Friday, January 28, 2011

End of Days

All of this especial chaos in the Middle East the past couple of weeks, especially Egypt now, is freaking me out. What if the end of the world really IS nigh??? (I just heard that now the citizens of Jordan are also starting to protest.)

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream where I was standing by some large glass doors looking outside. All of a sudden there were swarms of people rushing about, then both citizens and soldiers with machine guns started to swarm inside through the doors. The soldiers weren't chasing people; they were just running, too. Nobody was after me -- I just stood back and watched them run through -- but they scared me because they were bringing in waves of pure fear with them. I remember thinking, calmly, "Wow. This is it. It's ending now."

And then there's all that Mayan calendar stuff -- their 13th and final cycle ending on December 21, 2012. (I pay more attention now to the Mayans than, say, all the Millenium brouhaha that went on in 2000 because, according to the Mayans, the world began on MY BIRTHDAY -- so they MUST know what they're talking about!) :)

And this is even more minor, but it still weirded/weirds me out: Just before the election in 2008, I worked the night shift at a law firm doing proofing with two really religious black women. They loved Obama, but sometimes said some disturbing things, like "I hope no one kills him. Well, it won't matter if they do. The world will end before he leaves office anyway. That's right. It's prophesy. End of days." Whenever they'd start up with these conversation, I'd sneak a peak at them to see if they were kidding; nope, dead serious. Just matter-of-factly agreeing with each other that the world was gonna end before Obama left office. (Other than this odd talk, they were completely nice and normal.) I knew it was crazy-talk, but it still gave me a creepy feeling to listen to.

Not that I really think the "End of Days" are coming, but if they were... Just wondering what I would do, where I would go. Not to my brother's; he and his friends' families would probably all be hunkering down together. I'd be this random stray person hanging around. My mom's is a dilemma -- yeah, I suppose I'd rather die in her home with marauders at the door rather than in my apartment by myself with marauders at the door. She and I would have a couple of hours to look over photo albums, at least. Though her innate tension and background of hatred would make everything worse mentally for me. If I were by myself, I could run around to avoid marauders for a few days, at least. Before then, listen to my own goodbye-music, read my own goodbye-books and poems. Feel sorry for my impending plight, but also feel a sense of purity and allegiance to myself. But being around family and people who know me still feels good... I dunno what would win out -- oh, hell, yes I do. I'd go beg at the door of my mother and/or brother to let me in. (What did I just do last year at my own minor "apocalypse" when I ran out of money in New York? I didn't take in roommates; I didn't go to 20 employment agencies instead of 4 or 5; I just laid back and gave up trying, then went home with my tail between my legs, hoping for mercy. With disastrous emotional results.)

Dang. Let's hope for no more apocalypses, no having to rely on people who don't love you, but whom you have to go to out of desperation for charity. The latter's pretty close to being the worst thing in the world.

Job Advice

31. Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators — $50,630

These three art professions fall under the umbrella of the fine arts. Painters and sculptors make most of their money by selling pieces through galleries and art dealers, and by completing commissioned works of art. Illustrators have more of an opportunity to make a living in commercial industries, designing book and magazine covers, illustrating, and creating technical drawings.

Since it takes years to build a reputation as an artist and it is often difficult to sell one’s art, many fine artists supplement their income by teaching in universities or secondary and elementary schools, or by giving private workshops and lessons. They may also find freelance jobs in commercial fields. Painters may get illustration jobs and sculptors may create furniture. Fine artists can also often find jobs in museums....

...Having an up-to-date, stylish portfolio with your most recent and varied work is also necessary if you want to be taken seriously. Have your pieces professionally photographed and select a professional-looking carrying case. It’s also an excellent idea to have a website with your resume, contact information, and a gallery of artwork to show to dealers, galleries, and prospective clients.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sarah Palin: WTF

Sarah Palin just posted a response on Facebook to President Obama's State of the Union speech. She wrote:

"He dubbed it a 'Winning The Future' speech but the title's acronym seemed more accurate than much of the content."

I had to read that twice: the title's acronym -- Winning The Future = WTF... OH... What The Fuck, in online lingo... Did Palin REALLY just use "WTF" as an argument? Is she 14 years old?

I voted for McCain/Palin in 2008, sorry to say. I'd liked "maverick" McCain in his 2000 campaign against Bush. I'd liked Palin in 2008. (She had every bit as much experience as Obama, and the initial unwarranted media snobbery against her pissed me off.) But once, post-election, McCain started back-tracking and sucking up to the Republican right wing, especially about both immmigrant and gay rights, I started to get disgusted with him. Just as I've recently become disgusted with Palin about her whole gun-lingo/website imagery of "targeting" Congresspeople like Gabrielle Giffords.

And then this "WTF"-thing...

You know, I don't think that much of President Obama -- I think he got elected based on little more than a smooth speaking style, with very little content to back him up. (But kudos on his minor health-care overhaul, his only achievement.) I don't think that his State of the Union speech said anything at all. Nor did his earlier "memorial" speech for the STILL-ALIVE Gabrielle Giffords.

But for a supposedly serious national political figure to respond to the President of the United States with "WTF"? You know what? If you disagree with the President's policies as proclaimed in his State of the Union speech (innocuous as said policies are), then disagree with them on an intellectual level. Don't resort to the teenaged Twitter-like idiocy of saying "WTF." It's embarrassing for you; it's embarrassing for any of the intelligent people who once supported you.

Behind Closed Doors

I've always loved this sexy Charlie Rich song. But... upon re-viewing it on YouTube tonight... WHY are his fingernails so long? Seriously. Look at all of the close-up piano-playing shots... A man who prefers to wear his fingernails like that is usually gay, a cross-dresser, a pimp, or else Joan Crawford's second husband Franchot Tone. What's Charlie's real story?

Hair Models (What's so darn funny?)

My hairdresser laughed at me today because I told her that I wanted my hair to look like Nancy Pelosi's! First of all, she didn't know who Pelosi was, and then after I explained, she thought it was hilarious that I wanted hair like a 60-something-year-old Congresswoman! (I would've said, "Hey, it's not like Pelosi's hair looks like Bella Abzug's or Geraldine Ferraro's!" but I fear the point would have been lost. And I guess asking her for "Mamie-bangs" is now forevermore off the table.) To further the hilarity, I admitted to her that a decade ago I used to take a picture of HILLARY CLINTON's hair to show hairdressers...

OK, I know that it's a joke among stylists when ugly-ass clients bring in photos of nubile starlets and/or superstars and say, "Make me look JUST LIKE THAT"... But I thought my Hillary/Pelosi hair pictures were quite reasonable! What the heck?! :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Personal Grooming's a Bitch!

Working at home, I haven't really been going much of anywhere in public for a couple of months or so, aside from the supermarket, beer store, nearby restaurants for take-out, Mom's house. So today when I actually had to go to a place (the hairdresser!) where it's, for me, desirable to put on makeup and something other than sweatpants, I was a bit shocked to discover the extent of the deterioration in my personal grooming! Obviously, since it was time for the hairdresser, the hair didn't look so good. Not just grown out, but also about 3 inches of darker roots; I've been too "uninspired" -- aka "lazy" -- to color it. And then I started to look around at other areas: My eyebrows, which I'm usually obsessive about, had scragglies everywhere. My fingernails and toenails were all slightly raggedy. My teeth looked yellowish (sometimes after I stay up late drinking and smoking, I just go straight to bed and don't brush). My skin was dry (sometimes lately I haven't felt like moisturizing my body after a shower or my hands before bed, though I always moisturize my face after I wash it -- IF I wash it! See the above about just falling into bed after staying up all night). I also hadn't kept up the shaving of legs, et al. (trying to avoid TMI here). Raggedy Ann!

