Month: April 2015

Logic Need Not Apply



Don’t judge, I haven’t been able to wash the floors.

This morning, after I took Art Child to school I walked over to the grocery store.  It’s a nice day, not too far from the school, and I am healing, so I figured I should be productive.  The plan was to do this yesterday, but I was shot after physical therapy. Total win–it wasn’t crowded, I got my shopping done without falling, most people are courteous and give the lady with a cane room to maneuver.  Sure, a couple knocked into me, but I think that’s the general invisibility of middle aged with no make-up. I stuck to budget and kept in mind things that would be quick and easy to prepare.

If only I had paid attention to the weight of things I was purchasing.  Or the broken elevator (it’s Manhattan, square footage tends to be vertical instead of horizontal, larger grocery stores are broken into two floors).  I intended to take a cab home.  Well worth it under any circumstances, this store is considerably less expensive than those within a few blocks of my apartment.  At this point, my pelvis/hip still can’t handle the subway stairs or the jostling of the train, so taxi it is.  Pricey but convenient.

This particular block is always difficult for hailing a cab. There are three bus stops, an express subway stop is in the middle of the street, it’s only a block away from the exit/entrance to the highway, and two major avenues cross each other and switch places.  In other words, it’s crowded, be patient. I waited. And waited. Not one empty cab went by.  Well, maybe one did one of the six times I was blocked off by buses pulling in and out.  Ten minutes.  I should have asked for help while I was in the store, I still could have gone back inside and asked. Except I was embarrassed, because an acquaintance of mine works in there, and I had just told her how well I was doing, there was no need for me to cut the line to reach the cashier ahead of others.  Hence the title of this post, no logic. Finally, a cab at the far corner.  And a woman carrying bags sprinted ahead of me while I was trying to figure out how to pick my bags back up and got to it before the light changed.  She turned towards me when she opened the door, and I saw she had a baby strapped to her chest. Fair enough, babies first.

I kept waiting.  Now I was getting irritated, thinking about how much I just want to be home, and I didn’t even get everything I needed at the damned store.  And watching cabs with lit numbers (means they’re empty) go past on the opposite side of the avenue–the direction I actually needed to be headed.   Between the general weight of the bags, and the fact that I didn’t pay attention to how they were packed, there was no freaking way I’d make it all the way across the street.   I know, sounds crazy, but I’m broken and this is a really, really wide street.  I considered calling Fatigue and asking him to come help me, but I figured even if he didn’t have a dogwalk scheduled, there was no way he’d reach me before a cab came.  I should have called.

By the time another fifteen minutes passed,  I had gone well beyond my physical limits for the day, and was ready to start sniveling.  Then, could it be? Yes! Stopped at the light across the street but on the side of the avenue I was on, was an empty cab.  My spine crackled with the thought of a seat, not to mention needing to lift the bags again.  And then he changed lanes, to turn away from me.  Fringelings, I seriously imagined throwing my kale at that cab.

Pretty dumb, huh?  But that’s what went through my overactive imagination.  No, I didn’t throw my vegetables, and don’t believe I would. Then I thought about how many people with brown skin have empty taxis pass them by on a regular basis.  One small thing, but it’s a symptom, and that one small thing might not feel so small if it happened all the time. And I thought about the many comments I’m seeing on my Facebook feed, declaring a complete lack of understanding for why so many in poor Black communities are so frustrated during protests that some will riot. Anyone can have the type of accident I had, it happens all the time, no matter what socioeconomic status.  I’m not able to walk any dogs right now, and I cringe thinking of the bill from the orthopedist, but I was able to say I’ll skip the salt and vinegar chips, buy the store brand yogurt, and thereby pay for a cab to get groceries home. I became irate from being inconvenienced. Once. This moment, this nuisance of waiting an unusually long time for a taxi?  This is privilege.

For the record, I gave it one more shot and waved my cane–the cab driver who had changed lanes? He changed back and picked me up.

Cost of a Nickel


Here we are. Again.  I debated whether or not to post about the current protests in Baltimore in response to the death of Freddie Gray.  It’s all over the news and social media, lots of people with a better grasp of the nuances than I are already covering it.  It’s exhausting, it’s embarrassing, and it’s too important to ignore.

Once again, we are consumed with the death of a young Black man who died while in police custody.  This is not new.  I’d say we’re drowning in it, but we aren’t–and we should be.  Mr. Gray saw the police cruising by, reportedly made eye contact, and he ran.  He was arrested, dragged into the back of a police vehicle, and then while handcuffed, in between the arrest and arriving at the police station–some 45 minutes later– somehow his spine was broken and he was paralyzed, a week after that he was dead from those injuries.

