Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tall Grass



This morning, the morning of my last full day here before I fly back to Texas, I woke up in the middle of a very vivid dream. I was lying on my back in a field of tall grass, wiggling my toes, just lying there enjoying listening and looking and feeling the grass swaying. (There was a girl in the distance, shooting at birds. She kept leaping at them and taking aim, but she always missed, as I knew she would. For some reason, this wasn't ominous in any way. I kind of enjoyed her activity in the background, while I just lay there enjoying myself.) Woke up with a start, feeling like I was still on my back in the grass. I felt happy for the first time in ages.

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

'There is no use trying,' said Alice, 'One can't believe impossible things.'
'I dare say you haven't had much practice,' said the queen, 'When I was your age, I always did it for a half hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'

~Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There

The real "Lady Lazarus" poem

After my below goofy "Moving is an art..." post, I went back and searched for the text of Sylvia Plath's original "Lady Lazarus," 1962. I first read this poem when I was maybe 15, sometime in the '80s. At the time, it gave me a thrill... no other word to describe it. To my young self, it was cool, decadent, goth, jazzy, rock-n-roll-y, non-PC (though no one used that term then)... And emotionally/mentally shocking because of, what I realized later after years of writing and studying poetry, its utter clarity/control of surface language and simultaneous harsh realism/spooky surrealism/clairvoyance -- everything that lies beneath what we actually say/live on the surface.

You can't read this like you read any other poem. It's like music. You don't read the thing, you FEEL it, KNOW it as truth in your bones. Right now, I can't get over how spectacular this is.


LADY LAZARUS

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it----

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
0 my enemy.
Do I terrify?----

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else,
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.

It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

'A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart----
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash ---
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there----

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Moving is an art...

...like everything else,
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.

It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

'A miracle!'
That knocks me out...

[with decided apologies to Sylvia Plath!] :)

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

I've been packing up boxes to mail home all week, which has been much more time-consuming and exhausting than I'd expected. I was supposed to, according to my self-imposed schedule, have been done with packing all but my computer by Sunday, then mailed all today (Monday), but... Nah. I'd left all of my paperwork and personal stuff for last, so I spent more than 6 hours today sorting everything out, tossing stuff, then boxing/taping/addressing. Interminable and grimy and potentially depressing work, except for the fact that there's also a sort of "cleansing" that takes place when you're forced to edit down to the essentials. ("What's really important to me?")

I still have 8 boxes to lug to the post office Tuesday. (No car, so I have to cart the suckers in separate trips to the PO, which is several blocks away. Will, via shopping cart, take 3 trips and about 2-1/2 hours.) Whew. I'm tuckered out.

All of this latest packing up made me think of all of the moving I've done in the past. A bunch. And how tired I am of it, both mentally and physically. (At least when I was a kid, I didn't have to do the physical work all by myself!)

'65 - '77 (baby to 6th grade): Lived in 6 different locales (3 in different Texas cities, 1 in Portugal, 1 in South Carolina, 1 in Georgia)
'77 - '83 (6th - 12th grade): Azle, Texas. 1 house.
'83 - '88: Austin, Texas. (5 different places)
'88: Fort Worth, Texas. (2 different places)
'89 - '94: Austin. (5 different places)
'94 - '95: San Francisco. (2 different places)
'95 - 2007: Austin. ('95 - '00, 3 places; '00 - '07, same place)
'07 - '10: New York City/Weehawken. (3 places in first year; same place for last 2 years)

Is there a lesson for me there? For instance, I've lived longest in one spot in my Azle house as a teen (6 years) and in my Austin rented house as an adult (6 years). Azle, I have no sense of security about, no desire AT ALL to ever go back there. Austin: Those 6 years were fine, but, again, it's not like they instilled a sense of "home" or "security" in me... I think the "lesson" might be: It's a real pain in the ass to move around all the time. Thinking that things might be magically better, when in fact they almost always turn out to be pretty much exactly the same (unless you're escaping from an incompatible roommate/lover -- in which case: Move, move! And learn a lesson about moving in with such in the first place!). So why not just stay somewhere -- sans roommate, of course -- and avoid all the moving crap? Hmmmm. May be.

