Monday, December 31, 2012

I was so much more passionate last year!

With the end of the year comes nostalgia, and comparison, so I just now checked back with what I was doing in late 2011:

#1: On December 30, 2011, I was getting mildly chided by a below-stairs neighbor with a British accent for playing my KT Tunstall CD too loudly! When's the last time I felt joy-filled enough to play my music loudly?! :)

#2: Something from October 17, 2011: "I have counted every day..."

Over a year later, I don't care nearly as much about Sandra's emotional withholding (first, you bemoan it; then you grow numb to it; then you get mightily bored with and overtly dismissive of the nonsensical repetition of it; at the very end, the tragic realization: "She both thinks I'm her drunken mother AND believes what her 60s-trained psychiatrist says..."). There's no countering that idiocy. Sometimes other people's stuff gets so stupid that your own innate intelligent self starts to slough it off and you become free of it.

I still love the song itself, though.

In search of leather (or something)

Well, only 2 more days of my 11-day vacation left... Some of the stuff that I wanted to get done I didn't: no pedi, no new computer (though I did go to Best Buy and browse and browse and browse for 2 hours, probably driving the poor, nice salesguy nuts; I'd planned on getting it right then, but just could not make up my mind. The salesguy was recommending "Asus" and "Acer," while I've had pretty good luck with my used Dell--that a Joan fan sent me--for the past 4 years...I finally just gave up and went home to look up ratings online, but even after doing so, STILL couldn't make up my mind. At least I got the process percolating. I'd hoped to symbolically start the New Year with a fresh new computer--the first I'd ever purchased myself--but will now aim for getting it by the end of January, still a Newish part of the Year).

One thing I DID get done this past week was a mall trip (1 hour each way by bus) that resulted in a new leather jacket and new boots to wear to work! This sounds extremely silly, but during the chilly weather over the past month, I've felt a bit self-conscious about not having the right coat. I have 3 good-to-great coats (bought while I lived in NYC) for 40-and-below weather. But all too heavy for 50-ish winter days here in Austin. (Winters of 2010 and 2011 once I'd moved back to Austin, I was freelancing most of the time at home and didn't have to make public appearances outdoors 5 days a week. This year, though, putting on my 7-year-old cheapo Wilson leather jacket--which never looked that good to begin with--almost every day was depressing.)

I hit every major department store, and 3 or 4 specialty stores like Guess--which just had FAKE leather for a ridiculously overpriced $200--looking for my new jacket. Was initially horrified to see that just about everybody was sold out of black leather coats after Christmas/post-Christmas sales! ("But, but..." I frantically asked one saleslady, "WHERE do people get leather coats after Christmas?!")

Thanks, finally, to Dillard's for having ONE coat left--and it fit nicely and looked just like what I wanted. AND it was on sale for 40% off! Also ended up getting some work (office)/weekend boots at Dillard's, also 40% off! I'd been depressed about the pair of very similar Nine West boots that I'd ordered online for $100 just a month or so ago...those turned out to be a very cheap grade of leather and bulky and pretty stupid looking--such a big waste of money (and I could no longer return the things since I'd worn them out twice), and I'd told myself just to suck it up, I was NOT buying any other such boots this winter... These Dillard's boots were a much finer grade of leather; they fit much better; they were, with the sale, just $60-something. "Splurge"! (In the picture I have up here, the crappy, bulky $100 online boots are in the back, the much better new boots in front. I guess I'll try to sell the crappy ones on eBay for $25 or something.)

Oh yeah: a day before the leather trip, also stopped by Old Navy for the hell of it. I'd been meaning to buy a good old-fashioned pair of dark blue, heavy, super-long Levi's at the mall the next day, but Old Navy had a brand with similar qualities (and long enough to cuff up) on sale for $20!!! $20 is insane! And the style runs super large--meaning that, according to them, I'm a size 8 (instead of a 12)! Smart marketing ploy, Old Navy! :)

Now, all of this clothing "information," trivial as it might sound, is actually quite important for my tender psyche in general, but also for one major reason: The Cat Power show coming up January 26! I'm sure everyone there is going to be dressed in whatever, probably mainly hippie-stuff, with some trendy people milling about. All I wanted was a pair of jeans, a pair of boots, and a leather jacket that I liked and felt comfortable in: Got 'em! :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012 (The Road Not Taken)

Well, Christmas was kind of flat, as the usual for the past several years. Not bad or anything, just...flat. Me feeling pretty much unwanted, unnecessary.

Christmas breakfast at my mom's with my brother and his wife, her dad and her sister in from NYC and the sister's boy (my nephews' cousin), plus the nephews... The nephews had already gotten their presents from their parents at their own home earlier in the morning, so at my mom's, there was just my mom (their grandma) giving them their gifts, plus hers to me (the frame that she and I had disastrously shopped for together a couple of weeks ago) and my brother. Then the boys pretty much ran off with their older cool cousin to go play football at the nearby park.

The entire thing lasted only about 2 hours, then my brother/family wanted to go back home, a half-mile away, to help pack up for the NYC sister/son's 3-hour road trip that afternoon to Houston to go visit his dad. (I wondered why my brother and the nephews had to leave just to HELP PACK. They didn't HAVE TO. They just WANTED TO leave. While I wanted to hang around more with them. And I missed my older nephew -- now age 10 -- wanting to hang around ME instead of his cousin!)

Feeling extremely superfluous, I was dropped off back at my apartment... I laid on the bed and stared at the TV for an hour (too early to drink--it's only 1pm, it's Christmas!). Then. Hmmm. Well, I SAID I wanted to get cleaning done during my time off... So I cleaned out more piles of paper. Scrubbed more counter- and table-tops. Put the Joan Crawford print into the frame my mom and I had shopped for earlier. (Due to earlier-in-the-month disastrous shopping relations, there was no nice matte-ing or anything. So I just turned the front of the advertising over to the white side and used THAT for the "matte-ing"/background. Looks decent! See below photo.)

By then it was 4pm on Christmas, edging closer to allowable drinking time. Not quite, so I just laid down again and went to sleep. 7pm, when I woke up: OK, now OK to get on Internet and drink! :) Here I am. Did do some useful stuff, though, before coming to my blog/starting to post Joan Crawford website stuff: Laid out about 7 of the crappy necklaces I'd bought from eBay during my buying spree last spring and took photos, then re-listed on eBay for sale. (They've been bugging me for months being around the house, since I don't wear or want them...) Did the same with some unwanted CDs. So that was SOMETHING "useful"! :)

And another mildly hopeful thing: When I was getting online, I happened upon the 2000 movie "The Family Man" on Bravo to have on in the background. Usually Bravo movies suck. (Love their reality shows, but HATE their crappy movies that they run in off-hours!) But this one EXACTLY hit the spot at this semi-drab Christmas moment in my life. Plot:

1) A young woman seeing a young man off at the airport as they're both embarking on potentially lucrative opportunities. She begs him to stay with her, he says one year apart won't hurt their love.
2) Cut to 13 years later, same man waking up in an apartment to a sexy woman he's picked up the night before who's getting dressed and saying "I had a good time." He asks her to stay with him, but she points out that it's Christmas Eve and she's going to visit her parents. Scenes of him then swaggeringly going to his high-powered Wall Street job, interacting with the other rich residents of his apartment building, laughing about a phone message he's just gotten from his old college sweetheart (the same one he left at the airport years ago).
3) Walking home after work that Christmas Eve, he stops at a convenience store and "interacts" with a store robber...
4) Wakes up the next day...Everything has completely changed. He's now waking up on Christmas morning to a wife and kids in New Jersey, where he's a tire salesman...

And all this is NOT hokey! It's kinda like "It's a Wonderful Life" but...nothing's a given. While it was on in the background, I kept wondering, "Now, HOW are they [the filmmakers] going to work this all out exactly? God, I hope they don't just promote the in-reality-dull but feel-good-for-the-audience family life... But, the corporate life was also somewhat empty, despite the way-better perks." In the end, the filmmakers showed the highlights of both the family AND the corporate life... AND DIDN'T PICK A SIDE! The ending was perfect and subtle.

While I was watching, I kept thinking of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" (the only poem I know by heart) -- and that very poem was later quoted by a character in the film!

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-----------

To me, the key line being: "Though as for that the passing there/Had worn them really about the same." In "The Family Man," there wasn't a "better or worse," just an intelligent "there are good and bad about each and here they are."

