Archive | City Matters

Fifty Is the New Fifty

space crone already, who am I kidding?

I turn 50 next Tuesday and though normally I’m proud of my age, I’m dreading this birthday. I keep having humiliating dreams that I’m a backup dancer for Beyoncé until she finds out my age. Or that I am an assistant for Tracee Ellis Ross until she learns we’re contemporaries. Or that–I shit you not–my adult sons Eric and Donald Jr Trump give me a back-breaking purse of chain mail and human skin to celebrate the occasion. Bone-chilling stuff.

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Nimby Noel

This is a grinchy post about my neighbors. In this post, I am the grinch, for my across-the-hall neighbors are cheerful, well-intentioned 20somethings who are wildly in love, living their best life, and never anything but polite and helpful. They have carried out my garbage and carried up groceries and even taken my bulky air conditioners out of the window while my back has been in arrears. I am grateful to them, and have made sure they know. Unfortunately, they are also the loudest freaking neighbors I have ever had. Not to speak in terms of demographics, but he was born in Italy and she was born in Israel and those are two of the loudest human populations ever ever ever.*

These two talk loudly, move loudly, listen to music and television loudly, and have sex loudly (and authentically, thank god; there’s little worse than audibly faked pleasure). Would you believe they even eat loudly? Yes, you read that right. Through the wall we share I actually have heard them chew and swallow. Even permakitten Grace was startled, then appalled. And o my: I cannot tell you many times I have been jarred awake by peals of delighted laughter or the sounds of elephants bowling, aka them walking.

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Things You Know But Forget

During this period in which I’ve been really really physically compromised, I’ve been harshly reminded of just how much we take our health for granted and how much humbleness any degree of illness and injury entails. I have been through this before–I broke my neck once, for heaven’s sake–but forget because my independence is more important to me than–well, than everything except for Grace and my ability to communicate clearly. When I am not ill, I am swift and impatient, sometimes even rough. But right now, I can’t do much for myself–and I can’t do anything rapidly. It helps to have received a diagnosis—apparently, a torn psoas muscle will throw your entire back out of alignment and put you in extended spasm as it heals. But knowing what’s wrong doesn’t take the sting out of how immobilized I am. I can’t carry my trash to the curb. Can’t do my laundry in the basement. Can’t clean. Can’t fetch groceries. Can’t drive my manual-transmission car (operating a stick being the most butch thing about me.) Can’t even sit upright for any length of time, which means I can’t work by Zoom. (No Talking Pictures episodes or Ruby Intuition sessions until I heal.)

Even bending down to feed Grace takes some strategizing.

Many have stepped up and I am beyond grateful. (A former beau still willing to change your cat’s litter is the purest friend in the world.) But I cry at least 10 times a day not just out of pain (I am not in the business of meds) but out of frustration over not being able to do things myself. It scares me, honestly. What if something happens to Grace? What if there’s a fire in my building? Intellectually I know I will sort every issue out as it comes up and that this is not permanent. That muscles heal and that all the maladies I’ve experienced since I took my intuition practice online—from kidney troubles to back spasms—suggest I must learn to be a channel rather than a depository. That I must develop beautiful boundaries and a greater reserve of gentle strength. That I must trust in the Flow and also the Force. But the willful, resourceful child who runs too much of my show is just mad I can’t stamp my foot.

In between somatic healing exercises and energy work sessions, I walk carefully carefully carefully around the block for much-needed sunshine and to ensure my muscles don’t atrophy. And I’m amazed by how many people cut me off or blow up that I’m moving slowly. I suspect I don’t look as fucked up as I feel so they don’t realize how vulnerable I am.

But what if—and I’m just spitballing here—we all made it a practice to treat everyone with the degree of care you’d reserve for a person bleeding and prostrate on a sidewalk? Because on some level, especially this year, we all are.

I’m sending love —and not just because I’m literally surviving on yours. I’m sending it because only love air-lifts us to a better place.

Paintings: Egon Schielle.

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