Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Advice from Suicides

In his address to the students of Kenyon College in 2005, David Foster Wallace said:

Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot or will not exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliche about the mind being "an excellent servant but a terrible master."

All true enough; but, of course, Wallace didn't at all find solace from this recognition.

Just as Plath found no solace from her profoundly acute observations of the world's actual hard-core workings. Or as Sexton found no solace from her profoundly acute observations of the world's openness and sensuality.



The Binge

"The binge only lasted for 12 beers and 12 hours but by the end of it she'd posted a suicide note on her blog then retreated to her bed for 3 days to fitfully regret, doze, jack off, and channel-surf through stale playoff and murderess news until she smelled and had lost 6 pounds... By the third day, when the also-stagnant summer wind finally picked up at 6 a.m., the sound of it through her screen could have been a neighbor watering his plants or a fire hose washing down the inside of a cabin or a turret. It didn't matter. It was over."

No one misses anyone or anything when they're writing like that.

Monday, May 27, 2013

I'm So Tired (for Sandra, who doesn't like the Beatles)



I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink
I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink
I wonder, should I get up and fix myself a drink?

No no no

I'm so tired, I don't know what to do
I'm so tired, my mind is set on you
I wonder, should I call you? But I know what you would do

You'd say I'm putting you on, but it's no joke
It's doing me harm, you know I can't sleep
I can't stop my brain, you know it's three weeks
I'm going insane
You know I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind

I'm so tired, I'm feeling so upset
Although I'm so tired, I'll have another cigarette
And curse Sir Walter Raleigh
He was such a stupid get

You'd say I'm putting you on but it's no joke it's doing me harm you know I can't sleep I can't stop my brain you know it's three weeks I'm going insane

You know I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind
I'll give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind
I'll give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind

Sunday, May 26, 2013

"The Way I Feel Tonight"

From the Bay City Rollers' 1977 "It's a Game" album. (I thought this song was sexy when I was 12, and I still do. Thanks to the Spaniard who provided the song and accompanying hot-blooded images on YouTube.)

"It's a Game" 1977 World TV Premiere

I actually SAW this on German TV the very night it debuted! (I was 12; my mom, brother, and I were there for a 6-week visit at my aunt's Braunschweig home.) I even snapped a photo of them on the TV (in the days way before internal screen shots) with the "Koln" info that shows up here!

What made me look for this on YouTube tonight: Was transferring my "It's a Game" CD to my new iPod...only to find that the iTunes store then didn't have the cover artwork. (And they have some RANDOM stuff, including the cover to the Charles Manson CD I have!) The songs all transferred, but I hated that big blank spot where the cool-looking cover should go. So had to research and research how to get my own cover art from my computer onto the darn iPod, etc. Did it!



I LOVE this song! My 12-year-old self thought it profound (as well as catchy), and tonight, at 47, I STILL think the same! :)



The clown came down to meet me
With a smile upon his face
He fired his starting pistol
And began the human race
There were faces all around me
They were running everywhere
But everywhere is nowhere
And nowhere isn't there

It's a game, a game, a game that we're playing
Well, I don't mind but I don't make the rules
It's a game, a game, a game that we're playing
Just a game for lovers and fools

There's snakes upon your ladder
And there's dice upon your skirt
There's lipstick on my collar
And there's sweat upon my shirt
The neighbors will start talking
But you know that I don't care
For the neighbors they are nowhere
And nowhere isn't there

It's a game, a game, a game that we're playing...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Some College Experiences

I was an Innocent (aka "dumbshit") from a very small town when I came to college at the University of Texas in 1983. So many things gave me "bad vibes" then. (I've since learned that the below type of stuff is completely "normal" in the Real World -- at the time, though, I was horrified by all of it and took it very personally and sadly.)

One time I was walking down the Drag (a main street bordering the UT campus) and got spat on from above from some boys at the Goodall-Wooten dormitory. (When I went into the building to report the spitting, there was nobody inside on the ground floor to report it to.)

During a UT parade day, I was standing on the Drag, watching the floats go by. Feeling internally happy, especially (as a not-yet-Out-gay-girl) when the gay float went by. But then a frat boy standing next to me shouted out, "Fucking faggots!" at the float. I didn't feel strong enough to say anything to him. I slunk home, feeling like shit.

At the main UT library in the mid-80s, looking at the AIDS quilt on exhibit there and reading the entries in the accompanying guestbook; one entry I read said, "Die, fucking faggots."

