Friday, April 29, 2005

Something about it calls to you

Not every day is a good day. I mean, you have to wake up, and it’s not that, not the slow uncoiling of the body from its warm nocturnal rest. Not the way the eyes must sometimes pry themselves open in that creaky way; tin cans clattering on a cold morning.

It’s more that you have to wake up to yourself and who is that? Who is that you are waking up into? Are you the girl whose world will be made right by a cup of Joe and a hot shower? Yes. But then what? What can you rely on next? What little island can you step onto and be comforted with that next security, because that’s what you want, isn’t it? You want to keep feeling good, yes, you want everything just so. You want to continue along a shiny yellow path, a brick road, just say it, a shiny yellow brick road. Because that feels so much better than the unpaved, ruddy path that you can see just to your left if you look down. You know the one, laced with hard little pebbles that cut into the soles of your feet. That path, a little reckless, not clear, a mess of nature growing around it; wildflowers and weeds, nothing tended, nothing clear. And where’s it going anyway? You can’t tell.

No, better, you think, stay with what you know because what you know can deliver you to that wholesome place of comfort. It’s a Queendom, that’s it, that’s what you want, really, if you think about it, admit it, to feel like a Queen. You want praise and love.

So you check the emails and you turn on the cell phone, opening the channels so that no love will go unheard.

And you sit and you wait and you preen; the facial products, the hair products, the clothes, checking yourself in the mirror at least three times a day to make sure you’re still in fine form, sometimes even imagining your lover dropping by unexpectedly, out of the blue, catching you looking perfect and beautiful and ready.

And still, the day is long. There are things to do. There’s your work and there are phone calls to make, people to get back to and you’re pretty good at this; you know the steps and yet there is this longing, this yearning and you can feel it all day. And even if you’ve heard from the lover or a friend, even if you’ve been told, “We Love You, You’re Fabulous,” you can still feel it. It aches.

You read emails but the moment you finish them you’re famished. Really, you’re starving. So damn hungry. And so you find yourself pushing at things, feeling almost a metallic, clanky, clingy edginess, and it hurts and it feels a little desperate because it’s lonely in the Queendom. You’re beautiful, yes, and you’re well loved but you’re so lonely.

Looking down out of the castle you can see that ruddy path in the field below, the muddy one with the hard little pebbles and you wonder. Something about it speaks to you, but you’re not sure. What shoes would you wear? Would you be walking it alone? You’re not sure how to get there and yet it calls to you. Something about it calls to you.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

where i am from

If she thought she was marrying a rich man
If she thought she was marrying a strong man
If she thought she was marrying a man who would keep her safe
and beautiful
and loved
and sexy

If she thought that's what she was getting she was wrong

Sat down and cried on her wedding night
Collapsed on the beach in front of the tacky Hawaiian motel

She'd had the princess wedding at the Beverly Hills Hotel
I've seen the photos, the evidence; the big dress, the tiara, one hundred bridesmaids, flowers, photo fabulous smiles
She danced the first dance with her father
a small man with money
a deal maker

But now, days later
No longer a virgin
She's sitting there crying
Ripped off
Tiki lamps and mosquitoes
And not too much to talk about
Because he doesn't like to drink
Because he'd never touched a woman before last night

And if she thought this man
And if she hoped this man
and as hard as she worked this man for the next 45 years
As hard, as tough, as rough, as mean

This is where I come from

Disappointment on a beach in Hawaii with cheap drinks in plastic cups and aloha smiles

Disappointment and longing
longing so hard and so deep
so hard and so deep

Born into innocence and grown into longing

My father changed hotels, borrowed some money and hooked them up with the big hotel down the beach, spent the rest of the honeymoon there, but she doesn't remember that part

Like me, whose honeymoon in Hawaii didn't happen either because
I thought I was getting a man who
And I was supposed to get a man who
And I thought my man would

But you know the rest of the story. You've figured it out by now.
Leaf fall from the family tree

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Dogs

Been chasing the same thoughts like dogs around the same park most of my life.

Am I loved? Am I important? Valued? Will I be alone? Who will love me?

Been constructing my life, manipulating my life to avoid the less pleasant answers to those questions.

How in high school I realized that nearly every day someone commented on my great clothes, my long curly hair, how much weight I'd lost or what a great fuck I might be. And the way I started to mine for those comments, the way I began to depend on them, like bits of chocolate after a long day, the way I worked them, the way they made me feel; better, prettier, important, desired, loved, the way they made me feel less alone, less fat, less ugly, less unloved.

All the things I really felt about myself; my horrible curly hair, my fat thighs, my insecurity, my fat face, how you'd have to be deformed or drunk to love me.

Unseen and unimportant. Those are the dogs, the same dogs that still yap and nip at my feet. And no matter how successful, no matter how many golden rings, how much weight I lose or whether he wants to fuck me or she wants to fuck me, no matter if I get a phone call telling me that we love you baby, love you baby or another book gets published.

