24 Hour Good Luck Taxi Cab Company

car2Dear friends,

I’ve had a lot on my mind these past few weeks.

The writing’s on the wall.

Christmas candy and wreaths are on display at the dollar store and the weather, as contrary as it is, is leaning stronger in one direction than the other. Even the sun rains down warm golden hues, like the skin of a perfectly cooked turkey. Restless Autumn breathes in green and breathes out reds, yellows, and browns. Summer’s over and the year is tumbling towards its end.

For me, time, destiny, and desire are at odds with each other, and I find myself lost in the labyrinth of life, where nothing seems to change, even if everything is different.

My study of dating rituals across the country has been stymied twice in the past two months. My Nebraska trip blocked by an angry madman in Chicago and the fires he set. I cancelled my Maryland trip for the more personal reasons of exhaustion and apathy. The cool blows in every night and lingers until morning. And I, buried deep in the down comfort corners of my little home, am lulled to sleep by its song.

Last night as I lay in bed listening to my dog’s whistling snores, I wondered if it’s time for me to move on. I’ve dated from shore to shore for three years and still, 24 states loom large, their dating cultures just beyond my reach. Rent, work, and dog bones have hindered my ambition. Perhaps it is time for me to bring this story to an end.

A good friend once said, “the years go by and we just don’t die, and so we keep getting older and older.” Time is a ticking clock and I have many other stories to tell.

I fell asleep. And in my sleep I dreamt.

There was a doorway on a side street on an island much like Manhattan. The streets and alleys were washed in endless gradients of grey. Above the dream doorway was a sign that flashed “24 hour good luck cab company.” Just beyond the dark grey exterior and the light grey bricks, just through the door, was another door. That door was open, too. There was a desk. And a phone. A red wall. A praying mantis leaned its elbows on the counter, reading a book.

I suspected I was witnessing a moment I was not supposed to see. I stepped inside.

“Where to,” said the bug.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“A lovely destination. One of my favorites.”

And then, as it is with dreams, I was sitting in the backseat of a taxicab. The driver was a ladybug, as fat as could be. It’s belly pressed up against the steering wheel, its girth taking up most of the front seat. A tooth pick hung from the corner of his lips. He winked when he talked.

We drove through the dull and dreary landscape, over hills, and around traffic circles.

Then, the landscape changed. High rises and street lamps gave way to hills and valleys of jagged edges, at once as beautiful as snow and as frail as fallen leaves.

“Where are we,” I asked, leaning forward on the seat. The back edge of his wing tickled my fingers.

“We’re passing through the Valley of White Noise. It’s always been a vast area, but lately it’s grown even larger, wider, longer. See over there -” He pointed into the distance, where what looked like mountains emerged from a melting fog. “Those are new. The landscape’s shifting.” He slowed the car.

“It’s a coral reef made from words,” I gasped. “Used words.”

He smiled, winked, and nodded. “Do you want to see your corner?”

“I have real estate in the Valley of White Noise?”

He nodded. “Almost everyone does. Some cover more territory than others.”

I shuddered and shook my head. “I don’t want to see,” I said. “I don’t want to know.”

“What don’t you want to know,” he asked.

“I don’t want to know what I don’t want to know anymore,” I cried. “I don’t want to hear what I don’t want to hear. I don’t want to see what I don’t want to see. And I don’t want to see where my words, thoughts, ideas go to die.”

He shifted his toothpick from one side of his mouth to the other. “That is a problem,” he said. “But since you know you don’t want to know what you don’t want to know, I would submit that you are closer to facing what you don’t want to know then you might realize.”

To which I answered, “my brain hurts.”

“The best cure for your affliction,” he said, “to ask to see what it is you don’t want to know.” He paused for emphasis. “It’s likely that your fate is bigger than your dreams.”

With that, I awoke. It was the early hours of the morning. My dog lay on her side, still snoring, still dreaming. I stirred her from her sleep, stirred myself from my sleep, stumbled into my shoes and sleepy dog and sleepy human, together, walked out of the apartment and into the world.

The city streets were shaking themselves awake, one garbage truck, one livery cab, one school bus at a time. Step by step, we stirred to life together.

I recently wrote a personal statement for a project I’m proposing. In it, I talk about story-telling. There was a time I thought it a frivolous use of one’s energy. I struggled with this thought, as telling stories is the only thing I’ve ever really, really want to do. I’ve since changed my mind. I say in my essay, though it’s not an original thought, bears repeating over and over again:

“Here’s one thing I’ve learned, working as I have: no matter the medium, we story-tellers need to be brave enough to take the responsibility of voicing our visions and humble enough to present them to an audience of one, for if we touch one life, change one paradigm, help one person, we’ve changed the world.”

And with that, I’ve decided to place this blog on a hiatus, maybe forever, or maybe until something interesting, something important, or something worth adding to The Valley of White Noise, occurs. This may or may not include ukulele, backflips, a trip to Thailand, tea with an elephant, congress with a whale, strange dreams, a couple more dates in a couple more states, and, if I’m very, very lucky, a move to Hawaii.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for my upcoming project The Book of Diva, be kind to Santa Claus, and eat lots of cookies.

almost always,


diva 3

Fuck You, Litter Lady, Fuck You

December 10

I have a problem.

I love Christmas.

