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A Goodbye Letter

Part One

Dear O,

Everything I write these days is laced with talk of god, everything is sacred, every word a prayer. I haven’t been to church in forever but I am building cathedrals on the grass most Sundays. I swim until I feel baptized and I gaze into his eyes until I feel like something holy. Or I used to. I don’t really think we look at each other the same way. My heart is playing the sort of song that puts tears into your eyes, can he hear it? I think I was born with an old song about Vienna playing on repeat in me.

I feel often like a broken radio.

I have been exploring what it is to be human for some time now and it seems that what I have discovered is a strangeness that has never left me – a strangeness that cannot exist in isolation. You are part of this strangeness, now, O. I have taken some piece of you with me, O.

Maybe it’s enough to lean against a piece of cement and sigh, maybe that’s enough to make a pile of bricks sacred. All the deities and spirits, all the dead English teachers still burning their neuroses from the grave and communicating to me through music. Or just the one dead English teacher. I’m talking about you, O.

I talk to your ghost all the time, O. I ask you for advice, for forgiveness, for help. I imagine if you still exist that you still believe in love: in all its tragedies and dismay but at the end of the day you still believe in the thing itself. That was always your problem, you were too soft to be so bitter.

I know you wanted to move here, to Lisbon. There was a house purchased and a woman loved and an engagement broken. And then you drank a lot more coffee and you looked tired all the time and when people asked how your were you answered honestly. You laid claim to your misery. I remember all of your sad stories, O. All of your terrible jokes. I remember the way that you sighed and how your shirts hung loose in front of your chest and how I was always thinking about the buttons on them. You were an ugly man I wanted to unbutton.

I know I made you a promise, we had a deal: you would give me this one thing and I would let you go. Did I get the thing I asked for, really? I don’t think I did. I am not satisfied with my end of the bargain. Is this your way of telling me you would like to stay? You can stay here, we can be miserable together, O. I don’t need to fly home.

We can build that house you always talked about, with a view over the rooftops and down to the water. We could have an unbroken engagement. Hell, if I walk up another hill I may just collapse at the top of it. We could haunt these alleyways together, our reflection appearing as the occasional glimmer against the tiles. The people looking for our ghosts will see it, but their skeptical friends will say, it’s not what you think, it was just the reflection of the light off your watch, it was just a trick of the sun.

I was sitting by the water and writing to you. Writing out the goodbye letter. Because I promised I would let your ghost go. You always used to read over my shoulder, do you still? I held the journal out for you. He was sitting on my left not looking at me, and there was an empty space on the bench to my right and my elbow felt warm, like someone was touching it. The way your arm brushed against mine that one time, when we were sitting in the lecture hall with Noam Chomsky. That was an important day. There were journalists and protests and everyone wanted to be one of the few students in the room with him. Mostly I remember how your arm touched mine.

It felt like your ghost could have been sitting next to me, by the water in Porto. Or maybe the clouds had just parted slightly, maybe the weather had changed. Maybe it was just a trick of the sun, he would say, if I told him I was talking with ghosts.

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I can’t keep calling you every time I have a stomach ache.

When did you learn to fix everything just by saying Hello?
The way you sing a soft Hiiiii into the telephone
It’s like napping in a thunderstorm with the window open.
It is terrifying to be so well understood by a person,
It makes all other interactions feel like an uphill climb.
I am trying to learn to trust in someone,
From the ground up,
So deeply they need only give me a single word.
I am considering the concept of loving again.
It’s been a while since I did it, but I don’t remember it feeling like this.

I am tired of hurting. I am tired all the time.
Calling you wouldn’t really fix it, but it would feel nice,
To hear “hello” and know I am adored,
Is a simple but effective remedy.

My stomach hurts today, but I am just going to let it ache.
It will be okay.
It will be okay.
It will be okay.

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Happy Birthday Emmy-Do-Do

When I was a baby I was given a bracelet made of 24 karat gold, it was so small it only fit my wrist until I was 7 or 8. I think I was given it at my christening, but I don’t know for sure. I just know I was given it long before I could remember.  But the story of the gift was told to me when I was old enough to recall it vaguely. The bracelet, and the story, sat in my mother’s jewelry box for years until I was old enough to be trusted with them. Then they sat in the top corner of my jewelry box, which my mother painted with little pink flowers. The box smelled like her hands. My mother told me it was real gold, it was precious. It had been a gift too extravagant to give a child.  It came from some rich “aunt” who died before the bracelet grew too small for my wrist. I have big wrists, and big arms, I inherited them from my father. I was too young to know I had big wrists. Young enough not to notice that my body was sometimes bigger than others, and I always felt beautiful then. When I wore the bracelet I felt gorgeous.

24k gold is soft. Pure things can be, I was still a relatively pure thing, relatively unseen. There were no security guards on my street and I could venture into the woods or the parking lot whenever I pleased, unsupervised.

My older sister had a car, it was her first precious thing. Her first taste of freedom. The car was always full of secrets, of treasure. Of backpack pockets stashing away stale candy. Of half-empty packs of cigarettes, and lighters I would throw away. Full of pristine stickers from bands I didn’t know: I just knew they were stickers and I stuck them on everything. The cup holders were always sticky with spilled puddles of beverages: over-sugared coffee and over-caffeinated soda. The seats were upholstered with fuzzy gray fabric and the car didn’t have an alarm. My sister often kept the passenger side door unlocked. On hot days I would sneak into her car, alone, and hug the fabric of the passenger’s seat which smelled like cigarettes and my sister when she was happy. I didn’t know then that my sister had a girlfriend, I just knew that the particular perfume of my-sister-when-she-was-happy lived on the passenger side of the car, which was often unlocked, and I knew that I might find candy in there.

So one day I tried to get into the car but both doors were locked. I took the gold bracelet and tried to pick the lock with it. I don’t remember where I learned the concept of picking locks, but I bent the bracelet into a disaster while jamming it into the car door, and then I tried to pry it back into place with my teeth. Then I cried and looked at the mangled precious thing I had ruined. The excessive gift I had been entrusted with.

24k gold is soft, it bends even under the bite of baby teeth. My father taught me this. We were watching an old movie about pirates or sailors: long-haired men with loose white shirts who gathered over pewter mugs of golden ale in wooden bars. The man in the film was biting down on a gold coin and I, with my budding one-day-pastry-chef little brain, asked if they were checking if the coin was made of chocolate. My father laughed and told me the man was checking if the coin was real gold, which is soft as a nibble. For my birthday, I asked for gold coins. I was given a box of chocolate coins and it was the only time in my life I was disappointed by something being made of chocolate.

But I stood in front of the locked car door and all I remembered was that locks could be picked and gold could be bent.
I forgot that bent things don’t always bend back.
I forgot that sometimes my sister got very upset when I invaded her space.
I didn’t understand that the perfume on the passenger seat was still a secret, just like the cigarettes.

I didn’t manage to break into the car, and I didn’t talk about the bent bracelet. I cried, and the day smelled like a bouquet of various hot plastics: the rubber at the bottom of the car window, the tar on the cracks in the cement, the sunburnt windshield wipers begging for rain.

The day tasted like licking from my thieving fingers the earthy patina of pollen and dust which settles on an unwashed car, and like the first time my young body ever sweated from nerves alone.  It tasted like biting into 24 karat gold.

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All the wrong men tell me I am beautiful.

I have been thinking a lot about my body, which isn’t always a good thing. I feel like maybe there is too much of it, like I should exercise more. Like I should whittle it away. I met another American girl today and she was sort of terrible and fantastic, she sat on the grass and spilled about her trauma. She was just so American, and so am I. I need to get back into German lessons. I need to exercise more. I need to sleep more. I feel a strange need to be less of me in all aspects. Less American, less loud, less provocative. Less fat.

Would that I could be some skinny, quiet woman, hiding my thin limbs in thick sweaters and still looking beautiful. If I had beautiful arms I would waste them being myself, talking with my hands even more. I would point at everything, I would raise my hand at any opportunity, I would touch everyone gently on the shoulder and it would be so condescending.

But if I were thin I could spend the time walking elegantly through crowded rooms and speaking German without hesitation. I could say,

“I am always just so cold.”

I could stand outside in the summer, even in. a subway car, and I wouldn’t be sweating I would be glistening, unbothered.

This heat wave is reminding me how much of me there is, when it’s too hot to cover my arms. When the air touches everything and even my ankles are sweating. Like something erotic and victorian.  The air is so humid it’s always reminding me of my outline, drawing it in chalk, which mixes with sweat and melts into a paste. I haven’t felt comfortable for days save for when I am in the water.

I used to be really good at starving myself, or finding ways around it. I used to live with a lot of guilt, and now I just live with a bit more of my body and that’s a vast improvement, truly. The last year I have felt the sexiest I ever did in my life. So I am not sure why this past week I am just feeling so down on myself. I have been picking at my skin, stepping on and off the scale, I have been drinking too much coffee and not enough water and staring into the refrigerator, then closing it and walking away

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Hiding in Plain Sight

If you’ve been thinking about kissing me or dreaming about bedding me,
I regret to inform you that you have missed your chance.
This is the last call before I go off the market for a while. 
You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

(The mornings are better when they start with your smile)

I’ve barely slept in my own bed since returning from Granada,
but I’ve been keeping my clothes on. 

(The birds know, and my grass knows, and all my journals know, and indeed, the pens know, but I won’t write it down)

I have been collecting bruises
Like stamps in a passport,
Stickers on a suitcase.
I have been around. 

(I have mostly been around you)

I realized somewhere along the journey that I would like to stay here for a while.
I’ve been buying heavy books, putting down roots.
I have been letting your embraces grow on me like moss.

(You kiss my shoulders every time you sit next to me.)

I realized it somewhere in Spain,
While staring at the waves the heat braids into the horizon.
I knew I was taken and I didn’t need a reason.

(I could feel the way you gazed at me in the garden.)

The safe thing would be to continue all my troublemaking,
Staying up late kissing women and pretending,
Having trouble sleeping in unfamiliar beds,
Waking up sweating.

(We linger, our foreheads pressed together, refusing to say “be mine”)

It’s an efficient way to build walls, and a simple way to box myself in.
I can keep you at arm’s length if only I tangle myself in someone else’s limbs.
Like maybe, just maybe, if I kiss her I will stop being afraid to get hurt.
It was a mistake, I’ve made worse.

(When I sleep I dream we are talking on the grass. I know we just met, but I have told you about my day a thousand times.)

