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a dull blade needs sharpening.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Caring.

"Am I immature?"

He eyed her carefully, trying to discern whether or not it was a trick question. Her eyes were imploring, searching his face as he thought. He considered her phrasing: am I versus do you think I am. It seemed it safe enough ground, at least for her mood this evening, so he ventured an answer.

"Probably, a little. But not for the reasons you think."

"Why do you think?"

"Well, why do you ask?"

"Because. I'm thirty-one, and I still can't cope with, like, everyday life things. Like getting my prescriptions. I make you do that. I just can't, a lot of the time."

"I don't know if that makes you immature - I mean, that's why you're in therapy I guess, but it's not what makes you immature."

"Marta says that whenever I feel like I want to say I can't do something, I should say that I won't do it instead, to see if that makes me feel like I have a choice... What do you think makes me immature then?"

It was without a doubt an accusation, spoken forcefully. But she was laughing a little. Still safe.

"How you pout about stuff and yell and have fits when you don't wanna do something."

"Well sure. Everybody does that - yourself included."


"So what are you talking about then? I think it's because I find life so hard to deal with, and our lives aren't even hard. I mean, we don't even have kids."

"Well, the general wisdom is that things like kids is what makes you grow up and act responsible. Like, until then, why would you? What's the point. It's no fun being an adult if it just means that you keep a clean house and get the bills paid on time and go to work and all that crap. It also means you can have ice cream for breakfast when you want to."

"Which you can't do anymore when you have the kids. Because then you're setting a bad example."

"Yeah, but you still want to, which is the bullshit part. That's when you start just acting like you think grownups are supposed to act or whatever. I mean, you know they're all faking it."

"Yeah, I know about the great adult sham. I remember figuring that out, and being really freaked out because, if everybody's just playing at being an adult, then nobody actually knows what the hell they're doing, and who the hell is running everything?"

"Yeah." Now he was laughing a little. He was sure they'd had this conversation before. But that was OK. Most of the big conversations got had over and over, probably, he thought.

"I mean, you don't think it because I get excited about stuff right? Like because I get happy about cookies and sparkly stuff? Because as far as I'm concerned that's just me holding on to my sense of childlike awe of the world."

"No baby, that's just annoying." He was comfortable now, being snide even. They'd hit their stride. He knew this conversation forward and back.

"I mean, I have to be excited by the small shiny things. There is so much sadness... without the small things I would be crushed beneath its weight..."

Tears rolling down her cheeks - blindsided. He barely had time to consider where it had turned, how it had got out from beneath him. Sudden auto-pilot, he flew across the room and sat himself on the couch beside her, placed his arm gingerly around her shoulders. He tried to pull her to him but she would not come. "Hey, baby, come on. I'm right here. It's not that bad. Come on." He tried to rock her, but she would not rock.

"You have no idea... the images in my head... thousands of them..." And still her tears were quiet, no sobbing to be had, like sometimes. Just a taste of the sadness that could no longer be contained.

It was over in a few moments, she recollected, he shaken. So he went out for a cigarette. She scoffed, as usual, but kissed him before he went.

Outside, in the darkness, August humidity was oppressive. His mind shunned any thoughts of what may be now happening in the apartment above. After the first smoke, staring at a purple-red smoked sky, he tried to remember what he had said to upset her - so that he would not do it again. Unable to pinpoint it, he pulled another Camel from the pack. Took a drag. Shuffled gravel beneath his feet.

He knew, of course, that she would be angry with him for staying out too long.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Just in case you hear otherwise: EVERYONE VOTES ON TUESDAY.

* * * PLEASE REPOST! * * *

It seems that someone or someones have been circulating flyers, at least in Virginia and New York and possibly elsewhere, that say something pretty ridiculous. The flyers have an official looking state seal on them, and claim that due to the high expected voter turnout republicans will vote on Tuesday and Democrats will vote on Wednesday.

THIS. IS. NOT. TRUE. That may seem obvious, but who knows. All kinds of crazy shit happens with elections these days, and there are plenty of kids voting for the first time in this election. So let's get it out there real clear: It is not true in any state or district. It is a fallacy; personally I think it should be a felony. Regardless, please just tell everyone you know. Spread it around the office. Tell the fam. Everyone, and that means EVERYONE, republicans and democrats and greens and independents alike, VOTE ON TUESDAY. Again, EVERYONE VOTES ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH.

Besides that, contrary to what flyers in Philadelphia might state, voters with outstanding parking tickets or previous convictions will NOT be arrested for turning up at the poles.

It's not as if the president is elected by popular vote anyway, but that's a debate for another day and beside the point anyway.

To the criminals that are trying to throw the election by such absurd methods, I have only this to say: Yes, tomorrow a black democratic man may be elected as president. COPE.

And p.s. - No, I wouldn't approve of these tactics if they were aimed in the other direction. It is wrong, period.

Friday, August 29, 2008

She broke us, but maybe it was for the best.

We'd been friends for eight years. He'd spent the first few months of our acquaintanceship (when we were teenagers) sort of smitten with me, but past that it was platonic-a-go-go. He was one of those guys, the ones that you think, yeah, he's a great guy - how come I'm not attracted to him? I wasn't. Not an inch. Not a sliver. Nothing.

And then somehow, one day, when the rest of my life was in complete chaos there he was. All stability and dimples. And I just fell right in.

He'd never had a girlfriend before, and I was some kind of way to start. Not "high maintenance" in a buy me presents and wait for me to put on my makeup kind of way, but very much so in an emotionally needy capacity. Before he even knew what hit him we were a full fledged couple, and he'd do stuff that would make me cry or yell and not have a clue as to why. Lessons that most guys pick up in their teens he was trying to hash out in his late 20's.