It’s known as a “nickel ride,” when handcuffed suspects in custody are thrown into the back of a police van, not secured/seatbelted (itself against the law), and then the vehicle is driven in a particularly rough manner, so the person is thrown around with no way to brace themselves.  We know this isn’t new because of the name for it, a reference to when a ride on a creaky wooden roller coaster was five cents.  To ride the Cyclone in Coney Island now costs $9.00.  When the Cyclone opened in 1927, a ride cost twenty-five cents.  So yeah, not new.

The news and social media is currently filled with photos and video clips of rioting in Baltimore.  As telling and mysterious as Freddie Gray’s broken spinal cord is that the news wasn’t filled with photos and videos of the protests before the violence began, and isn’t filled with photos and videos of the thousands who are protesting peacefully.

This isolated incident isn’t isolated.  We, as members of a greater community that purports itself to be vested in equality–equal opportunity–need to look at why and how violence continues to erupt. Violence in these arrests from those charged with keeping the peace, and violence born from frustration with generations of inequality, lack of opportunity, and lack of response to peaceful protests.  And fear.  Lots of fear from all angles.  Judgements, proposed solutions, and decisions made from fear are never going to offer true progress and resolution. Instead of tsk tsking the anger shown in these clips and mindlessly accepting all that’s shown as all there is, we, as consumers of media, need to look more closely at what hasn’t been highlighted, what isn’t being shown.

Like most others I know, I don’t agree with or condone rioting.  I can’t help but wonder, if no one condones it, no one wants it, and we’re all filled with mourning and solidarity and the Kumbayahness of peaceful protest, how come no more than a few in the mainstream were speaking out and airing videos before there was footage of flames?

Irrelevance: Evolution on the Fringe


The other day I received an email from a friend that was so en pointe it was a bit frightening.  Why? Because she used the word I’ve been thinking (feeling?), but afraid to say out loud–or on paper,–irrelevant.  Sure, the thought has crystalized in reference to my fiction, but as important as writing has always been to my sense of me, it is only one part. I was thinking it walking dogs, thinking it more these past weeks as I’ve been unable to walk. Thinking it as I speak with my kiddos, as there are fewer issues that I can actually help them with.  (Mom, you can’t help, you never took calculus.) Thinking about it as Man Child approaches his college graduation.

Besides the obvious pride and general the world-is-waiting-for-you momstuff, I’ve also been excited about his graduation because one of my feminist heroes will be speaking, and I wondered if I might have a chance to meet her and say hello.  Then I thought, what would I actually say?  “Thank you for being brave and paving the way. Thank you for remaining active and relevant so young women can see the possibilities of who they can be.”

And if that imaginary conversation moment occurred, then what?  “Who me?  No one.”  Not the representation of possibilities, but the caricature of women of a certain age, right down to the busted pelvis from a simple slip on the ice. Irrelevant.

No, hon, I never took calculus.  In fact, when I graduated from high school, my father commented on his surprise, they didn’t think I’d do it.  He wasn’t being snide, it was just a fact. My school experiences left me at a bit of a loss dealing with my children’s school experiences.  I never wanted to make a big deal about grades, I was afraid they would interpret it to mean that was all I cared about.  Now I’m afraid they think I don’t care about their efforts. I try, and tried, to stress learning, and school as a tool for a better life. I don’t think I’ve been as successful as I hoped, but no doubt my boys are in a much better position than I was at their ages.  I want Art Child to continue finding success through her art.  I want them to have enough, to feel they are enough.  I hope none of them will feel irrelevant when they’re forty thousand years old.

No one is ever going to confuse me with Hillary Clinton or Sandra Sotomayor; Arianna Huffington or Maya Angelou. Why do I even want to meet this woman at Man Child’s graduation, when I have nothing to offer? No degrees, no pedigrees, no byline or book jacket or contract. I’m a reefer who’s never been snorkeling or scuba diving, a self-proclaimed feminist without a career. Ridiculous. Then I remembered.  This isn’t new.  Mrs Fringe, a peripheral life.  There’s a reason I don’t blog as Ms Important. I thought about my first post, almost three years ago.  My space to be me, not “just” a mom, and not “just” someone trying to get published, either. The blog has evolved, I have evolved–hell, we even got that three bedroom apartment–but I am who I am, and life is what it is.

