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Sandra Newman @sannewman
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1. My first best friend, when I was 6, was a boy named Steven Wu. Steven's Mom was an acupuncturist, and one day after we dropped Steven off, my Dad told me acupuncture was against the law. My first experience of perceiving crime as glamourous.
2. When I was 11 years old, my father bought a CB radio. My CB handle was "Timber Wolf".
3. I have unusually strong fingernails which can grow to remarkable lengths. I can type with my long fingernails. It makes a racket and irritates people in cafés.
4. Because of my long fingernails, which I refused to trim, my mother used to call me "Dragonlady". It was not kindly meant.
5. When I was failing second grade because I thought the assignments were stupid, my mother angrily asked if I thought I was smarter than the teachers. After some reflection, I said yes. My mother went bananas.
6. The hated assignments were worksheets that taught principles like "silent E". They had a friendly cartoon character called "E-Z Indian". I like to imagine that, even at 7, I felt E-Z Indian was problematic & that's why I hated them. But I doubt this is really the case.
7. I'm an adopted child, and my parents liked to mention the fact that I was adopted at 13 days. Over the years, it became clear that this preoccupation of theirs was an insult. I, however, persisted in thinking it made me special in a Goth way.
8. Now here is a truly Goth thing: My mother committed suicide and my father may have been murdered, although we could never be certain. Neither of these things was my fault. I cannot see any way they could be my fault. And yet there is the troubling detail of the 13 days!
9. Every time he handled a pencil, my father used to make the same joke about "Edwin Pencil, inventor of the pencil." You would never have pegged him for a murder victim!

(I feel I am straying from my promised goal of specifically telling things that are of interest only to myself. No more of this illegally interesting "murder mystery" material.)
10. I first read Lolita when I was the same age as Lolita. I wished there were more sex scenes and that the sex scenes were more explicit.
11. I'm afraid of heights. Until recently, I would always forget I was afraid of heights & do heights-related things like hiking in the mountains. I would suddenly remember my fear of heights on a ledge in the Rockies, unable to go forward or back, like a cat stuck in a tree.
12. My first husband was half-German. We once got into a screaming argument about whether the German A was more objectively beautiful than the English A.
13. My first husband was also a poet. He once wrote a poem about me that started with the line: "Oh you squally".
14. This first husband of mine was very unworldly. Once we were in a cabin in the backwoods of Portugal. I was sick in bed & he said from the kitchen, "I think there's a cockroach here." I said, "What does it look like?" He said, "Well, it's mottled. And it has a lot of antlers."
15. Whenever I'm looking for underwear, a song plays in my head that's a mash-up of the theme songs to the old Saturday-morning cartoons Underdog and Robin Hood: "Underwear, underwear, riding through the glen. Underwear, underwear, with its merry men."
16. Once my bicycle was stolen. Two days later, a junkie offered to sell me a different bike in the street for $20. I bought it immediately because I felt that it was fate.
17. The first novel I ever wrote was a handwritten book called "Love's Magic Lands", about a stuffed lion cub named Love who runs away from home with a plastic lion cub named Lemon-Lime and they explore a series of magic lands.
18. The second novel I wrote was a collaboration, written with a friend who had gerbils. It was called "Gerbils On the Loose!" and was about gerbils who run away from home to pursue an independent life.
19. The third novel I wrote was called "Liberty Forever" and was about a horse who runs away from home to become a wild mustang.
20. I wrote "Liberty Forever", and the next several novels I wrote, on the Smith-Corona manual typewriter my father got as a going-to-college present in the 1950s. He gave it to me for my tenth birthday. I used it for 20 years.
21. The manual typewriter came with a carrying case which gradually fell apart. A friend made two replacement cases for it, the 1st wood & the 2nd sheet metal. I still have callouses on both hands from carrying that typewriter in the years when I was repeatedly homeless.
22. In my early twenties, I had a black leather mini-skirt I wore almost every day. It was never washed, and I would think a lot about this fact, telling myself that leather didn't get washed, and it was actually normal and it must shed the dirt "somehow".
23. Through my twenties, I slept on the floor like a dog. Typically in front of the gas fire. I only slept in a bed if I was sleeping with someone else.
