Reaching for Me

   I sit next to my mother on the sofa, our feet propped up against the side of the coffee table.  We are painting our toenails.  Eggplant purple for her, hot pink for me.

    Our feet are just alike–they are practically interchangeable.  Exactly the same size, the same high arches, the same long toes, the bone on the top that makes certain sandals uncomfortable to wear.

     Mom takes good care of her feet; they always look great.  For most of my life she was a polished, stylish dresser, but she’s become much more casual in recent years (and loving every minute of it, by the way).  She has been freed from the tyranny of femininity.

     “I don’t see why you can’t find yourself a nice man,” Mom says, out of nowhere.

      A person could wonder the same thing about you, I think, but I don’t look up.

     “Lots of men like you.  I see them looking at you when we go places,” she says.  There is concern in her voice, confusion, urgency and some vague anxiety. I can feel the emotion, her line of thought: why…?  what is going on with you…?  Tell me.  Speak to me.  My mother is not unintelligent, but she does not communicate well with words.  She does not–or cannot– explicitly express that she is worried about me, that something is wrong but she doesn’t know what it is, that my choice to live so far away feels like a rejection (and, to be fair, it was), that she questions if she could have done things differently with me.  She wants answers, but she can’t ask the questions, much less broach them to me.

     “I will when I’m ready, Mom,” I say, putting the brush back in the bottle and screwing down the top.  Just like that, a smooth demurral.

      I cannot remember a time when I was truly open with her.  When I simply told her the whole truth about what I was experiencing, or how I was feeling.  When I confided in her.  I believe this behavior comes primarily from my father–active addicts make their children into liars.  Children lie to cover up for their junkie parents.  I covered up for him, protected him.

      The Awful Truth is also that I withheld myself from her because I believed that she could not be trusted.

      And because the truth was simply unacceptable.  And unspeakable.

      But now, now

     She is reaching for me.  The past is gone; you can’t go back.  The mother of my childhood and adolescence is gone.  She is no longer the woman she used to be.  The only mother that I have is the one who exists today.  She is trying to keep me in her life.   Her eldest child, her only daughter.

       Underneath my clothes, I still have marks on my thighs from where the Attorney hit me.  Fourteen days later.  They are almost gone, but not quite.  Not quite.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

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     I went with my mother to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden today.  It was super beautiful.  The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is the best, but really, when you’re talking about parks of this caliber, you sound like a snob splitting hairs when you argue which is superior.  

     My life here is not easy, but I am fortunate to have access to these places.  There is more beauty here (natural beauty excluded) than in most of the U.S. combined.  

    Anyway, I ran around taking pictures and geeking out on flowers until my camera ran out of juice.  You can thank your lucky stars for that; otherwise you’d be wading through about a hundred other photos.  

     

The Cloisters

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     I went to The Cloisters museum today with my Mom.  We had a great time; I can’t recommend it enough.  It was busy but not too crowded.  The collection was small enough to see in a day’s visit, with time out to rest your feet and eat a snack in the cafe (sure can’t say that about the rest of the Met–I’ve been there probably thirty times, and I still haven’t seen everything.  There’s just no way).  


      We didn’t tour all the gardens because the wind coming in off the river was uncomfortably cold, even though the sun was shining.  The ones we saw were lovely, however.  


      I took a bunch of photos with my new camera (Thanks, Mom!).  My new camera is a vast improvement over the refurbished Kodak I’ve been using the last few years (I lost my last good camera in Paris).  


      Here are a few photos.  You can click on any one to enlarge.  

Lawn outside of main building

Approaching Main Building

    If you look closely, the art of the Middle Ages is full of weird, fantastical, macabre imagery–especially the Northern European stuff.  Until the Renaissance, it was a pretty dismal time to be alive, even if you were rich.  There was no cultural concept of progress.  Renaissance life was no great shakes, either, but at least things started to get interesting.  


    If you want a crash course in the history and cultural movements of this time period, I recommend two accessible, entertaining, and highly informative books: The Great Mortality, by John Kelly and A World Lit Only by Fire, by William Manchester. 


     Look at this dragon!  It’s really only–12th century?  What’s also interesting to me are the angels and animals underneath the dragon.  One of them is playing a hard (lyre?) and the angels look almost like sirens:

See the dancing animals on their hind legs? 

