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Required Reading: There’s No Place Like Home

By |August 3rd, 2019|Uncategorized|

They say there’s no place like home, but what if clicking your heels three times isn’t enough? And really, what does “home” actually mean?

I would have stayed forever in my Brooklyn apartment– as I had in many of my relationships.  It was clean and spacious, calm and uncluttered.  A perfect place to rest your head at night, but not causing any type of creative breakthroughs or strokes of genius– just comfortable enough.  Not complacent, but content.  Neither disturbing, nor inspiring.  There is no real fire in your heart, but you also aren’t quite dead yet inside.  Like  chicken– it’s fine, but probably wouldn’t be your first choice from any menu.

My days had become routine.  It was very rare for me to encounter a curveball.  Coffee, walk the dog, exercise, work, stare blankly at the refrigerator for something to eat, wine, sleep, repeat.  You get to a certain point in your life when your friends have moved on– whether to a husband, baby, demanding career, or another city– and you are still standing there wondering what the f#ck you are doing.  You realize that life isn’t an episode of Sex and the City and you probably won’t be able to get all of your girlfriends in the same room more than once a month.  This is when you start to get antsy and anxious.  I had never experienced anxiety until this point, but alas, I continued on with my routine days and solo nights in hopes that something might change.

I was a car in neutral.  Too scared to put it in drive in press my foot to the pedal.  No map.  No sense of direction.  No idea what I wanted. But sometimes, whether we realize it or not, the tough decisions are made for us.

One night, after binge watching another mindless TV show and downing several glasses of cheap white wine, I retired to my bedroom and drifted off to sleep.

CRASH!!

The dog barked, I was startled.  What the hell just happened?  I saw the door to my closet had opened and I sleepily and clumsily crawled from bed– dog still growling– to inspect.  As I opened the door completely, my clothing oozed out onto the hardwood floor and I saw that the racks of my closet had fallen from the wall leaving my wardrobe as a puddle of cotton and chiffon.  I was too tired to deal with the mess that night, so I went back to sleep and the dog returned to his soft snoring between my legs.

The next morning I awoke happily– stretching my arms above my head and admiring the morning light– only to suddenly remember that my clothing was no longer affixed to the drywall of my closet and the anxiety started in again.  I lay in bed a bit longer, dreading the task ahead and when I looked up at my ceiling fan spinning hypnotically, I realized something else.  It had started to detach itself from the ceiling.  I could see the wires that connected it to the electrical outlet and it was quite literally hanging by a thread.  I grabbed the dog and hopped out of bed, switching off the fan before it made chop suey out of both of us.

I called my super to ask if he could help and while he got the ceiling fan safely back in place, he shook his head at me when I showed him my closet.  I’d have to get help with that elsewhere.

Three has always been my lucky number– but ironically, they say bad things come in three’s.  Well, if bad things come in three’s, I guess in a twisted bit of fate and depending how you look at it, three really is my lucky number.

A week later, I returned to my apartment after one of those rare occasions where my friends and I were all under the same roof at the same time (much like a lunar eclipse), only to feel a very cold draft wafting through my apartment.  My off-white curtains were swaying softly in the cool fall wind.  It was November in New York, I knew I hadn’t left my window open, so I pulled open the curtains only to realize that the top of my double paned window had fallen from the frame.  I then closed the curtains, laughed, washed my face and settled into bed with my dog, navigating through the sea of clothing.  If this wasn’t a sign that it was time to move on, I’m not sure what else it would take.  The ceiling caving in?

The next week, due to a baby shower, I found myself again with all of my friends in the same room.  I told them I was moving to Paris.  I hadn’t planned anything– the words just tumbled out of my mouth like the clothes had fallen from my closet.  I had no plane ticket, no apartment, no plan.  I only had the four years of highschool French and a romantic notion of living in the city that had stolen my heart five years before.  I was surprised to see my friends so excited and supportive.  (Perhaps because a plane ride to Paris was more appealing than the L train to Brooklyn).

