To Hold You, I’d Just As Soon Let You Go

Two days ago, I found myself in a ladies’ room in the library, staring at the door handle and willing someone walking by to push the door open. It was entirely reminiscent of the harrowing scene in The Aviator in which Leonardo DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes can’t figure out how to leave a men’s room without contaminating himself. Unlike Hughes, I eventually opt to pull open the door and leave. Since I realize what I’m doing borders on The Crazy, I march straight to Emily’s desk. Emily is in charge of reporting things that need attention to people who will report these attention-needing things to other people who can pay them attention. Thus, I report to Emily that the door handle on the inside of the ladies’ room must be cleaned or I will lose my tiny little mind. Emily reports this to Imelda, who cleans the ladies’ room. The two of them scope the facility and to Imelda’s credit don’t find anything to clean inside the stalls; Imelda does a bang-up job. Emily asks me to show her what I’m twitching about so we walk over to the ladies’ room, where I kick open the door, duck behind it and point. Dutifully, Emily dashes off to find Imelda. Grownups have been informed and I stop thinking about it until the next time I drink 24 ounces of water. That’s good for me, you know.

Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; – to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; – to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; – to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; – to controversies between two or more states; – between a state and citizens of another state; – between citizens of different states; – between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.

The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.

Yesterday, Imelda appeared in my cubicle doorway.

Imelda: I know just what you were talking about. That door looks disgusting, doesn’t it? It sweats oil.
Tata: The door…sweats? Oil?
Imelda: I know what you thought it was. It looked disgusting.
Tata: Well, okay but that’s not why I freaked out.
Imelda: I know what you thought it was.
Tata: I’m so sorry – I know this sounds crazy. Ever find yourself in the ladies’ room when it was crowded? Sometimes you see someone walk out of a stall and head straight for the door without washing her hands?
Imelda: People are pigs. You’d be surprised what I find in those stalls.
Tata: So the other day, a whole bunch of girls didn’t wash their hands and each one of them grabbed that handle and left the bathroom and I couldn’t leave without touching that handle.
Imelda: Pigs! Anyway, it’s clean now.
Tata: Can’t say as much for the yucky people.

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Of A Friend, Of A Friend, Of A Friend, Of A Friend

This happens a lot:

Person 1: Blah blah blah pomplemeuse blah blah electrical outlet blah blah exploding Black Watch plaid.
Tata: I…what?
Person 1: Naturally, blah blah blah homogenization blah blah shopping cart blah blah the heartbreak of psoriasis.
Tata: Not for nothing, but I couldn’t connect these dots with a line painter and a road crew.

As I walk around in the world, trying to understand how important philosophical questions relate to everyday life, how my little actions reverberate through the world, how Taste Great and Less Filling ever coexisted, I learn things by what happens when I meet people with different priorities.

Tata: Thank you for taking it upon yourself to buy paper towels for our department, though that seems a little Snow Crash to me.
Jennifer: Oh, you’re welcome. What’s the matter?
Tata: Can I make a request, please? Can we use recycled paper towels from now on?
Emily: You don’t like the flowered border?
Jennifer: I had a coupon. This was on sale.
Tata: While the border is super-girlie for me, personally, I’d really like to talk about the recycled paper towels. They come in a variety of brands –
Jennifer: They’re in the grocery store?
Tata: Yes.
Emily: What about the flowered border?
Tata: Does anyone really need patterned paper towels?
Jennifer: How do I tell which brands are recycled?
Tata: It’ll say right on the label. They might cost a dollar or two more but I think it’s worth it to put fewer toxins into the environment.
Jennifer: Well, if that’s your priority, good for you.

Breathless and shocked, I walked away from this conversation before I shot my mouth off about selfishness, short-sightedness and an unbelievable disconnect from nature in a person who hikes the Adironidacks every weekend. Plus, I stomped back to my desk thinking, ‘How, in fucking 2006, does anyone not know recycled paper products are in the grocery store, and how can anyone with both oars in the water think she should overlook clearcutting for the sake of fucking flowered paper towels?

It was at that moment that I said to huffy Me, “Pet, you only switched to recycled last summer. You’ve made a reasonable request. Let’s let our co-workers find the path themselves and we’ll look for coupons.”

