A Train


The next person who tells me I should write a book, I will stab.

I regularly think of dumping all the extant printouts of books I’m working on in the recycling.  This isn’t quite dramatic enough, though.  I do that all the time, anyway, mark up hard copies, make the corrections, recycle the pages.

Then I think I should erase the google docs.  Because, let’s face it, I will likely be the one to take out the recycling.

I’m sure there would be some sort of sound effect were I to do so.  Siri or somebody would say, “How bad you feel!  I see you feel very bad!”  And I would say, “I do!  I feel terrible!  I try so hard!  No one cares!”  And then it would say, “Deleted.”

This is like my dad’s story of growing a beard when he got divorced.  “Did you want to do something when you found out you couldn’t have kids?” he asked me.

“No,” I said.  Maybe if I could grow a beard.  What women want to do is to get bangs.  Or become brunette.  I manage to avoid both impulses when they rear their ugly heads.

What it’s like to be us is to not have anyone know you are not all right, because it’s so embarrassing, but then really need someone to know you are not all right, just for a sec, just to say, “I see you feel bad,” so we can say, “Oh, no, I’m fine.”

I think instead about not submitting anything, ever again, perhaps I just write for myself.  Like Emily Dickinson, whom I love.

Don’t ever tell someone to write a book.  Say, “I am right now giving you the $20 your book will cost, and I’m clicking the fuck out of your blog, until it can’t walk, and I’m calling my agent/editor friend right now, and just give me a free copy when it is inevitably published, I’m kidding, I’ll buy another one then.  And your drink’s on me because you’re the smartest, sexiest, tallest person I’ve ever met, also the best writer.  Also I like your shoes.”

I’ve been to many writing conferences, classes, have three times sat with writer who had a respectable book published, with one of my books, and s/he said, “This is good.  You’re going to get this published.”

Then you skip off and feel very smart.

Then you know for whatever reason this does not happen.

So you end up a person waiting for the subway thinking maybe you will just go home and go back to bed because why.

I’m not really a suicidal type, but I do get such pressing depression that I can’t breathe, I have to force myself to eat anything, anything, and I am worried about myself, and I can’t think what to do, and usually the worst passes in an hour, and the bulk of it in a couple of days.

Then I stop checking the stats on my blog to see if anyone gives a shit about me because, obviously, you know, that’s not healthy.

Anyway I got on the train because I wasn’t that crazy.

A clarinet player on the train played “Frere Jacques” and “Pop Goes the Weasel,” and “B-I-N-G-O,” and I gave him a crumpled dollar, and he made me smile, which I did not feel like doing, but was, as they say to the preschoolers, a good choice.

I got off the train and walked down the street and hurried and looked and thought I saw Mandy Patinkin coming out of an apartment building and walking towards me, then I was sure I had seen him, which was insane because I was listening to “On the Street Where You Live,” which is so beautiful, and then I was skipping off, that street is also the street Gershwin lived on, I turned the corner, tossed my postcard to President Trump telling him to fuck off in the mailbox I didn’t even know was there, and off to church.*

*Some parts of this previous paragraph may be true, except I did see a bearded man with glasses, I was listening to “On the Street Where You Live,” and I did mail a postcard to the president, and the Gershwin part.

The priest did the service just the way I would have, bringing over a chair to sit with us for the sermon, and asking us all to come up and stand right in front of the altar together for communion.

In the sermon he talked about his mother dying of Alzheimer’s, coincidentally, today is the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, of Alzheimer’s.

The same day she died, she died in the wee hours, I got up, was told that she died, and went to the hospital to visit my friend, who had almost died, but had not died, we played tennis with a balloon in the physical therapy room, and then I went and bought underwear.

It was a memorable day.

Also I will stab the people who tell me, “Oh, you’ll meet someone.”  I know they mean to be nice, but still I will stab them, for passing on the illogical idea that things you want, you get.  If you want them enough.  If you just keep trying.  Like some people don’t get hit by trains.  Some people get hit by trains.

(You should watch “Baskets,” on F/X, to get this reference, and you should pay for it, because those people did a fine job making two season of a TV show.)

The lesson was the story about Jesus healing the epileptic, so we say, it seems more like “mentally ill guy” to me.  Not literal healing, maybe, but whatever.  How the story is used as a weapon against the ill, the poor, the raped, if you really believed, God would protect you.  From demons.  Sometimes here people stop and explain what ancient people meant by demons, and I stop them, and I’m like, “I get it.”

I spent a good bit of time discussing Job with one of my students last week.  “I don’t get it,” she said.  “I don’t get it, either,” I said.

“I think God is with people all the time, even though they die,” the priest said, and I thought I thought that, too, at least now that he had said it, I did, I didn’t before, when I walked in, but I remembered now that I did.

I was pleased to know all the responses without a prayer book, and I was bummed one of the three other women there was the girlfriend of someone who worked for the church, which lessened my status, and that the other woman had a daughter who went to Columbia, because not only do I not have a daughter, I also have never, and will never, get to go to Columbia.

Because I brought my actual self, and she is petty about this shit.  Real petty.

Then I bought a candle for $3.27 and wrote my grandma’s name on it, and the poem I read as she died, and I lit it, and I left it.

Image: “RFK Funeral Train,” Paul Fusco, Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

Can you believe it’s not on display?  It should be.

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