Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I just threw away $100!

Congrats, self! Sheesh.

This is the last week of my 20-hour-a-week schedule before full-time kicks in next week. I hadn't been working Mondays all month anyway, but this was the Memorial Day weekend for "regular" workers. And I got depressed, as I have been during summer holidays since I moved back to Austin 2 years ago, since not even my family members (who live within blocks) invited me to do anything. (God, I really hate my family sometimes. A Leo among a bunch of cold air signs.)

So Monday, the big holiday, I, after a brief shopping bout in the morning (see below entry), sat home and felt sorry for myself and drank nearly a 12-pack. I started early, around 3pm, and finished at midnight -- plenty o' time to wake up at the usual 8:20am on Tuesday morning. But did I feel like getting up then? Nope. I kept waking up sporadically at 4, 6, 7... Finally at 7:15, I just called my boss and said I wasn't feeling well. Which was true. I was depressed as hell about my personal life, but with depression alone -- minus the beer -- I certainly would have gotten up and gotten in to work. ESPECIALLY since all I've been doing for the past 2 weeks is just SITTING there browsing the Internet, since there's been absolutely NOTHING to do. And I mentioned that fact -- politely, but a big sad-sackly -- in the message to my boss, telling her that I'm sure the woman whose project I was working on wouldn't even miss me! And that is indeed true, but STILL. (The scariest part is, I almost intentionally didn't call in at all, so bummed out and "nothing-feeling" was I.)

DAMN, self! You've basically been on retainer -- paid to do nothing -- for the past 2 weeks, and this week, so WHAT is so hard about getting your ass in to work for 5 hours and getting over $100 after taxes just to SIT there and amuse yourself?? You're COMPLAINING because you don't feel "needed"? So, so stupid.

I guess all the cash flowing in over the past couple of months has made me take it for granted, even though I KNOW the gravy train is over at the end of August... I still can't get over how I JUST THREW AWAY $100!

And in smaller ways, I've also been tossing away cash left and right... For instance, recently ordering a cheap $15 bag from a private store on Amazon, and then, upon receipt, realizing that I hadn't paid close enough attention to the picture of the colors and finding the bag hideous upon arrival; upon going to the post office to return today, it cost $7.49 for postage! So I just wasted $7.50 on nothing! Same with a big bunch o' 8 T-shirts I ordered --- I got my usual size, but 3/4 of them turned out too small. And the company charges a 10% "restocking" fee, plus I'd pay my own postage again, plus they charged me $14 for postage to begin with... which basically means I paid $30 each for the 2 crappy T-shirts of the bunch that DID fit, since I wasn't going to bother returning with all the fees... UGH. STOOOOOPID. (I am trying to recoup some of the T-shirt losses by listing them on eBay, but STILL. Penney's, as it turned out last week, has exactly the at-home T-shirts that I need for only $5 each, but I was just so hyped up to buy stuff online...)

Even at the rate I'm spending foolishly, I'm STILL going to have enough after this job ends in August to pay rent through December, and to buy a new computer, and probably buy a new love-seat. (The latter two things I actually NEED.) So I haven't gone totally nuts. But STILL... ya DON'T THROW AWAY $100 just because nobody loves you!! ;p

Monday, May 28, 2012

She Thinks I Still Care



Memorial Day Monday

On this Memorial Day Monday, sans any invites from family members who live within a mile to invite me to a cookout or something equally "crazy," I decided to -- sigh -- AGAIN go shopping, for wont of anything else to do.

Went to Old Navy, primarily for a cheap replacement for the cheap beige pair of pants that I turned pink when washing with some raspberry-colored shorts over the weekend. (Hey, I picked COLD/COLD.) Didn't find any beige, but did end up with some more black jeans, and a new pair of HOT PINK jeans.

Since the Old Navy was right next door to the Marshall's, I wandered over there... Again, no beige pants, BUT I did find a neat purse! (I don't NEED any new purses, but this was really pretty! I debated. I stood in front of the mirror by the purses for ages, zipping and unzipping, and posing, and posing. I could not decide. And I'm sure I looked suspicious.)

In the end, this one purse looked PERFECT with my new hot pink pants. And how pretty it would also look with the orange pants I bought in April, and with all of my other black pants, and with white pants! It's a GREAT-looking purse! I bought the damn thing for $40. My only caveat: The purse was designed by...JESSICA SIMPSON! Oh my god, I share Jessica Simpson's taste! ;p




Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sans Love...

...there's always Art.

Thank you to (in no particular order) the Bay City Rollers, the Beatles, John Lennon, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, van Gogh, Joan Crawford, Elvis, George Jones, Klimt, Ted Hughes, and Paul McCartney for being amazing and beautiful, and for giving me hope at various points in my life.















Saturday, May 26, 2012

Close, but no cigar.

Last weekend, my 6-year-old nephew was shooting at stuff in his backyard with his 10-year-old brother's new (fake/plastic/suction-cup) bow-and-arrow set. He kept missing the beer can set up for his shooting purposes, and during what seemed like hours (15 minutes) of watching politely, I kept offering words of encouragement, including finally:

"Close, but no cigar!"

He stopped aiming and looked at me: "Why do people always SAY that? What does that MEAN?"