I know. I couldn’t believe it either. When I didn’t even consider punching anybody, I checked the name written in my underwear.

Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

Last year, I participated in a project at Coalition of the Swilling intended to send packages to a unit of Marines deployed in Iraq. There were rules and deadlines. It was extremely constructive for me to consider the human person in the human situation, to put aside my own feelings and consider the young man I would never meet. The Marine I sent a package to last year is not in Iraq anymore, which one hopes is good news, but the same unit is still there.

Perhaps this post sounds to you, Poor Impulsives, as if I accept this task with resignation and not joy, but that is merely my own failure with word-thingies. These feelings may appear mutually exclusive but that appearance is deceiving. I choose to consider that I am old enough to be the parents of these Marines, that what I want for the two given to me for this year’s project is a future in which they have the strength to choose constructive paths. I will set myself aside and think of them as whole human beings. This is a good stretch for anyone. Since I am exceptionally selfish, this is hard work I welcome. Then I’ll mail them Chapstick.

It’s hot there and lips do not exfoliate, you know. You have to help. Ow.

As you know, I have been against the wars from the beginning. I opposed every shot fired, every bomb dropped, every life lost. You can agree with me or disagree, it doesn’t matter. There is nothing to be said that will sway me even a little from my feeling that every instant of the current wars have been economically, environmentally, socially, politically, diplomatically, and spiritually catastrophic, and we will suffer the fallout for decades. There’s not a lot I can do, personally, to mitigate Iraqi and Afghani civilian suffering besides writing my congresscritters twice a day and three times on Sunday.

It would seem the one thing we can all agree on is that the troops are kids halfway around the world for months on end and in dangerous situations. I understand the position of people who feel those kids enlisted and whatever happens, well, whatever. I can’t be swayed to that position, either. There are many inhumane paths we could walk from here. Or we can choose empathy.

The good news is that Coalition for the Swilling has more Marines, and you can join this project. It’s not difficult and it is a great opportunity to reflect on the state of your own soul, if you believe in souls. If you don’t, you can still benefit from imagining what you’d want, sending it off and knowing you’ve paid it forward. No matter who you are and what you believe, your simple act can do some good in the world.

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This Blank Stare And That Don’t Carry

My brother Todd forwards a NJ news article his friends sent him because if Todd should get a hankering to move back he’d better be well-informed on the state of partying in the Garden State, and don’t worry. I am already deeply horrified that I’ve used the word party as a verb before the cocktail hour.

Nearly 50 teenagers, many of them believed to be students at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, are facing charges of underage drinking following a Saturday night party in Mountainside busted by local police. Charges were also lodged against the 51-year-old father of the teen throwing the party. Police found Stefan Puzyk upstairs in his bedroom while the beer was flowing from a keg in the garage and the teens were doing shots of Jagermeister, said Capt. Richard Osieja.

“I guess he didn’t care what was going on downstairs,” Osieja said, adding that the garage was stocked with assorted hard liquor.

School officials declined to comment on the incident, which involved boys and girls. Christy Guerra, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark, said officials were aware of the incident, but “because it happened off campus and on non-school hours, we can’t make a comment at this time.”

Oooooooh! Everybody’s in troub-le!

According to neighbors, Puzyk’s wife died several months ago. He lives at the Wood Valley Road home with his five sons; the teen attending Union Catholic may be the youngest, neighbors said. Puzyk, who was charged with allowing the serving of alcoholic beverages to minors, faces upward of a $500 fine and a maximum 30 days in jail, Osieja said.

Well, not so much, then. It gets better.

Police were summoned to the home after complaints from neighbors about the growing number of kids congregating at the house. When officers arrived shortly be fore 10 p.m., some of the teens were able to flee. But because many of them were congregating around the garage, police corralled them, holding them at the house until each one was identified and re leased to the custody of their parents, Osieja said. With home addresses in Union, Scotch Plains, Hillside, Edison, Woodbridge and Plainfield, police believe many of the teens were classmates at Union Catholic, Osieja said. While no charges were filed that night, borough police intend to pursue charges against those attending, Osieja said, noting that the teens face fines and a possible loss of driving privileges.

