Sunday, March 29, 2015


Saturday I woke up with menstrual cramps that turned out to be among the Top Ten worst I've ever had in my life. To achieve placement on this list, gotta cause pain enough to make me first break into a cold sweat (check), then gray out (check), and then throw up (check).

I hadn't had a period for 2 months, since late January, so I was kind of hoping that menopause was kicking in. Over the past 2 or so years, the blood flow has thinned out, the regularity has become mixed. In my teens and early 20s, I had an odd schedule -- regularly, but every 2 months rather than every month; late 20s, 30s, and 40s, up 'til the last couple of years, regularly every month. The Top Ten super-severe cramps, until yesterday, occurred almost exclusively in my teens/early 20s. There were a few bad months in the decades since then, but nothing that maybe four 200-mg Ibuprofen wouldn't fix, and certainly no graying out or throwing up.

Yesterday, The pain lasted from 5:55am through about 12:30pm. At least the cramps started when I was home, and on a day off. The VERY WORST happened during the summer in '86 or so, when I was waiting for a college shuttle bus to take me home from class. Almost passing out from the sudden onslaught of pain, I somehow made it to a bathroom stall in the nearby Art School building, where I huddled/crouched for over an hour, alternately shitting and vomiting, until I eventually willed myself back to the bus stop to get home.

So, Saturday was very nasty. I'm hoping that it's a Farewell Tour from my period, a flashback saying, "Hey, remember how things used to be?" before fading out forever. Unlike many women, I'm not going to miss my period and what it psychologically represents--the ability to have kids--at all. I never had many maternal urges. I thought a few times about how fun it would be to share certain movies or music with a kid, and I've enjoyed hanging out with kids (including my nephews) from about age 2 to age 10, listening to their thoughts, going to the pool, or, at the older end of that spectrum, watching their sports efforts, but... other than that, I'm certain that I've never felt any deep-seated desire to have kids whatsoever.

Believe it or not, the above was all a preface to what I really meant to say in the beginning! Because I was bedridden most of Saturday, I had no choice but to lie there all day and listen to the kids from the apartment 2 doors down. Off and on from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., the 3- and 4-year-olds of the neighbors were riding their trikes and running back and forth in front of my apartment landing, playing/banging in the stairwell that adjoins my apartment wall, shrieking at the top of their lungs.

In the few weeks since I've lived here, I've usually been at work, and so I've noticed the running-amok only from maybe 5pm to 7pm. Yesterday, though, when I was trapped at home: The craziness went on ALL DAY LONG. I still didn't want to say anything to the apartment manager -- still felt too new after only 2 months, didn't want to feel like I was being "mean to a poor family with kids who didn't have anywhere else to live." Yeah, well, when I woke up fresh Sunday morning from my previous day of suffering, the very first thought that came to me was: Take a moment to report those obnoxious bangers and shriekers who helped to make your day so miserable yesterday, and who have been obnoxious for the past month once warm weather arrived. I did report it, slipping a handwritten note through the office mail-slot since it was a Sunday.

Sunday, after waking up early pain-free and after writing the complaining note, I went into work for 5 hours, getting a ton of work done in the quiet... Got home around 5pm. Again, the kids were running up and down the landing, shrieking at the top of their lungs. I enter my apartment and, after about 10 minutes, hear a little kid screaming right outside my door. I open the door to see what's going on: The kid is PEEING right there in front of me! I try to say something nice, "Do you have to go to the bathroom?" (this as the puddle is forming at her feet), and then she runs off to her parents' apartment two doors down.

I immediately e-mailed my apartment manager with the latest pee-news: I dropped you a handwritten note this morning, but, wait, there's MORE!

I've lived in my new apartment for 2 months now. #1 noise problem is the 50-something black guy downstairs who's constantly yelling at his wife or yelling on the phone (I can't tell which, but the volume of his voice sounds like he's in my own apartment). #2 problem is the above-mentioned Hispanic family with 3 kids under the age of 4 who are running amok around the complex, but especially in front of my apartment. #3 is the loud (Anglo) biker whose comings and goings his motor announces.

I've rarely had to deal with any of these things before. In my over-30 years of living in apartments in Austin, I've only once lived next door to a black family (who were loud, but my lease was up only a month later and I'd already given notice), only once lived next door to a Hispanic family (single mother, drug-doing son; when she was at work, he'd have his friends over -- at one point, he and his friends got fucked up and started climbing on top of their duplex roof, which I called the police about). And I've never certainly never been around a biker who revs up obnoxiously loudly at 7:20 each morning and whose subsequent comings and goings we all get to revel in.

