Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Free Will Astrology

While I usually like Brezsny's weekly "Free Will Astrology" column (intricate and psychologically helpful, published in many alternative weekly papers like the Austin Chronicle), I tend to dislike Brezsny's Facebook page, which is much more "lowest-common-denominator" and PC. A recent post of his on Facebook:

Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology
"5 techniques to increase happiness: 1. Keep a daily gratitude journal, listing items for which you feel grateful. 2. Perform a meditation in which you reflect on something that made you happy. 3. Make a habit of sharing the highlights of your day with someone close to you. 4. Practice forgiveness routinely. 5. Construct a list of experiences that relax and rejuvenate you."

To which I responded:

In actuality, the above activities don't work at all, just act as stand-ins while you're waiting for something real. (Seriously, I tried the above for over 5 years: being grateful for found pennies, weeds blooming through cracks in pavement, et al. I sincerely appreciated these things intellectually, but they still rang extremely hollow, along the lines of enjoying a good TV show. Truth is, LOVE is necessary. And that usually comes in the form of a person, not a penny.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"If you want to know the truth..."


"...as we flaunt our escapades,

swallow down our portion of whiskey and dex,
salvage the day with some soup or some sex,
juggle our teabags as we inch down the hall,
let the blood out of our fires with phenobarbital,
lick the headlines for Starkweathers and Specks..."

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

"...I have visions --- sometimes ritualized visions --- that come to me of God, or of Christ, or of the Saints, and I feel that I can touch them almost...that they are part of me. It's the same 'Everything that has been shall be again.' It's reincarnation, speaking with another voice...or else with the Devil. If you want to know the truth, the leaves talk to me every June."

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

Poor Kayo didn't know what the hell he was getting into! They were both 19 when they married. 19! Who is 19 when they commit to anything serious? And who knows at 19 that their wife is actually a seer and psychic... eventually earning a Pulitzer Prize to top it off, to assuage all your suspicions about her laziness --- but still not actually explaining her incredibly bizarre behavior at home!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fight-Club Boy At Door

Last night after 5 hours of music blaring through the walls, I finally went over at 11:45pm to the neighbor's to tell him to PLEASE BE QUIET, PLEASE.

He came to the door in a towel, said sorry, quieted down after.

This evening, got a knock on my door. It was Fight-Club Boy. Drunk to the gills, slurping from a hard-lemonade tall-boy that he spilled all over the place, with another in a plastic bag. Wearing an embroidered apron.

He was sorry for last night. He couldn't tell when he was loud or not. He could tell from talking to me now that I wasn't a cunt, though he thought I was a cunt last night.

I told him I appreciated his coming over to talk. I was sorry for being rude by coming to his door last night. By the way, what was that "Fight Club" shit going on at his apartment last month? The "friend" sounded like a psycho.

He said his "friend" was a faggot. When I told him I was gay: "Oh, you're gay? I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that."

I said his "friend" didn't sound like a "faggot" but rather like a straight guy trying to drum up his butchness, and that his inciting my neighbor to fight was disturbing and weird, and that I'd felt like sliding a note under his door telling him to avoid that guy!

My neighbor thanked me for caring. He drunkly hugged me, twice. Then, listening to the sounds of my TV beyond my doorway, said he heard his own voice coming from my TV. When I said I hoped not, since I'd been watching "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" and which Atlanta housewife he might be, he acted a bit embarrassed.

Folks, if I'm murdered in the next few weeks or months, it was this neighbor!

Murder aside: You know what's good about having a man around? The above kind of thing filtered out. By this time, I've seen enough of it. I can handle it. But... I'm tired of "handling it." I think perhaps straight men can handle "faggot" and "cunt" and drunken hugs from strangers and spilled drinks on the doorstep...

But I personally, sans man, am tired of having to psyche myself up to all of it. At 46, I shouldn't even be around this type of thing any more. (If I'd had protectors, I wouldn't even have had to have been around this at 26.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Good Used Heart

Two Hoots and a Holler, in 2011 (top) and 1991 (below) videos. I think of Rick Broussard circa 1991 as the soundtrack of my youth in Austin. In 2011, Rick is a bit less fucked up and pretty, as am I, but his music is still great. ("Good Used Heart" is an original song --- great lyrics!)



Killer Queen

More Thanksgiving

One reason I really like being around my nephews is because they think in unusual ways. I guess most little kids are like this; I can't tell quite yet if they're going to grow up to be the same. I also like being around their overt affection and desire to share themselves with me!

The older nephew is 9. His mom has a nice smart phone, and he wanted to show me how it worked; we went to his favorite game sites and listened to the ring-tones. And then I made him look up "Joan Crawford"! :) (On the main page of the site, he recognized a photo of a '50s ad for "Peter Pan bras" that I happened to have framed in my apartment!) I also liked his sharing his "Calvin & Hobbes" book with me. And his understanding of the difference between the words "literal" and "figurative"! (RE whether an action figure of his actually had clothes on or not!) And then, during dinner, his promotion of the canned LeSueur Baby Peas that I like so and that everyone else mocks: He made a point of choosing the LeSueur peas over the fresh peas, and then we nodded about the right way to mix them with the mashed potatoes! :)

The younger nephew is 6. At one point in the evening, he pointed to his dad and said, "You have a long chin." I felt bad for my bro and so then pointed to my nephew (trying to give an example): "You have messy hair!" The nephew then pointed to me and said, "YOU have messy hair! And you have yellow teeth -- because you SMOKE!" Me: "Well... you have spaces between your teeth because they're baby teeth!" "I don't care! At least my teeth aren't yellow from SMOKING!" (All the grown-ups in the room laughed; he'd made his point!)

