Monday, December 29, 2014

What do I smell like?

“George told me once that I smelt like home. I got all paranoid, you know, thinking I smelt of fish and chip shops or dirty bars or something. But he said no, I just always smelt of home.” — Paul McCartney

My own problem is, I don't smell like anything. Although I was born in Texas, and have lived the vast majority of my life in Texas, down-home people seem to mistrust me. I remember one time, I had to ask to borrow my duplex-neighbor's phone to call our mutual landlord to get me checked out of my place. (The landlord's representative had missed the appointment; I was calling to see where they were. I was angry and short on the phone, which my neighbor overheard, since I was in his home --- he then asked me, "Where are you FROM?" I replied, "AZLE, TEXAS," and he shut up.)

When I chose to go to grad school in San Francisco in '94, I learned that San Franciscans were provincial on a level I hadn't even imagined. Worse than the smallest town in Texas. In small-town Texas, people have their opinions... yet they will listen to yours. In San Francisco, I was labeled as a "Nazi" because I told my thesis advisor that my mother was German (in my advisor's mind, all Germans must be Nazis); my poetry was initially dismissed because I'd said I'd spent the past summer reading Norman Mailer (that professor later warmed up to me when I presented gay-oriented poems). When I visited record stores, I saw a cut-out of George Strait with "CRACKER" written in black marker across his forehead. When I worked at a movie theater selling popcorn, a woman at the counter asked me about my "accent" -- when I told her I was from Texas, she said, as if she were sharing a secret with me, "Texas has too many Mexicans!"

Oh, speaking of "smells": When I was working as an office assistant while in grad school in San Francisco and delivering mail across campus, I couldn't enter one particular office because I wore deodorant. One office lady there had complained to the government that she was sensitive to any perfume, shampoo, deodorant, etc. And so was granted special dispensation to have all odorous individuals banned from her presence. I left the mail on the outer doorstep.

I can't STAND San Franciscans to this day.

I envy Paul McCartney. I kind of wish I "smelt like home." In a good way.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

You Can't Get the Hell Out of Texas



"It's the hell-raisin' center of the earth..."

Hell Stays Open All Night Long



"It's open from dawn 'til dawn..."

"Yabba Dabba Doo..."

If Drinking Don't Kill Me


George Jones: I'm Not Ready Yet

Me and My Dad, 1965

 
 
 
Over Christmas, my mom pointed out to me that my dad was about to turn 75 in January. Yes, I know exactly the day of the month of January that he was born (as a woman, I know every family member's birthdates), but I had not stopped to think... 75. 75 is old. 75 is pretty much past the threshold of "oh, you were mean to me when I was young, you weren't a nice father." At 75, you're not even a father any more, you're a survivor of the world, of which your kids, if you had them, were only a very, very small window.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014



First time I've danced to anything in at least 4 fucking years!!!!

The person who wrote/sings this is 15 years old


Tra-la-la, 16 days off! (Dec. 20 thru Jan. 4)

I'd kinda, sorta "vowed" to make the days useful, and am mainly successful so far.

Day 1, Saturday the 20th:  Finished off my Christmas shopping. USEFUL.
Day 2, Sunday the 21st: Lay in bed all day with a hangover, watching football. (Yay, Cowboys!) NOT USEFUL (well, except for the genuine joy and feeling that all was right with the world at the Cowboys' victory over the always nasty Philadelphia Eagles).
Day 3, Monday the 22nd: Walked around downtown Austin for the first time in years, renewed my expired library membership, and saw a movie at a theater for the first time in years. USEFUL. (Last movie I saw, also at the Violet Crown, was "The Artist," in 2011. The one I saw today was "Whiplash.")
Day 4, Tuesday the 23rd: Walked a few blocks hoping to deliver my "Secret Santa" gift of Christmas chocolates to "Mr. G," whose corner barbershop is where I wait for my bus and who chats with me and who gave me a Christmas apple last week. It was about 9:30 in the morning, so I thought I could just sneak the gift onto his front doorstep, but... there he was, just getting out of his car! I had to confess what I was doing there! He gave me a big hug and we wished "Merry Christmas." Mildly awkward but good vibes. Also did laundry. Also made 2 trips to the corner grocery, where I stocked up on sale-priced Cokes and (regular-priced) beer to last me for the next few days while I negotiate in and out of family Christmas gatherings. USEFUL.
Day 5, Wednesday the 24th: Wrapped presents, attended a pleasant Christmas Eve at my mother's, along with brother and his wife's family. Everyone on best behavior. USEFUL.
Day 6, Thursday the 25th: Washed all dishes. Christmas dinner at brother's house. USEFUL.
Day 7, Friday the 26th: Grocery shopping. SEMI-USEFUL.
Day 8, Saturday the 27th: Hangover in bed all day. NOT AT ALL USEFUL. :(
Day 9, Sunday the 28th: Yay, Cowboys! And Yay for me for getting off my ass and, in anticipation of my move a month from now, cleaning out my closet, getting rid of detritus like my old computer tower, my old collection of Joan Crawford VHS tapes. Also cleaned part of my kitchen, so I don't have to do all of the cleaning at once upon my moveout. VERY USEFUL.
Day 10, Monday the 29th: Hangover in bed all day. NOT USEFUL. :(
Day 11, Tuesday the 30th: Another stroll around downtown after mailing off a package I needed to get out. Wanted to get a slice/salad/drink at a pizza place I used to go to downtown when I worked there, but passed after hearing it was $8.50! (After hearing that price, I remembered: I used to always bring a canned soda from home for lunches, so in the past just paid for the slice/salad.) Took a bus back to campus to my favorite CHEAP pizza place ($6.00 for slice/salad/drink), but it was closed for the school holidays. Waited a half hour for a bus, ended up going to a Whataburger near my apartment then walking a mile home. Blah. After 10 days of not taking buses, remembered how much I despised them. USEFUL for getting out of the house and going to the P.O., but hugely NOT USEFUL for the waste of time trying to find a place to eat!
Day 12, Wednesday the 31st: In bed with a hangover most of the day, but before dark got off my ass, showered, dressed, and went to pick up a good New Year's Eve meal from Hoover's down the street: chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes, "cowboy" beans, salad, cornbread. Invigorating walk (over a mile) in brisk 35-degree temperature, with a hearty meal hitting the spot as a reward at the end. Rest of evening, worked on Joan website while listening to New Year's Eve shows in the background. (Always get goosebumps when they pipe in "New York, New York" at Times Square.) Toasted myself at midnight with cheap champagne. SEMI-USEFUL for getting out of the house, and for being fresh for the New Year!
Day 13, Thursday the 1st:  After being up all night drinking, around 3pm, told my mother (after she called to say "Happy New Year" and then hung up on my because she said I was drunk) and the woman I loved (who was not responding to me) to fuck off. NOT USEFUL.
Day 14, Friday the 2nd: In bed with a hangover all day. NOT USEFUL.
Day 15, Saturday the 3rd: In bed 'til the evening, then up and showered and working on Joan site later. SEMI-USEFUL.




Friday, December 19, 2014

Misanthrope

I think this morning proved I probably am one, except in theory.

I was already late for work when I got on my morning East-side bus, the first of two on my 15-mile, hour-long trip to work every morning. The driver, one I recognized, is known to me as being extremely slow and pokey. "Slow and pokey" means to me stuff like: When the green light or left-turn arrow is turning orange, you screech to a stop instead of going ahead. The good, efficient, on-time drivers go ahead.