24. I also liked to sleep with the lights on. A friend of mine shared this idiosyncrasy, and we complained to each other that our boyfriends always won that argument because sleeping in the dark was "normal".
25. When I was a child, my father bought us an "E-Z Play" organ. On this instrument you selected e.g. a "Bossa Nova" bassline, which would play while you picked out the melody to "Begin the Beguine". Such was my introduction to the musical arts.
26. One of our E-Z Play organ songbooks was devoted to the works of Cole Porter. Because of the way his photo was reproduced in the songbook, I believed for years that Cole Porter was black. When I learned he was white, I irrationally blamed Cole Porter for lying.
27. On the wall in my family's dining room, there were two matching bad paintings, one of a medieval axe, one of a medieval shield. One day when I was 15, I painted a mustache on the axe. No one in my family ever noticed.
28. Another painting we had was a gray somber painting of circus elephants & hot air balloons. For some unknown reason, it had been hidden behind the washing machine in the basement. My friends & I would go to visit this painting, even as teenagers; we considered it mysterious.
29. When I was seven I got a kitten. I'd read a book about a stray cat who envied housecats for their names: "like Algonquin… or even Cherie!" So I named my kitten Cherie, pronouncing it "cheery", then expanded it to Cherie Berie Boo. He was the family member I loved most.
30. Eventually we had four cats. They were all neutered males, and all declawed, and none were ever allowed outside. As a child, I was horrified by this cruelty, but knew I had no power to change it.
31. My cat Cherie Berie Boo slept in my arms every night. He would scratch at my door to be let in. When I was first dating, I dreamed of finding a man who would look at me adoringly as Cherie Berie Boo had looked at me, and sleep in my arms as Cherie Berie Boo slept in my arms.
32. I've never had another cat, like a widow who never remarries.
33. From the age of 10 to the age of 17, I was a member of a local children's theater group called Patchwork Theater. As a result, I know almost all the words to "Evita," "Godspell," "Pippin," and many more obscure musicals like "The Apple Tree" and "Once Upon a Mattress".
34. Whenever I'm sick, these lines from Evita play in my head: "Your little body's slowly breaking down. You're losing [SOMETHING] losing strength—not style! That goes on flourishing forever but your eyes, your smile… do not have the [SOMETHING] of their fantastic past… (cont.)
34 (cont.) "…If you climb one more mountain, it could be your last!" Then my mind sings back: "I'm not that ill. Bad moments come but they go. Some days are fine, some a little bit harder. But that doesn't mean I should change my routine. Have you ever seen me defeated? (cont.)
34 (cont.) "…Don't you forget all I've been through and yet I'm still standing! And if I am ill, that could even be to our advantage!" Then my mind sings back, all traumatized: "Eva! I'm trying to point out that you are dying!" AND THE MUSIC SWELLS TRAGICALLY.
35. The children's theater group was run by a woman who was an Amway distributor and had fourteen cats. Her cat Sir Arthur Sullivan was cut in half by an automatic garage door.
36. Her youngest daughter was a professional mime who studied with Marcel Marceau. We all learned mime from this daughter. I have never made use of this knowledge.
37. I have no tattoos, although for a year I lived with a boyfriend who was a tattoo artist. He let me tattoo the word "Boo" on his stomach.
38. This boyfriend of mine was also an ex-bank robber. He robbed so many banks he had his own nickname, "The Ponytail Bandit".
39. Once he bought a paperback about the bank robbery epidemic in LA of which he was a part, and was bitterly disappointed to see that he hadn't made the index.
40. The first decent joke I remember making was on a 10th grade quiz where we had to use vocabulary words in a sentence. The word was "polyglot," and my sentence was: "The polyglot sheep meowed at the farmer."
41. A few days after my mother's suicide, my father took a day off work and took me out to a Chinese restaurant. Over lunch he told me the plot of the novel "On the Beach", in which the last survivors of a nuclear holocaust slowly die of radiation poisoning in New Zealand.
42. In my thirties, I had a close friend from New Zealand. She was a gardener. She and her girlfriend (a garden photographer), and their old friend Dan (a garden designer), and his boyfriend Hugh (who was just Hugh), used to all go work together on the gardens of stately homes.