If you came here looking for a woman with a demure smile,
With a quiet voice,
You have come to the wrong place.
I do everything with the volume turned up,
I know nothing but how to be loud.

(I love the same way)

But I only ever apologize in a whisper.

(I am sorry I kissed her)

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Ein Liebesbrief

Die Frage ist immer “Warum Wien?” und meine Antwort ist immer, “Ich bin hier für Liebe umgezogen, und ich bin auch hier für Liebe geblieben”

Aber, meine erste Antwort ist natürlich, “Warum nicht Wien?”

Ich habe mich auf den ersten Blick in diese Stadt verliebt. Vorher, habe ich noch nicht so ein Gefühl gehabt, wie ich für Wien jetzt habe. Ich glaube das Gefühl war gegenseitig. Es war vor fünf Jahren, als ich und mein damaliger-Freund-und-jetzt-ex-Mann zum ersten Mal Wien besucht haben. Damals habe ich gesagt, “Wäre es nicht toll, wenn wir hier wohnen könnten. Du könntest fur die Uni arbeiten, und ich könnte für die Zuckerbäckerei, an die wir vorbeigelaufen sind, arbeiten”

Dreihundertneunundfünfzig Tage später sind wir nach Wien umgezogen, nicht einmal ein Jahr.

Ich habe immer gesagt, dass Wien ist eine sehr gute Stadt, in der Wünsche erfüllt werden, weil ich glaube, dass jemand oder etwas besonderes meine Wünsche zuhört.

Mein geliebtes Wien, ich möchte für immer bei dir bleiben.

Ich möchte hier lange genug bleiben, um meine Liebe auf Wienerisch zu teilen. Ich habe versucht, meine Anbetung auf anderen Weisen zu zeigen. Ich weiß noch nicht, wie gut ich das geschaft habe. Ich habe schon “Zweite Kasse bitte!” geschrieen. Ich erzähle von der Freude, in einer Wienerischer Café zu sitzen, und eine Kaffee zu trinken, und auch von einem Kellner angeschrieen zu werden. Ich finde das so lieb, und ich verstehe nicht, warum man das auch nicht so lieb findet. Aber ihre Meinung ist mir (und den Kellnern) Wurst. Wien, ich habe Ihren faden Kaffee langsam getrunken, und jemanden, der sich es wagt, über ihn zu beschweren, böse angeschaut. 

Wir sind nicht für den perfekten Kaffee hier gekommen, wir sind für die unbequeme Sitzbänke und für die Zeitungen, und für den Vorrecht, hier, ohne Grund, von einem Kellner angeschrieen zu werden. Übrigens, du plebeian Müll, heißt es nicht “Cappucino” hier, es heist “Melange”. Ja, es ist genau so wie ein Cappuccino, aber wir schwören, dass es besser ist, weil wir es “Melange” nennen.

Wir. 

Bitte beachten Sie:

Ich habe Wir geschrieben.

Ich glaube, oder ich hoffe, das ich ein Teil von der Wien “Wir” geworden bin. Es ist mir Wurst, ob Sie mich akzeptieren oder nicht. Aber, wagen Sie sich es nicht, sich über meine Stadt zu beschweren. Vergessen Sie nicht: sich beschweren ist der Punkt. Sich beschweren ist eine Kunstform.

… Wien, ich habe ein paar von Ihren Männern, ein paar von Ihren Frauen und sogar ein Paar von zwei Männern gedated. Wien, ich habe Sie erlaubt, mein Herz zu brechen, aber es hat noch nicht meinen ernsthaften Wunsch hier zu bleiben geändert. Ein paar von diesen Männern haben mir erzählt, dass sie Angst haben, dass ich Wien verlassen werde. Was für dumme Menschen, denn sie verstehen mich nicht. Ich bleibe. Wien kann mich rauszuwerfen versuchen, aber ich werde nicht ohne zu kämpfen aufgeben.

Wien, ich habe entschieden, Sie eigensinnig zu lieben. Meine Augen sind immer geöffnet, weil ich alles von Ihnen sehen möchte. Wien, Ihre Straßen sind so breit wie meine Augen, aber ich habe ein paar von ihrer Ecken gefunden. Ich bin auf den Grass von Ihren Parks eingeschlafen. Ich wurde unhöflich von den Vögeln, die aus meinen Schlummer gerufen haben, aufgewacht.

Mein geliebter adoptierter-Großvater hat Wien besucht, und er hat mich gefragt “Warum sind die Straßen so sauber, kommen die Omas raus in der Nacht, alles zu putzen?” Alles was er macht ist fragen, wo die Tauben wohnen, weil er so wenig gesehen hat. Natürlich, haben wir hier Tauben, aber sie sind besser als deine. Die Wienertauben wurden ausgebildet, nicht auf den Statuen zu sitzen, und nicht die Höffe zu erobern.

Wien, ich bin früh zu Fuß zu meiner Arbeit gegangen, aber ich habe noch nicht die Straßenputzenomas gesehen. Ich bin unterwegs wenn die Straßen noch nicht geputzt sind, wenn die Welt ruhig ist, und wenn die Straßenlaternen leuchten. Ich habe die Tauben, die zu einander Liebeslieder singen,gehört. Ich habe ihre gesteckten gebrochene Flügel in den Drähten des Käfigs, die über die Hofe hängen, gesehen. Ich habe das Blut gesehen, bevor die Strassenputzenomas es weggeputzt haben. Und Wien, ich bin trotzdem geblieben. 

Wien, ich habe wegen meinem altmodischen Kleidungen, ein paar zustimmenden Nicken von Ihren älteren Damen, die in der Innenstadt wohnen, verdient. Wien, Ihre Damen wollten selten lächeln, aber ich habe das ein paar Mal geschafft. Ich habe keine Pelzmantel, aber ich habe eine Perlenkette, die ich tragen kann, und ich hoffe, dass das genug für Sie ist. Pelzmänteln mag ich nicht, aber wenn das notwendig für Sie ist, ich werde das Tier selbst häuten. Ich kann mir vorstellen, dass die Straßenputzenomas werden es wegputzen.

Wien, wenn ich bin weg, Sie erinnern mich an Sie. Ich sehe immer kleine Lieberbrief von Ihnen. Zum bespiel: Ich habe die Tapete vom Hotel Orient in einer Irischer Bar gefunden.

Wien, ich dachte ich müsste weg, um meinem Ex-Mann zurück in die Vereinigten Staaten zu folgen. Aber er ist gegangen und ich bin geblieben. Ich bin aus Liebe gekommen, ich bin aus Liebe geblieben.

Wien, jeder, der mich versteht, sieht mich an und sieht, dass ich zu Hause bin. Ich hoffe, dass Sie das auch sehen.

….

The question is always “Why Vienna?” and my answer is always “I came for love, I stayed for love.”

But my initial answer is always “why not Vienna?”

I fell in love with this city at first sight. I have never really done that, but I think the attraction was mutual. I was walking by the Stadtoper and I wished aloud to live here. I said to my then-boyfriend-now-ex-husband “Wouldn’t it be great if we could live here, and you could work at the university and I could work at that bakery we walked by.”

We moved to Vienna 359 days later, not even a year. He worked at the University. I worked at the bakery we saw.

I have always said this is a good city for wishing, and that something here is listening to me.

Mein geliebtes Wien, ich möchte für immer bei dir bleiben.

I guess this is the correct way to say the sentence: my beloved Vienna, I would like to stay with you always. But, it sounds off.

I would like to stay long enough to share my love for this city in its native dialect. I have tried my best to show my adoration in other ways, I espouse the delights of the grumpy waitstaff found in the local cafes, I have called for a second cash register. I have sipped your bland coffee and scowled at anyone who dares to complain about it. We didn’t come here for the coffee, you fool, we came for the uncomfortable seats and the free newspapers and the privilege of being castigated by the waiter for merely existing. Plus, you plebian trash, it’s not called a cappuccino here. It’s a cappuccino, yes, but we call it a mélange, and we will swear on our deathbed that it’s different.

We.

Pay attention: I said “We.”

I consider myself a part of the “We” here, whether they accept me or not. So don’t you dare complain about my beloved city but also don’t dare forget: complaining is the point. Complaining is an artform, an honored institution.

Wien, I have entertained the company of a few of your men. Vienna. I have let them stomp on my heart and never once has it shaken my determination to remain here. Some of them have ended things, afraid that I would leave. What fools, they never understood me. I am staying. Vienna can try to drag me out, kicking and screaming. I will not go down without a fight.

Wien, I have chosen to love you stubbornly, with big blue eyes always looking at you wide, pupils dilated. Wien, you make me want to give up blinking sometimes, you make me want to see everything. Wien, your streets are so wide, but I have found some of your corners, I have curled up in your arms. I have fallen asleep there, on the grass of your city parks. I have been awoken by the birds, rudely summoning me from slumber.

My beloved adopted grandfather visited from New York, and all he could do was complain about how clean the city was. He said, “What, do they have an army of grandmothers who descend upon the sidewalks at night the mop the streets?” All he could do was ask where the pigeons were. We have pigeons here, they’re just better than yours. We’ve trained them not to sit on statues or to invade courtyards. We put up cages to keep them out.

Wien, I have walked to work in the early hours of the morning when the grandmothers have not yet swept the streets, when the horse carriages have soiled the cobblestones and the world is silent in accordance with noise regulations. I have heard the pigeons singing love songs to each other, nesting in my chimney. I have seen their broken wings, ripped from their bodies, trapped in the metal nets the city hands over the statues. I have seen the blood on the streets before the grandmothers washed it away and, Wien, I have stayed.

Wien, I have over dressed and earned approving nods from the rich old women who live in the first district. Even the occasional smile. Wien, your women don’t typically smile, but I have made it happen more times than I can count.  I don’t yet own a brown fur coat, or a fur hat, but I wear a pearl necklace sometimes and I hope that’s enough for now. I was never really one for fur but if it’s what it takes, I will skin the animal myself. I imagine that the grandmothers will wash the blood away. 

Wien, when I leave,  you remind me to return. When I am away, I always see small signs of you, hidden messages, I consider these to be small secret love letters from you to me. For example: I found the wallpaper of the Hotel Orient in an Irish pub in Zurich.

Wien, for years I thought I had to leave, to follow my now-ex-husband back to the united states. But, he left, and I have stayed.  I came for love, I stayed for love.

Wien, I worked for years on my escape plan, and there is a red carpet laid out for my return to the United States. On Thursday night, I will turn it down. I will stomp on America’s heart.