On February 1st, I lugged my belongings to JFK and boarded a plane to Paris.  I was simultaneously excited and completely terrified.  I’ve been known to have grand ideas that never come into fruition and this may be one of the first that has in a very long time.  Once I said it to my friends eager faces, I knew I needed to keep my word– not for them, but for myself.

It took 45 minutes in a taxi from Charles de Gaulle to get to my new home.  It was 7am and I only kept my eyes open so I could see and remember every moment.  As I stood in front of the large wooden door on a tiny quiet side street of Le Marais with three suitcases, a dog, and a bag of groceries, I said, “Smitty, we’re not in Brooklyn anymore.”

 

Required Reading: Love Letters from Strangers

By |February 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Every person I tell I’m a writer wonders if they will end up in one of my stories.  I explain to them that they’d have to be pretty interesting or terribly awful for that to happen. I’ve asked boyfriends and lovers before if they would be offended  more or less if I never wrote about them.  The answers have varied. So have the stories.


My friend and I were sitting at the bar of our local go to restaurant.  She was talking about a guy she’d just met.  I was pretending that I didn’t think it sounded like a disaster already.  Next to me, there was a man by himself, drinking whiskey and hunched over a newspaper.  It was late on a Friday night, so it seemed a bit odd to have a newspaper.  Trying not to be too obvious, I looked to see what he was reading.  But he wasn’t reading.  He was on the last word of that week’s crossword puzzle and so I decided to talk to him.  Figuring out the last word seemed more interesting than trying to figure out if my friend should agree to a second date.

As it often goes, my friend left to go meet the aforementioned nightmare and I decided to stay and talk to the man with his crossword puzzle. He was kind and smart.  We talked about books and things about the neighborhood.  He asked if I wanted to get another drink and I agreed.  He asked what I did.  I told him.  However, this time, he didn’t ask if I would write about him.  Instead, on Monday morning I received an email from an address I didn’t know.  This is what it said.

He watched her as she stepped out of the shower. He could sense her mood even before she started dancing as she toweled herself dry. He knew this mood well and the ritual that was to follow. She would think about what she’d wear but not over think it – she didn’t need to. She dressed quickly, but wasn’t in a rush – she was just confident that way. But he got anxious when she went towards her shoes. “Please put on sneakers,” he thought to himself. When he saw her put on her heels he knew it would be hours before he saw her again. He knew she’d come home smelling of someone else. He hated those heels. He knew she looked great in them, but oh, how he hated them.

With a quick “Bye, sweetie,” and without waiting for nor expecting a response she ran out.

He sat and watched the door for a time hoping she’d return. He’d always hoped it was because she’d changed her mind and decided to stay home. She’d done it before where she’d left and come back but never for that reason. Usually, it was because she forgot her phone or to use the bathroom once more. And then there was the time she’d come back after just a few minutes. He’d heard her tell her girlfriend “the douche cancelled.” She was upset but at least she was home. The combination of his anxiety and the silence of the now empty apartment tired him and with nothing else to do he fell asleep.

The noise of neighbors arguing startled him and he didn’t know if he’d been out for minutes or hours. Either way she wasn’t home so he laid quietly as he contemplated his circumstances. Why did if have to be this way? Why did she need to seek the attention of others? Why wasn’t he enough? They never fought. He’d done nothing but love her since they first met. He’d always love her. And he knew deep down that no matter what she did, no matter how many times she sought happiness in the arms of another he would always be faithful. He told himself it was okay because, when all was said and done, it was always to him that she returned.

The din of the neighbors had calmed and in the quiet he heard the click-clack of heels coming down the hallway followed by the jingling of keys. His heart pounded faster as the lock unsnapped and the door opened. To play it cool was never an option and he ran to greet her. She’d come in with less makeup than she’d left with. Her tasteful dress was wrinkled. Strands of hair had fallen from an unkempt bun into her face. She smelled of cologne. He didn’t care. She was beautiful. She was home. She was his. As always, she’d come back to him.

“Hi Peanut, mommy’s home!”

In a city where men think they’re doing you a favor by buying you dinner, this was the most romantic and generous thing someone had done for me in a very long time.

