Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Getting Started

One constant in my work habit is putting it off until the last possible minute. One day I would like to try an experiment where I don't give in to every possible distraction that comes along but right now I can't seem to write until I've handled, talked to, played with, used, flushed out, swept up, clipped back, laughed with every possible thing I can think of. Routine makes me feel uncomfortable (as does any form of work), so I somehow have to trick myself into thinking I don't have one. The second constant is waiting. First I put it off. Then I wait. I used to have to take the train to school every day from the time I was 8 years old all the way through high school (then, it wasn't every day but enough that I still had a 10-trip ticket) and I have 2 images when I think of the word wait: the first is of my grandmother in her blue car waiting for me with her two hands still on the steering wheel, the second is of me, waiting on the platform. I realized that when I wait I always know that something is going to be there, or that something is coming. It should be obvious but it's not. I think because the word waiting is so close to the word wasting, sometimes I can get tripped up. The third constant of my routine is the part where I battle myself. Sometimes it happens before I start, sometimes after I've finished, but this guy in my head is always there, rain or shine, hurricane or blizzard. He shows up whether he's driven a car or borrowed bus fare. Drunk, sober, angry, busy, happy or indifferent.

Hey everyone take a look I just fin-
You suck

Yeah. That guy.

Anyway, I was thinking about this when I was reading about the book Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey. (Yes, I found this when I was following Part 1 of my ritual). I love the guys, like Churchill and James Joyce, who wake up and lie in bed for an hour. They must not have kids.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Here is Today

I just wrote a whole post about waking up at 4 and then I realized I've written that same thing at least 12 times before, so in honor of repeating myself, I'm reposting an oldie. And also sharing a link. Press the okay + button to see what today looks like in its proper perspective.


There’s a ghost in the house I’m staying in. I saw it a few nights ago at 3 am when I got up to pee. I’m not going to tell you what it looked like because I don’t want you to think I’m one of those ladies who stays at home all day wearing a robe and drinking bourbon mixed with diet pepsi in a big gulp cup. (Okay, it was just a black transparent shape that sailed past the doorway.) See? I mean you can tell me I imagined it, whatever, but I have no doubt there was a presence. I mentioned it to the owner of the house when she called, expecting her to think I was a weirdo for saying such a thing, but instead she said I know

I Know!

She told me there was a sage brush in the kitchen that I could burn if I wanted to, but that she didn’t use it because she thinks he likes being there. Say no more, babe! Say no more. I don't want to upset anyone. I am fine with a ghost. I mean what’s the worst that could happen? He can’t kill me. He could drive me insane I suppose, or try to get me to jump off the roof and get impaled on a wrought iron gate, but that could happen anyway. I do get the creeps when I’m heading up the stairs at night and think maybe he’s standing by the bedroom around the corner, leaning on the door jamb, just staring, just hovering, waiting.

Whats up, I say nervously, like a dork at school trying to scooch past the cool kid who's standing in front of my locker. How's it going? It's intimidating when you talk to someone, even a presence or a, you know, figment, and they don't talk back. So I try to shut up and play it cool. I know he'll never actually be there if I expect him.


Saturday, April 27, 2013


She wrote this song when she was 16. What were you doing then?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Letter To the Grafitti Guy

Dear Grafitti Guy,

   I wonder if you were watching when the kid who painted this wall set up drop cloths and ladders and cans of paint and white washed it, cleaning the dull, lifeless, brain-dead black spray paint that was there before. I wonder if you were watching the next day when he came back and drew the shapes with markers which he then slowly and carefully painted around with yellow; watched him as he went up the ladder, came down, moved it a foot and went back up again. I wonder if this made you so angry that you then snuck out that night and spray painted a letter across the entire wall about corporations and the man. Did you feel wise and all knowing after that? Did you feel like no one can pull the wool over your eyes? That you know what's going on? Did you think fuck the man for trying to make something beautiful in MY neighborhood?

I wonder if you then hid the next day to see what the kid's reaction would be. I wonder if you were watching when he took out  the white paint again and covered over the angry black letters, a job that took most of the day, and then covered over that with the yellow again, adding little blue stripes and working until it was completely dark. Did this make you crazy? Did this make you so crazy that you slithered out again that night with your black spray paint and left your stain? Did you feel good then? Like you accomplished something?