Walking into a building one time, me and a black girl approached a door at the same time. The black girl's male companion (also black) held the door open for her and we both walked through. I said, "Thank you." He said to me, "I wasn't opening the door for YOU; I was opening it for HER."

Nearly every other day at college was something stupid and shitty like this. (Now, of course, I'm used to this constant generic crappy stuff. Then, though, it all seemed so very fresh and PERSONAL in its awfulness.)

I thought "feeling shitty" would leave me once I got to an intellectual center from my small town. Nah. The type of "shitty stuff" just changed.

Stones 1966

"Connection" and "Who's Been Sleeping Here?"




Thursday, May 23, 2013

Jodi Arias Punishment 2013

The Jodi Arias Jury just came back: 8 for death, 4 not. And so hung. A new jury to reconvene in July sometime just for Death vs. No. (Murder One already decided.)

My own opinion of this whole public-circus-court-thang that's already been going on since January: Manslaughter/crime of passion = 20 years.

Some don't believe in the death penalty whatsoever. I absolutely do. For serial killers like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. For the recent duo in Connecticut who invaded the family house, made the wife go to the bank for money, then raped the girls and burned the family to death. For the Austin "yoghurt shop" killers who raped and killed the girls in the shop. What else? Oh, for those who systematically kill old social-security boarders for their checks. For those who systematically kill hospital patients just for the hell of it. For husbands or wives who systematically kill their spouse for insurance money.

But for a 20-something woman, with no previous history at all of violence, who's been in a years-long back-n-forth unhealthy relationship with the victim, and something finally snaps between them one night... No, no one deserves to be MURDERED... but the murderer also doesn't deserve to be put to death by the state for a one-time heat-of-the-moment action. That's, by legal definition, "manslaughter."

What exactly is "Death-Penalty Worthy"?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Three Sisters

I knew while I was growing up that my dad hated women. That was a given. Didn't understand exactly when I was a kid, despite his constant put-downs. Processed it mentally around age 22 or so, during an all-night crying session.

The harder thing was learning that women I was close to emotionally/mentally actually ALSO hated women. My emotionally needy mind couldn't grasp that. (It's a sad thing to ever acknowledge overtly that you've been fooled. My mom, for instance, let it slip twice that she hated women. My sister-in-law let it slip once. Sandra... never said it outright but, despite her constant abuse since a kid by men, still only thinks of men for advancement and dismisses women.)

What's interesting/odd to me is that all were part of a trio of sisters:

Mom: Youngest of three sisters.
Sis-in-law: Oldest of three sisters.
Sandra: Middle of three sisters.

(Side literary note: Anne Sexton: The middle of three sisters. Side personal note: My best friend of years past was the middle of 3 sisters. Don't know that either Anne or Kathy hated women in general, though.)

Monday, May 20, 2013

David Foster Wallace

Just finished reading the 2012 bio of the deceased Wallace, "Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story." (Wallace hanged himself at age 46 in 2008. My college years as a lit major were spent hearing about him.)

From the dust-jacket: "He has become a symbol of sincerity and honesty in an inauthentic age."

This after 1996's "Infinite Jest," the most verbosely show-offy, roundabout, INsincere (while proclaiming sincerity) TOME I can think of. Sample quote from the book:

"Though the magazines' coffeetable was nonblue -- a wet-nail-polish red with 'E.T.A.' in a kind of gray escutcheon -- two of the unsettlingly attached lamps that kept its magazines unread and neatly fanned were blue, although the two blue lamps were not the lamps attached to the two blue chairs."

As if, by including such inane details, he had some notion of trying to literarily outdo Melville's "Moby-Dick" when it came to stylistic calisthenics. Except Wallace, unlike Melville, had nothing at all to actually SAY. Melville -- the literary precursor of Internet-style kineticism in his leaps from old-fashioned story to philosophy to methods of flensing whales--was, in real life, a true adventurer: He'd, as a young man, left home and BEEN on a whaler and TRAVELLED around the globe and EXPERIENCED extreme isolation and physical hardship for years on end.

Wallace, on the other hand, was raised by academic parents, embraced by academics in college, lauded by academics for whatever he published (with professors vying for him: "You should be a philosopher!" "NO! You should WRITE!")... A completely cushy path. Yet, both before and after he got published, he worried incessantly about whether or not he was "real" or just a creation of the wishes of others (both parental and media).

I'm sorry, I have no sympathy for that. If such are your innate mental concerns, then... Do the Melville-thing. Do the Hemingway-thing. Do, even, the latter-day "Oliver Stone-thing" --- abandon your cushy life and go off into the Wilds/Great Unknown just to see if you CAN.

