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Hi everyone, welcome to New Blog! Melissa Webb and I made the costume I'm wearing in this photograph! Here is my latest entry in "New Blog." Saturday Feb 3, published Monday Sept 4 A blues radio station is loudly playing today; it’s the weekend. When I got here the mom waitress asked a customer- tea with lemon? And he answered, “actually, some coffee, I’ve got a taste for some coffee today.” So have I, dear reader, decaf with a little half-n-half. Oo la la. I spilled my cup-half-full of water and ice; I was so excited eating toast and jelly and drinking decaf as I was trying to work on this that my elbow just lost track of property and got caught on my straw. The waitress was sweet and the goddess of water didn’t get the water on my pants (it’s so frigid outside and I rode my bike) or on my computer. The cook is greeting everybody. A man came in and announced: “I’m hungry today.” Neon signs look beautiful lit in the daytime, strange faded shades of blue against the sky or the car dealership across the street. To my right is simply the word Restaurant in blue against a slightly grayer, less uniformly colored sky, getting whitish towards the horizon behind a storage building. The other big picture window faces the main street, and somehow that neon sign has lots of shades of blue, the cursive name going from aqua-ish to periwinkle-ish to pale pale blue, all along the curving cursive letters. The word NEW is a taxi-cab yellow. A modest string of red tinsel garland with small gold Christmas balls have made it into February. It’s this seat, it’s the ultimate window-gazing seat, and there is another lovely feature atop both windows, something like a wooden proscenium, reminding us there were curtains before Venetian blinds. When I start describing my surroundings at a party it can mean I’m a little bit nervous and not sure what to say, but I wish that wasn’t true, because I love pausing what I am doing to notice what surrounds me, or that being the thing I am doing. Just because you do something sometimes when you’re nervous doesn’t mean you can’t do it more intentionally, when you’re not, and maybe nervousness is a good impetus to do an exciting thing. I love that neon signs are “meant” for the outside world, so that from inside they become an abstract light tangle, something that reminds you that you are inside somewhere that is reaching outside, inviting them. (Sunday Feb 4) This is going too far. They make their employees wear T- shirts that say “My middle name is HOT”? Already I was thinking writing it 2 times on the wallpaper was too heavy-handed. You can’t just keep saying “We here at this bagel shop are very interested in hotness, and by association, by your eating here, you are hot!” It says really big on the wall “Our middle name is hot.” Hmm, I’m just imagining the room containing the people that decided on this ad campaign. “Hot, definitely hotness is what we want to focus on. How do we say it in a whimsical way?” “Hotness is my middle name?” “How about our middle name is hot, it’s a little more awkward, saying it backwards like that.” “But doesn’t that sound like you’re saying my middle name, Tracy for example, is a hot name?” “You’re overthinking it. Just say my middle name is HOT!” “Yeah…yeah!” I must report that there is a picture of the family on the wall and the title is “family owned and hot-perated.” “Let’s just be dorky and bad-jokey in our hotness, this is a college campus and people will chuckle!” OK, OK, I’m not at the diner, I’m at a bagel shop thudding with club music, 2 floors tall, near a college campus. I finally did it. I was hoping to get up before dawn and still get roughly 7 hours of sleep, which means going to sleep very close to 11, which I did, and it was worth it! I think I can keep this up for a while, just to have some dawn action before spring comes, get that into my system. I feel like dawn and I have a connection, and if I don’t experience it on purpose, instead of just the rare waking up way too early because of the cat, or some troubled sleep, something feels wrong in my world. But just a week or 2 of seeing the dawn as part of the beginning of my day, on purpose, takes care of something. But I didn’t look closely at the sign at the diner. I rode up this morning triumphantly a little after 7 to find it closed, having taken the long way on my bike so I could ride toward the east and watch the sky keep shifting its colors, really subtle grayish peach mixed with grayish blues, but yes, there’s nothing like silhouetted winter branches against those shifting colors and shifting pearlesences. It’s worth shifting my whole life an hour backwards, like daylight savings time, for a while. So I walked into the bagel shop and there was quite a long way to walk along a long neon green counter with red seats (hot!) to the area where people and bagels are lit kind of yellow. A man in the signature orange T-shirt (hot!) just stood there facing me as I approached- was he a greeter? What did he want from me? I asked: “Hi! How does this work?” He stood and looked at me for a moment before a kindly older man popped out from behind the counter. “I can help you! You order over here, but I can do it for you!” “Oh, there are kiosks.” “I will do it for you! Do you know what you want?” He kept touching my puffy magenta coat elbow, as