Friday, February 25, 2005

By the way...

If you don't feel like reading my essay below, go read his.

Even if you do read my essay. Still go read his.

Horns of the Ram

Last summer, G and I took a trip through New England, and spent a day visiting Salem, Massachusetts. It's one of the cheesiest places on earth - touristy in all the worst ways. But, being the pagan that I am, and all my studies regarding spiritual practices and rituals which were looked upon as witchcraft, I couldn't help wanting to just go there. As a teenager I was fascinated by the history and the idea of the place, and understanding the mania and paranoia that led to so many horrible, needless deaths. The Crucible was one of my favorite plays. It was also around this time in my life that my inner beliefs began to stir, and I would collect stones and flower petals and imagine I heard voices in the wind. My fascination with the Goddess developed then, and I realized this was also something that was considered devilish, and witchy. I imagined how it might feel to visit a place where, ages ago, young girls who felt and did and talked like me were burnt for it. I did childishly wonder if I wouldn't feel magic crackling through the air. Visiting Salem has always been a fancy of mine.

I admit I also had a more private ulterior motive. One of the few times I've tried my hand at writing something which would morph into a novel one day, it was a story which takes place in that locale, during those times. It was very long ago, when I was very young, and the story opened itself up to me, and then faded to white. I realized that this was I journey I would need to find my way through, this story and it's double-plot. I saw how it started... but I didn't know enough about a normal person's life in Colonial New England to really see it unfold. Without knowing how that character's life was going to play out, I couldn't work on the other character's life either. I was stuck. It was an interesting lesson, and I remember all those years ago, calmly stuffing a notebook into a drawer, knowing that I'd come back to it someday. I always felt that if I did the research, the rest of the story would reveal itself to me.

I spoke of my fancy to visit Salem to G, and we decided to add it to our itinerary that summer. When there came a day when it was a bit chilly and rainy, G decided it would be a good day to go to Salem, rather than the beach. I agreed. The weather just seemed appropriate.

Salem was just as unimpressive as I had feared. The tourist-trap element is terrible. They have capitalized on the cartoon images of witches and witchcraft for far too long. The history is buried underneath layers of decoration and Halloween imagery, and a few disaffected tour guides will blah-blah-blah to you about how there was never any real witchcraft here at all. They seem so disillusioned in their own town.

G and I toured "The Witch House," which I wanted to see simply for that glimpse of everyday life in the 1600's which I had been missing for my book - housekeeping, bedding, stitchery, cooking, etc. Now, there were never any witches in it at all – this place was where discussions were held regarding what to do with all these devilish deviants in the town, and apparently some accused witches may have been questioned there. The house itself does indeed date from those days - it's the only complete original building left in the city. It has been moved from its original plot of land, but has only been marginally restored over the years. The architecture is typical of the time, and it’s a nice little example of the kind of history I had hoped to find… sort of.

G and I joined a tour group of about twelve pasty-faced suburbanites. We tromped through the place, listening to the tour guide describe the antique furniture.

In the kitchen area, I asked, "What are those herbs hanging to dry over the stove?" I was imagining rosemary, thyme, parsley, nettles, mint, and other easily grown herbs for cooking and medicinal uses. The tour guide, however, had no idea, and admitted it was likely just a decoration, probably bought at some local craft store and hung there for looks.

"These chairs have straw seats," I pointed out in the upstairs bedroom. "Was a lot of caning done in this area?"

Confused looks. A giggle from G. It took me a while to realize that everyone thought I meant the Chinese disciplinary form of caning. (Thwack!) I tried to explain with some humility that caning is the craft of hand-weaving straw seats onto wooden chairs, and it was a highly specialized skill.

"I'm from the Midwest, and they did a lot of caning in the 1800's back home,” I said, fingering the ladder back of the chair, looking at the dusty straw seat. “Chairs from that time period are worth a lot of money."

Everyone in the room turned to look at the dusty straw seat. A few looked probingly at me. "I really don't know where that chair came from," said the tour guide. "I doubt it's very old."

In the downstairs main room, where meetings were held, there was a framed bit of tatting on the wall. "Is this colonial-era tatting?" I asked, immediately wishing I hadn't said a word. I could tell nobody knew what tatting was. "It looks like hand-made lace, in such great condition... “

The tour guide looked thoughtful for a moment, and my heart surged with hope. "That may very well be an antique,” she said, “but I don't know if it's from this time period or not. It was probably put there..."

"For looks," we both said together. G laughed out loud. The rest of the tour group looked irritated. The guide was amused. I was grateful for that.

When a tour exits the Witch House, you go by way of the gift shop (of course.) Here, I actually managed to dig up some research material. I bought some rather dry books about life in colonial times, and picked up a few transcripts of the trials. I considered buying some stupid touristy thing like a coffee mug, just to prove I wasn’t a complete academic nerd, but I just couldn’t blow six bucks on that. I made my nerdy purchases, and G and I went on our way.

As we walked down the street, it started to pour. Torrential, hard, driven downpour unleashed from the heavens, complete with winds that blew our umbrellas inside out. Now I know I asked too many questions, I thought, looking miserably at my soaking wet feet in my wedge sandals. Sorry, I thought, to no one in particular.

It seemed to be a good time to duck indoors, and we were on a block of commerce. Shops lined the street, including a comic book shop right next door to an artsy import shop. He ducked into the former, and I the latter.

I perused the very hippie environment created by the grey-haired, tie-dye wearing shopkeeper. Why old hippies seem to gravitate towards all things Pagan, New Age, or occultish I've never really understood. They're also really into Harley Davidsons. Wasn't the hippie movement supposed to be socio-political? What does that have to do with Paganism? I know there were some people who were just in it for the beads and tie-dye, but what’s with wearing huge pentacles on your chest? I figure it’s the identification with the satantic, anti-christian and therefore anti-establishment fallacy of earth-centered religion that draws these disillusioned souls. Which irks me. I mean, I definitely went through my rebellious youth period, and played with the occasional Ouija board, but I was fifteen. Even nowadays I don’t wear my pentacle for the world to see. My spirituality is personal and I don’t need to shove it in people’s face. To see people just playing dress-up, trying to turn themselves into… what? I should be more tolerant I suppose. But I do get irritated.

