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." Wed Feb 8/ published Oct 4 2023 S: Look at him crying! Look at him crying. Look at that big man crying! L: The diner rarely is unified in watching one of the TVs; it’s never happened when I’ve been here. Lebron James broke a record, and is 38. J: It’s good to be old. Q: I’ll get there. (Thurs Feb 9) L: I wasn’t quite prepared for a not crowded place this morning. P: It’s only 7:30 and I teach in the afternoon which gives me time to wear clothes however I choose before going in to work and choosing to wear clothing that kids find respectable- my particular style is punky humorous glamorous maybe? Which to children just looks like I never learned how to get clothes that fit me or get stains out of them or throw them away when they start falling apart. To kids it looks like I don’t care, but to me my style is something I put care and artistic intuition, though admittedly not a lot of time, into. I have never spent more than maybe $100 a year for clothing, OK maybe $200, but that includes socks and underwear from Target. People throw away clothes and give away clothes, and what I don’t get out of free piles I can certainly find at a thrift store. There have been several years where there's no need to go to the thrift store, there’s so much extra clothes floating around. When you live with a bunch of people there are always free piles popping up. I’m long and lanky- there are few things that are too small, and I don’t mind a baggy fit. I’m 50 and I fell in love with thrift stores when I was about 15–not as a hipster child, but my friend’s mom worked at a nursing home that had one. She was a little early punk actually, maybe I had already started being drawn to that sort of thing- my style was pretty preppy and I also loved (and still love) bright colors. L: So you arrived here at the diner after an epic bike ride and felt… shall we say, not that welcome here at the diner? Is that why you launched into this very self-focused explanation of your style? P: The cook just said, “that is one of my longtime customers, 4-5 years…” I want a cook to be able to say that about me at a restaurant, but maybe not here… L: You told me last night that your family rarely went out to eat. Your mom is a wild gourmet cook so to eat out just wasn’t really appealing to her…I am similar with clothes, ok this is a stretch, I am an artist so why would I pay a designer to put a look together for me-but the main difference is, is that I love cheap. My mom loves things to feel as expensive as possible. I love cheap in a way that I love it a lot but I want to love it even more, which is a great way to feel, like there’s more room to spread out more into this love, I LOVE inexpensive as the underdog that people despise. Sometimes because it means done without care, a cheap piece of furniture that falls apart… I adore cheap because it has been demonized by nasty elitist materialism, but then people are always trying to steal it when it works and make it expensive. P: I love fake flowers, and when I brought some into a class when we were discussing major visual elements of theater, a professor I loved professed that he hated fake flowers- they made him think of cheap funerals. I also used a wooden spoon, which he said also made him think of cheap kitchen things, in a really negative way! I think of that every time I use this spoon in my kitchen, how it symbolized a cheap lifestyle to my beloved professor, and why that is perceived as negative. Why would expensive kitchen implements be the desirable symbol? L: Chipping away at those chips on your shoulder. P: I guess this diner is inexpensive, but for me it’s extravagant to come out to eat when it’s a fraction of the price to use my own bread, potatoes, tea bags. It’s cultural. People are here together in a different way, we’re in a city, choosing to enter a fragrant lively space in the morning. L: I love blogging with you all. I hope we can keep this going. It feels essential and extravagant, as have been the circuitous bike rides to get here! P: Wait, this is a blog? I thought we were doing a play? L: (motions to audience) We’re not supposed to break the 4th wall, we had decided to make this one a realistic conversation. (All this time they’ve been seated at a diner.) L: OK, OK, OK I’m sorry. If we keep going I’m sure they’ll forget. I mean, you brought up the blog, and I just wanted to talk a little more about the bike ride. But also I keep thinking about my mom this morning, and how much I loved telling you about her last night. P: Wait, who am I again? L: You’re my friend Sarah who I had over for dinner last night. P: Of course! L: I love you! P: I love you too. Sharing about family in the context of friend family is empowering. Do you really want to share about your bike ride some more? L: Well, there was an expanse that I’ve driven on but not biked before. Because it was so early I needed to ride toward the east a little extra to see some hot pink at the bottom of a grayish lit up sky. I discovered a mysterious little stone wall at the edge of a park with a faded fish mural painted along the top. It was breathtaking. I noticed the shift when sky went from being a dullish flat indigo to having the definition of clouds being the silhouettes with indigo