Oh, Those Twilight Years

Setting Sun

Setting Sun

Sounds so serene, tranquil.

For some, that’s what those last years seem to be, a gentle setting of the sun.  Soft shadows illuminated by fingers of watercolor light. For some.

For the rest these years often involve pain and indignities, menacing shapes refracting through cataract eyes, and confusion.

Not so different for our pets.

I spent this morning at the vet’s office with Big Senile Dog.  My poor beast is not watching a gentle sun.  He’s been miserable, lost more weight over the past couple of weeks, his crying went from the early morning wake up call to protracted through the morning ablution, to holy shit when will he stop? He cries, he paces, lays down and snores for a while and then starts again. He’s miserable, I’m miserable, we’re all miserable.

I actually asked the vet for a mild sedative for him, at least until we can establish if there’s something specific causing this latest decline, and the best course of action.  Yes, I already tried the plug in pheromones, the Bach’s Rescue Remedy, etc. I don’t know if this is “it” or not.  This dog has a strong spirit, twice before we’ve thought this is it, but he’s recovered.  Maybe a little more worn out, but recovered.

We’ll see.

 

Four Fingered Discount

Sometimes we all need a helping hand.

Sometimes we all need a helping hand.

I try not to blog about the kiddos too much on Mrs Fringe for two reasons.  One, this is my spot to be me–all of me, not just mamaing, but certainly being a mom is a big part of me.  Two, their privacy.  This week is my girl’s birthday, though.  And it’s a big one.  So we took a trip downtown and went to the art store.  A new one for us, haven’t explored it before.  Flower Child was given all the time she wanted to look at each pencil, eraser, and every other thing that I don’t know what they’re called or how they’re used, but she does.  And she saw the manikins.  I know they’re useful, but all these little things add up in price.  She saw this hand, missing one finger, and asked me if I thought they’d give it to us for fewer dollars because it had fewer fingers.  I told her to ask the manager.  She did, and he did.  Thank you!

Of course, she has a long list of things she would love for her birthday.  But…budget.  And as hard as I tried, I couldn’t summon a unicorn.  We do the best we can.  One of the things on her list was a name change.  She wants to be called Art Child here in Fringeland, instead of Flower Child.  I can do this, and I think I should.  Here’s a drawing she’s been working on for the past week.

I love this.  Not quite finished, but I say this definitely = a name change, don't you?

I love this. Not quite finished, but I say this definitely = a name change, don’t you?

I continue to be blown away by her developing talent.  She pours her dreams onto the sketch pad, uses her charcoals to smudge them into something visible, something tangible, something I can feel.

I’ve been thinking about dreams a lot these days.  How, as someone who writes, a wannabe, I take bits and pieces of what I see, hear, and feel.  I inhale them, taste them, smoosh them together, let them harden, and then tap them with the keys on my laptop until they crack and the cracks become stories. Written dreams that turn into personal dreams of connecting with readers, publication.  At this point in my life, dreaming isn’t enough.  A head in the clouds doesn’t protect you from the potholes under your feet.  Work needs to be done, mamaing needs to happen, life has to be lived.

When we left the art supply store we walked down 23rd St.  I looked at the old YMCA and wondered what happened to the dreams of the young men who stayed there years ago, before it became a trendy Crunch gym.

Yup, the one that inspired the song.

Yup, the one that inspired the song.

But for now, I want Art Child to dream.  I will watch out for the cracks in the sidewalk.

In Pursuit of…

Half empty or?

Half empty or?

Friday night I was on the couch watching Bill Maher–nothing unusual, I’m always watching him at that time, though I confess I often fall asleep before the end, and watch the rest in reruns later in the week.  Hey the weeks are long, and it’s my night to have a beer, I get sleepy.  In any case the interview was with two of the members of Pussy Riot, that kept me awake.  Brave women.

Then it was on to the panel discussion, and something something happy/happiness, and Ana Marie Cox (political columnist, commentator, and founding editor of the blog Wonkette) said no, she wants fulfillment, not happiness.  Maher said he wants to be happy, not just fulfilled.  I’m not sure I heard much else past that, I’ve been thinking about it ever since.   With the most cursory of research, using my buddy Google, I found this is not a new idea.  It seems like the current definitions involve fulfillment being more of a long term state of being, satisfaction, and happiness being short term, connected to a finite thing, experience, or emotion.

Makes sense to me.  We all know the studies, hear the platitudes, no one thing or person will make us happy.  As in permanent state of being happy.  I believe this.  On the flip side, I believe one thing (or lack thereof) or person can result in sustained unhappiness.  Unemployment, hunger, poverty, homelessness, a miserable marriage, these things can create long term unhappiness until and unless they change.

