Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spookily on-target horoscope!

From astrocenter.com:

Your horoscope for May 31, 2009

This is a climactic time of year for you, STEPHANIE, and you will find that all of your yearly cycles have reached a critical point. You may feel as if you are at a point of tremendous victory, or terrible failure. Either way, it is important that you look upon this time as a celebration that you have made it this far. Make changes where necessary, and continue to re-evaluate your progress over the next several months.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Moving

As a kid, I moved all the time 'cause my dad was in the Air Force. I kind of missed Iowa Park when we moved to Azle when I was in 6th grade, but other than that, I didn't particularly care where I was or what school I was in.

Since I graduated high school and had control over my own moves, I've made only 4 big ones:

(1) At 18, leaving Azle to go to the University of Texas in Austin.
(2) At 23, leaving Austin to go back to the Fort Worth area (where Azle is) to be with friends I'd met at UT whose mom was dying in FW. (That lasted about 6 months.)
(3) At 28, leaving Austin to go to grad school in San Francisco. (That lasted about 2 years. I left SF and went back to Austin the SECOND my thesis was turned in.)
(4) At 42, leaving Austin to go to New York City... to SEE THINGS.

(1) I knew I never wanted to live in Azle again.
(2) I loved my friends and wanted to be with them, but I hated that whole area. Couldn't wait to get back to Austin.
(3) I was never particularly in love with Austin, but San Francisco was so awful and phony it made Austin seem like a safe haven to run back to.
(4) With my joblessness right now and living in the extremely expensive NYC area, of course the idea of hightailin' it back to Austin has crossed my mind. I have every excuse to. But... The very idea seems dead to me. There's nothing there for me. As I said in #3, I was never in love with Austin. Though it's green and hilly and pretty and a nice liberal/semi-funky college town, I disliked its overt "laid-back-ness." (God, how I hate "laid back.") I think I only lived there for over 20 years because no other options came up. (Other than the ultra-generically-PC San Francisco. Ugh.)

Now that I've had a taste of New York and this whole area...I'm reminded of some lines from Plath's "Mystic":

Once one has seen God, what is the remedy?...
The pill of the Communion tablet,
the walking beside still water? Memory?

I feel like that about NYC. It really is a special place for me.

Not that I'm doing anything exciting here other than walking around! It's just a stunning, vibrant town that one can enjoy and be inspired by even if poor and jobless! The sluggishness of Austin (and the dumber PC-ness of San Fran) depressed the hell out of me. It's hard to explain, but, while my actual jobless situation here in this area is indeed depressing, I'm very much NOT depressed whenever I walk around. Whereas, back in Austin when I was gainfully employed and had a nice/cheap house, car, et al, I didn't feel good or alive at all.

So my internal question is: If NYC kicks me to the curb, where the hell am I going to go??

(A side-note: Years ago, when I had an "online thang" going on with someone from Norway, I did indeed fantasize about moving there! I've always wanted to live in Europe: either Germany, England, or the Scandinavian countries, which seem particularly sane. And, just recently, when I had yet another "online thang" going, this time with someone from Houston... As much as I was fascinated by the woman, there was actually NO WAY that I would have EVER moved to Houston, even in my fantasies! As I learned after my brief move back to Fort Worth at 23: Not even personal love and/or obsession can conquer a bad town.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

TORN

This used to be one of my favorite songs ever. Still is. I heard it again today, for the first time in over a decade, in a drugstore while I was wandering about Union City.

I'd gotten out of bed this afternoon at something like 3pm, after going to sleep at 7am, waking up at 11, forcing myself to go back to sleep just 'cause I didn't want to face having to get up and do chore-ish, stressful things like: (1) finally register for unemployment.

Many unemployed folk can register online, but... I hadn't worked in Jersey for the required past 18 months, only the past 6 (before then I was working in NYC), and so I had to call in and speak with someone. (The whole 18-month-thing freaked me out; what if I turned out not to be eligible for any money?!)

After calling in, there were first a series of touch-tone questions you had to answer, which I did. And then I was supposed to be connected with a person, but instead got a message that the wait-time was too long and so: Goodbye. Click. So I had to call back and start all over again. I ended up sitting on hold for nearly an HOUR. To make matters worse, during the wait, my stupid phone batteries started beeping that they were low. The second I finally got someone on the line, I, fully expecting the worst, quickly gave the man my cell number and made him PROMISE he'd call me back if my land-phone died. It didn't. He and I went through the paces pleasantly. (He was pleasant and all, but still kept getting most of my numbers wrong -- my social, my zip code, my phone, my street address. Whatever he repeated back to me was off by a digit or more and I had to correct him almost every time, which was disconcerting.) Anyway, I got signed up. Whew. (Whatever I end up getting will just barely cover my rent, but it's something.)

After that lengthy ordeal, and at least 6 cigarettes in an hour-and-a-half, I was completely jittery, but made myself shower and get out of the house. Still to do: Buy new phone batteries. Buy and mail a birthday card for my mom. Get the cable bill in the mail so it would arrive before they cut me off for non-payment. Robot-like and grim, I set out to find the batteries and the card...

And then in the drugstore...

"Torn" first came out in the late '90s, and I immediately fell in love with it, putting it on just about every mix tape I made back then, while I was still bemoaning the loss of my first girlfriend, and clubbing-to-a-stupor almost every night of the week. I was miserable, but... energetically miserable, with hope springing eternal every time I heard this song. It's actually desolate lyrically, but the tune, and Imbruglia's face and voice, were just soooooooooooo pretty... They made my own emotional suffering seem pretty, made me want a pretty, suffering girlfriend like that...

Nowadays, I'm learning all about hard-core, real consequences. About suffering that isn't pretty. (And thinking about the woman I'm in love with, and whom I've lost, thinking of her lost man while she's listening to this song.)