light from behind. I also found a largish wooden box outside of someone’s home that had scrawled on it: “Free books for all.” Under the wooden board on top was a big pile of children’s books in great shape. (Fri Feb 10) Wow, today is hard. Trying to do anything consistently makes you vulnerable. Trying to negotiate the terms of this blog with myself is confusing. Last night I played “Skip-Bo, Strip-Bo” until late, which means basically I’m here at the diner late because I was playing something like strip poker with a bunch of queer women which was what I wanted, but also, I’m a little sad today, in a way that I don’t feel like writing about. I did have fun, I think, some fun. I didn’t drink a lot, dear reader, I’m just a little down. I just realized I didn’t even notice the sky on my ride over today. Me and the sky have been having a daily thing, and it makes me think about happiness, the sad part of happiness that when you often have a certain kind of happiness and it isn’t there one day, it feels like sadness, which is a little weak-spirited, and I think that’s partly why people are so into meditation and mindfulness: you just know you are there in the middle of all the different feelings… I thought one morning as I was riding here, not smack dab in the middle of dawn, but the sky was morning pearly all over, the clouds were doing something and I thought, “of course the sky!” Of course the sky. It seems like a good name for something. Not like an aspirational thing, higher, above, not as a maternal thing, watching over us… but naturally as an emotional part of things. (Sat Feb 11) Here’s something I love about writing to you: there’s never a wrong time to send this to you. I never have to worry if you have enough time, if I’m expecting too much from you. If we’re having art share time, I don’t have to worry about divvying up the time. “You” are so complex and your sense of time is so variable. The strange thing is that you don’t expect me to reciprocate, to read your thoughts. Like in therapy, you really don’t hear about your therapist’s life much at all, after you spill your guts out. It’s strange. Hello, how are you? Fine, how are YOU?… and you’re off! Of course she weighs in… Last night by the fire (my life is very social lately, which is great, I think) my friend said the word “insurmountable” and I was like, wait, do you use that word often? I was just telling my therapist that I felt like organizing all my boxes and lists almost felt insurmountable, and then I felt a little bad for using that word, and it kind of surprised me that I used it-I didn’t know where it came from, so it probably came from you…” And my other friend asked, “Did you feel bad because you used the word or because of what it meant?” And I said, I felt bad because it made me feel like I was saying this task was almost impossible, like I couldn’t do it, but obviously I can get organized to a satisfactory degree somehow. It is a little weird referencing discussions with your therapist in casual conversation, but I also like normalizing it. I love therapy and I wish lots more people got to talk things out with therapists. I also love you but this is not my therapy. This is something else, something even more important in my life. (Sun Feb 12) G: Hello world, this is the 13th day in a row of telling you about my life in this particular way! (even though you very detail-oriented readers may notice a day is missed early on, this is a mystery to me- I do edit my entries but I somehow couldn’t find that day though I assure you, I didn’t start missing days until later in my 50th year.) W: I’m thinking about the idea of getting involved in the decisions people make about their kids. G: My mom told me the story over toast with her homemade orange-lemon marmalade. I’m having trouble concentrating. Why am I concerning about if my friend was a tiny bit demeaning? W: Well OK I am so used to deflecting demeaning behavior from my family, wrapped in intense love and desire to be with me, that I am feeling hypersensitive to this behavior from friends. Irene said she wants me to protect my heart, put a little pillow around it. I liked hearing that but felt protective of my building a tough heart even as she said it- but I deeply deeply appreciate that she sees how hard I try and wants to encourage me to be careful and gentle. Soften, sometimes. A nice boyfriend told me that too. I think you have room to soften a little. B: OK. I have a one hour layover in Philly on the ride from Allentown to Baltimore. Normally I go to Chinatown, and I made the decision to make a different choice today, and… N: That is why we’re here at the Hard Rock Cafe. B: It had to be pretty much the first place I saw. The rule wasn’t in stone but here I am. I’ve never been inside a Hard Rock Cafe so I figured it was time. B: OK I know in science you’re not supposed to take a tiny sample and decide it defines the world, but when I expose myself to corporate places like this my hackles are so often raised. There are some things that are so wrong! I am surrounded by enormous images of mostly white men in a cafe dedicated to rock which was so clearly invented by and shaped by Black people. N: First of all, Hard Rock has nothing to do with it. Dave Matthews, John Mayer, there are lots of singer-songwriter