We had our days. We had a solid long-term friendship to build on, something that some couples never even get close to. And once I got him in the sack, he was dynamite. But... I'm a saboteur in my own life. I destroy. What is right, I make wrong... or at least, I used to. And so, I am sad to report, I proceeded to do most everything in my power to make him a miserable wreck. Not that I did it intentionally; I loved him more than anything. Every now and then I'd get sight of what I was doing and lose it; oddly enough that didn't really help matters.

Living in New Orleans comes with its quirks, and among them is hurricane evacuations. In September of 2004, we spent 22 hours in his unairconditioned van treking to Dallas for a storm that didn't end up getting even a little bit close to our city. Upon arriving at the hotel room, finally, I launched into at least four hours of criticism on his handling of the situation. Looking back now, that really may have been the beginning of the end.

When we returned home I decided that I really should just move into his house. After all, I hadn't slept at my place in over a month, so who were we kidding? One night I was sitting on the bed filling out change-of-address forms, and I looked up at him. "Did we ever actually talk about me moving in? I can't remember." I knew it had been bandied about, but to this day I don't know if the two of us actually ever said yes, let's do that. In any event, it was done.

Fast forward to August of 2005. Another hurricane, another evacuation. Like we had before we packed up the car with a few days' provisions and headed out, secure in the knowledge that we'd be back shortly. Of course, in this we were badly mistaken.

Katrina kept us away from the city and his house for untold ages. After a month of evacuee limbo, I could take no more. We decided, or maybe I decided, that I'd head up to New York to start on our new life, while he stayed in the vicinity of New Orleans so that when he was finally able to, he could wrap up the loose ends there.

I went to New York, got a job and an apartment, beckoned him to join me. But I'd overestimated the strength of our relationship, and underestimated his bonds to a city that I no longer deemed habitable. In a lover's capacity, we were simply not meant to be.

The death throws of our relationship lasted from September of 2005 to February of 2006, though the deed was done in January. When it came to the end it was me that said the words. And really, it was never that we didn't love each other. It was simply that we didn't work.

It took two years, but we're friends now, again. In the twelve or so years that we've meant something to each other, the year and a half where we shared a bed is merely a blip. I see him each time I visit New Orleans. He still has my cat and my bicycle and several of my books; I still think he's an amazing person.

As for me, I found a new one. We bicker like crazy; we're the best of friends - it's possible that a better match never has been made. The wedding is in March of 2010. Go figure.

The paths we find through life, it seems, are endlessly unpredictable.

Monday, September 18, 2006

it had to end, of course.

the taking of his virginity was an awkward task, and she recalled it with a certain unease. it all seemed so impossibly forced, so lacking in the tenderness that she, that they both, had intended. it was with great difficulty that she could allow herself to be approached as a chore, a vehicle, a mission, more with determination than with passion. and then too, was made all the rougher by his clumsy movements in an uncomfortable bed. he, knowing that she was not enjoying the encounter, was discouraged; she trying to encourage just to have the thing done with. it was not as it should have been.

remembering this, she wondered how she could have made it easier on them both, regretting that she had been unable. for all of her love, there were situations still in which the old demons would come up, crippling, choking, defeating any urge she had had to take control of the situation, climb on top, guide him. in this, of course, how could she not think of her own loss so many years before? that, too, had been a debacle, but more for the pain than anything. the pain, which wasn't understood, which wasn't taken seriously. these thoughts crept up on her, piling one atop another, forcing her to circle downward.

and as always, when her mind traveled this road, she wondered if she should have stopped it that night, waited longer; if that wouldn't have alleviated the problems that would come later, the problems that would ultimately lead to the dissolution. and then the old debate: was it cause or effect? the root of the problem, or merely indicative of something much larger, a shadow that had loomed over them from the start?

she shook her head, as though to loosen and cast off the web that had caught her. it mattered little, after all. they had ended, and then he was gone. and she would be blamed regardless, as no one was going to find fault in a dead boy. perhaps a pleasant memory of the occasion would only have made it harder. she began to wish, then, that she had less time to muse on such things. and then that poison voice: if only she'd been successful, moved more quickly, timed it better... these ideas she did her best to shun, but they came. of course, they came.

her thoughts were interrupted then as the doctor had come in, the flood from open door replacing the glow of little lights on beeping machinery with a white fluorescence from the pastel hallway. no, the i.v. wasn't irritating her arm so much any more. the bandages were fine; yes, they'd been changed this morning. the dreams? yes, they were stil- the pain? it was more of an itching now interspersed with pain, when she forgot herself and moved a hand just so, or forgot in half-sleep and shoved a hand under her pillow as was her habit. fine, fine, he said, he always said. and perhaps next week, if her strength continued to return, she would be moved to the other ward and start with the groups, he said.

he left her alone again with the soft hum of instrumentation, and she began to long for sleep.

Friday, September 15, 2006

coming in from the rain.

he thought it was empty, stepped in, was startled to see her there leaning against the far wall. slightly disheveled, damp from the afternoon rain, hair sloppy and a face with delicate features and no makeup. there was something unidentifiable about the mouth, and again in the slighly hostile dark eyes. he found himself, as the elevator doors shut, focused on the shadow so slight beneath her collarbone, a fine line laid accross broad shoulders. wary, though, upon realizing, he turned away from this woman in a low cut sweater. she had looked at him, and he did not know if his gaze had offended, or maybe pleased, or perhaps gone unnoticed. his mind raced; had he seen her before in this building? what age? slightly older, maybe. looking back toward her, casually, noticed just a hint of pink strap on her shoulder, was almost overwhelmed with the urge to reach out a finger, to slide it underneath, to reposition what had shifted ever so slightly out of place. and then suddenly betrayal or maybe savior: sixth floor, doors open once more. and he was obliged to step out, and leave this intrigue; she was headed to thirteen.