So, in honor of going someplace, I did manage to get my act together enough to pluck the eyebrows, shape all the nails, shave the legs, fully moisturize, etc. It's amazing how pleasant you feel after taking the time to do just that minor stuff. In the next couple of days, I'm also going to finally color the hair. And invest in some much-needed White Strips.

Longer-term... When I was at my mom's house last week, I weighed myself for the first time in months... I'm up to 150! I think I was at 138 or so when I left NYC last March. At 5'8", wearing a size 10 and in much better shape tone-wise because of all the walking (and carrying bags) I did there. Here in Austin, I often sit on my ass all day or lie in bed all day! I've tried to make myself have a mild fitness routine of briskly walking for 2 miles (1/2-hour) at least 3 or 4 times a week. Surprisingly, I usually DO manage that, but every now and then a whole week will go by with very little activity. I'm slowly creeping up to a size 12, the idea of which I personally hate. Not hate for other people, just for myself. I look and feel best, at least 3 times better, when I'm under 140. And when I pluck. And shave. And brush. And color. And clip.

I can't do things right now (because of money) like getting a regular professional pedi, getting professional coloring (hair and teeth), and buying a lot of new clothes to replace my years-old shabbies, but I indeed CAN do the smaller things like WALK and PLUCK regularly, fer chrissakes! Gawd, imagine being a Beverly Hills Housewife and all the Keeping Up THAT entails... It really is WORK.

Though there are several Xpensive "Xtreme Upkeep" things I find Xtremely nonsensical (the physical equivalent of Twitter): Hair Xtensions and Botox and badly capped teeth/bad facelifts/bad boob jobs/bad nose jobs. Botox -- I've known 3 real-life women who have had it done, and I honestly didn't notice any difference in their appearance. Hair extensions -- always terrible, unless you want to look like a stripper or like you're from a NYC borough or inland New Jersey. All the other bads -- Imagine... Michael Jackson had all the money in the world, and yet still had the worst nose-job(s) ever. When something like that goes wrong, you're usually stuck with it

PICTURED: FRESHLY PLUCKED (Sorry -- no other after-hair-removal pictures available.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

So Far (Sandra's Song For Jim)

In times of extreme drought...

... try to conjure. (I love this woman's face and spirit.)



Your horoscope for January 23, 2011

Jump into the ring with your arms up, STEPHANIE. There is an intense aggressiveness today that is right up your ally. If there is anything you need to tackle with a great deal of physical strength and power, this is your day to do it. Action is the name of the game for you. Don't hold back in any way. Make sure you do have a positive outlet for your energy today, otherwise you are apt to start world war III with all the power you have built up inside.


Funny, but I was just thinking the opposite -- how very desperately I needed to learn to "go with the flow" rather than constantly head-butting against things! I have absolutely NO water signs (Pisces, Scorpio, Cancer) in my natal chart, to my detriment. My only chart fire sign is the main one, Leo. With a ton of both earth and air signs in the rest of the chart. I often feel that I lack subtlety. Not so much intellectual subtlety as, rather, emotional subtlety.

Speaking of aggressiveness: I've been watching the History Channel's "Third Reich: Rise and Fall" for 4 hours tonight. Lots of home movies of German citizens during the Hitler years. My mother's German, born in '41. She remembers the British and American air raids (her small town was right next to an industrial center, Wolfsburg). There's also a family photo album picture of her older sisters, born 10-15 years before she was, with Nazi flags on their bicycles. My grandfather, a civil servant, was a member of the Nazi party. (Government officials were "strongly encouraged" to join.) He was born around 1895, so didn't immediately fight in the war. But at the end in 1945, desperate, Hitler was calling up older men and teenaged boys, and my then-50-year-old grandfather went to fight. At the very end of the war, when it was clear that all was lost -- but not officially declared yet -- he was, making his way home by foot, almost shot as a deserter by a zealous officer. (His father-in-law, on the other hand -- my German grandmother's father -- was an avowed Communist who was forced to leave the country for America in '33, when Hitler came to power.) So watching this personal look at the German citizenry during the war years has been very powerful and emotional for me.

The question is often asked: What would YOU have done? In my youth, I boldly thought that I would have protested Hitler... But that was just me speaking from my cozy modern-day position in democratic America. It's one thing to protest against Bush or Obama... quite another to protest against Hitler. You got killed for the latter. My Commie great-grandfather was hard-core, and willing to abandon his wife and kids, and so got the hell out of the country. My grandfather, on the other hand, was middle-class and mainstream and had nowhere else to go. So he stayed and watched some of his neighbors disappear and didn't say anything. I probably would have taken exactly that latter course (assuming, of course, that I hadn't been so bold as to have come out as a lesbian beforehand, which I probably would not have done. It was hard enough to come out in America in 1989).

I've been "confronted" twice for having German ancestry. Once in the '80s by a roommate's Jewish friend. (I'd mentioned in passing that my mother was German. The friend said, "I'm Jewish." I didn't know what response was expected of me.) And then, while I was in grad school in San Francisco in the mid-'90s, I again mentioned in passing, to my thesis advisor, that my mother was German, born during WWII. The advisor said, "Oh, so your family were Nazis." She didn't want to hear any sort of complications to the story; when I started to tell about the civil servant grandfather and the Commie great-grandfather, she cut me off with a condescending, "Isn't it funny how Germans are always in denial." One of the reasons I disliked the residents of SF so -- the stereotypical knee-jerk liberal black-and-white response to any gray-shaded situation. I was from "The South," which I got plenty of shit for. My mother was German. End of story, as far as the PC professors there were concerned. (I never brought up what would have been my "Third Strike" -- that my father had been a military recruiter during the Vietnam War! Oooooh.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Vampyre Inspired"

OMG. This is funny and sad at the same time.

Last time I saw/slept with my first girlfriend (whom I had met in '89) was in 2000, when we were making a couple of more desultory efforts at getting back together after 9 years. At our last meeting, we didn't have a particularly great or a terrible time; no fights, just kind of "blah." My obsession was over. I never spoke to her or saw her again after that. Life went on.

Every couple of years I might, when extremely bored late at night, do a search for her on the Internet just to see what had become of her. She had barely an Internet presence: no Facebook page, no MySpace, nothing. Shallowly, I felt bad for her. In 2000, I hadn't found her that attractive any more; thought she was getting fat, for one thing. By now, 2011, she's pushing 60 (someone I once dated is nearly 60!), I thought, so I guess she's settled down, doesn't do her poetry "events" any more, just goes to work and comes home to a lonely, small apartment on Riverside Drive (generic area of Austin with lots of megacomplexes, home to many college students and working poor)...

Well, last night I came upon this photo of her from this past summer... Turns out she's still doing those horrible "Vampyre" poetry readings of hers that she was so into back in '89! Gawd, when I first met her (like, the first month or two only), I thought all of that vampire stuff was cool and erotic. And the crowd she hung around with was also cool and erotic to me at the time; she was 36 then, but all of her "gang" was around 18 or 19. (I, at 23, felt old, since she made it clear that her preference was for teenaged girls.)