Later this nephew smushed my face against his. When I yelled "OUCH!" he said, "My friends don't mind when I do this." I asked him, "When you do this, do your friends SMILE [giving example of a nice smile] or do they GRIMACE?" "What's a "grimace"?" When I gave an example of a grimace, he admitted that sometimes they grimaced, rather than smiled, after being smushed! :)

He also showed me his school things: One, a picture that he'd drawn of his family, calling them "nice" and "cool" and "funny." And another from his teacher, saying how good he'd been that week. I admired them, and I felt happy that he wanted to show these to me. I also felt happy later in the evening when he was drowsing off during football and laid in my lap...

It was neat how comfortable the nephews felt with adults. I never felt like that as a kid. When I was growing up, our family hardly ever had adult friends over. There were my parents, and then there were teachers at school. And no actual human "interaction" between. I was taught to be "quiet" and "respectful," that's it. Though I had many thoughts of my own, I was almost always immediately shut down whenever I "dared" to express them, sometimes physically "shut down" -- even for something as mildly "radical" as "daring" to watch TV and write in my journal at the same time. (Got dragged down the hall by my hair for that one.)

Certainly not useful when I got older and needed to know how to actually talk to adults (and/or earn their mentorship)! Once I got to high school and college and needed to know how to present myself and interact intellectually, I had no clue. All I'd learned was: I couldn't reveal my true self to adults because adults would be mean and shut me down. I had no game. That background of mine was a real struggle in college, where I found out that thought was actually appreciated!

I envy my nephews and their ability to interact with a variety of people, including grown-up people. I'm proud of them. They have good parents who have let them be themselves.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving

Things just keep getting worse and worse for me in general, but on this Thanksgiving I did have a nice respite -- being around family members.

The whole dinner was pleasant, at my brother and sister-in-law's house, with her parents, my mom, the nephews, and me. Everyone's pretty low-key, none of the "drama" that commentators on television talk about happening on Thanksgiving.

We watched the Cowboys, ate, chatted. I watched my brother and the boys play tag football in the back yard (and thought it was mightily cute whenever the nephews looked over at me when they'd made a good play!).

Then we all played the card game "Apples to Apples": Everyone gets 7 cards with words/phrases and one person's the judge each time -- the judge overturns one card with a theme word like "Sharp" or "Glamorous" or "Wild." The rest of us pick a card from our hand that we think the judge will choose. First to five wins. I personally think my brother fucked up the game by picking "John Philip Sousa" as the winning definition for "Sharp" when I had put down "barbed wire" and one nephew had put down "diamond"... but that's just me! :) (His rationale: "To be a bandleader, you've got to have an acute, sharp sense of music!" -- everyone groaned. Just as we groaned when the judge for the word "Wild" picked "golf-ball-sized hail" over "rednecks" and "rock-n-roll"!) :)

Then my mom went home, my sister-in-law's parents went to sleep, the nephews drowsed on the couch; we three grown-ups left drank cheap wine and watched and cheered the Longhorns as they beat the Aggies in the last seconds of their very final game after 100-something years...

I felt like a normal person for the first time in months.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blood on the Tracks (1975)

Tangled Up in Blue



Early one morning the sun was shining
I was laying in bed
Wond'ring if she'd changed at all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama's homemade dress
Papa's bankbook wasn't big enough
And I was standing on the side of the road
Rain falling on my shoes
Heading out for the East Coast
Lord knows I've paid some dues getting through
Tangled up in blue.

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split it up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walking away
I heard her say over my shoulder
"We'll meet again someday on the avenue"
Tangled up in blue.

I had a job in the Great North Woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the ax just fell
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Working for a while on a fishing boat
Right outside of Delacroix
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind and I just grew
Tangled up in blue.

She was working in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer
I just kept looking at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I's just about to do the same
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me "Zimmy, don't I know your name?"
I muttered something underneath my breath
She studied the lines on my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe
Tangled up in blue.

She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a pipe
"I thought you'd never say hello" she said
"You look like the silent type"
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue

I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keeping on like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue.

So now I'm going back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenter's wives
Don't know how it all got started
I don't what they're doing with their lives
But me I'm still on the road
Heading for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in blue.

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

You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go




I've seen love go by my door
It's never been this close before
Never been so easy or so slow
I've been shooting in the dark too long
When something's not right it's wrong
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.

Dragon clouds so high above
I've only known careless love
It's always hit me from below
This time around it's more correct
Right on target so direct
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.

Purple clover Queen Anne lace
Crimson hair across your face
You could make me cry if you don't know
Can't remember what I was thinking of
You might be spoiling me too much love
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.

Flowers on the hillside blooming crazy
Crickets talking back and forth in rhyme
Blue river running slow and lazy
I could stay with you forever
And never realize the time.

Situations have ended sad
Relationships have all been bad
Mine've been like Verlaine's and Rimbaud
But there's no way I can compare
All those scenes to this affair
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.

Yer gonna make me wonder what I'm doing
Staying far behind without you
Yer gonna make me wonder what I'm saying
Yer gonna make me give myself a good talking to.

I'll look for you in old Honolulu
San Francisco, Ashtabula
Yer gonna have to leave me now I know
But I'll see you in the sky above
In the tall grass in the ones I love
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.

US kids: Are you an Important Person?

Just watched an interview on PBS with David Brooks, a conservative columnist for the New York Times. One interesting thing that he mentioned was a survey taken both recently and 50 years ago.

50 years ago, when high-school students were asked, "Are you an important person?" only 12% said "Yes."

Today, over 80% say "Yes."

Brooks's point was the decline of both humbleness and a sense of reality. I agree.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ron Paul

At the Republican debate tonight on CNN, Republican/Libertarian Ron Paul made a few salient points:

1) RE the infamous US "War on Drugs": "Prescription drugs kill more people than illegal drugs." Which is completely true. Not to mention how many people alcohol kills, both physically over time and because of momentary outbursts.

