selective memories

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : selective memories : vogue model
I’ve fallen & I can’t get up

I have a bum leg. Actually, it’s a bum foot.

A motorcycle accident in  ’79 banged up my right side pretty good. 1979 was not a year of a lot of doctors or self care for the jodi. It got better, but now and then it still acts up. My foot swells, or I can’t feel it at all, or I stop being able to anticipate where the ground is going to be on that side when I walk.

It was a bad week, the week of that accident. My husband tried to kill me, I got fired, I was locked in a roadside motel by a pimp, there was a fire, my apartment was infested with roaches, overnight. All that happened the week of the motorcycle accident. Thirty years later, when it acts up, you’d expect me to think about the accident. Or even one of the crazy things that led to it.  (Click on any one of those links if you want the gory details). Thing is, I don’t. I never do.

I think of the boy who walked into my life three years later, and how every time my foot went wonky he’d take care of me. I’d sit in the comfortable chair and he’d sit on the floor with a bucket, turning my foot in the warm solution, massaging it, drying it off and wrapping it — same way he’d treated the horses he used to train. Gently. Patiently.

When my foot goes wonky today, I think of how he took care of me then. How he took care of me every time, but especially when I was hurt.

It’s a precious memory, that feeling of being taken care of. While I love the warm feeling that still gives me, I can’t help but wonder, if my brain could have just managed to remember the disasterous choices that preceded so many of my aches, breaks & pains (physical, emotional & spiritual), maybe I could have gotten by with less of them.

1982 : mardi gras redux

Originally posted March 16, 2010 on

“It’s two blocks, you could walk faster than…”
“I could. But I don’t hafta. I have cash, see? Cash? So, I don’t hafta walk. I don’t want to walk two blocks. I don’t want to walk one block. I’m paying you, so just drive….” I settle back into the seat making myself comfortable, two blocks or twenty, it’s all the same to me. “Sonofabitch,” I mumble under my breath. I’m a loud mumbler.

Piper and I have some version of this conversation every time we cab it from the Lollipop to Paul’s Mardi Gras. It’s a quick two blocks, well, two if we walk, which we don’t. We won’t. It’s six blocks when you drive.

I can walk. I’m not a cripple. But goddammit, why would I walk when I can be driven? I’m making all this fucking money, isn’t this exactly why? So I can do whatever I want, whenever I want and don’t have to take shit from anyone about it?

And Piper is simply not the kind of girl who walks, but rather she is escorted places. And, to be honest, the conversations with the cabbies are much nicer for everyone involved when I let her do the talking. That goes for almost all conversations involving men, and except for talking to Pipes and my mother, all my conversations are with men. And, if I’m going to continue being honest, I have to tell you I cannot remember the last time I spoke to my mother, certainly not since that night.

Piper is better at charming than I will ever be, especially these days. She is more about the batting of the eyes, where I come across more like a bat upside the head. I’ve tried it her way, but it’s like putting a party dress on a monkey. The monkey looks pretty, sure, but you’re not actually going to take the monkey home to meet the family.

The new Mardi Gras, Paul’s Mardi Gras, is to the Lollipop what Vegas is to Tuesday night Bingo at the VFW hall.  It’s like drinking inside a Christmas decoration the size of a football field wih live djs sending music pounding out of speakers as tall as goalposts. Everywhere you look, cash registers, balloons, streamers, mirrors, men in suits, women in nothing or almost nothing. Photos of dancers and celebrities line the mirrored walls. New Year’s Eve streamers give a festive illusion of privacy to the tables and alcoves along the walls. An endless river of dancers, waitresses, floor girls and barmaids sardine-can themselves in and out of the two stall bathroom and call it a dressing room. It’s a really BIG Christmas decoration, with vodka. Endless bottles of vodka.

We’ve been coming here to relax and drink here for a couple of weeks, whenever we need a change of scenery from the little Lollipop with its eight barstools, rinky-tink flashing jukebox and ten foot ‘stage’.

I slide on to the first empty barstool and hustle drinks I’ll get no commission on.  I could pay for them myself, but why, when I can get a customer to pay $20 for my $2 vodka and help one of the barmaids make her bonus at the same time? The vodka’s the same no matter who pays or how much.  I don’t care about making money or spending money tonight. I’m here to drink, the music is good, and it’s not work.  These are my people.

