I Got It Bad

My toes want to be in that surf.

My toes want to be in that surf.

While nothing is official yet (which means plenty of room for something to go wrong) it’s looking likely we will get the larger apartment.  Please don’t shout hooray and tempt the fates yet.

Wonderful news, right?  Of course it is.  What I’ve wanted forever, right?  Of course.  But there’s that part of me that keeps whispering, “suckerrrrrr!”  Because getting and moving into the bigger apartment moves my dream of living by the beach from the category of infinitesimal to bwahahahaha.  Which in turn leads me to I want a big tank again.

I miss reefing.  I miss Sadie the fire shrimp and Gloria the glorious yellow tang. I miss my electric blue crocea clam and my florescent green hydnophora colony.  I miss stinking of low tide and vinegar from doing tank maintenance. I miss playing God in a glass box, having my own little slice of the ocean.  And I really miss having a big tank.  I’ve been thinking this for a few months.  Several months.  OK, since the first time I heard the larger apartment was a possibility.  Hearing Big Senile Dog’s diagnosis of kidney failure turned the thought into a rumination.  (There’s a limit to how many creatures with significant needs I can take care of at once, and setting up a new tank is a lot of work.)

The other day I was at a friend’s house.  Her tank is currently a mess, choked with cyanobacteria.  I stared into those waving reddish snot flags and thought, “I miss my tank.”  Yeah, I got it bad.  My hands were itching to get into that water.  Bizarre, because the skin on my hands and arms is in better condition than it’s been in for years because I’ve been tankless for a while.  If I had been able to find her turkey baster I would have started doing some manual removal for her.

Part of what made keeping up with a big tank unmanageable would be much easier in the larger apartment.  Because there’s an extra half bath, I could set up an RO/DI unit, mix my own saltwater and not have to buy and lug distilled or RO/DI water from the local fish store.  Or be begging Husband or boys to pick it up for me.

My tanks have always been my beach house, my fantasy measured in gallons.  At this point in my tsunami of downward mobility, I’m thinking eighty gallons sounds about right.

reef life 1

reef life 1 (Photo credit: Raven_Denmark)

Happy Anniversary: Carpe Diem

Mrs Fringe is 2 years old.  I could write a fun post, a retrospective of the highlights, discuss how very much this blog and all of my followers mean to me, but in true fractured Fringeland style, I’m not going to do any of those today.  No silliness, no photos. Instead, I’m writing a PSA post, asking you all to please read and remember.

I’ve written epilepsy awareness posts before, I usually post one in November, but I’m writing another one today.

On the train this morning I got a phone call from Man Child telling me he was on his way to the ER, and when I arrived at the beach it was raining.  Ok, life.

After the rain stopped and the clouds moved off, someone several towels down had a tonic clonic seizure.  Tonic clinics are what used to be called grand mal seizures.  I went over, as did several other people.  Really nice to see so many willing to get involved and see if they could help, lifeguards were hailed, police were flagged down, 911 was called.

I was umm, happy?  I don’t think happy is the right word, to see the person was on their side, and they were on a towel on the sand, away from the water, nothing to be injured on.  This is probably the safest scenario for a seizure when someone is alone and outside.

But I was quickly upset, and I’m still upset now.

The problem.  One woman pushed through, trying to turn the person onto their back, saying they needed to be held down. NO. There is no reason to restrain someone having a seizure, and doing so risks injuring them.  No less than two people stepped forward ready to grab the jaw and force the mouth open, yelling that they were going to choke on their tongue.  NO.  NEVER, EVER PUT ANYTHING IN THE MOUTH OF SOMEONE HAVING A SEIZURE.  It is physically impossible for someone to choke on their tongue.  It is, however, possible for the tongue to block the airway, which is why lying on their side is the safest position for someone having a seizure.  One woman tried to hold their head, saying she was going to put her finger in their mouth to swipe away the saliva.  NO.  Nothing in the mouth includes fingers, it’s a good way to a) have your finger injured, possibly bitten off, b) break the jaw of the person having the seizure, c) trying to force anything into the mouth when someone is seizing can result in chipping their teeth.

Yes, I spoke up.