if to say, I know, this modern technology does not have the soul. I could have said, “I actually can do the kiosk, I was just confused by that man” (who was apparently standing there to deliver some bags to some shelves, and happened to look at me as I walked in). But I just went along with this man’s eager gallantry. As I’ve been writing, he walks by and puts his hand on the green counter, providing a little bit of the mom server vibe that apparently follows me. Holy shit I just knocked over my stainless steel water bottle and then it disappeared when I went to get it. A woman who looked like she was going skiing appeared in front of me and handed it to me. “It rolled all over,” she said. “Thank goodness the lid was on!” I said laughing and she did not laugh. And people wonder why I don’t drink caffeine! At a certain point I realized it makes me pick at my skin and feel irritable more than these benefits of feeling like I’m in a different city and kind of in a different body. This week I feel like I’m acting like someone with “disposable income,” dining out every morning! What a terrible phrase, it’s basically saying “I have money to burn!” How about “dispensable income?” Going out every morning is a birthday present to myself. Monday Feb. 6 Floor: Oh thoughts, hatching like wet yellow chicks one after another! I love to cultivate thoughts when I get into grooves. They keep popping on my bike and when I enter this restaurant. Prop: The server told someone “I go for at least an hour walk every night.” Sometimes I like overhearing people’s healthy rituals- I want to also go for an hour walk every night! Floor: But you do other healthy stuff! Prop: What hatched on your bike? Floor: None of your beeswax. Prop: Oh, PRIVATE thoughts hatching. Don’t you mean floor wax? Floor: The server sharing this walking ritual is the same one who helped me clean up all the ice and was still really nice to me when I came in this morning. I don’t always have a ritual of writing in the morning so right now I’m particularly interested in other people’s rituals. Shaping time. Thurs Feb 2 2023/Published June 9 2023 There is laughter and someone is talking about the groundhog, “And he only opened one eye!” I would have forgotten it was Groundhog’s Day unless it was in the newspaper, but here at the diner it’s in the air. Today I imagined myself piping up when people started joking in the room, but realized I really like being a vocally quiet one in this space. Who knows, one day I might pipe in, but it’s a relief that I’m not expected to. I’m kind of an extrovert. (Fri Feb 3) Today I am dining on wheat toast, nice and thick like the Texas toast they use for French toast. I recently met a woman who was telling me about 2 groups in which she plays the French horn. A few minutes later she was showing me pictures of her French bulldogs, and explained she was in a rescue group for French bulldogs. When I asked her if there was a reason she was in multiple unusual French-titled groups, she said she hadn’t noticed. I was sort of amazed, maybe because I get excited by much less surprising coincidences- “We’re both wearing maroon today, with a little bit of red somewhere else on our outfits!” I love when people give out a hearty laugh when greeting someone. (Customer enters) “Hey how are you? Heh-heh-heh-heh!” He replies something about slow motion, just getting back to town, there is definitely a culture of multi-generational friendship here. When I was 21 I moved to Milwaukee and lived with my friend Stephanie and worked at Dunkin Donuts for a year or so: I walked or rode my bike across the bridge and iced and sold donuts and coffee to people and was madly in love with my new life with/adjacent to a bunch of artists. The Dunkin Donuts used to be a different donut shop that had real coffee mugs (I think they said they were brown). For years a group of men met there regularly- was it every weekday morning before work, or was it on weekends? I think it was often a weekday thing. In any case, there were remnants of this group that still met at D & D occasionally, and gave me a little peek into the more diner-esque atmosphere of the place in past times. One thing I remember is now they were retired, and one would go down to the beach at the lake and use his metal detector to find little treasures people left behind. Maybe another would join him sometimes. And of course there was Bob. He was the same age as the other men and would say hi to them, but hadn’t been part of their long-standing group. The friends I hung out with, particularly my boyfriend Didier, befriended him, and he became the singer of a great band they started called Ka-Bob. On the cover of their album was a picture of Bob about to eat a kabob with the members of the band’s heads, tasteful and cutely done! He had a great singing voice. It was really, really awesome. Wed Feb 1, 2023/Published June 2, 2023 It’s wild how good coffee is, diner decaf coffee is. It’s a little embarrassing to admit I started the day–“I love her to death but I can’t take her anywhere” someone quips –with a sore mouth from grinding my teeth, so I was looking up how much caffeine decaf has compared to black tea and it is probably significantly less but not necessarily, depending on various factors. The waitress is asking everyone at the counter if they need a warm-up of coffee, in such a sweet manner. There are signs on the wall that say, NOTICE Singles, Please Sit at Counter 12p.m.