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Monday, September 20, 2004


windex has got to be one of the best smelling liquids on the planet. even better than my watered down dolce & gabbana from canal street. even better than starbucks coffee or earl grey tea (next time you smell that shit, think Trix cereal and let me know if you smell it too). maybe not better than Bleech White whitewall cleaner or Hot Shot stain remover. but that's only because they smell very similar to the original: Windex.

i've thought a bit about this infatuation. basically because it's just really weird. and it is an infatuation. i have Windex in my car, at work, and several bottles at home. i use it to clean any surface imaginable, including those that will likely be discolored or tarnished by the blue chemicals.

i am able to trace the origin of this compulsion to when i was working at Dunkin Donuts in 12th grade. we would have a list of chores that needed to be completed by shift change and one of them was to clean the displays and countertops with Windex, using coffee filters. apparently paper towels were more expensive than a coffee filter. in my more sophisticated use of Windex, a mere coffee filter would never stand up to my cleansing spree, but at the time it sufficed.

this particular chore became my favorite, i now realize, because it was able to cut that smell. that repulsive DD smell that has, to this day, left me with a loathing for the lingering odor of food on my person.

about a year ago i visited a friend in Boston to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and get otherwise foolishly intoxicated. the ritualistic visit to an out-of-state friend that is always fun but leaves you wanting more of the same. when we returned from the bars one night, after taking pictures with strangers on the T (the non-murdering kind, thankfully) i started Windexing this rather large mirror that hung on my friend's living room wall. the mirror was obstructed in part by one of those round wicker chairs that only bachelors and cool chicks seem to have. when i tried to deny this awkward piece of furniture as an obstacle, my foot found a jagged piece of metal protruding from the wicker base. i whined about the puncture but continued to spray and wipe, inhaling deeply. i stained her carpet with my foot's blood.

other than tracing the route of this love of Windex and the self-awareness of my acceptance of similarly scented chemicals, i am befuddled by how strong and loyal this affection has been. Windex may be the one thing i've consistenly enjoyed without exception. even when i open the bottle and take a big whiff (which, i've been told, is huffing; but it can't be if you don't get a buzz, so i refuse to believe it) i am never overwhelmed, never disappointed.

for some absurd (and somewhat disturbing) reason, this lovely blue chemical has equated itself with a form of relaxation, or at least distraction. maybe it just lets me cut through that grimy hovering sensation of overall density and mass. burdens are wiped clean. stains are removed. i'm not a drab or sickly colored gutless or jelly-filled circle.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

dirty martinis

i've been in a rut lately; not one that necessitates getting a winch to haul me out, but once just so deep that my momentum is keeping me in the wrong spot. just shy of center.

mixing this with vodka martinis lead to a breakdown of sorts friday night.

i was supposed to meet up with one of two friends. one was in the city, the other on her way back from a med school interview. i stopped at happy hour with my co-workers and when my flirting buddy didn't show, i figured it was time to just let loose. when the crowd dissipated, i joined a woman i work with as she made her way to the river. there's a strip of bars in my hometown. ritzy, sometimes snobby, and i stay away from them as much as possible. but i didn't care this evening. i even had on my dansko-dork shoes and didn't care. i was craving a martini.

we arrived at about 6 and started drinking. we nibbled on appetizers, but my fill was coming from my liquid meal. it was enough to make me forget i was hungry. the warm buzz of salty vodka loosened me and i met some of her friends. they were nice enough, typical teachers that wore wedding bands but flirted in the absence of their spouse, or simply drank away that desire. one was freshly divorced and was being eyed by the gym teacher all evening. he took off my shoe at one point. he wanted to see my tattoo. i showed him. he thanked me. i had another martini.

when we went to the next bar, i kept drinking. the married woman flirted more aggressively and i recall watching her slip her tongue into a co-worker's mouth. i can't remember which one because my consciousness was beginning to fail me. i do remember there was one that i thought was attractive, minus his teeth and attitude, but i didn't really care. i just loved my drink. i hope i didn't kiss anyone.

the girl i'd come with became my therapist for the evening, and i hers. we talked about work gossip, then my crush on a married man and her desire for the sex her husband was no longer giving. we called my married man at home. she wanted to thank him for his help with her car trouble that evening (which, as it turned out, was why he hadn't made it to happy hour--she'd taken up his time). she was intent on thanking him, of expressing her sorrow for making him miss out on the fun. so i dialed his number and gave her the phone. i'd never called him at home before. that was for emergency use only. he'd told me to use it if i were ever in trouble. that, for me, he'd come out to help.

as they talked, i smiled and drank, maybe daydreamed. "i'm just so glad you answered the phone," she kept saying. i was glad too. his wife knows something's awry. then she put me on the phone. i froze. "i have nothing to say. i'm very drunk."