43. Hugh's role was to bake seed cakes in the kitchen of the stately homes and bring them out to everyone on a tray. The four of them had been best friends for a decade.
44. My friend the gardener was also a writer. She wrote a novel about the last person on Earth after a nuclear holocaust, who was the child of a gay foursome based on her and her friends. In the novel, the child roamed an empty Earth & blamed her parents for her problems.
45. She once had a car crash on the beach in New Zealand where her neck was broken. Stuck in the upside-down car, she was approached by a local homeless guy who asked her if she wanted a cup of coffee. When she tried to explain the situation, he kept asking his question louder.
46. My father was a very fat man all his life. He was about 5'8' and, throughout my childhood, weighed over 350 pounds.
47. Once my Dad visited me in London & we were in his hotel bar with the Welsh rugby team. A player pointed & drunkenly shouted, "That's the fattest man I've ever seen! He's got tits bigger than my sister's!" My Dad said, "Yeah! Yeah!" in a way that was both hearty & depressed.
48. Although my father was so fat, in the many years when he was dating after my mother's death, he would not go out with a fat woman. This drove me nuts. But I also understood that there is no arguing with tastes.
49. When I was ten, my friend Sandra Jill Cameron revealed to me that she could see microscopic animals—giraffes and lions—on sticks. The animals talked to her & told her secrets. There was also a microscopic king who lived in her desk drawer.
49. (cont.) After an hour or so, I started pretending I could see them too. But I remained very envious of Sandra Jill because she *really* saw the microscopic giraffes. (I knew she was probably lying too, but she was one step closer to telling the truth.)
50. At around 10 years old, my friends & I were obsessed with developing psychic powers. I once claimed I could communicate telepathically with a marble. We all went into the girls' room, turned off the lights and said we saw a huge floating eye.
51. I once had a one night stand with an eccentric Danish baron.
52. I met the Danish baron at a supermarket on my first night in Prague. He held up a carton of sour cream in my face and said, "Milk?" I set him straight and we ended up back at his hotel.
53. In the supermarket check-out line, the Danish baron took out his passport to prove to me he was a descendant of the astronomer Tycho Brahe. He was in Prague to reclaim his ancestral land and turn it into a golf course.
54. We went and stood on the bank of the Charles, and the Danish baron gestured at the opposite bank, where the enchanted-looking spires of Prague Castle were bathed in golden light. He said, "It's like when the Americans do something wonderful."
55. At that time, I had a small sebaceous cyst on my nipple. When he first saw me naked, the baron commented on this in alarm. I told him I'd had it for ages & it wasn't dangerous. He said darkly, "I come from a doctor's family and I know that is not normal."
56. The Danish baron was married, and he warned me that he knew people, and if I told anyone about our one night stand, he would have me driven out of Prague. Then he offered me the job of being PR for his golf course.
57. As we were dressing in the morning, the Danish baron mentioned his fellow Dane Hans Christian Andersen, & began to dance and sing, "I'm Hans Christian Andersen—Andersen! That's who!" Then he stopped and clarified: "Danny Kaye. Very funny man!"
58. Then the Danish baron looked me up and down in my going-out clothes and said, "Tomorrow… I will buy you a shirt!" I never saw him again.
59. Towards the end of our marriage, my first husband started to say he was gay. He maintained this for the rest of his life, and appeared to sincerely believe it. However, he continued to sleep exclusively with women, and to cheat on them with other women.
60. My first husband, Amos, was Jewish. When he lived in Berlin, he had a Jewish friend, David, who once tried to guilt trip a German woman into having a threesome with them by telling her his grandmother was a Mengele twin, which was true.
61. The first job I ever liked was going from door to door in New York City, administering a questionnaire about AIDS awareness to women for the NY Department of Health. We knocked on people's doors and asked them twenty minutes of questions about their sex lives.
61 (cont) One interviewee wouldn't let me in & made me do the interview in the building's foyer. The questions were written by someone who seemed not to know some women were lesbians, as this woman was. She kept rolling her eyes & guffawing & I got my first ever gay crush.
