Thursday, December 31, 2009

It Was...


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...






...it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...






...it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity...






.,.it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness...


It was....

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
English novelist (1812 - 1870
)


May the New Year offer us all a time we always dreamed of.
CO Moed

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Art of Undressing


It was a good question.

Standing there, dripping wet from freezing rain, O'Keefe pointed out that with such lousy weather and cold subway platforms and packed subway cars and overheated apartments (but never when you wanted heat), it was hard to know what to keep on and what to take off at any given moment.

Was there ever room in rush hour to hold one's coat on one's lap? Did coats get fatter since we were kids sitting in our polite wool coats on the IND line? The puffed coats we now all seem to wear make us look like packing peanuts in a box.

What about taking shoes off at friend's doorways? I remember taking off boots if the weather was awful, but not other times. Now custom seems to dictate all kinds of footwear taken off in all kinds of weather which also seems to dictate wearing socks or feet not horrendously shabby.

There seemed to be no answer except to overheat or strip.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Memories: The Road Less Traveled


It's a vague memory from another time and place. But I dimly recall our odd little family - a mother father older sister and me - striking out into the empty city on Christmas Day.

It wasn't our holiday and for weeks we had relinquished the streets to activity only done for our birthdays. Now with everyone tucked into family traditions never done in our home on any day of the year, we walked the streets and traveled the subways relishing a city solely ours until New Years.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blood On The Tracks


It was so cold and so late and so far uptown, at least so far uptown when it was that cold and that late.

Everyone did the precarious tipping over like a little teapot and staring down the dark tunnel hoping the IRT would zoom into sight because all our eyeballs were magnets and it couldn't resist the pull.

And then I saw the MTA guy walking the tracks, swinging his lantern and flashing his flashlight. He moved slow, scrutinizing every inch of all the metal and concrete and third rail and pools of floating garbage. Nothing broke his slow, steady stride, not even the rat running across his path in an attempt to avoid him. Behind him were three other men, also swinging lanterns and flashing flashlights and walking slow.

I got that sinking feeling of oh shit the way they're walking no train will be coming like forever.

Then in slow motion the first guy waved his lantern. A train had appeared.

The guys casually began to move toward the pillars. The train tooted its horn.

"Hey, what are you looking for?" I asked.

He wasn't even near his pillar. Just stopped and gave me a long look. Then said, "Everything."

At his feet was the body of a dead rat lying in a pool of blood.

"Like that?" I asked

Another long look. The train was practically in the station. "Yeah. A lot of those."

And with that he disappeared into pillars and the blur of a train headed downtown.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It Was Like Grand Central Station In There*

"Where do I get the subway?"
"How do I get to New Haven?"
"Where do I get the subway?"
"Is it on track 42?"
"Where do I get the subway?"
"How do I get to JFK?"
"The subway is where?"


"I'll walk you there."


"Look! Look!"


*the common description of any place crazy busy mischugah

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Memories: Playing Telephone


This is a telephone.

Florence's apartment has one just like this in her kitchen.

You stick your finger in one of those holes and then rotate the dial for each number of the number you are calling.

You can walk and talk on this phone as far as the cord goes.

A long time ago, like in the 1970's, when the phone company owned everything, this was the official phone of the apartment. Any extra phone, you had to pay extra. Nobody paid extra. We all had illegal phones. All wired up to this main phone with splices and electrical tape. If the phone company suddenly appeared at your door you had to quickly dismantle all the jerry-rigged illegal phones and hide them.

One time the guy showed up unexpected and I got my hair wet so he'd think I had been in the shower and that's why I kept him waiting outside the door, but really I was dismantling our extensions. And another time the phone guy grilled me for 5 minutes insisting there must be other phones in the house because he couldn't believe three girls could share one phone that resided in a then bedroom. I insisted we were all very close and could. He knew I was hiding ill-gotten equipment.