-1:30p.m. Thank You All of us singles. As I was mentioning yesterday, there is really no decor in here aside from wood. There is a large lattice of dark wood surrounded by a big old frame, on a beige wall which doesn’t actually read as beige, but a really light brown, like chocolate whipped cream, a really creamy brown. So it’s the lamps, the wood, and one more thing- the beautiful stools with maroon vinyl covers. If the lamps look like old-fashioned space ships, these circular stools on silver poles really do—diners are the only places besides drum kits… where else? that people are willing to sit on a stool for a duration— who needs back support when there are endless warm-ups, delicious heartiness in the foreground and a performance of making more for all the others down the counter in the background. I love that this place isn’t trying to feel old-fashioned- I mean, there are 6 TVs, one that doesn’t work, all on with 2 different programs, to give this neighborhoodly corner a little NYC feeling, just kidding, yes, TVs in a space can really bring it down, but somehow these aren’t too bad- not too loud, not too paid attention to. The waitress knows what people’s orders are- she seemed a little surprised that I wanted wheat instead of rye today, decaf coffee instead of tea. It took one day (she wasn’t here on Monday) for her to offer me “the regular.” I think a man at the counter just told several people to leave and he would pay for their breakfasts. They were at the register- “I got you” “Alright.” “I don’t know why, Margaret Thatcher!” I’m not sure I get the joke, which can be fun! It is still pretty hoppin’ here at the diner on a Wednesday morning. I was a little later today–8:30 every booth taken, counter full. But I’m not swept up in the flurry as much, and it is partially because I brought my laptop— it didn’t “break the spell” but it does detract from my experience. Oh my- a customer just called out to a server to bring him the honey- “it’s right there, you’re up, you can get it yourself.” “I got it,” says someone else. “Now I’m a waitress,” he complains to the server. The server says, “How you doing babe?” Bringing it back to light and nurturing. Someone mutters “she said get your own honey.” You know when you’re very stimulated and happy and something is a little confusing in your environment and you make it something else? The last time I was at a diner before this 3-day stint was in Brooklyn where I met my friend and was so cozy after freezing my buns off that I almost popped. I had coffee and orange juice, eggs and home fries and toast, and the diner was full of people. The thing I couldn’t process was that I felt like a mirror was behind my friend’s head, because the next table felt closer than would otherwise make sense. But this explanation of there being a mirror didn’t actually make sense because I didn’t see myself or my friend’s head. I saw 3 different cycles move into this seat (because we were there for hours but the crowd had thinned out and the servers liked us) that I thought was maybe behind me, but I slowly began to realize that there was a half-booth in front of me, and couples had to sit side-by-side, and they were seated much closer to us than usual, facing me. It added to the excitement of reconnection and joy; I hadn’t had one-on-one time with my friend in years. This reminds me of how when you hear the lyrics to a song wrong as an adult it’s different than when you’re a child and you dream up these alternative worlds- but it’s similar. After the upsetting-then-sweet talk on my birthday morning I listened to the song “The Power of Allowing and Receiving” by Diane Cluck for the seventh time and this time glanced at the lyrics and she said the bird circling above her thought that she was hurt, but I had thought the bird circling above her thought that she was her. That a bird might be drawn to you because they think you are the same being struck me as so beautiful and strange and I kept tearing up. Also it was a little bit of a sad morning. I love the mistakes that open up such weird possibilities, as a child, as an adult. Tues Jan 31, 2023/published May 18 2023 Rainy 8am and I’m back. From this view, from the booth, I can see the dangling lights, which are a major feature of this place for sure. Like helmets, family pizza restaurants, like a castle, like floating old-fashioned UFOs. But they are attached to this very particular feature that adds a lot to coziness- wooden beams all reaching out and across over the counter, from where these lamps dangle. The walls painted the same beige as the counter, real wood bordering the tables, fake wood creating the booths. “Impatient am I, tightly wrapped!” That’s a line from a play I wrote a long time ago. Of course some stick permanently. Clear decisions. I love this diner because the old name is in neon in the window and the shade only obscures it a little bit, leaving the word “restaurant” aglow. That feels so anti-capitalistic. Also the fact that the word “New” preceded the name of the diner in neon for I think around 40 years before it closed. I’m taking that cue for “New Blog,” even though I hope it lasts a long time. I guess the major difference between notebook and laptop- the visual of me writing in this sequined notebook