I love the lights. I love the smells. I love how happy everyone pretends to be. I love it so much that I’m already thinking about it. I love it so much, I’m willing to skip over Hallowe’en and Thanksgiving in order to set up the little white tinsel tree at work.

Also, I love my dog so much, it’s stupid.


When I was six, or somewhere around there, my mother pulled me aside and explained to me that Santa Claus doesn’t exist.

I believe this is a right of passage for every Jewish American kid. The first indication that you’re not like other children, that you have a secret knowledge not all youngsters are privy to. That that special day of family and food, opening presents, and singing nice songs about jingling bells and a flying fat man, are for other people. And not for you.

“Don’t tell the other children,” she warned.

I held the secret of Santa Claus deep in the chambers of my heart, locked away in a strong box, deeply saddened by the absence of that great man.

Though, for a few years, I did try to sneak him cookies. Just in case.

How I wished he would stop by and say hello.

I never spoke of him. Not a single word. Until one day, decades later, the pull became too great and I commenced writing a holiday script.

It’s called Repo Santa.

I believe it’s one of my finest works.


I have another problem.

Plastic shopping bags.

Though those troublesome wastes of petroleum have their uses – household garbage, namely, if you don’t keep a handle on them, they multiply like kangaroos.

Other ways to cull the plastic bag collection: abandon them at the dog run for other bag-trodden dog owner to use, wrap presents, create insulation, make art, stuff pillows.

Even if you’re determined, as I am, to avoid the plastic shopping bag situation, they find you at your weakest points and insinuate themselves back into your life.

With one comes another. And another. And another. They’re unstoppable.


It happened like this:

My plastic bag collection was at a dramatic low. On one hand, I was triumphant, having put to re-use the last of my plastic bags. On the other hand, I now had a different problem to solve. I had no disposable vessels in which to deposit my trash, send it down the garbage shoot and out of my life.

I mentioned my dilemma at work. And, well, someone had more plastic bags in the trunk of their car than they knew what to do with.

– I’ll take a few, I said.

– I’ll bring you an entire bag. They are taking over my car.

– Just a few will get me by, I said.

The next day, she gave me with bodaciously overloaded yellow plastic shopping bag full of bags.

I hung my head and said:

– Thank you.


December 13


I decided to keep the bag of bags under my desk at work. I’d whittle the collection down week to week, taking what only what was needed.

Furthermore, I developed a plastic bag plan.

I would use the plastic bags for the good of all mankind. Each morning, when I walked my dog, I would fill one plastic bag with litter.

I had my limits, of course. I wouldn’t pick up anything that would give a disease, for instance. I would be a ninja super-hero litter lady – as cool as the Guatemalan woman in my neighborhood who collects cans very morning in her fedora, but in secret.

It wasn’t hard at first. During the summer, my dog and I wake up with the sun. The streets are quiet. I didn’t want anyone to see.

I had my spots – a tree well that, for some reason, collects bottles and candy wrappers, the ramp into the park, where I can pluck cups and cans from the ledges without anyone noticing, and the bushes and beaches by the river, where a Schlitz beer loving band of merry-makers likes to leave their mark.

The plastic bag plan was going gangbusters.

But, summer’s ended. The sun rises later. And when we walk, we walk while children go to school, adults leave for work, and superintendents sweep the sidewalks. For a while, I persevered in the open, for all to see, my yellow plastic shopping bag swinging from my wrist.

But eventually, I lost heart.


I explain my tragic defeat to Nikki.

She doesn’t understand.

– You know how people are, I say.

– Nope.

– Someone will get mad at me for picking up trash. And then they’ll circle me until someone throws a rotten tomato at my head and yells “fuck you, litter lady, fuck you.”

– That’s what I would do.

– “Who do you think you are,” they’d taunt. They’d think I was some snooty person telling them how to live. Insist that they like their litter just where it is. If they didn’t want the litter there, they would put it in the trash. A poet among them will say that kicking through trash is the urban equivalent of the crunching of dried leaves in autumn. I have to do it in ninja-style or not at all.

– Or maybe the bag idea would go viral.

I shake my head.

– I don’t want to be famous. I just like picking up trash.


In my holiday script, Santa Claus (NIck) is semi-retired in South Florida, the elf jobs have been shipped overseas, Mrs. Claus is running overseas operations. and many, though not all, of the stateside elves work at Rudemart Department Store stocking shelves.

It’s nearly Christmas, Santa’s slightly depressed. His sleigh goes missing off the streets of his gated community. He goes to find it. An innocent in a big bad world, he teams up with Duke Roughstone, the rightful heir to the Rudemart corporation who lost his controlling share to his brother during a game of Mousetrap when he was eight, to become a home appliance repo-man on a pre-holiday repo-race. The prize, a share of Rudemart stock, will tilt ownership of the store back to Duke.

Santa’s unique skill set ( i.e. he’s a whiz at packing and getting in and out of tight spaces) is an asset to the job. but when he finds out that he’s been conned, that he’s ruining a lot of people’s Christmases by repossessing their toaster ovens, he loses heart.

In the end, it all works out. Everyone gets their appliances back. Christmas is saved.

It’s a holiday story after all.

And I love Christmas.

Also, I love my dog so much it’s stupid.

December 19.1

The 100


I’m working on my list of 100 goals for the year. I’ve been stalled out on 72 (use black beans) for a month.