(Austin's still small-time as far as buses and public transportation go. The buses run sufficiently infrequently that you get to know the characteristics of the various drivers and at what time those particular drivers are on the route. Unfortunately, while you may recognize the crappy characteristics, you can't avoid them since you have to be somewhere -- like WORK -- at the precise time these folks are always driving.)

So anyway, I get on the known-slow-guy's bus, already late to work. We turn on a road heading east through the university campus. At the stop coming up, there's a man, obviously a street person, lying half on the sidewalk and half on the road. It was an alarming sight.

The driver pulls up to the stop and opens the bus doors. The man lying there attempts to sit up, then falls back. The driver then lowers the bus gears, as he would do for someone in a wheelchair or with a cane who needs help getting on the bus. The driver then calls out to the man, "Where are you going, Sir? Do you need help getting on the bus?"

The man couldn't answer, just continued to lie there. He was obviously not trying to get on the bus or go anywhere. He obviously needed a 911 call for an ambulance. The bus driver continued trying to talk to him, trying to ascertain his travel plans. After 5 minutes of this idiotic conversation, the driver finally figured out that he should get on the phone to his dispatcher. Great, I thought. Except his conversation with dispatch lasted another 5 minutes. While the guy was lying there. At one point, the driver asked the man lying there, "How old are you, Sir?"

After 10 minutes of the bus just sitting there, after watching/listening to the driver on the phone either being on hold with the dispatcher or asking inane questions of the victim on the ground, I couldn't take any more and went up to the front of the bus: "Do you want me to call 911? Why are we sitting here? This man needs an ambulance."

The driver, still holding his phone to his ear, just looked at me and didn't say anything. I stomped back to my seat. Sat there for another 5 minutes. (Man still on the ground, driver still with phone to ear, no EMTs or police showing up.)

The bus sat there for at least 10 minutes before the ambulance/police finally showed up. When they got there, they asked the driver, "Was he on the bus?" I felt like yelling out, "No, he wasn't on the bus! He was lying in the street, and we just saw him lying there." Simple answer. But no, the driver mumbled and whatever'd and spent another 5 minutes chatting.

During my 4 years of taking Austin buses, I've several times seen alcoholic homeless guys fall face-first either onto or off of buses, or fall flat out on the sidewalk. This guy was obviously one of those cases. In my mind, the correct response should have been to immediately call for EMS help, then wait for them to arrive, then go on about driving the bus once they arrived. Why all of the lowering of the bus ramp, the asking where the obviously-passed-out guy was going and how old he was, the chit-chatting with police?

What should have been a humanitarian 15 minutes turned into a half hour of me feeling nothing but late for work, and like the biggest misanthrope in the world.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Foul and Fair

Boy, I was in a foul mood last night, and for much of today (though today was more of a hangover from the mood -- mean reds seguing into the blues).

Moving out of my one-room apt. after over 4 years is supposed to be a GOOD thing, not a terrible one. But, boy, the rental market in Austin is terrible for renters right now. It really is disappointing not to be able to afford my humble dream of a place: a garage apartment or a duplex of at least 600 sq ft within a half-hour of travel to/from work. Those seem to be going for $1200-1500, and I had to face last night that even the low end of that is out of range. $1100, I actually can afford, but all I can get for that is a really nice one-bedroom (and, as I've said here before, I really don't want or need "really nice"---I prefer formica countertops to granite; I don't need a gym in the building or a dishwasher, etc.).

This morning I vowed that I was simply going to stop looking for a place this last week of work before a 2-week vacation---it was making me upset and unfocused at work, since I kept checking Craigslist every hour! But I do have one appointment tomorrow during my lunch hour: An older, funky complex---Old Austin. 2 small bedrooms. 720 sq ft. Top floor. No shared walls, just a neighbor downstairs. Best of all, it's a sublet, so no move-in fee OR deposit. And no dogs allowed---also Old Austin. (I like dogs just fine, but not since they've become an Austin fetish, with every bearded slacker in a plaid shirt walking his "rescue pit." Also not when they're barking or howling constantly next door.) I've seen pictures of the place via Google Maps---one half of the small complex faces its parking lot and the street, while the other half faces a bunch of trees in the neighbor's back yard... I'm praying that the apartment that I'm seeing will face the trees! PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE! One of the things that made my current apt. quite palatable was its huge window with beautiful trees outside---"Tree Friends Through Screen." A beautiful view every day. This place is also in a cool neighborhood: a café 2 blocks away, a pizza place a block away, a drug-store on the corner, the supermarket a 5-minute walk away...

Oh yeah, the PRICE... $875!!! With that, I can get nice furniture, a big-screen TV, and... A CAR!

We'll see. I can't get too excited, because the let-down really has been big over the past several weeks, every time I got pumped up about a place then dismayed after seeing it in person.

Apartment woes aside, two nice things did happen to me today in the midst of my malaise: One, the man whose barbershop is at the bus-stop that I wait at in the morning came out and offered me a grapefruit! When I had to be honest and say I didn't really like grapefruits, but thanks anyway, he disappeared back into his shop and returned with...an apple and a "Merry Christmas"! :)  He and I have chatted several times over the years. He's actually the "stylist" for former football star Earl Campbell! I need to think of something cute that I can secretly leave on his porch...

The second thing: At my beer store this evening, the Pakistani owner asked me if I was coming from or going to a party! :)  (I was just in my work clothes, a sweater and cords.) When I thanked him profusely, he added that I looked very nice AND that he liked the way I walked! When I kind of laughed embarrassedly, he added, "No, really, I sometimes see you walk by the store...." He mimicked a stride, and said, "You don't walk anything like most of the people I see around here." !!! THANK YOU! :)

I hate being here.

Jesus Christ, I hate it.

I like my job. I'm grateful for it, for the financial stability after 4 years of temping after my 2010 return from NYC.

But I left Austin for a reason to begin with.

I hate the "slacker" attitude; I've always hated the slacker attitude. I now hate the new influx of even more idiotic, PC slackers from the West Coast.

I hate that I'm about to pay $1200 for a place that I don't particularly like, in a part of town that I don't particularly want to be in. And I hate the fact that paying this will break my bank. I'll have maybe $200 extra left over at the end of every month. At age 49. With a Master's degree. As an Editor.

There's no point to it.

At least when I was in Weehawken and paying $1550 for rent, I LOVED where I was. Weehawken and New York City were beautiful. I was both scared and mildly outraged by the price I was paying, but I nonetheless thought where I lived was beautiful, and I liked the people I was around.

I don't like the people I'm around now. Give you an example: In NYC, if there's an asshole on a bus or subway car, you can be sure that you probably won't see him again. In Austin, though, the public transportation choices are much fewer. For instance, my bus to work in the morning comes every half-hour. I can catch it at 7:43, or, if I get up way too early, I can catch it at 7:11. The 7:11 is much better people-wise, but to catch that one, I have to get up at 6am. That's hard. So I usually catch the 7:43. And 75% of the time on the 7:43, there are two assholes on it:

Asshole #1 is a young black gang-banger who always gets on at the supermarket and who is ALWAYS on his phone, even at that early hour, cursing at the top of his lungs about THIS SHIT and THAT SHIT, and blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. My morning begins with his dumb-ass bullshit.

Asshole #2 is a 30-something flabby white academic who will strike up a conversation with ANYONE about both his academic goals and his medical problems. And if a person he recognizes is at the other end of the bus, then he will get up and move in order to have SOME type of idiotic conversation with that person, in his big booming voice. (He's got a hole in his diaphragm; he's applying to Michigan; his parents didn't usually decorate their tree; he's from Tulsa, yet he judges Austin's downtown architecture, et-fucking-cetera.)