Regardless of how much Virginia Woolf I read I don’t have a room of my own, but I now have a desk, something I didn’t think was possible a few years ago.  From it I see my beautiful reef, where I watch the interactions of all the critters, and remember how important even the simplest ones are to maintain the balance of the system as a whole.  I’m not writing the Great American Novel, calculating royalties, or reading fan mail when I sit at this desk, I work on the occasional story and post some silliness or a rant here on the blog.  Sometimes, just when I’m devolving into thoughts about my lack of success, moaning about not knowing the best way to encourage my kids, and ready to break out a tape measure to torture myself with how much I’ve sagged; I get a note from someone out there in cyberland, telling me one of my posts resonated with them, or made them laugh.  That is pretty excellent, and fucking relevant.

Turbo snail eating algae off the glass.

Turbo snail eating algae off the glass.

Cleaning the sand under the plate coral.

An unlikely pair, but the turbo and the plate coral stayed snuggled together for two days.

Pocket Full of

Heads up!

Heads up!

Not enough days have felt like it, but it is spring.  Not the prettiest one I’ve seen here in the city. With so many cold days, and then several stormy ones, quit a few trees and flowers lost their blossoms before they fully bloomed.  Still, if you look, there they are.

I love flowers.  Hokey, I know.  Spring always tempts me with the flower arrays in front of bodegas everywhere.  Tulips, hyacinths, daisies, or carnations, they all look beautiful and hopeful. Speaking of hope, it looks like at least a few of the things I planted will survive.  I know I’m not ever going to be serious about gardening because I’ve reached the point where I have to remind myself to check and water the things–as opposed to checking four times a day.  It’s exciting when the first bits of green poke through the dirt.


Now let me know when there’s something lovely to smell.

I’ve had cut flowers on my table the past several weeks.  First, Fatigue bought me a bouquet.  When those died I bought tulips and hyacinths.  The other day, I dragged Husband to the grocery store, so he could drag me up and down the aisles (yup, still limping along, not always steady). He headed straight for the olive bar and I said, ooh, look at the flowers! Maybe they have something on sale–we were at Whole Paycheck, the cut flowers are more than pricey. “Why do you buy those things? They just die.”

I know, he isn’t the only one with that philosophy.  And it is a line of thinking I usually agree with.  Flowers on the table are silly, frivolous. In general, I’m a practical old broad. But, much like the tank, it makes me smile to look over and see a burst of living color–and yes, I’ll be frank, they smell better.

Yah, yah, I can walk a couple of blocks and see this:


In front of the hospital where I’m going for PT I see this:



But having them in the house, I feel this:



I didn’t buy any flowers in the grocery store, there were none in budget.  My plan was to pick some up later on.  It didn’t happen, but that’s ok, because Fatigue came over later that evening with a bottle of wine and

Spider mums!

Spider mums!

The other day, I was wondering if I’m blogged out.  I’ve done a lot of rambling here in Fringeland, ruminating and ranting. Is it time for a hiatus?  Nope.  Good or bad, the silly short-sweet life of flowers or angst about the world we live in, I still have quite a bit to say.



Can’t See What’s Ahead

Three nights ago, unusually foggy.

Three nights ago, unusually foggy.

I grew up in Brooklyn, not far from the water.  I had a little terrace off my bedroom, where I spent as much time as possible.  Some things don’t change, heh.  I could and did stand out there and watch the fog roll inland.  Once it reached my area, you couldn’t see through it, but oh you could feel it, a curiously damp blanket you breathed in along with the smell of low tide and the sewage treatment plant, 7 blocks away. For a while, as a young adult, I lived in Washington, where fog was redefined for me.  Never in any other state have I seen fog as thick as they get in the Pacific Northwest. When I drove home from work at midnight, the highway would be at a slow crawl because you literally couldn’t see the tail lights of the car ahead of you if you were more than a foot away.

With the flash on, nothing to see but the individual droplets.

With the flash on, nothing to see but the blur of individual droplets.

Is it too melodramatic to draw a life analogy here? Probably, but I’m doing it anyway. There are certainly twists in the road that no one sees coming.  Illness, accidents, job loss, house fires, even winning the lottery.  Then there are the expected markers, the things you work to achieve–jobs, promotions, education, children, children growing up, literary contracts.  Oops, that last one doesn’t fit, does it?  Not this time, anyway.

