Friday, August 30, 2013

Hoologies, Tributes and Speeches

You're going to think "I can't waste time watching a 19 minute video", so save it for later when you can, or just watch a little right now and stop acting like you have more important things to do.

First of all, this video reminded me so much of my step dad Bub. He and Uncle Frank were cut from the same cloth: men who joined the Army instead of going to college (and weren't insecure about it), who knew how to change a tire, fix anything with a screw driver or duct tape, and throw a baseball. These guys woke up early, paid their bills on time and got their shoes shined. Their names were John or James or William or  Robert and they were low maintenance and easy to get along with; they could talk to anyone, weren't shy, and loved to tease or knock you down a peg or two.

Second of all it reminded me of the way, when you're talking about a person who just died, that grief comes in waves, that it sneaks up on you with the memory of a detail. I remember when I spoke at Bub's funeral, one of the first things I talked about was that out of 800 men in his batallion who fought in the war, only 3 came back. Three. It stunned me. Even though I had known that detail forever, there was something about standing in front of 100 people and saying it out loud that made me have a realization in the second or two where the words were coming out of my mouth: he was lucky. He knew he was lucky and he always said he was lucky but until that moment I had only ever thought it applied to poker or lottery tickets or getting away with some sort of devilry.

Third it made me realize that it's too bad no one gets to hear their eulogy. It's weird, but I had been thinking about this even before watching this video, maybe because it's my birthday in two days and I've always thought that would be fun to have a eulogy party. It might be weird, I know, and if they weren't all fantastic and moving I'd be really disappointed. Writing a good one really requires a certain amount of sorrow and that would be hard for my friends and family members to summon if they were half annoyed at such a request in the first place.

So watch the video when you can, tell someone you're proud of them, and have a great weekend. Cheers Big Ears.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Way It Looks Like One Thing But Is Something Else Entirely

We used to live near an old cemetery when Mo was little. I guess it would have been called a grave yard. It was so old that the letters on the headstones had worn away. It wasn't meticulous or sterile or manicured the way some cemeteries are. It was comfortable. You could sit there and read a book if you felt like it and no one would think you were some sort of odd freak who would cast a spell on you if you caught her eye. Years after we lived there, I came back to it once late at night with a boyfriend and we lay between two tombs and kissed and laughed at how it might look if someone walked by and saw our feet sticking out.

When I had Mo I looked like a teenager. Occasionally people would treat me like I was her nanny, or worse, give me a "oh, poor thing" shake of the head to which I would give a "fuck off" glare of my own (not realizing that's exactly the sort of thing a teenager would do). I didn't think of it as a compliment (I look young!); I thought of it as an affirmation of my inability to be a parent/adult (not realizing that the worst parents are probably the very ones who say "I know what I'm doing").

I remember Mo's nursery school was on the other side of the cemetery and it was always nice to walk through it in the afternoon. Quite often I was late and I'd have to run through to get to the school before they charged an extra fee. When I got there Mo would be sitting on a bench, wearing her backpack, swinging her legs.

"Morgan, your babysitter is here!" Mrs. Noyes said without raising her voice. She was the lady behind the desk at the end of the day. She never stood up or even looked above her bifocals when you came in but she was ready to mark you down for an extra $20 if you were even 30 seconds after 5. She was always mean and agitated.

"What's agitated?" Mo asked back in the graveyard.

"It's like this," I picked her up under her arms and shook her like a jackhammer and said, "Ahhhhhhhhh".

"Ahhhhhhhh", she said back, her voice shaking. "That's fun".

"It's not fun if you have to sit still behind a desk and not move an inch while that's happening. It makes you frown. Here, try." I sat her down on a tomb and squeezed her head still, I pulled her mouth down into a frown but it kept popping back up. I could see her tiny teeth. "No smiling, Mrs. Noyes, only frowning"

"Only frowning", she said. We sat on the tomb frowning.

"I just thought of something," I said, and we both snapped out of it. "Mrs. Noyes spells her name No, then yes. It's no, then yes. No... then yes! No wonder she has a problem".

"She's no" Morgan frowned, "Then yes", she smiled and raised her little eyebrows.

