Wednesday, October 26, 2005

the Evil Fridge

I am sorry to report that the new fridge is a subtle torture device. It emits a horrible high-pitched whining noise that, after awhile, is akin to having one's eardrum pierced with an aluminum needle. Worse, not everyone can hear it. My sister and brother-in-law visited this weekend; "oh, that IS annoying," said my sister. "What?" said brother-in-law. Frantic emails to my brother, the mechanical engineer, elicited the information that it could be a fucked-up fan, or a bad bearing in the compressor. Which will be a help, when I phinally get around to calling Phil and explaining that I'm a hysterical neurotic psychosomatic female. "No, my brother said it might be a bad bearing in the compressor." Useful.

Meanwhile I've gotten into the habit of turning off the fridge whenever I'm working in proximity to it for any length of time. Sometimes I forget to turn it on again, like today, and the milk goes bad. It's like living in Mexico, revisited.

Otherwise, things are good, things are Well. I had a Quiet Personal Triumph last weekend. The gallery on Madison Avenue wanted to keep my work up through the end of October, and I almost said yes, despite the fact that Open Studios was last weekend. Then I thought, wait--it's already been up for 4 1/2 months, nobody has signed my guest book except people I've sent there, and as far as I know there have been no serious inquiries for the seriously priced pieces. Thus the decision--"Madison Avenue/Brooklyn Stairwell? Brooklyn Stairwell/Madison Avenue?" became more complex.

Eventually I decided on Brooklyn Stairwell. Fortunately I had help from sister and brother-in-law, who schlepped out to Madison Avenue on Friday and helped me summarily strip the walls and load the truck, parked in a bus stop in the rain. The gallery people were moderately unhelpful and wistful; 'we wish it could stay up longer.' But hell, people, you're treating it like WALLPAPER. Brother-in-law, an architect, said, 'it does look great here. I bet it's sold them a lot of furniture.'

It was the right decision. I didn't have a horde of people stampeding my stairwell, ah, studio, but those who came were serious and some of them bore checkbooks. I sold enough to earn myself three days of relaxation, while getting over the cold I gave myself, getting ready for the event. Everybody liked the homemade cake, too.

Cutting the last ties with the last abusive ex-lover was also the right decision. After I got over the extensive and extravagant grief-and-sobbing phase, which took about a day and a half, it's like the sky opened over my head. I can't explain it any better than that. I don't know who I am anymore, but I'm NOT that woman who got yanked around, abused and betrayed, and I never will be again. Who knows what the future will hold.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The fatal phone call

arrived at midnight on Sunday. For months I have prepared for it. But when I rehearsed it in my head, it always happened toward the end of a dinner party, filled with good people, wine and laughter. We'd all be lounging in the living room, comfortably tipsy, two or three deep and intense conversations happening simultaneously, when the phone would ring and I'd go into the kitchen. One or two people would overhear the suppressed agitation, the strained and rapid Spanish; "Porque me llamas? Estás borracho? Soy harta con tu mierda. Ya." I'd hang up after a few minutes and fight back tears. People would cluster around and console me--the Woman with a Past, bravely laying her demons.

It happened just like that, except that I was alone at the end of a long, barren weekend; and had just finished writing, in my journal, "I am very, very lonely." He was drunk, maudlin, romantic; "why you have not writing? I miss you, why you do not write me," over and over. It was the voice that made it almost impossible. But I said it anyway. "I am fed up with your shit, Hector."

And he hung up.

It was a thousand times worse than in rehearsal. I almost called back, but why should I pay the phone bill to Mexico, just to tell my ex-lover what a shithead he is? I went to the computer and composed the letter that I've restrained myself from writing these five months--you know perfectly well why...this has been a horrible year...two days before my show...other women...when have you ever asked my forgiveness?...I am only a fantasy... not a real woman...I cannot carry this any more." Then I called my friend in Vegas instead, and cried all over her, and felt a little better.