Odd as it sounds, watching this movie really brightened up my previously melancholy Christmas. Oh, as did looking at my haphazardly-framed Joan print! :)










Monday, December 24, 2012

11 days off

I haven't had this much time off since I was last unemployed back in January! I'm looking forward to it (and to sleeping whenever I feel like it), but still in the back of my mind is the niggling warning/reminder: Don't drink so much at night that you can't get out of bed the next day, thus wasting the whole damn day! Do at least SOMETHING productive every day. So far, so good:


Sat. Dec. 22 -- Did laundry, grocery shopping.
Sun. Dec. 23 -- Went for haircut.
Mon. Dec. 24 -- Did dishes, cleared out 3 of the 6 piles o' paper lying around my apartment (including New Yorkers from back in 2011 and receipts from 8 months ago), wrapped Christmas gifts, went to Christmas Eve dinner at bro's.

To do:

Tues. Dec. 25 -- Christmas brunch at Mom's. (Then probably, since nothing's open, just working on Joan website at night, which usually involves beers while I do it.)

The rest of the time through Jan. 1 involves getting a pedi, getting a new computer, going to the mall for a new leather jacket and Levi's and sweaters, maybe downtown one day for a movie/library visit. The only bummer's going to be New Year's Eve. I don't mind spending it alone, it's just that I get uptight when everyone around me's being loud, as last year, when the neighbors were shooting off fireworks right outside my window 'til 4 in the morning...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I just got my Cat Power tickets!

Austin City Limits, January 26!!!

They went on sale at 10am this morning, but I didn't see the ad in the weekly paper until 1pm... I got goosebumps!

And this show is especially rare 'cause she's only playing 6 places in the US before heading off to Australia:

January 22 Santa Ana, CA—The Observatory
January 24 Englewood, CO—Gothic Theatre
January 25 Dallas, TX—South Side Music Hall
January 26 Austin, TX—Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater
January 29 New York, NY—Terminal 5
January 30 Philadelphia, PA—Electric Factory


Well-written review from a recent Toronto show.

From "Spin" (2006):
You enjoy playing live? You don't always seem to enjoy it.
That's the thing about me. People think, Oh she's crazy -- she doesn't like to play. But that's not it. It's like tapping into some communal vein. There's always one person who talks to you after you go through this physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological experience. It's a dualship, a communication between the listener and me, even though you're not talking to each other or looking at each other, there's this space that starts living. This space in the universe that we all share, and it opens up, and then we forget we're in a bar. It's like looking at a painting or watching a horse run. It's that thing that keeps us liking life.


Below: From her 2006 ACL show:






Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No, she's NOT Adam Lanza's mother.

By now, the blog entry "I am Adam Lanza's Mother" has been widely read and discussed. The author, Liza Long, empathizes with the 20-year-old Newtown mass murderer's dead mother and talks about her own problems trying to find treatment for her emotionally disturbed, occasionally violent 13-year-old son. She ends with:

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

And with this, I've noticed that the national media focus has seemingly way-too-easily shifted to problems with the mental health-care system rather than on gun violence in our country. True, available mental health care is indeed horribly deficient in the US. For the poor and lower middle class, that is. That distinction is an important one.

Reading Ms. Long's story, I feel terrible for her. But, in truth, her own dilemma has NOTHING TO DO WITH the situation that the murdered Nancy Lanza and her murdering son Adam Lanza were involved in. Why? Because Nancy Lanza, divorced from her financier husband in 2009, got $289,800 in alimony this year. This alimony was scheduled to continue through 2023 (when Adam would have been 31).

With $289,800 per year--and a millionaire father of the child who would almost certainly pitch in more for his son's treatment, at the very least if forced to do so legally--you can afford all the mental health care and private facilities you could ever hope for. Nancy Lanza had every available opportunity for getting her son treatment. Which differs VASTLY from the extremely meager options available to the lower-middle-class blogger Liza Long (who took a job at a local college because of their health care, which nonetheless--like most city/state jobs--doesn't offer long-term treatment for the seriously mentally ill).

So Ms. Long's now-famous blog post is actually a huge red herring in this particular case.

In the Lanzas' case:

1) As I mentioned above, Nancy Lanza could afford the most extensive, sensitive psychiatric treatment for her son. For whatever reason, she chose not to take advantage of such treatment.

2) After the 2009 divorce, Nancy Lanza was ordered by the court to attend a "parenting education program." From what I've read (see above "alimony" link), it was an amicable, generous divorce settlement; it doesn't sound as if the husband stipulated that she attend such a program out of spite.

3) Nancy Lanza was a known gun enthusiast, who on at least one occasion took her mentally disturbed son to the shooting range with her. The latter is unwise in itself. But then there's more...

Her former sister-in-law said: "She was stockpiling food. We talked about prepping a lot. She was getting ready for the economic collapse."

Stockpiling food? "Prepping" (a term common in the "survivalist" community) for "the economic collapse"?

Huh?!

Who might have REALLY needed mental health care in this case?

Blogger Liza Long's heartfelt but, ultimately, simple-minded argument is that since she's been unable to get adequate care for her own son, she feels Nancy Lanza's pain. But Nancy Lanza had her own set of mental issues going on.

There is no health-care system in the world that could have gotten the wealthy, on-the-surface-normal Nancy Lanza to treatment. Or forced her to get treatment for her son, Adam. She refused both, when she could have easily afforded it. She apparently felt completely comfortable in her "survivalist" world (her basement, where son Adam hung out, allegedly covered, according to a visiting plumber, in corresponding weapons posters).

(Addendum: It was reported earlier today that Adam Lanza's computers/hard drives were completely smashed, thus hindering authorities' attempts at tracing what he'd been doing online. Reported that HE most likely did the smashing.

#1: Your Internet trail isn't determined by your hard drive. Please. There are IP paths all over the place for authorities to look up.

#2: Why so sure that the son did the smashing? Maybe the mom caught the son looking at something inappropriate and destroyed everything herself in a rage? For a kid whose only connection to the world was through his computer, maybe that -- combined with end-of-the-world rhetoric -- was the tipping point. Just guessing.)

It's EASY to say: "Oh, we need a better mental health-care system in this country!" True, we do. But in THIS particular case, it was the easy availability of semi-automatic weapons to a mentally unstable mother, and subsequently to her son, that caused the tragic mass murder of babies at school.

I hope no one forgets that.

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

A rather mean (but logical) "p.s." to blogger Liza Long: On the front page of her "Anarchist Soccer Mom" website is the slogan: "I'm a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, with a whole lot of Sacco and Vanzetti thrown in."

Anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti were famously executed, probably unjustly, for a particular 1919 bombing incident that they were not necessarily involved with. Despite their probable innocence in this particular case, they had, however, long been associated with violent anarchists:

From the Wikipedia "Sacco and Vanzetti" entry:
...The men were believed to be followers of Luigi Galleani, an Italian anarchist who advocated revolutionary violence, including bombing and assassination. Galleani published Cronaca Sovversiva (Subversive Chronicle), a periodical that advocated violent revolution, and an explicit bomb-making manual called La Salute รจ in voi! (Health is in you!). At the time, Italian anarchists – in particular the Galleanist group – ranked at the top of the United States government's list of dangerous enemies.[7] Since 1914, they had been identified as suspects in several violent bombings and assassination attempts, including an attempted mass poisoning.[8][9][10] Publication of Cronaca Sovversiva was suppressed in July 1918, and the government deported Galleani and eight of his closest associates on June 24, 1919.[11]...

Can I point out to mom blogger Long: If you're proudly proclaiming how in tune with violent anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti you are... Then why are you now decrying your own son's violent anarchist behavior? Violence is OK for others, but not for your own family? Think about that. Maybe you really ARE Adam Lanza's mother. In a BAD way. (After all, isn't deciding to wear the "wrong"-colored pants to school and then violently fighting over the personal right to wear whatever he wants a PERFECT example of anarchist philosophy?)

Maybe some of you folks out there need to think twice about what thought systems you're passing on to your children. They just might take you literally. SURPRISE!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Update on Walmart's recent mass murders

Funny, on 12/12, I was complaining here about the Portland mall shooting, where "only" 1 person died as a result of readily available semi-automatic weapons that you can buy at Walmart.

Then came the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school murders, just 2 days later! 26 people this time! And 20 of them were 5-year-olds!

