Je suis….

Today I wore a bracelet made from rosary beads, with an Eiffel Tower charm, a Mary charm and a Sacred Heart of Jesus charm.

Aurora said “Why are you wearing this bracelet?”

I said “Because today we are praying for the people of France.  You are half French and I am half French and we are praying for this country today.”

Yesterday a dearest friend asked me how sorry I was, how sad I was for the people who died, aren’t we all so sad?

I purposely dug another foot deeper in the pit I live in, the abyss that separates me from everyone else.

I’m not sad. I refuse to be sad.  They are artists, laughing, drinking coffee, gossiping texting and making their art.  Then someone came in and GUNNED THEM DOWN.

I can only dream of this.  That my art, my day, my thoughts and views and what I did for a living made someone, anyone, so mad that they gunned me down.  That is the best way to go. Those people are ecstatic. They are marching and singing and laughing at all of the ceremonies.

I wore my bracelet and during my 4 year olds class today I played French music.  I didn’t tell them.  It was a beautiful, elegant waltz.  I played Satie for my big kids and I told them why.  The Irish claim me fast, my cheeks and my laughter a giveaway, but the French claim me also, the set of my chin and eyes, the shape of it all, they know, even if they do say “Quebecoise?”

Everything happens at once. The 4 year olds danced gorgeously to the waltz, as the blood was stained glass on the floor.  Guns were loaded, coffee drunk.  Pens and love and sex and laundry and writer’s block.  Cheese and tomatoes for lunch.  Tentative text to the friend with cancer. New snow pants and report cards due.  Pointe shoes laced and prayers and green peppers in a plastic bag. Ebola and Paul Simon.

We’ve all come to look for America.

This will make me even more unpopular amongst my friends, but dear Jesus God, if I were to be gunned down because of my art I would be the luckiest woman on earth.  My daughter will be fine.  I raised her for this.  A demain, Vanessa.

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Kind Of What It Is Like To Be Me

1. I got so fidgety in a meeting today, not bored, just wriggly, I found a felt tipped pen in my bag and drew an elaborate tattoo on my arm.  I was in the 3rd row of the meeting, if the leaders had been able to see me I would never have been so disrespectful.

The only marker I had was brown, so it looks like a henna tattoo. It turned out pretty well. I’m actually kind of proud of it.

2. On the way home, these 4 things happened at exactly the same moment:

–Aurora fell down, flat

–A handsome UPS guy jumped out of his truck

–A woman dropped a wad of $20 bills and a man chased them down for her

–The Toto song “Africa” began playing from somewhere

“What happened next?” you ask:

–The UPS guy and I reached Aurora at exactly the same moment

–the man handed the woman her money and she thanked him profusely

–We all kind of stood around felt the RAINS down in AAAAAAAFRICA

–When the UPS guy jumped out of his truck, a lot of his UPS slips blew down the street like leaves.

We all make sacrifices in life.

3, I bought Aurora a strawberry cone from what she calls “The Place Where You Stand In Line”, otherwise known as Haagen Das.  Yes this is a $5 ice cream cone and I really don’t care what anyone thinks.

4. A Random Woman In Front Of The Gourmet Pet Store Decides To Scold Me About My Parenting.  “An ice cream cone!  Before she’s even Had Dinner!!!  What are you thinking?”

the excellent part–she was smoking.  I apologized TO A STRANGER for the $5 ice cream cone.  I felt the rains down in Africa.  Clearly Jesus was fucking with me.

Two blocks later, Aurora said “Mommy, she’s jealous”  I ask why and refrain from explaining the difference between envious and jealous, partially because I have no idea (I am damp from the rains) what she’s talking about.

“She’s jealous because I have an ice cream.  She likes pink and my ice cream is pink”

5. My friend David died a year ago this week.  He keeps throwing stuff around my classroom, which is totally cool with me.  My friend and I were talking about some dead French pianist and a drum flew across the room and crashed into a wall.  My friend was gobsmacked.  “I guess you are right about this” he said, though right isn’t important.

I think my beloved dead friend is jealous because I have an ice cream, forever and ever.