Wien, everyone who loves me knows this is where I belong. Everyone who understands me looks at me and sees that I am home.

Wien. I hope you see that too.

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Quotes from last night:

“I feel for your wife. Austrian men are…difficult. Their heads are full of cement but their hearts are full of song. You just have to break through the bricks to get to the music.”

“That’s such a good line…I call shotgun. Okay fine, I can’t steal it, but you have 5 years to use it or it’s mine. I will set a reminder in my phone now.”

“You’re smart. Honestly, sometimes, I am trying to keep up.”

“That’s quite the compliment from a man who studied at Cambridge. I should write that down, no I should…”

(In unison)

“You should get that in writing.”

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I was standing in the backyard in the rain. He walked out onto the grass without his shoes on, getting his socks wet, but I told myself we were still just friends.

I would like to be loved in a way that feels like something worthy of the occult. Not as in a sanitized American fairy tale: like in the German version with all the blood and guts and bureaucracy. With a twisted but vaguely happy ending. I want to be loved in a way that’s worth telling children as a bedtime story, but which might give them vivid dreams.

But I am done learning lessons, I formally resign from participating in the plot of any more fables. Can’t I just go out into the woods on a quest for some enchanted tree limb and steal your affection?

Life should be so simple. You meet a girl, her dad is a king, and he sends you on a quest. But we have mucked it all up with texting and dating apps and it sure seems difficult to find a worthy suitor these days, so I guess I have to settle for a friend with benefits.

It could be so easy. I could just be tasked to find some sacred orchid which only blooms under the full June moon, and makes you tell me what you are thinking? Makes you tell me what I want you to be thinking.

I could just journey to a deserted island in search of a mythical fountain and dip the blade of my knife into the water there? So much easier than trudging through the small talk of another first date. Simply take the enchanted blade and cut out my own heart, give it to you, and call it a day.
Then curl up in your arms and keep my knife sheathed for the rest of time.

I could snuggle up next to you by a fireplace,
My ribcage hollowed.
It would be a relief,
It would give me a little more room to breathe.

I could live in some moss-covered cottage in the forest.
Something made of gingerbread and dirt and red wine.
I could spend my days building fires and growing onions,
and, I imagine, cooking giant pots of soup at all times.
That seems to be what you do in a fairy tale hut:
Heat something in a cauldron,
Rearrange jars of mysterious spices,
Consult ancient tomes by candlelight.
It’s a job, someone has to do it.
Why not me?

You could visit me,
You could make up excuses as to why you need me to consult the ancient tomes.
You could say it was for work.
For an itchy bee sting. For a sore neck.
You could stay a while,
And drink a cup of whatever I have been brewing in the cauldron all day.
I could send you home with a basket of onions.
You could return the empty basket as another excuse to see me.
We could pretend we’re just friends.

Or maybe, instead,
We could stand in the entryway of my apartment,
With the lights off, and the sun setting,
With our shoes still on,
And your arms around me.
We could stand there until we turn old and gray.

Maybe we could look at something mundane
And decide to call it magic

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The Library of Lost Opportunities

The Stranger is a musician and a writer, it was refreshing to go out with someone who is actually my match creatively, for once. I wasn’t sure how it would go, if it would feel more like a war room or a meeting of two minds in harmony. It was somewhere in between. We both laughed a lot. He’s English and polyamorous and his love language is words of affirmation. The man knows how to weave a compliment.

We escaped the heat, hiding in an air-conditioned café with arabesque cut-out windows. The windows begged to be a backdrop in a film noir.  The sunlight striped across his face. I let him read the first draft of my book. I watched him smile and nod. I told him the whole story: the ending, the whodunnit, who would be left standing. I told him which side wins. Which is to say, I told him which side I take in the fight.

We talked about murder and misadventure. He had recently returned from participating in an international art heist. This is the sort of date I am supposed to be going on, honestly. We’re both writing novels. I drank three mélanges, and fearing I would turn electric, I cut myself off. We left the cafe and decided to brave the heat. We headed to one of Vienna’s few English book stores: Shakespeare & Co. On the way a rainstorm followed behind us, nibbling at our ankles and kissing our foreheads.
“To the library!” he cried and we walked a bit faster.

It was dramatic, right as we reached the bookshop entrance the storm fell, chiming against the cobblestones like a pocketful of spilled change. But, no luck for us, the used book cart had to be rushed inside first. This is the kind of date I should be going on. So we didn’t quite escape the rain, but we made it inside relatively unscathed.  I bought three books, all new, but we spent a good half-hour perusing the used section in the back of the shop.  It’s dimly lit and scented with the petrichor of old paper and aged leather. I climbed the sliding ladder, braving the height to paw at a book with a dramatic red cover. I leaned back and looked at him. He should have kissed me then, but he didn’t.

 “The library of lost opportunities,” he called it later.

I arrived for the date in full mystery author mode. A few weeks ago I leaned into the cliché and ordered myself a “poison ring” with a secret compartment that opens up. I usually keep medication for my stomach inside, for a laugh.  I attempted to use the ring in a dating ploy the other week, and I wrote a secret note,  rolled it up into a scroll, and put it inside the ring. The ploy did not work at the time, the date never asked me what was inside, but the Stranger did. I had forgotten the note by then. But I showed him the ring in the store and he asked what it said, and I told him he could see it later.

We spent 5 hours together breaking apart each other’s sentences, and curing our mutual writer’s block, or at least applying a balm to the wound. I left with three new books and he walked me back to my apartment. On the way, he asked my opinion about asking for consent before a kiss and I said I like it. When we reached my door I told him he could read the note hidden inside the ring. He unrolled it slowly and smiled,

The note read:

“Are you ever going to kiss me?”

And he did.

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Some Small Musings From the Past Few Weeks

“Love is a lost & found box. It’s an exercise in finding a home for your heart, of letting it be stolen sometimes, and more often than not, of admitting that your wife was right.”

“He knows how to pick a bottle of wine. We drank a red with legs like a Raymond Chandler character.”

“I have started a rather intense love affair with the sea monster of the Alte Donau.
He holds me in his arms, gently.
I gave him an offering of my tears.
I promised him a slice of birthday cake.
He provided a safe place to hide my thoughts for a while.

I said he could keep them, they were doing me no good.”

“We kissed so passionately her earring fell behind the bar.”

“It’s not about wondering if you’re up,
It’s about being the thought keeping you awake.”

“From the Law Offices of Mediocre & Fuckboy”

“We both know I am not going to die by choking, I am going to die by an anvil being dropped on my head.”

“We’re a junk drawer of reflexes and excuses,
of long roads devoid of hidden corners.”

“This weather should be illegal.
I keep riding escalators down into the subway only for the brief breeze,
For a momentary escape from the heat.”

“I have enough four-leaf-clovers that I can cure Kevin’s cancer, finish my novel, get it published, make it a NYT bestseller, and get it made into a popular television series. I have luck to burn, come here baby.

“Oh, how lovely the evening on the bridge,
After the lackluster ice cream shop is closed,
All the bikes have been locked up,
and the city is empty.

The swan bends her neck toward the stream of moonlight,
Climbing up the tower’s reflection.
Aren’t we both such vicious pretty things, so prepared to bite?

Here is another railing where I leaned, waiting for you to put your arms around me.
Here is another place you didn’t kiss me.”

“We are all just fools
Being reminded of other fools
Every time it rains.
We are just a series of embraces and cliches.”

“Our feet sitting outside and our bodies sitting inside,
So we’re halfway toward something, halfway home.
We can figure it out from here.”

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Video: “Annalena & The Sign”

One of my readings from the Vienna True Story Night on June 23rd.

The end of the video was cut off but I pasted the text of the ending below the video.

The ending:

“It was not a date. But, I invited her to the show tonight, and she’s here.

I figure in two years she is going to look back at that conversation we had at Moby Dick, and when I imagine this scenario she’s in the shower, I don’t know why I see it that way, but I do. But she’ll be washing her hair and look back at the moment where she said I was a perfect woman, and have a sudden a-ha moment, and she will get out of the shower and text me asking if I want to meet for drinks,

and then it will definitely be a date.”

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A Proposal of Marriage

He said,

“You know in some cultures, all I have to do is hang my hammock next to yours, and we’d be married.”

I replied,

“In our culture, we are already legally married”

“I’m just saying, I would hang my hammock next to yours”

“That is the cutest thing ever, until we both clumsily fall out of our hammocks”

“Exactly.”

“Then we would love each other from the ground up.”

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Strawberry Moon

The full “strawberry moon” is tomorrow, but someone in a group I am in said to go see it tonight. So I got out of bed and walked to the park to see it, it was too low in the sky for a view at first so I tried at a hotel I know here, which has a rooftop balcony in the restaurant. The night concierge said his colleague had just left, and he would have unlocked the balcony for me but he was alone at the desk.

So I returned to the park and I caught her just before the clouds obscured her.

Probably a bit reckless to be out in a park alone at night, but, I will survive. Or I won’t, in which case, the last thing I saw was beautiful.

I will have to find a better spot to go tomorrow night to see the full moon. Somewhere with less light pollution and, presumably, an even greater risk of murder. On Sunday I spent the day by the Alte Donau, my favorite spot to be these days. I have been trying to break a record for how many days in a row I can be there, swimming. So far the record is 4.

A friend brought some handpicked strawberries. They weren’t the sweetest strawberries I’ve ever had, but they were special, and I was happy to eat them. A few were surprisingly delightful though. Sneaky, juicy, the red running down my palms. That’s summer to me, to be by the water among my friends, eating fruit and getting my hands sticky, to be in the water washing my makeup away and trust the people around me to see me bare. For all my frustration and longing it has to be said, I smiled more often this week. It’s because of all the swimming.

On Sunday I used the word “strawberry” as a verb, perhaps an abuse of poetic license but I think it’s allowed under the umbrella of my multiple food safety licenses.

But, we were offered the last strawberries and I said,

“I think I am a bit strawberried out”

I stained my journal with strawberry juice, the ink was already pink on the opening pages, so I leaned into the stain, smacking a pink thumb print into the upper corner of the page, so they knew I was there. As if the writing therein wasn’t enough.

So, if I get murdered under the strawberry moon, tell them they can identity my body by the thumbprint on page 5 of my new journal.

Tell them I went down enjoying the sweetness life has to offer, but that I deserved more.

Tell them I was still hungry

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Happy Pride!

Fuck.

I never touched a cigarette tonight
but I smell like smoke and other women.

How am I going to get you to kiss me tomorrow?
How am I going to wash the scent of other men and women from my hair?

