Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Smarties Theory for Smart Women

Weedy came up with the Smarties Theory. Because, I suppose, she has to listen to me whine about my love life and my total ineptness is driving her nuts. Weed is half of a happy marriage that's lasted around 30 years, and (it seems to me) any guy she ever dated or has been around for over 20 minutes is still in love with her (in a charming, unobtrusive kind of way).

" Because they don't know everything about me," she explains.

As I am the good ship Titanic of relationships, she's seen fit to share her survival tips with me.

First this: I tell men what I think. Not just some of what I think. Most of what I think. OK - all of what I think. With hand gestures.

"Men don't want to know what you think," Weedy tells me.
"Well then, what's the point of a relationship then?"
"There isn't one. But that's just it, most of them don't want to know."

Weedy's secret to marriage and dealing with the male gender - hand out one or two Smarties of personal information as needed. Everything is on a need-to-know basis. Never give them the whole package. Maintain a little mystery.

"So, you're saying that giving them the chocolate factory in Belgium is excessive then?"
"Yes. Here you go - two Smarties. If you're good I'll give you two more Smarties."
"Then giving them Belgium in its entirety is a mistake?"
"Two Smarties. Believe me, they'll be grateful."

Weigh in, ladies and especially gentlemen. Two Smarties or Belgium?

Friday, October 26, 2007

In which she increases her incredibly crappy karma

Only two people ahead of me in the line at the postal outlet – just in front of me a young black woman with a notice of delivery in her hand. I’ve already fished my notice out of my purse. “She Bop” is blasting out of my head phones. The customer at the desk is an elderly lady who is gesturing broadly, waving what appears to be an empty Purolator Courier envelope. The very young clerk is registering barely contained distress. “Time After Time” starts. Finishes. “I drove all night” becomes “Hat Full of Stars.” Five, ten minutes. I unhook my headphones.

Something about a letter to the passport office not being picked up until 5:00 o’clock, after she paid twenty dollars and thousands of dollars are involved here and what did she pay for if the letter is still there at five o’clock and her son needed that passport and…

You get the idea. I’m not without empathy. I’ve had those days on a regular basis, when everything that can screw up, will. When you hit the wall of bureaucracy and I’m- sorry- but- I- can’t- help- you at high speed, with your face. Where the wheels fall off and the universe seems to have roundly cursed your every effort to stay sane.

Loop loop. Echo trap.

We are now up to “True Colors” though, and there are six people in line. Twenty minutes, thirty minutes. The woman spins through the same story over and over. The clerk, who is too young and good natured to have any idea how to stop it, proffers her best explanation and advice over and over again.

The man behind me explodes, “Jesus Christ!” Everyone else is sighing heavily and shuffling, including me.

Finally I work up my nerve to say, “Ma’am, I’m very sorry to interrupt and I know you’re having a bad time, but there are five of us waiting now.” She whirls around, five feet of grey-haired, tired-out, fight and frustration.

“I have as much right to be here as you do. I have a problem and I’m not satisfied with the answers and my son needed this to be delivered and I paid twenty dollars….” and it’s none of your business!.”

This is a finger on the trigger of the rather large man behind me.

“It’s our business when none of us can get our business taken care of. The lady has answered you. She can’t do anything else. There's a one-eight-hundred number you can call….”

And so on. Raised voices. The air is shuddering with crappy energy. Full moon. Loop, loop.

The woman steps aside. It’s the bass voice that does it. The testosterone voice.

As I’m leaving I comment sheepishly to him, “I guess we both get Creep of the Week for that, right?”

“Somebody had to stop it,” he replies. He thinks a second. “You started it but I was only too happy to finish it.”

Hell hath no fury like that of the powerless. I consider that she’s a generation before mine and most of her life, complaint has been met with actual assistance. By a human. No one gave her a 1-800 number and told her to get lost. Certainly no one charged her twenty bucks for the privilege.

Someone had to stop her. She was stuck, looping. There was no foreseeable end to it. But I don’t think that made either of the creeps in question feel a lot better.

Drink, anyone?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

F*ck it anyway. Girls just want to have fun.

So, another man I really click with - surprise - has huge, enormous, continent-sized intimacy issues. I allow myself to be truly naked with this man - the kind of naked that goes well beyond taking your clothes off - and although he is tossing around words like "enthralled" at the time - two days later he's saying he doesn't want his life "disrupted" by any woman.

