Laughter came from the other side of the psychologist’s door.  Dad’s deep-stomach trombone-like chuckle and Mom’s broken kazoo giggle. Dr. Goldstein smirked and scribbled. His blue sweater vest was attracting all the lint from the room. I watched small animal-like patterns form under argyle arches. I ended my pause to finish my story.

“What I’m saying is I don’t understand space.”

“Daniella, what don’t you understand.”  Dr. Goldstein was behind a desk that smelled like cherries and what my mom cleaned my plastic Fisher Price dollhouse with.

“I know what it is and stuff. But I don’t get why people like it so much.”

“Have you met a lot of people that like space a lot?” His Mr. Rogers Hair was only slightly distracting.

“Well, yeah. My cousin, he always always talks about space. He makes me sit and listen for hours. Well, actually, maybe he really talks about Star Trek. Whatever. He believes in aliens.”

“Do you believe in aliens, Daniella?”

I didn’t like something about the way he said my name. “Do I look crazy?”

My parents were still laughing. Later, when I came out of the room they asked why I spoke so much about space and assorted family members. “Why didn’t you tell him anything about yourself, Daniella?”  I was five. I told them I had nothing to say. They let it go. Really I was just nervous.

The Shulamith School for Girls wanted each entering first grader to be evaluated by a psychologist. It would be the first and last time I ever met with a shrink. My parents thought the all-girls Jewish private school would be a step up academically. My old school had a dilapidated charm to it. The building looked like it got lost on it’s way to the Amish farm and instead ended up on a tree-lined street of Canarsi, Brooklyn. During naptime I could peel paint off the sea-foam green walls without anyone noticing. My smock had it’s own hook and my finger paintings adorned the hallways. But, recently I had broken up with my boyfriend. We met over shared blocks. I gave him all my blue ones for all his orange ones. The teachers separated us into different classes at the start of the school year. The distance of one sneaker-marked sticky alphabet rug was too much to bear. No more secrets and whispered hums of adoration over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Nothing left for me there. A change of school didn’t seem so bad. But first I had to have my duel with the psychologist. He started off in the lead when I couldn’t climb onto the chair. Leaving me the small porcelain doll in his enormous dollhouse. He the creator, and I the doll model supposed to come with a smaller play set.

My parents still seemed to be amused by my rambling. In between muffled cackles, though, they listed off other possible schools I could attend. They didn’t think I would pass the evaluation.

At the time I slept with a metal spoon under my pillow to protect me from kidnappers. A knife would have been better, but those were in a childproof drawer. A fork would have been the next best thing but that might poke me in the eye during the night. I never had my parents check for nonsense like monsters in my closet or creepy trolls under my bed. Instead I had them phone Sloman’s Sheild. Before getting into bed, I needed to know the functioning status of our security system. On one particular night I picked up the other cream-colored phone only to discover a dial tone on the other end. My parents were deceiving me. So, I ran up the phone bill with operator charges asking for the number to Sloman’s Shield as well as nearby adoption agencies. I also demanded a nightly ritual of waving candles in front of smoke detectors, to see if they were working properly.

My childhood was very tiring.

The shrink cleared me. Dr. Goldstein probably described my visit as “exhibits normal patterns of childhood behavior.” It’s possible the school had very low standards or the psychologist wasn’t very bright. I fooled him into believing I was “normal,” rather than just “functioning.”

Tagged , , , , | I Hid My Non-Jewish Boyfriend From My Family For Over A Year

My essay was just published on Jewcy! Check it out!

“The first few months of our relationship, I kept telling him that it could never go anywhere. After that, I spent the next few months convincing myself that it wasn’t going anywhere.” | I Hid My Non-Jewish Boyfriend From My Family For Over A Year by.

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The Chronicles of WatchBoy VI

Once, just once, I allowed friends to see WatchBoy and I together. Not on purpose but as a matter of happenstance. WatchBoy and I shared a friend. You might say a friend of the promiscuous nature.  Well, as promiscuous as one could be  and still be a virgin. I once calculated that a quarter of her knotches might equate to the loss of any sort of virtue. WatchBoy and friend had a running list of their exploits. They competed for numbers. I found the game rather juvenile and uninteresting. WatchBoy thought his friend should “just fuck already” and I found it rather vulgar. The gang, WatchBoy’s gang that is, collectively reached the conclusion that WatchBoy should just take it already. Her virginity that is.

This friend of ours was having a party, and that’s where the happenstance comes in. WatchBoy came with me. He was also to leave with me. Unfortunately for poor WatchBoy he had seven too many Long Island ice teas and “accidentally’” as he put it, found his tongue down the throat of his harlot buddy. Then I ,accidentally, threw his stuff out of my apartment leaving him to scour the city alone. WatchBoy ended up in the wrong borough.