Then everything changed and the phone company owned nothing. The height of modern technology was pushing buttons instead of sticking fingers in holes. That and longer cords. Then things got crazy and you didn't need cords or wires at all.

Now, you don't even need a home to have a phone.

What I love most about this phone: during the blackout and 911 it still worked.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saving Small Businesses One Video At A Time



Gosh it makes me warm and tingly all over. Well, off to shop at KMart!

... but seriously folks. In my railing against the erosion of my city, I too must ask myself about my decisions of where I shop. More and more I am steering myself away from the bigger national chains and spending what little money I have at the local stores. And some of the small locally owned stores are thriving because lots of us are asking ourselves those hard questions.

So, if you can grab a meal at your local luncheonette verses that at a national chain, go ahead! The counter guy probably will give you extra and remember you the next time and the time after that and soon he'll remember your birthday, your ex-boyfriend, your mother, and that you love the bacon really crispy and the egg cream really sweet. When did that ever happen to you at a Quiznos or Uno's? Hmmm?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

They Came From Outta Town- Part Four


Blogger Smoke and Gaslight got on a train one day, arrived in Grand Central Station, walked into a building and got a job. She knew she had come home.

Then something happened. One day here or there one word led to another which led to one place and then another, which led to a box opened, a dusty book discovered, a building explored, and before she knew it, a man, 75 years dead, became her tour guide as she traveled through the mysteries of this city.

http://smokeandgaslight.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Memories: When Third Street Was Still Third Street


Before Third Street Music School moved to 11th Street and before it became a shelter run by the radical Catholic Worker, this is where we spent years of Saturdays and a couple of Wednesdays.

The block was no different from all the other blocks in the neighborhood - tenements and lots of dog doo on the sidewalk. With one exception. The Hell's Angels which mean it was the safest block in the East Village. Except if you fucked with them. Once someone parked near the bikes and accidently touched one of them. The bikers picked up the car and dropped it down and almost beat up the driver who was just a father dropping his kid off at the music school.

That rarely happened since most of us got to Third Street by bus or train.

Trudging past the Angels from the Avenue A bus stop, sidestepping the doo, and once tits were evident, sidestepping the bikers' looks, Saturday was an entire day of misery filled with theory classes, violin lessons, and orchestra rehearsal.

But in the cracks between all these obligations we raced up and down Second Avenue, sneaking into the exotic pet store, pooling pennies together for treats at the small and solitary candy store, and once in a blue moon blowing everything on a hot dog at the other famous kosher deli place on 5th Street. Karen's father said that if you checked any of the garbage cans on Second Avenue you'd find the bologna sandwich that Florence had made me for lunch. We never went further than Moishe's which was closed for Shabbas anyway.

The best part of the day was when our motley crew of mostly girls gathered at the top of the landing. There the handsome neighborhood boy sat making sure everyone got everywhere they needed to go. A viscous game of knucks would ensue, leaving bloody knuckles and swooning hearts and secret crushes which in my case didn't abate for years.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What Really Happened In Rear Window


Nothing.

If you weren't James Stewart or Grace Kelly and let's face it no one in New York below 14th Street or above 86th was, that rear window was where private disappointments, thinking the darkness meant they were alone, screamed at one another, and silent prayers of despair and desperation floated up the air shaft with hopes there was a god listening.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Meat Fest 2009


A week of chasing cow and pig with one or two chickens thrown ended in exhaustion and a slow trip across the street to the good but not silly expensive Japanese restaurant.

It was her annual trip.

Already someone, a New Yorker of more than 50 years had, in hopes of luring her home, told her about an apartment in Brooklyn. "Williamsburg! and the ceilings are 11 feet high and the rent is only $750!" Such deals are murmured as if it were World World II and the Axis powers train lines were going to be bombed.

She pondered over squid legs and crunchy eel if moving here from the cornfields would dampen inspiration. After all, when she did her annual visit she often went to more Museums than I had all year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Memories: Sunday Visits


It started when on Saturday I tried to walk down the street with Robyn under her umbrella. As I changed sides not to bump into my friend's bag, I suddenly lost sight of her. From deep within me I heard Florence's voice calling to Robyn "Where are you?"

"Oh! I sound just like my mother," I said.

"Where are you?" is what Florence would demand as she sat in that beat up old black chair watching again Singing in the Rain again or Sister Act again.

Unless I was taking a picture I'd usually be sitting next to her, knitting or jotting notes.

Her hand would skitter out from under the blanket and look for mine while never taking her eyes of the screen of a movie she couldn't remember having just seen a week earlier. The minute she'd find my hand, she'd know where I was and hold it tight.

Any knitting or note taking I was doing would cease. And we would watch the movie I did remember seeing over and over and over again and the tap dancing would tap and the singing would sing and the rain would rain and the trains outside would go by and the Sunday afternoon air would be not still or filled but just be Sunday air.

In this picture, it is the rare time she didn't care where I was. Joni had been able to get to New York to visit. And Florence wanted to show her this great movie. "Singing in the Rain! Have you seen it?!"

So this time, after turning it on for her again I got to get up and take a picture of something I knew would never ever happen again.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Home Sweet Home Is In The Bag


The safety sought and occasionally found in Home haunted Florence and me for many years, often appearing in our reluctance to leave the house or the throwing out of old objects.

When attempting to introduce a bath mat that wasn't from 1963 or unstained shower curtains that actually matched, Florence's terror of losing something that reminded her of all her years in that apartment exploded in rage and heartbreak and pain, even though all I was doing was introducing a couple of clean shower curtains and a bath mat that wasn't a petrie dish.

But almost like a person who cringed before a camera fearful their soul was being captured, the tossing of her old belongings felt as if history was being ripped out of her. It took weeks of angry exchanges before one day without warning new things were suddenly Home.

In embracing odd and familiar beloved items from her estate - a spatula, a coffee table, the wine opener - I too felt parts of her and parts of me affirmed, still there, brought home. Each thing made my apartment feel like a safer place to be, a home where decades before in desperate hope the pain would end, I had repeatedly curled up in cupboards or corners or benches seeking a safe moment of Home. When O'Keefe suggested replacing her old oversize coffee table with another, I sobbed, the thought of losing what was left of Florence too great to bear.

Tonight as emails flew back and forth to the new person in what once was Florence's home, the kitten, found in a box in the rain on Queens Boulevard, sought a corner of Home for himself - my bag, which often signaled I was leaving him alone for too lonely too long an amount of time. This evening, hearing rain begin outside, without question or pondering he recognized the warm space he needed to have stay, a guarantee his mommy/can opener would stick around a bit longer and that he'd be safe for a while.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Even The Cat Was Found On The Street


You left things on the street. You picked things up from the street. It was the New York Ikea when Ikea was still just in Sweden and New Jersey.

Beds, chairs, mattresses, bureaus, shelves, knick-knacks, desks, cupboards, plates, cups, coats, even shoes. Florence had many, many chairs gotten from departing neighbors, Coney Island vendors and street corner garbage heaps. I had many many chairs and surprisingly many many tables from departing roommates, stoop sales and street corner garbage heaps.

But now even if the items are left to be taken on sidewalks or by trash cans, even if there is a note that says TAKE ME, I feel a hesitancy, an embarrassment as it were that thirty years after furnishing my first and only home from the remnants of other people's lives, I am still too broke to buy things new.

In the final sweep of emptying Florence's apartment, things have come in and things now wait to go out, this time maybe to a friend, or neighbors.

Or if left on the street corner, maybe to someone still brave enough to pick it up and take it home.

The cat of course stays.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Memories: Where I Still Could Find Her

O'Keefe asked me to explain all this.



I said I was trying to illuminate where New York and Florence still were themselves even as they faded from recognizable forms.



