Thursday, April 28, 2016

Anderson Cooper on "A fatherless girl..."

I usually think of CNN's Anderson Cooper as a rather bland gay man, but tonight during his appearance on Megyn Kelly's show on Fox, I listened a little:

"A fatherless girl thinks all things are possible and nothing is safe." At first, I thought this was a wildly original bon mot on Cooper's part, but it turned out (after an Internet search) that he got it via his mother Gloria Vanderbilt, who got it from the 1986 novel by Mary Gordon, "The Company of Women." Even after searching reviews of this book, which is apparently about a Catholic girl initially under the influence of a Catholic priest going on to have affairs with radicals in the '70s, etc., I still couldn't figure out the meaning of the quote in relation to the book's theme. The quote actually seems pretty glib upon reflection. In relation to the book, was this quote considered an excuse to go off and explore herself and desires?

I don't really see how being "fatherless" has anything to do with any woman's self-exploration. I do consider myself "fatherless" since my parents divorced when I was 12, and the years prior to that were filled with ugliness and emotional (sometimes physical) violence that I, even as a small girl, recognized as such.

I hated my father as a kid for his ongoing emotional (and sometimes physical) abuse. Unlike the conventional wisdom that a child was supposed to be disturbed by divorce, I on the other hand was extremely happy when I found out that my parents were divorcing (after my father threatened to shoot my mother -- it took THAT). Maybe THAT is what "a fatherless girl thinks all things are possible" means. Once my abusive father was out of the house, I could breathe a little easier, that's for sure. I no longer had to deal with his mental and emotional problems and sadism that constantly pervaded the entire house. Well, I take that back: For years after the divorce, he continued to make his presence felt. Calling the house threatening suicide. Driving out to the house and either passing out in the driveway or skulking around the back of the house, peering in windows, tapping at the back door at midnight, when I was the only one up, watching late-night TV. At the time, it was weird and creepy. I was 12 and 13 and 14, and I didn't have a name for what was going on, other than my feelings: "weird and creepy." Today, at 50, I'm amazed and horrified at the constant barrage of mentally ill behavior that I had to endure.

All of that said: I disagree with the glib "A fatherless girl thinks all things are possible and nothing is safe." Other than "Wow, thank god my abusive father is gone -- I can finally breathe a little!" and "Nothing is safe because my father keeps calling and showing up at the house." Which I don't think is what the author originally had in mind.

Oh yeah... I couple of other items from the Cooper interview: "I wanted to be around places where the language of loss is spoken." That's true for me. At 50, I can see clearly that some of my earlier attractions to people have usually been partially based on relating to that person's own sense of loss, their "outsider"-ness. Not so for Ginny, my high-school love, or Bill, the 50-something exec that I worked for when I was 28 --- those two I just had fun with. But when it comes to Mollie (ex-con dominatrix who was in jail when her mother died) or Murrah (gay father who told her mother after 20 years of marriage that he'd always been pretending she was a man while they were having sex) or Julie (online male tranny who'd claimed to have had abortions) or Sandra (abused as kid, parents dead at 12 and 17)... Wow. I thought they were all tragic, so compelling. Their situations so extreme and interesting to me, probably because of the weirdness that I myself had experienced as a child.

But here's the thing: "Extreme" does not equal "Meaningful" or "Profound." Horrible situations experienced do not mean that the person who experienced them learned anything or became a "better" or more intuitive person because of them. I think it's a complete myth that hard psychological times automatically make you better. In fact, most likely, being exposed to extreme adult psychological disturbances as a child make you more paranoid and neurotic! This can come in handy professionally if you're, say, an editor, as I am! But, kidding aside, it's a killer when it comes to relationships with others, where looseness, calmness, and trust is essential. I never relax with anyone. I'm always completely on alert for when they're going to "go bad" and when I can call them on that and hit them back for that.

As I age, though, I'm beginning to understand that the definition of "going bad" is not the same for all people. For instance, many, in their "dark" moments, are just "squirrelly"--- not "bad." Sandra's not talking to me at a restaurant, or not feeling up to driving me to work, for instance. Annoying as hell, but... not the same as making me take down all of my Bay City Rollers posters because I, as a 12-year-old, wouldn't sunbathe topless in the back yard.

