17 January 2011

"Saved" A very short story.

He is 17: Dominican, earnest; his caffe au lait skin has a slight greenish tinge. He is sitting on a wooden subway bench and is hanging on to the string of a laundry bag. He is watching the trains.
He is sitting next to a tall blonde in a faux leopard coat and a coffee colored beret; she is resolutely reading her book.
He cranes his neck slightly to look at the book's title: it's called "Radical Forgiveness." The cover is orange with a garish green title. She seems utterly absorbed: theatrically so. He looks at her anyway, not looking away.

"I like your book", he offers.

She looks up, momentarily irritated by the expected distraction. But something in his face catches her- a quality of pleading, maybe a need to be seen--and she lowers the book a bit. In front of them both, an Orthodox woman with  gleaming dark fake hair leans over her carriage'd baby and croons in Yiddish. 

"Miss? Miss? Are you Saved?" The boy's face is suddenly terribly concerned. He thrusts a pamphlet at her.

"Am I ...oh. Hmm." She peruses the pamphlet with interested attention for a moment. She looks up. "Are you? It seems important to you."

"Though a man may be born, he is not born until he accepts Jesus and thus is born again" he quotes importantly. Or maybe it isn't a quote. She doesn't know.

"I'm glad you've found a path that makes you happy." She smiles gently and raises her book again. He grimaces with imptience. 

"It is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven". He seems to her reproachful. Or just hurt.

Sighing, she lowers her book again, but this time turns towards him slightly. She looks rich to him, she just realized. The coat was 50 dollars, her cowboy boots are from a thrift store in Bellingham, WA, but her hair is expensive and her accent is clipped, and her purse is obviously good, though slightly battered.

"You are born again, right? How did this happen." She settles back slightly on the hard wooden bench, her youngish face turned towrds the young man's now gleaming enthusiasm. 

"Well, Miss..oh, what's your name? I'm Alberto." He offers a hand with grave sweetness. She shakes it. 
"Peri. Tell me what happened, Alberto. It seems to have changed your life."

Alberto stares off to the right for a moment, remembering. The flat bluish light of the Underground gives his face shadows it might not have. For a moment he looks old as he looks at his past.

"I met, I met these Christians. I'm from Staten Island. and I....where are you from?" he asks, as though suddenly remembering a duty. 

"I'm from here." The woman smiles slightly, her smile looping up to the right in suppressed amusement.

"You don't SOUND it", said a now child again Alberto, politely challenging, his street kid self always checking for a scam.

"I know, but go on. Really. I'm from here. Go on."

He preenes himself unconscioulys, hands rising to smooth his crew cut curls, then returning to lay face down on top of his upper thighs, like a good boy getting ready to recite a lesson.

"There was this cop, I mean there was a police who seed me all the time on account of I was sleeping at the Ferry terminal. He assed me if I wanna go to church."

"So you were homeless? That's an awful feeling." Her face was impassive.

"Yeah, right? I wan'ed to be a medical assistant, but it was hard cuz I didn't got the clothes. You know for the school." Looking away again, towards the shadows to their right. 


He comes back from the reverie. His face gets young again. 

"And I went to church wit them and I got saved. Jesus changed my heart." His face glows with pride. 
The greenish tinge gets slightly more apparent. He says abruptly: "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid...for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

He turns his face, now shining with schoolboy pride, towards her. "That's from Psalms."

"Wow, that was a nice quote. You must love words."

He's nodding hard. "I love Jesus. You should too, he loves you so much. Just confess your sins and ask his forgiveness. We are all sinners." His young/old face looks scared.

The leopard clad woman starts gathering her packages. Her face is careful with thought. She straightens up.
"Hmm. I don't know. I don't think He gets angry with us if we're trying to be good. I think--maybe?--a sin is just something you do, when you don't really know what you're doing. Maybe He only seems mad. I think He  probably just gets frustrated with us. Maybe a sin is just something that blocks us from our best selves. Maybe he wants us not to, you know, block His light. But here's the Q train."

Alberto says stubbornly, "Ask, and you will receive. Knock and the door shall be opened to you."

The woman puts on gold glasses. She leans over and picks up her bags. "I will. Did you get a place to live? Are you okay?" She loops the purse strap around her shoulder. Now she is standing.

He is suddenly standing. "Yes! It is a blessing of the Lord! I live across from Port Authority! For free!"
A passing train played light and dark across his eyes. 

"That's great. I'm really glad. I have to..." 

"Yes. The policeman pays my rent. So it's free." He frowns slightly at the tracks in front of the now oncoming train. The leopard lady looks up from her bag arrangement suddenly. Looks at him. His eyes are suddenly an opaque brown, the color of a wet dark stone.

She put a hand on his upper arm, a gesture of comfort. A moment and shadows pass.

"Alberto, my train's coming." she said gently. He looks up again, and she is smiling, this without the upward hitch of bemusement. 

She says: "hey, give me one of those." She gestures towards the pamphlet with her chin, her hands now filled with bags. 

"Oh, yeah! You can read it. If you have any questions-"-here importance swells his chest and makes his voice go baritone--"you just call me. See? Here's where my number is. Alberto. That's me. I can.."

She has wiggled a hand free to grab the garish paper. "Gotta go. Good luck. Really." she looks at him steadily for  moment. She looks away, stepping onto the train.

"Miss, you gotta be saved!" He is now concernedly waving a pamphlet at her, his arm reaching up to be seen above the heads of the passengers pushing into the train. "Miss!"

The doors closes. Shehas  reflexively looked down to check that her purse was safe. When she looks up, again, he is a small figure on the a platform that is vanishing into the past.

She looks down at the seated middle aged German tourist seated before her. He is lean, and fit looking, with that resolute "I'm not lost!" expression people get in unfamiliar subways. He sees her and gets up to give her his seat. She smiles. Tries not to drop her possessions as she's sitting, arranging the bags so they didn't look too out of control to strangers.

