Monday, September 30, 2013

Kaddish Two Ways


In the end, at the end, there was just love left.

". . . reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues shout blind on the phonograph

the rhythm the rhythm—and your memory in my head three years after—And read Adonais’ last triumphant stanzas aloud—wept, realizing how we suffer—

And how Death is that remedy all singers dream of, sing, remember, prophesy as in the Hebrew Anthem, or the Buddhist Book of Answers—and my own imagination of a withered leaf—at dawn—"

The two oak trees stand wide and strong.
The sun shines though the leafy tops.
And under our feet.  Way under the dirt under our feet, sprawling roots.  Stretching.

I walk the paths.  My feet on the dirt.
Small rounded stones sit.  Lonely.  Resting upon the larger stones.

Always loving.  Always loved.

Row by row by row by row.  By row.

Beloved.

  Beloved.

    Beloved.

      Beloved.

        Beloved.

Beloved.

And what remains, the parts of the sum, of the whole, that linger?

Love.  

Undefinable.  Ever-present.  Binding the circle of people, standing.  Crying.  Smiling.  Holding each other up.

Laughter.  

"She was always laughing.  Ten minutes after the joke, when she was washing the dishes, she would laugh: 'I just got it.'"

"She would laugh.  Oh she would laugh.  She would even laugh at the fact that she was laughing.  Harder and harder and harder.  She could not stop laughing."

Simply being there.  

"I just remember, she was always there."

Providing.

"And there she was, cooking dinner.  Or making me a sandwich for lunch.  No matter what else was happening.  She was there, taking care of me."

"Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen."

Then she looked out, at those gathered around the table.  Her table.  Generations.  Her family.  Hers.  And she smiled, her eyes moist and glistening.  
And she said: "Somaya"
("All this, is mine.")

And in the end, at the end, 
  when everything else was gone, 
  when everything else had been stripped away,
there was just love left.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Burnout

And so.  Dies the Fire.


Dancing On the Edge

"Put on your shades, cuz I'll be dancing in the flames."

-- Lady Gaga, The Edge of Glory




"So, live life on the edge.  Halfway between heaven and hell.  And let's go dance in the middle.  In purgatory."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Skins


I'm starting to feel comfortable in my own skin.   Being me.

My daughter, still a child, was born and remains that way.  At ease.  

For me, its like this:

It's like wearing slightly a worn fleece.  Or that comfy green-hooded sweatshirt. The one with the frayed sleeve bottoms of disintegrating threads.  With the big middle pocket, that I could slip my hands into.  And stretch. 

My skin feels liquid and begins to loosen.   A stretchy material.  It doesn't hurt.  It's just what happens.  

I disrobe.  Step out.

It slides and slips off my body.  
And then its sitting in a heap on the floor at my feet.  Like a rubberized Halloween costume, discarded after the party.

It's very very quiet.

Left underneath is the same me.

And that's how I know.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How To Skip Rocks

The grey stone was smooth, rounded.  Just the right size and heft that my index finger curled comfortably around it.  Pressing the rest of it against my thumb.

A flick of the wrist.   

      It hops and skips, propelled across the sunlit skin of the water.  Like a flying fish rock.

     One.  
     Two.  
     Three.  

     Gurgle-plop.  Devoured whole. 

The branches in the trees above whisper in the breeze.  Swaying.  That's the only other sound.

The air tastes like pine.

Eyes close.  A new sound.  The sound of my breath.

On the edge of the lake.  Skipping rocks on the pond.


Monday, September 23, 2013

I Am Not a Role Model, er, Superhero.

"I am, I am, I am Superman
And I can do anything"

-- REM, Superman


Worms Roxanne. Worms.

Don't gobblefunk around with words.” 

-- Roald Dahl, The BFG





Running on Emptiness

A melon-baller, hollows me out.  
Scraping at the walls my insides, and scooping out pieces of my soul. Bit by bit.
It leaves behind empty sphere-shaped holes.
Perfectly formed.  Each precisely the same shape and size.
Absolutely.  Gaping.  Holes.

Disassociated shadows roam through me.  
Floating and weightless, they latch on.  
Pulling me apart from me, piece by piece, long fingers of swirling grey.  

Then multiplying, separating, and sliding through each newly formed crevice.

And its cold.  And I shiver.  And I recede.


Uncomfortably Numb, Grieving without Leaving

"Don't move
Don't talk out of time
Don't think
Don't worry
Everything's just fine.  
Just fine"


-- U2, Numb



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Drifting At High Speed


The eggs crackle and spit in the fry-pan.  The smell wafts to me.  And lifts in.

Mmmmm.

But I'm on the go.  If I stop to have breakfast I'm going to be late.  And miss my train.  Can't miss it.  

I'll just grab an iced coffee at the train.  And a scone.  Maybe one of those flakey ones with the chocolate chips. If they have them. I'm not such a fan of the blueberry ones.  A lot of people like those.  I don't, really.  