Meow, kid! But I love that he's actually paying attention to language! I knew what it meant idiomatically, but I had no clue what it originally meant. Until tonight, courtesy of the Internet:

From ask.yahoo.com:

"According to Bartleby, the phrase likely originated at carnivals when cigars were given away as prizes... The Phrase Finder offers a slightly different story. The site states that the saying came from the custom of early slot machines awarding cigars to winners. A third theory comes from Take Our Word for It, which says nobody knows exactly how the phrase came about, but that it likely came to prominence at carnivals, specifically the game where players use a sledgehammer to ring a bell."

Thanks, Internet! I can't wait to report back to the kid.





Thursday, May 24, 2012

FarmersOnly.com

Last week, I saw on TV for the first time an ad for this "Farmers Only" dating site, accompanied by the slogan, "Because city folks just don't get it." I thought it was a joke at first, that I'd surfed onto a comedy channel doing a spoof ad... (Was waiting for spokespeople ID'd as "DaisyDukes744" or "ginghamgirl" etc.) But no, 'twas for real, as I just learned when visiting their site:

"FarmersOnly.com is a dating site like no other. We exist because, the way we see it, there are basically two groups in America. Group one revolves around four dollar cups of coffee, taxi cabs, blue suits, and getting ahead at all costs in the corporate world....Group two enjoys blue skies, living free and at peace in wide open spaces, raising animals, and appreciating nature. We understand the meaning of Southern hospitality, even if we don't all live in the South. This group makes up America's Heartland – the slice of America with good old fashioned traditional values, values that were never lost by the farmers of our country. These values have also been preserved by the cowboys and cowgirls who still live on the edge..."

Their intro page wasn't as wacky as I thought it would be. It sounded fairly reasonable. Sort of. Until I started breaking down their statements:

RE "Two groups of people in America." Hmmm. I've lived in the country with a rural route mailbox address and a pond and a horse and sliding down the random culvert on a piece of cardboard for fun. And then I've lived in small towns of under 5,000 people. And in cities of 60,000; 600,000; 850,000; and 8 million. Where do I fit in?

Am I in Group One? Let's see: Four dollar cups of coffee: Don't like coffee; wouldn't pay $4 if I did. Taxi cabs: Huh? What in the world is wrong with a cab? Blue suits and getting ahead in the corporate world: I realize that a "blue suit" stereotypically represents a "fancy city slicker" who's out to "screw" the "working man"... And I'll grant that many lawyers and financiers and others of that ilk do indeed maintain this uniform and the "getting ahead at all costs" attitude. But "lawyers and financiers" make up a VERY small portion of city-dwellers.

Am I in Group Two? Let's see: Blue skies: Overrated. I actually prefer some rain in between. Living free: Please, who doesn't like that. Wide open spaces: Depressing to me. I like forests and hills, and I also like exciting city canyons of buildings. Raising animals: This is fine if you're just raising cows for the milk and/or chickens for the eggs. But many farmers/ranchers are raising beaucoup animals for the express purpose of slaughtering them for money. Yuck. Southern hospitality: This is nice on principle. Unless it's completely phony, a smile hiding sadistic tendencies, which unfortunately is often the actual case. I personally found New Yorkers and New Jersey folk more honestly nice and down-to-earth.

Good old-fashioned traditional values: This is "code," I assume, for "Christian God only" and "marriage = man + woman." Having been brought up in a horribly dysfunctional, violent straight household out in the country with a "good ol' boy" Texas father, I must immediately discount the claim that "country" somehow equals "old-fashioned traditional values." In my personal experience, when you live out in the country, the violent person can get away with a lot more because there's no one around to witness what they're doing. (And if the police are FINALLY called, they refuse to do anything... because the perpetrator's "name is on the mailbox"!)

As for small-town or country Christianity: I was baptized a Lutheran, and attended various churches (either with family or friends) growing up: Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist (both Southern and Fundamentalist), Church of Christ, even Mormon (with my high-school boyfriend). These were all pleasant places for me, focusing more on one's relationship with God rather than hatred toward others, as seen on TV today by more radical right-wing church groups. But I can't say that they helped me become more spiritual in any way at all, which is what, even back in high school, I was trying to become. I wasn't just in it for the socializing. As I soon realized most people were. (This realization was akin to learning that there was no Santa. And that my university wasn't set up to help me become enlightened! I was a naive child and young adult.)

Plus there was the "dumb" factor in the Bible, regardless of the denomination: If God created Adam and Eve, and they had only two sons, one of whom killed the other... then how was the world subsequently populated? Cain fucked his mother, and we're all a product of incest? And fossils have been found of dinosaurs. And of proto-modern humans like the Neanderthal. Where's this in the Bible's history of the world's formation? (And that's just the most basic beginning of the ongoing ignorance in the book. I personally stopped believing in its "holiness" when I was 15, upon reading its teaching that women were inferior to men.)

So I've gone off on a tangent... Where was I? Oh yeah, the last thing in the blurb from the FarmersOnly site: "...the cowboys and cowgirls who still live on the edge." OK, maybe this means that they're living on the edge of town, on the edge of "corporate society," or somesuch... I suspect, though, that the wording is trying to make the younger farm-oriented folk who have cable and Internet and have thus seen attractive representations of what's available in the outside world -- but aren't quite up for whatever reason to pursuing anything outside of their comfort zone -- feel somehow "cool" and "edgy" despite their actual complete lack of "edginess."