Nothing's fine, I'm torn
I'm all out of faith
This is how I feel
I'm cold and I am shamed
lying naked on the floor
Illusion never changed
into something real
I'm wide awake and I can see
the perfect sky is torn

But back then, the first time I heard it, everything was still up in the air and "future," all the hurt still somehow un-real and to be worked out, this beautiful, sad song to be fucked to after getting back together...


Monday, May 25, 2009

Adam Lambert: Ring of Fire

Dang! You listen to this and tell me it doesn't give you goosebumps.

And here's the thing: Lambert did this version of the song on "American Idol" after working beforehand with the traditional-country artist Randy Travis, who expressed his bewilderment at Lambert's choice of song delivery. I like and respect judge Randy Travis and original artist Johnny Cash, but I'm also greatly admiring of the kid Lambert for daring to re-work a classic, one that no one thought could be re-done in any way other than the original.

This version equals Johnny Cash's. No, you know what, it surpasses it. Who the hell should be as deadpan as Cash is when confronted with the burning demons of desire. Really now. Was Cash trying to be funny? Or just doing the song the best manly way he knew how? Frankly, I'm sick of irony and "cool." Lambert's howling, swirling version of the song's desire hits a thousand times more close to home for me.

(Apologies for the ads stuck over Lambert's face in this video. Courtesy of the idiot who posted it on YouTube. This was the best audio version of the song I could find, though. So please listen and not look!)

Meeting Mary Gaitskill

Dunno why, but I made a note to do a search for the writer Mary Gaitskill a couple of days ago (which I finally did tonight), to check up on what had happened to her in the past 10-odd years since I met her.

In the early/mid-90s, she was my absolute favorite writer, and a life-saver. Coming out of a very bad, emotionally abusive relationship (my first sexual relationship) in 1991, I soon after stumbled upon her then-recent first novel "Two Girls, Fat and Thin"... The main character's relationships were as murky and dark as mine had just been, but her solitary voice was crystal-clear and eloquent and non-flinching in the face of uncertainty and insanity. Reading the book helped me feel sane again. As did Gaitskill's earlier book of stories, "Bad Behavior," in which her various characters also managed to find honest moments of purity and kindness in the midst of emotional turmoil.

(A side-note: The recent movie "Secretary" was based on one of Gaitskill's "Bad Behavior" stories. The movie was lauded by "edgy" critics for its portrayal of S/M. I had to laugh at the reviews. In the story, the secretary-character worked for an aging, sleazy lawyer with local political aspirations. There was spanking going on, and it was on one level exciting for the secretary...yet she also felt deeply conflicted by why she was letting the sleaze-ball denigrate her. She ended up quitting her job, and the lawyer ended up being investigated for fraud. In the movie, the lawyer was played by the blond and pretty James Spader. And the two literally lived happily ever after. There was nothing at all "edgy" or realistic about that.)

Maybe in '92 or '93, I wrote her a letter in care of her publisher, expressing my gratitude for her voice. I was fucking AMAZED to get a personal letter back a few weeks later! We exchanged maybe 3 or 4 hand-written letters, and she kindly signed the books for me via the mail. At the time, she was living in San Francisco (she'd given me her home address) and had recently taught at San Fran State... Completely coincidentally, in '94/'95 I ended up going to SF State's writing program. I didn't contact Gaitskill during that time, for fear of seeming like a stalker (to be honest, I did once make a point of walking past her apartment), though I did send her a Christmas card just as I was leaving SF to go back to Austin.

Once back in Austin in early '96, we resumed our correspondence for a short time, this time even sending mix tapes to each other! (Young folks, pre-iPods and downloading, nothing used to say "I have a crush" like making a cassette of your favorite songs for someone!) I don't have her tape with me here in Weehawken (though I saved it; it's back in the Mom's garage in San Antone), but two things I remember from it (aside from the pure joy at getting a tape from her!): an aria from "La Boheme" and the Monkees' "Stepping Stone." (I can't recall at all what I put on my tape for her.)

Come August 1996... and it turned out that Gaitskill just so happened to be en route via moving van from San Francisco to her new Fall teaching job at the University of Houston, and would be passing through Austin. We made plans to meet at the downtown Austin hotel where she'd be staying for the night...on my birthday! I thought it was all fucking FATE! I loved her work, she looked like my ex-girlfriend/was a Scorpio like my ex-girlfriend, I loved her mix tape selections, we had San Fran State and now Texas in common, it was my birthday... I just KNEW that this was my soul-mate and that we'd be having hot sex at her hotel that night to celebrate both my birthday and "our magical connection"...

OK. It didn't QUITE turn out like that.

First off, she was late getting into town and left a phone-message while she was a few hours away, saying she'd be late: A loooooong message, and her voice -- the first time I'd heard her speak -- was very whiny-sounding and irritating. As much as I was looking forward to seeing her, her voice and message for some reason really got on my nerves. Still, the meeting at the hotel was apparently still on. I sat around and waited, drinking numerous beers, calling various friends with updates: "No, she hasn't called back yet..."
Finally, she arrived in Austin and did call me to meet her at her hotel. I went to the hotel and called her room from the lobby, which was deserted. I remember saying to her on the phone, "I feel like a hooker." She asked, "Why? Are you dressed like a hooker?" (No, I wasn't -- just wearing black slacks and a low-cut black shirt -- but for some reason being all made up and calling up to her hotel room from the desolate lobby made me feel that way!)