I have to listen to both of these fucking idiots nearly every day.

Get a car and avoid them, why don't I? Because I can't afford to both get a car AND a decent place to live in Austin. At a $46K salary. I'm fucking trapped.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I've just figured out...

... I was a lot brighter than Ginny, Sandra, Mollie, despite their charms.

The one man I've slept with, the head of a state entity, was smarter than me. (And just as creative, albeit in a different way. You don't get to the top of anything without being smart and creative.)

I wanted Ginny to be new in Austin with me.
I wanted Sandra to talk poetry with me and then seduce me.
I wanted Mollie to fuck my brains out and talk art afterwards.

Most of all of this was from '83 to '89.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Going through my head all day today



This song still gives me goosebumps, as does their performance here (Washington, D.C., 1964) and the reactions from the audience.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I'm longing to linger 'til dawn, dear



"Dream a Little Dream of Me," 1957, from "Day by Night" (my favorite Doris Day album).

Sunday, December 07, 2014

1984: When All Was Still Possible (and Bono, Sting, George Michael, and Boy George were still beautiful)

The first and last gasp of my generation; I still get goosebumps listening to/watching this (esp. during Bono's and Boy George's bits)--while still wondering, "Who the hell is Paul Young?"

"Tonight thank god it's them instead of you..."


An Austin Place to Live w' a $1200 Rent Budget

After leaving NYC with my tail between my legs in 2010, unable to find work that paid my $1550-per-month rent and unable to find a cheaper place that wasn't in Queens, I came back to Austin to regroup. After staying with my mother for 3 months (3 months that she made as unpleasant as possible), I was finally, thanks to freelance checks from a publishing company, able to get my own place, back in the 'hood that I lived in before moving to NYC. Only this time in a 400-sq-ft apartment rather than the 800-sq-ft house I lived in from 2000 to 2007 (that I paid $825 monthly for the whole time).

The $545 per month that I paid in 2010 for the Austin apartment has, by 2014, increased to $750. Ads on Craigslist today show it offered at $815.

I now have a perfectly respectable middle-class job as an Editor, making in the 40Ks per year. Monthly gross salary, around $3700. After taxes, retirement system, and the near-$500 taken out of my paycheck to repay student loans (thanks, Dad, for not providing for your child's college despite your constant claims to "superiority"), I have $2400 per month net for everything: rent + all bills.

While living in this now-$750-per-month apartment for 4 years, my overall expenses have been about $1500 per month. Beyond the rent, the expenses have been electric/gas/phone/Internet, groceries, work lunches, beer, cigs, haircuts, etc.

If my ongoing take-home salary is currently $2400 per month, and my expenses (sans rent) are @ $750, then that leaves about $1650 for rent +  emergencies/savings/possible car.

I gave my move-out notice at my apartment a week ago. I have to move out by Feb. 2. In the past week, I've done some rudimentary apartment-searching: One-bedroom apartments up north near my work, for @ $850 per month, were small (600-sq-ft or less), grim, and depressing. A garage apartment near campus, in better shape but only 500-sq-ft, was $1200 --- and with a neighbor living below.

I'd thought that once I got a "real" job, that I would then be able to afford a decent place... "Decent" to me meaning mainly that I wouldn't have to share walls, that I'd have more than one room with more than 400-sq feet, that I might have a little outdoor space--say, a balcony or a small yard.

I still have the rest of December, plus all of January, to find a new place. But I'd hoped for something significantly better than what I'd been living in for the past 4 years while I was relying on temp and freelance work. Once I had a real job, I'd hoped for a real place... The market seems to be keeping me in the "student apartment" range. At age 49!

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

After re-reading the above, the one question in my mind is: How in the world could someone making over $40K a year have to resort to living in shit-hole student apartments? Where am I supposed to go live--San Angelo, Beaumont? But my editing job's not IN San Angelo or Beaumont...

Friday, November 28, 2014

A box at the back of the closet holds bones and other mementos
of luck gone bad like third-day mutton.

She was sick that day. And a little after.
Laughter later giving her away
like her daddy would never do.

She never changed his shoes.
The dress she did change
had his paint on it.

"I wouldn't let them see that, if I were you."


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

To the parents of Michael Brown...

...now wailing about why their son is dead:

Well...
(1) If you hadn't raised him to think it was OK to rob convenience stores; and
(2) if you hadn't raised him to think it was OK to scuffle with a police officer and grab his gun...

then maybe your son would still be alive.

As the press conference last night made clear, autopsy results showed that Michael Brown was NOT shot in the back. And the gunpowder and injury to his thumb showed that his hand was at some point on the officer's gun. Why in the world should that officer have been indicted for shooting someone who first attacked him in the police vehicle?

All of the violent protests are ridiculous. All of the "crying wolf" has to stop. The protests need to be saved for those who have truly been victimized by police, not for neighborhood hoodlums. I also stared in disbelief at President Obama's press conference, in which he stated that race relations have a long way to go... I agree: until the black community stops teaching their young men that it's OK to steal and fight police officers and loot when they don't get their way, then, yes, race relations do indeed have a long way to go.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"You can't chop your poppa up in Massachusetts..."

2010: The now-aged Chad Mitchell Trio reprising their 1961 Lizzie Borden song at the site of the murders just for further hoots. 1961 song follows. (I'm curious about why anyone finds anything about the case funny. I, personally, find it incredibly sad. Why are you singing in this house, you disgustingly smug, snarky assholes-in-khakis?)






A Good Day, despite...

My post office used to be a few blocks away, a 5-minute bus trip away. A few months ago, that neighborhood post office closed; my new one is now up north, a 25-minute bus ride. No longer a "neighborhood post office." And the new one is in an utterly shitty neighborhood, full of multiple lone guys loitering on street corners, feeling free to come on to me, a lone women waiting on a bus, asking for cigarettes. Me, eager to show that I'm a "good sport," always give them a cig. (Why should I have to, though?)

Friday when I got home from work, had a post-office pink slip that I had a package waiting at the up-north station (open 9-1 Saturday for pickup only). I was irritated 'cause I knew pretty much that it was my Euro cartons of cigarettes: usually they deliver to my door, sometimes they make me go to the PO and sign for the package. I hate the latter.

Desperate for my cheap cigs despite the heavy rain, I got up early Saturday, got on the bus, got to the shitty post office a few minutes after 9am. Three other people were waiting. I asked a younger girl there: "Have you guys rung the bell?" They all had, and no one had answered. I rung the bell again. No answer. Two of the people left.

By 9:15, with just me and a Hispanic guy left, I rang and rang and rang the buzzer. And stood and stood and stood there. Finally, upon my billionth ringing, someone YELLED from the other side of the door: "I'm coming, I'm coming."

When the woman finally opened the door, I said: "You're supposed to be open at 9am, right?" She didn't apologize for being late, no nothing. She just blankly asked for the pink slips and IDs from me and the Hispanic guy standing there, then slammed the door again.

(My cohort thankfully laughed when I said to him: "Why is she mad at ME when SHE was the one who was late?")

Irritated as I was about my PO trip: I did, in the end, get my cheap foreign smokes that I'd been worried about not getting; I got home, I got to lie around at home on this rainy day reading my Lizzie Borden books, sleeping in between, waking up again and reading more... It ended up being a Good Day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I'll be living...