The subway goes into a tunnel. She looks at her reflection the darkened window across from her. It smoothes out the lines from her youngish face, and she smiles.

pl  1/16/11 nyc

16 January 2011

"Synchonicity To The Rescue"

This first appeared in this blog, last year. Am reprinting it now in honor of Yvonne with whom I am lunching tomorrow and whose birthday is today.


Synchronicity To The Rescue!

As I was walking to a class tonight, I wasn't in the best mood ever. Some kind soul had sent me a photo of my ex at a gala, with his date: so I was walking by the Reservoir, praying to Whomever to keep me connected to the Good, to genuinely wish them both love and happiness.-I'm not saying it worked every time, but it worked enough. So much that I asked for a sign, of any kind, that things happen -if not for a reason--then not completely randomly. Actually, I asked for a chance to be of use somehow.

On Park and 82nd St, I heard and imperious-if slightly cracked- voice say: "Young Woman! You! The Pretty One! Come here and help me across the street!"

I turned around, and there was a tiny, elderly woman, about the size and build of a capuchin monkey. She had a sort of modified shopping cart that she was using as a walker, and was very well dressed. But she was having trouble seeing over the top of her improvised walker, let alone WALKING. So I said "Of course, madam", took her arm--"not THAT way!" she growled; obviously this was a well rehearsed drill for her---and led her across the street. She issued instructions and commands the entire time. She was a little like Captain Blight in a robin's egg blue twin set. (Cashmere.)

She had stepped a little too far into traffic for my comfort, so I stopped, in order to holde her back a bit, as Buicks (ARE there still Buicks?) went whizzing past our noses, too close for comfort. She yanked at my arm.
"Young woman", she said, "I may be old, but I am not, as many young people think, a complete idiot. I would NOT walk into traffic. Not being gaga."
"Of course," I said. "It was a reflective instinctual thing."
She smiled, as though she was pleased with her ability to choose escorts. "Good vocabulary", she said, and smiled at me, just a tiny bit. Then she went back to issuing orders.
Feeling more sympathy for Fletcher Christian than I ever had previously, I tried to divert her with questions. Also, I was interested. She was a salty, upper class pirate, and I liked her.
"I have parents who are older, and they're still smarter than I am, so it's not likely that I'd assume you're bats. Or dopey. Is this slang dated?"I grinned at her.
She smiled contentedly, after making sure my arm was properly adjusted and secure for her clinging comfort. "I was the head nurse at (Rutgers?) Hospital. I was there when they did the first kidney transplant. Now THAT was a thing." She stopped and closed her eyes to remember, I pulled her out of the way of a speeding noncognizant limo. She didn't notice. She was thinking of the splendor of that moment.
"Were you a nephrology nurse? Did you know my uncle, Dr. Bricker? The famous nephrologist?"
She opened her eyes fast-and wide, as she realized we were in traffic--and skedaddled a bit as she asked,"Dr. NEAL Bricker? HE's your UNCLE?"
I smiled with pleasure. "Yup. And he's your age, and he and his amazing wife are TWICE as smart as I am, so no more prejudices about young 'uns, please."
We chatted some more. She had gone back to school and become a psychologist; written a book about breast cancer -"I wanted to call it "Renaissance", but the goddamn publisher said [here she adopted a mocking tone in sing song} "No one will KNOW what that MEANS, Yvonne!" She snorted in indignation, something I have not seen in person very often. "So they called it "You've Got A Friend." Another snort.
"You will pardon me saying so on such short acquaintance, " I said, "but that title somehow doesn't seem very...YOU."
She turned her pretty blue eyes towards me sideways, as if acknowledging reluctantly that I might be capable of cogent reasoning."No. It isn't."
We kept walking.
She said, "Okay, here's the UPS Store. We're going in here for a minute. You're coming with."
At this point, having smelled a whiff of distillery and juniper on her breath, I wasn't going to leave her by herself. I resigned myself to being late for class. "Okay," I sighed.
The men in the UPS store were more than kind to her- they were downright saintly gentleman.
While she was watching them Xerox stuff for her, she took to reminiscing. "My husband was a trombone player and a violinist, you know."
I said, startled, "Simultaneously?"
She looked at me sideways again for a moment, and then allowed herself to laugh.
:No, one at a time..." she said.
"Pity. He could been in vaudeville." I was funnin' her.
"Actually, he played for the house band at The Chase (?) Hotel, Played with Nat King Cole...Sophie Tucker..."
"NAT KING COLE?? He's my RINGTONE!" I cried, pulling out my phone and making it ring. Instantly it played King singing "Stardust."
"Sophie Tucker...now THERE was an unexpected broad." she said. "But you won't know who she is.
"Smile when you challenge me o showbiz trivia, Yvonne," said I. I then quoted some of Sophie' act to her.
She hooted with delight. "Yes! That's her! But you know, the damnedest thing..."
"What?" I asked, because she was drifting a bit.
She snapped to. "The damnedest thing is that, if you talked to her offstage, she had a very polished Back Bay accent. [She did a credible imitation of a lock-jawed Eastern pedigree girl.]
To me, Sophie was known for her thick New Yawk accent and vulgarity (funny vulgarity)--to hear that she was a tea drinking grande dame was causing me some trouble.  So I said, "I'm going to sit down next to you, and process the cognitive dissonance. Oh...may I see your ring?"

She was wearing a Claddagh ring. I have one-it was the last ring my ex gave me--and I have been looking for it for days. It is two small hands holding one heart, and means "I will be faithful to you always, my one true love."

