from Journal of Ugly Sites

Stacy Szymaszek



6.7.13 – 7.6.13

Carroll Gardens: last minute birthday present shopping for K in flash flood framed Carol Bove print won’t be ready for 3 weeks//impulsively purchasing overpriced raincoat after shop owner asking me to model it for their Instagram//I’m eating your leftovers hope that’s okay//eating some nearly spoiled cottage cheese and slightly fuzzy berries//while cleaning a drawer seeing salve and cotton gloves I stopped using evident by the state of my hands//2 health care proxy forms on desk fear signing them is inviting disaster//offers to adopt a cockatiel and a Chihuahua coming in on same day one surviving a cat attack the other a torrential rainstorm abandoned in Tompkins Square Park //no internet light again “heaven knows I’m miserable now”//bump where I ran my nose into the viewfinder at the Montauk lighthouse//dried cod on cast iron pan//”someone from our claims team will be with you shortly”//cause of death “euthanasia”//a terrifying July planning to be alone in the country

East Village: lines in head not getting into notebook this line standing in for all of those lines//going back to Tai Thai where I probably left my debit card 2 weeks ago never bothering to ask//”many will tell you they were his best friend—I was his best friend”//being subjected to daily rehearsal belching and groaning followed by sad piano music//”we’re going to do a redemption” ears perking up “do you understand?” yes I think I do//often I am caught between a rock and a poet//friend-raising//job description must know how to relax in the undertow//books in bag that I’m intending to read when time allowing Red Hats by David Bromige which I special ordered and Simone’s Unrest//

older guy with maritime tattoos walking puppy waiting at red light wanting to talk to him not having the nerve another older guy also waiting speaking the lyrics “you’re a bitch girl—you’re a bitch girl–you can get by on your old man’s money”//K thinking it’s weird that I own Desperately Seeking Susan on DVD watching it with her offering commentary like that’s 2nd Ave. she’s in Love Saves the Day that’s not there anymore now it’s this ugly sushi place//rush of territorial feeling as tourists taking pictures of the lion//distrusting people signing their emails “xo” or even “xoxo” then not recognizing me sitting next to them at B&H counter//finding out Bar 82 gone for good when taking Ariel there how did I not notice this sooner?

Carroll Gardens: catching a signal on phone while K showering she worrying where I was thought she would know since checking social media upon waking is one of my most powerful habits// not eating breakfast since Cass died was in the habit of sharing my cereal//light-headed with dizzy spells for a week taking a self-portrait yes there it is death in my eyes//not knowing what my grandparents looked like as babies//3 lbs. heavier all in my ass//photography workshop leader saying that photographers control light suddenly feeling I’m in over my head//K wondering if my symptoms are psychosomatic//will you still love me  when tattoos disappearing into wrinkles when vagina turning to sand? “don’t ever say that again”//Verizon man saying I’ll be right back never came back//my goal with a self-portrait not looking so tired directing light away from that which makes me appear tired

One Liberty Plaza: being a salon guest for LMCC inspiring imposter syndrome//being confused about getting through security “Ms. go around to the other side” not knowing what to do with ID card what elevator to take setting off alarm when leaving running to where a group of people are exiting doing what they’re doing//photographing a rat waiting for the A it jumping onto the tracks

East Village: how many days would I be sitting on this bench before seeing a familiar face//expecting every dog that walks by to know me like from a past life//why isn’t this apartment key opening this office door?//last reading of the season tonight being without a sense of closure that’s a bygone rhythm//making K research my symptoms emailing me it’s probably vertigo again or perimenopause a final fuck you before storming out for good//drinking a few gulps of water with my pills that being my water for the day//not wanting to go through the test where they sit you down and push you over to induce vertigo then watch your pupils go bonkers//finding another list where I’ve done nothing on it if I make a list it means I have no intention of doing anything on the list it’s an elegy a list poem//church’s micromanagement of parish hall a blue chair found on top of a gray chair please forgive us//7 lbs. of cheese devoured in minutes red wine stain on the back of my shirt//2 people still here as we’re cleaning up elderly woman ensconced in corner admonishing her younger friend “don’t help them!”//checking in with K on phone still seeing the dog by her side in my mind’s eye//salesperson saying I have nice handwriting me saying “really? I think it’s so boring”//couple in Mast Books talking loudly “it’s another Walser in an absurd edition there is an absurd amount of Walser in here”//Good Burger gone already RIP “Anus Beef”//plywood comes down revealing—Jupiter 21 condos where Mars Bar was//East Village Farm and pedestrians mowed down by driver on drugs still a chaotic scene walking by hours later