When I noticed your nasty stench this morning, all I could think was you made me feel like you: angry, disgusted and hateful. I wanted to tell you that you suck, and shove you with a two-handed push. I wanted to take a can of black spray paint and spray a big X across your face. For a few minutes, I forgot what it was like to feel good or laugh with a friend or kiss someone. All I could think was WTF? But then I noticed the kid's letter to you.

And it made me remember that there are some other options.

I wonder how it made you feel.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Posting an Oldie: Never Argue With A Crazy Mamamamaamam

I was halfway through my third conversation with an Indian guy named Kevin when I started to shut down. He was trying to help me install a program on my computer so that he could see what I was looking at. I don’t know if it’s because sometimes things take time to load up on computers or if Kevin was trained to deal with people who have no computer skills whatsoever, but he was politely silent while he waited for me to speak. It’s like we were playing chess.
I can’t do this.
It just takes time.
Nothing’s happening.
Did you put in your password?
(I let out a huge sigh that said, You have just pushed me one step closer to picking up a rope/gun/bottle of pills/gas oven/razor blade).
Yes Ma’am?
(I had to pause to gather my wits)
I know that what I am about to say will be incomprehensible to you. I know this because I have, in fact, already said this twice and you’re not taking it in.  You’re not grasping it. I realize it makes no sense to a person who works on computers, to someone who has an organized, technical, intelligent grasp of the world, but Kevin, I have to tell you something because I need you to understand what you are dealing with right now; I need you to understand this even though I am ashamed and completely broken and it pains me to tell you: I do not KNOWTHEPASSWORDKEVIN. I HAVE ENTERED THE THREE THAT I ALWAYS USE, EACH TIME IN VARYING COMBINATIONS OF UPPER AND LOWER CASE LETTERS AND IT’S NOT WORKING, IT ACTUALLY TELLS ME THAT I HAVE JUST ENTERED THE WRONG PASSWORD, THAT’S HOW MUCH IT DOESN’T WORK, AND NOW I’M YELLING AT A PERSON ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD WHO DOESN’T UNDERSTAND HOW TO GET UPSET OVER TRIVIAL UNIMPORTANT UNWORLDLY PROBLEMSKEVIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I understand Ma’am.

(We both sat there on the phone. I could hear the 8000 miles between us. I imagined the streets outside his office. I imagined them filled, filled, filled with hundreds of people, many of them beggars, lots of them missing limbs, none who could give two shits and a rat’s ass about some moron in America who can’t receive email on her i-cloud. Kevin cleared his throat quietly. I did the same.)
Ok. Ma’am?
Do you see the box that says Username?
Yes I do.
Beneath that, there is a box that says password.
The blue box?
Yes, I see it.
Put your password in there.
Ok now you’re fucking with me Kevin.
(Now this time I sat quietly for a long pause. I listened to my breathing and pretended to meditate until I calmed down)
Are you near a window Kevin?
Can you see out of it from where you are sitting?
Yes, ma’am.
Do you see far, far, far in the distance that tiny mushroom shaped cloud?
Yes, I see it.
That’s my head exploding. That’s my head. That just happened.
What?....Oh…Oh ma’am. You’re kidding.
Yes. Sadly, I am.
You’re funny. (He was really laughing)
No really. (His laugh was high pitched. It burst out like high-pitched hoots)
Thanks Kev.
Hoo that was funny. (He kept laughing.  It went Hoooooo, then Heeeeee, then Hiiiiiiiyiiihiiiii. I could hear him slapping his leg)
Jesus, calm down Kevin.
Oh that was a good one. Okay Okay. (he sniffed and coughed) Ok Ma’am?
Just click on the blue box. The one that says password? And then in the box, you will enter your password. (He started giggling at first, just a little, then a little more and then in seconds he was back to the hoots. Hooooooooo, Heeeeeeeeeeeeee, hihi hihi ohhhhhhhh….He wouldn’t stop. He was having a good time. I didn’t want to interfere with that. I put the phone down but didn’t hang up. I shut down my computer. He was still hooo-ing away. I put my sweater on, slid my feet into my shoes, stood up, pushed the chair in, grabbed my keys off the hook and walked out the front door into the warm beautiful sun-shiney day.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Love, Luck and the Laundromat

I went to the laundromat late last night. You know, The Laundromat; the place where the party people go to meet and get wild and go sex- crazy. This is the place where it all goes down!