She came downstairs to meet me in the lobby. (I think I'd hoped to be invited up to her room, but apparently she was traveling with a female friend who was very nervous from the trip and now conked out in their room upstairs.) Based on her writing and letters and the public photos I'd seen, I was expecting some at least semi-glam semi-femme fatale who would come on to me, but... Basically, she was very little and very plain-looking, like Emily Dickinson must've been. A very small, pinched, white face. She was wearing a shirt buttoned all the way to the top (!) and some flats with flowers (!) on them. And I don't remember her smiling very much or exuding even a bit of charm.

We sat down on some lobby couches and started to, slightly uncomfortably, make small talk... I finally, dorkily burst out with, "It's my birthday! Should we get some champagne?" She looked at me flatly and said: "I don't know you." Now, though I was poor, I hadn't meant that SHE should buy it. I actually didn't have enough money to buy a whole bottle by myself, so I had to dig through my purse and then come up with: "I have enough to pay for two-thirds of a bottle---do you want to go in on the last third?"

She DID pitch in for a third of the bottle of champagne! And after that debacle, we sat back down in the lobby and talked about... I can't remember most of it. Except, that is, for our mutually dissing SF State and Frances Mayes (at the time, the head of the writing program there, who went on shortly afterward to fame and fortune as the author of "Under the Tuscan Sun") and our arguing about the importance of the Beatles! (Gaitskill claimed that, sans the Beatles, somehow their spirit would have made its way into the public consciousness... I disagreed profoundly, claiming their utter uniqueness...)

I think we chatted for maybe two hours. Not a single sex vibe to be found, darnit. We hugged politely when I left, and that was it. I'm sure I went home and cried from disappointment. The flat vibe between us was such that I knew that there would be no more letters, no more tapes, no more personal excitement.

In the year or so after that, I read Gaitskill's later-released collection of short stories, "Because They Wanted To." Of course, the magic was gone. And then I lost track of her altogether.

Tonight, though, after my Internet search, I found that since our dull meeting in '96, she'd released another story collection, and, in 2005, a critically-acclaimed award-winning novel called "Veronica." (Not to mention her numerous articles for national magazines.) And that she'd been married, since 2001, to writer Peter Trachtenberg and was living a rural life in upstate New York and occasionally teaching. And was now a bleached-blonde.

Note: I just visited Professor Trachtenberg's blog: I was struck by how utterly safe and conformist it was. He loves Obama; he hates Sarah Palin; Americans, and people, are Mean at Heart. That kind of thing. I think, because he wears an earring in his photo and that he's married to Mary Gaitskill, that I was hoping for more...something original that I hadn't heard before. Nah. Just a generic, intellectually cowardly and nondescript professor trying to present himself as "edgy and cool."

What I found most depressing, though, was a recent interview with Gaitskill in which she mentions, congratutorily, how she and Trachtenberg have been mocking the idea of "intimacy" classes... Now, "intimacy classes" being ridiculous and clammy is, to me, a given. The fact that one has to publicize the mocking speaks far more about one's own insecurities about being "cool" than about said classes... Gaitskill, in the interview, goes on to say how she and Trachtenberg have come up with "Into Me See" ("Intimacy" -- get it?!), in which the person in therapy bends over and reveals their asshole for everyone else... CLEVER!!

Melancholy how life works, how one can care so deeply about someone else's thoughts... and then just as suddenly NOT care at all about them. Just 'cause their writing was so much more meaningful and profound than their personal vibe could embody...

Gaitskill's Wikipedia page

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Adam Lambert = Elvis/Bowie

Although gay myself, I really am bored by generic asexual "goody-goody" gay guys like Ryan Seacrest (and Seacrest lookalike Neil), Clay Aiken, et al. Gay guys like that, utterly devoid of any sexuality and/or personality, give "gay" and "man" a boringly cheesy name. Turning to them for inspiration is like being turned on by your local PTA president.

Then there's Adam Lambert... I hadn't watched "American Idol" all season, until 2 weeks ago, after I'd been hearing in the media that there was going to be an Idol showdown between a "flamboyant gay guy" and a "guy from the the heartland." Stereotypically flamboyant gay guys usually get on my nerves, as do stereotypically wholesome-slash-pseudo-edgy straight guys.

When I finally tuned in to "Idol" a couple of weeks ago to see for myself, though... Kris Allen, the heartland-guy, really was a generic spiky-haired non-entity, singing whatever song in a generically husky voice that sounded like the equally generic Keith Urban.

Adam Lambert, on the other hand: Damn! That is a MAN!

However gay or bi he is, he's also completely original, very male, very powerfully sexy and intense in an "Elvis/Bowie/Freddie Mercury" way...and he's also a goose-bump-inspiringly beautiful singer.

The yawningly bland Kris Allen won the actual show competition tonight, but... Adam Lambert is the first American Idol singer whose CD I will probably actually buy. And the first American Idol singer who will probably actually be remembered.

Here's Lambert's Tears for Fears "Mad World" performance on AI earlier this season:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rilke/Rebound

(First, see the previous blog entry about Rilke.)

I've spent the past 3 days with him now, for the most part my TV off, doing little but lying in bed, reading Rilke and watching the patterns of light on my walls.

I've been so utterly stressed-filled for the past 6 months, the 12-hour days, coming home only to drink and get on the computer for some relief of the tension, a brief window-of-opportunity to re-claim myself, my own personality, in light of my long daylight-hours spent being polite and turning 75% of my brain off... And simultaneously during this same 6 months, trying to connect with someone from my past, but being unable to because I was now always rather obnoxiously "on"... ("I'm not that same kid from 23 years ago" was what I was basically, constantly trying to prove. I never could relax and just say, for instance, as I should have way back at Christmas: "I'll bet your new dress is pretty...I'd love to see it.") And then my best-friend-cat Gracie getting sick with cancer in January, having to watch her die for 3 months...