A few weeks ago, I was pretty sure we were in the middle of the apocalypse, so I was a little distracted.

Writing goals during an apocalypse seemed like an exercise in futility.

What I mistook, hopefully, for the apocalypse, was the world in which I live and breath imploding in slow motion like the noses of two cars meeting at a full velocity in the middle of a road as the earth halts its rotation – a car wreck far enough away that there’s nothing you can do except watch. Try as you might, it’s impossible to look away.

What happened was this: my dog and I walked into to a heated verbal altercation in my building lobby amongst three adults who seemed CAM00481to be on the verge of fist-a-cuffs, or at least a fit of emphatic eye-rolls. I shifted from foot to foot, avoiding eye contact, humming to myself and my dog, not wanting to be drawn into the fray, unwilling, as I was, to be associated to one side or the other. Raised voices, dramatic tones, veiled threats. It was not clear to anyone whose responsibility it is to purchase the building Christmas tree.

The streets of New York that day were so crowded that all of humanity seemed an amoeba of movement. People oozed and ebbed like monsters in a strange dream. The skies grew dim, and we were captives on a drifting barge, meandering down a dirty river, assaulted at every turn with invectives to buy, buy, buy and then go away.

I changed my invisalign trays that morning. My bruised teeth tickled my insecurity. My mother confessed that she reads my blog. The most common and unsolicited piece of advice I received from my friend was that I should get laid. And then write about it. For the sake of art. And entertainment.

But my hearts wasn’t in it. Popping out my plastic teeth to steal a kiss beneath the plastic mistletoe didn’t seem worth the hassle.

I’d rather watch my dog slobber on her de-winged, de-legged, de-beaked squeaky toy. Bid this year goodbye and look towards the next.

My list of 100 goals for the year includes:

11. clean bathtub

21. go to Iceland

37. learn to do a back flip

52. spend less

53. cook more

54. eat leafy greens

and 62. talk to people.

Now that the Christmas tree is drying out in the lobby and the apocalypse is humming along, I’m hoping to complete the list. There have been many distractions. The holidays, a visit from my sister, my date with a Way Too Super Smart Guy, an impromptu wedding of a friend, the ill-timed injury of one of my favorite people. All play a part in the swirling narrative in my brain. And then came the discussion on microbiomes and the article on whether or not this human existence is an illusion, as if that changes anything.

Though it does take the edge off, if you stop to think about it.

73. make cheese.

Twenty-seven more goals to write.

Well, shit.

74. finish writing my 100 goals for 2014.

My sister brought up the little beasts that live inside of us and on us. They out number our cells by ten to one, she told me. Ninety-nine percent of the genes in our bodies belong to them. Without them we’d be a mere ten percent of who we are. We’re more them than us. No one knows where we begin and they end. It’s like a baffling love affair with an invisible man. Or a trillion. Invisible. Men.

And then, if we live with someone, a lover, perhaps, we share our microbiomes with them like playing cards or cooking tips. It’s no wonder that people who stay together for a long time start to look like each other – they literally become one another.

Science is so romantic.

There are more microbiomes on a human hand than there are humans on the planet earth. And we, each of us, are entire landscapes, forests, rivers, deserts, and caves – a universe in which our unique population of citizens thrive in urban and suburban bliss.

Some human microbiome researchers even suggest that gut reactions, gut feelings, or spilling one’s guts might have more to do with our microbiomes sharing, welcome or not, their opinions with us.

I’m thinking that my microbiomes might be to blame for the grave miscalculation of my ordering my plastic teeth through a deeply discounted dentist.

75. take my microbiomes out for coffee and a chat.

I suspect that the thing that makes them so clever and insightful is that they make you feel like you’re calling the shots. Driving the car. Choosing the direction. Choosing the tune. Leading the dance.

But, truth is, they are.

76. spend quality time with my microbiomes.

I try to explain this to my neighbor down the hall, to the lady sitting next to me on the subway, the people at work, but everyone and their microbiomes are caught up in the post-Christmas, pre-New-Years slow motion, apocalyptic meltdown.

At the diner, during our traditional post-holiday meal, I consider telling Nikki about the microbiomes and the role they play in my suspect decisions. She’s feeling pretty sassy lately. She might listen.

But, I’m a little crabby, I’m trying not to let on. Secretly, I’ve been fantasizing about chucking it all and finding a nice guru who lives on the side of a nice mountain to meditate with.

Perhaps one who lives in a warm climate. Who likes dogs. And a piece of chocolate cake every once in a while.

Someone who holds dear the wisdom of where my microbiomes end and I begin. Who understands that traveling inward can be a hell of a lot stranger of a journey than traveling outwards.

I’m trying to remember where I was a year ago, trying to imagine where I’ll be a year from now. I can’t seem to do either.

“I wonder if the Way Too Super Smart Guy knows anything about the microbiomes,” I muse over a plate of waffle fries and ketchup.

“What Way Too Super Smart Guy,” she asks. She’s drinking a red wine with an Irish coffee back.

“The Way Too Super Smart Guy I went on a date with a few nights ago.”

“How’d it go?’

“He’s interesting,” I say, demure. You can’t let on too much with Nikki, She’ll take what you say and run. But then I can’t help it. The smile creeps up. I lower my voice to a whisper. She leans in.


“Nikki,” I say, “he has braces, too.”


Happy New Year!

