Thursday, November 12, 2009


In the early mornings, I go to a café that’s open twenty-four hours. There is a man I find is there before me, and I reach there around seven a.m. He wears an old red tie and is sometimes sleeping a little, his head hung over his Dell computer.

When I first saw him I assumed he was a business man, but after seeing him slumped over his computer, it occurred to me that his tie was too old fashioned, he is probably a homeless man who spends some of his nights at this very café that I’m sitting in right now.

At first it alarmed me to be sharing a space with a homeless man. I think it made me see very closely that I wasn’t that different or far away from his situation. I wonder if he’s looking for a job too. I wonder if he wants to reinvent himself as I do.

I’ve never been homeless before but I did live in hostel once when I lived in New York City. There were mostly visitors from other countries in there, but every now and then a homeless person would show up. And there I was, confronted with my own fears of losing everything.

I remember one woman very clearly. She was Indian as well, and that scared me even more. She was highly educated, she had been a stock broker, but lost everything after September 11th. I was highly educated and I had just lost my job, god her face scared me because I could see myself in it.

This woman liked me because we shared a culture and I would listen to her stories, I was fascinated and from the way she spoke, very intelligently, I could tell she was once something spectacular. She just couldn’t get herself together after the tragedy. She was probably in her mid-forties.

It can happen any time, can’t it? We could, all of us, lose everything. In this economy the rate of home foreclosures is astonishing. What happens to these people? Where do they go? They were once our neighbors and now we fear them, look down on them.

They are probably homeless.

I think if I were homeless I would pick myself up and try to do anything, almost anything legal, to get out of the situation. But what if I fell into a deep depression because of my situation and wasn’t able to do ANYTHING like I wanted to?

I once met a homeless man in Ann Arbor and I told him how my blind father worked for EDS. He was surprised. “Well, hell, if a blind man can get a job, I guess a black man can,” was what he said. If my father was not a genius and educated with a family, he could be homeless.

We’re not that different than THEY are. I’m just lucky. Lucky I have a family and friends who can support me. Lucky that I’m educated and come from a middle-class upbringing. Luckily I’m far away from being homeless.

But if I was homeless, would the things that bother me now bother me in the same way? Would I be so concerned about my weight if I was wondering where my next meal was coming from? Would I be so obsessed with finding a mate if I didn’t even have anything to call my own?

The answer is no.

I would be different. I would be more real. Life is about survival. If I was put into a situation where I had to survive or die, I hope I would survive. I hope I could make something out of myself.
Now I have practically everything. Why am I still scared that I can’t something out of myself? Because maybe I’m not real enough, maybe I need to realize that I need to learn how to survive without all the cushions I’m used to.

And maybe I should count my fucking lucky stars. Many great writers and artists were paupers while they were alive. I hope I’m not just a mediocre middle class writer, maybe that’s worse. But maybe greatness is not what I need to strive for, but simply to survive.

So if you have a home or not, give yourself a round of applause.

You are alive.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Am I my Mother?

It starts slowly, with little things. You notice you won’t let anyone in the house if it isn’t at least presentably clean. You are nice to strangers at the grocery store even though you are in a bitchy mood. Shopping for shoes or purses can uplift just about any mood.

You buy things and hide them in the car so no one will know how often you buy things.

But there are good things too. You don’t tolerate disrespect from men, unless they are your father, in which case you try to sublimate that disrespect as old fashion love.

You want to cook for people you don’t even like. You want your man to appreciate you even when you can’t appreciate yourself.

“One day you’ll know,” she says to you when you disrespect her. “When you have a daughter of your own you will know.”

I don’t have any kids yet but I can imagine my thirteen year-old daughter hating me and thinking I am the uncoolest thing since coolness was invented. I like to think I’ll be hip and cool for my kid, but by the time I have kids they could be texting aliens, telling me I’m racist against extraterrestrial life.