OH, by the way, RE "...values that were never lost by the farmers of our country. These values have also been preserved by the cowboys and cowgirls..." Oh yeah? Read some history of the settlement of the US West: There was a constant political battle between the farmers who wanted boundaries for their land, and the Big Ranchers who wanted no fences so they could, with the help of their poorly paid cowboys, drive their cattle through, unobstructed. THAT was the battle between the haves and have-nots in the 1800s. Since when did the interests of "farmers" and "cowboys" become one?

Funny that there's no "CitySlickersOnly.com" dating site. I don't know that there's any sort of comparative defensiveness on the part of city dwellers (well, except maybe on MSNBC). I think that people who live within civilization are much more self-aware, much more aware of irritations that come with living around lots of other kinds of people. And don't transform such irritations into dogma: "two groups"/"Heartland vs. Other"/"Values vs. No Values." That kind of scared, defensive, completely undatable (to me) world view.

Shopped Out??

I think I've -- gasp! -- almost come to the end of my feverish CD/clothing shopping spree I've been on since April. (Well, just 4 more things I "need," clothing-wise: dark blue espadrilles, a white purse, an earth-toned belt and purse.) I finally reached the near-saturation point this past Monday with my first trip to a mall in years, where I got 6 more summer shirts, a purse, 3 Ts, 3 tanks, a raspberry pair of shorts. After 5 or so years of being poor and feelin' shabby, I think I've finally gotten to a point where I feel decently dressed! :)

One irony: I'm currently unable to wear the majority of new shoes that I've bought! (I just went and counted: I've bought a whopping 10 pairs of shoes and 2 pairs of sandals this spring! Oh, and 4 pairs of flip-flops.) For some reason, my ankles started swelling around a month ago and have remained that way almost constantly. Because I'm constantly sitting at a desk during the day and again, at my computer, when I come home? (But for the majority of the past 10 years, that's exactly what I've been doing; and now I'm also walking a mile-and-a-half a day from the bus to work and back, so it seems that would HELP the circulation...) Too much drinking? (I'm drinking LESS now that I'm working steadily.) Onset of diabetes? Cancer?! (Without health care, I can't go anywhere to find out about those possibilities.) God's punishment for bragging about all of my new shoes??!! (God, give me a break! You know as well as I do that I've had a crappy wardrobe for a VERY long time; is it so bad to momentarily revel in niceness?! Once the temp job ends in August, I'll be back to struggling again, so can I just ENJOY these few months??) ;)

So now, dammit, I have all these nice outfits that I want to wear with EXACTLY the right pair of shoes, and instead I have to rotate between the 4 or so pair that will fit with the CANKLES! Arrrrrrrgh!

p.s. Just have to mention one recent purchase from Amazon that has made me happy: a rainbow-colored umbrella! I used to own one, which I got for $10 maybe 6 or 7 years ago. Had to leave it behind in Weehawken when I was packing to come home; it absolutely would NOT fit in the suitcase, and I thought, "It's just an umbrella; you can easily find another one later." Once back in Austin, I was too poor to buy a new one, so my mom gave me an old beige one of hers... (A BEIGE one?! THAT's not fun when it's dreary out! Sigh.) And then when I started working more steadily, I started searching for a rainbow-one online...but they were all $25 or $30, which seemed too much for an umbrella... My new one was only $17! And just as bright-n-cheery as the one I used to have! Hurrah! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why My Alma Mater Needs Copy Editors

Can you spot the egregious error on the cover?


Dear 2012 Graduates,

The cover of this year's commencement program contained an unfortunate typographical error, which has since been corrected and is in the process of being distributed. The error originated with UT Printing, but we failed to catch it. The mistake was inexcusable, and we are mortified. As soon as we caught the error ­after the programs had been distributed, unfortunately ­we immediately began work on a corrected version that we will send out electronically and in hard copy to all our graduates, with our deepest apologies. We will send three hard-copy versions to each of you so that you can pass those on to your families and friends. Let us know if you need additional copies. No one feels worse about this than I do, so please accept my deepest personal apology.

With best wishes,

Robert Hutchings, Dean
LBJ School of Public Affairs

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

p.s. The letter of mortification above also needs some copyediting! "Unfortunately we immediately began work..."?? Try: "As soon as we caught the error -- after the programs had been distributed, unfortunately -- we immediately began work..."

"A hug is like...

...a strangle you haven't finished yet."

Oh my god, this entry on The Bloggess is the funniest thing ever! Here's an excerpt (blogger Jenny Lawson and her husband are in a thrift store when she spots an ominously decrepit stuffed monkey that she immediately falls in love with and names "Copernicus"):

I immediately picked the monkey up and turned to Victor with wide eyes, as I struggled to keep my voice down to a whisper so that the shop-girl wouldn’t realize how much I was interested.

me: Victor. Oh. Em. Gee.

Victor: Oh, holy shit. Put that thing down.

me: Are you fucking crazy? HE NEEDS US. Plus, he is made of awesome. And nightmares.

Copernicus: MISTER, CAN YOU SPARE A HUG?

Victor: Did you just make that monkey talk?

Copernicus: A HUG IS LIKE A STRANGLE YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED YET.

Victor: What is wrong with you?

me: OH MY GOD, HE’S FANTASTIC. Plus, he just used “strangle” as a noun. Who does that? Copernicus the homicidal monkey, that’s who.

Copernicus: YOUR FACE LOOKS DELICIOUS. I WILL CHEW ON IT WHILE YOU SLEEP.

me: See. He just gave you a compliment.