He likes pink and I am the brown uniformed UPS man who picks up the bloody children and hands them to the broken parents that God gave them, while it rains in Africa and twenty dollar bills tumble down the street.

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In Which I Get Excited About My Life

When I was married, the Dr. Phil show had a little more integrity.  No Twins With 2 Different Fathers, no Mother-In-Law Slept With My Brother, just good old Dr. Phil.  Exercise!  Make Lists!  Cut Up Your Credit Cards!  Ask Your Wife For Sex!  

Loved the hope, the step by step directions and the tagline “I want you to get excited about your life!”

I have always been excited about my life.  

I hated my last post.  Wanted to delete it, delete it delete it.  Torn all day, doctor, playground, my phone is broken so I could do nothing, just bathe in the shame that I had written down my weakness.  

Then, the proverbial lighting bolt–

My doctor didn’t recognize me.  His receptionists didn’t recognize me.  I had just been there in May, for Christ’s sakes!  Why?

I have lost a lot of weight.  I don’t really care about this kind of thing, didn’t try a bit, but I have lost almost 40 pounds since March.  Again, I am oblivious.  The truth came home to roost yesterday when none of my clothes fit.  A skirt a had bought in March for my San Francisco trip fell to the floor when I put it on.  

I know, I know, cry me a river.  But….

I lost a lot of weight because I am miserable.  My meds stopped working and I was hurled into a MILD rapid cycling bi-polar universe.  My main symptoms were super short impulsive texts.  Did you receive 17 texts from me in a row?  Each about 3 words long? Not rambling or incoherent, just short and burning heartfelt and repetitive?  

I also stayed awake for 3 days on end, once a week or so for 4 months.  Have you ever done this?  Not to undermine mental health professionals but Jesus Christ I got a lot done.  It is 3 am, what have you got to lose?  Clean out that closet!!  Then I would crash, not knowing that my body weight was wreaking havoc with my benign low dose anti depressants.

In the middle of all of this, I had to visit my Family.  More about this later. It just about killed me.  My depression roared back, but the truth is, it was never really gone.  Ever.  I took Aurora camping in August and the depression just about killed me.  I came home and wrote that horrifying post and then today in the midst of my embarrassment I got it.  

I will always be depressed.  Meds take the edge off, but I will never shake this.  The question changes, not “How can I get rid of this?” but “How can I live with it?”

Wake up in tears, that’s OK!  Everything is a gigantic effort, that’s OK!  Don’t expect the mountain to collapse.  A huge amount of my depression is caused by knowing that something is wrong.  What if it isn’t wrong?  What if this is just who you are?  Stop trying to feel differently, continue to take excellent care of your child, and give up.  

Care for your child.  Live your life in sadness.  And remember, hey, you’re really, really thin! 

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Notes From Coney Island, Edited! Edited!

Please read this again. I obviously didn’t proofread properly. Sorry. Obviously losing it a little.

During the summer, A. and I  often take the F train home and get off at Coney Island.  This allows us to do two crucial things.  First, we can avoid the Escher-esque catalogue of staircases the comprises our Brighton Beach Q stop.  Instead, we enjoy a gentle series of ramps that allow us to glide through intoxicated teen agers, Orthodox Jews and that snake guy like Queen Elizabeth II in Ottawa.

The Coney Island Stop also gives us a meditative 20 minute press along the Boardwalk, the Ocean at our right, pink sky, white sailboats all placed there by God and America for your viewing pleasure and their affirmation.  My child conks out in the stroller, leaving me free to send and receive text messages, texts at one time held up to the light and hoarded like gems, thrilling and secret and full of facets I never imagined.

Now, the habit is hard to break.

First, however, I have to GET to the Boardwalk, which involves a trek through Coney Island Itself, quick and perpendicular. I usually put my head down and push through the Halal stands, urine, screaming rides and, hardest with a small child, the enormous swirled lollipops smeared on the always white dresses of other children.  Three minutes, then past the French fries and we are in the relative peace.

Today, I was just less protected, for better, for worse.