She'd have what she pretentiously called "salons" at her (Riverside) apt. once a week; she'd do vampire-themed poetry readings around town every month or so; she even had a half-hour vampire-themed video that was then showing on local cable (starring herself as the vampire-aggressor who eventually gets bitten/sexually seduced by a 16-year-old "innocent" blonde). I was definitely impressed with all of the goings-on. The vibe around her and her friends was definitely sexy and dark, which I liked and had only fantasized about before.

So it was interesting -- at first. The thing is, almost everyone, attractive as they were, was pretty stupid, and the "work" they were putting out was pretty bad. My ex's poetry was terrible. Her artwork also very simplistic and bad. (Not simplistic in a "folk art" way, where there's underlying thought below the basic surface... There was just no thought whatsoever.) Same with that video -- a trite theme that could have been erotic, a la the style of her idol Anne Rice, but done so clunkily that I kind of had to grit my teeth when I smiled and told her (with multiple viewings), "Wow! That's really good. You look hot!"

I found myself gritting my teeth a lot. Once, during a poetry reading at a nightclub, I thought she was embarrassing herself mightily and was completely amazed to see all of her teen punk friends, and a few strangers, fawn all over her. I remember wondering if I was crazy -- was I missing something?? (Luckily for my sanity, one hippie-looking chick standing next to me said, after a few minutes of the reading, "What IS this stupid shit?" before she walked away. Which was exactly what I was thinking.)

So on that went for a couple of years. Her giving off a sexy vibe and doing exciting things that attracted me (and plenty of others) and kept me around, but also kept me bored to the point of screaming with her, and her friends', complete lack of corresponding intelligence. And, on the other side of the coin, I just wasn't sexy enough for her. Part of it was her fetish for teenagers. But more of it was because I just couldn't, with a straight face, continue to act in the submissive role that she required. I mean, I bought the dog collars, the handcuff-belts, the thumb-cuffs, what have you; I got as punked-up and sexed-up as I could every time we went out, and even every time we just sat home and watched movies. I initially thought the role-playing was interesting, and a challenge: She'd had literally hundreds of lovers, while she was my very first, so I wanted to please...

Here's one prime example of the different angles we were coming from, though: I'd read about a movie called "Marat/Sade," about the Marquis de Sade's experiences in a mental hospital. Both de Sade and mental hospitals are interesting themes to me, and since de Sade wrote some of the most basic sadistic sexual texts and my ex was into S/M, I thought it would be the PERFECT movie to watch... Wrong! :) I thought the movie was very interesting intellectually: the aristocratic de Sade, labelled a lunatic for his ideas and practices, forced to make his way among the lower-class inmates. My ex, though, started yawning after about 15 minutes and we had to turn it off (probably to watch a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie).

I thought that, in a nutshell, was where she and I simply didn't mesh. (Oh, and the fact that she owned just two books: One on Scientology and -- surprise! -- "Lolita." Though I don't think she had an appreciation of Nabokov's writing!) And one other thing: In that video that I mentioned above, the initial vampire aggressor is eventually tamed by the young, innocent ingenue... And my ex once said to me, in a moment of passion, "You can control me..." That's a heady thought and, really, a lovely, giving thing to say. Ties in completely with the "Lolita" theme, too. She was revealing her true psyche.

Only... In my own psyche, I don't have the "secret" need to dominate. I love cats and their personalities. But... personality-wise, myself, I'm pretty much a dog! :) ("I like you, I love you, pay attention to me!") If I feel like barking obnoxiously, I bark, despite how unsexy that is! I'm not too much of a wily, game-playing character.

And so, we didn't work. And so I just found this picture, taken last summer. My 58-year-old ex, not sitting at home aging alone at all, but rather out doing yet another "Vampyre Inspired" poetry reading, still accompanied by a couple of young punk girls! (I have no idea who the girls are, but the poses in the picture reminded me EXACTLY of the dynamic 20 years ago -- that would be me on the left, looking miffed while my ex checks out another girl's tits!) :)

Oh lordy. :) Good for her. Good for her. (While I will always dislike nearly everything about her mind, I will always like her hands.)

Here are two songs that represent the soundtrack of my misery with her. "Joey" from Concrete Blonde's "Bloodletting" (released May 1990) and "Policy of Truth" from Depeche Mode's "Violator" (March 1990). Practically the only two CDs I listened to in the Suicide Hotline Summer of 1990.

Joey, baby - don't get crazy
Detours. Fences... I get defensive
I know you've heard it all before -
so I don't say it anymore
I just stand by and let you
fight your secret war.
And though I used to wonder why -
I used to cry till I was dry.
Still sometimes I get a strange pain
Oh, Joey, if you're hurting so am I.

Joey, honey - I got the money
All is forgiven. Listen, listen
And if I seem to be confused
I didn't mean to be with you.
And when you said I scared you,
well I guess you scared me too.
But we got lucky once before
And I don't wanna close the door
And if you're somewhere out there
passed out on the floor.
Oh Joey, I'm not angry anymore.

And if I seem to be confused
I didn't mean to be with you.
And when you said I scared you,
well I guess you scared me too.
Well if its love you're looking for
Then i can give a little more
And if you're somewhere drunk and
passed out on the floor.
Oh Joey, I'm not angry anymore.

You had something to hide
Should have hidden it, shouldn't you
Now you're not satisfied
With what you're being put through

It's just time to pay the price
For not listening to advice
And deciding in your youth
On the policy of truth

Things could be so different now
It used to be so civilized
You will always wonder how
It could have been if you'd only lied

It's too late to change events
It's time to face the consequence
For delivering the proof
In the policy of truth

Never again
Is what you swore
The time before
Never again
Is what you swore
The time before

Now you're standing there tongue tied
You'd better learn your lesson well
Hide what you have to hide
And tell what you have to tell
You'll see your problems multiplied
If you continually decide
To faithfully pursue
The policy of truth

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Que Sera Sera (Stupid Brave)

From a boy I barely knew back in high school, who friended me a year or two ago on Facebook. We both graduated in '83. He's been married for something like over 20 years now, 6 kids. (Though, to avoid complete corniness, I remember him mainly because, on a high school bus trip to and from a UIL competition, he and a girl 6 inches taller than he was made out on the bus under a blanket the whole time each way. They had the blankets over just their laps and tried to keep straight faces above... and everyone kept peering over the seats to see what was going on! And those two could not stop what they were doing, despite their embarrassment at everyone watching. It was bizarrely hilarious for the rest of us.)

That said, and Despite his Dis of Doris Day (and despite my laughing at the blanket memories of the high school bus), I do agree with what he just posted on Facebook regarding his wife [all sic]:

"Love is a choice, its not a feeling its a commitment. Doris Day was wrong its not whatever will be will be. It takes work from both sides. You cant be in love one day and not the next, thats just not how it works. Thank you D----- for always being willing to work with me and for me."

High points are for clubs, for drink/drugs, for bus sex, for Internet "romances." The casual "Whatever will be will be" is for shallow people who like it that way, who have given up, who aren't willing to stick around for the whole ride, which consists of far more than just the high points. "You cant be in love one day and not the next, thats just not how it works."

Randomness -- que sera sera -- IS how the whole universe works, for sure. But the antithesis is the whole point of marriage and commitment, and of being a human being with will -- to bravely, stupidly bravely and beautifully, attempt to defy the randomness of the universe and forge some sort of order out of the eternal, ongoing chaos.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Happiness is...

...a new pair of old-looking shoes!

These range from $80 to $100 at stores (and at other online shopping sites), but I got 'em at for $65! (They also came in "Teak" and "Cashew" -- I wanted all of them, I loved them so, but alas could only afford to get caught up on basics right now.)

