Awkward

solo dog
She plays better solo.

When I first saw her, she was talking to Dave and our host. I walked over and said, “You look so familiar.”

“You look familiar, too,” said she. I love that moment when two people recognize each other without knowing quite how. It could be past lives or high school or almost anything. It’s so full of possibility. She cocked her head, “Did I used to buy drugs from you?”

Dave and our host laughed, like maybe they’d been talking about drug legislation or something before I walked up. “Oh, that’s right!” I said, “You were a great customer.”

“You were an excellent dealer.” It’s so much fun to improvise with a complete stranger, especially when it’s not in a theatrical setting.  It’s a leap of faith in adult playfulness potential.

We continued a few more rounds of banter, and I was really starting to be pleased with my comebacks when she cocked her head the other way and said , “Oh, now I know you. You’re the person whose dog bit my dog.”

“Of course,” I said, feeling mortified but also not wanting to look mortified. Bite is such a strong word. Was it really a bite? Wasn’t it more of a, you know, more of a something you wouldn’t go right out and call a bite?

“What?” said Dave.

“Yes, two little cuts on his face,” she added. “And it was strange because we’d already passed by and then your dog just turned around and bit my dog.”

Our host, still smiling, said something like, “This actually happened?”

“Yep,” I said. “Is he okay?”

“Oh, yes,”‘ she said. But she didn’t change the subject. And clearly I couldn’t change the subject. Actually I became fixated, mentioning all sorts of details from the event. “It was on Sunnyside. He was so cute. Did you get your luggage back? Did I give you my number and stuff, just in case?”

“Oh yes,” she said. “You gave me your card.”

There was some silence, and I wondered if I should have done more, like offered money right off the bat. Was that what she meant? Did she think I was just some irresponsible dog owner, whose dog goes around biting people?  Was I just some irresponsible dog owner? “She’s never bitten another dog before,” I said.

“Oh, really?” she said.

“She’s actually good with most dogs,” said Dave.

“Is she really?”

“She tends to snap her jaws,” said Dave, “but she doesn’t usually make contact.”

“She has gotten bits of fur from time to time,” I added, for full disclosure. Eventually we moved on to other topics, and I tried to adjust to my new role as that person whose dog bit her dog.

For full disclosure, I should have added that she also snapped at a friend of ours on New Years Eve. But in her defense, we’d told our guests repeatedly not to pet her.  She looks, like most dogs in the world, like she would like to be petted, but she doesn’t. Or rather she does, but only under certain very specific circumstances which are impossible to predict or quantify. She would make a terrible scene partner.

Herding cats

Pandora interface
On the other hand, now I’m thinking I should give The Sopranos another try.

Sometimes I look at people who listen to vinyl and I’m jealous. I roll my eyes when they brag about the preciousness of the pops and the balancing of the needle and quality of the sound, but I’m jealous. They have a machine that does just one thing, plays records.

Meanwhile, a friend is worried about her dog, who has become very clingy and affectionate after ten years of mellow reserve. He’s eating blinds while she’s gone. He’s sleeping on her socks.

Django is also clingier, though not any more affectionate.
She won’t willingly walk unless both Dave and I go. If it’s only one of us, she keeps trying to turn back.
When we leave the house, she won’t go first. “But isn’t that what they taught us at obedience school, humans go first?” I ask Dave. “Maybe those classes finally paid off.”
“No,” says Dave. “she just wants to make sure we’re all going.”
She follows us around the house wearily, like, “We just got comfy in the office, why the hell are we going down the basement?”

What I can’t figure out is why, with music so much more easily accessible–
on my computer
on my phone,
through the stereo if AppleTV or my Remote app is currently letting me access my iTunes library, which is about 50 percent of the time, averaging out the times it lets me in at first try,
lets me in after I turn on sharing AGAIN,
lets me in after I go up and open iTunes or just remind iTunes that it is indeed open,
and the times it works for a while, then cuts out in the middle of a song like it suddenly remembers it had a roast in the oven,

–I don’t listen to music as much as I used to. These days, if I want to listen to music that sounds good, I generally just turn on Pandora through Roku, because:
it will play through the house speakers.
I can listen to the sort of music I’m in the mood for
(Americana Radio, Rain Dogs Radio, Blossom Dearie Radio)

…though not a specific song or album. If I want a specific musical experience, and the song or album happens to be
in the subset of my iTunes library that’s currently on my phone
or
findable with a Web search that usually turns up at least a YouTube version
I’ll generally just play it there,
turning up the volume and reminding myself that it sounds not that bad for a phone speaker.