Tears of a Clown

Tears of a Clown (Photo credit: daybeezho)

The thing is, I also don’t think any of these achievements, relationships, resources, or experiences can provide permanent fulfillment.  We have to continue reaching out, working, experiencing, connecting.  When my children were young, I felt fulfilled.  There were still things I wanted, experiences I wanted and thought were coming, but overall, I was satisfied with life at that time.  Time passes, children grow, life happens, and I’m not so satisfied with where I am now, but I have no desire to go backwards, nor do I wish things had stayed the way they were.  The sometimes silly chaos of babies and nursing and giggles and every moment a discovery and but why and pleasefortheloveofGodgotosleep is not a state I’d want to live in forever.

Yeah, I’m in pursuit.  Of fulfillment, happiness, rainbows, I don’t know.  But I’m in pursuit.  Are you?

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Vintage: Not Frost Free

Vintage Refrigerator

Vintage Refrigerator (Photo credit: SanFranAnnie)

I’m in this strange in between space.  Between waiting and doing and deciding on the waiting and the doing and the deciding.  This leaves too much time devoted to thinking.  And remembering.

This morning I was talking with a friend about my love of the beach.  Now pretty much limited to summer time, when I was young I used to go year round.  In fall and winter I would sit on the rocks of that Brooklyn beach with my radio (and then walkman), spiral notebook and pencil, and write poor, angsty poetry.  Of course then I didn’t see it as poor or angsty.  But yeah, it was.

Strangely enough, though I don’t write much poetry anymore, when I do it’s still poor and angsty.  And when I do, I still enjoy the process.

 

a lousy poem, by Mrs Fringe


Unplug that old Frigidaire
with the frayed cord
and the rusted coils
Coffee, screwdriver, gin
     Prepared

Words of frost six inches thick
trap the right phrase
only the wrong fits
Flathead now an ice pick
   Chink clunk

Ice drips, words melt until
eventually
The pan overflows
with gray sentences
Seeping through
asbestos tiles

 

Happy Friday, everyone–and an extra special Friday it is, spring break starts this afternoon for my girl.

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Possibility: A Pseudo-Lesson on Defensive Living

Crossing a threshold, maybe

Crossing a threshold, maybe

Mrs Fringe and Husband were informed a 3 bedroom has opened up in the building.  We’re going for it.  Again.  Sounds good, right?

It may or may not come through.  We’ve been this close before a couple of times, and life happened.  There’s a little part of me that’s crying.  If it really comes through, and we take the apartment, it will cost us money, a lot of work, and acceptance that I’m not leaving New York anytime soon.

As I’m typing this, my little email notification popped up, there’s a new listing in Oahu!  Yeah, yeah, I can and do dream.  Why would I take this apartment if I know it takes me further away from leaving the city?  Because for whatever life hasn’t taught me, I’ve learned a few lessons well.  One of them is I don’t know what next year, next month, or even tomorrow will bring.  So if there’s an opportunity in front of me now, I need to take it.  Get it while you can and all that.  And hey, a 3 BR apartment in Manhattan that’s practically affordable–not to be taken lightly. Besides, I made my buddy Mrs Smitholini promise about a million times that when I die, she’ll take my ashes to Hawaii.  So eventually, in some form or another, I’ll get there.

I saw a neighbor earlier, she asked me if Big Senile Dog was still alive because she hasn’t heard him.  He is, but the truth is when I woke up this morning I thought he wasn’t.  As I’ve said before, he always wakes me up, cries until I get out of bed and go to the bathroom, and then he goes back to bed as soon as I start making my coffee.  This morning he cried, but then stopped.  All was quiet when I was in the bathroom so I went to check on him, and he was all curled up, not snoring, on his doggie-pedic bed. Still alive, but slowing down a little more each day.

Not perky, but still with me.

I swear his jowls are sagging.

Yup, good and bad, life happens.

Here, a little fusion jazz for us all.

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Tail End of Sunrise

Somewhere between 6:30 and 6:45 this morning.

Somewhere between 6:30 and 6:45 this morning.

Looks like an impossibility, no?  I stood on the terrace drinking my cafè con leche, camera in hand and the blue and gray and pink and white of the sky made me feel inside out, upside down.  I could have been looking into an ocean as easily as up to the sky, if it weren’t for the water towers and smokestacks of neighboring buildings to orient me.

This morning’s sunrise was a surprisingly accurate reflection of how I feel as I’m reading The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud. So perfectly simple, natural, it’s a deeply complex piece written with such honesty it makes my heart stop every few pages.  The words and phrasing aren’t pretty but they’re beautiful (if that makes sense to anyone other than me). Her main character is pure in her anger– no coyness, no stereotypical qualifiers, I’m not reading into it, she tells us exactly how angry she is and how she sublimates that anger in order to function–much the way I know those deep pinks above, stunning as they are, represent a big storm on its way later.  I took the photos so I can look at this sunrise again tomorrow or next month or next year, but they won’t give the same wow they did when I stood there this morning.