Shuffled and squeezed up the steps, through the narrow doors. And then I'm on the train. Two people in the three-seater on my left.  Neither makes eye contact.

Look at me.
Look.  At.  Me.  (Staring.)
I know you can feel my thought darts.
Really?!
Ah.  Its ok.  I wanted to stand. 

Walkety walk.  Talkety talk. 
None of it is any of your busyness.

Faster.  Quicker.  More.
Fasterquicker.  More.
Fasterquickermore.

Words speeding out.  Clustered together.  
Another window.  Another box.  Another.  Yet another.

My back aches.
My iced coffee is sweating.  Water beads on plastic.  Drip-drip-drip.
Paper bag,
                 blueberry scone,
                                           scrumpled and clenched in my left hand.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Sunny Days

The sunlight.

Dazzling.

          rips into my eyes and shivers through me.

          warm orange beats.

          a background noise.

It drives me.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Halloween on Christmas. With spiders.

"Where are you?  And I'm so sorry.
I cannot sleep.  I cannot dream tonight.
I need someone and always.
This sick strange darkness
Comes creeping on, so haunting every time."

-- I Miss You, Blink 182



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Whites Turning Red

"Well you didn't wake up this morning, cause you didn't go to bed.
You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red."

-- The The, This Is The Day


Monday, September 16, 2013

Its Raining ________. Hallelujah.

A multicolored herd of disembodied umbrellas.  Bobbing along, down the sidewalk of 34th Street.

Swaying gently forward.  Weeping willows rooting in concrete.

They slowly bounce upwards, a singular wavy whole.

As the water steadily drips down and off the edges.


Its raining.  Its pouring.

Umbrella.  Ella.  Ella.  Ella.

'Don't get wet.'

Introduction to Alone - Three Point Oh

4 AM.

I'm in the bathroom.  Terrified and trembling, awash with the feeling that I am literally

Falling.           Apart.

That I have lost - no -

Been abandoned by, my own self.

Inside the pit of my stomach, a feeling like being trapped in one of those dreams where your teeth are falling out of your mouth.  Or you are losing your hair.  And you can't make it stop.

Gripping the sides of the sink, I look up at the mirror.

Ugliness reflects back at me.


Introduction to Alone - Two Point Two

I try to read my book.  Or a magazine.

But despite the hours of free unclaimed time, I can't quiet my mind sufficiently to be able to read.

I take my book from my room, down the hall, to the TV room.  And three magazines.  I sit.  I rise.  I walk back down the hall to my room, and lie on my bed.

That feeling - pacing - ripples through me.  My hands are shaking.

I rise.

I lie back down in bed.  Staring.  I can't sleep.

Ben snores loudly.


Introduction to Alone - Two Point Oh.

The "rec room." is unlocked for one hour in the morning and for one hour and fifteen minutes in the afternoon.

One exercise bike.
One stair-master.
One treadmill.
A Nintendo Wii.
A desktop computer.
A Ping-Pong table.
A set of interlocking small tables, with arts and crafts supplies.

During "rec time," the TV and phones are turned off, and the kitchen is locked.

So there is no choice:

"Let there be recreation!"

"Go forth and recreate."

The radio from the boombox blares "Captain Jack."

The irony of the musical selection is not lost on the patients.

Introduction to Alone - One Point Three

They had given me a mauve colored plastic washbasin with a toothbrush, toothpaste, a small bottle of mouthwash, and a travel size bottle of Johnson & Johnson’s Body Wash.

"No Tears."  Naturally.

I push the door open to my room.

The first bed is empty.

In the second bed lies a tall muscular black man.  Covered in blankets and green hospital scrubs.  His feet dangle off the bed.  The sheets he had cocooned himself with framed his face, and a tattoo of a long-stemmed black rose on his left cheek.  He was sleeping.

Eyes open.  Staring at me without seeing me.  They close.  More sleeping.  Mostly sleeping.  All day.

In between sleeping, Ben told me that he lived with his mom, who suffered from dementia.  That he had lost his job.  That the power company turned off their electricity last week.

"I tried to hang myself while I was in prison," he said.  "It didn't work."  "So now.  I'm here."

Ben's Story.

What's my story?

Inside my head, I scream: "I don't belong here!"
But don't I?

Ben looks up.  "We have so much in common," he says quietly.

And then he smiled.  And then he stopped smiling.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Introduction to Alone - One Point Two

A slight girl with stick-straight blond hair and friendly blue eyes looks up as if to say something, but then jerks forward off the couch, and takes off running towards the bathroom.  Retching.

A blur of Umbros and Minnie Mouse slippers, pitter-patter down the hall.

More retching.  A door slams.

Murmuring from the crowd, to no one in particular:

"Did she make it?"

"I think she made it."

More like a background buzz.

She returns, shuffling slowly, looking frailer and slighter still, both hands holding her stomach.

"I just made it that time," she says, smiling weakly.

