It’s 6.03 am when I’m woken up by him next door, moaning for help through the wall in a deep disturbing slur: ‘Jes-sie, ca-ca-call am-bu-la-lance. Feel…wrong…’
The wall pounces with an earthquake-like thud. My framed Courtney Love picture flies onto the bare floorboards, shattering into glass knives. My heart drums in my ears like never before – bu-bum…bu-bum…bu-bu-bum – like someone else’s heartbeat through an old stethoscope. Oh my god. Did Frank just collapse against the wall? I hear relaxed vomiting that sounds almost satisfying; I think of cake mix oozing out of a pipe tube.
I lie still in bed. I recall walking through the narrow brick corridor that leads to our tenement flat balconies on the day that I moved here. His enormous body blocked my way; stained tracksuit trousers stretched with desperate elastic. His little rodent tongue suggestively licked his scabby upper lip. ‘Moving in, Blondie?’ he wheezed with a husky pervert’s voice. I ignored him and trotted quickly through to my ground floor flat.
The next day, our paths crossed there again as I tried to squeeze passed him with Mr Scruff’s cat carry-box. His exposed stomach layers pressed against my bare arm, but it was impossible to free myself without dropping Mr Scruff. The intimacy of the moment sickened me: warm, skin-to-skin contact that left a rash of man-sweat itching my forearm. I had to scrub to get rid of the smell: nasty, cheesy sweat, like a hairy armpit that hasn’t been washed in weeks. Continue reading
One, my husband’s Parkinson’s disease. It’s a tough break for such a splendid man and in spite of all the stiffness and fatigue and slow-motion, he’s Mr. Positive. But then you’ve got to be with this stuff, or you’d never get out of bed in the morning. You’d surrender to your cement-filled joints and then allow yourself to sit around recovering from a hellish morning of rising but not shining. Television would soon rule your life and there’d be hell to pay for anyone who nudges you to do more. You’d sit there, stone-faced and barely moving. You’d be the rusty tin man without oil-can relief.
When Steve was first diagnosed back in 2003, both of us were cool, calm and accepting. We were sad but not yet mad, and I remember my sunny husband saying, “If I had to get something neurological, I think this is a good one to get.” Really?
I had just lost two parents to cancer, and as I sat across from him in the diner I almost thought he made a good point. Parkinson’s wasn’t going to steal him too soon, just make his everyday movements torturous and sometimes dangerous. Like hopping in and out of a car, eating a salad, pulling on underwear or threading a belt through the loops of his pants. It made me mad to witness the downshift in his life’s power and pace, but I had to put a sock in it. Tamp it down. Squash it. Steve wasn’t to blame. No one was to blame. His brain wasn’t making enough dopamine. Should I be upset with his nerve cells? OK. Works for me. It’s their fault.
I will cancel my membership to L.A. Fitness next week. I’ll be moving at the end of the month, and I’ve calculated that I would burn more gas on my way to the gym three days a week than I would calories once I got there.
I’m sure the staff will try to talk me into staying. The curly-haired dynamo at the reception desk will remind me of the Monday morning spin class I never attended, the world-renowned personal trainers I never enlisted, or the squash courts I never entered. Or the whirlpools to soothe my aching muscles after spin class, training sessions and squash games.
But my mind is made up. I will cancel my membership. Continue reading
Dear Fashion Industry,
It’s time we opened discourse on a rather seedy subject in your world: prop clothing. Like the prop food adorning model furniture, prop clothing creates an illusion of actual clothing. The prop jacket may look as though it is completing your ensemble, but, unlike real outerwear, it offers no warmth.
Prop clothing comes in many forms- the super cute studded pleather “jacket” that’s “perfect for fall” but cannot keep one warm within the acceptable temperature range of fall in your region is a failure as clothing. It is a collection of cloth merely pretending to be a jacket and it may look like a jacket to all appraising eyes hence pulling off a “look”- but that is all and thus it is a prop.
#2 Scorn the work of other writers, preferably anonymously on the Internet. It makes you feel strong and powerful.
#3 Do not waste time ‘improving self-esteem’. You are a bad person. This is the only thing that makes you interesting.
#4 Do not read. It will make your work less original. Watch television if you need ideas.
#5 If anyone asks what kind of books you write say, ‘High literary fiction’. If they ask what this means, smirk and walk away.
#6 Do not strive for wisdom or insight. Concentrate on ‘cool’. If you need a definition of this, you’re missing the point.
#7 Never re-read one of your own sentences. You are a genius.
