What Shall We Sing for Easter Sunday?

For Breakfast
me in glasses

I found an old letter I had written, pressed quietly between the pages of a bygone book yesterday evening. It read, "I like it when I'm 70 feet tall. When I'm standing on top of tables, and the rest of you are on the floor. I like it when I strut like a peacock and bound through knee high cities. When I scream into the universe, and the moon, at my elbow, is scared as I'm pulling at my hair in excitement. I write giant size letters I won't send because I'm afraid they might be too intense for you right now. I wouldn't want to scare you, dandelion boy. My laughter can be pretty caustic. Yesterday the chocolatier heard me. This little old man with a newsboy hat who reached his teeny hand up with a chocolate covered strawberry the size of a globe. $4.00 for a Godiva-sized slice of luxury. I ate it in one bite. You have no idea how lionhearted I really am...with a flick of my wrist, you'd be in another galaxy. Don't worry, I'm not as fragile as I seem...I eat boys like you for breakfast."

"You've Got to See My Bottle Full of Charm"
me in glasses
Sunday Morning, Praise the Dawning
Old Shit
Drinking homeade slushes in the kitchen and swaying in skirts to the music; we make our own vacation. The tequila had flushed my cheeks, and I had long since passed being daringly flirtatious and frank. "The Boys" were making a run for beer, and I was invited. I made sure to gloat since I was the only girl invited, but the truth is none of the other girls wanted to go, and the boys knew I'd beg them to turn up Clutch, and I'd thrash around, screaming lyrics eagerly in the backseat just like them. At the store, I'd straighten my skirt, and tell J. to sit still while I reapplied my lipstick. Late at night, they'd roar laughter upon discovering, on my bookshelves, the collected works of Graham Greene that I stole from the library my senior year. "Hey Sarah, why are their bar code stickers on all of these??" Laughter heard round, but you'd stare too long, and nod your head at the door. We would slip secretively out into the night to smoke cigarettes alone, and when everyone came looking for us, we'd blush guiltily.

Stars in Her Eyes
me in glasses
Old photo of me in my old tiny house. This dress made me feel like a 1950's homemaker.

Let me tell you, today I got so short tempered. I was pawing, puffing, and snorting in the chute like a rodeo bull. Everyone thought they'd try to tell me my business, but I wasn't having it. I'm on the edge of freedom from work for a week so I'm nice and punchy about life in general, especially the slag I shovel. Step right up! Step right up! I will hand you your ass half priced this week.

Then, I poured over dresses that would have me look like a Fabergé Egg with pastel Easter colors. Next, it was on to the deepest red you can imagine that I thought, I'd feel like walking sex when I wore that one. Everyone I know says I look best in green, though. I found a pretty green I wanted to click buy now on because you sometimes should give them what they want. These days, more often, I give them what I want, and they learn they like it, too. Of course, my normal issue, not enough money to buy a dress for every mood I have. Do I have some moods! If a doesn't speak to me with a story, I don't want it. If I can't walk in with my head up like the Duchess, I'm not interested. One of my favorites had an embroidered blood red heart with 10 or more silvery arrows pointing at it, and I never related to one so much. My second favorite might have been a floral bird print dress that looked like Audubon art here and there. "Swish, swish, swish. I am a ornithologist." Yes, ma'am, ruby throated hummingbirds, long curved necked swans, and owls with eyes as deep as an inky black night. My final coveted beauty was a simple black dress with as sequin scorpion above the right breast. Oh, I want each one. I have all those moods, don't you see?

I wore a swishy blue dress today with a green and then fuchsia swirly sleeves, and my friend with the accent came back, crooning that I was "the most beautiful girl on campus." I chuckled and said, "What is it that you want?" He said, "I don't want anything. I'm being serious." I told him it didn't matter what he wanted, he could have anything for always making me feel so special." He is becoming quite popular in the office. He said his mission is to just spread love in everyone's day, and I think he does a pretty good job at that. Even though my jaded self, raises my eyebrow just a bit.

