Virginia Woolf

Admitting Defeat

Checkmate (The Prisoner)

Checkmate (The Prisoner) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s true, much as I hate to admit it, I’m never going to be King.  Not Virginia Woolf, not Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Not even a princess.  And really, that’s just fine. A quiet life is appealing.  But a silent one?


When I first began thinking of putting a blog together, my original idea was to have a collaborative blog, women of somewhat varying ages and perspectives, focusing on the differences between what we thought our adult lives would be, and what they are.  That idea never got beyond early planning stages, and eventually I started Mrs Fringe.

But due to some recent happenings in the lives of friends, and the never ending brain crunching non-happenings in my own life, I’m thinking about those early ideas again.  Specifically, the life I’m living and the Grand Canyon that separates it from the life I thought I would have.  While I won’t deny I have a vivid imagination, not all of my scenarios involved a crown and scepter. I never actually thought I would become rich, never thought I would live in a  palace, never thought I would lie on a bed of thornless roses.  Of course, I’m allergic to roses, so that one might not be fair.

Rose & Crown

Rose & Crown (Photo credit: Sam Howzit)

But I also never imagined having to worry quite this much about finances, when I’m not living a life of extravagance.  I never imagined not having a little area for myself for writing (I think I weaned on A Room of One’s Own).  I never imagined I’d be living a life at 40,000 years old where I would never, ever, ever have a day off.  I never imagined I would be trapped in New York, between finances and familial obligations.

I never imagined a family of five where each of the five would have such totally, completely separate needs.  I know, we’re all individuals.  I value that fact, Husband and I were never the type of couple that were on the phone 58 times a day when we weren’t together, I’ve tried to raise my children to value their individuality.  But I didn’t think, in the twenty first century, with all the societal and personal awareness, that I would lose my own self in the process.  Sheesh, I feel like a damned ’70’s cliche just re-reading that sentence.  Should I go find myself?  In a consciousness raising group sitting on someone’s shag carpet, drinking dandelion wine.

So now what?  I write, and that’s good for me.  It feels good, and part of me still believes–or at least wants to believe– there’s hope of publication at some point.    But I can’t live inside my head all the time.  It isn’t productive for any of my roles, and frankly, it isn’t all that fun.  I’ve thought about drinking more regularly, but I’m not very good at it.  One drink and I’m buzzed, in between one and two and I’m looped, useless;  a full two and it’s get-out-of-my-way-I-need-my-bed!

I’m a grown up.  I have a family, I have obligations, I have a budget.  There is no magic answer, magic solution.  But there has to be a way to make something better, at least try.

Virginia Woolf said, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”  Is it still true? I don’t think silent lives are truly silent, they’re sirens and songs no one hears.

"Who's Afraid fo Virginia Woolf?". 1966

“Who’s Afraid fo Virginia Woolf?”. 1966 (Photo credit: thefoxling)

Mrs Fringe is a Dirty Stay Out

English: Natalie in Fur Cape (ca. 1905) - A po...

English: Natalie in Fur Cape (ca. 1905) – A portrait of the writer and salonist Natalie Clifford Barney. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s true, I left my apartment at 5:15 yesterday afternoon, dropped Flower Child off at Mother In Law’s apartment, clip clopped to the train station in a kick ass pair of boots, and didn’t get back home until 9:30.  I was invited to a reading at a lit bar down in the East Village, very cool. Even had a gin and tonic. Look Ma– it’s me, Virginia Woolf!

The East Village is definitely outside of my usual zone these days.  The only time I have reason to find myself there is to go with Nerd Child and his guitars to the super secret, super cool luthier off of Avenue A.

Mom's Tattoo Heart

Mom’s Tattoo Heart (Photo credit: Smeerch)

I was going to take a picture of one of the piercing/tattoo parlors and text it to Man Child, asking his opinion of whether or not I should get a new tattoo while I was in the neighborhood, but alas, coming out of the train station I turned the wrong way, went East when I should have gone West, and had no time to play.  You could blame my advancing age for the misdirection, but instead, I’ll blame the annoying train ride.

The subway was unexpectedly packed for early evening on a Saturday.  Maybe due to the recent cab fare hike. So there I was, smashed onto the 2 train, making my way downtown. The other passengers were a typical New York mix; young, old, all ethnicities, styles of dress, and of course, aromas.  A particularly ripe group of young men were squooshed right next to me, looking like they were coming from a soccer game.  Or basketball. Or polo, or something.  Mrs Fringe doesn’t follow athletics, couldn’t tell the difference between golf shoes and football sneakers if there was a publishing contract on the line.

I don’t mind riding the trains, you could say I like the subway.  Sure it’s dirty and stinky, but I don’t have to drive, don’t have to think about parking, and the cost is reasonable.  It’s also an excellent time to read or people watch, two of my favorite pastimes. New Yorkers are a skilled, creative lot.  We know how to maintain boundaries and anonymity, even when jammed in nose to armpit. Usually.

I honestly wanted to slap each one of that group of young athletes upside their collective heads.  If I had to guess, I’d say they’re young Wall Streeters, probably still in the operations departments, putting in their year or three of work experience before going back to school for their graduate degrees. One was holding a neon green bottle of what I assume was an electrolyte drink, to prepare his body for an evening of heavy drinking and peacockery. Unscrewing the cap, he fumbled it into the lap of a man sitting in front of me, not with their group.  Glad I don’t have any money on his team. Another kept his backpack on, very rude on a crowded subway car, packed full of shit with yet another pair of sneakers coming out the front pocket, poking me in the chest.  WTF?  Personal space, guys. But the prince of this crew of entitled young shits, well, he was extra special.

He kept jamming his hands down the front of his nylon shorts. Adjusting himself? Fondling himself?  Checking that his dangly bits were really his and still attached?  I’m old enough that I could be the mother of any of these kids, but I’m not their mother. As such, I didn’t find his self exploration to be endearing, cute, or thrilling.  I think he got the wrong message back in preschool, when admonished to keep his hands to himself. And their conversation, the verbal equivalent of his masturbatory display.  My end of the train car got to hear all about his sexual exploits; who he banged when and where, which one of his buddies texted the results to the rest of their crew and everyone else on their contact list, and their tag line after each story, “Did you shower?”  Maybe that’s a script reference I’m unfamiliar with, maybe it references an incident from their dorm days. I could barely contain my excitement. Ooh baby ooh baby.

I’d say I hope they missed their stop and ended up lost in Bushwick, but that would be uncharitable. And I think that’s become yet another hipster neighborhood.