"I have a ring just like that" I said, turning her hand to examine the ring.
"Oh? You know what it means, then?" she asked. She was looking at me with sudden kindness in her face.
"Yes. Yes I do. It's a lovely sentiment."
I stood up. "Oh they're done. Shall we?"
Another series of complicated maneuvers got Yvonne, her rolling cart, me and and umbrella  decanted onto the street intact. "I'm going to get a cab," she said.
"I'll help," i said. Another 20 minutes of maneuvering later, I put her into a taxi, gently. She said "Thank you , dear. You are kind. Remind me to tell you my favorite Neal story sometime." She started to close the door.
Then she opened it a bit and said "Hey! Young lady!"
I turned back for a moment. "Yes, Yvonne?"
She eyed me sharply. "What happened to your ring?"
I stood in a puddle, and thought about a photo I'd seen that day, that had changed my life a little.
"Well, young lady?"
I held up my two hands, ringless and manicured. "It's gone," I said. "It's gone." I smiled. "And I think I've just stopped looking for it. There are other rings. But yours is lovely. Goodnight."
She pulled the door to, and the cab sped away. She was going to the fire dept to complain about something, and had brought a "photo of my Daddy in his fireman's uniform in St Louis." she had confided. "That'll make em sit up and take notice. No one listens when you're old, young lady. So I bring props."

I walked a few blocks, already late to class, and already not caring. I ahd read in the Times this morning about 100 year olds and what had helped them stay alive, with joie de vivre, so long.
One woman said "Just put it behind you. Th past is the past. There's always better stuff in front of you. Never look back. Just don't." The other centenarians agreed. "Don't look back. Have fun. Don't dwell on the bad stuff. Look ahead."

I smiled, thinking about the article, and the cranky and vivacious lifeforce I had just bottled into a cab. Who showed me her ring, my same ring, and knew my uncle, who lives 3000 miles away, by first name. Who demanded my help and received it: exactly what I am trying to learn how to do in my own life, in so many ways.
Who might or might not have been "my sign", but who made me happy, as helping someone always does. As self forgetting in a good way, does. As I went off towards Sutton Place to my class, I thought "just keep looking forward...something better's coming", and thoght about the way the centanarians had repeated that, and thought about how it is what I'm going to be doing, from this step and that step on. Depite F. Scott Fitzegerald's seductively nihilistic sentnce" "And so we beat on, boats against the current, drawn back ceaselessly into the past,,"...I resolved, with each step, not to be swayed by his lyrical, liquid romntics, And to be a better boat. And go forward.

I walked on through the darkening air. And I sang "Stardust"- not softly, not loudly, but just loud enough for my own soul to hear it. Just that loud. "Sometimes I wonder, why I spend the lonely night/dreaming of a song/a melody/haunts my reverie/and I am once again with you..."
And I thought, "let's save the sadness for the singing and the songs, yes? Put drama on the stage where it belongs." Something in me lifted and flew free. I walked, and sang, and said "goodnight" to the sleepy windows I was passing, and felt my heart, at last, settle cozily back into the nest it had fled from, in June.

Goodnight, city. Goodnight, Yvonne. And Yvonne?
Thank you.

love peri

15 January 2011

The Random Trilogy: Part 3

More random notes on moment to moment encounters, NYC  2011

1) 14th St Subway:

Me: 6 foot blonde balancing unwieldy packages: three just-purchased enormous duffel bags. a copy of "Fortean Times", and a Marc Jacobs suede couture purse with python insets, a recent gift that would look a lot more impressive if I hadn't tripped over the cat and drenched it in soymilk. -The purse, that is. The cat was fine, dammit.-Anyway. 
A youngish man is holding the official begging paper coffee cup and chanting "I need fifty cents. I need 50 cents." So I stop, wrestle with my bags, and give him a couple of dollars. 
His transformation from "downtrodden" to "raffish" is immediate and startling. And very funny. He grins at me and says cockily, "Hey, where you been! I ben thinkin about you all week!"
I grin back. Say "And yet you never call."
He says: "I been busy, girl! You ain't the only one, you know! I got demands on my time!" He looks me up and down. Then says "I know you know what I'm talkin about."
"I might", I say demurely, and pick up my bags, and go.

In the background, I can hear him-remorphed into "downtrodden" but for business purposes only, I now know--droning "I need fifty cents. I need fifty cents." As I turn the corner, I look back at him. He waves, and yells "You call me now! Be waitin!" 
I grin and, like the Cheshire cat, vanish simultaneously.
Life is always great.

2) Manicure, Village NYC

Lilyana is doing my nails. We are on intimate buddy terms, because she's my waxing/mani-pedi/All-Around-Girl-Maintenance sorceress, and she's Ukrainian (I'm half Uke), and, as usual, we're talking about cooking secrets, her kids and my love life.
"So.." she says, picking up my nailcolor choice (deep russet) and eying it critically,then nodding approval and setting it down, "So I tried the chicken feet in the soup, and oh my God what flavor!"
I said "I know right?"  -We have been discussing how to optimize Great Chicken Soup recipes, in a friendly competetive way, for weeks now. I recommended buying chicken feet in Chinatown--the stores are easy to recognize, they're the ones with the chickens in wheelchairs picketing outside--and using them in the first boil. THEN REMOVING THEM. They're terrifying.
She filed my nail then squinted at it. "Round, yes? But oh my God, I can never again! My daughter, she came home from school early! She said "what are you making and she saw..."
"Uh-oh", I said. This was not going to end nicely.
"Yes! She saw the feet! And they were going like THIS"-she made a "praying hands" gesture, deftly incorporating the nail file-"and I was like, oh my God this looks like somehing scary!-and she screamed! Just like this!" Lilyana let out an explanatory screamlet, much to the surprise of the other customers, and continued.."and she ran into her room! She closed the door "BOOM" ljust like that."
"Yeah" i said, "but she's what, 16? When ISN'T she slamming a door?"
"So, the soup taste good, but I'm the only one who eat it." She frowned at a recalcitrant cuticle. "You should sleep with Vaseline and plastic wrap and gloves."
I must have looked startled, because she said impatiently, "For HANDS. You know. So what good is how delicious the soup is if nobody eat it?"
I said "That sounds like a life lesson, not just a cooking tip. Very wise."
She finished trimphantly, "So now I just put onion inside chicken boil THAT way! With cloves! Three." She inspected my hand happily. She had won this week's cooking contest with me. "Nice color! I like. Also? parsley."
Lost again. I said "What?"
"Parsley! You know! In chicken. Use whole chicken and nobody notices feet! Put parsley in your bottom!"
"Okay" I said weakly.
"Also remember Vaseline." She put my hands down and said "All done." briskly.
"Right. Vaseline and parsley. Onion. Got it. Yikes."'
"Good", she said. "Now stay in dryer. Why you always have to go, I don't know. Your nails get..." she searched for the word, then brightened as she found it..."Ding-ed! You know .." she gestured with her own small perfectly manicured hands..""ding".."ding"..then..nails look bed again. So what's the point??This time you stay longer this time. Stop dinging. Sit."
I sat. 
And she was right.
No hurry? No "ding"ing.
Another valuable life lesson.
Don't "ding" yourself.  (The world does it to you often enough, without you contributing.) Very very wise. -No, really!
Don't ding.


