Archive for March, 2009

A Dream of Deliverance by Rebecca Kaddish Hiss

My lady buzzes in my direction: A fluffy chick of a flax-haired girl in a yellow sweater and aureole, she wobbles to the sound of electrostatic in the low-lit corridors of my homely office building. Framed in mid-menial task, my lovely, faceless maiden is downy as her hair tumbles over the copier, fuzzy as her shadow disappears behind the water cooler and nowhere to be seen when I look for her outside the delivery system window. She is the color of pale banana and vegan soy pudding (taupe and terrible-tasting), a haze of blond and the smell of ripe corn upon an empty expanse of Nebraskan prairieland. She’d be put ill at ease by my affections so when she asks Why are you dressed up today? Is it for X? and winks comradely, I swear it so: I love another! She titters over my assumed inamorato and I concede for the sake of momentary connectedness, with sadness disguised as shyness. She touches my back but it’s not the frisson I was in the dreamland market for, knowing she means her affection fraternally.

So I race out the back door! Slamming the doorway! And make (mechanically) for the Roseaway restaurant on a cheesy fucking NYU block of the borderline West Village. Maybe Cornelia Street or some crap. Why would I come here? It’s a boring, unmerited, snobbish and humdrum “hot spot” with the usual too-loud boors in weird late-90s cocktail clothes thinking they’re living while they’re alive. Dully roiled, I teleport to its sister restaurant, the Violetside in Philadelphia. Why, the streets here are narrower, emptier, rain-slicked and cobble-covered and I am immediately emboldened! The Violetside is closing down for a private party, but I creep my way o’er to the giant locking gate where I unwittingly deceive the lockers-up with my cunning use of smallness and the ownership of big, upright eyes that give the lie to my innocent incursion (though they must know, Father, in the watery membrane and multilayered retina of my eyes, I am not an unrighteous infiltrator; I am not wont to give the lie to my double-dealing mode of entrance for I am ultimately decent, I just want FREE FOOD AT THE PRIVATE PARTY… Or is that what I want?).

There’s no mistaking the guest of honor, floating like a foggy apparition of all the girls I ever loved! getting lost between party masks and ninety degree angles of elbows. My light-colored, drained-out, yellow-gray long lost love flits about in all directions, but never in front of me. Never directly. I’m aware that pencil-sized fireworks are shooting off and sending forth showers in shimmering pinks and purples, offsetting attractively the silver party masks, sparkly formal wear and costumery of the party guests, who all have faces I can identify.

Silver platters upon silver platters of finely decorated petit fours and layer cakes, crumbly pies and custard cups on doilies and monogrammed napkins are graciously offered by liveried servers with slick, shiny hair and artless, asexual smiles. Of course I gift myself with as many as I can fit on my napkin, then go back again for more but the party guests look unfavorably on. Am I acting greedily? Or more directly: Am I greedy?

Now it’s hot, very hot, so I take off the first of my many layers. Wearing so many articles, I’m trapped in cotton sleeves and elastic, netting, lace and knots. I hear mention of my fair-haired lass of the constant yellow outline. Whisper whisper whisper–she’s 30–whisper whisper can’t make out the rest of the dialogue. She’s 30?! I ask in a gasp, disbelievingly. Honey, I’m 30, says a sassy woman, or at least says her voice, as her person is obfuscated by hubbub, lights and motion. No, that’s not what I meant. I meant I’m surprised she’s so young. Who are these people?

The next morning, I’m riding on the top of a bus with the sassy-voiced woman on a reconnaissance mission to find a man named James from the infiltrated party. To do so we have to ride back to Philadelphia because as of now, we’re far beyond the outskirts and have to retrace our steps—motor-wise—from geographically outermost to inner; that is, sandy mass to outpost town to village to suburb to city. A veritable, microcosmic tour of America! A symbolic progress from rural West to urban East, the founding of this land from its dawning to discovery to modernity! What ho! I say. But this is no time for cheer. My mother (the sassy 30-year-old from the party) is on her solemn quest for James (I keep telling her Look, I know the Violetside’s sister restaurant in New York, the Roseaway, so I have a direct link; let me find James for you! But she just says No, no, if it came through my daughter it’d be too embarrassing, I have to do it myself. Of course her search method is so grassroots it’s unrealizable: Asking arbitrary individuals at rest stops and while in motion, on the highway, shouting from our bus to another if they know James!?). My father is driving the car and amenable to the situation at hand, but keeps it to himself. My brother is posing for one of those “funny” (state) college travel pictures where sporty, muscly Americans make self-consciously silly faces in front of monuments and natural wonders, but he’s standing too close to the edge of the top of the bus and my heart jumps out of my chest every time the bus lurches. His girlfriend just laughs warm-heartedly and tells me not to worry.


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I must remember the possibly ulterior motive-moved gyro king at Gyro King who made me one free, gigantic chicken gyro at 6 AM this Friday morning. I must keep this memory close to my breast not because the occasion was met with my watery-eyed woes of unemployment, and not before he asked if I was Russian or American and I responded ‘American but of Russian descent,’ even though, really, I’m only 1, maybe 2/4 Russian but unlike every other Russian by the Church Ave F, I am a JEW and on all other nights I eat leavened bread. No, I must remember this instance of selfless hospitality (or bribe for sexual servitude, or good business skills) because I owe this man by patronage for what he has done. Because I must do unto others as they have done unto me. Amen.