No, then yes, we said and walked through the cemetery back home.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lessons from Peta Griffin

If you can't see this video, click on the blog title (Mom) or click here, it's very important. This plays on a loop in my head when I go online, or listen to people chitchatting about stain removers, or try to write something for this blog. If I can answer this question, I know I'm on to something.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Repost - First Date With Myself Age 11

At summer camp we used to take a trip to this roller skating rink in the middle of the woods. There was something magical about that place; magical and frightening at the same time. I mean it was this big wooden shell of a building, lit with twinkly lights with nothing around it but tall trees. It was like the candy house in Hansel and Gretel. Occasionally there would be Amish kids there and we’d stare openly at each other for what seemed like a long time, and then get back to tying our skates, these old crusty brown shoe/boots that I LOVED. I remember telling the pimply-faced Albino guy behind the counter my size and feeling like he was handing me back a gift. I remember the loud music and the louder sound of rolling wheels on the wood floor. I remember screaming and holding my hands out in front of me, grabbing someone’s arm and then pushing past. I don’t remember any friends being there, though I’m sure there must have been some, I only remembering smiling with my mouth open, sweating, and how good the soda tasted at the end of the night.

Friday, August 23, 2013

New Tumblr Blog

I am going to have a new blog address. I think I might post on both for a while but if you want to check it out now (I'm almost done, but you can check out some old posts I put up) you can go to:

I'm figuring out how to have posts sent to your mailbox if you are used to getting them that way. And I'll have some photos and links.

Have a great weekend!
M&D 2013 Sabotage from Mike and Duane Show on Vimeo.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Spike Jonze New Movie

Is it possible to have a relationship with the voice that's on a hand-held device?
Kind of.

Click here to see.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Black Heart Down

Not too long ago, I told a friend that his heart was broken and though I meant it, and it was definitely true, I have since realized that it's not such a rare thing, that most of us walk around with a broken heart, it's just that the differences come in how we heal it: by giving or by taking. Here's an oldie I wrote about it:

I used to work at a restaurant called Yaffa’s in Tribeca in the 90s. The owner was Israeli and I forget her husband’s name but he was a math genius. The entire time I was there he was working on a math textbook that was going to completely revolutionize the power and meaning of numbers. His name might have been Danny or Eli. He and Yaffa looked a lot alike. They wore ponchos and cowboy hats or capes and boots, and had two dalmations that were always agitated. I don’t think Yaffa liked dogs, she just liked the way they looked when she walked down the street with them pulling two leashes out in front of her. She served in the Israeli army, of course, and had jumped out of planes.
Yaffa was never without a cigarette. She wore a ton of black eye makeup and face cream that made her skin shiny. She was a low talker so you had to move in close if you wanted to hear her, and when she talked to you she’d run her eyes up and down your body like snakes. She was beautiful in a way that something dangerous is beautiful. She’d sort of smile at you while taking a drag from her cigarette. I think she thought I was odd but interesting. She recognized pain when she saw it.
There was a tearoom in the back. It had high ceilings and curtains of heavy velvet fabric. The bathroom was completely covered in broken plates and jewels ala Julien Schnabel.The bar was made from wood from elevators in the old Woolworth building. I worked mostly during lunch shifts so I’d have to get there by 10:30. I got there early, finished my set-up and still had time to sit and have coffee and a baguette. She sat next to me and smoked. Neither one of us said a word. She was a strange combination of intimidating and annoying. She called me Darda, which to me sounded a little too close to the word retarded.
Once when I was working in the tearoom a gypsy psychic came in and told me that the color she saw around me was black. Really, I said, but I’m an optimist, I have an 8 year old daughter, I like to laugh, please don’t tell me all you see is black. She held my hands across the table and said, Your heart has been broken.
I stared at her and stopped breathing and tears filled up in my eyes. Oh my God, it was broken, it really was, how did you know.
I’m looking at you.
I could barely speak. There was no point in denying it. She could see. I was na├»ve. I was only pretending that everything was ok, but really it wasn’t. Black was flowing out of me. Will it get better? I could barely whisper because of the lump in my throat.
She shook her head sadly, he was the love of your life.
Oh! I couldn’t even hold up my head.
Darda? I could hear Yaffa calling me from the kitchen. I wasn’t supposed to sit down with the customers and I thought she was going to yell at me, so I got up and slumped to the curtain where she was standing. I had so much black pouring out of me I was like a dogfighter pilot spiraling into the ocean. She put her hand on my back and we stood that way for a few minutes.
Did she tell you your heart was broken?
I nodded.
She says that to everyone.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Suddenly you're hit. You're like a ball soaring out to the farthest left field of the galaxy. It could be love, or death, or the realization of a betrayal. It could be the realization of a failure, of a goal that can't be met, of hope. It could even be a great idea. But you feel overwhelmed, overtaken, disconnected. This is a moment to be grateful for, not just because it's natural, but because there's an opportunity for you to do something different.