Here's what I wrote today, after Sandra and Gracie, and finally having days to lie in my bed and read Rilke and think about the past 6 months, and finally feeling some sense of peace, finally able to attempt to get over the horror at what exactly I've lost:


(RE)BOUND

I'd imagined me trapped
in your game-world forever.
My real-life cat
dragging herself from corner to
corner, while your glass-enclosed "No"
echoed over phone and 'Net,
pinballing off my walls.

I could not flip it back.
Still it wracked up its score, bouncing
off both wacky bells and my girl's
silent writhing.

Now through my screen
the smells of the sun and grass and asphalt
rise to a new season. It's May.

On my wall
the light and leaves shy lashes
butterfly kisses
leaving, alighting again
flirting with my cat's ashes.

In her place I soak up the shimmering sun.
I stroke my hair and arch my back
and let my eyes go green.
In shadows glancing off you, and me, and
everything.

Re-reading Rilke

This, my first week of unemployment, I've spent (1) registering with employment agencies and (2) lying/walking around aimlessly, enjoying this beautiful 75-ish-degree weather and my not having to be on a crappy bus for 3 hours a day.

Monday I spent turning off my TV, going grocery shopping, buying the 7-year-old nephew some cheap birthday gifts from a drugstore, and reading David Sedaris's latest collection of essays, "When You Are Engulfed in Flames." Reading Sedaris always makes me feel sane and happy, and after I finished his book, I was at a loss for how to keep the "good feeling" intact... didn't want to turn the TV back on, so reached for my Rilke books -- the collected poems and "Letters to a Young Poet." And lay in bed and read and watched the patterns of the light/leaves flickering on my closet door and read some more and watched and read...

My Rilke poems I bought back in '86 when I was consumed with poetry and melancholy and carried this book around with me wherever I went. I don't have the energy right now to type out lengthy stretches of his "Duino Elegies" that were/are so beautifully moving and life-giving to me, but from Monday 'til today I kept especially re-reading the First, Fourth, and Ninth elegies. And then poems from his "Sonnets to Orpheus" series and individual poems like "O Lacrimosa" and "What birds plunge through..." and "Lament"... OK, I will take the time to quote from "Lament" because it echoes what I've been constantly aware of and picking up on psychically for much of my life:

Everything is far
and long gone by.
I think that the star
glittering above me
has been dead for a million years.
I think there were tears
in the car I heard pass
and something terrible was said...

And then in Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet" (written in the early 1900s to... a young poet), I had to write down the following snippets, more genuinely soul-healing than anything Joel Osteen could have told me (though he tried, he tried!):

"Do not be bewildered by the surfaces; in the depths all becomes law. And those who live the secret wrong and badly (and they are very many), lose it only for themselves and still hand it on, like a sealed letter, without knowing it."

"...consider whether these great sadnesses have not rather gone right through the center of yourself? Whether much in you has not altered, whether you have not somewhere, at some point of your being, undergone a change while you were sad?...For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown ...Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing. For this reason the sadness too passes: the new thing is in us, the added thing, has entered into our heart, has gone into its inmost chamber and is not even there any more, -- is already in our blood."

"That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter...And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us."

When I'm scared, Rilke has always helped me to not be scared.

Blogs and Family Members

Oh jeezus. Opened a can of worms with that last "Suicide: July 5" blog entry. I knew that my dad and brother visited this blog occasionally, though I thought it was more like every 5 or 6 months or something. Turns out the Dad read the suicide entry, called the Mom, who doesn't have a computer at home so she had to call the Brother, who was at work, and had him read the entry to her, upon which the Mom called me...

Folks, I just re-read what I wrote, and I did say at least twice that I'm NOT going to kill myself, but if I WERE going to, I had plenty of reasons why, and that I would wait 'til after the neat-o fireworks. My citing actual burial arrangements seemed to freak everyone out the most, but I seem to recall even an episode of "The Hills" last season where Lauren Conrad (hardly a dark and gloomy sort) was visiting home and found an old high-school diary where she was instructing her friends and family what she wanted to wear in her coffin and what songs to play at the funeral service. Think of my blog entry kind of like THAT. A little more serious, perhaps, because I do have some pretty serious job/monetary/isolation problems right now that don't seem to have solutions, but also quite in the spirit of high-school fantasizing about a dark subject.

As for those burial arrangements: I got a nice e-mail from my brother, which ended funnily: "oh yeah, here's my threat: you kill yourself and I'm gonna bury you in that piece-of-shit land in Briar Oaks. be warned." ("Briar Oaks" is the place outside of Azle where I lived miserably from age 12 to 18. If that threat isn't enough to keep me alive, I don't know what the hell will!) :) And thanks to Mom for offering to send me a month's rent while I'm looking for a job. (Dad, if you really want to help, you can pay for a psychiatrist for me once a week so I can get some help dealing with my coping issues rather than talking about them on a blog when they become too much to handle internally.)

This all leads to a larger issue: Damn, but my blog is going to be incredibly boring if I have to write entries while censoring myself in light of what my parents might say! (How the hell do 60-somethings like my dad even know about "blogs" anyway??) I don't really WANT to censor myself any more than I already do. But in the future, I will try to keep you guys in mind.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Suicide: July 5

If you've got even a modicum of spark left in you, then... no suicide.

I've got a little bit of spark, so... no suicide.

But I was just recently thinking: I've got no job, no car, no cat, no friends, no nothing... And July 4 is a stand-out date to me: the last time I had sex. AND that last sex happened to be a re-tread with my very first girlfriend years after we broke up. After the bad sex, she and I went and watched the shitty Austin fireworks and tried to make conversation...Blah. But, thankfully, end of my 10-year obsession.

Now that I have no job, I'll be able to make June 1 rent. July 1 rent: doubtful. But the July 4 NYC fireworks on the Hudson are going to be spectacular from where I live. I'm definitely going to be around to see them.

