Sunday, November 30, 2008

A good bra is hard to find



Back in the olden days, I'd buy bras that would last for 3 years or more. New York-bought bras, however, seem to go bad much sooner---in just a year! It's disturbing.

And now that I mention it, years ago I found the best panties in the world---Adonna. I loved them because they never, ever showed panty lines. And now, they're nowhere to be found here (or in San Antonio, for that matter---last Christmas, I led my mom on a wild goose-chase to some local malls for ADONNA PANTIES, to no avail).

And then there's the matter of Nivea face cream... Also not available in NYC for some godforsakenly unknown reason.

Jesus. Life is hard here in the Big, Saggy Apple.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grief

My mom just sent me this e-mail today, which I just now read, about her recent trip to Germany to bury her sister Barbel. I only met Tante Barbel three times, when I was 4, and 12, and 18. I can't explain how nice she was, not just on the surface, but the kind look in her eyes, and how kindly she treated everyone, how at-home she seemed to be in the world, even after the tragedy of her husband's suicide and her only daughter's early death. When I was around her, she had many close friends, she radiated peacefulness and kindness. And then now I read this, my mom's report:

"She died as she had lived these past ten years - alone. I did not realize the full extent of her depression until I read her notes (a diary, of sorts). When we had talked in the past, she would always emphasize how content she was living by herself and being independent. And I believed her. I was aware of the physical pain, but unaware of the extent of her mental suffering. She never opened herself up to anyone."

My heart is just broken for her, just broken in general. I can't stop crying............

Here's more of my mom's e-mail after coming back from Germany yesterday:

"My journey to the homeland was a hellish experience. Well, what else can one expect when the last link to one's past has died? I was totally overwhelmed by everything - the sad death, the burial preparations, the bureaucracy.... A three-week nightmare. Tante Baerbel apparently died in her sleep, but was not found until three days later. In a heated house. Due to decomposition having set in, I was unable to see her one last time. She died as she had lived these past ten years - alone. I did not realize the full extent of her depression until I read her notes (a diary, of sorts). When we had talked in the past, she would always emphasize how content she was living by herself and being independent. And I believed her. I was aware of the physical pain, but unaware of the extent of her mental suffering. She never opened herself up to anyone.

The funeral home assisted me in arranging a small memorial service with a wonderful speaker, who brought almost everyone to tears. Afterwards a small catered get-together for friends and family at the house. A few days later burying of the urn in pouring rain at the cemetery - with only me and the professional bereavement speaker present. And that's it. 82 years gone, 51 in the same house. Furniture being sold, photos in the dumpster...."

Life Cycles

In astrology and in many religions (and in movies like "The Seven-Year Itch"!), "7 years" seems to be the accepted cycle for changes in one's life course. Lying in bed last night, I started going back over my life to see if that bit of "accepted wisdom" was true for me... For the most part it was, though I seem to be on more of an every-6-year cycle.

1965-1970. (Born to age 5.) Lived in Denison (TX), Portugal, Charleston, Iowa Park (TX). Despite all the moving, I don't remember feeling any emotional upheavals. OVERALL VIBE: Good.

1971-1976. (Age 6 to age 11.) Brother born in '71 (no real jealousy). Still lived in Iowa Park, then College Station (TX), Robbins Air Force Base (GA), then Iowa Park again. Parents fighting, Dad transfers to GA by himself (where we then follow him for just 9 months after he promises to act right; he doesn't) and then to the Philippines while the rest of us live back in Iowa Park. OVERALL VIBE: Mixed. Mostly bad when Dad is around, mostly good otherwise.

1977-1983. (Age 12 to age 18.) The Azle Years. Moved to Azle (TX) in '77. Parents divorced that year. Lots of drama/trauma before and after. Puberty. Plus I was always popular in school up until I moved here, but not after. I start getting crushes on girls around age 14 (start writing poetry around the same time), fall seriously in love, both sexually and mentally, with a girl (Ginny) my senior year of high school, leave her to go to college. OVERALL VIBE: Bad.

