Sunday, February 01, 2015

On one of my last bus rides...

...on the 21/22, connecting me to my old Eastside neighborhood, a 30-ish woman got on, accompanied by a trolling hipster (on crutches--symbolism). This same woman, I'd seen for the past couple of years in the mornings, usually accompanied by her toddler son, Jude. (Jude is a determined little charmer, always marching on the bus and claiming his seat, sometimes smiling broadly, sometimes giving people a "what you talkin' bout Willis" look.) I wondered about them. The mother looked like she was married to an academic; she didn't seem overly pretentious herself, only borderline so, but she looked pretty and intelligent, like someone an academic man might choose. One day on campus I saw Jude not with his mother, but with a man in his early 30s, wearing a typical "summertime academic" outfit: A long-sleeved see-through Philippino shirt with a white T-shirt underneath, khaki pants, hiking boots, and an academically approved jaunty straw hat. As soon as I saw him, I thought: "Perfect." He looked like a bit of a pretentious ass (I find that people who dress for the occasion -- like "summer in Austin" -- are almost always pretentious asses). After a few months, I saw the three together on the bus: The couple sat side-by-side, never saying a word to each other. "What a dick," I thought.

Last week on the bus, the woman got on, sans Jude, in the middle of a conversation with the trolling hipster/crutches guy. Because of him, I learned her age (29); where she worked (at a learning center on campus); her college major (Biology); what her husband does (it's her ex-husband; she's divorced; they have 2 kids, ages 9 and 3 --- the latter is Jude, I suppose).

The guy on crutches was actually physically attractive, but his overt New Humanitarian hipsterism made him sound like an idiot. For instance, when the woman mentioned that her college major had been Biology, the guy began a spiel about how, like, even though he was currently an unemployed English major, he'd always, like, been interested in Biology, because it was, like, LIFE. In all my years, I've overheard dozens of girls going for this kind of line, and was kind of waiting for her to, also. To her credit, she did not. (Jesus, she had one kid when she was 20, and her husband has recently forced her to raise a 3-year-old by herself. Perhaps the Reality Gene has kicked in early with this lady.)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Did I mention earlier...

...that moving is for the Young?

Or at least for someone who has someone with them!

Moving in my 20s involved a few friends with a pickup, one small couch, a small bed, one bookshelf... Plus, "Oh, how my life will be different in my new place!"

This time, I've hired movers, I've rented a car for 3 days, my brother is helping me do some small stuff on one day... Plus, "My life's going to be pretty much the same in my new place, except the commute to work will be shorter and there are a few more shops within walking distance..."

I've done it so much at this point, there's no sense of adventure about it at all. It's just a grind.

Back in December, I thought my January would be full of excitement about planning for the new place upcoming at the end of the month. Nah. This whole month has been merely full of mental chores: hiring movers, contacting all utilities, figuring out when to pick up/drop off keys, etc. And physical chores, like packing up the more-than-50 boxes of books, CDs, and just plain crap I've accumulated.

I'm tired and unexcited.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happy Birthday

My father is 75 years old today. That's not really conceivable to me. Last time I was around him regularly, he was a mean guy in his 40s whom I hated. But, how do you hate a 75-year-old, especially one who no longer has any power over you? That's kind of like the Russians insisting on continuing to punish Rudolf Hess 40 years after the fact.

Oh, but the Hess reference is being overly dramatic.

When I was little, I liked the way my dad's sweaty after-work T-shirts smelled. (My mother has since told me that I liked to sleep with them.)

When I was little and had been put to bed, I'd almost always call out later to my parents for a drink of water. If I had NOT wet the bed by that time, I'd call for my mother. If I HAD wet the bed, I'd call for my father, because he was always nicer about it.

I liked going swimming with my dad. I remember riding on his back as he dove.

I liked the two or three times we went to a bowling alley and played pinball.

I liked staying up late watching movies with my dad. We barely spoke, just watched, but it was peaceful.

When "Gone With the Wind" aired for the first time on television in 1976, my dad grumped about how he, and thus all of us, were not going to watch it. He finally "let" me and my mom watch it on the big color TV in the living room, and went off to watch football on the small black-and-white TV in my bedroom. During a commercial, I went to visit him in the back room: He had on "Gone With the Wind."

