Friday, February 23, 2018

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1927)

Plath's mother counseled her in a letter to follow these precepts ("You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars; you have a right to be here.") And the guidance was so important to Joan Crawford that it was read at her 1977 memorial service. So maybe I should pay attention.

...With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Bravo, Caterina (1957)

Caterina Valente and Silvio Francesco

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What you "identify as"

It's all over the Internet that kids should "identify as" gay or trans, even if they're not exactly that. Me, I came out as "gay" at 23 in 1988 to my mother, specifically because I was in love with a woman at that time, and my mother called me at the very moment I was hoping the elusive lover would be calling me.

That woman didn't want me, and I went on to come out in public at a Gay March in Austin in April 1989. It was exciting to meet my first lover at that march. Except that she turned out to be an ex-con with a fetish for teenagers, and a self-styled dominatrix besides. And she immediately gave me a sexually transmitted disease.

I remain sad that I couldn't have simply had innocent teenage relations in high school, as other kids did. Instead of being able to go to the prom with someone I liked, my own first lover, years later, was a creepy ex-con, drug-doing dominatrix who gave me herpes. No kid deserves that as a first sexual memory.

Oh, about what one "identifies as": I'm bi. I've had sex with 5 people --- 1 man and 4 women. The one man was the best, most affectionate. I'm more attracted to women, but the one man was the best lover.

Despite my lesbian inclinations, I now completely "identify as" straight. Why? Because my experiences among gay people, both intimately and at gay clubs, have been shallow and unpleasant: Dominatrix first lover, drug-addled people at the clubs. I didn't "come out" into anything positive, although I did get to have sex for the first time.

At 52, I'm still attracted to women, but I "identify as" straight. I want to be with a woman, but I don't want anything to do with the skanky gay subculture.

"Nothing good ever happens after midnight."

This is probably true.

However, it does feel good to leave the house near midnight. Me, I've had many years now of coming home after work and just staying in... A couple of days ago, I went on a beer run at 10pm or so... It felt GOOD to be out! The air smelled fresh and good. People were wandering around. Reminded me of 20 years ago, when I was constantly primed to go out only after 11pm... I don't miss that lifestyle, but I do miss smelling the night air and smelling the possibilities. The night was bad for me, but I miss the night.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Tucker Carlson Tonight 2/19/18

Watch especially the first 3 minutes: Authoritarianism today.


Early Spring 1983: Ginny is a new student at Azle High School. I meet her in our school newspaper class, where I'm editor.

February through May 1983:

Mall: Ginny and I do punkish stuff at the closest mall in Fort Worth (Ridgmar Mall) --- getting matching "Frances Lives" T-shirts; getting matching "Japanese print" sweatshirts; turning a fountain out onto the sidewalk; glaring at my old best friend who's now working at a mall clothing store; as a birthday gift, she pays for my first ear piercing at a mall pagoda.

School: She and I torment our newspaper instructor, who's very awkward and also makes weird sexual comments to girls on the staff. Our "torment" basically consists of our locking him out of the newsroom one time. I also try to sneak Ginny on the bus going to Austin for UIL newspaper competitions; I'm actually competing in Editorial and Headlines, she's not. We wear matching mismatched socks for the occasion; she makes it onto the bus, but is discovered and kicked off! My graduation in May: I borrow Ginny's white heels (since I have none); she's playing in the band, I flash my leg to show off the shoes as I pass her...

Weird stuff: Ginny invites me to go to Georgia with her...and says not to mention this to Laura, another friend of hers that spring... Because of Laura, Ginny and I haven't spoken for a few weeks... I suspect that she asked Laura to go with her first!

Summer 1983:
I make the road trip to Georgia with Ginny and her mom and dad. On the way there, we four stay in a single hotel room. Ginny and I watch "Blue Lagoon" with the sound turned all the way down and giggle amongst ourselves. We also stop at a side-of-the-road flea market and Ginny buys me a jean jacket for $4. ($4 later turns up in an inside pocket of the jacket.) Ginny's mother and I see the Guggenheim bible; Ginny and her dad are not interested. At Ginny's grandma's house, I act silly, preventing intimacy... We end up leaving Georgia early. Ginny asks me not to tell my mom we're home yet; I can't lie.

Fall 1983:
I leave for college in Austin, late August. My mom drives, won't let me make a last-minute stop as we pass Ginny's house. Ginny and I exchange weekly letters. At one point, she tells me a German exchange student is living with her and her family. I'm extremely jealous. She then writes that she's having a great time in tennis class with "Cindy." I'm extremely jealous.