    This one is Spanish 13th Century.  Artistically it’s not that great, compared to the other stuff in the collection, but the colors are so bright it looks like it was painted yesterday.  Note the bottom panel.  The harrowing of hell; Christ raising forth souls from out of the mouth of hell.  That is quite a story.  It’s almost like a Greek myth.  

LITERALLY “THE MOUTH OF HELL”

St. George slaying a dragon.  Wow, check out what a freaky dragon this is, with all its faces and eyes!  If this was in a Church, I would have gone and sat underneath it just so that I could look at it all during the service:





   Polytryptich with Nativity–not Dutch, South Lowlands, which would make it Belgian or Flemish, I believe.  This was a stunning piece, a religious theme in a contemporaneous secular household setting.  The colors were eye-popping:

Look at this little lap dog!  It has bells on its collar!

     

    I was charmed, and a little fascinated, by these scenes painted on the inside of this wooden box.  In the first scene, a woman with a bow aims an arrow at the heart of a man.  He urges her not to shoot him.  In the second scene, their hands embrace, and he hands her his heart, which is full of arrows.  Romantic love!

Click to enlarge.  His heart is literally full of arrows.  

    For my money, there was nothing more entertaining than these colored windows called Silver Stained Roundels.  German or from the Lowlands, many of them presented scenes that were gruesome or wickedly funny, intentionally or not.  There were also scenes from secular life, which I enjoyed a great deal.  I spent way too much time examining these.  Click any one to enlarge. 


Entitled “CAREFREE IN POVERTY.”  Tell me the artist wasn’t in on the joke.

Death kills a peasant, a prince, and a pope.  He got a lot of animals, too.  Death is a democrat!

Netting pheasant!  I LOVE THIS ONE!  See how they did it back then?  That guy is standing behind a board with an ox painted on it and herding the pheasant into the net!  And the castle and hills in the background!

A BOOKBURNING!  Yeah!  Burn those expensive, precious books almost nobody can read in 1350!  GOOD IDEA!

Souls in hell.  Check out those gnarly monsters.  And the hot babe.

Temptation of St. Anthony

Entitled “Three Apes Assembling a Trestle Table.”  Uh, what? 

      More tomorrow!   I am sleepy.



Is this Passive-Aggressive…?

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      Mom’s in the shower and this is too hilarious not to share.  


      Okay, so–last Mother’s Day, I didn’t send my Mom a card.  I sent a nice gift and a hugeass bouquet of flowers, though, and the flowers came with a card.   I thought that was enough, right (and yeah, I called)?


     Well, apparently Mom had a different impression…!


     After she got here, Mom showed me a few things she brought for me.  


      One of them was a bag with two self-addressed stamped envelopes containing new Mother’s Day cards.


     “Now you’ll always have a card to send me!” she said.


      I rushed for my camera the minute she was out of sight.  


      Readers, please weigh in–you can comment anonymously: are these cards passive-aggressive?  Or just aggressive?  


      Or just Mom-hilarious?  

SASE MOTHER’S-DAY CARDS: PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE, OR JUST AGGRESSIVE? 

   

Momma’s In the House

     My mother is coming to visit me, so I probably won’t be able to blog again until Sunday.  


      I’m glad that she’s coming.  I love my Mom and because I only get to see her a few times a year, our time together is very important to me. Her visit will anchor me and entertaining her will keep me busy.  She’ll also keep my mind off my problems and prevent any backsliding in my resolve about remaining out of touch with the Attorney (I feel pretty resolute about that, but I still have had dreams about him).  


      I have to admit, though, I’m a little concerned because I can’t work while she’s here, and I can’t afford to lose the money right now.  I can’t take phone calls to book appointments for my secret job. I also can’t attend AA meetings while she’s here–she doesn’t know that I attend them. 


       Preparing my apartment for her visits–“Family-proofing” it–is a bit of an ordeal: make sure ALL of my S&M gear is on lockdown out of sight, get all of the addiction and psychology books off my shelves, wash my phone in case someone uses it for anything, check and double-check that nothing remains out that could provoke unwanted curiosity: “Margo, when did you go to Toronto..?  How was it?  Why didn’t you tell me?”  


       If the weather is nice on Friday, I’ll try to take her to the Cloisters.  I’ve never been.  Also the Empire State Building and the jewelry and diamond market on 47th Street.  We probably won’t buy anything there, but for Honkeys like us, it’s super fun to walk around and watch.  Note to self: must go before 3 PM on Friday.  Hahaha–that would be funny–to show up on Friday night and have it be crickets and tumbleweeds around there.  Why isn’t anything open…?  


