Sunday, October 24, 2010

grocery carts and monologues

I had the most harrowing grocery shopping experience of my life this afternoon. I should know better than to go to one of the only 2 trader joe's in Manhattan on a saturday afternoon.

Next time, Maggie.

The store was set up in 3 very unorganized levels. From the time I walked in til the time I left I was confused. Almost all the food i went there specifically to buy were out of stock despite their efforts to constantly restock the shelves. There was a dairy floor, a frozen foods and breads floor and an escalator for my grocery cart.

Note to self, use a basket next time.

Every time I turned around I was bumping into someone or someone was slamming their cart into my ankles. The line was over 60 people long and meandered around the whole confusing mess of the store. My favorite part was when this old woman (like, in her 80's) who was waiting for samples got fed up with being crowded and shoved a full but abandoned cart out of her way, and crashed it right into my cart. I could hardly take it personally. If I was her age and I had been dealing with such nonsense for this long, I'd probably do the same.

When I lay down at bed at night, the automatic phrase that comes to my lips is: "Help, God." That's the only thing that comes. Prayers that used to feel so eloquent and robust now taste a bit false on my tongue. Has belief shrunk? No, I don't think so. But practical needs are so much more... well, practical. How will I eat tomorrow? "Help, God" How will this interview go? "Help God" How will I get up in front of 35 professional actors tomorrow and pretend that I deserve to be in this class? "Help, help, help, God."

It's not so much frightened as it is consistent and reliant. I cannot possibly control my life. This has always been true, but where the illusion existed before, the false foundation of "self-sufficiency" has been exposed and I find myself entirely at the mercy of love: His and those he puts in my path.

What could have been shaken was, so what cannot be will remain.

as Saint Joan said (according to GB Shaw): "Do not think that you can frighten me by telling me that I am alone. France is alone and God is alone and what is my loneliness before the loneliness of my country and my God. I see now that the loneliness of God IS His strength. Well, my loneliness shall be my strength too. It is better to be alone with God. His council will not fail me, nor His friendship, nor His love."

I told God the other day "I don't understand" and he said "i never asked you to understand, I asked you to trust."

There you go again, God. Not much I can say to that, but "yes" and "I love you"

...because i really do.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dr. Seuss, the subway and my purple robe

"Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don't matter,
and those who matter don't mind."

— Dr. Seuss

Call it a new season, call it a change of seasons, call it adventure or call it boredom … I always know when it’s time to write again. Perhaps it happens when I’m spending enough of my day alone that poetic (or banal) lines begin to dart through my subconscious like a stray cat… accompanied by the thought:

“you really should be writing this down”

So here I am writing it down.

You’ll have to forgive me. Since my last blog, which was, I believe, over 2 years ago, I can’t remember sitting down to just WRITE for a non-assignment related purpose.

I fear I am more than a bit rusty.

It’s Saturday night, 11:34 pm in the city that never sleeps. I’ve been sitting Indian style on my bed in my fluffy purple robe for the last hour, happy to be indoors, not regretting one bit my neglect of the late-night bar scene. Perhaps it’s an overdose of the non-specific human interaction or unproductive busyness (which is daily and inevitable), but when I come through the door of my temporary, 5th floor, upper-west-side apartment, I immediately take off my shoes, coat, jeans, sweater, purse, everything that smells like “out-there” and cozy up in my purple robe (possibly my favorite article of clothing on this planet), and sit Indian-style on my bed and begin click-clicking through facebook profiles and old emails.

I don’t recall behaving this way in the past.

Granted, I’ve only been here 6 days. Wait, has it been six? Maybe only 5. I arrived on Monday night with as many winter clothes as I could tote on the subway (the rest was shipped by my mother in a cardboard box). I was still recovering from an internal wound to my esophagus (I will spare you the details) which prevented me from eating food or drinking water without a great deal of pain. I made my way in the dusk to my temporary apartment, put away my few things, shed a few tears and brushed my teeth.

This is my new home.

How can that be?

It is a strange city, New York, when you’re not here as a temporary or tourist. I have always been mesmerized by the activity and drive of everyone in EVERY direction. But now that I know that I LIVE here, it just feels exhausting. “Where is home?”… I keep thinking. Where’s the place where you drive into the driveway, turn off the key and hear the ding-ding-ding when you open the door? You see the house lights on. Walk in the door (ground level) drop your bag, kick off your shoes and find your dad watching the 10 O’clock news.

None of that here. I’m lucky to see the lovely woman I live with twice a week in passing.

I’ve only been here 5 full days.

And in those 5 days, I’ve taken up the part-time job of a nanny while I look for something more “stable”.


Apparently I didn’t realize how attractive being 7th of 10 children with 18 nieces and nephews (and being raised without sugar on a farm) would make me to the young New York mother, who is also trying to resist the culture here and raise her children without white bread or television.

(Ok mom, so you were right after all. Apparently the world is beginning to catch on.)

So my life at the moment consists of picking up little girls from school and doing their hair into a perfect bun (on the bus) while we rush to ballet class, playing ambulance driver in the jungle gym and reading One Fish, Two Fish until my voice begins to crack… All of which are surprisingly decompressing activities compared to the flurry of the city. There’s something about being with children (and being paid to be present with them) in a city like this that is a type of salvation from all the serious thoughts about “what am I doing with my life”

But really... what AM I doing with my life?

There’s a lot of time in transit to think about such things. People watching is a given and deep and meandering thought about anything and everything is inevitable. As the subway todders you back and forth in the overpacked car, you bump between the business man’s elbow and the model’s $1200 purse and drone in and out of awareness. Staring off into space (which has always been an odd habit of mine), you start to think about every possible life you could have chosen. Wondering if I should have gone to school to be a Lawyer? Wondering what it would be like to live in one of those pent-houses on 5th ave? Wondering how it would feel to be a migrant worker and commute into Manhattan at 5am every day. You cannot avoid thinking about your life in a thousand different ways every time you board the train.

And the funny thing is, here I am around more people than I’ve ever met in my life and no one is even looking at each other! It’s like no one even SEES anyone! It’s the ultimate check-out... Every now and then I just want to scream:

“Hello everyone! Aren’t we all alive? Isn’t this real? Isn’t this life? WAKE UP!!!”

But that, of course, would never fly. So, like everyone else, I just watch nothing and think and check my day planner for the 7th time in the last hour. There has to be something I’m missing.

This is why it’s so relieving to don my purple robe at night and surf facebook.

Or write.


To be continued…