jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


It's 6.22am and the phone is ringing. That's all you need to hear, right? Then it's like the horror movie when everyone yells "Don't go in the basement!"

But I have been awake since 5am, rolling and wrestling with the sheets, since the first call to prayer from the mosque around the corner, since the first lightening of dawn. And the night before I came home to an electrical problem from tenant #1 and a plumbing problem from tenant #4, and the bleating phone could hold more urgent situations. So even though the caller has set up to have their phone number unidentifiable, I pick it up.

It is a man's voice, and one I do not recognize. He says four words and I hang up. Those words were not meant for me. They do not mean what they purport to mean. In this situation, this is nothing I want to hear, in another situation, it could be everything I want to hear. I sit on the edge of the bed, the phone hanging from my hand, his words, the emotional charge not yet dissipated, still stuck to the damp morning air.

I love you, baby.


Blogger cherrydragonut said...

Hi Jolie!
"Those words were not meant for me." I think most of my friends and associates are in sync with my symantics, with where the lines are drawn, with the yellow and red and green lights of words and non words. But then there are those who have different words for the same meanings. In a more impersonal sense-a job function can be the same despite many different titles but some people will not even consider doing the work, adapting to the role, taking it on, becoming it unless the title is aligned somehow with one's personal semantics and comfort zone. ie companion, girlfriend, fiancee, lover, friend, former girlfriend can all imply the same behavior and the same relationship, but using the wrong label can send a person into a tizzy because girlfriend to one may be exactly the same relationship as friend is to another. I love you to my lover is different than to my grandmother or to my dog. I love you for some people implies commitment and obligation, exclusivity and permanance and can be a strangling and high pressured, suffocating thought that might even obliterate an otherwise worthwhile interaction. Hearing I love you from someone I worship is so thrilling, from a friend it doesn't have nearly the same emotional charge. It's all relative.
"Fighting evil is a very noble activity when it must be done. But
it is not our mission in life. Our job is to bring in more light." -T. Freeman

Pentimento A Book of Portraits
"Old paint on canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman's dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea. That is called pentimento, because the painter 'repented,' changed his mind. Perhaps it would be as well to say that the old conception, replaced by a later choice, is a way of seeing and then seeing again. That is all I mean about the people in this book. The paint has aged now and I wanted to see what was there for me once, what is there for me now." - Lillian Hellman

It's hard for me to accept that the same roleplay in my relationships may be given totally different names. And using the "wrong" words can activate a circuit board of pain, just like the right ones can be okay. It's even harder to recognize that a person didn't change but that I am just seeing a side of him that I'd rather not know about because knowing about it might force me to modify our time together or change the way I relate to him. Sometimes it's just semantics and other times it's disregard for another's personal boundaries but regardless communicating how I feel about one's words may help. It's emotional and hard to discuss. Might be best just to let disagreements go but sometimes the distance makes it fester. Do I ask for what I want? Tell him how certain words make me happy or make me want to run for mylife? Is he willing to leave out certain anedotes and forms of expression and comply to my needs? Or does he speak his language and I speak mine and tolerate the discomfort and anger that might go with it?
I am furious with a friend for telling another friend how to relate to me. But if my friend listens to this idiot, really he he totally to blame? He needs to ask me what I need from him and not this other person who doesn't even know me all that well.

10:38 AM  
Blogger cherrydragonut said...

Is this guy the same one that called you at 3 in the morning?
(sorry for the long post and the Lillian Hellman quote. It's one of my favorites but I think I shared it with you once before.)

10:48 AM  
Blogger cherrydragonut said...

Stalker? Sometimes calling in the afternoon and extending an invitation for coffee can feel more appropriate than an I love you baby at 6:30 in the morning.

Here he may think he's wooing but you are thinking he's some kind of a nut. Been on both ends of this coin. It ain't pretty.

11:21 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

Cherry, I think this was a totally random about-to-be-obscene phone call. Two wildly inappropriate calls in one week is making me a bit paranoid, though, skittishly eyeing my phones for malevolence.

It is exactly true that some words plug right in to your circuit board. The intimacy of the words I love you, spoken quietly, right into my ear, in a muzzy grey dawn, was shocking. But the real twister was the endearment, as I have allowed very few to call me baby, from very few has it ever sounded like sweetness and not oppression or dismissal. And so I sat, somewhat slack jawed, until the noise washed away.

11:41 AM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

I'd much rather answer the phone to that than "May I talk to you about consolidating your loans?"

But weird-o.

6:34 PM  
Blogger cherrydragonut said...

Boy Ttractor, can you write! I say, can that girl write! You know Slackaphonic, I finally cleared up a tax problem I had with NYS. THEY do not mess around and can be brutal. Amazing how I can avoid them but will take the bait and react emotionally in other facets of my life. It's hard to know what to avoid when the feelings are that powerful and how to react in spite of them so that you come out ahead.

You know when I used to produce television on public access, and take live calls some of them every once in a while would be obcene or a prank like a twelve year old or bunch of teenagers goofing off. Most of the time it felt harmless, but I'll tell you in hindsite it felt and still feels weird, even scarey knowing that people know me from the show and recognize me and I am completely blind as to who they are. It's totally one sided when you face a camera. You have no idea who you are talking too and I took a chance doing it live because really anyone could have easily followed me back if that was their initentions. But my gut, my "higher power" if you will led me to trully believe that my safety was in tact the whole time...just like I feel it is okay to ride the subways at night while the garbage trains are pulling into the stations, or when I ride alone in that horrible elevator on Court Street to get to or from the N or R lines. My mother would say I am taking my life in my hands. Honestly, it might be more dangerous for me to drive....(since I don't have a license!!!!) New York Saftey is so different from feeling safe in the Suburbs or in the woods. I feel vunerable in nature sometimes or in a den with a single latched glass door more than I do on the streets. I know people who say that they "hook up" on the internet. Now that seems real scarey to me but I also know two people who married people they met online or through ads. Ah the times. Glad for the outlet. Have a beautiful day. It's late August and the college kids are back in town.

10:44 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

Cherry, methinks you have enough words in you to start your own site!

4:05 PM  

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