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The Chronicles of WatchBoy V

Months in and it was nearly unbearable.  The presence of WatchBoy also required the presence of alcohol.  Meetings with WatchBoy were limited to establishments that served up spirits. It was also a requirement that WatchBoy and I sit at the bar when possible. There  is a direct correlation between a drink being refilled and the proximity to the one in charge of dispensing said drink. While WatchBoy misused words I drank. And drank. The problem really started when WatchBoy took the fun out of intoxication. The chore set in and all tolerance left. WatchBoy slurped and spat and misspoke and drank and I imagined creative ways to cut out his vocal chords.

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The Chronicles of WatchBoy IV

WatchBoy spent a weekend here. It was my second weekend in the apartment, and maybe the first weekend WatchBoy ever spent with a living-breathing human member of the female species.  I did not know what to feed him. WatchBoy was tall. Over six feet and took up too much room. His limbs were everywhere I looked. WatchBoy snored loudly. I covered my head with my pillow and grunted. WatchBoy just snored through the night. When WatchBoy kicked me, I punched him in the back. Thankfully, he didn’t wake up. Shame if I would have had to make nighttime conversation. Daytime was hard enough.  WatchBoy was invited to spend the night. The night as in one night. WatchBoy stayed two nights and three full days. Where was my eject button?

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The Chronicles of WatchBoy III

After the first “date” that wasn’t a date, there was another non-date. WatchBoy, being the smooth operator that he is invited me to hang out. At his house. Fancy.  It was a Friday night. We were both home. I got dressed. WatchBoy wore a dirty white sweatshirt. WatchBoy was fond of the little-to-no-effort method. That is until WatchBoy needed to hit the town to chase after skirts.   WatchBoy wore semi-presentable button downs for that. His parents were sleeping upstairs. WatchBoy still being the “someone else” that comes after the “under” in that ever  popular post-breakup saying, was in a good position. So, fortunately for WatchBoy and unfortunately for me, he got to second base. Really, it was all a matter of place, boredom, and a dash of happenstance. In between talking about his little dog and some movie I probably didn’t care about, he leaned in. “Alright, I guess.”

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The Chronicles of WatchBoy II

WatchBoy asked for my number, in a Starbucks. I was drinking espresso shots next to his blonde friend. Across from his redheaded friend. I was talking about politics or maybe about something else. It’s all politics anyways. WatchBoy was sly about it. And because he lived up the block, he drove me home. WatchBoy played Glee through his iPod.  Weeks later he asked to do something called “hang out” but what he meant was “walk around.” WatchBoy texted me so I’d come to the door instead of mom.  WatchBoy was scared of mom, for no particular reason. No particular reason other than her status as a parental unit. A parental unit of a girl he, WatchBoy, would like to fornicate with.  I let mom open the door. I giggled, WatchBoy fixed his coat. We walked around. WatchBoy brought his dog. He made terrible jokes. Spoke weird, too. Syllables were added to words with slurps. His dog was my favorite thing about him. WatchBoy made fun of my ex, though, and that was a point for him. “Pretentious fuck,” hit it right on the head.

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The Chronicles of WatchBoy

WatchBoy’s purpose was to be the “someone else” that comes after the “under” in that ever popular post-break up saying. He knew his brand of place; that he was a borderline friend with some advantages. Yes, WatchBoy knew his place, but he put  his toothbrush in my pink cup. WatchBoy was not doing it right.  He drank a lot and always wrote “coarse” instead of “ course” and that made me angry. WatchBoy thought that Nickelback was like Zeppelin and that just made me sick. He drummed heavily while he spoke. WatchBoy tried to take me on a date. I picked the place. I picked the day. I picked all the nightly activities. He just asked. It was Valentine’s. I paid. WatchBoy asked “why?” Why not poor little WatchBoy? WatchBoy kissed my friend while I drank vodka tonics.  Interestingly enough, that wasn’t the deal breaker. He didn’t read. I told him he was a drunk slob. WatchBoy texts me every once in a while “when are we getting drinks?”

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Dripping Blood

Never write about love  in the way that stars shine in eyes or suns set and rise to the voice of another breathing human beside you. Love should never be written in something you’d close upon opening.  Write it in the way it is. With the grotesque. In the ever malleable ever stinging way that it is. The way that it leaves your hands covered in sticky gunk, clinging. Never write it to be a testament to the word. Feelings don’t flounder with the night sky, they tear through organs.  If I wanted to write about love I’d have to write about bitter agony. That’s the best form it comes. When a pumping heart is resting in the latex-clad glove of a partner, thumping, and then gets taken away in a wicker basket. That’s the way love goes and comes, dripping blood.

I remember love in all the places I can no longer go.  The arcade; the sticky neon-lit wonderland. Where children play and my innocence got stuck between the deer-hunting game and the ball pit.  At fifteen, I didn’t realize where I left it when he walked over to greet me.  Hello. And the oncoming years of my life were sling-shot into dark matter.  J wasn’t a stranger, just a man re-entering my registered atmosphere.  In quiet moments my head tries to turn back dials of time.