----------------------------------------------------
That's just about the best dialogue that I've ever read! :) :) But please click on the link above to read the whole thing. And she has a NYTIMES best-seller at the moment, "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" (the TIMES link is how I just today discovered her)!

p.s. Below are some of the home-made Valentines featuring Copernicus that Lawson created for her daughter's first-grade class. (As she says, surely Hallmark will be calling soon...)




Monday, May 21, 2012

Manners!

I've always been depressed when people are rude.

Coming to UT as a freshman in 1983, I felt bad when I smiled and said "hi" to someone in passing and they overtly did not respond in any way. (In 1983 college racial news, a black guy once held the door open as a black girl and I passed through simultaneously; I said "thank you," and he said, "I was holding it open for HER, not YOU." Wow. Today, I might respond with, "What an asshole you are." But at the time, I just winced and felt bad inside.)

For the past 2 years, I've been living in a small apartment complex consisting of one-room apartments, priced high enough to preclude crack-dealers and hookers, but just low enough to be student/hipster friendly, especially since so close to campus (albeit on the EAST side, which most students haven't yet discovered).

Since I moved in in 2010, my pet peeve has been the "gang o' hipsters" who hang out on the stairs and along the tree borders in the parking lot. The pony-tail guy who never wears a shirt and always wears sunglasses while he's letting his pit bull run loose in the parking lot. The fat, surly chick with the heavily-gelled '80s hair who always smokes and wears black. (She and I once waited for a morning bus for a solid week together. I always looked over at her to make eye contact and say "hi"; she never once met my gaze, though we were the only two people waiting at the stop.) The 30-something red-haired hippie-chick with a different guy hanging out in her two outside-the-door chairs every week. The black chick always playing music with her door open and not scooping her dog's poop.

That specific gang of people has been sort of a "posse," visible all around the apartment complex whenever I leave, whenever I come home. I dislike them. I think, in general, constantly shirtless guys in sunglasses with pit bulls running loose are dicks. I think ugly fat chicks in black who pretend to be too superior to me to say hello are dicks. People who play loud music with their apartment door open and who let their dogs poop on the public lawn without scooping are dicks. The red-haired chick does respond when I say "hi" in passing, and does keep her shirt on and doesn't have a pooping dog and isn't blaring music, so she's not a dick. Just annoying 'cause she's always sitting outside! (OK, I guess now I'm just fishing for something to be irritated about!) :)

So today I was pleasantly surprised when I came home from shopping. A young blonde college girl that I hadn't seen before was walking down the apartment stairs as I was about to walk up. I stepped aside to let her pass. And then she stopped and held out her hand: "Hi, I'm Cassie! I just moved in to 204." Whoa! A normal person! "I'm Stephanie, in 207. Welcome!"

What a nice, mannerly surprise! :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Praise from Expected Places

Since I've been buying new clothes over the last 3 months, I've also been getting new praise: the 20-something receptionist likes my big hoop earrings and my see-through shirt and my earth-toned shirt; the waify doctoral student likes my mary-jane shoes; one professor thinks I look "elegant" in my red/black shirt with poppies on it.

I am grateful for the clothing attention, of course, because I've been looking/feeling haphazard and poor for the past 3 years, but still... it all reminds me of my initial month at grad school back in '94: the profs initially not liking me or what they thought my work would be like, UNTIL... (1) I wrote a gay-themed poem, which my gay professor thought was bold and interesting. I was a favorite of his ever after. (2) I edited down a poem a Chinese feminist professor thought was way too wordy. I then looked up her work in the library; after my editing, my poem looked/sounded JUST like her work. And after I edited it, I became a favorite of hers ever after.

It's kinda sad, knowing just what people want and how to give it to them. You get REWARDS for meeting expectations, but... I don't really WANT those kinds of rewards. I mean, I DO want to be told that I look nice and that my poems are good... but that I look nice because I wear the same mary-janes that someone else wears or edit down to the same type of poems that a professor writes?

I've never slept with anyone for approval, but I imagine that it's the same type of thing: You like the approval, but how you got it is so stupidly, obviously suspect and not meaningful.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Two Questions in One Day

The Universe has its little patterns and its way of showing you things...

Today at work, at the end of a week with nothing at all to do, I finally made contact with the other temp hired 'til the end of the summer. (He sits in the same large room with me, but we're all hidden behind cubicles.) I finally went over to say "hi" and what's going on and are you as just-sitting-there as I am... He does have work to do now, though he'll eventually be working with me on the project that I'm waiting on. We shared work impressions, and then it turns out he's, in his late 40s, just married 2 years ago: to a woman who OWNS AN APARTMENT on the UPPER EAST SIDE of NYC! "How did THAT happen?" I marvelled; they met online! But he owns a house here in Austin, and she chose to move here to be with him and rent out her E. 81st Street apartment... Dear lord, but that's my fantasy: Meet and fall in love with a woman online who OWNS a NYC apartment! :)

The question per this post's heading came after he told me he's a musician and artist (though he's obviously sitting here in a cubicle doing the same publishing work that I'm doing): "So, what do you do in Austin?" I was flummoxed. Well, not really. What I do in Austin: I'm still recuperating from New York City, and the loss of my life's dream of living there. I'm still recuperating from seriously loving someone and not being loved back. I'm still recuperating from realizing for the hundredth time that my mother doesn't, and never did, love me. That's all. And, oh yeah, I'm working on nothing other than the same Joan Crawford website I've been working on for 7 years!

