Monday, February 14, 2011

Don't. Push. Me.

5.30 a.m.

An email from someone I went kaboom over twenty years ago.  Yes, he says, he thinks we can be friends.

7 a.m.

A young man in a top coat hurries away from the deli with a bunch of white roses in tight bud under his arm.

7.15 a.m.

A heart shaped balloon bobs with each lurch of the train toward Borough Hall.

7.20 a.m.

A bouquet wrapped in a plastic bag full of water held like the torch of the Statue of Liberty as we pull into Wall Street.

8.05 a.m.

A Venezuelan student asks if I like chocolate.  His parents are visiting and brought a lot of chocolate with them.  If I could cry, I would.  I say no.

10.15 a.m.

An Italian greyhound keeps jumping on me as I pee and I finally shout, "Off!"  She whimpers and runs away.

This feels oddly satisfying.

10.30 a.m.

An email from someone I am still going kaboom over telling me that "Need You Now," a song we loathed loudly on a car trip, won a Grammy.  Per.  Fect.  "Our" song is about booty call.

11.15 a.m.

Daisy and I meet Boomer and his owner as we walk home from the dog run.  She reminds me it's Boomer's birthday.  Happy birthday, Boomer.

11.25 a.m.

Proflowers reports it has delivered the dozen red roses I ordered for my father's amour.  Tomorrow they will deliver another bouquet to his neighbor. 

12.30 p.m. 

I'm feeling more than a little sullen & short-tempered.  Do not tell me Valentine's Day is no big deal.  The world is skim milk-blue and blackened snow.  Big velvet boxes and big flowers are a powerful antidote to the feebleness of February.

12.38 pm.

I'm pouting and jealous and craving chocolate.

Why isn't St. Agatha's Day honored on February Fifth?  The timing is perfect and she's the patron saint of single women.  Aside from that little matter of also being the patron of rape victims, I think there is a need for a day celebrating all of us who are trying not to live in perpetual bitterness.  First of all, single people are there to listen to everyone's problems.  We are always free to do whatever.  We are at least four-to-one ahead on gift giving (shower, wedding, shower, baby).  Hallmark and the rest of the economy could use another holiday -- DVDs, books, pop corn poppers, bubble baths, half-bottles of champagne...there a lots of things single people need to pad out their singleosity.

St. Agatha's Day can be co-opted by new mothers, depressives and workaholics as well.  Her final prayer before dying of torture was, " have taken me from love of the world and given me patience to suffer".  Because her torturers twisted her breasts off, she is also the patron saint of breast cancer.  Your gifts to us could be tax exemptions!  In a neat irony in which her breasts are suggestive of other stuff, rather than other stuff being suggestive of titties, she patronizes bell makers (which could add a merry noontime carillon to delight everyone and pump up Ivy League ambitions) and bread makers.  I could live with a bouquet of croissants, a warm focaccia with some dry-cured olives and a half-bottle of chardonay, or a box of diplomats, along with a nice card ("with a bit of my heart forever," "You're in my speed dial, your wedding gift's on the mantle, you'll be mine until we redecorate").

Perhaps this will convince you: St Agatha protects against the outbreak of both fire and volcanoes. 

N-i-c-e.  Ignore me on February Fifth and I'll set your roses on fire.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Human Race - Joining It

It's a slow road with switchbacks.

In too many ways I'm still doing damage control from the Descent that began in July.  My job has been threatened.  I don't know how I'm going to make it financially.  There is so much stuff I have to do that I go blank contemplating how to get my life back in order.

I was wandering around on Kindle the other night, looking for something nonthreatening, and made a discovery that put me in a cold sweat.  I haven't been a literary agent for eight years but there was someone I had worked very, very hard for and been unable to sell.  That person's books, which I edited with an Exacto knife, are now published.

I was surprised that my former, er, career still has that kind of power over me and I noted on Facebook that I wanted to chew my right hand off with jealousy.

"X (the literary agent who made money off some serious work I had done on the manuscript) doesn't have Daisy," I mantra'd as I turned off my computer and crawled into bed.  "X doesn't have a new flannel nightgown and clean flannel sheets and Daisy."

Of course, X might well have much better stuff but does not have that ineffable alchemy of flannel and Daisy, the solid 70-pounds of muscled weight sleeping next to me.

The Prozac, you see, is working.  The dosage isn't yet right but the worst is over until the next time.

Sometime in the last month I had a severe loneliness for a god I can't quite believe in.  One evening I went out to walk Sandy, a mild enough golden retriever, and demanded that god get down here and show himself to me.  It was a week of fuck-ups at school coming back to haunt me and I was scared and, always, lonely.  This demand was a bratty win-win: I know there is no god with a personal interest in me so there would be no answer and I could continue my terror and loneliness in blissful non-peace.

Then Sandy's owner gave me a hundred-dollar tip she referred to as "snow duty".

It was not Fatima but it was a penny placed on the other side of my personal scales of life.

And so I told the green-eyed dog of jealousy that I have a silky yellow one to sleep with, thank you very much, and fell asleep wondering how much of a wreck I would be the next day.

I woke at six in a rush to get to Facebook and quit all my farms.  Suddenly, I had to declutter that much of my life.  (I kept my city.  It's my only game and takes little time.)  And I was surprised to see that my post had several responses from women I respect saying, me too.  I was comforted not to be alone.

Not to be alone.

Not to be alone.

By writing a sentence I had let some people admit to the green dog as well and I could begin to laugh.  I began to hope that the version of the manuscript I worked hardest on had been the one to sell.  I owe that boss amends, although not for what she probably thinks I owe.  Maybe I can say I made them with that work.

Maybe it augers well for the novel I'm editing now.

That morning, the winter light poured through the windows of Grand Central so purely that I thought there was a spotlight shining on the west windows.  I asked one of my students if he'd seen it and yes, he said, he thought it was a special effect, too.  And I felt I had not been alone in that cold bath of early light, and that my loneliness and my isolation are not one and the same but are, certainly, related.  If I can't break the former maybe I can break the latter.  And maybe that will begin to mend the day-to-day lack of family and close friends at hand.

By whatever means.