How will I wash away the bruises of a being pushed against the bar, against the wall, against a thigh? Against everything but you.

Everyone in Vienna kissed me today,
Except you.
You seem so shy, that I refuse to make the first move.
So, lay one on me, or fuck off.

Translation:
“Lay one on me” is American slang for: kiss me passionately.
It’s American slang for saying,
“Alessandra, can I kiss you?”
and then running your hands through my hair,
and pulling my face towards yours, and kissing me.

“Wgkadg;kadjg;hlag;ljhg”
Is American angry-keyboard-gravity-stomping-dialect for:
“Why haven’t you kissed me already?!”

So, what I am saying is:

Why haven’t you kissed me already?

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It was a dark and stormy night…

Rather, it is a dark and stormy night in Wien, and what better time to break in my new Marilyn pen and a new journal that’s been sitting on my bookshelf, looking for a reason to be of use. What better way to do so than by candlelight, in the midst of a June thunderstorm, with a glass of wine perched on the windowsill and the window open to the elements, carrying in the occasional rebellious raindrop who refuses to be forced to the cobblestones of the courtyard. I am grateful to be in the company of such determined, feisty raindrops, we all refuse to be pushed down.

I did not get kissed in the rain today.
Then again, she wasn’t with me when it rained.

Both F. and I had exciting dates or some-such-similar outings this weekend, and we knew the weather forecast was troublesome, so we agreed: we would both go out and get kissed in the rain. We both seem to have failed in our goal. So after today, after another message where I said,

“Nothing happened.”

He said,

“Maybe she didn’t kiss you because it didn’t rain.”
“Yes, she looked at me and thought ‘This is a woman who deserves to be kissed in the rain””

But tonight, when the rain started to fall in F.’s neighborhood, when I was all alone and finishing up dinner he sent me an urgent voice message:

“Well, it’s started to rain, call her. Call her now.”

I told F. I would go walk home in the rain and text her to say I was doing so.

“Send her a picture of you being wet”

I joked that I would dump a bottle of water on my head if it’s what it took.

He said,
“I will stand on a chair over you and dump the bucket of water and then tell her to come closer”

“You are a true friend and wingman”

“I know right?”

“Yes precisely, just shout ‘HERE PRETTY GIRL, SHE IS READY FOR YOU!”

“I am standing and waiting for the rain, it’s a plot point now.”

I watched the thunderstorms from the Albertina platform, overlooking the opera house and the Instagrammers. The photographers got rained out, and I remained to watch the lightning.

I heard from a few friends that it was raining some series of cliches in their neck of the woods: cats and dogs, buckets, a flood, etc.

I stood in the drizzle watching the lightning and sweating in the ever-building humidity, thinking about her, getting hot in the German sense of the word. I had a paper bag in my hand with a wine bottle inside, and the wine bottle had a label with an umbrella, but I didn’t have an umbrella myself. So, I stood in the drizzle and gambled that after all this time I still love the rain.

After all this time, I still love the rain. Even if I am not getting kissed in it.

So, I turned and descended the stairs just as the rain started, and I reached the bottom of the steps and stood on the large stretch of the sidewalk while everyone still left on the street ran for cover, and I put the paper bag down by my feet, and I tucked my phone away safely in my purse, and I looked at the sky, closed my eyes, and waited.

I got soaked.

I was laughing between mouthfuls of rainwater. In the mere moments I stood there with the blissful cool of the water on my shoulders, seeping through my red sweater, the bag holding my wine bottle became so drenched it threatened to give way when I lifted it back up.

I walked home, barely a block away, but I was already drenched. Every thread of hair and fabric saturated. I went past a series of people sheltering under the awnings of art galleries, and one lesbian couple looked at me and said “Poor you” and I yelled at them and the others crowded under the archways,

Live a little!”

then I leaned my head back to take a drink of the rain, and to laugh, and I think I convinced at least one woman, who stepped out into the rain, gently. I don’t know if she stayed there.

I continued on my way home, sopping and delirious.

I stopped in the entryway to take a photo, and I sent it to her, hoping she would say-

I wish I was with you

Or

I am already on the subway heading toward you.

Or

I should have kissed you already but I was waiting for it to rain.
Because you look like a woman who deserves to be kissed in the rain.

So, it rained today and I didn’t get kissed but I did get soaked, and I did sit at home by my open window, drinking umbrella-label wine, and writing by candlelight, wrapped in a towel and stripped of my clothes, and at some point, I let the towel drop, then I let the pen drop, and I rolled the chilled bulb of the wine glass back and forth across my breasts and thought of how cold her hands are, and how warm the June air is, and how maybe it was excuse enough to call her and say:

“It rained at last, and you weren’t there to kiss me.“

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A Reading

This Thursday, June 2nd, I will be one of the featured performers for a pride month reading of poetry and storytelling at Vinzi Rast. The event is hosted by Hint. Wien and will have readings in English, German, and Hungarian

Doors open at 18, the event is free, drinks are available on a pay-what-you-can basis.

Info for the event and how to access the entrance can be found here:

https://www.eventbrite.at/e/colourful-narratives-for-vienna-pride-kunterbunte-erzahlungen-zum-pride-tickets-344438905037

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Haven’t Given Him a Nickname Yet

Life is as ever full of adventure and affection and the adamant hearts of men who it seems would chase me all the way from Antwerp.

You can tell a man likes you when he sends you a photo of the window view from his train.

It means,

I saw the horizon and thought of you.

It means,

I am going somewhere,

And I want to take you with me.

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Vienna kept reminding me I had to come back to her. So I did.

I visited Zurich last week and found myself accidentally in love, with an old home. With its garden, actually. With the bench there, where I plan to spend the rest of my days sitting, writing.

Sure, to be fair, the home, the castle, it’s in disrepair. The garden is overgrown, the basement full of ghosts and antiques, of mold and precious wet cardboard and chandeliers missing crystals and so much rusted metal, so much cracked paint. But, the steps-  the glorious steps- which led to nowhere but a better view of the sunset over the lake, and the trees are almost blue from way up here

and the world is so quiet.

The limbs of the weeping willow hang so carefully over the entrance to the garden that it’s clear from the first moment: you are safe here. I don’t know why, with my absolute lack of a green-thumb, with my hatred of dirt and uphill climbs and cracked paint, this house called to me so. But, it’s as haunting to me as the overturned wooden rocking horse I spied through the cobwebbed window. This decrepit box of junk has stolen my heart.

It would be so much more simple if it were a man, or if it were about a man. The man who took me there had no intention of showing me the house, but I fell for it from afar, at first sight, I was entranced by the willow tree and already singing Camelot show-tunes in my head. Follow me, follow me, follow me…

Perhaps, in the end, I just miss my mother. I just know that she would have trespassed into the garden the same way. She’d say how you could stand on the steps and sing, how you could descend the stairs into nothing but a pile of overgrowth.

She left me to sit in the weeds, to be overgrown. I don’t know how to love anyone that clings to me with anything less than the determination of ivy.

This home,  this castle, the back corner has stone once so overrun with ivy it ate into into the cement, scratching it away. I was raised surrounded by love so lush, so green, so gorgeous, that it hid its mark.

I am a building, bitten by weeds, gnawed at by beautiful green things. I am covered in scars that reveal I was once desired, once clung to. I am still standing. I am a bit crumbled, a bit painted over. I am full of meaningless junk and chipped paint and my mind is nothing but a stone staircase which descends into nowhere, but it offers a better view of the sunset.

I found my own reflection it the house, it seems. In the wishing well in the backyard, covered by a dirty green tarp. I long for it to be loved. Who knew I could be so tall? Who knew I could weep so beautifully? That I could build a fence so ornate it’s both inviting and terrifying?

My god, what an object in disrepair it seems I have been.

My god, what a gorgeous lush thing the warm weather has invited me to become.

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For G.

I would have liked a chance to decide if I loved you outside of an emergency,
But everything got pushed forward,
The calendar came for us, bearing its claws,
With sudden weddings and far more sudden funerals.
With visa expiration dates and,

I knew when I met you that your father was dying,
But we were both under the impression he had a little more time-
That we had a little more time.
I had hoped, time enough,
To figure it out.

I knew from the beginning I could be yours.
I just needed a minute to figure it out.
I stopped wearing my watch when you left,
I couldn’t take the notifications about my heart.

I would have liked to evaluate the quality of this whole thing
Outside of the fact that you know what I look like in a gown,
That I know what you look like in a black suit,
Or that I know your taste in engagement rings.

I would like to have, for once,
Loved a bit slower,
Been a bit lazy about it,
Seen you once or twice a week,
Kept you on the back burner deep into summer.

I would like to have kept more secrets, to have spent evenings
With men, ignoring them
In favor of thinking about you,
And have told you nothing of it.

I would like to have spent these
Unexpectedly warm May evenings with you,
Overdressed and sweating into the sheets,
Complaining about the heat.

I’d have liked you to have seen me
In such exaggerated misery,
Begging for an air conditioner,
Being an absolute nightmare.

I always liked how you said you woke up hot,
Thinking about me.

I’d have liked to have let your affection for me cool slowly,
Grow a moss of resentment,
For you to have learned firsthand
All the things about me
Worth hating.

But I gave you the best of me,
And you said you loved me,
Or, specifically, you said,
“I have something I want to say to you, but I am worried it will scare you away”
Then you said,
“But it starts with ‘I’ and ends with ‘you'”

And I said,
“I know what you’re saying, just don’t say it yet, but I can see it too, I can see the horizon from here. I am falling for you.”

So, you said
It-starts-with-I-and-ends-with-you
And you left anyway.

I would have liked to have ended things better,
Perhaps with our clothes on,
Perhaps before sex.

I am glad you fucked up so royally in the end,
After treating me like a princess.
It makes it a bit easier.

I would have liked this to be easy.
Liking you was simple.
Resenting you is tricky.

I wish I could hate you, that I could scowl at you and say,
I have something to say to you
It starts with “I” and ends with “you”

I wish I could wish you anything but well.

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Where to begin? Where to end? Can I stay here with you a while longer?

Perhaps it would be fitting to start with “Once upon a time…” seeing as, for the moment, I feel an awful lot like a goddamn princess. It’s hard to trust anything these days, and only time will tell, but for now I am smitten. I keep fearing the rug will be pulled out from under me, but in this case it’s a red carpet.