OK, now all I need until April is a pair of black "driving mocs" for about the same price (I can only find them now for $90 and up), and one pair of dark blue Levis (which I can use my Christmas Macy's gift card for). And then all of my clothing -- and life -- angst will be temporarily cured.

Well, OK, just the former.

Monday, January 17, 2011


I've been trying not to read the local weekly paper because it's full of interesting things to do that I can't do because I don't have anyone to go do them with. I'm not afraid to do some things by myself -- like go to a movie (or eat at a restaurant during off-peak hours) -- but I've never liked going to see bands or plays by myself.

So I did pick up the weekly paper yesterday and, sure 'nuff, got depressed. My favorite band, Two Hoots and a Holler, is playing Monday night at one of my favorite clubs, The Continental. And Sean Lennon/girlfriend's band, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (whom I wrote about here weeks ago), is playing the tiny, intimate Cactus Cafe on campus Wednesday. Then FronteraFest starts this week, with many of the plays showing at a theater just a couple of blocks down the street.

I can't even imagine any longer what it would be like to have a normal life -- walking with a friend to the theater, then afterward walking to the cafe across the street or the pizza place further down the street to talk for a couple of hours. Going to see a band that I like, or a band or play that I'm curious about.

When I have plenty of freelance work to do, I can usually keep my mind occupied with that, combined with working on the Joan website evenings. But work's been slow the past 2 weeks, and I don't feel like doing Joan EVERY night. Usually, the work/Joan/TV-watching are OK, and I find stuff to amuse myself. But I'm starting to get mightily bored with JUST that.

Oh well. This week is Haircut Week, so that should pep me up. And then I still have my Christmas gift card for Macy's, so I can plan a bus trip to the nearest mall, which also has a movie theater showing "Black Swan." (I also want to see "Blue Valentine," "Rabbit Hole," "The Social Network," "The King's Speech," but they're all showing at theaters completely across town and not at all worth the bus trouble.)

And then also there's the good thing about getting older: You've been through the same or similar bad patches before, and so know that they will, at some point, end. (Unlike when you're a kid, and haven't ever gone through them before, so you think the starkness is permanent.)

The one difference for me this time, though, is that, even when things were bad in the past, I always had something to look forward to:

While I was trapped out in the country in Azle, I knew that at one point I'd graduate from high school and go off to Austin for college.

While I was depressed about being in the closet while at college (never connecting with any guys; the girls I did initially connect with being as closeted as I was), there was always graduating college to work toward.

While I was depressed about my break-up with my first girlfriend, my friends and I were publishing a local literary magazine, and I also had grad school and a writing program to look forward to.

In the 2000s, while lonely and not really liking the Austin vibe that much, I nonetheless had a great house that I rented for 7 years, a great Gracie-cat, steady employment that enabled me to take vacations and buy furniture, my Joan website that was fun and stimulating; and then the excitement of moving to/living in NYC.

Today... Forced economically to leave NYC/Weehawken, which I truly loved; no steady work (and, honestly, a horror of going back to a mind-numbing office environment); living in a one-room apartment the same size as my first apartment back in '85; no Gracie-cat (and I don't want a new cat -- don't want it to have to live trapped in one room). I still enjoy working on the Joan site, but it's already established. There's no excitement there any more, really.

I feel like I'm completely trapped. Really, documenting on this blog my sock-buying at the Family Dollar store and my banana-eating New Year's resolutions and my upcoming plans for a haircut and my beefs with people aren't quite what I'd hoped would be the highlights of my life at age 45.

I dunno. I did everything I was capable of doing. I seem to have hit The Brick Wall. Either I learn to live with that fact, which I've been trying hard to do for the past months, or... Or what, exactly?

The air is a mill of hooks --
Questions without answer,
Glittering and drunk as flies
Whose kiss stings unbearably
In the fetid wombs of black air under pines in summer.

I remember
The dead smell of sun on wood cabins,
The stiffness of sails, the long salt winding sheets.
Once one has seen God, what is the remedy?
Once one has been seized up

Without a part left over,
Not a toe, not a finger, and used,
Used utterly, in the sun's conflagrations, the stains
That lengthen from ancient cathedrals
What is the remedy?

The pill of the Communion tablet,
The walking beside still water? Memory?
Or picking up the bright pieces
Of Christ in the faces of rodents,
The tame flower-nibblers, the ones

Whose hopes are so low they are comfortable --
The humpback in his small, washed cottage
Under the spokes of the clematis.
Is there no great love, only tenderness?
Does the sea

Remember the walker upon it?
Meaning leaks from the molecules.
The chimneys of the city breathe, the window sweats,
The children leap in their cots.
The sun blooms, it is a geranium.

The heart has not stopped.

-- "Mystic" by Sylvia Plath. February 1, 1963.

I probably won't ever be brave enough to kill myself as Plath did. (Aside from the cowardice, I also have no resources: I don't have health care, and thus no access to prescription pills, like the Darvocet that killed my Facebook friend this past Christmas. I have no house or car, and thus no access to a garage or exhaust fumes, which killed Anne Sexton. And my oven's electric, not gas. There's always the bridge over I-35 at 38-1/2 Street, but... Please. I'm not that desperate.) And I don't know that Plath's above poem, written 10 days before her suicide, was indeed a statement of her suicidal intentions. Rather, it was a quite accurate statement of a current state of being and profound sadness and profound outrage, one that I find myself in right now.


And here's a video I first posted on this blog a few months ago on John Lennon's birthday, October 9. "Help Me to Help Myself," indeed. Not quite the case. It's not always just between you and God. Lennon was lucky enough to find a true help-meet in this life. When you're not as lucky, when you're always emotionally on your own, it, after time, warps you.


When all of this is over... Please, God, let all of this be over soon. I can't stand much more Internet and TV and asshole college-student neighbors and being grateful for the last pair of socks that I bought.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

George Jones "A Good Year for the Roses"

The BBC looks at George Jones

George Jones "Blues Man"

I saw the video below for the first time yesterday on a local cable music station. George Jones with Dolly Parton, in 2005. (I'd first thought it was even more recent.) George not at his very best, but still very good, with hints of his former greatness. (a la watching Joan Crawford in "Strait-Jacket," I suppose)

Ageing is scary to me, a "regular person" with some moments over the years of hitting highs that don't come nearly as frequently any more. If I'M bothered by it, just imagine the psychological effects on the REALLY great.

All that said, I like the song a lot. I like the sentiment, I like the theme of mercy and redemption, I like the look back at his past; and I like listening, as always (always), to George's beautiful, soulful voice (my favorite male singer).


I'm just a singer, a natural born guitar ringer
Kind of a clinger to sad old songs
I'm not a walk-behinder, I'm a new note finder
But my name's a reminder of a blues man that's already gone

So I started drinkin', took some things that messed up my thinkin'
I was sure sinkin' when she came along
I was alone in the spotlight, not too much left in sight
She changed all that one night when she sang me this song

Hey baby I love you, hey baby I need you
Hey baby you don't have to prove to me you're some kind of macho of man
You've wasted so much of your life runnin' through the dark nights
Let me shine a little love light down on you, blues man

I got sick from speedin', all the things they said I was needing
If I was to keep on pleasing all of my fans
I got cuffed on dirt roads, I got sued over no shows
She came and took all that old load down off this blues man

And I sang hey baby I love you too, hey baby I need you too
Hey baby I do get tired of this traveling band

I'm up in my years now, nights would be so cold now
If you hadn't stuck it out with this blues man
I'm up in my years now, nights would be so cold now
If she hadn't hung around with this blues man.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Not My Town

When I first moved in '83 from a 5000-person town to the 500,000-person town of Austin to go to college, one of the first things that struck me was residents' utter rudeness. Most particularly: Newly arrived, I remember passing people on the sidewalks or in classroom-building halls, trying to make eye contact and nodding or saying "hi." I was depressed by not having my eyes met, not being acknowledged at all.