Let’s be real, no one wants to be their mother, not because we don’t love them with all our heart, but because we think they have taught us to be better than them. I want to be able to shoot the shit with my daughter. If I say the word ‘shit’ around my mother she thinks I’m not acting like a lady.

If there is one thing that my mother wanted to teach was to act like a lady. Even when I go to the drug store, she wants me to look at least human, which I sometimes resent until I see tabloids at that very drug store showing celebrities and how bad they look at the drug store.

I like jewelry, but I don’t always wear earrings and my ears have a tendency to close up. My mother finds this to be unacceptable. I have shoved HEAVY 24 carat gold in holes that barely existed to make that woman happy.

But I know, I know what she has done for me. I know how much she worked and then sacrificed her career for her two daughters. So we could grow up to be women she would admire.

But I was supposed to get married and have children by now. Sometimes I think I can’t be a lady in her eyes because I have not accomplished these things. Sometimes I can’t look at her because she only sees half a person in me.

So will I be like my mother? I don’t think so.

But there are times, when Mamma, I need your help. I need to know what being a single woman in her thirties means. My mother wanted Hillary Clinton to be president. Mamma do you at least believe if I can’t be president that I can rule my own life?

What did a man ever do for Hillary? Someone asked Hillary that if she had married one of her first boyfriends, a man who pumped gas for a living, what would she have done? “He would have been president,” she said.

Mamma I know you hate that I will be selling the very clothes that you buy, for a living, after all this. But know that one day soon, you’ll know, when I do succeed, then you’ll understand the method to this madness.

If after all I can understand yours, you should be able to understand mine.


Monday, November 9, 2009


I only have half an hour to write this because my meter at my car will run out. Well I have been out of touch for a few weeks and I think I learned something from that.

I learned that I have the luxury to become out of touch with reality. When I say that I sort of mean I stopped writing for a couple weeks and started slacking around a lot more. Then I got depressed that my life was gonna be worth nothing in the end if I continued like that.

But I have the luxury of time. I don’t really have any responsibilities besides myself, and right now my mommy and daddy are helping to pay my bills. So essentially I have the capacity to get everything in life because I have the one thing many people lack, especially in America: Time.
In a way it is freeing to have time, yet I notice that when I don’t schedule my life I fall apart and decide to do things randomly and nothing actually gets done. I have all this time and it’s only when I organize it and schedule it that I feel like I’m a human being again.

So I’m caught between these two parts of myself. The part that wants to just be free and the part that wants to ACCOMPLISH things in my life. So my compromise is that I don’t schedule my life on weekends. That’s all I can come up with at the moment. I let myself be free with time on the weekends.

The rest of the time I must be either reading, writing, looking for an immediate job, looking for a permanent writing job, and then I allow myself to socialize with friends and family because I just think that’s important.

So I wasted a couple weeks, I had some good reasons, which are not even good enough to repeat, but I had my reasons to sort of go into what my therapist calls my “cave.” It’s a place I go to escape perhaps the mundane reality of life, that life requires work. The funny thing is, work is not so bad if play is also allowed. And after all half of my work, reading and writing, I love.

It’s the JOB part that scares me. I am trying to get a job in retail right now and I’m scared I’ll hate it will all I have. But I was watching Suzy Orman on Oprah the other day and her first job was working at a diner and she said when you turn Average into Great, you realize you can do anything.

So if I can turn saving money by working at the mall into some kind of reservoir that I can tap into when I finally move out of my home and move somewhere I want to live. And if I do this with the idea that work for the sake of work is all good…I think I can do this.

All the goals I have are achievable, it’s not like I’m asking to win the lottery. Although I would like Oprah to pick my book when it gets published, that would be my equivalent of the lottery. But realistically the things I want I can achieve with work and time.

Time doing work.

I want to spend this year focusing on me and focusing on my own health, wealth and emotional prosperity. Because I know maybe one day I’ll have other people I have to take care of and I won’t be able to do that unless I have taken care of myself.

So I’m sorry I was gone, but I am back, if you are reading. And I intend on moving…through time.