The Age of Forgetfulness

I forgot my own birthday.
I mean, I remembered the date, but I thought it was next week, for some reason. This past Wednesday, I even told someone, "I'm 33. At least, I will be in two weeks."

I saw Brian give a little eye roll, but I ignored it.

Later, I was talking to him, asking if we should do something fun for my birthday in two weeks, and he said, "It's this week. It's on Saturday."

"No it's not."

"Yes, it is."

When I insisted that it was in two weeks, Brian said, "What's today?"

"November 11th."

"And what day is your birthday?"

"November fourtee—Oh! You're right."

Well, this is getting older. Why bother remembering your birthday if it's only going to indicate you that you are no longer a spring chicken. Maybe this is one of the advantages of senility.

I remember we had lunch with Brian's grandmother for her 90th birthday. We were at his aunt and uncle's. Grandma Shirley was busy eating when Brian's uncle said, "So, Shirley. 90? 90 is a long time. A lot has changed in 90 years. You've seen the automobile, the airplane, and the spaceship. You've lived through two world wars. You've seen the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. A president was shot. Man walked on the moon. The radio, the telephone, television, the computer. A lot has changed in 90 years, hasn't it."

Grandma Shirley looked up from her food and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know," she said. "Maybe."

So I don't know. Maybe I'm 33. Maybe it's no longer worth remembering.

Public Displays

Brian said, "Someone else has strong feelings about subway etiquette."

HE showed me the New York Time this weekend, the article was Complaint Box: Public Grooming

WHEN did grooming become a spectator sport?

When I was growing up, back in the days when the express train beat the local, straphangers were content to pass their time in transit with a good book or a crossword puzzle. Occasionally, I'd encounter the loud talker, the nose-picker or someone who had to free themselves of a wedgie. Hey, we've all been there.

That's old school.

These days, if someone seated near me on my morning ride is putting on makeup, someone else is clipping his fingernails (and, on one odd occasion this summer, a toenail). Or they're plucking eyebrows, tying ties, squeezing pimples, even spraying perfume. There are those who just have to bathe themselves in lotion. Others are brushing their hair. It's the full monty, commuter style.

The writer didn't talk about men who sit with their legs wide open. However, I *HATE* when people clip their nails on the train. Or anywhere in public. I think it's disgusting. I'm not sure why I have such a strong reaction to this. I don't hate the idea of clipping nails. I just hate when it's done in public.

The other week at the Y a woman was sitting on a locker room bench in only a towel and was clipping her toenails. It took all my strength to keep from saying, "Can that really not wait until you get home."

Since we are talking about newspapers and hating on people, Brian showed me this: Tampa police: Marine reservist attacked Greek priest he mistook for terrorist. It's a horrible, embarrassing story which leads me to reassert my belief that too much testosterone often leads to people unnecessarily beating up other people.

I haven't posted any pictures of my nephew lately. My sister sent me this one of Jake dressed up for Halloween. Enjoy!

Peculiarities of Aging

Some days I feel so old.
I feel so tired all the time. Lately, I'm in bed most nights by ten. It makes me think to myself: This has got to be what it's like to feel old.

But then sometimes old throws me for a loop.

Brian and I visited my grandmother this Saturday. We hadn't seen her since my nephew's bris back in September. We went to dinner at the diner across the street, which is called "Gracie's Corner," but which my grandmother has always referred to as "Gracie Corners."

My grandmother and my uncle both ordered a hamburger delux (which means the hamburger comes with lettuce, tomato, and fries — my grandmother says "a salad and fries"). After placing the order, she remembered an important detail she had forgotten to mention to our server. She flagged him down and told him: "I want my burger the same size as the bun."

The burgers came. And they were both larger than the bun. My uncle poured half a bottle of ketchup on his and began eating. My grandmother became noticeably disturbed by her own meal, and began waving her hands furiously, trying to signal the server.

"This burger is NOT the same size as the bun. I asked for my burger to be the same size as the bun. How am I supposed to eat it? It's flopping over the side. I won't even be able to pick it up."

My uncle continued eating his own, large burger, barely noticing my grandmother. The server returned with another bun.

"NO! I don't want another bun. I want another burger. One that will fit on the bun."

The server left, looking confused.

He came back again a few minutes later with a small plate with another bun and another hamburger on top. This one was definitely smaller than the first, though still slightly bigger than the bun.

"NO, NO, NO!" cried my grandmother. "It's still too big. I can't eat that. I said THE SAME SIZE. I want a hamburger that's THE SAME SIZE as the bun."