Even sadder... what if some of these folks are believers, and are unabashedly cashing in?

Anyway. They were selling earrings for $2 a pair, and had a rack full of Celtic swirls and knots and such. (That's another thing you'll find in all these occult-oriented places: Irish "imports." People just LOVE that Irish druid stereotype.) The earrings were pretty and cheap, and I was bored, so I bought them. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I wouldn’t spend six bucks on a coffee mug to save face, but I had no problem spending two bucks on some silvery swirls, just because I liked them. Phoebe and Paige would approve.) They are just a little something I was drawn to, and bought for myself, a souvenir that reminds me of a nice vacation every time I wear them.

Yesterday, seven months later, I wore them.

At some point in the day, I stopped by my colleague's cubicle. She's a wild, sassy African American gal with a very no-nonsense personality.

She immediately zeroed in on my earrings. "Do you know those are African symbols in your ears?" she said.

Of course I didn't; I thought they were Celtic swirls. My friend immediately rolled up her sleeve and showed me a tattoo on her bicep of the exact same symbol. I was amazed.

She proceeded to show me a website full of these things. They are called Adinkra symbols, and were created by the West African people of Ghana and Cote D'Ivoire, also known as the Gold and Ivory Coasts. There are around 100 of them, and they all have meanings. Some of them indicate that a certain type of person is here; others are symbols of warriors, or warnings against evil. The one in my ears, however, and tattooed on my friend's arm, the one that caught my attention in Salem, Massachusetts, means something deeper:

"Dwan Nin Amen" - Horns of the Ram
Humility and Strength
Wisdom and Learning


I thought about how I had abandoned my novel because I wanted to research it more. I thought about how silly so much of Salem was, and how hard it was to extract anything historically relevant to the story I wanted to write, but I managed to do so anyway. I also thought about G, and how he had bought me a Tarot card reading while we were there, just because he knows I'm into that. I thought about how hard it had been for me to hear two Tarot readers in the space of 6 months practically order me to seek more education in some form or another, predicting some rather drastic life changes, including career focus... and how right they were.

I thought about how much I wasn't learning in this temp job at the bank, and how much I had hoped to learn here, which never materialized. I thought about all I had learned in the beverage industry, how much I had loved it, and how nobody valued me or my passion enough to give me a job that let me use that knowledge.

I looked at my friend. I don't know what her educational background is, but she has a passion - and a talent for - asking the right questions to de-mystify processes, and then write it all down, and distribute it to everyone. She is a teacher, and a guide.

Wisdom and Learning.

I thought about the history of women in this country. Of women in Ireland and Africa. Of women everywhere. I thought about the journeys of our peoples, and the lessons I have learned from the Goddess over the last two years, along the journey of my life.

Humility and strength.

I thanked my friend. She smiled.

I'd better get cracking on that research.

Monday, February 21, 2005

The Happy Ending

Those are sparkler candles... you can't tell, but they shoot little sparks periodically. Posted by Hello
Saturday, after a long, hard week of working at jobs that lately are really pissing us off, we went to dinner and a movie. (Incredible Film, everybody go and see it NOW.)

We didn't talk too much about the whole moving experience during the week. We're pretty much talked out on that subject. He's glad I've stored as much as I have, and I'm glad I have as much as I do in the apartment. Friday night, we were happy to have a long weekend coming up, and enjoyed each others company the way we always do.

Saturday, we stashed a few last things in my storage cubicle, and spent some time at the post office shipping some things to my parents and friends. We made a long, wayward trip into Bergen County to find a Mailboxes, Etc. that would ship my computer home to my Mom. That cost me over a hundred bucks, but I know it will arrive safe and sound. We lunched at a cute Mexican place, and held hands under the table, grasping the enormity of what we have done, making this committment to each other.

We drove back home together in silence, listening to music.

That night, he had a surprise for me:

He wrote "Welcor home!" himself! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

It is Finished, Part II

I don't remember how late we slept on Sunday, but I remember saying "I want to get down there as soon as possible." We both grossly underestimated just how much work this was going to be - the emptying of my apartment. We stopped for a good solid breakfast, and headed for the George Washington Bridge.

"I don't think everything is going to fit in your car," I said. I thought of the mountain of crap left in my apartment, that we had told the movers to leave. Part of that mountain was a large pile of Salvation Army Donations, but it was Sunday, and I knew SA was closed. Another part of the mountain was my Gateway Desktop, which I was planning to ship to my parents in Illinois, but again... Post Office and Mail Boxes Etc. are closed on Sunday.

"You're going to have to come back on your lunch break Monday and do your donations then," G said. I was quiet. I had a critical meeting on Monday at 1PM in my Human Resources Department, which was already stressing me. I knew I could never take the extra time to come home. Even if I could, how could I carry all that stuff for blocks? He doesn't know what he's saying, I thought to myself. He's irritated that he even has to do as much as this. I won't argue with him. He'll see in time. We rode the rest of the way to 95th street in silence.

We arrived at my apartment slightly before noon, and set to work.

The problem was that I had two major goals, not one. I had to pack my belongings for two destinations - storage and my new home. This meant I have to a)Organize and sort my things and then b)pack them. Trying to decide which of my things I could live without for two years was extremely difficult. I knew that there was actually a third leg to this task - of the things I'm not moving to my new home, which will I store, and which will I get rid of altogether? So I had three piles to make: Keep, Store, and Donate. Looking back on it, there was no way in hell I could have done a better job than I did. Most people would have done worse. But G didn't seem to be aware of this. All he knew was that he was "bungholed" (his word) into staying up all night helping me disassemble furniture because I hadn't been able to pack well. I love this man, but in terms of this move, I don't think he has any idea what I went through. The mental anguish was bad enough - but the down-and-dirty practical work of sorting my life and deciding what to get rid of was damn near impossible.

And I did it all alone. I left so many voicemails and emails for so many friends. All my so-called girlfriends knew I was moving. Nobody offered to even get together with me for one last drink. Nobody even called me for a long phone chat. NEVER MIND offered to help me sort my things. I practically begged a couple of those bitches to just come and sit in my apartment and talk to me while I work, to keep me from spiraling so far down into depression that I wind up in a fetal position on the floor. I was ignored. Nobody even returned my phone calls or emails. I was utterly abandoned.