With -- surprise! -- the same type of semi-automatic weapons used!

If you want to murder elementary-school kids, you can buy your Sig-Sauer or your Bushmaster AR-15 at Walmart.

Click the links above to read reviews by Walmart's satisfied customers.

A p.s. to moms who collect guns and encourage their disturbed sons to go shoot with them after The Divorce: Oh, the irony.

A p.s.s. to President Obama: Tonight you gave a bullshit speech about praying for the victims. The same kind of speech that you gave back in January 2011 after the Gabriel Gifford shooting spree (that also killed a 9-year-old) when you said exactly the same. Enough with the bullshit "prayers." DO something instead of PRAY, you fucking coward. You're the President of the United States.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Get yer semi-automatic weapons at Walmart!

After the mall shooting in Portland yesterday, one frightened person there was quoted as saying: "This isn't supposed to happen!"

Oh, but it IS supposed to happen! Our country ENCOURAGES this kind of thing to happen by allowing sales of semi-automatic weapons at huge retail stores like Walmart!

Semi-automatic weapons have been involved in most of the recent mass murders:

The Portland shooter used an AR-15.
The Aurora, CO, shooter at the Batman showing used a Remington 870 and a Smith&Wesson MP 15.
And both the 2011 Gabby Gifford shooter in Tucson and the Virginia Tech shooter in 2007 used a Glock 19.

Walmart sells the AR-15. Buy 'em whenever!

And you can
buy Smith & Wesson MP 15's at Walmart, too! That's the kind of semi-automatic the "Batman" shooter used in Aurora, Colorado. The Aurora shooter also used a Remington 870... surprise! Also sold at Walmart!

And then there's the Glock 19, used by Jared Loughner in Tucson last year, and by the Virginia Tech shooter in 2007. While it doesn't appear that Walmart sells the Glock 19, you sure can buy ammo for it there!

On various online messages boards after each of the above mass murders, there were always those saying, "Guns don't kill people; people kill people."

My counter-argument is: If there's a nut out there who wants to kill a bunch of people, said nut isn't going to be able to murder multitudes with, say, just a knife in his hand. But, on the other hand, give said nut an easily available semi-automatic weapon, and he's going to be able to kill DOZENS of people, if the gun doesn't jam: at malls, at movie theaters, on college campuses, at political meet-ups, at fast-food joints, WHEREVER the nut feels like taking his gun.

Such mass killing IS supposed to happen according to our country's lackadaisical attitude toward the sales of semi-automatic weapons. There is no reason on earth for people to be able to get such murder-machines so easily. Not a hunting reason, not a self-protection reason. WHY are semi-automatic weapons available at places like Walmart?

When will our lawmakers decide to put a stop to this constant insanity, the month-after-month, year-after-year reports of lunatics with semi-automatics cutting loose in public places? And the aftermath of naifs saying, "This isn't supposed to happen!" or "How did this happen?" At this point, there's no more naivete. Come on. It's pretty clear how this keeps happening.

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi...

Speaking of Tennessee Williams (see below several posts):

This past week, I've been working my way through the first volume of his collected plays. So far, I've read "The Glass Menagerie" (his first hit, in 1945), "Spring Storm" (his first play, written in college, never performed), and just now halfway through "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1947, his first play after "Menagerie").

In "Streetcar," while Mitch is courting Blanche and they've had a couple of drinks, she starts flirtatiously speaking to him in French. He looks befuddled, and when she determines that he definitely does NOT speak the language, she goes on, amusing herself: "Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?..." (This doesn't appear in the movie.)

Now, I of course know the phrase from the '70s "Lady Marmalade" song by Patti LaBelle, so it was hilarious to read what I thought might be the origin of the phrase for the '75 songwriters Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan! (Don't know if those guys are gay, but if they are...then I KNOW gay icon Blanche saying this is the source!) :)

According to the website french.about.com, here's the story of the phrase in modern American vernacular:

"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?" made its American debut without "ce soir" in John Dos Passos' novel Three Soldiers (1921) when one of the characters jokes that the only French he knows is "Voulay vous couchay aveck moy?" E.E. Cummings was the first to use those five words correctly spelled, in his poem "La Guerre, IV," known as "little ladies more" (1922). The full expression didn't appear until 1947, in Tennessee Williams's "A Streetcar Named Desire," though it was written "Voulez-vous couchez [sic] avec moi ce soir?"

But "voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)" really came into English vernacular with music, as the chorus in the 1975 hit "Lady Marmalade" by Labelle....

Crybaby!


Oh dear lord, I broke down and CRIED in front of my boss today. :(

The official posting of the temp job I've been doing since October is going to happen right after the holidays, and in the meantime my boss and the head of HR have been going back and forth in e-mails niggling over details of the job description, including the pay. I know this because I'm in charge of opening ALL of my boss's mail and deleting stuff that's junk/spam. (Not because I'm nosy or anything! Ha!) One thing that he managed was getting the job title itself bumped up from "Admin ASSISTANT" to "Admin ASSOCIATE," which has a higher pay range. I thought this was very nice of him, I think on my behalf.

So today, the HR person sends my boss her final version of the description for his approval. Her suggested pay per month... "$2600+". Thud. OK, so there was the "+." And it did say "negotiable." And it's more than I'm making now as a $12-an-hour temp. But still. After all the health care and SS and other taxes taken out, I'd be bringing home maybe $2200 a month. I can survive on @$1500 a month. But I've been merely "surviving" for the past several years. I was ready to move FORWARD financially. To save $1000 a month (for a house in 10 years, to pay off student loans). AND to be able to buy things and go places, like a normal person.

I printed out the job description and just stared at it and thought about it for a few minutes with a really heavy heart, tearing up a little but finally getting myself under control. Then I decided to go talk to my boss about it immediately instead of brooding.

After apologizing for reading his mail (which he kindly told me I was SUPPOSED to be reading!), I blurted out: "I thought I was doing a good job here. And I like it here so much, I like everybody here. But, but..." Here's where the tears started: "I just can't work for $2600 a month. I know it's more than I'm making now, but I have a Master's Degree and I'm in my 40s and a kid out of high school could be making this salary... I don't want to be a temp any more. But I just can't stay here for $2600 a month. I really thought you guys liked me, and I really wanted to stay, but I just can't..." [waaaaaaaaaah!]

I mean, I wasn't yelling or BAWLING or anything, but the tears were certainly, embarrassingly flowing copiously.

My boss looked bemused:
"Stephanie, do you know what I was doing right now when you asked to talk to me?"
[sniff-sniff] "No."
"I just replied to that e-mail, saying that we needed to START the pay range at $3100 and negotiate up from there. Did you read that sent mail?"
[sniff] "No. I mean, I'm not THAT nosy. I don't read your SENT mail...Really? Not $2600?" [sniff]

Oh my god, how nice he was. We chatted a bit more about the posting, etc., while I dried my tears. And then at the end he added:

"You know what's interesting, I've been reading a book about this very thing: How people can often, and shouldn't, ASSUME that they're not wanted, that something is intended personally against them, when there are usually many other factors involved."
ME: "Maybe I should read more things like that instead of Tennessee Williams."
HIM: [laughing] "I can lend you this one."

Oh, the kindness of strangers! :)


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Splat!


Saturday was tedious. To begin with, my closest bus-stop to the grocery store was closed for road repairs, so I had to limp around trying to find the next-closest stop. (Yes, still limping after the initial early-November injury.) Stood at the new-found stop for over half-an-hour, not even sure if this bus was heading in the right direction. It was the right bus, thank goodness.

After grocery shopping, my 2 bags were too heavy, as usual. (I always tell myself to go for groceries ONCE a week so I won't be TORMENTED by the heavy bags; but, as usual, put off the shopping for 2 weeks. So my bags were too heavy.) And at the beginning of the 1/3-mile trudge just from the store to the bus-stop, one swinging grocery bag with cans in it hit me RIGHT on my hurt lower shin, sending spikes of pain...I yelled "OWWWW!" out loud, then kept on my trudge, grimacing noticeably. On the way, I spotted a mongoloid-ish man approaching me in a fluorescent yellow T-shirt. At that point I was fed up with my life, and pretended to ignore him. Instead of bothering me, though, he said to me with my grimacing, pained expression: "You're almost there! You're going to make it! God bless."

