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Posts Tagged ‘Performance’

When I was a girl we were allowed to sit at the foot of Mama Heaton’s bed while she watched her ‘stories’ under one condition: that we covered our eyes when people kissed. It strikes me as funny now, all that we did see: sister betraying sister, father betraying self, mother betraying ex-boyfriend-turned-surprise-son-turned-bigger-surprise!-used-to-be-daughter; but the moment someone leaned in, the moment they got close enough to smell the pear-breath of another, the moment they tipped their heads, well, that was the moment when we were supposed to clamp our hand tight over our eyes and not let a single drop of love get in.

Sure, we peeked. I mean, how could we not? But the good thing is: no matter how much we might have peeked, there wasn’t a heckuva lot we could have seen.

TV has never scared me. Barring Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” and that guy who ran naked across the stage at the Oscars a hundred years ago, there’s not a lot that can happen on the small screen. Cliff Huxtable, Archie Bunker and Charles Ingalls all kept their clothes on for the duration of my childhood, and I can imagine–if you don’t let your child watch VH1–you can feel pretty safe about what’s going to come up on the screen.

The internet, though, now that’s a whole nother story. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel I’m always a click or two away from seeing waaaaaaaaaay too much of something I don’t want to see. That’s why today when I saw the “YouTube Inundated With Porn” headline, I nodded my head wildly. I thought the “powers that be”–whoever they are–had finally realized what’s going on on the ole interweb.

Apparently, however, it’s something else entirely. Early Thursday, online community group 4Chan which describes itself as being the “home of the sickest, strangest and most horrifying stuff on the internet” uploaded hundreds of videos that began with footage appropriate to children before segwaying into graphic sex acts. The attack, the group says, was coordinated to prove that not even powerhouse Google can control its content.

Maybe I’m old fashioned–still sitting at the foot of the bed waiting for the dirty parts–but I wasn’t in the least bit surprised. A cyber-attack, they called it, but all I was thinking was, doesn’t this happen every day? I guess I’m wondering how much the average Joe trusts the cyberworld. Are you all as leery as I am? Do you sit with one hand on the mouse and the other hiding your eyes? Please tell. And, no matter what you do, don’t click: here.

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Yesterday at the gym, breathing in the thick sweaty breath of my fellow Brooklyn-ites, I watched the TV screen flash from one surgical mask to the next, each fastened tight beneath a pair of sad, worried eyes. At the bottom of the screen, in all caps: “IF YOU’RE HUMAN, YOU’RE AT RISK.”

I was reminded of a cough I developed when I was six. It raged through me, sent me in wilds fits that left my eyes watery and my throat sore. I remember it as being accompanied by chills, by an inability to eat, by nightmares and cold sweats and general malaise. I thought I was dying.

A few years later—after going through rounds of medication—I mentioned it to my mother. We were driving, I’m sure, to some new place, and Remember when I had the whooping cough, I asked. What? She said. You know, that cough, when I was in first grade. She took a swig of her Diet Coke and laughed. That was psychosomatic, she said. Psycho-what?

In your mind, she said. We think you were just trying to get attention. But the pills? I asked. Fake, she told me, they’re called placebo. I stared out the window long and hard. Had I really not been dying? Had I really not narrowly escaped Ole Man Reaper?

Because of this, I never really believe I’m sick. A couple of weeks ago, when Eva and I were laid up in the house, and I was sucking down chicken soup and reading US Weekly, I kept thinking, I hope no one finds out we’re faking it. Yes, we were coughing and going through tissues like mad and we didn’t really have voices and we were curled up like two shrimp in the bed, but deep down inside, I wondered if it was really all just in my mind.

And now this…Pigs flying…151 dead in Mexico from the Swine Flu…if you’re human, you’re at risk. None of this is accompanied with a reminder that 35,000 people die each year from the HUMAN flu. I’m just wondering if it’s all in our minds a little. What do you think: is America suffering from the same cough I had as a girl? Or should I stop getting on so many airplanes and invest in a mask or two?

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Just back from a deliciously “molto bene” week in Italy (“We make pizza of evening!”) and now I’m off to the University of Pittsburgh. Haven’t been back since I graduated, Spring 2000, but my first poetry teacher, Jeff Oaks, completely hooked me up and holy moly assigned my book to his Intro to Poetry class. Tomorrow’s my day to come in, do the Q&A, roll around the How. Never done this before so I’m kinda buggin’ out, but if I rock 1/10th as hard as this kid I should be alright. (((Any advice?))) I’ll let you know how it went next week.

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