A friend was teling me that I seem much more, um, "rooted in my chakras" these days. I teach yoga, so I knew what she meant, but couldn't help the smartass "What?" response.
"Yeah", she said, wisely ignoring me. "That two years you were living in that duplex.."
I sighed. "The one for which i now wish I had been more openly grateful and ecstatic about? THAT duplex? Nature's most perfect apartment? Sigh."
"Yeah. Anyway. But you weren't yourself. You were being too..you know too crown chakra, too much. Like all the time."
I must have looked inquizitive. She went on "You were doing so many readings for that guy's career and for everyone. It kept you in the crown chakra. You're supposed to VISIT other dimensions to get spiritual information. Not move INTO one...I mean, you got all disconnected from your other chakras. You're not SUPPOSED to live in one chakra. You're supposed to spread it around a bit."
"Hmm. But that one was rent controlled. It was a nice dimension, too. Lots of unicorns. " I offered.
"Nope. You paid. Not in MONEY. But you paid a LOT. You got too chaotic. I never saw you like that before. OR now."
I remained silent, remembering the fireplace, the huge kitchen, my vintage copper Jello molds hanging on the walls...
"Snap out of it. it wasn't THAT great You'll have better. But when you were on President Street five years-you know when you were married to the painter guy--you were totally on top of stuff. That place was always neat and pretty organized. The chaotic thing isn't you. Not really."
"Not anymore," I agreed thinking of how I'd spent the day cleaning. "If something's really out of place I get antsy."
She pointed at me. "YES! ExACTly!  Now! You're all better! But that last year, you were like...like..." then a lightbulb went on.."like one of the Collyer Brothers."
"Not THAT bad," I protested. The Collyers were two brothers, rich compulsive hoarders, who never, ever threw ANYTHING out, and eventually died in an indoor "old newspaper pile"avalanche in their 1920's Fifth Ave mansion. Which event was a nine days wonder in NYC.    

It's true that when does spiritual exercises/work/practics, it's vital to go there..but remember to COME BACK occasionally, if only to do the damn dishes. Our spiritual practices are supposed o ENHANCE our real lives. Not replace them.

And so: have to leave now to be early for next appointment.- Really. 
Toldja I was fixed.

peri lyons

11 January 2011

"Closure: It Isn't Just For Doors and Windows Anymore!"

[brief note from the authoress: ]
      People are continuing to send me stuff about my ex, and here's what I have to say about that: He seems radiantly happy and successful; his gf seems adorable, exuberant and quite pretty; they seem VERY well suited; and he is handsomer and more successful than ever. And really-isn't what what we WANT for the people we've cared about in our lives? It doesn't, in the end, matter , what roads you take to find love, or if there's some ouchiness involved in the process...it's temporary, and usually the people involved have had lessons to learn and any "temporary ouchiness" has actually been an integral part of the process of learning, healing and growing. What matters, ultimately, is that you FIND love, no matter how briefly bumpy the road to get there, seemed at the time. EVERYONE's individual happiness, contributes to the happiness of everyone else on the planet. Including me. And if one is not suited to someone in the longterm, it's an actual BLESSING to find that out sooner rather than later. So ultimately? It's truly a win-win situation for all concerned.
Besides: without the lessons and growth of the last six months, I wouldn't have found my present happiness and peace in a loving primary relationship, with someone I respect and am starting to love and am learning to have tremendous fun with: Yup...me. Corny but true. I'm dating the woman who writes this blog and we're enjoying getting to know each other and seeing where this will go. [Note to the more literal minded: the"'woman who writes this blog" is me: this is a riff on self-acceptance, not a 'coming-out" piece.]

So: If you have to burn down the house in order to get the best view of the landscape, well then--somebody hand me that match. [Figuratively speaking, of course. This is NOT an incentive to arson.]

And? All is as it should be and all is good. I wish them the fantastic future they're going to have, and that's all I've ever say about this subject again, which is now -very happily--in everyone's past so let's get on with the present of the future! Onward and upward! Whoo-hoo! -And no, that WASN'T the meds just kicking in. -Thanks for asking, though.

Have been living in an artists' collective until I figure out what my next forward step for happiness and growth, is, in terms of living situations-where why and how.-- But meanwhile? It's FUN. There's live (and quite good music) all the time, with people traipsing in and out to rehearse; there's an added bonus in that many of them are very attractive; if a friend and I want to take up the big central table for a Sunday afternoon making crazy collage and art pieces, nobody bats an eyelash; and the parties are AWESOME. -I don't always attend them, as I have writing and other  actual work to do, but it's nice to know they're there. The age range of the flatmates goes from mid20s to mid40's: they're all successful in their chosen fields or getting that way fast; and the contents of the communal fridge make for constantly amusing biographical footnotes. Fodder for pleasant deductive musings: did X have yet another date that ended with a handshake and a doggy bag of Indian leftovers? Is Z ever coming back for her kimchee, because it seems to have been taking assertiveness training in the meantime, and has now taken the broccoli hostage; will peri ever eat anything ever again aside from apples, sunflower butter and soymilk?  -The neighborhood is pleasantly colorful, and it's filled with useful life lessons: for instance, 99 cent stores actually sell stuff for the same amount or MORE than NON 99cent stores; Spanish is a very important and useful language to know/learn..and so is Urdu; and and the "M" in "M Train" ACTUALLY means that it's run by the Marquis de Sade. It's a special experimental MTA "commuter torture" program designed to make riders so grateful to actually see a train ARRIVE that they're brainwashed into never complaining about anything else transit related again. ("M" for "manchurian commuter candidate?" Hmmm.)