That girl.  Her name is Jennifer.  She's a recovering heroine and cocaine addict, who was physically abused as a child, and now suffers from horrible flashbacks that trigger deep depressions.  She has a carefree, easy-going smile.  And she is an excellent Ping-Pong player.


Introduction to Alone - One Point One

Behind me, the sliding doors meet.  The lock softly clicks shut.

The first thing I notice is the floor.  Clean, polished, oak-colored hardwood.  Like a living room.
Why?  A trick to make it feel - what? - more comfortable?  More...homey?

Not so much.

Neon lights bathe the long corridor in a weak antiseptic glow.  And it smells like hospital: acrid sickness masked with disinfectant.

On my left is a sitting room.

A group of patients sit quietly around a TV.  Silently staring.  The disembodied voices from the television - some mind-numbing reality show about a tattoo parlor - were the only sound.

It was the most off-putting and oddly anti-social feeling I've ever had walking into a room filled with people.

Something's Off

"I'll be the beauty queen.  In tears.
It's a new art form: Showing people how little we care.
We're so happy.  Even when we're smiling out of fear."

- Lorde, Tennis Court


Dissolved Out

Dissolved out.

I'm nearly invisible now.

Except for those faint traces of movement and thought that prick through the fabric.
Or am I imagining that?

Restlessly, I pace.  Unsettled.  Cork-screwed & spinning.



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Nourishment. Connection.

"This is nourishing.  Redemptive.  We become less alone inside.
It might just be that simple."

-- David Foster Wallace



Suburban Purgatory - Four

Outside the window, now the snow was sticking.

It was darker.  

But with the white blanketing everything.


Suburban Purgatory - Three


Fragments of conversation sailed by him.

Unfiltered tidbits:



"So, do you think he - like - likes you," she whispered.

"I'm just saying that I think Carmelo has really matured as a player.  He's not just a gunner anymore."

"I just don't feel like we . . . connect anymore," his voice straining.

"I'm with you Goose-man; I'll be your wing-man."

"He *really* is growing up.  Its funny - right - how at every age, you think, 'wow, this is so amazing.'"

"I just want to do work that has impact.  That matters."

"Remember that commercial?!  'We're.  Not.  Candy.  Even though we look so fine and dandy.  When you're sick, we come in handy.  But.  We're not caaandy.  Ohhhhhh no!"  Peels of laughter.

"...completely scalable.  This thing can really grow.  I'm dead serious."

"How do we get back to that time?"  Wistfully.



Suburban Purgatory - Two Point Two

He silently shook his head, a whisper of a smile crept across his face.

He turned his attention to a couple sitting In the booth directly across from his.  On the same bench, next to each other.  

He could tell that these two definitely weren't married.  Not to each other, anyway.  But there was clearly a palpable intensity there.  An ebb and flow to the banter.  An easy smile.  A look in the eyes.  A touch on the arm.  Crackling with energy.



He didn't know the guy.  Or the woman.


Suburban Purgatory- Two Point One

"Back when I went to grad school at Wharton, we actually learned real substance.  These kids; these first-years at Goldman now, its flat-out ridiculous," blasted a large Indian-American at the bar.

He was middle aged, solid throughout, and wearing a dark creased pin-striped suit.  His blue shirt, doubtless exhausted from a prim and proper day of meetings, had crept itself out from his girth, and now poked out, mostly untucked.

He was speaking to a young couple at the bar.

They clearly couldn't care less.  But they were being polite.  Smiling and nodding, but in between, their eyes darting at each other, trying to hatch a get-away plan.  This was not possible.  Raj was not self-aware enough to notice.  And they were ill-equipped to stop him.

"And now, its like, I say I work for Goldman, and I still get that look.  Like I single-handedly destroyed the economy," he went on.  "Please.  And I tell you, bonuses for the execs this year.  Way down.  And, I mean, that's a huge part of my comp."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Suburban Purgatory - One

At sunset.  It was snowing.  Big flakes, but nothing was sticking.

The sky was one of those - what some cynical people would call - New Jersey Masterpieces.  Narrow puffy clouds of other-wordly pink and crushed deep oranges, peppered in a rat-a-tat style set across a deep purple darkening sky.

"Just a light dusting is expected tonight across the tri-state area," reported the clipped voice on the radio, as the car pulled into one of the two free spaces across the street from The Pub.

"The Friday morning commute should be all clear."

Inside was a jumble of people.  Conversations.  It was warm.  Comfortable.

His mind cleared a bit, the errand lists and frustrations retreating.  For now.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Please Find My Mind

You're wrong. The mind is not like raindrops. It does not fall from the skies, it does not lose itself among other things. If you believe in me at all, then believe this: I promise you I will find it. Everything depends on this."

"I believe you," she whispers after a moment. "Please find my mind.




― Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Writing

"I write to empty my mind and to fill my heart"

-- Paulo Coelho

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Why I Write

"I write to empty my mind and to fill my heart.

-- Paulo Coelho