Todd can’t decide whether to pass out pony bottles or order these kids off his lawn.

Todd: It’s a different world and I, for one, am glad I came up during another era!
Tata: Except for their lack of a flight instinct, those kids would make excellent Jesuits.
Todd: No kidding, “COPS! RUN!”
Tata: It was a different world. And we were motivated not to explain anything to Mom…
Todd: Come on, now. I think she could appreciate the intricacies of fleeing from the law. Maybe not the reasons for fleeing from the law.
Tata: Right. She was happier when we successfully eluded capture. That’s a survival skill, you know.
Todd: She was happier when she didn’t know we were eluding capture. She was supposed to be here today, except she forgot to call me and let me know what she was doing. Have you talked to her lately?
Tata: Wait – what? You misplaced Mom?
Todd: I have not misplaced Mom per se. O.K., I…misplaced Mom. I talked to her on Saturday night as she was sitting down to dinner with Aunt Bea and Uncle Peter. I asked her if she was coming and she said that there was stuff to talk about. It’s Wednesday now.

Most people would panic. I dial Daria’s number because I sense an antic in the offing and leave this message: “Call me back IMMEDIATELY.’

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Before you ask: no, I do not at all care about underage drinking. Ninety minutes later, Daria calls back. I am already laughing.

Daria: What’s your emergency, damn it!
Tata: I called Mom because this morning Todd was like, “So, um, where’s Mom?” and I’m all like, “You misplaced Mom?” and he’s all, “No. Yup.”
Daria: Today’s the fifteenth and she was supposed to land.
Tata: Even though he lives at the end of the runway, LAX is still a two-hour drive. So I told her, “Say, Mom, Todd’s all like, ‘Mummy! Oh, Mummy! Will you complete strangers hold my ethereally beautiful infants while I attempt to determine if their Grandma’s trying on the wind sock?'”
Daria: What did she say?
Tata: “When did Todd become Hugh Grant?” and “Thank you for making that funny,” and “What was your name again?” That’s three of her usual Top Forty Hits. I feel bad for Todd.
Daria: See, your big mistake is thinking that if Mom said she was going to Los Angeles that she was actually going.
Tata: This is like when Dad used to say he was coming to visit from three states away and an hour after he was supposed to show up he’d call and say he was both jumping out of airplanes and up to his elbows in puff pastry.
Daria: Neither one of them is destination-oriented.
Tata: Our parents are crackpots, aren’t they?

Maybe they’ll buy us beer.

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Somebody Told Me Something About You

Old time soap operas featured organ music to add the slow-moving KA-POW! to otherwise punchy moments. If Nurse Jessie tells married Dr. Steve again This Week In 1962 that she’d love to meet him in the closet for a torrid – um – inventory, you can bet your homemaking butt there’s organ music playing in the background to signify her unrequited passion, just as in Slapshot, organ music plays under all kinds of significant moments until Paul Newman swats the organist and shouts, “DON’T EVER PLAY LADY OF SPAIN AGAIN!” I’m thinking of this because as I write Jaws is on AMC, and Quint is so musical. That’s how trains of thought travel. Then sometimes, they jump the tracks and crush the little mountain village. Woo! Woo! Splat! My tribe of artists, writers and dipsomaniacs is having trouble coping with Widows Gone Wild.

Tata: Paulie’s all upset because Madame Y is knocking fuschia cowboy boots with Mickey. I actually heard myself use the words “the Widow McCheese.”
Sharkey: A lot of people are upset!
Tata: Listen, after a two-year ordeal, maybe she’s hanging out with him precisely because no one takes him seriously.
Sharkey: It’s disgusting!
Tata: It’s human contact.
Sharkey: She was asking about me.
Tata: Looking for references, was she? It’s the perfect hair. You should carry around business cards listing your favorite products.
Sharkey: I can’t do that.
Tata: You mean Madame Y. I agree. On the other hand, people do strange things to cope with grief. Imagine who I’d sleep with if you dropped dead.
Tata: Right. And you and I aren’t even dating.

Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

Far be it from me to deliver etiquette instructions to women who’ve lost husbands after terrible, prolonged and agonizing illnesses. I can’t even imagine their pain, their loneliness, their wardrobe demands. If they choose to play Lady of Spain with the entire chorus, I think we can expect to sometimes find ourselves loitering in the path of that drunken kickline. That’s been the case with the grief-stricken since time immemorial, and it’ll be true after my friends hang up their fishnets and quit getting tattoos. Walk a mile in her glitter hightops, that’s what I say, and puh-leeze, let me quit being the Voice of %&#@#! Reason.

All of this is a mere tempest in a teapot compared to real drama, like Tonya And Nancy: the Opera.

Composer Abigail Al-Doory says Tonya and Nancy: the Opera isn’t meant as parody. Bill tried to keep that in mind while watching Soprano Kristen Sargeant, clad in a bright red and sequined figure skating costume and matching boxing gloves and listening to an operatic chorus of reporters sing catchy phrases like, “Gillooly colluded.”

Never before have I wished an entire opera could be fed to sharks. Cue the organist!

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Flamethrower Lover Burning Mind

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful, beautiful princess who lived in a kingdom with all the modern conveniences like iPods and antibiotics, and everyone who saw her loved her, which meant her schedule was a little tight. Frankly, this princess could’ve used a nap and a cucumber masque. Wait, not this princess –

This princess. Doesn’t she look sleepy? Yes, she does. Well, you try holding down a job and wearing a hat measured in acreage, let alone keeping that gown out of the trash compactor. Our princess, however fatigued, tries to stay well-up on her civic responsibilities and over-the-counter cures, but we’re up to Article II of the Constitution, and our darling may feel a trifle anemic.

Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows:

Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an elector.

Despite advances in nutrition and agronomy, women like our beautiful, beautiful princess still face the mindless violence of “she’s a loose cannon” and “I hate her and won’t examine my motives.” Now that we have Nancy Pelosi ready to take over as Speaker of the House and Hilary poised to – I don’t know, do something, perfectly rational men have gone all Courtney killed Kurt on the public discourse, and it’s just so Bobby Riggs our princess may have a hard time restraining her urge to Billie Jean King. Honestly, boys! This fugue state is so 1970!

The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each state having one vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by ballot the Vice President.

On an ordinary day, our princess cares for children and aging relatives, takes care of a household, works outside the home and hopes the aging Crock Pot cord hasn’t become Fido’s new chew toy. We could cite economic data but our princess doesn’t have time to read it and consider its import – no, she’ll be lucky if she still has hair by dinnertime.

The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation: – “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Living happily ever after is no picnic, as nostalgic people everywhere will attest. “Those were the happiest days of my life,” they’ll say wistfully, when regarding a period of their lives that may look to the casual observer like a lovely year of mucking out stables. “But,” they’ll tell you, “it was the least shitty shit I ever mucked out.” Well, then. Cue the orchestra. Some people will look back on the last six years and say these were their best.

Our princess, on the other hand, knows that time and effort are an investment leading to a better future. Sure, those handprint paintings on the fridge are a bitch to store. Sure, being sticky and exhausted all the time and wishing people of all sorts would come to their senses already seems like the dullest struggle of your illustrious career. Our princess, like most human beings, adapts to whatever she has to. In this case, depending on her office, and while wishing for blissful repose, our princess may restore order in the Middle East or find joy in a peanut butter sandwich. The End is only the beginning.

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Help Me Know My Name

As I mentioned yesterday, today is Nadia Comaneci’s birthday. This one minute, twenty-nine seconds had a greater impact on my life than any other.

I had forgotten how beautiful she was in motion. Later, though I always loved Comaneci’s crisp and airy precision, I pined for the elegance and heartache of Natalia Shaposhnikova, whose routines were so difficult she seldom completed them without mistakes.

Shaposhnikova now lives twenty miles from me. One day I will work up the nerve to worship at her feet. A framed poster of the one-hand handstand is the first thing a person sees on entering my home. The second thing one sees is that a very silly person lives here, which is why I know tomorrow is Felix Unger Day. Do you doubt me?

Handsprings and comedy. November. Me.