62. When I first lived in NYC, I once set my mattress on fire with a cigarette. I put it out with my herbal tea, but the smell spread & a neighbor called 911. Ten firemen appeared and chopped my mattress up with an ax. One fireman walked out with one of my bras in his hand.
63. As a result of this incident, whenever I see New York City firemen, I think, "You people stole my bra."
64. The second time I was raped, I was on a date with an Argentine polo player who was awful, so I kept drinking & drinking. I woke up & found him fucking me. Horrified, I went right back to sleep & dreamed I was having really great sex with Sonny from The Godfather.
64. (cont.) This is one of the funniest things that ever happened to me. It makes me laugh every time. It made me laugh then. Nonetheless, of course, when I woke up the morning after, I was traumatized. I find rape very mysterious that way. Why should it matter?
65. My first bicycle, when I was eight, was hand-painted blue with some kind of matte paint that wasn't intended for bicycles. I pretended it was a racehorse and named it "Blueprint".
66. My second bicycle was a racing bicycle that was gold (very exciting!). Again, I pretended it was a racehorse and named it "Oro". This is the first time I've ever told these names to another human being.
67. Through my childhood, I desperately wanted a horse but my parents said we couldn't afford a horse. Embarrassingly for them, when I was 12 my friend Marjorie whose mother was on welfare got a horse.
68. The day we first got drunk at thirteen, Marjorie and I walked all the way back to her house (two miles) and took her horse, Rebel, for a walk. We'd both thrown up several times and were too fucked up to think about riding the horse.
69. Marjorie's older brother had severe cognitive deficits & never learned to speak. He was a big teenager and it was difficult to keep him at home because he sometimes developed an aversion to his clothes and viciously attacked anyone who tried to dress him.
70. The first time I met Marjorie, at seven, she told me she had a pet cheetah. Over the years, she really did have the horse, two dogs, two cats, a raccoon, a descented skunk, and innumerable guinea pigs who escaped and reproduced and lived in the walls of her house like mice.
71. I have a habit of saying to my husband when I feel beaten down, "Poor Sandy!" I was very reassured when I learned that the French general, Joffre, likewise went around during World War I murmuring, "Pauvre Joffre!"
72. I also say to my husband reflectively, "Sandies have the hardest time of all of the land mammals." Or I ask him, "Which of the land mammals has the hardest time?" and he will loyally guess, "The Sandy?"
73. I've been married four times. I was the first wife of all my husbands.
74. Although I've been married four times, I've never had an engagement ring or a wedding gown. I like them fine, I just couldn't ever be bothered and neither could any of my four husbands.
75. Oh wait! I just realized this isn't true. My bank robber boyfriend, whom I didn't end up marrying, did give me an engagement ring. I'm pretty sure he stole it from his friend. I still have it in a box with all my old wedding rings.
76. When I told my brother about my bank robber boyfriend, then a bank robber fiancé, he laughed and said, "I don't know, Sandy. I mean, you're an adult, but… what's the matter with a nice doctor?"
77. There was a point, after my second divorce, when both my ex-husbands were in psychiatric institutions. People tried to make me laugh about this, but I was too worried about my ex-husbands. I was especially not receptive to jokes that cast me as the Perdition of Men.
78. In this period I once dated a man who responded to the news about my ex-husbands both being in psychiatric institutions by saying, "No wonder!" His name was Maziar Raein. I wanted to fire him out of a cannon.
79. Here is a cool thing Maziar once did. Maziar was a Persian immigrant in London, and he once met an Englishman who somewhat snottily introduced himself as "the Marquess of [Wherever]." Maziar shook his hand and said, "Maziar Raein. I don't use my titles abroad."
80. Maziar broke up with me just before we went in to watch Mission Impossible II. Then we had to watch Mission Impossible II. Afterwards, I tried to get him to come back to my flat and "talk" (one last sex). He said stuffily, "Let's just leave it at that."
81. I dropped out of high school at sixteen and got a GED.
82. I once found myself mentioning that I dropped out of high school when I was doing a campus visit for a teaching post at Dartmouth. It was like the dumbest thing anyone ever said at a campus visit since time began.
82 (cont.) Four reasons it was dumb:
a) insufferable humblebrag
b) weirdly passive-aggressive
c) also, what idiot believes Dartmouth professors don't look down on people who dropped out of school?
d) you didn't drop out of school because you're an ideal employee, you dingbat!