I know people are busy, but I was in a crisis. One friend actually had the gall to cc me on an email invite announcing the birthday party of her other friend and a concert of another of our mutual friends. She can't return my messages, but she can play social organizer for Sally and Shelby. Is this a friend? I haven't been that angry in awhile.

Glamgirl is in general pretty selfish and I never expected her to lift anything heavier than a nail file, so at least I wasn't disappointed in her. She was only here for a month anyway, and as a theatre professor in Korea, she has to make the best use of her time as possible. But we are supposedly best friends... She left the day after my emergency room episode, and didn't call to say goodbye. I knew she wouldn't.

One friend is also an ex-boyfriend who was freaking out about me leaving - no packing help there, no way. Another friend would have pitched in but she has muscle problems in her arm that prevent her from even typing, never mind taping boxes or carrying bags of clothes 2 blocks to SA. She's off the hook. And as for Galpal... she is completely absorbed with her show, and doesn't have time to shave her own legs. At least she sat on the phone with me yesterday while I cried on her shoulder about my work woes for 15 minutes or so. At least she makes sure I know she cares. And all of the above people at least called me to talk, say goodbye, dropped by with a sandwich, or made some other gesture to let me know they care.

The Social Director just flat out ignored me. It made me feel so unimportant, so uncared about... so fair-weather. And the sad thing is that she calls me all the time when there's drinking to do or movies to see or parties to attend. And I know she's gone through some difficult stuff with both Sally and Shelby, and another friend of hers (notice I said hers) named Lilly. I used to think I was part of this little group of friends. We used to all hang out together. But...

I guess she's only there for certain people in her life, and I'm not one of them.

A lot of people I didn't even bother to call. I only called people who I feel particularly close to - people I consider my oldest, closest friends in New York. I think that's why this hurts so much. The people I felt certain would be there for me let me down.

New York is constantly changing. This is not the city I moved to. Much of it has visibly gentrified just in the 10 years I've been here, which is wonderful, but the people I knew back then are gone. All of them. Some I remember hugging and kissing, and saying to each other that we'd never lose touch, as though it were yesterday. Right now, I have no confidence that a single person from my New York Days will remain in my life in any tangible fashion one year from now. When I come back to visit, I will have nobody to drink with. I will be nothing more than another tourist who used to live here. That makes me sad... but not as sad as I maybe ought to be. I'm older, I'm cynical, and a part of me says: Duh. What did you expect?

I didn't expect. I hoped. I never expect. I always hope. And Goddamit the day I wake up expecting instead of hoping will be a very dark day indeed.

So I packed. And I sorted. And I cried. And I walked about my apartment, amidst piles of my life, precious things and things I know I could do without, all alone. And I chastised myself for being inefficient?

This is the first time I have ever felt that G was insensitive to me, that he was more concerned for his comfort than mine. And even now, I understand that he could hardly have felt any different. Neither one of us were 100 percent ready to move in together. We would both have liked to wait longer... but life dealt us this hand, and we're staying at the table. We love each other enough to hold hands and hope we win. Because it is a gamble, moving in with someone. Maybe you never feel ready for it. Maybe you do... when you shouldn't. So here we go.

The apartment itself was dirty. DirtyGirl had moved out without touching a single thing in the entire apartment, except her room. She didn't even throw all her food out of the refrigerator. She took advantage of the fact that she was leaving first, and didn't clean a single thing. In addition to finishing the boxing up of my possessions, we had a thorough cleaning to do. My security deposit was at stake.

G cleaned the entire bathroom, and I did the kitchen. I had to empty out half-used containers of mustard and salad dressing and cocktail sauce and other such foodstuffs in recyclable glass and plastic jars. The refrigerator itself had to be taken apart and cleaned. There seemed to be no end of recycling. I threw away onion soup mix, half a box of Pastina, open boxes of sugar, baking powder, anything that was already open. "Nobody's starving, Grandma," I told the air. "The depression is over. Nobody will eat this half-open used stuff anyway!" Something inside me pinched as I dumped 3/4 of a jar of pickle relish down the toilet. I was not brought up to throw out food. But I did it anyway. I had to, I told myself. I only have this one day. And G will never stand for me bringing a box of foodstuffs to his apartment, along with all the rest of my stuff. "I'm sorry, Grandma," I said aloud.

I brought any unopened cans and jars and boxes of food down to the basement, and left them near the recycling area, where people leave TVs and shelving units and other things they don't need anymore and don't have the time or energy to coordinate an official donation. Maybe the super's wife knows of a local church with a soup kitchen.

I "donated" things in this manner, which I probably shouldn't have, because I realized that I didn't have enough boxes to pack them. Like my TV. It's an old TV, from 1990, but it's still got a great picture, and has all the connectors on the back one could need. Sure, G has a TV. Sure, I can always buy another one, cheap. But I THREW OUT MY TV, PEOPLE.

I also threw out, for the same reasons, my 1993 Pioneer CD player (single disc), my 1988 VCR (that was ready to go), and a blue Murano Glass vial that Perfect K had given me for my birthday when I was in college. Again - nothing that can't be replaced. Electronics evolve, and Perfect K has given me TONS of nice things. But... my hand was forced. I think what I feel about that is resentment.

Not a good way to start a new life with someone.

In the end, G came to understand that there was no way I alone could carry a computer tower and a monitor two blocks by myself to be shipped, or five bags another two blocks to the Salvation Army. And even if I had five arms and could lift 200 pounds, I'd never get all of it done over a lunch hour. He grudgingly agreed that it all had to come to his place, if just for one or two nights, and we would process all the donating and shipping in Nyack.

It tried to balance my resentment with my guilt, sitting in the passenger seat, as we made three trips back and forth from the upper west side to Nyack that night. We crossed the George Washington Bridge 6 times in 3 hours. The last two trips, I waited in the car at the curb while G ran up and down the stairs loading the car. He returned quite sweaty and I knew he was working off frustration. Whatever it takes, I thought to myself. At least he has a way of expelling his inner torment.

When the last of my stuff was loaded, and the apartment was truly empty, G pulled out onto Broadway. "Did you leave your keys?" I asked. "Nope," he said grumpily. "They're my keys, I cut 'em, I'm keeping 'em."