I spent last week in quarantine and amused myself by chatting with men on dating apps. Of those conversations, one materialized into an actual date. He is an absolute sweetheart, a gentleman, and a short king. He’s actually only a few inches taller than me. He lives outside the city in a suburb I love, but makes no issue of traveling the 47 minute commute to come see me, even if only for a few hours. We spent a lot of time chatting from my quarantine jail, and I had a good feeling about him, but I was delighted to have it confirmed once we actually met.

We had a lovely time, walking through the city and talking and he didn’t blink once when I clumsily knocked over my drink more than once while telling a story and talking with my hands. He actually does this little blink eye twitch thing when he is excited, like he scrunches his eyes up for a moment. It’s adorable. I though when we were sitting by the water, with our legs hanging over the edge, that he would kiss me. Because he gave me the little eye scrunch. I could see that he wanted to kiss me, but he didn’t yet.

Eventually we found seats at a bar nearby. During our quarantine courtship he had learned just how much I like to dress up. He told me he had an idea for a date where I could dress up, but he wanted to wait to meet me in person, see how it went, before telling me. At the bar he excitedly interrupted me and said,

 “Oh, my date idea! Do you want to hear it or do you want to be surprised?”

I asked him to tell me and he said

“There is a ball in Baden on Friday, do you want to go?”

Do I want to go to a ball? Me? Queen of overdressing?

“Oh my god, yes!”

I honestly lost my mind and before I said anything incredibly stupid, I just smashed my face into his face and kissed him.

So, yeah, I am going to a BALL.

I don’t know man, this guy is amazing. He’s so together, and he has flawless Ritz Carlton energy, and I think we’re both just crazy for each other. I know we’re both crazy for each other.

“Do you always take girls to balls on the second date?”

 “No, never, but I knew you were special.”

You know that moment, on a date, where you’re both hot and bothered and dying to embrace the other? After some polite kissing by the water, and some slightly less polite kissing, we took a long route toward his train station, through the narrow, warmly lit back alleys of Vienna. We were making polite conversation, about…something? For the life of me I couldn’t tell you what, because my inner monologue was mostly running variations of “Would it be weird to start making out with him here, in front of all these bar patrons?” or “Can I just pull him into this doorway- ah fuck someone is going into the building”.

We turn around a half dozen romantic corners, only to find an uncomfortable smattering of people, out enjoying the moonlight. There’s an anonymity provided by  a large crowd, but a small group of people makes for an uncomfortable audience in these situations. So we kept walking, past gin bars and shuttered jewelry shops, and at last we rounded a corner to a narrow street, lit by the wall sconces of the restaurant there, with only one man walking down the street towards us. I decided I would let that man go around the corner, at which point I was going to attack my date. But, it seems we shared the same inner monologue, because the stranger was only two paces past us when my date turned to me, reached his hand to the side of my face, ran his fingers through my hair, kissed me, and pressed me against the wall behind me. We kissed furiously, soliciting a scolding cry from a passing taxi cab, and ignoring it. He exhaled into my mouth and moaned “God, I want you.”

But I dropped him at his subway stop, gave him a kiss goodbye, and when he walked away I noticed he had been standing on a penny. A lucky penny, it seems, so I pocketed it to give to him the following day.

We spent the next two days seeing each other whenever we could. I saw on the morning after the date that he had deactivated his OKC account. I asked him about it, because I am not ready to be exclusive yet, and he just said “That was my choice, not yours, you are the only one I want to see.”

He talks like a guy who has already been to therapy.

So, it’s only been a short time but I am overwhelmingly optimistic, and I feel like a princess. He literally calls me his queen. I just, I can’t stop thanking the universe.

I saw him again last night, and as he was leaving my apartment I decided to kiss him goodbye while we waited for the elevator. Instead, he pushed me back into the apartment and said “I will catch the next train”,  threw his bag on ti the floor, unzipped his coat, picked me up and carried me into the bedroom. This is not some hulking strong man, so it was a bit like when an adrenaline rush gives someone the strength to lift a car for a moment.

So, this past week has been magical, and on Friday night I get to have my Hallmark princess moment and go to a ball. I got an amazing gown, if I say so myself. If the man hasn’t fallen for me by then, when he sees me in this dress he is absolutely going to.

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A PSA

WordPress told me someone in Ireland read my blog. Whoever you are, I would like to know:

Do you have an Irish accent?

Are you cute?

Would you like a girlfriend?

Would you like that girlfriend to be me?

Happy St. Patrick’s day to only me and this reader.

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Blood Oranges

I have been carrying a lot of ghosts around with me today, some friendlier than others. Chris, as every year, is called to mind in January when blood oranges are in season.

I have a test day on Wednesday at what I hope will be my new workplace- I made blood orange macarons for the interview and they came out perfectly, like biting into a fresh orange. Like an escape from the winter to someplace warm. Topped with a sparkling slice of candied orange, died blood red. What a sparkling haunting. What promise seems to hang in the January air. The wind has been so strong recently, and everyone’s cheeks are bitten red.

I am filled with hope, and anxiety, and sugar. I am bundled up in scarves and sweaters.

Chris was not the first person I lost to suicide, nor was he the last. We’ve all seen too much death.

We’ve all been bitten by the cold.

…..

Crisis Hotline Austria: 142

National Suicide Hotline USA: 1-800-273-8255

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L’espirit de l’escalier


I don’t want to eat,
I want to sit around being fragile
And subsist on sparkling water
I want there to be something left in my day
That glitters.

I want to turn the internet off, open the windows,
And listen to yesterday’s thunderstorm.
I want the rain to wash the sidewalks away with the hours,
To return me to the twilight of yesterday, before we…

I want to do yesterday over again:
To do nothing. To do more, to do less,
To speak up when I was hurting.
When you were hurting me.

I want to have never started, or to have lingered
In the moment, after the first time I asked you to stop
Before I said “Where is the dominant guy who threw me over the desk?”
I want to have stayed there- in your surprisingly gentle arms,
To have fallen asleep.

I want to be the worst kind of hypocrite, I want a cigarette.
After your tobacco breath and all my complaints-
I want to hang my head out the window and blow the smoke into the January air,
Watch it curl toward the cobblestones on the courtyard
Like a woman descending spiral stairs.

The French have a word for this. Usually, it’s the Germans,
Coming in with vocabulary lacking in English.
But today it’s the French:
L’espirit de l’escalier
The ghost of the things we should have said.

I have so much left to say to you.
I want our story to keep going, too.

An addition to the poem:

I remembered tonight that my ultimate dream vacation
A trip aboard the Orient Express,
Runs from Istanbul
to Paris.

Maybe one day we will go.

Maybe one day I will look back and realize I was always heading toward you.

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Screaming to the rooftops that I am CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC

This blog is slowly becoming a love letter to anxiety, as anxiety is slowly becoming a long-lost-lover of mine.

Look at me, chubby and smiling and feeling absolutely gorgeous.

Look at me, dare I say it, relaxing.

I’ve been listening to love songs as ever, but for the first time in forever there’s no longing. Just the comfortable exhale of a woman who trusts that he is going to call her.

I trust this one, he’s got me glowing.

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A Midnight Waltz

Evidently, if you play your cards right, the locals in Austria waltz at midnight. So I spent the first minutes of 2022 gasping from laughter, swept off my feet in the emerald green silk gown I chose to wear.

I waltzed my way into midnight.

2021 was a trash fire, and I am standing beside it basking in the glow, but 2022 is looking awfully good from here.

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Some unearned references to the moon.

The moon was awfully bright tonight, and it reminded me of missing you. Which is not to say I miss you.

But the fact is, you’re so far away.

Some impossibly expensive plane ticket away.

I wish you would call me.

We were always best like this, at a distance, exhausted, a candle burnt at both ends. It was hard to sleep without you, maybe it’s harder to sleep without you in the same city.

This is just a series of hardships, slowly decreasing in severity.

Which is to say. I don’t miss you like I used to.

But the moon makes me feel like I should be.

I’ve been saying,

We’re only still married by fault of a piece of paper,

a pair of names on the mailbox,

And another set on the doorbell.

They took our names off the doorbell.

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I had a great title for this post, but I’m saving it for a rainy day

I am burnt out, yet electric. I’m not sure what happened in the last week to set this strange collision off. Perhaps I just had a reason to be creative (the interview), perhaps I had a multitude of anxieties (the interview), perhaps my young lover…(redacted, for decency).

Perhaps I am just here to brag.
To smile, to tuck a yellow rose behind my ear.

The sexiest thing I’ve seen recently?
A screenshot of an email from the Handsome Devil
about the little trip we planned,
showing he had already arranged gluten-free meals for me.

If you’re looking for the sexy part of that sentence, it’s: “he had already“.
If you’re looking for the sexy part of that sentence, you’re probably a guy.

The involuntary gasps from my friends when I showed them said it all:
We love a competent man.
As I’ve said before, the bar for men is so low it’s a tavern in hell.
But we love a competent man.

As I’ve said before, I’ve been sitting at the oak-and-leather bar of the Tavern in Hell,
drinking watered down gin and pretending to have a good time.

He makes it so easy to show him off. I love a planner.
Perhaps that’s the issue: I keep showing him off.
A picture is worth a thousand words,
and the expression I make when I text him is worth at least twice as much.
“Ooooh, what’s Alessandra doing? Her face says it all.”

Everyone who loves me wants to see the queen of puppy-love in another love story.
Maybe, after the last year, everyone is rooting for the underdog.
I may be the underdog,
but I am also the Ladybug of the Christmas Market.

After all the input from my friends, I considered it.
Considered him. Considered if he was worth dating.
I hate to disappoint, but this is not a love story.
It’s a leaflet of smut, tucked beneath a mattress.
It’s not love, but it’s glorious.

“I just want to keep things like they are.”
Absolutely, Sir. Zero complaints.
Keep things as they are: without obligation.
I’m not his, he’s not mine.
I have conned my way into a gloriously good time.


So I’m still sitting at the bar, in the Tavern in Hell,
But I’ve upgraded to sherry cask whiskey.
I’m seated next to the Handsome Devil.
His hand is subtly grazing my knee.
The music on the jukebox changed, and I’m tapping my toe to the beat.

I’m sitting at the bar of the Tavern in Hell,
Still waiting for the right guy to ask me to dance.

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Health Code Violations of Hallmark Christmas Bakeries

Christmas in Love

Nick, evil CEO, is in town to buy out Ellie’s Christmas Kringle factory. He’s exchanged his Big-City-Italian-Suit for an appropriate uniform, complete with shoe covers, hair net, and gloves. Ellie, on the other hand, is in full Christmas glam- her long blonde hair free-flowing into those Christmas Kringles. Yummy. Evidently, her homespun charm exempts her from stringent health codes followed by everyone else at the factory. Oh, and those adorable Christmas baubles hanging over the mixer won’t be quite so cute crushed up in a pastry, but this is small-town America, and we like our food authentic, and absolutely riddled with adulterants.