The Dreamer

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

― Henry Beston


I have been dreaming a lot. Soupy dreams in which I’m trying to get from one place to another and no matter how hard I try, I’m moving in slow motion. Hallways change their trajectories, staircase elongate and become windy and unpredictable. People I hardly know, or haven’t seen in years, ask me questions, and though I tell them I’m trying to get somewhere, I stop to talk.

Winter is upon us and trudging through snow and slippery slush feels like one of those dreams. The dark descends in slow motion, turning day into night, the world marches past Christmas trees and merchandise. A swirl of words implores us to buy things we don’t need, while our hands are jammed deeply into coat pockets, hoping to keep warm and balanced. We are part of the amorphous excitement, while trying to maintaining our individuality.

My dog and I spent this frosty Sunday morning watching dog rescue videos. My favorite was one where a big white dog is rescued from a trash heap and pulled to safety and warmth. Tired, weary, and full of mange, she sleeps for three full days in the comfort of a warm and loving home. And then the rescuers introduce her to a little dog who is afraid of everything. And the big dog wakes from her post-traumatic stupor and plays with the little one. They become friends. I made my dog watch it twice and I cried both times. Sadie was a little more reserved. She doesn’t trust big dogs.

After the dog rescue videos we tripped further down the black hole of the internet onto a lecture about Dolphin intelligence. A researcher and her fearless crew are learning a dolphin dialect and bridging a gap between dolphin and human language. They’re doing this by playing dolphin games and assigning themselves dolphin names, a series of squeaks and squawks. And the dolphins, appreciative of the effort, are patiently waiting for the human to catch up to them and learn a thing or two.

The internet is really good for two things – watching people have sex, if you’re into that sort of thing, and watching animals play. As a culture, we’re mesmerized by watching animals we have no connection to enjoy each other, or a piece of string, water dripping from a faucet, romping in the grass. With wistful abandon, we throw ourselves into the imagined lives of animals who exude a childlike exuberance as they negotiate their animal natures in a human world. We envy them, their drive to play, their innocence. Their abandon. Their capacity to love with a sense of entitlement, but without expectation.

I closed the computer, dove into my sweater, wrapped the scarf around my neck three times, zipped the coat, and hobbled into the bitter cold, reviewing several strategies for keeping a long day light-hearted.


On the train, eyes closed, I had a stark realization.

These studies on animal intelligence have a huge flaw. The people running them measure other species intelligence against human standards. Meanwhile, psychologists and human behaviorist can’t agree on what human intelligence is. What arbitrary items do we place on the list? Emotional intelligence? Spatial intelligence? Social intelligence? Spiritual intelligence? Book smart, physically fit, clever conversationalist?

In a way, this puzzle solving and theorizing is really a complex game, one in which the rules are always changing.

Which then made me realize that much of life is a game. Humans play. All our lives. It’s natural. People who are not able to play, either due to unfortunate circumstance or self-imposed self-hatred and fear are tragic figures because they’re cut off from a primal need to engage in the world. To laugh. To be fully human.

We might pretend, those of us lucky enough to have the luxury of play, that we’re not playing in our self-programmed rat race. We shove happiness to the side of our plates, like a dessert we’ll only look at since we’re on a diet. Something to enjoy when the laundry’s done, the money’s made, the rent is paid. It’s not a priority, not a worthy goal, and in some cases, in the richest countries in the world, not even a consideration. But we still play. Even if we pretend we’re not. And even angry, bitter people laugh.

Card games, board games, mind games, video games, basketball, softball, volleyball, flirting, dating, dreaming, puzzles, crosswords, wordplay, pinball, badminton, pumpkin carving, mud-wrestling, painting, sculpting, driving, flying, skiing, dancing, ice skating, people watching, guitar strumming, singing, cooking, gambling, gossiping, pontificating, posturing, pretending…

What a bunch of lonely hominids caught in an endless cycle of extended adolescence. Looking for a good time, a connection, someone to understand our own personal language. Playing games whether we mean to or not.

The train pulled up to 59th street and my thoughts turned back towards the Christmas crowds, work, and slippery sidewalks.

There was one other thing that caught my attention Sunday morning. It was an article about some physicists who are proving, to themselves anyway, that the universe and everything in it is a hologram.

If this is so, we are all part of someone or something else’s dream.

The implications are astounding. Which is why I waited to think about it after work, while I was sitting behind a martini, provided, in some small way, by The Dreamer who is IMG_5608dreaming me.

I was much appreciative of the martini and everything else. I like the dream I’m living for the most part. The dream martini slowed my brain just enough and made my tongue thick. It felt really nice going down.

My new theory, based on their theory, is that if we all throw some muscle into it, we can influence The Dreamer’s dream. It might feel like a slog, like a stress dream where you can’t seem to get where you’re going, but I bet, bit by bit, we can turn the dream into a beautiful masterpiece.

Maybe we can plant seeds that cause ripples in the Dreamer’s dream. Like those rare times in our own dreams when we realize we’re dreaming and can turn the dream around. Maybe instead of praying to The Dreamer, we should pray for The Dreamer. Maybe The Dreamer’s just like us. All of us.

Anyway, sitting at the bar, my friend and I pretended to speak the same language, but what we were really doing was making similar sounds. I offered The Dreamer two bold, albeit slightly tipsy, suggestions while I was eating an olive.