So now? Off to see if the Internet says that it's snowing; have an apple and sunflowee seed butter sandwich  -soymilk on the side; and make a collage using glitter, Urdu, and 99 Cent Store receipts with the prices circled. -hey...it's 5 in the morning in Bushwick..you don't think I'm going OUTSIDE, do you? 

love, peace,happiness and a big cup of hot chai tea-

09 January 2011

Whoa. Apparently? It CAN Get More Random. Who Knew.

1) Botanicas are the last repositories of cheap amazing folk art. I regularly buy the "baths" and give them to friends, just because the art of the front is so crazygood. (image TK). Also, the love "perfumes"-with labels saying "Come to Me" and featuring pictures of a couple dressed in the style of the 1950's gazing swoonily at each other- seems to actually work. -The baths I can't recommend--the first and only one I tried was the "good Luck Work" bath. I had to get out of the bath to answer the phone (this was 1999, when people still had quaint handcranked landlines). It was temp job, informing me I'd been let go. So now I take showers instead.
Anyway-where were we?- oh, botanicas--which for the uninitated are Spanish santaria magic shops--are cool. So I walked nto one on Bushwick, where within ten minutes a very large woman was holding my hand and telling me I had just lost a love. I said, "well, not "just", and I'm fine now, actually." She said, persuasively and ungrammatically that I had lost him to a...MAN. 
I burst out laughing. "Um? No. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But? No. Trust me on this one. Nope. No."
She then tried to persuade me that I needed to pay her 700 bucks to have the spells taken off me, that, apprently had been cast by "other women"  who had abandoned all good sense (and, apparently, 700 smackers) because they were mad with jealousy of my beauty and kindness. Yup.
I had a moment in which all became blindingly clear-"of course! that explains EVERYTHING!" -and then reality reared it's reasonable head and I laughed and said "Um? i don't THINK so. Nice try, though."

Then I left. Despite the kabillion Christ and Mary themed images ,statues, candles, footwear, and sucking candies, the place had a whiff of the "run away now!!" about it. So? I did.

Still jammin' on those Magic Bath Packets though. Must post an image.

2) Every winter in defined (in my head only) by the coat I bought for it. The Winter of The Cool Inuit Coat With The Embroidered Polar Bears; The Winter of the 1970's NeoHippie Faux Suede Floorlength--but THIS--this is the winter of the Faux Leopard Swing Coat . -It's a big hit in Bushwick.
 I was buying a bottle of wine for a dinner party at the corner liquor store--I find the best wines are ALWAYS displayed behind flyspecked, bulletpocked fake glass--and while the guy was getting my choice (dialogue: Me: "What's your most expensive wine cost?" Him: "12.99" Me: "I'll take it"), a neighborhood guy whose breath was pure phosgene, swayed in my direction . He looked at my coat and said "Wha you have to kill tha' tiger for, lady!" and then looked at me and said "You're niice."
I was contemplating if killing tigers is a sign of a good personality, when he said "tigers is dangerous are YOU dang'ous?"
I said "Not yet", took my thirteen dollar wine-ish thing and sprung [sprang? springed?], like a faux leopard, off and into the night.

3) At a dinner party filled with interesting art/writing/music type folks last night (Happy Birthday, Handsome Mr. Riley!), many things were discussed. First, we discussed different forms of Buddhism . One of the guests was a very devoted Tibetan Buddhist, who had married his Wiccan wife in a broom jumping ceremony in the middle of a labyrinth. All I could think to say was, "and you're both jewish, right?" He said "Just me" and grinned. "We jumped over the broomstick and onto a glass. That was tricky."

I was just about to ask him if all of the wedding guests found their way OUTof the labyrinth, how could you be sure, did you have a checklist?- when my attention was diverted-okay, hijacked- by a discussion of what seems like a permanent trend in younger women: that of having laser hair removal in an, um rather intimate area. yes it was an odd topic, but people seemed to find it compelling.
One guy said his younger male friend was shocked when his new older girlfriend actually had hair there. (He got over, I guess, because they're now married.)
I was reminded of the story about John Ruskin, who had grown up with his erotic images being of classical nude statuary, famously smooth all over. (The statuary that is. Not John Ruskin) and whose marriage remained unconsummated because, on their wedding night, he was traumatized by finding he had married a nonmarble person. She later ran off with a painter and had 9 children, proving that Adler was right about the theory of overcompensation.
Someone suggested that no trend lasts forever, and these poor girls were going to get COLD down there eventually, and perhaps we should pool our money and start a merkin store. [Google it. I can't be arsed.I'm sorry] to be ready for when the tide turned. It was interesting how men over 40 were going "ergh--really?' and the women were outraged by the connotations -"great- paedophila Barbie, just what we need", one woman commented drily; but the men under thirty, all one of them, were perking up. "Well, I don't know.."he said. I quickly changed the topic by saying that, when I was little, I had asked my brother Mark what God looked like, and he told me "God looks and sounds just like Louis Armstrong", which made sense to me and still does. I asked the table )the people at the table that is: not the table itself) what other contenders could handle the job. People like Marianne Faithfull, Willie Nelson and the American Indian actor Graham Green were mentioned, but then someone said authoritatively "Everyone knows that God is Norman Mailer." [no she didn't know my past] and silence fell. "Yup" was the general agreement. So a toast was drunk, to God and Mailer and to having as friends people willing and able to run with a conversational ball.

