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From my earliest childhood, I loved to read. My favorite memories are of sitting in some dark, snug corner, straining my eyes, losing myself in a reality very different from my own. Any book, comic, pamphlet, magazine – anything with words or pictures (or both) – was fair game.
I don’t know how old I was when I first discovered Mark Twain. It was love at first sight. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn became my favorite people in the entire world. I loved the mischief, the humor, the danger, the exotic atmosphere of the land that I knew nothing about. I loved the English names of the people and curious words like Mississippi and Missouri. I loved the sense of adventure.
Years passed. … Read more »
I put on the equivalent of a Hasmat suit to navigate the horror of my crawl space, for the second day in a row, in order to check on the new mouse traps, purchased on Sunday, to see if I’m any closer to getting rid of the rodents who are trying to enter my home through the air conditioning vents. I hear them at night, chewing away. I have read The Count of Monte Cristo, and so I know that they are patient and determined – it might take years, but they’ll chip away until they break through the Chateau d’If of my crawl space and into the free world of my home. The sound of their gnawing is like nails across a chalk board … Read more »
I read the Village Voice carefully, turning its thick square pages at the long wooden unpolished dining room table by the window that overlooked Washington Square park and straight downtown to the two World Trade Center towers.
When I lived here with Geoffrey we didn’t use this cut-out part of the living room, but it had my favorite furniture in it – the gray wood table and the big set of shelves and cupboards, both of which looked like they came out of an Italian farmhouse. I cleared the table of the junk mail and scrap that had been tossed on it over the years and sat there in the mornings before work with organic grapefruit and wholegrain toast, foods I never ate … Read more »
How I saw a UFO
Ahh, the beautiful Jodi G.—what fixes would I not get into to follow her.
In the Spring Semester of 1986, was teaching English at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York. The small campus sits at the tip of a peninsula surrounded by the water of Sheepshead Bay on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other where the waves come ashore on Manhattan Beach. The physical address is 2100 Oriental Boulevard—an ironic name as the oriental people were not a common sight in the neighborhood, and the only restaurant of note was Papa Leone’s where Italian languages was spoken as a matter of course.
The college was about 10 minutes’ bicycle ride from my parents’ apartment … Read more »
This is not my material, but it hits so home with me that I am compelled to post it. I am very thankful to poet Mark Strand for putting what I couldn't describe about myself into his eloquent, succinct words:
Keeping Things Whole
by Mark Strand
In a field
I am the absence
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
to keep things whole.
We saw the plastic milk crates sitting as spot markers in the yard as we climbed off the bus. Four of them, which meant the dogs had had an especially good day. Our dogs — one mostly blind after a run-in with a deer’s antler and the other missing most of one hind leg that he’d chewed off to get himself out of a coon trap — got their jollies from sneaking into neighbors’ chicken coops and killing for sport. They’d bring home their broken trophies and drop them in the yard, no longer interested. To hide this from the neighbors, our parents would conceal the chicken corpses with milk crates. Our duty, then, was to pick up the dead by their waxy, scaly, fake-yellow … Read more »
My Friend Boembes Joachim Frank
Boembes took his eye out, looked at it briefly with his other one, and showed it around among the little circle of boys and the single girl. It was obviously a fake since it was not even a complete sphere; it fell quite short of that. Later I learned that the technical term for this geometrical shape was calotte, which is the shape you wind up with when you slice a sphere above the mid-plane. The girl, Gudrun* was her name, was really a tomboy and we didn’t mind her being around as long as she remained a tomboy.
We all watched Boembes with a mixture of awe and envy – our own eyes were fixed … Read more »
I’m in the waiting room of a mental health establishment called Daymark, before that I am sitting in my car full of anxiety and feeling like I’m having a heart attack. It is nearly 8:00a.m. I can’t breathe; I want to drive away and forget I ever called them or drove there. They’ll think I am crazy. They’ll come out in white coats and drag me to a padded cell and throw away the key. In reality, I’m already locked in my own prison and the key is somewhere, but I have no idea where. Maybe I’ll find it here.
In the waiting room there are already people here, just a few, but it makes my heart pound, clammy hands and I am about … Read more »
I’ve had a long-standing Thursday night chess date with 85 year-old MJ for close to two years now that has evolved into nights at the symphony, birthdays, brunches at Lily’s, and shopping excursions. She likes to go to Loehmann’s where she rips through the Back Room racks like a bride at a Filene’s gown sale, hanging designer by designer from her walker (or from me). The last time we went, I was so buried in dresses that I had to ask someone’s stray little boy to open the bathroom door for her. He was all ‘yes ma’am’ and waited patiently while MJ inched her way in. Earlier this month we talked on the phone before I made the Thursday-night trip and I could immediately tell … Read more »
I grew up in a family of storytellers, but the best storyteller by far was my grandfather, Nikola. A shy and tender man, always a perfect gentleman, he entertained his grandchildren with stories and wondrous recitals of Serbian epic poetry. Every story and poem he told us was from memory. I never saw him read a book but I know that my love of books and literature descend directly from the creative mind of this gentle man.
My earliest memories are of us (a number of very young grandchildren) begging our grandfather to tell us a fable or recite a poem about the heroic battles of the glorious Serbs fighting the Ottoman Turks. My grandfather loved children and even when he was extremely busy … Read more »
38 years employed, 3 hours retired.