Maybe I could solve this with Spotify, which I would then connect to on the Roku, and thereby have infinite choice of artist or album or genre, which would be great, but it would also mean:
the screen of the TV has to be on so I can choose things
(and everyone knows the TV screen sends out hypnotic watch-me rays that fundamentally conflict with the auditory omnipresence of good audio)
and
the sheer abundance of choice at any given moment would result in buffet blindness
–which happens when I go out for brunch and end up with ketchup on my cantaloupe because I put too much stuff on my plate because it was all free, free! for the cost of brunch, so I don’t even know what I’m eating and the omelet is cold–
and
I’d be paying for a service instead of buying albums, so any fantastic music I discovered would become inaccessible as soon as I stopped paying for it.
(What was that band singer song called again? Oh, never mind.)

I thought I was alone in my vague sense of musical dissatisfaction until yesterday, when Dave said, “I miss music.” Then in the car with friends we were group-grocery shopping with because of the coming snow, Sam piped up from the backseat, “Me too! I used to listen to music all the time. And now…”

So now we’re looking at the way media is configured in our home and trying to figure out how to change it without:

  • sacrificing all the things that are great about remote access to music
  • buying another component
  • spending $2000 at Room and Board

Django doesn’t care about music, or cuddling, or laundry. She doesn’t nestle with my dirty socks. She just stands at the top of the basement stairs, waiting for me to finish folding clothes so she can get back to a room with a dog bed in it.

Thanks, DJ Kool

sneakers
Too squishy to dance in, but I’m ready for Spring.

Some strange things have happened since I started taking a hip hop class three Saturdays ago. I’ve become happier, more confident, and more likely to shake my hips in the Hazel dressing room. I haven’t become a better dancer, but that’s beside the point.

At the first class, I was so confused I couldn’t even fail properly. I like yoga because it’s flowy and you usually get multiple chances to try a pose that eludes you. Also, you’re never forced to do steps across the floor, in twos, which I haven’t done since kindergarten ballet class. At the first class, not only was I unable to do the steps, but I also couldn’t count to eight, so I kept stumbling across the floor too soon and bumping into the poor twos ahead of me. “Are you alright?” asked my hip-hop dancing friend, and all I could answer was, “What am I doing here?”

So during the week, I read the Wiki on hip hop, bought some sneakers, practiced the video they sent around, and signed up for a free month of The Daily Burn. When I tried to do the hip hop class on Daily Burn it was so impossible that it made the Saturday class look easy.

The second class went better until the teacher added new steps to the old ones, and they included hip swivels. I’ve always had trouble moving my hips. I can still hear my high school gym teacher calling, “You’re not moving your hips” or “You need to move your hips” or I forget the exact line, all I heard was HIPS+YOU=WRONG & IT’S BEEN NOTED. For women who can move their hips, this sounds so trifling. “You just do this,” they say, and demonstrate for me, like I must have misunderstood and thought I was supposed to be wiggling my ears.

First the teacher isolated it: “Right, front, left, back, right, front…” That made sense, even when she speeded it up. “No problem,” I thought, “that Wiki really helped.” But then she said, “Great, now just incorporate that when you move. Step back, swivel right; step forward, swivel left, just like that.” And just like that, I was lost.

Also, there was a 10-year-old girl standing too close in front of me, with flashing sneakers on. I wanted to say, “Can you move forward a little?” but I didn’t want to be the bitchy lady who says that. Then I did say it, and I did feel bitchy, and then I really started to resent her. But when we got to the hip-moving part, the teacher told her, “Don’t worry, I know it feels strange. The boys in my kids class never want to move their hips, but I make them. Just keep doing it ‘til it feels normal.” So now I swivel when I’m brushing my teeth, and while I’m waiting for water to boil, and once I practiced at Hazel while Dave was trying on pants. They have big huge mirrors and no one was around.

There have been times over the past three weeks that I’ve said, “I don’t have time to do this class. I’m never going to be able to do it well, and I’ve got too much other stuff that’s more important to me, like writing and work, to be wasting time trying to figure out to do the Humpty.”

I skipped today’s class because my quads are so sore from yesterday’s Daily Burn weight ball class. But at about 3:30, just around the time I should have left for hip hop, I started a Vinyasa class that ended with my legs still hurting but in a better way than they did before. Scheherazade and Xeena have both signed up for dance classes, and Dave says he too wants to take a class in something he’s no good at. Three people (two in person and one on TV) have said that we store emotions in our hips, and I’ve been able to think, “Not all of us.” None of this has much to do with hip hop, except that it wouldn’t have happened without it.

