mama loves the broken things

photo courtesy of Biliana Rakocevic

When I was a girl we lived across from a parking lot. On the other side of the lot was a candy store, and just beyond that, the neighborhood pool.  The parking lot was where boys my age spent their days playing softball, stickball and handball. At night, the older boys came out leaning against the white painted brick of the candy store, smoking Marlboro reds and drinking Budweiser, waiting for the tough girls with stick straight hair and heavy eyeliner to come by. When they did,  the boys would feed them beers and talk them into skinny dipping in the pool after the rest of town had gone to bed.

I’d grow up wanting to be one of those tough girls, wanting straight hair, slim hips and a bad attitude. I’d grow up wanting to be the kind of girl wanted by boys in tight black jeans and Beatle boots, boys with Marlboros hanging from curled lips, boys who, when they finally got some money, would drive fast cars with metallic paint jobs.  I’d grow up wanting to be the girl who every mother tsk-tsked about, whose neighbors whispered “easy” and “trouble” when she walked by, and who all the boys wanted. It’s not as easy as you think, being easy; to be sexy, tough, a girl and still command respect. I’d spend years trying to walk that razor’s edge; it was like juggling chopped meat, bloody and messy.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I remember, I couldn’t have been more than 6 or 8 years old, sitting on the curb in front of our house, in my little cotton shorts watching the daytime boys play in that parking lot. I sat there, holding the yellow soft plastic cup from my bathroom, filled with cold water. I sat and watched, clutching the cup in one hand, my faded pink washcloth with the rose border in the other.

And I waited. Day after day after day.

I waited for one of them to fall, to slide into home on the asphalt, to come up with gravel, bits of  black top or glass embedded in a knee, jeans torn, elbow scraped. Waited for them to get into a fist fight, for a nose to be bloodied, or eye to be blacked.

I waited for blood and torn skin.

I waited for them to hurt themselves, or more accurately, I waited for them to be hurt.  Then, I could rush in with my cup of cool water and soft cloth and tend to their wounds. Then, they would see me. Appreciate me. Be eternally indebted to me for my kindness, my care, my tenderness. Because if they were hurt, and I tended to them, they could love me, would love me.

When they were whole, I was invisible, even to myself.

Fast forward forty years later.  I’m still drawn to the hurt ones, the broken things. I fight not to disappear in front of the whole, not to cripple the healthy.

An old boyfriend I’ve never quite gotten over is recovering in ICU following heart surgery. I bring homemade food, and fresh fruit. I offer my home as a half-way house after he’s released from the hospital.  I offer to drive his daughter home from college to visit him.  He’s happy to see me  and he introduces me to the current girlfriend. Who brings coffee and McDonalds apple pies, and keeps forgetting on which street the hospital is located.

A heard someone say once, that he made himself useful, needed, indispensable and called that love.   The habits you learn as a child are hard to break.  I believed that Useful equaled Lovable for a very long time. And I’m just now unlearning that lesson….

spooning mr. pants

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : spooning : mr pants Midnight. Spooning with Mr. Crazy Pants.  My back to the window where a gentle early fall breeze blows in. His body curled into me like a furry comma between my breasts, soft as a chinchilla; my chin resting comfortably on his head, pointy ears on either side of my jaw bone. He purrs. Quietly and constantly. It vibrates in my breastbone.


jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : spooning : mr pants close up1am. Still awake. Pants, still comfortably numb beneath my chin, breathes steadily. I try to tune into his rhythms. I toss. I turn. I toss again. Pants waits, and when he thinks I am done spinning in my bed, he walks across my shoulder, steps on my face and curls into my chest, again. We face the window.  And the lighted alarm clock. Which is set for 5am. I think briefly of the cocaine nights I would lay wired, trying to will myself to sleep. Curling around Mr. Crazy Pants, I’m grateful those are over and done.

2am. Actually, it’s kinda chilly.

2:15am. Maybe not. Maybe I should turn the fan on.

2:17am. No, chilly. Definitely freaking chilly. Pull up extra blanket.

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : spooning : mr crazy pants3am. Changed pillows. Tossed, turned. Tossed off extra blanket. Dragging Pants with me when I flip over to prevent him from stepping on my face as he repositions himself. Cause, really, ten pounds of cat standing on my face is NOT restful.


jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : spooning : the dowager queen3:27am. Yet another party heard from. The feral cat has joined the party, sitting heavily on the foot of the bed. Staring. With that annoyed expression. I feel her disapproval, even in the dark.  Cranky, but chicken, she will run and hide if my feets get too close. I pull myself very small, curled around Pants, so as not to disturb the Dowager Queen. One hour and 33 minutes. That should be enough, assuming I can fall asleep. Now.  Or Now.  Or Now….Soon.


4am. Awake.
Still awake

4 fucking 30 in the morning. Mr. Crazy Pants, tired of this nocturnal tumult, has decided to be the outside of this nights spooning couple. Draped over my head on the pillow, front feets dangle in my face, back paws stretch along my neck, I wear him like a party hat. Or a faux-hawk. Or a kitty-hawk.

4:45am. Pants isn’t moving, he’s over it. Stick a fork in him, he’s done. I turn. He stays. And my face is buried in his belly. He purrs on, sleeps undisturbed. One eye open, I watch the lighted clock. 4:46. 14 minutes left to sleep.

