A Strange Day on Planet Earth

The Perfection of a Beet

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journal: 8.3.13

An unusually cool evening for early August.  The utterly decadent feeling of slipping on a sweater … and, miracle of miracles, a pen is in the pocket!  I really should have at least seven pens, but only two have been in commission for some time and I have no idea where the larger lot could be.

Today the apartment received another thorough scrubbing.  Sometimes with housemates I feel like the household maid. But still, there is a deep luxury to suds and brushes, drying the mop sponge in full sun, scrubbing the porcelain sink, removing all smudges from the bathroom tiles … twice mopped floors underfoot, the faint lingering scent of vinegar. I also cleaned the refrigerator, the final act to make a place feel truly, certifiably clean.  I cleaned until there were no paper towels or rags left, then sorted the bookshelf.

Last night I dreamt my right hand became green, covered with scales, and growing pointed nails.  I recognized it as my real, authentic hand, and loved it.


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Drudgery, n.:

When your desire for a late night walk leads past street harassers on every block, scurrying like gutter rats between the night’s trash bags, whispering in your ears and shouting at your back, until some upper region of your spine begins to tighten and tighten, and even sight of a solitary police officer in the neon glow of a bodega makes you jump, and you turn the key in your lock stiffly, and stand stupidly in a cold shower for a long time, and do not feel clean.

Toxic Boogie Men

%221960 Living Color Penthouse%22 via James Vaughan on flickr, some rights reserved

Last week I attempted to answer many onerous household questions.

Is it possible to buy BPA-free canning lids? (Yes, with difficulty, and multiple emails to Fresh Preserving.com.)
Why does my carbon monoxide detector go off at 50 ppm when a safe level is far lower? (No good answer, but a solitary and expensive solution from CO Experts.)
Is it possible to buy a landline that emits less radiation than a cell phone if you don’t have a phone jack? (No.)
Is my deodorant really toxic? (Yes.)
Are some essential oils estrogenic? (The jury is small and undecided.)

These rather depressing investigations only punctured a handful of the human-generated riddles surrounding me. Fine particle pollution, flame retardants, polyurethanes, DES, parabens, sulfates, nonspecified fragrances, and nanosilver will remain less delineated boogie men that occasionally haunt my waking thoughts.

It seems we must be our own landlord, pharmacist, municipal water supply, EPA, and FDA. It’s the corporations-persons’ world: we just live here.

Image: 1960 Living Color Penthouse, via flickr


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I was just thinking about garlic.

The basil had been in the refrigerator a few days
and was looking resentful.
There was a handful of pine nuts and good parmesan,
but no garlic.

I was thinking about garlic when I left the apartment, and locked the door.

I was thinking about garlic when I entered the first bodega,
which had garlic in netted packs
next to pale squash.
But I didn’t want five heads of garlic,
just one.

I was thinking about garlic when I entered the second bodega,
and then I remembered I had been there before
and just as before,
there was a cashier behind layers of thick plastic,
several men standing at the door,
and no customers.

Several men standing at the door,
doing nothing and
saying nothing
but staring en masse
at me.
Which is when I stopped thinking about garlic.

I was thinking about the
dull silence in the room
as I walked to the back
past the stacks of votive candles
and generic brands of flour
and by the time I reached the girlie calendar on the back wall,
in a which a topless brunette with an arched back stared listlessly at me,
I was thinking about being
gang raped in the supply closet
next to the Goya olive oil.

My breath as still as January air,
as their eyes followed the motion of my limbs,
back past the oil,
and generic brands of flour,
and votive candles,
grasping for the door
and opening it so vigorously I am thrown off balance
and must take a step back.

And I seem to stand for an eternity
in the frame of the door,
not seeing them at all,
only myself
glimmering in their eyes:
My weight, my height, the length of my hair,
the rise of my shoes,
the arch of my calves,
the things I can or cannot scrub off to
stop being
feminine, to stop being
do damn

Then the door closes and I am on a city street,
thinking about garlic
and rape.