"good for you," he replied.

my blackout spans about 2 hour's time. during this span, i left the bar, called the one med-school friend, called an old boyfriend, and talked to my parents. i remember none of this. i can only hope i wasn't kicked out of the bar or asked to leave. did i try to go after one of her friends? did i fall off my stool? my father and brother drove down to get me and my car home. i hung my head at the window the entire way back in my father's truck, the "Door Ajar" button lit precariously.

i woke up clueless, sick, upset. a flash of me on my bedroom floor, sobbing relentlessly, my mother telling me that she loved me. apparently i'd gotten home, dropped my head onto the kitchen table and just let go of every ounce of frustration or pain i've had in the past month. i cried for an hour and a half. i couldn't stay still, restless in my own state of mind. i finally passed out with my eyes open. so i'm told.

looking at my phone log the next day, i saw that i also called the married man's house a second time. the call lasted 34 seconds. perfect amount of time for humiliation. the kind of humiliation that makes you regret any goofy thing you've ever done around this person, because now, in light of this embarrassment, you are so incredibly immature.

thankfully, he called me a few hours later.maybe he'd remembered his offering to me if i were in trouble and wanted to be sure things were ok, that i hadn't in fact been "locked up." it clarified the fact that it wasn't me that had spoken to him that second time, but my female companion. i'm relieved, but certain it was probably me that had thrust the phone at her and directed her to call him. i apologized profusely, but that does so little, really. monday should be hellish.

i haven't been drunk like that since i was 16. losing solid hours of memory is a frightening thing, and i can only marvel at how the human body protects itself. matter over mind or something.

after seeing me flail about the house for hours, my brother said i was broken. i feel broken. or maybe i'm just broken in now. maybe i hopped the track and bounced out of the rut. maybe all my head needed was a good slam on the kitchen table.

these events are shallow. i refuse to read into them.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

amazing grace, tide me over

i need a laugh.

i laugh a lot because i'm easily amused, but i've noticed recently that i may have dug a grave with that. it's no longer arousing. those times that i do laugh loudly, i notice. and i think, wow, i'm really happy at this moment. and the shock dissipates. i haven't cried in a while; maybe that's why.

the past few years have been a stretch of time that felt like a wasted saturday afternoon. i need to wise up. i'm just realizing now that i think i've been raised to behave and feel and think incorrectly. life is dangerous and daunting and unpredictable and i love it. the thrills of blue sky and warm kisses and cool drives are enough, in spurts. all i have are spurts. small doses to tide me over. for what, i don't know.

there was a woman in the bookstore today. we were both browsing the bargain racks and she was to my left. i noticed her not because she was dressed to climb the shawangunks, her silver hair stark against her black breathable attire and red sport sandles,but because she was humming. very beautifully, humming amazing grace. and she was looking at a book, fingering the pages, like it was an encyclopedia. it may have been. i desperately wanted to know what she was searching for.

Monday, September 13, 2004

grey hair

so, i know i'll go grey (yes, i spell it that way because i think it's more fitting). or, white, rather. until then, i deny, resist. but i will have the occassional sighting. and of course i cringe and yank it out. then hold the little hair, plucked so rigorously that the sticky root is still clinging to its base. and i stare at it. i'm not sure why i do this. but i do. i stare at it, feel the texture, look at it against a dark surface to see just how brightly white it is, then drop it wherever.

today i found two of them.

and then i got home and found out my father had been laid off. he was three years away from retirement. i had to watch him cry and could merely console him with my insignificant hugs. my arms feeling so small that i couldn't quite wrap them around him, i squeezed tightly.

we ate dinner, all four of us, as a family tonight. it was somber, broken by my childish attempts at humor. i belched. i made my mashed potatoes talk like the trash heap from Fraggle Rock. my dad would smile, my brother smirk, and my mom giggle. then the laughter would fade to wet eyes and sighing.

