What's Mine Is Yours

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Something Big, Something Important (fiction-ish)

Between yesterday and today, it rained seven inches. It started as a trickle on Friday; I darted into Christopher Street station after my shift at the restaurant, I darted from bar to bar slippery in borrowed heels that night, I fell asleep to the sound of drops slapping against the window.

On Friday night, we'd promised to turn the rain into a contest -- actually, the contest was Violet's idea -- how long could we last without going outside? My bank account was near zero, the fridge was stocked, the DVDs I'd rented last week were still on the coffee table (four days overdue now). I'd make it, easy, through the forecast weekend of rain. Violet was confident, too.

I started off by sleeping in, then lingered over the newspaper during breakfast (retrieving it did not count as going outside, as I rented a studio apartment on the twenty-third floor of a rickety old high rise). At one o'clock I began cleaning, as I did every Saturday; this week, though, I felt none of the rush to finish it and move on to other things. I organized the pantry, rearranged the bookshelf, cleaned invisible cobwebs from the corners of the ceiling.

It was after four o'clock by the time I'd finished the final step -- cleaning myself -- when the phone rang.

It was Violet.

"How's it going?" she inquired casually, which made me immediately suspicious that it wasn't going well on her end, a spacious two-bedroom she'd purchased uptown a few months ago.

"Great," I said. "Just finished cleaning."

"Again?" she asked, a hint of annoyance flickering in her voice.

"You know me," I said, trying to make my voice sound light and not wounded. "How's it going on your end?"

"OK," Violet said. "I just finished reading the new Vogue."

"You sound bored."

"I am. I'm already tired of being inside. I want to go shopping."

A little silence hung between us; the contest she'd proposed now seemed one-sided. I could tell I was still in it to win, but that my opponent was on the verge of leaving the stadium in search of a sample sale.

"I can't really afford a shopping excursion right now," I confessed.

"Right, right," she answered, acknowledging that my confession wasn't a confession so much as something she should have realized, something that she's known all along, our whole lives.

I felt annoyed then, and looking back, maybe it showed when I said, "Well, I'm going to watch a movie now, I think."

We hung up and I shuffled through the rented DVDs with every intention of watching one, yet looking at the miniature movie poster art on the covers made me feel lonely. I moved to the window, where I stood watching the droplets of rain run like a disgruntled subway down the pane.

Once, when I was younger, in middle school, I'd fallen in love with a movie. It was tripe, some action adventure where the main character is in trouble and in the process of escaping trouble also has to rescue a beautiful girl over and over again.

My father asked the rental store's employees if he could have the full-size movie poster they'd hung in the window, when they were finished with it, of course, for his daughter. They gave it to him on the spot -- and when he brought it home I immediately hung it above my bed.

A few days later when Violet came over after school to study and whisper about boys, she stood, stunned, when she saw it.

"What," she demanded, "is that?"

I explained, and she shook her head sadly, as if I'd disappointed her.

"You're too old for that kind of thing," she said finally.

Something rose up in my chest then; it was the first time in my life I'd felt it but it would become an old friend as I aged, a cross between shame and rage and something else, a desire to protect and defend something dear to me, at any cost.

"I think you should go home now," I told her.

If she was surprised by my command or the insistence with which I spoke it, she didn't show it.

She gathered up her books and walked out of my bedroom.

Hot-faced, I'd sat at the foot of my bed and done my homework until an hour later, when my father knocked on the door and entered before I could answer it.

He looked concerned.

"I just saw Violet off; her father sent a car. She was sitting outside all by herself," he explained.

I shrugged, though I felt some pleasure at the thought of Violet sitting outside my family's rundown home for the past hour, waiting for her ride.

"Did you girls have a fight?"

I shrugged again.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

I shook my head, then stuttered, then my eyes filled with tears. "She made fun of my poster," I said finally.

He looked up at it, then back at me, and then in an instant, he seemed to understand.

"Oh, bud," he said, sitting down beside me, "I'm sure she didn't mean to hurt your feelings. You need to remember that things are very different for Violet."

I shrugged, not wanting to admit that I didn't understand.

"You girls will be fine," he said, then smiled. "Your mom's working tonight so I'm in charge of making dinner. I was thinking of making...I don't know, reservations at the pizza place. That sound OK?"

I smiled, finally, for his sake.

And I smiled again, there, in my tiny apartment, and when I caught sight of my rain-streaked face in the reflection from the window, and I felt silly and small.

I poured myself a glass of wine -- even though it wasn't even six -- and turned on a movie.

I'd watched two movies and sipped my way through a bottle of wine when my phone rang again. I glanced at my watch -- it was ten-thirty.

"Kate!" Violet shrieked on the other end, the sound of music, talking, laughter throbbing behind her like a hangover that arrived early.

"Violet? Hello?" I said, pretending to not be able to hear her, even though I could, perfectly. I wanted to delay what I knew was coming next.

"Kate, it's Violet, can you hear me? I'm in your neighborhood," she spoke quickly, as if she knew she didn't have long to plead her case. "I went shopping on Fifth Avenue and found the most adorable shoes, you'll love them. I'm at Bar Door now -- come meet me."

"Violet, what about the contest?" I asked, miserably.

"Oh, Kate, don't be so competitive! I just couldn't bear to be inside any longer," she explained airily, but I knew that by competitive she meant simple, and by simple she meant easily amused. "Please, come on out."

"I can't," I said. "I can't."

She pleaded further, but I didn't hear her. I hung up the phone, and then I turned it off.