Ironically, despite my newfound-mature wants and wishes, I'm still not going to be situated for months to come after leaving NYC/Weehawken. First: All my stuff, and me, is off to my mom's house in San Antonio. Then SHE, with me and my boxed-up stuff trailing along, moves to a new house in Austin a few weeks later. Where I sit with all of my boxed-up stuff (and no cable or car) until I can find some/any lowly job and finally get my own place again... which will most likely be a cheap, loud apartment amidst equally poor college kids that I can't wait to get away from once I get a better-paying job more suited to my "lofty" and "mature" standards.

Jesus, what a grind. If I were more pleasant and charming, I'd be out shopping for a Sugar Mama/Daddy/Anyone to ensconce me in a manse. Yes, that's right. After all of this dislocation, I've now been driven to wanting to be "ensconced" in a goddamn "manse."

I think I've just been Crank-Yanked... or somethin'!

There used to be an old show on MTV, I think it was, called "Crank Yankers," which featured Muppet-looking puppets acting out actual prank phone-calls. (You see the puppets as they make the calls, and hear real call recipients' voices on the other end of the line. Stuff like the old man puppet calling a cleaning service and asking if the lady will have sex with him after she cleans his house since his mean, crippled wife upstairs won't put out. Funnily, most of the real-life people are extremely patient under quite bizarre circumstances.)

Anyhow, this past weekend, I had furniture/appliances for sale online, including a phone number to call. Almost immediately after I posted my ad for my TV, what sounded like an old Chinese woman called. She raved on and on about what a great deal it was and said her son would come pick it up immediately. And since I sounded so nice on the phone, she was going to send me a special dish as a present. I told her "no, no, thank you, but you don't have to give me food." But she insisted, and said her son would be there with the food and cash for the TV in 15 minutes... OK, a little odd, but maybe she's just super-nice.

Well, 15 or so minutes later, the doorbell rings. I rush downstairs. And there's a Mexican or Central American delivery guy there with a food delivery from a Chinese place. I was puzzled. I'd thought the woman said she was sending over some HOME-MADE food with her son, along with cash for the TV... Hmmm. Maybe she owns a restaurant and sent me something from there... So I started to thank the guy and take the food; but then he gave me a total to pay! "It's not already paid for?" No, it was not! So there was the guy, waiting for his money. And there I was, trying to explain to him -- and him not understanding English very well -- that I hadn't ordered the food, that an old Chinese woman had just called me and said she was sending her son to buy a TV and bring me some food... He was utterly bewildered, as was I. I finally just had to apologize profusely and send him away with the food.

Well, a few minutes later, my phone rings again. It's the "old Chinese lady."
"So, you likee your food?" [Truly, she said "likee."]
"Um...There was a delivery guy just here, but he was from a restaurant. And he wanted me to pay for the food. Did you order that?"
"What?? That my son! I told you I was sending you food! You no likee my food?"
"Ma'am, I thought your son was coming here to buy my TV! This was a delivery guy from a restaurant! And he wanted to charge me for the food."
"That my son! That my son! He supposed to give you money and food, and you give him TV!"
"Ma'am, the guy at the door looked Mexican! He wasn't Asian! I don't think that was your son! And he didn't mention a TV..."
"What?! You can't tell difference between Asian and Mexican? What's wrong with you..."

At that point, I thought, "Oh my god, I'm going mad" and hung up...

Today, it's funny as hell, but at the very time, I was really kind of disturbed by how weird the situation was! Thus...what a good prank! :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Torn Curtain (mirror in the bathroom)

Got my last NYC haircut today, from my original "Chelsea Styles" lady. (That shop closed after owner Vincent -- the Robert Goulet-lookalike-- retired last summer and moved to the Poconos after 30 years in business across from the Chelsea Hotel). Many of the same stylists relocated to the same new shop that I went to today. The new shop isn't the same, though. It's nicer, but with much less character (i.e., they know about "gel" and "blow-drying" and there are young Russian women there kvetching about Midtown night-clubs and Fresh Direct, as opposed to 70-something Jewish ladies from the 'hood kvetching about everyone else in the shop).