Didn't SAY all that, of course, but... damn! I had nothing to tell the guy! I actually do NOTHING but go to work and come home, and be grateful for the money that I just earned, which has been so sporadic for the past 3 years!

The SECOND Question o' the Day came from my hairdresser (my second visit to her after switching hairdressers 8 weeks ago to a salon in my own 'hood): "So, what's new with you?" Um... Since I last visited her 8 weeks ago, there's NOTHING new whatsoever! Still doing temp work at the same place, still happy to have temp work through the end of the summer, still extremely grateful for the $25 an hour, still going to work and coming home and working on the Joan Crawford website...

I'm, of course, grateful for the momentary stability after all the utter chaos I've lived through for the past 5 years. But, with these 2 Questions from Strangers, I also kind of snapped to: What AM I doing? What I've been doing has been a "safe place" for me, obviously, but...

The Universe has somehow spoken: It's time to move the fuck on and DO something.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Justice for George Zimmerman


From the LA Times: "An autopsy of Trayvon Martin, the black unarmed teenager who was fatally shot by a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer, shows that his body had injuries to the knuckles, while a medical report on the shooter, George Zimmerman, shows that he suffered a broken nose, two black eyes, and cuts on the back of his head, according to a Florida TV news channel and ABC News."

I also tonight listened to a recording of a police interview with an eye-witness who said he saw a black man with a black hoodie on top of another man, hitting him. The eye-witness yelled at the guy on top to stop; when he didn't, the eye-witness went in to call 911.

Just wondering: You're a neighborhood watch guy, you spot someone suspicious (Zimmerman's neighborhood, according to all accounts -- even by black neighbors -- had been besieged by a series of burglaries in the weeks leading up to Martin's killing... burglaries identified by many neighbors as being done by BLACK TEENAGERS). You stop the black teenager and ask what he's doing there. The 6' 3" teen jumps you (you're 5' 9") and starts beating on you, giving you, I quote, "a broken nose, two black eyes, and cuts on the back of [your] head." What are you supposed to do in that case while you're being beaten? Lie there and take it? Or, if you are lucky enough to have a gun in your pocket, take it out and shoot the motherfucker who's beating you?

Come on.

New T's I just bought


"I am too pure for you or anyone."

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

Can't wait to see what dates these get me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's called "golf."

Over at the brother's for a cookout: Bro, wife, her mother in from Houston, nephews. Plus my/bro's mom.

The best part for me was watching the funny/weirdly amazing "Shaolin Soccer" on cable with the nephews (which they'd been telling me about earlier in the day). Plus an episode of Animal Planet's "River Monsters" with the older 10-year-old nephew.

Not that, in general, I've ever been interested in Hong Kong films from 2001, or searches for "monsters" (Sasquatch, river, or otherwise). But... both turned out to be actually interesting! Both in and of themselves, and also because it was fun to get into/react to what was going on onscreen with the nephews.

I really enjoyed the whole flow of the day: chat, cookout, playing in the backyard (me, upon seeing a big old hole the boys had dug in the yard and a ball kicked into it: "That would be a neat sport to invent -- trying to get a ball into a hole in the ground!" My 10-year-old nephew: "It's called GOLF" -- ha!), Shaolin/River Monsters, eating, soccer/walking at the park, watching "Midnight in Paris" later in the evening with the girls, the little boys and their bedtime rituals (that later included their popping up every 15 minutes to see what was going on with the adults...)

I miss BEING with people. Just lazing around on the couch watching movies and getting into whatever is going on around me. I felt sad when it was time to go home by myself. I'm tired of being by myself all the time. Both Julie and Sandra --- how I mentally spent 2001 through 2010 for the most part --- made me feel as if "alone" and "empty" was all I'd ever be. There's nothing at all worse and more creepy than emotional game-players. (And I don't think THAT game's called "golf.")

Sunday, May 13, 2012

O say can you see

A sad thing happened to me this afternoon: A random, well-dressed, 50-ish man came up to me at a downtown bus-stop and started to ask if his bus had yet passed. But before he could get the words out of his mouth, he stopped himself and said to me, "Your eyes are so pretty! I'm sorry. Your eyes are really pretty." I was tired from sitting at the bus-stop for too long, and so wasn't flirty with him, just said, "Thank you. What bus are you trying to catch?"

He told me, and I told him which buses I'd seen, and then he sat down and left me alone.

And then I contemplated: "When was the last time anyone told me that my eyes were pretty?" I've pretty much wasted the past few years of my life clinging on to random online people who neither liked my eyes nor my writing nor much of anything about me...other than the fact that I paid attention to THEM! Wow. A hard thing to admit: I've wasted so much time and energy on people who didn't give a whit about me at all --- not my looks, not my mind, not anything... Wow.

Mother's Day 2012

I'm so glad my apartment management's calendar stuck in my door earlier this week reminded me about this Sunday:

"Be sure to find your mom and tell them how much you appreciate all they do for you on this special occasion."

(1) Be sure to FIND my mom? What, are they assuming that my mother is either a world-traveling diplomat or actress, or else a crack-whore, who's been wandering around various streets/cities/countries and is usually unlocatable unless I try especially hard on this day?

(2) Tell THEM how much I appreciate? What, are they assuming that I was raised in a lesbian home and therefore "have two mommies"?

(3) All they do for me on this special occasion? So now "Mother's Day" is a day for moms to do stuff for their kids?

