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Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The wind is so strong tonight that the roads are draped in shredded trees, and on the way to T’ai Chi class I got a branch stuck under my car and it sounded like I was being transported into the future, like on LOST where Locke decides not to press the button to save the world and the whole sky goes white and a single-noted buzz penetrates so deeply you can feel it behind your eyes. Then leaving T’ai Chi I opted for a side street and had to turn around because a giant palm was lying face down like a defeated soldier blocking off the street just West of Sweetzer.

This was going to be my night to pretend I wasn’t going to have a life-changing epiphany so that it could sneak up on me and feel that it had the advantage, so I washed my hair and went to make a stir fry (tofu, cabbage mix, Soyaki) and found that everything in my refrigerator had frozen. Except the capers. The impulse buy.

If there were a movie of The Princess and the Pea, the director would call “Cut!” right before the pivotal discovery-of-the-pea scene, and say, “The pea just isn’t doing it for me. It’s lifeless. I want something with a spark, a kick!” And a tentative P.A. would slowly raise his hand, and with a crackling voice say, “Perhaps we could use a...caper?”

“A caper. Huh.” The director would scratch his beard, check his watch, and ask the stout prop intern whose knit beret was a real fashion risk for her that day if she could be back within the hour with a jar of capers.

She would return heroically with the capers, knowing that later she could exaggerate the story to her boyfriend that she “had to go to THREE grocery stores. NO ONE had capers. It was insane.”

“Good for you, babe,” he’d say, rolling the neck of his Corona between his hands. “You want tacos?”

Compact. Pungent. And these Mediterranean pebbles came in a little octagonal jar that looks like something a grandmother would save to later contain her marmalade. I’m sure the shape had a psychological affect on me. This tiny jar looked like it would never be in my possession. I’m familiar with the “Nothing I have feels like it’s mine” complaint, but I have the opposite problem. Everything I own is so terribly mine. The Strawberry Shortcake towel I’ve used as both a welcome mat and an oven mitt. The salt shaker where I keep my Qtips that I inherited from dishwashing job at a restaurant that went out of business. The sequined pillow I bought in New York after I lost my job, probably for comfort, too, though the only feedback on the pillow has been, “This is a really uncomfortable pillow.” When I don't have money, any taste of financial hydration needs to be commemorated. The emotional currency of the mahogany pencil holder you buy when you have some extra cash is worth ten times what you paid for it. You look at that pencil holder and believe things can be great again. It's a trick you play on yourself. A device. Just like me ending this paragraph with, "It's a caper."

My epiphany that I pretended wouldn't come so that it would come never came. I promised myself that for every episode of LOST I watched I would write one thousand words and hope that somewhere in my free-write an idea would come so clearly, with such intent, it would fall on me like Dorothy’s house, and the house would be full of a million dollars, and I could finally have a kitchen with a center island and a room not attached to my home but just one hundred feet away that was perfect for parties.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Your True Colors Are Killing Me

T’ai Chi.
Chai Tea.

The duality of T’ai’ll be doing a move called “Needle in the Sea” and it seems so graceful and then you find out you’re learning how to break someone’s arm.

They always play ‘True Colors’ at the supermarket. How do you think Cyndi feels about that? Once I saw her live in concert. She had Big Bird yellow hair and leather pants and in her sweet, non-offensive voice she squeaked, “I know I’ve gained a little bit of weight, but I’m still rockin’!” Tonight I wandered around for two hours to get just two cans of soup, a bottle of water, and a new toothbrush. I couldn’t decide on anything. Then I realized I wasn’t hungry. Just sad. It was raining and I’d just left my T’ai Chi class where I thought about how strange it was that I could “Ride the Tiger” but not “Sweep the Lotus”...

I was strolling the frozen aisle on the phone with my also-sad friend telling him I had a dream he was married to an Al-Anon section leader and then suddenly we were at his grandfather’s funeral and I was putting white make-up on my face and this film producer with an 80s haircut turned me toward the mirror and I saw that my head had become a pyramid and it split down the center right between my eyes. I turned toward my friends and said “I never knew it was like this” and we looked at my head in the mirror and there were all these doughy white perfect circles and squares. The producer invited Steven Spielberg to travel inside my head, and when he arrived, my head grew bigger and bigger until Steven was tiny like an action figure and wearing a space suit, and a beam of rainbow light shot out from inside my head as he entered.