      Another bonus…sort of: my mother will scour this place clean until it reaches a shining, hospital-sterile cleanliness.  She will probably start doing this an hour after she walks in the door.  There will not be a dustbunny underneath the couch and escapes her eagle eye.  


     I thought of that today–the Attorney is so meticulous that I would never, ever be able to keep the house perfect enough for him.  


     There would always be something wrong.  


     

Put Your Cameras Away, Assholes!

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TyRANTosaurus Margo!

      I have a question: what is up with men and their fucking cameras?


      The other day I was talking with friend of mine about comedic cringe-worthy teenage sex-and-dating experiences.  The tone of the conversation took a turn when she said that some asshole took photos of her undressed and they were probably circulated around at school.


     This issue pisses me off to no end.  I’ve had this conversation with probably a dozen women, and every single one of them has either been photographed without her consent (either she told the guy not to take their photos, and the guy did it anyway, or she had no idea she was being photographed, and only found out about it later), or was photographed by consent and had the pictures (or video) distributed against her wishes later.  Every single woman I’ve talk to about this has had it happen to her.  


     I stopped seeing one man–a professor (not my professor)–a few years ago when I was awakened by a camera flash.  My friends know of the good professor as “Paparazzi.”  I immediately confronted him about it and had him delete it.  He apologized and said that he didn’t think it would upset me (huh?), but I left anyway. 


      Another dirtbag took a photo of me sleeping in his bed.  I found out about the photo when one of my classmates (grad school) saw it on the guy’s iPhone and told people about it.  I called up the dirtbag and he promised he deleted it, but I am sure it exists on many hard drives.  


     Realistically, I am 100% certain that there are photos of me out there, somewhere, that I am completely unaware of.  Men seem completely unwilling to resist violation and humiliation by camera.


     I let a boyfriend take photos of me in the shower one time.  Before I broke up with him, I went into his apartment under the guise of feeding his cat and I took them all back, along with the film.  He was a nice guy, but you never know.  


     I have had strange men take photos of me as I sit, reading, in the park.  I have had them take photos of me on the subway.  Amazingly, some of them think that it will be a flirtatious conversation-starter (“Can I take a picture of the pretty girl?” SNAP!).  


     Men take pictures of strippers in strip clubs without the women’s permission.  They seem to think it’s a joke.  


     I know one woman whose ex tried to use their sex tape to blackmail her, but the most common motivation for releasing tapes and photographs seems to be simple malice.  


        Put your cameras away, assholes.  

The Weirdness Must End (or, at Minimum, Radically Decrease)

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  I have the very distinct feeling that I dodged a bullet last week.  Actually, it’s more than a feeling.  The posts on this blog can attest to the fact: scary weird, scary weird, scary weird, lipstick mania, scary weird


    In the interest of not getting shot, I am removing myself from the proverbial shooting range (did I mention that the Attorney told me that he really likes guns, and carries when he’s not in the City…?  Niiiiice!).  


     I am no longer accepting new Secret Job clients.  A handful of my regulars will be grandfathered in.  I am reducing my shifts at the Superstudio by 50%.  It is my intention to quit doing this professionally altogether within 90 days.  If the landlord has to wait an extra week sometimes to get the rent paid in full, well, he’ll just have to wait.  This is NYC; he can’t throw me out.  


     Dating efforts are suspended until relative order and normalcy has been restored.  If I need a date for the movies and sex every now and then, well, there are plenty of men in my telephone who are reliably harmless and do not bother me when I don’t want to be bothered. 


     All communications from the Attorney will henceforth be deleted unread and unheard. 


    If the Surgeon bothers me one more goddamned time, he’s going to hear from my lawyer.  I called the last one I had to hire to help me get rid of a meddling dude (John).  He is ready to compose Ye Olde Cease and Desist Letter.  Officer Friendly at the local precinct  is going to file my complaint. The nice ladies in family court are going to take my statement, and the nice Judge at Family Court is going to give me Ye Olde Temporary Restraining Order.  The police can serve it to him in his doorman Upper East Side apartment.  Let him explain that one to his neighbors.  