"Ok..." I said, "but did you leave the apartment unlocked?" G stopped the car. "We have to leave the place unlocked, sweetie."

"Your super doesn't have keys to your apartment!?" He was furious. "Goddammit, this city is determined to keep me here!" He screeched the car back around to my apartment. I was more than a little nervous. He was really mad.

I started to undo my seatbelt. "No, I'll go," He barked. I froze in my seat. He exited the vehicle, disappeared into the building, and came out again a few minutes later. We were off.

I looked out the back window at my apartment and waved goodbye. I was determined not to let him see me cry. He has always hated this city. I have always loved it. This was not how I wanted to leave it.

But I did.

We unloaded some of my things into his apartment, but left most of it in the car for the night. We were just too tired. We fell asleep fast. I felt numb. I was sad, and scared. Marge was meowing her confusion, looking at her new litter box, looking at me getting ready for bed, wanting snuggles. "It'll be alright baby," I said to her softly.

When G and I finally went to bed, he was surprisingly tender. He wrapped his arms around me softly and buried his face in my neck. I let myself cry just a few tears. He hugged me, and our muscles seemed to ache in synchrony. We both ached in some way, for different things.

When I rolled away from him and curled up to sleep, he spooned me, and I held his hands as I began to succumb to exhaustion. He kissed the back of my head, and I relaxed. We were speaking a language to each other that we have developed over a long year together. I felt the comfort in his arms, and felt him taking comfort in the feel of my skin and my heaviness in his grasp. This... this is how it's supposed to be.

"Welcome home," he murmured.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


On my computer at work, I have a customized desktop, and an animated cursor. When the computer is busy, the pointer changes to a very lifelike animation of a running horse. My computer tends to run slowly, and as I watch the horse run, my attention focuses on the rythmic feet, and the office dissolves around me into the thunder of hooves and a sensation of wind on my face. It is meditative. I relax.

The rushing of blood in my ears gives way to the sound of hoofs beating the earth. Maybe the sand on a beach. I haven't been horseback riding in a couple of years, but I know how it would feel to be on the back of that horse, fingers clenched in thick mane, relaxed, closing my eyes, trusting the animal, feeling the powerful muscles working beneath me, wind whipping my hair around me, feeling free. Disappearing into the distance, leaving this job and its troubles far, far behind me.

I am breathing.

Cancun in three weeks.

Monday, February 14, 2005

It Is Finished

I have moved.

I am now officially a resident of Nyack, New York. So is my cat. She seems to be content.

In a sense, I am too.

The actual move was like passing a gallstone. Due to my illness Thursday, I was left with Friday to do pretty much everything. If it wasn't for the Time Warner guy buzzing my doorbell at 9AM, I might have overslept the whole morning. As it was, I was out and about at a decent hour, shipping a box of belongings home to Mom and Dad, mailing three other boxes of things to various locations, returning some stuff I'd bought, dropping off some donations... pant, pant, pant... by the time it was dark, I'd not packed any further, and after all that effort to reduce the pile of stuff that needed to be packed, well, I scarcely noticed a difference.

I busted my ass trying to pack more, but the boyfriend showed up at 6:30 and groaned. I felt awful. "I'm sorry honey... we've got a long night ahead of us."

"I was really hoping to avoid this," He said.
"I know," I said. "I'm sorry. We can do it though!"

I continued shoving things in boxes and bags, and he began disassembling my furniture. Everything seemed to take forever. I dithered far too long over what to do with this or that thing. Baby just worked with the hammer and pliers. As soon as he got the bookshelves in the hallway reduced to boards, he suggested we grab a quick McBite. I figured it must be about 6pm. "Sounds great," I said.

It was actually after 8PM. We inhaled our calories and got right back into it. It was slow, arduous, backbreaking work. We drank tea and water the whole time, and barely spoke two words to each other all night. Hours passed in silence.

At 4AM, that man was still disassembling my furniture, and I was still sorting things to be packed, things to be donated, things to be given away, and things to be trashed, shoving them in boxes or garbage bags accordingly.

At about 5AM, he laid down for a quick nap, and I worked more industriously than ever.

At about 6AM, I joined him. Just an hour's sleep, I said to myself. I have to meet the movers at 8, so I'll need to leave at 7 or so. I changed into some clean clothes, and napped.

I made it to the Chelsea U-Haul with a few minutes to spare. I stopped for a McDonald's Sausage Biscut with Egg, feeling guilty that my baby wasn't likely eating anything at all. There was plenty of tea in the house, and other snacky things, but I felt guilty snarfing down that great on the subway. I felt guilty for not being able to better pack, for making him stay up all night after a long hard day at work. I felt guilty for being the first woman he has ever shacked up with. I felt guilty for a lot of things, knowing that I really shouldn't. The dark side began to show, the side of me that still feels after all these years of therapy that I am a burden to a healthy man, that I don't really deserve him. After 23 hours without sleep, and coming off a difficult week... the old fears crept in.

The Mover was a few minutes late. The fatigue started to set in. My knees were buckling. I was glad I hadn't drank any dehydrating coffee. I leaned against a pile of boxes, feeling myself slide into the "What the hell am I doing?" cesspool of doubt and remorse. My boyfriend shouldn't have had to do all this. I should have prepared better. We should have...

My cell phone rang, jangling me out of my stupor. My Mover!

Around the pile of boxes came the hottest young man I'd seen offstage in a while. "I'm Hayden," he introduced himself, and shook my hand strongly. About five-foot-ten, fair, sandy haired, white nose and cheeks rosy from the cold and a toothy grin to put Tom Cruise to shame. The same wiry, muscley build as my boyfriend. I suddenly felt wide awake. "You're a lot younger than I thought you'd be," I quipped, somewhat nervously.

This kid hopped behind the wheel of that truck and steered up to my place. "About how long have you been schlepping people's stuff around the city?" I asked him. "About three years," he said. I smoothed my hair and wondered if my boyfriend was awake.

He was awake, and trying to put on a happy face. Not too long after I showed up with Hayden and the truck, in the door walks my second mover, Elias. No kidding. Their names were Hayden and Elias. Hayden is an actor and Elias is a bass player. Damn. I mean DAMN.