... Up North in a couple of months. Since I first came to Austin as a student in 1983, I've always lived South or Central. I don't know "North" at all. But it's close to work, and it's all I can afford. At this point, ANYTHING/ANYWHERE to avoid the 3 hours on the bus every day. Today I left work at 5:15 pm, got home at 7pm. From a work-site 15 miles from my home. I have no control over this kind of crazy.

This past September, the City of Austin initiated two "Rapid" bus routes, one of which took over the previous shuttle bus from the UT campus to my work campus.

The Austin Capital Metro hype for the new "Rapid" route: "It will take about the same time as the former shuttle. And it will be much faster than the '3' route." An utter lie. The former shuttle took me from campus to workplace in 20 minutes flat. The new "Rapid" takes 40 minutes. Double the time. Not even anywhere near "about the same time." As for being "faster" than the regular "3" bus also travelling the same route: The "3" takes 37 minutes. The "Rapid," with fewer stops, inexplicably takes 40 minutes.

What's the point of a "Rapid" that takes longer than the "Regular"?

Monday, November 17, 2014

I walked around in a coat today...

... with a broken zipper, because I'd bought it back in 2007 in NYC, because I'd walked around with it on 7 years ago because it looked good then... It is "microfiber" aka "microsuede." It looked good back in 2007, especially when the zipper worked.

IT LOOKED LIKE SHIT TODAY. AND I WAS FUCKING COLD TODAY wearing it, zipperless, out of nostalgia. My nostalgia was gone after the cold, and especially after seeing a homeless woman on the same bus also wearing a similar "microsuede" coat.

Speaking of homeless people: I was on a couple of buses unfamiliar to me this afternoon in my quest to get to, before dark, the post office that had mangled a book I'd ordered. The PO clerk was an asshole; I got no money back or even an apology for how destroyed the book was by the USPS. What I DID get by the time I arrived home after my various bus journeys was a distinct odor. I REEKED OF PISS.

After leaving work at 3:15pm and doing my post office errand, I finally arrived home at 6:30pm. I washed my hands, I changed my clothes, I sat down at my computer... And I still REEKED OF PISS. The odor of the people I'd been around on the bus earlier had apparently sunk into my very HAIR, or my SKIN.

Disgusting. Don't enoble the poor from a distance until you've ridden on a bus with them for years, as I have.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Night Football

Kinda broke my heart the other day, reading on my journalist brother's Facebook page how he and his boys often spend nights in the stands eating popcorn and Skittles while he covers the games.

"Broke my heart" because the image of him and his boys is so sweet. When I was a kid, in the rare occasions that I got to attend anything, I was shunned for asking for popcorn or candy. When I read my brother's account, I felt happy for his kids.

On the darker side, because my own ONE memory of going to a high school football game with my father was a shitty one: While at the game, we saw a teen girl riding on her boyfriend's shoulders. My father pointed out to me what a slut she was.

I don't remember anything else about the game.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mangled

A book I ordered last week from Amazon arrived on my doorstep looking EXACTLY  like this. No note. No apology. And when I tried to file an online claim with the USPS, got a message that my claim was ineligible.

My only intellectual sustenance: It was a book about Lizzie Borden, so perhaps it's appropriate that it should arrive so MANGLED...

(Pain in the ass though it may be, I will definitely be hauling -- by tortuous, probably 2-hour, bus trip -- this disgustingly mangled book into a post office that's now miles north of where I live and hard to get to. What the FUCK were they thinking delivering this to my door sans apology?)


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"They just don't like you."

Simple, isn't it? But our egos don't want to let us admit it.

I don't want to admit that my sister-in-law doesn't like me. I don't want to admit that my brother doesn't like me. I don't want to admit that my mother doesn't like me. I don't want to admit that my father doesn't like me. I don't want to admit that Sandra doesn't like me. I don't want to admit that Kathy stopped liking me. I don't want to admit that Ginny stopped liking me.

But once I admit the truth... all the confusion becomes clear: If someone doesn't like me, no matter WHAT I do, it won't be right. NOTHING I DO WILL BE RIGHT. That's freeing.

It would be kinda nice if SOMEONE liked me, but I have no control over that.

And so, I carry on.

Sad Thanksgiving Prediction

I've always liked Thanksgiving and Christmas, even as I've always, for the past decade, been an "adjunct" relative. I like my brother; I especially like my nephews; I want to see my mother on the Big Days; I like talking to my sister-in-law when she's in a good mood and not going off about "education issues" (which has lately often been her wont).

As this Thanksgiving approaches, though, I'm seriously considering bowing out. At my brother's birthday dinner in late October, my brother's wife barely said a word to me, not even a "hello" when I was picked up. At my mom's house for the dinner, there was no conversation other than an argument over the "affordable housing" issue currently on the ballot in Austin: I said I was against government subsidizing of housing. My sister-in-law said (among the first words she'd spoken all day): "Even though you've been complaining about not being able to afford living in your neighborhood?" Me: "I don't expect the government to pay for me."

I will sit home alone with a fast-food meal and enjoy the Thanksgiving Cowboys game (as I did when I was alone in NYC) rather than subject myself to further Stupid.

In the future, I hope to have someone of my own to spend Thanksgiving with.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Mommy Song / Blitzkrieg

I wrote this in December 1986, when I was 20. Originally called "The Mommy Song" then retitled "Blitzkrieg" for my 1994 grad program thesis.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

 
She has seen her face in food, food on walls,
the late-night aftershave men in suede,
felt her body shot ripping gold chains.
She heard the wish for the plane crash,
wings crumbling, the captain's cool voice,
applause two million 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 her eyes on the banks of the Rhine,
seen him for the first time: in cafes, the wine
mingling hot and 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
yet 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.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Absurdist Foodies

Putting a finger on what exactly is so obnoxiously smug and ridiculous about "food snobs," from John Lanchester's "Shut Up and Eat" article in the 11/3/14 "New Yorker":

Most of the energy that we put into our thinking about food, I realized, isn't about food; it's about anxiety. Food makes us anxious. The infinite range of choices and possible self-expressions means that there are so many ways to go wrong... You can make yourself look absurd. People feel judged by their food ...choices, and they are right to feel that, because they are...

...Food is now politics and ethics as much as it is sustenance...

If shopping and cooking really are the most consequential, most political acts in my life, perhaps what that means is that our sense of the political has shrunk too far -- shrunk so much that it fits into our recycled-hemp shopping bags. If these tiny acts of consumer choice are the most meaningful actions in our lives, perhaps we aren't thinking and acting on a sufficiently big scale. Imagine that you die and go to Heaven and stand in front of a jury made up of Thomas Jefferson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Your task would be to compose yourself, look them in the eye, and say, "I was all about fresh, local, and seasonal."

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

I personally have no "anxiety" about the food I eat. I revere my Dairy Queen Country Baskets and I think Whataburger has the best fast-food burger. I'll miss the burgers and white gravy-and-fries from local favorite Players once it closes. I eat at each of these places maybe 3 or 4 times a year. My usual diet, during the work week, is salads and soups from my work's on-site café.

What I absolutely can't stand is those vegans or those into the latest fad diet (paleo, gluten-free, anyone?) who then present themselves as somehow "politically and ethically superior" to the rest of us "plebes" who eat normally on a daily basis. (By "normally," I mean a common-sense balance that keeps us within our weight range... sans any fad diet.) My overweight brother, for instance, has been trying trendy diets for years now and likes to tout what trendy restaurant he's been to lately and mock my simpler eating habits. He remains fat. I, on the other hand, remain Not Fat via eating mainly salads (because I like salads), little meat (fatty meat makes me gag, but I do like lean chicken, lean brisket, lean hamburgers, and the pepperoni on pizza), the occasional delicious fast-food splurge, plus walking over 2 miles a day. I don't THINK about what I eat, particularly, I just eat what my body feels like eating. I have little anxiety about it. My body knows, once I've scarfed down a Whataburger-and-fries, that it's grateful but that it doesn't need the same gloop again any time soon. And, conversely, my body feels good when I've eaten a salad.

