Archive for December, 2011

December 31, 2011

Wild Women Just Do It

I have received a request. A dear friend and creative compatriot has suggested that I change the name of my blog. She says it is misleading. It’s not that she doesn’t get the irony therein, I’m sure she does. She is quite perceptive and has a brilliant sense of humor. However, she seems to think that people may not bother exploring any further if they are hit with something that reads as a psychic stop sign upon first meeting me in cyberspace.

Perhaps I should re-title this blog, Fucking Fantastic Writing. Maybe it’s time for me to come out of the shadows of my own modesty (read: insecurity). Perhaps it’s really OK for me to blast my message confidently throughout cyberspace and beyond. After all, I do not have an agent or a marketing guru or a PR firm working on my behalf. It’s just me.

See here’s the challenge. I might think what I’m penning is just brilliant, but you might hate it. There it is. Nothing complicated. What if I act like I’m the shit, and you just think I’m shitty?? That could be pretty awkward for me. Do you see my predicament here?

OK, you’re all pretty creative. Some of you might even make a living off your creativity. By the way, I hate you. No, ha ha… I don’t mean that. Seriously, I’m just playing, because I’m sure you really are brilliant and deserve whatever you have achieved. I’m just a mite jealous of anyone who doesn’t have to navigate the schizophrenia of the day job mind split.

But do you see what I mean?? This is a perfect case in point. I’m a pretty compassionate, loving person, and here I am openly admitting that if you have what I’m striving for, I would say I hate you and be jealous. Seriously. This is not a benevolent situation here, people. I absolutely want to be that person that arouses that kind of jealousy and hatred. Of course, if when I achieve that level of success, I wouldn’t won’t be a big dick about it, and I would will try to help as many people as I could can before, during and after, and who knows if I would will really be happy once I got get there… oh, the dog eat dog part of this really makes me a bit weary…

The bigger issue here is this. How do I claim my identity as a writer – own it, really own it, without worrying about you thinking that I’m a conceited, narcissistic, needy, insecure… need I go on??? OK, ok, you think I’m just fishing for compliments, but seriously, this shit gets very debilitating. I know, I know, none of you are sitting around thinking about me. You’re all busy dealing with your own shit. I get that. I learned that in therapy years ago, (to my great relief, I might add).

But nevertheless, I still get way too attached to what you might or might not be thinking. What writer doesn’t care what her readers are thinking??? I mean, you can’t really think about it while you’re writing, but like any act of bravado, you put it down with a flourish, hit send, and then the anxiety begins. It’s not easy to be brave when you know on the back end you’re gonna hear it from someone who says, um, that wasn’t a good idea, or, really, do you think you should be writing about THAT??? I mean after all, you are a (choose one) mother, professional whatever, someone who has to face your neighbors in the supermarket… the list goes on…

What am I, Catholic??? What’s with all the guilt? Yeah, I’m Jewish… OK. Let’s not make this a religious argument. I’m pretty sure I’ve stumbled into what my other extremely creative and brave friend describes as the plight of many women writers. We are often strangled by our sense that we, as women, can only express ourselves in certain prescribed ways, and to step out of that safe zone is to open ourselves up to all sorts of nameless dangers.

Seriously, girls, are we still buying in to that? You’d think after all this time we would have figured out that it’s OK for us to use naughty language and talk about sex or violence, or changing the government or being angry at corporate greed or protesting war, or pointing out injustice, or WHATEVER THE HELL YOU FEEL LIKE TALKING ABOUT!!!

Well this may be an extremely roundabout way of getting around to making a New Year’s resolution, but there you have it. 2012 will be my Year of Living Dangerously. This shit burns a whole in my brain, and it’s either write or die…

Earlier this week, my son and I participated in a Kwanzaa celebration with another dear friend. For those of you who are not familiar with its workings, Kwanzaa is a relatively new African American holiday designed to inspire and support a sense of family and community spirit. Its daily principles resonate with power and potential. As part of the yearly tradition, a libation (small offering of wine or water) is poured in honor of our departed ancestors as we celebrate their continued presence in our lives. We then honor ourselves and our children as the holders of our future.

In this spirit, I wish to honor some of the creative women I know who have  inspired and continue to inspire me through their work. Women who are not afraid, or if they are, they are not letting it stop them from pursuing their passion, their truth.

