Friday, December 16, 2011

MY BIGGEST LESSON

You grew up on the wrong side of Brooklyn
saving up for your house in the country since you were 10

You write “your” instead of “you’re”
in the most eloquent letter I’ve ever read

I know you’re not a rich guy
but you make damned sure I feel loved

To think I might have dissed you
my biggest lesson in love

Monday, October 3, 2011

YOUR TO-DO LIST

You’re spread too thin
they call and you come
just one last favor
your version of fun

Mr. Fix-Her-Upper
you now gotta run
“Whatever, it’s fine”
‘till I’m finally done

Go re-pot her plants
go spackle her cracks
Then you want me nekkid?
Don’t even aks!

This feels kind of weird
ya don’t wanna hear it
you say as you leave
your baby mom’s therapist

I tried to be cool
tell myself you’re too nice
but I know that it’s just
your detaching device

So go and get handy
with damsel on line 2
this is me hanging up
on your list of to-do's

Saturday, September 24, 2011

LOSS

Such harrowing sorrow
for one so young.
Her dog taken this morning,
now she sleeps with the loss.

A woman sells a ring,
a loss forces the sale.
She sells it online, under
“mewithoutyou”

Loss loves a party;
my friend,
her daughter,
their just rescued dog.
A stranger selling a ring.
A father losing his job.

These losses remind me
of my dad dying young,
my mom’s distant memory,
my name lost in the fog;
all lost
in this loss.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

THE MOTORCYCLE AND THE BITCHY VAGINA

I don’t know why it got under my skin, but it did; this piece this chick wrote about her vagina getting sore riding around on the back of her boyfriend’s sport bike. The boyfriend posted the piece on his website, a very cool, popular motorcycle website, and he was very proud. Her main visual was of that area, in leather riding pants, with an X made of bandages covering her venus. It was a plea to the major motorcycle manufacturers, to please take vaginas into consideration when designing the back of the seat where women ride “bitch”. She was bitching about her vagina, and it bothered me to no end.

It’s hard enough fighting all the stereotypes about women being weak, complaining, not tough enough to participate in the sport without a woman complaining that her vajayjay is sore. Bikes aren’t Barcaloungers, they vibrate, the seats often lack padding, particularly sport bikes which are designed for speed, not comfort, and certainly not passengers. There are Goldwings, and oversized Harley-Davidsons for those who like a more livingroom riding experience. And here she was crying that Ducati isn’t babying her labia.

But the boys that read the piece and commented seemed to love it. Her boyfriend posted it on his motorcycle site’s Facebook page, there were a lot of, “way to go, Ashlee”s, I think the boys were lapping up her repetitive use of the word “labia”. There were also a lot of, “well-writtens!” I had never once seen a guy say “well-written” about any her boyfriend’s articles. It was if they were saying, “Wow, I love a gal who can talk publicly about her privates, and throw it all together in some proper paragraphs.” She’d come up with different names for her whiny vagina, like “cooch” and “lips” and more I can’t recall. She must have had a copy of Roget’s Clitorous Thesaurus on hand.

I wanted to bitchslap that vagina. Tell it to stop whining, get off the back of her boyfriend’s bike and ride her own. I wanted to rip those bandages off her V, and tell her to put her big boy panties on, stop riding the coattails of her boyfriend’s blog, and start her own.

Damned if I could put that bruised vagina article behind me; her boyfriend kept mentioning her on his FB page, “sorry I’ve been away, I’m trying to spend more time with Ashleeee.” OK. Now that you have a real live girlfriend, with a real live vagina we have to hear about it ad nauseum. He carefully worked a mention into almost every sport bike news piece he had written lately. Seems the vagina had him pussy whipped.

Then today he posted another article on Facebook and somehow managed to shout out his vag-chronicler. “I took Ashlee with me today to go check out the protective gear on the marketplace.” I get it. You have a girlfriend, you took her AND her vagina out for his n hers reflective jackets. I should have let it go, but that Vandaid visual had really stuck in my craw. I clicked on “comment” and let it pour from my lips, the ones on my mouth. “Don’t forget to stock up on vagina bandages!!” It was snarky, I knew it was wrong, but like a vagina pressed against the buzz of a Ducati seat, it felt so right.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

RELUCTANT HERO

They ordered you to stay put,
but you ran over the bridge,
straight into the fire.

They told you to go home,
yet you stayed three days,
without any sleep.

I call you a hero,
but you wave it off
with a “who, not me.”

NY honors their heroes,
you say, “I just don't get it,
we were just doing our jobs.”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

SELF-INFLICTED

You won’t be defamed,
But it’s your first rule of defense.

You say “I’m a target”
but transfixed by a gun.

Calling everyone crazy,
to a shrink that concurs.

You’re always the victim,
But who’s on the attack?
He’s ruthless and huge
and looks oddly like you.

Sending away "the enemy" you once called "friends"
So they run -
from love,
to still caring,
to gone - no forwarding address.

So go on your way,
marching to your own drum.
Heading off to your narcissist’s party,
putting your spin on events.

Or jot it down in a letter,
send it off to your friends.
The list growing shorter,
And it’s always on them.

You write so eloquently
with the pen that bleeds out.
The wound self-inflicted
etched in black on your chest.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

MCDONALDS AND THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR

She had insisted every night for the last two months that we had to work late, usually until ten-thirty, eleven. Elizabeth was my boss, I looked across at her, just letting her speak. We were in the basement of McDonalds, again, I was watching her indulge in her nightly Big Mac and large fries, the tears starting to run down her perfectly made up face.

I really liked Elizabeth. She was bright, articulate and funny, but she was sucking the life out of me. She could sure nurse a Diet Coke, late night there in that Micky-D’s where we usually had the basement all to ourselves.

She was my direct boss, she was supposed to be my creative director. Her job was to partner me, the writer, with an art director and oversee our work - but early on she’d snatched me up for herself. She nicknamed me “Crafty,” always generous with the praise; the fact was, I enjoyed working with her immensely during normal business hours. But around 4PM each day her office phone would start ringing off the hook. Soon her cell phone would pick up the slack. “Oo. That’s Pauls,” she called her husband ‘Pauls’, “Just ignore it.” But it was difficult. The two phones would ring back-n-forth solidly for about an hour before he would finally give up. I heard her on the phone with him one day, explaining to him how he just didn’t understand her dedication, actually hanging up on him mid-sentence, turning to me. “He said ‘it’s only ADVERTISING’,” can you believe it?” I was kind of on Pauls’s side, we were selling underarm deodorant, for God’s sakes. And it wasn’t like we weren’t churning out about eight storyboard ideas a day during regular office hours. Yet, if I dared to pick up my bag around seven she’d stop me, “where ya going, Crafty!” Around eight she’d ask if I was hungry, and even though I was pretty sure my dog had peed and pooped my apartment and was starving to death, I’d accept her dinner invitation – a table for two in the basement of the McDonalds across the street for a dinner of burgers, fries, and sobbing over her failing marriage. Pauls was a drinker. He’d agreed to a 12-step program, he had been doing better as of late, but she had received phone calls from strangers at bars, asking her to come pick him up. He’d lost his job, had a couple of DUI’s under his belt; she had to retain an expensive lawyer to manage the damage. She’d tell me these stories that almost always ended in tears, sometimes sobbing to the point where I would have to fetch extra napkins for her from atop the garbage receptacle so she could wipe away her tear-streaked mascara.

I usually ordered the kid’s meal, I was sure my cholesterol was topping off at around 550 by now from our now every night tradition. I’d finish my Jr. meal in short order but would have to sit there patiently for at least an hour, sometimes more, waiting for her to finish her straggling fries and stories. A lone worker would come down to wipe tables, gravely pull a mop across the floor – he’d nod at me sadly, we were regulars.

Weeks went by. I’d overhear her talking to Pauls on those rare occasions when she would pick up the phone, often at my urging. He had been sober for two years except for his benders that would happen every four months or so. He sounded so sweet, I could often hear him pleading for her to come home, he’d made a nice dinner. I’d have a glimmer of hope that I could make it home before the sun set that night, before my dog had pooped and peed and starved to death as we “worked” the night away, but that night never came. Elizabeth always took my hand and walked towards the soft glow of the golden arches.

More time passed and nothing much had changed until one day I had a blow out with our big boss, Juliani. He had moved to the United States from Italy over 30 years ago, but clung to his accent, I supposed he thought it gave him an air of creativity. He had a mouth full of marbles delivery, waving his hands, shaking his long bangs out of his eyes, giving the impression that he was saying something of importance, though you could never actually make out any words let alone sentences – just a bunch of “you know’s’ between garbled, unintelligible creative directorship. He had come this far by his good looks, designer suits, an expensive watch, and not much else. I knew because I used to partner with him, back when I was just a kid, and he was mid-career. Our arrangement was simple. I would come up with the ideas, and he would present them, the client often calling him a “genius” – praise he would wave off with euro-mumbles of feigned humility. Years later we were at the same agency again, he was now a big creative director, me, still a lowly writer. My insistence on wearing Hanes men’s undershirts and jeans to the office, coupled with my call-‘em-like-I-see-‘em je ne sais quoi had kept me permanently planted at the bottom of the agency food chain. Two days after he brought me into his group he started parading my ideas upstairs to his boss claiming them as his own. He was kind of a genius after all – a master thief who had honed his skills in disparaging everyone around him. And on that particular day he had launched an email campaign blacklisting an illustrator who happened to be a guy I was also dating. The boyfriend/illustrator had a hard time translating Juliani’s mouth full of marbles Italian and he’d made a mistake on one of the frames. Juliani was angered, muttering in Italian, as he composed a letter blackballing the gifted illustrator to the entire creative department. “He eez STOOPEEED, I doon’t like dees guyz.” We had worked with him for months, he’d always done a great job, but Juliani was angered that the communication breakdown had resulted in making him late for his 5:30 tennis match. I begged Juliani not to send the email, to think about it overnight. But he hit the “send” button like a virtuoso hitting the final chord of a concierto. I told him to go fuck himself, and a week later I was called into HR and “laid off” due to the company’s “financial hardship”. I packed up 20 years of crap into 5 cardboard boxes that were left outside my office and I was gone by midnight.