Was it a "city" thing? My next experience with another big city was in '94, when I moved from Austin to San Francisco to attend grad school. Again, people there were oddly unfriendly: Once, when walking on the streets looking at a map, I got hollered at from a passing car -- "Fucking tourist!" And once, when a friend was visiting and we walked into what looked like a friendly pub... the whole small bar came to a stop when we entered. We had our one beer and then quickly left. My two years in San Francisco were filled with constant random, petty ugliness like that, sugar-coated with the city's constant publicity mantra of being "tolerant." The bad energy there was pervasive and psychotic.

New York City, though, and Jersey, were the opposite of "psychotic"! There was energy and aggression in the air, but the aggression was normal and directed at those really fucking up, not at the hapless. While I was there, I asked for directions a million times from doormen, passersby, etc. Every single time, got a completely civil, helpful answer. And while I was there, I, a completely random person, walked into a dozen places that I wasn't familiar with, ranging from Tiffany's to the Rainbow Room to Chelsea drag bars -- and I never once got shit for being there or for asking questions or for looking like I didn't belong there. New Yorkers were down-to-earth in the best way. As were Jersey people.

It totally was not a "city thing" but rather a "place thing." Austin and San Francisco, in my personal experience, are, despite their striving for "laid back" and "cool" status, actually repressed, rude assholes of cities. New York City and the few cities in Joisey that I experienced, on the other hand: Despite their outer cliched reputations for rudeness, the people there were/are actually much nicer. Maybe more brusque on the surface, but a lot saner in how they interacted with others.

I bring all this up tonight because of a couple of petty things that just happened to me today (in my Austin):

(1) Heading out today, I walked down my apartment stairs and passed another resident walking up. (My apartment complex is small -- maybe 24 units.) I looked at her to say "hi" as we passed and she didn't even acknowledge my presence. Flashback to 1983. Back when I was 18, that kind of Austin rudeness was deeply depressing to me. After 27 years, though, I now know... It's just the creepy culture of this particular town. I hate the simultaneously passive and "holier-than-thou" vibe here. I hated it for over 20 years before I left in 2007; and I hate it, after my "break," today. It's just common courtesy: Nod to your neighbors when you pass them! Were you raised by creepy, lethargic wolves??

(2) During my walk around the neighborhood today, I was about to cross a 4-way fork in the road. A big ol' pick-up truck was headed toward me. As I started to cross one street, he screeched to a halt and then attempted to do his version of a donut in the road, which forced me to walk a long way around him. As I continued walking, he continued screeching and attempting to turn around and park right in front of me. What was his point? It wasn't just a normal guy driving and trying to find a parking place, but rather an asshole trying to use someone walking as his target. (Reminded me of another Austin "event" from the '80s: On a street outside Dobie Mall one day, a frat-boy had parked his car to talk to friends and was blocking traffic. I sat behind him for a few minutes, then finally tapped my horn. He was outraged, ran over to my window to tell me what a "loser bitch" I was.)

When I was younger, I used to see this "city" behavior as normal; given my 5000-person hometown, I'd never known any different. But today, at age 45... None of this Austin bullshit is necessary. You know, when I lived in NYC/Jersey for those 3 years, I NEVER came across this completely weird, sociopathic bullshit. People acknowledged each other when passing; people did not do drive-bys to scare pedestrians; people, if they parked their cars in the middle of the street for whatever reason, acknowledged their error with a "yeah, yeah" and did not go psycho on the people reasonably asking them to get out of the way.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bridges, and the Burning Of

Ooops! Tonight a bridge I burned about 7 years ago might've just come back to kick my ass.

In 2004 or so, I briefly (maybe for 3 months) had a full-time temp proofing job with a national company. The work paid $20 an hour (good pay for Austin), but it was mind-numbingly (and, yes, to me, soul-killingly) dull. Back then, I had no problems finding any work, and I started to blow this job off -- after initially being scheduled for 40 hours a week, I started to repeatedly come in late, then, after a couple of weeks requested a reduction to 20 hours a week or so. After the few months of mental torture, I got hired (full-time, with benefits) by another publishing company I'd been doing freelance work for since 1998.

Seemingly "End of That Story." But... While living up in NYC (2007-2010), I got hired for 6 months as a temp by the same company that I'd dissed back in Austin (I hadn't mentioned my earlier stint there on my resume). After 6 months, the northern branch legally couldn't keep me on as an in-house temp without hiring me, and they couldn't hire me because of the bad economy, so they had to let me go. But since I've been back in Austin, I've been doing a ton of long-distance freelance work for them, which has been paying my bills, for the most part, for the past 6 months....

Tonight, the Austin branch of the company -- the one I dissed in 2004 -- had an in-house job listing that fit my credentials PERFECTLY... I just applied for it. And am hoping/praying that either the boss there is new, or that my old boss doesn't recognize my resume as being from the same crappy employee she had back in 2004!

General Lesson: When you have a decently-paying job, however boring, don't be a cocky shit about your disdain for it. Because when you want/need that job again a few years later when the economy's gone sour, your arrogant behavior might come back to haunt you.

Lesson to Self: The concepts of "Time" and "Experience" aren't on a forward-marching line, with no recollection of either the past or the future. Everything's cyclical. EVERYTHING IS CYCLICAL and has memories of everything else both before and after it.

From the end of "Little Gidding" by T.S. Eliot:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.


And from the last section of Eliot's "The Dry Salvages":

To communicate with Mars, converse with spirits,
To report the behaviour of the sea monster,
Describe the horoscope, haruspicate or scry,
Observe disease in signatures, evoke
Biography from the wrinkles of the palm
And tragedy from fingers; release omens
By sortilege, or tea leaves, riddle the inevitable
With playing cards, fiddle with pentagrams
Or barbituric acids, or dissect
The recurrent image into pre-conscious terrors-
To explore the womb, or tomb, or dreams; all these are usual
Pastimes and drugs, and features of the press:
And always will be, some of them especially
Whether on the shores of Asia, or in the Edgware Road.
Men's curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint—
No occupation either, but something given
And taken, in a lifetime's death in love,
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.
Here the impossible union
Of spheres of existence is actual,
Here the past and future
Are conquered, and reconciled,
Where action were otherwise movement
Of that which is only moved
And has in it no source of movement—
Driven by daemonic, chthonic
Powers. And right action is freedom
From past and future also.
For most of us, this is the aim
Never here to be realised;
Who are only undefeated
Because we have gone on trying
We, content at the last
If our temporal reversion nourish
(Not too far from the yew-tree)
The life of significant soil.


Why I Love My Country

Watching this gave me chills. God bless this juvenile, flawed country with a, deep-down, good heart.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"I hope you don't get murdered when you're 9"

No it wasn't my imagination: People at President Obama's University of Arizona (why not the Pima Community College that Loughlin attended?) speech tonight were actually hooting and hollering and whooping it up as if it were a pep rally rather than a speech in memory of the victims of Saturday's Tucson shooting. Cheers for the various victims varied in volume based on "popularity" in the public imagination: 9-year-old Christina Green got the highest rating on the "applause/whoop-o-meter" while the poor dead old folks who liked to travel the country in their RVs were only afforded polite acknowledgment. It was all embarrassingly similar to the appalling variance of cheers for various newly dead actors shown in montage at the Oscars every year.