What a relief to hear "You're almost there! You're going to make it!" instead of "Hey, Baby!" :) I feel bad for having pre-judged the man as being a potential pest instead of a help-meet! He DID make me feel better and lighten up.

The second stop on my ongoing route home from the grocery store (normally, the half-mile home I could/would walk, but not with 2 heavy bags of groceries and a hurt leg): I had been sitting on the bus-stop bench for 10 or 15 minutes, and then... SPLAT! A big dump of bird poop on my thigh. Sigh. Looking up, plenty o' pigeons on the wires above, which I'd never thought to look up for before.

"GODDAMMIT birds, I HATE you!" I screamed out loud, regardless of the lounging hipsters at their trendy taco-place on this same corner who might be disturbed by my VERY UN-COOL outburst.

I wiped most of the poop off my jeans with my grocery receipt and then got up and stood a few feet away from the bench for the next half-hour that the bus took to get there. At least the poop wasn't on my head. At least it wasn't directly into my bag of groceries.

But, damn! Tedious!

Fear of Flying


Joan Crawford and poodles, July 1963 en route to NYC.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

En avant!


Tom (Tennessee) Williams didn't have sex until he was 28 (I was 23). His first love left him because the boy was disturbed by his own gay feelings (as my first love left me, also). Tom's earliest love later died at 26; mine died at 25.

The early emotional sadness has flattened me to this point, but certainly didn't destroy him completely.

The first stanza of a Tennessee Williams ditty penned in 1941:

I think the strange, the crazed, the queer
will have their holiday this year,
I think for just a little while
there will be pity for the wild...

And then a diary entry of Williams, also from 1941, after being punched by a pick-up that night:

Why do they strike us? What is our offense? We offer them a truth which they cannot bear to confess except in privacy and the dark -- a truth which is inherently as bright as the morning sun. He struck me because he did what I did and his friends discovered it. Yes, it hurt -- inside. I do not know if I will be able to sleep. But tomorrow I suppose the swollen face will be normal again and I will pick up the usual thread of life.

I was smacked in the face psychologically by officially-straight Sandra a couple of nights ago. "I suppose the swollen face will be normal again and I will pick up the usual thread of life."

Of course it will, and I will, as I always have.

"En Avant!" ("Forward!")---Tennessee Williams's credo.


Monday, December 03, 2012

Done.



After my idiotic brief e-mail conversation with Sandra tonight, I was glad to cut up the stupid shirt of hers and throw it in the trash. There is nothing between us.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Disturbing

My mother and I don't get along.

Back when I was a teenager living at home with her in Azle, Texas, I recorded a diary entry of wanting to punch through the newspaper she was holding up in front of her face. I also recorded wanting to actually punch HER in the face, which was especially disturbing to me because my father was physically abusive to both my mother and me, and I hated/hate him profoundly. And yet I also wanted to punch my mother.

I escaped in 1983 when I was 18, to go to college. The next time I was forced to live with my mother was in 2010, for 3 months, after I couldn't find a job in NYC and had to come home to Texas. She was as nasty to me for those 3 months in 2010 as she was when I was a kid. Nothing at all had changed.

What happened this last weekend was just a mirror image of the past 30 years.

For Christmas this year, I'd asked that she have a Joan Crawford art print of mine framed at an art store. Which involved me and her going to the store, and choosing the frame/matte, etc. Then she'd take it home and wrap it up and give to me on Christmas.

First, we had a huge problem getting to the art store. Shades of her being unable to drive to my birthday dinner back in August, when I nastily YELLED AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS at her because she repeatedly made wrong turn after wrong turn, despite my telling her WAY ahead of time EXACTLY where to turn...

This weekend was the first time I'd been in a car with her since August. With that August horror in mind, this time, I told her, "I'm just along for the ride! I'm so sorry for how I acted on my birthday. You get there your way. I'll just sit here and be quiet..."

My mom couldn't find the art store, though she said she knew exactly where it was. Since the store was a place where my sister-in-law had been several times, I finally suggested that my mom pull over and call my sister-in-law for directions. Nah. So we drove and drove and drove. We finally found the store. But my mom then couldn't figure out how to park her car. There was an empty space right in front of her, but... no. I bit my tongue this whole time. Didn't at all want to be the nasty person that I proved myself to be back in August. (RE her horrible driving: While we were trying to park in the art store parking lot, someone else had to HONK at her because she pulled out in front of them, almost causing a wreck.)

Once we got in the art store: We, after searching, found a ready-made 24 x 24 black frame that would fit the Joan poster that I had. But the poster still needed to be held in place by a matte or whatever (backing tape?). There was no one in the framing area to help us, so I led us to the main counter, my mom yammering all the way: "Why are we going up here? This isn't where the framing is done..." ME: "Mom! There wasn't anyone at framing; this guy up here can call someone." After the guy at the front told us to go to the framing area and that he'd call someone to help us, my mom said, "See? I told you so! This wasn't the right place." ME: "But this guy is CALLING SOMEONE to help us!"

Once in the framing area with the helper: I discussed with the guy how best to keep the poster from slipping-and-sliding within the 24 x 24 frame. My mom had earlier suggested double-sided tape. But I didn't want to ruin the poster with that. So when the store-guy suggested double-sided tape, I said "No."

My mom shut off then. Walked 10 feet away from where me and the store-guy were standing, made a creepy sour face. I asked her a couple of chit-chat questions from afar, trying to involve her, but nothing.

Me and the store-guy went off and looked at matte-ing. Which he said would cost $35. I told him I didn't want to spend $35 just on that, the double-sided tape would have to do, I suppose. MOM: "I SAID I would pay for it." ME: "But I don't think it's worth $35; I think I'll just do the double-sided tape." MOM: "I SAID I would pay for it." [BIG SIGH, SOUR FACE, DRAMATIC TURNING AWAY.]

At this point, I'd had enough. I'd dealt with her shittiness for all of my youth. I'd dealt with it again for 3 months in 2010. And I was goddamned if I had to deal with it again at this point. I snatched my Joan Crawford poster off the counter and told her, "I'm catching a bus."

I walked the near-mile to the nearest bus-stop. My hurt ankle hurt, but I didn't give a shit: "I'm done, I'm done, I'm done" is all I kept saying to myself the whole time: "She always turns everything to shit. Even a Saturday outing. I'm done with this shit."

I'd hoped for a "normal" mom-n-daughter Saturday shopping excursion, maybe a lunch after... I'd always hoped for this. I have NEVER, EVER gotten such a pleasant thing. NEVER. I'm 47 years old. I have NEVER, ever had a pleasant mom-n-daughter excursion.

I hobbled the mile to the bus-stop and sat there for a while waiting for the 320 bus that would take me back near my apartment. Mom, surprisingly, drove up after about a half-hour...How she figured out the bus-stop, no idea. I got in her car, not wanting to yell "Fuck you" to her at the bus stop.

Oddly, or not-so-oddly, the dream I had the very night before: 3 young women threw me into a room and locked me in. I was fed up at that point, yelled at them: "I never had a relationship with my mother. We never did anything together." The 3 took pity on me and let me out, but started crying in the meantime.



Oh, the irony.


On Saturday, KC Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his 22-year-old girlfriend Kasandra Perkins (the mother of their 3-month-old daughter) and then drove to the Chiefs' stadium, where he shot himself to death. The Internet was subsequently full of his teammates tweeting and facebooking about what a great guy he was.

According to the Sporting News: "Belcher graduated in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in child development and family relations."

Sporting News story.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hitting the Spot


Oh my god but did this whole can taste good the other night at midnight scarfed down after 7 beers! I hadn't eaten Chef Boyardee in over 25 years...

Tennessee Williams


"To be passionate and to be lonely isn't the easiest of things in the world."
--Tennessee Williams













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

I finished Williams's extremely frank and sweet and enjoyable "Memoirs" a couple of weeks ago and am now about halfway through the very well-researched/written '95 bio by Lyle Leverich. And then the 2 volumes of complete plays await! I'm so anal, I want to start at the very beginning and read ALL in order, rather than skipping around...We'll see. And I thought FOR SURE I'd at least read a couple of them already, but I think I'm just remembering seeing the movies that were based on them ("Streetcar," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Suddenly, Last Summer," etc.).

