Possibly it is better on a hot summer afternoon in England. In my daydreams I'm there, the long interval picnic at Glyndebourne Opera House, bare feet tucked under me, pale blue dress to match the pale blue sky, a lazy conversation, but not much of it. Condensation drips from the cold fruit-filled glass...
But on a rainy spring evening in a Brooklyn apartment, I can happily report, Pimms Cup (virgin for Ella, alcohol for me) is delightful.
I have a sort of running joke with a friend about "nice." The word sounds almost like an indictment. Nice is caught in the compromise of itself: polite and mildly pleasing. Not exciting, nor confronting. Not spectacular. No feeling of soaring or deep soul satisfaction ever really came from Nice.
My photo today is, I think, Nice. Flower pictures for the most part usually are. Yet I persist in taking them, for they are most often the buttery salty smooth mashed potatoes of photography. Nothing wrong with it. Comfort food.
The placemats, new but old-new, thin cheap paper and washed-out palette, highly informative. If conversation flags, you can always study the drink recipes.
Forks, occasionally crusted with dried egg. Water, honest NYC kitchen tapwater in food service glasses. Bowls of pickles that taste of bandaid. The waitress who, barely glancing down, proclaims my two-year-old niece "cute" in a voice that says, "I have seen an awful lot of two-year-olds in my 25 years here. They are all the same."
Uncharming, with their strange lighting and listless food on thick chipped plates, diners are the same world without end. I have conducted my business in these places: love affairs over pancakes. Turkey club sandwiches after funerals. Gossip, crying jags, laughter that tipped me sideways out of my seat.
Long may they continue to thrive, in their vinyl-coated, Star-Trek-lighting-fixtured glory!
That strange little house in the middle? A hoarder lives there.
Across the street is my favorite neighborhood café. The people who work there tell me that they gather at the plate glass windows every time someone sounds the alert that the Hoarder's door is opening, hoping to get a glimpse of the interior.
The other day, walking by, I finally got my own chance to see the sun-starved marvels of an unhinged mind. The door was flung wide, almost defiantly wide it seemed to me. The Hoarder was on his step, verbally abusing a young man who seemed to be an assistant of some sort.
I glanced inside, in the studiedly casual way that all NY-ers have developed; there is a lot to look at, surreptitiously, on any given day in NYC: dramatic accidents, street brawls, supermodels and superstars, robed psychotics denouncing their particular demons in high oration, men dressed as horses, fabulous homemade shoes and unlikely pets on leashes. It is well worth honing that skill, the stealth assessment, so that one need not miss a moment of the glorious horrible insanity of the city.
What a revelation was the Hoarder's Collection. Teetering ceiling-high stacks of old newspapers formed a dark mad cathedral, the path between these pillars so narrow that I have a hard time understanding how a Brooklyn rat could pass through, let alone a portly old man.
What nightmare vision created his home, what nightmare sustains it? What chases this man down, forcing him in daily retreat further and further back into this cramped stifling warren of newspaper? I can only imagine that he is shoring up his days and ways against an onrushing tide of fear, in the only way he knows how.
It turns out that when you are cremated, not all your bones are burned to ash. I discovered this when, curious, I opened the box full of dad.
For a long time after he died, I wore his bone shards in a silver locket around my neck. When I finally grew tired of being haunted, I removed the locket and tucked it away. Today, seven years later, I found it again.
That endless wild roaring sea of grief (irreducible so I once thought) become the dry rattle of fragment against silver.
I guess the generic piano music (which, by the way, can be heard on countless heart-wrenching meme-ish vids, my God that composer is getting royalty checks as numerous as crocodile tears) makes this somehow worthwhile? or is it the lonely heartbreak of the glamorous "victim," so lovely that we either want to help her or bed her?
Domestic violence is a problem, OBVIOUSLY, but trumped-up pretty manipulation isn't going to help one damn bit.
Battered women, like rape victims, suffer from this sort of portrayal. It's the difference between watching hot chicks in knickers get slaughtered in films, and going to the scene of a real murder. One is titillating, the frisson of horror is almost fun, hell you might even get off on it, and the other one...
well, the real thing, most people probably can't handle.
Hence the popularity of these attractively manufactured gut punches. I call bullshit.
It amazes me that, in three-and-a-half long years of nursing my daughter, there were exactly two photos taken. The first, minutes after she was born: I have the most comical pained expression, captured by my mother, as Ella latches on (powerfully, I might add) for the first of uncountable times.
The other photo is this.
She was so tiny and hungry. Sometimes she nursed all day and all night, in the early days.
I always intended to nurse past a year old, but I had no idea that I would still be nursing my baby years later, long past her babyhood, and well into the time of a walking talking school-attending little girl.
I nursed Ella day in and day out, night after night, through illness, bad days, blizzards, hot summers, in subways, on trains, in restaurants, at zoos, concerts, empty grad school classrooms. I nursed her to soothe hurts and hurt feelings, tantrums and nightmares, tummyaches and sore throats. I nursed her when I didn't feel like it, and I nursed her in the quiet early dawn when there was nothing I'd rather be doing.
I nursed her when she could only ask for the breast with little guttural whimpers and ostentatious sucking sounds, and I nursed her when she could walk right up to me in her little mary janes and say, "mama, would you mind please nursing me?"
In three and a half years, though it became less frequent, we never missed one single day of nursing.
I don't really miss it, the tight way I was bound to her. It wasn't easy. Sometimes, in my worst moments, I imagined Ella and I were like Chang and Eng, the famous conjoined twins, claustrophobic and entwined. Then sometimes I was afraid I would lose something irretrievable when I weaned her. And I thought surely I would be like a soldier with phantom limb twinges, that the ghost of my nursing baby would haunt me forever, the pull at my nipples felt at odd moments like a visceral flashback.
And yet, it was okay in the end, the weaning, that separation. I got my breasts back all to myself (with more than a sigh of relief), she learned other ways to soothe herself, and is an independent and self-confident girl.
I think it was the best and rightest thing I have done in my life.
I'm a good Jewish woman, and, like most of my breed, have long harbored a secret crush on Christ.
He was hot, you know. If iconography through the ages is any indication. Physically hot, all that hiking around the desert: tan, lean. Spiritual yet manly. Well-spoken (though we don't really know that for sure, do we). Eternally 33 years old, like Edward Cullen but with more depth and less biting. Probably smelled of patchouli oil. Or myrrh. He was a god in the lowercase lay sense of the word.
So I finally had a chance to view Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" last night. I'd call the film a depraved perversion, but it would be like pointing out that my caramel gelato was delicious. So obvious that it should not need saying.
So many people were thrown into a state of frenzied excitement by that movie. Which is fine, really it is, but if you were excited by it, please own up to your own base nature and recognize that the film was a piece of hardcore s/m b&d porn. Slow-motion homoerotic beatings, moans of agony/ecstasy, extremely good-looking women kneeling in pools of bodily fluid. I swear I saw Jesus giving the Marys (including his own mother) an erotic come-hither look through his mutilated eyelids.
The money shot was surely Mary, kissing Jesus' bloody feet, and coming away with smeared mouth, a weird half-smile on her face. Come ON. That obscene image alone is worth the price of admission. That is, if you are a complete Godless pervert.
So yeah. I could sit here and deconstruct all day, but in the end it boils down to this:
Gibson's Christ was a very hot sexual victim. He wore his gore well. He took it all, deep.
But in the end, he gave the smirk of the vindicated masochist and topped, in the biggest and most epic way possible, from the bottom.
p.s. I know I am YEARS late to this party, but what the hell.