Friday, September 27, 2013

When K street shut down

In memory of Dan, Marcy and Fluffy.  

“WE ARE THE 99%”
“Say what?!”
“WE ARE THE 99%”
“Say what!?
“WE ARE THE 99%”
“AND SO ARE YOU!”  I throw my head back and scream the words as loud as I can despite the burning sensation in my throat that began two hours ago.  I scream the words raspily, savagely, each one punctuated by a small cloud of steam in the air before me so that it seems to linger, always there.  Rain streams down my face, falls through my chanting lips, down my neck, in my boots, its everywhere.  There isn’t a part of me that isn’t thoroughly soaked anymore.  I can feel even my bra and underwear are soaked.  My leather jacket feels bloated with it.  My elbows are stiff where they interlock with my neighbors, forming our human chain.  I don’t remember their names though they’ve told me.  There’s been too much going on for me to focus on that.  They are nice though.  The one to my right looks to be about in his mid thirties or forties, the one on my left looks about late twenties, maybe, Im never good at the age guessing game.  The chant stops and there’s a brief familiar pause that only ends when somebody starts a new chant.  Sometimes we all jump on one chant, sometimes little groups along the line do their own, all at once, so that it all sounds like some nonsensical tune with a crazed beat.  A little while ago my neighbors and I began singing “Were not gonna take it” by Twisted Sister, complete with what dance steps we could muster being linked by the elbows and all.  We got most of the group singing it for a while too, we were all proud of that.  I whispered to myself then, I'll never forget this, while a line of armored police men astride tall and thick chested Clydesdale horses loom in front of us, extending to the edge of the buildings at each corner of K street so that they form an impassable wall.  They wear grim expressions on their faces, furrowed brows and agitated puffs of steam appearing in the air like bubbles from their horse's nostrils, chomping at the bit.  They have fancy rain gear on, long rubber trench coats and thick plated helmets with the visors in front, shielding the rain though its been so long now it's found it's way down their cheeks and lips and chins as well, uniting us in an erie quiet way.  But they also have gloves on each hand and shined boots, while we hold linked, bare, and calloused hands.  We wear vinegar soaked bandanas to protect us from tear gas, where our bomb proof visors ought to be, an array of dancing, shuffling, fraying shoes instead of steel toed boots.  Some of us have jackets, but barely one lacks patches, hopeful sharpie and paint inscribed slogans, gaping defeated holes.  Our backs and arms say love, freedom and peace, American dream, solidarity.  Theirs say DCPD, To Serve and Protect.  Their horse have thick blankets beneath the padded saddles, shined brass buckles, immaculate coats.  We stand astride our beliefs alone.  They stare, horse and policemen alike, above our heads,  unaffected by our merriment, or questions, speeches about their very own pensions we're fighting to save, or occasional outburst of injustice.  They simply stand their, unfortunately just doing there jobs to provide for their own families, as hermetic as the physical wall they've created with their bodies (stealing our principal of protest, to protest with ones own physical being, a small Asian girl from Wisconsin exclaims!), save for a red gleam of anger, or more subtle to catch (it took me the entire two hours to truly identify) a mix of genuine encouragement and empathy getting all tangled up with discomfort and frustration around the eyes and the corners of their lips.
I'll never forget this.   I whisper to myself again, trying to memorize every feeling, every sensation of this moment.  The chill thats gripping my bones in my water logged clothes, the warmth of the bodies beside me.  I taste the rain on my lips, a lock of my tangled hair caught in the corner of my mouth.  I feel my heart pounding in my chest.  I am afraid, yes.  Don't forget that either, not ever I think.   I let my mind drift out into the commotion around me.  I memorize the way everything is shining with rain, the camera man who's recording our faces, back and forth, up and down the line, back and forth again and again.  I memorize the sound of the voices, mixing together, then separate them out again, a protest chant, a police radio, an idle conversation.   Then suddenly I hear a scream from behind us and a clambering of hooves and feet.  Suddenly the milling crowd around our human chain bursts into motion.  There's another scream, but its more angry than afraid this time.   A horse brays, someone shouts medic, people running.  Everyone in the chain cranes around to see but we can't because of the way we're holding each others arms.  It is ironic, beautiful.  And though our fearful, compassionate, united necks are craned, those mounted policemen remain, their expressions and bodies placid as ever, watching what we can only hear and imagine.  The arrests of our friends.
"Mic check!" Someone screams down the line and we all begin repeating the words as we receive them, so everyone can hear.
"Don't look!"
"Don't turn around!"
"Because they are waiting!"
"For a break in the line!"
"Stay strong!"
"The world is watching now."