These aren't high-end apartments. Yet they're decent apartments. But why does the one black guy in the whole place have to be a stereotypically loud, angry black guy that I get stuck living above? Why does the one Hispanic family in the place have to be stereotypically stuffing 2 adults and 3 kids into one apartment, with the kids running around banging on MY walls (not anywhere near their own apartment)? And why the fuck is this biker revving his bike up 5 times a day?

As if I needed one second more of "a little wacky"!

Your horoscope for March 29, 2015
 If you're single, STEPHANIE, you may find yourself feeling a very powerful attraction to someone who is unusual and perhaps a little wacky. If you're already romantically involved, you could well catch a glimpse of a silly and rather insane side of your beloved that you've never seen before. This could be a bit disconcerting, but it should also make you laugh. That's part of the appeal of love - continuously learning about that special one. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Where I Live

I no longer have "Tree Friends Through Screen" because... well, it's hard to relate to a palm tree. They just don't have much character.

That said, though, Austin's hardly ever ugly. (Only one time in my over-30-years here did I ever have no view at all: At a huge, generic apartment complex off Riverside Drive for 6 months back in the '90s. I moved in because it was a, woooo!, townhouse. And it did have an upstairs that I was initially impressed with. But in the front, both up and downstairs, it looked over a huge parking lot. There was no view from the back, except for a small fenced-off patio area. This was probably the worst place I've ever lived in my life. It reminded me very much of the Fort Worth apartment my dad moved into after my parents' divorce in the '70s, and the Fort Worth apartment I moved into after I divorced myself from my friends in 1988.)

Where I live now, at a small, funky complex in North Austin, does still look over parking lots... But they're small ones, and there are bikers, walkers, skaters, and greenery all around. It's not just a dead concrete hull. I'm not happy quite yet, but... I'm not depressed.

Front view through screen, to the Wellness Center and west.

Back view through screen, to the east.

Side view through glass, to the north. Forward!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"Meet Marlon Brando"

I just watched the full 27-minute film from 1964 by the Maysles on TCM last night. Brando came off like a charming dick rather than some sort of "media-savvy guru."

The "official" take, both in the clip below and in TCM's introduction, seems to be that Brando was showing a "savvy understanding of the mass-media machine." But... please. Said "machine" linking show business and media had been around for nearly 40 years since the silent-movie days and the accompanying fan magazines, when stars had been revealing their so-called REAL personalities to reporters. This '64 short film reveals nothing other than Brando's ongoing playing of a game that had been going on long before he ever reached Hollywood.

The voiceover intones of Brando: "You see him pushing the boundaries of the junket format." Really? I see a charismatic celebrity trying to push around reporters, who, to their professional credit, don't seem at all disturbed. For instance, Brando, while being asked a question by a male reporter, comments (apropos of nothing) on how long the reporter's fingernails are. Brando's obviously trying to be a jerk, trying to throw the reporter off by implying what? The reporter's response: He plays classical guitar and so it's necessary to have nails on the right hand that are long. Take that, Mr. Celebrity!

Same with the female reporters: Brando singles out two that are especially pretty and starts going on about their physical characteristics: One, a former Miss USA, he feels talks out of the side of her mouth (which he condescendingly finds "idiosyncratic but charming") and wears her hair falling down over one eye--why does she do that? This young woman resolutely pushes her hair back and reminds him of "subjective opinions." When Brando goes on about "You're one of the prettiest interviewers I've ever seen," the 22-year-old responds, unflustered: "Thank you. You're one of the most gracious hosts I've ever met."

The voiceover for this clip sanctimoniously intones, "The one moment when Brando seems most genuinely engaged is when he spots a beautiful woman on the street and interviews her on civil rights issues..." We then see a perfectly made up and dressed young black woman who just happens (!) to be walking by. Brando's "profound interview" consists of him asking her if the government is doing enough for race relations. "No, it's not," is the answer. 

Wow, you're deep, Mr. Brando.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Happy Birthday, Joan Crawford!


George Jones - I Don't Need Your Rocking Chair

Note the jig at 1:25 (and the crowd reaction). Unlike his fellow legend Johnny Cash, George Jones was a showman who didn't take himself so seriously, although his work was equally meaningful.

Gettin' Situated

Amazing how much you get accomplished when you don't drink the night before!

This Sunday:

Three loads of laundry.

