$650 apartment for $650
We went to a ventriloquist's show. Something was wrong with the dummy. It broke. The ventriloquist freaked, started blaming members of the audience, and a riot started. I said, "EXIT. Look, there's the exit." (Lit in red) and we headed for the door.
Throwing her voice
The dental sounds
[guest blogger: Max]
When we'd said good-bye and she went inside, I started walking away but waited down at the end of the platform until the last of the conductors had stepped into the 10:24 and it was pulling out. Just to be sure. Then I turned and ran down the stairs, through the tunnel, and over to the truck. I thought she might look out her window. Drove home listening to James Brown telling me what I already knew.
"Power trouble," she said, half an hour later, phoning from the unmoving train. Stopped en route. Delay of unpredicted length. The vagaries of power. We almost never talk on the phone anymore. (Happily, the occasion doesn't arise.) But when we do, Kate's voice through the receiver always reminds me of our courtship. That 64 miles between us needed to be eliminated. Our long distance phone bills were unbelievable. Why did we eventually have to be together all the time? Being apart was just too costly. In every sense.
After an interval, a second call: "We've gotten rolling." I keep her on an extra minute, making small talk, not mentioning how strange the house feels without her around. Even though we separate every morning (she goes out to her studio), the atmosphere is distinctly different when she is actually away, even for a day. She's meeting a friend in the city, going to see the Brice Marden exhibit.
I have something else that needs doing today--my mother's 90th birthday is coming up and I'm building her a little present. My mother is the person I've known the longest. I think of her as the various people she has been during the past half century, all at once. I don't return to one era by default, the way I do with some people. Who we were when I saw her last summer is in the forefront of my mind.
But if you asked me to hand you 12 snapshots of my mother--you know, memory snapshots--I'd probably start with one that's something like this:
Fresh sawdust on the barn floor. I don't know for certain which cow that is. It's later, after my mother acquired those green coveralls to wear when she milked. I would've been in junior high or high school then, so she was a little older than I am now. No cats in the shot--they keep away from the cow's feet but they're definitely nearby, waiting for warm milk to be poured into a worn bowl. I'd be hanging around too (it's my memory), though my brother David took this photograph. The angle isn't mine. I might be sitting to the left of the frame, on baled hay or on feed sacks. It looks like a picture of solitary labor. (She started and ended nearly every day this way.) But the memory it represents is of conversation. "How was your day?"
It's almost the moment for me to head back to the station. I've added to this from time to time through the afternoon. When Kate's third call came, the noise before she spoke sounded like messages that are often left on our machine, a few accidental seconds of talking in the background--a room (I imagine) where there are many telemarketers of some sort, wearing headsets. A room of one side of conversations. It's similar to that "party" sound in songs when I was a kid. I was listening to it, kind of enjoying it, not expecting anything to happen, then she said hello.
If I'm lucky, she won't encounter any "power trouble" on the ride south. My work went pretty well--though I hoped I'd get further, the way we always do.
Driving K to the train this morning, I asked if she had a post ready. (Today's the day--she does it every other day, as the name suggests.) She said she'd started something early this morning, but it hadn't turned into anything yet. I've been stopping by her chair--not really assuming this would become the post, but thinking it'd be a pleasant greeting for her to find when she sits down at her screen again later.
I was making these paintings on the Lower East Side and finally someone comes in and says "Oh, there's a guy on the other side of town doing things a little bit like this, you know, who's trying to make things disappear."
Train Travel Today
The man sitting in front of us:
The most important thing is doors. The most important thing? It's doors. It was a Monday. Or it was a Wednesday. He was a good engineer. The doors were closed. He knew his craft. There's a concept in law school. There's a concept in first year law, meaning "captain of the ship." Be good now, girls. Just two stops? But you've gotten so much done in that time. Be good, be safe--how about that? I'm as old as your mom. I'm two days younger than King Charles.
Oh, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I haven't even spoken to... Hello? How are you? I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry. I didn't have my glasses on. I'm very sorry. Yes because. She called. I didn't have my glasses on. Because I'm not in New York, I'm in New Jersey. Okay. Oh god, that's so true. That's so true. I'm so glad. Okay. Alright. I'm so sorry.
He really doesn't like it when I'm too polite. But he also doesn't like it if I'm not polite enough. That's the tricky part. I'm not saying he's not intelligent. He's like me. I couldn't trust him--of course! A special way of... [sighs] a special person. They can accept you if it doesn't interfere with what they want. With their plans. Some of them need this or that. I forgot to say that. Like a trophy from hunting. Making your own rules and pretending that you're not making your own rules, that's not a good thing. I didn’t want you to get hurt. I don't think it helps.
Kept chilled by being surrounded, became completely covered. I knelt in the sun. Dismantled their nativity scene. Preface usefulness: do or say something useful. "When, in 1592, the Plague closed the theaters…" Get the conversation going! Too close, eyes closed. Face into the background. It was sunny and I carried a tough little bag. I was in a forceful mood.
Meanwhile the body is flown here and there. I thought I could cash in my greenpoints for a hundred dollar gift card, but only had enough points for the ten. I bought onions for a meat sauce and a bottle of merlot. We all had questions.
[5 things you might not know]
For a week or so last month, I strongly considered asking you to collaborate with me on a chapbook. I had the title This is why I hurt you and various pieces of it. I kept getting the idea that it could be better if we worked on it together--even though (or maybe especially because) we don't know each other. I like your writing and felt you'd bring something interesting to the topic. I also like your drawings and I imagined we could both do illustrations for it in our different styles. But then the project began to take shape on its own, the way they do, and established itself as a solo venture. (So, maybe another time?)
Greenstreet is a name that Max and I made up. We wanted to have the same last name but not one that either of us already had. So he went to court and changed his name legally and I "took" it when we got married.
My mother was a cocaine dealer for a while. (Fun while it lasted.)
My first day in Ireland, I had some trouble driving on the other side of the road. On a very narrow street, trying to avoid oncoming traffic, I scraped into a parked car. Then the next one and the next one and the next. Bang bang bang bang bang bang, hitting six or seven parked cars, at least. I kept going. I didn't stop or leave a note. Or notes. On a whole street-full of cars? I always felt bad about that.
I have recently become an Irish citizen.
happy new year,
. . .