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 email@example.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
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.