Awkwardly I reach my hand in my chest pocket and retrieve my last cigarette with a dripping hand.  My neighbor helps me light it and I offer him a drag but he shakes his head.  
"Last chance." I say grimly.
"Yeah," he laughs. "Thanks, but I quit.  Enjoy, who knows when you'll get to have another."
I nod my head, trying to hide that I really am a bit afraid.  He's silent for a moment and I begin to wonder if he saw my reaction, or was too concentrated on the wall of eyes above us instead, as most of us are at this point.
"Least we'll be outta the rain."  He says finally and that gets a genuine smile out of me.  A few people around us chuckle and murmur the same sentiment.  They're chuckles ring out like a melody against the pitter patter of rain - by now now the commotion behind us has quieted down to sloshing feet and muted radios.  It would be comforting if only it didn't mean they're cleaning up, cuffing stragglers, and our group is next on the day's agenda.  Silently more police appear at either side of the street.  The protests chants die down and are replaced by announcements.  My heart's racing.  Cigarette smoke and rain sting my throat.

"Mic check!"
"If you do not have a bandanna!"
"Or have not been sprayed!"
"notify a medic!"

I see Liza, one of the people from Occupy Pittsburgh who I came with, and call out to her hoarsely.  I think its funny how she yelled at me at first, for disobeying The Unions orders and taking to the streets with a small surviving cluster of original Zuccatti Occupiers, carrying a large yellow Occupy Wall Street banner, leading to all of this.  I still bear their sign, I stand with them.  Front of the line cause we started it.  No, they did, but at least I was first to join in.  But I don't dare to mention that, my amateur scrap of pride.  Liza is as strong willed as the old vets in camp with twice the energy and three times the anger.  Not only that, but her protest experience is far beyond anything I've ever achieved.  She's not a force I'm apt to reckon with.  She doesn't hear me at first, despite all I'm still despairingly quiet and shy, so I call out again, a little louder this time.  She turns around, nods, then comes jogging over to me.

"What's in the bottles?" I ask.
"It's just vinegar and water."
"What's it for?"
"It breaks down the tear gas." she says casually.  "Nobody's ever told you?"
I shake my head no.  Suddenly her eyes fill with realization and she shakes her head.  "Fuck.  You don't even have a bandana."
"That's for the tear gas too isn't it…" I say quietly, starting to be ashamed of my own naivety despite being an activist for the past two years of my life.  She sighs, takes off her own scarf and ties it around my face.  "But what about you?" I ask, muffled through the multicolored fabric.
"I'll be okay." She says. "Your standing up for us.  Just get it back to me later."  I nod, she sprays me in the face with vinegar water, than walks off tending to other occupiers from around the country, linked in our human daisy chain. 

"Mic check!"
"If you are in this line!"
"you will be arrested!"
"This is your last chance!"
"To leave!"
The man to my right grumbles and apologies, he has a warrant out in Maryland and has to leave.  A few others on either sides of us leave too but I can't see very well.  The chain gets smaller, we grip each others arms tighter, the police increase.

"Mic check!"
"We think it would be more effective."
"If everyone sat down."

Awkwardly we all lower ourselves to the ground.  It's cold and the puddles fill my clothes, saturating them even more than before, if that's even possible anymore.  We press our shoulders to each other for warmth but it's awkward and difficult, and for some reason the whole chain seems to want to lean back, making it hard to sit up right. This seems to be noticed unanimously and soon there is a Mic Check suggesting we all lie down.  Then I'm back flat against the concrete with a hundred strangers, blinded on either side.  I hear and feel the anger of an era around me, but all I can strain to see is the endless world above me.  So I pull it close like a blanket, and give all that fear and shivering to the falling rain, cause I know what I'm doing is right.  I know being heard is never easy, life has taught me that at least. 

It felt like forever then.  I stared up at the cold grey sky, the rain like needles burning my eyes, while countless faces passed above me, a camera back and forth, still back and forth.  After awhile somebody puts a warm beanie on my head.  "Philly stands with you." whispers a voice, then clasps my shoulder gently.  A little later I feel a space blanket being draped over me and tucked beneath my legs.  Idly I begin to wonder how cold it is, how long I've been outside now.  It's early January, I know I should be colder than I am in just my leather jacket and jeans, but adrenaline chases the thought away.  Still I stare up at the cold gray sky, the rain looking like those little stars on computer screen savers, stretching into infinity.  

