Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Over lunch, Cupcake had a question.

“What do you do on birthdays?”

”Whose birthday?” asked Cupcake’s friend, mostly hidden behind a menu.

“Someone from the past.”

Cupcake’s friend, mostly hidden behind a menu, didn’t hesitate.

”Nothing,” she said. “I think I’ll have the grilled octopus.”

“Even if the person meant a lot to you?”

”Nothing. Especially then.”

Bending her head to read it, Cupcake noticed that her menu was surprisingly blurry. It took her a second to realize that she was on the brink of tears.

“Maybe the minestrone?” said Cupcake’s friend. She closed the menu with finality sufficient to bring the waitress immediately tableside.

Her friend ordered with so much conviction that when the waitress looked at her hopefully, Cupcake could only say, “And I’ll have the same.” The truth was, she didn’t really care what she had for lunch.

Cupcake has noticed more than once that days blur into years with alarming frequency. She has also noticed that hours blur into days. Cupcake’s life is so full and rich now—and she is so busily involved in a life she spent a long time wishing for- that she sometimes loses huge chunks of time to a contentedness she had never known was possible.

But the fact of the matter is that the contentedness sometimes relies on the blurring. And when she stops and thinks, sometimes she realizes that she lost something precious along the way.

Sometimes, lurking in corners, or hidden under clothes in her dresser, or in a dust pile swept from under furniture, Cupcake will find a small salmon crystal bead, a tiny holdover from a necklace, once Cupcake’s favorite, that broke and exploded and was lost to time. Devastated at its loss, Cupcake had tried to salvage the beads she could find. She put them in a plastic bag, but she never got around to re-stringing them. And eventually the plastic bag was lost to time as well.

Yet the tiny pieces of salmon colored crystal still appear from time to time, minute reminders of a loss that Cupcake might have otherwise forgotten.

Every time she finds one, she misses the necklace. Badly.

But the rest of the time—when the little salmon-colored reminders do not pop up to remind her- she doesn’t think of that necklace much at all.

The grilled octopus and minestrone were delicious. Cupcake enjoyed her lunch and went back to work, and didn’t think about the birthday or the past, but went on about her day and her life in the happy blur of contentment.

Yet here’s a little salmon-colored crystal reminder. It’s the day, today, so signing checks and reading emails and looking at the calendar, Cupcake writes the dates, and knows, and remembers. And as her friend advised, she does nothing.

Except this.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Cupcake and Squeaky LaRue

Squeaky LaRue is a mouse. She lives in a clear plastic box on Cupcake's desk.

Squeaky spends her day in predictable activities. She hides in her house, a cardboard toilet paper tube. Periodically, she emerges to look for sunflower seeds and tiny goldfish crackers that Cupcake leaves for her. And at night, when things really get going, she spends a great deal of time running on a purple hamster wheel.

Sometimes Squeaky runs facing left. Other times, she runs right. Cupcake watches in fascination as Squeaky stops suddenly, mid run, to turn around and go the other way. She wonders if Squeaky knows, deep down, that direction doesn't matter. She likes to think that Squeaky accepted the fact that her running won't get her anywhere.

At a certain speed, the hamster wheel goes faster than Squeaky can run, sending the little mouse in a loop-de-loop of centrifugal motion.

Cupcake isn't sure if Squeaky likes the loop-de-loop or doesn't know enough about physics to connect her increasing speed with the sudden loop-de-loop.

And she isn't sure if Squeaky's efforts on the wheel are from pure enjoyment of exercise or desire to stay in shape. It occurs to Cupcake that Squeaky thinks if she runs fast enough or long enough, she'll be able to get away.
Squeaky came into Cupcake's life via the dog, Flynn. One night, Flynn, a gentle soul, trotted up to Cupcake looking very pleased with himself. As Cupcake patted him, she wondered why a moving string was hanging out of Flynn’s mouth, whipping furiously around. When she realized that the whipping string was the tail of a living mouse, she leapt to her feet and grabbed the plastic box, which she happened to have.

Upon yielding up his captive, Flynn wagged his tail and watched Squeaky excitedly. Every day since then, he sits in front of the plastic box watching Squeaky on the wheel as though it's his favorite show on TV.