I whispered them so my friend wouldn’t hear. I made a suggestion about the small role I play in the dream how it could unfold. The other suggestion I made was for all beings in The Dreamer’s dream, including you.

And then I lifted my glass and without spilling a drop, I toasted The Dreamer and the dream.

My friend thought I was nuts, but lifted his glass, too.

Dogs will love and dolphins will play. Maybe one day humans will lighten up and figure out that there’s nothing to control because nothing’s really there.




I have a fantasy about buying a bucket of ladybugs and releasing them in my apartment. Ladybugs are magical, happy bugs, as warm and cozy as a bug can be.

My friend Paul once made friends with a fly. He didn’t mean to. First, he chased it around  his apartment and tried to kill it with a folded up newspaper. But the fly evaded him. He looked up the life span of a housefly. Fifteen to thirty days. He decided he could live with his new roommate and gave the fly carte blanche.

Mostly, the fly watched him work on his computer, sometimes sitting on the top corner of the monitor, other times, making a warm comfortable bed on the moving knuckles of Paul’s right hand.

One day, the housefly ceased his daily visitation and Paul knew that he his life expectancy had been satisfied. The bug had moved on. Paul still thinks of him fondly.

Ladybugs live a few years longer than houseflies. Co-existing with fifteen hundred of them in my small apartment might not be as good an idea in practice as it looks on paper.

One of the questions on the dating website prompts the profile writer to disclose the most private thing they’re willing to admit in a widely public, albeit semi-anonymous, self-description. There are days I want to write “I am a virgin” or “I think of Barry Gibb when I masturbate,” or “sometimes I dream of releasing fifteen hundred ladybugs in my apartment.”

I don’t write those things, though. Mostly because, aside from the ladybugs, they are not true.

Years ago, on a beautiful afternoon, I woke up from a dream and wrote a story about wishes. I wrote it for my niece, who was three at the time. I was thinking about all the things I wanted to share. We’re not a close family. I barely know her or her brother. But there was a day when we were in the same room and I knelt down to her and said, “do you want to know a secret?”

She toddled over to me, entranced by the idea of sharing something intangible, a precious nugget, her own pet to keep. I whispered the secret in her ear; she hugged me.

A year later, I asked her if she remembered the secret. She didn’t. She doesn’t. But there’s a little part of her and a little part of me that are bound together by a fine and beautiful thread. Three ephemeral words. That’s the best kind of secret to have.

It made me want to explain the world to her.

Since that moment, I’ve been fascinated by the nature of secrets. How we relish them, stroke them, covet them, and feed them. How we want to know each others secrets, even if we don’t really care. They are small, self-contained mysteries that may or may not belong to a larger puzzle. We share them like sweet morsels and crave them like candy. They are sweet for a moment and then they disappear.


When entrusted with the care of a secret, we shove those beautiful, sparkly, fairy-like gnats in a lock box somewhere in our hearts. But secrets are wily. They’re geniuses of disguise and masters of escape.



They’ll flit out through a gap in the lid or eat away at the rusty hinges of the box. Sometimes, mostly when we’re keeping a secret for someone else, it’ll tickle and tease us so much that we’ll open the chest, just a bit, to relieve the pressure. Maybe we convince ourselves that we’re checking to make sure it’s still breathing, that it has enough water, but it’s more likely that we’re dying to show someone, anyone, how special we are on account of the beautiful, shiny secret we’ve been trusted to keep.

Some secrets are terrifically strong and too big for us to handle. We deadbolt them in a steel cage, wrap the outsides with rope and try to sink them deep into the seas of our consciousness. Those are the secrets that grow into monsters so daunting that they one day burst out of their confines, swim to the surface, and emerge full-grown Godzillas, crushing buildings and knocking over bridges. They don’t know their own strength. When two well-kept secrets clash, there’s more damage done than to Tokyo and New York in a Japanese monster movie; they fight do the death, bad dubbing and all.

Those are special cases. Most secrets don’t have much of a life span outside of the box. Once exposed to air, they live roughly ten second to a year. Even so, secrets always want out.

Some secrets are like newborn babies, full of mystery, grace, and perfection. They pass from person to person, each one itching to feel its weight, share its beauty, and show off the glittery thing that is ours for a brief moment. That sort of secret is handled, fondled, and tickled until it grows into a full-fledged being, leaving behind the finest trails and whispers of its previous life.

I told my friend I wanted to write a story about secrets, inspired as I was by my young niece’s devout reverence to the forgotten secret I shared with her. My friend gently pointed out that there are some secrets people, especially children, shouldn’t keep. Like, that they’re planning on releasing fifteen hundred lady bugs in a six hundred square foot apartment.

It’s a snowy day, the first of the season. My little home is cold, the draft squeezing down corridors and alleyways and in through the cracks of my building’s bricks and windows. My dog is confused by her unspent energy. There is not a fly, lady bug, or secret flitting about. The Christmas presents are in plain sight, naked for any eyes to see. I don’t even feel the dramatic pull of the chocolates I hid from myself. I know exactly where I hid them. Keeping secrets from myself is a special skill I don’t possess.

Life is transparent. And it feels pretty good. But some days it is nice to have a secret or two.

The guys at work were joking about happy-ending massages. Someone brought them up. I don’t know why.

“I have a story for you,” I blurted by accident. And when they said they wanted to hear it, I told them they’d have to buy me a drink first.