I spent the next three weeks living the life I’d always dreamed of. Nowhere to be, buzzing out to the beach in my Beemer, music blaring, windows down, sunroof open, the agency had cut me a check that would subsidize screwing around for at least two months. Yet, everyday my cell phone would ring. “Hey, Crafts. I miss you,” it was Elizabeth, about to make up for lost time – our late night McDonald’s rendezvous were now history. She was going on about Pauls like no time had passed, about Juliani, and what a thief and asshole he was, how her sister’s dog was sick, and would probably have to be put down to “sleep”. She would often catch me when I was in the “zone” – cruising back from the beach, from eating a lobster tail, or sipping a nice glass of wine on the water. Yet, every time she’d call I would pull over, often driving behind a shopping mall in a parking lot to get better reception, to lend an ear. I didn’t have the heart to cut her off. And she had some good news. She’d been interviewing for a big job at another big agency on a very glamorous account and wanted to share her excitement with me, telling me every detail about the interview process, I would give her my undivided attention, parked there in a reception sweet spot, next to a dumpster at the back of a Stop n Shop. A week later she called to say she’d gotten the job – it was the last time I ever spoke to her.

I was sure she would take me with her; the job market was worse than I had expected. Agencies wanted younger, edgier creatives, luring them away with bags of money from smaller, more creative agencies where they were poorly paid. It was a rude awakening, but Elizabeth was my ace in the hole, after all – I was her “Crafty”. And now that she was running a huge international piece of business, surely she would have no time to cry over fries and Diet Cokes. But I would never find out. I called her several times at the new agency, left her cute voicemails, but she never took my calls, or returned a single message.

I recently thought about Elizabeth, what had become of her? I wondered if she was still at the big agency, if she had lured another young writer into the depths of a different McDonalds. Was she still married to the precariously sober husband? Had there been a funeral for her sister’s dog? A recruiter friend of mine had done a search and found she had not only left the big agency, but had left advertising all together. She’d up and moved to Seattle, and started a clothing company with her sister who was a wealthy lawyer who had a penchant for painkillers and red wine. She had told me all about her – and their strict Catholic upbringing, how their father had walked out one morning and never returned only to shame them all by making a fortune in the porn business, how their mother worked hard to support them and then would cry herself to sleep at night. So many stories, so many lost nights, there, in the soggy, subterranean warmth of the McDonalds – the one across the street from the ad agency where we worked.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FOLLOW ME INTO NORMALCY

The inception of claudtalks coincided with the beginning of a relationship with a biker. No details were off limits, dicey content drove my viewership over the top. Sex in the bushes on the side of the highway, S&M costumes, dicey evenings tweaked by mental illness, and much, much more. After I awoke from the cloud of excitement and compromised sanity that was my relationship, I was left holding an empty pen.

Is a story worth reading without sex, drugs, and dirty words? The content waxed and waned. I went from writing entries almost every day, to once a week, then twice a month, until I got to – whenever.

My views quickly went from triple digits, to 15, to 9, and sometimes 3. People searching the word “sex” in blog search windows would no longer find me. Could I write a piece about riding an Italian scooter and somehow work in the word “anus”?

I spend mornings looking out my window at the stunning view of the Verrazano Bridge, and contemplate new story ideas. I jot down a myriad of ideas over coffee - some of them sordid, some sweet, none of them making it on to the blog. The truth is, the validation wasn’t there. If a blog falls in the forest and no one is around to read it, does it even exist?

“No one cares,” I told my man friend when he inquired about my lack of writing. Even he had stopped reading after being traumatized by my indiscreet details about relationships with other men. Other readers had drifted away in the blogosphere.“No one cares” was not a self pity-party, it was simply fact.

I hadn’t bothered to check my blog in a few weeks until today, and much to my surprise I’d steadily gained a few followers. No crazy through the roof numbers, but a few solid followers nonetheless. All without so much as a mention of a spanking, or an eightball of coke. The new stories were about nothing in particular, the small stuff. A ride on a motorcycle, a visit to my mom’s assisted living residence, the this-and-that of everyday life. No saucy key words to entice, just simple stories about the pretty quiet life of a middle-aged chick, and interestingly, it seems to be enough to my new friends. My mind still accesses those extreme tales of my past as I look out my window every morning, but I’m feeling a want to stay in the present right now. My ponderings lack the bravado of 2009. They ring in an era of honesty - stories around sadness, boredom, hope, and occasional glee. And now that I see that a couple of strangers are watching, I might be inclined to jot a few of them down.

Monday, June 6, 2011

THE GROOM

Tomorrow,
in a church filled with flowers and clenched smiles
they’ll all come together for the secret hating of the groom.

Over pie,
the family share their hopes for their daughter
to get away from him, but she’s already gone.

Earlier,
he dragged her out before dessert
the car ride home, he rattles, berates, degrades.

In hours,
she’ll say, “I do” over the inner thoughts of every person in the room.

Forever,
hold your peace at the secret hating of the groom.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

THE DEALBREAKER

He asked me for my number right from the seat of his Harley that Sunday in Coney Island, it was mere seconds into our phone conversation the next day before my devil-may-care decision was shadowed with regret.

“I hope you ain’t a crazy or a total retart like the last few women I dated,” that was his opener. Was it too early to end the conversation? I was dumb struck, I barely got out my “Nooo, no retart here” before he picked up the baton and ran with it. “This one, right? She’s a whale, and she’s wearin’ these spandex things, and her legs are FAAAT like I’m in Vinnie's Sausage Factory.”

“Hmn, that sucksss,” I replied, politely. He continues “So, I decide, what the f*ck, I’ll give it a shot, her face isn’t bad so I take her to dinner a few times,” he pauses to cough up last night’s pack of Camels, then threads his next thought on the tail of the expectorated phlegm, “long story short I broke up with her and THIS is why you have to call me from an unblocked number so I know it’s not her callin’, she keeps callin’ wantin' to git back wit me.” Now I was intrigued, why, after feeding her sausage thighs on several proper dinner dates, would he suddenly call it quits? He explained, “She got this kid, right. He’s 5, and she brought him on our third date so we could get acquaintit and I’m like WO, I din sign on for this so I tell her that I don’t see myself raisin’ some kid, plus she lived right under the Williamsburg Bridge, you ever been ‘round there, what a SH*Thole.”

I took my opening for my exit, “Goodness, that really is unfortunate,” but my gentleman caller put my plan on hold. “Wait – it gets better - so she begs me to go out wit her one more time to break up wit her in person or whatever - so I go and tell I’m not wanting a kid like I told her before and she says ‘no problem’”

“Great! It's good you were clear...” I say, attempting to end our session on an up note, again I'm interrupted.

“Wait - then she gets real serious and says to me ‘it's no problem, I been thinking. I'll just give him up for adoption.’”

I couldn't have heard him correctly.

“Right??!!," he said translating my silence, "I was like who the f*ck does that?? So I dropped her off home and she's been calling me ever since. Her mom called me up yesterday and wanted to know why I broke things off and I told her it wasn’t the kid, it was the whole puttin' the kid up for adoption that was it for me, right?” That was his dealbreaker, he said, before he inhaled deeply through his deviated septum to prepare for what would never materialize into the rest of his life's story. “So. Whadelse you wanna know about me.”

Sunday, May 8, 2011

ALWAYS REMEMBER - a letter to my Mom

Dear Mom,
We were all in denial about what was happening to you. You started repeating things a lot, and became increasingly disoriented. I remember walking along the water in La Jolla when you still lived there, it was the first time I noticed a vacant look in your eyes. Now that I look back, this was when I probably realized something was wrong. I put both my hands on your shoulders, as if to wake you and said, “Mom! Mom!!” so we could laugh it away. You mirrored me with a vague giggle, but said, “I’m tired Honey, let’s go home.”

It took Kath, Mike’s wife, to say we should bring you in for testing. We resented her for bringing it up, nothing was wrong with our Mom, you were going to the gym twice a week, delivering meals to people with AIDS, going to dinner with friends. But on our visit, you said we were going to meet your friend, Belle, at that big burger and nacho restaurant with the Surfboard logo and Belle never showed up. I said we should call her but you waved it off and ordered enough food for an army and finished it off, and then ordered dessert. You used to get an appetizer and say it was way too much food. I was leaving for New York the next morning, you asked me over and over and over again what time my flight was, I tried to wrangle the pullover you’d been wearing for a week straight away from you to throw it in the wash, but you became so stubborn about it so I just let it go. A couple of weeks later Rob said the two of you were taking a drive up to the top of Mount Soledad and you turned to him and asked if you were in California or Connecticut.

After taking you to the doctor, they took away your car keys. Mike packed a bag for you that day and brought you back to Portland with him. It was as if you had your life on Wednesday, and on Thursday you would never have it back again. They found a lovely place for you, and bring the grandkids by on Sundays. You found a boyfriend, who would have thunk it, you’re no Spring chicken, but he’s so handsome, and funny, a retired Marine that looks at you like you’re the most precious treasure in the world.

And you are. Even now, more than ever – you are a great inspiration to me. “I never let things get me down,” you say every day when I call. You never did. You had a crazy mother, she used to drive me insane but you would tell me, “she doesn’t get to me, it all goes in one ear and out the other,” you’d say – matter of factly. Then you’d get back to unpacking the van after coming home from whatever antiques show you were doing that weekend.