I begin to think of [R], 5 years ago in the Catskills, in the backyard of his country house.  We were graduating sophomore year of high school, or at least he was, and It was the last time in my life I'd get to be a kid.  Child services put me in a program the following Sunday night.  But I didn't know that then.  All I knew was I was finally someplace safe, and I was with my best friend who I adored, finally getting to play in the woods together like we always talked about day dreaming in the library.  His mom was sitting outside with us, maybe on a porch, I don't remember if there is one, doing something quiet and peaceful like reading or meditating, as is her way.  Suddenly a summer storm came up and I began to curse and head for the back door.  [R] began to laugh and cheer, then grabbed me by the waist and swung me in a large circle on his shoulder.  I screamed and the rain began to pelt us both.  He stopped suddenly and dropped me to the ground so that I stumbled a few steps then fell in the wet grass.  He doubled over laughing at me and angrily I jumped up and pushed him down too.  Then finally I began laughing as well.  We went back and forth like that for awhile, playing tag and tackling each other in the grass, until we both were bruised and breathless and he finally coaxed me into a hug (I was suspicious and thought he was tricking me into being tackled again.)
"See Em?" He said softly, with his arms still around me.  "This is why I love the rain.  It's like infinity, you can lose your self in it."  He stepped back from me and pointed up, his head craned towards the sky.  I did the same then quickly looked down and shook my head.
"I can't see it." I complained.  "It burns my eyes."
"Ignore it." He said.  "Just look, like this." Then he began to spin slowly with his arms out, head still pointed to the sky.  I did the same and finally I could see it - the way the drops came at you and spun.  It felt like it could wash away anything, like I could lose myself in that expanse of sky and follow the rain backwards to that far away place from which it came.  I stared up and spun till I couldn't take the burning anymore. When I looked back, [R] was standing smiling at me.  
"Now you don't hafta be afraid anymore." He said.

Suddenly all the commotion around us stops and a loud voice comes on a megaphone.  There is no Mic Check or preamble this time, it's the police.  I don't remember what they said, it was a list of rights similar to the Miranda Rights but unlike anything I'd ever heard before.  Somebody told me later that it was The Riot Act.  Shields go up, the mounted officers lean back ever so slightly.  The voice counts down through the megaphone: "10, 9, 8, 7, 6…."

"WE ARE THE 99%"
"And so are you.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

On privacy, piracy and the fortunate acquaintance of Cameron Bentley, not in that particular order.