i wonder how old i'll be when my head is grey like my fathers. and i wonder what it will take for my children--the ones i'll have to gather 'round the table, hoping that there will be at least burps to endure-- to notice its abrupt change in color.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

am i lost now?

so i ran across some information about an ex.

this was a guy i'd been with for about 4 and a half years. we were actually engaged for the last few months of that. since he broke things off over the phone, i still have the ring. he wanted it that way. it's a really fucking beautiful ring made by the wife of an artist friend of his.

i just found out he's an associate professor at Notre Dame. and i'm not sure whether i should bawl or puke or smile. we had a good, then terrible relationship. it was certainly mutual, the pain, the breakup, etc; and had we met at another time, things be different. of course, that's true of everything though. so it means so little. because things aren't and won't be different.

but, in the end, i think we were too different, or at least at different places of experimenting with who we wanted to be. too early in the stages of exploration to have a relationship that makes you forget to breathe with your own lungs.

he was immature. i was immature. i cheated on him. he controlled me.

he was beautiful. he thought i was fat. i rarely initiated sex and that really angered him.

he tried to keep in touch but i couldn't, for my own sanity. and it's a good thing that we didn't, because i was able to move on. but fuck me. a fucking professor!? he's dyslexic and i wrote nearly every damn paper he was assigned in undergrad. i didn't notice any credits to me in his CV. that fuck.

while we were together, when i was seeing clearly, i realized that i just thought i was better than he. and i guess i still think i am. i'm not as self-absorbed, not as diligent to my trade, not as into leather pants and hipster hair. but now all i can see is his physical beauty and his raging success. and this is putting a huge flaw in my theory.

now, two, almost three years later, i feel like i've lost something.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

where were you?

i had just started my student teaching in Saranac Lake High School. i believe it was the end of first period and the rumors were circulating. during the break between first and second, my mentor teacher and i ran to a television and watched, my mouth open and hers covered with a hand, the first tower burning. we went back to get the kids settled for class. i was completely numb and just shocked. i was confused and it didn't even hit me until i heard someone whisper that it could have been intentional. i thought it was just a mistake. i must've looked flustered and upset, so my teacher, Kathy Clark, told me that i could take some the news, whatever. she just put on her game face and continued with class. some of the kids still didn't know.

i got back to the TV just in time to see the first tower fall. i started to cry and i didn't know what to do. everyone was just so helpless. when the pentagon was hit, i became nearly frantic, and tried calling my boyfriend at the time because he was at the University of Maryland. ironically, he had narowly excaped harm from a damn tornado just days prior, and now this. of course i couldn't get ahold of him. somehow he was able to contact some friends and family and they were able to get word to me that he was ok.

that night i went out for drinks with some friends. when an old friend/professor walked in (i was living in a guesthouse of hers) we hugged like we'd just found each other in the rubble.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

breaking the habit

there is something to be said for the reassurance and reliability of ritual. yet, i'm not so sure if it's because it gives you meaning or because it helps you forget about the fact that you have none.

an elderly woman walks her dog in my neighborhood every morning. at precisely 7:18 on any given weekday, i can find her rounding Chestnut Drive with a dog that looks nearly as old as she. he sniffs the patch of trees and swamp that border our development and she lifts her arm. i can't exactly say that she waves to me. i see her look up and acknowledge my car. then i see her look back at her dog as if he'd said something important she'd neglected to hear. lastly, still eyeing the pooch, she reaches with her limp hand, so slowly it's painful to watch. just before her arm forms that perfect angle, she drops it again, nearly as slowly as the ascent.

now i am privy to this remarkable force of habit because i myself am always out of my house at precisely the same time each weekday. my mornings are always the same. and if, for some reason, they differ because of some horrific stroke of luck, my day is bound to be full of even more errors and mishaps. there will be an overturned tractor-trailor on 84, or i'll spill coffee from my styrofoam cup onto my crisp, white cotton shirt.

or his wife will call the office.

and i'll be reminded of the dangers of routine. that comfort of just going through the motions without having to think. your muscles and heart just move and beat and things happen.

her voice snaps me out of the warm, hellish comfort zone. no, i'm sorry, Linda, i think he stepped out. i'll go check. i know exactly where he is. and i've nothing to hide. our ritual is just flirtation. just knowing desire but not having its lead. but i'm guilty and my face burns with it. i cup my hand over the phone and yell for him. i know he won't answer. he stepped out. but i'm guilty because i know and she doesn't. she, his wife, doesn't know. should i take a message? her voice is sweet and gentle and timid, almost. but i know, and everyone knows, the passion within even the weakest of sounds. she declines my offer and i hang up quickly without saying goodbye.

this is a gaping crevice in my ritual. but i don't fall in and i don't jump across. i raise my arm limply, but assuredly, reaching for the line to ring the bell.

i want off.