Kalae All Day – At the ripe young age of 23, one of my youngest friends, Kalae is someone who is coming into herself so quickly, she’s going to explode. She may think she’s already there, and honestly, she’s in there pretty good, but this is one young woman who brings so much to the table, I feel like she’s only just scratched the surface. Singer, rapper, writer, designer… the list goes on. See for yourself. Visit her blog. She is a force.

Deb Margolin – What can I say about Deb? She is quite literally one of the smartest, funniest, most honest women I know. As an artist/mother/lover she really gets the painful dilemma of creating, loving and letting go. Her experience, from playwright to performance artist to Yale University professor, and everything in between, speaks to the range of possibilities for creative women. She is also a damn good musician. Get her to a piano, and see what I’m talking about…

Kim Schultz – When I first met Kim, she was performing a one woman show about her relationship with a con artist and the death of her father. It was really funny. This incredibly candid woman has a knack for turning the sorrows and challenges of her life into the most enlightening and entertaining works of drama and comedy. A trained actress and improv performer, Kim’s latest is a piece she wrote after falling in love with an Iraqi refugee. Artist and accidental activist, she puts her heart on her sleeve on a regular basis, and for that I love her dearly.

Lillian Ann Slugocki  – Lillian’s stuff is so immediate, so passionate, so familiar (to me), and so unfettered by self-consciousness, that she inspires simply by being. I love the way she embraces the full range of her experience as a woman, and explores all aspects of her history, her desires, her needs… and she is one helluva storyteller. One of my newest mentors and friends, I look forward to her bravery and inspiration rubbing off on me as I resume working on my fiction.

Jennifer aka J.J. Brown – Jennifer’s background is extraordinary. As a scientist, she brings a level of insight to her fiction that is rare, indeed. Another woman who perceives herself and her work in the context of the world at large, she is not afraid to look unflinchingly at life in all of its dimensions, and explore the light and dark aspects with equal curiosity and sensitivity. I am proud to count her among the new friends I have made this year.

Jenifer Jackson – For the last decade or so, I have been enjoying the quiet evolution of one of my favorite singer/songwriters. This Austin, Texas resident who used to live in the East Village writes songs of love and loss and hope with a sweetness that touches me deeply. I saw her perform live the last time she came to NYC, at the Rockwood Music Hall, with her seasoned band. I think I cried from joy through half the songs.  Her music evokes at different times strands of folk, country,psychedelic pop, bossa nova, jazz and soul. I go back to it again and again…

Cherie Blackwell – This talented visual artist is also, I’m proud to say, my cousin. Another woman who incorporates a passion for science into her art, Cheri is currently engaged in a cubist exploration of Brooklyn landscapes. She is also a New York City public school art teacher, which automatically elevates her standing in my book threefold… not to mention the fact that she does a mean beat box.

Alice Bradley – Unless you count a few brief exchanges on Twitter, Alice Bradley and I do not personally know one another. Co-author with Eden Kennedy of the pee-in-your-pants funny book, “Let’s Panic About Babies…” (it’s a really long title), Alice is someone who I will probably run into at some point or another. She’s from Long Island, like me, so already, we are practically friends. Her book about birthing made me rethink everything I know about trying to be inspirational and give advice to other women. Plus, she says fart a lot. Well, at least once that I know of…

Carole Hart – Award-winning producer/director of the film, For the Next 7 Generations, Carole has been paving the way for women who believe in the healing power of the arts for decades. A seasoned television and film producer and writer, Carole has been at the helm of such notable works as Free to Be… You and Me, Hot Hero Sandwich, and this most recent documentary about the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. She has taught me volumes about bringing spirit and balance into art and life, and I’m proud to call her friend.

Erin Cressida Wilson – I am most grateful to Erin for her extraordinary support and encouragement at a pivotal moment of my life. It was she who encouraged me to start blogging when I was still in a fog, and she has been a great fan of my work even when I had no idea what I was doing. When I did not believe, it was her absolute conviction that I had a strong voice that kept me moving forward, one baby step at a time. I’m so lucky to know her, after all these years…

* * * * * * * * *

So happy new year to all of you, wild or not, women or not. I look forward to connecting more with each and every one of you in the coming year!

Photo by Crinity

December 27, 2011

A Few More Thoughts for the Holiday Season, or, My Laundry’s Laughing at Me

Every year at this time, I feel a recurring urge to sum things up, make a grand gesture, sew up loose ends – something big to mark the passing of another year. When I was younger, I always used to get completely worked up about having a good time – no, the BEST TIME EVER on New Year’s Eve. Invariably, the night turned out to be a drunken argument between me and my date, because damn it, nobody can withstand that kind of pressure!