And now a year after Florence died and New York continued in its odd way and the home I grew up in now looks like a nice apartment for other people we never were, there are places still here and there, still persistently themselves ....



....that I go to to feel at home.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

HAND-TO-HAND-COMBAT! LIFE OR DEATH DECISIONS! SLOW CAR CHASES! IT'S THANKSGIVING, THE MOVIE!!


This really happened.

It was right before Thanksgiving and like a billion other people, my friend ordered dessert from Veniero's on 11th Street to bring to the family gathering in Pound Ridge. It was probably pumpkin pie, or pastiero di grano or maybe even a cheesecake with little cannolis on top.

This woman is very attractive and she is over 30. Maybe even over 40 but her seamless attractiveness is elegant and well appointed. Oprah's makeover couldn't improve on her classic outfits, highlighted with tasteful touches of contemporary accessories.

So... as she waited on the long line she grew a bit tired. Noticing a bunch of round tables stacked along the wall, she sidled up to one and gently, as only elegance and class could, sat down.

The woman behind her, generously described as perhaps not very attractive and very unhappy about not being attractive, snapped I'M IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY AND YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE SITTING ON A TABLE. My friend politely pointed out that these were tables being stored, not being used for service. At that point the counter guy called "Next." Which was my friend.

YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO TAKE A NUMBER yelled the Unhappy Woman. My friend pointed out that not only did she have a number, she had the one they were calling and off she went to pick up the family dessert. Turning to leave she came face to face with the Unhappy Woman who then... punched her.

"Why'd you do that?" the counterman asked.

My friend quickly left and joined her husband in their car. As she began to tell him what just happened, the Unhappy Woman ran out of Veniero's and began yelling at the car. Windows rolled up and doors locked, her husband began to drive away. My friend pleaded for her husband to go slow because all they needed was for him to run over the foot of the Unhappy Woman as she followed the car down 11th Street yelling things at them.

That Thanksgiving Dinner the dessert was brought out to many ooos and ahhs.

"We almost died for this cake," the husband said.

A brief discussion ensued. Did the Unhappy Woman attack my friend because she was Asian? Did she attack my friend because she was Asian AND pretty? Or was this Unhappy Woman just basically nuts?

Nothing was decided. So they ate the cake.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I HEAR IT WAS HER BIRTHDAY


Not really knowing the circumstances of her birth on November 24, 1923 or 4, I have no idea if she was celebrated when she arrived. Possibly not. Her father was a World War 1 veteran who wasn't very nice and her mother, erudite, educated, multi-lingual, worked as a practical nurse because as an immigrant and refugee from Russia, it was what she could do. Her father not much in the picture in between hospital stays and abusive behavior, resources her mother had went toward the basics and then Florence's music lessons.

Poverty and unhappiness perhaps didn't lend itself to birthday parties with pretty cakes but stories of how much could be done with so little offer some hope that maybe there were birthdays she really enjoyed.

It was her 65th birthday that my sister did it up right with Florence's first birthday cake. A real cake with icing and flowers and her name and candles to blow out. As it wasn't something we ever got as kids, giving her this cake was a big deal. I found the candles - a 6 and a 5 - in a drawer of one of her tables when we cleaned out her house.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Memories: Words To Live By



Held in place on the refrigerator since 1981 by the "US OUT OF EL SALVADOR" magnet (which makes one wonder if we ever didn't go someplace we shouldn't have) the postcard reads:

Melba resolves silently never to eat again for as long as she lives.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ode To The Office. Empty Or Otherwise


Thirty years of working in an office gotta account for something.

Hidden moments and unexpected beauty in the place we spend most of our lives
.













Previous Homages to the Office:

Ode To The Office, December 2008

and

The Office Series

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

GUEST ARTIST, ROBYN: Communicating Across Difference

Robyn -- writer, actor, public presentation coach -- runs SPEAKETC.COM and has lived in New York for almost 30 years. I have yet to walk down any street with her and not see her run into someone she knows. Once in a single block stretch she said hello to seven different people.



