A Table with a Handle

A friend of mine left town in a hurry. She shed her possessions like a snake sheds, you know, its skin.

She called to say that what she couldn’t sell over the weekend through Craigslist, the rest she would give to a local thrift store. She asked me to come over to her place to see if I wanted anything.

Now, that could be the start of a Raymond Chandler novel. (Thank goodness my life isn’t a Raymond Chandler novel.)

I drove Uptown and greeted her at her door. She was nervously excited to be cutting free and moving on. The first things I saw were the only things I wanted: a naive oak coat rack and a circular table that raises and lowers with a crank-driven rack gear. I’m writing this on that table.

I paid her a fair price and loaded my car with my coat rack and the table with a crank handle and rack gear. Two days later, I took her to the airport where she started to cry when she told me how lucky I was to have what I have. I didn’t understand immediately what she meant. She was at the curb with a suitcase and a framed piece of art in a computer monitor box. We talked things through and I offered her all the sincere encouragement I could without bullshitting her. 

I learned a long time ago that there are two things you don’t offer a crying person. You don’t offer tissues because that stops the crying at the time when the tears clearly need to flow. (Many people are afraid of crying ugly. Tough shit. Cry it out and let the snot fly, that’s what I say. Hide the Kleenex box.) And you don’t offer lies. Hurt is already on the table; don’t try to brush it off with lies for my own comfort.

She felt better, at least more in control, after a few minutes. We said goodbye. I waved as she entered the airport and I climbed back into my car. I had to spend a few minutes considering what it was that I had presented about me that brought out her regrets and sadness.

During the drive to the airport, she had asked me what was going on in my life, so I told her about a woman I met over the summer. I told her about my wonderful summer and how this woman was now on the opposite side of the planet. (The woman had things to do that took her far away; the distance was impossible. I had fallen hard for the woman. So, this was when I had to pick myself up.) Yet I smiled when I spoke of her, and I always will. I love her, after all, and love is a beautiful thing, baby.

I’m a grateful person. I’m a lucky person and I know it. I also don’t allow myself to be trapped by adversity. This is not a simple thing to achieve. Don’t take this to mean that I don’t get down. Hell, over the last year, the time when I should have felt the happiest is when I was deepest in the well. Yet, I did recover. I floated to the surface just in time to gulp in the best breath of all, the one that reminded me to be a grateful person.

[I have left a lot unwritten, unshared. That’s my business.Ten people are going to read this. If you have questions, call me and I will fill in the blanks.]

I live in New Orleans. (For most of my life, I never thought I’d ever be able to say that.) I’m learning to listen better and speak less. I’m learning to recognize the delightful hallucinations that dance across the railroad tracks here, the tracks that separate the near past from the almost present.

Some who don’t “get” New Orleans complain that we live in the past here. (They complain about a lot of things, actually.) That’s a tone deaf argument. Speaking only for myself, and not as one of the self-appointed arbiters of what New Orleans “means” (barf), there is a direct link between yesterday and today here. And tomorrow is a continuation of that flow.

We dance in the streets as a matter of civic duty. Not because we are drunk but because we know better.

For me, that’s the start and end of my case. 

This is where I stop writing.

Up in the sky tonight, a fat moon reminds those of us who are paying attention that we are on a rock spinning through a sort of empty space. How fortunate are we that another rock hangs up in the sky to give us back some of the light the sun takes away like a petulant lover?

If I were scoring this piece, a banjo would be plucked about now, by a gentle hand. 

2 notes

theparisreview:

“The task of living within our bodies, even more than the fear of leaving the body in death, may be our greatest human predicament.”
An interview with Richard Rodriguez.

theparisreview:

“The task of living within our bodies, even more than the fear of leaving the body in death, may be our greatest human predicament.”

An interview with Richard Rodriguez.

153 notes

theparisreview:

Before he made his second “appearance” on The Simpsons in 2004, Thomas Pynchon made a few edits to the teleplay—he crossed out a pejorative line of dialogue about Homer’s ample posterior. “Homer is my role model,” he wrote in the margins, “and I won’t speak ill of him.”
For more of this morning’s roundup, click here.

"Homer is my role model"

theparisreview:

Before he made his second “appearance” on The Simpsons in 2004, Thomas Pynchon made a few edits to the teleplay—he crossed out a pejorative line of dialogue about Homer’s ample posterior. “Homer is my role model,” he wrote in the margins, “and I won’t speak ill of him.”

For more of this morning’s roundup, click here.

"Homer is my role model"

284 notes

starsinjenseyes:

fuckyeahvintage-retro:

Louise Brooks, 1920s

One year I was Louise Brooks for Halloween. I loved it.

Yes. Her.

starsinjenseyes:

fuckyeahvintage-retro:

Louise Brooks, 1920s

One year I was Louise Brooks for Halloween. I loved it.

Yes. Her.

1,028 notes

'Uncle' Lionel Batiste gets sendoff as unique as the man himself | NOLA.com

From 2012. Extreme embalming indeed.

0 notes

theparisreview:

“It’s a really nice way to say, ‘The party’s over.’”
Sadie Stein on New Orleans socialite Mickey Easterling and the practice of “extreme embalming.”

Uncle Lionel did it better.

theparisreview:

“It’s a really nice way to say, ‘The party’s over.’”