I'm so ignorant regarding most playwrights. I've been REALLY knocked out by the profound sociological/psychological truths of, say, "St. Joan" by Shaw and "A Doll's House" by Ibsen, but never explored the works of either further...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Deadline / Astrology

By Friday, I've got to make a decision: Give my 2-month move-out notice at my 400 sq ft apartment, whose rent is going up from $600 to $650. Or sign a new 12-month lease. 12 months for $650; 6 months for $750; month-to-month for $850. If I sign for the 12 months (and I'm not going to pay any more than $650 for this teeny apartment), I'll be stuck here 'til the end of January 2014!

Damn. I SOOOOOOOOOOO wanted to move on with my life by the end of this current lease in January! I was really feelin' that it was time, psychologically...

Still have $9000 in the bank; am, with my current low-paying but long-term temp job, bringing in a few hundred more than I usually spend each month so the bank balance is relatively stable. BUT... As long as I'm just making $12 an hour, no new, bigger, more expensive apartment will take me because I wouldn't be making 3 times the rent...

I've thought about just making a wild move---giving notice, then telling whatever new place that I'm a freelancer and don't have pay stubs to show them, but that I'll pay them up front ALL of the rent I would owe for 6 months... Assuming I'd be paying @ $900 a month for a duplex or garage apartment (if I could even find one in a central location), I DO have the $5400 I could just GIVE them...

But that all feels a little too scary. The last 4 years (up until the money-full 2012) of extreme financial insecurity/instability really did put the fear in me. I NEVER want to be living month-to-month again. (And I will NEVER forget the fall of 2011, when I was about to run out of money for the next month and told my mother about it: "What are you going to do, Steph?" was her reply. She would have grudgingly given me the money rather than see me on the street, of course, but I would have had to have groveled for it. I hated her at that moment, and I hated myself for having nowhere else to turn.)

But on the other psychological hand... I'm antsy as hell living in this one room! I've been here for 2-1/2 years now! I kind of feel that I've paid my penance after coming home from NYC with my tail between my legs! :) But, seriously, my "feelings" don't really count at this point: Fact is, I still don't have a permanent job. If I did, I could do whatever the hell I wanted to do. But I don't, so I can't... Gotta face those stone-cold facts. Can't simply rely on "chance" any more, like gambling that if I go ahead and give notice, I'll miraculously find my dream-place that will be perfectly amenable to the pay arrangements that I come up with! :)

But on the other, other hand... If I give up on "chance"... Then I've, in a way, kind of given up on Life itself! 'Cause "chance" is part of the fun of it! I've experienced a lot of bad financial consequences in the past few years because of my gamble of going to NYC, sure, but... Am I willing to live a staid existence for the rest of my years? It's likely that where I'm working temp right now will indeed at some point in the next month or two offer me a permanent job as a secretary. Which will pay under $3000 a month, but still be enough to get a better place in 2014. But do I WANT that 8-5 life?? I've been doing secretarial tasks for the past 2 months in a very pleasant environment among very pleasant people... BUT I'M NOT A SECRETARY!

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

My Leo sun sign LIKES working downtown with smart, well-heeled people and likes being financially independent. But Leo HATES being a secretary (too servile) and having to be around the misshapen, annoying bus/bus-stop people every day, who all reflect on Leo's own circumscribed circumstances.






My Taurus rising sign LIKES the idea of a staid existence (permanent state job that provides health care and paid vacation/holidays and enables a secure, nicer place to live if I'm just patient). And Taurus doesn't really HATE anything, but does think simply getting a cheap car would remove the griping about unwanted contact with annoying bus/street people. Plus, with a nicer, bigger place, I could again have a kitty...



My Aquarius moon sign LIKES the idea of giving notice, gambling on finding a cool place, not worrying about the future 'cause something always turns up... And Aquarius also HATES being a secretary (no excitement or creativity), though finds all the bus people interesting...




Monday, November 26, 2012

Things That Turned a Shitty Holiday Weekend Into a Good One



1. Roses from a stranger.

2. A bunch of new Cat Power stuff to explore. (Not a huge fan of "Sun" after only 2 listens. But one thing I read in many reviews of her albums on Amazon: how person after person also initially felt unenthused, but then at one point or another, the lightbulb seemed to have come on...)

3. Lindsay Lohan as Liz Taylor Sunday night! And, no, not to laugh at! In EVERYTHING she's in, however silly--and this was pretty silly--there are always moments of soulfulness in her acting. I'm being perfectly serious.

As Bravo's Andy Cohen said on his live show "Watch What Happens" Sunday night when giving a "Jackhole" award to "Liz & Dick" haters: "Really? Come on. It's Lindsay...playing Liz...on Lifetime! What were you expecting: Lincoln?!"


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Catfish

Catfish film.
Catfish show.


Just caught this on MTV today while lying around with my Thanksgiving hangover. First the original documentary from 2010, then an episode of the new weekly show based on the film and hosted by the same guy who was the "victim" in the original doc.

The doc is about a young NYC photographer, Nev Schulman, who is initially contacted on Facebook in 2008 by an 8-year-old child prodigy named Abby, who lives in Michigan and wants to send him a painting that she's made based on one of his photographs she's seen online. Abby and her 40-something mom Angela strike up a light friendship with Nev via Facebook, and Abby continues to snail-mail him actual paintings she's done. And through Abby's Facebook photo gallery, Nev discovers her older half-sister, Megan, a gorgeous dancer and songwriter. Over the next few months, Nev and Megan graduate from sharing casual photos and songs online to eventually becoming a lot more emotionally involved, even sexting and having hours of intimate phone conversations. (In the meantime, Nev's brother thinks all of this is funny and starts filming their burgeoning relationship.)

After nearly a year, Megan is still reluctant to meet, and Nev and his brother start to get a bit suspicious, especially after they search on YouTube for one song she has claimed to have written and discover that the very same song was performed by a completely different person. So the guys decide to make a surprise road trip to Michigan...

They're greeted by mom Angela, who is hospitable to them, also revealing she has uterine cancer. Angela is a stay-at-home mom married to a simple guy named Vince, and she cares for Vince's 2 severely disabled sons. Nev asks about Abby and Megan. They all go to see Abby, who's playing at a friend's house; she's very puzzled when he asks her about her art. Megan, it seems, has just been admitted to rehab, which is why she can't see him...

With a little gentle prodding, all is eventually revealed: It's been mom Angela who's been doing everything: painting the pictures, having sex-talk with Nev on the phone, etc. She does have a daughter named Megan, but they don't speak. The photos of Megan were all of a completely unrelated young woman in Washington; Angela just copied all of them. (And she doesn't have cancer.)

I watched all this, uneasily fascinated, kind of sickeningly knowing how it was all going to turn out since a very similar thing had happened to me.

Through a Joan Crawford message board in 2001, I initially met "Julie L.," a bisexual woman from London who'd moved to Norway to live with "Ivar B.," a Norwegian businessman sugar-daddy that she'd met in a London nightclub. Ivar was stifling, and her mother, who was heartbroken that Julie had left England, had recently committed suicide. Oh yeah, and Ivar also had a brother, Geir, with whom Julie was sleeping, since Ivar was so dull.

Julie was a troubled soul, who'd had miscarriages, had been raped as a teen, etc. I was fascinated by both her wit and her shadowy personality, though, and pursued her online. We e-mailed constantly, and exchanged gift packages on 4 or 5 occasions. But she wouldn't ever send me a photo or talk to me on the phone.

She constantly behaved skittishly, getting mad at me over trivial things, and we'd often not be in e-mail contact for a month or more at a time. After months of this, I finally got fed up and e-mailed in a fit of pique, "All of my friends are telling me you're a man, anyway." Which my friends and family WERE indeed telling me since she was acting so oddly and so reluctant to share any pictures or talk to me on the phone, which I'd often asked to do.

Whoa! At that statement of mine, she completely cut off all contact. Puzzled at the yet-again over-reaction, I remembered something she'd once told me: She'd been an exchange student in the US at Patsy Cline's old high school... I looked up the name of Cline's high school online. And, from what Julie had told me, she was 3 years older than me. As it turned out, that high school had a website with yearbook photos of their alumnae going back for decades... I looked up the appropriate year... No, no "Julie L.," but on a hunch, I then looked up "B.," the last name of her alleged "sugar daddy"... Sure enough, there WAS a Norwegian exchange student with that name...