It's between me and my body. There's no fetishism about it. The "foodies" are all fetishists. Attaching "politics" and "ethics" and "anxiety" to eating is not only absurd but also mentally sick.
 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

New Lizzie Borden T-Shirt

Now, what in the world am I hoping to accomplish by wearing a Lizzie Borden T-shirt anywhere?!
 
I actually do think she murdered her father and step-mother. And that the family maid, Bridget Sullivan, had some hand in it. (After reading 4 books about the case in the past two weeks... those two were the only ones in/around the house when the murders were committed. The house was on a busy street; there were no sightings of a bloody madman running in the vicinity afterwards. The victims' faces were mutilated --- in 1892, not much about "criminology" as a science was known, but in the years since then, it's been established that when a victim's face, especially, has been mutilated, it's most likely the work of someone very emotionally close to them.)
 
What the hell happened there? And what, for instance, might be the difference between wearing a Lizzie Borden T-shirt and, say, an OJ Simpson T-shirt... Simpson was, after all, also pretty emotionally disturbed at the time that he allegedly stabbed his ex-wife to death... What makes the Lizzie Borden case a "hip" T-shirt thing, while wearing a similar OJ shirt would be simply creepy, somehow celebrating wife-abuse/murder? Is it the old adage that "tragedy + time = comedy"? Is it just because the murders in the Borden home happened longer ago?
 
I don't think so. Say that both parties were guilty: Say Lizzie Borden killed her father/step-mother and that OJ Simpson killed his ex-wife.
 
As various witnesses have attested to, it's pretty much a given that, post-divorce, Simpson was in a constant jealous sexual rage about his ex-wife, to the point of stalking her. No real surprise that he might have been following her, been enraged by seeing her with a young guy at the gateway of her home.  
 
With Lizzie Borden, though, what was the impetus for the murder? The "Ghost Adventures" cable TV show recently posited, sans proof aside from psychics, that Lizzie had been having sexual relations with her father. A 1984 book by "Evan Hunter" (Ed McBain) posited that Lizzie Borden and maid Bridget had been having a lesbian affair and that Lizzie's stepmother had discovered them and then threatened to tell the father... These seem quite believable sources of extreme anger to me, but at the time, nothing of the sort was presented.
 
Whatever the relations between Lizzie Borden and Bridget Sullivan... SOMETHING was going on in that house between them. It was an internal thing. You simply don't have one ax murder at 9:30am, then a lull until 11:00am before the next one (as the coagulation of blood from the two victims indicated) if it's a random case.
 
 
 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

TMI

Always glad to talk to folks at the bus-stop. Uh-huh.

Today's "folk":

It's beautiful weather. (ME: It IS!)
Don't mean to bring you down, but this bus just came by 15 minutes ago. (ME: That's OK. Just 15 minutes, then, 'til the next one.)
All glory to the Lord. (ME: OK.)
Do you need your shoes shined? I shine shoes: "Rise and Shine" is my business. (ME: Nope. Don't need my shoes shined.)
Just $5. (ME, stretching out my legs to show the mediocre shoes that didn't need shining: Really, I'm not a businessman who needs his shoes shined.)
Alright, I gotcha. Wait, I got a call. (ME: OK.)
That woman wants work, but she's not reliable. I've been trying to help her and her boyfriend. They have a yard business, but they smoking. I try to help her... (ME: What are they smoking? Pot or...)
Crack. They smoking crack. (ME: Oh. That's hard-core.)
Yeah. (ME: You can work on pot, but you can't really work when you're on crack.)
No, you can't. I keep trying to give her chances, but she don't show up. And don't call. If she would just call, that would be fine. (ME: Well, you've tried.)

Now, me and my wife, we doing alright. I'm from Philly. (ME: I like the Northeast a lot.)
You do? What about this great city? (ME:  I lived in New York City for a few years. I just like the weather a lot better up North. I like the seasons. I like the snow. I don't like 7 months of hot weather here.)
Me, I'm a salesman. I can get along anywhere. My family was military. (ME: My dad was military, too, so I moved a lot. I can get along anywhere, too.)
My wife's family is military. Her daddy is a staff sergeant. She's spoiled, man. I've been married 38 years. She's a wonderful woman. I tell her every day. Not because I have to. But her sister, man; her family. What's between us is between us. I lost $86,000 in the market. And her family keep trying to give her things. I told them, anything you give her, I'm going to throw right through your window.

I kind of let him just go on from there. There was stuff about the "Blood Moon" appearing every 7 years, and how market crashes have corresponded to that. And how Republican presidents have also corresponded to the Blood Moon. He also wrote down a phone number in Philly that I could call so that I could invest in gold.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Massachusetts Trip To Come

(1) Fall River.
(2) Salem.
(3) Plath and Sexton homes; Boston psychiatrists/bars/colleges.
(4) Dickinson home.
(5) Fall leaves.

I'm not going to go here by myself. I could fly to Boston, sure, but the things I want to see are a driving trip around the state, and a bed-and-breakfast type of thing. And I hate driving. And after years of looking at things by myself, I don't want to look at things by myself any more.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Shaun Cassidy's German debut album

Shaun Cassidy's debut album had already been released in Germany for a year when I visited the country for 6 weeks in the early summer of 1977, when I was 11, about to turn 12. (While I was there, it was finally released in the US.) I was permitted to buy 2 albums from German stores: I chose this one (which has a different cover than that in the US) plus the Bay City Rollers' "It's a Game" (which had the same cover as in the US, but included a multiple-page fold-out in the center featuring lyrics and extra photos).

I remember staring at this cover, fascinated by how silky his hair looked and how it matched his fur (wanting to touch both), and also by all of the tartar and particles on his teeth, despite the whitening. (At 11, I'd been trained to brush religiously twice a day and was a bit puzzled by why he, a grownup, obviously hadn't been doing so.)




What made me think of this: This week, I finally broke down and paid $13 for a CD of the album. I'd been browsing around online for over a year now, trying to find a copy for $6 or $7... no luck. And I figured out that I really wanted the thing in my collection! I loved this album and played it constantly! The Bay City Rollers' "Dedication" was my very first album; BCR's debut was my second; and this Shaun Cassidy was my third. While I, for instance, chortle today at the fact that I once owned Leif Garrett's debut, I still think that the Bay City Rollers are VERY good, and that Cassidy is a good vocalist. And Shaun Cassidy was the next year also my VERY FIRST CONCERT (at Fort Worth's Tarrant County Convention Center -- my mom accompanied me and my best junior high friend, Debbie; the Rollers, months earlier would have been my first, but since they didn't sell enough tickets, the show was cancelled).

Aside from the album's 2 big hits, "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "That's Rock'n'Roll," my two very favorites were these videos below: "Morning Girl" and "Take Good Care of My Baby." While the songs are simple covers, I still think his vocals are sexy.

In the first "Morning Girl" video, the photos with flowers, the 2 with red shirts, the white shirt, and the last one -- I recognize them all as pictures I once carefully tore out from "Tiger Beat" and "16" to hang on my wall.