2) RE the US imposing a "no-fly zone" over other countries: "We wouldn't like it if China put a no-fly zone over us. We need to mind our own business." Which is completely true.

3) RE the Taliban attacking us: "The Taliban only attacks us because they want us out of their countries. Just like we'd want THEM out of OUR country." Which is completely true.

One thing about Paul I must know before I support him: his opinion on outsourcing --- American corporations sending their jobs to countries with especially cheap labor markets, like India, for example. Given his Libertarian principles, I don't know that Paul would support American corporations being punished for shipping out jobs to non-Americans to save a buck.

But as an American who has been constantly employed for the past 30 years since aged 16 --- up until the last 3 years, after which I became a scruffy freelancer against my will, purely as a result of various publishers outsourcing... I want a candidate who demands that the American companies COME HOME AND EMPLOY AMERICANS.

Naif that I am, I just e-mailed Paul's website, asking for his position on outsourcing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

To SS: Art Jobs

On Craig's List for your town, check out these listings (in the Art/Media jobs section):

11/2: Art Instructor. $20 hr. See also www.pinotspalette.com
11/8: Art Instructors Needed. See also www.paintingwithatwist.com
11/21: Part-time Art Teacher. $10 hr.

The first two sound especially interesting.

(Since our e-mail communications are sometimes... STYMIED... just wanted you to get the above info!) :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stand and Deliver

1981. I was 15 -- my ultimate idea of "sexy" and "decadent"! But then, I'd hardly ever seen ANY video up until then. I think it still stands up 30 years later, both musically and video-wise. Wish, though, that Adam Ant had played it straight rather than "winking at the audience" the whole time. Scare 'em properly! :)


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Big in Brussels



Sometimes when I think I'm doing Joan Crawford a favor by perpetuating her image and reputation online, a picture like the above grounds me. From 1966. In Brussels. She was no longer a huge cinema queen. (Her last big hit had been in '62, with "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane," and that was still only an homage to her former glory.)

But Brussels, hardly a "small town," recognized her in the "off-year" of 1966 for what she by that time after 40 years had proven herself to be -- a perpetual star. Worthy of filling the city streets.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Whatever it may bring
I will live by my own policies
I will sleep with a clear conscience
I will sleep in peace...

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



It seems like years since you held the baby
While I wrecked the bedroom
You said it was dangerous after Sunday
And I knew you loved me
He thinks I just became famous
And that's what messed me up
But he's wrong
How could I possibly know what I want
When I was only twenty-one?
And there's millions of people
To offer advice and say how I should be
But they're twisted
And they will never be any influence on me
But you will always be
You will always be
If I treated you mean
I really didn't mean to
But you know how it is
And how a pregnancy can change you
I see plenty of clothes that I like
But I won't go anywhere nice for a while
All I want to do is just sit here
And write it all down and rest for a while
I can't bear to be in another city
One where you are not
I would return to nothing without you
If I'm your girlfriend or not
Maybe I was mean
But I really don't think so
You asked if I'm scared
And I said so
Everyone can see what's going on
They laugh `cause they know they're untouchable
Not because what I said was wrong
Whatever it may bring
I will live by my own policies
I will sleep with a clear conscience
I will sleep in peace
Maybe it sounds mean
But I really don't think so
You asked for the truth and I told you
Through their own words
They will be exposed
They've got a severe case of
The emperor's new clothes
The emperor's new clothes
The emperor's new clothes

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Anne Sexton's Typewriter

I love this view, being able to see what she saw. And Austin's Harry Ransom Center has it! They also have over 200 of her UNpublished poems (!!), and archives of photos, letters, etc. PLUS her whole personal library! AND, if you request in advance, you can just go in there and TOUCH the stuff when they bring it to your table... I can't even imagine TOUCHING HER STUFF (and reading UNpublished poems)!

It's all been at the HRC for years, but I'd always vaguely thought it was restricted from the general public. Nope, it is not. I must make an appointment and go.


It's not as though I really need you

REM, 1984



Looking at your watch a third time waiting in the station for the bus
Going to a place that's far, so far away and if that's not enough
Going where nobody says hello, they don't talk to anybody they don't know
You'll wind up in some factory that's full time filth and nowhere left to go
Walk home to an empty house, sit around all by yourself
I know it might sound strange, but I believe
You'll be coming back before too long

(chorus)
Don't go back to Rockville, don't go back to Rockville, don't go back to Rockville
And waste another year

At night I drink myself to sleep and pretend
I don't care that you're not here with me
'Cause it's so much easier to handle
All my problems if I'm too far out to sea
But something better happen soon
Or it's gonna be too late to bring you back

(repeat chorus)

It's not as though I really need you
If you were here I'd only bleed you
But everybody else in town only wants to bring you down and
That's not how it ought to be
Well I know it might sound strange, but I believe
You'll be coming back before too long

Comfortably Numb

My sophomore year of college, I used to sit around the dorm room missing Ginny, listening to "The Wall" over and over and over, writing down the lyrics, thinking how profound it was in its depiction of sorrow and loss. I just now listened to this song again on YouTube for the first time in more than 10 years. Still think it's profound. (Though I can't imagine WALLOWING in the darkness today like I did back then; back then it was kind of "interesting" -- today, something to try to avoid!)



Hello?
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
Come on, now,
I hear you're feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain
And get you on your feet again.
Relax.
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain you would not understand
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

(solo)

I have become comfortably numb.

O.K.
Just a little pin prick.
There'll be no more AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
But you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up?
I do believe it's working. Good.
That'll keep you going through the show
Come on it's time to go.

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Start of Something

She's getting very
close to where
the heart meets
bone, which beats back

Two steps backward, a couple forward...

...so I end up pretty much in the same place! But at least not horribly bummed out.