The above extremely crappy control of the English language is why anyone who releases any text to the public needs a copy editor.

p.s. The above calendar entry should have read: "On this special occasion, be sure to tell your mom how much you appreciate all she does for you."  (Now, will someone out there please recognize my brilliant copy-editing skills and hire me permanently?) :)

1931 Joan Crawford publicity

I first fell in love with Joan Crawford back in 1987; the series of shots from this 1931 session with George Hurrell one of the reasons why. She's not just POSING AS "beautiful" and "sexy," she's usually also RIGHT THERE in spirit and character in her photos. It's an unusual, transcendent, intelligent quality.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Joan Crawford Prom

From the Cannon Falls (MN) Beacon:

http://www.cannonfalls.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=21636

5/9/2012 3:53:00 PM
CF prom provides "lots of laughs"

by Sue Sullivan

"Hollywood Review," based on the 1929 film starring Joan Crawford, provided the
theme for the elegantly decorated stage at the 2012 Cannon Falls prom. With
giant film strips glimmering around them, 83 couples strode purposefully beneath
the mammoth Hollywood star upon the reflective "red carpet."

The script written by junior class officers Marley Mayer, MiKayla Quinn, Emilee
Lorentz and Paul Rolfes introducing the couples was replete with comic
anecdotes, and read by emcees Jen Twedt and Robin Nelson. Pianist was Kathy
Illa.

In the 1929 version, "Singin' in the Rain" was introduced, serving as a
leitmotif throughout the picture. Quite appropriately, the day's copious
rainfall did not stem the tide of the festivities at the May 5 event.

"Other than the rain, the prom went off without a hitch!" exclaimed advisor Ann
Schwede. "The auditorium is a top notch facility to host such an event and was
well attended by the community with around 750 people watching the kids."

Following Grand March, students boarded buses to a dinner and dance at
McArthur's Banquet Facility at Gopher Hills Golf Course, where Jon Baird's
Soundwave DJ Service provided music. The photo booth, courtesy of Clubs Choice,
was also available to record memories of the event.

"There were lots of laughs throughout the evening. The students were very well
behaved and were very appreciative of all the work that goes into putting
together the Grand March, dinner and dance," concluded Schwede.

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

Love the kids who planned this, hate the Schwede.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Karma Corleone

O neighbors whose backyard my window overlooks and who have pissed me off mightily on more than one occasion with loud firecrackers 'til 4 a.m. and loud parties 'til 4 a.m. and dumb-ass backyard bonfires during droughts...

Why O why do you tempt me with your STUPID DECISION to grow weed RIGHT BELOW MY WINDOW? Sigh.

Despite my nearly 30 years in Austin, I'm so NOT laid back (were the multiple shrieks out my window for you to "shut the fuck up" not a clue?)... And another firecracker holiday is coming up soon... Don't you know that if I have to call the police on you again for your noise and/or fire, I'm CERTAINLY also going to mention the new pot plants behind your shed? Don't you KNOW that about me by now?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Lady of Leisure

Is this pleasant schedule for real?! For the next 4 weeks: 10-3, Tuesday thru Friday. (After 3 months of 40-50 per week; and with 40 per week upcoming for June, July, August. My May Schedule is the PERFECT thing -- just a little bit of a break to "rest up" from unaccustomed full-time employment and in anticipation of 3 more solid months of full-time work.)

Today I rolled out of bed at the leisurely quarter-hour of 8:15am, bussed/strolled on into work, didn't get into any bitchiness with co-workers over their bodily noises (!)... then it was time to go home before I knew it! Bus came right on time; I was home by 3:30 in the afternoon! And after 2 weeks in a row of stifling 95-degree humidity and heat, today was cool -- well, under 80 -- and rainy... If I'd had my red rain-boots on, I would have splashed in puddles while walking to the bus! (As it was, just kept singing under my breath: "The color of the sky as far as I can see is coal gray...")



A couple of other happy psychological things at work today:

The guy I mentioned days earlier who "told on" me for copying a third office mate's loud moaning... Well, he's "friends with" a girl I used to share an office with, one of the two doc-formatting people who only very begrudgingly helped me when I had a hard task on my first days of the job. And that same girl is "office-buddies" with the woman who I THOUGHT would be in charge of my new summer project... NOT SO! I'd been dreading bad vibes from that whole trio and having to overcome them, but as it turns out... The person in charge that I'll be working most closely with is NOT associated with them. In fact, today she and I talked over the project for the first time, and she said how she didn't know the whole process, so would I be patient with her... And I got to say, "Hey, I'm new here, too! We'll work through this together!" She looked visibly relieved, and then confided: "-------- (the girl I used to share an office with) was always very impatient with me and made me feel like I was bothering her." (!!!!!) That's EXACTLY how that person always made ME feel!! I hadn't been crazy! Someone else picked up on the same bad vibe from her! Whew. What a huge lessening of my internal tension about the work environment.

In other "lessening of tension": Today, while looking at one doc that the (nemesis) girl had formatted after I had copyedited weeks ago, I noticed a huge misspelling on one page: "emporer" instead of "emperor"... I was freaked out: "Oh my god! HOW did I miss that??!" I frantically looked through the original e-files to see what had happened... It had been the correct "emperor" when I saw it! Somehow, in the formatting stage, someone took it upon themselves to change the spelling INCORRECTLY... Hmmmmm. Made sure to point out to a couple of people in charge that formatters shouldn't be messing with the text itself since they could screw it up... which I then found out has apparently been an ongoing problem!