Monday, August 12, 2013

RIP Banff

                                                      Gentleman B in a vest and bow-tie.

Once, when we had first moved into our house, a huge dog walked in and went straight to Harry's room. He didn't seem lost, in fact he seemed so not lost that I just let him keep going; I just got up to follow him and see what he had in mind. Don't get me wrong, we all exclaimed and fussed and said things like What? and Where'd you come from? and What's your name boy? but we didn't try to stop him. It seemed like he might be in the middle of something, like he might go straight to a secret spot in the back of the house and start digging up the floorboards only to uncover a huge secret stash of money or the missing clue to an unsolved crime. But he just wanted to meet Harry and play in his room for a while, he hung out, ate some pretzles and then left. He always had his own agenda.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

House of Windows

I had to downshift about 4 gears to get through this video, but it's worth it. Nice to see someone somewhere living so peacefully. Such a sweet house.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Soldier and Sister

From Royal Hotel

A soldier dressed in full uniform walks in holding a gun. He looks around, sees no one, and has a seat on the sofa/lounge. He loosens his tight collar and takes deep breaths. He puts his hand, still attached to the gun, in his lap.

He sits for a good while.

A woman runs in carrying high heels and stops suddenly when she sees him. Overcome with relief, she takes a minute to pull herself together. It is not easy. She walks over and sits down next to him. They look at each other carefully. This is her brother. They do not have to speak to be able to have a full conversation. She sees the gun in his lap and is startled, but neither one says anything.

They sit until finally her breath starts to slow and she puts her hand on his. They just sit.

Soldier: Is everyone freaked out?

She nods.

Sister: Are you okay?

The question stuns him. He is both moved that she has asked, and horrified to speak the true answer. He tries to hold back from crying. He has not been okay for at least six years.

Soldier: Yeah.

She studies him.

Sister: I’m here.

They sit.

Sister: Can you just put that thing on the floor?

He doesn’t move.

Sister: Please?

He tightens his grip but makes sure the barrel is pointing away.

Soldier: I can’t let go.

His head drops, his shoulders drop. The wind is knocked out of him.

Soldier: I can’t.

He bucks up quickly, sniffs and pulls himself together but it’s hard for him to swallow.

Sister: Do you need some— Wait, let me get you some--

She gets up and goes to look for water.

Soldier:  It’s just my head, my— I can’t make it---

He hangs his head over and pounds it with his fists. He is still holding the gun.

Sister: (OC) Just hold on. Just--  Oh look Jake, oh my god, they still have these sandwiches here. I can’t believe it, do you remember these. Here, there’s some milk too. It’s still cold.

She takes a while getting things together but then walks back to couch where he is still sitting hunched over. He is crying and she doesn’t know what to do.

Sister: Do you remember that time we came here with Nana, you were like 3 or 4 and it was real late at night.

He takes the glass of milk she has offered, but he just holds it.

Sister:  We were…We were right, I think , over there. There used to be a different chair here, and we were all crushed in and Nan was sitting in the middle and we were waiting…I forget what we were waiting for but then Nan got up, really it was like we were all wedged in like sardines and she managed to get up and when she walked over to the front area we could see she’d sat on one of these peanut butter and jellies,  it was flat as a card stuck to the back of her skirt. I laughed so hard the milk came through my nose. That was so funny. She never knew it.

Soldier: I was 6.

Sister: You were 6? No.

Soldier: Yeah I was 6 and you were 9.

Sister: No you were younger. We came here a bunch of times after that.

Soldier: -But that was after Nana died…I was 6 and I remember because it was my birthday. That’s why we came here because it was my birthday and Dad was supposed to come but he never showed up. We waited up really late but he never came, so Nana brought us here.

Sister: What?

Soldier: Don’t you remember she made me that crown? That, you know, that thing for my head, “I’m taking this prince to the Royal Inn.”

Sister: Oh my god. I can’t believe you remembered that. Yeah, I do, you’re right.

Soldier: It was like almost midnight. We never got to stay up that late.