1983-1988. (Age 18 to age 23.) The UT-Austin Years. Bemoan the loss of Ginny during this whole time. (We see each other a few awkward times, but she has already found a new "best friend." Which doesn't stop me from missing her every single day.) Am knocked out by my poetry classes, but otherwise find the UT atmosphere emotionally harsh (mean, shallow frat boys and their women rule; overly crowded and impersonal classes; futile crushes on various girls (I'm not yet out of the closet); shallow personal friends until the very end of this period. I start partying heavily, neglecting school. OVERALL VIBE: Lost.

1988-1993. (Age 23 to age 28.) 1988---FINALLY, I meet some great friends in Austin, people that I actually love, Kathy and Kris. When they go home from school for the summer of '88 because their mother is dying of cancer, they invite me to come live with them. I drop out of UT, move back to the Ft. Worth area to be with them. Their mother dies, I fall in love with Kris, unreciprocated. I then find out that Ginny has just died. Move back to Austin, come out officially, meet my first girlfriend in '89. Bad, chaotic relationship. Break up in '91. Get my outward act together and finally graduate from UT in '93. Have serious affair with an older, married man, my boss. OVERALL VIBE: Complete chaos. Great highs and great lows.

1994-2000. (Age 29 to age 35). To shake myself up and try to get back on track and stabilized emotionally, move to San Francisco for grad school in 1994-1995. Get my grad degree, but absolutely hate the vibe of the town, don't make any friends. (Continue to call both my ex-girlfriend and the married guy.) Move back to Austin. From '96 to 2000, I go back to my old dead-end library job, get completely wasted at clubs 4 or more nights a week out of pure boredom. Chase after my ex-girlfriend and sleep with her one last time in 2000. ("Answered prayers"--ha!) OVERALL VIBE: More than lost.

2001-2006. (Age 35 to age 41). My mom buys me a computer for Christmas 2000, which opens up a whole new world of communication! I love the Internet! I don't feel the need to get wasted at clubs just to be around people...I really get off intellectually on talking to people who share my interests online. I also, in "real life," get a job I like at a publishing company, and make good friends there. And I settle down in a house that I rent from 2000-2007. (The longest I've ever lived in one place.) I finally feel "normal" after so many years in the desert! Plus, I start my Joan Crawford website in 2004, which has remained constantly stimulating. The only thing is... I'm still dreadfully restless. Could picture myself dying in that same house in Austin, having never done anything else with my life, wanted to at least TRY something else before I died... My Austin job gives me the opportunity to travel to NYC---I fall in love. OVERALL VIBE: Relatively good and healthy, thank you! Finally!

2007-the present. (Age 42 to ?). Moved to New York City in early 2007, just to be somewhere that I've always read about and admired from afar... I really do love the place, its energy. And trying to figure out how everything works here has been so stimulating for me! We'll see what happens! OVERALL VIBE: Anticipatory!

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I'd always read that a person's psyche was formed before the age of 5... Looking back at my own experiences, I'd have to disagree. I was fine up until age 5! It was age 12 through age 35 that was so horrible! :)

Thanksgiving '08

Let's see...what do I have to be thankful for over the past year...

BAD NEWS FIRST: Well, not to be mean to '08, but the year kind of sucked, frankly. January was spent sneaking around trying to find a place of my own without my roommate finding out. Feb/March/April were fine. (New apartment/good-paying job.)From late April 'til early November, though, I had no regular employment, was primarily on-call for crappy legal proofing jobs that paid somewhere around $13 an hour after taxes! (I probably could have made more as an overnight produce stocker at the Pathmark!) I did have a regular part-time job at a NYC newspaper for a few months (the bustle of the newsroom was pretty interesting), but the whole paper went bankrupt in late September and shut down completely. I had savings, but as they dwindled, I was too fearful of spending any money, so during those 6-odd months, I didn't see a movie, only bought one shirt, hardly ate out, couldn't buy anything for my sparsely furnished apartment... MIZ-RUH-BULL. (Geez, a lot of the fun in being ALIVE is being able to buy stuff! Just little spur-of-the-moment things like a book, a DVD, a pair of shoes, a candle, a cheap hat from a street vendor...)