But for Cupcake, Squeaky’s capture presented a dilemma. She didn't want Squeaky running around her house, and it was too cold outside to let her go. But she couldn't bring herself to kill the timid little creature.

So Squeaky remains in the plastic box. Until the arrival of the purple hamster wheel, she rarely emerged from her toilet paper tube. .

The snow has melted. And still Cupcake doesn’t know what to do with Squeaky.

But lately, there's a new complication: the appearance of mouse poop outside of Squeaky’s box.

Squeaky’s family, apparently, have been coming to press their noses up against the plastic.

This breaks Cupcake’s heart. She’s entreated Flynn to capture more mice. But they’re not a pronounced presence in the house. The only place the mouse poop has been showing up is the circumference of Squeaky’s domain.

Now, Cupcake knows a thing or two about longing.

She can imagine Cupcake’s relatives pressing noses against the plastic, wondering how to get in and share Squeaky’s wealth of sunflower seeds. And she can imagine Squeaky, lonely and captive, seeing the visiting relatives and squeaking fervently, wishing she could escape and be with them. It’s enough to make an animal lover cry.

If Cupcake releases Squeaky into the park across the street, she’ll never see her family again. Also, once Cupcake saw an owl swoop down and catch a critter there, a disturbing thing to witness at close range. Cupcake doesn't like thinking of Squeaky getting swooped up by an owl.

Cupcake doesn't know what to do. And so her thoughts spin like Squeaky on the wheel, going left, then right, and then loop-de-looping. And getting nowhere at all.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Winter Coats and Animal Facts

Hello, Readers.

Today, Cupcake went to meet a friend. To Cupcake's surprise, the friend showed up in a Winter Coat.

Recently, the weather has been capricious. On brisk days, Cupcake has here and there espied the occasional Winter Coat on the sidewalks of Jersey City and Manhattan. But today was this seasons first face-to-face encounter with a Winter Coat, which is undeniable proof that yes, Winter is upon us.

Cupcake discovered that this encounter with Old Man Winter (in his disguise as her friends grey wool coat) wasn't as bad as she'd anticipated. It was rather like turning thirty: having long braced herself against its inevitability, she found that once it occured- there was actually something enjoyable about it.

And so we beat on, boats against the current....

Cupcake also wants to apologize for the long weeks between her postings. When you don't hear from her, it usually means that Cupcake is keeping busy and happy. Perhaps, reader, you guessed that already, having already noticed that Cupcake frequently uses this blog to compensate for her not playing the piano. Meaning that, if she did play the piano, Cupcake's pretty sure that many of her late-night angst-ridden postings would have showed up as thirty minutes of Beethhoven pounded vehemently out into the night.

Then, Cupcake's angst would have drifted like bubbles into the night, leaving, a few seconds later, no evidence of their ever having been, rather than sticking around on her blog to make Cupcake roll her eyes at her own occasional penchant for melodrama.

Nevertheless, there must be a reason that Cupcake never learned to play the piano and turned out to be someone who bangs away at a typewriter keyboard instead. Perhaps it’s that she likes leaving a paper trail (because she's thorough) though she squirms at that trails entrapment(because she's a commitmentphobe).

However, today,-- perhaps out of guilt for not having posted in several weeks, Cupcake has decided to entertain and edify her readers with a few Fascinating Animal Facts. As Cupcake delights in obscure facts, she believes everyone else does too. So here are some interesting zoological tidbits to titillate you until time passes enough that Cupcake posts again. (Perhaps that will even be before all this year’s Winter Coats have been put away.)

Fascinating Animal Facts:

- the tongue of a blue whale weighs as much as a Volkswagon.

- urination is not an instinct in rats.

- The first thing a baby giraffe experiences is a six foot drop to the ground.

- In Malasia, a breed of boar has horns that wrap around its head like Princess Leia. The horns grow for the boar’s entire life. If the boar lives long enough, avoiding being prey to man or other animals, surviving drought or flash flood, earthquake or any other natural disaster or illness—it will eventual die from its horns impaling themselves into its brain.l

- The intelligence of an elephant is 90% learned and 10% instinct.

- The dog sat on the tucker box nine mines from Gundagai.