Not to interrupt the fluidity of this corner of cyber space, (though by the aforesaid "fluidity" I mean rationalization in my head that these ramblings connect to each other in some vague way that makes their revealing nature softer and less awkward), I feel it is about time I address this topic and, attempt at least, to speak plainly.  
I know some of you personally know me, and most of these writings contain information far more personal than is appropriate for our relationships.  Most of you have had the politeness to have never breathed a word of this to me, and for that I am very (very) grateful, both for the sake of my own embarrassment and the confidence to continue writing.  Honestly, I would have never realized anybody I actually knew was reading this until my biological Mom decided to make a sarcastic comment in my Christmas card this past year.   I would have been angry, but she apparently gave out the url or a link of some sort to all her friends before reading and realizing that I have no shame in my past and make no attempts to gloss over any gory detail.  It was never my intention to purposely embarrass her, however, it definitely brought the cheer to one more scaring Christmas experience.  (Hi Mom).  But more relevantly, it also revealed to me that yes, people I know are actually reading this.  My initial reaction: Uh oh.  My second reaction: Fuck it, its to late now.
Yes, I realize the link is RIGHT THERE on my Instagram, and as I continued with my Braddock urbex series, and later, a sporadic record of my way ward life, my personal friends began following.  In my defense, I was one of those children who smashed the cylinder in the X hole instead of finding the circle shaped one, I am also a firm believer that The Nile is no more than a river in Egypt.  Basically, I refused to put two and two together… or I did and came up with 5, who the fuck knows.  This collection was originally intended to be nothing more than a diary of sorts, to help pass the time and relieve some of the uncomfortable emotions I was going through after my transition to Braddock.  (I know, many of you who have been reading with me for the long haul know that there are many other ways than "transition" to describe that incident, some sad and some hysterically sarcastic, but I don't feel like talking about it today.)  You could ask, why then would I decide to publicly broadcast my personal diary?  Because simply, when your going through hell all alone, sometimes its nice to hear that the words you use to describe hell are beautiful at least, and to know that somebody is listening, even if that somebody is on the other side of the world and will never see your face.  Sometimes too, that fact just makes it even nicer, because you don't have to worry about what they will say to you next time you meet, or be afraid of worrying them.  Sometimes you just have to take what small niceness you can get when theres nothing else but cats, dogs and coffee cups, and the scenery looks like something out of The Road.  (That pun was intended.)  That's how I saw it at least.
And there was a shinning moment when this all began.  When the only people reading were strangers behind glowing screens in far away states and countries.  There was a moment, and perhaps thats how I created something almost delirious and brutally poignant from my sometimes backwards and often absent brain.  I'll blame those fledgling months, for summoning the courage in me to spill it all out like the gruesome and gritty disaster that my life has been, then frame it like a ruin porn photograph, like burnt up, shattered, molded and falling abandoned buildings, beautiful abandoned buildings.  But alas, that time is over, and as public things are indeed public, it is time I acknowledge that yes, you are reading, and hell, that's okay.  Also I realize this disclaimer may be alarming for a different reason to another person, the person whose kindness and work is behind all this, so i must also mention that while I've had to adjust my nonexistent social footing, the tool that was provided to me has arguably been the most helpful thing to ever grace my musical and all other things creative career.  (ThankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouCameron)  And so it has all changed in a Starbucks in Homestead a little more than a year ago, Hugabear was imitating Yinzers, I was soaking wet, and none of the patrons were amused.


"What the fuck…." I trail off, staring at the screen unsure if there's a glitch in the webpage or I've really lost my mind and am hallucinating.  [C] looks up at me curiously from across the table, making a questioning expression and lowering his own laptop screen a little bit.  
"You're netbook acting up again?" He asks finally.  
"No, well…. I think its okay."  I say, shaking my head no, sending a spray of little droplets on the floor and chairs around me.  "I don't know."  