These Are the Days To Remember

Life used to be so much simpler. If someone puked, I joined them, but otherwise I wasn’t much of a joiner. Now, when I see people crying, I burst into tears. I first noticed this when televised victims of Hurricane Katrina wept on every channel and I couldn’t stop myself from responding in kind. This morning, in the church for Lance Carter’s funeral, I’m sitting in the back with artists, musicians and writers I’ve known through the bar since 1990, the hardest of hard cases. I’m sitting next to a friend who was a little nervous locked into an interview room with John Wayne Gacy, and this guy is wobbling. Everyone looks ashen. At other funerals I’ve been to recently, everyone looked everyone else in the eye and said, “It’s terrible, but wasn’t he a great fucking guy?” This is somehow different. When the family walks to the altar behind the casket and the widow, a woman my age, sobs uncontrollably, I burst into tears and I am not alone. It seems polite and nobody feels left out.

This is a significant change for me. As a kid merely dabbling in The Crazy, I took my cue from Nadia Comaneci, whose birthday is tomorrow and who stood stone-faced at the Olympics while girls around her dissolved into damp failures. Hers impressed me as a kind of strength I too could develop and I did. Restraining one’s emotions this way comes with a couple of very serious drawbacks, like that the tension between one’s passionate temperament and the pressure to maintain a cool exterior create an adult psyche resembling an Easter basket full of sorrow grenades that go off randomly throughout life. Like mine. Another is that when you calmly tell your closest friends you’re falling apart they stare at you the way dogs stare at ceiling fans.

Trust me: this is hilarious.

Further, when you’ve worked to suppress your emotions this way expressing them comes with a complicating shame. I don’t watch chick flicks and anything that sets me up for a gratuitous emotional cloudburst earns my undying resentment. Real life offers us plenty of crappy sorrows, fuck you very much; I don’t need to watch the pretty, pretty Titanic sink because entertaining myself with tragedy falls really low on my list of Fun Things To Do. Misery makes me more miserable. So sue me, but here I am in middle age, a time when hormone shifts bring the body and mind a veritable cornucopia of wacky side effects. A woman standing next to me in the produce aisle sighs and I feel disappointment reverberate through my body. The air handling system at the library rumbles distantly and I glance around at my co-workers and for the exit. When I was on stage or doing readings every night empathy served me well. This morning, I hear muffled cries during the homily at the funeral of a man I know only somewhat and it doesn’t matter who I am and who he was. I feel ashamed as I frantically dab my eyes with paper towels I’d stuffed in my coat pockets last winter before I gave up using paper towels in favor of cloth. I’m sure I look awful because before I came to the church, I had an appointment with Rosanna for a haircut at a salon less than two miles away. Rosanna arrived at the salon pale and drawn, and in the way that only happens in the intimacy of salons, proceeded to tell me very intimate details of her life while cutting off my split ends. Don’t get me wrong: I am her friend and her neighbor. I worry about her and hope the best for her. And though I spent many Saturdays of my childhood cutting out Hamlet and Othello paper dolls sitting under the appointment desk at my grandmother’s salon, I never understood the almost endless openness of women talking in salons. Rosanna told me things I would whisper in a remote corner of a dark bar, but in daylight, and ten other people overheard. This feeling of exposure pained me. After she cut my hair, I left the salon without any styling, sans hair goo, without fussing – I’m allergic, and scratching is a fashion faux pas. Makeup or no, outfit be damned, I arrived at the church looking like hell, and that’s not the way you want to arrive at a funeral.

As an aside: if you want to blend into a crowd, don’t dye your hair a red found only on tropical fish.

I’m crying intermittently when the three-year-old three feet away gives up trying to behave and ducks under the pew wall between us. Then she pops up. I pull my collar up over my eyes, then pull it back. My eyes dry a little as I focus on the lively little girl. My chest still feels tight with an effort to breathe evenly and control my emotions but I am playing BOO – PEEK! for all I’m worth with this child I only see at funerals. As an adult fully versed in The Crazy, I know this doesn’t make sense, but suddenly I am okay. Boo…peek! Boo…peek! For the rest of the service, I burst into tears only once more.