I thank God you still remember who we all are, one time I called, you sounded confused, I said, “Mom, this is Claudia.” You snapped, “I know!” As though it was an absurd thought that you wouldn’t know the sound of your own daughter’s voice. But one day this could very well be the case. So I’m telling you now, dear Mother, on today - this Mother’s Day: always remember how very much I love you.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

SUMMER GIRL ROMANCE

I messed around with a girl once. Well, to be honest, maybe it was more than once. She seduced me on my terrace one summer night, long black hair falling around my face as she leaned in and kissed me, after she slipped her hand up my shorts. We’re just the kind of gals that rub lesbians the wrong way. Bi-curious, or just human, it happened a couple more times. I think she was bipolar or something, she woke from a nap on my sofa one day and went berserk. Screaming in my face that I should have woken her up, that she was late, to where, I knew not. She stormed out, slammed the door and that was the last time we spoke.

Now she’s married with kids and a nice husband. She moved to Omaha, put on a few pounds, and makes a nice dinner every night for the family. I wonder if she ever thinks about those days way back when, when she used to dance in her bra and panties to Janet Jackson in my living room.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

HANGING AT YOUR HOUSE

Staring out the window at your place
Tree pods shiver in the rain
Hanging on, hanging on

You’re downstairs tinkering again
I hear you like a favorite CD
Hanging on, hanging on

This house will be sold this weekend
I remember when it was a shell
Hanging on, just hanging on

Sunday, April 3, 2011

COUPLE CHARACTERS

It took a split second to go from “he’s hot” to Code Orange. From inside the bar I could see him stumbling around outside. White ribbed sweater showing his defined chest, expensive jeans, hanging on to the side of the building for dear life before he composed himself enough to roll through the front door of the restaurant. Jose, the owner, greeted him as an apparent regular, though I’d never had the pleasure to make his acquaintance. It was early Sunday night, I was the only one in the place - the disturbed hunk took the seat right next to me. His scent had the intensity of a car airfreshener, he was bathed in booze and chain smoking. Jose spoke to him like he was any normal patron even though the young man had trouble stringing thoughts together. Jose slammed down a beer in a bottle, the scented gent downed it like Gatorade, Jose was there to enable with what would become a six pack in the next hour or so.

He was a Marine – his stumbling along the side of the building may have been explained by his broken hip, a souvenir he brought back from Irag – topped off with a combo of pain killers, self medications, and lord knows what else may have explained his precarious gate. “Honorable Discharge,” he raised a finger, he now worked for the city’s big phone company. He still had military clearance, Jose bragged that my new bar friend was the guy they called to rig the phone system when the president was in town. The president’s go to phone guy slipped off to the bathroom and reappeared, steadying the inanimate barstool to make sure it was safe before he slid himself back on.

The beer seemed to be waking him up. He told a story about his phone company and a service call he had up in Riverdale. “This Jewish lady” wouldn’t let him in. He had showed up to the repair appointment in the body hugging ribbed white sweater, and expensive jeans he was wearing now, even though the story took place a few days ago. The Jewish lady had sent him away even though he presented her with the company's photo ID. When he got back to headquarters his supervisor put the disgusted customer complaint on speakerphone. “I didn’t realize that Ventron was hiring homeless people,” she snapped. It seemed the guys at Ventron had a good laugh over that one, his “uniform” of body hugging clothes, badly bleached hair, and Eau du Camels didn’t warrant so much as a slap on the wrist. “Dude, don’t they have a uniform you can wear or something,” Jose was trying to help with some sound advice. The compromised soldier waved the comment off like an invisible mosquito was targeting his face.

A woman walked in, I had seen her at the place a couple of times, she was pretty, had a ready smile and a nice energy, she walked up to the discharged Marine and kissed him sweetly on the cheek like he was her hard working husband getting off the 5:02 train to Greenwich. She seemed oblivious to the stench he was putting out, or the fact that he was barely holding it together. Introductions were made, he slid one seat over, opening a seat up between us for his lovely wife.

Turns out she owned a bar on Brooklyn, she’d come from Ireland years ago, she and “Joe”, her husband, had been married ten years. I quickly turned my attention back on my sangria to hide my disbelief. Joe was nodding off, but would inject sudden epiphanies, Tara, his wife, would place her hand on his shoulder and say, “excuse me, Honey, what was that?” like he had something important to add, two staccato hiccups punctuated his fragmented thought.

Tara was engaging, John was going in and out of some form of consciousness, it was like the children had gone off to bed, Tara told me a story about getting her Blackberry back after losing it somewhere in the city. “I used my ex-girlfriend’s name on MY number, they called her, but it was me.” She looked for my reaction - it was confusion. John briefly woke up and did his best Greek Chorus impression, heralding, “SHE HAD A GIRLFRIEND! SHE HAD A GIRLFRIEND!!” and hiccupped again before narrowing his eyes on the beer in front of him like it was prey he would need to be very clever to capture.

Tara and I talked about people we knew from the neighborhood, the freaks, the legendary characters, one of them a gorgeous 30 something in the hood with considerable psych issues and an eating disorder to boot. John piped up, “IS SHE HOT? WOULD I LIKE HER, HONEY?!!” Tara didn’t miss a beat, “No, Baby. She’s crazy, crazy like you. You like together girls to balance your crazy. Don't you.” It was hard to imagine any “together” girl seeing John datable or even f*ckable – but John blinked twice for yes in response to his wife’s assessment of the bulimic girl in question.

The bartender/owner Jose had been plying me with free drinks but I felt the evening coming to a close. It was that feeling like you have to throw up but want to be in the comfort of your own home to do it, the couple showed no signs of leaving. When I stood up, John in a miraculous burst of energy jumped to attention to help me on with my jacket. It was a stunning gesture of chivalry at the end of a dicey impromptu evening. “Hey, I don’t know what you’re doing," he leaned into my ear, "but you could come home with us, we dabble in – “ “Stop right there,” I graciously declined the yet defined offer, “whatever it is you dabble in, let that be YOUR secret.” “Yes, Honey,” Tara smiled at her man, and winked at me.

I couldn’t wait to get home and wash my face, wash off the soldier turned Ventron tech, his stench, his wife, their offer. Yes, soap - a nightcap was definitely in order.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SPRINGTIME FOR CLOWNS

The text came in around 7PM on Sunday. “I miss you,” he said, and some other well- chosen words to make me get all warm and fuzzy inside my vag*na. “Time for a little glass half empty,” my brother turned to me, knocking off my rose colored glasses in the process. Still, I was trying to think what panties I had put on before I went out for the evening should the evening take an interesting turn. It seems I spent the entire year turning down sex. Repeated home visits from the 25 year old that I eventually had to terminate, constant come-ons from Cal who finally said he loved me after 10 years, then took someone else out for dinner the following Friday. Nothing made me feel stronger than turning down sex with men who do nothing to deserve it - but by Spring I realized that not putting out equals not getting anything in and “it” was reaching its breaking point. Simple eye contact with a nice looking guy on Henry Street drove an electric current from between my legs, up my body, and escaped as blue smoke from the top of my head. Biology was winning this battle - what's a girl to do.

The biggest, shiniest, newest Harley I’d ever seen was parked in front of the diner. Cal was coming to meet me, but I wondered who was steering this ship. The biker appeared, rounding the corner – goatee, cafĂ© racer jacket, about 5’9” – he was quick to engage over his beast of a bike. Daytona, cross-country trips, year round road warrior, blah, blah, blah. I saw Cal out of the corner of my eye head into the diner, and it made me realize what the pint sized biker on the monster Harley was missing. He had not stopped talking since he walked up, hadn’t paused to ask a question, hadn’t taken a breath to hear my clever retorts. Cal was waiting inside the diner for me, he would ask me what I’d been up to, what I thought about things, he actually gave a hoot. This little conversationalist could never stroke me between the ears, surely he'd have a heck of a time reaching other bits of my anatomy.

Seems it's time for Spring cleaning. Out go the rose colored glasses. All mixed messages tossed in the trash. Oh, and no sex for solillaquists – toot your own horn! All clowns, the lot of ‘em. And that thing they say about men who wear big shoes - behind that big bulge is a lot of hot air – hardly what a girl needs to get the job done right.

Monday, February 28, 2011

THE GENTLEMAN FROM BAY RIDGE

The Jamesons had started working it’s magic, my date was starting to open up; “I mean, the guy said, ‘Hey, Cracka’ - a course I'm gonna call you Ni**a,” he paused to try to get a read on my reaction, “I’m right, Right? I mean ‘Cracka’ is white for “Ni**a”, right?”

It wasn’t horror I was feeling, I felt more let down, I had met other gentlemen from Bay Ridge; this was fairly typical subject matter. Yet, I was seriously considering my date’s query - turning it over in my mind, was calling someone a ‘Cracka’, in fact, the equivalent of calling someone a ‘Ni**a”?

Jimmy’s re-enactment of the afternoon continued; him, just minding his own business when this black guy walks up and calls him a Cracker. The two went back and forth discussing the gravitas of “cracka” vs. the “N” word, the award going to the one who had slighted less, strangely enough. In a final attempt to settle everything in one felt swoop, my date recounted addressing the fellow one last time, “shut up or I will bitch slap you like the bitch you are,” he said it to the guy very casually, like he was letting him know his shoe was untied, but it seemed to settle things as “Bitch” trumps all. He shrugged and took another long sip of Jamesons staring straight ahead.