Big City Health Inspection Grade: C, for Christmas

A Gingerbread Romance

Chef Annabelle Renard, the supposed villain of this story, is the only character who gives a damn about her clients’ health. She is also the only person in this movie capable of pulling her hair back. Meanwhile, architect Taylor and single dad/hunky baker Adam have teamed up to build a giant gingerbread house. Do they utilize child labor to do so? Yes. Do they even once don a pair of gloves? No. Does everyone get the promotion they dreamed of? You bet.

Big City Health Inspection Grade: P, for Promotion.

Ice Sculpture Christmas

Callie, an aspiring chef and future poisoner, has been unwittingly entered into an ice carving contest against her boss and his villainous sous chef. How do we know the sous chef is a villain? Her hair is pulled back. What do you think this is, a big city? We don’t believe in hair elastics around here. What we do believe is that every single room should contain at least four fully decorated Christmas trees.

Big City Health Inspection Grade: J, for Jingle.

Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery

Hannah Swensen, baker and unlicensed gumshoe, has found herself in a caper. Well, to start off, her sous chef plates croissants for service without wearing gloves. Oh, and THERE IS A DEAD BODY. She VISITS A CRIME SCENE and then returns to the bakery, without washing her hands. Eat your heart out, Ignaz Semmelweis. Despite all this, upon entering her kitchen, Hannah actually pulls her hair back into a ponytail.

Big City Health Inspection Grade: M, for Murder.

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I knew it wasn’t working, when I had no idea what to get him for Christmas.

I went Christmas shopping with my friend D. today, in search of stocking stuffers and an escape from the confines of our respective apartments. We found ourselves in front of the Tom Ford counter, and she gave me the eye.

“Didn’t the guy wear…?”

“Yeah. He did. But I am not thinking about him. Definitely not thinking about him.”

I say, staring at the bottle of his cologne.

“Yeah, sure. Which one was it?”

“That one, the tobacco vanilla one. It’s like fucking catnip for me. When he put it on I basically just wanted to lick him.”

“And did you?”

“Actually, no. He was a little hot-and-cold in that department.”

The saleswoman grabs the bottle, and goes to spray it on a tester, but I shake my head at her and reach out my arm, pulling back my glove to reveal my wrist.

D. says, “They have it at the commissary for like half price.”

My nose is pressed to my wrist, and I mumble at her from behind my palm,

“Yeah, mmhhmm, half price of way-too-fucking-much. But, I might need you to buy me a bottle. I don’t need the guy- I can just buy the damn perfume.”

“Or you could just keep fucking him knowing you’ll go home smelling like it.”

“Yeah, that’s super practical, completely logical. No, it’s not happening. I’m through with him.”

“Yeah, uh-huh, you seem really through with him.”

“Shut up. Ugh, I can’t escape him- he said it himself. His name showed up on the Bee yesterday. That word game I play.”

“I can set you up with my investment manager, I bet he smells nice.”

“I told you, I don’t care if the guy has money- is he a good person? Not a “nice guy”- a good person.”

“Well, he seems very laid back for having such a large trust fund.”

“I really don’t think you’re hearing me: not-interested-in-rich-dudes. Just buy me the damn perfume.”

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Someone hold the anxious overachiever before she implodes.

God, I am a bit of a mess today. Actually, I’m not, I’m perfect, I’m exceeding expectations. My life is pretty neatly managed at the moment, I’ve got my shit together. I worked incredibly hard, it paid off. I also just want to cry a little- but I can’t, because my makeup looks flawless. I am having a fantastic day, excuse me while I…sob?

To be fair, I did bonk my head on a drawer while I was grabbing the laundry. But it was a sort of charming, movie-quality clumsy. I’m having a delightful day, really.

I think I am just nervous about the interview tomorrow. And, you know, nervous about the gaping maw of the unplanned future.

This year has been an exercise in learning that plans, no matter how secure they may seem, are prone to change. So I will have to settle for dreams, goals, and god forbid, hope.

Now I want to cry and vomit. Lovely.

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I’m no Nicky Arstein, it seems. But I still love yellow roses.

You’re not possessive, at least not so far, but when I set a risqué post to draft- I realized I was curating my smut. That perhaps we have something going that I don’t want to risk fucking up.

This cursed blog has always been a corner for unedited musings, reckless abandon, and the heart-on-my-sleeve ramblings that befit me. A junkyard of brutal honesty. I am a foghorn of a woman, calling men to shore with a warning. The most off-key singer of any siren, the most asthmatic mermaid. I’ve been on the beach, waiting.

Hey Sailor, come home to me.

Best of luck to any man I go quiet on. Your girl is not a gambler. Your girl.

There’s this old movie, this old broadway show, really. Funny Girl. Fanny Brice falls for Nicky Arnstein, prince charming and poker player, he shows up wearing a starched collar and he brings her yellow roses. She follows him across an ocean, wilted roses in hand. He gambles her fortune into oblivion. She bets everything on him, and loses.

I’m pretty good at asking for exactly what I want- until I really want something. Until it’s a thing I am afraid to lose. I am not a gambler. Never take a bet from me.

But, I realized tonight that maybe, just maybe, I should shut up for once. Maybe, you are a man I am afraid to lose.

Perhaps that’s a compliment, perhaps you complement me.

Perhaps I’ll publish the risqué post anyway.

Perhaps I don’t have to be silent for you to chase me. To choose me.

Maybe we should be adults, should talk it out, maybe I should extend this metaphor beyond its grasp- put my cards on the table, and such. Is this an ocean or a poker table? It’s both- it’s Funny Girl. The metaphor makes more sense if you’ve seen the film.

Maybe, if you want me to be your girl, you should tell me before I get anxious and fuck everything up.

Maybe, if I want to be your girl, I should just do it.

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A Gentle Reminder

I dreamt of my mother last night. I had foster children and she was helping me move them into the house. It was wonderful, she was a great help. I bounced a boy on my hip. Maybe it’s because I wrapped the gifts for my godchildren before bed? Who knows. But mom was there, we made pleasant chit-chat, she laughed at my jokes.

Of course I miss her laugh, this is the thing everyone misses about their dead mother.

Anyways, it’s been a long time since she died, and for years after I waited to dream of her- and when I finally did we were always fighting, screaming at each other. Then years later she would appear, but I would remember she was dead, and awake in a panic, hyperventilating, having tried to warn her.

I know a lot of people who lost their mothers, some more recently than others. When mine died, my boss told me “You’ll have the dreams, you know, and sometimes it hurts in the dream and other times when you wake up- just try and enjoy it.”

So, to my friends who are in the same position, I want you to know: You’ll have the dreams, you’ll see her, enjoy the visit.

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Eurydice: An Extremely Exciting Update

EURYDICE IS BLOOMING!

Okay, perhaps she isn’t blooming, but this little troublemaker is growing flower buds! She’s budding! In mid-December! A Christmas miracle!

My little minx, joyful and abundant despite the cold. I am so fucking proud of her. I am so proud of myself. I have never kept a plant alive let alone coaxed one out of hibernation. Oh, sweet Eurydice, I am your Orpheus, my dear, or perhaps I am your Hades, either way- I brought you back from the dead. I am, with not a hint of exaggeration, ecstatic.

My god, what a delight! This little lady, always such a metaphor for my life.

Today, I went for a walk with the man who bought her for me. When I ended things with him, all her flowers fell off. I had to look at her every day and think of him. Now I see only her, all her determination, I see myself. What a thing it is, to be a flower blooming in winter, blushing from the cold.

I walked with him, through parks and past multiple accordion players, the romance determined follow us, but I am immune now. I was there for polite conversation, and I had a pleasant time. He’s a fine friend, it’s been long enough.

Towards the end of our walk, my phone was vibrating a bit wildly. “Sorry my phone is blowing up let me check it.” I peeked at the screen, and the overwhelming smile on my face gave me away. He just laughed,

“Ah wow, your smile! Well, I will let you get back to…whatever that is about..um, yeah, you sort of make it clear, your face does…”

“Haha, yes, um…I am seeing someone, and he’s very good to me. He makes me really happy.”

“I can see!”

We parted ways, polite hugs goodbye, Then I went home to find Eurydice, looking just as radiant as I.

What a good omen.

I can’t wait to see just what she’s foretelling.

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Come over here and love me already.

Come over here and love me already.

I think you kind of do.

I don’t know if I am lovable anymore, I’m so ready for it, it’s unbecoming.

I am un-becoming, coming undone,

My skin aches for human touch

Yet Saturday I had a gorgeous girl in my bed and

She was begging to stay,

And I could only tell her to leave.

I forgot how to trust anything.

I should

Sleep.

I should

Sleep around less.

I should

Have left his place.

I should

Maybe not have posted about our crazy sex.

I should

Stop thinking about exes.

I should

Not delude myself into thinking

That a man who

Ignored me for days on end

Would have stuck around if

I only kept my mouth shut about

Not keeping my

Legs shut.

I should let you love me.

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Good sex, in my opinion, is often devoid of bells and whistles. It’s both an out-of-body and acutely in-body experience. I am both on another plane of existence and deeply grounded in my being, every dermatome firing at random.

“If you want to kiss me you have to stop smiling so much.”

We’re back at my place, we escaped from the cold weather and the heated protests. First date, lockdown style. We walked through the center and bought some Punsch, and encountered a woman holding a flaming torch.

“So…do you want to go back to my place? This feels like a bad time to be on a lesbian date. All they’re missing is the pitchforks..”

So we went home, and sat on the couch calling each other beautiful for 7 hours.

She said,

“You have a century smile”

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know, I just made it up, but you do. I love your smile when you kiss me, you have so much love in your eyes. I can see that you have a lot of love to give. Do you have a camera? I want to photograph you.”

“I know what you mean. I want to paint you, but I can’t paint portraits. I want to paint on you, blue flowers cascading down your neck.”

“Let me take your picture.”

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Eurydice part whatever

Look at this little vixen, just THRIVING.

I cut off the dead weight and since then she has been growing so fast it’s like she’s in therapy. Look at this gorgeous troublemaker. She’s living off ice cubes, radiator heat, winter sunlight, and the carbon dioxide of my complaints.