Here's a "farewell to NYC" haircut picture, taken in my bathroom (where the light's better) minutes ago:




Which reminded me of another set of "bathroom mirror shots"... In September of '07, when I had a brand new (what I thought then would be cool) place to live, and a brand new (what I thought then would be permanent) job in the beautiful Union Square that paid $28 an hour! As well as a brand new (what I thought then would last 6 weeks) haircut from Chelsea Styles. Do I look a little cuter and more smug and a lot less frazzled? :) (I feel like I've aged 10 years in the past 3 because of the stress. And the bathroom decor was better then, too.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

LMBWISB (let me be where i should be)


My made-up prayer. I think it's fair. "Let Me Be Where I Should Be."

You can't ask God/The Fates/the Unifying Force for anything in particular. All of history has taught us this, for sure! All you can ask: "Let me be where I should be." And then go along with it and, more harshly, get on with it because it's half the chance cards you were dealt and half the result of your own wishes.

Me in NYC? I've been here for 3 years. I've had to go through 3 major job searches. The first 2 cycles, I gave it my all. The last? By May of '09, when my last full-time project stint was over, I was, honestly, more concerned with moping about Sandra. I was still sending out resumes, and...also starting to get pissed off at the lack of responses. And when a semi-regular temp gig at a major company became available in June of '09 (sometimes 8 hours a week, sometimes 57), I put faith in that, thought it would lead to something permanent, got lazy about actively pursuing other options. Needless to say: No regular offer was forthcoming (either from Sandra or from the financial company!) :)

I just got bored and depressed and irritated with all of the trying to look for work. Whatever company I did do regular work for in the last 3 years praised me. I knew my work was good. After a while, I just got mightily sick of being told I was good/knowing I was good, but still getting let go after 8 or 6 months because whatever company was shutting down for months, or had a rule about keeping temp workers after 6 months, or didn't have the funds to make me a regular employee, or what have you.

It all became ridiculous. As was the pay. The major financial company I've been working for since June? $21 an hour. (I made $20 back in Austin, where my rent was $825 as opposed to $1550 here.)

Hate to admit that New York is for either the rich or the young, but... it's for either the rich or the young! (Entry-level publishing jobs pay under $30,000 a year. Thus, for the young rich local English-majors who either still live with their parents, or whose parents pay their city rent. For the young, also, if you're willing to have obnoxious roommates and/or live in a single room... At 44, I'm too old for that crap! I need a larger space than a 12 x 12 room. And, at my age, I don't want -- at all -- to have to deal with a stranger's weird habits/psychoses.)

Or for those with rent-controlled apartments. Or those whose family lives in a cheap house in Queens and are just commuting to The City. I didn't move here to live in Queens or the Bronx.

All of the constant stress got old. AND I was moping about Miss Sandra, in Houston. So I only tried 85% to stay here, as opposed to the 100% I could have tried. If someone had offered me a job that paid more than $40,000 a year (really -- I have a Master's degree, is $40,000 too much to ask? please), I would have taken it and stayed here in a heartbeat. But... that didn't happen.

"Let me be where I should be." End of Youthful Dream, Beginning of Reality? Yeah, I think so. Maybe now, home to get settled, situated, buy a house now that I'm 44... I tried for something I'd always wanted since I was a teenager. I'm disappointed that it didn't work out. But I'm also happy that I learned about the area. That was always part of it. Learning what this part of the country was all about. NYC (specifically, Manhattan) was/is gorgeous, but definitely not the artistic/spiritual Mecca that I'd naively hoped for! :) Now... back to Austin. I need to get myself situated, financially, mentally, emotionally. (After these last 3 years of poverty and loneliness and fearfulness, I've learned a new respect for "getting situated...")

And we'll see if Sandra will speak to me once I'm back in Texas... (Hi, Honey!) :)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

1960 -- Seaside Heights, New Jersey

Accompanied by "Pulling Mussels from a Shell," 1980, by Squeeze. Love this song, love New Jersey. :)



p.s. Just danced and danced and danced to this song! Pretended like I was on the "Tonight Show" presenting it to the nation for the first time or somethin'... Felt so good to DANCE, to feel like dancing, for the first time in ages. Thank you Mick Jagger and Axl Rose and Michael Jackson for teaching me how to dance! :)