The stuff that had drawn me to him, the muscles, the ink, were all hidden under his neatly pressed Yankees shirt now, which made the racial slur seem more pronounced, he had the face of a choir boy. He made an honest living, had a good job, taught himself how to cook up a storm since the separation - Doritos breaded chicken breasts to Lobster Thermidor - he carried a wallet sized photo of his small fluffy dog he bought for company, and had a boss motorcycle he loved to ride, what’s not to love. But when he asked if I wanted to stay for dinner, I asked Jimmy to drop me home. “You had me at “Ni**a”, I thought hours after our date, wasn't that always the way. But my humor would have been lost on Jimmy, that, and he's racist - that's what I told myself as I deleted the half naked pictures Jimmy had sent me after our date, my heart sinking deeper as my chances of getting with a real live naked guy looking less and less likely with each click of the delete button.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

THE DARKER TIMES OF PASTOR RAY

I first met Pastor Ray when he was a bartender, way before he was a man of the cloth, back when I worked as a writer on Madison Avenue. We had an immediate, electrifying attraction – I learned in later years, a red flag heralding you to run the other way. He was handsome, dynamic, a punk musician, a drunk, and an Army Private. He invited me out for drinks after his shift, and I left him standing on 3rd Avenue at 3 AM, screaming after my cab, “I fucking LOVE YOU, and you don’t GIVE A SHIT!!”

During our impromptu date, he casually mentioned he had a girlfriend, but we continued chatting as friends at the bar he tended after that, he brought me his punk albums, and showed me some pretty engaging writing he was doing, one involved a story about a girl who gave him head in a parking lot while deployed, the story hinged around the girl's mouthful of metal railroad track braces - the excruciating pain that followed, ending with a quirky vignette with hilarious details around his failed attempts to release his manhood from her silver interior.

Ray and I were in and out of each other’s lives for years, when he became single he got in touch with me. He’d since become a recording engineer and worked at one of the best places in the city. He’d always had a deep bravado to his voice, a macho swagger that women of poor judgment find captivating. We had dinner those few years later, and he still seemed the same, but also not. Something else was in the mix that I couldn’t put my finger on. This time he left me on the street early instead of the other way around like years before, which left me wondering. He told me I looked great, kissed me quickly on the lips, and hailed a cab, hightailing it out of there just barely after 9 pm.

I didn’t hear from him for a couple of weeks, until one day he called, saying the recording studio he was working at was having a Halloween party. I showed up, Ray looked like death - on top of the fact that this was his costume, black shawl, hood, black makeup that created cavernous sockets around his dead, reddened eyes. I saw him peak out behind a screen, but when he saw me he ducked away. I went away confused and wondering what had gone wrong.

A few days later, I got a voicemail at my office, it was a friend of Ray’s telling me that he had O.D.’d on heroin. It had happened in his apartment - he’d been passed out on the floor for two days, he was lucky to be alive. There was a possibility that his leg would have to be amputated – it had twisted back awkwardly in the fall, the two days he was passed out had taken its toll on his appendage.

I reconnected with Ray during his recovery, he told me that Jesus had saved his life, and his leg in the same turn. His faith was astonishing, soon he was on the church scene with the same vigor I'd seen in his punk rock days, publishing controversial themes designed to rock the Christian world. We lost touch when he enrolled in a theological seminary after a brief romantic encounter between us that left Ray convinced he should swear me off, along with his slew of pre-O.D. bad habits. I’d heard he had met a woman who was also in seminary, married her, and they started a congregation in an impoverished town somewhere in Pennsylvania, doing “important work” with the people who struggled just to survive there.

When I friended him on Facebook two years ago, he was a well respected Pastor, happily married with 3 lovely children. Through the Army, Ray went to Afghanistan on a spiritual mission, and had written a book which he forwarded me for feedback. I always knew he was passionate - whether he was a punk musician, writing descriptive blowjob prose, doing heroin, or leading parishioners, Ray was always rockin’ it at eleven.

Recently, I took the time to listen to one of Pastor Ray’s spiritual podcasts. Although we’d talked occasionally in email, I hadn’t heard his deep, maniacal voice in over a decade. But when I clicked on play- the man I heard was not Ray, but some ethereal version of himself. His voice was quiet, his tone earnest - his delivery plain. Ray had been reborn - it seemed quite literally. There was no resemblance to Ray of past times, his wild animation gave way to gentle expressions that seemed to emanate from a slow burning flame nestled inside his heart - my goodness, I thought, God does work in mysterious ways. Ray is living proof of that. I was fortunate to bare witness along his wild, winding road - from railroad track braces and Streetcar Named Desire nights, to Needle Park, into the ambulance and on into the New York Presbyterian E.R., soon taking flight at the theological seminary, until he eventually landed, preaching high atop the internet mount. Ever so humbly, this is where I first heard Pastor Ray, quoting scripture, spreading The Word to those who will listen.

SEVEN

1.
Saying “I love you” is not a bargaining chip.
It’s a feeling you pay forward with love and respect.

2.
Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t a way back in.
It’s a desire to do better next time.

3.
“We” isn’t “Me”. Well, it’s sort of “we”, but the “w” got flipped over in the wake of those scurrying towards self-serving stuff.

4.
Making love is not something you get in exchange for scrambled eggs or a steak dinner – that is what is known as a “transaction”, often becoming more costly post transaction – resulting in a lost friendship, STD, or an unwanted pregnancy; the trifecta of thoughtless encounters.

5.
Sex is a gift you receive from someone’s soul, as well as their vagina.
Treat both with the utmost care. If not, refer to #4.

6.
Lies are the stories people tell themselves right before they tell you, often to support their own agenda.

7.
One person’s idea of a “relationship” is usually different from another's. It’s not yours, or theirs, it’s often somewhere in the middle, like a seesaw. If you find yourself playing with yourself, it’s probably because you don’t know the basic rules of physics/relationships.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A VALENTINE FROM www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/

These are excerpts from a Valentine's Day blogpost on Baggage Reclaim, an extraordinary blog for women who are seeking a healthy relationship, but have previously gone about it ass backwards. This has been reprinted without the author's permission, I am not the author, just an ardent fan, and suggest you subscribe to Baggage Reclaim, it will turn your head around.

(baggagereclaim content- edited)

Valentine’s Day: Notes On Love From Me To You

by NML on February 14, 2011

Love is a wonderful thing…when you’re experiencing it. I believed that I’d loved several times prior to this relationship and it’s only through introspection and looking at a relationship with mutual love, care, trust, and respect versus a relationship with drama, pain, ambiguity.

One of the biggest lessons learned is that love doesn’t hurt.

Being in a shady relationship hurts,
doing things that bust up your boundaries hurts,
as does engaging in stuff that goes against values you profess to have or that has you feeling embarrassed and humiliated.

Love really isn’t all that dramatic. Being raised in a drama filled household means I used to be a real drama seeker and thought that the highs and lows signalled passion, excitement and chemistry. Actually, it signified pain and unhealthy relationships.

Love doesn’t make you do crazy stuff – drama does.

Sometimes I think we’ve stopped believing in love in a healthy guise. Believe it. Embrace it. The moment that you stop believing that love is out there for you, is the moment you give up on yourself. Love doesn’t just happen – even if you bump into The Most Perfect Person On Earth, you still need to work at it.

Happy Valentine’s day. Exhale, embrace, enjoy and if you’re finding it tough today, remember this day shall pass and don’t get hijacked by your feelings.

(End content from blog: baggage reclaim)
to read full content go to:
http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/valentines-day-notes-on-love-from-me-to-you/#more-6011

Thanks to y'all who take the time to read my blog. To my friends, my family, to those whom I love, that love me back - and to those I have yet to meet... may we all get the love we want, and the wisdom to know how to give and receive it fully with an open, kind, and vulnerable heart - because it's so worth it. xo

Saturday, February 12, 2011

MIDLIFE GANGSTAH WAYS

Itchin for trouble
Just like de old days
No lines on the back of a toilet
Jus an extra piece of cheese on
Organic eggs
Wild night of chardonnay
Winking at that 20 year old
Like it was yesterday

Thursday, February 10, 2011

BACK ON BEAUTY

About a year ago I piled tons of expensive department store make-up into shopping bags, brought it down into my lobby, and sold it all for $175 dollars to a young makeup artist who found my listing on Craigslist.

As she opened all of the Chanel, Dior, and YSL quads, she looked as though her hands were running through a pot of gold coins she’d discovered under a bush. “Why are you selling all of this,” she looked up at me in utter disbelief. “I’m over it,” I said, it was true. I’d had a love/hate relationship with the face paint over the years. And it seemed there was no middle ground. Being blessed with beautiful skin, it enabled me to take a feminist view on the stuff. I hated that I spent so much time in high school applying the stuff in front of the mirror. If I only had the right Bonnie Bell lip stuff, my boyfriend wouldn’t have dumped me. Fast forward to my big job in advertising it had become a full on addiction. I was medicating with margaritas, men, and mega amounts of department store hauls. I had made “friends” with the girl at the Chanel counter at Lord and Taylor a block away from work. I’d go in for a lipgloss, and with her “friendly” guidance I’d leave with a quarter of my paycheck’s worth of shadows, mascaras, pricey creams, and more. I’d feel that crack-type high when I was on the purchase, often returning home with a bagful of self-loathing regret. I had yet to “hit pan” (the act of burrowing down through the blush or eyeshadow til you hit the metal) on any item, ever. But I always wanted more. Years later, I started to identify ways I was self-medicating. Food, watches, foundations, I decided to make a clean break and cut myself off from cosmetics completely and never looked back, until today.

