I am not alone.
Were I more hospitable, more congenial, more filled with Yuletide nog, I might say ‘G’day mate’. But it’s me here. I glare and narrow my eye.
“Be gone, foul wretch, from my window. I know your seasonal psychoanalytic trickery. Don’t you have a fireside festival of Santa scraps to attend somewhere?”
The evil minion gets the hint and legs it. He leaps off the fire escape with wild abandon—off to find his next sap of a patient. Pigeons. Always trying to analyze a body. Let me tell you, all that patronizing head-tilting and bobbing really gets on my nerves.
Don’t fret—I am still not alone. A pleasant gaggle of guests have squished their way into the Noodle box this Christmas day. Roll call.
First, there is the smell of a roasting bird in here, stinking up the joint pleasantly and keeping me company. My nostril hairs are sharing some sort of sporting camaraderie and are doing a wave, though I don’t think it’s Mexican in origin.
There is still the feel of cool, herbed butter getting friendly between my fingers while I type. This poor keyboard and its greasiness and innocence lost. I catch a glimpse of the future. I’m typing fast. Like the damn wind, Captain. Like my life depends on it. But so fast that my right index finger slips off the buttery goodness of the ‘T’ and slams into the screen of my laptop, crippling my finger and ending my career right then and there. And all because of this day, this Christmas day where I washed my hands before typing, but still a buttery residue remained.
Hey there. Out of the shadows steps Waiting. Waiting is my pal. Waiting will be here, right up until the eating hour, giving up its chair only for Overindulgence. But Overindulgence never wants to do anything but lie around on the couch and let its tummy bloat anyway. That’s fine with me. It’s a Christmas tradition. And, as the pigeon would have told me at the end of our session had he not legged it, I’m a sucker for tradition.
A warm, rolling sensation just announced itself under my skin. Bless red wine, right on down to its little tannin socks. Ah, hold the phone. Here’s Expectation, just come in to remind me that in about an hour or so, I’ll be wolfing down a corker of a dinner. And at that moment, I will pause and tilt my wine glass at the tele, and breathe through my cherry-tinged cheeks a heart-felt sweet nothing.
Ah, Christmas, you winsome stallion of a season. You terrible flirt, you. Just wink at me and I’m picking out china and naming our first born Cletus. Goodonya, Christmas. You rule the school.
Earlier that morning…
I woke up (something I’m always thankful for, just on the QT), sat up in bed and stared at the brick wall view out my window for a moment. And that’s when it hit me with vigor unexpected. Realization walked right up, took off a glove and slapped me sharply on the right cheek with it.
After the ringing in my ear died down and the tears stopped flowing, I worked out what that glove to the face really meant. Sometimes all it takes is a snap like that to a sleepy cheek to turn on a light bulb. Anyway, let me lay out the meaning for you, right here on this floor.
Examining the runes, we can see that this is what it means: Noodle, don’t you realize that you can lie in bed all day and read your Christmas present, kid? You don’t need to shower; you don’t need to do anything. You don’t need to get dressed. Absolutely nothing. This day is your possession. You own it. And you didn’t even have to bid for it on eBay. It’s your gift from Santa.
And at that, I sprang out of that bed like a cheetah. Why? To get a crack on the day so that I could jump back in the bed-ee-bye area with a clear conscience. I gave the Espresso pot a work order: extract the life outta that freshly ground Italian roast recently purchased from a wily caffeine purveyor.
Then I jigged about in my kitchen barefoot and in my jimmy-jams. Don’t know why. Felt like it. Oh, glee of Christmas morn. It’s ridiculous. Kid Noodle. Welcome to the show. You’re in the front row with an unobstructed view and tinsel dust on your eyelashes.
I put on some tunes, killed the coffee with my relentless charm and some soy milk, and then padded into the bedroom with cup in hand. Everything was supremely set up. I’d never been more prepared to do nothing.
And that, ladies and gents, is what I did all day. My definition of nothing. I read my book. I sipped my coffee. I read my book. I played with my new phone (Santa musta thought I was a good kid this year). I ignored the computer. I sipped my coffee. I didn’t check e-mail. I watched the idiot box. I didn’t get out of my pajamas. Heavenly.
This is the first Christmas ever where I’ve not been with another soul. That sounds pathetic. But for some reason, I think that it’s terribly indulgent. Terribly…cheeky of me. Naughty, Janeen. To not see anyone or do anything.
Excuse me. I must go check the goings-on in the oven.
Ok, I’m back. Now, do you think this is inappropriate? See, when I opened the oven door just then, the chicken put down its sherry and newspaper and flexed its browning haunches at me in a rather provocative manner. I couldn’t help myself—I ogled appreciatively. Spoke to it, I did.
“You dirty, naughty bird,” I said, with not a hint of shyness but more than a hint of silly voice. I think this comment was in some way influenced by my watching of the Peter Sellers story this afternoon. Though when I think about it, it’s more Stephen King’s ‘Misery’ than anything.
I don’t think the chicken meant anything by it. Was just trying to get me all hopped up for the meal, I think. Oh, the anticipation: I’m itchy with it.
Is there anything better than taste? Is there anything better than aroma? Is that why we are blessed with senses? To convince us of the fab things in life and through that, tie us more securely to it? One sense is better than none, but is five the rocket-fueled mother lode? And if you lose one, don’t worry, the remaining will get Super Sized.