The two backward things:

1) I had a job interview last week. Way on the other side of town. Duties: Writing blog posts for various legal firms. Hours: 8 to 5. (So I'd have to get up weekdays at 5:30am or so to catch 2 buses to get there on time, and wouldn't get home 'til 6:30 or 7pm.) Pay: $12 an hour. I wasn't excited about it. After taxes, I'd be bringing home about $1600 a month. That's a yearly salary of $19,200. That's what a high-school dropout can make working at a supermarket. Yet... Despite all of the above, I was still hoping to get the stupid job! (A stupid job being better than no job and getting evicted next month for no rent payment!) I did not get the job. I could not even get a crappy job that I didn't really want!

2) One of the many temp agencies I'm signed up with called me today with some news: A long-term temp job once scheduled to start today but then pushed up to November 28 had decided on who they wanted for the job; I was "3rd backup." (!) Meaning, if 3 of the ones they actually picked failed their drug tests, etc., THEN I'd be called to work. Pay: $10.55 an hour. And the temp person informed me that since I was on their list, I needed to come in to the office for paperwork, a drug test, etc. Now, I've already been into this particular agency's office TWICE already for various paperwork and office-related tests. This time, I just balked and told them NO. I said that if the company decided they wanted me, then I'd gladly come in to take all the tests that very day, but as 3rd BACKUP, I wasn't going to make yet another trip by bus to their office for nothing. Admittedly, not a real "can-do" spirit, but... Really. All the bullshit for a $10.55-an-hour job that I'm only a backup for? I still have a little dignity left! (I may not have an apartment left next month, but... I've got my pride, dadgummit!)

The above all reminded me of "The Bell Jar," when Elly is unable to focus on her thesis and so thinks of just quitting the whole honors English program at her Ivy League school and signing up at her mother's local college. Only to discover that the requirements for the local school were actually more strenuous than those for her elite school: "Now I saw that the stupidest person at my mother's college knew more than I did. I saw they wouldn't even let me in through the door, let alone give me a large scholarship like the one I had at my own college."

Same here: I condescendingly "stoop" to apply for low-paying jobs, but... they're even harder to qualify for than the high-paying ones that I've been working at for the past 13 years!

Luckily, some good things also happened today to counter the crap.

1) I got an outright offer to do some temp work from home for 2 weeks for $27 an hour!
2) Found a publishing company to freelance for that I hadn't known about and did well on their test. (THIS kind of test, I don't mind!)
3) Applied for a job in my old stomping grounds of Weehawken, and the HR person called me right back! (I had to explain why my resume was coming from Austin, and how I'm definitely looking to re-relocate!) This one's a long-shot, but still: It was nice to be contacted immediately and told how perfect my resume was for their job. And the pay's $30 an hour! And I can still smell and see Weehawken!)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I'll Be There

Watched Michael Jackson's final 2009 "This Is It" performance tonight on VH1. At one point, he sang songs from his Jackson 5 years, including "I'll Be There."

The first video below (from 2002) especially breaks my heart. I'm sure Michael knew exactly what he had lost and could never regain. The second video is the original song from 1969.





You and I must make a pact, we must bring salvation back
Where there is love, I'll be there

I'll reach out my hand to you, I'll have faith in all you do
Just call my name and I'll be there

I'll be there to comfort you,
Build my world of dreams around you, I'm so glad that I found you
I'll be there with a love that's strong
I'll be your strength, I'll keep holding on

Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter
Togetherness, well that's all I'm after
Whenever you need me, I'll be there
I'll be there to protect you, with an unselfish love that respects you
Just call my name and I'll be there

If you should ever find someone new, I know he'd better be good to you
'Cause if he doesn't, I'll be there
Don't you know, baby, yeah yeah
I'll be there, I'll be there, just call my name, I'll be there

(Just look over your shoulders, honey - oo)

I'll be there, I'll be there, whenever you need me, I'll be there
Don't you know, baby, yeah yeah

I'll be there, I'll be there, just call my name, I'll be there...

Censor Yourself!

OK, late-night on the Internet after 6 or so beers, I myself often am incapable of mental and written self-censorship. That's another story. What I'm talking about right now is PHYSICAL self-censorship.

Part of it is just being fat. Like one woman at the UT mock jury last Thursday sitting next to me.

(1) She was so fat that she intruded on my personal space. Our jury chairs were close together, and her Self was touching me, which it shouldn't have been had she been a normal size.
(2) As the mock trial started, she started zipping and unzipping her bag, loudly rattling papers while the judge and lawyers were speaking. (Censor yourself!) I kept looking over at her, wondering what the hell she was so distractingly digging around for. Turned out, it was a Snickers candy bar, which she then proceeded to unwrap loudly and then scarf down loudly. Yes, we were all only in a "mock" trial situation, but can you please refrain from EATING (and so rattlingly loudly) during what is, despite its pseudo-ness, a quiet, serious enactment? (Censor yourself!)
(3) After the extremely annoying rattling candy-bar incident, I started studying this person more closely out of the corner of my eye: Her flats were olive green, her shirt turquoise, her eye-shadow lime green. That psychotic lack of color coordination is also not acceptable. (Censor yourself!)

In short: If you're big and fat, perhaps you should be self-conscious about that enough as it is... And maybe you especially shouldn't be so loud, scarfing down candy bars and rattling papers in a quiet public setting. And maybe you shouldn't wear lime-green eyeshadow in and of itself, much less try to match it up with turquoise and olive. (Censor yourself!)

I probably didn't look so hot at the mock trial myself, but at least I sat and watched quietly and politely in no-need-to-coordinate red-and-black, sans candy bars and rattling and rubbing up against others! Seriously. Censor your public self. Please.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Louboutins!