I fell asleep on the couch that night, thinking about what my father had said that day, how things were different for Violet. I'd wanted to ask him then, "How? How are they different? And why?" but I hadn't, and in that moment, I realized now, I'd missed a chance to understand something big, something important, something that would have helped me avoid this very moment, and all the ones like it in between.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

This Post Sponsored by a Paid Advertiser (Except Not Really): The Best TV Show You're Not Watching (Really)

The fall TV season is officially in full swing. The Housewives are unabashedly refusing to apologize for their affairs, the Lost crew is counting down 4, 15, 16, 23, and 42 and and pushing a button every 108 minutes, Vaughn is dead or maybe not dead and everyone really, really does love Chris, but the honest-to-Deity fact of the matter is that you've already missed out on the best show on TV.

And that's Teachers, BBC America's top-notch show about a self-absorbed, sexually obsessed 23-year-old in his first "real" job, as, you may have guessed it, a teacher.

Andrew Lincoln -- who you probably recognize as Keira Knightley's reluctant worshipper in Love Actually (and, frankly, the best part of one of the worst movies I've ever seen) -- stutters and doubts and missteps through each episode, surrounded by a supporting casts of faculty members who continually provide him support and ridicule.

The show's main crutch: Lincoln's character, Simon, is just barely more mature than the students he's supposed to be guiding, which plays out to delightful (and ineffectual) effect, particularly when one of his students goes into labor.

I'm not doing this show justice; watch it for yourself.

The season finale aired in late September; if you have TiVo, set it to record every possible episode and just sit back and enjoy. Or, if that doesn't work, look for it on DVD.

/ end paid sponsorship (not really)

Mmmmmm, That's Good Tofu

Something about this makes me indelibly happy.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Let the Pants Shitting Commence

I have in my possession, right now, the phone number of the publicist of my No. 1 favorite celebrity. I spoke to publicist's assistant earlier today, who uttered an adjective along the lines of 'golden'.

I am waiting, currently, for said publicist to touch down from a flight to Australia and let me know if/when I can interview No. 1 favorite celebrity.

Face to face.

On Wednesday.

I will update this when I know more. But. Right now.


Update:: Said celebrity is not doing press right now. THANK GOD.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I'm Getting Older, Too.

We went to visit our alma mater this weekend, for beer and football and tailgating and sportsmanship.

It was nice; my parents met us there and we introduced them to friends and ate their food and I tried, for no other reason than fun, to make my mother think (mistakenly) that I am pregnant (i.e., not drinking, taking it easy, frequently tired, crabby and, when she asked point-blank, not on birth control).

Post-tailgate, my mother grabbed my cell phone and announced, apropos nothing, that she was going to call my grandmother, just to check in.
She entered in the number, waited, and hilarity ensued as we realized that she had forgotten to hit send.

She waited.

My aunt, her twin sister, answered the phone.

My grandmother and my mom's sister live an hour apart.

My twin sister had been trying to get in touch with my mother all day; it turned out that I had a collection of voicemails on my phone from various family members.

My grandmother had had a heart attack.

She'd been airlifted from our podunk hometown to bigger town.

She was in an ICU unit.

Blah, blah, fucking blah.

My parents went home, telling me not to worry, to go back to the hotel, to hit up college bars. I curled up in the hotel room bed, phone under my pillow, in tears.

My phone was silent. No calls, no text messages, no IMs.


I wanted news; any news, good, bad, nothing, anything.

The next morning, we drove home, not knowing which direction we were best advised to go in.

We went south when I really wanted to go east. We went to sleep when I really wanted to stay awake. We did nothing when I really, really wanted to do something.


I do nothing. That's my role as far away, daughter who grew up and moved on. It's moments like these when I wish that I hadn't. But I've always kept my family close in my heart and they've never been closer than they are right now.

I could go home.

I could be there in three and a half hours.

But somehow I think, by heeding my parents words -- she's out of ICU, she's doing better -- that I'm making it better.

I'm making it less important.

I'm making it a smaller bump.

I'm making it mean less. And I want it to mean nothing, I want it to be a blip, a tiny malfunction on the satellite screen of my grandmother's life. I don't want this to be the end.

And by staying here and acting normally, somehow, I feel like I'm making a difference.

But deep down inside, I know that I'm not.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Things I Acquired in the Month of August

a new (male) roommate
a new address
two of every condiment
a cat tree
floor-to-ceiling windows
a lot of Ikea furniture
the right to honestly claim to have written one of the lists on McSweeney's
a pair of Uggs
approximately five pounds, three of which were quickly lost
an addiction to the show Teachers
a creeping, unshakeable sense of sadness (along with the rest of the country, i think)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

There Ain't No One Gonna Listen If You Haven't Made a Sound

Two weeks ago, it was recommended to me that I contact my local police department to request extra security patrols past my house and in my neighborhood (the reasons behind this recommendation will be conveniently left out).

I obtained the number. I left a message, stating my name, my reason, my address, and my phone number in case an officer needed to speak with me further.

Two weeks went by and I assumed my request went through. I slept 0.05% more soundly at night.

Meanwhile, over the past two weeks, the offending situation has -- mostly -- resolved itself, or at least gotten to a place where I feel extra police patrols are no longer necessary.

Which is, it turns out, a great coincidence. Because tonight, my local police department called to let me know that starting on Wednesday, they would begin extra patrols in my neighborhood. They left a voicemail so I didn't get a chance to ask the obvious question, which is, clearly, "WHAT THE FUCK TOOK SO LONG?" and instead I just called them back and told them not to even bother anymore.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

It Turns Out..

...that no matter how anonymous your blog, some things are too frightening, too threatening, too strange, too hurtful, too sad, too unexplainable and too shapeless to write about.

So you sit in silence.

And that really sucks.