When Elvis died in August 1977, I remember my dad going off into the back bedroom to be by himself because he was sad. At 12, I was just starting to understand, and respect, sadness.

I was grateful on the eve of my high-school graduation when my dad told my mom to let me go out after.

Some time in the mid-80s, I, in a fit of college-girl romanticism, gave my dad a collection of Anne Sexton poems because I felt that he'd like them. He actually seemed to. I remember that there was a poem about Sexton's father being a travelling salesman that my father commented on and liked --- his own father had been a travelling salesman.


I've been in this one-room (400-sq-ft) place for 4 years and 8 months now. That makes it the 3rd-longest time I've ever lived anywhere.

(1) Azle, Texas. August 1977 - August 1983 (ages 12-18)
(2) Austin, Poquito Street. June 2000 - February 2007 (ages 34 - 41)
(3) Austin, Manor Road. July 2010 - January 2015 (ages 45 - 49)

How fucking sad is it that the third-longest time I've ever lived anywhere has been in a one-room apartment---and as a woman in my mid-late 40s!


Joan Crawford in "Rain," 1932

Only 3 performances by actresses have given me goosebumps:
(1) Vivien Leigh in "Gone With the Wind"
(2) Jessica Lange in "Frances"
(3) Joan Crawford in "Rain"

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


This is completely a "First World Problem."

At the end of the month, I'll be moving from a one-room apartment into a 2-bedroom apartment -- with only an 18-inch TV from 1992 that I bought on Craig's List for $20 when I came back to Austin 5 years ago.

The little '92 TV is going into my new bedroom, and today I attempted to buy a flat-screen TV at Best Buy to go into my new living room, wanting to get it before the cable people came to my new place.

I didn't know exactly how big of a TV I was going to get, but I'd heard that they were heavy, and so I called my brother and left a message at about 9:30am: "Hey, I'm buying a TV today, but can you give me a ride home? I think it's going to be heavy." (He lives about 2 miles away from me; the Best Buy is also about 2 miles away.) By the time I got to the store around 11am, I called him again, telling him I didn't think I'd even be able to get the TV home in a cab, could he come help? There was never any response from him.

Once I got to the TV section of the store, a clerk immediately asked me if I needed help. "No, just browsing, thanks." I wandered around the TV aisles for 20 minutes or so by myself, finally figuring out what I wanted to get, but still having questions. I then approached one guy, but he said he was busy "translating." (I told him HE didn't have to help me, but could he call someone to do so.) I then approached Guy Two to help me: He also said he'd call someone. I went back over to my TV aisle, stood there for another 5 minutes on my own. Finally got sick of waiting and stormed up to Customer Service at the front of the store. Told the lady there my Sad Story: "I'm TRYING to buy a TV and no one will help me!" She got on her modern-day equivalent of walkie-talkie and said that someone was on their way to that department... I went back over there. Stood on the same TV aisle for another few minutes. With no attention, stormed my way out of the store, passing 3 guys standing around yacking in the TV department and giving them a nasty look. One guy called out as I passed, "Do you need help, ma'am?" Me: "I've been LOOKING FOR HELP for 20 minutes!" When I got to the front doors, the customer-service guy stationed there said brightly, "Hope you found everything OK!" Me: "I did NOT find everything OK! Nobody would help me!" The young guy made a non-ironic frowny-face and said he was sorry.

Goddamn! Here I was wanting to buy a 40-inch flatscreen and completely unable to do so! The most fucking bizarre and depressing thing!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Appointments Made (Cleanup Time)

Pick-up time for new key--check.
Pick-up/drop-off time for 3-day rental car--check.
Brother helping me move little crap--check.
Cable company--NOT YET.
Clean-up time/hand over keys from old place--check.

I'm stressed out about the upcoming move, but as I continue to make arrangements (and take home moving boxes from work and my corner beer store), I am relaxing slightly, knowing there are various "Systems" in place (e.g., solidifying a time for picking up my new key is part of a "System"). The more appointments I solidify, the more I relax and start to actually enjoy the PROSPECT of my new, much bigger place in a new, much better location for me.