At a UT mock trial Thursday that I got $10-an-hour for attending as a mock juror, I could not stop looking at the student defense attorney. She was insanely movie-star-looking: chiseled features, dark red hair, the proverbial "alabaster" skin, about a size 0...

Before I sat down in the mock court-room, I'd been hanging out in the hallway, where I'd seen her walk by and wondered, "Who in the world is THAT?" It looked like she was wearing a cocktail dress -- sleeveless, extremely form-fitting. By the time we were both in the mock courtroom and I realized she was going to be one of the lawyers I'd be critiquing, she'd put on a conservative jacket... and pearls... over the cocktail dress, but one thing remained the same...

The Louboutins, with those famous red soles! I'd only seen them on TV, but never in real life!

Oh my god!

Once she opened her mouth to present her case, a little of the lustre wore off: At first, she was a little mush-mouthed and didn't make a lot of eye contact with the jurors. She really seemed like a stereotypical 1950s Upper East Side society girl (who also looked like a model from a 1952 "Vogue" -- NOT "stereotypical" at all for 2011 in Austin, I suppose -- where does this girl come from?)! But after a bit, she kicked in and was actually arguing good points and making a few mildly sarcastic asides (which her opposing student attorney always called her on before the judge, and which the judge, at the end of the trial, admonished her about: "Juries don't like sarcasm." Oh, but I do!)

In the end, we jurors all voted unanimously in her favor. Because of the FACTS, of course! :)

When the judge sitting in (actually a real-life judge doing the law school a favor) asked us jurors for opinions on both the presentation of facts AND the personal style of the attorneys... I didn't want to knock her publicly, so kept quiet. But the truth is: I could not stop looking at her Louboutins the whole time. Maybe she should tone it down a bit for real-life juries in the future? Or maybe just continue to be a real visual treat and distraction, plebes be damned... What a dilemma for her career... :)

Beans!



I love pinto beans. (Not the canned kind, which always taste weirdly sweet and gooey and never hit the spot, but the home-made kind.) And for 46 years now have relied primarily on my mother to provide them for me. (Even today, every couple of months or so, she'll make a big batch and give me an old cottage-cheese container full of them to take home. Which I always finish off in about a day and a half.)

I once tried to make a bunch for myself, back in '96 I think it was, but they turned out crappy, mainly because I KNEW that they needed to be soaked overnight but I didn't FEEL LIKE soaking them overnight.

Last week, I saw a 1-lb bag of dry pinto beans in the supermarket for 75 cents and was suddenly inspired: What the hell; it's been 15 years; give 'em another shot...

This time, I SOAKED. For LONGER than 24 hours. And the next day I didn't try to boil them fast because I was hungry for them, but instead ate something first and THEN started the cooking... 2 hours of simmering for those things! It was like waiting for Thanksgiving dinner or something!

I didn't have any spices to add, except for salt and pepper. I don't think my mom ever adds any other spices, though she does always add raw BACON to simmer, which makes for great flavor but that I always have picked out when done to avoid the yucky fat-back-ness. (Plus I was just too lazy and cheap to buy a big thing of bacon just to add a couple of cut-up slices.)

At any rate, I soaked for 24 hours, I simmered for 2 hours, and at the end of it all, the beans that I made myself actually tasted GOOD, even without the bacon!

Only now: I have a lettuce-container full of ONE POUND OF BEANS to eat!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Happy Birthday, Anne Sexton (November 9)


CIGARETTES AND WHISKEY AND WILD, WILD WOMEN
(after a song)*

Perhaps I was born kneeling,
born coughing on the long winter,
born expecting the kiss of mercy,
born with a passion for quickness
and yet, as things progressed,
I learned early about the stockade
or taken out, the fume of the enema.
By two or three I learned not to kneel,
not to expect, to plant my fires underground
where none but the dolls, perfect and awful,
could be whispered to or laid down to die.

Now that I have written many words,
and let out so many loves, for so many,
and been altogether what I always was --
a woman of excess, of zeal and greed,
I find the effort useless.
Do I not look in the mirror,
these days,
and see a drunken rat avert her eyes?
Do I not feel the hunger so acutely
that I would rather die than look
into its face?

I kneel once more,
in case mercy should come
in the nick of time.

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

*The song is "Cigareets, Whusky and Wild Wild Women" (1947 by Red Ingle)

Voting 2012

Ya feel like a mean, racist bum going against Barack Obama. The 2008 election drilled that into our collective head. (Full disclosure: I voted for McCain in 2008, the first time I'd ever voted Republican since I was first able to vote in 1984. Why Republican this year? One, I was pissed off about Hillary and how she got completely sideswiped. Two, McCain, though he ran a crappy campaign in 2008, I still remembered from 2000, when he challenged Bush's bullshit in the Republican primaries. I also liked McCain's Senate record of attempting sensible reforms: campaign and immigration, for instance. Obama, on the other hand, hadn't done a thing. He spoke well and was also historically black, but he was also all surface and no depth.)

For 2012: Obama remains a good speaker and a pleasant, thoughtful man. But he's as incompetent as George W. Bush was. No, he's worse:

Unemployment rate: (US Labor Dept.) October 2008 = 6.6%. October 2011 = 9.0%
National debt: (CBS News) 2008 = $10 trillion. 2011 = $14 trillion.
Wall Street bonuses: (Wall Street Journal, 2010) "Pay and benefits at the top 25 publicly traded banks and security firms on Wall Street hit a record of $135.5 billion" in 2010.

Also, Obama is reported (from the liberal "Washington Post") to have received more Wall Street contributions than any other Presidential candidates from both 2008 and 2012: "According to The Post’s latest revelation, bank employees, hedge fund magnates and others in the finance sector have contributed more to Obama and the Democrats than any of the campaigns of the GOP candidates. Largely to thank, says The Post, is a number of Democratic financiers who aided Obama in his 2008 bid to reclaim the White House from the Republicans that still give money to Obama and the DNC today.

