Thursday, May 30, 2013


I'm getting ready to go to New Orleans and yesterday got the following text from Mo:
Do you wanna go to a gay swimming pool and see a naked guy riding around on a unicycle?


It's weird how certain descriptions of events that happen in New Orleans seem like things that only happen in a dream.

Smoking Time Jazz Club - "Percolatin' Blues" from Beau Patrick Coulon on Vimeo.
Here's a video my brother Beau directed a few years ago.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Own Private Theater

In Philadelphia one year we lived next to a couple with domestic issues. That’s what the cops called it. There’d be weeks at a time where they were quiet and peaceful, and then 1 or 2 nights in a row where they got really domestic. When it started, I’d turn off all the lights, get down on the floor and peer over the window-sill. They scared me. Always in the back of my mind, I’d hear one of them say, “Look, she’s up there!” then the other one would grab a rifle, lock and load, and try to blast my head off. I honestly thought that this was a possibility and yet it didn’t stop me from watching.

Usually it was the guy that started the yelling but once he got going there was no stopping the girlfriend. She screamed. He yelled. She screamed louder. Glass broke.  They both screamed together. A dog barked. That was the pattern. That was the music of it.

One night he was yelling from the street: “You fucking whore. I’ll rip your cunt out”. When I got to my post, I could see that she was leaning out of the window. She had locked him out and was in pretty good spirits about it. She laughed and screamed back at him. He took a run and slammed against the front door so hard it made my back teeth shake from 50 feet away. The door was solid though. She disappeared and came back with an anvil and dropped it on his head. It knocked him over but he kept yelling at her. As it turned out, he could scream pretty well lying on the ground with blood pouring out of his head.

In a minute she came flying out of the front door pulling on her coat and smoking. She screamed right back at him while getting into a white van. Of course the engine wouldn’t turn over. Click. By now the guy was starting to stir. Click. He got to his knees. Click. He stood up, swaying a little, and the engine finally caught. Just as she pulled away he hurled himself at the back of the van, hitting the back windows with both open hands, and then landing on all fours in the street. He lifted his head and howled like a wounded animal.

He was still in the same position when the paddy-wagon and the back up car pulled around the corner, lights swirling. It took four Philly cops to throw him in the back and when they closed the doors all the way, the whole van rocked and bucked like a wild mustang was in there.

Right on cue, the white van came back and the girl jumped out without parking. She left the door open and while she screamed herself hoarse, and the paddy wagon rocked, and the cops tried to restrain her, I could hear the gentle ding, ding, ding from the inside of the van. It went on for twenty minutes or two hours. There was no end to it. The cops cuffed her and went to have a huddle about the situation.

I could have watched this all night. My own relationship was falling apart at the time although I didn’t know it. You’d think that the fact that my boyfriend wasn’t home at night, or that we had stopped having sex, or that we were always picking on each other, would have given a clue. I’ve since learned that an intense fascination with someone else’s sick business is a pretty good sign that you need to take a good long look at yourself. But then it was like watching my own private theater. My own life was far superior because at least I wasn't trying to kill someone with an anvil.

Finally the bucking van settled down and the Philly cops opened up the back door and let the guy out. He stepped into the street and walked quietly into the house like they were all limo drivers and he was going to a club. Then the cops un-handcuffed the girl, had a chat, and left her standing on the street with a Bweep Boop of the siren.

The next morning I noticed the van parked in front of my car. It was like seeing an actor in a movie I had watched the night before: out of place and not quite recognizable. Still, there on the back, beneath the window, were two dried brown bloody handprints. And there was still glass on the sidewalk.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Friday

Matehualan Style

There's a guy in my neighborhood who wears these damn shoes. He doesn't wear them every day but what's the difference? If I see him now, out in the neighborhood, that's all I can think of. You can't just non-chalantly walk down the street wearing those things. Yesterday I saw him, and as he got close everything went into slow motion. Swinging arms slowly, one foot in front of the other slowly, heads turning slooowly. The speed picked back up as soon as we passed each other. 

Wait a minute. Whoa Whoa, whoa, come over here.
What's happening down there?
Just...(he shrugs and smiles, picks up one foot and then the other)
Tell me about those things on your feet.
My shoes?
Yeah, your shoes.
They're for dancing.
By yourself?
No, like, in a line.
I have to tell you something and I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I wouldn't dance with someone who was wearing those shoes.
Yeah, girls don't like them. It's for men.
I'd be afraid he'd get up under my skirt. 
Yes. What if he has a big long toe in there? 
No. It's not like that (he is laughing but he starts to walk away)
What if you're on a crowded bus?...How do you drive?...Do you have to walk everywhere?...Nice talking to you!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


For the past few weeks Darla was in a play called Havana that was performed outside, at night, in a church courtyard, with a live Cuban band. It was not typical children's theater: Winnie the Poo or Snow White; it was a play about Communism, Fox News, love triangles, street orphans, and American celebutantes that the kids wrote along with their director. Dar played a CIA agent posing as an Apple executive at a cultural exchange conference. She used a cane that doubled as an assault rifle. Kids smoked real cigars*, drank mojitos**, and slapped each other full in the face. During the show, the Cuban police walked through the audience, and if you've ever been interrogated at the Sudanese border, then you got off easy. The way the one kid/cop stared me down I think he could tell every lie I've ever told. (Crime rates in Cuba are lower than almost anywhere because these guys do not mess around).  When I stuttered to answer one of his questions he laughed and spit at my feet. Then he asked if I was single!***

Oh and this guy, Bobby Matos, played in the band.