I pull in, and my headlights scan across the empty parking lot. A tumbleweed blows by in front of me. A tumbleweed. I'm from the east coast and have never gotten used to this: the constant visual reminder of loneliness and desolation. I follow it with just my eyes. In a movie, when a tumbleweed blows across an empty parking lot late at night, it's a cue that something bad is about to happen, but what could be worse than driving to an abandoned mini mall at 10pm to wash blankets covered in dog vomit.

Inside the place is fully lit. There's an old guy with one leg about six inches shorter than the other walking down the aisle between the machines. Beyond him is the little abuelita who works there, setting up a fan in front of a huge wet spot on the floor. Above her head is a huge flat screen TV with a silent Telenova: some woman in an evening gown is on her knees begging a guy not to go. She's pleading with every part of her body. It's extreme but I love it. Frank, explicit emotion all in 2 seconds.

I drag my bag to the back where a repairman is lying on the ground looking under a machine with a flashlight; he's surrounded by 3 middle-aged amigos all peering down, studying, observing. What is it with guys and the mechanics of things? It defies race, creed and color. In my lifetime I have known more than a few guys who would pull over on the side of the road to look at a crane. A crane. It's partly sweet and partly unfathomable. How is it possible to devote such fascination to a thing?

After I put the blankets in, I take out my phone and re-read my sext exchanges. They're good. They're really good. The photos, the words, everything. In 2 seconds I am fully having hardcore, crazy sex in my head. How is it possible? All my buttons have been pushed. There is no more me. There is no more understanding. There is no more sense. Just me, the guy, sweat, breath, tongues and motion. All in my imagination. I look up and the amigos, the abuelita, and the guy with the longer leg are gathered behind me looking at my phone. I show them the photos. I spread my fingers over the screen and we go in close. We read and re-read the words. They all nod and smile and high-five each other. This is good; this is explicit and frank. This song comes on, the abuela turns it up, and we dance until we are all sweaty and breathless.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Nice Distraction

I keep wondering where that kid is in Boston right now. I imagine him talking to someone, even someone in his imagination, looking for a solution. It's so bizarre to see the quiet, empty streets in Watertown, the occasional armored van, bomb units. All day my mind keeps coming back to it.

Someone posted this a little while ago: I loved it. Watching this guy and listening to him talk so calmly while he was floating around made me feel like I was stoned, in a good way.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I wonder if I knew all the same people I know now in another lifetime; like we were once all cavemen together, then medieval royalty, then cowboys in the wild west, and we just changed costumes in every phase and carried on with our relationships and our families; picked up where we left off or started the same ride all over again. I'm sure it's not as simple as that. But sometimes it feels like it. If you were somehow watching, say, from google earth maps, you could see: here's the part where So-and-so and Whosey meet on the first day of work, or at her grandparents house, or here's the part where they have an argument about bla-dee-bla, or have sex on the kitchen floor, or fall down laughing so hard there is no sound coming out. These are the times when you feel like you know this person, you have known him/her forever, and somewhere, from far away, a little light goes *Ding*.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Is it Friday Already?

I have to type this morning so I can't post. I was going to choose an oldie but then I figured I'd let you see what're you're in the mood for.

A doctor's visit?

French Manners?

A guy I knew?

Have a good weekend. Don't forget to write...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thoughts After 2 Cups of Coffee at 4:30 am or Why every Story Is About The Choice Between Good and Evil

"It is easier to beg for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission". Why do I love the person who functions on this principle? The one who asks for permission is obviously more considerate, more brave, less reckless and selfish. But ultimately the one who is asking permission is asking me to be complicit, or worse, his superior, a role that, even as a parent, I have never been comfortable with. Anyway I had been thinking about this for a few days when Mo sent a photo of her new tattoo. Not that she was asking for forgiveness (or permission). But that principle seems to be at least a part of the definition of the word "timshel" (google it babe) (I did).

Here's what Steinbeck had to say about the choice between good and evil and the ability we have to redeem ourselves:

"I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one...Humans are caught --in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, and in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too --in a net of good and evil...and it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue is immortal."