There are variations of "sick." I cannot keep equating every single person's actions with my father's ugliness. I cannot keep thinking that "nothing is possible and nothing is safe."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Hall of Fame

2004 George Harrison tribute, with Prince on guitar.

Purple Rain

Poster from the "Purple Rain" album displayed on my dorm-room wall in 1984. For months, you couldn't walk down the hall of the dorm (Jester Center, UT-Austin) without hearing "Purple Rain" blaring out of literally every other room. That semester, I saw Prince at Austin's Erwin Center, about the 4th row from the very back wall --- I hated the show! We couldn't see anything!

The album was the soundtrack to my as-yet-unexplored lesbian angst. I was in love with a girl back home, spent many an evening copying tortured lyrics from "Purple Rain," "The Beautiful Ones," "When Doves Cry," etc., to send her, with oh-so-casual references to "Lisa and Wendy" (will she get it? -- I know she's into Prince, but will she see why I'm mentioning "Lisa and Wendy" all the time??).

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Beautiful Ones- Prince


...Baby, baby, baby
Can't you stay with me tonight
Oh baby, baby, baby...
Don't my kisses please you right
You were so hard to find
The beautiful ones, they hurt you every time

Paint a perfect picture
Bring to life a vision in one's mind
The beautiful ones
Always smash the picture
Always every time

You make me so confused
The beautiful ones
You always seem to lose

Sunday, April 17, 2016



An 8-hr-day in the life of a bus-rider.

I've had a bunch of need-to-do stuff hanging around for weeks. Today I woke up fresh and decided to do them all. The tasks: Depositing a big overtime check that my company had screwed up months ago (should have been direct-deposited but wasn't), going into the office to do my taxes (since my printer at home doesn't work) plus some extra work, returning some clothes to Old Navy, going grocery shopping.

I started out at 10:45am. Got home at 7pm. Ridiculous.

#1. The company should have paid me back in March via direct deposit. After several screw-ups on their part, I finally had only a hard-copy of a check that I had to take to an out-of-the-way branch of my bank. This part of the trek actually went pretty quickly. I left my apt at 10:45, bus came soon, caught another bus back right after my deposit, was at work by noon or so.

#2. I went into the office, did the taxes, did the extra work. At the end of 3 hours, though (at 3pm), just missed a so-called "Rapid" bus. Had to wait an extra 20 minutes in the rain.

#3. Connected via the Rapid to another bus that took me to the Old Navy store across town, where I returned said clothes without incident and bought some more. Just missed the bus trying to go home. Trying to avoid a 30-minute-wait and trying to be clever, caught another bus that inadvertently took me in the opposite direction. Hopped off to get the right bus. (By now, 5pm.)

#4. Arrived at the grocery store at 5:30 or so, did the shopping, waited for 20 minutes at the bus stop to go home.

8 hours. Should have taken about 3.

Part of this is me thinking, based on my 3 years of life in NYC, that I can, indeed, live life without a car. I now have the money to get a car, so why don't I? Well, because in my mind, I don't go to that many places, and so why do I need a car? It would cost me an additional $400 per month --- THAT, I cannot actually afford: $200 in car payments, plus the insurance, gas, maintenance...

What I'm realizing now, though, is that you're not actually paying for the thing itself. Rather, you're paying to avoid being irritated by others. With my current salary, I have the option of being NON-irritated by others in only one of two ways: Either I can (1) move out of my apartment to avoid shitty people and their yelling, their multiple kids, their revved-up motorcycles, or (2) get a car to avoid the annoying people on the bus. Despite my Master's degree, for some reason I can't have both.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


I've always been, on the surface, a Rimbaud gal myself, but a recent article in the New Yorker turned me on to Mallarme, specifically a translation of this poem:

The virginal, enduring, beautiful today
will a drunken beat of its wing break us
this hard, forgotten lake haunted under frost
by the transparent glacier of unfled flights!

A swan of old remembers it is he
magnificent but who without hope frees himself
for never having sung a place to live
when the boredom of sterile winter was resplendent.

His whole neck will shake off this white death-throe
inflicted by space on the bird denying it,
but not the horror of soil where the feathers are caught.

Phantom assigned to this place by pure brilliance,
he is paralyzed in the cold dream of contempt
put on in useless exile by the Swan.

The article goes on to explain how no one understands Mallarme, much less this poem. And how even the French ask for a "translation" of the French Mallarme.

After reading this poem, I "understand" Mallarme completely. Not knowing French. Having read nothing else from him. Makes me want to write again.