Wallace did NOT choose any such radical action to assuage his dissatisfaction with his life. Instead, he continued his academic path (teaching at various colleges) while simultaneously disavowing his previous pot-smoking and drinking and becoming a complete (miserable) teetotaller. When he hanged himself in 2008, he'd been a teacher and sober, and for-the-most-part obviously unhappy, for over 10 years.

Question: When David Foster Wallace hung himself one evening in 2008...What if he'd had a joint earlier in the afternoon? If pot relaxed him as a youth, why was it suddenly verboten for the past ten years, unless part of the newly popular (and fake) "sober" aesthetic? He wrote "Infinite Jest" on pot. He lost one random (albeit intense) girlfriend on it (author Mary Karr, who was married to someone else at the time and surely more responsible than "the killer weed" for his then-agitation).

Post-Karr, according to the bio, Wallace made an effort to be completely drug/alcohol-free, and succeeded in that goal (EXCEPT FOR PHARMACEUTICALS). Right up until he hanged himself in his garage while his semi-talented granola wife was off opening a completely non-meaningful art-show in Pomona.

Wallace had picked this life and wife for himself. In the hopes that it made him seem "normal" in the eyes of the "artistic community." Right decision for said community. Completely wrong for himself.

"This is fucking awesome!"

"I wear your granddad's clothes...I look incredible..."

Oh my god, turned on to new music by my 11-year-old nephew! Spent Sunday over there for a birthday cookout and was excited to see that he now has his own playlist set up on his dad's Spotify account. I can't remember most of the 50 or so songs he has on there, but -- and the child is straight! -- there were several by Justin Timberlake ("JT" as the nephew calls him) and Bruno Mars! The below was my absolute favorite, though, by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis--super-catchy and clever; and yes, I actually got goosebumps at the really good, happy vibe of it!:



[Intro]
Goodwill... Popping tags... Yeaaaah
What what, what, what (x8)

[Hook: Wanz]
I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I’m, I’m, I’m hunting, looking for a come up, this is fucking awesome

[Verse 1: Macklemore]
Now walk into the club like "What up?! I got a big cock!"
Nah, I’m just pumped, I bought some shit from the thrift shop
Ice on the fringe is so damn frosty
The people like “Damn, that’s a cold ass honky”
Rolling in hella deep, headed to the mezzanine
Dressed in all pink except my gator shoes, those are green
Draped in a leopard mink, girl standing next to me
Probably should've washed this, smells like R. Kelly sheets
(Pissssss...)
But shit, it was 99 cents!
Fuck it, coppin' it, washin' it, ‘bout to go and get some compliments
Passing up on those moccasins someone else has been walking in
Bummy and grungy, fuck it man, I am stunting and flossing and
Saving my money and I’m hella happy, that’s a bargain, bitch
I’ma take your grandpa's style, I’ma take your grandpa's style
No for real, ask your grandpa, "Can I have his hand-me-downs?" (Thank you!)
Velour jumpsuit and some house slippers
Dookie brown leather jacket that I found digging
They had a broken keyboard, I bought a broken keyboard
I bought a skeet blanket, then I bought a knee board
Hello, hello, my ace man, my mellow
John Wayne ain’t got nothing on my fringe game, hell no
I could take some Pro Wings, make them cool, sell those
The sneaker heads would be like “Ah, he got the Velcros”

[Hook x2]

[Verse 2: Macklemore]
What you know about rocking a wolf on your noggin?
What you knowing about wearing a fur fox skin?
I’m digging, I’m digging, I’m searching right through that luggage
One man’s trash, that’s another man’s come up
Thank your granddad for donating that plaid button-
Up shirt, cause right now, I’m up in here stuntin'
I’m at the Goodwill, you can find me in the bins
I’m not, I’m not stuck on searchin' in that section (Mens)
Your grammy, your aunty, your momma, your mammy
I’ll take those flannel zebra jammies, second hand and I’ll rock that motherfucker
The built-in onesie with the socks on the motherfucker
I hit the party and they stop in that motherfucker
They be like “Oh that Gucci, that’s hella tight”
I’m like “Yo, that’s fifty dollars for a t-shirt”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a t-shirt, that’s just some ignorant bitch shit
I call that getting swindled and pimped, shit
I call that getting tricked by business
That shirt’s hella dough
And having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t
Peep game, come take a look through my telescope
Trying to get girls from a brand?
Man you hella won’t, man you hella won't

[Hook]

[Bridge x2: Wanz]
I wear your granddad's clothes, I look incredible
I’m in this big ass coat from that thrift shop down the road

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

While I was hanging out there, the nephew magnanimously allowed me to make my own Spotify requests. ME: "I wanna hear some Stones, man!" HIM: "Oh no! British bands!" That cracked me up. Apparently among 4th graders, there's a "British band" genre that they have some idea of! He didn't seem too impressed with my two requests (I gave up after that): The Stones' "She's a Rainbow" and The Animals' "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," which I thought he and his younger brother would find catchy.