Ninety is the new Seventeen

Exchanged for what?
Exchanged for what?

If you’re wondering about aging, here’s some stuff I’ve noticed lately.

I feel more approximate. In most every respect, I’m messier with my motor control and my emotional awareness and my ability to pinpoint what the hell I’m so upset about most of the time. I don’t chew as carefully. I’m in a hurry for no particular reason. I overlook things like mild consistent nausea and itchy eyes because I’m sick of hearing myself complain about them, or things like them.

That’s another thing: most things are like something else. Most people remind you of someone else. You’ve met some version of them and their heartbreak story before. But you can’t say that, because it sounds pompous and out of touch.

But you stay a little out of touch purposely, because you’re tired of being touched in the exact same grooves again and again. So you approximate the emotion, the observation, the friendship, because in most cases it will pass, and you can save your energy for that one niggling problem at the edge of your mind, on the tip of your tongue, that is just out of your reach, that is quietly driving you to madness.

Maybe it’s the thing not done. Maybe it’s the inverse view that shows you’ve done it all ass-backward but it’s too late to fix. Or maybe it’s the silent waiting of nothing. The dark presence of absolute nothingness, rendering your failures as irrelevant as your successes, because there is nothing, absolutely nothing. Some laughs and some tears and some paint colors and bankruptcies and music and cough drops and junk drawers and all of it is just space and time. You’d better enjoy that ice cream cone because there is nothing else. How do you measure the pleasure of an ice cream cone? How do you enjoy it when you keep forgetting the meaning of the word enjoy? It sounds like a perfume or a mini cupcake bakery. Approximation is easier, loosely managing to make a cup of coffee, hoping I don’t drop it because I forgot to remember to hold on.

The omnipresence of David & Kim

I guess it's all in how you look at things.
No way this is getting stolen from the BP restroom.

The new pope is such a nice guy. He conducts his business in the spare bedroom of my friend Kristy’s apartment. Her husband isn’t home yet but I’ve met their daughter, though I had a hard time making friends because my mouthguard was still in. I’m here to tell Kristy about an attempted assault at a nearby bar where we were all served complimentary slices of the bartender’s wedding cake, but I forget because of the pope being here.

Apparently people can just walk for an audience, no appointment required. The pope sits in bed and invites you to sit in a chair at his left side. Dave is in there now. I start to join them, but back away. I’m Catholic, I should have more humility. Then Dave comes out and says, “You have to go in. Just put your necklace on and get in there.” He’s so supportive. I try again to walk in, but meet the pope coming out. “Wait here,” he says, “I’ll return.”

There are chairs on the right side of his bed, the side nearest the door, but their legs are all broken, whittled away to stubs, raw with sawdust. I’m wondering what to do next when who should walk in but David & Kim, along with their protégé, a young man so favored by the pope that he gets to sit on the bed itself.

David and Kim show us a large photo they’ve given the pope. It shows the roofline of their theatre, glinting in the sunlight. They speak of another protégé, Winifred, who sang for the pope after a monolog. Apparently, she wowed him. I am determined to have some sort of meaningful experience with the pope that I can blog about. The male protégé silently lounges on the left side of the bed. I decide to assert myself and lounge on the right side.

The pope returns, wearing a trenchcoat, and climbs back into bed. Between us he sits lightly, on top of the covers, conversing with David and Kim about the photograph. I suspect he uses the bed merely as a mark of respect to the less robust popes who came before.

The male protégé is rocking the bed, a teenager’s idle twitch, and I want to stop him. I try bracing my foot against the floor, but it’s no use. I can’t still the motion, and besides, I’m a newcomer; I don’t know how this is all supposed to work. I go with the flow and wonder whether I’ll ever have any time alone with the pope, and what I will say if I do.

Victor’s Upholstery for President

Ask not whose job it is to sweep the leaves. Ask where the rake is, because a broom won't work.
My fellow Americans, ask not whose job it is to rake the leaves, ask where the rake is because a broom won’t work.

Yesterday, after much deliberation, we carried a cushion back to Victor’s Upholstery. He’d made it the week before, two cushions for the bench on the back porch. An extra job we added to the main job of having him re-upholster the Danish moderns from the living room. A main job that shouldn’t have been necessary because Dave had had those reupholstered less than ten years ago. However, the upholsterers he’d used made the cushions too small so they never fit the chairs properly. I still remember when they delivered the not-quite-right chairs. It was just before Thanksgiving, which Dave was hosting. They had come highly recommended and were very expensive. These factors somehow blinded us to the fact that the cushions were the wrong size.

