Between

Another from my (Microsoft Word) documents. Also up on Medium, for posterity.

I’m curious about the expression of being “between.” When somebody asks, “Are you working right now?” instead of saying no, we’ll say, “I’m between jobs.” It presumes there’s something waiting on the other side. It’s a way of deferring an answer, embracing the limbo.

I’d like to start saying it anytime I don’t really feel like catering to somebody’s question. I fantasize about answering “Are you seeing anybody right now?” with “I’m between boyfriends.”

People are always saying there’ll be another one coming down the line. I suppose that’s true, if you think of them as just bodies.

The “between” grants a dismissal. An I don’t feel good don’t bother me.

It’s a way of owning the space of being neither here nor there. Straddling the middle. Doing and undoing time, like Penelope looming and unlooming.

A constant qualifier of the self. Don’t tell me where I’m at, I’m implacable. How about you stand in my stead?

                                                          *

Prepositions are relational. Sometimes they draw attention to a severing:

There is nothing between you and me. (The mere mention suggesting the opposite.)

 Other times, a merging:

Between you and me heralds a secret exchange. (A call to betrayal.)

 They tell you where you’re at, figuratively:

Between a rock and a hard place. Between the devil and the deep blue sea (which is a tad melodramatic if you ask me). Go-to euphemisms for being essentially fucked.

As an actual locator, between always seems pretty vague. We’re between the lifeguard stand and the tent with a big peace sign on it, come on over!

 If you find yourself between two pieces of bread, you’re probably a sandwich.

                                                            *

Recently I googled the phrase “I’m between,” just to see. It was one of those in between times, 8:15 on a Thursday night, when the blue hour lasts indefinitely and melancholy is the only mood that feels right. I was lying on my bed, facing the open window onto my fire escape, my eyes narrowing and widening with the slow changes in light. The first hit was a classic Sesame Street number called “I’m Between.” I pressed play.

Sing-songy and set to gloomy, gypsy jazz, Jim Henson plays “Tony” a green mustached muppet singing a lament about being caught between two monsters, both played by Frank Oz. I watched it over and over again, sunk in the feeling this is a gift. What ostensibly served as a grammar lesson for little kids doubled as a moody meditation on adult malaise?

I’m between, I’m between, I feel just like a sardine. It’s not a happy thing to be.

 Of course, I’ve been known to project existential angst onto songs of my youth. I go searching for hidden triggers that are really just gags. Recently I was listening to the goofy Meters tune “They All Ask’d for you” that was basically omnipresent when I was a kid growing up in New Orleans. “I went on down to the Audubon Zoo and they all ask’d for you….the monkeys ask’d/the tigers ask’d/the elephant ask’d me too.” Mid-revelation, I texted my brother. “It’s about death! They all asked for you but you’re dead!”

“I thought it was just some stoned dudes making up words,” he wrote back.

He’s the middle child in the family. I was born the youngest, but I feel like a middle child of life.

It’s far easier being green, than being between.

                                                             *

Most of us, at any given time, are somewhere between our worst and best selves. Me myself and mediocre I.

 I’m between, like a string bean, it’s the saddest thing that I have ever seen.

 I’m not so much alive as I am between being born and dying. Country-western tune?

Who am I?

Actually, I’m between selves.

(You said you weren’t in the right headspace.

I told my therapist you were a placeholder.

“Holding space” is a thing I’ve heard but I don’t know what it means.)

My dog always sleeps between me and ____ in the bed. It’s sweet at first and then I think they come to resent it.

                                                *

I sent the video to a friend:

There’s a monster on my left side, a monster on my right side, they’re there from early morning to very late at night.

“Oh no, who are your monsters?!” she wrote back.

                                                *

The way I’ve been feeling lately, I’d like to go wandering. Bottle me up and drop me overboard. If you need me, I’ll be between shores.

I’ll say, I’m not unmoored, I’m between docks.

 I’m not unreachable, I’m just between phones.

I’m not not smiling, I’m between facials expressions.

I’m not not talking, I’m just between statements.

I’m not angry or happy or sad or whatever, I’m between emotions.

                                                *

If you ask me where I am,

I’ll say, I’m between leaving and arriving. But I’ll be there soon.

Negging Mad Libs

You’re really ____ (adj) for a ______(adj) girl.  

I would totally date you if it weren’t for your_____ (noun).

Lemme guess, you’re a ______(noun).

Awww, it’s so cute that you know how to _____ (verb).

I think you’re really _______, (adj) but I’m not attracted to girls who _____(verb). 

You’re lucky you’re pretty with that _____ (noun). 

 

An Ode to Uncle Willie's Frozen Whiskey Coffee (from Skinny Dennis and Rocka Rolla)

So in love with this drink I wrote it a poem, up on Medium, and posted below. Is it too much to ask that Skinny Dennis and Rocka Rolla print it out and frame it on their walls?!  

 

 

There’s a heat advisory in NYC today but I’m not afraid,
Willie, you make me brave.

I’m powered on your icy bits
liquid cold drip through my veins

It’s not brain freeze,
it’s a toothache
cuz I think you’re sweet

I’d hook up to an IV of you
and just pump
I’d fill my car and it would ride better than fine
on your gasoline dream.

Swirling coffee grinds
in a frozen vortex
with a whiskey surge that’s sharp and sweet
then mellowed out with a little cream

I’d go swimming if I could
dive down into your muddy springs

mix you up real good
like wet cement

we’re laying the foundation
for something great:
my concrete feelings,
your gravelly gravitas

and summer ain’t over yet.