Connections between people, says Barbara Brennan, are like silver cords between their chakras. Some of them are bright and healthy, some are dark and tangled, some are active on the front half of the body, some move to the back when the relationship is in the past. When a connection is abruptly severed it is like a physical wound, like losing a limb; she has seen cords to abandoning lovers dangling out in space. The cords to my ex-boyfriend were all violently rent on that day a year ago in June; I almost didn't survive it. The cords to my Mexican ex-lover, though attenuated and mellow with years of abuse, were still hanging in there. I was glad to think that one bridge was not yet burnt.

But some people are never content to let things lie; if there's a cord, they'll yank it, then with the rebound they slam you into the asphalt. "Yo me cambio," I told him. "I will love you always, but if you cannot take responsibility like an adult instead of a wounded child, I can no longer do it for you. I need someone who loves me all the time, not just when it happens to be convenient." I know him well enough to know that he will not respond. The cords fall to the ground.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hell freezes over

Okay, it's bad. Very very bad. Go ahead, ask me. "How bad is it, Serena?"

I am ogling Phil the Neanderthal. That's how bad it is.

I got the new fridge today, finally, only two and a half months after the old fridge started freezing the cat food into a popsicle. Next week I may even get a washer-dryer. I've learned to handle ol' Phil, my Turk of a Brooklyn landlord, and I think perhaps he's learned a thing or two himself, judging by the rate of turnover in this building. I think he's starting to appreciate quiet, stable tenants who pay their rent more or less on time, in a lump sum, with a check that doesn't bounce. The technique I've consistently tried to use on him is to visibly expect the best, contrary to all available evidence. "Phil," I said to him, sweetly, in January, "I'm still waiting for my Christmas present. You know, the dishwasher?" "I'm calling the guy right now. Right now," says Phil, and lo, the dishwasher arrives. Stuff like that.

Deep down, of course, I despise him. Though, looking back, that time he and my ex got into a near-fistfight within forty-five seconds of meeting one another was pretty funny. I thought Phil was the one being unreasonable until the ex declared later that he was deliberately attempting to induce Phil to hit him, so as to have an airtight lawsuit and get me the keys to the building. I know, I know, my ex is a psychotic motherfucker. Phil is only an asshole.

But I digress. When I paid my rent last week I sort of thought, gosh, ol' Phil has filled out a bit, and softened up, and that snaggle-tooth of his is kinda cute. Then when he arrived today with a couple of henchmen and made a lot of masculine noise getting the giant fridge up the stairs, I quite enjoyed it. I stood at the top of the stairs and watched admiringly, and they winked and beamed, and all of us were glad to be alive.

Only later did it occur to me--Jesus, I'm ogling Phil. That is pretty much the definition of desperate. But, whoopee! My libido is back from Timbuktoo!

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Chelsea report

I just threw a Public Scene at a reception in Chelsea. I did not know I had it in me. It was just like a movie, and in fact, they were shooting a movie right down the street that didn't look a tenth as interesting as the one that I was involved in.

Grigorio seems to have a knack for driving me Right Out Of My Tree. Moreover, he also has a knack for crossing my path repeatedly.

The long story is that I designed this stupid poster for this stupid benefit happening on Friday, which is certain to be a total failure because all the people involved are incompetent, disorganized and narcissistic. Oh, wait, no.

So I start again. I designed a postcard, weeks ago. I impressed upon the group in general, and Grigorio in particular, the facts about Printers and Turn Around Time and DEADLINES. These facts were all roundly ignored.

Two weeks ago, I designed a Fancy Poster, at Grigorio's request. Of course, all the Facts that he gave me were Wrong, so the Fancy Poster was Useless.

A week and a half ago I showed up at the Empire Diner with the Fancy Poster on my laptop, and upon learning that it was Useless, I re-designed a Postcard, which we went to Kinko's to print, right that minute.

