quick ball

Sometimes I remember it and there’s a quick ball in my stomach that bounces up to the back of my throat. That was really horrible, and not as long ago as I’d like to imagine, I think.

And suddenly I feel inconsolable, and stop myself from picking up the phone.

Or emailing.

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recent universe

The funny thing about violence – violence isn’t funny, I think, but somehow the sentence just started that way – the funny thing is how quickly everything changes. One minute I am walking down the street in the sun and air among other human beings and the next I am in a sewer fathoms below, in the dark, and all I can remember doing was walking.

The funny thing is that you’re suddenly in an alternate universe or the sewer analogy but wherever the hell you are it isn’t quite right, it isn’t reality, and somehow no one seems to understand the urgency, the terror, the chokey weird feeling of not being physically safe anymore. The police have these sad, understanding and exhausted eyes that make them look just like bloodhounds, and nice normal people have a tendency to exclaim “That’s crazy!” and follow it quickly with “Tell me more!”

I kept having this fantasy the whole time that someone, anyone, would put a hand on my shoulder and ask me if I were okay, and I could take a long, deep breath and feel a little better, because someone was – oh, I don’t know, reaching to me from the universe I had just inhabited. It wasn’t a fleshed-out fantasy because I knew it wouldn’t happen.

It didn’t.

A lot of people asked, of course. They wanted details, they were surprised it wasn’t at all related to men or romance, as if that’s the only kind of ugly that ever reaches out to touch women; slap-happy boyfriends, jilted stalkers, abusive husbands. But the hand on the shoulder, the kind tone of voice – I’ve seen it before, a long time ago, and it hurts like the memory of a bruise.

stomach virus

The degree to which I am sick with a stomach virus is directly inverse to the amount of generosity I can summon. For the children? Oh come on they’re children, I didn’t say I became an ogre. For their parents?

I feel like a southerner of the bad dental hygiene variety when someone approaches his porch.

cold

This is fun, I told myself. Maybe not fun in the orthodox sense but a type of fun. This is the sort of thing that happens when you’re young, I continued.

Sometimes there is no hot water, and you wash your hair in the sink, and you know . . . It works. It’s not ideal, and if I spend too much time thinking about it I probably will start to feel like a trapped and grimy small animal.

It’s time for coffee.

paycheck

Someday I’ll bring home a decent paycheck, and my furniture won’t be a park bench, and the cat will have better toys than Isolde’s old Nordstrom bag.

I’ll have full bars all the time, because I won’t have to steal the neighbors wifi (password: pumpkin2011) and when I do so blogging will be so, so much more rewarding.

no bath

“Why would you do that Havana?” I asked, slumping beside the bathtub. She threw her long tail back and forth, made a noise like someone rolling her r’s. “Do you know how much mommy wanted to soak in Epsom salts tonight?” Her head cocked sideways. “Do you have any idea how tired I am?”

She actually looked kind of proud of the dried little turds she’d left in the tub. She continued to ‘rrr’ and flip her tail.

I looked down. Poor people don’t have the option to feel this queasy, I reminded myself. Nor do they – we, sorry – have the leeway necessary to declare ‘I shall never use this tub again, it has become soiled beyond comprehension.’

What do poor people have? Dollar store bleach.

eekamouse

“What’s that she’s got?”
“Who?”
“Your cat. Havana. What does she . . . it’s a mouse! Oh my God she’s killing it!”
“I don’t have mice,” I sighed. I’m sure it’s just some, you know, thingie.”
“For fuck’s sake Lola I know when I have seen a mouse and I think she’s killing it oh God -”

I picked up Havana, pried the mouse from between her teeth. She squeaked angrily. She squeaks entirely too much; I suspect her miaow mechanism is faulty. “Look, it’s a bow.”
“Bow?”
“The thing you put on presents.”
“Oh. Well. What kind of a cat carries around a bow like that anyway. Like, carrying like it’s live prey kind of carrying it. What’s up with that?”
“Cats who don’t have any – um, many toys. Poor people’s cats.”
“Oh.”