The other day I saw an amazing communication on the NYC Subway. I was headed uptown. The train was crowded enough that I had to stand, but not the suffocating type of crowded that makes you question your sanity. A very tall African American man started walking through the car. Let me pause to let everyone know that I am African American. Anyway, this tall gentleman had the distinct body language of someone who wanted some kind of interaction/altercation. And for those of you who may question this observation, don't. I'm really good at body language and don't make these assumption lightly.

As this same man passed by me, my umbrella touched him and he jerked around to stare. I, being the well seasoned New Yorker, did not make eye-contact and I felt him decide that he wasn't going to pursue that particular altercation possibility. As he walked by, I eyed him carefully, wondering, dreading, who he was going to "mess with” cause I and everyone else in the car knew, he wanted to "mess with” someone. Most of the other riders in the car, did what I had done earlier and focused their eyes anywhere but in his direction. All except one.

A slightly vertically challenged Caucasian guy stood balanced in front of the subway car door facing in. The black guy stopped and stood directly in front of him. Facing him, staring at him. If the white guy looked down, he'd be staring at the man's crotch. If he tried to look any other place, it would be far too obvious that he was avoiding eye-contact and that would smack of fear and vulnerability. I sucked in my breath. I dreaded what might happen next. BUT, before the black guy could say anything or send out too many hostile vibes, the white guy, noticing the black guy's cap said: "Bronco's fan?" And what do you suppose the black guy did?

He began to grin from ear to ear. He raised his arms, and did a little dance around the car. The riders who'd been avoiding eye contact, started to look up and smile. He let out a whoop about the Broncos and he and the white guy engaged in a passionate discussion about football, Denver and the recent game. The subway reached its next stop, the black guy got off but not before giving the white guy a high five and parting advice about his team. I felt like I had witnessed one of the most compelling demonstrations of the basic idea behind Nonviolent Communication. (NVC)

NVC believes that people take action based on universal human needs. Sometimes these needs lead to positive actions, sometimes they lead to negative actions but the person is just trying to get a basic need met and will use any strategy available. I feel like this African American man had the need for connection. He wanted to connect to another human being badly. One strategy he was used to using was intimidation but that day, on that subway, a very confident, compassionate (or perhaps naïve) individual offered him another way to connect by offering him conversation about a shared interest.

The white guy and I got off at the same stop. I hadn’t realized it, but his girlfriend had been in the same subway car seated across from him. They got off chatting as though nothing unusual had occurred. I wanted to say something. Ask him how conscious the decision he made had been? Let him know how impressed I was with his ability to deflect a potentially uncomfortable encounter into a conversation. But I didn't. I didn't want to draw attention to something that had seemed so natural to him. I just hope that I can remember and learn from that example.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Memories: You Say You Want A Revolution...


It reads:

"imperialism sucks
march on washington november 15, 1969
"

It was here on the kitchen wall in 1976 when I moved in.   In those days, the house was painted in purple and red and yellow and more purple and maybe blue but it was hard to tell. 

One day in 1980 a woman visited, friend of a friend of a friend of a roommate. She had either designed the poster or knew who did. She found it funny to see it tacked up by tape over the toaster.

I always thought it was an abstract painting with no meaning - just acid trip colors until 20 years into looking at it I realized there was the shape of a man in chains and blood and grief and oppression.

Recently I got a frame from Ikea for it.  I'm not sure what took me so long.  But when revolution no longer marches on Washington,  it should be framed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

They Came From Outta Town- Part Three

A series about New Yorkers who accidentally got born in the wrong city, but somehow found their way home.

Adrian
(b.Richmond, California)



I could never remember he didn't grow up here unless he reminded me about gardens and trees and cars. Had the audacity to move to London. And like it. How I feel about that is unprintable for a family magazine or adult blog.

I was raised within the constraints of a large, stifling, Mexican family.  

