In spickly-speckly water reflecting the sun’s bright rays, I caught a 4-pound brook trout on a 3-weight bamboo rod equipped with a big-name reel using a #10 grasshopper pattern. Sure, it took awhile, and it sounds unlikely, but I’m a master angler, after all. What’s the secret? There isn’t one. Be patient. Stay calm. Keep fishing.
Friday, March 30, 2018
I thought telling secrets and lies all month would be easy, but no. I’ve been too depressed to make things up. My brain isn’t accessing my lies or theirs. I thought I knew way more secrets about myself and other people. Maybe I do, but they’re buried deep, like secrets are meant to be. For now.
Now I’m a terrible liar. I’m more likely to tell someone too much truth, too many unnecessary details when I should just keep my mouth shut. In fact, most of my adulthood lying takes the form of silence: omission, usually to spare someone’s feelings. Or sometimes the creation of a distraction to make them look away.
I can’t review my lying skills from my earliest days, but as a teenager, I was pretty good at it. I had to be if I wanted anything resembling moments of life, convinced that my mother was put on the planet to make me miserable. Back then, a lie was a good trade, breezy, worth it.
I keep glancing across the street at my neighbor’s house, where she is no longer living, because she died suddenly, as we found out yesterday, suddenly, and I cried on the porch next door to hers with her daughter and son-out-law and another friend, thinking it’s a lie it’s a lie it’s a lie it’s a . . .
Cheez-Its. Peanut butter–stuffed pretzels. Combos (pizzeria pretzel only). Cheese and peanut butter crackers, those six-to-a-package kind in the vending machines. Fritos. Bugles. Twinkies. Thin Mints. Lorna Doones. Cheetos. Hostess CupCakes. Butterfinger. Snickers. York Peppermint Patties. Pringles. Chips Ahoy! Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. Barnum’s Animals Crackers. Oreos. Baby Ruth. Mars Bar. Toblerone. Smarties. Nilla Wafers. Hit. Skor.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Peter the poetry prof presumed (possibly preferred the idea) that Kim and I were past platonic; the possibility was pooh-poohed. Had he predicted that someday I’d pack up and pop down to Pennsylvania to pick her up for a k.d. lang performance, he’d probably see it as proof of his prescience or public admission of perjury.
The one time I took someone to get an abortion, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel when I got there, but when I walked through the door a flood of relief washed over me, a gratefulness for all the lives being saved. The sun shone. The breeze rustled the leaves. The birds sang.
I’ve had only one broken bone—a toe—back when the eighties themselves were slipping into the nineties. My accident is telling: it happened as I ran barefoot to the refrigerator during a commercial break. Which is the more embarrassing part of this sad tale: the necessary snacking or that the dash-deserving TV show was Roseanne?
Monday, March 26, 2018
Some friends confide their sexual conquests in such detail that I may hear a review of how particularly endowed (or not) a person is, which can prove interesting when meeting said someone for the first time, maybe even more so if I already know him, because suddenly these (large, small) particulars may flash through my mind.
I spent a week in Maryland recently, in my old hometown, and almost all the cashiers (and I saw a lot of them) called me hon, or love, or something like that. So did some waitresses. Maybe the feminist in me should be offended, but truth be told, I liked it. It was kinda nice, hon.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
My mother’s friend Mary, being the type who volunteers at birth-control clinics, was not the type to tell. Still, the night we both showed up, I dodged her, dashing nearly naked across halls until my best friend used her own exam as a diversion. As far as I know, Mary took my secret to the grave.
The Monkees. Glen Campbell. Andy Williams. The Partridge Family. Jackson 5. The Carpenters. The Osmond Brothers. Bay City Rollers. Olivia Newton-John. John Denver. Barry Manilow. Carole King. Bee Gees. Billy Joel. Helen Reddy. Tony Orlando and Dawn. Carlie Simon. Elton John. Jim Croce. Eagles. America. The Doobie Brothers. KC and the Sunshine Band. Simon and Garfunkel.
Thursday, March 22, 2018
I wonder if those guys like us anymore—if we’ve simply drifted a bit or if they have an active preference for people way cooler than us. I can’t address it directly, because if I do, I will always wonder if they really want to hang out with me or if it’s because I said something.
In high school, I had a box of corn starch hidden in my dresser drawer. I didn’t know what I’d say if my parents discovered it. Would they believe I planned to thicken some sauces or soups? We all know I’m not the type to make corn syrup. “Arrowroot!” I could insist. “I needed a substitute.”