Instead, I got, esp re The Animals song, "Why does he keep repeating the same thing over and over again?" The latter query made me stop and recognize (though I didn't admit it to THEM): "Well, yeah, the chorus IS being repeated an awful lot..." The song had always sounded perfectly fine (raunchy, rebellious, driven) to me...until played right next to kinetic, super-verbally creative stuff like "Thrift Shop"! That was the case with many of the songs I heard from his playlist: Very inventive, dense lyrics (that both nephews could harmonize to and spout out in unison!). All produced to the max, which I don't particularly like -- but I definitely DID like the lyric inventiveness of many of the songs he'd chosen.

(A side-note: As my brother was driving me home that evening, I mentioned how cute/neat it was that the boys were enjoying music and coming up with favorites and "playlists." My brother -- into Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen at 11, then a big Sonic Youth and REM fan in high school/college, who now listens to Black Keys and such -- kind of sheepishly apologized for the "JT" and such: "Some of their friends are listening to Beatles and even Zeppelin already..." But that's just their parents pushing it on them, he and I both agreed.)

I liked learning about, and hearing, what the boys were listening to because it was so clearly THEIR choice. I may giggle at a kid appreciating the music of Justin Timberlake...but then MY very first favorites at 11 were the Bay City Rollers and Shaun Cassidy, the latter also my very first concert! :) NOTE: I've also, for the past two years, been purchasing on CD every Bay City Roller album I once owned, for eventual transfer to my iPod!

I suspect that my nephews, in 10 years, will completely disavow "JT" and such in favor of adult-seeming "angst" or "cool." And then, in 30 years, be, if they're honest with their youthful selves, re-admitting their old favorites to whatever music-sharing outlet is then in vogue.

In the meantime, it's great to see them so happy and excited about THEIR music!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

She's a Rainbow (whether she likes it or not)

Someone won't give me Stones album-buying advice, and so I must go along with my innate '64-'67 instincts. Here's a 1967 song for her. (BTW: I ended up buying 1966's "Between the Buttons" to go along with "Aftermath" -- aka, "After Geography" as John Lennon snarkily called it at the time.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

John Lennon, Year One



God is a concept
By which we measure our pain
I'll say it again
God is a concept
By which we measure our pain

I don't believe in Magic
I don't believe in I-Ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in Kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles

I just believe in me
Yoko and me
and that's reality

The dream is over
What can I say?
The dream is over yesterday

I was the Dreamweaver
But now I'm reborn
I was the Walrus
But now I'm John
And so dear friends
You'll just have to carry on
The dream is over

Monday, May 13, 2013

Apartment Cat Is Dead

When I came home from work today, someone had posted a personal note above the mailboxes that read in part:

"I don't know if you all know the black cat that's been a regular around our apartment for the past 15 months or so... His name was Rothko... He was run over and killed Sunday morning..."

This is the same cat that'd been hanging around since I first moved in here in the summer of 2010. Making himself at home in lounge chairs. Casually swatting at folks coming up the stairs. Trying on occasion to race me to my apartment so he could sneak in. (I never let him.) Once he climbed up the tree outside my 2nd-floor window and sat there looking at me for nearly an hour while I tried to go about my business, but ended up talking to him: "What's up, Cat? Whatcha lookin' at?" (I felt special that he'd temporarily chosen me.)

I'd always assumed that he was a completely streetwise cat, a survivor, that nothing would ever happen to him...

I am so sorry, Rothko (known to me previously only as "Mr. Sassy"). RIP, Cool Cat.

Mary Gaitskill and "Veronica" (2005)

I first fell in love with Gaitskill's writing in the early '90s after coming across her first novel "Two Girls, Fat and Thin" by accident in the campus library where I worked. Her first collection of short stories had come out in the late '80s and I remembered reading about it, but I was afraid to pick it up: She was being lumped in literarily with people like Bret Easton Ellis, Tama Janowitz, and Jay McInerney... and I was in the throes of a devastating breakup, not able to emotionally bear what I assumed was yet another shallow, nihilistic book about Hipsters in the Big City. I could not stand any more hopelessness in my life.