One of the store employees passed by my conversation and only heard, “My head became a pyramid and split down the center.” She gave me a look you’d see on a show like Girlfriends.

I wanted to stay at T’ai Chi tonight. I didn’t want to be let out into the world. Something about the rain sucks when you’re not in love. The thick drops splatter in palm leaves and you feel you’re not living out your full purpose. I took extra long in the locker room. Qtipped my ears. Picked through the hair binder bowl for two more of the pale pink ones and shoved them in the pocket of my hoody.

I found out my T’ai Chi teacher is married to one of the students. I think it really irks him when she checks her Blackberry during class. Before I knew they were married I often saw them walking sweetly together and I imagined she was his Martial Arts prodigy. That he said things like, “You must learn that it is less about control and more about intent.” Now I wonder if their conversations are more like, “What is so important that you have to keep checking your Blackberry?”

There’s another lady in my class who’s an Energy Worker. Once I was stretching before class and she came in and said, “How are you today?” I said, “I’m okay,” and she goes, “Are you REALLY okay?” Followed by, “I’m an energy worker. I know these things. Did you know your energy goes seven feet beyond your physical body?” I wonder if my aura is any good at basketball.

And there’s another lady in my class who has full-on plastic surgery--the cat-look with the blown-up lips and everything. On the first day of class we did a move called Repulse the Monkey, and she grabbed my arm and said, “Not Spank the Monkey. Repulse the Monkey.” And then she cackled.

My movements in class are large and sweeping. It’s the only time in my life I’ve felt I have long legs because I am almost always running into Plastic Surgery Lady and often have to scoot back a couple steps before “White Crane Spreads Its Wings”.

Today Plastic Surgery Lady came to class wearing a poufy skirt with dogs all over it and Louis Vuitton-ish flip flops. After our first time running through the movements, the Energy Worker held out her hands and said, “There’s electricity running through me. Feel.” And Plastic Surgery Lady said “I can’t touch you. I’m a Gypsy.”

I found it odd, and I laughed. Just a hiccup--the umbilical cord of hysteria--then stopped. So many surgeons had touched this woman’s body that the idea of her not touching Energy Worker’s hands seemed completely absurd to me.

I just read this book where a girl starts laughing at her mother’s funeral and she has to cover her face with her hands. Then she feels her father’s hand on her neck, he is comforting her, and she realizes her dad thinks she’s crying. The author says it was the moment the girl learned how to lie. “Fall On Your Knees” by Anne-Marie MacDonald. Check it out. Then stop at Chapter Six where a girl is baptizing her dead sister’s baby and the drunk dad comes out and causes a scene and the baby is left in the water twenty seconds too long and freezes to death and you can’t bear the sadness.

I remembered how Plastic Surgery Lady had grabbed my arm to tell me her Spank the Monkey joke and I wondered if she’s like me with Judaism where I won’t write the full word G-d but once in awhile I’ll sneak pepperoni.

When I got home I sat in my car in the dark and just let the water freckles hit my windshield. Someone across the street from me is learning to play oboe and I find it so comforting. I hear the first note, a pause, then a second one like an added thought. Then it’s those two notes again, and a third note that reaches like it’s panicking at the edge of a swimming pool. It barely hits its mark then dies like a loon’s last breath.

I stayed in my car and imagined getting my T’ai Chi license, and becoming a favorite instructor, and changing my name to Donna, and wearing a chunky fuschia necklace and living in some kind of mountain resort in New Mexico, entering my T’ai Chi studio with hardwood floors, much tanner, much more peaceful, some weeds fastened and falling from my English Patient hair. In this fantasy I know that only love, the universal kind, can make you happy. And I live alone in a brown, curved one-bedroom apartment with giant windows. And then I think, This is just me having a fantasy about being Julia Cameron. Can I please have a dream about my life where I’m still me?

“I see your true colors shining through.
I see your true colors and that’s why I love you.
So don’t be afraid! to let them show....

Your true colors are beautiful
like a rainbow...”

(and then it kind of dips at the end)