But, why, oh why, is there not more seizure awareness?  Seizures aren’t rare.  1 in 100 people can expect to have a seizure in their lifetime.  Anyone can have a seizure.  Epilepsy is generally defined as 2 or more unprovoked seizures.  Epilepsy can develop in any person at any time.  It is the fourth most common neurological disorder.

So how come, as the person was coming out of the seizure, the only question asked was if they had taken anything or been drinking?  These are valid, important, sensible questions.  But they weren’t asked if they had epilepsy.

Most seizures are self limiting, — end on their own.  Without anything else going on (injury, illness) they are usually not considered medical emergencies.  But they can be.  People can and do die– from SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy), status epilepticus (prolonged seizures), and injuries sustained during seizures (head injury, drowning, etc).  These events are not common, but they can and do happen.

Please.  Know what to do in case someone around you has a seizure (and tonic clinics are just one of many types).


Had to take this shot, seemed so perfect.

Had to take this shot, seemed so perfect.

Continuing with this summer’s theme of exploration, I have a billion pictures to share today.

While they’re doing a lot of field trips, Art Child’s summer class has a home base uptown.  This is another neighborhood that has kept much of its unique feel, residents more vested in preservation and restoration than demolition and shiny new high-rises.  Depending on which person you speak with, or the current real estate market, the area might be called Harlem, or more accurately, Hamilton Heights.  It also contains the sub neighborhood of Sugar Hill (remember the Sugar Hill gang?  Yup, named for this area.  Nope, they were from Englewood, NJ).

In this little area, as you walk around it feels removed from the city, more like the outer reaches of the outer boroughs than northern Manhattan.

In any case, this area contains Alexander Hamilton’s home, open to the public as a museum, and, in my opinion, some of the most stunning architecture and brownstones in the borough.

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And more, no particular order

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On the way home.  The architecture changes as you go through the different neighborhoods, but all within a thirty block radius on the west side.

Last but not least,

What Was I Saying?

I swear I had a post in my head ready to go, just needed to sit down and type it up.  Now that I’m at the keyboard, I can’t remember one word of what I intended to blog about.

Long and busy days here, though I’m not sure what I’ve been so busy with.  Not much fun happening, behind on laundry and the fridge is alarmingly empty.  Must be mid-summer.  Art Child has been busy with her art intensive, and I’ve been trekking all over the borough for drop off and pick up.  The other day, I had to meet her in the East Village.  A fun neighborhood, one of the few left in Manhattan that still feels like New York, art, artists, small businesses.  We weren’t in the fun part, but I got a couple of photos.

Rainbow brownstone

Rainbow brownstone

Love this, and I'm not the only one.

Love this, and I’m not the only one.

What better place for a small theater than an abandoned Catholic school?

What better place for a small theater than an abandoned Catholic school?

Some neighborhoods still have interesting graffiti

Some neighborhoods still have interesting graffiti

Hi there.

Hi there.

To get to that area from my apartment is kind of a haul, required train transfers and many flights of stairs to get from one station to another without leaving the subway and having to pay another fare.  By the time we got home my back was on fire.  I was just starting to relax into one of the back meds when I heard that siren call, “Mom, the toilet’s overflowing!”

Does everyone else have low flow toilets now also?  Low flow saves a lot of water, theoretically.  Unless you try to flush more than one square of toilet paper.  Because that requires many flushes, and often an overflow.  I don’t know what the heck happened, but this was more stopped up than I’ve seen in years.  And I couldn’t lift the damned pail to force water down.  The good news, Nerd Child got a complete plumbing in NYC lesson.  The bad news, the many hours it took to clear the clog.

The whole thing earned me a day at the beach, no?  Maybe.

Nice view of the new World Trade Center on our way to the Holland Tunnel.

Nice view of the new World Trade Center on our way to the Holland Tunnel.

Oh, I went.  With Husband and Art Child, so we went to one of the NJ beaches, supposed to be cleaner and nicer.

In the parking lot, some lovely plantings around.

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It was going to be a perfect beach day.

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It just didn’t quite work out the way I hoped.

When we got our stuff spread out and settled, a cloud settled on top of us and the wind increased.

IMG_1636 IMG_1640Then we realized the family next to us was the Loud Family.  The cloud will pass, right?  Those kids will go back in the water, right?