"Two Girls," though, helped to save me mentally. Life for me then was so utterly barren and painfully raw; the nothingness of everything hurt me. In "Two Girls," emotionally painful things happened to the characters, and their lives were also often barren...but along with all of the pain was such an incredibly deep awareness of the underlying connections between people and things in the universe, a connection that Gaitskill was able to write about with such beauty and soulfulness. Reading her made me understand that beauty and connection did exist, even though I was at the time incapable of feeling or recognizing any such thing.

I immediately wrote her a heartfelt letter, spilling my guts about my state of mind and how her work had helped, just a little, to lift me out of the extremely dark place I was in. I thanked her for making me not feel so crazy.

To my utter surprise, she sent me a little package--a paperback of "Two Girls" with the inscription "To my fellow non-crazy person"! And so from around '92 or so until '96, we had a sporadic correspondence, including exchanging a couple of home-made cassette-mix tapes of favorite music between us. She even autographed, via mail, my hard copy of "Two Girls" ("Thanks so much for the super-cool tape!"). When I went to grad school at San Fran State in '94, she had actually just finished teaching at the very same school the year before and was still living in the city, though I made no attempt to get in touch with her there for fear of seeming like, well, a crazy stalker-person! :)

By '96, I was back in Austin, and she and I were still writing every now and then. That summer, she mentioned that she'd be driving with a friend from California to a new teaching gig at the University of Houston and that they'd be passing through Austin and spending the night at a hotel there... ON MY BIRTHDAY, as it turned out! Did I want to meet up for a drink or something?! "Oh my god," I thought. "This is FATE! We are going to meet on my birthday and fall madly in love. I just KNOW it!" :)

As I've written here on this blog years ago, the meeting wasn't so dramatic. She and her friend were late, arriving close to midnight. Her voice on the phone telling me they'd be late was annoying somehow. I'd been guzzling beers for hours before the meeting and wasn't so sharp. I was gauche (and poor!) in asking if she'd like to split paying for a bottle of champagne for me, since it was my birthday! The hotel lobby was completely, oddly deserted except for us. We politely chatted, and sipped champagne, sans any sparks (physical or emotional or intellectual) whatsoever. When the champagne was gone, she kindly gave me a hug when I left.

I bought her 2nd story collection "Because They Wanted To" that came out the next year, but we never resumed our correspondence. And I lost interest in her subsequent books: 2005's novel "Veronica" (a National Book Award finalist that got much attention upon its release) and 2009's story collection "Don't Cry."

Cut to 17 years past our '96 meeting. Last week in the Austin library, I accidentally came across 2005's "Veronica." I'd read vaguely that it was about "a model in the narcissistic '80s." Like the first time I accidentally came across Gaitskill's work in the early '90s, I was now in another very bad mental state about a relationship and about the world in general -- "There's no love, no nothing, anywhere" -- and wasn't at all in the mood to read anything about "shallow people in the narcissistic '80s." But, what the hell, I checked it out just in case I could stop lying on my bed watching TV and hating my inability to connect with someone I loved long enough to pick it up.

Yesterday, I finally did lethargically pick it up. I hadn't read her work in 16 years, hadn't thought much about her... By page 15, the passage about "style suits," I dug around for my cache of sticky flags so I could mark this insight: "There is always a style suit, or suits. When I was young, I used to think these suits were just what people were. When styles changed dramatically -- people going barefoot, men with long hair, women without bras -- I thought the world had changed, that from then on everything would be different. It's understandable that I thought that; TV and newsmagazines acted like the world had changed, too. I was happy with it, but then five years later it changed again. Again, the TV announced, 'Now we're this instead of that! Now we walk like this, not like that!' Like people were all runny and liquid, running over this surface and that, looking for a container to hold everything in place, trying one thing, then the next, incessantly looking for the right one. Except the containers were only big enough for one personality trait at a time; you had to grab on to one trait, bring it out for a while, then put it back and pull out another one. For a while, 'we' were loving; then we were alienated and angry, then ironic, then depressed. Although we are at war with terror, fashion magazines say we are sunny now. We wear bright colors and choose moral clarity...."

I sat up in the bed and turned the TV way down. And read for the next 3 hours with HUGE HUNGER, just as I had for the first time back in '92 or so. Flagging every beautiful passage, so grateful for every word by her that again fed my soul and let me know that I was NOT alone in the universe.