October 1983:
Ginny runs away from home to Austin. I'm in a dorm room that I share with someone else (who happens to be away for the weekend). Ginny stays with me for the weekend, but I can't offer her any permanent place to stay. After the weekend with me, she calls her father to come pick her up and returns to Azle.

December 1983:
I go home from UT Austin to Azle for Christmas. I go over to Ginny's house for a gift exchange. (I don't remember what I gave her; she gave me a woodcut of a unicorn in a wood frame.) Cindy is there. Ginny and Cindy are all over each other, and I'm clearly a non-entity.

May and Summer 1984:
My mother has driven me home from Austin. As we're in Azle, Ginny (with Cindy riding shotgun) happens to pull up to the left of us. Ginny and I wave madly, grinningly at each other. That summer, I try to re-connect with Ginny, but we can't. I ask her to see "The Wall" with me, but she brings Cindy along. (Ginny feels ill near the end because of the intensity of the picture--which I'd found so exhilarating--and leaves the theater; I'm irritated and stay put --- Cindy follows her out.)

Fall 1985:
Ginny comes to Austin, Cindy with her, to sell some music tapes that she's stolen from the Fort Worth record store she's been working at. (Huh?!) I tell her about a used record store where she might sell the tapes... She goes there, and... gets busted. The store reports her back to the Fort Worth store. She gets in trouble with the law. Blames me to her parents. (Exact shades of her parents finding cigarettes back in the spring of 1983 --- they weren't mine, but Ginny told them that they were mine. As she said at the time, they couldn't be hers, and they couldn't be Laura's because her parents liked Laura...)

Spring 1986:
I get a brief phone-call from Ginny, who'd moved back to Georgia with her parents; no real connection.

Spring 1987:
I get a brief phone-call from Ginny, asking if I were about to graduate. (I'd entered UT Austin in 1983; many would graduate in 4 years --- I was not about to.) She was in Georgia, sick and alone (cardio-pulmonary disease). Long-time companion Cindy was still in Azle attending to her mother, who was dying from cancer.

That was the last time I heard from her.

In November 1988, horribly depressed after having moved from Austin to be with some (now) random people in Fort Worth, I called Ginny's number. Her father answered and told me that she'd died in March and he thought he'd told all of the "Azle people." She died March 27, 1988, at age 21.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Guns and Dads

The current Florida school shooting has led some conservative commentators (specifically Tucker Carlson on Fox) to promote "fathers leaving the family" as a reason for societal gun violence.

That type of ignorance is what made me, a current Trump supporter, a Democrat to begin with.

I grew up with a father who was violent, both emotionally and physically. And he had a gun. Said gun was usually used to shoot frogs out by our pond. But on one night in 1977, he used it to shoot at my mother, who had to flee the house for her life.

Were me and my brother safe? At the time of the gun incident, my 6-year-old brother had been in bed for a couple of hours. I (age 12), on the other hand, witnessed the beginning of the argument between my parents. My mother sent me to my room. Minutes later, I peered out, saw my mother fall to the carpet, simultaneously ripping my father's gold chain from his neck. That's when he went for the gun kept at the top of our hall closet. I quietly retreated back into my room, my ear pressed to the door.

I dunno how long it was later. At least an hour. Finally, I felt brave enough to emerge, to a deadly quiet house.

My drunk father was passed out, snoring, in the bedroom. I went to look for my mother. I opened the back door. No. I opened the door to the garage. There she was, gesturing to me to be quiet. I nodded and went back to my room.

Thankfully, that night was the final factor in her decision to divorce him after 15 years of marriage. A long time coming. I remember being scared of him since I was 5 years old.

The day my mother told me she was divorcing my father was a GREAT day in my life. So when I hear clueless, soft, privileged people like Tucker Carlson promoting the false idea that "having a father in the house" is the key to avoiding societal breakdown, I cringe, laugh...and revolt. For the 12 years that I lived with him, my father was the most frightening thing that ever happened to me.


My apartment is junky because of me. I've lived here 10 months now, never felt quite comfortable, constantly planned on moving once the lease was up... and so have left a lot of junk lying around and never properly decorated.

Today was my deadline for either giving notice to move out April 15 or signing up for another year. I signed up for another year.