I must remember the ghost of he or she I did not see but who left unto me one amply sized plastic glass of gin and tonic a few nights agone. When I too am in clover, I will pay this unknown personage in kind for what he or she has shown me. For every industrial cheese sauce-soaked French fry of which I did not defray the expense, I do give thanks and I will recompense. I shall recall with tearful eyes the ultracrepidarians who honored me with their company and kindly declined to traduce me. For the prepossessing whippersnappers, thick as thieves, who gave me cause to believe in the power of their companionship, I say: Amen. I too was young and graceless once; tight-knit, uninteresting and gauche. So I offer thanks to these dispensers of foodstuffs, good cheer and toleration at length. I am not so churlish so as to forget the kindness I have received from strangers. Rimshot.

The expletive-repetitive street toughs reviling outside my window, the solemn strings of guitar somewhere below, the ear-splitting, bass-heavy wallop flowing forth from somewhere in my building: for all these things I am thankful, for they are secret, encrypted messages of God and creations of the Lord Himself. I am beholden to all those who provide me with cause for merry peals of laughter, headaches and guilt. Free food affords me less need for worry in my shaky state of unemployment; physical therapists make much less painful my convalescing neuroma; latent milquetoast suitors by way of constitutional intransigence make the unknowable nature of the universe more present and like Job, I am humbled by my helplessness and indebtedness.

For I am shackled by my moral liability, I am made defenestrated by good manners, obliged to act in the fashion of what I know is right. I am feeling overwhelmed by feelings. Fuck. I am now stroppy and disinclined to accept favors for I fear I will not, want not and am not equipped to repay them. Good morning.

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My Frontal Lobe

A love story of brains

The manner in which my brain best receives information is visual, not auditory. My constitutional learning style thus compounded with a storied history of verbal barraging results in what my mama calls “auditory overload,” wherein my frontal lobe is overwhelmed, frightened and so collapses and my brain reverts abruptly to reliance on my limbic system. Quick, unconscious fight-or-flight reflexes take over and I either run away from the disturbing situation at hand physically or mentally. So the next time you see me in a pique, this is what’s happening inside my brain: A hyperactive, freedom-seeking fugue state in a desperate lunge for safety and solitude, and peace.

Now imagine that the events described below are the dreamy workings of a terrifying, moonlight-covered, make-believe netherworld that would occur in my brain if I were a sufferer of dissociative amnesia:

Waking from disturbing dreams of former lovers holding hands, I frivoled away the remainder of day watching Ying Yang Twins videos and other such diversions that oughtn’t be disclosed. I thereafter betook myself at the hour of 4 to a hollow underground housing hordes of poets, serious folk who fancied themselves, I gathered, the holders of the words they whored the most: truth, love, soul, cocaine. I hate poetry, I said to myself angrily. With its sober-minded poetasters and their emphatic curses and shameful methods of metastasizing my preferred communicative medium into crap. I then regarded my partner in poetry-watching crime read his sentimental leaflets, which were quieter and steadier than I’d imagined. I was impressed, but then he is the most famous poet in Canada. When I pathetically spluttered out my own, they said of me, ‘Our first formalist poet’ and I cowered, opportunely. Afterward, I was driven by Canadians from Sheridan Square where I once saw Philip Seymour Hoffman carting a baby carriage to the home of Brienne in an unsolicited go for merriment. There, we ate old grapes, pre-made guacamole and cream-heavy cake as she asked me questions I didn’t know how to properly answer and I imparted tales of shameful Pandora stations and slideshows of those to whom I am on account of my wishfulness indebted. I disliked my dress, though it had done me so well in times foregoing. Brienne and I weighed our options and I was enamored of her relations with her fellows, for they seemed egalitarian and without affectation. There is a whole arena of human interaction with which I am not often engaged and to which I would most like to be united. We took a perfectly-timed bus to the West Village where a pretty tavern was bollixed by sporty Midwestern dullards and dearth of space to move. We then departed for a beer garden on the darned LES to meet Brienne’s gaggle (a beer garden I’d visited in Summer 2005. I remember I wore a powder pink leotard and pants that do not afford an amenity of aspect, or so I, in retrospect, decry). They were just then departing North for a vastly overpriced karaoke bar in the East Village. Among the revelers was a wildly animated Jew who humped everyone, but behaved in a manner that reminded me of that proposed theory of autism by Simon Baron-Cohen. At karaoke, I disported internally and was pleased to witness a mockery of protocol, a wildly abbreviated utilization of masculine force and was ambivalently guilty over unspoken codes of ownership and was unsure of what constituted appropriate behavior in assembly such as this. The tenor of the surprisingly late-going karaoke evening was communal, giggly and healthful. I was unused to these kinds of congregations and wanted very much to sing When the Last Time by Clipse. But my entreaties were not importunate, so I sleepily, darned-near contentedly, swam in a lulling, karaoke-induced sea of acquiescence. It was the first time in a long time I came home at 5 AM without having acted in poor conduct. A small victory for a jobless girl of impaired mobility.

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