Archive | Language Matters

A League of Our Own

I’ve always liked my manicurist a lot even if we’ve had a hard time communicating beyond the basics; her English isn’t very good and my Korean is nonexistent. A few weeks ago, we had a breakthrough, though. An animal rescue commercial came on the salon TV, and, from our shared reaction, it became immediately apparent that we both spoke the International Language of Cat Lady. Now, once we establish my nail color of the week, that her children are doing well, and how terrible I am for eating my cuticles, we converse solely in meows and purrs. Naturally, everyone around us thinks we’re batty once they realize we’re the cats they are hearing and, naturally, this only makes us meow more. It’s the nature of the beast. (Pictured here: Another member of our secret feline and fancy nail appreciation society.)

I, an Alarm

Ever since I moved my bed next to the window, the first thing I do upon waking is open the curtain. Then, settled against the pillows, I join the sun as she slowly rises, drifting back from the heavens where we’ve both been traveling all night. After decades of living in New York, I’ve become so attuned to my environs that my mood shifts right along with the indigo streaking into violet into rose into orange across the sky. Outside is inside, and on most mornings I find that fact beautiful.

I’ve had a melancholy week. My birthday was a disappointment and that was mostly my fault, which only makes me more melancholy. But each day brings a new sun, and I’m just easy enough to let her magic work on me. Tonight helped, too. I was crowded into a rush-hour subway, ogling a woman’s mermaid afro and fuming over a man standing too close, when I spotted a Poetry In Motion sign that was like another glimpse from my predawn bedroom window. The poem nailed the aloneliness* that develops when you are unwilling to mingle your sourness with others’, and reading it among so many strangers’ private smells and worries made me feel grasped by something better than my past. As did the quiet blue rooms to which I was gliding and which I’d built myself. It was the sweet knowledge I could begin again. Continue Reading →

Listful and Asea

I’m sitting up in bed—an unmade bed, even, which is so unlike me these days. It’s a big, soft tousle of linens and pillows and books, and I’m leaning against a velvet headboard, drinking a latte—extra-hot, extra shot—while eyeballing the grey, cool morning right outside my window. I like the idea of it all but, frankly, I’m exhausted.

Part of my exhaustion is just another day at the races: I did my laundry, fetched my groceries, picnicked by the water before it was even 10 am. But partly I’m exhausted because this was a huge week for me. It marked the real end of my Summer of Reckoning.

I fear bureaucracies—the IRS, the DMV, health insurance companies, housing agencies, patriarchy—the way others fear public speaking or being alone. In June my fears came home to roost or, rather, the rotten fruits of my avoidance became unavoidable. In the months since, every day I’ve had to do something that scares me. Which, of course, has not been the worst thing in the world. But a fun summer it did not make.

I crossed the last onerous item off my SOR to-do list yesterday morning, and immediately took off for the beach to celebrate the occasion. It was my first trip to the Rockaways this summer, never mind that to most summer had already ended. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy