Cold Brew

I made cold brew two weeks ago in a container I used to store dog treats. I discovered the metal top doesn’t have a solid seal with the glass bottom. It makes sense now.

I prepared it on the counter in the kitchen, following the instructions; placing an individual bag into a container and adding two cups of water to then let sit for at least 24 hours. You can later add equal parts water or milk when you want to drink it.

I picked the container up, along with a bag of baby carrots, a carton of cage-free eggs and bag of spinach— balancing the cold brew on top of the groceries, pressed against my chest, making my way to the refrigerator in the hallway. At first I thought it was annoying and strange to have the refrigerator in the hallway, nestled into a cutout in the wall underneath the staircase to the upstairs apartment, but now I appreciate the obscurity in spite of the inconvenience.

I started to put everything in the fridge, balancing all of it against my chest with my right arm, opening the door with my left. Everything was dripping with the coffee concentrate. My dress— I was wearing the dress that some unknown girl left at the restaurant and never came back to claim. I imagined I was confronted on the street wearing the dress, convincing myself of a backstory, just in case. “I had purchased it at a second-hand store on 6th or 7th street, Crossroads— Oh, I always find the greatest deals there!”

The dress is white, navy blue and beige stripes with pockets that have zippers— the best feature. I love it, too, because I don’t feel like I need to wear a bra with it.

The dress was soaked. Well, at least the right breast. The stain came out with water immediately. I don’t know if it could be considered a stain if it never had the chance to set.

I half-assed cleaned up the fridge. I was more concerned with the dress. The floor was also wet. I sopped it up with c-folds I had taken from the restaurant.

I realized just today that I hadn’t drank any of the cold brew because I moved the container it had brewed in while getting half-and-half for the hot coffee I had just made and saw the ring of coffee below it. I still haven’t cleaned it. I took the creamer out, leaving the spill alone.

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2/18/17

Three years ago I sat at his bedside and watched him dying.

waiting for him to die.

waiting for his suffering to end.

Death’s rattle, that’s what they called it—  my older family members who had watched and waited for others to die.

I had never heard the phrase before, at least not that I can recall. But now I know the sound.

It’s inside of me now.

I prayed with my family, all of us gathered around his frail body.

I prayed not for me, not because I “believe” — but because he did. Maybe they did, too. I don’t care. It was for him.

Flashes of the funeral, the smells and sounds, the ritual

scrambled in my memory

It’s the feeling, the sensation, that stays. Details aren’t important.

 

He asked her if I was happy.

I think she told him I was.

It was his one wish for me. I’ve known that my entire life.

I’m selfish. I wanted his life for me— more than for him. I feel guilty for that, too.

I feel guilty that I couldn’t be and do more for her. Or that I didn’t.

The sadness had enraptured us both. And I held onto mine, alone.

At the time I thought I was doing that for her— that it was all I could do— to just not share it.

I still smell him. I still hear his voice— “mija” 

and I cradle it in my heart, in my head.

I see his hands— that I know have worked so hard, have scars, but are gentle and soft.

He wasn’t perfect, that’s not the point.

He was my warmth. My father. My protector. My support. My example.

Selfless even if he was wrong— it was the intention, the love, that we were left with. And it was all encompassing.

He was easier on us, I know it was harder to be his children. We got the best hand, my brother and I.

It is true. Time does help. The tears don’t flow daily. And I can sleep some nights.

But the emptiness, the void, still fills me.

It’s like a chunk of flesh has been ripped from my body. And yes, I can continue. My body functions as it needs to, as it’s designed to and utilizing its miraculous healing abilities— red and white bloods cells, regenerating growth to create a new layer of skin over the gaping wound.

And yet, it’s forever there. Not the focus but the reminder, the memory, of the former whole.

 

Toenails

I tear my toenails.

I tear them too short.

They hurt. The skin around the nail bed is ragged, raw pink flesh and white where dried out.

I never use clippers.

There is a creepy satisfaction to tearing them, and getting it just right— but that’s rare. I always tear too much, too low, ripping the skin sometimes. And they bleed. The meat around the nail inflames, swelling from the irritation.

It hurts to put on shoes. Socks are fine, usually. Sometimes there is a tiny bit of nail that snags the fabric, and I know if I try and pull it free, I will bleed. It will be too short. Too much nail removed. The most loose fitting shoe still rubs and aggravates.

This is an old song.

I know the chorus by heart.

I keep singing even though I know it’s going to hurt. And I’m going to bleed.

 

 

The Zoologist

“Are all of those yours?”

“Some of them.”

“I like dogs. What kind is that one?”

“Italian Greyhound.”

“Little guy.”

“Yeah. That’s as big as he’ll get. He’s not mine.”

“I, I have a pet duck. Best pet ever. A duck. Very clean. Very smart.”

“Wow. Do you have a pond?”

“Oh yeah, but he’s an indoor duck. He’s very clean. His little area in the house is very neat. He does his business there, but if he wants to go outside, he quacks, ‘Quack, quack’ and let’s me know he wants to go out. He has a spot he goes in. He’s very smart.”

“Have you had him since he was young? You trained him? Does he come when you call him?”

“Oh yeah. And he drinks beer. He loves Heineken. For treats, I open up a can of corn. He loves it, too. You should give your dogs beer. Dogs love beer, too. Do you give your dogs beer?”

“No. Just regular food.”

“You should give him beer. Not liquor though. My duck doesn’t like it. He tasted it and blah! ‘Quack’ and spit it out. He’s the best pet. He walks around the house, waddles down the stairs and if he falls, HA! he hits his beak! Heheheh. I love all types of animals. I’ve had all types of pets. Every animal. The worse pet I had was an iguana.”

“Why was the iguana the worst?”

“Ha! ‘Cuz he would beat everyone up!”

“How?”

“With his tail!”

“How big was he?”

The bald man in the plain white T-shirt with blue jeans and a belt, standing about 5’8″, gestures to his chest.  “This tall! But the funniest pet I ever had,” he pauses, rocking back and forth, “was a bobcat. Ha! THE funniest!”

“Where do you live?! An iguana, a duck, a bobcat?”

“Ah, I have a place upstate, here in Greenpoint and I had one on Long Island. Sold it though. They wouldn’t let me have my other pet.”

“Which is?”

“A porcupine.”

“What? Are you a zoologist?”

“Ha. No, I’m an electrician. I just love animals. They’re better than people.”

 

 

Walking Dogs in the Rain Sucks

 

 

Walking dogs in the rain sucks.

No one wants to be out there. It’s fucking cold and dismal and we all end up unsexy wet.

It’s not that pretty mystical, fantasy rain of Tom Cruise’s “Legend” — searching for unicorns in the magic forest. No. It’s cold and grey and gross. Wind whipping in unpredictable patterns. Streams and dumps. Sheets and bullets. Cold ass rain. Wet everywhere.

We have to go out. They need to poop and pee. They are too proud and territorial (thankfully) to do it at home.

Balancing two dogs and the umbrella I took from the restaurant’s lost and found. Damn wind keeps changing— left to right, up to down, down to up — flipping the cheap thing inside out and I keep confusing the retraction/expansion button and crumpling it. Fucking thin cellophane-like poop bags stick to my clammy frozen fingers. I have been doing this for so damn long, how is it possible that I keep confusing which side is the seam and which is the opening, and with everything drenched, the little trick of licking a finger and rubbing the plastic to separate the vacuum pressed fold, is futile.

Again, I’m a grown-ass woman. Why did I not put on my rain-boots but instead opt to wear my beloved Fryes that I have been neglecting to weatherproof and wax?

My outfit doesn’t matter. The fronts of my legs are soaking. My calves are covered in the gross splash-back of old piss, shit and barf from the streets, disguised as simple murky puddles of freshly fallen rain.

The puppies, you would think as an evolutionary mutation- like a duck, would have fur that wicks away the water. They don’t. Rain functions in a totally penetrating wetness, with all the city splooge, splashing back a little extra love into their fur.