He gives me that same questioning expression again, than leans forward very seriously.  "You just realized," He starts slowly, in barely a whisper so that I have to lean forward too. "That you may have stuck your head in a fountain."
"Aww fuck you!" I say a little too loud and flick some water at him from off the front of my t-shirt, much to the dismay of the patrons around us.  He grins at one of them and I start giggling into my coffee cup.  
"Now deez jag offs," he says in a loud mock Pittsburguese dialect that sends my muffled giggle fit quickly spiraling out of control, "think its perfectly fi-ine, ta climb in dis 'ere fountain, then wa-alk in Starr-bucks, and use the internets.  Yinz ought, get back, on der own side of the river."  Some well dressed yuppie type looks at us and grunts, which makes my ill concealed laughter turn into snorting, which then sends [C] off too.  
To be fair it must have been quite the sight for everyone in Homestead Starbucks that early summer day: A red headed bearish looking dude and a tiny drenched girl, both wearing clothes that screamed homeless, smelling like beer and goat piss and laughing hysterically like children with, contrastingly, fairly expensive laptops in front of them in the back corner of Starbucks.  It took us a full minute to calm down before I even remembered what I wanted to point out to him.   
"Oh yeah!" I gasp breathlessly, excitedly pointing at my laptop screen again.
"Lemme guess, you forgot the keys again?"
"No…" I start to say and catch him grinning, realizing he's making fun of me and it went over my head again." Stop it!" I almost yell trying to look mad between residual giggles. "Your gonna make me forget again."
"Okay," He says seriously, "Let me see."  I jump up and turn my laptop around to him.
"It looks fine." He says, obviously confused.  I shake my head again, sending out another small shower on everything around us and point to the Page Views number on the screen.  "Huh." He says and sits back.  "Think its a glitch?"
"I don't know." I say quietly.  "But there's no reason for it to jump up like that.  Nobody knows about it."
He nods his head and refreshes the page.  When the number is the same he shuts down Internet Explorer then runs it again.  I put my password back in and bring us back to the page, this time the number is one higher.
"You pay for an ad or something lately?"
I laugh, "Definitely not."
"How many's normal?"
"Bout 10 to 20."
"Huh." he says again then shrugs his shoulder.  "over a hundred yesterday."
"What???  No." I stare at the screen incredulously.  There were even more yesterday.
"You check your email?"
"No!" I say, surprised I hadn't thought of it and whip the computer back around towards me.  [C] shakes his head and laughs, then goes back to what he was doing earlier.  About a minute later I'm flailing my arms for his attention again.  
"Got an email did ya?"  
"Oh my god dude, check this out." I say and spin the laptop back to him.  He reads it through then nods his head.
"You were talking about making a website, weren't you?"
"Yeah, I bought but I couldn't figure out how to program it with this fucking thing." I say, gesturing disgustedly at my netbook. 
"Oh yeah," he says laughing.  "I can't believe that wasn't taken." 
"This one too."
"Yeah." I say, then smile proudly.  "Pretty red cars…."
"Sell off the photographs?"  He asks.
"That was the original plan." I say, then re-read the email.  "Looks like he's got everything put together here though…  Says he likes my music, I didn't think I had any recordings."
[C] shrugs, "There was the Occupy jam with Dublin."
"They posted that?"
"I think so." He says, then starts looking it up.
"And my writing…" I say, reading the email once again. "But my blog used to be linked to my photos, before everyone started instagramming.  Maybe it still is…"
"Yeah they posted it." He says without looking up.  "You know you could just go on the page and check it out for yourself."
My eyes go wide and I shake my finger at him slowly making what I think is my "Ah-ha!" face and gesture, but judging by his varying reactions I'm probably always pretty far off the mark.  We don't talk about these things.  He smirks and we both set to tapping away again.
"Ha!" he suddenly yells and spins his laptop towards me.  "I saw your own website before you did."
"No fair my laptop sucks!" I complain while it slowly loads on my own screen.  But there it is in front of me on his.  My pictures in a neat little banner scrolling across the top, and an old profile blurb I wrote from somewhere.  Some videos of drunken jam nights with Don Carpenter.  My pictures all put together and up for sale.  Then my fledgling blog on the far right, ready for the world to listen.  
"Ha!!" I chime proudly, echoing [C] and smacking the table.  A few people look up startled then try to ignore us again.  I laugh through my grin and dance in my seat, clicking on all the links. "I got a webbbbb site!  Fuck yeeaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!"  I announce to all of Starbucks.  Im sure they thought it was porn.