Look at her new stem, cuddling the sunlight.

Eurydice, ever the metaphor for my life. For once, one I am excited about.

The little nubbin has become a determined asparagus. Clearly, I know a lot about plants. I am basically a horticulturist.

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The Bar for Men’s Behavior is So Low, it’s a Tavern in Hell.

Yesterday I got glutened, despite my best efforts at due diligence. It’s the most gluten I have consumed since my diagnosis, and I was upset. I had been having a lovely day, and when I found a gluten-free cake pop I was just about nuclear with joy. But, after eating it, I realized it was too good to be true, and called the bakery to find out I was right. Oops.

I miss New York sometimes, but especially when I find myself crying in public. When a perfectly delightful treat has ruined what was about to be a perfectly lovely weekend. I miss being able to cry on public transit, without so much as a glance in my direction. Or, on the opposite end of the New-York-subway-manners-spectrum: a crumpled tissue and hug from a complete stranger,
“That’s right honey, you just cry it out.”

New York is a great place for mad public sobbing, everything there is both open and shut. The subway is a living room and a locked closet. Public and private, a woman applying her make-up, the mascara wand hovers in her hand while she waits for the train to stop.

I’ve done my fair share of sobbing in Vienna. It’s a cleaner sidewalk to crumble on, I’ll give it that.

On Saturday morning, I languished in bed with a new lover, discussing, as one does these days, the current plague,

“Yeah I had it last year, I got it in the hospital.”

“Wow, you just have everything, asthma, and your knees don’t bend. You’re a wreck.”

It’s not like I had a choice in the matter? I don’t know, it’s fine, it was just an aside. I am just annoyed he was right.

Well, I left Mr. Honesty’s place and made my way to a market in search of new artwork for my apartment. I took down the wedding photos, a long while ago, but there are still hooks hanging on the wall, like the empty frames in the Gardner Museum. Evidence of a robbery. I pushed the thoughts away, about the wreck of my body, and bounced about the market, enjoying my newfound health. And a delightful lunch: french fries in a dedicated fryer! Then a fucking cake pop proved to be my Achilles heel.

I’ve dated rather ferociously the past few months, as evidenced here in my various posts of Sunday night sex poetry. I keep a few handsome playthings in rotation for when my wreck of a body wants to be warm for an evening. They all have their nicknames: The Hunk, the Kid, The Chef. I rarely keep someone around long enough to warrant my friends learning their names. That’s not true, I rarely let someone close enough for my friends to learn their name.

I was furious at the bakery that told me the cake pop was gluten-free, and I posted about it on Instagram. How glamorous, how sexy, to announce to the world news of my poisoning. I am sure that anyone reading it could connect the dots of precisely how my evening turned out, and it’s not exactly glamorous. My stomach was so bloated, the boudoir shoot I planned for Monday would have looked more like a maternity shoot. Welcome to the world, baby Gluten

But, I was surprised by the outpouring of support I got. All the men I have dated who saw the post reached out to me with kind messages, Really kind. Even the ones I don’t talk to anymore, the Professor and such. What a delightful thing, to be surprised by a man’s compassion. Of course, my friends all sent me messages as well. The bar for men’s behavior is so low it’s a tavern in hell.

After what happened a few weeks ago with A., and the IUD, I was jarred. Hurt. It stopped feeling like fun. I tried to laugh it off, but I was furious and scared. I deeply questioned my taste in men. My doctor counseled me that the IUD isn’t 100% effective and I could still be pregnant. “Don’t worry, I’m one of those liberal Boston girls who get abortions” I had told him. It’s not true, and it’s a decision I am grateful I didn’t have to make.

When I was recovering from the procedure, everyone reached out to me, except him. God, what a fucking Saturday that was. Kind messages from my ex-husband and not a whisper from A. Then he dumped me over text on Sunday, with nary an “I hope you’re doing okay” or, I don’t know, “Let me know if you’re pregnant”. I would have settled for “I hope your okay”, a grammatical error befitting him: a mistake.

But, for now, it feels like A. was more an exception than a rule. Even if none of the nicknames has turned into a love story, perhaps my taste in men isn’t quite as terrible as I imagined. They all passed the “basic human decency” test with flying colors. Even Mr. H managed the feat, texting to say he was sorry. I admit it made me smile. I should know better by now. Here I am, seated at the Tavern in hell, drinking watered-down gin, convincing myself I am having a good time.

I won’t wait around long, sustained on bread crumbs. Your girl is hungry.

Perhaps I am unfair to these men, sometimes. Perhaps. It seems a fair exchange though, come over and use my body, and I will use your body: I’ll make you hang Christmas lights. I have somehow accrued a harem of giants. I should buy more high heels.

I know I should have stopped calling F. “The Kid'” a while ago, but when I do it makes me feel a bit like Humphrey Bogart. Say what I will about the Kid, who is unreliable for a rendezvous, he is the most reliably sweet thing to me. Always greeting the day with a “how are you?”, and such. Always rooting for me to find the right one.

“What are you doing tomorrow morning?”

Coffee with Mr. H, it seems. Followed by a mild poisoning.

“You should have come over, I’m certified Gluten-Free.”

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Just Scribbling

I am anxious today, editing the final piece for my writing class and it’s tricky: vulnerable. The critique is more specific, and all the feedback I’ve been given is conflicting. Of course, the editing process itself is tricky, confronting demons and details and all that. A graveyard of darlings and the teacher prodding me for more honesty. More. More. More.

At last, the Christmas lights in Vienna are up. The city turned snowglobe and god, it’s a romantic misery of cold.

The covid numbers are daunting, and I am not sure what to expect. Winter arrived in full form today, announcing that the era of my leather jacket has come to an end. I will miss it, for it gave me power and pockets.

I’m feeling awfully vulnerable these days, but happy sometimes. I’m not short on company, friendly or otherwise, I have a bit too much time on my hands this week, it won’t last long- I should enjoy it. I should let myself enjoy things. I should let myself enjoy you. I have my guard up, it seems.

I am rambling, I am not sure who this post is for, it’s just thought spillover. If you’re still reading, my apologies.

The class focuses quite a bit on the great paradox: “Specific is the best in general”

I think I need to be held. I think I need a walk. I think I want to be held, but need to go for a walk.

I want you to hold me. I want you to spoon me and pull me close, and when I say “I should head home”, I want you to pull me closer and gently wrestle my underwear off as I try to put it back on. I want you to kiss my neck and leave a mark, so I can text you about it and pretend I am annoyed, smiling all the while.

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“See you at 7, should I bring anything?”

Yes, on an island off the coast of Italy there grows a mythical olive tree. Countless men have died trying to reach it. Journey there, in the port, you will meet a raven-haired woman with a one-eyed dog. To the dog, you must feed a piece of your own flesh. To the woman, you must reveal your deepest secret. If you do so, she will provide you a map to the island. It’s a two-day sail from the harbor, past schools of sirens. The tree itself is atop a mountain, climb it, and find the tree. In the tree nests a silver dove, with her baby chicks. Each of the three chicks will ask you a riddle. Answer the riddles correctly, and the dove will allow you a cutting from the tree. Bring me the topmost branch.

Or, just bring me flowers, yellow roses are my favorite.

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Short Stories & Essays

An Encounter with Sherlock Holmes

silvae: Es kann nur einen geben

It was a crisp October day and the wind kicked the leaves up to the second-floor window of 221B Baker Street. My companion Sherlock Holmes rose from his chair and gazed down at the entryway to spy a woman pacing back and forth. Within a few minutes, she was inside, and up the stairs. Sherlock looked unamused, almost annoyed, but, taking a glance at the woman’s somber visage, his own face softened ever so slightly, his tight jaw relaxed,  and he beckoned her in.

“Madame, kindly take a seat. I won’t have you here long, I can already see that yours is a problem you won’t solve here.”

“But… how?” She asked

“Allow me to explain. It’s simple enough-, there are innumerous details about you that even my soft-minded companion, dear  Watson, could see. You’re left-handed, of course, as shown by the watch on your right wrist and the ink stain on the side of your left palm”

I chipped in, “Indeed Holmes, I caught on to that detail about our guest, but if I know you, you have quite a deal more to say.”

“Well, Madame, the details of your situation is perspicuous in innumerable fashions visible from here, I required but a few of them to determine that I am unable to offer you my services. You are anxious about your impending divorce, and you have taken a young lover in the meantime. The anxiety is evidenced threefold- the raw cuticles on your right thumb, the blemish on your chin, and of course the status of your shoes.

The marriage ended sometime well before summer. There’s no ring tan on your hand, yet there is a visible tan line from your fitness watch- its face is new and unscratched, but you recently exchanged the original band for a  thinner, more elegant gold band. Your skin is of a tone that is reticent to tan easily, so it seems you spent a good deal of the summer outdoors, wearing your new fitness watch all the while.”

“But what does my watch tell you about my marriage?”

My dear, you have a rather obvious giveaway- you keep pawing at your ring finger, feeling for a phantom band.

You aren’t divorced yet, but you have a court date set sometime soon. The anxiety is eating at you, as manifest it your battered cuticles. As I mentioned before, there’s the blemish on your chin. No need to cover it, my dear,  your make-up has done a suitable job for the average eye, correct, Watson?”

“Yes, Madame, I would never have noticed.” I assured her, and she dropped her demure hand from her face back into her lap, gathering her finger together.

Holmes was already inhaling to continue his monologue when she tried to pipe in-

“But what does my blemish mean-“

“You are seeing someone new. He’s younger. He works in a job without much customer interaction, something low profile. Perhaps an office job. He’s taller than you. You’ve been seeing him for a few weeks now.”

“How could you know that?”

“Again, Madame- the blemish on your chin. The young man has a job of a nature that requires him to shave, yet he need not be too diligent about the matter. The stubble from his beard irritated your skin when you were kissing him, rather passionately it seems. You’ve picked at the blemish: again, a sign of your anxiety. The blemish itself is a few weeks old now, there is evidence of it healing and being picked at again.”

“But how can you know he is tall?”

“I have already told you all I required: it’s the status of your shoes. The shoes are new, with a modest heel. You are, as you know, of a diminutive nature, but you still haven’t gotten the hang of walking in the heels, and your left ankle is a bit swollen. The man in question is much taller than you, there is a crease in the toe of the leather, where you have extended yourself onto your toes past the height provided by the heels.”

“It’s true. I am much shorter than him- but how did you know his age?”