The memory the "Take Good Care of My Baby" song brings back is that at the time I was equally enamored of "Gone With the Wind," which had just been shown on US television for the very first time. I saw the movie, read the book, then, out of other options, starting envisioning a "Gone With the Wind" musical, musically populated by... (1) "Take Good Care of My Baby," which a forlorn Rhett would sing about Scarlett; (2) A song I'd learned in grade-school music class years earlier: "C-O-F-F-E-E, coffee is not for me/It's a drink some people wake up with/That it makes them nervous is no myth/Slaves to a coffee cup/They can't give coffee up" --- seriously, I pictured Rhett and Scarlett sitting at their morning coffee singing this to each other. And those two songs were the extent of my Brilliant Musical Idea! :)






Thursday, October 30, 2014

Raising California

This past weekend, my 9-year-old nephew chatted to me about how the city of Seattle had changed "Columbus Day" to "Indigenous People Day." (He couldn't quite pronounce "indigenous," but I knew exactly what he meant and filled him in on the right word.) Later in the day, when I asked him what he was going to be for Halloween this year, he said that he would probably wear a hoodie and a mask "with a mirror on it, so that when people look at you, they just see them!" (I knew that his mom had been telling him about Trayvon Martin, but he hadn't fully assimilated the info.)

Look, I'm not going to challenge a 9-year-old's newfound "political beliefs" based solely on what his parents have been feeding him. But I was, nonetheless, horrified.

What I said to him off-the-cuff re the "indigenous people" vs. Columbus: "Well, not everyone thinks Columbus discovered America. Maybe the Vikings did." Which was not really the point of the City of Seattle's statement. I get that there were already people living on this continent before any Europeans came over. But to me, glorifying people just for having always been someplace is just as ridiculous as glorifying people for having kids. Both just happen, and any dummies can do it. In the case of Columbus and/or the Vikings, I do admire their adventurous, willingness-to-suffer-for-the-unknown spirit. I wanted to say to my nephew, "Remember that kids' book I read to you before? Where everyone who showed up for the race got a trophy? That's what I think 'Indigenous People Day' is like. What if your soccer league was set up like that?" NO, I didn't say such a thing, but that's exactly what I was thinking.

And RE the hoodie/mirror-mask: How to explain to a little kid that the alleged "hero" according to his mom was actually a punk who tackled the neighborhood watchman and bloodied his nose/bashed his head against the ground before the watchman shot him in self-defense? (Imagined conversation with nephew: "What would YOU do if you were in charge of watching the neighborhood and saw a guy who fit the exact description of others who had been caught robbing places in your 'hood months earlier? What if you told the guy to stop but he first ran off and then turned and tackled you and started punching you while you were down?")

Of course I can't explain any of the intricacies of arguments to a 9-year-old. It was disturbing to me, though, that his mother was feeding him such propaganda. He was regurgitating in a cute way, not fully getting it, but I found it awfully depressing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Place for 2015

I'm not required to give move-out notice until November 30, and my lease isn't up until February 1. But I do know this right now: After 4-1/2 years in a 400-sq-ft apartment, I WILL be moving out! :)

Funny thing, though: I did have a momentary pause... My apartment building has been super-quiet for over a year now, and that quietness is super-important to me, probably THE most important thing. I've lived in town homes and houses before where there were loud neighbors, and it was hellish, despite all of the space. Thing is, though: The current quietness could disappear JUST LIKE THAT. All it takes is one asshole to move in on either side of me or below me. And then I'm stuck living with that for the duration of their lease. I just can't risk it. Plus... I most certainly AM READY for more than 400-sq-ft of space! :) It's time to move, and move on. This was my way-too-lengthy "transition period" ("purgatory") after leaving NYC with my tail between my legs. I'm ready for something blatantly--and I do mean BLATANTLY--better.

There are so many things that constitute "better," though, and I can't have all of them. For one thing, I still am not going to get a car. Which somewhat restricts my living choices to places within walking distance to:  (1) public transportation corridors, and (2) a convenience store where I can grab cigs, beer, milk, etc. For instance, there are numerous spacious/affordable-for-me duplexes closer to where I work than I am now, but they're in "house/driving neighborhoods" and not "walking neighborhoods." I need/want a walking neighborhood.

I haven't particularly missed not having a car since coming home from NYC. I'm not a social butterfly hopping off to one engagement across town after another! I need to get to work, I need to get to the grocery store; every now and then a post office or a library or a movie theater downtown. For family events, everyone lives within 2 miles of me, and it's easy for them to pick me up for Thanksgiving or Christmas or a birthday. And my current job, as one of their perks, pays 100% of my public transportation. If I were to get a car, it would be $200 per month in car payments, plus another $150 in monthly gas/insurance, plus whatever repair costs came up. After taking public transportation for the past 7 years (3 in NYC and the last 4 back in Austin), it's perfectly doable. What's NOT doable is my current 3 hours on a bus every day to and from work! I'm dead tired at the end of the day, and I have to get up way too early. I just need to move closer to work. I've lived on the East Side since 2000, and I'll miss it, but... it's time to move on.

Another "dilemma" came when looking at Austin Craigslist apartment listings... I've missed being able to swim during the summer; and I dislike toting stuff down to the complex laundry, hoping to find a free machine... Should I consider an apartment with a pool and with washer/dryer connections in the apartment? Yes, I should, but... not really, probably. There ARE some smaller, funkier buildings around with these amenities, but most are bigger, more generic. Flashback to when I had a townhome back in the '90s... great space, great upstairs, great amenities... but I absolutely HATED living there--- nothing but concrete to look out upon. (One great thing about my current one-room apartment is the huge window that looks out over big trees just outside.)

I know I want at least two rooms. I know I'd prefer a garage apartment or a duplex -- something with no connecting walls, so I don't have to listen to others and so I can play my own music loud if I want to. I know I want to cut my daily work travel-time down to a total of 1.5 hours at the most instead of 3. I know I need a convenience store within a couple of walking blocks (and a grocery store within a 10-minute bus trip).

I like that I have plenty of time to think about it. And also that, once I've given my notice at the end of November, I have money enough to grab something good if it appears, even if I have to, say, pay two rents in January. I've got some psychological and monetary Lebensraum.

With a good job and spare cash come...

 
...NEW CANDLES! I love candles, and I've always consciously thought about what to have in my home depending on the season. (More floral for spring, citrus-y for summer, spicy for fall, clean-n-crisp cedar/peppermint for winter.) Only... when I didn't have spare cash, I'd often do without or try to scrounge up whatever-scented sale candles I could find online. 
 
For the past week or so, I've had three 3x6 candles in my home, nearly burned down, and the sparseness was getting depressing. Then today I "figgered" out... "Hey girl, you can get new candles whenever you want. You don't have to wait and ask for them for your birthday/Christmas, or wait for them to go on sale." Ohhhhhh....  
 
Though the anal-German/former-poor-person in me still cringed a bit at paying full price for the bottom 3 Christmas candles instead of the sale price that I paid for all the others!


ItemPriceQtyTotal
Item: 2800890
$8.801$8.80
Item: 2777840
$12.001$12.00
Item: 2795800
$8.781$8.78
Item: 2581230
$5.001$5.00
Item: 2800586
$8.181$8.18
Item: 2820546
$11.001$11.00
Item: 2829170
$11.001$11.00
Item: 2456202
$11.001$11.00

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Songs from "The Stranger," 1977

I was only 12 when this came out, but I listened and listened and spent time thinking about what being an adult might be like...  One of the first 3 singles that I bought as a kid with my own money was "Only the Good Die Young." It was catchy and--to my 12-year-old self--sexy, and I loved the smart, rebellious lyrics. To this day, I can quote the whole song.