After the big manic ego flush passes though me, after the hot rush of intoxication, the blood bath pulses through me, drowning those dogs and their nipping and yapping

Those dogs are back

Dogs like thought s I've been chasing around the same park my whole life, nipping and yapping and biting and barking and me thinking most of the time that I'm actually getting someplace in all my business; edit student work, pick up jacket at the cleaners, call dentist, write that interview up, all ways I dodge the dogs, ways I keep them at bay, their yapping, their incessant cries, the ways they know me, how exactly where the stubby, curly haired Jewish girl lives and how unsightly and how unholy and how lonely and how afraid she is, sitting there planning and scheming ways to secure the love, the good feelings, making plans for the poison she will feed the dogs, like the burglar who throws the tranquilizer into the dog meat so he can rob the house.

I'm buying time too, entertaining myself, reaching for the next big thing; what I'll do on my birthday, what I'll buy myself, how great I'll look in that dress, whether it will get him hard so I won't have to listen to the sound of those dogs and their yapping and crying. Dogs like the same thoughts I've been chasing around the same park all of my life.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Showering with God

You’re showering with God tonight. He can feel how sore your thighs are from that walk you took earlier today. He rubs his hands over your ass, feels the smoothness of your skin. The hot water is perfect and God appreciates the heat. Then in the smallest voice he can muster, he whispers, shave. Shave he says, down there, prune, make sweet, make nice, reminding you that your husband is leaving town for four days in the morning.

True, you don’t usually make love after you teach, late on a Thursday night, but standing in the shower with God, you suddenly realize, you remember, as if coming to, that the man lying in bed upstairs is the man you’re married to.

You’d been saving the nice, soft body scrub, the expensive stuff that melts your skin, melts your ass and your arms and your breasts, saving it for the next time you will see your lover because you like to feel extra sexy around him.

But standing in the shower with God you remember, like popping out of a dream, who you are married to, who you actually live with, the man you bed down with every night.

And so with the hot water coming down on you, you let go of the things that bother you; his stubby beard, his too-short hair cut, his irregular breath, the slow way he likes to make love and stare into your eyes. The way he is always trying to find God through sex and through you and how exhausting that is, like he’s not really seeing you, but seeing past you and trying to get something, something from you, something you don’t have to give and something that over the years, you have found yourself more and more reluctant to even offer, even if you had it to give. But tonight you let all of this go because you’re showering with god.

And you realize that when all is said and done, the man upstairs, that’s the man who you need to mean to love. And while it’s not new; the rush and the feel and the excitement isn’t there; you don’t do it on the couch or on the kitchen counter where you’ve been doing it with your lover. It doesn’t start with a kiss, the pushing of tongues. The battle of flesh.

The site of your husband doesn’t make you want more and you don’t count the hours before you’ll see him next, but then it’s not fair to compare when you’ve been with someone for 17 years. You can’t do that, he’s not about that. He’s about loving you just the way you are and that’s not such a small thing, is it? He told you as much tonight. Told you that he’d die for you, told you this on his knees, came to you in your office and got down on his knees in front of you. And god saw this too and he asks you to respect this, to see what you have; a good man, a fine man, a man on his knees.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Loved Still

when i was a teenager
and I'd get a new boyfriend
the day after
the day after
the big kiss
or the big
or the big whatever
the trade that I made
that brought
into me

the day after
I'd be sick
from school

didn't want to be seen
for him to see

this encounter
this fresh opening
brought up
all my longing
and fear

was I loved?
and now my life
since then
all of it

I swear
for evidence
I am

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Flying Monkeys

Somehow fragile
these last many days
waking up dark and without joy
no reason
keeping my eyes averted
trying to follow the flow
get their breakfast
make the lunches
brush their hair
make my coffee

trying to send them off
without infecting them
unleashing this darkness
making them pay
for this dark lizard zipping past my reach

rode to school with them
yelled fuck to ruby
a word she hadn't heard
because she rode circles
in the middle of the street
with the cars coming
screamed "move it!"
to zoe
who was crying
because ruby had gone first
because she always goes first
because it's not fair
to be the little one

"what's wrong?"
a couple of mothers at school asked
for my eyes and the grief
any second now
could split

I started to answer
something for real
but a million distractions
a kindergartner grabbing a mother's hand
someone tapping someone on the back
me standing there in my grief
for everything
for not hearing back
from publishers
some friends
for really knowing that my drinking
is a problem
for the fear of having to stop
for my judgments and doubts
the tension and the stress
for feeling like I work so hard for nothing

Rode home and unleashed it all
on the phone
to poor Cheryl Johnson
who is charge of the gift wrap sale
spit words into her machine like
about the gift wrap
and how they want us parents
to give them the names of all our friends
so they can send them bullshit in the mail
wasted paper, dead trees
send them names of all our friends
so my children can get 8 free gifts
including a flying monkey

and this wouldn't be so hard
except the sales guy stood there
at last weeks' assembly
demonstrating how the monkey flies
and the kids yelled and cheered
"20 names"! the man screamed
"Get your parents to give us the names!"