So THERE, Mean Girl! ;p This ain't my first time at the rodeo.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Hunger Games: "May the odds be ever in your favor."

I just saw "The Hunger Games" today with my 10-year-old nephew and my mom (the two of them have been reading the books, which I have not been; I was just tagging along to have something to do).

From reading all the media hype, I knew the theme: Decades ago, the plebes revolted against the aristocrats and were defeated. As punishment, each year since the revolt, a boy and girl (age 12 to 18) from each of the 12 outlying plebe districts have been picked in a public lottery to compete in a (televised) fight-to-the-death, with only one winner...

That sounded pretty interesting, but I thought it would only be a "Lord of the Flies"-type thing, kids getting brutal with each other out in the woods, and I'd only watch politely. I was unprepared to be completely moved and psychologically horrified by the thing!

The ominousness of the rulers and their society was what most affected me. The smiling decadence in the face of utter horror. The Orwellian naming of blood sacrifices as "Tributes" and the accompanying pageantry designed to placate the plebes into not questioning the slaughter. The sets and costumes bizarrely (but also somehow logically) echoing a combination of Nazi/17th-century French/21st-century American/barony in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" debaucherie and insanity.

All the poor kids, upon arriving in the capitol city to prepare for the hunt/battle, are immediately given... STYLISTS charged with getting them media-ready for what is, after all, only a big annual television event for the elite city residents. (The rough-edged, plain-spoken main character, Katniss, is at first unwilling to participate in the grooming...until she sees the boy from her district waving and smiling to the crowds gathered to greet them upon their arrival and realizes that she'll have to play along if she wants to survive.) Once "The Games" start, "contestants" can also win sponsorship from elite viewers if they're likable enough -- earning needed food, medicine, etc. (Two of the 12 outlying districts have already mastered the art of gaining sponsorship, winning the majority of the contests as a result.)

The gruesome details of the ongoing battle are interspersed with behind-the-scenes goings-on at the national TV studio, with the TV execs attempting to coordinate with the country's leader which of the contestants would be most popular, and politically advantageous. When Katniss -- through a combination of her stylist's costume, innate survival skills, and decent actions -- proves popular with viewers, the powers-that-be initially back her...only to figure out later that her inability to be controlled is a danger to them...

This stuff was complicated and interesting! Watching the shallow TV/games host -- played by Stanley Tucci -- interviewing the contestants on his show, I kept wondering if any of the young stars saw the irony when they were being interviewed in real life by one of the smiling, vacuous hosts of E!, etc. Other actor highlights: Donald Sutherland as "President Snow" (full of gravitas, smelling of death and roses); Woody Harrelson as a former victor, now-gone-to-seed mentor to new contestants; and Wes Bentley (neighbor-boy "Ricky" in "American Beauty") as the oblivious TV coordinator, not heeding Snow's warning to "be careful."

The second I walked out of the movie, I told my usually impatient, non-cigarette-tolerant mother, who was driving: "That was intense. I have to have a cigarette before we go." She didn't say a word in disagreement. Bad-influence-to-10-year-old-nephew also be damned. This movie needed a SMOKE afterwards.

Wikipedia link/info.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Blitzkrieg

She has seen her face in food, food on walls,
the late-night aftershave men in suede,
felt her body fall ripping gold chains.
She heard the wish for the plane crash,
wings crumbling, the captain's cool voice,
applause two thousand miles away.

Is it what he wanted, these killing words;
such words lie in wait, the wet-fur cringe
down low on plastic tiles, the rattling knob
echoed in slow, cold mirrors,
the slower cracking of the plywood door.

("somewhere my blood beats sure as rain
from tin roofs and in drains,
on the face of a boy
whose lips part for my outpouring")

She has seen his eyes on the banks of the Rhine,
seen him for the first time: in cafes, the wine
mingling hot, his hand on her arm.
Oh such eyes, those black-heart jacks,
reflect nothing on her, or the woman she may be.
They see things in voltage:
the blue bolts dangling, frantic, to the right temple,
the right mind that may be changed.

Still a fear of the eyeless drives her
past speaking, past belief
to some world sightless in itself
in a search for
love, like gold, a vision
given cost beyond weight,
melting once to perfection, twice
to a lesser state

At what point is credibility gained?
At what point is the gained thing forsaken?

She grows old in this hothouse
as lilies fill her mouth
She pardons the exile
and takes her fine time
looking up

There is always the trial ---
as the defendant she must submit
herself, a luxurious thing of lines undrawn
and she feels the split
the plaintive cracks in perception
that see her past stained windows
and into light that glows alone.

"Solid Goals"

My astrocenter.com horoscope for May 5:

"It may be time to take a look at where you are in life, STEPHANIE. Are you where you thought you would be? If you are, congratulations - this is a real accomplishment. If not, take heart - many discover at one point or another that they're not anywhere close. The key is to have solid goals written down. The steps that have to be made to reach them should also be on paper so that you have a guide. It is your life after all and mapping out your route is up to you."

All well and good, but... DUH! Of COURSE I'm not where I thought I would be in life! :) Nor have I just now discovered that I'm not anywhere close! Please! :)

I've had fallow periods in my life, for sure, but I've always attempted to jolt myself out of them by DOING something. Moving to San Francisco in '94, for one thing. Moving to NYC in 2007, for another. Those moves, aside from my being intellectually interested in the cities themselves, also had specific goals: San Fran, to go to grad school; NYC, to try to find a publishing job NOT in the educational field (which I'd been mired in/non-inspired by in Austin).