As a kid I dreamt of being a princess, speaking French, traveling the world and living in New York.

I finally moved to New York in 2001 with a broken heart, no money and no real plans.

The city beat the crap out of me but I fought back.  Eventually, she gave in and decided I could stay.  For 8 years, I had a real life in New York made up of real friends and real seasons.

I met a mattress and lived with a bunny.
I walked over water.
I danced all night and kissed boys.
I walked with Luci to see La Virgencita.
I watched my friends leave.
I made art that traveled to cities I have yet to see.
I became a princess.
I got clowned.
I met Poookie and we drank like champions.
I welcomed my sister to the city.
I fell in love with a monkey.
I became a Master.
I clogged the internet with Claire.
I celebrated life like I never imagined.

I, like many, have my own special love affair with the city of cities.
This is the place where I’ve felt the freest, the most alive, the most accepted, the most loved and the most challenged.

The affair now continues from a far.
I MISS YOU TERRIBLY, NEW YORK.
(I’m not cheating on you, I hate it here…really.)

Kisses from across the pond

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

They Came From Outta Town- Part Two

A series about New Yorkers who accidentally got born in the wrong city, but somehow found their way home.

Bucko
(b. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Writes about cowboy and Jerry Springer rejects. In a party of lots of poets was the only cool person there.

Long answer: I'm not the tough, street-smart New Yorker, or the "pushy" New Yorker, or the worldly one, or the zillions of other types that I think make up the plurality of "New Yorker." I came to NY to make it here, in the words of the Sinatra song, and to be part of a huge metropolis. I'm making it, and I'm part of a community in NY, so yeah, then I'm a New Yorker. When I go to hometown, I can be perceived as pushy, arrogant, self-assured, liberal, cool, impatient, goal-oriented, etc. So in my hometown, I'm a New Yorker. But New Yorkers can spot my non-New Yorkerisms pretty quickly. I grew up on shale and sandstone, not granite, so there are some profound differences that go beyond having had a big yard and played in woods when I was little.

Short answer: If someone said to my face "You're not a New Yorker," I'd say, "Duh. But I've been here close to 20 years, and I WOULDN"T LIVE ANYWHERE ELSE, so fuck off."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Memories: Giving Peace A Chance


It was way more dangerous in 1972. At least according to the crime rates.

But we didn't know that or notice it. We just went about our business all over the city by ourselves or with each other, a gang of 12 and 13 year old girls traveling the subways, the buses, the streets without a cell phone because they didn't exist then, and at least in my case, not even a dime to call home in case something went wrong.

So it was no big deal for us to head over to the Peace Building on Lafayette and Bleecker to pick up peace buttons to sell on the street for the cause - BRING THE TROOPS HOME! PEACE NOW! FREE KIM AGNEW!

Our plan was to walk up 6th Avenue selling peace buttons until we got to the big peace rally near Herald Square. We pinned our wares to our teeshirts and in our tinny little voices hawked our wares - Peace Buttons for a dolla! Stop the war in Viet Nam! Buy a button for a dolla!

The shame of that day wasn't the man jiggling under his raincoat while touching each button on breasts I wasn't sure I had.

It was when on a dare or perhaps on empty pockets we all dashed under the turnstiles at 34th Street and ladies who probably were our neighbors or knew our neighbors or maybe even our parents TSK TSK'd us scolding "such nice girls such nice girls doing that shame on you what would your mother say..." as we ran down the ramp to the F train and home.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

They Came From Outta Town

A series about New Yorkers who accidentally got born in the wrong city, but somehow found their way home.

O'Keefe
(b. Orange County, California)


His grandparents and parents grew up in the Bronx, White Plains and Eastchester and then along with a ton of other people including some of my relatives migrated to Southern California before it got bad. His great-great-grandfather owned a bar in Hell's Kitchen. And his grandfather owned a liquor store and was a bartender. It's why O'Keefe can do a Bronx Irish accent like nobody's business.

