Archive | Cat Lady Matters

More Lipstick for the Wolf

Lately, I spend my Saturdays reading.

I have read five books by Ruth Reichl, wonderful stories of travel and food and champagne and love. I have read all three of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon books, which, as Natasha Lyonne avers, are better if grimmer than the Anne of Green Gable series: more honest, higher stakes. Also I have reread Eve Babitz’s Sex and Rage and Black Swans. And of course all of MFK Fisher.

Especially How to Cook a Wolf.

It does not escape me that all these books are by and about women writers who found love and literary success.

For the moment, both evade me. I say “for the moment” because I am relentlessly hopeful in my own way. Though my romances have conferred as much pain as pleasure, I still look forward to the next one.

And though I have yet to sell my book–yet to finish it, even–I see its cover before I go to sleep at night. Sometimes on someone else’s night table.

In the meantime I keep my scale very, very small. Frankly, I’m too broke to go out. I have no money to spend and though an affordable New York still lurks beneath the city’s Instagram ops and best-of lists, I find myself weary and wary when faced with the prospect of restaurants and bars. Friends invariably pick up the checks and it hurts to burden them. This is not how I like to live. This is not how I like to treat my people.

In my home I can take care of business. I rise early and write as long as my brain will let me, then go for a long walk, the neighborhood quiet in the mid-afternoon. I shop the grocery sales and cook slowly as the sun ripens in the horizon. I cook because it is cheaper than eating or ordering out but also because the rhythm of stirring, chopping, stirring–knife thumping, oil sizzling, sauce thickening– feels elegant and serene. The way I felt before the Legend smiled at me and I smiled back. Continue Reading →

March, Minuet

I am hungover for the second morning in a row. Still, I wake early, right before the day’s sun.

Permakitten and I pad into the kitchen, where I fix her food and warm up yesterday’s coffee. Just a little too hungover to deal with a boiling kettle for the French press. It’s unlike me to have more than two drinks in one sitting–usually I can’t bear ceding that much control–but during this Mercury Retrograde, I’ve been unlikely across the board.

It’s warm for a March morning–already in the high 40s–and so Grace and I exchange morning smooches and perch on the fire escape to watch the day rise. First light lifts the clouds into silver and peach. Then the rest of the sky starts to lift–indigo to lilac, finally a cool periwinkle. Continue Reading →

Fetal February, I’m Ready to March

Today was terrible. I got a huge splinter in my foot, sat down at the kitchen table, and then it collapsed right out from under me. It’s a yellow 1940s formica behemoth I found at the Chelsea flea back in 1993, and it just crashed to the floor, taking my computer and a full mug of coffee and a vase of flowers and water along with it. The poor thing’s screws had rusted out and I guess so had I.

The last six months have just been so relentless–the last vestiges of that bad breakup, the jury duty, the significant loss of my savings and steady gigs, and through it all I’ve keep going and going because that’s how I’ve always been. Jiving and driving, nickel and diming. Surviving not thriving. It’s the New York hustle. But today my kitchen table crashed to the floor and I collapsed with it. Because if I’m being honest I don’t know how I’m going to afford a new table, let alone pay my rent in two months. Mama’s tapped. Not just of money but of the ability to hustle.

It bums me out when people on the educated left act like there’s a them and an us when it comes to real struggle in this country right now. Life is hard for so many Americans, especially with such larcenous leadership. An IRS agent I spoke with last week–of course I’m having tax tsuris–actually used that phrase. “Larcenous leadership.” But he didn’t have to say that for me to feel it. Whenever I ride the subway I’m jacked right into everyone’s pain. So much suffering lives right below the surface, sometimes on the surface too, and most of the time I think this is just how life really is.

I don’t come from money and members of my family have been on public assistance my whole life. Some have worked the kind of factory jobs more likely to give you cancer than benefits. Some have stripped and turned tricks, and not in that faux-hipster way. Some have landed some super fucking hairy stints in the military. Some have landed even hairier stints in prison.

I’ve had a different path. My mom married a man who valued education, and I grew up on the wrong side of a nice town and then went to college. I had a dream of becoming a writer and living independently, and I did it. I even did it in my dream city. But I forgot to dream of living comfortably, and I never really have. I haven’t taken a real vacation or had insurance in more than a decade. It’s been 15 years since I dated a person who had my back whom I’ve also loved. I’ve never owned a piece of furniture that wasn’t used or drastically marked down. And now I don’t know how I’m going to pay my bills in the months to come.

Through it all I’ve kept trucking trucking trucking, trying to write even when my worries and loneliness have made it like squeezing the last toothpaste from the tube, trying to be there for my clients because I can see their paths even when I can’t see my own. But today my kitchen table crashed to the floor and somehow that was the straw that broke this badass’s back. I crashed to the floor too and just cried and cried. And then a friend called out of the blue because he “could tell he was supposed to.” And a bunch of friends messaged suggestions about how to find a cheap table–one even offered to help pay. And so I picked myself up and figured out how to reassamble my table until I could afford a new one.

Even cleaned my dirty floor.

I am healthy and have a roof over my head and food in my fridge and a reikitty on my foot and people who love me even if there’s no “my person” and maybe never will be. I am smart and strong and can do a lot more than I’ve done so far. So I have to trust there’s a you who can receive me, and a me who can receive you. I have to trust there’s a future different from our past and present. And I have to trust this foot can heal–with such bald physical metaphors, what else can I manifest?– so I can walk into the sacred unknown.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, February.

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