Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tempest in a B-Cup

http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2014-08-01/anatomy-of-an-understanding/

This on the cover of Austin's weekly paper this week. Pre-op tranny Kylie Jack was denied an intimate measuring at an Austin lingerie store because of her penis. I'm taking the sales-clerk's side on this one. Below is the online letter that I just wrote to the Chronicle:



What a tempest in a B-cup.

First, kudos to Petticoat Fair owner Kirk Andrews for going above and beyond good customer service in his extremely kind and sensitive response to Kylie Jack. (I was disgusted to read that his good intentions were dismissed by some because he used the term "transgendered" rather than "transgender." Can't stand this type of Orwellian language-police.)

Second, I question Kylie Jack's handling of the situation to begin with. In all of my years of clothing/lingerie shopping, I've come across a few sales-clerks that I considered rude. In almost every such case, I've simply asked to speak to the store manager on duty, voiced my complaint to him/her directly, and was uniformly immediately issued an apology and an assurance that the clerk would be talked to. Did Jack follow this common-sense route? Nah. Instead, rather than handling the situation one-on-one, she took the coward's way out and went on an Internet vendetta that led to the store and its owners "receiving threats of continued harassment and, in some cases, implied violence." (Who was the bully and who the bullied here?)

Third, as the article made absolutely clear, EVERY member of the female sales staff at Petticoat Fair had at one time or another been subjected to "men with nefarious intentions" (aka "creepers," aka men coming in to the store dressed as women and trying to get off on having the female clerks intimately measure them). Given this fact, why is a female clerk's being wary of someone with a penis asking to be intimately measured in a close space considered questionable? Her reaction seems perfectly logical to me.

Lastly, there's the ignorant comment of Lisa Scheps of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, who hosted a "Trans 101" "sensitivity training" course for the staff of Petticoat Fair. When owner Andrews tried to explain the store's reality of "creepers" to her, Scheps replied, "Yeah, how many times does that really happen? When an impostor tries to come in here?" When Andrews pointed out that his entire staff said that they dealt with the issue "all the time," Scheps' glib reply was: "Creepers gonna creep." Who's the one needing the "sensitivity training"?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My July of '85

By early July after a few weeks back in my home-town of Azle from college, I'd written nearly 50 poems in a deeply unhappy, yet somehow receptive, state.

My mother has always been incredibly blatant about how much she doesn't like me --- she didn't like me at 12, didn't like me at 19 (and still doesn't like me). I'd been living in the swamp of her hate, not knowing any differently, until I went off to college in the Fall of '83. After that, coming home for summers was difficult for me psychologically, since I'd been elsewhere and been interacting with people who actually LIKED me! :)  Being back in her presence meant re-conditioning myself to feeling like shit.

In the Summer of '85, after a few weeks of being again immersed in the Hatred, I finally couldn't stand the overt negativity any more and "ran away from home" (if you can call leaving home at 19 "running away"), back to my college-town Austin with my Ford Pinto loaded up and no place to stay.

I got in town, read the college newspaper ads for apartment rentals. An efficiency just a few blocks from campus was $315 a month --- still pretty high for 1985. The landlady was a canny elderly woman whose dead husband had been a real-estate mogul and had left her various properties. I had my Azle-summer-job K-mart money with me, and so I could pay the first month's rent and deposit right away, but... it would take a couple of days to get the electricity in the apartment on... She saw my panic, saw my fully-loaded Pinto, and gave me a place to stay for free in one of her other properties for a few days until the utilities situation kicked in. (A garage apartment, too expensive for me --- I still remember how pretty the leaves outside the windows looked.) Also, she called my mother! I obviously looked too-frazzled upon my arrival, and my apartment application did include my home phone number back in Azle... Once it was determined that I wasn't dangerous, just a desperate kid, I was allowed to move in.

The Summer of '85 in this furnished efficiency with avocado-green shag carpet and burnt orange couch and chair... Right after I arrived, I went to the Government Department on campus, where I'd been a work-study student the previous school year. I asked if they needed anyone full-time during the summer -- they did! Every weekday, 8 to 5, I went to their office, then came home and drank wine until I was drunk until precisely 10 o'clock. I was young and still-disciplined, and made myself stop at precisely 10pm so I'd be able to get up with the 6:30am alarm.

Between 5 and 10pm for the next 6 weeks until the Fall Semester at UT started, I didn't see another person aside from work people. All I did was come home and get drunk and listen to Simon and Garfunkel (on album), and write poems to Ginny, like this one:

Oh! to have you
on my doorstep
in the cloud
and through my hair

What fun
with you here!
the roaches for laughing
orange and green
the height of art d├ęcor

Come! and make me Picasso
these walls I tame
and will paint for no one else.


Monday, July 28, 2014

What I think is cool.

 
This picture reminds me of when I was 15 and a Sophomore in high school (1981) and proudly brought my just-bought John Lennon solo album "Walls and Bridges" (from 1974) to school to show off to the few friends who were even mildly interested. (Maybe one girlfriend, and several guys who were either Stoners or on the Math Team.) During lunch, when I was excitedly showing off how the album art had strips that flipped over to show different views of Lennon's face, a 2nd-tier "popular girl" walked by my table and said, "How immature. You need to get a REAL boyfriend." That was initially deflating. In her eyes, being excited about a work of art was trivial and suspicious. Instead of admiring a 15-year-old boy from our school, I was admiring an older, far-away person's representation of himself via his music and accompanying album art and finding that art and vibe far superior and far more meaningful to ME.
 
Over 30 years later, I'm apparently still as "immature." I am deeply moved by both Joan Crawford's image and her art. Moreso than by the thought that I need to "get a REAL girlfriend." When someone in real life comes along on the John Lennon or Joan Crawford level of meaningfulness to me, perhaps I will.
 
 

JC Bittersweet Symphony



'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life
Trying to make ends meet
You're a slave to money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places
where all the veins meet yeah

No change, I can't change
I can't change, I can't change
But I'm here in my mind
I am here in my mind
But I'm a million different people
from one day to the next
I can't change my mind
No, no, no, no, no, no...

Well I never pray
But tonight I'm on my knees yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airways are clean and there's nobody singing to me now...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Young Man with a Horn: Rape and Pedophilia

Watched 1950's "Young Man with a Horn" on TCM Thursday night, for maybe the 3rd time. Movie-wise, I always like Lauren Bacall's character in this film.

Real-life-wise, whenever I see Kirk Douglas in a film, I always think of Douglas raping Natalie Wood. (Douglas and the teenaged Wood once went on a "Hollywood Date" -- he forcibly had sex with her, as she later told several friends.)

Glad to later read, in Kirk Douglas's own autobiography, that Joan Crawford jumped on HIM the second they entered her foyer. (She had bad breath, he wrote. But... you still got raped yourself, asshole. Karma.)

TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, when, pre-show, describing "Young Man with a Horn," said that the movie was based on the life of early jazz great Bix Beiderbecke, who died at age 28 (in 1931) from alcoholic complications. Since I like the movie, despite Kirk Douglas, and hadn't known anything about Beiderbecke beforehand, I looked up more information about Beiderbecke today...

In the "Young Man with a Horn" movie, the main character was abandoned by his parents and had to live with his sister and was generally neglected, until he discovered jazz and the extremely noble (in the movie) black men who played it. In real life, Beiderbecke had extremely solid parents in Iowa who encouraged his musical ambitions. Until he molested a 5-year-old girl:
On April 22, 1921, a month after he turned 18, Beiderbecke was arrested by two Davenport police officers on a charge brought by the father of a young girl. According to biographer Jean Pierre Lion, "Bix was accused of having taken this man's five-year-old daughter into a garage and committing on her an act qualified by the police report as 'lewd and lascivious.'"[28] Although Beiderbecke was briefly taken into custody and held on a $1,500 bond, the charge was dropped after the girl was not made available to testify. According to an affidavit submitted by her father, this was because "of the child's age and the harm that would result to her in going over this case."
Beiderbecke died of extreme alcoholism at age 28 in a Queens apartment. Between ages 18 and 28, he'd alternated between his parents' home in Iowa and traveling with various jazz bands.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Just dug this out from a 1985 writing workshop

I was 20 when I wrote this.

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

...and she felt a silence so complete and deadening that she would furtively pick the phone from its hook and hold it to her ear so she could hear the familiar annoying drone and thus prove herself still living. It was proof, which calmed her somewhat, but in her state of paranoia, she could imagine a voice suddenly emerging from the hum, first barely distinguishable from it but soon becoming clearer and louder yet without gaining any human characteristics and it would say her name with a quiet assurance and she would be forced to go with it, and, worse, to love it...

She told me this and I wanted suddenly just to hold her and tell her she was safe, that I would keep the ugly dead things from her -- I would kill them if need be, kill all the horrible things that couldn't comprehend such fragility, that strove to suck the life out of her and draw her into the void they inhabited. I wanted to grab Alan, and her mother and father, and scream into their worthless faces, scream until I had driven them crazy, driven them to see what they had mutilated in her with their carelessness and their useless remnants: her mother's stupid minks, her father's oil leases, her mother crawling naked on the floor, bits of glass still clinging to her bloody forearms, screaming for someone to please, please slit her throat; her father standing silently, poking the glass shards and her mother with the toe of his boot, saying calmly, "I would if I had the time." And the little brown-haired girl in her candy-striped pajamas, crouched in a ball by her door, ear pressed to the cold wood, drawn unwillingly, guiltily by the sound of glass shattering. The unadulterated waste of this 28-year-old whose own desk told her to die, who had to write "live" on her mirror with lipstick, like a reminder for something that shouldn't have to be remembered.

"What have they done to you?"

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

And December 19, 1987, I wrote my first REAL poem (at age 22):

Devil Drives
(for Joan Crawford)

The darkness drives me far from where I must be
my knuckles bare in bone-white urgency
clutching the stringent moonlit wheel
that turns without swerving toward mercy

Roadside,
the sweat-stained fools of late
sip their beer and bet on
who I might be

There are roads running earthwise
undestined for divergence
stopped stone-cold in tracks that
vanish at some point

Such things I cannot flee:
the vortex forcing me
toward life without lights,
my name on each marquee,
the search for an existence
that didn't need to be proven

This haunted sky, the moon
I will outlast

Just ask the garden that once bloomed upright
near my back door, cut by my cold hand
and carted away in night's deadness
by babies oblivious to the pain of thorns

Ask it what prevails, the bloom or bane
of shears and let the silence be your reply, something
to live with, or not.

Bloody, I await what newness may arise,
fulfilled by a fury purely mine.

That is enough.

There is no leaving me.

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

Many years later, post-grad school writing program, I sent the Joan Crawford poem, among others, to the Poet Laureate of England, Ted Hughes: In June 1997, he wrote back: "...I like your poems -- a real language, real inner momentum."

Whatever else happens to me in my life, whoever does or does not love me... I was/am a fucking good writer. Oh yeah, and Ted Hughes read, and liked, my poems. (Anybody else out there with a Poet-Laureate-of-England Stamp of Approval? OK then.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Wagner in the Desert" by Greg Jackson

Started reading this on the bus today, from the 7/21 New Yorker. At first, theme- and voice-wise reminded me of a more-muscular Bret Easton Ellis and Raymond Carver, i.e., the literature of my Youth and also of how I partially felt then (only partially, since Ellis/Carver, though the settings of each could not be more different, also managed to be similarly non-emotively engaged, i.e., unnecessarily "cool").

Jackson, on the other hand, writes about ennui the way that the hyper/verbal Norman Mailer would have written about ennui had he felt it and had the late '60s/early '70s world and publishing world asked for it.

At this passage by Jackson, I stopped thinking about Ellis/Carver/Mailer and started thinking about Jackson:
When I say that I was visiting old friends, friends from whom my life and sense of life had diverged, I am not trying to set myself apart. Marta and Eli had lived in Los Angeles for a number of years -- long enough, I suppose, that whatever logic connected immediate impulse to long-term goal to life plan to identity had slipped below conscious awareness and become simply a part of them. I was by no means innocent, either, of the slow supplanting drift by which the means to our most cherished and noble ends become the ends themselves -- so that, for instance, writing something to change the world becomes writing something that matters to you becomes publishing something halfway decent becomes writing something publishable; or, to give another arbitrary example, finding everlasting love becomes finding somewhat lasting love becomes finding a reasonable mix of tolerance and lust becomes finding a sensible social teammate.

And then:
But in retrospect it wasn't really about Lily, this sense of being cheated. I needed something to happen. Something new and totalizing to push forward a dithering life. I needed to remember what it felt like to live. And drugs were not just handmaiden or enabler but part and parcel of the same impossible quest, which you could say was the search for the mythical point of most vivid existence, the El Dorado of aliveness, which I did not believe in but which tantalized me nonetheless, a point of mastering the moment in some perfect way, seeing all the power inside you rise up and coincide with itself, suspending life's give-and-take until you are only taking, claiming every last thing you've ever needed or wanted -- love, fear, kinship, respect -- and experiencing it all at the very instant that every appetite within you is satisfied.

And:
I wanted to read a poem that had recently moved me. I'd been trying to read it every night, as a prelude to dinner or a coda to dinner, but things kept getting in the way. The mood, for instance. It wasn't a very poem-y poem, but it was a poem, and I guess it had that against it. Still, it was funny and affecting, and I saw it as a sort of moral Trojan horse, a coy and subtle rebuke to everything that was going on, which would, in the manner of all great art, make its case through no more than the appeal and persuasiveness of its sensibility. The others would hear it and sit there dumbfounded, I imagined, amazed at the shallowness of their lives, their capacity nonetheless to apprehend the sublime, and the fact that I had chosen a life in which I regularly made contact with this mood.

Then there's the passage from Lily's POV re why she doesn't particularly feel like having sex with him:
"The thing is," Lily said, "we could and I'm sure it would feel good. But we're old enough now to know some things, to know what happens next, to know that we have sex and then we text and e-mail for a bit, and then you come visit me, or I come visit you, and we start to get a little excited and talk about the thing to our friends, and then we get a little bored because our friends don't really care, and we remember we live in different places and think, Who the fuck are we kidding?, and then we realize that we were always just a little bored, and the e-mails and text messages taper off, and the one of us who's a bit more invested feels hurt and starts giving the whole thing more weight than it deserves -- because these things become referendums on our lives, right? -- and so we drift apart and the thought of the other person arouses a slight bitterness or guilt, depending on who's who at this point..."

At the very end of the story, the 4 friends (the couple, plus Lily and the narrator thrown together) visit the Joshua Tree area while on drugs:
We were listening to a late Beatles album very loud, finding folds within the music that seemed never to have been there before and unlikely to be there again. Lily, every few minutes, burst out laughing wildly, I don't know why. We petted each other a little, sensually, asexually, then we passed into the Coachella Valley, swept down, down into the vast grid of lights, so many colors, all communicating with one another in a lattice of shifting and persistent harmony. And as we returned to the valley floor, where the windmills blinked red and the stars through our open windows were small rounded jewels in the great velvet scrim of night, Lily spoke:
"It's like... it was all choreographed for me," she said, her voice hushed and marveling. "Like everything was arranged for me. To experience just like this."
It took me a second to realize what she was saying and what it meant, to gather my thoughts and say the only thing there was to say.
"But that's what it is," I said."That's what being on drugs is."

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

http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/this-week-in-fiction-greg-Jackson
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/07/21/wagner-in-the-desert



The time for wearing white is gone...

...we grab our steeds and learn to pray
while spider sound hovers, blade itching our palm
and we find only steel for reflection.

by me, circa 1987

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

That said, today was indeed the first day this season that I got up and felt like wearing WHITE PANTS. White Pants aren't something you just get up and put on. You've got to feel a certain way about it. If you're hung over, you certainly don't feel like wearing them. If you didn't have a good night's sleep and woke up cranky, you're not going to feel like wearing them. If you're simply not in the mood to strut around sassily that day, you're not going to wear them. With White Pants comes a burden of assumed attitude that you must attempt to fulfill..

Aside from the psychological burden, there's a physical one: You get dirty during the day when you wear them. When you wear jeans or any other color pants, you have no idea what you've either sat on or brushed up against during the day. You don't think twice when you're on the bus about hauling your bag onto your lap. White Pants will let you know. They will make you think twice. 

And since with the White Pants come the White Shoes, you can't just walk through grass and dirt paths where the city hasn't bothered to put down sidewalks, as you normally do. Last year, the only accompaniment to White Pants that I had was one pair of white CANVAS espadrilles. White CANVAS shoes are just stooopid to own. One stain, and they're done for. The stain never comes out, despite your wishing, despite your attempts at applying liquid Wite-Out stolen from your office. 

After THAT fiasco, this year I invested in one pair of white LEATHER shoes (that you can wipe off). And I have a nice white purse...(More psychological stuff: It's not a BIG bag like I have to carry work-stuff in. And still no white belt; hate to waste money on that, since I never tuck in shirts and it will never show, but I KNOW when my belt doesn't match...)

Nonetheless, I wore White Pants today for the first time this season! Even after my horrible depressive/lonely/hate-filled episode displayed on this very blog Friday night (that kept me in bed all day Saturday), I rallied Sunday BECAUSE I HAD SOMETHING TO DO!

The Thursday before, an editing job for a 40-page proposal with a potential $7 million at stake came across my desk. I'd been expecting it to come in that previous Monday. When I finally got it Thursday, I was irritated that it had arrived that late, and more irritated that I was supposed to have the thing finished by noon Monday. You can't really carefully edit 40 pages of dense text in 2 days. Nonetheless, it was due noon Monday. So I had to work at least 8 hours over the weekend... Like I said, after my spiel on this blog Friday night, I woke up Saturday with a huge sense of loss and hopelessness about the entire world and my relations with everyone in it. Which staying in bed all day Saturday re-reading Raymond Carver's stories certainly did not assuage! :)  I knew Saturday was a mental recuperation period, but then I also knew that I HAD A TON OF WORK TO DO, which only added to my sense of malaise.

When I woke up Sunday, I immediately popped out of bed and started in on the day's worth of work. Worked focused, only water and cigarettes.. E-mailed the doc in by 4pm. An hour or so later got the following e-mail feedback from a 2nd party:
Just finished going through S's thoroughly edited document. (I am truly impressed. Brings back fond memories of S---- and L--- [2 previous editors, who'd been in my position for the 40 years before me], and honestly, S might just outdo those two pros!!).
My parents might not love me (which hurts), the woman I'm still in love with might not love me (which hurts), but... BY GOD, SOMEONE OUT THERE APPRECIATES ME!  

I got up Monday morning and went to work with White Pants on.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cher, 1971

My favorite Cher song of all time: "Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves." (25 years before Cher got gay-icon'd to death, she was, in her prime, an actual mainstream American icon.)


Mary Karr in The Paris Review

KARR
You have constantly to question, Is this fair? No life is all bleak. Even in Primo Levi’s camp, there were small sources of hope: you got on the good work detail, or you got on the right soup line. That’s what’s so gorgeous about humanity. It doesn’t matter how bleak our daily lives are, we still fight for the light. I think that’s our divinity. We lean into love, even in the most hideous circumstances. We manage to hope.

INTERVIEWER
But we remember the bleakness.

KARR
That’s mostly what we remember.

--------------------------------------------------------------
 
 
And: "The fury that I thought protected me from harm actually sealed me off from joy."
 

Monday, July 14, 2014

"What It Used to Be Like"

Have recently been on a Raymond Carver kick, ordering the "Library of America" edition of his stories (which I'd owned and read in various cheap paperbacks back in the '80s), plus the 2009 bio, plus the 2006 memoir by his wife of over 20 years, Maryann Burk Carver: "What It Used To Be Like."

I'm now halfway through his wife's book. (It's 1961: The Pill has just become available, and Maryann is understandably relieved after two kids in three years.)

Maryann was a college-prep kid with a future when she met Ray Carver. Carver was a working-class kid who didn't like to study (even at a junior college) or work. He got very, very lucky in that someone like John Gardner "discovered" him during one of his brief stints at a state school (Humboldt). Not "lucky" in the sense that Carver wasn't a great writer, but "lucky" in that: How many other potentially "great" writers get  hyped by a minor academic and then such hype takes hold in the literary industry? Very rare. Carver's taking off was very much the exception and not the rule.

Good for him. But the "bad-for-her" Maryann part is that after over 20 years of her supporting him (and providing first-hand emotional intelligence and, most importantly, ENERGY for his stories), he decided to leave her for some peace. Tess Gallagher, an academic that he met in '79 and officially married only six months before his death in '88, I don't consider as much of anything except an executrix of his estate.

Maryann Carver's reminiscences are a counter to the idiocy of a professor that I had in grad school at San Francisco State in the mid-90s: This professor, in a Melville/Dickinson class I was taking, was certain that Herman Melville's wife had been nothing but a drain on his creativity.

Oh really? Melville had been fucking about on odd jobs and as a sailor, with one publication, "Typee," to his credit in 1846, the year before he married. AFTER the year of his marriage in 1847, the ENTIRE rest of his work was published, including the now-famous novel "Moby-Dick" and the story "Bartleby the Scrivener" --- and again, not just those, but EVERY OTHER THING he ever published.

Melville not only had a home base but also had a willing cadre of women (his wife and daughters) there to transcribe his every word. Melville wasn't operating in a vacuum. Neither was Carver.

During my time in academia in the late-80s-to-mid-90s learning about various literary men, I can't tell you how often the female life partners were dismissed and denigrated as somehow being nothing more than "balls and chains," as local girls that the guys had gotten pregnant... I'd like to see a history of art/literature sans such women (aka, "muses" and/or in-house secretaries).

Sunday, July 13, 2014

That's Someone You'll Never Forget



My crying jag about Ginny...

...that started Thursday night carried on into Friday and the subsequent calling in sick for work/lying in bed weeping all day Friday.

As I was remembering more and more things about her, I was remembering more and more things about someone who really LIKED me and wanted to be around me! (Until she didn't, of course, but while she did, she really did!)

In subsequent years, I've had "lovers," but no one that I could get lost trying to find a Fort Worth Unitarian Church with; no one to "shush" me when I innocently blurted out "What's a MUFF DIVER?" in her parents' car while viewing downtown Atlanta graffiti; no one to share a parents' hotel room with while simultaneously trying to get off on "Endless Love" with the sound turned off. :) 

That parentally-shared hotel room would have made a great story 20 years later had we survived.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

My first love on Find-A-Grave

Find-A-Grave is a website I've up 'til now associated with celebrities; I've looked up "Joan Crawford" there, for instance, and left a couple of "in memoriam" messages on her death date over the years.

Today was a slow day at work and I randomly typed in to "Find-A-Grave" the name of a girl I loved in 1983, when I was a Senior and she, a Junior at our high school.

In our 8 months of knowing each other in the Spring/Summer of '83, we:

saw "Frances" twice together (we later went to Fort Worth's Ridgmar Mall and had T-shirts made: "Frances Lives");

played the White Album backwards and listened to Lennon together (she was not that into solo Lennon but kindly went along with my excitement over finding the "Some Time in New York City" album -- also at Ridgmar Mall -- and then put up with my insisting on listening to it OVER AND OVER AGAIN);

wrote a punk song together ("He's a Geek [of the Pencil-Necked Variety]" -- the title of which she later paid to have immortalized on matchbook covers and sent me dozens of once I'd gone off to college).

There are dozens of other things, some of which I've written about here before. (A favorite memory will always be when I spent the night at her house one time and I, wearing a big, floppy T-shirt, accidentally stood over an upstairs air vent, which blew my shirt up... "I feel like Marilyn Monroe!" I said. And she laughed. Getting the reference, getting me.)

At the time, at 17, I thought such a connection (though new to me at the time) must be commonplace among adults... I thought I'd find exactly the same feeling over and over again. Once I went off to college; once I had sex. I did not.

I remember her showing up at the doorway of the stock-room of the K-Mart where I was a part-time teen worker... She'd greased her hair back with Vaseline (this was '83, pre-gel) and had on a "punk-looking" shirt and a shy smile on her face, peering around the corner to see my reaction... That look on her face is a permanent snapshot in my mind.

I also remember us wearing our then-trendy "Japanese-looking" off-the-shoulder sweatshirts when we went into our town's 7-11. The cashier said to us: "You ain't from here, are you?" We got a big thrill out of that.

On my way to the state competition for editorial-writing, we tried to sneak her onto the bus... At the last second, our sponsor discovered her and kicked her off.

At my high-school graduation, I had no white shoes to wear. She lent me hers. She played in the school band that was situated to the left of where we graduates were marching to the stage. As I passed her, I lifted up my robe and flashed a leg/white shoe. She laughed.

It all went bad once I went to college in the Fall of '83. We didn't argue or anything; she just met a new "best friend" pretty quickly a month or two later. I'd left for Austin in late-August 1983, and by Christmas 1983, she was completely removed from me emotionally, though we still exchanged Christmas presents that year. (In October 1983, she'd run away from home -- by bus -- to me in my dorm room in Austin; that's a whole other parental-trauma that I had nothing to do with. I had no idea how her reaction to her parents' upset would afterward affect her thinking about me. We were never the same after that, though I continued to try and she "ran off to Austin" a couple of times after that.)

There are hundreds of other things... As I said above, I didn't know at the time WHAT this was. I thought this type of feeling and awareness of another would be a Given for the rest of my life, especially once I got to college, started having sex, etc. After 30 years, I can honestly say that there's been nothing like this.

What was I initially saying? Oh yeah --- the Find-A-Grave site. Which I'd thought was only for celebrities... Not so, apparently. Someone posted there in 2012 a photo of my friend's grave, which I found by accident today. She's buried in Georgia, where her family's from; I'd never seen the grave before: 1966 - 1988. I started crying at work and couldn't stop.

I had been worried about my unhappiness in Austin while she was worried about dying. We'd argued in the past about the existence of God, and while she was dying she wrote me that she now believed. And that she was reading Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet." She wrote me that she, though I might not believe it, loved me.

Not in regular contact, I didn't find out that she had died until I called her number around Thanksgiving of 1988: Her father answered, and when I asked for Ginny, he had to tell me that she'd died 6 months earlier. He thought he'd already notified all the "Azle People."

Here's the addendum: Songs that Ginny particularly liked in 1983 but that I never wanted to listen to...





Plus any Heart, plus any Prince.

And here's what I made her listen to again and again after my mall discovery ("Fweedom, oh Fweedom!" and "Aye, aye, genocide!" she sang back):




I didn't know what all of this was at the time. I didn't come out until 1989, a year after her death, and then to a simplistic, dumb club dyke "into vampires" who owned a total of 2 books and didn't like the Beatles. Sex, though: I was desperate for it after all of the years of yearning and wondering. But what I got was textbook (as I later learned) S-and-M --- nothing imaginative or sexy or interesting about it, just a lot of dumb posing. No songs shared (except for maybe Depeche Mode's "Violator" album and Siouxsie/Banshees' "Peek-a-boo.") Couldn't have been further from what I'd earlier felt. But this was officially "gay," right? I was supposed to LIKE this, right? If I was to be gay, I couldn't love or be with the girl I wanted to love, but rather had to go with the extremist scumbag -- who was one of the only ones then willing to be gay publicly. Right??

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Obscenely Reductive and Fundamentally Evil

http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/jul/09/world-cup-2014-big-losers?commentpage=2

I've been semi-avidly following the World Cup this year (Team Deutschland!), especially enjoying the UK Guardian's online live blogs and commentary.

The above-linked Guardian opinion piece by Paul Doyle posted Tuesday really got on my nerves, though. Enough so that I created an account with "The Guardian" just to respond thus:
Two things from this opinion piece struck a bizarre chord with me:
(1) "The happy paradox of the World Cup is that while it has proved that international football remains relevant, it has also helped show that nationalism is an anachronism. Insisting that players attach their identity to one country and one alone could be construed as obscenely reductive and fundamentally evil..."
A player representing "one country and one alone" is somehow "obscenely reductive and fundamentally evil"? Obscene? Evil? On the contrary, I find the concept of a player representing his country rather refreshing and unselfish --- as opposed to the mercenary quality of most football, each team an utterly meaningless random collection of men bought and paid for.
(2) "Also, it is a shame that the main protagonists, the players, do not get to fraternise with counterparts as much as everyone else. Perhaps the tournament organisation needs to be reviewed so that in the future all players stay in an equivalent of the Olympic village? They could still travel to various cities for matches but return to a shared base with shared facilities, an arrangement that would surely foster love and humanity and also, indeed, level the playing field a little."
Writer Paul Doyle, are you a 13-year-old girl living in "Hello Kitty"-land? The World Cup is a serious COMPETITION. Not a day-camp for troubled teens (sorry, Brazil). The World Cup is neither a place for "fostering love and humanity" nor for "leveling the playing field a little." It's where the best of the best come head to head to prove themselves against each other. This sense of raw competitiveness has been steadily expunged from our everyday lives --- and now the honesty of the impulse can't even be exhibited in the football arena?

Monday, July 07, 2014

One Nice Bus Thing

One thing I really don't like about Austin's bus-taking population: Since I take the same buses at the same times in the morning and the afternoon, I pretty much know exactly who's going to get on at every stop. For some reason, that really gets on my nerves. (In NY/NJ, buses and subways ran every few minutes instead of every half-hour --- up there, you just stepped outside or down a tunnel and got on when you got on; in Austin, you really have to go by the planned schedule. And so... the same old faces every day. My own Same Old Face being one of them, of course --- I don't like THAT, either! I actually do prefer being an anonymous traveler --- and not seeing the "Plath Girl" or the "Wild-n-Crazy Eastern European Guy with the Striped and/or Beatles Shirt" at the same stops every dang weekday morning!)

Anyway, one repetitive afternoon bus-person that I think is, nonetheless, a bit interesting: A black guy that I was bitching about here weeks ago for ALWAYS pulling the cord for the wrong stop (he wanted the stop I was transferring at, but he seemingly ALWAYS (at least 3 times) pulled it too early, and so the whole bus had to stop and waste precious seconds, during which the second bus he/I were trying to transfer to often PULLED AWAY in front of our very eyes---the timing was THAT close!)

So now, the guy has apparently figured it out. He doesn't pull the cord at the wrong stop any more. He and I get off at our transfer stop. He goes and sits down on the bus-stop bench; I go off the city-requisite 15 feet in order to smoke my interim cigarette.

After the 8 minutes or so, our 2nd bus approaches. I put out my cig and go stand near him by the bench. It's usually just us two there at this time. Sometimes the bus pulls up directly in front of me; sometimes it pulls up directly in front of him. But whichever, for the past 5 or 6 times: Even if the bus pulls up directly in front of HIM, he elaborately gestures for me to get on first. I just think this is so gentlemanly and kind and sweet.

And here's what this guy does on the second bus we get on together: The first route has been obnoxious and jam-packed, but the second is always just 1/3 full so we're not all rats fighting for space. On the second, I've got my spot that I always get to sit in, and he's got his spot at the back. Once he's settled in, he takes out a notebook and his recording phone and starts working on raps! When I first heard him practicing out loud, I -- fed up to HERE with assholes on the bus -- was initially thinking, "Jesus Christ, enough with obnoxious dicks blurting out random shit!" But then it turned out when I listened more carefully that he was really practicing his rhymes! If he'd mess up a line, he'd go back and start over to try to rework it... It was really a treat to listen to -- the rareness of getting to hear actual creativity in progress.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Joan Crawford on the set of "Untamed," 1930


Sleeping with Paul McCartney

Yes, I would find sleeping with Paul McCartney pleasant but, no, I haven't actually been fantasizing about it during the day. A couple of nights ago in a dream, though, I was hanging out as his house and fucking him AND giving him head (I've actually given head probably twice in my life and gagged both times and then stopped doing it) and moving from bed to bed trying to avoid various dead/ex-wives who were coming in and out. I kept wanting him to come to bed with ME so we could sleep through the night, but all of his other women were constantly there. Finally, I told him, "It's like Dickens--the Ghosts of Wives Past!" (In the dream, I felt very clever for this, since there had been 3 showing up: Linda, Heather, Nancy.)

When I woke up, I though about the pleasant things that I know about Paul McCartney: After reading several recent bios about him, I like the fact that he's constantly THINKING and CURIOUS. In one case, he was saying that he was waiting in the car for Linda to come back from an appointment and was bored to death, and then decided he'd create a "task" for himself -- to write a song before she got back... Years later, in another case, he decided to drive across America on the famous Route 66 with his new girlfriend Nancy Shevell. Now, this British guy doesn't know America or its highways; he can barely drive. But... he knew "Route 66" from his boyhood rock songs, and then when he was grown up and bold enough to attempt driving the actual route just for the hell of it, he attempted it, and asked his girl along for company.

That's what kind of boyfriend I want: Someone from Britain to drive across America with.

Below: Paul McCartney at a Springfield, Missouri, gas station during his 2008 Route 66 trip with his girlfriend.

 
 

Friday, July 04, 2014

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Hey Jude

On my bus route to work for the past year, there's been an attractive young woman constantly toting along a little boy named "Jude," who is sometimes cranky, sometimes cherubic. His mother usually tries to get him to sit up front, but he, the Big Boy, usually tries the stairs up to the back seats. The young mother has seemed cute in relation to her cute child.

But in the past month, the young woman has shown up at the bus stop with only her husband, no "Jude." At the bus stop, she holds his coffee container for him and tilts it to his lips. She strokes the back of his neck. The husband is 30-ish, like she is. And he has been wearing, EVERY SINGLE TIME I'VE SEEN HIM, a straw hat, white shirt, khaki pants, and sturdy earth shoes. Like a 60-year-old man on an archaeological dig in Egypt.

Here is a picture that I found online of what this young husband dresses like:


Why? My only guess is that he is a doctoral student at UT, not from Texas, who has taken on a costume that he assumes (wrongly) is suited for Texas... And yesterday on the bus when there was an empty seat, he went and sat in it, and left his wife standing. I think he's a creep for these reasons.