NOW, WHAT I'M THANKFUL FOR: New job! New job! New job! New job! Whew! I just started 2 weeks ago. Like my job last year, it's only a project position (which means they may have nothing for me to do when the time period for the project is over next year, and I may be let go then), but... at least it's many months of breathing space and not worrying about rent and having the ability to buy clothes again AND, #1 on my list---a new computer!! God bless the 2000 model I have now---it survived being mailed from Austin to NYC, it survived being repaired after a mover tumped it over off of a dolly... It's been a good friend to me, but... oh, lordy, I can't wait to play with the speedy new models (and look at a humongous flat screen monitor and do PhotoShop!!).

#2 on my list---a new couch. I don't EVER want to sit on my saggy, draggy, stained futon again! I'm moving that thing to the guest-room, dammit, so any guests can have the saggy, draggy, stained thing all to themselves! :)

I also need a better TV, rugs, a dinette set for the kitchen, a chair/ottoman/coffee table for the living-room, neat eBay lamps for all rooms of the house...but most of those can all wait 'til after I get hired permanently somewhere. For the time being, just the computer and the sofa, please!

I'm also thankful for being able to get in touch with some old acquaintances this year, putting a few old memories to rest (plus putting a couple of more recent "memories" to rest). Believe it or not, I don't think there's anyone left out there from my past that I haven't somehow resolved things with one way or another, at least in MY mind. THAT is the biggest, most valuable blessing of all---a cleansed emotional palate. Geez, the years I've spent bemoaning this, that, or the other... And I'm sure I'll be bemoaning a few things in years to come. But for right here, right now... The past is settled, the future awaits.

(p.s. THANK YOU, GOD, FOR EVERYTHING!! You keep pulling stuff out of your bag o' tricks at the last second, just to keep things interesting!) :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sarah Palin fans

In the "Blogger Profiles" on this site, you can add a list of things to your "Interests" section. Just recently I added "Sarah Palin." And then went and clicked on "Sarah Palin" to find others who have also listed her, and what THEIR other interests were... Oh lordy. Most of the "Interests" that I saw included stuff like:

conservative views
Jesus
fair tax
GOP
Ann Coulter
being a wife
pro-life
family
TJMaxx
real estate

(OK, there were occasionally also the much more interesting "interracial porn," "public toilets," and "love bites"... but those were by far in the minority.)

Needless to say, it's somewhat disturbing to me to be lumped in with fans of "being a wife" and "TJMaxx"! (While I'm not an aficionado of public toilets, somehow that seems much less bizarre!)

So why do I like Palin?

I think I first hooked into her when I heard her say at her convention speech, re Obama, that "where I come from, people don't talk one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco." Referring to Obama's attempts at being folksy in PA and subsequent mocking, while appearing in SF, of people who owned guns and believed in god. I'd been a Hillary fan in the primaries and couldn't quite put a finger on why I didn't exactly loooooove Obama like everyone else seemed to... Palin got it down. (Congrats to the guy for being so smooth and having such a wonderful speaking style, and I actually do think he'll be a good, smart, very competent president. But I don't necessarily like "smooth"---much prefer Bill Clinton's weirdness.)

Secondly, as with my idol Joan Crawford, I, as a feminist, greatly admire Palin for making something of herself while coming from humble beginnings. Her advances in public life were based on merit...up until the VP pick, that is! (She, admittedly, was out of her element, but only because she had not spent years studying the intricacies of national issues in preparation for a national run for office, as Obama had. His experience was actually less than hers, yet he'd prepped himself thoroughly since being elected to the Senate in 2004, expressly for a presidential run. Palin's knocked for being "dumb," but in areas that she was responsible for while governor, she was extremely well-versed.)

The New York media gave her so much shit for attending "5 public universities"---gasp! While my own undergrad career was spent at only one of the dread "public universities," I didn't think twice about Palin trying out various schools in Idaho and Hawaii, just to experiment.