Carroll Gardens: walking on toes ruling out brain tumor//coaxing a referral from labyrinth of dysfunction trying to go back to Shale the stocky Irish physical therapist who guided my ear crystals home last time—3 week wait at the vertigo clinic//finding a bundle of old therapy bills all this just to keep me in the game//mom upset that my brother gave her the finger when she brought cream cheese pound cake//dizzy wetting head in sink remembering Julie reading my palm seeing fragile health me saying no—that was before I turned 40//no getting married scenario feeling good to us//eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast by myself//wishing the spins were just a metaphor for needing to slow down//what if I’ve made the mistake I’ve been fearing since 2007 forgetting to file a report on time every time the phone ringing it’s someone telling me I’ve forgotten to file a report//I’ve never had wedding fantasies my fantasies were about being sick no one caring for me//cleansing eyelashes with Johnson’s baby shampoo not smelling as good as it did when I was 5//$100 check for cremation reimbursement still in wallet//problem with contributing to my Roth IRA is that I have to believe that “retiring” will still be a thing that people do//it’s not too much for K asking that I start replacing dismal fantasies with ones that include her and are brighter

2nd Ave & 20th St.: filling out a clipboard of forms rating how my condition is effecting my daily life and my general mood//new vestibular therapist insisting on explaining ear crystals even though I already knowing//asking me to hyperventilate then telling me my eyes didn’t do the thing they would do if there was a fatty tumor behind my ear—”I just gave you a cheap MRI”//saying the meclizine the physician’s assistant put me on would work better if I taped it to my forehead—should have recognized it as a novice move pills can’t guide ear crystals only men can

Union Square: 45 min. open mic fun but most readers leaving before our feature//finding bum lines in this while reading it to an audience is ugly//poet reading long so no Q&A Ricky and I giving each other high-five//he saying his lesbian friends wanting to meet me—you don’t have lesbian friends 4 lesbians emerging from the dark//explaining to the lesbians that I have to go home banging shins on coffee table//next morning having blisters from walking to the Ear & Eye Infirmary shin scrape and sore finger where I picked a hangnail waiting for my turn to read

Carroll Gardens: K and I both waking with “Electric Avenue” in our heads//coming home to scads of flies gathering on window probably blowflies suggesting the presence of carrion// opening doors and windows peeling off my jeans beating the remaining flies to death with pant leg//K too upset to eat picking dark meat out of her Vietnamese sandwich//dog license renewal form torn open on counter

plan to stay in country complicated by inability to drive stick Tracy being unable to believe I can’t drive stick//couple’s therapy turning into premarital counseling therapist saying “you have permission to have cold feet”//I’m a bad gay K agreeing I not knowing that DOMA was going to be ruled on this coming week and what the hell is SCOTUS?//being a bad citizen all the ways I’ve been bad pointing to a common denominator//Sciala’s invocation of “hostes humani generis” post same sex marriage ruling//heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 being struck down there not being enough civil rights to go around//

therapist encouraging me toward more sadistic responses “you like to take the high road treat everyone equal but rude people don’t deserve that” sudden release from “love thy neighbor as thyself”//looking in mirror repeating “I am a sadist”//

East Village: waiting for F nothing celebratory till seeing woman with a “thank you Edie” sign//being unable to wait to eat my grilled cheese boy across from me picking his nose//old woman living on social security panhandling to make ends meet//who bolted the file cabinets to these particle board platforms?//cleaning office revealing termite or termite-like creatures and their egg sacs//estimating the floor hasn’t been scrubbed in 10-15 yrs. me volunteering to scrub it then deciding it’s too much change//busted open pouches of green rat poison//cords plugged into outlets connected to nothing enough to stretch around the block//house lights going down at Sontag: Reborn the senior next to me using the arm rest as she naps//K and I having enough cash to split one beer at the Boiler Room//guy asking me to take a picture of his friends and him first effort is of my thumb//finishing beer in under 10 mins. on way out halting at door for a kiss