Even now I can remember the guy setting down a chair and trying to arrange the cushions so we wouldn’t see the gap in the back because the cushions were too short. There was a weird energy in the room, maybe because Dave was paying almost a thousand dollars, and the guy was smiling a lot and in a hurry, and it didn’t seem possible that the cushions couldn’t be right, and just too awkward to look too closely. In fact, I think it took us about six months to admit to each other, “They don’t look quite right.”

So when we brought the chairs to Victor, who runs a little shop on Montrose, no delivery that I know of, an ancient adding machine on his desk that he still uses, we checked and double-checked the measurements. I didn’t want him to even see the old cushions, although also I did. “These are the old ones, see how wrong they are?”

Victor laughed. “Yes, it’s no problem.”

“So you won’t go by this size.”

“I make them fit the chair.”

On the way home, I said, “We shouldn’t have shown him the old cushions. What if he forgets and goes by that size?”

“It’s fine,” said Dave. And it was. For half what the other guys charged, Victor completely reupholstered the chairs, made beautiful, sturdy, perfectly-sized cushions, and even cleaned and re-lacquered the wood. We are now in love with Victor. So we asked him to make new cushions for the back porch bench. “No problem,” said Victor. He made two beautiful cushions which are almost perfect except that they’re about an inch and a half too long.

At first we were going to let it go. He’s so reasonable, and maybe we screwed up on the measurements. Except Dave is pretty sure he didn’t screw up. Except he’s already erased the note from his phone, and we can’t find the quote Victor wrote up on his carbon-paper form. So we have no idea who screwed up, us or him. And without knowing who screwed up, how do we know what we’re asking for? Are we hiring him to adjust one of the cushions? Is he going to charge us? If he says it was our fault, will he get his copy of the receipt and show us the measurements and then we’ll need to bring in the second cushion too, so that we can prove that it was him and not us, or maybe it will turn out to be us, which will be slightly embarrassing but we’ll just ask what it costs? Should we just forget it? “I think I could live with it,” Dave said. “It’s one of those things that will always bug me, but only a little.”

“No, you went through that with the chairs.”

“I should have said something as soon as that guy set them down.”

“It’s a matter of principle.” So we grabbed a cushion and walked over with the dog. As we neared the shop, Dave said, “Who’s gonna be good cop?”

“I’ll be bad cop,” I said. Though because of the dog I’d need to stay at the door and not really be able to get in his face and threaten his adding machine.

We walked in, and Victor came out from the back and saw the cushion. “Ah, what it is?”

“It’s a little too long,” Dave began. “I don’t know if we maybe, or…”

“Too long?” Victor took the cushion. “How much?”

Dave said, “About an inch and a half?”

“I shorten it.”

“Really?”

“Sure. Come back tomorrow.”

“It’s not a problem, with the zipper or anything?”

“No problem. Come back at this same time.”

“Thank you!” Victor took the cushion back to his machine and that was that. No long discussion about who was at fault. No long discussion about how it might have happened. We walked back home a little stunned. Now we’re wondering how much to pay him, even if he doesn’t charge us anything.

Shocked, shocked

striped cushion on a carpet
Stripes make the cushion look taller.

I’ve been having this weird experience lately with full-length mirrors. I pass in front of one at a fancy restroom or someone’s house and am shocked to see that I am significantly shorter than I thought I was when I got dressed.

These flowy-wide jeans that I chose because they make my legs look super-long, so they’re the perfect match for this tunic thing I’ve got on top? Yeah, my legs look exactly the same length in these as they do in my six other pairs of jeans. Also, these happen to be too short, which is probably why they make my legs feel longer but actually only make my feet look bigger. Also they make my middle look wide. But then I realize, my middle is wide. Not excessively so, but in my mind there’s no wideness at all, just super-long legs in flowy-wide jeans trailing up to this cool tunic top thing.

Where did I get these false images? From ads? From how these clothes feel as compared to how other clothes feel? From the fact that I don’t have a full-length mirror upstairs? The only one in the whole house is on the front hall closet door, but to use it you have to stand right in front of it, so close you don’t get much perspective. Try to stand farther back and there’s a desk in the way. Or you can stand on the other side of the desk, but then you have to stand on the first step of the stairs going up, which is what I usually do, so you can only see the upper half of your body, which now looks six inches taller.

