Coverage of me and other train wrecks: my mama, subway nut jobs, sex and the environment.


Mobius Trip

Mama does not use her emotions to manipulate me. She’s upfront and honest always. That’s what she said: “I’m honest and upfront.”

A week ago a phone conversation started as such:

Alex: How are you?

Mama (sighing): Okay…

Alex: It seems to me you’re a little sad or something.

Mama: I’m down.

Alex: And why?

Mama: Nothing, the same things I’ve said to you before. It’s that I need to hear your voice. When the days go by and you don’t call me I get all….depressed…but now I feel better. It’s a privilege to speak with my son because he's the most important thing in my life.

Flash forward to mother’s day, sitting at the kitchen table, on cell with mama, ready to confess. I explained that I felt she was making me responsible for her emotions and that she has always made me responsible for her emotions and how it makes me feel shitty to be responsible for her emotions. Mama generously and calmly explained that she didn’t mean it that way--this is where she would've tapped the ash from her cigarette...if she smoked. She said that in the future if I’m confused about her intentions I should bring up my confusions in the moment because she is an honest, open person and manipulation is not her style.

I quashed the burning in my mouth, my tongue ready to spit out "LIAR!" Instead I silently wondered: what exactly IS your style, mama? It offends me that she thinks she can get away with lying to the one person in the world who knows her best, but I am letting go of the issue because in a moment of spiritual awakening earlier this year I decided to learn for myself what mama never taught me: forgiveness. I'm SO much better than her....where's my cigarette...?


A whole half

Cut off at the waist—there was no way to hide it, no story necessary. He was chopped in half at the waist and living and breathing. Walking using hands as feet.
Half man, half…
Half man, half…
Whole enough to walk down the train without a wheel chair or a cane, no helpful fiberglass appendage. Every movement marked with the twang of metal from the change heaving in the paper cup in his hand.

I turned away. Unable to look into the two-foot high eyes….the strain…

Sliced at the waist and still living. And not even stumps for legs. Just a cupful of change his only crutch.


The Royal Caboose

Rey and I were on the E train going home and there was this woman sitting in a corner seat next to the train doors with this giant black velvet bag in her lap that stood out against her khaki and beige ensemble. And she had tiny gold-rimmed glasses that were the only accessory on her head, except for whatever kind of clip was holding her hair back. She was so plain looking I though—librarian for sure, because they don’t’ wear colors outside the black-white-khaki spectrum. I imagined she would go home and feed her lap dog and write a letter to her great aunt in Calcutta. There was one detail, though, that threw the whole picture off: She started chomping on this McDonalds Quarter Pounder and of course it had cheese. It was so spongy looking, like a brown marshmallow smore with the limp corder of a Kraft singles dripping out the side. And she chomped at it with these chompy noises, but she didn’t spill a single crumb on herself. It was dainty meets sloppy—like watching a walrus sipping tea.

When the train stopped and the doors opened at a station, she leaned over her seat and discarded the uneaten remains of her burger on the edge of the platform outside. She didn’t throw it, but she carefully placed it there, as if a light touch and thoughtful placement could raise half-eaten Mickie D's to the exquisiteness of sushi.

Rey and I stared at her. The doors closed and we still stared. And little miss pig pen stared back! We couldn’t help ourselves and started talking about her loud enough so she could hear:

Me: Did you see what she did?

Rey: Yeah, she's the Queen of the Rats.

Me: Mm hmm. She’s gotta feed her subjects.

The law of the sceptor is the law of the land, so there’s no need to consider the mores of the masses: L’etat, c’est Rat Queen!

Rat Queen was defiant, even proud of her actions. She looked at us with a wry smile, a smile that said: I have the power, bitches!