Notes From Coney Island:

1. I passed a teen ager with a T-shirt that read “i’m fine.” across the chest, then turned the tables with a small and extremely abstract bullet wound on the lower right side, about where his right ovary would be, though he was a biological male and had testes.  I spatially reference ovaries because I personally am ovulating, and MY right ovary hurts like a bitch. (See Family, I am ovulating, so when all of you verbally abuse me and then chant “Menopause! Menopause!” like that Attica movie when I dare to stand up for myself, well, now you know and can go fuck yourselves. Now. I’ll wait.)

I immediately realized that this was the best clothing design ever.

I decided to have “i’m fine.” printed on every article of clothing I own, and to also have an extremely abstract bullet wound printed on each garment as well.  24/7, my clothes would say “i’m fine.”, and only the astute (or no one, take your pick) would notice the burning tear bleeding modestly in the corner.

Still preoccupied with this outstanding mental health widget…..

 

2. I passed the Roller Coaster and the music changed from some aggressive and expected Pitbull song and segued into

“Say Something I’m Giving Up On You”

I froze like a rabbit, my nose twitching and the veins in my ears rotating inside their velvet casing.

This is the saddest song ever. This song makes anyone with a beating red heart want to kill themselves.  OK, it makes ME want to kill myself.  I realize that I am the worst example ever, because I think about suicide all the time.  Don’t worry, I’m like Morrissey, I just make a piece and get up and do the work and, predictably,  teen agers like me and I still smoke de temps un temps.

But seriously, “Say Something I’m Giving Up On You”?!??!?!?  On a Roller Coaster??!?!? Come on, no one is insured for that, not even Thor Equities.   This song is so sad, my imaginary boyfriend Charlie Rose featured it on his news show as the most doleful, vein-opening song ever.  Maybe sassy ol’ Gayle King introduced it or whatever, but Chuck (as he likes me to call him) was there, at the desk, when the piece aired.

In the unlikely event that I was on a roller coaster and “Timber”, a lively paean to anal sex, gave way to “Say Something I’m Giving Up On You”, I would gnaw though the straps like a raccoon and gleefully tumble to my death right there, my child clutching a tutu and my latest box of tampons as carbon 14 for my horrid family.

Take Adele’s “Someone Like You” and give it some expired Wellbutrin and lock it in a closet with that guy from The National. Take it down like a deer on Route 364 in upstate New York, black hopeless night and snow hitting the windshield, Dad hasn’t spoken to you since Friday, his arm absent across your chest because in his perfect world you fly through the windshield with your orthodontist bills and scamper off into the woods to die.

Because “That’s what they do”

(Nod sagely here.)

I will give you $100 if you can lock yourself in your car and listen to this song without sobbing. Not kidding. Need video.

3. After this invisible debacle, I get to the boardwalk and weave through and get to the wall that defines the NY Aquarium. The wall whose sweet fish mosaics, embedded in cement and broken and playful gave me hope when I moved, gutted after my husband abandoned me in 2006. The wall that I strode past angrily, synthetic hormones boiling, as I willed my eggs into reluctant service. The wall that I leant against, sobbing, another miscarriage, my fingers rubbing the opaque tiles as a asked the ocean for support.  The wall that I drove my baby past.  The wall that I walked through, first snapping pics of the fish with my then husband, then at a friend’s wedding in indigo velvet, then with my critical mom and my infant, so angry with her and so happy. Then in July with my daughter and I even bought those overpriced pictures.   The fish mosaics are gone, replaced with cartoon portrayals of…..

Engineers.  Engineers, building a bathosphere, finding invertebrates, designing towers of boxes, who knows what?

Engineers. If I don’t hear another syllable about technology, frankly, it will be 3 years too late.  Why Don’t Girls Code?  Because maybe they are smart enough to know that it is ridiculous pointless and fucking boring, and that everything they learn will be obsolete in 6 months anyways.

Are Girls Afraid To Code?!??!  NO!  They are busy painting and dancing and writing and curing and planting and praying and experimenting and driving and believing. Later, fucking and mothering make a welcome appearance.

“Girls” are smart enough to leave coding to (this is important)

people who can’t do anything else.