With my new meds, I have to gulp down a ton of water (well, it's a normal amount to most people, I just hate water). If I don't, my kidneys will shut down, and I'll start having tremors and Lithium poisoning. So far I just guzzle down a bunch of water in the afternoon and evening and cross my fingers that'll cancel out the morning coffee. It's been a few weeks, and I'm still alive so I'd say it's successful. I do bloodwork and go back to the psychiatrist the Monday morning after we get back from New Mexico. I can tell I'm not in the dark hole I was in before, but I still have an overwhelming amount of anxiety. I feel overall more even keeled. I mean, I know I was talking about being so wild at the top of this entry, but overall, when I do get mad, it passes much more quickly so that's progress, right?

Clank of Metal
me in glasses

We have to go out and find appropriate hiking shoes for me since I always used to hike in my old boots. They weren’t comfortable, but I was good and stubborn and won. When I got back to the bottom of the mountain where we started, my legs and feet literally gave out from under me, and I collapsed into the soft sand near the parking area. My new boots really aren’t the most practical for that. Plus, it would tear them to shit when they’re only a few months old. Appropriate hiking shoes really means ugly shoes. If you know anything about hiking, they’re all ugly. It’s like a requirement. I swear if I buy a pair of them, you won’t catch me in a single photo showing my feet. You will think my ankles and shins carried me to the caves and high up over the rocks. The only thing that may save me is that it’s so dusty out there, that the dust will cover them up and no one will be forced to look at those ugly shoes.

This tall boy with a lovely accent complemented me today, and he was young and it made me feel young and pretty for a few minutes. It was harmless and nice, but I mention it mainly because usually its women that tell me they love my buzzcut. Well, he was chatting with a friend in front of me about something idealistic and world changing. After we’d been introduced, he stopped and said, “I like your hair. You are very pretty.” I responded that, “I’d wanted to feel how liberated it was to be a man and go without hair out and about with less time in the bathroom primping. It’s less maintenance.” He gestured to his friend, “See, that’s what we were just talking about, simplify! Well, it is very pretty on you.” I cracked open a grin just for that sweet young one who was the kindest, and when he left, I rubbed my hand all over my shorn head because it felt so nice. Then, I was a little mad at myself for even giving a hang who thinks I’m pretty.

I tried to have the most dreamy picnic you could imagine on Saturday. I took out a bottle of Elderflower & Rose Lemonade, a package of dolmas, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, a journal and pen to write in, and finally, our pug, Mearl. Well, at first everything was just as easy and magic as you could imagine, but then, it became cloudy and I was chilly. Next, I opened the dolmas, and Mearl-Purvis apparently loves dolmas and I had to quickly move them out of her little snorting eager reach. Finally, she decided that instead she would run circles, ‘round and ‘round and ‘round, barking her fool head off loudly. That was the end of my magic picnic. Instead, we went inside, and I drank wine until I felt like taking a nap with her on the couch.

There is so much I need to do to get ready for New Mexico. Eeeee!!!

A Sunny Day Earlier Last Week

"Once I climbed up the face of a mountain and ate the wild fruit there"
me in glasses

I sit outside in the evenings with an orange blossom in hand, always heavy on the gin, and the little girls in the neighborhood appear on their brightly colored bikes. I hear their squeals coming down the block first, and then, there they are. “Hi, Miss Lady,” they sing song, and I look around for someone older than I, wondering when I became a “Miss Lady.”The blonde assembly before me are always flattering, and they come with a plethora of compliments. “I hope when I grow up, I’m as pretty as you,” one blue eyed girl says, popping her gum so the scent of watermelon punctuates her sentences. I feel like I’m being spied on when one notes, “You always have pretty dresses. I saw you changed twice yesterday! You changed into pants; why would you change into those pants?”