83. My first mother-in-law grew up in Germany during World War II. She believed throughout her childhood that all Americans were black. Due to Nazi propaganda on this point, at the end of the war she prayed her city would be taken by the Russians.
84. This mother-in-law who grew up under the Nazis later married a Jewish scholar of Judaica and converted to Judaism. She was a professional actress, a very gifted one, and for a while (so say her friends) she acted the part of a "Yiddische mama" so well it was spine-chilling.
85. After her husband died, she went into the fur trade. She would be on the phone saying things like, "We must get these weasel plates off the ground!" She would rant about how people got sentimental about teddy bears, but bears were ferocious creatures. Better as coats!
86. Many years before I knew her, I had a very cheap fur jacket, bought secondhand, made of a strange rough orangey fur no one could identify. I only wore it twice, then gave it up in guilt. I described this coat to my mother-in-law and she said unhesitatingly, "Dog."
86. (cont.) According to my mother-in-law, in the 70s, there were a lot of cheap Chinese-made fur coats made of dog, which was euphemistically called "Gai-wolf". It's possible she made this up; she was a great fabricator of tales.
87. Things my German mother-in-law loved to say:
- Crumbs!
- Fie!
- That will set the cat among the pigeons!
- It would make a cat laugh!
88. She took a dim view of men, and would harangue them tirelessly, inventively, about their shortcomings. Men (other than her son) for some reason did not mind this. My friend Clive visited her on various occasions to be harangued for his fondness for pre-Raphaelite art.
89. My first husband Amos had a psychotic break about six months after we broke up. He was thrilled; he'd always dreamed of being schizophrenic like his father. I said, "PLEASE try to get better. Think: you'll end up living with your mother." This briefly gave him pause.
90. For years after, the voices of Samuel Beckett & Cesar Vallejo, among others, spoke to Amos from his belly. In this period, he married again & had two daughters: a catastrophe. Everyone always loved him, but he had no moral sense. He never experienced the world as real.
91. Ultimately, Amos leapt from the balcony of his twelfth-story apartment. After this, I couldn't bear to see my former mother-in-law anymore. She would harangue me and I couldn't stop thinking, "This is what killed your son."
92. At Amos's funeral, I saw a lot of our old friends. I talked at length to our old friend Bridget about an BDSM club she often went to called Torture Garden. My friend Clive went there too; by all accounts a very loving place. It made the funeral a comforting memory.
93. My friend Clive used to go to Torture Garden with his friend Jane (name changed to protect identity). Neither of them were personally into BDSM, but Jane had two boyfriends in a row who were transvestites (apparently the TV and BDSM scenes overlap).
93. (cont.) Jane's first transvestite boyfriend was a neurologist. He once looked at Amos's x-rays. We were all at a Portuguese cafe in Notting Hill companionably looking at these x-rays of Amos's brain that was going to kill him…
93. (cont.) Then Jane met Alan (not his real name) at a BDSM club. Alan had recently divorced his wife because he'd realized he was gay. He'd also just started taking hormones to transition to being a woman…
93. (cont.) But then Alan fell madly in love in Jane. Jane was totally heterosexual, so Alan gave up on being a woman & stopped the hormones. They've now been together about ten years. Alan still wears women's clothes when they go out…
93. (cont.) This story isn't intended to convey any message about LGBT people in general. It's offered in a spirit of, "Hey, we're all just human & we don't make fucking sense." Or maybe, "Love: Is it trying to kill us?"
94. When I was 26, I met my birth parents for the first time.
95. It was my birth father who tracked me down: He'd been reading a golf magazine and saw an ad for a private detective and thought: "I wonder what happened to that daughter who was given up for adoption?"
96. At the time, my birth father was living in a castle in the Hollywood Hills which he later sold to Madonna. Like many such people, he considered himself "middle class".
97. Bugsy Siegel had also once lived in my father's castle. I think it had a ghost but I don't remember. The castle itself was more frightening to me than all the ghosts ever made.
98. My birth father and I are both literary novelists. My birth mother and I both have BAs in Russian. Of course this could all just be a crazy coincidence.
