Person in a lake

There’s a moment when a child stops

playing just for her as there is “Another” watching. The play become something other than sole imaginary play and is now “observed” play. The child comes out of her unconscious and is now conscious of her presence in the world No one really remembers this moment except me, that is. I was so lost in my play at age 4 that noticing I was being observed was an electric jolt. An intruder. As if someone could see into my mind and know what I was thinking. I was no longer playing for the sake of playing but now I played to an audience even if there was no one there. There is a psychological term for this. I forgot that term. I do know that I am almost integrated now. If I were a photograph I would be just one outline and not a series of paper dolls slightly overlapping one over the other. All those different characters I played. All the people I thought I had to be. Pleasing so many and always worried I had failed some which I’m sure I did. I became really exhausted from all of this pleasing. It is so much easier not to even notice.

Aquatic Entertainer

My Life as an Aquatic Entertainer.  

 

In another life I was an aquatic entertainer because I needed to practice my breathing. I suffered from anxiety and worried nightly about remembering to breathe. I could barely sleep.Sometimes this fear kept me up for hours. Aquatic entertainers are required to hold their breath for a minutes at a time.That’s “minutes”. I wore a costume of filigree, seaweed, and Jantzen , a rubber plastic cap of petals variegated in color like a new variety of lettuce leafs. I descended into a tank at Hollywood Gardens In Winter Tree, Florida at 10am, 1PM and 5PM. I was the best in show. I sipped more air from the dangling hoses than other girls and was penalized for it. Holding the dangling hose like a lucky strike, taking my sips, men died for me. I was still the best. Then I dried off, removed my costume, and fraternized with the drinkers. All part of the job. I liked the drinkers. Encouraging them to have more was good for them. They felt happy and slapped each other on the back. They always asked me to give them a special wave from the tank so I always told them I had and how could they have missed it? Aquatic dancers have certain health problems which are an accepted part of the job. We tend to grow back fins which are tricky to remove and sometimes can only eat underwater: much cleaner but not as tasty as normal eating.

I liked my job but in the end I had to quit. It was too hard on my hair. I never had time to socialize or get a life. The worst part was constantly smelling of chlorine. The best part of being underwater was not having to talk.

 

 

 

 

Oh Russia

Oh Russia

 

 

Russia…

I hear symphonies and underlying notes of soulful

loss and pieces of Dostoyevsky and still she lumbers forward with

Tchaikovsky attending to the beat and refuses to look far ahead

at the leader who is stomping angrily in the snow looking

for the borderline knowing this earth belongs to him

and him only…

The world cries against him which enflames him

like men in backyards throwing kerosine at their

barbecues, exerting control over hot coals,

the tanks filled with children keep moving

and shooting and the people, they say they are

not running but the baby carriages filled with

spotted dogs, babies, canned tuna and handguns

progress to the western Ukraine border. We are all

onlookers: fearful, our mouths stuck shut with cello

tape, our wrists bound, our feet shoeless,

like those forced to watch the witches hang or

the Holocaust victims fall into the graves they

were forced to dig. Some say it will be stopped

but there are some who see the spread of evil

like an ink stain on a dark blotter and one country

seeps into another taking everything and everyone

with them.

 

 

Marla Ruzicka

Let’s talk about war. It’s so cold here that the moon withdrew itself last night. The fur on people’s dogs stopped  shedding for the day. I heard the word “honor” in connection with the memorial I saw from the second world war and I thought why is it honorable to be in a war or to create a war? Why is it considered honorable to be a hero when you kill people. Or why is it considered honorable to be a hero when you’re a leader and you decide to kill even more people? I am going to write this in the simplest way I possibly can. I don’t see any heroism in war. I think this concept should end But what really frightens me is that I think it’s a basic part of human nature. It seems to me it all boils down to the territorial imperative. Even if the  territorial imperative is 1 inch of space somewhere. I’m not a historian and ,in fact, I hated history because I hate precision in any form. I am an artist and a creative person so I don’t like squares, I like circles. I don’t like wars. I don’t like it when leaders stamp their foot and turn on their heel and walk away and send in their giant killing machines.

One of my heroes was a young woman who on her own counted the civilian victims of war in Afghanistan and Irac. Her name was Marla Ruzicka and Senator Patrick Leahy passed a bill in her honor stating that civilian victims of war would now be counted. Why in her honor? Because she was killed before she was 30 by a car bomb.

I had met her in New York one warm night at a friends reception for the Ploughshares Fund. Her blonde hair fell around her face in a kind of charmingly messy mop and she was wearing a tank top and some old pair of jeans and we spent 20 minutes talking about what she did. It was so inspiring to me and a few weeks later when I read on the front page of the Times that she had been killed my heart broke for her. I couldn’t stop crying. In my mind I kept seeing that wonderful, youthful face with her wide smile and a great soft glow about her. She was my hero and always will be.

It’s time for the world to wake up and realize who the real heroes are. It’s not the territorial imperative and the machines of war that are the brave things. It’s a single person who will dare stand up and make a point and risk their life doing so.

Last Night

Kissed in a restaurant

 

I met you in a restaurant outside and I wore a coat the color of dried blood and when I saw you I knew I had already known you. Sometimes when that happens there’s no denying it. I love this restaurant. All the waiters know my name and they think I’m a lovely lady. But that night when I met you and I was so close to your eyes while we were eating I just felt like I was on a roller coaster and I could shoot down that track right down into your soul. I couldn’t help it when you kissed me there even though I knew Megan, the maître d’, could see the whole thing. I don’t think she could see the depth of it all and may be that’s why I let myself be carried away by a pyre of woodchucks laughing as only they do at my willingness to be carried away. You and I were meant to have a dance. I don’t remember being carried away before but I do remember dreaming about it. There’s something magic that happens when you meet a person and everything about you and that person is the same size. And I’m not talking about our bodies because our bodies are really meaningless but I am talking about something I don’t have to talk about. Self! you think to yourself what in the world is going on? It’s like diving into a pool at night and you have no idea how deep the deep end is but you keep your fingers crossed and go for the gold.But in the end you know you can take care of yourself and that’s the most important thing there is. I’m always tempted to really look into abandonment because I think that’s the real issue in life. It’s like Dr. Dolittle in the push me pull you. Everyone wants to feel safe and in control but if everyone wants that then it’s never gonna happen. Somebody has to just dig in their heels and make a statement. That’s it.

My House

 

 

I live alone, people think, but in fact my house has so many inhabitants I have to be careful when moving through it. There are many men lurking about in my closets and bedroom all of whom seem angry and hungry. They steal things from me like small bottles of Vodka from airplanes I’ve never been on and buttons. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. The kitchen contains some younger ones with damp, slightly curled hair who cook gravy. I like these younger ones better. I happen to hate gravy unless it’s on turkey which is tasteless without it. Why in the world is turkey so very white? So many things are. I walk slowly through the detritus of my life so as not to stumble over hillocks of bodies and chirping young friends who think I am hopeful so I am. To them. I need young friends. The doors are always unlocked and flowers wander in and out flagrantly fragrancing the hours. The hallways, always making memories, melt into the cracks and settlings of bones and earthquake reinforcement. The flowers are welcoming like the chorus in a Greek play as they understand suffering and wilting. People ask, don’t I want an elevator but why would I? Life goes fast enough as it is. I can wander in an elevated state up and down and sideways into the dining room where the chairs are always filled with brilliance and I can sit with the thoughts of so many nights, so much laughter, the best wine, and no gravy. I always end out in the dining room now but often all the chairs are already filled.