My Mother suggested I write this down: 2/23/11
On either October 21 or 22, 2010, I was sitting in the Starbucks on 33rd Street & Park Avenue feeling very low. I had been given a diagnosis of possibly cancerous ovarian masses in San Diego and flew back to NY to be with my support system and the best doctors in the world. As I scoured the horizon, I saw a NY Post with the headline, “To Teachers’ Union: What Are You So Afraid Of?” Like a bolt from the blue (I’m not kidding, it was an inspiration from outside myself) I thought I could compose an art piece that would release me from fear. Almost like a talisman.
I crossed the street to Duane Reade and bought a Trapper Keeper folder, some scotch tape and a kid’s scissors and built a template for a flyer. But first I cut out the piece that said, “To Teacher’s Union.” As a Jewish person, I actually thought this was an inspiration from God and that the rabbis would be able to interpret it in the greatest Jewish city in the world. The headline was huge. I don’t know what font size, but it filled up the entire Trapper Keeper.
WHAT ARE YOU
SO AFRAID OF?
Of course, as I said above, I was afraid of everything, especially dying of cancer. The headline seemed to jeer at me. I cut out the Post logo and stripped it horizontally across the bottom of the notebook. I still have the original and many copies.
I had to meet my mother at her eye doctor’s on East 79th Street, so I went to the Kinko’s on 78th to make copies. Everyone there seemed to be very glum, except for a hearty big man who came up to me and said, “What are you doing?” I answered, “Getting rid of fear!” He laughed.
I made about 100 copies. Then I went to the doctor’s office to meet my mom and left some flyers there. I decided to distribute them up Madison Avenue (as many have distributed flyers before) by taping them to lamp posts and free paper boxes. I walked the streets of the wealthy with my mother in tow as she balanced herself with her shopping cart. I made it to the 92nd Street Y, one of the pinnacle places of Jewish culture and learning, where she is a member of the 60+ Club.
After that I went to one of my favorite Barnes & Noble’s, the one on 86th Street between Lexington & Third, where they have a wonderful café area on the bottom floor. You can buy ½ sandwich & soup for not too much money and have a nice meal while reading the latest. I was carrying a book I was reading, “Freud for Beginners”, a graphic piece of non-fiction. I decided on another impulse of inspiration to distribute the flyers in displays that contained glossy magazines. Finally, when a sheepish security guard walked towards me, I left nonchalantly.
It would be ridiculous to think that creating and distributing that flyer would be responsible for any of the grief, misery and torment I’ve absorbed since then even while trying to get treatment.
I only wanted the rabbis to see it and interpret it, especially the missing piece about the teacher’s union. I thought it was prophetic but only in the way that the jeering headline collided with my dark fears.