(1) The guys in the apartment overlooking mine who have been so disruptive since I moved in (April 2017) will be forcibly moving out March 4, says the apartment manager. Also, the maintenance room next to my apartment is no longer a (loud) hangout for the maintenance dudes since the hiring of an older guy several months ago, who seems to keep his team out doing work instead of goofing off next-door to me and my thin walls. (The apartment manager is probably the main reason I'm staying: Unlike many past managers, this one is very much on top of things and responsive.)
(2) The rent is staying exactly the same: $1275 monthly for 1200 sq ft. A prime Austin location on Burnet Road. Months-long searches on Craigslist have yielded 600-700 sq ft apartments for the same price.
(3) No view, but... pretty quiet. At my last apartment at the more-desirable North Loop location (just a mile or so south, also off Burnet), the loud-voiced guy downstairs yelled constantly, a new neighbor blared his stereo at 4am, and a newly moved-in couple held frequent parties, shot off fireworks in the parking lot, etc. I liked that location better, but the neighbors were worse.
(4) I'm currently a 10-minute drive from work. I also like being able to walk 20 ft to the pool in the summer. And the laundry room is steps away (yet not so close that I have to listen to people there).
(5) Honestly, I don't feel like moving again so soon. It's not like it was when I was 20 or 30 and had a bed and a foam sofa that my friends could haul in a pickup. I've got a lot of shit now. Movers can always take care of the heavy lifting, but... I was not up for packing up my books and random stuff at this point. 2017 was a bad year, emotionally, and I feel that I still need to recuperate and stay still for a little while.

Lastly, I had a niggling sensation that I hadn't yet given this apartment a chance. 1200 sq ft! A "study" that I'd parked some shelves and books in, but that I'd never used. A bedroom that I rarely use (sleeping on the couch) because of the huge window that I think passers-by can see through, and that didn't have a TV to watch while falling asleep. A big pile of boxes sitting around that I'd been saving up for 10 months in anticipation of a move. Junky. There's a lot of potential here that has not been realized. A project for the next year.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Times Are Tidy (Plath, 1958)

Unlucky the hero born
In this province of the stuck record
Where the most watchful cooks go jobless
And the mayor's rotisserie turns
Round of its own accord.

There's no career in the venture
Of riding against the lizard,
Himself withered these latter-days
To leaf-size from lack of action:
History's beaten the hazard.

The last crone got burnt up
More than eight decades back
With the love-hot herb, the talking cat,
But the children are better for it,
The cow milks cream an inch thick.

To Move or Not To Move

My lease runs out April 15. I've got to decide by February 15 (in 3 days) whether or not to stay for another year.

Pros for moving: I'm claustrophic as hell here. I want to be in a house or on the 2nd floor of a building, being able to breathe fresh air at night with my windows open. There's no air draft here. My row of apartments is between two other rows of apartments. No trees outside of my windows: On one side, I see air conditioners. On the other side, where I have a small backyard, I see other apartments towering over me. There are often people walking by my apartment at all hours.

Cons for moving: The rent is staying exactly the same: $1275. And I have 1200 square feet of space. Austin rent is so tight right now, this is a really good deal. And the dick-neighbors that I initially had a problem with when I first moved in (loud parties, etc.) are out of here March 15. (I asked.) It's only 10 minutes from work. The management is very good and responsive. It's a huge hassle to move. I've got $400 in cash tucked away in a book that I've been saving for movers --- from winning a $100 Trump election bet back in 2016 and from doing freelance work.... If I don't move, I can use the money to buy a bedroom TV and new microwave.

Part of me wants to stay --- the most comfortable thing. Especially knowing that the dick-neighbors will be gone. Plus I feel that this 1200-square-feet of space can be worked with. I haven't given it a fair chance (boxes still stacked up and never put away since I moved in a year ago).

But part of me (always) wants to gamble and try something new and better. In a better "walking" neighborhood, an "old Austin" neighborhood, like where I used to live in the '80s and '90s. Aiming for trees around me...

Except that I'm really old now -- 52 -- and I've seen how "gambling" has gone in the past. My current apartment situation is decent. Any new apartment I get could possibly be 100 times worse. (Trees, in a cool location, but really crappy, loud neighbors that the management won't control.)

Yeah, yeah. I'm sure I'll let you know in 3 days.


p.s. Because I absolutely can't decide for myself, I've asked for signs from the Universe re the April 15 deadline. And I've gotten some!

(1) A notice from my apartment management that the free basic cable from Spectrum would be ending on April 15. (I absolutely hate Spectrum and their shitty service.)
(2) I've been reading a Lincoln bio by David Herbert Donald; Lincoln was shot on April 14 and died on April 15.
(3) Last week I was watching a PBS program about the Titanic; the Titanic sank on April 15.
(4) Yesterday, I was watching "In Cold Blood" on TCM; the killers, Perry and Hickok, were executed on April 14...

I can't, though, figure it out: If many bad things happened on a certain date, are you supposed to stay in the same place or MOVE? (Surely, if Lincoln and the Titanic passengers had stayed home, they would not have died...)