So I took a little walk with my camera.

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The cloud passed and those kids did go off somewhere.  Then we realized it was the mother–who did not wander off again–who was making the most noise.  Then another cloud came.

But okay, the family left, yay!  Everywhere else the sky looked blue.  Surely this massive gray cloud above us was going to move off any moment.

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It started to move off, then it came back.  And the Louder and Larger Family settled right next to us, complete with screaming children and mother spraying sunscreen in futility against the wind.  Thanks, my sandwich was missing something.

Story of my fucking life.

Story of my fucking life.


The Empress Has No

English: Drawing of Marie de Lorraine as the D...

English: Drawing of Marie de Lorraine as the Duchess of Valentinois. She wears a ball gown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve heard people talk about sharing their writing, how it feels/can feel like being naked.  Not me.  I don’t feel exposed when I share my work.  Not to say I’m always completely confident, it’s like getting dressed and made up for an evening out–I think I look good, but I’m still hoping for some validation from whoever I go out with/run into.  Cause there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve got your game face on, and you run into someone in the lobby who asks if you’ve been ill.  Because yes, that’s when I’m most likely to make the effort, when I feel the worst, physically or emotionally.  That or I haven’t done laundry.

But submitting, querying…that’s a different story.  At first I thought this end was more like working the pole, but no.  Stripping may not be the most desirable way for every woman to earn a living, but it does earn dollars.  This?  Not a dime.  I know, I know, I should have done this when my boobs were still in the same zip code as the rest of me.  Living the dream, oh yes.  The dream where you realize you’re standing in Times Square with no clothes on, not even a guitar to cover the saggy bits, a la The Naked Singing Cowboy.

Yah, yah, I’m not supposed to write these types of posts.  Because for as much as you educate yourself about the business of publishing, follow agent and editor blogs and tweets about how things work, what their days are like, how many rejections they send daily (or don’t send, in these days of no response means no), the unpubbed and unagented are supposed to pretend we’re pure and innocent and virginal–just lucky enough or brilliant enough to know how to follow the rules or break the rules in a way that works, and haven’t received any rejections from anyone else.  No matter how many times you read or hear publishing industry professionals talk about the many, many reasons they reject a work that often have nothing to do with with the quality of the writing, nope, those are the other wannabes.  Not you, of course. Because, just like a wanton woman of yesteryear, no one’s going to want you/your work if someone else has already sampled the goods and didn’t like it enough to make a legally binding offer.

I’m a 40,000 year old woman with three children who are closer to grown than not.  I think my days of playing the virgin are over.  And Fringeland is about being honest, a blog to explore what it means to be downwardly mobile without being crushed by those climbing up.

Those stories you hear about people who receive an offer of rep and/or publication their first try?  Their first dozen tries?  Bullshit.  Not saying they aren’t real, they are, but they are the exceptions, not the rule.  I’d like to have been one of those stories, I’d like to be the mega lotto jackpot winner, but I’m not.  The rules, the rules, all the rules passed on from wannabe to wannabe.  The rules about how to interpret rejections, the nice and orderly progression from brusque form letters to nice form letters to personalized letters to invitations to submit more work to acceptance.  Oh, the squeals of anticipation upon requests for fulls, personalized rejections, “you’re almost there!”  Or not.  I’ve been almost there since I started.  Contracts in mirror are a fucking mirage, forget closer than they appear.  The rules about the right way to query.  Bullshit.  There are wrong ways to go about querying, but no one right way.  And hell, even amongst the wrong ways, there are stories of those who queried completely “wrong,” and still got an offer.  C’mon now, there isn’t an agent or wannabe out there who hasn’t heard the story of the twelve year old kid who called the agent to query his book and got an offer.  Not right then and there, and I don’t recommend calling agents’  offices when every US agent says not to do so, but obviously a phone call isn’t always the immediate and permanent never-to-be-published-blacklisted-forever-and-the-dystopia-beyond it’s portrayed to be.  Does this mean I’m not smarter than a sixth grader?