Sadie Stein on New Orleans socialite Mickey Easterling and the practice of “extreme embalming.”

Uncle Lionel did it better.

132 notes

theparisreview:

“[Shakespeare’s plays] survived as art only because they first excelled as entertainment.”
John Paul Rollert on reclaiming the Bard for the common man.

theparisreview:

“[Shakespeare’s plays] survived as art only because they first excelled as entertainment.”

John Paul Rollert on reclaiming the Bard for the common man.

321 notes

I want to start writing again

I want to start writing again. I exiled my pen a while back when every word seemed dipped in arsenic, saccharine, or tar. (I am notorious for being tough on myself. Hey, at least I have notoriety for something.)

I think the main issue was I was heartbroken and worn and everything I wrote seemed designed by my unconscious to chain me to that sad rock of a heart like Prometheus was to his.

Yeah, fuck that.

I am in a rebuilding phase. In old school terms, I’m rehabbing a decrepit structure. In new school terms, I’m rewriting my code. It started with the rehab of my leg, broken in a Vespa accident. It continues with the rehab of my soul, something I have neglected for a bit too long.

There is a house up the street that has been stripped to the frame. The roof is intact (as intact as a roof on a house like that can be) but the rest of the house is bones. I love that house. It is my metaphor. 

One of my goals is to rebuild my body into something different than the body I have used for decades. The accident last July has made that possible in that I lost so much muscle tone from laying about in a cast that I have the option to restructure my leg muscles. In a sense, I am hacking my old body and crafting something new. 

These changes are very slight and I might be the only person to notice them, but I am seeing differences. I’ll never be muscle-bound. I would hate that, especially after years of learning to accept my lithe cheetah body. What I will be is what I make of myself, literally, corporeally.

From all the running I am doing, I now have a butt. I discovered this yesterday. That might seem a small thing to a stranger (and it is a small butt) but it’s a butt I never had before. When one reaches a certain age, the last thing one expects is to have the option, capacity, and will to reshape the body. Therefore, seeing changes like the ones I have been attempting is kind of cool. My thighs are growing ever so slightly. Again, kind of cool. I never experienced proper thighs of my own before. 

It’s 5:00 and I haven’t been able to sleep well from last night to this early morning and I feel self-consciously like a 16-yr-old going through puberty and blogging about it. I bloomed late. To battle the self-judgment, I will leave me a memory.

I had dinner with a pal last night at a new restaurant in the Garden District. Seed opened very recently and serves delicious fare, veggie and raw, and we had a great time. I walked her back to her house in the LGD after a long and lovely meal and we experienced the night blooming jasmine in all of its charm. A few times I buried my face in a bush to take in as much of the scent as I could.

That’s how I live my life. Find what I love. Dive in. Share it. I’ll start writing again. I have a play that needs to get down on paper. I have a novel to write. However, I’ll stay away from poetry. I know too many great poets. They have it covered.

0 notes

Blue Moon for the Crescent City
You can’t hide all night. Like the skinny rat who slinks into clubs on Frenchmen Street, eventually, you will draw attention to your hide&seek glow in the dark of a city without power soul shell.
Excuse me. Neal Cassady wants his beat back. A stack of flapjack Kerouac drifts into a silent harbor. This moon, your blue moon, is less rare than the storm that troubled this city, cradled by that silty river with all those repeating consonants.
Miss. Do you know what it means to Miss. New Orleans. Miss. Ms.
There are no women beat poets whom we “remember.” Every system, every regime, fails. Ginsberg sang of Diane di Prima. One in a million who know Jack have ever heard a whisper of di Prima.
That candle that burns, there, fights to stay lit against winds from the old quarter, this candle Diane, la luna, the not-so-rare blue moon, a song, a rhapsodic nostalgic heart-tipped spear tossed blindly into this near-dark New Orleans night stabs a live oak in the neutral ground between then and never.


[Written in response to Hurricane Isaac, the first hurricane I ever experienced. I was three months new to living in NOLA.]

Blue Moon for the Crescent City

You can’t hide all night. Like the skinny rat who slinks into clubs on Frenchmen Street, eventually, you will draw attention to your hide&seek glow in the dark of a city without power soul shell.

Excuse me. Neal Cassady wants his beat back. A stack of flapjack Kerouac drifts into a silent harbor. This moon, your blue moon, is less rare than the storm that troubled this city, cradled by that silty river with all those repeating consonants.

Miss. Do you know what it means to Miss. New Orleans. Miss. Ms.

There are no women beat poets whom we “remember.” Every system, every regime, fails. Ginsberg sang of Diane di Prima. One in a million who know Jack have ever heard a whisper of di Prima.

That candle that burns, there, fights to stay lit against winds from the old quarter, this candle Diane, la luna, the not-so-rare blue moon, a song, a rhapsodic nostalgic heart-tipped spear tossed blindly into this near-dark New Orleans night stabs a live oak in the neutral ground between then and never.

[Written in response to Hurricane Isaac, the first hurricane I ever experienced. I was three months new to living in NOLA.]

2 notes

My greasy fingers stained a page of poetry. 

This poetry, flame-tempered and heart-hardened, branded me. 

We both bear marks from our tango.

My greasy fingers stained a page of poetry.

This poetry, flame-tempered and heart-hardened, branded me.

We both bear marks from our tango.

0 notes