Have you spent time with New York City Ballet Prima Ballerinas?  I have.  Have you spent time with world class athletes?  Poets?  Chess players?  I have, and…..

They can’t do anything else.  They would be the first to admit it.  They can’t do ANYTHING else.  God only has paper clips, Fun Tak, sand, Hello Kitty Fruit Gummies and a Thompson Twins cassette tape.  Sometimes God runs out of ingredients and says to a soul “Hey, it’s just Fun Tak left, are you feeling lucky?”  The soul says “Sure!” and POOF, there’s Patricia McBride.

When I danced professionally, I was actually accused of taking jobs from people who couldn’t do anything else.  I was educated, I knew how to pronounce both “Chaucer” and “Jung”, why was I taking a job from someone who could lift their leg high and distinguish between primary colors with ease?  Answer: I could count music.  More on this later, suffice it to say that I spent hours in the wings shoving more talented people onstage because they couldn’t count the cues.  I also got many, many solos that I didn’t deserve because I could count the music.

I long for my ’70s childhood, when an Engineer was someone who wore a striped cap and drove a train, not someone that we were all supposed to magically be.

4. As each post concludes, we go to Walgreens.  We buy cheese sticks, yogurt, a surfeit of dairy.  I pay and my total is $42.42. I can’t resist.

“Do I get a prize?” I ask.  The “Girl”, (sorry) looks at me blankly.  “Because my total is $42.42.  Do I get, like, some kind of prize?”, hilarious middle aged woman that I am.  The Girl pulls out her Employee Manual and looks.

At first, my hat is off to this SO fast.  I worked in the Acme Grocery store (yeah, Wiley Coyote I get it but the store exists) from the time I was 13 until I was 21.  This is EXACTLY the kind of thing I would do to fuck with someone.  Flashback to 1980–“Do I get a discount because my total is $65.65?  Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. I would have gotten out the Employee Manual and scrunched my brow in bewilderment. How much time do you have?  I just want to go back to College, perform, cook, read poetry and get laid all on my first night back.  The leaves are yellowing. That’s your prize, Bitch.

Against my will, The Girl swipes a card. Total is still $42.42. Built To Spill comes on the Muzak, which is crazy and I’ll explain another time.

I walk out the door, adjusting my striped cap and clutching my abstract bullet wound, as I scamper off to die in the woods.

 

 

 

 

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Actually…..

I have decided to write again. 

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

It (meaning I) am never ever ever going to be good enough.  

You can’t say you weren’t warned. 

I have decided to change my name to “Actually”.  Actually, that would be MS. ACTUALLY to you.  Why?  As my kids always say “Don’t ask her, unless you really want to know.”

I have a Pre K 4 year old class that starts all of their sentences with the word “Actually”.  

“Actually, she was kicking me first.”

“Actually, there was a pool of blood in my mouth.”

“Actually, I want to be a Cardinal.”

Side note: Actually, EVERYONE wants to be a Cardinal.  Have you noticed that no one ever wants to be an Ordinal?

Hahhahhahhhhahah, I am hilarious.  

I told my students that I was changing my name to Actually.  Ms. Actually, actually.   They totally got it and decided that this was a top notch idea.  

So, actually, I should be depressed.  Two of my friends just died.  

I will tell you about them later, for now know that they were friends from undergraduate school, my year.  I always say undergraduate school, though I never went to graduate school, which instantly tricks people into thinking that I am some kind of doctor.  

Suffice it to say that they were both sick and sad and suffering and even if I was a non fake doctor I could not have helped them in any way.  With one I tried, mostly by talking about birds, so if you have a friend balancing precariously on the ledge, for all intents and purposes already gone, please know that endlessly talking about birds DOESN’T WORK.  

The other one, I didn’t know about that, I didn’t know I didn’t know I didn’t know and I probably couldn’t of helped if I did but I just would have been this safe place that wouldn’t have been enough.  

So, The Bear. I guess I can be depressed because my friends just died.  As I typed this sentence, one of Aurora’s talking toys just started talking at random (she’s in bed, so relax on that) so I guess I am doing the right thing.  

