Showing posts from 2012

And then came the winds

             This is not a blog about the hurricane.  Or maybe it is.  It is about the winds that came in and blew things around this month.  Hurricane Sandy was one of those winds.  It was a wind that blew out the power in Manhattan, filling our house with guests for a week. It was a wind that wrecked the restaurant where Michael picked up a Sunday shift; the unexpected days-off giving him a new softening between his shoulder blades and an easy laugh on Sunday mornings.  It was a wind that brought news of my best friend’s engagement, marrying her to a very different future from the one we laughed about on innocent college walks years ago.              The wind came and blew away my confidence in a video client, helping me to let go of yet another job that was to be my “big break,” leaving behind a sort of emptiness and the itchy feeling of abandoning a script unshot.               The wind blew in my friend’s lives as well.  Making one man (a friend of a friend) take h

the plan

          The plan was to- well there  was  no plan.  The plan was to fly to a faraway continent and have an adventure.   But a relentless exhaustion paired with a mild fever and a midsummer cold made the prospect of adventure incredibly unappealing, and as my heavy head and sick spirit contested, I was Burnt Out . So burnt out in fact, that with some show of drama, I stepped off the airplane right before it was to fly away, grabbed my suitcase, and took myself home to bed, unsure if I was a coward/weakling or a person of great will, but relieved to be sleeping in the northern hemisphere, in quiet old Greenpoint with my cat under my arm.  I had just finished three weeks of travel and work/travel and work, and was, as they say, done.             In the morning, I made a list of all the things I would do on my new vacation in Brooklyn, and then proceeded to ignore the list.  Instead, I spent a week napping and reading on couches, beds, parks and park benches.  It was the ki


         I spent the better part of my childhood summers under water: summercamp, grandparents’ pool, beaches, lakes, swimming holes.  Summer meant water.  Summer meant being submerged, the lifting of my hair in the enveloping cool, the constricting feeling of my lungs in the evenings after holding my breath in the deep end all day.  I took it for granted.  Summer and swimming were synonymous.            Then came adulthood.  Then came New York.  The reflection of heat bouncing off concrete to more concrete.  The oppressive humidity, the crush of traffic to the beaches, the polluted river one block away.   When I first moved to Greenpoint eight summers ago, I put wet washcloths in the freezer and draped them on my shoulders during the heat waves.  In the evenings, I went down to the river and watched the water lap the pilings on java street but didn’t dare dip a toe tip in. The river's smell of earth and water drifted up to my living room window and made me wild.  Such an ache

June 3, 2012 7:45 pm

          Sitting in my bedroom window chair, looking out onto the greens and burgundies of early summer on Milton street.  The breeze lifts the curtains and carries with it the scent of potted jasmine blossoms.  I have tilted the chair so that I am floating above the street, as out of doors as one can be while sitting by the window in one’s bedroom.  I peer between the windowsill irises to the outside, where the sky is moving through blue-grey and grey-blue and a sometimes-dash of  purple.  Below me, three old Polish ladies stand in a triangle on the sidewalk and compare their sandals.  They lean against the garden fence and take off their footwear to view them more thoroughly.  I float above them and see the pink plastic insoles versus the black rubber insoles, discussed with some attention in a language I don’t understand.             The air is soft but the wind stirs things up.  And I am overcome with sadness and nostalgia.  Nostalgia for nothing.  Or maybe nostalgia for this

of mice and men

            This is not my story.  It is Michael’s story.  But I like it so I’m telling it as I remember hearing it.              There was a time when Michael was a bartender at a fancy restaurant in New Orleans.  During his shift, he was often sent to the far corners of the restaurant where other people didn’t go.  Once while searching for a jar of olives in the wine cellar, he heard a terrible sound.  He rounded a corner to discover a mouse stuck on a shelf, its bottom glued fast to a trap.  It was screaming in a mousey way, struggling helplessly to free itself. Now if any of you have ever encountered a mouse in a glue trap, it’s a pretty terrible sight.  Far from the  quick and grizzly death of a spring trap, the glue trap keeps its victim in a slow, terrible contest until the mouse starves to death.  Michael knew, and the mouse probably knew too, that it would never get out of that trap alive, and the torment would continue- for days.             Michael contemplated  hi

making a history

            My father makes things.  He has, so far, been a cartographer, a filmmaker, a soldier, a photographer, an inventor, and a businessman.  He speaks four languages.  He is ambidextrous.  He has lived in all three worlds and has seen many of the faces of poverty and wealth.  My father has three names- one for each country he’s lived in.  Unconventional,  stubborn, eccentric, with a mode of problem solving that drives my mother crazy,  he is filled with stories.  This is one of them. I hope I get it right.             My father was born in Tunisia, in Tataouine, back when it was a tiny village in the desert.  His father, my grandfather, ground wheat for a living.  They lived in a  hut with no electricity- mother, father and half a dozen siblings.  My father talks of adventures climbing palm trees, of hitting birds with his slingshot, of making fantastical shadow puppets with the kerosene lamps. He talks of speaking French in a grade school where the teacher smacked him for wr

for faces

       Sitting on the couch cushions, on a night that didn’t feel much like Saturday. Crawling up against his chest, like a cat. A sigh. A letting go of the workday, a kind of easing. Into slowness. The little reading lamp over the chair. The shadows between the kitchen and the window.         “Everyone says I should join facebook,” he said, soft and sleepy.         Tracing the leaves on his arm. “Don’t join facebook.”         “I said -You should send me the pictures you took- and they said –We’re going to post them on facebook.-”         “Don’t do it.”         “And I said, -Call me the next time you want to hang out.-  And they said –But we’d invite you on facebook.-”         A sigh. “One day, we’re going to break up,” I said to his bicep, “and you’re going to join facebook. Then you’ll post pictures of yourself with your new girlfriend online. And I’m going to look at them.”         “Why does your brain go to these terrible places?”         “I don’t know,” I said, closing