I’ve been thinking about my relationship with beauty lately, and giving it a second look. I like how I look without makeup, but I was curious to reopen the issue, and the duos and blushes that go along with. Riffling down under my sink, I unearthed a box I’d missed during my purge to get rid of all the paint. There were a couple of the black, sleek compacts with that classic Chanel logo, I’d forgotten how good they feel in your hand, the smart click they make when you snap the lid shut. It was like riding a bike, I’d been studying makeup techniques since I was six, decades later I created a perfect, natural arched brow. A lone YSL blush proved to be the perfect color, and brightened my mood one cheek at a time. That afternoon, I went to my local CVS and bought a mascara that had been recommended online. With some of the eye shadows I found in this forgotten treasure chest of goodies, I created a natural looking eye. Like the Madison Avenue copywriters spun it, “You. Only better.” But it was true. I wasn’t 16 anymore, it was the dead of winter, and suddenly I looked like I’d had the best sex of my life the night before.
If I kept this up, maybe I’d be having the best sex of my life by next week. It was uplifting, outside and in.

Years ago, a feisty old man copywriter that I adored back in the day snuck up on me as I stood waiting to go into a meeting and whispered like Snidely Whiplash in my ear, “Got your war paint on, I see.” He had noticed that I’d ramped up my makeup that morning, said I hadn’t fooled him - the manhunt was on. I brushed it off as ridiculousness, but I remember it to this day. Makeup is just another weapon in your arsenal, as important as witty repartee, refined oral skills, and knowing just when to flip that perfect medium rare steak. And I’m good with all of that, and the rewards that come with.

Makeup used to be my crack, but if taken in moderation it can also be your Seroquel, providing a lift in mood and confidence, it can be war paint, or just worn around the apartment, either way, I've found that beauty isn’t the enemy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A FEBRUARY NOTE

I call my mother, she rarely picks up the phone. When she does, she sound disoriented, Dementia ravaging her brain. She sounds happy, for that I am thankful. I listen to her sound bites, I try to take her bum’s rush in stride.

My family has shape shifted over the years. My parents moved across the country 20 years ago, my father passed away shortly thereafter. My brother got married, had kids, and moved to Oregon and hasn’t made it back East since. I have dropped the ball, my visits out to Portland have been few and far between. His kids are a foot taller each time I visit. I try to make in into the city to see my other brother whenever he extends an invite. I watch him smoke a cigarette, I see it as a threat to one of my last remaining shreds of the family I once had.

I appreciate the friends I have, the ones that extend a hand as I cling to my alone time, that’s always been my way. Friends disperse as they pursue different interests than yours, move away, or simply drift. No one is to blame, we’re not in high school anymore - we’re not all sitting in the cafeteria giggling, or going out every Saturday night.
Seems sometimes, some of my closest friends are the ones I’ve never met.

I used to consider myself “independent”, but I’m feeling more disenfranchised as of late. A lone wolf not so much by choice, but more of a sentence by my own hand. I look at the men that I have loved and wonder how I could have assigned such a word to what actually was. I question the core friend I have in this life, the one I am to myself.

Monday, February 7, 2011

THANKS, TODAY

My mechanic jumped me at a moment’s notice.
Po-po waved me on with a smile.
Girl drove from Jersey to buy my watch.
Two tens for a twenty without buying Twix.
The sun on my face on the walk to the store.
Deleted that blogpost before anyone saw.
The right purple shadow in the wrong slot.
Money in my pocket to buy what I got.

Friday, February 4, 2011

THE TALE OF THE PAPER SHREDDER

I’m one of those people who are obsessed with everything best. I have to have the best pizza slice, the best Schnauzer, the best paper shredder.

It took me weeks to research my paper shredder, I finally went with the one designed by the world-renowned architect Michael Graves. He was designing stuff for Target, and it was getting a consistent 5 stars on their site, it was great looking, I went to Target to check it out in person and made her mine. That was probably 8 years ago.

It did the job well, and looked good doing it. No need to tuck in away in a closet. I’d had my identity stolen once, and took to shredding everything paper item short of unbranded tampon wrappers.

The last time I used her was after a major paper purge in my apartment. I was testing the Michael Graves Paper Shredder, pushing her to its limits. Getting rid of months of bank and Amex statements, back before the days we all went paperless. I’d do 5 pages, then 7, then 10. It worked like a champ. The device showed no signs of slowing down, I unplugged my piece of office sculpture and continued to pile paper aside to be shredded on my bi-annual shred fests.

Yesterday, in a rare burst of energy, I decided to shred every piece of paper in the apartment. I spent the morning separating papers that needed to be filed, and what needed to be shredded, made myself another cup of coffee, cracked my knuckles and prepared myself to shred.

I plugged Michael Graves in, but nothing. Not a peep out of my high design office helper. I fiddled with all the buttons, plugged her in/plugged her out a couple of times. Nada. Not exactly a hero’s death, Michael Graves was chewing through my statements with ease the last time I used her, then suddenly, she was all dried up? Had she died in her sleep?

I immediately went on Target dot com, there was no Michael Graves paper shredder in site. They only had the sad, lackluster black rectangular trashcans with uninspired shredders atop of them. This wouldn’t do. Few things depress me more than uninspired office supplies. The red Trimline stapler had been sold out for months after being immortalized in the movie, “Office Space” – clearly, I wasn’t the only one with a passion for high design tools for mundane tasks.

I couldn’t quite bring myself to take Michael Graves down to the basement to be put out with the plebeian trash. Should I salvage the curved black pail below the sleek, silver shredding device? I could re-purpose it for a dog food bin, or a midpoint rest station for paper between clutter and shredder, once she was replaced. But ugg, the replacement options weren’t viable. I walked over to breathe in her beauty one last time before I brought her down to the basement where she would meet her ultimate fate and be put out on the icy sidewalk next to the likes of ugly wired shelving, and broken particle board slabs awaiting their final resting place in Jersey, Staten Island, or the like.

“I can't,” I told myself, “I won't give up on her just yet!” Like a loved one on a ventilator, I couldn't pull the plug - so I plugged Michael Graves in one more time - my prayers still went unanswered. I picked up the shredder unit from his black plastic can, and gave it a little shake. I flicked all of the buttons every which way. I ran my fingers along the teeth inside the paper slot. Plugged her in, still a flatline. Yet, in a final desperate attempt, I gave her a violent SHAKE-SHAKE-SHAKE. I knocked her sleek silver exterior with my knuckles, sat down, and banged the device against the edge of my coffee table. I plugged her in again and a miracle occurred. There, in the center of her curved silver faceplate, the tiny green light shone bright. Like a tiny emerald gleaming out of the darkness of the defunct shredder - I reached for an old Merrill Lynch statement and fed it through her hungry lips. And voila! The monstrous sound of grinding was a concierto to my ears. I hadn’t given up on her, I hadn’t placed my order for her ugly step sister shredders, hadn’t banished her to the basement. All she needed was a swift banging, and Michael Graves was back in business, as beautiful and gifted as ever.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

THE LOST YOUNG MAN

This guy was really making me work for this 30 bucks. It was a $150 helmet I got when I picked up my Vespa – the girl that sold it to me gave me two helmets, a chain lock, a cover, and I was selling off the residual stuff on Craigslist to help recoup some of the top dollar money I had paid for the thing.

The guy was calling me every two minutes, he was only 8 blocks away, but it seemed when I said “take a right,” he would go left. He was getting all turned around - not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I reminded myself to be kind, and on the 5th incoming call, he said he was on my corner.

When I walked outside he was standing next to his bike, an old beat up Honda. He couldn’t have been older than 25 - looking from side to side - he seemed very disoriented. Dressed in full Army fatigues, apparently coming from someplace much further than Queens.

“Sorry, you seemed to get pretty lost on the way here,” I said, trying to break the odd silence. He was half inspecting the helmet, and flinching at sounds that the rest of us wouldn’t think twice about; the slamming of a car door, a neighbor calling to someone across the way. “Is it for you,” I tried again. He was muttering, “It’s O.K, O.K.,” I didn’t know if he was referring to his getting lost, the condition of the helmet, or simply comforting himself.

I asked him where he’d come from, Queens, East New York, Staten Island, he mustered a quiet response, “...back from Afghanistan.” He snapped out of his vacant stare, and reached for the 30 bucks he had neatly folded in his pocket.

“Is it for your girlfriend,” I longed to bring up a comforting notion. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “She must be happy you’re back safe 'n' sound,” I took the 30 from his hand, he hadn’t quite passed it to me. “don’t have a girl, in case I get one…,” his voice trailed off. I tried to engage him in a conversation about his bike, but it seemed like he couldn’t hear me, some kid had popped his gum and he was trying to recompose himself. “Late now,” he said in another sentence fragment, pushing the helmet under the netting on the passenger seat where a girlfriend would go.

“Hey,” I yelled over the sound of his engine, “lemme tell ya how to get back,” but he jerked forward onto Henry Street and disappeared into the hot August sun. I realized I didn’t know where “back” was, but I knew it would only a matter of time before he would be deployed again, shipped off at a moment’s notice to only God knows where.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

FACEBOOK DE-FRIEND: THE NEW PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE

Colder than an icy drink thrown in your face, without a word your “friend” de-friends you on Facebook.

My first de-friend came from a guy I was dating. Since then, we have friended, de-friended back and forth a myriad of times. Yes, we are no longer “friends”.

Then there was one of my best girlfriends from back in the day. She urged me to join Facebook, and I did. Two days later, I was friended by the guy I ended up dating, and de-friending, and friending again. But a year and a half later, my girlfriend who had urged me to join Facebook became angry with me. We were interacting on another marvel of modern communication technology – texting. She was getting hysterical about a situation. I urged her to calm down, in ALL CAPS. Now, all caps can seem like screaming, but my intention was to call attention to my message, to break through the steady stream of panicked texts she was firing my way. I fired off the ALL CAPS – “CALM DOWN”. The texts suddenly stopped. I tried to call her that afternoon, and the next day, but she wouldn’t pick up.