I woke up to pain.  I couldn't tell what kind of pain at first, all I knew was it was pain as my eyes blearily opened to the small room with the falling sideboard in the back of the shack.  The pain was moving.  It was moving really fast, burning up my leg.  Then suddenly there was a tug on my left hand and…  Im being attacked!
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!" I screamed.  "Ya-ya!  FUCK!"  I kicked off the blanket and scrambled to the back of the bed, a giant white cockatoo chasing after me across the blankets.
"What the fuck??" Crystal groaned beside me, then suddenly became alert when she saw Ya-ya in the bed.  "God damn it Ya-ya!"  She reached for the bird then pulled away when Ya-ya's beak snapped at her too.  "Rick!"  She yelled, but he was already stumbling into the room and snatched up Ya-ya in one quick motion.  "Sorry girls." He muttered groggily.  He held her under his arm for a second while he stared at the two of us, obviously confused, then shrugged and left the room, quietly reprimanding the large cockatoo under his arm on his way out.  Its only then that I noticed both me and Crystal were in bikinis and everything was covered in shaving cream.
"What the fuck did we do?" I asked, slumping back down into the blankets.
"I think we thought we were going surfing…" She said and lied back down too.
"Oh." I said, still not remembering.
"And peppermint schnaps."
"What?" I asked.
"Oh yeah… you'd never had it before.  The minty stuff."
"Ohhhh," I said remembering music and a clear shot in my hand.  Lots of clear shots in my hands.   "I liked that stuff."
"Yeah you did." She giggled, then frowned and rubbed her head.  
"Shaving cream?"
"Those surfers." She explained.
"Oh…." I moaned dismally, everything coming back in a flash.   Last call, getting frisky with some tall dude, hopping fences, faking an accent, barefoot in the gravel.  Why the fuck were we behind the house?  
"Eh, might as well have lived it up.  You can't go back." Crystal said, pulling me back to the room again, that had slowly begun to spin.
"Huh?" I said, alarmed.  I didn't remember getting into any serious trouble.
"Your passport, they knew you fudged it….  I told you not to do that!"
"Aw fuck." I mumbled and pulled the pillow over my head.  "I can't get a new one for three more years."
I was just starting to wallow in my self pity and regret when Ricks voice suddenly boomed through the wall, breaking my thoughts.  Crystal winced.  
"Violet!" I heard from the other room.
"Huh?" I yelled painfully, wondering how bad it was that while the morning was admittedly a crazier one, it was all perfectly normal to me.  
"We gotta be at the booth in half an hour!"
"Seriously!" He yelled. "And don't give me no - I'm hungover - shit.  We're pirates."
"Okay!" I yelled again, exasperated.  Then rolled off the mattress and onto the floor with a dramatic thunk.  
"See ya on the beach." Cyrstal yawned and pulled the rest of the blankets around herself.
I rubbed my face with one hand then dragged my feet over to my hat and plucked it off the ground.  "Bean-bean" I said softly as my little kitten strutted in the room with a stretch and rubbed against my leg.  "Whuz up my do?"
I shook the shaving cream off my hat and re-shaped the wire edges and my long white feather, after carefully inspecting its plume for left over shaving cream flecks.  Then I adjusted it on my head and stretched a long, exaggerated stretch before setting out to find my boots and sword.  Within a few minutes I was dressed and had my corset laced up enough that I was ready for Rick to cinch me in.  Lastly I tended to Sabina, and fitted on her tiny black and sequined harness before scooping her up onto my shoulder and lazily leaning against Rick's doorless door frame.  I watched him hang a chain from his nose ring and straighten out his boots before he motioned for me to turn around so he could lace my corset shut and hand me a beer, the mid morning sun poured through the window, forever burning it into my memory.
"Show-time kid."
I was 19.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lawyer Wonderful and The Killer Kid