*not really
**come on
***he was 12

Monday, May 20, 2013

Boys On Bikes

I needed to see this today.
You're welcome.

Repost: It Gets Better

Unless I am trying to make them feel bad, I do not cry in front of my kids. And even then, it doesn't really work, it doesn't make them feel ashamed and sorry, it makes them feel frightened and distressed, the way you might feel if the pilot of the airplane you were on just walked out of the cockpit weeping with his head in his hands. So when I need to cry, I usually go sit in my car. (I'm saying this like it's a weird thing I do a few times a week, but really it's only happened two or three times). If I had a driveway, this would be fine, but my car is parked on the street where it's hard to have a proper, full out, unselfconscious breakdown. I can usually get a few minutes in before someone walks by, usually someone walking a dog who needs to stop and sniff and investigate the muffled whimpering sounds before peeing on my tire.

Yesterday I had a full five minutes of un-interrupted sadness before the guy I've had a crush on since last year came around the corner with his two dogs and a girl. They were holding hands. And she was wearing high heels and a dress from the night befooooooooooooooore. I shrunk down in my seat and pretended to be asleep, but then worried that they might think I was dead or worse, insane, so I pretended instead to look for something under the glove compartment. Once they were past I started all over again, this time with actual moaning sound effects. It didn't make me feel any better, but it seemed to get out of my system more quickly. You can only listen to yourself making alien sounds for so long.

I sat forward to start the car and the key just clicked. The battery was dead. Dead. If I was writing a scene where the sad sack main character had just cried in the car, I wouldn't even write such a thing. It's too much. Too stupid. Overkill. But there it was. I tried it a few times to make sure that, in my grief, I wasn't hallucinating, but...nothing. I thought about crying some more but called AAA instead. I was relieved for the distraction; this was a problem with a quick solution.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Future Is Happening

 Susan Orlean was on the radio yesterday talking about an article she wrote about treadmill desks. I didn't catch the whole thing because I was in the car, but I heard her say it was beneficial to have co-workers walking and talking side by side because it's great exercise, and they're more likely to listen than when they're having a conversation face to face. When I got home I checked out what one of these things looks like and found the above photo, which already looks outdated. How much longer before each of us is running alone in mid- air, wearing a monochrome space suit and a helmet that allows us to go to a meeting, have sex and eat lunch with a friend all in 10 minutes. I can't wait, maybe then I'll finally get some writing done.

The best bongos and horns in any cartoon.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

You Can Do It

This woman had a dream that she put on a cat suit, set up some wine bottles, and danced across them on a sunny day. Don't say you can't make your dreams come true!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Arguments Are Never About What You Think They're About #467: (Tired Of Shovels)

"Who the hell bought this?" Frank is holding a six foot snow shovel up in the air.

"Why are you yelling?" Mary walks out of the kitchen drying her hands on a towel.

What IS this?

That's from Sandy Durkin.

We live in fucking Arizona, Mary.

Maybe it was a joke, Frank, I don't know.

"Jesus Christ". Frank opens his mouth to say something but then closes it and squints his eyes aggressively.

Calm down Frankie, your head's about to explode.

This is what I'm talking about!

Snow shovels?

No I'm not talking about...Jesus...CLUTTER. Clutter. I can't live like this Mary.

Mary looked around the entry way of their home. She looked at the desk against the wall, the circular mirror hanging opposite; the row of shoes and boots lined up by the door in order of size. She straightened the papers on top of the desk so that they were all lined up in parallel lines. "What's wrong Frank?"

I'm tired of this. I'm tired of the waste. I'm tired of living in a house with people I have to be polite to. I'm tired of having to explain myself. I'm tired of jerking off in the shower every morning. I'm tired of my job. I'm tired of my angry boss who wears a toupee and talks about everyone behind their back.  I'm tired of Sally Durkin--

Sandy Durkin.


Sandy. It's Sandy. You said Sally.

Are you fucking kidding me?

They look at each other, possibly for the first time ever.

I'm tired of your friends. I'm tired of your black hairs in the sink. I'm tired of eating tacos on Tuesday nights. I'm tired of driving. I'm tired of having to clip my nose hairs. I'm tired of having to button my pants. I'm tired of the birds. I'm tired of the neighbor's barking dog. And I am, without a doubt, seriously, completely, wholeheartedly tired of shovels.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Unknown Soldier

 This is from an old post I wrote three years ago:

After Bub (my step-dad) died, we had a memorial for him at Quaker Meeting. There was an old man there, close to 90 I’d say, who stood up and spoke about him. He said that although he had been a medic in World War II, he never saw any action, unlike Bub who was a sergeant who fought on the front lines for five years. When he spoke of this, his chin started to tremble and he had to look down and clear his throat. He spoke about the “boys” who served and how much he respected them. He talked about how years later he met Bub, who worked with his wife. How he picked her up and dropped her off, every morning and night, in his truck. He said she had referred to him as her work-husband. She had marveled at how Bub had a knack for organizing people and getting them to do things, always with a sense of humor. When he was done talking, he stood up straight and saluted.