99. I can't say much about my birth father because the last time I tried to write about him, he threatened to sue me. Mainly as a result of that episode, my birth father stopped speaking to me after a relationship of 13 years. I miss him but I don't miss the drama.
100. Okay, that was a lie. I do miss the drama. But I also really *don't* miss the drama. I think anyone who's ever had drama and lost it will know what I mean.
101. Shortly after I first met my father, he left me in his castle alone overnight. I set off the security system somehow and the security people came, along with two cars from the LAPD. I had to run out barefoot to tell them the security code.
102. After the LAPD episode, I was too shaken up to stay alone in the castle, so I went out to see my old friend Yana, who'd recently moved to LA. She shared with me a bottle of whisky she had looted in the LA riots.
103. Yana had always had a premonition that she would die at the age of 26. She would talk about this with a faint smile, as if it were something poignant and ironic she'd just learned from a telegram. Now she has two teenaged sons. She's fine.
104. My father later moved to a different mansion in a gated community. His neighbor, Courtney Love, once broke in to his mansion when my father was on vacation & called him to say she loved what he'd done with the kitchen. He later sold that house to Angelina Jolie.
104. (cont.) My father said to Courtney Love, "Courtney, get the fuck out of my house."
105. My birth mother worked at NASA for 20 years as a crew trainer. She taught astronauts (and for a while cosmonauts) to do the experiments they do in space; mostly growing plants and hatching eggs in microgravity.
106. Among my mother's photographs, there is one of a backyard above-the-ground pool in California, and in the pool is her trans friend James (name changed to protect his identity) and a cosmonaut who is wearing an inflatable sea serpent.
107. Before 911, my mother used to bring me with her to work all the time. Once she brought me on a trip to Russia; I went to Star City. I visited the Russian space agency in Moscow. It was the Yeltsin era, and all the Russian rocket scientists were moonlighting as cab drivers.
108. At the Moscow space agency, my mother & I found a display of photos of space agency staff. We were giggling childishly at a photo of a man with comically protruding ears when the man came walking around a corner, wearing the same clothes as in the photo. We almost died.
109. There was a janitor at the Moscow space agency who had some kind of cognitive deficit. He asked everyone two questions: "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" & "Do you have any pets?" He asked the same questions over & over. The Russian rocket scientists answered patiently.
109. (cont.) The Russian rocket scientists also patiently translated these questions when the janitor asked them of the Americans and translated the answers. In case you were wondering just how nice these Russian scientists were.
109. (cont.) I asked the janitor if he had any pets, and he answered very happily that he had a cat named Pushunya ("Fluffy" in Russian). When I translated the name, the Americans laughed & the janitor beamed at the name's success.
110. For many years, my birth mother and I were like two teenagers who have fallen in love. When I visited, we talked all day and all night. She took me everywhere with her. We took stupid vacations together, where we did nothing but walk around blindly talking to each other.
111. As part of my Russian degree, I did a year abroad in Russia. When our student group was heading to the airport to go home, some Russian friends gave us a two-foot-long fish as a going-away present. I still can't decide if this was passive-aggressive.
112. At the time I did my year abroad in Russia, it was still the Soviet Union (under Gorbachev; 1989). We British students (I was at a British university) had to live in a hotel. Our rooms all had radios that could be turned way down but could not be turned off.
113. We were in Yaroslavl, which was a total backwater. One day, another student who wasn't even my friend went with me on a fruitless search through Yaroslavl for a wind-up mouse; we were bored as only 12-year-olds normally get. So was everyone else in Yaroslavl.
114. One of the other British students in Yaroslavl was a girl who, at home, was training to be a jockey. She managed to find a place to go riding, a nearby stable where the horses for Olympic equestrian events were trained. A dozen of us went out there. (cont.)
114. (cont.) The Olympic trainers were as bored as we were & let us ride the elite horses. One after another, the British students mounted the Olympic horses, and the horses instantly bucked us off. The trainers were in stitches.

Of course the future jockey rode just fine…
114. (cont.) She kept going back to the stable, and she & an Olympic trainer fell in love. The day we left Yaroslavl (with our fish) they had a heart-rending farewell at the airport. She sobbed uncontrollably in his arms. It was still hard to get visas in & out of Russia then.