I can’t talk about my friends yet so I will talk about my exceptionally creative yet limited coping skills.  Here is a list. It may only have one item. Let’s just see how it goes. 

1. I decided I could be as crazy as I wanted to be IN THE ELEVATOR.  We have an elevator (fancy!) in our school and because of my back I am allowed to take it without judgement.  I am usually alone in the elevator and thanks to my constant and newfound disorganization I go up and down A LOT to retrieve some forgotten cord because I can’t be bothered to buy all kinds of cords for all of the different rooms in which I teach even though the “cord store” (electronics) is one of the few family businesses in the nabe and I love to go there.  I just wave my hands in the air and say “I need the red thing that goes into the hole and the other thing that goes into my ipod but my ipod is really old hahhahahha” and a gray haired man brings me a cord and it is alway $10.99.  Then I forget to turn in the receipt and someone steals the cord and I am left with a handful of Medusa cords, none of which quite work but all of them are kind of functional if no one who weighs more than 60 pounds jumps in the general vicinity. 

So I go up and down in the elevator and the MINUTE the brand new doors slide closed I sob and hide in the corner and (Thanks, Bible!) tear at my hair and it really works.  

Then the doors slide open and I walk out with a sunbeam smile and really red eyes and people are starting to notice.  

2. There is no 2. That is the end of my coping skills.  

So, I have decided to write again (fuck! fuck! fuck!) because of Something That Happened On A Plane.  

One of my dead friends is hanging around a lot, which I love, because he is kinetic and I have never had a super kinetic spirit before. He knocks things over and makes loud sounds and moves things around which is super and crazy amazing.  If you are one of the people who knew him in real life, it will not surprise you that he is kinetic because he was a varsity hockey and lacrosse player in undergraduate school.  He knocks things over and moves objects around in front of the kids, which makes them look at me and say matter of factly “Ms. P (Ms. Actually has not quite caught on yet, give it time) there is a ghost in this room.”

I reply by saying something like “Damn fucking right there is a ghost in this room, and we are lucky to have him!”

No! Kidding!  I just say something vague like “Those drums sure do like to move around!” or “I believe in fairies, too!” or “Who wants to be a Cardinal?”

So I was on a plane and dead people love planes for various reasons and I know that my friend was with me so I put my ipod on shuffle so he could talk to me more easily because my ears were clogged.  

Out of the 1,000 and some odd songs, he picked a song by Rilo Kiley entitled The Good That Won’t Come Out Of Me.  This is a brilliant song (look it up, I’ll pay you) and the lyric was:

“Let’s talk about all of our friends who lost the war/And all of the novels that had yet to be written about them

I was crying and crying and I was flying to San Francisco to meet my Lover and we flew low above the coast from LAX so I could see the ocean and the desert and everything that God has given us to make up for all of the hair tearing.  There was a nervous flyer next to me and the flight was perfectly and brilliantly thank you God exceptionally rough and he was a shaking and heaving 21 year old kid so I took off my sweater and showed him my cleavage, which probably helped everyone. 

Aurora’s toy is still talking from across the room.  

So I am going to write again.  

You can fill in the fucks yourself. 

 

 

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The Bear

I am so depressed. Every time Aurora turns her head the tears come. Or, I feel nothing.

People are starting to notice.

I am really envious of this woman who got mauled by a bear in New Jersey last weekend. At one point in time, the bear had her entire head in its mouth. She just got out of the hospital with 32 staples on her scalp. Some people have all the luck.

If this were me, the conversation would go like this:

Co Worker 1: What’s wrong with V? Has she gone crazy yet again?

Co Worker 2: No! Didn’t you hear? She got mauled by a bear!

Co Worker 1: Thank God! I was worried there, for a second, but a bear, that explains everything!

Co Worker 2: She has also gone crazy, yet again.

So this afternoon I put Aurora in the stroller as she slept and pushed her for hours around my neighborhood, tears streaming down my face, the merciful bear nowhere to be found.

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I Just Booked My Flight

I just booked my flight.  I am leaving Aurora with my mom and going to San Francisco for…..13 days.  Jesus Christ have mercy on us all. 

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