So I’m not trying to make any grand statements here, no major revelations, no deep wisdom… just point out a few things that seem like patterns to me, and see what type of connections we can make. After all, it is a reflective time of year.

I think one of the things that scares me most is beginnings. Sometimes when I have to head in a new direction or start a new project or even complete a simple task like doing the dishes, I am gripped with an overwhelming sense of… anxiety. At least that’s what us seasoned experts call it. But once the warm water is flowing over my hands, I’m good. In fact, I relish those sensations. I love the actual process of bringing the dishes and glasses and pots back to their original, smooth state. I love stacking everything just so in the drainer, in a particular pattern that I’ve developed over the years that maximizes its capacity. The sense of order I get seeing the empty sink, wiped clean of any remaining food particles or soapy residue, and the dish rack filled to capacity, is actually quite soothing.

But taking that first step can sometimes be so nerve wracking, that I’ve had to just walk away from the kitchen and come back later in the day, or the next morning. Other things around the house can induce that kind of inner paralysis – doing the laundry, for instance. Once I push myself to sort and wash it, I’m only halfway there. I’ve actually stepped over baskets of clean but increasingly wrinkled clothing for weeks at a time. Go figure.

This kind of avoidance behavior does nothing for one’s sense of confidence. You give a pile of wash or a stack of dishes that kind of power over you, and the next thing you know, you’re being bullied by unpaid bills. It’s a slippery slope, my friends. In fact, can’t you just imagine the pit of my stomach clenching right now, as we speak???

OK look, this post is not meant to be Things That… Freak Me Out Part 2, but I will say that I’m glad to be naming all of this fear and anxiety so close to the end of the year. I really need to get this shit out of my system before New Year’s Eve, or I’m bound to have a totally sucky night…

Have you noticed that many psychotherapists are kind of wacko? Don’t get me wrong! I love therapists, and believe me, I’ve seen my share. But seriously, they are one nutty bunch. Not that I’m making any kind of a generalization here… well, I kind of am, but in a good way… because it’s a natural tendency for people to want to heal the thing that troubles them most. Well, heal or destroy, I guess. Take for example homophobes, who definitely skew high in the category of repressed homosexuals, don’t you think? Kiss em or kill em or heal em, I guess…

There’s a theme here. We gravitate towards the thing that most holds our curiosity, our fear, our confusion, our anger. We keep on visiting old wounds again and again, often re-enacting a painful dance like a moth that burns itself repeatedly against a light bulb. The patterning of familiarity is deep, regardless if it works for us or not, and breaking free from that pattern can be just as frightening as the consequences of repeated injury from staying in it.

So despite any resolutions to the contrary, I am quite certain that I will be walking into this new year facing all of the same old bad habits and challenges with which I’ve been struggling all of this past year. My only hope is that perhaps I’ve learned a few things along the way, so all of that bashing my head against the wall will not have been completely in vain.

As a way of setting the correct tone, this year I am changing up my holidays a bit. I figured out from the last couple of Decembers that merely doing what I always did before, except with one key person missing, was way too sad and painful. (For anyone who has lost a member of your immediate circle, I would suggest a balanced blend of maintaining certain meaningful traditions along with starting new ones.)

Being that I’ve been part of a blended family for a couple of decades now, I’ve picked up a bunch of traditions along the way. This year I decided to share as many different religious and cultural traditions as I could with my son. So far, we’ve attended one Chanukah party and lit the candles in our home for each of the seven days (tonight will be the eighth). I’ve taught my son the accompanying prayers I’ve known since I was a little girl, and he has been singing them with me from memory each night. Christmas included not only our little family tradition of presents under the tree first thing in the morning, but an afternoon trip to a local church to help serve meals to homeless and hungry families.

Now we’re moving into Kwanzaa, preparing to learn about and celebrate its family and community building principles one evening this week with friends, and on New Year’s Eve we’ll be back at church for a Watch Night service. This is a tradition that dates back to the late 1700’s, with roots in a small Christian denomination called the Moravians, who used this practice to reflect on their readiness to meet their maker, should this be their last night on earth. The practice was picked up by Methodist founder John Wesley, who turned it into a monthly ritual.

