Crying At The Russian Ballet
And other published works from the past month.
My mother cries. She cries when people die or are born, fail or succeed, graduate, marry, love, lose, lie, give thoughtful Christmas presents. My mother also cries at the ballet. I never saw it, but it was something she’d always say. In nostalgic moments she’d idly announce: “When I was in college, I used to go to the ballet every weekend and watch the dancers. It was so beautiful. I would just sit there and cry and cry.”
It’s hard for me to cry. It is the only thing we don’t have in common. The last time had been ten years earlier. My girlfriend had tried to overdose on sleeping pills, so they locked her up in a mental institution for ten days. I’d tried everything since then. Even physical pain wouldn’t cut it. Then, my second friend committed suicide and I knew something had to be done. So, I went to the ballet; Swan Lake at Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was a lot of pressure, I thought, to hydrate well, walk in there, sit down, and cry.
An old woman took my coat and a hundred rubles in exchange for a pair of opera glasses. I made my way up to the third tier. The seat was hard, but the theatre was magnificent, gold-trimmed with red siding and a massive chandelier hanging from the ceiling like the uvula inside the world’s most extravagant yawn. Before the show, I used my opera glasses to search the rows below for nose pickers. There were none. All sat stoic and at attention, waiting for the curtain. A small boy in a snug blue bowtie caught my eye as he scratched his face. I watched closely but he didn't take the plunge.
As the lights dimmed and went out, a large Chinese woman came and sat next to me. Her thigh was mushy and warm. It sandwiched me into the old woman on my other side. I adjusted, then the music began, melting the hall into silence. The curtains opened, the ballerinas emerged, toes became violins, hands, trumpets, backs, cellos. They danced.
The lead dancer was made of firm meat. As he pirouetted across the stage, I briefly wondered what it would feel like to have him hold me. More dancers swarmed. The play progressed. I started to lose myself; my body, sitting, probably cramping, mouth open, absorbing the sweat of the woman’s leg beside me.
The scene changed. Swans passed over the stage. Odette began to dance. As she did, a silence fell, a deep penetrating silence as though someone had handed out a thousand cough drops to a thousand nuns. I felt something catch in my throat, something wet and sob-like. It lingered there as the ballet went on, act to act, through the intermission, to nearly the end.
Then I felt it—like a warm hand had come into my chest to hold my heart, helping it pump heavy, slow, rhythmic. I wanted to reach out and scoop up the ballerinas, hold them in my palm-stage like figurines, then swallow them along with the music, the stage, the curtains, the audience, and even the chandelier to plunge all of us into a silence where the only light, warmth, and love came from inside of me and, in the purest darkness, alone, I could cry. As Siegfried and Odette were reunited, as I felt a wet tug at the corner of my eye, a sixteen-year-old girl, two rows down, opened her phone and started scrolling through Instagram.
Before I could do a thing, an old woman—I assumed it was her grandmother—whacked the girl upside her head. She put her phone away, but it was just long enough to pull my focus. As the ballet ended and bowing began under bright lights, I felt like my chance had been robbed. I turned to peel my thigh away from the woman beside me and heard a sniffle. Looking up, I saw great gushing spools of tears pouring down the large Chinese woman’s face.
With dry eyes and a parched soul, I stepped out, returned my opera glasses, and made my way outside. Waiting for the bus, I was joined by a young mother and her son. He was all bundled up, but I recognized him. The boy I’d spotted from my perch in the rafters of Mariinsky theatre. He had one hand clasped to his mother’s and the other curled up with one finger shoved deep in his left nostril, his eyes glistening with the effort, the cold, or with something else I couldn’t grasp.
As per usual, my brain scattershot itself all over the web this month. There is a new CNF piece in Hobart, a fiction piece in Bending Genres, two new pieces in Lustery POV, and new Frank died episodes in Talk Vomit. Yara and I have been hard at work for our Pigeons and Prozac collaboration and I’ve created a writing menu on my site in a desperate attempt to organize where people can find my work. For a breakdown of all of this and more, here are my updates from the past month and where you can find it all:
I’ve had two new short stories published this month in indie lit mags.
Crying at the Russian Ballet in Hobart.
“My mother cries. She cries when people die or are born, fail or succeed, graduate, marry, love, lose, lie, give thoughtful Christmas presents. My mother also cries at the ballet.” - Read the rest here.
Expatriating Down a Rabbit Hole in Bending Genres.
“I was beginning to get very tired of sitting secluded in South Korea and having nothing to do and was considering in my own mind (as well as I could, for the hot day made me feel very sleepy and stupid)…” Read the rest here
New column piece in Lustery POV: The Kink of the Kink-less [Not Family Friendly]
A new essay of mine about my girlfriend biting me was published in Lustery POV (outside of my column there). My Girlfriend’s Cute Aggression [Family Friendly]
Yara and I will be releasing our first Episode of What Happened When Frank Died (comic version) soon. We’ve also revamped the website if you want to check it out. And please, consider supporting us on Patreon.
Speaking of WHWFD, there have been two more written stories that have come out in Talk Vomit. For those who might be wondering, Yara and I are going to be taking the comic in a totally new direction so don’t worry about spoilers if you read the column.
I’ve continued publishing two stories a week in Misery Pigeon (Thought I’m considering trying to publish every day starting in November). You can find them here.
On medium. I’ve had a few new pieces come out. Nothing major. If you were going to read one I’d say read the one where I got mad at all of the incels complaining that they can’t ‘flirt’ with women anymore because of feminism. Fucking jackasses. (One of my more ranty pieces in a while.)
For any of you who are writers, I have embraced the magic of apple notes. I am an obsessive note-taker so I’m always writing ideas into my notes about different stories & articles. Now, I’ve put all of my writing into individual notes so I can just add them right where they are needed. This took a shit-load of time but has already saved me a lot more. Also, notes are no longer getting lost in a mess of grocery lists, affirmations, and bad poetry.
I’m planning to visit America for Christmas and Air Canada pushed my layover in Toronto from 2 hours to 15 hours so…fuck them.
I’ve decided to try to quit smoking next year (again). It’s much easier to quit when you plan it months in advance. Trust me, I’ve been doing it for years and I’ve never been more or less certain.
Thank you as always for your readership. See you next month (or possibly sooner. I am working on a WHWFD newsletter)