Between both his own campaign and DNC contributions, the president has been responsible for raking in around $15.6 million in contributions from the financial and banking sector. By comparison, Texas Governor Rick Perry, still considered to be in the top-tier of GOP candidates, has pulled in only $2 million from the same pool."

Given the above, I'm puzzled about the "Wall Street Occupiers" occupying Wall Street and other city centers. Saying nothing about President Barack Obama's own extremely strong Wall Street connections. Not marching on Washington to protest both the President and the Congress. Calling Obama himself on his crap would be much less popular, huh?

On a personal note: My mother is a big Obama supporter. And I've been railing against him for the past few years based on his poor performance (and on my own unemployment for the first time in 30 years). But I just recently calmed down a bit and said to her, "I hope I'm fully employed by next year's election, because I want to make my decision rationally instead of just being pissed off because I'm unemployed."

But being long-term unemployed is, indeed, part of a "rational" decision. As are considering the National Debt and looking at the Wall Street bonuses being handed out during Obama's term, despite the earlier crash.

And Obama's foreign policy? The US "rationale" for invading Iraq was completely invented by Bush. I hated that, and I liked Obama while he was campaigning for saying the Iraq invasion was wrong. But... How has Obama's foreign policy been ANY different from Bush's? With Bush... a snake is a snake. The Snake pretty much said what he planned to do from the beginning. Disagree with it as you will, the Snake stated his intentions. Obama, on the other hand, acted reasonable while campaigning, then spent billions of US money targeting Libya, for instance. (What the fuck? Khaddafy hadn't been a threat to the US since Reagan put him out of commission in the '80s.)

In short, Obama, by his own actions, is a Wall Street hack and pseudo-Republican on foreign issues. Yet... he poses so much better than that...

Even if I have a nice job in the fall of 2012, I don't see how I can vote for him.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Who I Look Like

On Saturday while working at the UT game, a certain Brit bartender told me that I looked like an actress... who was it... Annette Bening! (!) That's certainly a new one!

And then the same girl asked if I was a dancer... To which I responded with a completely retarded made-up tap-dance, complete with jazz hands. (You had to be there. She laughed instead of cringed, which was good!) :)

And later, she kept telling me, and the people standing around us chatting, how funny I was! :) (OK, I'm sometimes kind of funny when I get on a roll, though you wouldn't know it from HERE, where I only seem to record the depths of my angst!) :)

Gosh. Someone I've had a secret crush on since last week thinks I'm amusing! :) When was the last time that I entertained anyone other than my nephews?? :)

The "Annette Bening"-thing reminded me of who people over the years have told me that I looked like:

Lauren Bacall (a random guy coming on to me at the K-Mart where I worked in high school, and then a 50-something-year-old man that I was sleeping with in the 1990s)
Erica Jong (my mother, from the book-jacket of "Fear of Flying")
Molly Ringwald (guys in college when I had bobbed red hair)
Sylvia Plath (me)
Bette Midler (Ugh! My least favorite -- sorry, Bette, but you're not that cute. From a girl in a gay bar.)
Jenna Elfman (a girl in a gay bar)
Cate Blanchett (my older nephew while watching the Oscars a couple of years ago: "Is that Aunt Steffi?")
Draco (the littler nephew, earlier this year while I was always wearing my blonde hair in a pony-tail)

After all of the below photos, I STILL think that I look like Plath the most! (a p.s.: Some Germanic people have the same expression in the eyes and the same bridge of the nose... me, my mom, Doris Day, and Plath, to name a few!) :) As for the other photos: There seems to be a trend of "squintiness"! I beg to differ! When I talk and laugh and EMOTE, I squint my eyes, but other than that...I look NOTHING LIKE Bette Midler...dammit! :)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Marker

Just wanted to note a dream I just had (@8pm Thursday, November 3) so I can look back later and see if it meant anything about The Girl, or The Cancer:

In the dream I was in an apartment, and arguing with everyone around me (surprise), including old friends and a big male neighbor. I was extremely verbally rude to the neighbor, thinking, what could happen? He took it and took it, then threw a 4-foot-long staple gun through my window; it lodged in some bookshelves. Then the neighbor and some of my former friends kept milling about outside my window, peering in and laughing. I was outraged, trying to get some sympathy for myself, pointing out what he had done...everybody thought it was kind of funny. I called the police, thinking at last or at least I'd have some "justice"... they kept me on the phone talking and explaining, not taking the thrown staple-gun very seriously, and not coming.

At one point after this the neighbor passed by my apt. window and made fun of my not having a job. How did he know this? I'd told some street-looking women who had been milling about earlier, thinking at the time that it would bond us, but they just ended up turning over the info to the neighbor. At the job comment, I screamed at him and started screaming at everyone else -- basically trying to get their sympathy against him, to no avail.

The dream venue then spread out to a convention-type area, a public place where some sort of festival was going on. Here I was walking around among a bunch of strangers, occasionally running into some people I knew (including some of the "friends" from around my apartment). I was still very upset and panicky by what had happened at my apt., just wanting to clear the bad vibes and make ordinary contact. I saw one old co-worker and we had a pleasant brief conversation, her showing me some poems in a notebook (she wasn't a writer in real life). She had her son with her, about the same age as my oldest nephew. It made me feel good to see him, but I was also irritating him, and he was cranky with me. Then his mother spotted someone she said was "Morrissey" (the singer) leaning against a wall with a couple of other guys -- the man looked like a 20-something Austin hipster with a scruffy beard rather than the British singer, but apparently it really was him, and the friend/mom got his autograph.