My favorite is the sole brunette of this girl gang who is quick witted, a perpetual liar, and to be frank, quite bizarre. When they are feeling vicious as young girls are prone, it is M. that they target and the familiar battle cry of my childhood sounds, “You’re not our friend anymore!” She is resilient and proud. Perhaps, it’s just that I identify with her, but I find her much more interesting than the other paper dolls. She often appears alone, without the blonde brigade in tow, at my door.

The first time she introduces herself as “M. that moved in six months ago,” and asks about the stray cat that sits most evenings at my feet. The white feline Millie hisses at children and only likes me as long as she can sit in my lap without being disturbed. If I shift too much, I’ve been scratched and hissed at too. Millie is a survivalist and trusts no one, and it is Millie that M. wants to befriend. This day that we are to have our introductions, Millie has fled when M. appears with a bouquet of flowers that she’s picked in her tatty leftover Easter basket. M. leaves a flower with me with firm instruction to give to the cat next time I see her. I give the flower to the cat later that evening, chuckling as the devil green eyed bitch glares suspiciously. I am slightly drunk, and I present it with the proper ceremonial air just as M. has instructed. I wonder if the neighbors are watching, and I consider if I’m, in fact, still as bizarre as M. or myself as a child. Present circumstances of giving a wilted Queen Anne’s Lace to a petulant stray cat would point to an affirmative answer.

After a few days, M. reappears, and I tell her I gave Millie her flower. “Did she like it?” she asks. I wonder how to respond. I think there are times when I don’t even know if my own two cats like me. “I think so,” I answer affirmatively. What’s a lie to the perpetual liar of the neighborhood? She nods as if this were expected, “I thought those might be her favorite,” she says. I hope that she doesn’t test out their newly formed friendship any time soon. “Do you know where she is today?” she asks. When I shake my head, she quips, “I imagine she’s off in a bush givin’ birth. That’s all any of the cats do around here anyway! Just go off in a bush and have kittens,” and I am amused and laugh. Although she doesn't understand why I find this so funny, she giggles along, too.

"I want to spread my feet in the silver heat"
me in glasses
Dressember Day Twenty-Three
Old Photos of Me

She teaches me the hand clap games of her childhood, and I teach her those of mine. I spell out your name in claps as the boy that I L-O-V-E. She tells me she has 10 boyfriends and is shocked when I tell her I have none. "Not even one," she asks incredulously? I shake my head, and she pats my knee with sympathy. She hugs me and says I am soft, like "a pillow." Something about her honesty reminds me of grandmothers in their final days. We go get popsicles out of the freezer where she categorizes them, not by flavor, but by color. "Pink, green, or orange; what color do you want, but you can't have pink because it's my favorite." We sit on the stoop eating pink and green, and she looks at me again and says, "so you really don't have any boyfriends?"

"Let's Go to Your Place"
me in glasses

In a cacophony of children chattering and howling monkeys of Primate Canyon, we are frozen in my memory. On that Saturday afternoon trip to the zoo, T. and I were ascertained to be at our best by his young nephew who trusted that we would navigate through the African Veldt and Cat Country to find the renowned “Rainbow Ice Cream.” T. and I obliged because the sun was shining, we felt complacent in the face of our own youth, and T. had a stubborn aspiration of being the “best uncle ever.” Our unfortunate discovery, upon passing ice cream after ice cream stand, was that only one that served this particular species of dairy confection was located at the opposite corner of the zoo. We passed for the second time the hippos, one gray giant still napping. We stood in front of giant maps which announced “You are here” with a red X, though T. and I remained incredulous as to the truth about that declaration, a dogged refutation of our subconscious suspicions that we may have merely been poor navigators. We passed the photographers, a mutely color outfitted cluster of men and women, each squinting one eye, an army of Cyclops staring into the distance waiting for that perfect shot. Finally, we chanced to come upon the Mecca of Ice Cream Stands, serving soft serve with ribbons of flavoring that colored children’s mouths and tongues for the rest of the afternoon. T. sat on the bench in the sun, chattering on his cell phone like a dashing important Jack Kennedy, while the little one and I braved the line. The soccer moms smiled at us when little bit passed up his soft well worn Indiana Jones hat for me, insisting, “You be Indiana now!” Perhaps they were remembering some bohemian moment in youth, as their eyes all lingered on the scene: T. talking on the phone, wiping little bit’s blue mouth, while I in a dusty brown hat and my escaping stray brown hairs blowing in the wind, the sun in my eyes, maneuvered under his arms to give him a lick off my cheesecake cone. We looked like happy. SaveSaveSaveSave