Yes indeed.

Last night's therapy was posting the above photograph and a new, take-no-prisoners profile on the Plenty of Fish site:

"You want a lady in the streets and a wild woman in the sheets? You want passion but don’t want it to stray out of your exact comfort zone? Look elsewhere, because I’m not tame and I won’t darn your socks and write the Christmas cards. I'll understand whatever deep hurts you bear but I won't pander. I’m not appropriate unless you possess tenderness and nerve in equal quantities. I’m not appropriate unless you’re a realist who knows how to dream. I come with history (and if you say the word “baggage” once, you’re deleted from the mailbox). I’m not a one-night stand. I’m not what you expect. I don’t want to own you and I don’t want to be owned. I expect the same respect I'll extend to you. I expect caring and give it back tenfold. I don't care what age you are (within reason) just please be ferociously alive. Having said that, I am fiercely loyal, monogamous with the right person, deep down practical when necessary, sensual, sexual, creative, honest, intelligent and funny. And if you mess me with me, you better be serious about what connection really means. And if you write - let me know you read this. If you're just fishing idly - fish elsewhere."

Suddenly I am so very popular. Overnight I am on 16 "favorites" lists and my inbox is filling up. Good for me. A ton of strangers, 99% of whom I will have zero interest in have written to me. One polite question about whether I've ever let anyone worship my feet. And I'm so raw myself that I write back respectfully, kindly - because goddess knows I don't want to make anyone else feel this shitty. In spite of the dubious results, writing the post was damn good as a temporary wall between me and black, consuming sadness. And let's face it - at least I wrote something.

Tonight's therapy is dancing wildly to Cyndi Lauper's "Sisters of Avalon" and writing this post. The dancing, at least, takes my mind of the fact that I can come up with ideas for art but can't actually produce any. It fascinates the cat - who watches from a safe distance, looking utterly astonished.

This afternoon I proposed to Detta, my equally long-suffering coworker. We agreed that we both needed a wife and that because we could at least recognize each other's innate fabulousness, we were a good match.

Whistling whistling whistling past the graveyard. To Cyndi Lauper.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Laugh. I thought I'd never start.

I am hanging onto the edge of a cliff by my fingernails. The cliff is a metaphor for my lifelong belief that love matters, that people are innately good. My fingernails are, well, my fingernails – French-polished and neatly filed, but not much help in the staying alive department. And they make bad philosophers.

In this moment, it is the cliff, the fingernails, a lot of Tracy Chapman songs and Cyndi Lauper howling out “Who Let in the Rain.” It is wine. Whine. Whine. Woman alone music. Apologizing to the cat for being so little fun. It is buying craft supplies, books on soft sculpture, bags of fabric rose petals I-might-use-for-something and lime green dagger beads. It is copying pictures of the Venus De Milo and red apples to print on silk and plans to make a doll with mirror eyes. I’m going to call the doll “romantic love.” Naturally, the doll will have no arms. And I have a strategic spot for the apple. She may, in fact, have wings – or a Virgin Mary halo and horns. It’s part of the overflowing, moldy laundry basket that passes for my mind right now and any month or year now I’m going to sort the laundry and make art.

Or maybe I’ll write a self-help book. When Good Women Fall for Plaid Men. Or Vlad Men.

I want to be an art nun. But no, I keep dating.

Peter Pan. In wolf's clothing.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

conversations with The Cat

In which it is decided that my purpose is to be furniture. He hopes that this is understood and he won't have to explain it one more time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I'm crappy at meditation, but I sit. Observe my breath. Not enough. Light a candle and focus my eyes on the flame, the rest of my attention on my breath. Better.

The din in my head begins to subside. I'm using reminders. When the brain-spin cycle starts (and it's so sneaky how it creeps up) I remind myself: "thinking" and return to breath and candle flame.

For the past few months, the noise has been deafening. Thoughts becoming emotions becoming thoughts becoming emotions in a ceaseless chicken or egg-first cycle. I am overdosed on the stories of my life churning in my tired brain. I'd prefer a plotless life for at least a few hours every day. I'd like to fold up my opinions, ambitions, fruitless worries, vain and reachable hopes, my judgments, fears and even happiness and just be whatever is underneath all that deafening, distorting stop filtering, to stop being twice, three times removed from myself.

This makes it difficult, you understand, to write...

But I'm quietly reading you all, all this time.