After July 4: I ain't going back to Texas. I don't want a roommate. I ain't movin' to Cleveland or someplace just to have a job.

I've never actually thought about killing myself, and I won't. But if I were to do so: July 5 would be the date.

How to do it, though? The easiest ways seem to be by pills or by gas/exhaust fumes (Plath/Sexton). I don't have any prescriptions, and I don't have access to a garage... Oh, but wait---I do have a gas stove! (Though, I've heard that gas today isn't the same as gas 40 years ago... Turning on my Weehawken gas stove probably won't kill me.)

Being in New York, jumping off a glamorous building or the Brooklyn Bridge seems like an option, but... NO. Jesus. I've read stories of jumping survivors who told about being half-way down and having regrets. (Even if I hadn't read those stories, I know that I'd be half-way down and having regrets. I fucking THINK too much. I don't want to be frantically regretting while in motion while I'm en route to dying. I want to just lie in my bed and peacefully just fade out, while listening to the Beatles and Julie London and being alone with my thoughts about what and who I've loved.)

July 5.

It's funny how long I think it'll take anyone to notice my spirit isn't still here! :) People from the Joan message board will probably start to comment on my absence at the end of July. (And then really freak once no payments are made to my domain and the company cancels the actual Joan website circa September or October.) And even my mom probably won't figure it ("it" being "my absence") out until weeks after my August 11 birthday when she doesn't hear from me.

July 5. It's interesting to think about. Not that my mom will ever be able to figure out how to find these instructions here on this random blog that she doesn't know about, but, just in case (Brother Thomas -- you've been here on this blog; here's exactly what I want):

No burial. Cremation. And toss my ashes, along with Gracie's (sitting in a box in my bedroom), over the Hudson River. I repeat: The Hudson. Don't EVEN cart any part of me back to Texas.

Silly Bird

Just now there was a bird outside my window chirping the intro notes to the Drifters song "If You Cry (True Love)." (Couldn't find the song on YouTube for an example to show here, but the bird was uncannily exact! I wonder if the author of the song had heard the same bird before he wrote the song. Must've, the bird's notes were so exactly like the song intro.)

Tonight, I was also thinking about titles of things:

Months ago, S. and I both liked "Universal Remote."

And, tonight, I also thought of "Holding Pattern" and "Style and Stigma" (the latter, also the sexual apparatus of plants -- but what a great duel meaning!).

I've never had a collaborator, but I very much miss someone to bounce ideas off of.

Proof is in the Bagels

On my last day of work Friday:

Got a big mass o' "goodbye bagels" and "goodbye Munchkins"! An older co-worker whom I've been clashing with for weeks bought the bagels, which was kindly of her. (Funnily, she sent out an e-mail to the department saying that I was leaving and that there were bagels: The majority of people wandering into my room were indeed there to say 'bye first and foremost, but then there was the one cheesy person whom I'd never ever spoken to before who just wanted the bagels! I had to laugh at her wishing me well! "Who ARE you, Woman?")

My one office-mate, whom I've bitched about before, and I were also on a creative tear today, giddy with the idea of me being gone, I'm sure. All of a sudden, we decided that we were going to write and star in a sit-com, the running titles (all references to proofreading): READY, STET, GO!, BURDEN OF PROOF, BULLET-PROOF (proofreaders by day, crimefighters by night). Sadly, PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING got rejected...

Gorgeous

Joan Crawford: 1964. I never thought Joan was that attractive in her early silent years in the '20s, but from '31 to approximately '65, I just loooooooooove how she looks.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Really, Astrocenter is messin' with my head!

Your horoscope for May 14, 2009

Some unexpected phone calls from friends or colleagues could bring you some wonderful news today, STEPHANIE. A serendipitous lucky break could end the logjam that has held up the attainment of all your hopes and dreams. Love, money, success in your career and personal development - all seem to be falling into place at once. You might spend much of the day walking around in a daze, trying to take it all in. Relax and stay focused. You're on your way!

--------------------------------

OK, as of 7pm Eastern on the 14th, still no such call! I'm waitingggggggggggggggg... :) Really, it's just downright MEAN of them to keep saying such wonderful things and then denying me! Love? Money?? Career success??? I can't even imagine that such nice things actually exist! (Well, I still have 5 hours left for "May 14." We shall see.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"Sunshine on Leith" goosebumps

One of my favorite songs by the Proclaimers, sung en masse by the crowd after a Scottish soccer victory by the "Hibs" in 2007.

Kindness

This Sunday, May 10, a fellow Joan Crawford-fan and I went out to visit Joan's Ferncliff crypt in Hartsdale, New York, on the anniversary of her death.

Months ago, my old digital camera had broken, and I'd just recently bought a new digital camera, which I took out to Ferncliff.

I shot dozens of photos of the crypt, and of the flowers delivered by us Joan-fans, with the new camera.

When I got home, though, and tried to download them... My computer is from 2000, with the Windows ME system. The new camera will only operate with Windows XP and newer. I couldn't download any of my Ferncliff pictures to my computer.

I cried, I apologized profusely to the Joan fans who had contributed money to the flower fund and were now unable to see any photos of their efforts.

Embarrassed, I stayed off the Internet for two days to hang my head in shame. And when I returned... Had a money contribution, had an offer to send me a laptop, had a message from the florists offering to help me download the photos...

I was feeling so extremely, extremely low and guilty... And to get back online and see the kindness and generosity of people... I can't get over how utterly NICE people were...

Several years ago, when I lived in Austin and, long-distance, ordered flowers delivered to Ferncliff but was unable to travel to the New York area to take pictures to "prove" the flowers had been delivered, a "rival Joan Crawford web-master" accused me of stealing the money... That creepy accusation has stayed with me. Ever since then, I've always assumed that each year's flower-fund drive would be doubted, unless I immediately showed photographs...