Finally, I decided to check her Facebook page, to see if her panic had made the journey from text messages to a status update, but when I clicked on her page – the page was blank. She had changed her privacy settings so that I couldn’t see anything on her page. All that was left was her grinning face, with her crocheted chapeau – the one an old boyfriend of hers had seen her wearing on Facebook and advised her looked like a flower pot atop her head. But I let it go, thought I’d let a couple of days go by and see if she’d let me back into her world of updates, which usually revolved around daily newsflashes about how many cigarettes and glasses of white wine she’d consumed that afternoon. A week later, I scroll through my friends, and she was nowhere to be found. My friend had de-friended me as a further ramped-up passive aggressive slap in the face. Still, I ignored it, I had tried to call her several times to discuss my all caps offense prior to her de-friending me, I wasn’t going to inquire why she’d de-friended me. I thought, this too shall pass.

Another month goes by, I check to see if she is still donning the flower pot crocheted cap, but my search for her on Facebook yields nothing. I check the pages of our common “friends”, zip. Suddenly I realized, she used the ultimate passive aggressive Facebook fete accompli – she’d blocked me from Facebook completely. I attempted to email her and as I suspected, she’d blocked me from contacting her at her two addresses. I did a search on Google, she no longer existed on the internet, therefore, on the planet - as far as my eyes could see.

I much preferred the days of open confrontation. Disagree, have a fight, hash it out, slug it out, whatever. But Facebook is the new ultimate silent treatment, the new anti-social de-networking tool. I’d love to tell my friend to “suck it,” to “grow the f’ up,” but I have no way to reach her. Facebook de-friending trumps all, if you want to send someone a message, there’s no better way than to block them on Facebook. The trick is try to de-friend them before they de-friend you, or beat them to the punch metaphorically - the good newfangled Facebook way.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

THE SCOOTERATI

Trying to fit in with the scooter club reminded me of why I dropped out of Girl Scouts: girls in clubs can be so mean.

It started when I finally decided to go to a meet up of my local scooter club in the meatpacking district. I had read a lot about them online – the club heads urged new scooterists to come by, “don’t be shy”. “Everyone’s welcome.”

It’s not easy walking into a place alone, especially when you're ascending on a club where everyone is already old friends. I rode up on my scooter and parked alongside all of the other member’s Vespa’s and “the like”. A bunch of the members were standing around outside the bar with their pints of beer. No one greeted me but what was I expecting, a marching band? I figured I’d give them a chance to warm up to me, so I made my way into the bar and got myself a beer. I looked around inside and much to my delight I noticed a woman who had been selling her scooter on Craigslist, I had met her a couple of weeks before when I’d gone to check it out. She was standing next to another girl rider. It was great to see a familiar face in the crowd, I walked over to the two women to say “hi” but was taken aback by their mean girl glances. I was back in the 4th grade, only the mean girls were close to forty, dressed as Mods, and instead of drinking school milk slighly through straws, they were sucking Screwdrivers through tiny cocktail stirrers and red stained lips. I mustered a feeble “hi”, they briefly glanced my way but abruptly turned their backs - apparently attending to some private club agenda - pressing their Betty Page heads together to make sure I couldn't hear.

I’d been meaning to go to this weekly meet up for months, had kicked my butt to take a shower, to fight rush hour traffic over the Brooklyn Bridge. I took another swig of my draft beer and went outside where the other members were gathered. Soon enough, the president of the club came over. “Hey, you’re new here,” he said warmly. He was a big, nice looking guy, he was into scooters, but also rode a motorcycle. He called a couple of guys over and introduced me, they were equally friendly. I was glad I’d come. Finally, the president called over one of the few females in attendance there at the weekly meet-up. “Honey, hey, this is Claudia – this is her first time here.” She muttered a “hey” without looking at me as she trailed over to join the amoeba of scooter club regulars.

Soon, the mean girl I knew from Craigslist appeared outside, she’d walked up to her new scooter; a red modern Vespa that she’d fitted with a black and white zebra print seat. Her red and black outfit color coded precisely to her pride-n-joy Vespa. “Hey,” I said, “I met you a couple of weeks ago, you and your husband, I came over to look at your LXV.” “Oh, yeah. How ya doin,” she said, not looking up from adjusting the zebra shower cap that donned her scooter’s seat, “can we get out of here, please,” she admonished her husband who looked equally unimpressed when I reintroduced myself as the woman he’d spent 40 minutes talking bikes with but a couple of weeks before. Within ten minutes or so, the scooter club members buzzed off in groups of two or three, hootin’ and hollerin’ in wild ingin code, leaving me there alone to find my way out of the tangled streets of the West Village.

By the time I found my way back to the bridge, I realized I would probably never take the time to make it back to their bar. The guys were cool, but the mean girl’s cold facades had eclipsed their efforts – hell bent on keeping their female membership down near the single digits.

I’ve since spent some time on their forum. I jumped in on a couple of topics, even posted a couple of question of my own, all of which went unanswered. Seemed all the comment threads were dominated by about 10 key members, peppered with back and forth ribbing and private in jokes. These senior club members were all crowned with the badge, “Scooter Royalty” by their names. At the top of the club’s forum page was an invitation in bold type, “Join us on Wednesday nights, we’ll make you feel welcome,” yet I’d felt anything but. Whether it’s lunch tables, Country Clubs, or Scooterati – the dynamic isn’t so much about who’s in the club, it more about who’s not.

Monday, January 24, 2011

THE HAIRCUT

I had a crush on him for way too long. I felt like the lame 12 year old girl pining away at the boy in class who doesn’t know she’s alive. But the thing was, I was quite a bit older than 12, and the grown up boy did seem to know I was very much alive. Every time I went by the bike shop he would put his wrench down, walk outside and strike up a conversation with me, to the point where the shop's owner had to come out and break up the tete-a-tete. He was a working class guy but had plenty to say, his sense of humor was an eleven – me, often being fodder for his material. “She’ll be knee draggin’ by the end of the month, we’ll be seein’ her in all the bike mags by October - holdin' a trophy 4 times her size.” It was true, I was a little obsessed with riding, I had just started riding that Spring and had upgraded my scooter 3 times by that Fall. The guys in my little local scoot shop seemed amused by my enthusiasm and Aidan ribbed me on a regular basis. And I was pretty sure he had a crush, shuffling nervously as he inhaled his Marlboro, getting a few inches from my face as he checked to make sure my brake caliper was nice and tight. There was another mechanic who would sometimes work at the shop, a weight lifting, off the boat Italian that used to work on his Harley and would chat me up every time we both happened to show up at the same time. “Hey, keep away from her, Scumbag,” Aidan would say half jokingly, positioning himself between me and the handsome Italian, executing the perfect cock block much to my delight.

Months had gone by, it was getting ridiculous. Each time I called the shop and Aidan would pick up, he’d be like a chatty schoolgirl, when I’d run into him on the street he would stutter and blush. Only thing was, he hadn’t asked me out.

“Do you know if he’s actually single,” my friend Deb inquired in her boarding school Aussie accent, “It does seem strange, if you are, in fact, reading the situation correctly.” It was strange, inexplicable, and incredibly frustrating. But I couldn’t bare the thought of asking, “hey, do you have a girlfriend?” It felt pushy, like I was tipping my hand. I stopped asking boys out in high school, and found it was always better to let them take the lead. I had way too many girlfriends who would ask guys if they wanted to get married, to have kids, it always made me wince. And years later, these same girls never seemed to get past a second date. Yet, something had to give, this crush had gone on much too long.

A couple of days later I stopped by the shop to pick up my motorcycle after an oil change. As usual, Aidan didn’t rush to get my keys, but grabbed his smokes and stood with me for our traditional chat. He looked great. At first I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. His goatee was trimmed precisely, his hair looked like it was cut at some premier salon in the city, not a barber shop where I suspected an Irish boy from Queens would go. “Aidan, you look great,” I was wowed. He took a long puff from his butt, looking into the distance. “Really, you look really good. Your hair looks terrific,” I continued, trying to elicit a response. I felt smooth, I was letting him know I thought he was cute, and I had the new haircut to use as an excuse. He shuffled his feet, saying a muffled, “um, thanks.” He looked over towards the water, exhaling the light grey smoke, I checked out the back, it was really nice work. When he turned back to look at me I noticed the goatee was really on point. This wasn’t the handy work of a mechanic at home with an electric razor. “Aidan, seriously, you look amazing. Where’d you get your haircut,” he'd stomped on the cigarette mid point, I was following him back into the shop now, he had picked up a wrench without the -get back to work- goading from his boss. “My girlfriend. My girlfriend cut it, I usually go to a regular barber, but she cuts hair so ,” his voice trailed off as he started to tap at some metal piece he was locking onto the bike in front of him.

“Oh WOW!!!,” I said, my response came out as more of a shriek than the casual tone I had intended, “she’s really good!!” I was hoping my enthusiasm would shroud my disappointment. But moments later the disappointment was eclipsed by a feeling of relief – I would never have to struggle with -does he like me, will he ask me out, does he have a girlfriend- again. He had a girlfriend. He probably did like me, and now I had a reasonable explanation I could tell myself why he hadn’t asked me out. It was all wrapped up in a nice pretty package, albeit a package filled with engine grease, cigarettes, and a good measure of “what if.”

Saturday, January 22, 2011

DRIVING

driving and driving
all coming clear the further away she got
square jawed, carved-from-marble
holding her tight to hurt.

today it was her birthday
let’s go somewhere nice
taking her hand like Prince Charming
into that dark depressing place.
“Happy birthday, Babe,” he grinned
with startling perfect teeth.
Champagne toast to another year -
flat beer poured in a glass.

It never crossed his mind that day
she wouldn’t be coming back
never gave it a thought
to be kind or clear the dishes
or to show up when he said.


driving and driving
she drove til he was gone.
Who woulda thunk it.
Not him. Not her.
But it was her birthday
and she would never go back again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

WHY YOU ARE NOT SETH ROGAN

I just spent some time on FB, a guy who is a little-known (I’m being generous here) actor was ruminating on Seth Rogan’s career. He said it could have just as easily been him in Mr. Rogan’s position.

