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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.


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