Dream venue now still at the convention-center-type place, but this time there's a huge prom going on, with a lot of my old friends from high school (and more of the "friends" from the apartment) milling around. Most are dressed up in prom gear. By now I have run into a random young man, about 16 or 17, whom I'm friendly with and hanging out with. We go up and up and up some spiral ramps, passing suites where my old high school friends are partying and having fun. People look at me but don't acknowledge me. When I and the kid finally get to the very top of the ramp, there are two suites there. Turns out Morrissey is in one of them. My teenaged friend starts talking with him and I feel like a third wheel. I tell him I'll wait for him downstairs. I go back down and down and down the ramp, and stand in an open area at the bottom and watch dressed-up, happy people go by (all old friends from real life, none acknowledging me), looking up occasionally to see if the teenager is coming back down. After a long while, I realize he's not coming. I feel a clean sort of loneliness ("good for him") and decide to keep walking around...

A young Irish-looking woman with short, dark red hair and a veil-type thing on her head (not a real veil, but a bachelorette-party kind of thing) comes up to me, standing a few inches away and looking intensely at me. She says, "Do you remember me?" I do. (In real life, she's a girl I met at the UT game a couple of weeks ago.) Her body is giving off great heat. We start kissing and then making out. Complete warmth and comfort emanating from her. I tell her about what had just happened to me earlier, how the apartment people were mean, how nobody would talk to me. She kisses me some more, then touches the left side of my face and my left breast (my left, to her right) and tells me that I have cancer in those places. I can't figure out if I'm going to die from it or not. At the moment, I'm not worried about it, I just, very much, want her to go home with me. (Though I guess if she's symbolic of "Death," I'd be going home with HER!) :)

And I pick this moment in the dream to have to go to the bathroom! I REALLY have to go. And the bathroom is like any club bathroom --- toilets overflowing to the brim, toilet-paper and pee and water all over the floor, dressed-up girls putting on makeup at the mirror. I try to get situated on a toilet without letting my butt touch the poop that is floating at the very top. And the poop keeps overflowing, and a young black woman outside my stall, wearing a dark-blue dress with white polka-dots, is accusing me of causing the literal and figurative crap to flow out from under my stall door! I keep trying to simultaneously defend myself to this woman and just GO, so I can get back to The Girl outside...

And in the middle of all of this, I can hear the Death/Love Girl talking to my real-life junior-high friend Debbie (who is dressed in jeans and a red-and-black flannel shirt, unlike the other prom-attire). To my happy surprise, she's telling Debbie that she really likes (loves?) me... At this point I wake up, still trapped on the dream-toilet unable to "go" because of all the surrounding filth, but feeling deeply happy that The Girl is waiting outside...

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

95% of the stuff above was explicable via Freud: I'm not getting along well with anyone right now and feel very isolated; I just a couple of days ago had to call the cops on the big neighbor next door (though I had no personal contact with him); I can't find a decent job and am embarrassed about it; the temp gigs working big football games have put me in a festive setting (with spiraling ramps) surrounded by well-dressed people that I'm apart from while being in the middle of...

I'm interested in this Dream Girl, though! I met the real-life version (in looks) at a UT game last month: I was posted in a chair guarding the stairwell against rich people trying to sneak out for a smoke; she was a bartender in the suites right across from me. For only about 20 minutes --- I was a "floater" without a set position; my job was to walk around and relieve regular stair-guarders for their breaks, so I only got to be near her post/suites for those 20 minutes.

During my time there, she was mildly irritated because she'd put in a call for Bloody Marys over 15 minutes ago, and the drink runner hadn't arrived with the drinks, and her rich people in the suites were getting irritated at her! Since we stair-guarders aren't allowed in the suites, even after-hours, I was mightily curious about what went on in there --- not so much what the rich people were doing (the doors are open, and I can see that), but what exactly the bartenders had to do and how they did it. So we chatted about that while I was there, in the middle of her drinks finally arriving, and her going back and forth to serve them, et al. She was very Irish-looking (I tried and tried to think who her looks reminded me of; finally came up with... the short-haired girl singer in "The Commitments," played by Bronagh Gallagher), but when she opened her mouth, she had the most beautiful upper-crust British accent! (I suppose, with a bartender, I was expecting Cockney!) It's kind of trite to find that accent sexy -- who doesn't?! -- but... it really was very sexy! :)

And then I kept watching her move: Normally I'm not that attracted to girls who are shorter than me (I'm 5'8" and she was about 5'4"). And normally, I am often more attracted to "willowy," graceful girls, and she was sturdily built -- not fat or "stocky" or "muscular," but "compact"... And she moved "with purpose." (Yeah, because she had drinks to get out!) :) The type of energy of her movements was something I hadn't particularly noticed or found attractive before in general, but she herself was interesting to watch "in action." UnRomantic as it sounds, her movements said "competence" and "safety" to me, and I liked watching her. (A girl that can bartend has seen the world and can handle the world. I myself have seen large segments of the world, but cannot yet quite reconcile myself to how things and people and myself really are.)

The highlight of our 20 minutes for me: She offered me a "drink"! Not a "drink" drink, but a can of soda, which the bartenders (but not us stair-guarders) had access to, and that she had to sneak out to me! How cute is her sneaking me a Dr. Pepper! :)

Anyway, as I said, this post is a "marker." Events, both real and dream, all most probably fading into the ether, but just in case I get cancer or run off with a Brit who looks like the Irish girl below... you, and I, heard it here first! :)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Just ain't gonna do it

Tuesday morning one of my 7 temp agencies called me and offered me a job for the whole month of November. $8 an hour.

The minimum wage in the USA is $7.25 an hour. The MINIMUM wage. For high schoolers working at McDonald's, et al.

If I accepted an $8-an-hour job, at 40 hours a week, I'd make $1280 a month. That's $15,360 per year. BEFORE taxes.