Thinking about garlic and rape now,
wondering how many times
I am so intersected
in the pursuit of garlic, in the pursuit of M trains and packages.
South is that wine store I stopped frequenting
because the clerk stared heavily with wet smiles.
A few blocks west, the community garden I abruptly ceased tending
after the warden called me “princess” and tried to hold my hands.
The whole carrot harvest gone to waste,
damn it,
and now I am thinking
about carrots and rape and garlic,
as I approach the third bodega
wondering how many times a month, or week,
or day
I am so similarly startled
and then turn,
I am just another quiet lady you pass on the street.

I’m not a victim, not today,
how can I be
when I am so damn hungry for pesto
and I just want above all,
no more,
I just want to
think about garlic.

Things I Learned Watching the Democratic National Convention

Democrats are very interested in time.  Specifically, today and tomorrow.  Today is the 21st century.  Tomorrow is … tomorrow.

Texans wear bootstraps.
We just lived through an American century.  I missed that.
Give us, Oh Lord, humility.
We defeated terrorism.  I missed that too.
The man in the ugly tie just said he is a “proud card-carrying capitalist.  Do people, like, say that?
The answer is President Barack Obama!


I can’t tell them apart anymore.  Everything is blinding blue, or red.  They died, or their parents died.  But their fathers worked in a bottle factory.  Or a can factory.  Something with containers.

But they loved their mother.  We all love mothers.  Something about mothers.

They all seem slightly drunk.  It’s blue, or red.

Condoleezza Rice in a pink dress.  She talks about war.  I think she’s in favor of it.  I was waiting for her to talk about her mother; it was distracting.  She says, “Self esteem comes from achievement, not from lax standards and false praise.”  She looks like she’s about to cry.




ilustraciones-y-fotografc3adas-procedentes-del-fondo-bibliogrc3a1fico-de-la-biblioteca-de-la-facultad-de-derecho-y-ciencias-del-trabajo-de-la-universidad-de-sevilla-on-flickr-artist-not-attThe only satisfaction in test-taking is doing well.

That’s really the trouble with medical tests.  The most you can hope for is being told you’re average.

Normal, abnormal.  Healthy range, unhealthy range.

This is what I want to hear:  The results of your MRI are in.  Your brain glows in the dark!

Your blood test revealed your blood is a lovely shade of purple.  It particularly loves riding the slope from the your right shoulder to fingertips.

We have examined your X-ray.  Your neck muscles are in spasm, but secretly in love with your brain.  By night they read magazines in its light.

Image: from Ilustraciones y fotografías procedentes del fondo bibliográfico de la Biblioteca de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias del Trabajo de la Universidad de Sevilla on flickr

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Jury Duty

judge edited via BL.jpg

The judge is a large white man with a large white mustache.  He sits under  illuminated silver words, “In God We Trust.”

The defendant wears a beautiful pink shirt.  He is accused of shooting someone to death on Stuyvesant Ave.

Amazing how quickly potential jurors are divided into given demographics: married, unmarried, children, no children, renting, owning.

When I say I am involved in an organization called Occupy Bushwick the stenographer makes me repeat it twice.

The defendant seems to be staring at me, and I awkwardly catch his eye when I look up.  I have no idea if he wants me on his jury.  I have no idea where I rank in this game, a single white woman who studies media.  I realize it’s strategy, but that pink shirt is damn beautiful.

We file out, we file in.  The air is static.  Names are read, and none of them are mine.  I am surprised by my own relief.  I want to leave this room, this windowless room with a male judge and all male council and armed male guards.

Downstairs, another indefinite wait.  I am told I will not have to do this again for eight years and given a document stating, “Thank you for your participation and contribution to the delivery of justice.”

In ten weeks I will receive a check for $40.00.

Image: from page 13 of Ballads of the Bench and Bar, edited by J. B. Paul and J. J. Reid, 1882, via British Library on flickr