An hour and a half later, at 12:30 AM, after Kinko's had quoted impossible prices and then roundly ignored us, I stormed out of Kinko's and emailed Grigorio the file, so that he could get it printed on his own time and not my SLEEP time.

Four days later I receive an email, "the file won't open. Your computer has a virus." (Which it doesn't. At least I'm pretty sure it doesn't.) Anyway all the information had changed, and they wanted another Fancy Poster, with elaborate and totally different information on it.

So I re-designed another postcard and ANOTHER poster, with extensive fiddly detailed elaborate information on both of them that changed every ten minutes. Meanwhile, there is this Archimedes character lurking in the background, throwing frequent narcissistic tantrums, making impossible, unreasonable, stupid demands, failing to understand the English language and generally gumming things up.

Finally, after more deadlines have come and gone, more harassment and changes and tantrums have transpired, I go to Kinko's on Saturday morning, drop off the files and place an order, for postcards and posters, fewer than originally required because the prices are ASTRONOMICAL, I mean ludicrously so. Which did not have to be the case if the file had been, say, uploaded to Modern Postcard a week and a half ago, when I first FINISHED THE DAMN THING AND SAID "NOW WE SHOULD UPLOAD TO MODERN POSTCARD." But whatever.

At eleven PM on Saturday night, I come home to a message from Kinko's. "All the files are corrupted and we can't open them. Please re-send."

Meanwhile Grigorio calls me at 11:20 PM and says, "Are you coming to the work party tomorrow evening?

I upload the files. Kinko's does not call me back. I call them at 9 AM. They haven't looked at the files. They look at them and put it on "priority." They don't call. I call them at 10 PM. They haven't started the job yet. They want me to email them another PDF file.

I cancel the postcard order and change it to 500 first-page flyers and 200 second-page flyers. This saves a huge amount of money, which would be wasted on postcards this close to the event, anyway, and streamlines the process. I meet Irving at Kinko's this morning, he pays, takes the flyers, I am FREE.

Grigorio calls me, freaking out. I tell him the flyers are done and Irving has them. He wants to know, "Why no postcards? Surely another day?" I say NO. I am done with this job. I have other things to do. Goodbye.

This evening, at the Square Foot Show reception in Chelsea (my pieces didn't sell) I run into Grigorio, who is posting flyers all around Chelsea with the Square Foot Show as the epicenter. He has about twelve nit-picky things he's found wrong with the flyers, and wants me to alter the master and get it printed again.


First I try to reason with him. Then I start issuing ultimatums. Then I storm off. He follows me. I throw a screaming raging tantrum in the middle of the reception.

The totally bizarre thing about this is that once I really get going, he actually seems to start listening to me. The more I let fly with statements like "I don't give a shit about this stupid poster, do you see anybody reading the fine print?!! NOBODY gives a shit, I am not getting paid for this, I don't need narcissists like Archimedes in my life, if he has been doing publicity for 20 years why is he incompetent and broke?" the more he stands there with a serious expression on his face and seems to take in the sense of my words. Which he DOES NOT DO when I am explaining things in a civilized, measured, sensible, friendly tone of voice.

I think Grigorio's mother must be a real horror.

Regardless, it was an exhausting and depressing evening. All the Bad Artists in the show were clustering round me, complaining that nobody bid on their piece and nobody came to their open studio and they're upset, nobody bid on my pieces and the gallery was too busy ringing up the sold pieces to give back the unsold ones so I have to come back tomorrow, rent was due three days ago and I haven't paid it, I have a listless and halfhearted crush on a guy who is in a highly committed relationship and too short for me anyway, and there is this Fool on my tail hassling me about postcards. Really. Grigorio is not just *A* fool, he is the ARCHETYPE of The Fool, from the Tarot deck. I suppose this is a distinction of sorts.

And this evening I come home and check my email, and there is a Kodak Photo Album of photos from the 20th high-school reunion that I just missed, and from the looks of it I might actually have had a good time if I had gone. Oh Well.