When people find out that I joined a New Age cult in 1973 when I was 12-years-old, they immediately want to know if my parents were involved. They weren’t. The next thing they want to know is if there was weird sex or forced sex or if I was kidnapped. Not that either.
The problem might be the word, “cult,” which technically defines a sub-culture. So a religious cult would be a non-mainstream religious organization -- which is what MSIA was. MSIA stands for The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, and as cults go its basic precepts and philosophy were fairly cool and even groovy. Mainly a rip off of another cult, Eckankar with some shades of Eastern Philosophy and a big helping of … Read more »
The continuing economic malaise is heightening even the average New Yorker’s innate urge to network as thousands of New Yorkers have been displaced from their workplaces, homes…or both. Whether it’s the perfect six-figure job or a two-bedroom co-op you seek, LinkedIn, Streeteasy or Craigslist can bring you closer to the kill.
Cats have scratched their way into the trend. I found this out one unusually breezy day on a lunchtime kibble run to the Union Square PETCO, thanks to one four-legger who also helped me realize some of my own natural talents as well. That’s where I met Nugget, one of about two dozen highly adoptables crashing at the store in between addresses, thanks to some caring “cat ladies” who’ve rescued and fostered … Read more »
That Friday in late November, five years ago, when I had my routine mammogram scheduled, I was not worried. I had been going for mammograms annually for the past five years, since I was forty. I was not overweight; I ate a healthy diet, exercised moderately, and had no history of breast cancer in my family. I had three children, my first when I was twenty five. I breast fed them all.
I was not worried.
I waited in a beautifully designed waiting room of my woman’s health center, looking though magazines and exchanging pleasantries with other women. When my turn came, I went willingly, as though I was receiving a haircut. I changed into a hospital gown and stepped into an exam … Read more »
One of my mother’s favorite rituals is reading the paper. Even in the digital age, she refuses to sacrifice her delivered, paper copy of The New York Times. Trying to separate her from her Sunday Times is like trying to take a grizzly cub away from its mama: proceed only if you wish to lose one of your limbs.
Every Saturday and Sunday morning, she sits at the table and diligently reads through each section, wearing a faded bathrobe and clutching her coffee mug like it’s the only thing keeping her alive. But even though she claims she can’t get by without her morning coffee, I think the intellectual stimulation of the morning paper gets her through the day more than the jolt of … Read more »
There once was a girl who was the oldest of four children. She could have been any girl but she wasn't. She was special but she didn't know it at the time. This girl believed that being able to survive an in home pedophile, being abandoned by her father, learning to live with an alcoholic mother, surviving life on the streets, overcoming teenage domestic violence, fighting through and misunderstanding the battle of sexual orientation, suicide attempts, stepping into drug use and teen prostitution was an everyday affair. She did not understand that her response to these things were preparing her for a life she could not begin to imagine.
She went on to drop out of high school at 14 only to be shipped … Read more »
My Daughter Leaving For College Leaves Me Sad
Yesterday, I dropped one of my twin daughters off at the train station so she could catch a train into the city, where her connecting bus would then take her on to Boston. For the previous several days, I had been feeling a bit shaky, and I had tried to shoo away that trembling, teary feeling that was creeping up on me, knowing she was leaving. After all, Liz is entering her junior year--I should be used to this by now. Well, guess what--I'm not.
As we sat at the traffic light, she in the passenger seat next to me, I stole furtive glances at her, trying to savour the last moments of her … Read more »
It doesn't make any sense. you’ll be having a perfectly good day, then KAPOW! out of nowhere, you’re as blue as the bottom of a glass. sometimes there's a trigger — protracted illness, getting ditched by a friend, unwelcome memories of childhood neglect. other times, there's no discernible reason. it just is, stubbornly inexplicable, and you pray the people around you have the patience and understanding to drive all the way to friendly’s on a school night to get you a three-scoop sundae with peanut butter sauce, while you sit on the couch and stare.
here's a list of random things that depress me (and i don't mean getting annoyed or being in a bad mood, but clinical, cyclothymic, bipolar depression, where you feel … Read more »
I exist because of the Vietnam War.
My father, Patrick, was an infantryman, sent across the sea in 1967. One of 11 children from a poor Irish slum in Philadelphia, he was young, scrubbed, and ready for a fight. His enthusiasm lasted all of a day, when upon arrival he saw children with guns, guns pointed at him. So he used his humor to survive. And in so doing, he met a very funny man named David. They became buddies. Best friends.
David got a lot of mail from his family; Patrick got nothing. In one of his letters home, David told his sister about his new Irish mate with no mail, so she wrote Patrick a letter herself. He replied. A correspondence … Read more »
Three weeks ago, I walked alone into the Sonogram room at Morristown Memorial Hospital. I was 14 weeks pregnant and had bizarrely gotten food poisoning from a restaurant here in my neighborhood of Hoboken, NJ. I wanted to make sure the baby was okay after putting up with my three days of vomiting my guts out.
I was alone because my husband was at work. He’d gone to the first appointment with me at seven weeks, when it was too early to hear that comforting whoosh sound of the baby’s heartbeat. We’d both stared at the spaceship-like shape that was the placenta, with wonder and a little dosage of fear; had we really created another human being? With thoughts, ideas, and college tuition bills?
Read more »
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