"She's Always a Woman" was a song that appeared on almost every one of my mix tapes created for crushes in the late-80s to mid-90s.

"Scenes from" was such an interesting song, both musically and lyrically...









Bad-ass. Joan Crawford, 1969, on the set of her last film, "Trog."


Monday, October 20, 2014

Saturday Afternoon Movies

Last Saturday, I woke up not particularly hung over but still feeling quite lazy, not wanting/not having to get out of bed.

Most of the time in years past, when I've channel-surfed basic cable on a Saturday, I haven't found anything interesting at all --- sports, home improvement shows. But this time while I was lying about, I came across on the FX station first "I, Robot," and then "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

I came across 2004's "I, Robot" in the middle of the film, and forget now what first caught my attention... It wasn't Will Smith, whom I automatically associate with generic action pictures; I almost changed the channel when I saw that he was in it. Oh, I know --- a robot was frantically trying to escape from something and was initially bouncing off walls and later bouncing off the outside of buildings. I wondered, "What the hell?" And had to keep watching to find out what in the world was going on. (And "the pretty girl" in the picture, Bridget Moynahan, was actually a good actress.) And I really was wondering what the deal was with the Rebel Robot! As soon unravelled, there were issues of what exactly constitutes a "soul" and a "free will" going on, along with at what point a created, supposedly mechanical being becomes sentient... and at what point rebellion and violence against an irrational creator becomes a moral decision...

As I found out at the end, the film was based on an Isaac Asimov series of stories, "I, Robot," which explains why the film was so psychologically interesting.

While I was still pondering the psychological implications of THIS film, I dozed off again. And woke up an hour or so later to the same station's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes." Again, in my doziness, I was immediately put off by seeing James Franco, whom I automatically associate with pretentiousness. I'd of course heard of this 2011 movie, but hadn't made any effort to see it, thinking it would just be a high-tech, soulless attempt at cashing in on the profundity of the original "Planet of the Apes."  But I got immediately sucked in by "Caesar," the speechless chimp that was being medically experimented upon/tortured --- I remembered the name of the scientist from the earlier "Planet of the Apes" movie, and I started to be curious: "How DID Caesar go from being an experimental chimp to his later position? And what happened to all of the humans?" And the 2011 movie played out intelligently, to my relief. As with "I, Robot," I'd been sleeping during the first half or so, but I was immediately drawn in to what was going on, in this case, the plight of all of the beasts kept in their cages. Caesar's first spoken work--"Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!" in reponse to an abusive human keeper about to hit him--gave me goosebumps.

There was the obligatory special-effects "battle" between humans/apes on the Golden Gate Bridge. And then Caesar and his cohorts regrouped in the woods. Caesar rejects his former human keeper James Franco, and the apes are then seen silhouetted in the tops of trees as the movie closes.

"Great," I thought, "but HOW in the world did apes TAKE OVER THE WORLD (as in the original "Planet of the Apes" movie)??"  A-ha... Something I'd been asleep for during the beginning of the movie... Simian Flu. In the closing credits, we see a human airline pilot suddenly dripping blood from his nose. The screen then goes to graphics of the paths of global airline flights... (A little too creepily close to the current Ebola scare.)

I was knocked out by both of these films. (1) I can't remember the last time that any film made me think. (2) When I was little, films that I saw by chance on TV, on a Saturday afternoon, often made me think...

I felt like I was 11, DISCOVERING STUFF for the first time.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Joan Crawford, 1946 and 1955.



Children Learn What They Live


Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
       I was constantly criticized as a child. I grew up to be extremely judgmental of others. And to be an editor. Which I suppose might be a semi-healthy way to channel that critical impulse in a professional way. (As opposed to, say, being a powerless bitchy housewife, or a powerless bitchy father "editing" when his daughter could put up posters on her walls, when she could watch TV and write at the same time, etc.)
 
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
      Good lord, the constant hostility and tension in my various childhood households! My family didn't allow for any "intellectual discussions"-- if I attempted to disagree with either of my parents in any mild way, it was seen as a threat to their fragile psyches, resulting in overt anger/aggression from my father, passive silent treatment from my mother. I was, though, able to engage in some intellectual discussions later, both in high school and college. Yet my first impulse today as an adult is not to feel that I can calmly state a difference in opinion with the assumed result an equally rational response -- instead, I tend to lash out first, assuming beforehand that I will be attacked and so attacking first. Of course, I've had shitty personal relations as an adult.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
      I constantly lived with psychological fear as a child. (When was my father going to go off? Ranging from pouting to dumping mashed potatoes on my mother's head to shooting at her. When was my mother going to sneer and not speak to me?) I am constantly apprehensive today, constantly hyper-alert to what could possibly go wrong in any situation, and assuming that something IS going to go wrong.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
      I grew up with zero pity.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
      I was constantly mocked at home every time I expressed an opinion. I learned to keep my mouth shut at home, only "daring" to express opinions in class at high school. At college, I felt awkward about making intellectual arguments in class for years, often freezing up when called upon by a professor. This sense of inferiority didn't dissipate until grad school, at which time I'd forced myself to LEARN how to speak in class, the same way I'd learned how to order in a restaurant and how to insert a tampon.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

     My parents both professed to be "superior" to others, not jealous. As a kid, I believed them. I envied the popularity and self-ease of the "rich kids" I saw in high school, but I didn't really envy them in whole...

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
      I felt extreme shame at how my parents behaved in front of others. For instance, one time when my father dragged me down the hallway by my hair because I'd been watching TV and writing in my diary at the same time, the doorbell rang and a neighbor kid happened to be standing at the front door at the same time as my father was dragging me past it. I was more embarrassed at the fact that the kid could hear what was going on than by what my father was doing. My mother was overtly nasty to me in front of my friends: At a couple of slumber parties as a kid, she took me out of the room to sleep separately because we girls were being too loud; she denigrated me in front of my friends on my 16th-birthday sleepover; she wanted me to come home directly after my high school graduation ceremony; she refused, for no reason, to speak to two of my closest friends when they were at our house. I felt constantly ashamed of my parents' behavior, constantly guilty that they didn't even attempt to hide their ugliness from my friends! (My mother, also, belittled me in front of her two sisters in Germany; she's also, in this day, attempted to create unpleasant scenes with me in front of my nephews.)

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
     I had no encouragement whatsoever at home. However, I was smart and successful in high school and got encouragement there, learned some intellectual confidence there.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

     I had no tolerance whatsoever at home, learned no patience whatsoever. My father was constantly going on about blacks and women and "ivory tower intellectuals."

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
     I lived with no praise at home whatsoever. However, I did get praise in school for being bright and talented.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love. 

     I had no acceptance or love whatsoever at home. Both of my parents made me feel like shit.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
      Ha! I had no approval at home. Both of my parents made me feel like shit. So, no, I didn't learn to like myself. But some teachers at school seemed to like my brightness and eagerness to do well. I learned to like my success at school.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
      I was recognized only at school. I did learn there to have academic goals. Neither of my parents got a college degree. My dad constantly mocked "ivory-tower intellectuals." When he joined the Air Force as a young man, he tested as qualifying to become an officer -- however, he was too lazy to complete the coursework. While I was in college, my mom sent me $100 a month. 90% of my college expenses, I'm now paying off and will be paying off until the day I die. Funny from a household that claimed to be "superior" yet didn't plan for their kids' college education.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
      Not applicable at all to my growing up. I didn't turn out to be a selfish person, though.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
      I learned truthfulness only after turning to art and literature and music to escape from my parents' insanity. I certainly didn't "live with it" while growing up. But it's a tenet of my life, thanks to outer sources that I discovered for myself around age 15.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
      I grew up with such irrationality and unfairness. Certainly, I saw no personal justice. But, as with the above entry, I learned to turn to outer sources for proof that the concepts of "fairness" and "justice" did indeed exist in the world.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
      Ha! "Kindness" and "consideration" were not ever a "thing." No "respect" for anyone or anything has ever been a given for me after witnessing the irrationality of my parents. I question everything to this day. (Won't be fooled again.)