Watch Night took on a particular significance on the night before January 1, 1863, the first day of the official end of American slavery. On that particular night, African Americans gathered in Black churches all across the south, awaiting their first moments of freedom as the Emancipation Proclamation would become law at midnight. Just imagine adding to the tradition of meditating on your state of grace the dimension of jubilation in learning that you are no longer a slave??? I would’ve been dropping to my knees in gratitude, too!! This tradition has been kept alive in parts of the African American community for nearly 150 years, and I will be proud to share it with my son this weekend.

In the meantime, there is work to be done. Work work, as in my job, domestic work, as in the various things that need cleaning, fixing, purging, and otherwise tending to in my home and family life, and creative work, as in the multitude of stories and essays that are pressing their way out of my subconscious daily with, it seems, a greater and greater sense of urgency. And the holidays, though they are giving me a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the joys and reflect on the sorrows in my life, have only created a backlog on the very mundane responsibilities that haunt me the most. I am struggling with the transition back to daily routine as we speak. And though I am encouraged by the fact that my kitchen sink is actually clean at the moment, there is a growing pile of dirty clothing in my hamper, and I swear I can hear it chuckling…

Photo courtesy of Nrico

December 20, 2011

ADD, End of the Year, and Revelations

It’s the end of the year, and in the best spirit of articles like Things I Promise to Do Better Next Year and Top 10 Holiday Party Ideas, I bring you, My Exploration of the Mechanics of ADD.

OK, back up for a minute. I have not actually been DIAGNOSED with ADD, but I really think the name applies here. Nor am I a mental health professional. So everything you are about to read is completely made up, subjective and far from technically correct or accurate.  For the purposes of this piece, I will use the term ADD to refer to what I think of as “challenges in staying focused.”

OK, so now I will give you my impressions of life with ADD, and how I think this underlying condition has contributed to my creative energy, my incredible sense of loyalty, and my issues with boundaries. You may notice that I jump around a bit. Of course I do.

Carpools may be inadvisable, as then you will drag unwitting victims (and possibly their children) into your web of creative timekeeping. There’s nothing worse than being the one that makes everyone in your little circle sigh and tap their feet about, while they roll their eyes upward. Being resented like this does not make you popular.

There is just so much amazing shit in the world to get excited about… truly! If I had actually lived during Renaissance times, perhaps I would have made a name for myself as a Now Woman. But alas, my predilections are a bit outdated. Or at least, referred to by evolving and various nomenclature:  confused, dilettante, experimenting, needs to settle down, self-involved, genius, iconoclast, not sure I get her, anti-establishment, multi-genre, entrepreneurial, impractical, unconventional, bohemian, radical, ridiculous, original, derivative, ADD or just plain weird. But really, everything is just SO COOL!

 

Here’s the thing about commitment. When you have ADD, you are just so glad when you can lock onto something, you just might never let go. I think it’s kind of an action/reaction sort of thing – like how we’re attracted to the things we fear the most. This of course is the most mysterious part of the whole syndrome for me – and the most fascinating. It’s the “Backwards World” section of the story – the part where hyperactive kids are given speed to calm them down.  So paradoxical in its truth.

So it makes sense that people with ADD might actually be very loyal and good at long term relationships, because a steady, committed partner is just the thing to help tether us to something resembling normal. I believe we also make good caregivers because we’re excellent in a crisis, and adrenaline is extraordinarily focusing. I’m talking about that heightened sense of knowing the correct thing to do during an emergency.

We are also very in touch with our potential as human beings, because we’re aware of every little molecule in our midst. We understand the power we’re sitting on with atomic energy, because you blow one of those suckers up, and you’ve got acres of possibilities. Well, mostly blown to bits, but you get where I’m coming from…

Here’s what the creative process is like. OMG, if I don’t get this (pick one) story/song/poem/dance/screenplay/painting/theory/video/sculpture out of me, I’m going to throw up. Either that or, I feel something, but I’m not sure what it is… maybe I need to do the dishes, no, cook some soup, but first I will just read this article, and I’ve been meaning to google that friend of mine from high school, what the hell is her name (I always forget when I’m in front of the computer), and then I will take a shower, and oh – don’t forget to buy milk, butter, olives, that bread with the parmesan cheese and tomatoes on it, what is it called again, it’s from that region in Southern Italy where what’s her name’s family is from – ooh, I have to call her about the tickets for Friday’s show, damn, I sure hope they haven’t sold out already, let me just check their website – yes. THAT is what I call a theater. I would definitely have my play performed there, and Oh My God, the character’s name is Darcy!! That’s her name, holy shit, I can’t believe it, I found my main character’s name, and oh… she’s definitely talking to me – QUICK! Grab some paper and get this down before it disappears…

And four hours later, a first draft is complete.