Only 11 days left of my 3-hour-a-day bus travails. For the past few days, during the last hour of my bus trip, I've been projecting myself into a future a month from now: "I'm not on this bus right now. I got off this bus an hour ago." Similar to the mind-trip I've tried to engage myself in for the past 4 years in this 380-sq-ft apartment: "Pretend like this is just a really cool bedroom" or "Pretend like this is just a really cool treehouse."

It wasn't ever a BAD place; it was just way too small for someone at my point in life.

Not Friendly When Eating at Work

I'm not, just not. If this characteristic has not yet changed from the age of 16 to the age of nearly 50, it ain't ever going to change. Not proud of it, but... the anti-social response is apparently deeply ingrained.

At 16, I worked at the Azle K-Mart and was sitting alone having hot dogs or something at the store cafeteria on my Saturday lunch break. A girl that I knew vaguely from school also worked there and was sitting with friends across the aisle. She beckoned me over to join them... Now, you would think that any normal person would be grateful for the company and friendly gesture and jump up to join them... I, on the other hand, shook my head "no, thanks." VERY awkward.

At a new job in the early 2000s (in my early 30s), I was sitting by myself at a long table in the work cafeteria. After I was over halfway finished with my meal, a whole group from my department started filing in and seating themselves at the end of the same table. There were still several chairs between us, but there they were, and there I was. A boss spotted me and called me over. Now, being new to the group, you would think that any normal person would be grateful for the invitation and chance to bond with fellow group members... Nah. I, on the other hand, shook my head and said, "I'm nearly done anyway," then scarfed the rest of my food and took off. VERY awkward.

The age-16 K-Mart incident had stayed in my memory all that time, me later cursing myself for acting terribly. Yet when the same type of situation arose 15-or-so years later, I behaved in exactly the same way, despite my awareness of how badly I'd behaved in the first case. I couldn't help myself. I could not bring myself to be civil!

Today at my work cafeteria, it wasn't anyone from MY group that requested to sit with me. But there were outside conference members filling up the cafeteria, and seating was short. I was eating at a table for 4 (where I usually eat by myself), and a 30-ish dyke-y woman plopped down right in front of me and asked to sit down. I said sure. (Already annoyed at a stranger sitting right in front of me; I thought there was an unwritten/common-sensical rule to sit catty-corner/diagonally when strangers are sharing a 4-seat table!) So there we were, eating away, me trying to ignore her. She says, looking at my taco salad: "Vegetables. I ate those yesterday, so I can eat what I want today." I had not being paying ANY attention to what food she had sat down with, but when she brought it up, I looked and saw her two slices of pizza and chocolate desert. Fine. Who cares. I smiled politely and continued munching. She wouldn't quit:

"Are you here with the conference?"
Me: "No, I work here."
"What do you do here?"
"What do you edit?"
At this point I semi-snapped, and glared, "I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be short or rude..."
"Oh! I should leave you alone!"
"I'm not trying to be rude, but I just need to THINK right now."

So for the next few minutes that it took for me to finish my salad, I then had to make an effort to look "contemplative" while doing so.

When I finally stood up to leave, my table-mate said cheerily, "Have a good one!" I did manage a "You, too."

But then I felt horrible afterward. Could I not have made some polite conversation? But I HATE polite conversation. But wouldn't polite conversation have been better than the awkwardness that ensued after my rejection of ANY conversation? I guess not, deep down in my soul.

I left the table feeling like shit for being rude, with a side-psychological-note of "What if she thought I was just rejecting her conversationally because she was so obviously a dyke? I'm gay, too! It was just very weird to me that you sat right in front of me and tried to force me to talk to you!"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The New York Groove

Many years since I was here
On the street I was passin' my time away
To the left and to the right, buildings towering to the sky
It's outta sight, in the dead of night
Here I am, again in this city
With a fistful of dollars
And baby, you'd better believe...
I'm back, back in the New York groove
In the back of my Cadillac
A wicked lady, sittin' by my side, sayin', "Where are we?"
Stop at Third and Forty-three, exit to the night
It's gonna be ecstacy, this place was meant for me
I feel so good tonight
Who cares about tomorrow
So baby, you'd better believe...
I'm back, back in the New York groove

Going Down on Love (John Lennon, 1974)

Somebody please, please help me
You know I'm drowning in a sea of hatred...

Joan Crawford in her 1932 Cadillac Fleetwood

She bought this car herself when she was 27 years old.