Freedom to learn from mistakes.
- Freedom from shame.
She’s gone now. As in dead. I hadn’t seen her in years. I’ve bought three houses and sold two and cleaned my fridge maybe two hundred times and shaken out clean sheets over two different quilted mattresses about seven hundred times. I’ve made love over and over and slipped my head into the laps of a parade of women. And still. She still sits in my lap with a cardboard book of matches, lighting one after another and giggling when the cardboard strips fizzle. She still sits in my heart, building bonfires and pumping the billows. I smell like sulphur and have spent years in the burn unit.
I met her in an economics class when I was doing my undergrad. It was the second time I’d taken the class. I failed the first time and cried for two days. I was ashamed when I walked in to class the next semester. Same classroom, same teacher, same anxiety. I sat beside her and we were assigned a project together. We made plans to meet at the library.
She was just biding her time, waiting until something came along that was a joy. She kept waiting for joy. I told her over and over that that wasn’t how joy worked. Joy wasn’t going to come along and sit in her lap, letting loose a bouquet of balloons into a sky washed with a paintbrush dipped in blue. Joy didn’t work that way. I didn’t realize that that was exactly how joy worked for her. Moments of joy strung like pearls until the thread snapped and so did her neck. I still find pearls that have rolled into corners or under the bed. They are warm in my palm and in the beginning, I swallowed them with a moutful of wine, but I don’t do that any longer.
She didn’t listen to me and my grand philosophies on joy. She would hold my cheek in her hand and laugh at me, saying, “My Monica, my love. What do you know about joy? You run from joy like it will burn you. You are too afraid of everything to really know anything.” Her eyes snapped their fingers at me when she laughed. I’m sure her eyes snapped their fingers for everyone. I didn’t know that then. I thought it was for me and when her eyes snapped and she called me her love, I curled into her lap like a pill bug and kissed her neck and pushed myself all the way inside her. We were Russian dolls, and I made a nest for myself in her body. I did not run from joy. She was wrong. I was serious, but joy was serious, too. You had to move inside of joy or else it would move on. I moved in and it moved on anyway.
I was desperately in love with her. Desperate love is unique and it is a drug that will get you higher than any chemical out there. I wanted to name each curl that sprung from her scalp. I wanted to give them middle names and throw each curl a bat mitzvah and a confirmation party and a sweet sixteen. I was at all times twisting garlands of paper streamers and breaking broccoli trees into manageable little bushes to roost beside bowls of dip. She was the party of my life.
This is what happened. I can tell you exactly what happened. She said, “Do you want to go to a yoga class with me? It’s on Sunday afternoon. You don’t have to pay. Just bring like a can of soup or something.” And so I did. I showed up with a can of beef barley and I took the class and bent over and twisted and pulled my toe over my head and then we settled onto our backs for a meditation at the end of class. Hear me: I did not love her before this. She did not twist my heart. She did not sweat from my temples. She did not shake the heady perfume of lilacs into the air. Until we went to yoga. And we lay supine beside one another, and I looked over at her. It was a stolen look. A look pushed down into my pocket. She will never know how many times i pulled it out. Tears rolled over her cheeks. I will never, never forget how the tears looked skimming over her cresting cheekbones, fighting to top the swell of her cheek. I fell in love right at that exact moment. How many people know the moment I fell In love. I knew the moment I saw tears riding her cheekbones.
She knew shit was bad when lines from poems kept popping in to her head when she waited in line at the grocery store or shaved her left knee without shaving cream. Snippets of heartbreaking poems woke her like bad dreams. She felt like an aluminum popcorn popper shaken over the stover burner, bursting with sadness and apathy and anxiety. She was tired of herself.
She quit drinking on a Thursday. She woke up after being awake since 2:00 AM which is what always happened when she drank too much. She was, as she always was, disgusted with herself and reeling and thinking about how much she sucked at life. She stood in front of the bathroom mirror after she showered, and her skin looked pinker and fresher than it had for years. Her teeth were whiter and her eyes clearer and her hair was drying in a kind of wavy, fancy way instead of hanging limp. This was strange because she had not slept and was still likely drunk and all around, she was hating herself and this day pretty intensely considering that it was only 6:45 AM.
His house was the size of a postage stamp. This is a true story. The roof was even edged with scallops, just like old fashioned stamps were. The kind you had to lick.
When Noreen touched her, she felt like she was being prayed over. And under and through and into. Noreen wrote prayers along her arms and across her stomach and she wrote prayers in the air around her and pulled her hair into long, shiny prayers that were very heavy and very light at the same time. Noreen filled her like water tipped into a vase so that things could begin blooming and the air hummed with yellow and prayers and flowers breaking open in the morning air when the sun burned off the last parts of the night.
It wasn’t so much that she was bossy, although it’s true that the was bossy. It’s more that she was what her grandmother would call a Nervous Nellie. She could work conversations in a certain way, building up interactions and breaking down others. She pulled this string and that leg kicked. She pulled that string and this hand raised.
Title? Prayers, Puppets, and Pumpernickel
She lived in an apartment above a liquor store. All windows to the liquor store had been boarded up years ago. Her attic apartment had to windows at either end, and beams of sunlight met in the middle of the floor.
She sat at her desk going through unimportant emails and she reached down beside her hips to grab two ends of a seatbelt.
I knew the potatoes weren’t soft enough. I knew they should cook longer. I knew I didn’t need another beer. I knew things were getting worse.
She kept biding her time, waiting until something came along that was a joy. She kept waiting for joy. I told her over and over that that wasn’t how joy worked. Joy wasn’t going to come along and sit its fat ass in her lap and let loose a bouquet of balloons into a sky washed with a paintbrush dipped in blue. Joy didn’t work that way.
She didn’t listen. She didn’t ever listen. It didn’t matter. I was desperately in love with her. I wanted to name each curl that sprung from her scalp. I wanted to give them middle names and throw each curl a bat mitzvah and a confirmation party and a sweet sixteen. I was at all times twisting garlands of paper streamers and breaking broccoli trees into manageable little bushes to roost beside bowls of dip. She was the party of my life.
I met her in an economics class. It was the second time I’d taken the class. I failed the first time. It was a hard class, but really I failed because I stopped going. That whole experience taught me the importance of failing. Failing will sit you in a plush seat in an ampitheater and raise a red velvet curtain with a fluorish. The curtains will part like the seas and there’s no need for Moses because she will be standing there in the wake, her curls snapping, her eyes flashing.
I haven’t seen her in years. I’ve bought three houses and sold two and cleaned my fridge maybe two hundred times and shaken out clean sheets over a quilted mattress maybe seven hundred times. I’ve made love over and over and slipped my head in to the laps of a parade of women. She still sits in my lap with a carboard book of matches, lighting one match after another and giggling while they fizzle. She still sits her fat ass in my heart, building bonfires and pumping the billows. I smell like sulphur and have spent years in the burn unit.
To contemplate: a story about someone who fell in love with you, instead of a story about you falling in love.