And, coming from Texas, I'm also comfortable with people who hunt, are pro-life, and are religious. I don't like people who hunt for sport, who are anti-female in their abortion views, who use religion to discriminate against gay people or anyone else... I personally am anti-hunting-for-sport, pro-choice, and anti-organized religion (while being somewhat spiritual). Yet I think of Palin like I think of Mike Huckabee---honest folks who stick to their beliefs, regardless of the political winds. (Unlike, say, the completely phony Mitt Romney.) And who don't let their own personal views interfere with their governing. Contrary to popular belief, Palin never attempted to ban a single book at the Wasilla library or attempted to limit abortion rights in Alaska. And if she and her family hunt for food, to me that's a lot better than the rest of us cowards who just buy our meat in the supermarket without working for it.

Working for the weekend (finally!)

No, I'm not going to post the cheesy Loverboy video! :)

After a week at my new job, I finally got the commute to and from whittled down to a manageable 1-1/2 hours each way (down from a numbing 3 hours!). Still rather insane, and tiring, but at least...manageable.

As soon as I got home from work on Friday afternoon, rather than celebrating the fact that I didn't have to get up at 6am the next day by staying up late and drinking, I instead immediately crashed on my couch at about 8pm. I woke up for a couple of hours around 5am (and watched a teen movie "Drive Me Crazy" on HBO---they only gave it one star, but I ended up getting into it; I'd give it 2-1/2! HBO also gave LiLo's "Georgia Rule" one star---again, I liked that: another 2-1/2), then went back to sleep and didn't wake up again until 11am...

It felt so good for a Saturday to finally MEAN something again!

My last full-time job ended last April and since then I'd been temping, working random hours (or else working nights for a few months at a NY newspaper that went out of business soon after I was hired!). I was always lying around the house for at least 3 or 4 or 5 random days a week, sometimes staying up 'til 9am or later, bored out of my head, unable to really go anywhere or do anything (or buy anything) for fear of draining my savings before I found a new job... The uncertainty of it was horrible! And all the days blended into each other; there was no distinction between a "work-day" and a "weekend," since I was always on call for the temp jobs.

So, after a full week of real work-days and lengthy commuting...the joy of the contrast of sleeping in 'til 11am on a Saturday and then jumping up filled with energy and the excitement of going into Manhattan for a haircut and some clothes-shopping!

I didn't even think a thing of walking the Chelsea streets in the 26-degree weather today---very brisk winter weather (unusual in November for NYC)...I love it! I've always felt sluggish in warm weather, was always depressed in Austin when it was 80 degrees at Thanksgiving (a time for earth-toned sweaters and corduroys, definitely NOT for T-shirts and shorts!). Not to mention the solid 4 months in Austin of 90-degree-plus temperatures (June through September). With another 2 months of 80-plus thrown in for good measure (May + October/into November). I'll definitely grant Austin March and April for being gorgeous and sweet, but that's it! My own nature is definitely much more atuned to the four definite seasons of the Northeast. Said nature is also much more atuned to working a full-time job!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"I just hate when the girl says wait, wait, wait..."

I hadn't thought of this 1976 KISS song, "Makin' Love," in ages, at least since I was in junior high and bought their "Rock and Roll Over" album.

Last night, though, I had a long, convoluted dream with dozens of segments. In one of them, this song was loudly, vividly playing (though I can't remember what visual went with it...). Whatever the subconscious meaning, one thing is clear: KISS fuckin' rocks!! I was getting pumped up just re-listening to it right now!

In a sidenote, at the very end of the dream, just before my alarm went off, I was watching Joan Crawford dramatically pull a purple bedsheet off the bed, to the protests of several onlookers. (Joan defiantly told them, with that stubborn look on her face, "It's MY goddamn sheet and I'll take it if I want to." THIS song wasn't playing then, but the correlation seems apropos!) :)


All Play and No Work

I started a new job on Monday, sharing a large room with 3 other women, all from Joisey. Today, I laughed harder than I've laughed in ages...