That last one is a shout out to my Aussie readership. I have been to Gundagai, so you can count that I fact-checked the assertion, at least so far as a sculpture memorial and a plaque count as fact-checking. Austalia rocks!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fun things

Cupcake just re-read her previous post.

Yeah...don't listen to me when I post anything after midnight. If I'm up in the middle of the night and sitting at the computer, it means I'm restless and have no outlet for my restlessness. Angst is trite but effective. Sorry to drone at you, folks.

These have actually been quite happy weeks for your Cupcake. She's been working on a new project which is interesting to her, and hanging out with fun people. Earlier this week, in fact, she went to lunch with Cool Friends In The Film Industry who are in from LA. To her surprise, they brought along an Extreeeeeeeeemely Influential Person. Cupcake spent the rest of the week dining out on Lively Anecdotes revolving around Lunch With The Extreeeeeeeeeemely Influential Person. And she's been having a lot of fun with her friends.

So rest assured, concerned Readers (I guess that's you, Brandon, darling)that the Bayonne Bridge plays a limited role in the general show of Cupcake's life.

There's a funny story I want to tell you but I'm too lazy to type it out at the moment. (It's not a Lively Anecdote revolving around the Extreeeeemely Influential Person. But that's only because, from the nature of the anecdote, you'd guess who the person was. While I love name-dropping in real life, it seems tawdry to boast on the internet, or to divulge the whereabouts and dining preferences of someone of that stature.)

At any rate-- sorry about that glum posting. I'd delete it but deleting entries simply out of embarassment strikes me as cheating. So I'll sit with my own shame in my nocturnal melancoly and hope you'll put it down to poetic temperament, not emotional self-indulgence, even if they are pretty darn close to the same thing.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Price of the Ticket

Well, boys and girls, tonight Cupcake is having a Bad Night.

It's four a.m., and in the cellar of Cupcake's emotions, fierce dogs are barking. Their howling is high-pitched, intolerable and loud. Cupcake wishes fervently that she knew someone else who stays up as late as she does (i.e.-- pretty much always)-- because then she'd call that person and bawl her eyes out. However, it's a casualty of aging that, as time passes, one's friends grow older and inevitably go to bed earlier. Even Cupcake's friends in California will have long since turned out the lights.

No real reason for this Bad Night. At least, no new reason. It's simply the Price of the Ticket.

That's the bit of consolation that's keeping Cupcake at the keyboard instead of perched on the railing of the Bayonne Bridge.

What price? What ticket? Oh...It doesn't matter.

A friend said to Cupcake recently on another Bad Night-- "But didn't you know, somehow, when it began, that at some point you'd be standing exactly where you are?"

Cupcake admitted that yes, that had crossed her mind.

"But even so, you needed to be there, right? To see what would happen?"

Cupcake admitted that that too was true.

"Then," said Cupcake's wise friend, "At least you know that this was a choice. This pain wasn't thrust on you accidentally. You knew you'd end up here. And knowing that you'd end up here, you still thought it would be worth it to see what would happen if you went after the thing you chose."

She was right.

This wrenching agony Cupcake feels is simply The Price of the Ticket.

Was it worth it? Kinda. Sorta. You betcha.

If the thing Cupcake chose hadn't have happened, her life would be so boring that -- well, she doesn't know what. But it did happen. She swallowed the red pill. And here she sits, agonized but at least alive.

Because the opposite of Death is Pain, right? William Goldman wrote that, in The Princess Bride.

He also wrote, "As you wish." The sword upon which Cupcake has fallen.

Wrong time, wrong place. Fuck. I should have been born in a different time, and then the way I feel would make sense and I wouldn't have to defend myself constantly to the few people who know what I'm talking about in these rambling posts.

The Bayonne Bridge is looking better and better.

Just kidding. Kinda. Sorta. FUCK.

I hate you for this. I HATE you. (Don't worry, readers. Not you. The person for whom those words were written will never read them.)

And Cupcake's going to stomp off to bed and growl alongside the tigers that come at night with their voices full of thunder. It's not that she thinks she'll fall asleep. It's that she's a practical girl, and a somewhat lazy one, and she knows that if she gets horizontal she'll probably not find the wherewithal to drive to the Bayonne Bridge. At least not before sunrise, and once the sun rises all this shit will seem less important. Kinda. Sorta.