When we walk outside row by row, the air is warm and sweet. The sunlight grates at first, but as I relax into this summery day in November, I tell a friend I’ve got to leave now. On the other side of the tiny graveyard I find the New Brunswick Police backing cars down a one-way street and observe traffic gridlocked on the tiny side roads. When I retrieve my car from the deck where I beached it on my way to the church, I find it surrounded by twenty- and thirty-somethings, holding the hands of toddlers in costumes. Traffic is at a virtual standstill as young parents smile patiently on Liberty Street at dozens of happy boys and girls, none of whom expect today to be anything but joyful.

Life has become very complex. I turn down New Street and drive the other way.

Life’s An Illusion, Love Is A Dream

Section 10. No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

Rocks And Stones There Is Water Underground

The election’s finally over and various forms of everyday evil were forced out into daylight. Perfectly sane people have danced like they wore the Red Shoes – and no, I don’t mean the Ruby Slippers. I have waited patiently for you to calm yourselves, get a good night’s sleep and return to what’s truly important to you: making Me happy. Yesterday’s madcap romp through the Constitution proved that our legislators give us the gift of Pocket Change Joy; today we learn legislators had better hop to re-gifting Habeas Corpus.

Section 9. The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one state, be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties in another.

No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

This morning, the temperature was warm and lovely. The sun shone. Puddles lay everywhere in my path to work. Getting to work without a second ablution required a great deal of concentration, and so I was walking down College Avenue, thinking my own thoughts. Thinking, thinking, thinking. I looked up and standing across the street was a random marching band where there’d never been one before. I did what anyone would do under the circumstances. I screamed.


Two hours later, Gianna walked through the office.

Tata: You will be pleased to note that this morning I did not hallucinate a marching band.
Gianna: I’m pleased. What?
Tata: I was walking down College Avenue and there it was!
Gianna: What did you do?
Tata: Wished for a can of Raid. Those don’t come out easily!
Gianna: Why were they assembling at the crack of dawn for a game that’s after supper?
Tata: If my hallucinations answer me, am I supposed to listen?
Gianna: Tonight’s game is supposed to be the biggest thing the university’s ever had, recognition-wise, and it’s football.
Tata: Um…no…actually…
Gianna: I mean: didn’t Waxman win the Nobel Prize?

Some Came To Keep the Dark Away

This morning, I woke up to a blinking alarm clock – again. This is the fifth time I’ve awakened to blinky lights in a matter of a few weeks. Sometimes, there’s only one course of action, it’s bothersome and you have to undertake it anyhow – in this case, I will. I gotta buy a wind-up because I can’t go on waking up two hours after I’m supposed to be leaving ’em rolling in the aisles at work. I hate wind-up clocks and in this day and age I shouldn’t need one. Unfortunately, the wiring where I live is so 1947, I have to go all mechanically 1656.

The news is not all bad. Sleeping in on a rainy morning was divine, and waking up when one is finished sleeping is one of life’s true pleasures. I vacuumed up grit under foot. I made coffee. I couldn’t figure out what the news meant. Still, we face the day. It can be stinky.

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post offices and post roads;

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings; – And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

This morning in America, we are looking at significant change, and we have to face that realistically. Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, gets oral infections, which means when he cleans himself he’s actually getting kind of icky. This icky-ness transfers to everything he touches or sleeps on. This morning, I cowboyed up – hahahahaha! – and filled a tub with water.

Tata: I gave the cat a bath.
Siobhan: Hilarious! Are you bleeding?

I was not, but our feline friend, while newly sweet-smelling, was most indignant. When I pulled him out of the tub he made a break for the door, which was closed, alas! I toweled him gingerly, as the kitty hips are sometimes a bit tender. Then I blowdried him until he looked me right in the eye and climbed into the covered litter box, from which vantage point, he glared at me as if to say, “One of these days, you too will be Cat Chow.”

Note to self: annoy the cat, then vacuum.

After the cat, the bathroom and I dried and I swept up the kitty litter that seemed to rain from on tiled high, I washed my bed linens because where I lie down the cat also sleeps. Hopefully, the apartment smells less like a sick kitty but because it’s raining out and he’s not fully dry I haven’t opened the windows. It may take time to feel the effects of a fresh breeze.