By the time I got to the last passage that I noted below, I finally just broke down and wept. With utter relief at the mercy of it all.

Today at work, I looked for latter-day interviews with her. In one, she said: "There is so much hope, struggle, and suffering that we don't see, because it's almost impossible to convey -- you have to be so inside the person to understand. Do you remember the scene in 'The Metamorphosis,' when Gregor the bug is trying to turn his doorknob with his mandibles and his family is on the other side of the door yelling at him, 'What's wrong? Just open the door!' They have no idea how hard it is because they don't know what he is, and there's the sense that they've never known -- that is a perfect picture of what I mean."

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

PASSAGES FROM "VERONICA":

I understood that Cecilia looked at me as an object with specific functions, because that's how I looked at her. Without knowing it, that is how I looked at everyone who came into my life then. This wasn't because I had no feelings. I wanted to know people. I wanted to love. But I didn't realize how badly I had been hurt. I didn't realize that my habit of distance had become so unconscious and deep that I didn't know how to be with another person. I could only fix that person in my imagination and turn him this way and that, trying to feel him, until my mind was tired and raw.

----

If you can't find the right shape, it's hard for people to identify you. On the other hand, you need to be able to change shape fast; otherwise, you get stuck in one that used to make sense but that people can't understand anymore. This has been going on for a long time. My father used to make lists of his favorite popular songs, ranked in order of preference. These lists were very nuanced, and they changed every few years. He'd walk around with the list in his hand, explaining why Jo "G.I. Jo" Stafford was ranked just above Doris Day, why Charles Trenet topped Nat King Cole--but by a hair only. It was his way of showing people things about him that were too private to say directly. For a while, everybody had some idea what Doris Day versus Jo Stafford meant; to give a preference for one over the other signaled a mix of feelings that were secret and tender, and people could sense these feelings when they imagined the songs side by side.... But eventually those feelings got attached to other songs, and those singers didn't work as signals anymore. I remember being there once when he was playing the songs for some men he worked with, talking excitedly about the music. He didn't realize his signals could not be heard, that the men were looking at him strangely. Or maybe he did realize but didn't know else to do but keep signaling. Eventually, he gave up, and there were few visitors. He was just by himself, trying to keep his secret and tender feelings alive through these same old songs.

----

Together, we were able to express something in ourselves that was buried -- I don't quite know what it was, but I've been thinking. It sometimes felt like I was something he needed to knock down over and over, and I would always pop back up. He needed that and so did I, the popping back up.

----

No. People who loved each other would never treat each other, or allow themselves to be treated, with such indifference and cruelty. But even as I thought this, I felt, rising from under thought, the stubborn assertion of love living inside their disregard like a ghost, unable to make itself manifest, yet still felt, like emotion from a dream.

----

I imagine Veronica's spirit stripped to its skeleton, then stripped of all but its shocked, staring eyes, yet clinging to life in a fierce, contracted posture that came from intense, habitual pain. I imagine the desiccated spirit as a tiny ash in enormous darkness. I imagine the dark penetrated by something Veronica at first could not see but could sense, something substantive and complete beyond any human definition of those words. In my mind's eye, it unfurled itself before Veronica. Without words it said, I am Love. And Veronica, hearing, came out of her contraction with brittle, stunted motions. In her eyes was recognition and disbelief, as if she were seeing what she had sought all her life, and was terrified to believe in, lest it prove to be a hoax. No, it said to Veronica. I am real. You have only to come. And Veronica, drawing on the dregs of her strength and her trust, leapt into its embrace and was gone.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

I first heard this as a generic radio song in the '70s when I was a non-sexual kid. I didn't understand one word of what Elton John was saying. Just now listening for the first time in years, and googling the lyrics... A sad goodbye to and yearning for lost innocence...and a declaration of independence. A calling-out of the awful older sexual predators that young gay people (and some young straight women) almost always first have to experience... It takes guts to say, to know, "I'm BETTER than this." The courage to let go of the childhood fantasy instead of maintaining it.




When are you gonna come down
When are you going to land
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man

You know you can't hold me forever
I didn't sign up with you
I'm not a present for your friends to open
This boy's too young to be singing the blues

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plough

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road

What do you think you'll do then
I bet they shoot down your plane
It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again

Maybe you'll get a replacement
There's plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain't got a penny
Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground

Friday, May 10, 2013

In times of emotional and spiritual deprivation...

...music really helps out.