After he walked away, my grandmother shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know what's wrong with them. It's a simple enough request." But she had given up. She began eating burger number two on bun number three using mimed laborious gestures.

Then the server came back with a third burger, which was the same exact size as the (fourth) bun. My grandmother protested again. "I don't need this now. I already started eating the other hamburger."

The server was very sweet and said he couldn't take it back, that she could have them all if she wanted.

"But what I am going to do with two extra hamburgers?"

"Take them home," the server said.

My grandmother giggled like a schoolgirl and said, "Oh, allright. Thank you."

After all the pain and suffering she put the server through, and with her bounty of two extra hamburgers and three extra buns at no additional coast, my grandmother tipped a generous $8 on a $45 check.

Subway Manifesto

Why must people sit with their legs wide open on the subway.
Men. It is primarily men do this. Young, healthy, ambulatory men. They sit with their legs splayed so they can take up the maximum amount of space on a subway bench. Are they doing this to air out? Or because they want to be alone. Is it colonial or empiric?

This morning I squeezed myself into a two-seater where a gentleman was occupying 4/5 of the seat. Sometimes when I weasel my way in, the offenders perk up and close their legs a bit. But rarely. And not this morning. I sat almost unbearably scrunched. But I stayed there, because I wanted to make a point. You may have 4/5 of this bench, but I'm not going to let you take it all!

Invariably, after the splayed-leg-sitter gets up, when the next person sits down ... it's like ... palatial. I can practically lay down and take a nap, there's so much room.

Why? Why? Splayed-leg-sitters, Why? Why, person-who-leans-his-entire-body-against-the-pole-so-no-one-can-hold-it? Why, person-who-hangs-from-the-hand-rails-like-they-were-monkey-bars?

I think I must spend the majority of my mornings hating various people on the train. The people who bring their bikes on the train during rush hour. The people who let their wet umbrellas drip into my shoe. The people who eat stinky food or who slurp loudly. The people who take up more the their share of space on the benches. The people who lean their whole body against the pole, so when I hold it, my knuckles are touching their back, which makes me feel skeeved, but they still don't seem to notice.

Society tells us ladies that we need to sit with our legs closed. Men, now it's your turn. No one wants to see your goods. But there is probably a long list of people who want your seat.

Naked & Exposed

I received my two free copies of Gulf Coast a few weeks ago.
And last week Brian noticed that my story, in its entirety, was posted on their website.

Because of my constant gnawing drive towards fame, I was compelled to post the link on my facebook page. Many people wrote congratulatory comments, which made me feel swell. A number of people actually took the time to read the story. This made me feel weirdly exposed.

The story isn't autobiographical. And I'm not ashamed of it. I think it's okay as far as stories go. And I am very happy it got published. Still, when people read my work, it makes me feel exposed, naked and vulnerable. I immediately assume they are not going to like my work. But maybe they will feel compelled to say something awkwardly nice anyway. When people say they like my stories, my first instinct is to suspect they are lying to me.

What is wrong with me? Maybe approval is something I've wanted so much for so long that when it finally happens, I don't trust it.

But even if someone did sound sincere, I think would still feel naked and exposed, like they'd been rooting around in the underwear drawer of my brain.

Speaking of being naked and exposed: Brian and I have often made fun of the myriad of naked people running around the locker room at our YMCA. Certainly, the locker room would seem to be an appropriate enough place to experience the limbo of undress that occurs between street clothes and workout clothes. Still, we suspect that the people at our Y are more naked and for a longer period of time than is usual.

AND I believe they are chattier to boot! Last week, while I was experiencing clothing limbo, the woman at the locker next to me was pulling up her swim suit when she announced loudly, "Shucks! The lining is all pulled out."

I nodded slightly and politely, so as not to appear rude, but she went on. "You know, this suit has lasted me longer than most — but not the lining! I guess something's got to give. Look at it! No support. The swim suit is fine, but I have no support anymore in the chest."

She started gesticulating so that I might examine and agree with her that her swimsuit no longer offered her ample bosom the support it needed. Instead, I pretended I wasn't there.

This didn't help. "It's the chlorine. It does it every time. I've never had a suit last this long. I should be happy. But look. LOOK! No support. I really need a lot more support in the chest. The suit is fine, but it's going to have to go, because there's no support. You know how it is...."

When playing dead didn't work, I just ran away with my shoes half-on. It's hard enough to feel naked. Being naked — and loudly calling attention to your half-pulled-up swim suit with your droopy boobs hanging out — it's just too much!


Our friend Valerie took us to a Russian/Ukrainian cafe for dumpling on Sunday, and I've been dreaming about dumplings ever since.