Someone in the hall outside of our room said loudly to someone else, "You scared the crap out of me!" At which one office-mate yelled, "Should we call the janitor?"

And this started off the other office-mate telling us about the time she taught a small group of 5-year-olds... One was sick and started to throw up...which made the kid next to that kid start to gag, which made the kid next to him start to gag, in a chain reaction all around the circle they were sitting in! And then the woman said they all started complaining loudly, "It smells!" The woman said she was trying to be comforting and rub their backs, etc., when what she really wanted to do was throw up herself and yell, "It smells!" ;p

And then someone made the mistake of opening up the MSNBC website... The main headline was about a boyfriend who was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend with a sandwich... The sub-head read, "Police Won't Reveal If It Was a Club Sandwich."

Gawd, we must have been cackling for a half-hour! ;p

So anyway, I like my job and the people, but the commute is ungodly---last night it took me 3 HOURS to get home!!! Not 'cause it's so far away, but just because of all the traffic. It was nightmarish.

I do prefer working in Manhattan, not just because of the far shorter commute, but because of being able to step outside...and just being on the streets of Manhattan! Grabbing a bite for lunch, doing some lunchtime shoe-shopping, running to the post office. My place now is a huge corporate building (called "The Compound") out in the suburbs. 3000 people work there! (My whole hometown of Azle had 5000 people!) The building has its own humongous cafeteria, vendors set up in a huge lobby selling gew-gaws, a convenience/card/candy shop... All very nice, but for me, having no car, I'm trapped there all day, unable to do anything but stay in the building (or step outside for a smoke---but at my last job in Manhattan, when I stepped outside for a smoke, I'd see Elvis Costello and Diana Krall walking by! No danger of that here!)

Part of me is definitely grumbling, "Goddammit, I didn't move to NYC to not be in NYC!" But this job is pleasant and pays well...and it's a JOB! So I'm not grumbling too much. At some point, though, I'm going to have to find something back in Manhattan. The suburbs depress me, which is mainly why I left Austin. (Yes, it's a CITY of 500,000, but most of it feels suburban.) It sounds cliche, but I really do get a huge jolt of energy whenever I'm walking around Manhattan. There's a constant buzz on the streets there. I can be in a completely shitty mood and immediately get lifted out of it by all of the activity and lights and smells. ("It smells!") ;p

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

RIP: Tante Barbel

My German aunt Barbel died last week. She was 82. The very first female dentist in her town of Braunschweig in the 1950s (there was controversy at the time between her and the one other, male, dentist in their town). The last time I saw her was in 1983. She spoke primarily German, so I couldn't communicate with her very well, but I remember her friendly eyes and expression and manner, and her group of friends that I was too scared to interact with.

Her house was beautiful. Back in the '50s, she'd married an architect, and he'd designed their home that she lived in for the rest of her life. (The stairs upwards were wooden, and separated. My aunt's beloved collie-dog Harris once slipped on them...after that, he would never attempt to go upstairs to sleep with her in her bedroom.)

I never knew the architect-uncle. At some point in the early '60s, he had an affair and, torn between his wife and his lover, parked his car out in a field and shot himself.

My aunt's daughter, Susie, also died young, in her early 20s, from severe complications from asthma. She was always nice to me, and, funnily, the last time I was there with my six-year-old brother, her boyfriend got jealous of the attention she paid my six-year-old brother! He sulked every time she'd play with him!

The husband and Susie are already buried next to each other. My aunt didn't leave any burial instructions, but they'll all three now be reunited.

Election Day in Weehawken

Congratulations to our new President, Barack Obama! I didn't vote for him, but...I'm extremely happy for our country---what a thrilling, goosebump-raising moment in history! (And an end to 8 long, depressing years of utter incompetence.)

Here are a few shots I took while walking around my Weehawken 'hood on election day. (Click to enlarge. If only to see the head in the back of the neighbor's car!)
(1) View from my porch.
(2) My polling place. I voted around 3pm, and there was no line at all.
(3) and (4) Some of my neighbors' exhortations to VOTE! :)
(5) Union house.
Plus a few campaign stickers.