I got here I felt like I didn't have to leave. The city replaces nature in the oddest of ways. You live in it and with it. It really is my city to me. I'm not a guest here. I'm not a visitor. I found the street wide open madness and joy. It could never be too much.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Guest Artist Dana On Parenting (Or How I Survived Motherhood)


"I sat in the playpen as they wrecked the house."

Dana, with her grandson, her great-grandson and her son posing for a picture being taken by her other son.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Memories: Behold The Lowly Rubber Band


Besides the once-a-year-when-you-get-a-shot bubble gum
there was the rubber band.

I think Florence thought it some form of God or magic elixir. There were many in the house but tucked away in corners reserved for precious things. Even pens were treated more carelessly.

We never bought them. That was unheard of. Rather, on our sightseeing visits to Macy's (sightseeing because we never bought anything there either--I'm not counting that one time my sister and I got a new dress each) Florence would send us off to go collect rubber bands from the nooks and crannies of whatever clothes department we happen to be in.

It was a mission, understood to be taken seriously and to be successful at. So I'd crawl under racks and in and out of empty dressing rooms and collect as many as a child's hand could hold and bring them triumphantly back to Florence who I guess dumped them into her handbag and sent me off again.

What I remember was that on the way home or perhaps one afternoon at home, we'd request a rubber band. pop it into our mouths and chew away, happy for such an approved treat.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Sound of Silence


It has never been about noise. There's always noise whether you notice it or not.

Silence is space. A brief moment or years and years. Silence is walking through space alone.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Sometimes There's Actually A Happy Ending!


Ellwood Got Lap!
Somebody adopted him and he's doing great.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"A Poem Called Home" Comes Home


Thanks to the Elizabeth George Foundation, I have been able to complete the trilogy, WIRE MONKEY.

On October 27, this coming Tuesday I will read a couple of chapters from the last installment, Poem Called Home at the Women's / Trans' Poetry Jam & Open Mike at Bluestockings Bookstore. I hope you'll join me.

A POEM CALLED HOME

Thirty years after leaving the ancestral seat on the Lower East Side, Bets returns only to accidentally break the arm of her mother, The Cellist. This send The Cellist down the rabbit hole of old age Armageddon, leaving Bets and her sister, The Other Daughter to face off with the law, the doctors and medicaid services. It's smack-down time at the Adult Day Program.


FEATURE WRITERS:

Claire Olivia Moed and Jan Clausen

WHERE:
Women's / Trans' Poetry Jam & Open Mike
Bluestocking Bookstore,
172 Allen Street, between Stanton & Rivington
1 1/2 blocks south from E.Houston

WHEN:
Tuesday October 27th

TIME:

7-8PM: open mike so bring your poetry, your prose, your songs, and your spoken word (you get 8 minutes)

8-9PM: featured writers (me and Jan)
(These are all approximate times.)

HOW MUCH:
$5 suggested donation

Hosted by Vittoria repetto - the hardest working guinea butch dyke poet on the lower east side

Bluestockings Bookstore
172 Allen St.
(between Staton & Rivington)
1 1/2 blocks south from E.Houston
NYC
212-777-6028
info@bluestockings.com
http://www.bluestockings.com/

Open mike - sign-up at 7 pm - 8 minute limit

Take V or F train to 2nd Ave. and exit from the 1st Ave exit and walk south down Allen St. (aka. 1st Ave) 1 ½ blocks to the store

Press contact person: Vittoriar@aol.com

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Memories: Check Mate and a Reading This Coming Tuesday


Once upon a day, a year ago...

Florence had just died. The memorial was over. The temp job ended. There was enough money to last for another two months. For the first time there was time. To write, to rest, to find out where the stories were. At least until the money ran out.

The money began to run out.

During a cold afternoon, all hope for this time to coax story from the shadows drained out of me in one swift moment.