Willie, I can’t feel my teeth
s’ok, that’s what the straw is for.

You’ve got me all riled up
on your crunchy boozy wiles

don’t melt on me now

Whaddaya say we get out of here?
I’d take you to-go
if this weren’t New York
but Hell maybe we can sneak it,

my love disguised
in iconic blue Greek lettered cardboard

Willie, let’s blow this joint
we don’t belong in this honkey tonk
I’m no Loretta Lynn
you’re no Shotgun, no

you’re just a Wet Willie
running through an open fire hydrant, then shaking it off real good

If we don’t make it, no matter,
I’d name a future dog after you

And if anybody asked
I’d tell ’em all about our hot days
and still hot nights
just me and a straw and you

and the whole summer cracked open wide.

Now we are 30

I'm gonna start putting things up on Medium that are otherwise dying slow eternal deaths in my Microsoft Word documents. That's what Medium is for, right? So here's one, an essay thing about being 30. Been it for nearly six months now and it still gets on my nerves. It's on Medium here, and posted below!

*
When I turn 30, I’ll give so few fucks that by the law of supply and demand folks will be lining up outside my door just drooling for a piece (that will never come).

If you want one, it’ll have to be a handwritten request sent in on the back of a circus dog with the scruffiest of hairs and then maybe just maybe I’ll consider it, but most likely I’ll just play with the dog and forget all about your vague desires.

See, when you turn 30 (I’m not sure how old you are as you’re reading this), you begin to ask yourself, where do all the fucks go? Like you are Holden Caulfield with the ducks, Langston Hughes with the dreams, Paula Cole with the cowboys. All the fucks you’ve been putting out into the hollow universe of unknown recipients, do they land anywhere? There is just no real way to put out a tracking number on these fuck(er)s and follow them to a safe landing, they are like bullets or balloons, screams or dandelions.

You start to think, maybe I ought to be more discerning with my fucks.

*
When I turn 30, I’m gonna be like, bye 20’s. Bye all two digit numbers with a 2 in the ones place and a 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 in the tens place. It might be a while before I can even look a twenty dollar bill square in its Jackson, I might have to change them all out for fives and tens and ones. Get these feckless greenbacks out of my pocket, out of my sight!

But I will totally still be cool with people in their twenties. Because I would never judge a person by his or her age. Age doesn’t mean anything, everybody[1] knows that.

Like when the 23 year-old barista says to me, “I think you should do all the things you want to do.”

When I turn 30, I will just stop asking others their age. Stop guessing, stop caring. If you tell me it’s your birthday I’ll say, congratulations, you’re alive.

You see, everybody to me will exist in a spectrum of all the ages at once. A prism of priors and posts. What’s happened and what’s on its way. ROYGIBIV but for a lifetime. You are the ages you’ve already lived, and the ages you might never reach. Eyelashes a 4 year old flutter, voice a 45 year rasp. Ankles of 15, crow’s feet not a crease over 39. And we haven’t even gotten to interiors. You add up the ages of all the parts and divide:

The mean is how old you are inside.

*
When I turn 30, I will just naturally fall into my best self because the very concept of a best self will have dissolved with the wisdom of this monumental year, a known fallacy as we are all made of many selves and there is no worst or best but several in betweens and in shrugging off the pursuit of the best I will evolve into a better version of me. The one that holds all the versions.

The astrologer told me, it had been my Saturn Return for the past couple years and that’s why I’ve been so stuck and stunted, idle and mild. For Saturn it was a slow orbit, 30 years to make it all the way, around the sun and back to the exact spot in the sky it had left when I was born. A complete return, but it’s all sorted out now, Ma, I’m grown. When she told me my eyes sort of drooped and my mind went slack, as though she’d removed my brain and was massaging it like raw meat in her hands. Felt like witnessing your own lobotomy.

So, I guess, no more false starts, no more not sures. I just have to remember to keep an eye on the moon.

My dad thought I was turning 29, instead. When I corrected him, he seemed disappointed. He let out a sigh. “Well, I wouldn’t presume to suggest what your life should look like at this age. It’s so different for your generation. I really don’t know enough to say what you should have accomplished by now, or where you should be.” What a compassionate Baby Boomer.

All the girls say, when you turn 30, it’s such a relief, you don’t care what anybody thinks. You can finally be yourself. Do you. All those years you were trying so hard but you felt stymied — that was because you weren’t yet 30. Trust us.

When I turn 30, my imposter syndrome will be the real thing.

*
When I turn 30, I’ll finally be over you. I’ll remember our time together for what it was, a thing with its own value, unto itself. It was, then it wasn’t, now it isn’t and it never will be. I’ll seal it tight, mark it zero, and then, I’ll toss it.

I mean I’ll really knock it off.

When I turn 30, I’ll have no use for nostalgia. It’s an irritant, an itch you scratch only to end up with more itch. It’s a phony salve, a bum balm. It’s a false glut, you feel it wash over you but it only burns you up. If the only alternative to getting older is being dead (which is something a newly-minted 30-year-old told me), then looking back is a kind of death.

When I turn 30, there will be no trick candles on my cake.

*
My therapist told me, if I wanted to make a change, now was my last chance. After 30, it’s much harder. So, just in the nick of time, I quit seeing her.

When I stretch my hips and count to 30 it won’t seem to last as long as it used to. So I’ll slow it down, breathe in and out on every count, like really trying to feel every year, every ache.

I woke up today and reached for the dog. “30” I said, when I meant to say “Phoebe.”

Or maybe I dreamed it.

[1] Everybody at least in their 30’s, that is