Elias was taller, and more solidly built, like a football player. Darker hair and suntanned skin. He has little glasses that you have to really look hard at his face to notice, which is a pleasure to do. A very slight resemblance to Christian Slater, but sweeter. Both of these guys have the sweetest, friendliest, most amiable personalities ever. At 9AM on a Saturday, lifting large heavy pieces of furniture. I am amazed. I hugged my boyfriend in sheer gratitude.

Here I am in this apartment on no sleep, watching these three gorgeous, funny, jovial young men lifting and carrying... Wow. I made some coffee for myself and tried to look as though I wasn't enjoying this so much.

They finally loaded everything I could direct them to load into the truck. For all my stress and embarrassment over the pathetically disorganized state of my things, I felt comfortable and able to coordinate things. My boyfriend, utterly exhausted and irritated with me for bungholing him into losing a night's sleep, appreciated the guy's fantastic attitudes as much as I did. They probably kept him from killing me.

I'll skip the rest of this gory story and just say that Hayden and Elias can lift anything like it's nothing, and their overwhelmingly good moods made my whole experience just that much easier. My boyfriend tipped them well, and we all shook hands and went on our way. My belongings are now safely stowed in a 10x5 storage space.

Well, the big ones are.

Sweetie and I knew we'd have to return to the apartment on Sunday to get the rest.


Friday, February 11, 2005

At Least I Got Some Rest

At some point yesterday, I got Frank on the phone, and made him come to the Metro Diner with me. Knowing myself and how my stomach shuts down when I'm stressed, I figured I'd better find another person to get me out of my apartment, and my funk, or I'd easily go the entire day without eating. As it was, I didn't eat much. I choked down half of a tuna salad sandwich and a cup of matzoh ball soup, along with 2 or 3 cups of coffee. Talk about comfort food. Bonus entertainment came in the form of Frank attempting to eat an enormous chili burger. (Special of the day!) I just couldn't help myself and laughed mercilessly at his expense. Although, I really hope that orange stain comes out of that adorable bowling shirt. Just so cute.

We talked about how so many people seem to be "going through something" right now. I am only one of many who have stories to relate, some horrifying, some thought-provoking, some involving a possible major life change. Several popular bloggers have gone offline in recent months as well, and others are thinking about it. I imagine the choice to stop blogging may represent (for some) an internal change. Sometimes you need to talk about stuff, and then after a while, you don't. Sometimes the kick just wears off. Often, I think other kicks will take its place. This makes me wonder when I will stop blogging as well. Right now, as I'm "going through something," I certainly have a lot to say, and a need to see my thoughts on (cyber-) paper. But it will be interesting to see what my life is like when blogging becomes passe... or boring... or just too much work. I have a feeling I will never run out of things to say, but I will likely just decide not to say them in this format.


After lunch, and after bitching about how my church is never there for me, my minister called. She was very sweet, apologizing for taking so long to call me back. By this point my internal storm had quieted somewhat, so I was able to summarize. She gave me the phone number of a friend of the congregation's, a lay minister who is also a counselor. I know this woman, and what a brilliant idea. This woman is brilliant, funny, insightful, sensitive, and humble. Just the sort of person I need to talk to. So it looks like I've made the decision to re-enter therapy, after about two years.

I really hate having to keep appointments, but I'm just too freaked out too often these days. Hopefully this will just be a short-term thing. Thank Goddess for Health Insurance.

At this point I decided to get dressed in something relatively hip for Galpal's show. It took me something like three hours. I pampered myself. I fucking deserved it. I even put on makeup - lots of it - which is usually the most outward sign that I'm depressed. Of course I forgot to eat. Or drink anything. nothing but coffee all day.

Coffee dehydrates you.

When I arrived at the theatre, I had a bag full of little gifts for Galpal that I've been hanging on to for months, and my credit card ready to pick up my ticket at the will-call.

"What's the name?" Said the cutie behind the counter
"(my last name)"
"Yeah? What's your first name?"
"I got a (last name) here... but it says David."
Groan... "That's my ex-husband's ticket."
"Oh... really?"
"Yeah. I promise, we'll behave. We won't be anywhere near each other."
"This is the only (last name) in here."
"Oh no."
"I bought these on the internet! Here's my credit card!"
Typing, typing, staring into monitor screen...
"Sorry, there's just no record of your ticket sale."
"Well, isn't that just GREAT."
"I can sell you another one..."
"No. You know, this is the last straw. I'm going home."

With that, I shuffled out to the stage door, feeling numb. The NBA-looking guy guarding the door showed me a table where I could leave the package for Galpal. I scribbled her name on a slip of paper and taped it to the outside of the bag.

"Enjoy the show," said Shaquille.
"I'm not staying."
"Oh - you're not staying?"
"I bought a ticket online, but the box office lost it. I'm screwed."

Shaq marched directly to the phone on his desk, dialed, and mumbled. "What's your name?" He asked me. I told him. More mumbling on the phone.

"Tell you what - you can go up to the third floor, and Galpal will meet you there."
"Oh - she knows I'm here?"
"Yeah - she said to send you to the third floor. That elevator right there."
"Ok..." This wasn't exactly the plan, but I went with it. How often do I get to see the backstage area of a running Broadway show?

Up the elevator I went. I found myself sitting on a couch in a green room sort of area, listening to a bunch of actors being very loud and very silly. Eventually Galpal showed up, in a long brown wig, about 3 inches of pancake makeup, and wearing a set of 19th century underwear. Her eyelashes practically rached to her hairline.

Big hugs. "Nice underwear," I said.

I told her about the mix-up at the box office. She immediately put on the Tweety Bird and started marching through the theatre, trailing me behind her, looking for the theatre manager. "We're going to do something about this!" she said.

At some point I found myself literally running after her as she sprinted around the backstage area, eventually right across the back of the set itself. I froze. I was standing at the edge of the stage of a working Broadway show about 20 minutes before curtain. She disappeared across the stage and up a set of stairs.

I followed. What else could I do? For a few eerie seconds, I was onstage. Something very deep inside me stirred as I felt my feet pressing down on those few feet of floor... and it was over as quick as it began. When I reached the stairs on the other side, I paused, and looked back. The feeling deep inside was gone. I wondered if I would feel it again if I retraced my steps. For a second, I was tempted. Then I pushed the door openand darted into the hallways, in search of the long-vanished Galpal.