The story’s no secret. I’ve told it a bunch of times. But maybe I’ll make it a secret again. Just to spice things up.


Also, I’d like to keep the ladybug thing between you and me. A little classified information?

Please don’t tell anyone.



Friends and Lovers

IMG_0233Dear Bill O’Reilly,

I hope you’re well. I hope the holidays so far have treated you kindly. I hope your Thanksgiving turkey was cooked just so and that your menorah is shining in your window. You must be relieved that the liberals haven’t taken Hanukkah from you.

My Thanksgiving was very nice. I know it’s been a while since I’ve written, but I met a Swede named Rasmus who made me think of you. He was born in Finland and spent the first two years of his life in Santa’s Village. He showed us pictures of Santa having a swell time, wearing a cardigan sweater, sledding down a path of ice, laughing with children. I made a mental note to write to you and let you know, as Rasmus said, “Santa is allowed to have fun, too.”

Rasmus swore he wasn’t one of Santa’s elves, though he wears a handle bar mustache and a cravat. He’s just a regular old gay Swede who popped in for a drink at The Stonewall Inn and left with a pink-cheeked, drunk street-artist on his arm. The street-artist is friends with my friend Alexis. Which is how we ended up together in Alexis and Grega’s apartment, eating and drinking.

Our friend Katie was there, too. You’ll be happy to know that Katie has taken a lover. She announced it at dinner. She is very happy with him.

There were others, too. A country singer, an art photographer, a music booking agent. The conversation was lively and intelligent. The food abundant and lovingly prepared. It was good to be with people I sort of know.

After Katie and the street artist drank many glasses of scotch and wine, Alexis changed the music to show tunes. I tried to tell her that show tunes are not allowed in my life outside the workplace, but I was drowned out by Katie and the street artist who were singing at the top of their lungs. Rasmus joined in, too, as he has performed in many choirs in Sweden. And so, defeated, I laughed and endured a medley of show tunes which, I have to say, was very heavy on the Les Mis and Disney musical selections.

Katie seems so happy with her lover, I started to think maybe I should take a lover, too.

I’ve had a few bites on the internet, but I’m not sure if I’m meeting the right types. They seem more interested in my sock puppet references than they are in me.

There was one guy, Dean, who sent me an interesting email. Here’s what he said:

“Hi! I’m Dean and I must say it’s a pleasure to meet you! :)”

I liked that he has manners. And a clever use of grammatical symbols always blows me away.

“I’ll start off by talking a little about myself… I m 6’4″ and I got to say, I love the height because it’s made my life so much easier…”

Which is great because I love my height and think it’s made my life so much easier, too!

“I am a fun-loving person who likes to have a good time and make the best out of any situation…”

I love that he’s a fun-loving person who loves to have fun!

“I am also an honest guy and being honest means a lot to me.”

We might run into a little problem there. I’m very honest, except with the people I date.

But we can work that out.

“As for you, I’ve read through your profile and think that you and I would be a pretty good match for each other. You seem like a nice person who is down to earth and to be honest your (sic.) one of the prettiest girls I have seen on this website hands down.”

First off, there he is, being honest, which is so cute, but his reading comprehension and math skills are a little lacking. He’s twenty-one years old and I’m forty-three and specifically state that I’m looking for someone between thirty-nine and fifty-two. But, I mean, age is just a number, right, Bill?

“Let me be honest with you before I conclude this message… I love to go down on women as it is one of my favorite things to do (I can do it for hours on end… not a joke and this is a deal breaker if you don’t like to be gone down on)

“Let me know what you think and hopefully I’ll be hearing from you soon.”

I don’t know, Bill. Maybe I’m getting old, but taking a lover seems like it might be too much work. I don’t think I have time to lay there while someone goes down on me for hours on end. I mean – maybe if I kept a note pad and paper by the bed I could get some work done? I guess?

I did respond to him. I thought it only fair. He asked for my input. I didn’t want to not acknowledge his offer…

“Dear kid,

you are super creepy. You might want to try a different approach if you ever want to get laid.”

I think I’m doomed to enjoy an oral-sexless holiday season.

I hope you get a lot though! ;)…

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! May your winter season be bright.

And thanks for being a friend.

yours always,


creepy kid 3

IMG_7916Dear Baby,

I am writing this letter you to in regards to your impending arrival into Life Outside the Womb. I hope you have enjoyed the comfort and warmth, good food, and relaxing atmosphere of your mother’s uterus. You are about to embark on an exhilarating, terrifying, exciting, and delightful adventure called “Life.”

Life is like what happens when you bite into a ripe tomato. Tomatoes are round, red fruits that are often mistaken for vegetables. You’ll meet one in a couple of years.

I can’t say that your mother will be the best mother ever (those people only exist in Other People’s Families). She’s always on me to paint my kitchen and color my hair. However, I can say with absolute certainty that she is the right mother. Her love for you is fierce, kind, indefatigable, and iron-clad. And you haven’t even drawn her a picture or kissed her cheek yet. It’s hard to imagine how deep and wide love can grow. It’s bigger than us. And much more powerful. Needless to say, you’re off to a pretty good start.


Shortly after you meet your mother (pictured above), you’ll meet your father. He helped make you. He acts all cool and stuff, but, of you play your cards right, he’ll be a pile mush by the time you’re two minutes old.