Now just imagine I am your friend, and we live in different countries. You may not hear from me for months, but when you finally do, I will have sent you a 20 page, handwritten letter, detailing in flowing prose every single one of my current obsessions, revelations and special moments that will seem more real just for the sharing of them, along with as many genuine questions about your life since the last time you wrote to me.

And I will revel in the backwards process of gathering up all of the exploded pieces and forming them into something new and beautiful, and quite meaningful for the sheer fact that it came from the splattered pieces of my mind all over the floor.

So the next time I am the last one to leave from one of your parties, just take me firmly by the shoulders, look me directly in the eyes, and gently but firmly tell me, Deborah. Focus. And go home.

PS – Forgive me, I might let the dishes pile up once in a while, but once I get to them, they will be spotless.

PSS – Forgive me also, old friends who hadn’t heard from me in over 20 years, for those really long messages I wrote to you describing every single detail of my life since then, during that time right after my husband died and I discovered the true networking capabilities of Facebook.  I got very excited, but it was harmless.

PSSS – Happy Holidays to everyone who is, loves, or fantasizes about being a person with ADD or who is too distracted to care!!

PSSSS – It might just be perimenopause, I’m not sure…

Photo courtesy of Plinkk

December 8, 2011

Who is Elizabeth Streb, and why is she flinging bodies all over the place?

I visited renowned choreographer (aka action architect) Elizabeth Streb earlier this week at S.L.A.M. (Streb Lab for Action Mechanics), her Williamsburg, Brooklyn rehearsal, performance and open community space. It was Monday, the last day of rehearsal before the upcoming show at the Park Avenue Armory, “Kiss the Air!” and her company was running through several of their more complex pieces for the last time before the massive load in of equipment and set pieces scheduled for the end of the week.

If you’ve never seen the STREB dancers in action before, you are in for quite a treat. To call them dancers is really an understatement. More accurately, they are dancers/acrobats/athletes/stuntpeople. Elizabeth calls them heroes. I call them amazing. The women, in particular, appear to me as powerful, graceful amazons. For the type of movement they are tasked with enacting, they must be all of the above.

Over the last thirty years or so, Elizabeth Streb has been exploring the mechanics of pure action. She is less interested in dancers who spend the majority of their time on their feet, making pretty shapes with their bodies, than she is in what happens when she shoots them into the air from a stuntman’s air ram at 30 psi, or has them swan diving in sequence from different levels of a 30 foot scaffold onto thick cushions below. For her, the purity of movement is in the action itself. The beauty occurs in that magical space between a dancer’s exhilaration and the audience’s vicarious experience of their total freedom.

SLAM is an active, industrial looking space where her company rehearses and performs, and regular classes are held in PopAction technique (the fundamental form of movement on which her choreography is based), trapeze and trampoline skills. The space is always accessible to the public. In fact, I arrived to find a group of parents with strollers and young children observing the dancers, and a TV crew preparing to shoot an interview with Elizabeth in front of one of her massive sets, a combination of truss and ladders from which her dancers would no doubt be leaping at some point.

A compact figure dressed almost entirely in black, with matching spiky black hair, glasses and motorcycle boots, Elizabeth is direct and without pretense, combining a raw intensity and gleeful enthusiasm that is reflected all around her in the high tech playground she has conjured. Armed with schematic drawings and storyboards, she is part engineer and part storyteller, and exudes the same in-your-face power as her choreography.

Elizabeth Streb is an artist who appears unfazed by both the criticism and the praise that have alternately been directed at her over the years. Her work is at turns nervewracking, thrilling and exhilarating to watch, and she has been termed everything from daredevil to genius. After she burst on the scene to rave reviews in 1981, she was accused in some quarters of promoting a violent, sado-masochistic dance form. But while this summer’s premiere of the company’s piece “Human Fountain” at the World Financial Center Plaza may have disturbed some with its series of bodies diving through the air from three stories of scaffolding, it also symbolically baptized the haunted space by redefining that movement experience, as the dancers repeatedly got up after their euphoric falls and climbed the ladders again.

Streb’s movement theory has its roots in downhill skiing, with which she was obsessed until her mid twenties. She has been exploring ways to recreate that highly kinetic and mostly causal experience since then through dance, while pondering questions about time and space and how they relate to movement. She believes that movements should take only as much time as they take to do (an economy of physicality she surely learned from her beloved sport), depending on the skill of the dancer and the physical conditions in which they are placed. And with each show, she has invented increasingly ingenious and challenging settings to push the limits of her theories as well as her wonderful dancers.

