Category Archives: Minutiae

The Big Island

Her aunt and uncle dropped by while she was carving out a watermelon, so she began force-feeding them watermelon at the kitchen counter. She told them that she and her boyfriend were going to Hawaii in June. Her aunt and uncle had just been there during whale season, so for a while they rhapsodized about the islands. Her aunt said that some parts were like being on the moon. She said the only negatives about Hawaii were that it contained no monkeys, and she’d been expecting monkeys, and that all the coconuts on the Big Island had been removed from the palm trees as a preemptive safety measure. Apparently one too many tourists had already been injured by falling coconuts.

They were all standing there in the kitchen, eating fresh watermelon, trying to figure out where each island was in relation to the others, and their comparative sizes, when her little brother walked in and pointed out that her uncle had all the islands of Hawaii on the souvenir t-shirt he was wearing. So they all turned to his t-shirt for the answers to their questions.

Lincoln Park Zoo

She stumbled upon the harbor seal show, which was actually just a perky blonde woman talking about fish into a microphone while veterinarians checked the seals for tumors. When the vets blew their whistles, the animals flopped across the rocks like performing slugs.

Where the sand goes

On the same day we see a 6-foot tiger shark at the beach where we like to bob for hours in the water, we see a young woman emerge from the ocean, lie flat on her back on a towel, and proceed to bury herself in sand from the neck down. When she’s done digging herself into the beach like a nesting turtle, she rubs the sand into her bare belly in a sensual, exfoliating motion, and then gets out a book. I applaud this head and two arms reading amongst the seashells.

The sand spills out of his tennis shoes and disperses under the kitchen table in an area he likes to call his litter box. I tell him it’s his turn to sweep the condo.

Clumps of sand adhere to my scalp when I return from the beach and I gleefully pull the grains through my hair likes bits of scab.

Every morning a Sunny Isles employee turns his leaf blower to the Sisyphean task of clearing all the sand from dozens of public access pathways to the beach. It’s unclear why these long carpets of blue rubber that lie on top of sand and also terminate in sand must routinely be cleared of sand when sand is obviously their element. I worry sometimes that the Sunny Isles employee will eventually get carried away and blow the entire beach back into the ocean with his infernal machine.

The first thing I’m going to do when I get old is buy a metal detector.

What’s the proper etiquette for shaking out beach towels from condo balconies? I’d normally hesitate before raining sand upon our neighbors at lower levels, but no one else in Florida seems to use the balconies, because that would require experiencing a world without air conditioning.

Never have sex in the ocean. Revenge will be exacted on your genitals.

The heavyset Latina women stand in the breakers, pointing toward the water and yelling in Spanish to their heavyset husbands, who are drinking beer on a sandbar. It’s comical to watch the men dash toward the shore juggling beer cans and snorkels. Then I realize that they’re running from a shark.

Through the hourglass. Only one more week in Miami.

One honey bee, four near-death experiences

Spring

The drones sent me into exile. They said that I was worthless to the hive if I wasn’t going to mate with our queen. But I only want to mate with the boy bees. It almost makes me wish I were a worker, because the workers don’t have to put out. They just get to sit upon the flowers. I’ll have to find someplace new to live. Yesterday I landed in a bucolic meadow, but a black bear almost stepped on me, and then I flew up his nose for a second, and it was just bad times all around. Until I met Mulligan sucking nectar from a dandelion.

Summer

This afternoon I fell into the deep end of a swimming pool. It was stupid, I know, but I was only trying to skim the surface of what I thought was a pond. It took me a while to realize that not only was the blue water undrinkable, but its vessel was a death trap. My wings became sodden and useless. I could barely stay afloat. I knew it was only a matter of time before I drowned. But then a flightless man spotted me as he swam by with a pincher on his nostrils. He seemed to take pity on my frenetic form. With the flat of his hand he began pushing the water in which I was sinking toward the edge of the pool. He never made contact with my body, presumably so he wouldn’t be stung. As if I’d be so ungrateful! At this point I was about to lose consciousness, but the thought of Mulligan in the meadow kept me going. At last the man splashed me onto the concrete, my antennae still clinging to life and love, and I felt my wings slowly begin to drink up the sunshine. I would be reunited with my fuzzy, striped companion after all.

Fall

Mulligan seems to be ailing and I’m afraid he’s not long for this earth. I wonder if he stung one of the old lady’s cats while I was out foraging in her garden. He wouldn’t have told me if he had. And his anatomy seems to be intact. That handsome, bulging thorax. That perky stinger. But what is he saying now? Speak up, Mulligan. You make no sense. All I hear is buzzing. Don’t eat the goldenrod? But I love… oh. The old lady sprayed it with poison, didn’t she? That explains the collapsed colony behind her garage. I saw the corpse of the queen herself. You…you saved my life, Mulligan. Here, let’s lie together on this purple flower petal and watch the setting sun.