There are many writers I admire, for craft, plotting, characterization, descriptions, but.  There aren’t many writers who have made me feel like I’m holding my breath, chest and head hurting but I’m afraid to exhale, afraid to keep turning the pages because then it gets me closer to the end.  I don’t want it to be over, and I also don’t want to find out if it was wrapped up in a neat and tidy package where everyone gets to live happily ever after because sales-marketing-feel good-life is a cabaret.

*this, by the way, is why I don’t write book reviews on the blog.  Not too many people looking to buy a novel want to know how a book made me feel, but the feelings are what’s important and memorable to me.

Some novels I read and know no matter how much I enjoy them, they aren’t my type of story to write.  Thrillers, horror, so fun!  My imagination doesn’t go in those directions.  Some novels I read and think yes, I should be querying and pursuing publication, my work is competitive.  This is a whole other category.

This is the type of book I will remember the name of, will recommend to friends and acquaintances for the next ten years.  I’m guessing there are a lot of people who won’t like it.  Anger, especially women’s anger, tends to make people uncomfortable. It’s also the type of novel that makes me wonder what the fuck I think I’m doing.  A strange feeling, hard to state clearly because it’s inspiring at the same time.  There’s a little back room in my brain where I’ve been drafting a character for another story, and he’s starting to knock, wanting to move forward.  As much as I’m loving The Woman Upstairs, feel it was money well spent, it also makes me want to stomp my feet and shake my fists because this is what writing can be, but my writing is not.  Cliche as it may be, the word that keeps coming to mind is heartbreaker.

Must mean it’s time to get the Led out before I get back to reading and before the rain comes.

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Walking Through Fringeland, Part II

Above were just a few of the hidden paths, nooks and crannies.  Central Park is 843 acres, there’re a lot of them.  The set below are from just outside the park, on my way home.

Snotting Against the Wind

 

It isn’t raining or gray and I’ve been so damned sedentary since I hurt my back that I needed to go for a walk this morning. Dropped Flower Child off at her art class, and headed into Central Park with my camera.  A nice day for a walk–you’ll all be relieved to know I wore my sensible shoes, with support, without heels.  Glad I had a hat and was wearing layers because it is windy out there. Just shy of cold when the sun goes behind a cloud.  As expected, it was crowded with bikers, runners, kids, dogs, bird watchers and photographers.  But one of the nice things about Central Park is how big it is, if you don’t go to the popular, touristy spots, you can still find some peace.

Except for the two runners who were stopped right where I wanted to take some photos of the newly seeded ball fields.  One even treated me to the sight and sound of her blowing her nose onto the ground.  You know, one finger laid across one nostril, lean forward and blow out the other one.  I’m sure someone will tell me how it’s necessary, you don’t carry tissues to go running.  You know what?  It’s fucking gross.  I’ll bet she had her cell phone tucked in somewhere, she could throw a few Kleenex into the case.  By the way hon, if you’re reading, you might want to get checked for a sinus infection.

I would love to photograph the playgrounds, but they’re rarely empty, and it’s creepy to stand there and take photos of other people’s kids.  I like to get shots of birds, but that rarely works out for me, I don’t have great photography skills.  If you’re a longtime follower, you might know I’m obsessed with trees, especially the patterns of the root growths, and this time of year, just beginning to bud, when you can see the shapes and shadows made by the branches.  Plus, I find trees to be cooperative subjects, they rarely blink or move at the moment I press the shutter.  I also shoot a lot of the various bodies of water.  They’re always moving, but that makes them interesting to me, even the blurs. I took a lot of pictures, I’ll probably break this up into two or three posts.

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Gray Skies and Social Media Wallflowers

After a teaser of spring yesterday, this morning is pure damp and gloom.

After a teaser of spring yesterday, this morning is pure damp and gloom.

This week I thought quite a bit about social media, the concept of “platforms” and followings, blogging and tweeting.  Mostly tweeting, because so far it’s the thing I’m having the hardest time catching the rhythm of.

I keep saying this, but I just don’t get it.  I hop on dutifully most days, but usually end up feeling like the girl who needs electrolysis and a better girdle at a 1961 dance.  There are the cool kids, the nerdy kids, the popular rah-rah we’re running your student government kids, and the wallflowers.  Then there are the spammers.  Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop it!  I will usually follow links from new followers, check out blogs, etc.  But if you’re tweeting multiple times a day for days, weeks, months on end about how I should buy your book, just stop it.  I will start to remember your name/title of book, but only to make a note not to purchase it.  But they say it’s a good thing to do, have a Twitter account and tweet, so I keep trying.  I favorite, I retweet, I reply, occasionally I send out a tweet.  Somehow it isn’t shocking when no one cares what I ate for dinner.  If I had to guess, I’d say it’s not going to be the thing that gets me/my writing noticed.