#8 Do not exercise or take care of your health. You have no pension or income and would do well to die as young as possible.
#9 Develop overconfidence and mediocrity in equal measure. It’s the only way to make people like you.
#10 Spend most of your time on the Internet. Everything else is distraction.
MAGGIE- 40 something teacher.
Auditorium at a school.
A microphone on a stage.
MAGGIE, a proper woman in her forties dressed plainly comes up to the microphone. She looks around the room a moment to gauge the audience. Then she begins.
Hi. I wrote a statement and if it’s alright I’d like to read it before you all vote. A beat. She takes out a piece of paper, clears her throat and starts to read.
First off I’d like to thank the Saint Robert School parent teacher association for allowing me to speak. I would also like to thank you parents who have sacrificed your evening to participate in tonight’s vote.
I assume most of you know who I am by now, but for those who don’t, my name is Margaret Smith, or as my students refer to me, “Miss S”. For the past seven years I’ve taught the second grade here at Saint Roberts Elementary School and I’d like to take a moment to tell you about my methods as an educator. Beyond adhering to the curriculum requirements mandated by the state I strive to get my students to be mindful of the world around them. I want them not just to be successful inside the classroom, but outside of it as well. To do this I, on occasion, have my class read books which aim to teach fundamental life lessons. Last week we read such a book. “Skippy goes to the Vet.”
At the British Museum in London, many of the world’s greatest treasures are on display. As I studied the Rosetta Stone, one of our modern-day wonders, there was only one thing on my mind: What does that feel like?
Fortunately, the British Museum anticipated that desire. They recently started hosting Objects Handling Sessions, where visitors can touch historic artefacts daily under supervision of a trained volunteer. They’ve also added an interactive Touching Tour, which allows blind visitors to handle plaster replicas of some of the artwork, to better visualize it. These features can help bring history to life in your fingertips.
However, I noticed no one seemed shy about touching the real deal. “Please STOP TOUCHING the art & artifacts!” reads one 5-star review from an unamused guest.
Indeed, the guards seemed blind to it. Pictured below, a woman rests on an ancient statue marked PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH.
Encouraged, I partook myself. Here is a guide to my favorite sites at the British Museum by taste and texture.
The Sphinx tasted enigmatic. Truly, there is nothing in the world like the feel of a genuine Egyptian sphinx beneath your tongue. Each lick imbued me with years of wisdom.
On the downside, I probably have a curse now.
The coin room in the British Museum has a handful of coins out at all times to be handled. Naturally I popped a few in my pocket when no one was looking.
I felt supremely powerful holding the coins of generations past. However, I discovered that the thousand-year-old drachmas, though purportedly valuable, could not buy me a snack from the museum’s cafeteria. Whoops. Now I know what people in Greece feel like.
Comfy, but short.
“I know what you did to the Sphinx,” a voice whispered in my ear as I stroked the Mummy’s hand. Whoa. I’ve really got to get out of here.
“I’ve decided to enter the cutthroat and unforgiving arena of political life,” Frederick announced.
Mother looked up from her book. “Whatever for, Freddie?”
“I’m a natural born leader and others should benefit from my vast life experience.”
“And how do you plan to enter this world?” Frederick’s younger sister Constance smiled wryly.
Frederick sat on the settee and swung a leg casually over the arm. “I’ve discovered our local school requires a new governor, a perfect place for me to cut my teeth, politically speaking.”
Nutella is a problem. Sure, it’s creamy and fucking delicious, but it is just way too accessible. It’s the lazy person’s dream come true when it comes to instant sugar gratification. Open jar. Insert spoon. Emerge minutes later in a sweet stupor – with a gross, waxy taste in your mouth.
Nutella, I can’t quit you. Although once I did. I put a ban on Nutella (got legitimately pissed at my husband when he thought I was kidding and brought home a family-sized jar), and after two weeks of Nutella abstinence, my cravings legitimately diminished. Apparently two weeks is the average amount of time needed to kick an addiction. Heroin, crystal meth, Nutella. All the same really.
When I was younger and less intelligent, I blissed out in my ignorance of sugar’s nasty conversion into fat, and regularly ate strawberries and Nutella for the sake of protein. Like, “I’m feeling a little low-energy – I need a protein boost. Grilled chicken? Tuna? Eggs? No. Let’s go with the jar of dessert disguised as a critical part of a healthy, well-balanced breakfast.” What are we talking here? 2 grams, 3 grams of protein? But yeah, I’m just forcing this glob of chocolate down because I need my daily allotment of protein. Uh-huh. Continue reading