“Madame, forgive my impropriety, but there is a hickey on your neck. A marking most definitely the work of a younger man, somewhere in his twenties? Again, as I said at the beginning of our meeting- you won’t find your answers here. It seems that the divorce was a good decision, your jacket hangs loose, and your watch shows your commitment to your health, and despite the small scratch below your lip, your skin is radiant. More so than that, the new shoes are meant for dancing, and it seems from their scuffs that you have indeed taken them dancing. These are all signs of a woman restored to happiness, or perhaps on her way there.”

“How do you know why I came here?”

“I know that you don’t know why you came here. If it was looking for a good man, you’ve certainly come to the wrong address. If you wanted answers as to why your anxiety has surged suddenly- it’s likely the dread of the paperwork and legal troubles you expect to encounter soon. You are not as lost as you may feel, Madame. I cannot provide you answers to matters of the heart, but we can provide you with three small favors which will get you back in form.  Watson can surely provide you a salve for the blemish, and a bandage for the ankle. If I am not mistaken, Miss Hudson has some of her famous scones ready, and she is bringing them up the stairs now. Combined, they ought to do the trick,”

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Good Morning.

“How are you today?”

“I think if I drink another coffee I can emit a pulse which annihilates every straight cis man in Vienna.”

“That good, huh?”

“But you were nice to me yesterday, so this is your warning that the Reckoning is coming some time this afternoon, after I meet this deadline. I suggest you move beyond the city limits, swiftly.”

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The Rumors Of My Small Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated.


It’s a strange thing, to invite you in,
To ask you to stay.
To let you hear me snore-
To let my breath escape.

You know you yell in your sleep? A sort of half-scream. It’s scary.

I keep telling you to relax.
I’m a hypocrite on multiple counts,
A mugshot of smeared lipstick and a half-finished glass.
I’m not trying to get you drunk, I’m just trying to get to know you.

I think you’re cute, but I’m not trying to get you pregnant yet.

You’re not particularly nice to me. Evidently that’s my thing.
Men who are scruffy and vaguely mean.
Maybe it’s my kink?

Nah, my kink is people that hold me.
My kink is men who make me feel safe.

I don’t want to fall asleep yet, but we should cool down.

I am apprehensive, and hungry.
I am many things.
I am weird, you keep reminding me.

You did all the right things, but
Succumbing to coming is particularly intimate,
It’s a rare feat, for me, on the first time.
The rumors of my small death have been greatly exaggerated.

But the pleasure was real.
The lie was ethical-
A half-truth, I was overcome with bliss but not quite reaching a precipice.
There was behavior worth reinforcing.
In particular, that thing you do with your tongue-

Do exactly that, but just-
Do it when I trust you.

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Eurydice, a further update.

Part One

Part Two

Eurydice and I have learned to understand each other. I appreciate the ability an orchid has to communicate: its roots bare to the world. Heart on her sleeve, it seems.

She takes after me.

Spoiled as ever. Her blooms continue to dry out, but her stem is green. She gets a steam bath in front of the humidifier whenever she loses her perk, and she responds quickly.

After too much googling, I learned less about orchids and far more about orchid people. Orchid gardeners are second only to mommy-bloggers when it comes to anxiety and judging. They are one step above vinyl record collectors when it comes to snobbery. But, after some waffling back and forth on the best watering methods, I have indeed fallen for the ice trick, and Eurydice seems to love it. It’s counterintuitive, but it seems to be working. It’s a technique which requires restraint, and patience. Eurydice and I are both learning patience.

I had to attend to a funeral this week, a former coworker’s suicide. In lieu of flowers donations were made to the local animal shelter. The only flowers were rose petals, we each tossed a handful of them into her open grave, over her urn, white and glittering. They buried her ashes by a young tree, which will be there for at least 400 years. Tree number 9. The deceased was 31. I am 32. Sometimes, when you cannot stop crying, it helps to focus on something else: numbers, letters, the names on the gravestones. A phalaenopsis orchid has a blooming cycle 2-3 months long, and many people throw them away after that. But they can live 10-15 years with proper care. Some have lived to be over 100 years old..

I watered Eurydice when I got home, with ice. I reminded her that she needs to live.

So do you, she said.

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Short Stories & Essays

I am the 2 Tram, and I am here to ruin your evening.

I am the 2 tram. Excuse me, Bim zwei, but I prefer you call me the 2 tram. I know what you’re thinking, you’d be surprised to know, English is actually my native language! No German (or Austrian) efficiency here!

My mother was American, an oil painter, she loved watching paint dry. My father was an Italian post office worker. Union man, spent his weeks behind the counter, lording quietly over absolute chaos. In his spare time he tended to his lawn. He liked to watch the grass grow. It’s actually how they met! One summer in the 60’s she painted a picture of it, his lawn, growing in real time: a canvas slowly overcome by green. They spent their first date watching a pot of water boil. Long story short, now you have me. Come aboard, girl.

I am the 2 tram, and I’m always a bit discombobulated. I don’t get the rush all the other trams are in. I prefer to take my time, really consider my options. Especially when I am one stop away from your destination. That’s the best time to take a good long rest, and ponder, where am I really going?
Where are you really going, girl?

If the guy you are off to see is so mediocre in bed, is it worth the tooth-grinding crawl of a trip with me? I see you, texting your friends about him, yawning. Do you really want to see him again? Has he ever made you come? Just saying, you can get off here, or not get off at his place. Either way, you’re going to end the evening frustrated. 

I am the 2 tram and I know you still miss him. Not the mediocre guy you’re off to see, the one before. I see you staring at his picture. Girl, I know you. I know you hate subway poems, but you still love train metaphors. Actually, you love subway poems, even though they’re so tired. You’re so tired, girl. Stay a while. It will be a while. 

But as for trains, and subways,  and metaphors, I am somewhere in between. I am lacking in both romance and speed. I am a literal slow train to nowhere. I am a metaphor for settling.  I am preposterously packed with baby carriages and…Tibetan monks? There’s a lot happening here girl, and you’re missing all of it!

There, you did it again, you dazed off, looked out the window, and started thinking about him again. The guy in the picture, who lives off the U-Bahn, a cozy 15 minutes from your door to his. I can’t offer you that, but I can offer you a stunning view of all the cars speeding by, and a permeating sense of existential dread. 

Hey, girl, pay attention to me, or I will stop suddenly and slide you off your seat! You know what, I am going to do it anyway. 

I am the 2 tram and I am taking you home. It’s almost midnight. I’m empty, save for a smattering of ombré blondes. I am a staccato song. My mind wanders. Oh right- I was supposed to stop there. Oops.

I am the 2 tram and I want you more than any man ever will. Stay with me, girl. Let’s linger here a while. Let me hold you. When was the last time you were held? When was the last time you slowed down?

I am the 2 tram and I am arriving in 47 seconds, and then not again for 15 years. 

Girl, You better run.

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Greetings From Vienna’s Resident Horny-Chaos-Demon: Yours Truly.

I’m unfed, but I’m caffeinated.
Plied with rice milk and coffee.
You’re anxious, over-educated,
And unbearably pretty.

Scenes from a sunlit bachelor pad:
A corner bed-frame, comic books
Dry soap, a broken shower head,
Scraggy towels, a single hook.

You’re as broken as the rest,
But you get away with it.
I’ll leave in a minute, gorgeous,
Let me look at you for a bit.

Regale me with tales of your crises,
Lay all your despair on me.
Just, sit here a while. Let’s see
If you convince me to stay.

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I don’t need you to hold me, but you have to keep me warm.

“It is a nice jacket, very cool, Sandra Dee.”

“Yeah, I’ve got chills, they’re multiplying. I kept it on while I was waiting for you, just to show it off. It has so many pockets, I don’t even need a purse! It makes me feel mad with power- not to be weighed down by a bag. I realized on Saturday: this is why society won’t give women pockets- it makes it harder for us to run.”

“Yeah, I’m cold, wouldn’t it be nice if only I had my blue Cardigan…but someone stole it.”

“I’m not giving it back. It’s mine now. Well, it’s still yours, but I’m keeping it, permanently. I told you, I get it in the divorce.”

“Fine. Well, where did we get it? I will have to buy another one.”

“I think C&A? Not sure. I am sort of accumulating a collection of men’s sweaters at this point.”

“Oh…?”

“Well, not quite, it’s just two at the moment, but it was three for while. I mean, I was good, I gave one of them back. The other guy hasn’t realized I still have his cashmere sweater. I forgot a belt at the nice one’s place, not sure what that means.”

“So, it’s, like, your thing.”

“Yeah, it’s like a tax, or whatever. The VAT. Not that anyone is paying for the arrangement, but, like, I guess that’s the catch…you come into my apartment, you must sacrifice an article of cashmere to me.”

“Seems fair.”

“Yeah it’s a trade off- you don’t have to hold me, but you need to keep me warm.”

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You’ll have a Boston accent in no time.

I walked myself home from the date, alone.

Past the silhouettes of a couple breaking up
beneath the metal staircase at the construction site.
Backlit by the street-lamps on the square,
Snippets of her exasperation reverberating against the steel. 
Cold air and echoes of argument. 

I’ve done the whole flustered-but-adoring-academic routine before.
Perfected the art.
I could write a thesis on it.

I’m not interested in kissing a smoker.
I’m am somewhat interested in kissing you.
You seem awfully charming after a few cocktails,
And so on. 

And ho! Barkeep!
A salve, good sir, for the anxious polyglot!
Shaking like an over-caffeinated leaflet.



Today Academia informed me that someone in Rome cited me, or cited someone by my name.
My long Italian name which I am, it turns out, mispronouncing. Sure, I could be reasonable and assume it’s just a shared name. But it’s not so unreasonable that at last, one if the many PhD candidates I have nursed through their dissertations, went ahead and gave me some credit where it’s due.

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The hill I will die on is that I am not walking up that fucking hill with you.

Sunday, 12:59 p.m.

I think I can see it, the end.
There exists an illusion we face towards the exit, wherein the tunnel seems longer for a moment,
Stretching out towards the light.
Where we can slow down, hold our breath, and decide.

I say this every Sunday. The I’m done with him mantra.
But, it’s usually a ritual reserved for the evening, and it’s barely the afternoon.
My patience is creeping in, cutting off his time.

Monday, 6:13 a.m.

You make me pray for awful things, for the will to stop loving.
I won’t let you sap all compassion from me.

What a lazy and romantic poisoning.
You’re a grumpy patch of weeds.

“Have a nice week. Have a nice life, I guess. Be good.”

I will, respectively,
Do precisely that,
Do my absolute best,
And do no such thing.

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