This year, I was indeed unable to immediately show photographs... And those who knew me backed me up 100% and offered to help with the download that I'd had problems with.

I'm extremely grateful for such utter kindness and faith.

OK, just stop it, astrocenter horoscopes! :)

Your horoscope for May 13, 2009

Today you could feel a rush of sensual passion and desire, STEPHANIE, and may want to get together with a love partner in the evening. However, you might not be able to do this right now. Other responsibilities could get in the way of what you want to do. Perhaps it's best to schedule a meeting of some kind - even if it's very late in the evening. You'll need the comfort if nothing else.

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What's weird is how normal and happy such a horoscope might seem to someone else, yet how completely far-fetched it seems to me in my current state. (Like the joyous, love-infused horoscope of May 9 that I posted here days ago.)

Why do I feel so far removed from the very possibility of experiencing a "rush of sensual passion and desire"? I do very much "need the comfort."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gracie

This is insane. After she died, my cat was cremated for $165, ashes shoved into an approximately 6-inch by 3-inch box. With a fake-gold label "Gracie" on the side.

Some idiot at work asked me, after I'd told her that my cat had just been cremated, where I'd had the ashes buried. I said I didn't have the ashes buried. Why not?: "Gee --- I'm not FROM HERE. I'm just RENTING. I didn't/couldn't HAVE HER ASHES BURIED anywhere..."

What does happen with me and Gracie is that she's now in said 6-by-3-inch box on a shelf in my bedroom. When I'm feeling particularly sad, I curl up on my side in bed and place her wooden box in the nook between my belly and legs, the way she used to sleep with me. And then I stroke the box and talk to it. (Yeah, go ahead and make fun.)

And when I wake up in the morning and want to sit on the side of my bed with a cigarette before I go to work, I remember that Gracie didn't like the smoke, and so I make sure I move her fucking 6x3 box back across the room, back onto that shelf, before I smoke.

And when I'm on my way home from work, I STILL inadvertently think of coming home to her and feeding her the second I walk in the door...

Saturday, May 09, 2009

My horoscope for Saturday, May 9

Hmmmmm... Now, fat chance that who I want to call me will call, but...interesting horoscope! (BTW: It's from Astrocenter.com, if anyone's interested in getting their own daily horoscopes sent to them. I like mine a lot; they're usually non-generic and a tiny bit more in-depth than some other daily 'scopes. Though my absolute favorite horoscope remains "Free Will Astrology" by Rob Brezsny (sp?) which I read here in the "Village Voice" and back when I lived in Austin in the "Chronicle." The Brezsny weekly horoscopes are always thoughtfully philosophical and put me in a good mood, even when they tell me I have "mental work" to do that week.)

Your horoscope for May 9, 2009
A friend from far away, probably a woman, could contact you over the phone, by email or even pay you a surprise-visit, STEPHANIE. She might bring great news that could suddenly turn your life in a new direction. This might involve a new intellectual study, or possibly a new circle of friends. At any rate, you'll certainly enjoy catching up with her and hearing what she has to say. Enjoy your day.

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So far, I have indeed enjoyed my day! Amazing how much you can get accomplished when you don't wake up depressed with a hang-over!

I have been in a funk since March---I knew by then that my job would be ending in May; my cat was dying; I couldn't get along with someone I liked a lot... And then both "the semi-relationship" and my beautiful Gracie ended at almost the same time, on April 15. And the 3 hours of travel to work was finally wearing me down completely after almost 6 months to the point where I couldn't stand it any more (not to mention the fact that my office-mate gets completely on my nerves: She's a brown-noser, she's not a good copy editor, I do 3 times the work that she does, etc. etc.). It's been bad the past 3 weeks.

Then around last Thursday or Friday, I finally was able to come up for air a little mentally. After next Friday, I won't have 12-hour days (which includes the travel time) any more. And this Jersey job I've had for 6 months was EXACTLY like the job I had back in Austin: extreme corporate environment, an out-of-the-way building in a suburb. I didn't move all the way up here for that! And the work bus: I'd have to make the same polite conversation with the same people every day, even if I didn't feel like talking. Same when I stood outside for a smoke. And, since I don't have a car, I was trapped on the work campus every day, eating the same over-priced cafeteria food, unable to run out to shop or do errands at lunch, unable to grab a street-vendor hot-dog or people-watch or smoke in peace without having to smile at people... And then there's the wasted money: It was wasting me @ $300 a month at that job: $5 a day for the company bus ($110 per month); $5 a day for getting TO and FROM that bus; $6 for the crappy cafeteria food...

So, anyhow, late this week, I finally started to feel a whole lot free-er, knowing the end of the past 6-month phase of my life is near...

I got about 9 hours of sleep last night, then woke up today and looked around my apartment: What a mess! Since April 15, I've been so down that I let things go completely. ALL of my dishes were piled up. ALL of my wearable clothes were in heaps on the floor. My toilet and tub and kitchen sink were all filthy. My trash was nearly overflowing, and I had 3 bags of recyclables just sitting around, since I hadn't bothered to take them downstairs for 3 weeks. A new camera that I'd bought online was still in its unopened box, where it had been sitting for the past 3 weeks. My fridge and cupboards were (both literally and metaphorically) bare.

Long story short: I got off my ass today, full of energy for the first time in forever, and started in on the mess. Let the first tub of dishes soak while getting the first load of laundry started. Then hand-wash/bleach 2 white shirts that had lost their lustre. While they're soaking, wash the first tub of dishes. When it's time to go to the basement to put in a new load of wash, take 2 sacks of trash out. Back upstairs, rinse the shirts and hang them up, then start soaking the bras, then put the first load of dishes away, then do the second and while waiting for them to dry, for god's sake CLEAN THE GREASE OFF OF THE STOVE-TOP!