That woman went out into the public area of the theatre in her costume underwear and wig with the netting sticking out to find the theatre manager. This guy was a complete sweetheart. He waved his hand like the pope and smoothly assured us that I'd be seated. It wasn't a full house, no big deal. Just like that. Galpal and I hugged, and she said she loved me. I told her to break a leg, and she dashed back behind the scenes.

At the manager's instruction, I took a seat at a small table in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over Times Square. I was on the second floor, and the view was... well, it's the view that tourists come here for. I felt as though I should have been mesmerized, but instead I was only mildly diverted by the MTV screen. They were showing Gwen Stefani's new video and the wigs alone are attention getting.

At some point, my cell buzzed. If was, of all people, David.
"Are you still near the theatre?" He asked. "I'm at the box office, and the ticket guy here told me what happened."
"I'm in the theatre," I said.
"Oh - you got in?"
"Well, Galpal arranged for the manager to seat me... but maybe you shouldn't tell the ticket guy that."
"Ok - great."

I hung up and looked at my phone. That's the first time he's called me for any reason since last June. I wondered what he would have said if I hadn't told him I was already in the theatre. I turned my phone off and put it away.

The show was... different. No, it's not that it wasn't like the original. I'm all for re-interpreting shows, as long as the interpretations have merit. But I completely disagreed with every choice the directors made with this show. And this is a show that I happen to know intimately well. I can't say I didn't enjoy the performance... but I hated the concept. I could say more, but I'm too tired for this rant right now.

I should have eaten something. Or had a glass of water.

After the show, I didn't waste any time. I beat the fast path to the street and whipped out the cell phone. I knew this was Glamgirl's last night in town, before she heads back to Korea. If Galpal can't hang with me, Glamgirl will. Sure enough, Glamgirl was out and about. She instructed me to join her and two friends at Pomodoro on 71st and Columbus. Great - food! Up the 2 train I go.

Alas, no food. The place had pretty much already closed - the waiters were letting the table full of gorgeous asian chicks hang out and drink wine. I joined them, and was instantly handed a glass, on the house. I should have insisted on eating something, but there I was. I sat with them for a few minutes, and drank what I was given. Eventually, the two other girls left Glammy and I alone, and we headed out to another local bar.

So here I am sitting in this dive of a bar with my best friend who's about to leave the country AGAIN and I won't see her for another year, and the show was frustrating, and Galpal's hanging with David and not me, and my job hassles are waiting in the wings for me to deal with on Monday, and I have an apartment that's still not packed and now there's another glass of wine in front of me, and I can't get any of my so-called friends to come over and help me pack, and I feel totally abandoned, and I get scared everytime I go through transitions, and this is a really fucking BIG transition, and I'm drinking the wine, and when I staggered to the bathroom, I had to sit on the floor after I washed my hands. I was so tired and dizzy, and I'd only had a glass and a half of wine. Red wine. On an empty stomach. After about 5 cups of coffee and no water.

I woke up in the emergency room. Apparently I passed out somewhere on Columbus avenue. Glammy was frightened, as I hadn't been drunk, but I explained that I hadn't been taking care of myself. I was completely dehydrated. My skin was white as the sheets and my lips are so chapped I'm going through Burt's Bees like there's no tomorrow.

Thank GODDESS I have HEALTH INSURANCE. I got home at some wee hour of this morning. Glammy and I said our goodbyes. It turns out she won't be gone so long this time, so we are already planning our activities for when she returns in June. Something to look forward to.

I cut off the wrist ID, drank several glasses of water, stripped to my skvvies, got into bed, called in sick to work, and slept until 1 in the afternoon. At some point thereafter, I ate a veggie wrap. I felt like someone had beat me up. I haven't been this exhausted in a long time. I fucking dehydrated myself. How stupid IS that. I beat myself up for being really fucking stupid and careless for an hour or so while I munched the sandwich and idly watched Days of Our Lives. (Bring back Kristin Storms! Pay her whatever she asks! The new Belle is HORRIBLE!!)

I managed to get more packing done... but man did I suffer, trying to do it. I kept coming back to half-finished jobs. This box half-full, that one half-full...

At about 6:30, the boyfriend arrived. He sat me down on the couch, put his arm around me, and listened. I told him everything. He just listened and held me. How could I have ever doubted I'd be anything less than happy living with this man? Whenever he puts his arm around my shoulders, I'm home. No matter where we are.

He took a few boxes and a suitcase overstuffed with my clothes out to his car. Then he took me for a nice chicken dinner at the Key West Diner. By the time he left, it was around 7:45. I managed to pack efficiently - filled a box, taped a couple more back together, collected a bunch of stuff to be donated. I drank more water. By the time ER came on, I genuinely felt better. I put the work aside and watched Dr. Pratt make an ass of himself.

So now I'm getting ready for bed, and everything feels somewhat normal. I'm in the eye of the hurricane. I have a PHENOMENAL amount of work to do tomorrow.

But.. and I'm a little afraid to say this, but I'm going to anyway... I feel like maybe I can handle it.

Got an email from this chick a few minutes ago. "Don't forget to breathe!"

*drinking more water*

Thanks, ZC.

And thanks to all of you who sent me such kind, supportive emails and left such lovely comments. Nuttin' but love for ya babes.

2 more days.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bad Day

This morning, I sat in a chair in my living room, all ready to go in my coat and hat, unable to walk to the door, knowing that guy who hassled me yesterday will be there again today.

I called my temp agency. They claim they can do nothing to help me, and that I am free to end the assignment. I told them I don't have that choice, my need of income is too great. I also reminded them that I have been asking them to move me for two months, that I am now in a threatening situation due to the bad placement they assigned me, and I can't believe nobody else in the city of new york needs help. My freaked-out agent finally handed me over to someone else, who at least sounded like he was going to make a little effort to place me elsewhere.

I called in sick to my job.

I emailed an aquaintance of mine who just happens to work for the agency. I told her my predicament. I don't know if she'll be able to help, but its a shot.

I have been looking forward this evening to seeing my galpal perform on Broadway tonight, and go out for drinks afteward with her. She just called me and told me that after the show, she has decided to go out for drinks with my ex-husband instead. Because today is his birthday. I broke down. How could she do this to me. How could she do this to me. I can't believe she did this to me.