I turned it down. And there was guilt. Why was there guilt? Well, because I should be a "real go-getter," willing to do ANYTHING to make it...

$8 an hour is slave wages. I made $1200 a month 25 years ago when I was a kid. Before I'd earned any degree, before I had any work experience at all.

I fucking REFUSE this vampiric bullshit. (Watch out! Before long I might be out on the "Occupy" front lines!)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Fight Club Austin


The loud-music next-door neighbor of July and August has been gone for months, and in his place came a huge, heavyset black guy with short dreads who's been pretty silent for the past 2 months. I'll see him in the hall every now and then and say "hi," but I hardly ever hear him. (Once, a few weeks after he'd moved in, he had his door open, and when I walked past I didn't see any furniture, and it looked like there was trash strewn around on the floor. So I wondered how often he was even using the place.)

Today, though... So much for the silence! It was a pleasant 75-ish day and everyone's windows were open. I was lying on the bed after that day's strenuous task of grocery shopping when I started to hear voices waft over from next door:

"Don't be tormented by death, man! Close your eyes!"
[mumbled something]
"I said close your eyes! What are you afraid of? Close your eyes! Everything does not die."
[mumbled something]
"I ain't gonna do nothin'! I'm not gonna hit you! I swear, man!"

By this time I had hopped up off the bed and had parked myself right next to the window-screen to hear more of this "philosophy"...

"You should see this barn, man. You're gonna love this!" Then came a whole series of instructions on various fighting positions and strategies, ending with:

"When you're in a fight, you never expose your back." [some scuffling]
"Never turn your goddamn back in a fucking fight!" [bumps and scuffles]
"Come on, man."
[mumbled, probably "I'm not gonna fight"]
"Why not? You were sitting here crying about life being long a few minutes ago, and now look at you! Look out the window! It's a beautiful day. The birds are flying. They birds aren't afraid of death. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Life is beautiful! I feel like boxing!"
[mumbled something]
"No, not YOU! Let's go to a boxing match!"

It was about 3 in the afternoon, so I wasn't quite sure where they were going to find an actual boxing match. In the course of the above, the heavy metal had gotten turned way up, and the one guy doing most of the arguing had said he'd been smoking and drinking since he was 10 and he still went to "Fight Club" and could still hold his own physically. And he didn't need Xanax or "no mind control" like that!

I think there were 2 guys plus my neighbor in the room. My neighbor was the quiet one telling the main loud guy that he didn't want to fight. And I suppose the neighbor had been going through a depression lately, because the main guy kept telling him that he didn't need the Xanax, that he just needed to get out of the house... and FIGHT! He just had to experience it, man! They could go to that barn, and then there was a dog park by the one guy's house, and it didn't have "no" dog shit, so it was perfect late at night...

I was fascinated by the incongruity of the main guy's occasional words of support like, "You're a talented musician, you're a smart person, you're, like, my best friend, dude" (I wrote that one down immediately) -- which apparently the feeling-low neighbor seemed to need to hear -- almost immediately leading into ways to start Fight Clubs and trying to get the neighbor to hit him! (The psychology was so crude... after hearing the "you're, like, my best friend" I wanted to, right then, run over and slip an anonymous note under his door: "These guys are NOT your friends! Be careful!")

The heavy metal "fight music" kept up, the loud personal exhortations waxed and waned. Things would be quiet for a few minutes, then there'd be more "instructions" on fight moves, then more attempts to get the neighbor to practice them; when he refused, the "psychology" would kick in. I wrote the following down, almost verbatim:

"Good! You're crying! I made you feel! You feel something! When I came over here, you didn't want life, and now look at you! You're a person! You're a person! You're a person! Feel! Feel! Feel! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Hit me, man, hit me!"

[then... bam-bam-bam, bumps and slams against the walls, stuff falling on the floor]

After 2 hours of listening to all of the above, I finally called the police when this slamming started. Initially, I called "311," which is just for minor stuff like noise complaints. But the 311 people switched me over to 911 when I told them about the fighting sounds I'd heard after the "hit me, man"...

But they were puzzled: "Is it guys playing around, or is it a serious fight? That makes a big difference in how we respond."

I was puzzled myself: "They sound like they know each other, but they keep talking about death and Fight Clubs and telling one guy to hit someone, and now it sounds like they're really hitting each other and knocking each other around the room. Have you seen the movie 'Fight Club'? [911 had] It's kind of just like that! It may be serious or it may not be... I just can't tell."

The police showed up within 10 minutes. Immediately the music was turned off. I didn't hear the other two guys leave; I wonder if the police escorted them out of the apartment immediately. There was no yelling or protest from them, belligerent as they'd been. Then I heard the police talking to my neighbor alone. They were quiet, so I couldn't hear much, except for my neighbor saying, "Sorry. We were just rough-housing." Complete silence after the police left.

Ironically, my calling the cops on the so-called "boys just being boys" was EXACTLY the kind of "stifling" female/"societal" mind-set that the movie railed against! I certainly don't think I would have called the police over a little heavy metal in the afternoon (absolutely nothing compared to the stereo of my former neighbor) and a few bumps, if that had been all I'd heard. It was the creepy "man-love psychology" that shoved it up to the next level -- the "I love you, man, life is beautiful" followed by the "hit me, man" and goading the neighbor into an actual physical fight ... allegedly as an antidote to his depression, but more probably because of the one guy's desire to manipulate another -- physically, emotionally. It was sick to listen to.

Way too much YANG, man... Reminded me of the creepy "Promise Keepers" -- the right-wing Christian guys who used to get together en masse in stadiums to "encourage" each other in their "manhood"... Obviously, a real man doesn't need a GANG to hype him up into manhood. (Though, to be fair, too much hyper-femininity/passivity/YIN is also equally warped. SLS a great example of the "uber-victim.")