I crawled into bed, stared at the wall festooned with notes and ideas and snippets and sentences and thought, "I can't do this anymore. I can't live teetering on fear and poverty and one rent check away from eviction. I need to give up writing. I need to find a job. I need to make sure that I have enough money so that when I'm old I don't end up in a nursing home like the one on Avenue B where Gramma died, tied to a chair and without her teeth."

How Florence had kept afloat teaching piano lessons for $5, $10 or $20 always puzzled my sister and me. I hadn't been able to do that. It was time to throw in the towel.

The doorbell rang.

There was the postman who had been our postman for the last 30 years with a registered letter.

I thought, "Oh. I'm being evicted."

Until I looked at the envelope. It was from a foundation I had applied to for a grant. Months earlier.

"They wouldn't reject me with a registered letter" I kept saying over and over again as I tried to grab the letter out of his hands.

"You have to sign first you have to sign first you have to sign first!" the postman kept saying grabbing the letter back.

The only reason I stopped grabbing was I knew it was a federal offense to assault a postal worker.

When I finally opened the letter, there was a check. For the first time, ever, I was given time, more than a couple of days, more than a week here and there, more than two months before the money ran out. I was given almost a year. To write, to complete, to be what I was - a writer.

***
Thanks to the Elizabeth George Foundation, I have been able to complete the trilogy, WIRE MONKEY.

On October 27, this coming Tuesday I will read a couple of chapters from the last installment, Poem Called Home at the Women's / Trans' Poetry Jam & Open Mike at Bluestockings Bookstore. I hope you'll join me.

A POEM CALLED HOME

Thirty years after leaving the ancestral seat on the Lower East Side, Bets returns only to accidentally break the arm of her mother, The Cellist. This send The Cellist down the rabbit hole of old age Armageddon, leaving Bets and her sister, The Other Daughter to face off with the law, the doctors and medicaid services. It's smack-down time at the Adult Day Program.


FEATURE WRITERS:
Claire Olivia Moed and Jan Clausen

WHERE:
Women's / Trans' Poetry Jam & Open Mike
Bluestocking Bookstore,
172 Allen Street, between Stanton & Rivington
1 1/2 blocks south from E.Houston

WHEN:
Tuesday October 27th

TIME:
7-8PM: open mike so bring your poetry, your prose, your songs, and your spoken word (you get 8 minutes)

8-9PM: featured writers (me and Jan)
(These are all approximate times.)

HOW MUCH:
$5 suggested donation

Hosted by Vittoria repetto - the hardest working guinea butch dyke poet on the lower east side

Bluestockings Bookstore
172 Allen St.
(between Staton & Rivington)
1 1/2 blocks south from E.Houston
NYC
212-777-6028
info@bluestockings.com
http://www.bluestockings.com/

Open mike - sign-up at 7 pm - 8 minute limit

Take V or F train to 2nd Ave. and exit from the 1st Ave exit and walk south down Allen St. (aka. 1st Ave) 1 ½ blocks to the store

Press contact person: Vittoriar@aol.com

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Got Lap?


Who knows why Ellwood's former owner couldn't afford the operation? Maybe he or she had only enough money for their own surgery but not their cat's.

The only thing anyone knows is that one very sad, bad day Ellwood, three years old and declawed, ended up without a home or an owner or a lap to sit in.

Dr. G of Cooper Square Veterinary said, "I'd take him but I've already have four at home." He wasn't even counting his bulldog when he said that. Just the cats.

Since Dr. G. saved Jupiter from himself, the very least I could do was try and get Ellwood a home.

So here's the skinny on ELLWOOD, one really great, delicious, loving, wonderful being who would make someone with a lonely lap very very happy:

He's three years old.
He's neutered.
He's on C/D wet food.
He's great with other cats and dogs!
He loves kisses and hugs and he head butts everyone he meets!!
He loves laps!!!
He's a TOTAL MUSH!!

Contact Emily at 917.573.8710 or emily10012@aol.com
kittykind.org
P.O. 961 Murray Hill Station
NY, 10156