is more— maybe because I’m a performance artist, maybe because I’ve made some films, but I zoom out on a scene I’m in every now and again, and there’s a satisfaction of seeing me being the writer in the corner rather than the person on my laptop, still a writer, and of course I could be working the stock market in my little notebook, but…. it really looks like that when I’m on my laptop (I’m kidding)! Because there’s not always time for hand writing, then typing—I know! I’ll scatter a bunch of papers and sketches all around my laptop to give this diner world the impression of what is true- I am an artist! Art must be happening here! Still kidding, I will not do that. Why do I have a powerful specific love for the aspect of things that are “imperfect?” I think it’s a self-protection mechanism because it’s hard to accept imperfection in myself, which I believe is connected to being the daughter of an immigrant with a chip on her shoulder (see my pandemic web series, “Chipping Away at the Chips on your Shoulder.”) When someone showed up at my birthday walk with a present I was like oh wow! What am I supposed to do with this? At a traditional birthday party- as kids we would open presents as a big highlight- at an adult party you sometimes have them on a table and look at them later and write thank you notes- I didn’t have a place for them, I realized I didn’t want to put guests through watching me open them, so I started stashing them under the table… my backpack splayed open by the table, we ran out of hot cocoa in the first 45 minutes, no trash can, the birthday candle broke… messy. But I loved so much of what did happen… I’m awkwardly punk as a “middle-aged” person. Middle aged!! What a freaking weird term, used mostly, from my recollection, to describe someone people find uninteresting or annoying. You never hear, “I met an eloquent, stunning, middle-aged diva…” Middle aged is more likely nestled in a string of negative adjectives. But I tried the word “adult,” “an adult punk,” and that is way too broad, as opposed to a teen punk. We’ll go with “middle aged” punk. So anyway at the party I felt a little embarrassed at how much I threw it together, but, oh well, parties are mysterious. Sometimes you prep a lot, sometimes you don’t. Monday Jan. 30, 2023/published May 3 , 2023 I dedicate this episode/post to my friend who said (around 8 years ago) I should write a blog because I have an exciting life, and to my friend who welcomes everyone to the magical writing circle. Ever so slightly beige is the counter in this diner, the next morning after my birthday gathering. I’m sitting at a seam in the counter where one panel meets another and they are two different shades of off white or very pale brown. How does everyone know each other? My friends don’t gather at 8am lively and full of joy and laughter but I wish we did. We did create a small parade yesterday. A very messy birthday. Messy and emotional. A very messy birthday, but really neat. Neat as in neat-o. People in the diner are calling jokingly to new arrivals. “How are you doing?” “He’s not too good.” “Oh, you lost? You lost the fight?” I am about to dine on some home fries, which makes me a diner at the diner. I turned 50 yesterday. Maybe my birthday will somehow symbolize my year? If so it will start really difficult and almost terrible, but then get actually great. I want to squeeze some wisdom out of it. Last night after everyone left I opened a present that a friend made me… a drawing of some leaves that said “Forever growing, never grown.” I received incredible gifts this year that will last. I’m starting to see a new pattern emerge where I have a birthday walk every year. The pandemic really started it. Doing something over and over makes it more serious, and you can tweak it. Even though my birthday morning got really dicey, my friend said she wanted to go to yodeling camp and she makes such earnest comments like that. Something I need to talk about in this brand new diner is— well it used to be a different diner and I came a few times but now it’s new to me and both names are still on signs out front… “Where’s the respect seat?,” demands the costumer who is saying funny things up at the counter. “We don’t have one,” and there is laughter. It’s so generous in humor when someone sets you up to say the punchline by asking a ridiculous question, thereby making you a satisfying clown if you’re at all willing and interested. OK, it’s official. Maybe it’s partially because I rarely allow myself caffeine but there is a certain intense joy I get from writing in a diner. I brought my laptop but I feel like using pen and paper, especially because I’m sitting at the counter. OK, the thing I need to talk about—this is addressing a deep longing that I will have to address if I want to be true to myself: my relationship to you dear reader. I vow to never stop writing and collaborating on plays. But I want to work on this direct connection, without the other amazing magical theatrical mediation that I will not neglect, I want to work on this connection too, where I write things down then transmit directly to you through channels. There’s just such a constant longing, there’s a reason for that mysterious connection. I fell in love with art a long time ago, and I want to share this timetime with you.

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