Don't ask me what it means. But think about it today when you have to, you know, choose between right and wrong.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ma Mere

Dear Mom, Happy Birthday
Dear Mom, You're the greatest
Dear Mom, Remember the time you laughed so hard in the parking lot, you peed in your shoe
Dear Mom, I'm glad it's you and not some other crazy old bitter crab
Dear Mom, Thanks for not holding a pillow over my face when I was 13 and mean and knew everything
And 14
And 15
Happy Birthday to the person whose laughter I always listen for.
Je t'aime.

Monday, April 8, 2013

In This Corner

Back in the day my brother used to stage boxing bouts in his room. He was the promoter, the announcer, the opponent, the trainer and the roaring crowd of fans. The champ was my 4 year old sister. Pete would tape her hands and use ski mittens for gloves.

"In this corner, we have, weighing in at 34 pounds, from Philadelphia Pennsylvania, with 43 titles, 2 losses, and an unbelievable 40 KOs, the indisputable, the unstoppable, the unquestionable, heavy fleaweight champion of the world, BABY JANE FRAZIER. (roaring crowd aaaaaaaaaaaaaa)

"And in this corner, weighing in at an 63 pounds we have--"

At this point, my sister would step up and windmill him to the side of the head. He took it in slo-mo --head turn, neck snap, face scrunch, sweat spray, faaaaaall baaaaaaack--but kept announcing: What the... ladies and gentlemen (aaaaaaaaa) Baby Jane has (aaaaaaaaa), the crowd is going wi (aaaaaaaaaa) this is unbelievable (aaaaaaaaaaaa), never before (aaaaaaaaa) history of the sport.

All while baby Jane Frazier kept pounding him in the face.

I don't really know why I woke up with this memory this morning except that it's Monday and I feel like Pete, playing all the roles in a boxing match.

Friday, April 5, 2013

From The Onion: RIP Roger Ebert

CHICAGO—Calling the overall human experience “poignant,” “thought-provoking,” and a “complete tour de force,” film critic Roger Ebert praised existence Thursday as “an audacious and thrilling triumph.” “While not without its flaws, life, from birth to death, is a masterwork, and an uplifting journey that both touches the heart and challenges the mind,” said Ebert, adding that while the totality of all humankind is sometimes “a mess in places,” it strives to be a magnum opus and, according to Ebert, largely succeeds at this goal. “At times brutally sad, yet surprisingly funny, and always completely honest, I wholeheartedly recommend existence. If you haven’t experienced it yet, then what are you waiting for? It is not to be missed.” Ebert later said that while human existence’s running time was “a little on the long side,” it could have gone on much, much longer and he would have been perfectly happy. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Repost: The Futility of Rage

If I didn't live where I live, I probably wouldn't know this, but baseball season started on Monday. I just blew a little party horn about that; while across the street, my street, the fans jam the sidewalks 8 people across, in an endless, slow moving, soul crushing, mob-walk, playing trumpets and blaring Pitbull from their stereos.
Hey guys!
I grew up in a town with the worst fans in the history of all time, the ones who threw bottles at Jackie Robinson's head and booed their own players, but these fans beat them in numbers. Where are these people coming from? It's biblical, this magnitude.
Guys can you keep it down out--, I mean pick up the trash--, but---just---guys---oh nevermind.
I'm reposting an oldie:

The Futility of Rage

There’s no crying in baseball. Everybody knows that. There’s no crying in baseball unless you live in the same neighborhood as the stadium, and a drive down the street that normally takes less than a minute suddenly turns into a never-ending journey filled with pain, remorse, and sorrow.
You can always toot your horn.
Trust me, everyone else does.
I am sitting in my car because I need to get milk, lactaid, if you must know, because we’re done with the dairy. I am sitting here imagining that if I sawed off my arms and both legs with a broken pencil and then crawled to Vons on my bleeding stumps, I would have been back and forth twice already.
Toot toot!
Ok, people keep it going. Keep the flow steady.
An entire family wearing Dodger blue t-shirts walks by me carrying lawn chairs, coolers and a picnic table.
Come on!
Oops, and there’s little Gran pulling up the rear with the hibachi grill in a wagon.
I text all three of my children. “Nice knowing u. Good Luck with everything”.
Dar texts back, “Don’t forget toilet paper. “We R out”.
By the time I see the guy directing traffic, I am fully ready to commit a medieval violent act. This guy. What good is he? How dare he try to be authoritative right now. He’s wearing shorts! I glare at him for so long that I get exhausted. Now I feel bad. He’s not even a cop, really. He probably teaches woodworking at a magnet school in Simi Valley. He’s doing this because he loves baseball. He probably gets a season pass in exchange for trying to maintain order in the middle of utter chaos. He is serious with his hand signals though. He is not messing around with his hand-signals and his facial expressions. Bless him. Now I feel bad.
I can’t help myself. I’m not a good person. Even though I feel for this guy, I try to sneak between the cones into a completely empty lane.
He’s got the hand up and the whistle going. He comes at me with his bull-dog face.
“HEY! You can’t wait?”
(I secretly love that he asks me this in utter disbelief rather than just slamming his hand down on the hood of my car and calling me a stupid fucking idiot, which is how we do it in Philly).
I roll down my window and lean my head out like a beautiful blond cheerleader, “Oh darn, I’m so sorry, I’m just trying to get home, I thought that lane was for turning”.
No you didn’t!
(How does he know I’m lying?) Yes I did! I’m sorry.
No you’re not.
(We have the following conversation while I slowly keep driving past the cones onto the empty lane like a tip-toeing Wile E. Coyote)
Yes I am really sorry.
No you’re not.
Yes, I am. I really truly am.
(Then, we’re yelling as I get further away) No you’re not.
Yes I am!
No you’re not.
Yes I am!
No you’re not.
I am. I really really am.
I can see him in my rear view mirror. He is smiling! He is chuckling, that devil. Look at him.  I love baseball again, I love the fam in Dodger blue, I love the granny, I love the traffic, I love everyone, I love the stadium and the green grass and the red and yellow seats, I love the cheering and the fireworks that I can see from my window, but most of all I love this guy for recognizing futility when the circumstances are asking for it. 
There’s no crying in baseball. And there's no crying in bad traffic. Amen.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Going Hard

 I wake up and my head is already cluttered. "You should meditate. Do yoga. Become a goat herder". I hear my Mom's calm sweet voice in the back of my head. No can do, Ma, I'm too busy having full-on, energetic sext with my clothes on, in a parking garage in my imagination, while I'm reviewing all the half-pretentious sounding crap I may or may not have said yesterday in a meeting, and wondering about how the pain in my stomach feels like it might be a cancerous growth that is already terminal and leaving me with possibly 3 months to live if I'm lucky. No time! All this and I haven't gotten out of bed yet.

Deep breath. And release.

I know I've been on this topic for a while now: my cluttered head, but it seems to be getting worse. It used to be that I needed peace and silence at 4:30 am to write; now I need to be in a noisy room and on the phone. At the meeting, three of us sat at a long conference table with a black box in the middle which wired in voices of other people from Utah and New York. I stared at the box listening to the voices, while inside my head I was busy trying to shush the voice that was telling me this was weird.

Me:You're talking to a box right now.
Me 2: This is how it's done babe, would you just calm down.
Me: It's funny though.
Me 2: Just be cool.
Me: I am cool.
Me 2: You're not, but just pretend.
Me: What're you talking about, I just had sex on my iphone this morning.
Me 2: That's your imagination. This is real.
Me: Oh...wait, what?
Producer Running The Meeting: Did you want to say something Deirdre?

Breathe....and exhale.

I've been yelling at my kids to get off the phone which now means get off about 8 websites and social networks... and they are just sitting there quietly. Isn't this a good thing? Nothing seems wrong really...I try to go through the list of what I have to do, but random facts drop into my head like pebbles off a cliff before an avalanche. Get off the phone you guys! I just said the words get off. I need to look at that last sext one more time. What did he say again?....ahhh.

Deep breath.

I stopped by the side of the lake so I could send a text. I'm confessing to you that I would text while I drive but I literally can't see the letters. I don't have a choice. While I'm reaching for my glasses, I notice the people walking around the path, the air smells like eucalyptus and I get a brief glimpse of peace. I look at the phone. The text is direct and more exciting than you can imagine. He tells me what he wants to do to me.
Yeah, I want you to, I text back.
I close my eyes and breathe and try to shush the voice that says this feels sad and wrong. This is the 21st century. This is how it's done.