Sunday, August 14, 2005

girl to girl

Here's something I've learned over time:

If a man tells you that once a crazy woman chased him with her car and tried to run him over, the day may come when you understand completely and wish that she'd succeeded.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

the tightrope

When I started this blog, it was going to be a novel. I had only just started reading blogs. A friend has one, and it's a big part of her life. And then another friend gave me the address to his blog. Once I started flitting around in blogdom, I became engrossed. I was intrigued by the way a one line comment can reveal the personality of the person who left it. In my lurking weeks, reading blogs felt like reading a novel. So I started thinking of writing a novel that read like a blog. I was thinking that the comments could be included if they added to the readability of the book. (It would be easy enough to change the identities of people who didn't want to sign releases.)

I thought out a story line about a girl called Aurora Trelawny who starts writing a blog called cupcake central. She doesn't like her job very much. She has a flaky best friend named Holly, and a roommate, and she is longing for something-- but she doesn't know what.

I'd just started the book. Read the first three entries I posted here. That's as far as I got in the book. Then something happened that made me unable to continue with the novel.

If I'm telling a story and somebody doesn't know that it's a story, is that a lie? In some stories, deception pushes forward the plot. I wasn't sure if I was living my life or writing a story about someone else's. I had to think. Sometimes I thought one way; sometimes the other. But the dilemma, both ethical and literary, left me at a creative impasse. To describe more of cupcake (aka Aurora)and her life seemed murky, at best. So I stopped, wanting to mull it all over.

Someone who wanted to more about cupcake asked for another posting. I sat at my computer and thought about how much we don't know about other people, even people we think we know or the people we want to know most of all. The posting about the crayons was inspired by that. And by realizing how many colors were beyond what I could see, both in this world and in someone else's heart. A spectrum treasured for its beauty even though it is undiscovered, like El Dorado.

After that, I posted only when I was bored. The next posts are based on random thoughts I wasn't really invested in. I still hadn't solved my dilemma about fiction and lying. I stayed on the safe side, writing stories nobody would really care about, even me. The thing about Buzzy was a tribute to a crazy guy I knew in high school, someone another friend runs into from time to time. The crazy guy now rides an ergonomically correct bike. Which if you knew him, is a perfect expression of who he is: pedaling low to the ground, arrogant and righteous, and expecting not to be hit because a little orange flag waves high above his head. And because he's RIGHT, dammit.

I laugh at that, but the truth is, I was doing the same thing. I knew I was lying. But it wasn't out of a dishonest intention. So how can that be wrong? I looked for a logical loophole. When is fiction fiction, and when is it a lie? There had to be an escape clause for my situation. I wanted to ergonomically back-pedal my way out of it. But I couldn't.

I have a lot of time on my hands. I'm the first to admit it. I live in Jersey City, New Jersey, where I moved only because it was close to Manhattan. It's a different world, though. My friends are in Manhattan. My life was in Manhattan. Then I moved here because I bought a house (though it officially belongs to my parents, for mortgage rate reasons) - and I spend about 2.5 hours a day in the car, traveling between home and work.

I can't quit my job because I am doing a really good job at it. I am hoping that the company will promote and transfer me. It's a realistic hope, but I'm not there yet. I've got a mental deadline for that. Now, I'm biding my time.

One of the nicest parts of my day occurs as I am coming home from work in the evening. The traffic inches painfully through an ugly stretch of gas stations and trucker-world restaurants. At a standstill in front of a particularly complicated rotary, on the right side of the car, just over a bridge, there's an ancient wrought iron gate. Through the rails, there is an old graveyard. After the gate there are a few yards of wrought iron fence. Usually, when I'm passing it,(slooooooooooooowly, because the traffic sucks)- the sun is dipping in the sky. From the road, the view faces west, over the graveyard which is on a gentle downward slope. The sun hits the grass like a golden backlight, illuminating the space between the blades. And in this peaceful scene, there are rabbits. One day I counted six of them, sitting there in the grass, peacefully eating.

The nicest part of my day.

And then the traffic pushes me beyond that view and I am back in urban ugliness, and I come home to my house. Usually I calculate if I have money and energy enough to justify the trip into Manhattan to do something fun. Usually, the answer is no.

Most of the year, I belong to a couple of writers' workshops. They've stopped for summer. My friends are married. From what I've observed, that uniformly indicates that they now go to bed at 9:30 pm. (If you're friends are just starting to marry off on you--- just wait. You'll see.) After 10:00 PM, I spend a fair bit of time doodling on bar napkins in front of ball games I'm not paying attention to.

From that point of view, friends, I started this blog. There's more of a backstory than that. But you get the idea, and discretion applauds forebearance.

I'll write more about this. All I wanted to do write now was make a declaration of what's true. The line between what I was writing and what I was living became blurry, and for a while I think I wanted to be cupcake enough to pretend that I was her. But I am not. Though obviously, as she is drafted from my thoughts, she is a projection of me.

As I said, backstories have not all been told. If anyone's all that interested, feel free to ask. I doubt anyone is. I'm sick of cowering behind my own shadow, though. From now on, cupcake central is about me, Leslie. That scares me, a little. I like dark places, rooms with doors, anonymity. But I don't see any choice. And my sincere apologies if things took on a fun-house mirror effect while I was walking the tight-rope between fiction and lies.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


the last time i saw buzzy was in the sub shop. they were closing up and had already shut the lights off, so we sat in the dark, dipping fries in ketchup and sipping diet coke.

he asked to see my keychain, and when i showed it to him he pulled off my cvs discount card, replacing it with his own. he liked to throw the consumer-computer off track. said he'd traded cards with five people already that month. keep the man guessing, he told me. he reminded me to always pay in cash, and warned me about microchip implants they're selling consumers as convenient sources of id or medical records, information injected in the back of your arm in case a cell phone signal isn't enough to let the satellite know where we are.

he told me to cut the labels off new clothes, because there are hidden coding devices that can track where items brought home from the store are traveling, where they end up, who's wearing the kathy lee gifford and who's wearing donna karan. (i looked it up later. he was telling the truth.)

we spoke of love and life and fireflies, and wilde's observation that "it is always painful to part from people whom one has known for a very brief space of time. the absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable."

i considered kissing him, just for something to do. you don't see a lot of men in tie-dyed bandanas anymore. (and more's the pity, i say.)

on the street he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before he told me to keep the faith. and then he got on his ergonomically correct bike and rode off against the traffic: no helmet, no light, no horn.

and that was it. the last time i saw him.

but you can still see the crater where the state house used to be.