Grocery shopping for the first time in 7 weeks. (I haven't been grocery shopping since I moved up north to my new apt. February 1; the parking lot always looked crowded, and I haven't felt like being frazzled any more than necessary. Today, though, ventured in around noon and was pleasantly surprised to find it relatively peaceful. Meaning, primarily single-lady shoppers and a few couples --- no Hispanic families with their hordes of screaming kids. No offense to Hispanic families, and it's nice that you like to do activities together, but... you guys are seriously annoying to be around at grocery stores. In further happy shopping news: This HEB, unlike my old Fiesta, had some staples of my diet, which I'd gone without for the past few years: Campbell's Bean Bacon and Split Pea soups, plus Sociables crackers. I almost gave an audible "Wooo-hooo!" upon spotting them. I felt like I was in middle-aged-white-lady heaven.)

Dishwasher load of dishes stacked up for the past 2 weeks. (This is the first time I've had a dishwasher since 2000. I hate to run it just with a few things, so I let them stack up, then start to think how crappy all the sitting-around dirty dishes relieved when my self-imposed 2-week waiting period is over.)

Assembly of a chair that I'd had sitting around in a box since I ordered it over a month ago. (I'd been using a white kitchen chair for my desk chair, which of course didn't move and didn't at all look right... After ordering my new desk chair from Walmart, though, I'd read a couple of reviews from women on the Walmart site that they couldn't get it put together by themselves. And so I'd been putting it off and putting it off, not wanting to get more bummed out than I already was. As it turned out, it was only mildly strenuous, taking about a half-hour, and I could and did do it by myself. See first picture below.)

Assembly of a lamp that I'd had sitting around in a box since I ordered it over a month ago. (I'd had, so I thought, bad luck with ordering lamps online. Two that I'd ordered from eBay turned out not to look good in any room and were thus a complete waste of over $100. And the Tiffany-style lamps that I'd intended for my bedroom ended up looking terrible there, way too busy. They ended up working out in my study -- see also the first picture below of the desk lamp -- but the bedroom failure also bummed me out. I've been TRYING to go to BED at night instead of sleeping on my couch in front of the TV, and so I needed a reading lamp bright enough to read by, instead of my current dim light... See the second picture below of what I put together today--- this lamp not only looks right, but is also bright enough to read by.)

Slowly making progress toward getting my surroundings how I want them.

Friday, March 20, 2015

I Am All

I woke up this morning absolutely clear-headed (no, you absolutist AA-ers, not because I hadn't had anything to drink; in fact, I had about 7 beers the night before). My very first FEELING upon awaking was of being aware of the earth rotating, and then that flashed to Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage" from "As You Like It":

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts...

Which reminded me of ant lives and dog lives and people lives that I've been thinking about lately, how all are (obviously) finite. Which would seem to tie in with the Shakespeare --- we're all just here briefly against a much bigger backdrop; yes, I get it.

Then I started thinking about a line from Plath's "Purdah": "I revolve in my sheath of impossibles."

Then I started questioning whether or not I actually revolve around the earth or whether it revolves around me. Of course I am aware of a larger scheme of things, but in reality, every single thing that I do does in fact revolve around me. I am the center of my universe. As everyone else is in theirs.

I am not at all primarily concerned with the other "players" upon The Stage, and their comings and goings. I have no control over those things whatsoever. Rather, I'm most focused on what role I'm playing. What else is one supposed to be concerned with?

Which led me back to Plath and her "Soliloquy of the Solipsist":

Know you appear
Vivid at my side,
Denying you sprang out of my head,
Claiming you feel
Love fiery enough to prove flesh real,
Though it's quite clear
All your beauty, all your wit, is a gift, my dear,
From me.

And then this online take on solipsism, in relation to Plath's poem:

Solipsism is the philosophical position that contends that a given individual’s mind is the only knowable reality there is (a concept that’s intimately connected to idealism). Some have gone as far as to state that there is in fact no independent, external reality; that that which we perceive to be ‘the external world’ is really nothing more than the conjecturing of ideas that exist with the individual’s mind alone … in its extreme from it asserts that the individual (whoever that may be) is not only the basis of reality, but the creator and destroyer of it.

And then it was nearly time for my alarm to go off and my mind started drifting to the scientific paper I was editing at the moment, but before that quite clicked into place, I made myself get up and write down:

I continue to revolve
Not in my impossibles
But in my "I Am All."


And a p.s.: All of the above ties in to a youthful belief that I held so firmly for so long: That if a tree falls in a forest and there's no one there to hear it, it DOES make a sound.  It DOES, it DOES! It HAPPENED!

As I grow older, though, I'm more cognizant of the fact that... 100 trillion-trillion-trillion things "happen" all of the time. What gives any particular thing its significance is the recording of it and, then, the interpretation of it. In and of themselves, "things happening" are anonymous and, thus, meaningless. As an aside, I suspect that might be one reason why people get married: their mate and kids and pictures of mate and kids prove that they were once there.