Saturday, August 27, 2011

My work in upcoming Papirmasse summer vacation issue

I am honored to have a story featured in Papirmasse's "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" issue, which is out in September and features postcards with art and stories.

What is Papirmasse? "For only $60 a year, our subscribers receive a new art print in the mail every month, with an image on the front and writing on the back. We showcase an exciting range of emerging talent from around the globe. There are no hidden fees, no added shipping charges, no tricks: $5 each for 12 art prints."

Pretty great stuff. I also recommend their Facebook page for short, entertaining bits.

Honored, I tell ya.

Deer meets Car in the suburbs

Main Street was busy for a Monday at 10:30am, and that was too bad for the deer. I was startled to see him cut across oncoming traffic, head down and loping clumsily. This stretch of road was very commercial and not a normal place to see a deer. I couldn’t tell if he was going to pass in front of the silver wagon two cars in front of me or get clipped, and I noticed half a beat later I was holding my breath. A long moment held, then he bounced straight up off the car’s front, twirling, legs stiff and extended like he was a blow-up doll. He tumbled end over end, unnaturally, popping off into the grass. All of us tapped our brakes as if a community, each recoiling and hyperaware. Another long pause, and the deer leapt up and loped back across the road to the small thicket from where he’d come. I was shaken, witnessing something so violent and out of place for my suburban town, and I mused about the effects of seeing real violence instead of an animal getting unnaturally knocked around.

Three hundred feet down the road, I grabbed eggs and arugula for the evening’s quiche and salad and passed the same way again. Why I thought to look toward that thicket, I don’t know, but there he was—had to be the same animal, standing very still under a tree, head facing the road, watching. I wondered if it was in shock, maybe experiencing internal bleeding and minutes from collapsing in death. That's as close as soccer moms like me get to violence and death, other than heart attacks and 9/11. Realizing that makes me feel weak and small, and I snap at my toddler, who prods me with a licorice stick from the back seat. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Childless, childfree, happy, and sad

I watch the child dance around the museum lobby. She wears a white tutu, matching headband, and rapturous smile. She is the fourth ridiculously happy toddler I’ve seen in just an hour here, my weekly torture. I want a baby. I cannot have one. Adoption and surrogacy are out, per my wife, though I’m not sure if she truly objects to those routes or is punishing me for my infertility. I’ve caught her looking at me with the withering, disgusted look one reserves for smelly drunks or boors in the supermarket checkout line, hating to share oxygen with me. I do my best to stay out of the house these days, visiting this museum, the park three blocks down, and the every-so-often coffee shop which is now my second home. I’m happy to have the excuse of being a writer so as not to raise a red flag with the owner, a gregarious hippy who stands behind the counter every moment of the day with her husband, chatting nonstop with her customers. She has taken a liking to me, telling me weekly with watery eyes how I remind her of her brother who ODed on heroin thirty years ago, a peach of a guy with an addictive personality and lousy friends.

These days, I speak more with her than my wife as she sits with me a few minutes every day, asking me about my book. She too is childless but seems happy as a clam, and I wonder if it was a choice or, like me, something put in her path for her to work around. If the former, it seems she made the right call, though I suppose one never knows: Will you suddenly decide you should’ve been a parent after all? And if it was the latter, she appears to be more than at peace with where she is today: happy—joyful, even—and fulfilled by her work, her lover, and her customers, those with and without kids, who rush in for her impressive candy bar, set low to the ground for easy drooling and grasping.

I hope I get to the peaceful place. I wonder if I will arrive with or without my wife.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An enjoyable visual and audio discombobulation

Scene: my regular coffee shop

I hear the thunderous rumble of motorcycles and look up from my paperback. Through the coffee shop window, I see pull up on the sidewalk a red motorized scooter bearing a wizened old man wearing combat boots, jean cut-off shorts, a pristine white t-shirt, and thick glasses barely visible under an equally pristine ball cap. 

His hand turns the key to power down the scooter as the motorcycles simultaneously disappear into town.