Winter

I see the geese flying high with their mates and the horses stabled with their foals, and here I am, alone, luckless, deprived of all society, just trying to keep my compound eyes from freezing in this malicious cold. Though I miss Mulligan terribly, I’m grateful he never had to suffer like this. All my enzymes are shivering. I’m drawn to the fragrance of a smoky chimney and I know my time has come. But frost glazes my wings before I reach the rooftop and its eternal stupor. I tumble like a pistachio nut into a snowbank. So this is it. At least the ants won’t eat me in this icy weather. But what’s happening now? I’m perched in a human palm. Warm clouds of air heat up my wings. The old woman holds me like that, enveloped in her breath, until I thaw back to life, and fly once more toward the promise of honey.

Thank god I can’t get fired from the Internet

I’m only a part-time employee, but still.

Here’s what happened on Friday afternoon: I was waiting on the subway platform, and a wannabe rapper was freestyling a few trash cans down. For a while he maintained a decent flow, then he got stuck. He couldn’t come up with a verse to rhyme with “I’m unemployed right now. . .” I sympathized with him because I’m currently taking a poetry class and sometimes you just can’t match your inspired initial thought with a worthy follow-up thought.

Other things that rhyme with now: Mao. Sow. Dow. “And how!” Chow. Kung Pao. Rapping is not so hard.

Some links:

My cousin Alice Proujansky’s beautiful photos were published in the New York Times today. She interviewed adorable, newborn, Native American babies. . . with her camera, which they slobbered all over, in a cute way.

My artist friend Erin Crowe used to paint portraits of Alan Greenspan. Turns out that wealthy art collectors are fickle. I wish someone would pay top dollar for my flash fiction about Ben Bernanke.

This blind man can see without computing what he sees. If you’re not aware that you see, do you really see? It’s like when I eat trees alone in the woods, do the trees really make me fat?

Novelist Zach Galifianakis exploits comedian John Wray’s fame in his neverending quest to earn the love of binary code fanatics.

Wait, I have other links.

No, I don’t. I thought I did. Reviewing my bookmarks, I only came up with this (ponies singing show tunes). I really don’t care about the Internet anymore. When I try to freestyle a poem about the Internet, it goes like this: “I look at websites. . . . . . .”

Beforehand

I want to write about the hand I saw in the subway car, how I was sitting in the corner of the train and the five fingers crept around the mirrored surface of the car in an odd, backward way. I remember that the nails were wide and the fingers themselves were thick and sturdy and pale brown. The fingertips were almost near enough to touch my hair, which was still wet from an evening shower. I was drinking white wine out of a travel mug because I was on my way to my bereavement group at the university. I used to drink wine at a neighborhood bar before bereavement group, but lately I have started commuting with wine so I’ll be ready to talk about my dead relative the moment I arrive on campus.

When I boarded the train that evening with my mug of wine I had a feeling that I smelled like an actual wino, perhaps a homeless woman. I had done nothing to convince the other people on the train that I was not a homeless woman because I was sitting very still and sad in the corner and probably appeared spaced out to them. There was also a half-smoked cigarette in the pocket of my coat, which can tend to smell worse than any other thing, even if the cigarette is only five minutes stale.

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New York Fashion Week 2009

In which I try to wear at least two items of Old Navy clothing per day.

Scented toilet paper roll holder

Our New York apartment came with some IKEA shelving, a floor that had been treated with pomade, and a scented toilet paper roll holder. For a while I just thought my butt smelled really good, then I changed the roll and realized I’d been wiping from a Yankee Candle.

scented-toilet-paper-roll-holder

The woefully misinformed are now armed. . . with chewing gum

From CNN’s Political Ticker:

“I’ve got to give you some straight talk. Let me give you the state of the race today,” McCain told the crowd. “We have 17 days to go. We’re 6 points down. The national media has written us off…. But my friends in all this planning they forgot to let you decide. My friends, we’ve got them just where we want them.”

The line has become a familiar one – and drew a now-familiar reaction from the strongly-Republican crowd, which began booing and chanting “Liberal media!” One woman threw a pack of gum at CNN Correspondent Ed Henry.

I expected hard candy. Some crazy lady in the back flicking Necco Wafers at the sound guy. Not gum. Gum is so effete. Unless we’re talking about Chiclets. That’s all I’m going to say about this.

He’s still got it

Last night Letterman described McCain as a “screech owl.”