Most appalling to me was the fact that Christina Green had been born on 9/11. One of 50 babies born on that date, later all featured in the book "Faces of Hope," as a symbol of our national optimism in the face of the 9/11 death and destruction... What a horrifying -- and realistic for the U.S. -- coda to her brief story.

President Obama quoted from the book during his speech. Apparently, next to Christina Green's picture in the book were platitudes for when she grew up, like "I hope you know all the words to the national anthem" and "I hope you jump in rain puddles." Too bad no one bothered to write/hope/pray "I hope you don't get murdered when you're 9 in a supermarket parking lot, in yet another mass shooting in America that now seems to happen just about every year."

Obama, in his speech, closed with "We should do what we can to make sure that our children's expectations are met." How were Christina Green's expectations met? The nut that shot her -- according to Obama, Palin, and everyone -- was "just a nut": apparently nothing at all could have been done about him. Really? No mental health service would have been helpful for a guy that liked to read everything from Plato to "The Wizard of Oz" to Ayn Rand to Marx? No mental health service would have been helpful, or proactive, after 5 calls to police were made from the community college he attended about his disruptive/frightening behavior? After all of his overt community disruptions, Loughner was in no data bank that alerted stores to the "inappropriateness" of selling him a Glock and repeat-rounds of ammunition?

Some tidbits from Obama's speech: "There's evil in the world; bad things happen; don't assign blame or point fingers; we should tell people we love them..." Oh. OK. These things happen. They're "normal." Mass shootings in grocery store parking lots are "normal." Shit happens. Just hug each other afterwards, OK?

You know what? These mass murder "things" don't just "happen" on a yearly basis in Sweden or Canada, just to name a couple of less violent places on this earth. None of this was OK.

Obama closed his speech with "If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today." [lots and lots of whooping approval from the crowd] REALLY? So what just happened is all OK now, 'cause little 9-year-old Christina is now -- according to a bizarre, feel-good mythology more utterly irrational than the psychotic killer's -- playing in puddles in heaven? Thank you, Mr. President, for making me feel so much better about a 9-year-old's murder in a Safeway parking lot.

Text of Obama's Tucson speech.
Faces of Hope book.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sarah Palin Facebook: Step the Fuck Up

On the tragedy in Arizona
by Sarah Palin on Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 3:02pm

My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona.

On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.

- Sarah Palin


I'm a "follower" of hers on Facebook, and I responded:

Ms. Palin, if you feel so sorry for victims of a shooting, then please -- in the future -- stop talking about putting people in your "crosshairs." (As you specifically did with Gabrielle Giffords in the election held just a few weeks ago.) However symbolic your talk, there sometimes really ARE consequences. I grew up in the country, in Texas, with a gun-shooting father. I'm not PC at all. That said: You need to watch what you say. You need to elevate yourself rather than catering to the lowest common denominator.

Recent Mass Murders in America: A Partial List of Headlines

Monday night on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," she opened with a straight-up reading of mass murders in the United States since Jared Loughner (this past weekend's mass killer) was a kid (I think she said he was born in '88). I've been listening to the coverage of the shootings since they happened, but nothing hit me like her stark roll-call. I couldn't find a YouTube clip, but went to her MSNBC site and found the below list of headlines:

* October 17, 1991 - Gunman Kills 22 and Himself in Texas Cafeteria
* July 02, 1993 - Gunman Raids Law Office and Kills 8
* March 25, 1998 - 5 Are Killed at School; Boys, 11 and 13, Are Held
* April 20, 1999 - Terror in Littleton: The Overview; 2 Students in Colorado school said to gun down as many as 23 and kill themselves in a siege
* July 29, 1999 - SHOOTINGS IN ATLANTA: THE SCENE; In an Office Building, Scenes Of Chaos, Blood and Death
* March 12, 2005 - Gunman Kills 7 in Wisconsin Church Group
* March 21, 2005 - Shooting Rampage by Student Leaves 10 Dead on Reservation
* January 31, 2006 - Ex-Employee Kills 6 Others and Herself at California Postal Plant
* October 2, 2006 - Man shoots 11, killing 4 girls, in Amish school
* February 12, 2007 - Armed Man Kills 5 People at Utah Mall
* April 16, 2007 - 32 Shot Dead in Virginia; Worst U.S. Gun Rampage
* December 5, 2007 - Gunman at an Omaha Mall Kills 8 and Himself
* February 15, 2008 - Gunman at Illinois College Kills 5 Students, Wounds 16
* April 3, 2009 - 13 Shot Dead During a Class on Citizenship
* November 6, 2009 - Army Doctor Held in Ft. Hood Rampage

Really? Just about every year now? Are we REALLY that kind of a psychotic society?

There's NEVER a respite from it. NEVER a respite. It's insane. What so-called "civilized" society has mass-murder statistics like the above?

(p.s. A few months ago, it was also finally pointed out in the media that the United States has been PERPETUALLY AT WAR for the past 20 years, despite the end of the Cold War with the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1989.)

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Hurray for Winter!

Tonight the cold rain, at long last, is coming in, bringing with it, according to the forecasts, highs all next week of 40-something! Thank goodness. I've been wanting this since November.

Really cold weather's not usually a blessing in Texas 'cause the insulation of buildings and the heating sucks. Back in Weehawken/NYC, you could live comfortably below 40 degrees for months on end simply because the majority of the buildings had radiators and steam heat -- in my 3 winters up north, I was never, ever uncomfortably cold. In fact, "cold" and "snow" was fun --- since I didn't have a car and just relied on public transportation, I had nothing to worry about! Just stepped out of my duplex with my cute boots and hat and scarf and took a bus on into Manhattan! (Unlike my duplex owner, who was responsible for shovelling the snow on our steps and crosswalks, along with getting his own car started. Not to mention the city snow plowers' responsibilities!)

I'd missed the harsh weather; now Austin apparently will be getting a taste of it! I haven't been able to even wear a JACKET thus far -- by mid-January. Damn. I want to put on a scarf and coat and boots! For at least a month. Please! :)

p.s. Another plus for cold weather: Hippie neighbors can no longer sit out in the backyard and "converse" loudly/jam 'til 4 a.m. Yes, it's been an ongoing chore having to listen to them. Go inside and talk, for fuck's sake! Shut the fuck UP! :)

A Killer's Favorite Books

From today, re murderer Jared Loughner's favorite books:

Update 2: From his YouTube profile is the reading list of someone who is not obviously ideological, but including Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto in there is indicative of someone disturbed:

I had favorite books: Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Pulp, Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver's Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno.

[Read more:]


I actually disagree with the writer's categorizing including "Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto" as signs of being "disturbed." To me, these fit into what seems to be Loughner's general reading-list pattern of seeking out quest literature that inquires about both the self and the set-up of society. What's real? Is a corrupt society defining what's real for us? If the corrupt outer world doesn't match the (seemingly) more pure and virtuous inner one, which is the "insane"? If one feels that one's inner world is more "true," what, if anything, can be done to change the outer world to make it correspond to the self's inner world?