I couldn't personally ask her about any of my discoveries, since I was blocked... but I posted a coded message on our mutual Joan message board: "Julie/Geir: Contact me IMMEDIATELY." When I posted that message, I still wasn't 100% sure about what was going on, but her reaction immediately confirmed it. She first responded on the board about what a lying, obsessive "dyke" I was. When I posted the link to the high school yearbook pages, she broke down and confessed everything: "Julie Lindberg" was, in fact, a pre-op transgendered male who'd always lived in Norway and who lived with his parents. ("Ivar B." was her real father; her mother was quite alive. "Geir" was her own male birth name. She, of course, hadn't had miscarriages or been raped. Her age was real; she'd, luckily for my research, also actually been an exchange student at that Patsy Cline high school.)

I didn't have a computer or regular online access 'til Christmas of 2000. When I met Julie in early 2001 online, my feelings for her were so intense... To me the Internet was still new and intense. I was a complete naif. And I thought I was completely crazy and alone for being so "into" someone I'd met on the 'Net, and for being so utterly heartbroken and upset when I fought out the truth. Everyone I knew thought I was pretty crazy, too.

But now here's a documentary AND a show about what exactly I went through!! THANK YOU, Nev Schulman, for making me feel not so crazy, 10 years later! :)

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

p.s. A "catfish," as explained by Angela's husband Vince in Schulman's documentary: Cod shipped to markets overseas were sluggish and their flesh thus "mushy" and not so edible/sellable. Sellers discovered that a way to keep the cod active and alert was to place catfish in their tanks with them. People like "Angela" and "Julie" are the "catfish" among us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mean Streets

Waiting for the bus downtown and having my after-lunch cig break on downtown benches leads me into many unwanted conversations with street people. Once you're around 'em enough, you stop feeling sorry for them and start to simply get ANNOYED. Annoyed with the religious nuts railing at you about Jesus, with the aggressive cigarette-beggars practically grabbing a cigarette out of your hand after they've asked for one without giving you a chance to give it to them, with the "I'll bet you think you're better than me" attitude, with the sheer bullshittery that usually goes on when street folk are in conversations amongst themselves. It's just mentally draining to listen to.

Today after lunch I was having my cig when a 20-something street kid screeches his bike to a halt right in front of my bench for no reason, then asks me if I mind if he sits there. I shook my head "No, I don't mind" then internally clenched up, waiting for the inevitable stupid conversation. Fortunately, he had his own cigarette so didn't ask me for one, which was one positive thing. And he was silent for a minute or two, which was also nice. Then he was on his phone, so that also kept him from pestering me. Although I overheard him ask one caller if he could crash at his/her place because he hadn't slept in 5 days. ("Oh great. He's on meth and is going to go nuts at any second.")

Then a couple of 20-something office girls walked by behind us, and he had to yell out to one of them,"I hope you don't mind if tell you you're one good-looking lady!" Good lord. They ignored him, of course. So then he had to turn to me and ask, "Now, would you be offended if someone told you you were good-looking?"

Now, this could go either way. Sometimes if you engage, things quickly descend into gibberish and/or weirdness. But he was young enough not to be too scary (despite his 5-day binge), so I decided to take a chance and answer honestly:

"Yes, if it's some random guy hollering at me on the street!"
"How is that offensive?"
"It's the same as walking by a construction site and having guys going 'Wooooo! Hey Baby!' It makes you feel uncomfortable."
"Well, girls in Detroit don't mind it. I think girls here are just different."
"Really. Girls in Detroit like being hollered at on the street."
"It's not like I'm doing what some guys do: 'Hey, yo, bitch! Come over here!'"
"True, but still. Most girls don't like being hollered at."

Then another call came in. Somebody had some money ready for him.

When he got off the phone, now I was the one striking up a conversation: "You're from Detroit? They're having a hard time! What made you come down here?"

Sounded like he was just bumping around everywhere; he'd also been in Seattle and Atlanta and New Jersey in the past year. In Austin for just the past few months. The police were meaner here.

"The police in AUSTIN are mean? Meaner than Detroit or Jersey? Really? How so?"
"Just because I have some investments and they see the money coming in, they assume I'm a drug dealer and give me a hard time."

OK, I'm sure it wasn't a "shareholder" who had called and offered him some money, but I went on anyway.

"I mean, are they just bugging you when you're on the street? Are you living someplace while you're here or just hanging out?"

So then he says he's renting both a house AND an apartment. The apartment he shares with his currently off-again girlfriend and her nephew and sister. He pays for everything there, but since they're currently broken up, he's being a gentleman and letting her stay there while he stays in the house with some roommates. I asked if the girlfriend had a job and could she pitch in with the rent; apparently, she's a full-time grade-school teacher, but no, can't pay anything: "I don't know what she does with her money!"

And he's going to be attending Austin Community College in the Spring Semester, taking psychology courses. He had thought about going to UT, but the program wasn't for him. When I said, "Well, UT's also a lot harder to get into," he said that, no, he had credits from a Detroit-area college that would let him transfer, but that when he sat in on one UT course recently, it was all stuff that he already knew and that "I want to take classes that will blow my mind, ya know?"

That I actually did know.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's Alright to Fail (Cat Power)

Her version here is sincere--I think--but when I first listened to it, I could also see a smirking, slithery Joel Gray/Cabaret-type character singing it on a tiny underground stage in Weimar Berlin, with the underlying "(Give up, give up...) Go on with EXACTLY what stuff you've been doing, you're just FINE..."




Almost Saved

The Cat Power story that I wrote about below reminded me of 2 anecdotes that I just read last week in Tennessee Williams's 1975 "Memoirs."

When Williams was 17, his kindly grandfather took him, along with others, on a tour of Europe. While walking alone in Paris, Williams began obsessing on this thought: "Abruptly, it occurred to me that the process of thought was a terrifyingly complex mystery of life." OK. (He doesn't elaborate.) But then this idea begins to take him over for the next month, to the point where he says he feels he's going insane: "My phobia about thought processes had reached its climax." When his group gets to Cologne, he enters a cathedral and...

Breathless with panic, I knelt down to pray....
Then a truly phenomenal thing happened.
Let me say that I am not predisposed to believe in miracles or in superstitions. But what happened was a miracle and one of a religious nature and I assure you I am not bucking for sainthood when I tell you about it. It was if an impalpable hand were placed upon my head, and at the instant of that touch, the phobia was lifted away as lightly as a snowflake though it had weighed on my head like a skull-breaking block of iron.
At seventeen, I had no doubt at all that the hand of our Lord Jesus had touched my head with mercy and had exorcised from it the phobia that was driving me into madness.

Thinking himself "cured" of the panic, he nonetheless encounters the same feeling again a couple of weeks later, this time while his group is in Amsterdam:

That night I went out alone on the streets of Amsterdam and this time a second "miracle" occurred to lift the terror away. It occurred through my composition of a little poem...

Strangers pass me on the street
in endless throngs: their marching feet,
sound with a sameness in my ears
that dulls my senses, soothes my fears,
I hear their laughter and their sighs,
I look into their myriad eyes:
then all at once my hot woe
cools like a cinder dropped on snow.

...The moment of recognition that my existence and my fate could dissolve as lightly as the cinder dropped in a great fall of snow restored to me, in quite a different fashion, the experience in the cathedral of Cologne. And I wonder if it was not a sequel to that experience, an advancement of it: first, the touch of the mystic hand upon the solitary anguished head, and then the gentle lesson or demonstration that the head, despite the climactic crisis which it contained, was still a single head on a street thronged with many.

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



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cat Power '98/'12: You have seen some unbelievable things.



I've been on a Cat Power (Chan Marshall) kick for the past couple of days, reading every interview I could find online. Previously, I only knew her from the song "Lived in Bars," when I caught the video a couple of years ago on a local station. I liked the song a lot, but thought that she was just some "bluesy hippie chick"... But from the stuff I've been reading, she's extremely haunted and also frighteningly visionary, a shaman. (A Capricorn, though, not a Scorp!) :) When I read that her 1998 album "Moon Pix" (including the song "Cross Bones Style") was written (according to her biographer):

"in one deranged night," following a hallucinatory nightmare Marshall had in the fall of 1997, while alone in the South Carolina farmhouse she shared with then-boyfriend, Bill Callahan. "I got woken up by someone in the field behind my house in South Carolina," she explained, "The earth started shaking, and dark spirits were smashing up against every window of my house. I woke up and I had my kitten next to me...and I started praying to God to help me...So I just ran and got my guitar because I was trying to distract myself. I had to turn on the lights and sing to God. I got a tape recorder and recorded the next sixty minutes.