Maybe Tomorrow
me in glasses
Young Sarah...in my 20's

They were beds suited for low aspirations.
No boxsprings,
no headboards;
no hope for any kind of height,
a possible success.
Just two beat up mattresses thrown on the floor.
But at the right time,
with the window open at my side,
and the raindrops hitting my bare back,
it was perfect.
The streetlights outside cutting across the room.
Hours of bedtalk.
Drifting off,
and then lazily rejoining the conversation.
At the right time, it could feel like jazz.

"Sew Your Fortunes on a String"
me in glasses
In my 20's in Charleston, South Carolina

I spun around blindly in the dark in front of the bathroom mirror chanting "bloody mary, bloody mary, bloody mary," at 9, and I was disappointed when nothing happened. I spent the night at at my best friend Heather Lindsey's house when I could convince my mom to let me go there. We'd jump rope and play hopscotch out back with Max, her lunging angry German Shepard, watching over us. Her mom smoked cigarettes and watched daytime soaps, and would warn us when we stared too intently at their tank of piranhas, "Your hand will go in, and a stump will come out." They were ugly anyway, menacing silver dollars that swam back and forth with machine like repetition. Heather and I shared a passion for bright pencils with plastic toppers, watermelon Bubble Yum, her mom's Ouija board, and playing "Dirty Dancing" which consisted of one of us playing Baby and the other Johnny and kissing under the covers. At night, her mom would light candles and listen to wailing soul music while her dad, a truck driver, was out on the road. She'd pour fingers of gin, and let us play the Ouija board as long as we were quiet and left her alone. "I can contact ghosts, and I have a ghost boyfriend," I'd insist to Heather, and whether she believed me or didn't argue out of courtesy, I'll never know, but either way, I was grateful and continued with the lies. Later on, when her mom would take to slurring along with the music, we'd go outside and swing on an old rusted swing set some previous owner had left behind. It was so different from my parent's house where my mother didn't even allow the Ouija board to come in, saying "I don't invite the Devil to my table (I had almost jeopardized the friendship once when I mentioned it to my mother in passing)." I think Heather liked coming to my house for the exact reasons that I liked her house; it was different, unfamiliar, exotic. She longed for something steady as much as I liked to hesitate on the edge of cliffs.

"And When It's Quiet You Can Hear Her Engines Cry"
me in glasses

The one they all call "slow boy" came stuttering in today. He empties the trash, pulling bags like waving sheets in the wind. Excited rolling marble eyes are turned to me, and he says that someone left the access to one of the roofs open yesterday. "it isn't safe," he says, "someone who wanted to kill themselves could have just climbed up on the roof and jumped!" As if on cue, the bag of trash he is clutching rips and coffee cups and pathetic pink crumpled post-it notes come tumbling down in a mocking fashion, but he continues growing frantic, "it isn't safe! I almost climbed up there and closed it myself!!" His lips are angrily pursed and he shakes his head, doubtless imagining the possible horror that could have taken place yesterday on lunch break of one of we, cubicle bound. I nod and sigh, rounding the corner of the desk, and stooping to help him pick up the paper ocean that has accumulated across the Berber carpet plains. "Is that your puppy," he asks, gesturing to a photo of daisy may on my desk. I nod along and offer him one of my starbursts. We chew and chew and chew and, for some reason, it just feels better.


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