A Strange Day on Planet Earth

March 17


It is the third night of the full moon. Last night, full moon proper, was cloudy and damp. I kept peering out the window over the kitchen door for some break in the clouds, but the moon remained carefully shrouded.

I lit dozens of candles and watched the apartment blossom into an undomesticated being: Whispers and shadows gathering in the corners, the appliances sighing sleepily. Only the soft thuds of my feet as I plod from room to room. I think I can feel the eyes of the original Italian tenants staring curiously from the ceilings, wondering at this strange woman and her strange oven clock.

Dark is a different dark every night: had I forgotten this? It is only in the surreality of clocks and electric switches we think one night is like the last. I lift my phone in candlelight to put it to sleep, and am sickened by the deathly pallor it casts on everything. How often do I stare into that artificial sun?

But it is more interesting to write about the moon, even when out of sight. The clouds sat pregnant and faintly aglow, those clouds that plotted to gather on a full moon, and then jealously keep her out of sight.

I burned dried sage and watched myself too become a different being, the animal that lives within the shell, waiting for a moment to leap forward. My face looks mischievous and tells me things I did not know.

I fall asleep reading by candlelight and wake with page creases on my right arm. The morning is still overcast but strangely bright. My dreams float like reflections in an undiluted pool, and for a moment I want to slip back into the other world and never awake. Must turn to the computer, send emails, and further propel the overt storyline of my life.

I draw water for tea and find a spider in the kitchen sink. Perfectly formed, eight arched legs. It would be good luck, but she seems to have drowned to death, rendering it an uncertain omen. I put on a heavy coat and carefully lay her to rest in the garden.

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journal: 2.24.14

Job applications:

Are you a self starter in the murder of your own soul?  Do you want to aid vapid people in making more money?  Do you work efficiently in depressed environments?  Do you suppress your emotions, down to the last detail?  Will you come be a desperate, shallow person groveling at the bottom of our ladder so we can feel better about being desperate, shallow people who groveled to the top?  Do you have seven years’ experience in this favored activity?



Image: from page 197 of Mr. Grant Allen’s New Story, by Michael’s Crag, 1893, via British Library on flickr 

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journal 2.16.14

It is raining in the kitchen again, from three different places.

After hearing it indoors, I fear I may never again relax to the gentle pitter patter of rain.

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journal: 1.21.14

Snow, snow, thick sound-muffling snow, and all of us united in the battle for sure footing and dry socks.

I called 311 about a malfunctioning traffic light causing chaos on Knickerbocker Avenue and later, with a dead phone, convinced a business owner to call an ambulance for the man collapsed outside his door in a heap.  As snow slowly covered him, people kept walking past like he was part of the sidewalk.

At home, boiled water and grated ginger for tea as my coat dried.  And considered what a fortunate creature I am, to come home to hot radiators.


I visited the Genius Bar today. In my mind it always appears “Genie Bar,” where people perform mysteries deeds and speak in incantations that all seem to rhyme with RAM.

The Genie Bar woman said there is nothing wrong with my phone, save that it is seven operating systems behind. She showed me a button situated in the Settings folder I must occasionally press. Now all the screens look different. I am impressed.

I also say mysterious things at the Genie Bar, where I get flustered at the first RAM-related word, and then develop a stutter. This is residual trauma from a Genie Bar man who spoke to me like I was a five-year-old for a whole 30 minutes, following a confession I mistrusted “clouds” and maintained a paper calendar.

Today was a little better. I am glad to know about the magic button sitting in the Settings folder. My new-looking old phone is behaving well, and there is no bill.

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journal: 9.4.13

It became humid again, the feeling the city is just one giant boil on an unkept foot.  And now cool air, the kind you want to slide into like cool sheets.

Laborrrrrrr Day weekend seemed to go on and on; I had a headache and terrible longing to be alone.

What does it mean to be of the land when one lives in the city?  Here this yard has become my favorite place in all of the universe, but there’s no room to roll around.  On the streets the trees look like they would rather be somewhere else.

Tyranny and Biscotti

On the M train I was reading the book Caliban and the Witch.  When the woman next to me broke into spoken word I was impressed, until I realized she was rhyming about how I will burn in hell.

Later I was walking my neighbor’s dog, which is about 6 inches long, when we were attacked by a dog 600 feet long (approximate measurements).

Determined this day will have one fine memory, I have turned to the oven, which is not known to judge or bite.  Four cups flour, three tablespoons anise seed, one third cup rum.  No need to rhyme when the words are sweet.


dog-walking-via-bl-editedjournal: 8.25.13

Caring for my neighbor’s dog while she is traveling has revealed to me an unknown subculture.

Many times I have walked these streets feeling either invisible, one dot among eight million, or hyper-visible to the creepy male beings.  Now women and children materialize seemingly from brick walls, surrounding me with a different gaze.

Little girls with thick black hair whisper, “ichi ichi.”  A woman in a faded housedress says in a thick German accent that she likes dogs, but people these days—she shakes her head—people these days don’t care for dogs.  We nod in unison.  When the dog peers into the door of a retirement home, a largish woman in scrubs iterates, “Tell ‘er she’s not old enough!,” and breaks into guffaws.

I notice women walking their dogs now—white puffy ones, sleek brown ones—and they look me up and down, from the tip of my head to the chiwawa’s nose.

Walking back from the M train this afternoon a man sneers and says, “Hello, princess.”  And I wish I had a dog, any dog, to pretend he isn’t talking to me.

Image: modified from page 211 of A Ramble round the Globe, by Thomas Robert Dewar, 1894, via British Library on flickr

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On Morning Glories


There were just a few strands tangled with the grass and burdock when I cleared the yard.  A few delicate strands, I thought, couldn’t hurt.

I left them to grow, tying some kitchen string to direct their path.  What I didn’t know about morning glories: They laugh at assistance.

The vines strangled the string, racing to its tip and then creeping back over themselves in endless spirals.  One hot June night I went to sleep and in the morning discovered one young tendril had grown several inches overnight.


I slept again, and dreamt morning glories had grown up to the sky, as I stood in an apron battling the tendrils with a pair of kitchen scissors.  I woke up with a thudding heart.  But I was only afraid, I knew, because I could not yet match their lust for life, the delirious race toward the sun.

In late July, when the vines had massed into systems thick as ropes, the growing seemed to slow slightly.  And bashfully, one unusually cool day, they bloomed: papery flowers nodding at the slightest breeze, a violet prayer.


The next time I dreamt about morning glories I was pregnant, and the entire garden situated in the sky.

What I didn’t know about morning glories: They become even more beautiful in death, their wispy skeletons still clinging faithfully to the garden fence.  But they are not dormant.  Each dry head contains a healthy cluster of small black seeds, just waiting to race me to the sun again.

I collected some seeds and sent them to my mother in a package labeled “Brooklyn Morning Glories.”