What was so amazing about listening to the man speak wasn’t how recent his memories seemed, or even that he was so emotional, but that until that day I had never before met him or even heard of him. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


We got a frog. I mean, I should say our neighbor Dallas gave us one. I mean, I should say he gave me one because who else is going to feed him, clean the tank and sing to him when he's staring (sadly) from across the room. Dallas texted me "Does Harry want a frog?" and I texted back "HELL NO". Then I sent it 3 times so he could catch my sentiment. I have a strong feeling about animals in cages or tanks: IT'S WRONG. This goes for every animal, even hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles, and birds, especially birds.

I started to write the above post exactly one year ago. We still have the frog (his name is Bubbles, in case you're wondering) and I still have the same opinion about animals in cages, but, there you have it: just another paradox I have learned to live with. It's weird the things you can get used to. Some people have a stronger resolution than others. Some people can get used to unhappy relationships, addictions, affairs, financial woes, even actual physical pains, and just leave it at that. Everyone can adapt; it's built into our genetics. Some of us are better at it than others. I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but sometimes I look at Bubbles and then I look at myself, and I have to wonder.

Monday, May 6, 2013

So Be It

The summer I was 11, I stayed with my brother and cousins in a cabin the size of a barn, in the middle of the woods, in Ashaway, Rhode Island, 20 minutes from the ocean. Before that we all stayed in my grandparents house half a mile down a dirt road, but by then my grandfather decided enough was enough and we needed to get the hell out. Of course he didn't put it like that; he made it sound like it was not only a privilege, but it was a magical vacation in a land far away. Which it was. No one said: What if they burn the place down, or get attacked by wolves, or meet up with a bevy of pedophiles on the prowl? Or at least if they did, the answer would have been: so be it. Basically they sent us away with a flashlight and a canteen, and told us to scream really loud if we saw the man with the ax.

We slept on the second floor on iron hospital beds with squeaky springs and moldy mattresses: a horny teenagers dream (although we didn't know about that yet). . When it rained we played a game where we weren't allowed to touch the floor; we had to hang from the rafters and if it got too difficult we could jump onto someone's mattress for a full minute-long break; but before we could do that we had to bribe them with an imaginary gift (For example once my cousin Miles told my brother he would install astroturf in his bedroom).

During the rest of the year we all lived in apartments in the city; some of our parents smoked weed, were divorced, divorcing, or not around. We argued and got bored and sulked and ganged up on each other, but we also told stories and played music and pretended we were in a castle in Vietnam.  We weren't scared or worried or allergic to anything. All we could think was how lucky we were.

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Life Puzzle

I woke up with the words "Sit Down, Miss Lewis" in my head. They were spoken by an old English teacher as though I had just interrupted something very serious and sober with my sudden and crazy behavior. Sit down!  I don't know why but I was elated. I felt charged up and giggly. Is this a good sign? Or should I just make my reservation at the nearest mental facility right now.
Don't answer that.
I remember one time I woke up with the words "And the guy..." in my head;  just: and the guy- dot dot dot. The voice belonged to some drunken housewife circa 1953 who was talking to me from the corner of her mouth while swaying in the kitchen. Yes! The whole thing came to me just like that "And the guy..." (whiskey breath) (ice clinking in the glass). And the guy what? What did he do? I need to know. Who is this person? Is it me from another lifetime?
Maybe if I piece together all these sentences, they will add up to a story. And then I'll know everything.

I know I'm obsessed with this song and the singer but it's part of the soundtrack to something I'm working on. Send me links to more if you have any!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Just Being Nice

People give me compliments all the time. All the time. It never ends. I love it.

Let's just let that hang in the air for a minute.

Why does saying something like that go over like a fart in an elevator? Why can't I brag about that? Well, I mean besides the fact that it's not true. I mean people do give me compliments once in a while, and I can say thanks, but I always assume they're kidding, or they're just being nice, or they want to get in my pants. I feel this way even though on the outside I can say to someone else: Go ahead! Own that compliment! You are awesome. It's a weird thing that somehow got twisted and squeezed into manners: this idea that it's not polite to feel proud of yourself, or accept praise like you deserve it.

One time when Mo was about 6, a friend of her's called on the phone. I said "She's not here right now honey, do you want me to leave her a message?" and she said "No, I just wanted to ask if she could come over because I look really good today and I wanted her to see me".

See what I'm saying? How great does that sound? Of course you should invite your friends over when you're feeling fine. Who hasn't felt that way?

Anyway, I was thinking of all this when I started my morning procrastination and I saw Susan Schorn's post on McSweeney's. Go read it! And while you're at it, you can pre-order her book here. She's a great writer and she can probably kick your ass.