A friend left a teapot at my house. I put it aside, meant to return it to her. But we drifted, she moved, and I still had the teapot. Guilt did not propel me to return it; embarrassment beat good intentions. During my 2017 Things purge, I consigned it. I have heard nothing about it since.
A 2000 TV debut sounded morally abhorrent: A group needs to depend on and trust each other for island survival but must get rid of each other one by one until only one is left standing. I refused to watch until first-half-of-the-season reruns for latecomers sucked me in. In eighteen years, I’ve never missed an episode.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
My sister’s thank-you dinner to us was postponed a day because so many crises kept us from heading home. It was supposed to be a surprise for me, and Tim had suggested a roasted chicken, which my vegan sister actually prepared, then, shockingly, ate with us, conspiratorially saying, “Don’t tell Will and Eric,” other vegan friends.
Monday, March 19, 2018
“Your mom lied to me,” my husband says, in disbelief. “Right to my face.” She told him she would take her insulin and meds. She told him she had taken her insulin and meds. But when the nurse finally pressed her on it, she had to admit she’d done neither. “Welcome to my childhood,” I say.
Verizon is a bunch of fucking liars. The customer service representatives are always so kind, and I truly believe that they are unwittingly being turned into fucking liars by the evil that is Verizon. Because why would a person with any moral compass create a catch-22 whereby ailing 88-year-olds can neither have nor cancel phone service?
Pressing the wrong button can result in photographic evidence, stuck garage doors, false alarms, panic, confusion. Maybe you locked something you needed to unlock, or vice versa. Maybe you were just curious, but what happened was an accident. Maybe you didn’t know a grocery bag could hit an elevator button that registers a cry for help.
Saturday, March 10, 2018
I’m fine. I’m spending the night at Susie’s. I’m busy that day. You look great. It’s not that bad. He’s not interested in me. Yes, I know who that musician/actor/writer/personality is. It was this big, I swear. I don’t know why there are leaves in my hair. I can’t. [silence] Really, I’m fine.
Friday, March 9, 2018
I have a few friends who tell me stories I’m not sure I really believe because details seem implausible or too dramatic or too coincidental or too—well, something just doesn’t seem right. But mostly I go ahead and believe them or at least pretend to believe them, because for the most part, what’s the harm?
Thursday, March 8, 2018
It doesn’t bother me at all that three kind-beyond-words people I went to school with will be going into my hoarder parents’ house and picking up several pieces of furniture to place in the independent-living-on-the-way-to-assisted apartment and they will see how my parents actually live and then they will know. It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t.
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Beth, who was twelvish, like me, claimed that Donny Osmond, who was seventeenish, was writing her love letters, and she produced them (no envelopes), and let me read them, and his handwriting was remarkably exactly like Beth’s, which is kind of amazing, don’t you think? Donny got married a few years later. Oddly, not to Beth.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
I figured that because I wasn’t a cheerleader, I didn’t have a chance, so I was like the shocked Oscar nominee who doesn’t prepare an acceptance speech when I was elected homecoming queen (no doubt riding the coattails of my hunky football-player boyfriend). The crowd roared, the feedback screeched, the stadium lights bounced off my tiara.
Monday, March 5, 2018
Caught off guard, I told a guy I was a virgin because it was clearly what he wanted to hear. What I wanted was to at last be in a “normal” relationship, which (spoiler alert!) this one did not turn out to be. That lie haunted me for years, but it turns out it shouldn’t have.
Sunday, March 4, 2018
The last time I saw Heidi and Jon, she whispered that she’d [basically] cheated on him, felt guilty. Then they disappeared. When I found them again, I found Jon first. Hadn’t I heard? They divorced. She was getting remarried Saturday. He had cheated on her. I asked if she had ever cheated. “No,” he said, convinced.
Saturday, March 3, 2018
Someone drove hundreds of miles to deface stop signs around my neighborhood as a revenge move toward the lover who jilted him. He printed stickers with various messages to slap under STOP. This did not endear him to the ex, who threatened a restraining order. I hate that I still see these around. What an asshole.
Friday, March 2, 2018
When I was a teenager, I fell in love with someone twice my age. Even today, maybe especially today, it can’t be discussed, because others will choose to define that experience for me and try to tell me what it really was. But that love was mine. And no one gets to tell me it wasn’t.
Thursday, March 1, 2018
My parents are hoarders. It feels like the greatest shame of my life, but it isn’t me. But it also is. Alison and I were pushed out by stuff. The house adds a complicated layer to all the other shit going on. I’ve known for forty years that this would be my problem at the end.