The Lollipop has Myron’s crew of wiseguys, some middle management office drones and a few frat boys, but everyone comes to the Mardi Gras: cops, on duty and off, New York and New Jersey; wiseguys also on duty and off, also New York and New Jersey; street hustlers, doctors, pimps, loan sharks, bookies, lawyers, psychiatrists, couples, off duty dancers, nude models, live sex show performers from ShowWorld relaxing in-between their live sex shows, celebrities, newscasters relaxing in-between casting the news, and a dancing dwarf who claims to be the real money behind the bar and demands blowjobs from each of the new girls.

A month or a week from now when I find myself dancing on this very stage and he sidles up to me, his face level with and pressed up against my barely g-stringed crotch, I will threaten to drop kick him across the bar. Dwarves freak me out. Sue me, sorry, but they do.

And while there may or may not have been a Robbie at Robbie’s Mardi Gras, which has since disappeared, there is most definitely a Paul at Paul’s Mardi Gras.

There’s guinea money behind the bar; there’s guinea money behind all of the bars, but Paul’s name is on the liquor license. He sits with me while I drink. He escaped Auschwitz with his parents when he was a boy, but he doesn’t talk about it much. Instead, he tells me I’m a good Jewish girl. He complains about his kids to me, worries about them, they make him crazy. He says Teddy is hard-headed and angry, always getting into fights; Fern is unmanagable, she’s dating a schwartze for God’s sake, a schwartze!;  Elliot, the baby, Elliot is a good boy who helps him run the bar at night. Paul strokes my face, watching me with rheumy eyes, he tells me how I look just like his wife, Paula, when she was my age. At first, I think she must be dead. She’s not. She manages the day shift and hates me on sight. So although I find myself in need of a new job and it would be ever so nice to work days and sleep nights like a semi-normal person, I’ll get no help at all from the wife.

Wives are rarely, if ever, helpful to me.

Paul, however welcomes me. The Mardi Gras is a family business, he says. And I’ve always wanted a family.

1982 : Moviola

Originally posted March 11, 2010 on


I’ve been gone. I’m sorry. I’d tell you where I’ve been, if I knew.

I’d like nothing more than to know where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I’d like to pull my brain out through my ear, pop it in the VCR, sit on the couch with you, a vodka and a bowl of popcorn and see what happened; see the things my brain is busy blocking out. Or maybe it’s the vodka that blocks it all out. There is no way of knowing.

“The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.” The movie in my head that we’re watching has been edited by a monkey, but not that Shakespeare monkey. I have a shit-tossing, public masturbating, screaming howler monkey. He’s collected random outtakes found on a barroom floors across the city. Blasts of dialogue. Seconds of music. Bits of light. Sound and vision run sideways, backwards, not at all, skipping, skipping, skipping. Some things look familiar. A flash of a foot, cut to a hand holding a glass of vodka – it could be mine, there is no way of knowing. Jump to nothing, nothing, nothing, an unidentifiable horizon. Pan to darkness, nighttime, maybe the lights are just off. Maybe none of it’s real. Maybe all of it is. There is no way of knowing.

I never talked about the Big Man again, I know that. I never report him to the police.

Police don’t take care of people like us. We take care of us. Except when we don’t, and then you’re on your own.

I was on my own, I knew that, too.

Remember and know are different animals.

I know I was born. My mother remembers it.

Here’s what I know: You can’t see the bruises and burns for the welts my own body has created. From my collarbone to my pubic bone, and every inch of skin in between, I’m covered with hives. My face has cracked open. My cheeks, my scalp, my eyelids, even the tender skin under my eyes, dried and cracked like a desert floor.

Here’s what I know: Rape is trauma. If it happens to you, you should see a professional, you should see several. Police officer. Registered Nurse. Social worker. Trained counselor. Trusted clergy. Medical doctor. Lawyers. Therapist. Psychiatrist. Maybe a support group.

I consulted a dermatologist who said I’d developed an allergy to commercial soap. I never use soap on my face again. Ever.

Here’s what I remember: Being raped did not affect me at all.

Thirteen years and 100 men later I will finally take another man into the same bed I was raped in. Although I will not notice it at the time, he will be look exactly like the Big Man. It will take me weeks to make the connection, despite the fact that the next morning my body is covered in hives.

Two years after that I will write about that night for the very first time. And once again, my body will be covered with hives.

Twenty-nine years after the fact, just the thought of writing about that night will send me into a depression that will swallow Thanksgiving and everything in its sway until some time around St. Patrick’s Day.

But that’s the future, none of that has happened yet. Today, like a shark, I move forward because there is no other choice. I leave the Lollipop and think, I’m going to start over, make a fresh start, a new life. I’m fine, I just need a job. And a cocktail.

sex and violins, or “I’m not dropping my drawers for Babs”

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : sexandviolins : sexy music

In case you were wondering, I can be seduced by good music.

