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I’m Not Easy, I’m Green

Magic hour in green.

I cannot pretend returning to NYC after my upstate tenure has been easy. Not because of the weather, which, for the most part, has been ridiculously lovely–the sort of halcyon temperatures we New Yorkers associate with mid-September. With September 11, not to put too fine a point on it.

Certainly the existential dread connected to the events of that day is not helping. Like so many long-time New Yorkers, my personal relationship to September 11 only deepens the horror of how it irrevocably changed this city and country forever. Every year, just as the weather gets gloriously crisp and clear, sadness creeps in before I remember why.

But I think this dread is about something more.
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It took a good four days of being in the country for me to lose the bad bruja vibes that had been short-circuiting my car and relationships all summer. (Both Daisy and Grace registered the bad vibes, the former landing in the vet hospital.) Only on the fifth day did Columbia County’s big, big green smooth me out.

Green, not coincidentally, being the color of my grandmother’s heart.

I’ve been thinking about Alice May a lot lately. My mother’s mother, her birthday was last month. She crowns my book–the whole last section is about her, about how the regret she expressed in her last days catapulted me into my true life.

Green was Alice’s absolute favorite color. She said that it was the color of life and love. Only when I began taking my work as an intuitive seriously did I learn that green was considered the color of the fourth chakra–the heart chakra.

As was so often the case, my grandmother’s leonine instincts were spot-on. It was she who, in the 1950s, determined that her sons were not dumb but dyslexic, a disorder that was far less recognized than it is today. It was she who understood that I had to get the hell out of dodge if I were to live the life I was meant to live. The life she’d once wanted for herself.

So I left home upon high school graduation, and with the exception of a few months after my first year of college, never spent another night under my parent’s roof. Never felt like I was anyone’s child again.

But then again, I’ve never felt safe. Never have, possibly never will. Continue Reading →

Change the Record, Change Your Life

I woke wanting to listen to Aretha. No big surprise there, though I haven’t been listening to my queen lately; it’s still too painful. What I really wanted to hear was new music by her, but this is no small feat when you’ve been obsessed with a now-deceased singer since you were a child.

It was a desire sparked by seeing Malcolm X at BAM last Saturday. It’d been so swampy that weekend, and R and I had been casting about for something to do that would diffuse the intense awkwardness of feeling like strangers after having been lovers for years and then not speaking for years after that. So it wasn’t just the prospect of seeing the Spike Lee biopic on a big screen that had dragged us three neighborhoods from our own as temperatures climbed into the 100s. We’d had to balance the prospect of sitting in pools of our drying sweat against the promise of a hefty distraction, and the latter had won.

The joint was packed, and not just because of that AC. Everyone in attendance was agog over the choreography and catharsis and craftsmanship and charisma and certitude. This was a 3.5-hour film, yet there was none of that BS chatter and smartphone-checking you find these days at a public screening. In the last 10 minutes, the late, great Ossie Davis delivered his eulogy for Malcolm, and all around me people sat silent except for the occasional nose-honking.

Over the credits sailed an Aretha recording I’d never heard before: “Someday We’ll All Be Free.”

Until the last credit R and I sat still. At the beginning of the film he’d reached for my hand and I’d been stiff, like a child afraid to disappoint a needy elder. Always sensitive to rejection, he’d dropped it after a bit and I’d forced myself not to soothe his ruffled feathers by reaching back. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t initiate any physical contact I didn’t desire. He’d done that enough for us both. Continue Reading →

Sox and the City, Baseball Caps and the Shitty

Kristen Schiele, 2019

As soon I finished my block of intuition readings yesterday, my immune system 100 percent hit the wall. My clients were lovely, but with Mercury in Cancer during Gemini season, people are projecting their big emotions rather rather than filtering them. You can’t walk down the street without tripping over a weepy, explosive confrontation. The effect is toxic.

Word to the wise: All projection but astral projection is ill-advised. Eh, film projection is all right, too.

Being sick this time of year is miserable. It’s also discombobulating, because these should be halcyon days. NYC has so few blocks of decent weather that when they arrive you want to call in happy to every obligation hanging over your head. Instead all I’ve been able to do on this sunny, clear Sunday is writhe on my bed, feverish and clogged up. Oy vey, I moan.

Question: When a writer’s whining in her apartment and no one’s there to hear it, is she really whining? Answer: Oy vey, yes.

And sola dwellers must fend for themselves, no matter how they’re ailing. So this morning I put on a schmata–no point in combing my hair–and hobbled down to Whole Foods for the sort of provisions that might miraculously restore my health, or at least not worsen it. Usually I stave off my Whole Paycheck crabbiness with good deals on free-range chicken (and Fairway). But the number of white guys in baseball caps and expensive footgear who bumped into me because they were fiddling with their phones while wandering up the aisle– not looking up, not soldiering bags, JUST LETTING THE LITTLE WOMEN BY THEIR SIDES DO THE ACTUAL FORAGING–was simply mind-boggling. Okay, the number was three but, oy vey, that’s a lot given that it was only 8 am and it’s 2019. Here they were, taking up space but in no way interacting with it, let alone improving it.

The metaphor loomed.

Here’s the thing. I’ve lived in Williamsburg off and on since the 1990s, and while that may mean “entitled hipster” to you, for long-time residents it means community and hustle. Certainly the one thing it’s never meant in all its generations of immigration and creative gentrification is dumb dickocracy.

Until now.

So did any of these forever frat boys excuse themselves when they bumped into me? No, they looked up annoyed, as in WHO DIDN’T GET OUT OF MY WAY? Maybe if I’d been feeling stronger I would given them the ole Rosmaniac pushback but today their ugly arrogance just made me sad– as did the plastic-encased cut flowers and the prohibitively expensive organic food and the older woman I spotted in the dairy aisle carefully counting the change in her purse.

Part of me thought, why is she shopping here if she’s so strapped? Then I remembered you could say the same of me and maybe she also needed healthy food without venturing out of the neighborhood. So I tuned into her, and was immediately stuck between her rock and hard place, walls closing in on all sides like I was in the Star Wars garbage compactor.

Oh, don’t mind me. I’m feeling everything and everybody–an occupational hazard when my defenses are down–and the truth is few of us are having a very good time even though it’s the prettiest spring I can remember. Our world isn’t just changing. t’s crashing down, and the saddest part is the rude white dudes unapologetically running everyone down in their lane.

I write all this and then remember the ten episodes of The L Word I watched in the last 24 hours. (What can I say? It’s Sox and the City for this sickie.) Though the series only ended 10 years ago, the queer community has come a long way, baby. I pray someday soon those lane-crashers will be forced to catch up.

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