First off, let me say that I doubt that Seth Rogan’s “position” is horizontal on a sofa that is in dire need of a spritz of Febreze. He’s probably on a press tour, or in a hotel room hammering out some ideas for his next screenplay.

The couched actor on FB was also scoffing at Mr. Rogan’s “big money” “Hollywood formula” choices.

Yes. Why accept a role as the first anti-hero super hero, be #1 at the box office, when you can maintain your artistic “standards” by eating Chinese take-out on the sofa watching Inside the Actor’s Studio re-runs, having imaginary “what-if” convos with James Lipton while stroking your cat.

Don’t mistake Seth Rogan’s career as a blunder, or a happy mistake. He is not spending his days taking his mental health temperature with a rectal thermometer, and then reporting every downturn on Facebook. He’s not taking pot-shots at other actors who have greater success than he. He’s not a man who seems to get caught up in negativity and probably prescribes to the credo – no matter where you are in your career – you have no business looking down at anyone else. Or looking way way up, then down, in the case of our FB actor.

Does Seth Rogan ever ask himself, how did I get here? It could have just as easily been Dan Jerkin. Probably. That’s because he’s humble, has a sense of humor and irony. But the opposite scenario of Dan Jerkin thinking he could have just as easily been Seth Rogan makes Dan vain, humorless, with a self-fulfilling prophecy to be “undervalued” (read: not cast). Seth Rogan got swept up by a magic carpet, rode it well, stayed on it, and keeps riding. Dan Jerkin’s carpet isn’t magic, it simply lies there, peppered with potato chip dust, hairballs, and spilt milk.

Watch and learn from Seth Rogan, as you would Pacino, or Marlon Brando. None of these men busied themselves talking down about other actors, they dedicated themselves to perfecting their craft. They didn’t announce to the world, I could easily be Paul Newman, or Sir Lawrence Olivia, or Seth Rogan. They wanted to be the best Pacino, or Brando they could be.

So, Dan, forget about Seth Rogan, it’s time to leave the pity party and be the best Jerkin you can be. You may be repulsed by the red carpet, scoff at the award show after parties, and wish to avoid the “Hollywood scene”, and in that respect, your career is firmly on track. Bravo!

No one said being an actor would be easy – it isn’t dumb luck, or eating sour grapes, or thinking you could have done a better John Adams than Paul Giamatti if given the chance, because the truth is, "chance" has very little to do with the business of success.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

THE VALENTINE

She was cheating on him but he was completely in the dark. Her strategy was genius, accuse him of cheating on a regular basis – one day she found a blond hair on his Men’s Warehouse jacket and made him account for it. It turned real CSI, she wouldn’t let it go. She taped the blond hair to the refrigerator and drew red arrows pointing to it with her lipstick from Duane Reade, he owed her an explanation. He racked his brain to account for the thin blond strand – he prayed that it would deteriorate under the cellophane tape, but it was there every time he went to take a sip out of the two liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Was it someone from the job, a woman at the bodega? She made him jump through hoops, sniffing at his collar every time he came through the door. Going through his phone, his emails, tracking every move he made. He didn’t know why she didn’t trust him. He had only slept with one other woman, and that was at the very beginning before they talked about being monogamous. They didn’t use that word, she said “I don’t want you fucking those whores anymore,” he took it as a sign of affection. She didn’t exactly have a way with words, but her proclamation made him feel special, loved, “no more whores” was her, “I love you”. They had gone from the No More Whores stage to moving in to his small house, he already had a ring on layaway at Sears he looked forward to the day he made the final payment, he would get down on one knee, then a nice wedding at The Grand Prospect Hall, her mother had a CD that would be maturing, she’d pulled him aside one Sunday after church to tell him she had 8 grand to kick in for the reception.

But that day seemed very far away. Rarely a day went by when he wouldn’t find the pants he left on the floor with the pockets turned inside out. But it was all part of a strategy, she was the one having the affair. She was an RN at the local hospital, a cop came in one night with a kid who’s finger had been shot off, it was her high school sweetheart, and it was back on like no time had passed. He had a wife, and four kids, and two black labs – he didn’t want to rock the boat, but he had a libido for Godsakes and his wife only fucked him on birthdays and New Years Eve – a man has his needs. With all the stress on the job, the cockroach crack heads, the gang bangers, his hard assed Lew gunning for him, even the fucking hipsters rubbed him the wrong way, talking down to him like he was an idiot or something. The affair was so easy, he didn’t look out of place strolling into the ER, they could slip into an empty room or a supply closet where they could fuck, or he could get a world class BJ, it was working for him. She treated him like a man, for fucksakes, she didn’t get all over him about getting to every fucking soccer game, or ask him where he was every second of the day or night. And she didn’t mind having sex, she actually loved it, needed it, why else would she be texting him every twenty minutes or so. He had to wipe that grin off his face.

She would get home for work and immediately jump into the shower to get the smell of her cop off of her. She had to cover her bases. She would start right in, he had peeled the yellowing tape of the refrigerator, and Windexed off the accusatory red lipstick arrows which she immediately escalated into a fight. He’d made another payment down at Sears that afternoon, but it was all for nothing, he couldn’t seem to win. He didn’t dare reach over and touch her at night, she’d shove him away so hard sometimes he'd found marks in the morning on his chest.

He tried everything in his power to please her, he would cook his special spaghetti with three kinds of meat, use the fabric softener when he did the laundry, nothing seemed to help. One day he was washing and waxing her Ford, he liked to keep it nice for her, he had started to clean the inside, too, carefully removing all the fast food wrappers from the back window that the wind had blown back there, then fishing around under the driver's seat with his head pressed against the ridged upholstery that smelled of cigarettes and tacos, it was her perfume. One day, he found an envelope down there, it was a Valentine, not the cheap kind you got at the drugstore, but a Hallmark card that cost $3.75. It was four days after Valentine’s day, had she forgotten it was there? He’d bought her a dozen roses from the side of the road, and picked up a white teddy bear holding a red satin heart, she had said she hadn’t had time to reciprocate, it had been a full moon that week and the ER had been bursting at the seams. He wondered if she had forgotten, the card was very romantic, and she had signed it in magic marker, and made a smooch mark with her lipstick, the same red stain she had used to draw the blaming arrows on the fridge.

He gathered all his courage, she angered so easily, as he walked into the kitchen, she slapped shut her flip phone and said, “what’s up” like she didn't even care. He walked towards her with the peach colored envelope – the cat had her tongue. Maybe he ruined the surprise, she snatched the envelope from him, and disappeared from the room, he followed her into the bedroom, she had locked herself in there and was speaking in hushed tones, no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t crack the code. He wasn’t fucking whores, or any of the nice girls that would smile at him at Friday’s where he would go on all those nights she had to work OT. He had a few more months to pay off the solitaire, maybe he would throw in the necklace to match. She was a stunner, the only woman for him, he couldn’t bare the thought of losing her, he would do whatever it took. She came out of the bathroom saying, “spray the f'n bathroom after you take an f'n crap.” It was her way of saying, “I love you,” he thought as he gathered the towels from the hamper to put in the next load of wash.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

MARCEL'S FRIEND

Marcel Marceau, the world’s most famous mime was coming to perform at my high school, and I had snagged a free ticket through the drama department. There were a handful of free tickets available to those of us in the Drama Club, Mr. Pia, our director, called them “Meems,” I winced every time he said it. “Meems,” “Mimes,” whatever, I would be going that Saturday night, for free.

I put on a dress and some eye-shadow and made it to the high school theater, excitement filled the air. The stage was usually reserved for high school productions, but occasionally world famous talent would appear. The house was packed, I took my orchestra seat next to a pretty girl with long blond hair accented with a black velvet headband. I couldn’t tell if she was a girl or a woman, she was somewhere in between. She spoke very eloquently about Marcel Marceau’s talents, she was a long time fan – so much so that she had become almost a friend, she explained – she had been to so many of his shows that she had lost count. I listened and nodded, I wondered where she’d learned to speak so prettily; maybe at some private school in Switzerland or someplace like that. She sat with her hands folded in her lap, securing her program ever so lightly, as not to mar or bend the pristine cover that was graced by the great Marcel. I told her that I had only seen mimes on 5th Avenue in the city, that they scared me – how they would follow you, making fun or you without your knowledge. She scoffed, shaking her head with an adamant, “no.” There was only one Marcel Marceau, she assured me, I was in for a night I would never forget. She seemed to be warming up to me – her haughty tone relaxed a bit as she offered to take me backstage to meet The Master, himself. Luck was with me, first the comp. ticket, and now being seated next to a personal friend of the greatest meem of all time. As the theater lights dimmed, she reached over and squeezed my hand in anticipation, and ssh’d the audience who had not yet piped down.

The show was spellbinding. Marcel was much better than those hacks in New York City, you could hear a pin drop between the audiences “oo’s and ah’s,” chuckles and eventual guffaws.

As the lights came up, my new friend beat everyone to the punch of the standing ovation, carefully balancing her program on the seat’s edge as it sprung back to its folded position. She was the last one to stop clapping, and gestured that we take our seats again as the audience lolygagged out of the theater to find their cars.

“What a treat,” she said breathlessly! “I have seen him a hundred times, and could see him a hundred times more.” She sounded like a fairytale princess, her eyes were fixed on the closed curtain as though he was still standing there. “Let’s give him a moment, and then I’ll take you backstage,” she finally turned to me, eyes full of anticipation. “Where’s your program,” she said in an urgent, panicked voice – her eyes nervously scanning my lap. I opened my purse and showed her I had tucked it away to safety. “Oh, thank GOODNESS,” she exhaled, “you’ll want to save that forever.”