I have been trying to call other girlfriends, for days now, begging someone, anyone, PLEASE just come sit with me in my living room while I pack. I have a LOT of work to do getting ready for the movers on Saturday, and when I am alone here, I spiral downward into depression, crying, unable to pack or do anything. I have to get this done and I feel utterly paralyzed.

All of my so-called girlfriends are not returning my calls or emails. I sit here looking at my things in my apartment that I still can't believe I will never see again, and cry. The moving boxes sit there, flattened, waiting.

In depseration, I called my agency back. This time I did not identify myself. I asked, tearfully, for the phone number to the benefits office. I just got insurance, and dammit, I need to use it. The secretary gave me the number and told me to ask for Chris. She said she hoped I felt better soon.

I called the number. "Can I please speak with Chris?" I sobbed.

"Sure, hon," the secretary said, and put me through.

Voicemail. I hung up and called back. "I'm sorry," I said, "Chris isn't in, and I need to speak with someone right away."

The secretary was audibly concerned. "I'm sorry ma'am, there's nobody else here who can talk about benefits... but she will be in at four."

"Can you at least just tell me if we have an EAP?" I asked.

"I'm sorry," she said, "I don't know what an EAP is."

"Employee Assistance Program," I sobbed. "Mental health. As I'm sure you can see, I really need to talk to someone."

"I'm sorry ma'am," she said, "I don't know if we have one or not. But if you leave Chris a voicemail..."

"Fine," I said. I left a voicemail.

I considered heading down to my church to talk to my minister, but she doesn't see anyone without an appointment.

Not knowing what else to do, I went down to my superintendant's apartment in the basement to see if he could come and fix the window that my old roommate left open and broken. It is sucking all the heat out of the apartment. I'm only living here for a few more nights, is it so much to ask that I don't freeze? I can't believe the bitch left it like that. Of course, the super is not home.

I called the landlord's office and spoke to their wonderful secretary, who said she would try and get the super to come by my place today.

Can I live in my apartent just one more year? NO!

Can I live somewhere else in Manhattan? NO!

Can I live anywhere that doesn't have 5 guys in puffy jackets hanging out on the street corners every night? NO!

Can I live anywhere that doesn't involve a long, expensive commute? NO!

Ok, fine.

In the meantime, Can I get the window fixed? NO!

Can I have a job where I don't have to be harassed? NO!

Can I have drinks and cry on my friend's shoulder tonight? NO!

Can I get cry on ANY of my girlfriend's shoulders this week? NO!

Can I jump out my window and die on impact, rather than just breaking a lot of bones and winding up an additional thousands of dollars in debt for healthcare? NO!

It's 12:15pm. I'm going to go get drunk.

I called my church anyway and spoke to the office gal. She seems to feel that my minister might make an exception to the appointment rule and see me due to my obvious distress. She's in a meeting right now but should call me in a half hour. I have no idea if she'll see me, but maybe she will.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


(I don't want to get Dooced.)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

In Transition

Yesterday, the boyfriend and I transported three boxes of my things and a large garment bag to his place - make that our place. My microwave also made the trip.

When I get home tonight (or tomorrow, depending on how tired and pissy we are after this football game), I will have to begin packing the bedroom and the hallway.

The hallway is going to be the worst part. I have two large ikea bookshelves filled with books, and with something like 20 or 30 photos of myself with loved ones prominently displayed in front of the books. An occasional candle and "special rock" or shell completes the picture. A friend of mine referred to the shelves as my shrine, and she's right, it pretty much is. Several of those loved ones are no longer living in this world, and many others exited my life in other ways, leaving me with memories and these few photos. I burn a candle, I hold the rock I saved from a vacation with this person, the shell that this other person gave me, and I remember. I still feel the love.

It's really going to suck packing 99 percent of that into a box, and leaving it in a storage cubicle for about two years.

I have told my boyfriend that maybe I'll be just fine, and won't miss my things so much. It's possible, maybe I won't. But I might. And if I do, I'll speak up about it, and we'll head out to the storage space, and I'll get my box labeled "photos." But I'm going to see how long I go until I do that.

I say two years because right now that's our working estimate. After then, we might be able to buy a house.

This is it. This is the real thing. This is what I have always wanted and thought I really wouldn't have. This is what I didn't get with the ex-husband. This is what about five or six other guys said they wanted to have with me, who had no idea how to go about doing it, and who were completely unrealistic and retreating when reality hit. This is what, when in the past I dared to imagine I might have with someone, usually became the area of contention that eventually led to a breakup. This is serious committment.

I am so happy I want to run down the street screaming and waving my arms and doing cartwheels and throwing chocolate chip cookies at everyone I see.

I am so scared I want to crawl in bed under the covers and cry, screaming cry, for hours, until I'm so exhausted I fall asleep and don't wake up for at least two weeks.

I am mourning the loss of something I can't quite identify, and I am celebrating the beginning of something of which I can only see the tip of the iceberg.

6 days to go.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Gay Astrology!

Saw this on is selling it, and they give a great teaser:

First Sentence:
For a car, going from 0 to 60 in a second is a good thing, but when a guy goes straight from "Hello", what is your name?" to "Do you swallow?" you kind of wish he had an emergency brake.

I would be fascinated to see if the masculine/feminine energies of the planets (and asteroids, if you use them) affect queers differently than they do straight folks. Pretty much everything else seems to affect us the same. Either you like it, or you don't. Or you want it, but it doesn't want you. Or it only wants part of you and doesn't appreciate your whole glorious self. Or you thought you wanted it, but when you get it you realize you were just drunk. Or bored. Or it wants you, but you want someone else, and that person's too busy examining their own hair or trying to climb over the bar to notice you.

Uh... so, neat book.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


"The painful things... seemed like knots on a beautiful necklace, necessary for keeping the beads in place. My eyes filled as I bade farewell to those days, but I felt no regret."
- The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Ever since I saw the Most Hyped Film of 2004 last month, I have been battling a rather embarrassing depression. The desecration of the 1961 Cheval Blanc devastated me. I was confused, I was horrified, I was disturbed to my deepest core. I obsessed over the image of that that waxed paper cup and the mental taste of onion rings fouling the delicacy of that precious, special, treasured wine... Even days later I was overflowing with emotion. I couldn't concentrate at the office. I cried at my desk, feeling my stomach churn every time the images replayed before my mind's eye. I was overwhelmingly sad for days on end, and disgusted with myself for being so ridiculous.