Monday, September 06, 2004


i wonder if drugs have always been as big a problem as they are now. or maybe they aren't a big problem. maybe it's just me growing older and more uptight.

drugs were for high school and college, and i have enormous pity (the four-letter-word kind of pity) for people still doing them beyond those formitive years.

i haven't done much; though, that's subjective. i only reminisce about one drug and smile. the rest were just to fuck around, fit in, assuage the tedium of teen angst. but i still think it's a weakness, and in my everlasting effort to be the perfect human being (if not physically, i will be the mental Wonder Woman! i guess the pun is intended there) i think that's enough for me to never go back there.

and i wonder why or when i made this transition. in college, i was dating this guy who would eventually propose, four years later in another state only to break it off over the phone from yet another state, 4 months later. he gave me the ultimatum. drugs or him. and goddamn was that an impossible decision! i inevitably did both, sneaking around when i could. not that i was an addict, but i just enjoyed that form of recreation. and i was in fucking college. either i was stealth or he was just in denial. could be either. on my first acid trip i peaked while being lectured by my parents. they'd discovered me in a lie the night of my boyfriend's junior prom and hunted me down in the dusty-blue Dodge Dynasty with dark blue fuzzy interior. i was waiting at some kids house, already out of my dress and into some clothes i'd brought along for the after parties. somehow i'd forgotten to bring underwear. i hadn't worn any to avoid lines at the dance. so i was panty-less and tripping. back home, in my living room, they never suspected a thing. only recently did i reveal the truth of why i was acting so dramatic that evening.

and those are fun memories. and i can laugh and not have much regret at all. but why am i so scornful of others now? why do i feel superior? maybe that last night, rolling on god-knows-what-the-hell-is-in-this-ecstacy-molly-shit-because-i'm-freaking-the-fuck-out, i hit a plateau. maybe i saw myself in the others around me. patheticly self-medicating because the world is too hard not to. the rest of the universe can get by without this shit, but i can't? why the fuck not? i'm hardcore!

so i just stopped.

on my way home from the mall today i thought of all the people eager to purchase genuine leather stillettos and those sweatshirts and skirts that are so i-don't-give-a-fuck-what-i-look-like that you just know that the shoppers would die without them. and then i drove by a couple standing by their car. neither was smiling; in fact, they were almost frowning in some vague effort of contemplation or flippancy. but they were clutching each other, staring toward the road, not each other. they were so unhappy, it seemed, and yet holding onto each other like that it was the one blade of grass left on this tilting planet.

i think i ask too many unimportant questions.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

*my boyfriend's back, and there's gonna be trouble*

so i'm talking with my good friend, Lana, about how a friend/co-worker/married man wants to take me for a ride on his motorcycle. but the problem is that i'd wanted to wear a skirt to work tomorrow. first-day-new-clothes type of mentality going on, i guess.

but you can't wear a skirt on the back of a married man's motorcycle now, can you? i'm thinking no. especially when you are spied growling off out of the parking lot by the school socialites. they've already been talking.

"so i guess i could wear pants, huh, Lana?"

"um, yeah. wear the fucking pants and tell me all about your ride on his bike. he just wants to go fast so you have to hold on to him all tight." She smirked at me.

"umm, gross. it's just a ride. but i'm actually really scared of motorcycles," i say indecisively.

"oh, no! i love them! they're so much fun, especially when they go on turns and you have to lean over and stuff," she smiled.

"eh...i don't know"

"jesus christ. you jumped out of a goddamn plane. stop being a fucking baby."

she has me there. though, that excuse, i now realize, can be applied to many more scenarios; obscenity and risk are all now pale in comparison.

so i guess i'm wearing pants tomorrow.