I like to look at everything in the office (inspect it like a child with an ant between her forefinger and thumb) the x-rated Chinese porcelain statues, the authentic scrimshaw, jeweled clocks and 12 foot fishing pole.  I put my nose right up to them, those mysterious objects (the marble arab with a bronze turban, law books, metal figurine of satan fingering an angel, stuffed talking shark bean bag), and look at them this way, then that way, every chip of paint and speck of dust, just to make sure they're just the way I left them every year before.  I never touch them, they are sacred in some way that I cannot describe.  I just look, with my nose millimeters away, close enough for my eye lashes to brush aside those specks of dust, if i was not careful, which I always am.  I just look, and only when Lawyer Wonderful has stepped away, he has never caught me inspecting such sacred things.  The photographs of his teeny bopper girlfriends in 1960 something, he's told me a million times, his wives, Toughy and The Ayatolla, all those fish, he holds them proudly next to Hattian men in far away lands.  I look once a week, sometimes twice if I'm lucky and there's extra work to be done.  I make my rounds of them all, slowly, carefully, methodically, marking each like a clerk taking inventory, then I listen for the latch across the hall, footsteps in the hallway, and scurry to my little orange chair with a towel across the back and old newspaper clipping about coast guard murders and the dangers of cigarettes no doubt, he left them there for me years ago.  My fingers fly across the key board, ten little birds skillfully pecking away.  I don't need to use the mouse any more.
"Killer kid?!"
Ctrl+P, click-click-whirr-whiz.
"I was waiting for you." I say. The pages float to the desk in front of him. He picks them up, absently adjusts the old foam visor, a teal blue that has faded with his hair along the years so that I imagine them akin in my memories, aging together.  Lawyer Wonderful and his teal blue tennis cap.  Neither exists separately to me.  After a pause he puts a pencil down and makes a mark, asks me what word I think is better, debates what we are really trying to convey to the client here.  Then, sometimes immediately, sometimes after some time he sits back.  Something we have wrote calls for a memory and he pulls out a page from somewhere in his mind.
"Killer kid," he says, and points out the window, "Certainly you know about Hell's Gate?"  I shake my head no.  "The Busking Sailor, someday she say's I''l sail around the world and she doesn't know Hell's Gate!  Well let me tell you, Oye-ya-ho-hoo, those currents…" I grin, he's told me a million times.  More million times than the teeny bopper girlfriends in Brooklyn, more million times than the scrimshaw collection and history of the musket in the corner by the fishing pole.  More than the story about how they took the door frame off to get the globe inside thats an exact (exact!) same model as the one in the presidential office in the white house.  More than the stories about Rabbi Goor, Cousin Dan and the adventures of Zeze and Bolivar.  But really if you count them they're all the same.  All one story, blended and weaved into one.  Our own secret mythology in the office.  Lawyer Wonderful is king and I his dutiful scribe, Killer kid.
"Alright!" he finally says, scooping my paper back up again.  Whether were still on the currents of Hell's Gate or migrated to a debate over using heretofore twice versus following once, doesn't matter anymore.
"I'm ready." I say with the same comfortable grin, like well worn jeans, favorite sheets.  He tosses the pages back, they float just as when I floated them to him, I scoop them with the same sweep of my arm.  I catch the old printer with my hip on the way to my computer room and clumsily catch it before it falls, this happens three times a night.
"Oh no!" he says, "She's destroying the office again!"  I laugh while walking away, settle in that orange chair, then let my fingers fly like ten little pecking birds again.
It's gonna be a long night.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I slam my head into the boom with a loud resonating thunk and immediately begin to laugh.
“Oh…” says [GM] painfully, knowing the throbbing feeling exploding through my temples all too well. “Oh no.”
“Missed doing that.” I say through clenched teeth, gingerly rubbing my forehead.  I surprise myself to find I’m telling the truth.
“Welcome to The Sheerwater.” I hear him say with a laugh but I’ve already ducked into the dog house and am making my way towards the fo'c'sl to find some scotch bright and a rag.  I smile at the words, they seem to echo through me, filling a place in my heart with comfort and light that I thought just months ago was lost forever.  Welcome, yes.  Welcome back to this life I missed so dearly.  Welcome back to a natural state of my existence I shudder to think I strayed so far from for so long.  I feel alive, so alive, and whole, for the first time since… since when? I wonder to myself while I rummage through the clutter of maintenance tools that line the shelves in the foremost cabin.  Since I drove away from the beautiful  home of the [G] family in Indiana, blinking back the tears as I laid my hand on an empty passenger seat?  Since I lost Sabina and Occupig and the goat and Charlie, my belongings and home and everything else in Braddock?  Since Dylan sent me the photographs of my smashed childhood guitar and few precious belongings left behind in California?  Since the last time I sailed my dear Sparrow with my father?  Not then, I was certainly still broken then, even with the wind in my hair, and salt water on my sun kissed skin.  But maybe that summer, before that unspeakable thing was done to me and, though I was angry and wild and hurt even then too, I was working in the yards and felt perhaps this same contentedness.  Maybe a little before that too, when those sails I described once before were my only solace in the broken home hurricane I was bravely navigating through, a half starved teenager new to Queens finding comfort in the sea.  I find the scotch bright and rags, and push those thoughts away. 
“No, no.” I whisper to myself. “I don’t know that girl.  I don’t her.” Then look up suddenly, my cheeks flushed, embarrassed and horrified I whispered allowed, and glance up through the hatch and then towards the bulkhead to make sure no one was close enough to hear.  No one is near.  This time I silently thank my lucky stars and climb up on the shelves, brace my back against the hatch then push myself upwards to the deck, sunlight spilling out across my face, washing me in comfort and wholeness and joy again.  A seagull cries, halyards snap against the mast high above me, muffled shouts echo from our sister ship to port, the constant rattle of glass bottles in the recycling facility on shore carries through the wind like a melody, waves lap like rhythm and laughter.  [GM] is busy with a vacuum amidships.  Both my captains are busy aft, messing with the motor I think.  [GM] sees me and calls out.
“Ready?” He asks.  I grin and walk over, trying my best to keep my cool and not skip and twirl with glee like the urge bubbling up inside me begs.  I kneel down next to him on the deck, holding up my secondhand jeans with one hand, and present my findings from the cabin.  “Okay, now you go like this…” He says, and folds the rag against the mouth of a tin can, then flips it upside down.  The smell of turpentine explodes into the air, billowing up around us with the wind.  I breath in deep, soaking in the familiar smell, my favorite smell since I was a little girl, the smell that meant, I’m safe, I’m home, the only home I’ve ever known, and close my eyes for a second while he speaks, then take the rag and begin the long sweeping movements of wiping down the rail.  My arms ache from all the work, my fingers burn with raw blisters, the sun beats down on the small of my back where my t-shirt won’t stop riding up, the wind is too cool to be comfortable, and my head still throbs from colliding with the boom.  And god do I feel great.