Since I claimed days ago that I was DONE buying used CDs from Amazon/eBay...the binge has gone on. And not just limited to things I once owned and now felt the need to get back. No, it's now advanced to my feeling so deprived that I had to check out multiple online lists of "The Best Albums of the 2000s" and such (by Pitchfork, NME, Spin, Rolling Stone---RS I absolutely don't trust since they put EVERY Bruce and Dylan album on it).

And so I've ordered, based on lists and feeling I've been missing out on music in the last decade because of personal strife and inability to relax and explore/enjoy music organically:

The Strokes: This Is It
White Stripes: Elephant
Arcade Fire: Funeral
Jay Z: The Blueprint / Reasonable Doubt
Kanye West: College Dropout
Outkast: Speakerboxx/The Love Below
The Marshall Mathers LP

And then, of course, there was the older stuff that I once had and at some point sold and now wanted to own again as part of my personal history:

U2: Boy, War, Rattle and Hum
REM: Murmur, Lifes Rich Pageant, Dead Letter Office
Moulin Rouge: Soundtrack
Grease: Soundtrack
Cheap Trick: debut album, Heaven Tonight, All Shook Up
Bob Dylan: Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Springsteen: Born in the USA
Culture Club: Hits
Sugarcubes: Life's Too Goood
Deeelite: World Clique
Mavericks: Hits

And then stuff I'd never owned before but knew a lot about and now wanted for my own:

Elton John: Hits I and Hits '76-86
Dusty in Memphis
Radiohead: Kid A

I suppose I'm not done yet. I suppose I'll never be done.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Ask and ye shall (sometimes) receive

My worst rental experiences came from two places in Austin in the late-1990s.

The first of these was a bit outwardly crappy to begin with. But I did NOT know about the literally hundreds of lizards that would gather at night around the outside lamp (making trying to turn my key in the door after dark a horrific experience); and one time some repairmen came in...and one took a major explosive dump in my toilet --- I came home to shit splattered everywhere: on top of the seat, below the seat. (I called the office to complain about the shit-mess; they somehow laughed it off, and I somehow did, too. I was around 30 then; I just DARE this to happen again 15 years later, I'm still so disgusted at both the workers' splatter and at my then-passive response to it.)

And I got ridiculous monetary grief at the end: Trying to deduct from my deposit even the mowing of the lawn, which my brother had just done for me a week before moving out; then not sending back my deposit after the legal 30 days: When I complained and complained about the delay, the manager actually snarkily said to me, "Fine, if a measly $100 is so important to you!" (Me: It is, it is! You guys are a corporation! Give me my measly $100 within 30 days!)

The place right after this: Drama to begin with -- the landlady said she'd have the key waiting for me on a certain day, and then didn't. When I called her boss, to inquire about how I could get the key... He called me back: "I don't know that you're right for our community if you're complaining this quickly." (!!) I was only there for 9 months; near the end, I'd been having trouble with a loud downstairs neighbor and gave the landlady a list of times/dates that the guy had been extremely loud, asking if she could talk to him... A couple of days later, I got a notice that my rent was going up by $200. (No acknowledgment at all of the noise problem with the neighbor.) I gave notice; they, too, failed to send my deposit back within the legally required 30 days. I had to call and call and call....

These two kind of solidified my idea that I was helpless when it came to landlords/companies. Without always needing to be. For instance, I rented a house in Austin from 2000 to 2007, this time owned by an individual. It was 850 square feet, but only had 2 small window AC units, one of which barely worked. With my past experience, I didn't say anything until year 5 of my living there, when I finally ventured: "Could I possibly, maybe, please, get a third window unit in the bedroom? I sweat so much all the time in the summer!" To my surprise, the nice owner replied: "Let's just get central air. It's time." ME: "OK!" (It was installed within a week; all those years of suffering and sweating for no reason!)

Same kind of mental thing happened in the one-room apartment that I've been renting for almost 3 years now: The showerhead has sucked. The tub faucet flows just fine, but upon switching to the shower, the flow is WAY low... Adds 5 minutes to my shower-time, just waiting to get all the suds out of my hair and off my body and out of the ends of the tub... It has not been fun showering for 3 years! For the hell of it, not expecting anything, I decided to turn in a repair request, albeit thinking I'd, yet again, be labeled a mere "complainer" and that nothing would be done. Au contraire! This management company came out the next day and replaced the shower-head --- I'll test officially tomorrow morning, but as of tonight, the flow came out just SUPER!

What a shocker: My making reasonable requests isn't being labeled as "difficult" or "complaining" -- it's just fixed! I'm pretty sure this realization has implications for other, non-plumbing, areas of my life.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Making Believe

What I was in the beginning is what I will be in the end.

