Laugh instead of cry

Four things let us ever keep in mind: God hears prayer, God heeds prayer, God answers prayer, and God delivers by prayer. – Edward McKendree Bounds

Sœur Odélie-Ursule-Ida-Émonde de l’Incarnation (1919 – 2020) (29 Septembre 2020)

A relatively large, sunny, quiet, one-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment with beautiful hardwood floors situated only a few blocks from Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park? It’s a cruddy dump, but of course you take it.

“But why?” Jerry asks.

It’s not the worst question he could ask. The three-month lease you signed for the room with private bath in that Brownstone on Bergen and Fifth is still good for six more weeks. You won’t be able to break this lease; do you really want to be paying two New York City rents for a month?

You don’t, obviously; nobody loves to throw money out the window. But you don’t care. Jerry hasn’t used the word divorce yet, but he never used the word girlfriend to describe that pout-for-the-selfie twenty-something he was seeing in the months leading up to and following your separation, either. It’s mid-November. Are you supposed to just wait around for Jerry to figure out that what he really meant by I think we should separate was I want a divorce before starting to look for more permanent housing? Fuck that. This apartment on Adelphi Street is too perfect to pass up. You’ll pay the two rents.

The landlord gives you the keys a week before the first of the month. You do the deep-clean. You paint the walls a feathery gray, the baseboards and windowsills and frames a clean white. You tackle these tasks the way you tackle every task: with the single-minded determination of a mad woman. No wonder you don’t notice Sœur Odélie-Ursule-Ida-Émonde de l’Incarnation sitting on the frame of the window on the far wall of the living room. No wonder you paint right over her. I suppose anybody might have. To notice her, you would have had to be sitting as equally still and quiet as she, something you have never been practiced at doing1.

Painted-over improperly sanded wood formation for Sœur Odélie-Ursule-Ida-Émonde de l’Incarnation (1919 – 2020)

To the room in the Brownstone on Bergen and Fifth you had taken your clothes, toiletries, and bedding, but also the books on mindfulness that Jerry had pulled from his library and suggested you read as well as the little cushion he’d picked up for you a hundred years before.

You’d read the books. You’d sat on the cushion. You’d tried emptying your mind, but it had filled instead with brutal criticisms and harsh judgments. Besides being a vapid and superficial bitch who complains all the time, you are also a stubborn mule, a pretentious snob, an insensitive jerk, a self-centered cow, a big fat loser, and a total waste of space, not to mention a terrible friend, a horrible daughter, a shitty sister, and a dreadful colleague. Furthermore, you are a frivolous phony and a pants-on-fire liar.

Un cactus pour votre anus ? I (17 April 2021)

There’s no room in your heart for vengeful thoughts or name-calling or anger when you think about Jerry, you say? Anger just causes wrinkles, you say? What a load of shit! You are plenty angry! You specialize in it! You are also plenty prone to vengeful thoughts and name-calling! You would love to see Jerry get run over by a dump truck, for example, or put through a woodchipper, or have his balls cut off with a rusty nail file. And he would deserve all of it for the simple reason that he is a rat bastard, and a fucking asshole.

Un cactus pour votre anus ? II (23 April 2021)

But I digress. We are here to talk about the snow goose, about Sœur Odélie-Ursule-Ida-Émonde de l’Incarnation, not about Jerry, whose suggestion that you sit on a cushion and engage in the act of meditation per the guiding principles spelled out in the books on mindfulness he handed you makes me wonder if the guy isn’t a bit of a moron. What is up with you smart people being so dumb? Seriously! You, sit on a cushion and empty your mind? How many times has he tried to get you to do this, and how many times have you failed for the simple reason that this is not how your heart and your head are wired? I have lost count!

Un cactus pour votre anus ? III (23 April 2021)

Frankly, if you don’t succeed at the endeavor this go around, it will be for the reason just now mentioned, but also this: you are dishonest in your intentions, self-centered in your motivation. Bitch, please: you don’t give two shits about growing in mindfulness! You care only about showing Jerry that you are not the vapid, superficial wench he says you are; you wish only to use this practice as a means to an end: if you can exact the kinds of changes Jerry would like to see in you, then he will take you back, he will want to start over fresh and new. That is why he gave you those books in the first place, right?

Poor child. Again, I ask: what is up with you smart people being so dumb?

Un cactus pour votre anus ? IV (23 April 2021)

Make no mistake: I agree with Jerry that you need to sit your ass down, just not on a cushion, and not with your eyes closed either. I also agree with Jerry that you need to meditate, just not in the eastern sense of the word, but rather in the western Judeo-Christian sense.

To see the snow goose, to be comforted by the clarity and focus of her soft gaze, eased by her peaceful countenance, inspired by and made hopeful by her beauty, a beauty that promises the end of even the bleakest winters, you must sit on the windowsill, eyes open. To understand what she has to say to you about God’s love, you must fill your mind with His word, you must enter into thoughtful conversation with the scripture. In other words, my dear, you must learn to pray.

Months from now, when your toenails are being ripped off one by one with a dirty pair of pliers by a rabid, tick-infested monkey whose saw-toothed rat friends are crawling all over you, which is to say, sitting through a department meeting on Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. No sooner will you beg God to save you than he will come running.

Or flying.

Wood grain patterns for the four pieces in the series Un cactus pour votre anus ?

“Look to your right, on the floor!” He’ll holler into his walkie talkie from Chopper Force One hovering just outside your window, “Them bitches on the floor!”

And inside, you will laugh instead of cry.

Author’s note: This piece is the unification and reworking of two previous blog entries: A time for everything (7 May 2023) and Best kind of friend (3 September 2023).

  1. Never? Not true! See Start by listening. ↩︎

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