OK, it goes on and on and on like that! :) At the end of the time period between 11:30am and 7pm, I'd: washed/dried/folded 4 loads of laundry, washed/dried/put away 4 loads of dishes, done 2 loads of hand-washing, cleaned the stove-top and counter-tops, swept the floors, taken 3 bags of recyclables and the big bag of trash out, scrubbed the toilet and the bathtub, thrown away old stuff from the fridge, gone grocery shopping for the first time in 3 weeks (and, while there, told a couple of check-out clerks who were saying "fuckin' this" and "fuckin' that" that I didn't feel like listening to them curse and talk about their personal lives while I was checking out; the guy apologized, the girl "punished" me by rolling her eyes and not looking at me or speaking the rest of the time; I was a bitch and went and told her manager), taken the damn camera out of its box/put in batteries/figured out how it worked, eaten a relatively healthy meal and taken a vitamin (I read somewhere weeks ago that multi-vitamins didn't do any good, so I stopped taking mine. Then my hair started to look dull and crappy -- maybe from the stress, maybe from no multi-vitamin...), AND done a couple of hours of copy-editing that I'd brought home with me, AND STILL (frivolously) caught up on a couple of episodes of "Daisy of Love" and some old MSNBC Drew Peterson interviews in between cleaning.

Not to mention psyching myself up for the possibility of having to get a roommate as of July 1, if I'm still on unemployment by then. (While the 3 roommates I had upon arriving in this area in 2007 were each nightmares in their own way, this time I'M in charge of choosing! My main criteria: Please be QUIET! And no drugs on the premises! My older landlord/landlady live downstairs and like me a lot --- so they'll back me up on anything if I have to tell an obnoxious, wigged-out person to leave. I was so horrifyingly powerless with those 3 early roomies, completely and depressingly at the mercy of their insanity...)

The only thing I didn't do that I had wanted to get done is go into Manhattan to get my hair cut. But I'll do that next Saturday. A symbolic fresh start after my Friday goodbye at work. Then my nails done on Monday (cheaper Mon-Wed at the little places here in Weehawken than in Manhattan). Then a new employment agency interview every day the coming week. And the week after. And the week after.

Whatever it takes to stay here. The upcoming "deadline" of May 15 for my job ending, with no other job in sight, made me really think hard about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be. Going back to Texas was always an option. When I lived in San Fran for 2 years in the mid-90s, I hated it so and couldn't WAIT to get back to Austin. Now, though: I really do love NY. I love my Weehawken apartment. I like the Northeast, both weather-wise and attitude-wise, more than I like Texas (where it's too friggin' hot, and where idiots like Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. John Cornyn are indicative of the frat-boy mentality that rules there).

While scary and depressing, it's also been interesting and, now, a bit exhilarating mentally to be confronted with an actual CROSSROADS in my life. I've got literally nothing (except my health, thank you god), and I have no idea what the hell is going to happen to me.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bus talk: To bounce or not to bounce

Sometimes overheard bus conversations are incredibly annoying. One earlier this week: A schlubby-looking 20-something guy with spectacles and sensible shoes and white socks making plans for a "blow-out" party. He kept giving his phone-friend instructions to bring the lights---he wants them not too bright; like white Christmas lights, but not too many---and don't forget the "sound equipment"...

The soiree is to be held in someone's garage (presumably Bernie's). And they're not going to let anyone OUT of the garage, because if they did, every time they'd open the door, that might invite police attention. (Trapped in a garage with a string of Christmas lights and what will probably turn out to be a boom-box...Sounds like a blast!) After telling the friend for the millionth time to bring the lights, Young Bernie Suave then added a final business-like grace note: "All I want to do now is go home and take a big shit. I'll call you back." Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!


Yesterday, though, the bus phone-calls got better. A young woman sat behind me and put in a call to, not her best friend Tara, but another one of her homegirls, Tyesha. Turns out that the young woman (who sounded like a slightly more well-spoken and subdued Rosie Perez) had days before texted Tyesha that, if worse came to worse, could Rosie Jr. and her son come stay with her? Tyesha texted back with, "When are you thinking of moving?" Well, looks like Rosie's live-in boyfriend Chris read Tyesha's text, which provoked a crisis since he apparently hadn't been aware that Rosie wanted to move out!

Now, Rosie doesn't REALLY want to move out, but Chris has been acting badly lately, very jealous, starting fights, going through her texts, etc. But why should he be acting that way? HE's the one whose MySpace page still lists his status as "single," even though he and Rosie have been living together for months. And she told him she didn't like that, but...every time she checks his page, it still says "single"!

A few days earlier, Rosie had sat Chris down and asked him straight up: "Can you handle my truth?" Then she gave it to him. She didn't want to bounce. She is so into him. Doesn't she come home from work every night and first thing fix his dinner? "Everything about me tells him I'm his woman." So why, Tyesha, is he acting "retarded"?

Seems Chris has a history of acting this way. When they first started dating, one of Rosie's homegirls (who's 40, but still looks good, although she "has a little bit of ghetto in her. But then don't we all.") somehow got a hold of Chris's address and some private cell phone numbers. Chris had told Rosie he was separated from his wife, but when LilBitO'Ghetto drove to Chris's house one evening, there he was with the wife, looking husbandly while taking out the garbage. Then when LBOG tried one of the secretly obtained cell numbers, lo and behold, his wife answered, and kids were crying in the background... Busted!

At this point, Tyesha had another call, so had to let Rosie go. Darnit! I had really wanted to know how Rosie initially got past the fact that Chris had lied to her about his wife...And, most importantly: Will she or will she not bounce??