The mental/societal tactics used by the various authors listed is fascinating to me! Ranging from the childlike pure escape fantasies of "Alice" and "Peter Pan" and "Oz," to the powerless Doomsday scenarios of Orwell and Huxley and Kesey (where the individual is completely destroyed by societal forces), to the more personal and contemplative "Siddhartha" and "Old Man and the Sea" (where the individual learns to survive by accepting/blending with the world -- I'd throw Bukowski's "Pulp" and "Gulliver" in with this bunch; recognizing the supremely ridiculous but learning to live with it)...

Then you start to move beyond the sense of powerlessness to the sense of personal empowerment, based on the author's idea of a "correction" of society: Plato, Aesop, Marx, Hitler, Rand all want to teach us The Way. Plato and Aesop, more benignly. Rand, with anger at the world around her, but, ultimately, far too much Romanticism. (As proof, her whole theory was shot to hell when her much-younger lover left her.)

And that leads to the ultimate Authors of Worlds: Marx and Hitler. Unlike Homer or Carroll or Swift or Hemingway or Hesse, Marx and Hitler actually got their way! They somehow managed to translate their beliefs and writings into reality.

THAT is, perhaps, the ultimate fantasy of one who feels like a psychological outcast. Not retreating into a childlike haze; not sighing and/or laughing at how unfairly the world is run; but, rather, feeling powerful enough to overtly express anger at how "incorrectly" the "world outside" is behaving. Not necessarily desiring the result of Nazism or Communism per se, but still... being powerful enough to have one's personal beliefs became a system of reality (forced or otherwise) for millions of other people. A long, long way from the powerlessness of the child and the childlike victim, where it seems that Loughner's literary journey started.


A personal side-note re whether reading "Mein Kampf," for example, is indicative of "disturbed" behavior:

Back when I worked at the main UT-Austin library in the '80s, I checked out the book and attempted to slog through it. For some historical and psychological insight into Hitler, from the main source. I think I got through maybe 1/4 of it before the really obtuse writing made me put it down.

In mentally related news: Decades later, in the early 2000s, I was at a gynecologist's office in Austin. She'd kept me waiting for over an hour, so I was feeling belligerent to begin with. Once on the table, she, making small talk, asked me what I was reading. Honestly, I was re-reading William Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." Had I been feeling less belligerent, perhaps I would have said whatever else just to avoid controversy. As it was, after I said that I was reading about Hitler, she looked at me disapprovingly and then didn't say another word to me the whole time. Extremely uncomfortable. But... I hate that dumbed-down, PC shit. Why in the world should I feel uncomfortable about saying that I was reading a mainstream biography of Hitler by a respected author? Why in the world should my gynecologist (Indian, by the way, not Jewish) feel somehow superior to me/disapproving of me because I was doing so?

RE "The Communist Manifesto" -- I shoplifted that, in paperback, from a Fort Worth mall bookstore in '82 or so. Under Reagan, Soviet Communism was constantly touted in the media as being so darned Evil that I wanted to know for myself whether it was or not. (The Manifesto was short enough so I did manage to read the whole thing; opinion: It's been so long, I can't even remember the specifics, other than the famous "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" and the call for making government local. That's right -- not a massive "Big Brother," but rather local control of everything, from legal matters to distribution of food-stuffs -- the "commune," get it? Concept sound familiar to today's Tea Partyers?)

p.s. The same time in the early '80s that I, at 17, stole the Manifesto from Waldenbooks, or whatever generic mall store it was, I also stole Richard Nixon's then-recent "The Real War." (Richard Nixon, the deposed President to whom I'd written, as a 9-year-old, a letter of sympathy in 1974 upon his resignation.) It's called "intellectual curiosity," ya fuckin' idiots.

Yours in Plato and Orwell and Hemingway and Bukowski and Marx and Nixon...

Friday, January 07, 2011

19th Nervous Breakdown (1966)

I was just thinking how utterly contemporary this 1966 Stones song still is. Released 45 years ago.

Conversely, 45 years BEFORE this song came out was... 1921.

Between 1966 and 2011 is the same. Between 1921 and 1966, there was a HUGE leap.

When you were a child
You were treated kind
But you were never brought up right.
You were always spoiled with a thousand toys
But still you cried all night.
Your mother who neglected you
Owes a million dollars tax.
And your father's still perfecting ways of making sealing wax.

You better stop, look around
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown.

Oh, who's to blame, that girl's just insane.
Well nothing I do don't seem to work,
It only seems to make matters worse. Oh please.

You were still in school
When you had that fool
Who really messed your mind.
And after that you turned your back
On treating people kind.
On our first trip
I tried so hard to rearrange your mind.
But after while I realized you were disarranging mine.

You better stop, look around
Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown.
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown
Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown

My New Year's Resolution

To eat the 3 bananas that I buy every 10 days before they go bad...Please. That can't be so hard.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Child/ Woman Eating Snow

Did Wevill read this in November?


In the wilderness she
imagined she grew up in
there was this photograph
of a child eating snow.
Handfuls of years
back behind memory now
and not her face at all
the eyes different
like a bird's eyes
eaten out by the wind.

In the winter sun that year
her father was all bone. Slowly
he was turning white
like her shadow on the snow.
In her dreams she never saw the sun
but sometimes a vivid suffusing light
like a torch shone through water
reminding her
of the first cry
of her birth.

On the tenth of March
a door opened somewhere along the horizon.
Her father left her. His dark eyes
return at night, beyond the stars
behind the snowflake.
The birds cry again
Cry I can't imitate
No eyes it has

The blue static of lights along the freeway
grows colder, turns warmer
turns to flame. Snow
is how mirrors looked
before I was born
the old woman remembers.
The sun squats in the grass
like a dam-bear. It is brown like her father's eyes.
Silent, as a mouth stopped with snow
her memory of this picture.

She sits in her mother's shadow.
She is eating the snow from his face.
Winter whispered her name, summer will
sing it now. The
single bird's cry
is a forest of music of leaves.
But it is still winter she said.
It is still February in my hands.

The day is at breakfast.
Things, things to do.
Will the clouds leave the windowpane?
She's skating on last year's ice.
Wings hover above her, soft
hunter's wings. Falcon, soul
exiled among ravens, Father, your shadow.

It is summer.
The sky is mother blue
in the winter she imagines
she will live in forever.

The child is eating snow.
Her hunger is her thirst
her thirst her hunger. Her
father dies, her mother is alive.
Between seasons she draws breath
like a creature in hiding, to survive
what might watch her too long
too intently for love. So
she whispers her own name
Bird, how old am I
How old
is the rain in the summer grass
beyond mercy beyond memory
Bring it to me. Bring it now.


It's not a very good poem. It has the bland trappings of one outside trying to understand a woman's psyche ("She's skating on last year's ice" -- please), and it never gets it exactly. It's psychologically dull -- mouthing the correct words, but indistinct, meandering, never quite clear.

Here's a good poem on the same theme, by Plath and sans the bullshit, from her POEM FOR A BIRTHDAY:

Once I was ordinary:
Sat by my father's bean tree
Eating the fingers of wisdom.
The birds made milk.
When it thundered I hid under a flat stone.

The mother of mouths didn't love me.
The old man shrank to a doll.
O I am too big to go backward:
Birdmilk is feathers,
The bean leaves are dumb as hands.

This month is fit for little.
The dead ripen in the grapeleaves.
A red tongue is among us.
Mother, keep out of my barnyard,
I am becoming another.

Dog-head, devourer:
Feed me the berries of dark.
The lids won't shut. Time
unwinds from the great umbilicus of the sun
Its endless glitter.

I must swallow it all.