I read broadly, across many genres.  Yes, I have a special love for literary fiction, but I also love thrillers–political and psychological, some horror, contemporary, narrative non-fiction, and poetry.  I read classics, and I read what’s being published today.  Some books are so fabulous I want to swallow them so they’re permanently part of me, some are entertaining reads to pass an afternoon, and some, well, some I wonder what it is I’m missing that they were represented by an agent, championed by an editor, and published, a trade paperback I picked up for $14.00 off the shelf of the bookstore and wish I had instead tucked those dollars into someone’s g-string at the local Girlz Girlz Girlz.  All my reading tells me something.  I can write.  Sharing manuscripts with writing friends (published and un, agented and un) and reading their feedback confirms I can write–if you don’t write, you’ll have to trust me here, no one is more adept at ripping apart a manuscript than others who write–feedback I’ve received from industry professionals tells me I don’t, after all, look sick when I think I look good.


Mrs Fringe hasn’t been innocent in a long time, if ever.  But I’m still naked, and even though it’s July, it’s fucking cold outside.

Run Away


Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in over 21 years. I went to the beach. By myself. Come to think of it, beach or not, I haven’t had a day by myself, no obligations, in over 21 years. I took my towel, my phone, my metrocard, my iPod, and a frozen bottle of water.

The beach was packed, the subway was nose to armpit jammed, and it was heavenly.

One of the best things about New York is the diversity. On the beach
I heard Russian, I heard French, I heard Chinese, I heard Spanish, I heard English, I heard Hebrew, I saw a family of Asian descent speaking Russian, I saw senior citizens swimming in their underwear, young studs in cut offs, young women in thong bikinis, old women in string bikinis, an orthodox man in his beard and black suit sitting on the sand so his little ones could have a day in the ocean.

I plugged my ear buds in and blasted all my old beach favorites–to the group three towels down, thanks for sharing your rap, but I was sticking to Cream. And Creedance and Kate Bush and Melissa Etheridge.

It’s true, the Brooklyn beaches aren’t the prettiest, that glint of green in the sand is as likely to be part of a beer bottle as seaweed, but yesterday it was bliss.

After about an hour, I realized I was free to enjoy another beach pleasure I haven’t indulged in years.


Why yes, I do think a beach towel is equivalent to a brown paper bag. I have to ask though, wtf is a nutcracker? Guys in heavy jeans and towels walk up and down the beach same as always, selling water, beer, and Newports out of black plastic bags. But now they offer nutcrackers too.

When I was young, there was nothing I wanted more than to get out of Brooklyn. But yesterday, I looked at the fancy newer condos along the boardwalk and thought, “not so bad.”


Hell, I looked at the ancient buildings on the side streets, the ones with wiring too old and fragile to support an air conditioner and lights at the same time–trust me, I used to live in one–and thought, “not so bad.”


If you called me yesterday, or texted or messaged or emailed and I didn’t answer, forgive me. I ran away. And Nerd Child, thank you. 

Guess What I Just Did!


If you guessed that I just spent the last hour cleaning shards of glass and frozen coffee out of my refrigerator, you guessed correctly. See the photo above for your prize.

What? It’s summer, there are worse prizes than an ice cube. Big Senile Dog thinks they’re a treat.  Little Incredibly Dumb Dog thinks they’re an abomination and fishes them out of her water bowl to leave them to melt on her wee wee pads.

Someone mentioned an upcoming writer’s conference in NY.  I haven’t even looked at any in years, they’re just too expensive.  But I was thinking.  Maybe it would get me motivated.  It’s in NY, no travel or hotel expenses, an opportunity to pitch in person…maybe.  I looked at the website, I thought, I discussed with some of my writing buddies, I thought out loud to Husband and Nerd Child.

By late morning, budget realities had me delete the page from my bookmarks.  Life, get over it.

So I got busy making the doggie gumbo I should have made yesterday.  Which made me hot.  Which made me remember I had a bottle of Stumptown cold brewed coffee in the back of the fridge.  I know, the horror, pre made coffee.  But hot! thirsty!   holy shit what happened?!

The fridge has been temperamental in the last year or so.  It likes to freeze whatever’s in the fruit and veggie drawers.  Needless to say, less and less has been going into those drawers, and more has been stuffed on the shelves.  Guess the freezing game is expanding to the upper shelves.

Husband’s eight containers of cut papaya are safe.  My organic cherries I got on sale, lost.  Along with two boxes of baking soda, and assorted half fruits left from this morning’s smoothie.