Eventually I took the morning off to meet with my church minister. I cried on her couch, not understanding why, of all things, a movie would push me over the edge. Why was I feeling such rage and grief, and confusion and sickness and a desperate need to understand... something?

Yes, Giamotti could be my ex-husband's identical twin. Yes, I'm really into wine. Yes, it's a well-written movie. But for Christ's sake, it was just a movie.

My minister suggested that maybe I hadn't processed the many recent losses in my life as thoroughly as I should have, especially the ones which seem to have hit me with such frequency over the last three or four years. This makes sense... but the problem is, it feels wrong to describe the recent events in my life as losses. I gained from them as well, and they are actually transitions.

What is the difference between losing something and letting go of it? Is it simply a value difference? If the absence of something leaves you feeling bad, we describe it as a loss. If the absence provides a sense of freedom, or has other resulting positive feelings, we say we let it go, we moved on, etc.

But what if it's both?

1995: When I moved from Illinois to New York, I was excited. I had been miserable in Illinois, and had dreamed all my life of living in New York. I had a scholarship to a performing arts academy, a few friends who gave me a lovely send-off, and a suitcase full of ballet shoes and fancy notepaper. After three months, I was back in Illinois on vacation, crying on my mother's lap, desperately homesick, and getting on that plane back to New York wasn't easy. Just three more months after that, I couldn't imagine living anywhere but New York, and the thought of returning to Illinois felt like a prison sentence.

1998: When I decided to stop going to auditions - in other words, to abandon my first choice of career, and childhood fantasies - I was thrilled and relieved to have a solid job in healthcare, and I focused on redefining myself inside and out. I was relieved and hopeful, but I also cried at least once a week, at times feeling like an utter failure, feeling boring, feeling ordinary and un-special, feeling unappreciated and unwanted, because the only thing I thought I was really good at - performing - nobody cared to see. It took a lot of headwork to get past that. Eventually I realized a lot of things about the value of my work, and the value of my Self... and made peace with my career decisions.

1999: When I got married, I was wholly, darkly aware that I was not over my obsession with an ex-boyfriend, and that this was one of many reasons why I almost cancelled the wedding several times. I feared walking through that door of commitment more than I had feared anything previously in my life. Eventually I let everyone convince me that I was just jittery, that I would overcome my obsession in time, that I was doing the right thing by being in therapy but maybe I should find a different doctor, that David and I would make it work somehow, etc. etc. I wanted to believe that maybe everybody was smarter than me in this area, and I turned a deaf ear to my screaming intuition. I remember feeling numb on my wedding night, as though I had reached a dead end.

2002: When I left my marriage, I felt like I was shrugging off a heavy, smothering cocoon of falsity, illness and pretense.

2003: When I moved into my apartment on West 95th Street, I felt the world opening its huge, golden doors to me, and I reveled in my freedom to stroll casually through them, lingering on this side, lingering on the threshold, stepping one foot at a time, slowly, to the next place, enjoying every nuance, every feel, every change of air from where I had been to where I was now and where I would be in the future.

2004: When my Grandmother died last April, I felt her presence around me for days. The warmth from her spirit enveloped me like a snowsuit while she followed me around, living my life with me for awhile, saying goodbye. When I woke up one morning feeling cold, and knew she had left me, I felt the emptiness like a hole stabbed through me with an icicle, like someone had ripped a vital organ out of my body. I thought I would cry forever, but I managed to stop at some point.

When I was let go from my job last August, I felt chains around my ankles and wrists crumbling into dust.

When I was unemployed and running out of severance four months later, I felt a noose around my neck.

When I was placed in this temp job, I felt something floating beneath me that I could relax on until I hit dry land again.

When my roommate and I decided to go our separate ways, I saw a small door swing open in my life, out of which I could sweep layers and layers of dirt.

2005: When I could not find another roommate, and my landlord put my apartment on the market, I realized that floater beneath me was full of holes.

Some people would have responded to these scenarios in the same way I did, but many would have responded very differently - some radically differently. Each was a transition, and I more than survived them - I grew and learned from them.

In my 10 years in New York City, I have lived in 7 apartments. Each time I moved, I cried. My ex-husband once simply shrugged and said I just didn't handle loss well, and held me and talked to me and comforted me until I felt better. One of his best moments.

Even then, however, I resisted calling my apartment-changing "loss." Each time I moved, I was going someplace better. It's true that change in general is hard, and exhausting, and bound to bring memories of the good times. But loss?

Two weeks ago, when my boyfriend invited me to share his home, and the start of a new life, I looked behind me and saw those huge golden gateway doors again... far behind me. Still wide open. My apartment, my church, my life in New York on the other side. I could see it all, in the twilight, way back there... and yet I was still somehow feeling its energies in the air around me, like memories of activities at the end of a very good day. I looked ahead of me, in the other direction, and saw a whole new set of dreams shining in the distance, a glowing sunrise just over the mountains.

It's a good thing I just bought new snow boots.

This week I begin a more purposeful walk toward the next phase of my life. My heart aches to leave New York City, but it is time. It would have been nice to have had one more year in the home of my 23-year-old dreams, but it simple wasn't to be. I have arranged for a moving service and rented a storage cubicle. I'm changing my addresses with all the required agencies and will soon be sending out pretty little "I've Moved" notecards to family and friends. I'm separating my belongings into take, store, and donate. I'm looking into places to throw myself a going-away party next week. I'm checking out the TappanZee Express-to-Metro North-to-subway commute that I'll soon be dealing with.

Step, step, step.

Sometimes, at very rare moments of something I might call clarity, I can see how each stage of my life evolves into the next, and how the transitions are very natural, and expected. However, this time... I think I can see all this while I'm actually moving through it. Knots in a necklace... I have learned the courage and confidence that comes with trust.

I have been waiting to write about this until I had an end to my moving story, but I see now that I will be moving in some fashion or another for a long time to come. The question, "Where will I live next" has been answered, but this is just another transition, and there will be more in the future. This story doesn't end.