 

WhyDid’s Words: T-shirt slogans

By |January 9th, 2019|Uncategorized|

I love my brother but I hadn’t seen him in years. We look alike, I used to pretend we were twins when I was younger even though he’s two years older than I am. My parents always thought he was high on airplane glue– he built model airplanes as a hobby. He hated school and made up answers to standardized tests in order to fail them.  I thought it was stupid at the time. I think it’s genius now. He’s the funniest person I know.

We decided we may actually be twins of sorts. He knows much more about ancient religion and all the details of history– I only got an A in history for wearing a sweater from https://matchinggear.com/couple-hoodies/ and a short plaid skirt in private school. I didn’t learn anything in school except for how to be charming and to get my way with adults.

We sat on his bed he’d made at my father’s house in Northern California after breaking up with a girlfriend who (in my sisterly opinion) hadn’t deserved him to begin with and moving out of the apartment they’d shared.  He poured whiskey into my chipped coffee cup and we watched something terrible on his Netflix cue.  It was sci-fi or something absurd with a puppet. I didn’t care because I wanted to know this brother of mine who I’d never known in my decades of life. A very important piece of me.  A lost piece who was taken from me without my permission.

My father used to joke that my brothers followed me around like puppies. Watching my every move. But now I wanted to know everything about him. The master had become the student.

I asked questions, but he never coddled me.  He didn’t resent me, though he should have.  I’d gotten all the perks of being the baby girl of the family.  No one had ever challenged me, but he did. Not in an unkind way.  To be honest, it was a compliment to go head to head with someone so smart, so thoughtful.  It made me a worthy opponent.  A compliment in itself.

What people don’t realize is that getting your way so easily is not actually fulfilling.  The irony is that people who have had to work for those same exact milestones wish they hadn’t had to work so hard.  So is there a happy medium?

No. The answer is “no.”

He knew I’d started a t-shirt line with one of my best friends. So, he sent me a text last night to ask what I thought about this for a slogan:

“About the same time life stops being terrifying, death starts being terrifying.”

I love my brother.

 

Setting the Mood: Dreamers Never Sleep

By |August 30th, 2018|Uncategorized|

She awoke

not knowing who she had just spoken to

in her dream.

But she remembered what he had said.

“You’re a woman through and through.

Don’t let anyone change you

or question your femininity.”

She didn’t know him.

She probably never would.

But he made her feel more like a woman

than any man could.

WhyDid’s Words: Overstimulated and Uninspired

By |August 20th, 2018|Uncategorized|

They sat on the corner of her bed after having made love. He’d already dressed. She sat, still naked. “I’ve actually never read anything you’ve written,” he said. In the two years they’d been playing cat and mouse, he’d said a lot of mean things, but this, to her, was the most cruel.

It was then she realized that not only did he not love her, he did not respect her.  And worst of all he took her love for granted– as if a joke.

He consumed all that she did online: watched her from afar, commenting now and again about how he liked the way a dress moved on her body, the way she’d done her hair– as if entitled to her.

She’d always taken it as a compliment that he was watching her, consuming her; if only virtually.  Now she wondered if this is what it is to be a modern day voyeur.

No need for a peephole.  No reason to wait until after dark to peer into a still lit window in hopes of catching a glimpse of a silhouette.  The content was laid out before you.  No work necessary.  Consume at will.  Risk nothing.

 

 

She flashed back to her freshman year of highschool.  One Friday night she had begged her mother to take her to the mall to hang out with her friends as they did every Friday night.  And on this night her mother said, “No.”

This was the first time her mother had declined to drive her the fifteen minutes to the Ohio Valley Mall and she had pouted and asked, “But WHY?”

“Let them wonder where you are,” her mother replied smoothly, “Don’t be so available.”

The only class she’d gotten straight A’s in that semester had been economics.  She realized it was a simple concept of supply and demand.  No one wants what is readily available to the masses.  We all like to think we have discovered something on our own.  What makes something valuable is its perceived uniqueness; its exclusivity.

… And so she realized on that afternoon as he left her sitting naked on the corner of her bed, in a world where we are inundated with information, images, and “I, I, I,” it seems we are totally overstimulated but completely uninspired.