When the music is really good, you can just leave. Once you put the music on, your work is done. The music is enough. El Farol from Santana’s Superstition, for example. Take a moment to listen. Let it play while you read….

I hear that and I’m being made love to, slowly. Deliberately. Expertly.

The music you bring sets a mood, sure. But, it also tells me who you are, where you’ve been, where you want me to go. You choose something like Santana and I’ll overlook a lot of other things. The very essence of creating music is so sensual that when it’s beautiful, no matter what they look like, how they keep themselves, musicians are transformed by the music they make.

A dozen years or so ago, I was being seduced to Barbara Streisand. When I was a knock-around girl, the wiseguys spun the crooners: Frank, Dean, Tony. That music was campy, but those guys had a style, a certain appeal. But Streisand? For seduction? C’mon, I think Streisand, I think Yentl. Funny Girl. Babs looking like Juan Epstein in her annoying version of “A Star is Born.”

I do not think sexy. I do not think free. I do NOT think of your hands on me, making my body sing.

All I remember of that night is thinking “Streisand? Are you kidding me? I’m really gonna need a drink to get through this.” This was three or five years after I’d had my last drink.  I didn’t have the drink and maybe I can blame his crappy taste in music for distracting from, rather than enhancing, the experience; maybe he wasn’t a good lover ( I can’t swear we did or didn’t, but we probably wound up in bed despite Babs. “No” wasn’t a word I was particularly familiar with yet.); maybe I had no business being there and Streisand was the red flag I ignored (as I am wont to do with red flags).

I’m just saying, if, at the very least, you leave me with good musical memories I’ll have a reason to come back for more. And remember more than your bad musical taste.

The first time I heard Eminem was also the first time I heard the sound track to Heaven’s Gate.  Slim Shady was foreplay, it got my attention. That’s what foreplay is supposed to do. I remember every moment of the music. And every movement of the man. It didn’t work out for us, but I think of him and smile any time I hear a country waltz.

From the Night of Endless Streisands, I got nothing.

Music isn’t part of seduction. It is seduction. You should know that.
And, I will leave you for Van Morrison, Neil Young, Carlos Santana, Leonard Cohen. You might as well know that, up front, as well.

Thanks to Anna Pulley, whose tweet inspired this post.


taking pictures of god

There’s a Sufi poet, Hafiz (the best translations are the ones by Daniel Ladinsky).  Hafiz writes love poems to God. This is one of my favorites.

Every child has known God

Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does Anything weird,
But the God who knows only four words.
And keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come Dance with Me , come dance.”

Everyone wonders what God looks like. People want to have some concrete vision of their higher power, some small box to put God in, some physical container or body. Museums are filled with paintings and sculptures of Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Egyptian, Greek, Roman gods.

I think if you want to know what God looks like, you just have to open your eyes a little bit. your heart a little bit. your ears a little bit. and then, get out of your own way and listen…

with your heart.

I took this picture of God for you, while I was driving:

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : pictures of god : feather

I know, I shouldn’t have. But the law only requires a handsfree phone, no one’s said about a handsfree camera. We were stuck in traffic. It was 50 degrees out, my sunroof was open, my windows rolled down, the music was playing, the sun was shining.

I keep this feather in my visor. It’s from one of the  guinea fowl at the farm. In case wings and flight aren’t big enough convincers, if you look, you can see God in the polka dots.

I can’t even get the books on my bookshelves to line up evenly, but look at that. Polka dots. Home grown polka dots. How simple. How orderly. How impossible.

I did not take this picture of god:

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : pictures of god : hubble

This was taken by the Hubble Telescope (not to be confused with this Hubble, also at one point in history, sometimes confused with God). Amazing, no? Total chaos. Totally beautiful. The origins of the word, awesome. These are candid snapshots of the universe, dancing. The origin of the phrase “Dance like no one is watching,” no doubt.(Click here for a slideshow of more photos)

Another bit by Hafiz before I go. I carry this one with me.

Manic Screaming

We should make all spiritual talk simple today
God is trying sell you something but you don’t want to buy

That is what your suffering is:
your fantastic haggling
your manic screaming

But I get it, I really do. That need to put a face to the concept of God. A long time ago I heard a woman say that when she thought of God, she thought of tag team wrestling. And that way, when life got too hard, she could just tag God, and God would take the rest of that round until the bell rang. And she could rest a bit. That way, there was always someone in her corner.

I can wrap my brain around that… and so, my dashboard Jesus looks like this, because God comes in a million colors, and so do luchadores.

jodi sh doff  : onlythejodi : pictures of god : luchadore