And so to laundry. Dammit. Don't wanna. Oh well. The laundry is starting to pulse slightly, as well as glowing faintly green -and greeting me by name when I walk in- so I think it's Time.

TTFN. love Peri

06 January 2011

Bearing Up Nicely

Bearing Up Nicely c Peri Lyons

From the "Yahoo News" site:

"Hungry bears invade homes:
Driven from their habitat by drought, black bears are breaking into homes looking for food."

I live alone, so this evening when I pushed open the door of my small but cozy flat in the Village, I almost screamed, to see someone sitting in my large green velvet armchair.

"hello", he said. He was holding a bottle of Chilean wine in his paw, and scrutinizing it closely.

"Excuse me", I said,"but I think you're in the wrong apartment."

"You said it, sister", said the bear, for that's what he was. "What kind of person has filet mignon in the icebox and only a ten dollar Chilean red to serve with it?"

"Excuse me? How do you know about the filet I have?"

"Had, babycakes, HAD. Gone now. Along with the fishfingers, the yogurt and the frozen ravioli hidden in the freezer. Now, about this wine-"

"LOOK, pal," I said. I am an environmentalist and a strong believer in animal conservation, but I draw the line when the animal in question is criticizing my wine selection."I'm sorry my food choices disappoint you, but do you get so much vino in the wild that you can suddenly call yourslef an expert? And by the way, my landlord doesn't allow pets."

"Good thing I ate your cats, then," he said. "Save you getting evicted.And yes, Miss Conservationist Except When It Comes To Sharing, this wine is way too tannic to properly bring out the middle tones of the filet. Sheesh. Even I know that, and I am only a simple black bear from the forsts of the far Northwest." He crossed his legs and placed the wine on top of the radiator.

"You're a simple black bear who is a complete poser when it comes to oenology, Buster. If that radiator goes on, that wine's more delicate flavors will be destroyed in 30 seconds flat. And how did you get in here? "

He was studying a Chinese takeout menu now. "Does this place use MSG?", he asked in a concerned way. "It wreaks havoc with my sinuses. And I get puffy. I don't like getting puffy."

"Who let you in here?" I yelled.

He raised his eyebrows at this, as though I was committing a faux pas. "Your next door neighbor. I said if he didn't use his spare keys, I'd eat him."

"Oh my God."

"I ate him anyway. I'm a simple forest creature, I have pretty bad ethics. And all he had in the fridge were Tater Tots. He deserved to die. The man had a naugahyde palate." His paw kicked the now empty Haagen Dazs container near his foot. I was pretty steamed.

"Look, my new boyfriend is coming over in ten minutes, and I don't think he's going to take kindly to a 600 pound carnivore in my living room. He has a hard enough time with my exhusband. If I give you the address of a someone who always has a wellstocked fridge, will you scram, please? I feel I've done my part for conservation, if it's all the same to you."

He stood up and stretched. He yawned, to show me he didn't care and he was leaving anyway. "Fine, fine. Honestly, your place needs a little fixing up anyway. You call this an oriental rug? I don't THINK so."

"yeah, well, the blood stains don't improve it much, Mr Decorator Bear Guy."

"Are you kidding? They MAKE it! Neo sauvage! The red really ties the room together!"

I started pushing him out the door. "Okay" he said "I'm going, I'm going."

As he was leaving, I said "Wait, by the way...aren't you supposed to be hiberanting already?"

He shrugged. "What can I tell you? The Ambien wore off."

Tying my one Hermes scarf around his head, he ambled off down the hallway, off to invade another home.

With any luck, the next householder would have a tranquilizer gun...or failing that, a LOT of Chateau de St Emilion 1982.

05 January 2011

Adam Cvijanovic. Seven art fair

Adam Cvijanovic. Seven art fair
Originally uploaded by Spor welcomes you to the good life...

It's a supernova. Actually FANTASTICALLY good in real life. I might be biased-no, actually I'm not--but this is the artist I'd be buying as an investment right now. Google him and his work: he's an old fashioned genuine genius.

04 January 2011

Peri Lyons as a Goddess, by Adam Cvijanovic version 1

Peri Lyons as a Goddess, by Adam Cvijanovic version 1
Originally uploaded by perilyons

The Oriental Trading Company Will Lie To You And Make You Sad

"The Oriental Trading Wedding Catalog" Will Lie To You And Make You Sad.

 I recently discovered that, when one gets engaged,one mysteriously starts receiving bushels of wedding-related catalogs. They're really kind of amazing, in their fervent belief that NO object is too trivial to be turned into a fetishistic wedding decoration/ornament/rather doubtful gift. I spent the hours in which I should have been cleaning, today, mesmerized like a cobra by a mongoose,  by the wares featured in the mysterious and possibly-not-really-Asian, bridal  catalog, "Oriental Trading Wedding!Everything from "Will You" to "I do"!""  - Yikes. No, really. Yikes.

 Apparently, there is an insatiable demand for items such as: custom flip flops for one's wedding guests, something I thought was pretty amazingly tacky,until I learned that Ivanka Trump had those at her recent wedding to Jared Kushner. (Wait...which is the Trump daughter? Ivanka? What's the mom's name? Why do I care? Did Heidi and Spencer really break up? Is Heidi now going to pursue a career as an inflatable pool toy? But we digress. -And how.) But I still think flip flops are tacky.

There are also slightly distressing items. Somehow, the photo of wooden chairs set up outside with customized paper fans on them, is not reassuring. 
Why not  go all out, and have huge monogrammed blocks of ice for the VIP guests to sit on?Or  why not skip the fans altogether and have the damn thing INside? I hate outdoor weddings. My stiletto  heels always sink into the grass/sand/Jello/best man, and I wobble in an unflattering manner.  Not good. Also, there are always gnats in the crab dip. Between wobbling, spitting out gnat-filled crab bits unobtrusively into the shrubbery, and wrasslin' the mother in law for a seat on the monogrammed ice block, it all goes to hell in a handbasket quickly. -A tasteful, monogrammed, white satin handbasket. See catalog. Page 5.