Oh, crap. News flash. I interrupt this pondering to say ‘Hold the front page’ because I forgot to tell you something else. And this talk of the wonder of the senses reminded me of a walkabout downtown, and then I remembered why I was downtown in the first place, which made me remember that I landed a new job back in Manhattan and I forgot to tell you. I feel terribly neglectful. Oh, hang on. Yep, I’m over it.
Anyway, here’s the SMS version. Best practice, 160 characters or less.
New job. Lower Manhattan. Just off Wall Street. Not financial in nature. Still writing words—make people want things they don’t need. Good commute. Happy :)
Anyway, I remembered to tell you this now because I was pondering senses and I wanted to tell someone about this day I had a week or so ago. And you’re it.
You know those moments in life where you actually feel like you’re a small part of something bigger? And I don’t mean ‘the master plan’ or you’re some kind of crucial cog in a big important machine, or even part of some kind of jingoistic big bang doomsday cult theory of lumpy soup.
I mean that in some way you experience a brief moment in time where you can feel an actual physical connection to the earth. Like the minerals in your blood are calling out to the minerals in the soil and your body just sings right back. (Which is interesting in New York, because who knows how many layers of concrete and rat caves and mole people’s homes you have to dig through to actually reach the soil).
Well, on this day, I got that. For just a sneeze of a moment. It was a beautiful day. Cold but clear. During my lunch break, I went exploring around Wall Street and fell in love with the feel of New York all over again.
It was one of those days when the sky was so crisp and blue that when you looked up, the buildings snapped to attention and ran razor sharp against it. It was one of those days where you’d somehow rolled the dice just right and had managed to wear just the right number of layers against the cold of the day. The right number of layers to run a warm lap across your chest and make sure you were all toasty content. And the cold air balanced your toastiness by licking a crisp chill right across your cheeks and you just knew that they’d turned all rosy and picture postcard perfect.
I felt perfect that lunch break. Switched on. Connected. Alive. My skin squealed with it. Blood surged. I couldn’t help but smile my secret smile because sometimes I still can’t believe I’m here. It’s the kind of mood that you can get really caught up in. And I mean so caught up that you don’t even notice that you just walked right through the middle of an undercover police bust until you hear the snatch of handcuffs being applied to the guy standing right next to you. And then you wake up and you turn around and notice that a few guys are being loaded into an NYPD van. And you just walked right through the middle of it.
“And what did you see, Noodle?”
“Nothing, officer. Honest. Not a damn thing.”
It was weird.
I ended up at Battery Park by the water. Appraising the day. Looking over that long stretch of ocean and out toward that green tart of a lady, Liberty. I turned and looked back toward Manhattan, all staunch and glassy and squatting there like an overfed pigeon. It looked back at me and smiled a toothy grin.
As I headed back to the office, I was held up by a measuring tape drawn across the sidewalk by the NYPD. Boy, it sure was heavy with the filth that day. Anyway, they were measuring the distance between a hawker’s stall and the edge of the sidewalk to see if it was all on the up-and-up. All kosher and correct and straight and strictly by the book. I waited patiently, wearing my secret smile; for that is not illegal and they don’t haul you off to the clink for it unless you fit a certain profile. Which I don’t.
I’m No. 5 and I’m alive and there’s nothing gonna turn me off it. I eavesdropped as they retracted the tape and informed the vendor that he’d need to move his wares further back because his NY memorabilia was impeding foot traffic. I looked at his ‘I love NY’ socks. Who buys this shit? Seriously?
Anyway, the only reason that I’m mentioning this at all is that a little while ago, when I was sitting here typing this and thinking about senses, I lifted my head and breathed in the warmth of my apartment and had a chill of goodwill creep over me and I know it was that same feeling. And I’m starting to wonder if it actually means I’ve just settled like a coin. Flat and snug, with a sort of solid currency in my being.
It’s the day after Boxing Day and it snowed last night, though not convincingly. Only about an inch and a half. I walk up to my favorite café to work on the book after two lazy days of drifting. The snow crunches and crackles under my Blundstone boots. My damn chin complains about my neck hogging the scarf, and I have to act quickly to prevent the punch up. It’s sunny as all getup and icicles drip to the sidewalk with sunny willingness. Trash piles stand like monuments, glorious in their crystalline prettiness. Cold. But nice.
My shoulder blades hurt, thanks to “Elvis G, the Massaging Christmas Present”. He was a gift to everyone at work on Thursday. Boy, Elvis G sure went to town on me. He worked my back with tongs and cattle prods and rubber mallets. Well, that’s what it felt like.
I’m just hoping those kinks he worked out weren’t some of my best ideas, all knotted up in my back and waiting to explode into the air when I needed them most. I swear, at one point the point of his elbow reached the point of no return and came out rather pointedly from the front of my chest. But still not a peep from me. Not a Noodle expletive, even though I usually give them freely. For nothing. Gratis. But you should never swear at a masseuse. It’s an unspoken rule.
I’m going to leave you here, on this snowy sidewalk. You’ve been punished enough. I’ve got stuff to do and I bet you do too. Breathe in. Breathe out. The new year is storming the castle gates, poised to flip the calendar page over so we can step back on the ride again. All fresh and full of promise. 2005. Wow. I’ve been in New York almost 2 years. Happy New Year, faithful readers. Be nice to each other. Now talk amongst yourselves.
Toodle Noo. Here endeth the missive
PS: I had a chicken leg for breakfast. Is that wrong?
©Janeen McCrae 2004