114. (cont.) I watched this with a certain bitterness, because I was certain nothing that pure would ever happen to me.
115. At that airport (with the fish), I was pregnant with the child of a Russian mob guy who had vanished on me. I was devastated, but if I'd cried, it would have just been gross & squalid. This is one reason we never get a true idea of how much pain there is in the world.
116. I first went to London when my adopted father was attending a conference there called Military Microwaves. (He worked for a defense contractor.) He brought me along because I was moping at home. 18 years old.
116. (cont.) While my father was listening to people talk about military microwaves, I met an ice cream man in Hyde Park & snuck out with him for one night of passion. On returning to the US (depressing!) I unilaterally decided to move to London to be with the ice cream man.
116. (cont.) I had no money. I was planning to sell my worthless car to buy my plane ticket. Instead, my father bought the ticket to get me out of the house. The car ultimately sold for ten dollars. (This wasn't a car in the sense that you could use it as a car.)
107. So I moved to London to find this ice cream man, but never found the ice cream man. Then I stayed in London for 18 years. What would be funny is if I spent all those years tirelessly hunting for the ice cream man. Really I gave up immediately.
(Ugh, I got the number wrong on that one. 117 not 107. This was bound to happen eventually.)
118. The ice cream man's name was Peter Groome. I don't remember anything else about him except that his sexual prowess impressed me when I was 18. I've always doubted it would have continued to impress me over time, but that may be sour grapes.
119. When I saw the movie Breaking the Waves, I cried sentimentally through the entire second half of the movie, but only from my left eye.
120. When I did my year abroad in Russia, I shared a room with a Spanish woman named Carmen who was a madwoman & criminal element who talked continuously about people she resented and about needing drugs. She would keep me up all night with it…
120. (cont.) Years later, I ran into Carmen in London. She told me she'd just given up a job as a professional gambler; she'd been hired by a blackjack player & trained to win at blackjack in casinos. I didn't know what to make of this; I pretended to take it at face value…
120. (cont.) Two years later, I got that same gambling job, from a classified ad in the newspaper. My new boss remembered Carmen. He said, "Oh God, that woman was insane. I was terrified to fall sleep with her in the room. I lasted two days before I fired her."
121. When we were playing blackjack in Malaysia, one of the croupiers had the name tag "ALIAS". (I assume this is just a version of Elias. And yet.)
122. My blackjack boss had once had a gambling school in Malaysia. All the local gangsters went to it. One day we met in a bar with a gang boss who unselfconsciously drank the bar's signature cocktail, which came in a turtle-shaped cup with a straw coming out of its head.
123. One of the other blackjack players, Peter, was also a nature photographer. I once saw him crouch beside an enormous Malaysian beetle and stroke it on the back with his finger. He said to the beetle, "Hello there, little fella." Otherwise he was kind of an asshole.
124. My German mother-in-law & I once drove together from Vienna to London. I was smoking in the car and she started coughing. I said, "Are you sure you don't mind me smoking?" She said, "No! I like to cough!" and coughed to show how much she liked it. So I smoked all the way.
125. Once I was walking late at night in Berlin, and a man passing on a bike called something to me. I couldn't catch the German, so I said, "Wie?" He slowed down on his bike and repeated it. I said, "Wie?" He stopped altogether and said disgustedly in English, "Nice ass!"
126. In the same period, I once threw red paint on a billboard for the far-right German political party, AfD. I did it alone; I didn't know anyone in Berlin. Afterward, I was embarrassed and never told anyone about it. I was always shocked to see the red paint really there.
127. Berlin was where I first went running, in a park where there were never any other people but always many little rabbits. I had no running clothes; I ran in jeans. I would run & fantasize about moving to Siberia to live with the Tuvan people who have no word for war.
128. I was able to be in Berlin because my first husband had given me five thousand pounds after he sold his flat. I didn't try to get a job until the money ran out. Neither of us had a lick of sense.
129. A thing my birth father did with his money is to have the Ten Commandments inscribed in a ball made of a near-indestructible material and pay a geologist to find a place to bury it where it will emerge in 20 million years & roll down a mountain.
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