I hate you so fucking much, but I can't stop crying.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Proof of Life

Lately, every night I have a dream asserting that something or someone isn't really dead.

As one might suppose, when I wake up, I remember that-- oh, yeah, he, she or it really IS dead. There's an hour or two of head-scratching "huh?" disorientation.

This, presumably, is simply because it's only dead people that my subconscious mind feels a need to go to bat for. Those still living can generally speak for themselves.

Here are some recent subjects of dreams:
Errol Flynn
According to my dreams, Errol Flynn has left his body but has not passed on to the Other World. He's floating around this one waiting for his posthumous Oscar. At night, he visits people who admire him. I've recently enjoyed his company on two nights. The first, he took me to Disneyland. We shouldn't have had to stand in line (because he's a celebrity) but we did (because he's dead and none of the 20-something ride attendants knew who he was, anyway). He was a perfect gentleman about all of it.

In the second dream, he wanted to take me scuba diving. When we got to the water, it was frozen, so I demurred. He went on it. Said it was "refreshing." I suppose when you're not incarnate, subzero temperatures are less daunting. There's something to look forward to for all of us.

Long-time readers of this blog (and hail to you, if you have persevered through my inconsistant publishing record) will not be surprised to learn that my subconscious mind also refutes the death of Casey, my beloved border collie.

In a series of recent dreams, I learned that in fact she's been staying with a Boston-based lesbian couple that (apparently) I'm good friends with in my dreamlife. It seems that I asked them to take care of her for a while while I went to Poland to buy shoes. The trip took longer than expected because I couldn't find any pairs of shoes that matched. (Please regard my international shopping trip as a compliment to the Poland's excellent leather craftsmen, and overlook the implied insult to Polish intelligence. It was my fault I couldn't find matching pairs, as I was in a huge hurry.) But by the time I got back from Poland, I'd forgotten where Casey was and I never went back to get her.

That was a sad dream. She looked at me with such melancoly eyes when I ran into the gay couple walking her.

Another night, she was also seen running with the Wildebeest on the African savannah. That was a much happier dream. I was in a helicopter and saw her amongst the herd, stampeding. She looked happy. I debated about whether or not to bring her back to Jersey City. The helicopter pilot pointed out that it would be difficult to lassoe a running border collie in a herd of wildebeest. I reflected on whether I was being selfish...but I woke up before I made a decision.

Also, I've had some strange dreams about Clover, my rabbit who died last month. It doesn't seem to matter if she's dead or not. She's taken on a sort of Yoda personality in my mind. She's mentoring me in being stronger and wiser than I am. (If you haven't known a rabbit, you may suffer from the misconception that they are timid. To that I say, "Ha!" It takes a brave soul to be born in a relatively defenseless body, and Clover was one of the most amazing personalities I've been priviledged to meet. Think Gandhi meets Stephen Frye. She was profound and powerful, and sassy as all get out. When alive, she was able to convey all this with only body language and expressive eyes. Now that she's communicating through dreams, she gets a lot more oomph behind her message.

I don't think this is a very interesting post, and I doubt you will either. But my conscious mind felt I needed to assert that I too am actually alive. And I found a cool picture of Wildebeest, which Blogger wouldn't upload. But here I am. Alive, for what it's worth, and dreaming.

I'll write more soon. With any luck, it will be interesting.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cupcake and the Rook's Dilemma

One of Cupcake’s favorite literary characters is in Dostoevsky’s “The Possessed.” The character, Kirilov, is a man who never sleeps. This is because he knows that some day he’ll kill himself. Until then, he stays awake, so he can live as much as possible.

Cupcake enjoys this irony. This isn’t because Cupcake is suicidal. (Cupcake makes no judgment about suicide; she’s certain there are times when it’s the most reasonable solution. In Cupcake’s opinion, suicide is a far less heinous way to squirm out of your problems than telling untruths, or, say, bulimia.)

Cupcake likes Kirilov because she understands being caught in the middle. As faithful readers of this blog know, Cupcake’s perspicacity has at times confused her.