    There are going to be many alcoholics in this neighborhood who are going to be eating a great number of my cookies in the next thirty days.  In fact, I fed them my first batch yesterday afternoon.  My Sunday Crispy Burnout meeting, which I haven’t attended in a month.  The burnouts were quite crispy last night, quite crispy indeed.  They were glad to see me, however, and they were quite happy to see my freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.  Two young men squabbled with each other over whether it was fair for one of them to take two cookies, instead of one.  The Sheriff had to intervene.  Now boys, my cookies should not disturb your serenity! One apiece till everyone gets one!


     The fish tank was cleaned, the Parrot was entertained and fed almonds, the bills were mailed, the students were scheduled, the phone calls were returned, the newspaper was read.  And I called my mother and my brother.  We now return to our regularly scheduled programming!


    P.S. If you’ve sent me email or comments and I haven’t responded, sorry about that–I was out to lunch. I’ll get back to you soon.

“THANKS TO THIS PROGRAM, MY FISH TANK IS CLEAN!”

The Spell

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This neglected houseplant did not survive my encounter with the Attorney.  It cannot  be revived and  must be euthanized.  BETTER IT THAN ME, BUDDY!

  
       Well, that was fucking terrifying.  


     Or perhaps I should say, is fucking terrifying, because it’s not completely over yet.  


      I haven’t been blogging for the last few days because I have been obsessed, in spectacular and unhealthy fashion, with my encounter(s) with the Attorney.  


     Obsessed is a strong word, but I believe it is accurate and fitting. As in, obsessed to the exclusion of everything else.  As in: wait, what the hell did the last page of this article I’m reading say, again?  As in: if I don’t take my dirty clothes down to the laundry mat, they will magically clean themselves!  As in: my houseplants are magical houseplants that do not need water!  As in: the news (even with my beloved studmuffin Brian Williams) is nowhere near as interesting as fantasizing about my future relationship with this individual I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT.  As in: blog…?  Email?  Communication?   What?  I was supposed to bake cookies?  What?


        Basically: I wish to be alone with my bottle of Scotch.    


        My friends are freaked out.  Something’s gotten into you.  


        It’s been like watching a train wreck in slow motion, except that I haven’t experienced any horror or revulsion.  I saw it happening!  I fucking saw it happening!  I knew it was going to happen before it happened!  


        The Attorney has emailed or text messaged me every day since I saw him.  Every day.  He communicates with me even when I don’t respond, which is, like, the last four days.  


         Did I mention that I’ve known him for approximately four hours?  


         My analyst said that he sounded like a highly functional sociopath.  She also said that I probably wouldn’t stay away from him.  I was still unaffected.  


        It hit me this afternoon, when he texted me, yet again (his tone is always flirtatious): imagine what it would be like to break up with this person.  Imagine trying to divorce him.  Imagine a custody battle over children. 


        I thought of my father.  I thought of John.  I thought of the Surgeon, who, unbelievably, was the least weird and dangerous of all.   


        My perspective was instantaneously adjusted.  Three stalkers! Can I get four…?  Four stalkers…?  Going once! Going twice! 


       NO THANK YOU!  I’ll be damned if I go in to this quagmire and emerge three years later (and 100 years older), freshly damaged (and probably not sober) and barreling towards middle age.  


      Fuck that, man.  And if anyone thinks I’m exaggerating, you don’t know stalker controlling dudes.  Men like this don’t just let you walk.  They punish you for it, and punishing you becomes their default recreational pastime.  God help you if you have a kid, or even a house.  Or a futon.  John harassed me for months, after a restraining order, about a fucking pair of gym shoes. 

Lipstick Mania: The Optimal Shade Remains Elusive

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     One of my good friends is getting married.  


     I am very happy for her, but I must admit that I do not envy her the terror- and trauma-inducing task of planning (and paying for) a wedding.  


      The stress of engineering this incumbent ceremony has already inspired curious behaviors in my delightful, intelligent, and usually reasonable friend.  


      Take, for instance, lipstick mania.  

The above: all tested and rejected by a sane and accomplished individual.  The optimal shade of pinkish mauve remains elusive.



      
      My friend has launched a quest to identify and procure the perfect color of lipstick for her wedding day.  The lipsticks shown in the above photograph are merely a fraction of the items she has recently acquired.  Truly, there is no Duane Reade or Clinique counter in New York she has not pillaged.  


      I find her quest to be both comical and slightly disturbing (I know, Gentle Reader, that the irony of my findings does not escape you).  