We will quickly pass over the "Personalized Wedding Knife", on page 9. It doesn't bear thinking about. Although it will come in handy at about three AM when the bride accuses her new hubby of staring at the bridesmaids' cleavage, and he responds that she shouldn't have dressed her closest female friends like "Little Bo Peep Becomes A Prostitute: The Movie", and pretty soon the Personalized Wedding Knife's TRUE purpose becomes all  too apparent.

Some of these catalog items have the reek of desperation about them, an air of "methinks the couple doth protest too much."  One catalog is very big on having you, the Gentle Reader, engrave the phrase "Bruce and Carleen: Two Hearts, One Love." on everything-  Well yes. Two hearts, one love: One would hope so: these people are getting married, after all. "Two Hearts, One Mutually Unspoken But Relieved Agreement To Settle" is accurate but depressing, and "Three Hearts,One Love" while amusing, would be complicated. And probably French. And  finally, "Two Hearts, Four Kidneys, One Appendix, and Two Silicone Implants: One Love", while interesting and informative, would be prohibitively costly to engrave.  And who, exactly,are Bruce and Carleen? Unless you are a 1950's country singer and/or own a small hair salon in Atkins, Georgia, you should not be spelling your name with two successive "ee"s. 
-Bruce, you're fine. Though probably gay.

Oooh, look, we're at the "Excessive Crosses" section already! Reaffirm your faith AND make your Jewish guests uncomfortable! Talk about win-win! -And here! Page 18! There are WASPy butter mints tastefully wrapped in Episcopal Cross wrappers, which say to me: 1) The food at this wedding is NOT going to be tasty,  but WILL have all the crusts cut off; and 2) After this evening? This couple will never have sex again.

(I grew up Episcopal. I'm allowed to say this. Besides, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that the WASPier the wedding, the crappier the food.) 

I could go on and on. The "Save the Date" wedding magnet, which OSTENSIBLY shows a cartoon couple "taking the plunge" in snorkels   (?), but ACTUALLY looks like they are hanging themselves simultaneously. (Image to come...it's awesome.)  There are other "Save The Date" magnets, that seem to read "Eric and David Are Getting Married!", which I LOVED, but which seemed a little unexpected. I also read one as "Dawn and Marie:Gettin Hitched!" but it turned out to be "Dawn and Marc", much to my disappointment.-On page 23, there is a white, wedding themed birdcage, to symbolize your coming entrapment, despair, and your ultimate fate of,metaphorically, winding up ,feet in the air, on a seed strewn page of last week's newspaper. Fun! -The "cartoon bride and groom" themed toilet paper, page 29, makes the "Personalized Knife" seem both optimistic AND tasteful.  The "Round Silver Cardboard Dinner Plates" (page 32) look -by accident or design- EXACTLY like the tinware found in prison mess halls; page 46 features, grimly, THREE MORE personalized Wedding Knives; and this Trilogy Of Resignation And Doom is rounded off, on page 72, with the suggestion that you gift your bridesmaids with--wait for it--engraved flasks. Because they will crave the sweet embrace of that one special man on this romantic day: yes,  we mean Johnny Walker Black. 

{An upbeat note here: the Jordan Almonds in your wedding colors are cool. I love Jordan Almonds. You can never go wrong with Jordan Almonds. And the personalized candy corn is cool too, although it might confuse your guests into thinking it's actually Halloween, and your "bride and groom" outfits are costumes. But only if you've already given them their flasks.}

To sum up: In the words of one satisfied  customer, under "Advice From The Bride", are these golden gems of helpful wisdom:

1) Put a SPECIAL centerpiece on the table of the bride and groom! [Um, yes. DUH. The "Dixie Cup with a daisy in it",while sweet, won't really do it.]

2) Have plenty of champagne and wine glasses on hand for the adult guests! {Because everyone lying under the wine box spigot and gulping, just TAKES too damn long.}

3) Polyester flowers make EVERYTHING more elegant!  [Well, no. No,they don't. Truly not. Please,God.No.}

and, this final, enigmatic gem:

4) When it comes to your Wedding Day, skimping on the special details shouldn't be optional.   {Well, of course not! Or, of course! Or...wait, what does this MEAN?" Not not skimping on the details should not be not optional?" Or, "Skimp away?" What???]

So pull up a block of monogrammed ice, sharpen your Wedding Knife, and call yourself Bruce And Carleen. Remind guests that you are getting married because you are in LOVE, with two hearts and one love and a vestigial appendix, and not because you're almost thirty and let's face it,  the dating pool is dwindling. Put on your flip flops, fill up your flask and relax! , secure in the knowledge that: The divorce rate is 53 %, your BRIDESmaids, at the end of the day, will -unlike YOU- still be single; and really: Jordan Almonds are SO TASTY!! Especially in Your Colors.

And polyester flowers go with everything.

Peri Lyons c 6/1/2010 all rights reserved

02 January 2011

Two Novembers (hard comfort)

Two Novembers (cold comfort)                                         by peri lyons                                                          
For Betsy and Danielle

November now, when shadows hide their shadows.
Hard to remember now, as trees stand stripped,
And water pours out holy,and unholy, from the sky

That birth is coming: ripped and yet not ripped
Out, timely and untimely; That this cry,
will bring tomorrow running to our room

To make us see the shadows as they be:
The sun just chasing darkness from the sky
(The only story. From the only script.)