Soon, we were the only ones left in the theater, it seemed the time was right. She looked around from left to right, and a quick check behind, then turned to me and whispered, “NOW!!”

She gracefully led me to the stage door, and opened it quietly, waving me inside. One of the tech people was busy sweeping the concrete floor.

“Excuse me,” she said as though addressing a servant, “we’re here to see Monsieur Marceau, I’m a personal friend.” The backstage sweeper was casually attentive and told us to wait as she put the broom down to deliver the message to The Great Marceau. My new friend smoothed her perfect blond hair with one hand, while the other hand held her program in its pristine state.

Mr. Marceau appeared out of the darkness, his whiteface eerily glowing as he walked gracefully towards us until something froze him in his tracks.

“Monsieur Marceau,” my friend exclaimed, “what a triumph, as always!” The King of Mimes looked nervously around him, he spoke with a slight voice, as he quickly started to back away.

“Oui, oui,” he said stepping back, being careful not to have his back towards us, “oui, Merci,” he grabbed the arm of another Frenchman who had appeared out of the darkness where Marcel had emerged. The chalked-faced mime scurried off behind the folds of curtain, his manager said a brusque, “Bonsoir, Madame,” to my velvet headbanded friend. “Eef you wait here une minute, Monsieur Marceau will sign your programs!”
My friend nodded gracefully, looking over at me to see if I was impressed.

“How about that,” she said, “you have met The Great Marcel Marceau, now he’s off to fetch a pen!” The manager had rushed off in the same direction as Marceau, we stood there in the wings, I would have wandered out the stage door and out to my car if it weren’t for the fact that we were told to wait right there.

After a few minutes two Police Officers came through the stage door. They flanked Marcel’s fan, each taking an arm as though escorting her to a procession or formal ball. Marcel’s moonglow face peered out between the curtains at the activity, seeing if the coast was clear. The officers walked her out, she didn’t seem alarmed, “Gentleman, I will ask you to wait, Monsieur Marceau will wonder where I’ve disappeared to,” she was insistent as they gingerly walked her out the door. “What a momentous evening,” she heralded in my direction as the metal door slammed shut behind her and the men in blue.

Marcel’s manager appeared again, demanding to know how I knew the refined young woman. I told him that I had just happened to be seated next to her, and that she was kind enough to extend an invitation backstage. “She is an unfortunate young woman, we have had many encounters before. We have been assured that she is not dangerous, but she has escaped the facility many times to see Monsieur Marceau,” He gave a polite snap of his head bidding me adieu.

Apparently, the refined escape artist had traveled far and sometimes across state lines to catch Marceau’s show. This time being the shortest voyage, she had left the great mansion, the local mental institution where only the wealthiest mental cases were welcome. She had dressed herself prettily, snuck out a window, glided across the great front lawn of the impressive estate where they shocked people’s brains back to some state of sanity. From there she had a quarter mile stroll to the high school where Marcel would be delighting the Connecticut locals, with more than enough time before curtain to secure herself a program, take an empty seat, and to compose herself before The Great Master Mime would take the stage and give us a night we would never forget.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

THE INTERNET – WHAT'S AN ILLITERATE TO DO?

I ran across a profile on a dating site of a man that I encountered at a restaurant bar a few years ago. A working class bloke who was versed in Brooklynese, I suspected that he had stopped paying attention in class around the 3rd grade, his vocabulary was limited to two syllable words and under, his grammar appalling, his thick bridge and tunnel brogue didn’t help matters much.

I clicked on his photo, I was curious to see how he would present himself in a medium where prose is king.

Clearly, he had enrolled in a writing program at Columbia or some such school. His sentences were well-constructed, his charm was jumping off the page. “They’re”, “there”, and “theirs” were as they should be. He didn’t stop at periods and comma’s, there were semicolons and m dashes, too!

Clearly a case of Cyrano – it was a charming profile, but the plan was clearly flawed. A bait n switch scenario, how would he get past the first email exchange? A pipe and smoking jacket by night, a Sanitation worker by day, I’m sure these guys existed, but with this guy it surely was not the case. His gift for sparkling conversation was limited; the only four-syllable word I heard him use at the bar, “Jagermeister”.

Perhaps he would supply a phone number and nothing else in a first email for some unsuspecting copy editor, lawyer, or Wall Street gal to use. The first few seconds of the conversation would be cut short. Why set yourself up for such embarrassment?

The same applies to men or women who post a photo from a decade or two ago, or of their body before the ravages of time or too much pizza had taken their toll. It may get you to an email exchange, even a phone call or two – but the face to face meeting can only be put off for so long, eventually you have to show up ¬– it’s hard to hide the extra pounds, the missing teeth, the lapsed education. I knew a man who had exchanged emails with a beautiful woman from New Jersey. When she rolled up in her steel wheelchair and excess weight. He still took her to dinner, then sent her a brief polite goodbye the moment he arrived home. Misrepresentation front loads hope, but the end result is the self- fulfilling prophecy that inspired the fraud in the first place.

How do we best sell ourselves online, in a medium where visuals rule, and words play a close second? People of all shapes and sizes, and all levels of verbal dexterity deserve love, and in the real world, they find it. Are some people just better off staying away from dating sites, and Facebook where witty repartee and decent spelling are the price of entry? It doesn’t seem quite fair, but does this medium exclude the underachievers, the less than picture perfect, or those who simply can’t type? Misrepresentation is one of the inherent tools available to us on the internet, but it only gets you so far – when the buyer receives the fake Rolex – whether it be watch or perspective date – it’s game over.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

GOOD AND BORED

It’s a new year, and heck if I can figure out what to write about. I was struggling with an addiction in 2010, a full-on monkey on my back that goes by the name of “Drama”. My main supplier, this blog: claudtalks. It was stirring up all sorts of trouble. Pissed off boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, bikers, cops, many leaving threatening comments on the claudtalks threads, or sending text messages alerting me that trouble was on the rise. A lawyer friend advised me to keep a log of comments and characters, I was watching my back, the president of a biker crew was taking meetings with another crew to tell them the back off or there would be trouble. Up to this point I had used my writing skills to sell shampoo and dog food to consumers, I had definitely upped the ante. Blogging became an addiction, and a dangerous one at that. The drama that spun out of it resulted in increased heart rate, fear, excitement, power, and validation, a powerful elixir that would lead to no good. I had people reading claudtalks from NYPD computers, pissed off girlfriends of ex’s checking claudtalks 2 or more times a day – I made a vow not to write stories about anyone who carries weapons legally or illegally, anyone dressed as a pirate, cop, or any other costume designed to instill “respect” in others. There had to be some gripping story matter involving those who wear cotton, silk, flannel, or denim, those never diagnosed with mental health issues, plagued with prison records, or restraining orders.

There was a harmless story about a guy I had worked with – the fellow had removed the period at the end of the sentence on a print ad I was doing at work. I was amused at how much of a to-do a little period had caused, I wrote about it on my blog. A couple of weeks later an innocent bystander on the project read the post and left a comment, a lone frown-ie face. She was just starting out in the business, and although she had just been following orders when she removed the offending period, she took my blogpost to heart. She didn’t threaten me with bodily harm, a speeding ticket, or legal action – her shamed expression when we ran into each other on the street still stung hard. I still hadn’t gotten it right.

Later, I wrote a story about a friend of mine who had found happiness in an extramarital affair, it had helped smooth things out at home between her and her husband – which I found to be curious and amazing. She had been coaxing me to write her story, after refining it – switching out names, locations, time frames – it hadn’t been up more than 8 minutes when alarming emails, incoming. Her boyfriend “happened” to come across my blog, he was livid. The fact that I had spun their affair into a quick fix of her marriage sent him into a tailspin of fury, she was annoyed that I had mistaken the new calm in her home as any sign of a romantic rekindling. Claudtalks helped precipitate the end of the year-long affair. The damage was done – I deleted the piece from the blog, I had done this too many times before – I had already removed over a year of blogposts in the interest of freeing my blog of any drama inducing content, and here I was again. Drama school was back in session.

What to write about? Stories about me and ex-boyfriends – out. Stories about me and co-workers – nix. Ditties about me and friends – N.O. Claudtalks power to offend had rendered it frozen, I was sitting paralyzed in front of my keypad wondering where to take it all next.

Claudtalks taught me a lot, seeing my life play out in black and white. I realized that I have a penchant for screwed up guys, that I was addicted to drama, and could actually feel it deliciously coursing through my viegns. It taught me that what’s good for claudtalks, isn’t good for Claud – I had to part ways with drama – it won’t be easy, we’ve been dating for years. I heard a shrink on TV tell an addict, “you need to embrace boredom” – it struck a chord, so Boredom, come to Mama. Don’t wink at the bad man on the motorcycle, don’t start wars over punctuation, don’t catch up with the driver that cut you off at the light. That stuff’s not you. And while I figure out who exactly “you” is, the blog will have to be patient. It’s been over a month, and I still don’t know what to write.

When drama peaked on claudtalks, my readership was through the roof. People getting pissed off seemed to go hand-in-hand with increased hits. I wasn’t the only drama addict, I had a readership that thrived on it as well, I left them all back in 2010. The question remains, what’s in store for 2011? And will anyone give a hoot?

I woke up this morning, made some coffee and checked if anyone had visited claudtalks besides an occasional friend, or a random blog surfer from Czechoslovakia. And there it was, a hit from an NYPD computer – just like back in the old days – my blood started rushing, I felt “alive” again – sitting sipping coffee from a hand made mug, all toasty in my flannel PJ’s,– that delicious drama gave a little “you hooo!!” to me before I reminded myself that I have a date with boredom today – and I’m actually looking forward to it; and if I’m doing everything right – it won’t be anything to write home about.