Babies are made from lots of things, some of them gooey and gross, some of them magical and sweet. They’re part crazy chemical soup with a spark of electricity. A dash of spice. A spoonful of mystery.

Also, sometimes babies happen when a man and a woman split a sandwich, so be careful who you share your meals with.

You will be raised by a pack of dogs, Preston, Gomez, and Fiona. I was raised by a shitzhu named Chu Chu. You will find, as I did, that it is very nice to play by the water bowl while sharing a dog biscuit and talking shop.

I am one of your aunties. At last count, you have twelve. We all live Outside the Womb and have for a while.

Once upon a time I was, like you, an idea. I became a whisper, then a wink, then a dream.

I grew into a collection of dividing cells. I formed a beating heart and a busy brain. Skin and cartilage were added, followed by little hands and little feet. One day, on a quest for adventure, or perhaps a new venue to dine in, I pushed my way to the other side, sucked in my first breath, and agreed to become the bi-ped I am today (which actually took a little convincing. I was a big fan of the floor). Here I am, walking and talking in this strange dream. That’s what Life is. Strange and dreamy. Dreamy and strange.

In the history of the universe, I am less than the impulse to blink an eye, but more than a fleeting thought. In the history of you, I have always existed and am currently understanding all those bad jokes people tell about their age and being born before the invention of the wheel.

You’ll learn about wheels later. Suffice to say, they are very useful round things that roll. They’re good for moving strollers, wagons, and rollerskates.

I will be a terrible auntie. I will forget your birthday and send you presents and notes for no IMG_6175good reason. I will mislead you with tall tales and bad advice and let you lick the batter off the side of the bowl. I’ll whisper secrets in your ear that you will promptly forget and I’ll reason that even mean people in the world, like Bill O’Reilly, believe in Santa Claus. How bad could they really be?

I live with a ornery little dog who nips at children’s feet and protects her ball with the fierceness of a lioness protecting her young. You’ll meet her when you’re ten and are able to out-run her.

Ten is what you are between ages 9 and 11. But it’s more of a state of mind.

I’m like the old woman who lived in a shoe, except I’m not that old. And I live in a shoebox instead of a shoe. I don’t have too many children. I don’t have any, so I never worry what to do with them. It’s more like I’m the caretaker and head-mistress of Miss Emily Nesbit’s Uptown Half-way House for Wayward Adults, mostly pirates and one-armed cowboys, minstrels, and travelers stay here. I don’t know what to do with any of them. But, they come and go, so it’s not much of an issue.

Needless to say, my home is your home. And you and your mother, never a wayward adult herself, to be sure, are always welcome for tea.

I am looking forward to a marvelous and miraculous association with you, baby girl.

Rest up. You have a long and beautiful walk ahead of you. If you ask me for directions, I’ll try not to send you the wrong way. But please be warned: I get lost crossing the street.

Sorry in advance for forgetting your birthday. You are always welcome to forget mine.


Auntie A


Santa Claus


Dear Bill O’Reilly,

I wanted to let you know that Santa Claus is alive and well. I met him this week at his
summer home in North Pole, Alaska. The elves are recuperating from an intense holiday season in a little village in Kalawao and are expected back to work late August. Mrs. Claus is obsessively making fudge.

He is very nice. Erudite, thoughtful, and open-minded, as one would expect from a
well-traveled man.

The Easter bunny is also thriving in Alaska. I caught him kicking back before the big day, as smart as a bunny can be.


I know you have been worried about their well-being. I wanted to reassure you that both are living large in Alaska.

I am currently reading an article on how to make money off of ginseng, rabbits, chicken, and moonshine from The New Pioneer magazine (the complete guide for self-reliant living) that I picked up on the grocery store check-out line in Fairbanks, and so must go.

Please, do, feel free to drop Santa a line. He loves mail.






I want a car.

I’d prefer a Smart Car, but a Fiat will do.

It’s not intelligent. It’s not rational. But, like my dog who has taken to staring at the treats at the top of the refrigerator, wishing she can will those unreachable nuggets from their great height to the floor, I, too, wish for the unwishable. I wish for all those undated, united states to be at my beck and call.

Owning a car in New York is a terrible idea. First, there’s the parking situation. There’s insurance. There are scrapes and dings and angry livery car drivers who push their way past you on a narrow street. There’s gas to buy and radiators to care for. And dirty looks from pedestrians like me.

It’s irrational, at best, wanting a car so I can more easily date in Delaware.

It’s beyond ridiculous. It’s silly. Stupid. Impulsive.

It’s a Bad Idea.

But Smart Cars are really cute.

And Bad Ideas are sometimes Good Ideas in disguise.

I’ve lived a Very Interesting Life pursuing Very Bad Ideas.

So, a bad idea is not a deterrent.

“I want a car,” I tell Paul. “I want a Smart Car.” We’re sitting in his East Village art gallery. My dog is chewing her bone. He’s trying to sell me a painting.

“Hold on,” he says. He disappears outside and comes back in with his friend, who hands me a loaf of bread.

“Thank you,” I say about the loaf of bread.

“I found you a car,” Paul announces.

For five hundred dollars I can own a 1989 Oldsmobile with worn in bucket seats and a steering wheel rubbed smooth by the loving palms of the car’s single driver. There’s a Harley Davidson sticker on the side window. Dings, scratches, dents. This car’s been around.