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
     After my parents' divorce when I was 12, I credit my mother with providing a roof over our heads and food. (Texas ain't a female-friendly state --- there's no alimony; my father's sole contribution to the household after the divorce was $300 per month in child support---$150 per kid.) My mother, a German, was stable -- hard-working and no drugs or drink -- and didn't have men over. I did have that faith in the stability of the home. Perhaps this gave me "faith in myself" in that I wouldn't put up with chaos in the home in my later relations... and so I've, in my 49 years, only lived with one person... for 3 months.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
     Ha! Dear god, how far from "friendliness"! :) I'm so envious of those who grew up with "friendliness"! I can't actually imagine a "friendly" home environment. I've had to learn how not to automatically be hostile.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I'll never ever be a dancer



Somewhere apart
Somewhere you must be dreamin'
Somewhere the world is screaming
Somewhere apart
A space between is not a final answer
I'll never ever be a dancer
So get me fish eggs and a violin

I'm gonna burn your bongos tonight
And let Graham have a chance
'Cause no one ever lets him dance
And all them see-through things are crawling
From the sea

Somewhere apart
A whistle summons up the lava
We must be somewhere East of Java
"O shed your bags, here comes a mule!"

The phantoms of the dispossessed
Wander through the wilderness
Crying out in mortal stress
Never ever come to rest
Somewhere apart
You know they're always
Somewhere apart

Somewhere apart
With flowers and a Geiger counter stumblin'
And for his distant keys he's fumblin'
Mule-headed man
Somewhere apart

$100 worth of Lizzie Borden

I'm not at all a particular fan of the "true crime" genre -- I get bad vibes that I take seriously -- but the psychology of some criminals interests me.

Manson, for instance: I own Bugliosi's "Helter Skelter" and "Manson In His Own Words" and the cheesier "Taming the Beast." Manson is interesting to me for his mind control. He didn't actually DO anything. Yet his "philosophy" (and he had one) ultimately encouraged others to kill... because there was, according to him (and according to many at the time), no difference in the states between life and death...

Gary Gilmore -- I own Mailer's "The Executioner's Song" and the subsequent psychologically profound, extremely sad book by Gary's brother Mikal.

And I have Capote's "In Cold Blood." (Profound because of Capote's ability to make you feel the exact psychological environment of both the Clutter family AND the killers. Nancy's horse at the very end, after every horrible thing, made me cry.)

Plus a not-that-profound book I bought a few months ago about the Kitty Genovese murder on the anniversary of her death. (I did learn something factually -- that it was a random murder by a psychopath rather than a guy killing his girlfriend while neighbors looked on, as I'd always assumed from reading about the case in college.)

So that's the crime stuff I own. Jack the Ripper material, for instance, is both way too graphic and way too simple for me. (In my mind, it's a simple case of a guy hating women and taking it out in extreme fashion on the only readily available victims --- whores; I don't see anything interesting psychologically about that.) A paperback about Ted Bundy, I remember reading in the late '80s and just feeling creepy about --- a failed law student attacking sorority girls seemed kind of blatantly sexually simplistic: violence just for the sake of violence.

RE Lizzie Borden: 30 years ago in the mid-80s, I read the Evan Hunter (Ed McBain) novel, where the author posited that Lizzie had been having sex with the maid and got busted... leading to the ax murders of her father and step-mother. I remember liking the book as a read at the time, understanding that the "lesbian angle" was cheesy, and then not thinking anything more about the case as a whole.

A couple of weeks ago on the utterly cheesy show "Ghost Adventures," though, the host interviewed a psychic who had worked in the Lizzie Borden home in Massachusetts and who claimed to have been "attacked" by the ghost of Lizzie Borden's father since she was claiming that the father had sexually abused Lizzie Borden since she was a kid... I didn't particularly believe the claims of the featured psychic about being attacked by a ghost, but the mention of a theory of sexual abuse suddenly made sense: You don't SNAP like that without some deep underlying reason. I highly doubt that some STRANGER secretly burst into the Borden's (always locked) home and suddenly starting whacking away with an ax without either Lizzie or the maid Bridget (the only other people home at the time aside from the victims) being aware of it.

Maid Bridget went back to Ireland. Lizzie went off to live a rather grand lifestyle (with her dead father's money) in the better part of town, at one point living with an actress (Nance O'Neil), which caused her sister to move out and never speak to her again. (!) (Lizzie, by the way, asked to be, and was, buried next to her father.)

So, yeah, I just ordered $100 worth of Lizzie Borden books. :)






Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dream Job (Revised)

(1) You like what you're doing.
(2) The work is intellectually challenging -- real WRITING and EDITING, not just dumb-ass letter-typing, filing, and/or educational-publishing copy editing.
(3) You make enough to afford to live in a bigger-than-one-room apartment in an area where you want to live.
(4) You can wear whatever you want to work (i.e., no 275-lb dumb-ass executive assistant telling you that you need to "dress better" because your linen shirt that you put on that morning has become wrinkled a couple of hours later).
(5) You can go to lunch whenever you want (i.e., no dumb-ass admin assistant insisting you go precisely at noon for no reason).
(6) You come home from work tired in a GOOD WAY, because you've been WORKING and THINKING, not because you're just mentally drained from all of the phony idiots you've had to deal with all day.

I like my job. I like the work, and I like the people I'm around every day. This is the best job, and the best-paying job, I've EVER had.

I landed on my feet after the 7-year free-fall. And I ultimately landed a step UPWARD from where I left off back in 2007 when I moved to New York and embarked on my odyssey. I'm fucking lucky.

For instance, two women where I work now are in long-time secretarial positions --- one has a Master's in Physics (!), one has a Master's in Biology and has actually published work in her field. But they're secretaries. And I would have been a secretary had either of the two jobs in 2012 and 2013 that I was so upset at the time about losing "worked out" for me. I mean, I WEPT PROFUSELY when I found out I didn't get either of those... Had I gotten either, though, I'd today be someone with a bio on a company website reading how I had a Master's in English... but was an Admin Assistant.

Did I mention how extremely lucky and grateful I feel right now? I am FULLY aware of how differently things could have turned out.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

All Apologies

Kurt Cobain's body was discovered and announced on April 8, 1994. I was 28. My 54-year-old married boss came over to see me that Friday evening (parking his car several blocks away, as usual), and wondered why I wouldn't tear myself away from MTV coverage and have sex with him.






What else should I be
All apologies
What else should I say
Everyone is gay
What else should I write
I don't have the right
What else should I be
All apologies
In the sun
In the sun I feel as one
In the sun
In the sun
I'm married
Buried
I wish I was like you
Easily amused
Find my nest of salt
Everything is my fault
I'll take all the blame
Aqua sea foam shame
Sunburn with freezer burn
Choking on the ashes of her enemy
In the sun
In the sun I feel as one
In the sun
In the sun
Married, buried
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...