The vareniki come 25 to an order, and we ordered 5 different kinds. Our server looked at us like we were either secretly obese or mad. But we showed her: we managed to finish all but five pieces.

If you happen to find yourself in Bright Beach, I would highly recommend Cafe Glechik, though I would also highly recommend bringing a Russian-speaking friend along, too.

Do you remember my unnatural fear of strange bathrooms. I wouldn't either, except that it's mine. I have suffered for the better part of my life from an amorphous fear of an freaky bathroom pervert. So much so, that sometimes I could barely bring myself to use public restrooms. When I realized the root of my fear lay in an episode from kindergarten when I walked in on a classmate flushing the teaching tool "Letter People" balloons down the toilet, I was better able to get a hold of myself.

However, the other weekend I had an experience that almost caused me to relapse. We had met our friends Allison, Kane, and Heather at a cafe in our neighborhood. I excused myself to wash my hands. The sink is behind a pocket door just passed the counter, and the door is usually open. It was three-quarters closed that day, but I slid it open and began washing my hands.

The cafe smelled of pastries and bread and coffee, but the small area with the sink smelled considerably more foul. Only my unnaturally high level of maturity kept me from saying aloud It smells really poopy in here. When I reached for a paper towel, I noticed that to my left was a door, and the door was ajar. The light was off behind the door. For a moment, I wondered if behind the door was a storage room. I tried to remember what was usually off to the left of the sink area.

And then I saw a hand. In the dark I could make a vague outline of a man's large hand. I immediately scanned further. And yes! There was a face as well. As you have probably guessed, there was a toilet in this room to the left of the sink area. And there was a man on the toilet doing his business with the light off and the door open.

I ran screaming from the cafe.

When I told our friends, nobody seemed fazed. They said the bulb in the bathroom was probably out. They said, "When you gotta go, you gotta go." I saw the gentleman I had quasi-walked-in-on finally exit the cafe. He appeared to be of the generally bedraggled, possibly-homeless type. Our friends felt things made even more sense now. They said, "Homeless people will poop anywhere. They can't go in their own home, because they don't have one." Still, I felt extremly disturbed by the event.

Now I feel edgy again about using public restrooms. Even if it's just to wash my hands.

Steak House or Gay Bar

My friend Danny sent me this link:

I had a good time with it until I started becoming visibly angry when I guessed wrong. Oh, and I was at work.


Full Moon

I killed three of them!
Mosquitos! I felt triumphant.

But when I went to bed that night, the survivors came back with a vengeance. They bit me all over the few places I was not bug-sprayed: multiple bites on my fingers and across my forehead.

Eventually, I will win. Frosty weather is coming.

I woke this morning to news about how we had just launched a rocket at the moon. I thought I was still having a crazy dream, because it reminded me very much of the old Mr. Show sketch about blowing up the moon.

I can't stop giggling.


I voted in our local primary and also in the runoff.
Sometimes I aspire to be a Super Voter. But sometimes, I aspire just to go home and sit on the couch and eat potato chips.

As I was walking to the polls to vote in the runoff, I considered for a moment that I might just skip it. Then I thought: "But I still have to take care of a little unfinished business."

For a moment, voting for Public Advocate sounded sexy and full of intrigue.

When I got there, I discovered that the polls were being manned by some of the oldest people in the world. There were two of them working the table at my station. The very old woman was writing my name slowly with what appeared to be quite nice, though shaky, penmanship. Then she leafed through her voting book to find me.

The very old gentleman sitting next to her smiled and shrugged his shoulders. He said, "We only have one book. If we had two, everything might move a lot faster."

The very old woman paused for a moment and scowled. "No. It wouldn't be any faster. It would just be more confusing."

I'm up on the Gulf Coast Website, which is very nice.

Other than that, I've been exhausted lately. Maybe it's because we have a mosquito problem.

Brian and I have been going to bed doused in bug spray. Still, it can get to be like a horror movie. First there's the itch that wakes you up. The you start feeling the tickle of the shadow a of bug on our cheek, your arm. You swat. That tickle again, now on your shoulder. You turn on the light. You scan the room. There! That black dot with its sloppy, hanging legs is floating away from you. You try following it with your eyes, but you lose it. You scan the room, over and over. It appears again. You jump up and start swatting at it, clapping, swinging wildly, but it's gone again.

Then you feel the tickle on the back of your neck. If it is a good night, you slap hard and are rewarded by a smooshed black bug and a handfull of blood. If not, you reapply your bug spray and try again to get some sleep.

We talked to our downstairs neighbors about the mosquitoes. They didn't feel the mosquitoes were nearly as big a deal as the mice, which are apparently back.