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : spooning : moonbeam clock small4:50am. The clock starts to pulse with light – a gentle way of waking. The back of one eyelid throbs red with the pulsating light. The other is buried in belly fur. Along with my nose. Which is stuffed, because, despite living with cats my entire life and living with denial slightly longer than that, I am, Allergic. To. Cats.




jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : spooning : moonbeam clock med5am. Snooze. Flip. Cuddle. Just fifteen more minutes. If I could get just fifteen minutes of sleep I would be okay. The Dowager Queen is back. She stares daggers at me from the foot of the bed and then leaves. I feel her judgment. It is, after all, time for her breakfast, and I am obviously a lazy slacker. I will be punished.

5:15am. Snooze. If she is the Queen, Pants is the court jester. And the court jester is awake. The morning ritual begins. He digs under my head with his own triangular fur-covered bone head. Pushing my head off the pillow, burrowing underneath me, demanding a lap, a hand, a canoodle, to be cuddled, petted, played with, fed.

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : spooning : moonbeam clock lg



5:30am. I give up. Resistance is futile. And so, our day begins. No sleep for the sleepy.





jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : spooning : pants relaxed8:39am. Exhausted from a morning of burrowing, eating and a long night of sleeping, Pants lays next to me, asleep, peacefully. The Dowager Queen has gone back into hiding, sleeping inside the box spring of my bed.

Were that I were a cat, and could drop wherever I find myself, simply stop, drop and sleep.

god’s graffiti

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : gods graffiti : BQE traffic
Saturday morning on the BQE. 8am. 9am. 10am.~jshd2010

Sometimes, when I’m stuck in a never ending line of traffic.
When even though I’m pointed in the right direction, nothing seems to be moving,
— or at least not fast enough.
When the heat gets turned up just a little too high.
When it seems like I’m never going to get where I’m going.
When I start thinking about ditching it all.

I just need to look around.
XXXXXSee where I’m really at
XXXXXXXXXXRead the writing on the wall
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXAnd simply follow directions.

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : gods graffiti : BQE billboard
the burning bush ~jshd2010

funny, you don’t look jewess

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : jewess : trucker cap

I keep getting confused between Rachel Shukert and Jillian Lauren.

Both of them have hot books out now.

Both books employ colons : in their titles.

Both of them are pretty. Really pretty. Really pretty rock n’ roll girls who are now happily married hot moms. With hit books.

Both are dark-haired Jewesses who wrote memoirs about going overseas and having sex with foreigners.

I’m reading Shukert‘s book, Everything is Going Great : An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour. I heard all about her hilarious Amsterdammed sexcapades while I was there recently, having my own less-than-hilarious depresscapades. Then, I heard her read an excerpt at a recent Literary Death Match . Which, by the way, I helped her win, even though I’d actually gone to support another writer. (Apologies to Melissa Petro . I can’t help it, I’m really competitive and the team assignments were random. You were Wonderful. But, not Jewish. Or brunette. So, more about you some other time). The New York Times loves Shukert.

I have Jillian Lauren’s book, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, on the top of the pile called “Next”. I saw her read at a Sex Worker Literati event this past May. Wait, that’s a lie. I left before she read, but that is where I bought the book. And this morning I listened to a Rumpus Radio podcast interview with her where Stephen Elliott spends the first five or ten minutes talking about how smoking hot she is. She hadn’t even gotten to the studio yet. She is, apparently, so hot that her hotness precedes her like an entourage, announcing her imminent arrival. Impressive. And apparently a little intimidating to the ladies of the View.

By the time I got home today my brain had mashed up Rachel Shukert and Jillian Lauren to one over-the-top gorgeous, literary, funny, sexy Jewess.

Rather than figure out which I was reading and which I was about to read, which one was funny & hot and which one was hot & funny, I took the easy way out. I Netflixed Yentl. One more Jewess, yes, but after all, it is almost Rosh Hashanah. And I never confuse Streisand with anyone else. Well, almost never.

the bridal bouqet

It was a lovely wedding in a neighborhood church that welcomes all possibilities of love.

I’m not usually a big fan of weddings or anniversary parties or christenings or anything that reeks of well adjusted people having picture book walk happily ever after in the sunset family lives. But, the gospel choir sang “Kisses Sweeter than Wine”  and I cried, or rather, my eyes leaked.

They were two people, utterly in love.

I want to believe; in a small dark corner inside me lives the hope that true love is more than an illusion.  But it’s a struggle to believe my eyes and not the little voices in my head.

I think love is sex and wet your pants with laughter silly and comfortable silences and wanting to protect the other person and wanting to do that over and over and over again.

I’ve never had that, but I’ve seen it.
I’ve never been to the moon either, but I’ve seen that too.

Time came to toss the bouquet, I excused myself and went to get a cup of tea. I didn’t want to catch it or be pushed into the crowd of singletons. I don’t want to be in love, I say, it hurts too much. I’m afraid to be in love is the truth.

There was no tea to be had and when I get back to my seat, the bouquet is sitting on the table. It had landed on my empty chair.

I’ve been in love, twice. Once with someone who loved me back. And I believe, even if I excuse myself to get tea rather than risk staying and saying I want to be loved again, the universe will find a way to get it to me. If I live in a church that believes in all possibilities of love, Love will land on my empty chair and wait patiently for me to come back. I believe this because even though I’ve never touched the man the moon, I know he’s out there.