The promise of the tree is drinking rain.
 The shadow of the tree is not the tree
These tears will turn out shadows of this pain

This tearing birth that's heralded by tears
Turns into blessing, as this turns again.
So shadows, chased by sunlight, turn the years.

peri lyons copyright 2010

randomness in all its glory

Random observations, NYC

                    [Author's note: wrote this a year and a half ago. Have calmed down somewhat, since. xo]

1) In my current neighborhood, there is a fair amount of no money. And a more-than-average-share of homeless folks. One very tall, very very drunk homeless gentleman has been standing on the corner lately,
aiming acute and pointless and very good observations at his entourage of invisible friends.
Today, he pointed at one of "them" (who was very specifically NOT standing exactly three fet to the left of me, leaning negligently against an invisible lamppost)- and shouted sternly, "We will only be free when ALL of our eyes are perpendicular! Perpendicular eyes equal freedom!"
Appraently his friend raised an invisible skeptical eyebrow because the homeless gentleman became rather insistent on the subject, as though to both warn and convince his ethereal fellow. 

I left, and went home, in order to look up "perpendicular". It means "exactly vertical or upright".

I am still impressed, both by his conviction and his ability to pronounce "perpendicular" shortly after replacing all the fluid in his body with MadDog 2020, Vintage: Tuesday.

Also? I think he may be right. 

I'm just not sure what about.


2) My cat Princess has become more and more spoiled, because I've been home writing nonstop and she's been on my lap the entire time. Her demands are getting increasingly specific. First, no more dry food. Okay. Next, no more cheapo "Friskies" crap: nope, it's either "Fancy Feast" or a hunger strike a la Bobby Sands, except much much sillier. Now She won't eat off of paper plates. She likes china. China only. Or else.
I'm worried that my lack of perspective about her right now--we've become close--is going to wind up, where this escalates to a point that is obviously ridiculous to everyone but me.And Princess.

"Oh, just ignore the liveried servants", I'll say airily, to visitors to my home. "Oh, and remember, after we cross the threshold, we're only speaking Chaucerian English to her. Got that?"

"What happened to "French only?"", my nervous suitor will inquire. [Note; All of my suitors are nervous. Can't imagine why.]

I will look at them in disbelief. [I like "them". It suggests that I am visited by rotating squads of suitors on a pre-arranged schedule. History will remain mum on whether or not that's a fact.]
 "Please!" I will snort in derision. "That was LAST week! Sheesh. -Now, everyone..." -commanding pause--"please don your cashmere unitards."

-Okay. That's it. We're going back to "Friskies". Frankly? I just can't be arsed to re-learn Chaucerian English.


Speaking of suitors, what is with the new mania of sexual coyness that seems to be springing up as a trend in NYC Men? History will remain mum on where I stand on this subject, but I am HEARING nothing but complaints frpm my gorgeous woman friends about how difficult it is to, well, get any action in this town. 
Men are succumbing to fits of the fantods; calling-(apparently, from a reclining position alone on a Victorian settee-)-at the last minute to cancel dates with genuinely beautiful and accomplished women. THIRD dates.! We all know what third dates are supposed to mean.Ahem.[Note to my parents: I wouldn't know. Every night, I go back to the Upper West Side,to sleep in the chapel of the Episcopal Convent school you sent me to. So relax.]

Are boys the new girls? Are men the new women? Is up the new down?  When did the "thing", in the traditional, motherly warning, "Men only want ONE thing, o daughter mine,", become: Celibacy?  

Sometimes I think there are only two flavors of people: those who are "in love" and those who aren't. When I am in love, I can't imagine NOT being in love; when I'm NOT in love, I can't imagine being so again. I DID  almost get this quote ( of Matt Groening's) as a tattoo:

"Love is like a snowmobile, speeding along an icy path. 
Suddenly it flips, pinning you underneath. 
At night, the ice weasels come."

The tattoo artist talked me out of it, on the grounds that it would be 1) somewhat deleterious to my love life, in future; 2) prohibitively expensive; and 3) take up so much room that I might have to continue it on another person. So... am inkless. -Unlike ANYONE else in Brooklyn.

Not playing "hard to get": I AM hard to get. ...not intentionally..just got so much stuff to do. I've spent most of my adult life in relationships, and it has always been a point of pride making my guy happy, fulfilled, well fed, coddled, and eventually, rich and famous. (There are some women who are just really good luck to be with. Not to brag. But I'm one of them. Hell, I'm THREE of them.-Okay, that's bragging. -Yay!) But now I'm making me happy, fulfilled, etc etc . It work! Who knew?

Been doing some volunteer work, instead. I go and hang out with old people. Whether they want me to or not. We play cards and tell stories, knock back some juice, and have some laughs. At an Old People's Home, which is somehow an entirely different thing from an Old Person's HOUSE. Go figure.

So:  Men of New York! Arise! You are heroes, descended from heroes! Awake from your illusion of passivity!  Go live your true, passionate nature! Kiss that girl! Make a fool of yourself in a brave and dashing manner!
-Or? don't. That's okay too. No worries. No pressure. Me,  I've got a life to lead and a book to finish (and if there's any time left over, get my legs waxed.)

We'll figure it out.

love Peri

01 January 2011

Lyrics: "The Dare" 2010 peri lyons (copyright reserved)

The Dare
I might look like I'm open to receiving love
but you must know that looks can be deceiving, love
I'm live on the outside
but something inside me has died:
oh baby
I couldn't fall in love if I tried
if you're able
to read my label
the warning's printed plainly outside:
ooh baby-
I couldn't fall in love if I tried
if you're lookin
to get me cookin
the ingredients are listed outside
contains: one woman
who couldn't fall in love if she tried
I couldn't fall if you pushed me
I couldn't feel if i fell
The funny thing about paradise lost
is that it's right next to hell
So if you're missin
somethin in my kissin
don't let it go hurting your pride
You keep trying
But I couldn't fall in love if I tried
May look hot but my heart is so cold
May look young but this heart feels one thousand years old
so don't go kissing me and feel you're somehow missing me
no, don't go hurting your pride
it isn't me, it's you sugar
I couldn't fall in love if I tried

pl 2010 valley cottage music ASCAP