types up there. How did they choose them? B: Are you kidding me? The wall I am facing: 5 enormous images of white dudes, 2 women (Taylor Swift and Christina Aguilera); on the wall to my back, 5 white men and 1 Black man. So Chubby Checker is in the corner, 1 Black man. Who chooses these images? This is clearly a corporation, so they believe these images will make the most people want to come and spend money. N: At first glance the clientele here in downtown Philadelphia is very mixed in terms of Black and white, and so is the waitstaff. N: It’s true I don’t know the complete racial background of each of these humongous images on the walls, but I don’t think that’s what we’re trying to determine. The feeling in this corporate cafe celebrating an art form that has a wide range of rebellious and corporate influences is that fair representation is not a concern. At the design meeting: “I just happen to like these artists and want to make almost god-like worshipful images of them in this dramatic high-ceilinged enclave. This feels natural.” B: So I heard the story again this morning, but my mom, Katina, never mentioned the monastery. “Well we left the olives in the monastery.” Also I don’t remember her being bed-ridden with exhaustion for days after her first olive-gathering experience, but she was. N: Some background: My mom, around 17, was home from school in Rethymnon, the larger city north of Ardaktos, the village where she was raised. The teachers were on strike so my mom was temporarily back in the village with her mom and sister. The other siblings were off at school, so my mom was by herself while my grandmother and aunt went off to gather the olives. They had an olive grove in Agia (Saint) Padaskevi (Friday), which my mom describes as a little community surrounding the church to Saint Friday more than an actual village. B: As my aunt and grandmother went to gather olives, taking their donkey with them, my mom stayed at their house and washed clothes and cleaned and made dinner. When they returned laden with olives, they were exhausted. My mom said to them: N: Why are you exhausted? I cleaned, washed, gathered food and made this meal- I’m exhausted! B: My grandmother smiled her sweet smile. “Tomorrow you’ll come with me and we’ll gather the olives, and Angeliki will stay here and do the housework.” “Sure!” N: The next morning my mom and her mom set off with their donkey on the rocky mountain trail. They took turns riding the donkey or walking and after 2 hours (the grove was over 10 miles away) they arrived at their destination. My mom, who had become somewhat citified, through her teens, was so exhausted by the time they reached the grove at Saint Friday that she had to sit and just gather what she could reach from her sitting position. B: In these days, they waited for the olives to fall on some thick fabric they laid around the trees so they could turn it into olive oil. They would carry them back on the donkey and bring them to a (mill) in the village where they would be immediately transformed into olive oil. N: But the olives didn’t come home with them that day. The donkey had a different load: my mom! Yes, my mom who would be bed-ridden for 2 days learned that she should not poke fun of her sister and mother for not working hard on their olive-gathering ventures! B: The other new detail that emerged this time I heard the story kind of blew my mind. N: I asked my mom, so you just left all the olives you gathered outside? (When you hear a story many times, you sometimes ask questions that lead to new treasures.) B: No, we brought them to the monastery. N: What monastery? Monks let you leave your olives with them? B: No, not monks, the nuns. N: It was a monastery with nuns? B: It was our building. We let them stay there…a beautiful woman and her daughter, she made me want to be a nun. Such a beautiful life, so sweet, just serving God. (When my mom tells stories from her past that I’ve heard before, sometimes it’s like that. Since we’ve laid the groundwork new things can emerge. Suddenly a picture I have can grow a whole new picture, whole new bodies. It opens, a door on this beautiful island I have been to three times.) N: (Using the word island feels off–Crete is a huge island. I often bring up my mom’s life in the mountains of Greece, not on an island in Greece. I come from many generations of people who lived on an island but since my mom rarely saw water as a child I don’t think of her childhood as being on an island. Walking 7 kids over several hours of mountain trails to get to the seas was not desirable- there were beautiful mountain springs, endless rocky and fruit-tree-filled beauty. Endless mountain herbs…) What?? You thought about being a nun?? B: Yes, she was so sweet, she seemed to have such a good life, she and her mother. It was just her and her mother living in that house, not really a house, just a room with a roof. N: You thought seriously about becoming a nun? B: Yes, but my mom wouldn’t want that. She wanted me to go to school. And these women had no possessions. People gave to them, but I wouldn’t want to live like that. 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. (Sun 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. (Mon 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.