Friday, September 11, 2009

Pocket Review of an Off Day in the Life

So, yesterday was my off day, my “Saturday” if you will, since I work Saturday through Wednesday every week. I got up at 8ish (having opened at work for 5 days in a row, and therefore awakened at 4AM everyday, this was sleeping in for me) and dressed quickly to head into the city to attend my friend, Giverny's, yoga class. She is a dear friend and a wonderful instructor, and most generously, she comped me the class, since she is aware of my current financial situation.
As my feet hit the sidewalk outside my building, I noted the tiny bluster in the air, and the slightly steely skies, and thought, “It’s coming on autumn here in NYC.” I am thrilled, as this is my very favorite season. It always brings me memories of the best parts of my childhood as well as memories of a childhood that I didn’t actually get to experience. (Not to mention the fact that I like to be able to stand still without actively sweating. I’m spoiled, I know.)

While maneuvering the busy staircase at the Lafayette stop of the B train (my yoga mat thumping my hip with every step), I noticed multiple posters for a new Courteney Cox show reading, “Cougar Town! Forty is the new 20!” And I was forced to wonder, “What then, does that make 20? The new fetus?” I am skidding towards 40 at a rate that I prefer not to think about, (and starting to contemplate creating a fetus of my own) and perhaps that is why this term, “cougar” is so very offensive to me.

At the beginning of my relationship with Charles, he tried to desensitize me to our age difference by jokingly referring to me as a cougar. It was only after I HEATEDLY explained (multiple times) my definition of a cougar (a skinny, overly tanned woman in her mid-late 50’s who chain smokes Capri cigarettes and wears lots of animal prints and gold jewelry, and is invariably named “Sharon” or “Mitzi”) that he respected my ban of this word from our relationship lexicon. I’m not forty yet, and I don’t look like I will be anytime soon, but still, cougar just isn’t a funny or complimentary term to me. I have enough problems (back rent, around-the-clock calls from creditors, and a job that is not a good fit for me) as it is without being classified as a past-her-prime predator who is so desperate for attention that she will pursue anything with a pee pee.

All of this and more cart-wheeled through my brain as I lay on my back holding two palmsful of my own ass in yoga class. “Breathe, Brooke. Concentrate. Pick a focal point,” I admonished myself, and then realized there was a mirrored disco ball hanging directly above me. I simultaneously noticed that I could see a kaleidoscopic version of myself winking down on me. In this sliver there is a tiny slice of my black tank, and over here a snippet of bright orange toenail peeking from beneath the charcoal hem of my yoga pants, and in several tiny triangles of reflectivity, my own eyes gazing and blinking and gazing and blinking at me. Seeing myself in pieces was very appropriate and interesting. It reminded me of the description of the dragon in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door: “…a sea of eyes (merry eyes, wise eyes, ferocious eyes, kitten eyes, dragon eyes, opening and closing) and wings (in constant motion)."

I most definitely feel fractured just now. I don’t seem to have any of my former anchors. For example, I am no longer pursuing an acting career, and performing in play after play was something I could rely on as a touchstone for years. The women who play the parts of my parents are so overwhelmed by their own lives and circumstances, that they no longer have time for me, nor any visible inclination to guide me. I am still unable to support myself financially (in spite of a second raise and promotion with Trader Joe’s), and no one in my immediate circle, including my beau, seems able to empathize with what I am going through. I am grateful for this, because I wouldn’t want anyone I care about to be facing these challenges (I am exhausted like I have never been in my life), but it is still a bit lonely.

To combat the loneliness, I am revisiting some of my favorite things. I took a micro-break from reading books on curing my debt and elevating my self-esteem, and read a biography on Nancy Drew and the women who created her (this book was given to me by a friend for my birthday last year, and I FINALLY made time to actually read it.) This made me want to re-read some of the Nancy Drew Mystery stories from my youth, as this was my favorite childhood pastime, so I grabbed a few at the library. I have also been reveling in re-watching my “Absolutely Fabulous” DVD’s, and reviewing some old Hitchcock films that I forgot I had copies of (he is still unrivaled in his film-making genius).

Charles is in Italy on vacation, and I am thrilled for him. However, I am also so jealous that he is strolling in Tuscany and Florence while I am here toiling at work for 11 and 12 hours a day that I could just vomit. That makes me feel a bit disgusted with myself, because, really, how petty can I be? And then, the whole cycle of crap self-esteem begins anew.
After yoga class, I joined Giverny for lunch at the Moonstruck Diner, and though I felt a bit guilty about spending ten bucks on myself for lunch instead of coming home and making a sandwich, it was lovely to see her. Having ample time for my friends, and for socializing in general, is a thing of the past with my current job. 

I left Giv and returned to my beloved Brooklyn. I was strolling down 8th Avenue in lovely Park Slope (on my way to see the therapist who is helping me keep my breakdown at bay, and who is paid for courtesy of Trader Joe’s insurance), when I listened to a message from my friend, Bryan, that made me laugh out loud. His boyfriend, Raoul, teaches 8th grade in Los Angeles, and Bryan said, “Just had to share, my favorite names in Raoul’s new class are Adonis and Hustler. Yes, someone named their child Hustler.”

Charles wants a child at some point, and I have been actually giving the idea some thought because I care for him so deeply. However, I am not sure that I am ever going to want to be a parent, nor am I sure that if I do want to be one, I’ll be able to physically conceive. This has been on my mind a lot lately, because Charles brings up children often, I have many friends who are getting married this year, and I just had a physical for the first time in two years. My doctor (whom I love) said if I want to have a baby, I better get down on it, because only 10% of women over 40 are able to conceive the old-fashioned way. This was a disheartening statistic, but I am not too worried, as I don’t really hear anything ticking, I am just trying the idea on to see if it is at all a possibility for me in the next three or four years.

Post-therapy, I passed a woman with a stroller that held two children comfortably, and I tried to imagine myself calling Bryan and saying, “Sorry I missed you, but I was at the park with little Aphrodite and Playboy!” Or, “I’m sorry I couldn’t pick up, but you know how fussy Xerxes and Barely Legal get when they don’t have their snacks!” I couldn’t picture it, somehow. Instead, I felt the cool silvery weight of my cell phone in my pocket, and suddenly wished I could whip it out and use it like a laser from the future to freeze everyone on my block – the black men in dreadlocks who never seem to work, but merely hang out in the street all day smoking weed and playing dominoes. The island women tossing phrases back and forth at one another across the street in their deafeningly loud Jamaican drawls. The children on their skateboards. The men on the stoop who said, “Look at that booty. I like that. I’d bite that booty,” as I walked by. Or the Dominican delivery boy riding his bicycle on the sidewalk and saying, “Mmmmm, you’re sexy, Mami,” in my ear at the precise moment he rode past me. Just freeze them all and make them be quiet for a minute. A full minute of quiet. Another full minute of off day.


  1. I love ur posts. Not only do u make me ponder thongs but u make me dble over in laughter. Whenever u publish ur book Life: Brooke's Take I'm first in line!