Her first year of college, Cupcake went to Hampshire College, a “hippy” school. At that time, Hampshire’s student population was so predisposed towards the radical that wearing matching socks was seen as hyper-conservative. There, Cupcake didn’t fit in. She discovered that she was one of the most shockingly moderate students. (This largely because it’s Cupcake’s practice to buy dozens of the same socks. No matter how she shuffled them in her drawer, they always matched.)

Cupcake’s second year, she went to a Jesuit college in Rome. There, Cupcake still didn’t fit in, discovering herself to be one of the most radically left-wing students. (She believed abortion was a personal choice; she still does.)

Mind you, Cupcake didn’t modify her behavior in any way. She’s simply never managed to fit in, which is why she tries so damn hard to be invisible. (It never works.)

In The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster (a Hampshire professor, at least at that time) created characters who were “World’s Shortest Tall Man,” and “World’s Tallest Midget.”
Cupcake liked those literary characters a lot, too. She understood.

So now, Cupcake is in a quandary.

Cupcake prides herself on her realistic outlook on life. But there are some aspects of Cupcake’s personality that defy logic. (Cupcake presumes her readers will agree that that realism is primarily logical.) These aspects often pertain to affection felt for people who’ve done nothing to “deserve” her affections. (See Winding Roads of the Heart, posting from November '05. I think. It's somewhere.)

Cupcake knows that a sure way to a confusing life is to change who you are all the time. As a playwright, Cupcake knows that Consistent Character Choices are crucial. And even though she is consistent, Cupcake is still often confused.

Like— in this particular case, Cupcake’s personal values mandate that she recognize and value another person, because person’s personality and values represent everything she's ever valued. Her choices in behavior are limited, as they must represent her values. Cupcake strives to enact her own ideals in all areas of her life. But in this area specifically, because it's all ABOUT values, she must behave according to Who She Is. To behave otherwise would be to make a Rook move in a diagonal line like a Bishop, or an L-shape like a Knight.

But by virtue of acting within the construct of her own personality, in a certain aspect of her life (which Cupcake demurs to confide to you), she’s screwed.

Someone has her over a barrel, or a desk, perhaps, like at the end of Secretary where the girl can’t move because she can’t disobey James Spader. She just can’t, because if she does, she won’t be herself. And then all hell will break loose and chessboards everywhere will churn with chaos and she’ll find that she IS suicidal or she might as well be because she’s simply no longer herself and she has no respect for herself and the sun will rise in the west and nothing will matter any more.

Or something like that.

Look, it's not that she's afraid of change. Cupcake’s not a coward. Cupcake was once mugged. Her companion was screaming so loudly that Cupcake couldn’t hear the mugger’s demands. So she walked closer to him, put her hand on his arm in a friendly way, and said, “I’m so sorry- - I can’t hear you. What is it you want? My whole purse or just my wallet?”

This caused the mugger to jump in terror, drop his knife, and run away.

Cupcake once stood on the deck of a burning tour bus which was about to explode and patiently assisted a handicapped passenger out of the lavatory. She felt only annoyance that the diesel fumes were so obnoxious.

Cupcake’s no chicken.

But she can only move with a certain range of motions, and that limitation is holding her in a holding pattern. Which is she supposes what limitations are supposed to do. Usually, that's just the way the game is played. In this case, it means that she's unable to move at all. Like a Rook blocked into its corner, she has no choices.

It's very hard for a smart girl like Cupcake to admit this. She's used to being able to figure something out. In this case, it seems like she just has to sit there and acknowledge that the game is over. But she can't leave the board.

Still. Maybe there’s some bright positive aspect to this that Cupcake hasn’t recognized yet. Sometimes perspicacity requires processing time. In this case she’s been processing for a good 90 days, but it’s not like there’s any urgency. Cupcake has the rest of her life to ponder this matter, and even though she has no plans to kill herself, she doesn’t sleep much anyway. So like Kirilov, she’s got extra time.

Cupcake must act like Cupcake acts, the way a Rook must act like a Rook. (Perhaps that’s what the crows were trying to tell her.)

I suppose when the game is over, the Rook can move any damn way it likes. But then it’s usually put away into a box, not left on the board.

What to do? What to do.