But it wasn't Cheryl's fault
and so I called her back to apologize
Fragile, I said, just fragile.

Monday, April 11, 2005

God sees everything

God sees everything, yes he do. God knows things that you don’t. God knows what you dream. He sees you taking the Valerian an hour before bed so you will be guaranteed your little sleep. He feels the way you sit up in bed in the dark meditating it all away, or how you hope to; your fears that you won’t be loved, that everyone else will find the love, love like Easter eggs, the prettiest ones, while you will find the plain and cracked ones, discarded, not sought after, not special.

God sees everything.

He sees how all you want, when your husband finally finishes his sitting is to be held, held like you are loved. You want protection and love and you want your husband to bring it to you, a man who has spent a weekend with a former ballerina, a beautiful woman who you call sister, who you encouraged your husband to pursue, and he has, more than you could have imagined, and you’ve seen the beautiful photos to prove it; her naked body with its tangle of pubic hair, the medicine bundle around her neck, the one he’d given her and which they wore together, placing their wedding rings inside for safe keeping, even saying a prayer for their spouses who were also together, on the other side of the mountain beginning their own ascent, their own juicy pilgrimage, but through sake and tiny crabs that were meant to be eaten whole, claws and all.

Sees how you reach now under your husband’s pajama bottoms for his penis. Sees you grasping it, inching it to come alive, watches you, feels the ache in you, wonders as you do, why, why you’re doing this, what exactly you’re after.

Is it the sex? The penis? Is it about the loneliness? The photos of the ballerina? Is it because you love this man and because he has asked you to prove it? Is this how you will find the something you’re looking for? Because you are searching, aren’t you? You’re looking for something.

And he loves it. Your husband loves having his cock stroked. He’s moaning and getting hard and you know how to do it, the way he likes it. You lubricate your hand even more; you don’t stop.

You’re lying on your side and your face is drawn. You’re certain that your lover, if that’s what you want to call him. Your boyfriend, your friend, your brother…that man across the bay who brought you to orgasm with his own hand and mouth on Saturday night, and who you also delivered with your own tongue on Sunday as he stood above you after the dance and the shower, still wet and sucking and the way he came in your mouth and how tender you were with him.

You’re not that tender with your husband tonight. Your hand isn’t on his chest. You’re not feeling his moans, how much you love what you’re doing. What you’re doing doesn’t make you happy like it did when your lover shook with pleasure. No, you’re separate from this. And it’s not like you want him to finish and get off because it’s not about him, is it? It’s about you and you feel sure this is what a sex addict must feel like; removed from what she does, but needing it all the same, needing it.

When he asks you to climb on top of him you do and at first it’s slow, the way he likes it, and then you find your rhythm and you begin to fuck him.

God sees this too.

Hard, and with a kind of pounding which is the way you like it, which is the way your lover likes it, which is partly what you love about him, that he knows how to grab you, rip off your pants and enter you without asking.

Afterwards, after he comes so hard and deep that he is shaking his head from side to side, your husband says it felt almost like you were angry and you say no, you say, I was just fucking you, just fucking you. And god sees this too.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

No Place to Hide

These are the fast and dirty ramblings of a woman who is barreling straight into her middle age. These writings come from the middle of her life, not a particularly bad time either. She’s not freaked out. She doesn’t sit on the couch all day watching soaps and fantasizing about a life completely out of reach. She is not overweight. Not married to a balding guy who watches sports and says “yes, dear.” She’s not a liar, she doesn’t spend an exorbitant amount of time chatting with the other mothers on the schoolyard in the hopes that she will be loved and understood by them. It’s true that she is invited to their weekly knitting nights and their holiday cookie decorating parties, but she rarely goes, not because she doesn’t like these women, who are mostly Christian and mostly very normal and actually very nice, women who wear sweaters decorated with Easter Eggs and pumpkins during the appropriate holidays. Women who probably don’t have very good sex with their husbands and who don’t know how to tell the truth at home, women who are not particularly self reflective and who haven’t spent enough time in therapy. Women who she might be afraid to run into at one of those end of the year parties in someone’s backyard because they would be drunk and then the awful truth of their lives would come spilling out and it could take hours and she’s such a good listener and she would be stuck.

No. She is not like many people barreling into their middle age that wake up one day and realize that they’re unhappy and living a life without joy or love or passion.

She is not that woman. She is independent, a writer with her own teaching practice and a couple of healthy scoundrels posing as children. She has a good-hearted husband, an artist who marches to the beat of his own drummer. This is a woman who has an excellent life on paper; books published, students who appreciate her, a great family, excellent friends. A woman who gets to the gym at least 5 times a week, who is healed by music and coffee. A woman who dances, who dresses and who loves color.

And yet, these are the writings of a woman who has a darker side, a not for public consumption, not for prime time side. A side that she fears the people in her life would worry about.