In the shower a few days ago, I discover a strange little patch of scratches on my chest near my right armpit. Since this is the year where everything seems to be going all to hell, I am simultaneously alarmed and resigned. Sure. Why not?  I've had a quarter-sized patch of invisible itch near my left ankle bone for over a year; my lips are basically flaking off and regenerating on a daily basis with the aid of a steroid ointment; I have a more intimate relationship with my gynecologist than with anyone else; why would I not have a patch of unidentifiable scratches on my chest?  Perhaps all my skin will be covered with scratches by August.

Despite my quasi certainty that it is another symptom of that most banal of maladies: "oh, you're just old now", I can't stop puzzling over it.  I keep sliding my hand into my shirt collars to assess the condition. Is it worse?  Is it better?  It is definitely scratches, not a rash, but I can't account for it.  There has been no passion. There has been no harrowing escape through brambles. God knows there have been no kittens, because I haven't encountered any and, in any case, I think kittens are terrifying and would avoid any I happened to meet [see: claws. see: teeth]. 

For days, I run exploratory fingers over scratches so fine that I cannot even see them. And I fret.

Then, yesterday, the proverbial lightbulb snapped on.. Sequins! Those sharp little suckers strike again.  A week ago, I rented a dress so sparkly that when I stepped into my western-facing kitchen looking for a misplaced lipstick, I was instantly transformed into a golden human mirrorball.  I stood in the doorway grinning and rotating my hips back and forth to send little showers of light across the cupboards.  Hours later, I danced for a long time as though only a very few people were watching.

I am not being attacked in my sleep nor dying of a rare skin condition. I am paying the price of glamour.  That is much more satisfactory.


Meanwhile, the fact that I have scratches only on the right definitely suggests something worrying about the way I dance, but I've decided it's best just not to think about it.


Would that I had something perfect to say. I could do with a glittering poem of remembrance, but I have nothing. I'm marking this moment because it must be marked.

Cash was cooler than I'll ever be. Even as a gangly high school freshman, Cash was the coolest one in the room.  Any room. I'd like to be more like her myself.

And I would have dearly liked to see what came next. 

Goodbye to you, beautiful. You will be missed so fiercely by so many.






Edited to add:
Ah. Here is something perfect from Evany who knew her longer and better than I.


Tonight I heard Neko Case, that fierce songbird, and can't stop marveling that the words and the voice could both spring from one person.  Such a surfeit of gifts. The line that made me laugh was:

I'm not even wearing underwear
It's not exotic
I just forgot

But the line that makes me wish I'd thought of it myself is always:  

It was so clear to me
That it was almost invisible


Home now, breathless from climb from the BART station, nearly four months removed from a summer of walking and no longer any match whatsoever for San Francisco's topography, my ears aching with a brand new chill, as if the weather had only just gotten hold of a calendar.  I go to the window to close the blinds and see, just outside, directly across from the house, a stout raccoon.  He jaywalks toward me like a portly gentleman, hurrying but with dignity. He turns left in the driveway and ambles out of sight.

I have never seen a raccoon in this neighborhood.
Some concerts leave everything feeling like a poem.


Well, drat.

It's only the middle of the month and I've already missed two days.  I have no excuse for Saturday, but yesterday I came over all flushed and dizzy and left work at 2pm to come home and fall asleep instantly for two hours. That was followed by grogginess and general blech and then still more sleep, only this time interrupted by a dog arriving at 11:30pm and then running amok upstairs.  Pets are not allowed in this building, but there is a dog that pays calls to my neighbors nearly every day. He comes with a man, but the man is quieter than the dog.  Nevertheless, nearing midnight on a Monday is rather late to pay a call. I don't love these visits, but I am informed that he keeps a check on the rat population in the back yard, so I suppose I owe him a debt of gratitude. The dog, that is, not the man. I'd like to pretend that there was no rat population in the back yard to begin with, but it happens that I saw one once, strolling along the retaining wall across from my kitchen window, so the bliss engendered by my former ignorance has gone all to hell.  I suppose someone had to keep the spiders company.  The rats, not the dog.

Mostly what I've been feeling is that is totally ridiculous to be talking about--oh--my back yard and my summer vacation and all, when everyone else is writing these passionate political essays about the downfall of America.  I really don't feel qualified to write about the downfall of America, despite being thoroughly sickened by a the recent appointment of a white supremacist to the White House, which, incidentally, is not meant to imply that it is a house meant only for white people. Egads. Whatever have we come to?  In this moment of national catastrophe is it not actually disrespectful to write about my very small life?

But then, I said I would.

 Talya is in Barcelona and writing a play every day.  I've been envious because she is provided with writing prompts so doesn't have to talk about her garden or the downfall of democracy.  But she has informed me that more than once her prompt has involved drunk dogs. To wit, "Write a scene where two drunk dogs are having an argument and a lion and a zebra come in."  Thanks, but I'll pass.  I'm already having enough trouble with writing.  And with dogs.


It's like this. I know without question that I'll feel instantly better if I go out, but the effort to actually leave the house seems overwhelming.  Generally, I don't overcome it. Generally, I stay inside in my freezing apartment wearing whatever I slept in, mired in loneliness, watching as carefree groups of people walk by, coatless, on what is literally the sunny side of the street. The side I don't live on.  I am always more cheerful when it gets dark, but by then the weekend is wasted. 

Sundays are my nemesis.

Today, I triumphed. After several hours of internal negotiation, to wit:
          Go buy the pears.
          I'll do it later.
          Go buy the pears.
          It doesn't matter. I don't even want to go to the potluck.
          Seriously. Go buy the pears.

I actually do.  
I take a shower. I put on clothes with identifiable structure. I walk to the store on the sunny side of the street.  It is at least 75 degrees out, but it takes me two blocks to be warm enough to take off my down jacket.  I am a lizard person; the north-facing apartment was an error in judgement. By the time I reach Whole Foods, only four blocks from home, I feel like a normal person.  It is that easy.  It is also that difficult.

I stand in the arctic chill of the produce section, happy again to have the jacket, and cautiously sample a sliver of a bright yellow apple. I distrust yellow apples, associating them with the mealy disappointment of the inaccurately named Golden Delicious, but this one, fresh from some new genetic experiment, it is better than I expected, cold and crisp and sweet. I put four in my basket. 80s nostalgia music is playing over the speakers. It is designed to appeal to my exact demographic, white, middle-aged mother of two doing the week's shopping, though I am single and buying only fruit, had I made other choices that would, perhaps, be me. Which is to say, at least they got the age right.

On the other side of the apple tower, adjacent to the bundled herbs, two boys wait for their father in a shopping cart.  One of them is in the seat, the other in the cart itself. They are school-aged, very nearly too big to fit at all. There will be very little room for groceries. The older one in the cart already has a lapful of vegetables.  The younger one, legs dangling from the seat, is singing along.  "Our house. In the middle of our street..." He is inaudible to me, but his mouth is forming the words unmistakably. He is about five years old. And though there are many obvious and banal reasons for him to know this song, it strikes me in that moment as astonishing that a boy born in 2011 would casually join in on the chorus of a song written when I was twelve. I am entirely delighted.

The Comice pears I came to buy are on sale for just a dollar a pound. I need two. I choose five. 

Just leave the house.
You need only leave the house.