Every detail, down to the sticky buttons on Tetris, is crystal. The carpet had a layer of filth over it from snot-filled kids trekking along it in light-up sneakers. Lollipops stuck to the ground spaced with bits of chewed bubblegum.  It was disgustingly wonderful and fitting that my first brush with a love story started there— in front of the prize counter.

Do I get a hug?

In the seventh grade I sat between J and his girlfriend.  As the teacher was fiddling with algebraic numbers on the board J’s girlfriend licked a blue pen and passed it to me.  Confused, I stared at her. Pass it to him. My eyes darted between them and the intention wasn’t any clearer. Now, I can’t remember what he did. I think he set in on his wooden desk and stared at it.  She looked at me with a little gratitude before turning her gaze to J.  She motioned for him to lick it. Her eyes squinted ever so slightly and her cheeks flushed, and now I know it was lust but then I thought it was incompetence.

J and his girlfriend broke up but he still sat next to me. He always chased after trouble.  Twenty students sat in that florescent-lit classroom. I was just his victim for the year. No one ever seemed to like him. During math he’d ask if I wanted to go make-out with him in the bathroom. During science he threw balled up pieces of loose-leaf paper at me.  Each day started with me asking the teacher to change my seat. He signed my yearbook “Your only boyfriend.”


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Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. That’s what I told him as he jumped into bed. He moved it. I tapped him right on the head and said goodnight. I closed my book and pictured closing it on his head. His fat head would get slammed between my sentences. And he never wanted me to write, and while he tore my pages to use to wipe his ass, I assume, he never read a single word. How ironic it would be. How wonderfully ironic.

My imagination is wilder than my hands and I like my books clean and so instead I closed the light. I pulled the olive colored comforter over myself, tearing it ever so slightly, off his body.  His neon yellow sporting shorts shining from his side. I put my arm over my eyes.

Standing in Foot Locker he made eyes with the short brunette sales clerk. Asking her if she thought the blue or the yellow would look better “ I need them for the gym. Weight training.” I said blue and was sure the only place they’d ever see was the inside of our apartment and the outside of a potato chip bag. She said yellow and didn’t know weight training didn’t mean what she thought it did.

I said blue again.

He sleeps in our bed with the yellow shorts.

I try to give the short brunette Foot Locker sales clerk measles.

I made breakfast for him and a pot of coffee for myself. I drank it right out of the pot. Poured cream in. Three Sweet-n-Low packets. Slurped it out with a straw. A bright plastic curvy one. It’s the fastest delivery system. The straw in the pot that is. At night I add whiskey and use two straws.

He was eating. A piece of scrambled egg dangling out of his mouth. He was chewing and talking. I could see the mechanics of his chomping. I imagined a little cartoon character trapped in his mouth, chirping away as he tries to violently swallow it down.

I sipped and tried not to look at him.

NPR was on. Bar lounge jazz filled the tiny kitchen.


Breaking News: Three cats are stuck in a tree outside the white house. The president has yet to reach out. If I were all of you, I’d be asking myself why? Why is our president not taking a stand? Why is he in there eating éclairs while those poor cats suffer? Why has he not made a call? All firemen are on standby. Why? And also, his wife. What is she doing? Why? We’ll keep you posted.

I slurped and he ate.

Later that day I was left in the house. He went to “Save the world,” as he said. He sat in the back of an ambulance. “Hard work,” is what he called it. I believed he used “God’s work,” every other Tuesday. EMTs got uniforms. A uniform he liked to wear off-duty. Skirt chasing.  The sight of it evoked almost immediate upchuck, from me.

During date-night he’d scarf down burgers or steak or anything in sight and then say “Sorry God’s work is calling my name.”  I was certain it wasn’t. Sometimes it wasn’t “God’s work.” Sometimes it was the guys. Sometimes it was his dark-haired exotic-looking ex-girlfriend. Sometimes I thought about how most effectively to slam his penis in the dishwasher.  Maybe if I put a donut on the sill above the machine. One with sprinkles. He’d definitely reach over and I’d just kick it closed. Of course a lot of factors would have to fall into play. I’d have to get him naked first too. Which probably would be easy enough.

Lunch was cereal from a chipped mug that read someone that loves me very much went all the way to Florida and all they bought me back was this lousy mug.  Scooping up generic brand cheerios, milk dripping on my lap, I looked at  paperback editions and sex toys on Amazon.

One Writer’s Beginnings  and Slaughter-House Five  were laying on the floor in front of the door. Both suited to my current predicament of living and both thrown there by my current choice of mate. Left there, by me, for him to trip over at 3am. When he stumbled in I sipped my whiskey in bed as I heard the crashes and profanity shuffle about the house. I smiled. Smiled and sipped. Then gulped as he came storming into the room. His radio hanging off his belt and everything smelling of cheap vodka and when he yelled he spat tar. And I hummed Sinatra tunes to myself and drowned the whole thing out.

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