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"Dream a Little Dream," 1957

One of my favorite Doris Day songs, from my favorite album of hers, the sexy "Day by Night."

Stars fading, but I linger on, dear
Still craving your kiss
I'm longing to linger 'til dawn, dear...

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

On my Joan Crawford message board, people have been discussing the age-old question of what 5 famous people they'd invite for a dinner party. I couldn't whittle my own list down to 5, but here are 8 that I came up with (in no particular order):

Rasputin
Joan Crawford
Zelda Fitzgerald
Charles Manson
Cleopatra
John Lennon
Anne Sexton
Ted Hughes

Just looking for a little polite, quiet conversation!

400th anniversary fireworks!

NY Times Hudson fireworks article

In honor of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson first making his way up the river now named for him, NYC is moving its 4th of July fireworks show from the East River (where they've been held since 1983) to the Hudson, on the west side of the island. The Hudson separates Manhattan from where I live, Weehawken, which will be THE PERFECT SPOT for viewing! They're going to set up 6 barges in the river, between 24th and 50th Streets. I live within a minute's walk from the Weehawken side of the river, which lies right across from around 30th to 45th Streets!

In the midst of all of the murky, crappy feelings for the past month or more... something literally dazzling and special (and guaranteed) to look forward to! :)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Charles Manson: Look At Your Game Girl

I continue to posit that if Hitler had been accepted into the Vienna School of Art and if Charles Manson had been given a record contract, then none of anything would have happened.

(Funnily, one girl that I was involved with later claimed that I was "sick" because I owned a copy of a Charles Manson interview book. Actually, the man, on occasion, makes some sense. That you can't differentiate between his truth and falsehoods speaks more about your own lack of intellectual sophistication than about either me or Manson...)


Tomtoms or Triangles

I tore this poem out of the NEW YORKER in March. Upon first read, I was all for the "triangles." So sensitive! And then, upon second read... ooops! In actuality, I was completely the "tomtom kid," yes, RUNNING for the tomtoms or equivalent to avoid being stuck with the wimpy, ineffective triangle.

In the poem, Gilbert bemoans having been affected by this earlier childhood experience, growing used to the silence of triangles.

I, on the other hand, think the tragedy lies more in the kid once used to the tomtoms and now forced to live with the triangle-silence.


WAITING AND FINDING
by Jack Gilbert

While he was in kindergarten, everybody wanted to play
the tomtoms when it came time for that. You had to
run in order to get there first, and he would not.
So he always had a triangle. He does not remember
how they played the tomtoms, but he sees clearly
their Chinese look. Red with dragons front and back
and gold studs around that held the drumhead tight.
If you had a triangle, you didn’t really make music.
You mostly waited while the tambourines and tomtoms
went on a long time. Until there was a signal for all
triangle people to hit them the right way. Usually once.
Then it was tomtoms and waiting some more. But what
he remembers is the sound of the triangle. A perfect,
shimmering sound that has lasted all his long life.
Fading out and coming again after a while. Getting lost
and the waiting for it to come again. Waiting meaning
without things. Meaning love sometimes dying out,
sometimes being taken away. Meaning that often he lives
silent in the middle of the world’s music. Waiting
for the best to come again. Beginning to hear the silence
as he waits. Beginning to like the silence maybe too much.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Team NYC (Rejected?)

When I was in 6th grade, I had an utter social rejection that I remember to this day.

We were in gym class preparing to play a basketball game. The gym teacher randomly chose two team captains and then told them to pick people for their teams.

One captain was someone I considered at the time to be a "loser kid." (Not particularly smart or popular or cute or athletic.) The other captain was someone who I thought was a friend of mine. (Not particularly smart, but popular and cute and athletic.)

In 6th grade, I had obnoxious and shallow ideas of who I considered to be "good" or not. At this time, I just assumed that my friend would choose me for the "popular team."

The "popular captain" chose someone. The "loser captain" chose someone. And then another round, and another, and I still wasn't chosen. I started getting nervous and started to act out, overtly gesturing at my "popular friend" both toward myself and toward others in our so-called group as to who he should pick. The captain was looking directly at me and saw what I was asking for, but then purposely, after whisperings with others on his team who had already been chosen AND (!) whisperings with the OTHER captain, picked anyone other than me.

At the end of all the choosing, I was one of the last people picked, and wound up on the so-called "loser team."

DELIBERATELY! WOW! That was some hard-core, cold 6th-grade psychological shit!

While the picking process was utterly humiliating for me, I did nonetheless play my ass off in the stupid ensuing basketball game. The "loser team," of which I was a part, lost by 2 points. But only 2 points. Would've been more, but I was trying like mad to show everyone what I could do despite being rejected, and personally scored a lot of points...

Now here I am, 30-odd years later in NYC... For much of my life I've been judgmental: "This is stupid, this isn't meaningful, this is ridiculous, this is plain and ugly." I've always been extremely quick to judge and comment on. If I left something, it was because I found it "unworthy."

Right now, though, NYC is on the cusp of rejecting ME, when what I want more than anything else is to stay here "on the team."

I feel like I'm back in 6th grade again, gesturing stupidly, saying "Pick me, pick me!" while the city intentionally looks elsewhere... I haven't wanted anything like this in a long time. I didn't "want" Austin. I didn't "want" working at Holt there. And now I DO desperately want to stay in NYC and get any job that allows me to stay here... I LIKE it here. (One thing I like is the non-idiocy---I was embarrassed as all shit at Texas governor Rick Perry recently blathering on about the state seceding from the Union. One, as if a Civil War hadn't already been fought about the issue. And, two, just try to get by without federal funding, you blowhard!)