This visual disconnect wouldn’t matter much except for two things: 1) The abundance of full-length mirrors I seem to be encountering lately in the rest of the world, that shock me with the image of how I actually look. Which wouldn’t be so bad except that 2) They mess with my confidence. To be confident enough to go out and do the things I want to do, like…

Like what. What am I trying to do that requires model-tallness? I’m a middle-aged woman who’s trying to create stuff and collaborate with other people gifted in various aspects of the performing arts. None of this requires me to be five-ten. But it does require confidence. And if I am constantly being reminded in the outside world that I am not in fact five-ten, as I previously seemed to believe when standing in my cramped closet with the door closed so I wouldn’t have to bother closing the bedroom window shades to get dressed, than what else have I mis-estimated? Am I also not as talented, accomplished, intelligent, entertaining, and pleasant to be with as I might have assumed? And things just spiral from here.

So either I need to get myself a full-length mirror in the bedroom, so that I can begin the day with my confidence accurately calibrated to my actual height, or I need to destroy all the full-length mirrors in the world. But that would be a drag, because just every now and then, when I’ve started the day thinking I’m too short and out of ideas and not confident at all, I catch a glimpse of myself in a full-length mirror somewhere in the world, and am shocked, shocked to discover that for some reason, I am actually six feet tall and perfect.

Figure in a small craft, drifting

I hope to God this is a metaphor.
I hope to God this is a metaphor.

I took a canoe out after breakfast, anticipating a peaceful meander across the quiet lake. Maybe drift over to BooHoo, a dune that rises from the small lake and spills over on the other side into Lake Michigan. I wore my suit, in case I felt like a swim. I packed a bottle of water. I went down to the shore and surveyed my craft of choice, a charmingly dented metal canoe. I pulled it into the water, got in, and began.

From the outset, it was more work than I’d thought. The further out I got, the more work it became. The canoe was stubborn. It wouldn’t go in the direction I wanted. I had to paddle hard and fast on the right side only, just to avoid hitting a fishing boat. I got a little closer than seemed polite but avoided looking over. My original thought of getting to BooHoo, over to the left, was a joke.

I’d forgotten a hat so I tied my shirt around my head. I tried a couple of stints of letting the pretty water take me where it might, but it quite definitely kept taking me into the shore. So I kept paddling, hard, on the right side only.

Finally I made it to opposite shore. I pulled the canoe to a shallow spot against the grasses, then had a quick wade in the water. I didn’t go all the way in because I didn’t want my sunscreen to wash off. I was beginning to realize what a job it might be to get back. The wind that had pushed me so rudely away from BooHoo had also pretty much pushed me to this side of the lake.

I aimed the canoe where I wanted to go, climbed in the back, and started paddling. I paddled and paddled, on one side and then the other, and the canoe blithely turned 180 degrees back toward the grasses. “Come on,” I said out loud.

The canoe began making a screeching sound, like the bottom was scraping over rocks, when by now we were afloat on clear water. “Just come on.” I tried thrusting my paddle down to the sandy lake floor, to push myself in a mighty burst of direction, but the paddle never hit bottom. So I kept paddling.

I was alone on that side of the lake, no one to hear the screeching that was louder the harder I paddled, and we started making progress, skimming instead of circling. I realized I should have tried harder to tip the canoe over before I’d even started, to empty out the water that was now sloshing around my feet and probably making the boat heavier, but it had been too heavy.

When the canoe suddenly did another 180-degree turn I said “No way” and climbed forward onto the middle rail. This new position gave me better leverage, or at least felt like it did. I shoved the lifesaver seat cushion under my butt to make the rail more comfy. “Why isn’t there a seat here?”

From this position I paddled hard but mostly directly all the way back. I felt like I’d learned something about when to paddle deep and fast and when to just skim the surface. I made peace with the fact at any moment the canoe could forget this new understanding we’d forged and ram me right toward the wrong shore and a line of moored boats and a great deal of embarrassment. I kept paddling.

About halfway back, I saw a kayaker paddling approaching, his kayak forming the other half of a V I did not want to make. First I tried to out-paddle him, to get so far ahead there’d be no danger of meeting up. Then I realized again that I had no control over speed. Maintaining direction was my full-time job. As he got closer, I thought of various friendly things to say, two paddlers out on the water. “Now I know why everyone uses the kayaks ha ha!” or “Heh heh now I know why all the kayaks were taken!” though they weren’t. But that might sound more complimentary.