Is blogging going to help me?  I have no clue.  As I query, some agents want to know about “web presence,” a more common term than platform when querying fiction.  My stats won’t make anyone drool, but hopefully won’t make them cringe, either.  If anyone looks closely enough, I think it could help that I tend to have long term followers who are engaged (thank you!).  Maybe an agent or two will like the content, think I’m someone they’d be interested in working with.  Or *gasp* become a follower.  Maybe not.  Maybe they’ll click onto the blog and be disgusted by my appalling language.  (If so, they probably wouldn’t be into my fiction, either.) Maybe they’ll think, “Wow, this woman is a fucking fruitcake, I’m steering clear.”

If you hadn’t noticed, I like blogging.  Mrs Fringe isn’t an overnight sensation, but I’ve got Fringelings, and gather more on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.  Many can relate to that feeling of living on the fringe.  As a wannabe writer, I should be keeping a blog about writing.  Yawn.  Pretty sure I’ve said this before, but I find most blogs on writing to be tedious.  Writers, their individual lives and processes?  Interesting.  A good blog with an thoughtful or entertaining voice will compel me to follow links and click the little buy button for a book.  Does this make me a voyeur?

No longer needed

No longer needed (Photo credit: eric.r)

Could be.  Blogging lets me ramble with no pressure.  I look at the blogs that hit it big, and the blogs that barely get any views, and sometimes, not always, but sometimes, it’s hard to see why one way or the other.  My buddy kk blogged about this yesterday.  I enjoy different bloggers and blogs, like making connections through reading and commenting.  I don’t read and comment as frequently as I did when I started.  Honestly, it gets harder to do the more followers I have, and I apologize to those whose blogs I’m not stopping by often enough.  Every view, every like, every comment  is important and valuable to me, thank you.  It’s a process, I’m learning the curve.  So I’m saying to kk and anyone else trying to figure out this blogging thing, relax. Figure out what you most enjoy blogging about, the voice that feels the most comfortable.

It’s Friday again.  Not sure if Fatigue will come for Friday Night Madness, his pup has been sick.  But if he does, we’ll have dinner and our usual routine discussing the trials and tribulations of being a wannabe in New York, trying to make it; one pen/voice/monologue/dance routine trying to hold firm and be noticed among millions.  Funny, because I grew up here, pretty much always lived here, I always knew I wasn’t special by virtue of being a wannabe, having a dream I didn’t want to give up.  Maybe the internet and social media have done the same for everyone everywhere.

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Get Your Kicks

Mine came in the mail, how do you get yours?

Mine came in the mail, how do you get yours?

Until 5 minutes ago, I didn’t own any sneakers, hadn’t owned any in years. I’m just not a sneaker gal.  They usually require laces and socks, and I’m not a fan of either of those.  Not to mention how closely associated they are with athletic pursuits.  Let me say right now, if you toss a ball to me, my only instinct is to cringe and cover my face.

Still having issues with my back which rule out many of the shoes I already own, and to my great disappointment, it’s still too cool outside for flip-flops.  But…it’s also getting sort of warm for the practical, comfy, fake shearling lined shoes I’ve been wearing.  Hence my online shopping extravaganza. I hoped for gray or white, but no such luck.  You know what they say, beggars-who-are-too-cheap-to-pay-full-price can’t be choosers.

Not too bad, as far as third choice colors go.  I remember my first pair of Pro-Keds, banana yellow.  I know, my mother couldn’t believe it either.  I have a clear memory of sitting in the elementary school gym and squeaking the soles against the inch thick polyurethane glazed floor, trying to tell myself that Susie McSnobby may have new tell-tale threads from a new ear piercing* dangling from her ears, but I had cool sneakers.  Just as good.  Almost as good.  Ok, it’s true, I hated the fucking things from that moment on.  Come to think of it, that may have been the last yellow anything I ever chose.  Converse are still fun, though, and I’ve owned several pairs since then–all suitably white or black.  And now some of my favorite songs from high school are running through my head.  Mostly from The Who.  Maybe I wore sneakers to that concert.

**A long time ago, in an alternate universe where parents never heard of car seats or cabinet locks, and didn’t think twice about a 14 day course of antibiotics because kiddo sneezed twice, ears were pierced with needles and threads.  The needle got pushed through, the thread left behind to keep the hole open until it was “healed” enough to stick an earring in.

 

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