I was careful.  Careful to always acknowledge the many factors outside of my control, the certain percentage of luck and timing in this type of endeavor.  But I believed.  Enough blind faith to face the dreaded blank page and fill it, over and over again. To submit, accept rejection is part of the process, and keep submitting.  To dissect personalized rejections and believe they meant more than a bland “no thanks” form letter.  In writing (fiction or otherwise), there’s a lot of talk of “voice”–the importance of.  I do have a clear and definite voice, as do my characters, and I’ve gotten  a lot of feedback on it.  Some love it, some hate it.  I always considered it a “win” either way. In Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino wrote. “It is not the voice that commands the story, it is the ear.”  I believe that’s true; as I’ve said many times, writing is about communication, the two way street between reader and writer.  For me it isn’t about telling a story just to tell it.  What’s written has to resonate, to where the reader feels they’ve not only learned the character’s story, but felt their own. The onus is on the writer, so maybe my it’s my ear that’s off.

For months now, I’ve been trying to work towards acceptance.  Acknowledgement and acceptance that it isn’t going to happen.  Can I just say this is fucking hard? No, I don’t have to.  But there’s a point where it feels unhealthy to stay on the same road, at the same speed, and expect the visibility to improve just because I want it to.  I don’t want it to be 40° outside at the end of April, either, but here I am wearing a turtleneck and winter coat, because otherwise I’d be freezing.

I’m hoping to come out of this fog and reach acceptance.  Then what?  I’m told I could have had quite the career as a stand-up philosopher–yanno, a bullshit artist (thank you, Mel Brooks).  I wonder where I should send those queries.

A new dimension to Friday Night Madness.

A new dimension to Friday Night Madness.

City Angles, a birthday pilgrimage

Every year around Art Child’s birthday, we head downtown to the big art supply store so she can get some new supplies.  This year I brought the camera.  Note the green metal panels over the windows in the alley shots.  I was told those were to protect the residents in case someone dropped an atom bomb on the city. Along the lines of being told to get under your desk in case during the old air raid drills.  Not that I would remember such a thing, of course.

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Since Husband drove us, and we were already downtown, heading over to the village for a slice was a given. Later shots are along the West Side Highway, headed back uptown.

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And a few more random photos taken on my way to PT.

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Happy Friday, Fringelings, have a great weekend!


Spring From the Terrace

Ubiquitous NY bloom

Ubiquitous NY bloom

Sure things get caught in the trees year round, but in the spring, there’s a ragged plastic bag for every other tree.

Between my current limited mobility and my perpetually limited budget, I decided it was time to unpack the flower pots and containers, and revive my role as (urban) Farmer Fringe.  Ok, so maybe half the pots were just sitting out on the terrace, and hadn’t actually been emptied since I last used them two years ago.  I confirmed with friends who know how to garden and my special friend Mr Google that I could reuse the old dirt, mixing in new and some food. Fertilizer.  Whatever those little pellets are called. I used my little gardening tools (no, I don’t know their names either) and attacked the old dirt to loosen and aerate the old soil, and remove the long dead plants that I certainly should have removed long ago.  I always mix up perennials and annuals, so honestly I’ve never bothered to pay attention to which category I’ve planted.  The interesting part is that in one of the pots, I could tell what had been in there (nope, don’t remember what) was the type that could grow back, because the dirt was different. Once I got below the first few inches, the soil was darker, moist, and seemed live.  Is live the right word?  I’m thinking in reefing terms, like live sand.

A couple of months ago I had purchased some flower bulbs that I found on sale.  Husband drove Art Child and I to the big box store in the Bronx so I could get fresh soil without going broke,

I may need this to be a miracle.

I may need this to be a miracle.

and some seeds.

Appropriate for this zone? I dunno.

Appropriate for this zone? I dunno.

I also found this neatogroovycool seed starting kit.

On sale, it seemed worthwhile.

On sale, it seemed worthwhile.

I know myself well enough to know I’d never remember which seed I planted it which little pod, and I surely wouldn’t recognize the sprouts, so Art Child labeled Post-It flags for each square.

Unfortunately I didn't account for the havoc the moisture would play on the ink and the glue. Going to be sprout surprise!

Unfortunately I didn’t account for the havoc the moisture would play on the ink and the glue. Going to be sprout surprise!

Nor did I account for the energy and physical effort required to get the seeds and bulbs planted–even though I did all from a chair, and spread it out over three days. One of the bulbs planted needed to soak for a few hours before being planted. By the time they were ready, I couldn’t bend at all anymore, so I waited til the next day. Wow, do those things absorb water!  The next morning, they were unrecognizable.  It’s possible I planted them upside down.

IMG_3616 IMG_3617

But look what’s happening now, a week and a half later!

Urban gardening at its finest

Urban gardening at its finest

One last photo, just because the other morning sunrise felt especially promising.

I will hold this moment in my head as I do battle with the PT exercises.

I will hold this moment in my head as I do battle with the PT exercises.