Still pretending, sure -- but which is worse?
Bowing intentionally, in the middle years,
for the blatant rewards that come with bowing?

Or, at 8 and 80, playing alone with my own odd thoughts--
gladly forgotten, waiting dumbly
for only the Great Unknown
to take me away.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

"Let Me Ask You to Your Face"

I got a new iPod today, but here's why I can't ever take it in public, say, on the bus: Because I'll be one of those dorks (usually 24 or younger) "boppin' along to the music."

I'm sorry: Some stuff is just TOO GOOD in your headphones to keep to yourself!

Tonight I only had time to download 6 of my CDs to my new iPod:

G-n-R "Appetite for Destruction"
Julie London "Rarities"
The Animals "Retrospective"
The Partridge Family "Come On Get Happy"
Pink Floyd "Piper at the Gates of Dawn"
Charles Manson "Lies: The Love & Terror Cult"

Now that I'm all caught up with the new technology, I'm dying for some newscaster to stop me while walking/riding around (per the "man-on-the-street" interviews they always seem to do on "Good Morning America" and CNN's Jeannie Moos and Fox and such):

"What song are you listening to?"

I pray that when I'm interviewed, of the 6 albums currently uploaded, I happen to have on Pink Floyd's "Pow R. Toc H." or "Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk." Or else any song by Charles Manson.

My worst fear: "Um...'I Think I Love You.' You know...The Partridge Family." [slinking away in shame as newscaster chortles snarkily: "Ha-ha! Middle-aged white woman listening to the Partridge Family. On an iPod!"]

In truth, though, the song that had me "boppin'" the most (while turned up almost as far as it could go -- god, I was starved for some LOUD music!) was THIS (and don't mock, people, until you've heard it on headphones --- just about outdoes Syd Barrett when it comes to both nightmarish angst and harpsichordy).



Thursday, May 02, 2013

My Happy Place (5:10 a.m.)

In my meager Bag o' Ideas...

...one has already recently been done elsewhere! In 2013, I'm just NOW discovering that a film of "the Blood Countess" Elizabeth Bathory's life was done (written/directed by and starring) by Julie Delpy way back in 2009! (I'm wondering how I was not at all aware of the film when it came out!)

The Countess: Reuters article and Wikipedia entry.

Oh well. (The idea of it was deeply depressing to me, and the older I got, the less appealing being enmeshed in such horribly dark material seemed. When you're younger you can immerse yourself in such and then easily shake it off; not so later. I definitely want to watch the Delpy film, though; very interested in seeing what she did with the material.)

So now, sans Bathory, I'm down to:

[screenplay] Empress Theodora's life

[screenplay] Frances Farmer's life post-lobotomy (working as a clerk, living in cheap rooming houses, marrying random guys...until her "resurrection" as a local TV host in Indianapolis and her real-life sexual relationship with a much-younger woman)

[screenplay] 1920s dancer's ascension to Hollywood via cheap clubs/hookerdom (not exactly Joan Crawford, but, yeah, based on Joan Crawford!)

[one-act play] The night of Martin Luther King's assassination, a young white racist man with a family to protect sits up all night by his door with a shotgun upon being warned of race riots in Southern cities.

[one-act play] A true story (via Marilyn's psychiatrist tapes): In the '50s, Joan Crawford and Marilyn Monroe (the former on the decline, the latter ascending) get drunk at a party and Monroe goes home with Crawford, where they have a one-night stand.

[three-act play or screenplay] "The Brothers" -- Two intellectual, constantly arguing (but close) brothers from a large lower-middle-class German family. By the mid-1930s, as Hitler is consolidating his power, one brother has, to the pride of his family, come to prominence as an outspoken opponent of Freud and as a leading psychiatrist and proponent of euthanasia and eugenics. The other brother remains a slacker, content to work a menial job and drink for hours after work, discussing his newfound Communist beliefs. The successful brother is initially pleased that Hitler has taken an interest in his theories, a pride that eventually turns to horror as they become part of Nazi law and, first, his brother is forced to flee to America and then his own Jewish wife is targeted. (True family story.)

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MAY 2 Astrocenter.com Leo Horoscope: You may be experiencing a great deal of push and pull today, STEPHANIE. One minute you feel as if you should just sit back and wait for things to go your way, while the next you feel a prodding rod in your back telling you to get up and get moving. Remember that life is a delicate balance of incorporating these two modes of operation into your daily life. Neither way is more correct than the other, so recognize and honor both.