They each look at the chair where they sat years before, the sister chewing slowly, the soldier holding his glass of milk. He sets it down on the table.

Sister: You have a good memory.

He shrugs.

Soldier: I may have a good memory but I’m a liar so what difference does it make.

Sister: What do you mean you’re a liar?

Soldier: And anyway, it fucking sucks having a good memory.

Sister: --How are you a liar?

Soldier: This uniform, these shoes, these stripes, this, this, all this. I don’t even want to be here. I shouldn’t be here. I’m…  I don’t know..all the time..I can’t, I just don’t want to, my head, I mean Jesus, my head won’t stop. I’m not this. I’m not—

Sister: Jake, you have to--I want to help you, I’m here. I know I can’t stop you from hurting but can’t you just… You’re not a liar. You’re a good person and everything you—I mean I don’t know what you have in your head but I know what it is to need peace. There’s good in there too. Can’t you just find peace in that?... I wish you would just put that damn thing on the floor.

Soldier:  There’s no bullets in here Cass. I’m not crazy. (He reaches it over to let her have a look)

Sister: I don’t want to touch that thing.

Soldier: Go on.

Sister: Quit it Jake.

Soldier: It’s just a… just a thing. I need it. It’s nothing.

They are quiet.

Sister: I knew I’d find you here.

Soldier. Yeah.

Sister: Just come back Jakey, please.

Soldier: I can’t.

Sister: They’ll  just think you were drunk.

Soldier: No I mean… I really can’t. I just need to sit here.

Sister: Okay.

They sit quietly.

Sister: Are you shaking?.. You are.

He reaches for the glass of milk and knocks it over.

Sister: Oh shit, here, don’t worry, I’ll—

She gets up to pick up the glass and walk back to the counter where the tray was. She looks for a trashcan and sees one behind the counter and drops the broken glass and pieces into it. She grabs a stack of napkins.

Soldier: I’m sorry Cassie.

He puts the gun to his head.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Conversation Between Me and Three Kids

Mom you look like a tranny in this picture.
Or you look like Pete. Or Harry.
You don't think I look like a high- fashion supermodel?
Um, that would be no.
With my short Robert Palmer hairdo?
My shoulder pads?
Let me see...oh my god.
The goddam door knocker ear-rings?
If I were a tranny, I'd be wearing make up at least.
Okay, not a tranny, just a transgender.
Yeah, transgender.
Yeah she does.
Would you stop saying transgender?

I walk away but I want to listen in. I feel like the loser, lonely, dork who invites the cool kids over for a party and then is not included in their conversation. But I'm fascinated! Since Mo came back for a visit, I have learned that I am anti-social, that I don't like to be touched and that I am rude to strangers.

What do you mean I don't like to be touched?
Every time we hug you, you flinch...or lean away.
That's because you're big. You have boobs. And hair.
Ew Mom! What do you mean we have hair?
You have issues, mother. Something's wrong with you.
I love being touched.
Just not by people I'm related to.

They all walk away, totally freaked out. Now they know how I feel.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Outer Shell


Recently I was looking at some photos of scars and somehow, really without meaning to, I began seeing photos of the wounds that made the scars. When I say wounds, what I mean is open, bloody, skin-flapping, deep to the bone, gashes. I couldn’t look away! I mean, of course, that’s exactly what I did at first, but then I went back for a second look. After a while, it wasn’t human, it was just the torn fabric of skin wrapped around some raw steak. Ok, that’s still disgusting, but I don’t know, I was curious. I realized that when I took away the thought of pain, horror and shock, suddenly it wasn't so difficult to look at. It was just tan, red and white things.

I remember looking at a particular book in the library at school. We’d all huddle around the table, some of us leaning over on our knees on the chairs, and look at photos of skin diseases and burns and malformations. We’d giggle and gasp and then go silent: Ohhhhhhhh. It was fascinating. And we’d go back to it again and again. There was a weird sort of recognition and disconnect about it being an actual body that belonged to an actual human.

The idea that our body is just a shell is a strange one and yet, of course that’s all it is. We live inside it, all our impressions of and connections to things and people and places come through it. We become obsessed with different ways of feeding it and giving it rest. The body shows our age; usually it is the first thing we are judged by. It is what makes us conscious of ourselves, in an awkward way. I wonder if we stepped out of it every night and hung it up in a closet, if we’d feel differently about it.