Next week’s show at the Park Avenue Armory is allowing Elizabeth to go to scale in a way she’s never been able to do before. “I don’t think this could be a more impractical show,” she says. Audience members will be seated on either side of a 200 foot deep performance area beholding dances set on and off of giant ladders, scaffolding, bungee cords, with water, enormous video screens… Indeed, not many spaces in New York City could accommodate such a grand vision. Streb sees this increasing scale of containment as a pathway to what she terms the “miniaturization of the body.” As her work gets bigger and bigger, the dancers as individuals become less of an obvious focus, and the action itself takes center stage.

This summer, the STREB company will be doubling in size and travelling to London for the Summer Olympics. For one of their pieces, the dancers will be bungee-ing off the side of the London Tower Bridge. Aided by high speed winches and outfitted with LED lights, they will create a moving kaleidoscope of patterned illuminations. In practical terms, they will exist only as dots of light, yet the fact that these patterns are comprised of actual humans, actually jumping from a bridge (!!) will inform the audience’s experience of the performance, amplifying the spectacle factor to dizzying levels. Other major pieces are also planned for the Millennium Bridge and the London Eye.

Clearly, Elizabeth Streb is not your average choreographer. Her explorations of bodies moving in space and time have their foundations in dance as much as they do in sports, martial arts, and gravity-defying stunts, as well as mathematics, physics and engineering. A MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Award recipient, she asks herself the kind of quantum questions that tread into that deliciously mysterious territory where science and philosophy meet: “Could you move so fast that you could disappear? Can you leave the building by any other way than the door? Can you fall up?”

And yet, it is critical to her that her cerebral explorations have a functional translation, and that the totality of her work “provides a service for what people want and need, and think they should have.” She may have some heady theories about dance and movement, but SLAM is a lively, inviting community space, and experiencing a performance by the STREB company is a wholly visceral experience. Her dancers are indeed heroes, embodying her action mechanics with the kind of grace and skill that elevate those theories to a fully satisfying reality.

Tickets for the December 14th-22nd performances of “Kiss the Air” are available now at the Park Avenue Armory website.

For a video clip of the company rehearsing Human Fountain and a short conversation with Elizabeth Streb in four tiny parts, visit my youtube page here.

Photo by Tom Caravaglia

December 8, 2011

I write fiction, too. And I’m entering a contest.

You may notice that I’m expanding my subject matter lately. I’ve added more pieces on the arts and culture, and you can look forward to a new series of interviews with notable creative and visionary people who inspire me.

And, I am working on my fiction. Yep.

I’ve entered a contest to see if my main character’s voice is strong enough that a panel of experts can guess his age. Today, I’m to post the first 250 words of the story on my blog for the other entrants to see, and submit a copy to the judges. This is actually the beginning of one of my favorite short stories, but I can’t tell you the name yet, or I’ll break the contest rules.

I figure it’s time to open up my work to more criticism, hopefully of the supportive type. I just know I can make it better. So if you’re one of my regular readers, please, send me your thoughts. I care what you think. And if you’re a new visitor, welcome. I’m happy to have you, and I welcome your feedback as well…

And now, here is the beginning of my story…

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Mr. Mooney was in a very bad mood.  Driving home from work on the crowded West Side Highway north towards the Henry Hudson Bridge, he heard a funny clacking sound coming from under the hood that sounded suspiciously like the sound he heard the last time he brought the car into the shop.  Damn that mechanic.  I know he’s ripping me off, he thought.  You just can’t trust anyone.

Alexander Mooney was never one to require reassurance or a softening of hard edges.  He liked his lights harsh, his desk clean, and his coffee on time.  So when his gal Rosemary hadn’t shown up that morning until nearly 9:20 with his morning brew, he knew this was going to be a particularly shitty day.

Rosemary was very efficient, pretty, and cheerful enough, but she had three children between the ages of 7 and 17, and something was always going wrong with one of them.  If she hadn’t been so good at typing and shorthand, or hadn’t been in the habit of wearing particularly tight blouses (with what must have been a brassiere made of gauze for all the good it did her), he would have given her the boot a long time ago.  The girl simply missed too many days of work.  It was always something – one kid with the chicken pox, the other one who cracked his front tooth during a sporting match, and then that oldest girl with her mysterious female troubles – infection, or some such thing…

Photo courtesy of sampsyo