Lady, who are these others in the moon's vat --
Sleepdrunk, their limbs at odds?
In this light the blood is black.
Tell me my name.


And here's another non-bullshit poem on the theme:

Paint water balloons as fruit and balls.
Remember him giving you "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
or "The Sun Also Rises." Look up the message.

Remember when you sang "Onward Christian Soldiers" with your daughters. And all your heart. And your mother.

And remember answering your door with a butcher knife in your hand.
And six children in the kitchen playing.

And remember talking to her and every word came out backwards.
And instead of dying you were laughing.

This time you will join in and be counted.


Given the perception of the last two, I'm almost angry at the Wevill poem for existing. (And angry at the woman he was with at the time for telling him, "Yes, yes, exactly" when almost certainly it wasn't anywhere near "exactly.")

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

FINALLY found my 2011 calendar...

After all that leg-work searching on New Year's Day to no avail, just gave in and ordered my New York City calendar online. Half-price, but with shipping, nearly the same regular price. Oh well.

And it's not a maudlin choice of calendar. Looking at it will make me happy, dammit! :) Despite my still missing New York City personally, I also have always liked how the town looks aesthetically -- for the past 4 years or so, even before I lived there, had a NYC calendar and was inspired by it every month. The town is spirited and beautiful, and just looking at pictures of it makes me happy. Losing it was truly sad to me, but not tragic. It's still there. I've crawled all over it. I used to work and take smoke breaks and eat and see movies in Times Square, and at Union Square, and in Greenwich Village. I've got pictures of it imprinted in my mind. And I won't be poor and trapped 1000 miles away forever. :)

Why I'm not a therapist

My past two years of dealing with Sandruh's shit taught me something: Neurosis is interesting when it's read about (one's favorite poets, artists, et al), but not so much when you have to deal with it first-hand. Wish I could have been more patient; I was certainly not. Were I to go back and change anything, I'd maybe not call Sandruh a whore in public. Perhaps I should have been stronger and cut things off after Christmas 2008. (After a mere two months, though? Nah... had to let it play out a bit longer.) In the end, Sandruh's annoying passivity, Daddy-fixation, and sleeping-with-anyone-who-paid-attention-to-her-EXCEPT ME(!) truly brought out the mean drill sergeant in me in search of clarity. Didn't like her, didn't like me as a result. That's what it turned into, though. It was what it was.

Now, to get the Leo ME back. (Can't stand that murky, convoluted, negative Scorpio shit one whit longer.)

Dream Girls

My psyche must be truly starved for affection. Last night I had two separate dreams about celebrities, Kim Zolciak and Kim Kardashian, that I think are beautiful but don't really normally fantasize about (I actually find Kris Jenner more attractive than her daughter Kim)...

In the first dream, Kim Zolciak (from Atlanta Housewives) was stroking my leg and cuddling up with me in bed, etc., while we were naked. In the second, Kim Kardashian was with me while we looked at a large, as-yet-unrenovated apartment that I was thinking about renting. (Though in the dream, I was pondering what kind of ad to write for a roommate, so I must not have been moving in to the place with HER.) Then we went to get an ice-cream together.

I felt very happy in both dreams! Woke up feeling that they were real, then slightly bummed when I realized they weren't.

I'm a tiny bit psychic... Wonder if some sexy "Kim" with a foreign last name is in my future?? ;p (Lord knows I could do with some uncomplicated, non-neurotic affection in the New Year after the past two years of utter and constant shittiness!)

And sad that I was so grateful and happy upon receiving affection just in a dream... Lying in bed naked with someone that you like and/or love shouldn't be so hard. Going for ice-cream with someone you like shouldn't be so hard.

When real life is so emotionally bunged up, it sometimes takes dreams to unravel the knottedness, show you what's possible. Not IMpossible -- simple, sweet, and possible.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Crappy New Year? Not at all!

Well, New Year's Eve was pretty stultifying. I bought a cheap bottle of champagne, but ended up being too lethargic to even open it. Instead, just lay around watching Andy Cohen's New Year's Eve special on Bravo, then the re-run of the apple drop in Times Square on CNN. (Up until I actually lived in NYC, I'd always vowed while watching the scene on TV that ONE DAY, I TOO would be in Times Square on New Year's Eve... Once I lived there, however, I was 42 and not up for getting there 8 hours ahead of time to ensure a place inside the barricades among a million other people squishing me...and to ensure that I couldn't use the bathroom for the next 8 hours, since once you leave the barricaded area to find a Port-a-Potty, you can't get back in! Ah, reality!)

So last night was a real bust, but moping and not drinking a thing enabled me to wake up bright and early (well, 9:30 a.m.) on New Year's Day and start doin' stuff to start my New Year out right! Like eating a bowl of oatmeal, drinking orange juice, and taking a vitamin. And then washing all my clothes and all my dishes. And then getting down to business with some freelance work that I'd meant to finish last week.

After about an hour of the latter, my mom politely called to wish me a Happy New Year. After chatting for a few minutes, she made the mistake of saying that if I needed anything, to be sure and give her a call... In fact, I right then mentally really needed a new 2011 calendar (online, they're all full-price, and I've been spoiled by various bookstores in years past to getting them for half-price if you buy after Christmas -- On the 1st, I always really look forward to tacking up the new year's calendar, so I was bummed this year that I couldn't, having not taken a bus to the one close-by bookstore this past week)! After for a second thinking about just saying, "Nah, I'm fine. Thanks for asking," I went ahead and made the leap: "I REALLY would like to get a new calendar today!"

I don't think she was expecting that, but was surprisingly game: "I was about to go out for a walk, but... let's go. Are you ready right now?" "Yup. I've been up for HOURS!"

So she schlepped me around to the closest mall (no calendars anywhere), to the Target (no), to the Office Depot (puppies and prayers), to the Walgreen's (puppies, kittens, prayers)... Usually, for us, a recipe for absolute tension and disaster, but this time... complete and utter pleasantness the whole time! At the mall, we even spent extra time browsing around Macy's, for which I'd received a small gift card at Christmas, looking at shoes.

Now, toodling around from store to store on a beautifully sunny, non-trafficky holiday might seem like a normal, pleasant, drama-free excursion for most mothers/daughters... Not us. We've always gotten on each other's nerves. Don't like each other's company. Get irritated and bitchy and/or tensely silent when forced to be alone together. At 45, I think I've gone shopping with my mother maybe 3 times in my entire life after the age of 12.

Today, though, was really nice! We conversed pleasantly the whole time. She didn't gripe about what turned out to be a complete wild goose chase for calendars. And by the end of it, was even offering to go WAY out of her way to yet ANOTHER store! By that time, though, I told her honestly: "Nah. I don't want to push the good vibes! Let me treat you to McDonald's instead!" (It was right there in our last shopping center. What the hell.)

She and I have also never done well when eating out together. (Again -- usually, for whatever unknown reason, irritation/bitchiness/tense silence.) McDonald's isn't really "eating out," but it is, of a sort. So we went, and, again, had a pleasant time there, discussing the book she's reading about the cousins Nicholas/George/Wilhelm (of Russia/England/Germany) and the movie she just rented about Anne Boleyn.

After that... yet MORE togetherness! Her neighborhood's a new development, with great natural landscaping for walking... Did I want to take a walk before she took me home? Yes! So we walked and chatted companionably for about 4 miles...

(Once I got home, I worked for 6 more hours on that freelance stuff. Like the oatmeal that started the day, I didn't love it, but it made me feel good having done it.)

It was a really nice New Year's Day, 2011.