      It has also been quite a lipstick winfall for Miss Margo: my friend has bequeathed many of her tested and rejected lipsticks to me!  Nice!  To my eternal shame, I wear lipstick almost all the time.   It is nice to get almost a hundred dollars of good-quality lipstick.  Because I wear it so frequently, and because I like to try different colors (and, naturally, because I have no money), I usually buy the cheap shit.  It works just fine, but the packaging is flimsy, with the result that the lipstick tops often come open in my handbag.  But what can you do?  

Wet n Wild: Keeping it Classy at your Local Drug store for only $.99!!!

   (lest anyone think that I am picking on my friend, I freely cop to having my own irrational buying habits: sunscreen and fake strip eyelashes, despite the fact that I almost never wear fake eyelashes.  Why?  Why, God, Why?  Cosmetics are a cruel joke on womenkind.)

The Attorney (III): M. Margo Has To Learn the Hardest Way, Continued

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    Yeah, yeah, I know I gained 8 lbs–so embarrassing–it’s the psychiatrist and his Dread Diagnosis.  Fear not!  I shall have protruding hip bones by bikini season.  After all, what else should one focus on in this life…?  ESPECIALLY if one hates to go to the beach!

     




As my Francophone Canadian friend would say: “Wowy wow wow!” 


     I only told three people–outside of the blogosphere–about this.  All three were freaked the fuck out.  


     To tell you the truth, I am sort of worried that I am not upset.  I feel uncomfortable, because all the skin on my torso hurts, but not upset.  


       And yes, it hurts.  Hurts hurts hurts, hurts hurts hurts.  I am definitely not wearing a bra today.  The worst of it should last about 24 hours more.  


       I am curious.  Fascinated, actually.  


       I feel great.  


      What’s up…?  Am I deluding myself…?  Is this some subconscious defense mechanism?  


      Anyway, there was quite a bit of yelling.  I was worried that a concerned neighbor would knock or call the cops.  It is not characteristic of me to make noise–screaming is humiliating.  


      While he was preparing himself, I went to the sink to rinse my hands and fetched a bottle of water.  Then, because of the way the mirrors are set up, I could watch him from outside the room.  


     He placed his tools on the dresser in perfect symmetry.  His nice shiny shoes were put under the dresser, each one containing its corresponding sock.  


      He turned on the air conditioner.  Pain makes you sweat.  


      I went into the room and looked at the things he’d brought for us.  


      “Oh wow,” I said.  “You’re not kidding around!”


      It was some serious artillery, let me tell you.  Must have cost a pretty penny. I have some expensive stuff, and I know quality when I see it.  I seized immediately upon a wide leather strap, eyeing it with foreboding.  That strap is going to be trouble, I thought, and I was right.   


     “Where can I not leave marks?” he asked.  “Show me.” 


      I gestured.  Any place where they might be visible in a skirt and button-up work blouse.  


      “Close your eyes,” he said.  


      I did.  


     He slapped me upside the head.  


      I dropped like a safe. 


     And then we were off to the races.  


     I safed out once.  That would make the third time in my life it has happened.  It was the strap.  I knew that fucking strap was going to give me problems.  


     I have to tell you: Personally, I don’t think that I’d have the balls to perform bastinado on a person where money had changed hands, either giving or receiving, unless it was specifically requested of me.  I mean, that is some personal shit.  


     The Attorney had no such qualms.  He had no such qualms at all.


     He respected my boundaries–in the strictest sense of the word (what is law school good for? ha, ha): he didn’t do what I told him that he could not do.  


    He did everything else.  


    At the end, he said, “This is against my personal interest, but I have to tell you: you could be charging a lot more for this.  A lot more.”


      “Well, I don’t do it for just anyone,  I’m pretty particular,” I said.  A woman has to have some standards, after all.  


     “That’s the hardest I can go.  Any harder…it’s not…it’s not my thing.  I’ll keep your number.  It’s almost impossible to find a person who can go through all of that.  This was a very special occasion for me.”  


     He put his cell phone back in his pocket.  The blue eyes searched my face.  


     “You were into it, to.  That’s so unusual.  So unusual.”  


       This quote is presented without comment.  


      After he left, I turned my phone off and took a nap.  Then I limped to the bus stop.  My mind felt empty.  


      It felt great.  


      It is imperative that I never see this person again.  


      I need a nice, normal man who is not a psycho.