The hair on my arms stood straight up when I read that. A similar thing happened to me in '91 or so. Deeply unhappy in my waking hours, I had just fallen into a fitful sleep when all of a sudden I sat straight up in bed and felt some terrible, heavy spirit in the room that "wanted to get inside me" if I didn't do something, anything... I didn't know what to do. Like Marshall, I ran around turning on all the lights in the house and praying frantically to God to help me. (Unfortunately, in my case, no work of art came of all of this. I remember merely calling in sick to work the next day after staying awake all night waiting for the sun to come up, and then staying in bed the next day reading Pat Conroy's "Prince of Tides," which, though terribly sad, was also spiritually uplifting.)

Today I went immediately to Amazon to order "Moon Pix," "The Greatest" (2006, which has "Lived in Bars" on it and is considered her most popular and accessible album), and her just-released "Sun."

"Cherokee" from "Sun":

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fly in the Ointment/Spanner in the Works

And there always has to be one.

I've been temping since late September in a tech/info security environment, mainly male bosses, but one woman. The men have been super-nice. The woman has been...a stereotypical bitch.

A few days after I started temping, she came up to my secretary desk and said, "So, what's your story?" (An odd introduction, but I gave her a brief summary: Master's in English; copy editor; Austinite since '83, except for my 2 years in San Fran for grad school and my recent 3-year NYC sojourn; currently poor, one-room apartment while seeking full-time work...)

The very next day, she came up to me and asked if I'd contacted her through "LinkedIn"---under a different name!! I was completely puzzled: "HUH?" Turned out that someone from San Francisco--who looked nothing like me and had a completely different name--had contacted her... Why she thought that person was me, other than my brief mention that I'd gone to grad school in SF back in the '90s, was utterly beyond my comprehension.

A few days after that, she came up and asked me if I'd had a "security check" done before I started working there. ME: "Uh... I dunno." She got agitated about that answer, actually asking me if I had something to hide! I, after some minor research (looking through my temp agency paperwork), finally figured out that, yeah, when you apply through my temp agency, they do a background check.

During the same time frame, she glanced at my computer screen one day. There's blatantly nothing for me to do for 75% of the day, and the rest of the time I either read New Yorkers or browse online (with permission to do so from my boss). In this instance, I was picking out shoes on Amazon. When she saw that, she said, "No wonder you don't have any money!"

When I hurt my ankle weeks ago and couldn't come in to work for 2 days: On my first day back, random people were nice and asking how my ankle was. She, on the other hand, said to me, only semi-facetiously: "You like the attention, don't you?" A few days after that, when I still limping about, she asked how I, an "obviously intelligent woman," didn't have any health care so I could go get the foot checked out. (When I explained that I'd only made $17,000 each of the past 2 years while freelancing and thus didn't have the $200 per month for any health care, she briefly shut up.) And then just today, she said to me: "How do you live like you do, without a car?"

Yesterday, she took it upon herself to give me some "advice" about keeping my temp job: Suck up to the big boss. (Not my immediate boss, but HIS boss, whom I have had little contact with.) I then had to tell her my meager "philosophy o' life": "I can't suck up to anyone. Sorry."

Which led to a very odd conversation about the old secretary that I've replaced. ME: "What was wrong with her, exactly?" The woman exec said to me: "She didn't know her job very well, didn't do much. I once asked her about getting creamer for my coffee. And you know what she said? 'I don't know anything about coffee.'"

Whoa. This woman exec had had this EXACT creamer conversation with ME -- not the old secretary -- a couple of weeks ago. I honestly didn't know where the fuck to get creamer, and I did tell her that I didn't know anything about coffee. But I found out, and that very day, I made sure there was fucking creamer in the fridge. It creeped me out, though, that when she and I were talking and I asked what was so horrible about the old secretary, that she somehow told ME the "creamer story" as if it were about the other person and not about me...

Luckily, she's only a very small part of my current work-picture. And luckily, this temp job only pays $12 an hour---I can find something else like it in a second. But... DAMN, this kind of weird thing freaks me out. I consistently mind my business, do my work, etc. WHAT THE FUCK is this woman's deal?

She's in her mid-50s, married but kinda butch, so the thought crossed my mind that maybe my male boss had passed along to her the link to my Joan website that I shared with him, and that he'd said he'd looked at. In the "About" section of the Joan site, I clearly state that I'm gay. My male boss didn't think anything of it. But maybe this woman saw that and DID think something of it. There is indeed something a bit odd about all of the negative attention she's been showering upon me!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Education of General David Petraeus

Guess what sign Paula Broadwell is? Hint: Let me just say that when I saw this picture of her, I thought, "Oh my god, she's REALLY attractive!" And then, "She looks just like..." So I had to run to Wikipedia, where I learned, as I almost certainly knew I would, that she's yet another damn Scorpio (this one November 9th, like Anne Sexton). Dammit, I can spot 'em! :)


p.s. And WHY is all of this even in the news??? Ohhhhh, sorry... No one, especially no one in the upper echelons of military or political power, has ever had an affair before! Silly me!

But beyond the officially dumb newscasts:


Knowing a bit about Scorpio women... this all came to the attention of the FBI because a jealous Broadwell sent another similarly dark, good-looking woman (socialite Jill Kelley, a dead-eyed, shallow hair-flipper and nose-job recipient, completely unlike Broadwell except for general dark appearance) threatening e-mails telling her to stay away from Petraeus...(The second picture here is of so-called "Petraeus family friend" Kelley with Petraeus's wife.)

Lesson: Don't ever let a Scorpio woman know that she's just a "type" and not a soul-mate by sleeping with a much, much cruder version of herself. Plays have been written upon less wrath. And, in the really olden days, even some wars fought.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

King of Night Vision, King of Insight



Galileo's head was on the block
The crime was looking up for truth
And as the bombshells of my daily fears explode
I try to trace them to my youth

And then you had to bring up reincarnation
Over a couple of beers the other night
And now I'm serving time for mistakes
Made by another in another lifetime

How long till my soul gets it right
Can any human being ever reach that kind of light
I call on the resting soul of Galileo
King of night vision, king of insight

And then I think about my fear of motion
Which I never could explain
Some other fool across the ocean years ago
Must have crashed his little airplane

How long till my soul gets it right
Can any human being ever reach that kind of light
I call on the resting soul of Galileo
King of night vision, king of insight

I'm not making a joke, you know me
I take everything so seriously
If we wait for the time till all souls get it right
Then at least I know there'll be no nuclear annihilation
In my lifetime I'm still not right

I offer thanks to those before me
That's all I've got to say
'Cause maybe you squandered big bucks in your lifetime
Now I have to pay
But then again it feels like some sort of inspiration
To let the next life off the hook
But she'll say "look what I had to overcome from my last life
I think I'll write a book"

How long till my soul gets it right
Can any human being ever reach the highest light
Except for Galileo God rest his soul
(Except for the resting soul of Galileo)
King of night vision, king of insight
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Galileo information

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"The Best of Everything"

I just won this vintage "Best of Everything" tote bag on eBay for only $31 (plus $11 s/h)! (I had put in a maximum bid of $85, but people only bid it up to the $31!)

Cannot wait to strut around downtown with this over my shoulder!!!! :) (Meaning that I will NOT wear this 'til my ankle is 100% healed, so I can, indeed, STRUT! Hobbling around with this gorgeous thing certainly wouldn't do it justice!) :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Congrats, Obama and ladies! :)


I made it to the polling place, my supermarket, where I stood for over an hour on my bum ankle and was forced to listen to idiotic conversations...but I made it through! :)

RE the "idiotic conversations":

Notably from the college girls behind me, who felt the need to comment on every single pinata and/or grocery item around us, punctuated by "Omigod"s, as in: "Omigod, I would totally pick THAT pinata! It's a racecar! And you KNOW how into cars I am!" And: "Omigod, look at those sodas!"

But also from the 2 60-something black "helpers" traveling up and down the line, loudly "listening" to people's myriad of potential voting problems and bullshitting with them, but offering no answers, that I heard, whatsoever. (What in the world were they there for, just to reassure fellow minorities that "whitey" wasn't in charge?) Sample: The white college kid in front of me had moved, he never got his new voter card, could he still vote? ME, silently: Yes you can. Just show your damn driver's license. The "helping lady" didn't know that, just stared at him blankly. Then she moved on to me and stared at me. I smiled at her, not needing any help with voting.