Got my MA in SF; failed to break into any NYC publishing house. But, hey, re the latter, at least I TRIED. So I don't feel that I have to "take heart," as the above horoscope condescends.

For the record, at 46, my life goals are now:

4 screenplays (1 finished already)
2 published poetry collections (no "mentors," just merit; I've had 7 individual poems published in small national mags already)
A house of my own
Travel to Germany (my family's homes, plus Berlin because it's Berlin)
Travel to England (London, for historical purposes; Devon, for Hughes/Plath purposes; Liverpool, for Beatles purposes)
Travel to the Egyptian pyramids
Travel to New England (Sexton/Plath/Dickinson + crisp fall air and pretty leaves)
Travel to Civil War sites (and Elvis's home)

Of course I'd like to have a lover during all of this, but... you can't control that at all. I'm not going to go out and be with someone just for the sake of "having someone" or "having someone to pay for me." If I get to Germany, England, Egypt, New England, and the South, it'll be because I made it happen for myself. (Nicer, though, to have someone to talk to!) :)

Office People

If you're sharing an office with someone, perhaps it's best that you not make RANDOM MOANING NOISES! :) Ya think? Might that not be a "given" of office etiquette??

But wait... this post isn't simply about my irritation at weird sounds coming from a co-worker... There's a slightly more important aftermath.

Backdrop: I share (in my temp job 'til the end of summer) a room with two other people. One's full time (longtime contract), one's half-time (longtime contract). The half-time guy... likes to read random snippets of what he's working on out loud. Loudly. And also has a tendency to...make sounds. Loud moans, to be precise. Now, I myself, working on tedious stuff, do sigh out loud on occasion. But these "moans" weren't just outtakes of air; they were big ol' "ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." (!) Numerous times. The first time I heard it, I was just startled. After several times, though, in a short period of time, it started to get irritating.

But here's the thing: How do you politely ask someone to stop..."making weird sounds"??!

What I did at the time was: After about the 5th moan in one morning, I started moaning loudly in return every time he did. I thought I was being funny, and I honestly didn't know what else to do to get the guy to take a hint and shut the fuck up! Turns out, though, the guy had ear-buds in, so had no idea of my response.

Here's the weird aftermath, though: The OTHER guy in the room (the one NOT making noise) apparently took offense to my mocking the moaning guy! And he bitched about ME to someone who then told my boss that I was obviously not happy in my work environment! So I had to have a conversation with my boss today about my "happiness in my work environment"!!

Luckily, my boss is a cool, sane person and laughed it off when I told her about the moaning, her sensibly suggesting that I get ear-phones if things got too loud. Which, sure, I'm happy to do. I WANT MONEY. No trouble through August, just MONEY.

But just on principle: Who's the most problematic one? (1) Me, coming in and doing my work quietly (albeit with irritation when others are loud). (2) The guy inadvertently emitting weird sounds. (3) The bitchy guy gossiping about my mocking of the loud guy to my boss.

I'd say #3 is the cause of most of the problems in every office I've ever worked in. The #2 scenario, the guy inadvertently being loud, is easily fixed between two people. I would never have complained about him being loud to a boss to get him in trouble. My moaning in return was just trying -- however unsuccessfully --  to somehow express my irritation and get him to shut up.

#3 though -- being a bitch and reporting random things that have nothing to do with you to higher-ups -- is, to me, shitty and creepy.

Office life! Get used to it! (unless I get fired before August, that is!) :)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Weehawken Watch 5/2/12

Rents for one room with kitchen/bath (at least 400 sq ft) in Weehawken/West New York/Union City, as of tonight on Craig's List: around $950.

I'm currently paying $600 for the same-size space in Austin.

If I had my exact same job situation and could pick where I lived, I'd pick Weehawken in a second. But I don't. I do like Austin, and I'm grateful for the temp work and for my relatively quiet, decent Eastside apartment... But for only $350 more a month, I could be where I wanted to be...

It's so frustrating being trapped by finances instead of being guided by your soul! My "soul" craves WINTER, for one thing. For another, I liked being around a huge hodge-podge of people in NJ/NY. In Austin, people are kind of generically white yuppie/hipster (plus scattered homeless)... San Fran light. I can't stand that PC shit. NY has plenty of that, of course, but since there are billions of people living in the area, the PC-faction is a minor one, and thus not so irritating. In Austin, the self-satisfied are much more prominent. (But I can't understand WHY they're so self-satisfied...because they recycle? because they don't have embedded lawn sprinklers? because they voted for Obama? because they don't watch TV?)

It would also be nice to be able to feel INVIGORATED again. Austin's definitely NOT the town for "feeling invigorated"! :) Jesus, but it's passive. Well, "passive" as long as you yourself look and act like you're also "passive." Exhibiting any "non-laid-back" tendencies -- like expecting good service from a store or from your landlord and complaining when service is sloppy -- reveals the nasty, irritable underbelly of the so-called "laid back" set.

There's a "code" in place in Austin: Act like everything's cool, man. I refuse to be blind and stupid like that. Complaining has a bad rap, but sometimes complaining is what's needed to fix a problem and get things on a right track. Since when did "everything's cool" -- despite whatever obvious crappiness -- become the standard? However Zen-like "everything's cool" might sound, the concept is, in practice and actuality, a horror!