The kayaker was burly, silent, paddling steadily and seriously. I drifted a little and let, “let” him pass me before any of my words might be necessary. If he had paddled to the middle of nowhere, likely he wasn’t looking for conversation either.

After he passed, I paddled on toward Duncan’s boathouse, and when I got close enough, to Duncan’s floating dock, and then past it to the bit of beach beside the pier, where I pulled the canoe up as far as the resting kayaks, hung my seat cushion on the cabinet door, went up to my room, and had a nap.

This is not a tapeball

someone's gate
This is not my yard.

I keep thinking I’m not going to play tapeball. We play for just five or 10 minutes at the beginning of every rehearsal. At first, I always played along with the actors and director and stage manager. It’s a metaphor. Or an analogy. It’s a paper ball wadded up and wrapped with tape.

Everyone stands in a circle. Someone swats it into the air and someone else swats it back. We count with each swat, “One…Two…Three…Oh!” It falls and someone picks it up and started again, “One…Two…” The goal being to count together and breathe together and keep it aloft as long as possible.

Yesterday they got to 32 on the first try. I heard them from my office window, where I was finishing work. Yes we rehearse in my house, okay? It’s not at a big fancy theatre with a huge rehearsal space and a union-sanctioned breakroom. It’s the basement, with a piece of carpeting from Menards and the eight-foot folding table I bought for Thanksgiving as the props table. While it’s not as glamorous as I envision, when I envision myself as “the playwright,” there’s no commute and I can let the dog out during breaks.

I always say I don’t want to join because it makes the number go down. The more people, the more bodies reaching to swat the ball, the more variables, the more half-swats because someone else will probably get it, the more fallen tapeballs. It’s an analogy, or a metaphor. For teamwork, or creating a theatrical organism where you’re all working as one, aware of each other, filling in for each other while also trusting each other to do what they’re here to do, doing whatever it takes to keep the ball – the story? the experience? the show? – aloft.

But my swat at the tapeball is done. The script is written and in their hands, so I could just as well be in Venice if I had the money. Not really, because I’m still changing a few lines, which only become obvious after sitting in rehearsal and watching the actors and talking with Patrick and trying something slightly different. There keep being one or two more things that need cutting or clarifying. Sometimes it doesn’t even mean rewriting, but simply sharing some thought that was behind a line. Patrick changes a direction to an actor, who changes their interpretation, which triggers different reactions in the other actors, who shift the world right there on the Menards carpeting.

So I guess it’s appropriate for me to join in tapeball, even if the number goes down.

Not at all like a bird

roof of a shed
Note to self.

I have to eat slower. Last night I was shoving sweet potato fries into my mouth, four at a time. Swaddled in ketchup, smashed into brute taste force. Why? Today I can still taste the lettuce from my Greektown wrap. Probably because I didn’t chew that either. My dad ate very slowly. I used to eat very slowly. What happened? When did I get so impatient with the flavors I supposedly love?

There’s a cardinal outside the kitchen window, perched on the rusty shed in the next yard. He or maybe she – red mostly, but brownish wings – is eating a berry. It’s probably from the tree out front. The one I have to sweep up after every morning starting a month ago, or berries stick to the bottoms of shoes, and flies swarm, and the sickly sweet and rotten smell of ripe smashed fruit fills the front walk.

The bird keeps pecking into the berry, pulling back, twisting its head one way, twisting it the other, and then going back in for one more peck. All the time in the world for that one berry. I’m already thinking of my second cup of coffee. How much can I get done before rehearsal? Vacuum? Grocery store? Call Cuz to pick up where we left off yesterday, our phone call about one relative who has died, and another who probably will die today? I was on the el and it wasn’t the time or the place to mourn.

Stay in this thought. Don’t move on. I was impatient talking about things of the heart on a noisy el train. Feeling I was talking quietly enough, but everyone probably feels that way, when actually they are screaming, “So they turned off the respirator?” into the ear of someone trying to read a restaurant review in Red Eye.

The bird is gone when I return with my phone. He or she eats like a bird, and flies like a bird. I have to remind myself, that’s because he or she is a bird.

After we hung up, I sat and listened to a guy behind me eating some very oniony smelling fast food. The combination of crackling paper and smacking lips and onion smell was making me sick. I pretended I wanted to read the transit map and moved to the exit. I hope I don’t make that sound when I eat, though when I’m eating I don’t really care. I just want to get the fries in as quickly as possible, before I’m too full. That’s the problem with abundance. It can induce its own kind of panic, if you are not a bird.