HER: "Well? What's your story?"
ME: [????]
HER: What do you need?
ME: Got my card, got my ID. I'm good. Thank you!

(Unlike some who apparently find procuring an ID difficult, I got an updated driver's license and voter's card within weeks of moving back to Austin in 2010. Not sure what the Democrats have been bitchin' about pre-election re so-called "evil Republicans" allegedly trying to disenfranchise people. IDs are cheap--and voter cards are free--people. It's not the Republicans' fault if you're too stupid or lazy to go get one.)

I was also annoyed at some of the workers at the table up front: Once I finally showed my voting creds and moved on to signing in, the woman in charge of that was just staring off into space. I stood there silently for a few seconds and then had to finally say, "HELLOOOO! Where do I sign??" I felt like snapping my fingers at her to wake her up. No wonder the line had been moving so slowly! (Also, this was a major voting hub, and there were only 7 voting stations. At the precinct I voted in in Weehawken, NJ, in 2008, for instance, there were at least 20 voting stations, two-thirds unused when I voted then.)

I arrived at the supermarket polling station at 4:26pm. Waited over an hour to vote. Got home--after shopping for a carton o' cigs and TP and beer and waiting for a couple of buses--by 7:15pm. By then, I was too tired to even stay awake and enjoy the election-night result coverage that I'd been looking forward to watching! I just collapsed into bed immediately and was asleep by 8:30. Luckily, I woke up right after midnight and got to watch Obama's speech! Good for him. Enough of the crappy Republican hate spewed at him for the past 2 years. (Health care's a GOOD thing, you idiots. As is "European-style Socialism"---check out Germany's economy, for instance. Germany is a European Socialist country whose care for its citizens AND its thriving economy BOTH FAR OUTPACE the US's.)

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And other things I was happy about on election night:

Way to go, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin---for defeating Republican hack Tommy Thompson for Senate, and for being the first female Wisconsin Senator AND the first OUT GAY US Senator! (p.s. Weird trivia: Baldwin went to Plath's alma mater, Smith, and her birthday is February 11, the day Plath killed herself. And... February 11 is also Sarah Palin's birthday!)

Congrats also to Democrat Claire McCaskill for defeating the creep Todd "legitimate rape" Akin for the Missouri Senate seat.

And to New Hampshire, where every leadership position--governor, both Senators, both Representatives--is now held by a woman!

Possibilities





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The area where I live is a "hipster hood," with my 400-sq-ft studio about to jump up from $600 to $725 once my lease is up. (It was $525 when I first moved in, the summer of 2010.) My lease is up at the end of January, but I have to give them a 2-month notice if I choose to leave--by the end of November. Very soon. And no movement at work on if/when they're going to make my position permanent. If they do decide to hire me, I'll be making about $3000 a month, meaning I can spend $900-$1000 (the old "one-third of income" rule about rent) on a place... Trouble is, prices in this hood, which I like despite the hipsters, are now ridiculous.

The 850-sq-ft house that I rented for 7 years (2000-2007) a few blocks away was $825 a month. It just PAINS me to know that I'd have to pay at least that for a mere one-bedroom apartment in my hood now.

One glimmer of hope, though, came from randomly browsing around Craigslist today. In a neighborhood not hip and a little run down, but also not that far from where I live now, and also close to shops and bus-lines, I saw the house pictured here for only $895 a month! 3 bedrooms! Wooden floors! 972 square feet! A fenced back yard! The timing's all wrong, since I'll be paying rent at my current place through the end of January, but...it still gave me great hope that finding something else similar would be possible come January.

(In the meantime, I can still fantasize about THIS house: 3 bedrooms?? Can you imagine?! Sleep in one, of course; the other for a study; no idea what the last one would be for since I never have any "guests"... And that back yard is perfect for a kitty! And for me to sit in privately...Oh my god, I really CAN'T imagine having some breathing space again! I feel so suffocated in my tiny space now... This particular place or not, all rides on knowing--quickly, by the end of November!--if I get the at-least $36K salary that will enable me to move on to new, better living quarters. Otherwise, I'm stuck.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Undecided Voter Nell

Election Days '08/'12


The past 4 years have pretty much SUCKED for me! On Election Day 2008, I had a brand-new 6-month copy-editing gig that started the next week; I'd just heard the week before from Sandra, a college crush from poetry class, after 22 years; Gracie was still alive... The crisp, cool air of Weehawken seemed full of possibilities. I voted for McCain, but I didn't care at all that Obama won; I got goosebumps when his victory was announced, hoping for the best for the future.

4 years later at Election Day 2012: Eh. Doing secretarial temp work (a big step up from last year's poverty, esp. after the money garnered from this year's spring/summer of copy-editing work, but...I'm NOW doing secretarial work); the whole Sandra-thing a complete fiasco from almost Day One (four years of that game-playing, soul-deadening bullshit: Yuck). The struggles of the past 2 years just to get to this basic head-above-water financial stage. Yuck.

I'm voting for Obama tomorrow for civil rights reasons: I'm gay, and gay people should have all the civil rights that straight people have. I'm a woman, and no one (especially old, rich, right-wing male politicians) has the right to tell any woman what to do with her body (and the de-funding of Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control and health care to poor women---like I've been for the past 5 years---is disgusting).

Economically, Romney would actually be a better manager of the economy. (But neither he nor Obama have any plan for stopping the bleeding of American jobs overseas. Both are beholden to Big Business interests who fund their campaigns---and those folks want to pay workers as little as possible in order to make their rich shareholders as much as possible.)

So...Regardless of who wins the Presidency, the future looks "Eh" right now, for me, at least.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Election Day Trivia

I'd meant to early-vote this past week but, since I couldn't WALK, had to give up on that. I'm worried about this coming Tuesday, though, the actual date of real voting: Early voting (which ended Friday) was at my nearby grocery store, which a bus took me directly to. The real-day voting site, though, is not directly on a bus path for me and involves walking a half-mile or more... Which WAS fine when I could walk normally! But not so fine this coming Tuesday, when I know I'm not going to be healed yet...

I thought about calling my mom and asking her to drive me to the polling place on Tuesday. Nah. Never contact her or ask for anything unless absolutely necessary.

Sad, that! (I could have also used some help with grocery shopping and laundry in the past week while laid up. But hey---If you don't trust a person in your life while healthy, it's kind of hypocritical to expect them to help you when you're crippled, huh?)

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p.s. I've been interested in presidential politics/elections since I was 3. (According to said Mom's scrapbook for me, I would stop what I was doing as a 3-year-old whenever Nixon came on the television and sit and watch him. In 1974, when I was about to be 9, I wrote Nixon a letter after he resigned 2 days before my birthday. In 1976 in 6th grade, I wore a "President Ford" button to school. In 1980, I created a Reagan bulletin board for my Sophomore English class. In 1984, the first year I could vote, I was Vice-President of "Students With Hart" on the UT-Austin college campus and drove pollster Pat Caddell in the motorcade that accompanied Hart to the UT campus.)

Below is my Presidential Preference record. The cut-off point below indicates where I was finally able to legally vote after turning 18.

(age 3) 1968: Nixon
(age 7) 1972: Nixon
(age 11) 1976: Ford
(age 15) 1980: Reagan
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1984: (Hart in primary) Mondale
1988: Dukakis
1992: Clinton
1996: Perot
2000: Gore
2004: Kerry
2008: (Hillary in primary) McCain
2012: Obama (if I can hobble on over the half-mile to the polling place!) :)

p.s.s. Just found out Monday that I don't have to go to my EXACT polling place to vote--I can go to ANY polling place in all of Austin. Some of which buses go DIRECTLY to! Yay!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Seaside Heights 1960/post-Sandy

I'm so sorry, Jersey. (Haven't been able to find out anything about Weehawken, despite Internet searches. It's situated on the top of cliffs, with Edgewater, NJ, below; Hoboken directly to the south. I saw that Hoboken was devastated; I'm sure that Edgewater was. What happened to my old home, I wonder? No flooding, since atop cliffs, but what about the winds? The power? My landlords--who lived below me--were a couple in their 70s; did they have to evacuate?)