“It just keeps going and going,” the owner tells me.

I feel a strange sensation in the pit of my stomach. The bread weighs heavy in my palms. This might be the mother of all bad ideas staring me in my face, but not a single cell in my body screams “no.”

“Let me think about it,” I say. If I had five hundred dollars in my pocket, that car would be mine right now. I am giddy at the idea of trying to parallel park this boat.

Later, at work, I tell Ricky I’m buying a car. “A 1989 Oldsmobile. It’s not quite a Smart Car, but it’ll get me to Maine.”

“Are you sure?” he asks. “As your backstage mother, I have to ask. Old cars.”

“Its a must for my blog,” I answer.

“Just think about it.”

“I’m thinking of buying a car,” I tell Kelly.

“Oh,” she says, tilting her head to one side. She’s a pro at appearing interested, even when she’s not. “You’re finally getting your Smart Car?”

“No! It’s a 1989 Oldsmobile. It’s huge. So I can drive to Virginia for a date.”

“Oh. My boyfriend had an old car. It didn’t do so well.”

“If I get only two trips out of it, it’ll pay for itself.”

“And when it dies?”

“I’ll donate it.”

“Shame you can’t just take the plates off when you’re done.”

“Should I get a 1989 Oldsmobile? Five hundred dollars,” I ask Davis. “I think it could make the five hour drive to New Hampshire.”

He shrugs. “Depends if you mind being stranded five hours away.”

“It’ll make a good story,” I offer.

Like the time I had to drive my 1977 Buick Century backwards down the highway and off the ramp to the repair shop because the transmission kicked out. Or the day I had to walk to work in my pajamas because I had locked myself out of my apartment on a Saturday morning. Or the day my car died on the way to meet the love of my life. We never got together and I never saw him again. IMG_4280

“Sometimes making stories isn’t as much fun as telling stories,” he says. “Especially when it’s cold outside and you’re stuck on the side of the road.”

When my mother’s station wagon died, it was also the death of my stand-up bass career. One year my dad bought the biggest boat of a used car, lime green, that floated down the street. I was so embarrassed that I slid the passenger car seat back and down so no one could see my face above the dashboard. My sister’s little white car had Grateful Dead decals that made me feel so cool, even though I never listened to the Grateful Dead, and the red Toyota I inherited from my mother when I was in college was a sweet, boxy ride until my sister took it and I moved to California and started riding bikes.

The brakes kicked out on the first bike I bought from the Salvation army and I’d stop it by running it into walls.

Maybe I’m better off walking.

Paul emails me a couple of days later.

“Do you still want the car,” he asks.

“I don’t think so,” I write back.

I want a Smart Car.



“What happens when you meet someone you really want to get to know,” people ask me about this project of mine. “What happens when you fall in love?”

At first, I answered, “I don’t know,” because I didn’t know. And then I answered, “we’ll see.” Now, I shrug. In my experience, love sort of sneaks up you from behind, like a toy fox terrier stalking a fat, city pigeon. It’s simply because we’re pecking on the ground instead of looking up and around that it feels like we’ve been hit by a speeding freight train.

Inevitably, my over-therapied friends who have read too many relationship self-help books  will diagnosis me as being afraid of love and/ or commitment.

I want to set the record straight.

I’m not afraid of being blindsided by love.

I’m not afraid of being hit by a freight train either.

Here’s why:

A few years ago, during the Christmas season, I was walking down Broadway, enjoying Christmas lights, dodging Christmas shoppers, brainstorming Christmas gifts.

I love Christmas in the city.

I saw a man running through the crowd. “That man is running towards me,” I thought, and stepped off his path.

He changed his trajectory. And I thought, “that man is running a-”

I was on the ground, scrambling for my bag, my incomplete thought hanging in the air as he sped away, disappointed, no doubt, by my lack of interesting things he might’ve wanted for himself. Or as Christmas gift for his loved ones.

My point is, if I couldn’t finish a thought at the laborious, slow speed of a human running through a city crowd, I surely won’t be able to put my thoughts together if I find myself standing in front of a speeding train. Or watching Cupid fling his arrow in my direction.

That event, only seconds from beginning to end, took more than my whole life to occur. I can’t even begin to comprehend how many architects there were to that single moment. People. Places. Prior events. Dreams. Goals. Conversations.

How many architects are there for every single heartbeat of my life?

I heard myself blink last week. I was floating in a floatation tank for the first time. No lights, no sound, just me with myself and a ton of epsom salt. I listened to my breath, and then my heart. And at once, I became aware of a quick, twinkle of a sound. I heard it again, the tiniest rain drop falling on the thinnest pane of glass. That sound was me, too. I winked one eye for a bit, then the other, and then listened again in stereo.

Neither change nor love happen with the elegance and beauty of a blinking eye. Nor do they emerge from nowhere with the fury and power of a run-away freight train. The build up is slow, the event, most often, unnoticed, and the repercussions parsed out over years. Change, like love, sits heavy on an over-burdened tug boat, pulling with all its might an over-loaded barge against the tide. Laborious and joyful, that little caboose has the power to move mountains.

I used to wish that change would hit me like a bolt of lightning, my life permanently altered for the better in one glorious swoop. My friend warned me that, not only is change inevitable, it’s also painfully slow. I would add that it can be stunningly simple and of a rare and subtle beauty.

I heard myself blink and I will never be the same.