What to Do?

When you’re frustrated as hell with life and what is or isn’t happening?  Today was going to be the day I ran away to the beach by myself, but due to more life and clouds, that won’t be happening. So. Shut the hell up and wander around the city with a camera.

We’ve had some really great, southern feeling storms recently.  The kind that come through quickly, pour while the sun is shining or make afternoon feel like night.

Over to the east side yesterday, along 5th Avenue and wandering the eastern edges of Central Park.

The birds and the bees.  Which reminds me–city pro tip:  If you’re going to watch porn in a dark room at night, close your blinds.  Oh, apartment life.  It was really hot and humid in the afternoon, caught my attention to see the flowers in all the stages of blooming and dying on the same day.

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And then, at the end of the day, I sat on this bench, just outside the park.  It’s a thing here in NY, you can “buy” a bench, and get a plaque attached with your name or the name of a loved one.  I’m always intrigued, sometimes there’s a hint of a story, and you know this was someone who spent a lot of time enjoying park benches, other times I’m free to imagine whatever I’d like for the name attached. Many are “in memory of.”  It’s unbelievably expensive, I looked into it about a year ago for a friend.  In any case, on this one bench were two plaques, on the same slat.  I wondered what the people who paid a gazillion dollars each to buy a bench thought of this.  More than that, I wondered about who Mopsy is/was.

Hear That?

It’s my sigh of almost relief.  Not quite, but getting closer.  We’ve had a few beautiful days in the neighborhood, so a photo post today.

Even the pigeons shut up to enjoy a perfect moment in the sun.

Even the pigeons shut up to enjoy a perfect moment in the sun.

The light was unbelievable here.

The light was unbelievable here.

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Yesterday, Art Child and I ran away for a couple of hours.  We got on the train and headed to Brooklyn.  Come ride with us, and enjoy the sights as seen by the group of young women sitting across from us, excited by their intention to walk the boardwalk–each one carrying a purse that I’m fairly certain cost more than my entire wardrobe, and each one wearing more makeup than I own–or can identify.

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Oh, dirty sand and ocean, aggressive seagulls and competing radios, how I’ve missed you…beach!

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After way too short an afternoon, on the way home again.

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Happy Last Day of School!

The presentation isn't much, but what do you want at 6am?

The presentation isn’t much, but what do you want at 6am?

Felt like we’d never get to this day–or to warm weather, but here we are.  Figs with ricotta and honey for everyone, a perfect summer breakfast.

And speaking of summer foods, there’s a great, brand new blog I recommend, Resident Cook.  It’s a cooking blog, geared towards cooking in college dorms, which to me = not only college students but anyone with a limited budget and limited space–my two primary concerns for recipes.

Traditionally, summer is a time for Art Child and I to rest and recup, soak up the sun and store energy for the fall.  This summer, Art Child will be taking an art intensive class.  Just a month, a few times a week, but it changes the dynamic.  There was even an orientation for the class.

End of year mama brain is like damp cotton candy–if you poke it, it disappears.  I saved the email about orientation, certain it was last Thursday afternoon.  So Thursday morning, I pulled up the email to check where it was going to be, and print the registration papers.  Doesn’t everyone do their paperwork at 5am? Oh shit.  Tuesday.  It was Tuesday.  Imagine Mrs Fringe freaking out, trying to decide how serious they were about the orientation being mandatory.  I get in the shower, and I’m seeing that email in my mind.  And realize I didn’t miss it.  I did indeed have the day wrong, but I also had the week wrong, it was this past Tuesday.  Didn’t miss it. If I didn’t already mention it, I hate cotton candy.

And I’ve been thinking.  There’s a manuscript I have started and abandoned many times over the last humenahhumenah years.  I’ve deleted triple the number of words that are actually in the file.  But maybe.  Maybe once I get some rest and some sun, maybe I’ll play with it.

Gah!  I can’t think about it now, first I need some real beach time. Tomorrow, if it isn’t raining, Mrs Fringe will be found with toes in the sand, listening to the sweet sounds of sweaty guys hawking warm beer, and toddlers screaming that they don’t want to go in the water.  Coney Island has missed me, I’m certain of it.