thanksgiving + holidays

“So what exactly did he do?” I asked the director, attempting the elusive phone-resting-on-shoulder that always looks so carefree yet multitasking in movies. She’d called me after hours and greeted me with “I saw a high dad today!” and I, of course, asked the standard logical thing – who, and how did you know, and when, and were there any hijinks? “We made handprint turkeys today, remember?” I remembered – they’re pretty standard fare and although we do pride ourselves on re-imagining the turkey through several different mediums, it’s fun for the children to watch their handprints turn into turkey cards. It’s new to them, after all.

I dropped my phone into the baked potato I was attempting to mash and sighed. It had been one of those proverbial ‘days’, the sort that make you feel vaguely turned over and inside out, as if I’d just stumbled into a parallel universe and not quite got my bearings before being abruptly sent back. But anyway – I wiped the potato off the phone and didn’t worry about the rest of the conversation too much; I could probably guess where it was going. It’s almost Thanksgiving, after all – Christmas is coming, now more than ever, and that always produces a certain effect, even here, in this microcosm of childhood.

Our parents are rich, you remember, and the majority of them are married, and the ones that aren’t have significant others, and they’ve all got parents and grandparents and very obviously, children. They are not alone – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t lonely. I didn’t learn that right away. I know teachers who never really quite learned that, whether it’s from a lack of empathy or a solid base of complete incredulity. People who have spouses and family and stable jobs and beautiful healthy children who reside in large, well-decorated houses should be happy, period and full stop. And I guess they should, I wish they were. I think even they wish they were, too.

I knew where the turkey story was going. I anticipated the dad not recognizing the turkey – and he didn’t. He held it upside down and asked where the turkey was, all he could see was paper. The director pointed it out to him and he said “Well if it was really a turkey then it would have a head because all birds have heads,” and she had to point out that yes, indeed, and also his thumb was on its head. He finally begrudgingly admitted it was possibly a turkey. There might be an analogy lurking there, but I won’t make it.

All I can say with certainty is that this is the time of year we’ll smell a minty-fresh cigarette smell on someone’s breath, and see bloodshot eyes and clammy skin on someone else, and maybe even hear another story about how ‘daddy locked himself out of the house and fell all the way down the driveway!’ (there’s a drunk daddy locking himself out of x each year). I can also state with certainty that it doesn’t do the children any good, that if there’s ever a time to see your parents as mortals with feet of clay and crutches of drugs then the preschool/elementary years are certainly not it, because all they will see is failure. Their teachers won’t take it very well either, and if the other parents can smell the bourbon on your breath from four feet away, neither will they. I can also tell you that all of the spouses and lovers and children in the world won’t make you feel un-lonely if lonely is what you feel. The first child won’t, and neither will the second, and so on.

But as for the feeling itself, the unhappiness per se, I can’t really bring myself to dislike those parents. I don’t know if they have reasons for being deeply unhappy, or if they chose their own fates, or if they refuse to change. I know that the world is a hard place, and everyone feels, deep down in their soul, that he or she really does know best, and given a chance everyone will tell you how to live. I’m a teacher – I can tell you a certain amount of information vis-a-vis how to behave in front of your child, but I can’t tell you how to live, because no one can, and so no one should.

If there’s at all anything I can say with certainty, it’s, well – it’s the holidays, people. Try a little empathy, life is hard already.

internet yoga

My neighbors, who are unlike me in every way – wealthy, angry, not above standing in the bushes with a flashlight at midnight if they think you have someone over – have internet.

Therefore I have internet. And, also, therefore I do internet yoga; which (for the uninitiated) is a series of poses in which one stretches many tendons to their limit while tilting a laptop in various directions. One direction will prove most auspicious and yield the most bars – and then you hold.

It’s very efficient exercise, even if it does make one arm bigger than the other.