Thursday, February 26, 2015

John Lennon: Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out) 1974

Home version of the song from the "Walls and Bridges" album.

Nobody loves you when you're down and out
Nobody sees you when you're on cloud nine
Everybody's hustlin' for a buck and a dime
I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine

I've been across to the other side
I've shown you everything, I got nothing to hide
And still you ask me, do I love you, what it is, what it is?
All I can tell you is, it's all show biz
All I can tell you is, it's all show biz

Nobody loves you when you're down and out
Nobody knows you when you're on cloud nine
Everybody's hustlin' for a buck and a dime
I'll scratch your back and you knife mine

I've been across the water now so many times
I've seen the one eyed witchdoctor leading the blind
And still you ask me, do I love you, what you say, what you say?
Every time I put my finger on it, it slips away
Every time I put my finger on it, it slips away

Well I get up in the morning
And I'm looking in the mirror to see, ooo wee
Then I'm lying in the darkness
And I know I can't get to sleep, ooo wee

Nobody loves you when you're old and gray
Nobody needs you when you're upside down
Everybody's hollerin' 'bout their own birthday
Everybody loves you when you're six foot in the ground


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Serve Yourself [June 27 1980]


Horses (Azle, Texas)

The brief horses in my field were always rushing at me, or away.
It got to where I was scared to either ride or feed. Anything could happen:
The sun off the tin dish, the actual snake in the grass.

My neighbor rode much better -- bareback, behind her, we'd leap creeks
A dare, no doom, in each stumble up banks

The girl was bold; the horse, too. He didn't stand a chance.
I was safe as I'd ever be.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Distasteful Is the Night

I don't think I've ever read F. Scott Fitzgerald's last complete novel, "Tender Is the Night," all the way through. But after reading two Zelda bios in the last two weeks and learning that this particular novel deals with the so-called "turning-point" in their marriage, I had to give it another go.

It's fine. Fitzgerald is usually psychologically relatively astute when it comes to group dynamics. (He get kudos, at least, for TRYING, in this case.) But at one point I started running into enough annoying, ridiculous stuff like this (about the main character's wife, an 18-year-old love interest, and a random hanger-on):

"Their point of resemblance to each other and their difference from so many American women, lay in the fact that they were all happy to exist in a man's world -- they preserved their individuality through men and not by opposition to them. They would all three have made alternatively good courtesans or good wives not by the accident of birth but through the greater accident of finding their man or not finding him."

This kind of thing isn't the main jist of the novel, but it crops up enough to make me start to view the whole thing with distaste. Fitzgerald's prose is often beautiful enough to make me not want to dislike him. But the above makes me tilt toward dislike, similar to whatever D. H. Lawrence book I was reading years ago when he suddenly started declaring a 6-year-old girl (a 6-year-old girl!) to be a "bitch" and a "seductress," representative of all women.

I only very vaguely care about authors' personal proclivities, but when they start presenting said proclivities in their work as TRUTHS, I do indeed have a problem with it.

Fitzgerald died in 1940, at age 44. His smug novel about the beginning of his real-life wife's psychological breakdown, published in 1934, was, appropriately, his last.

Monday, February 23, 2015

John Lennon -Watching The Wheels: For Sandra

People say I'm crazy, doing what I'm doing
They give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm okay, well, they look at me kinda strange
"Surely, you're not happy now, you no longer play the game"
People say I'm lazy, dreaming my life away
They give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall:
"Don't you miss the big time, boy, you're no longer on the ball"
I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go
People ask me questions, lost in confusion
I tell them there's no problem, only solutions
They shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind
I tell them there's no hurry, I'm just sitting here doing time
I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

Sunday, February 22, 2015

John Lennon/Scared

I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared
As the years roll away
And the price that I paid
And the straws slip away

You don't have to suffer
It is what it is
No bell, book or candle
Can get you out of this, oh, no

 I'm scarred, I'm scarred, I'm scarred
Every day of my life
I just manage to survive
I just wanna stay alive

You don't have to worry
In Heaven or Hell
Just dance to the music
You do it so well, well, well

Hatred and jealousy, gonna be the death of me
I guess I knew it right from the start
Sing out about love and peace
Don't wanna see the red raw meat
The green-eyed goddamn straight from your heart

I'm tired, I'm tired, I'm tired
Of being so alone
No place to call my own
Like a rollin' stone

Lennon mocking Dylan, 1978

I've by now been nearly (I say NEARLY, mind you) beaten down into thinking that I'm so terrible for thinking honest thoughts. Such deem me "divisive" or "negative" or "not a team player."

For instance, I got unFriended on Facebook by a few people for questioning someone's decision to (1) post photos of his wife in a coma, and (2) post requests for money after she'd died. (In the former case, I'd gently asked the guy, someone I'd known since he was 16, to think before he posted such photos; after his wife died, I was more harshly questioning why he was asking for money since he was an upper-middle-class guy with a good job that more-than-paid-for her hospital expenses.)

Non-Facebook/Real Life: When you work for anyplace, there's usually some sort of brain-washing going on: I really like my workplace and the work that I do, but, nonetheless, I often get bombarded with, "We're a Family," which I find false and creepy and juvenile--as if employees could not find their own motivation (hello--MONEY) for being there but, rather, had to be falsely enticed into believing that the corporation really "felt" something for them...

I'd much prefer to just be allowed to do my work in peace, but, alas...

Thanks, John, for this entire thing mocking bullshit (in this case, the Dylan-is-God bullshit, representative of every other kind of bullshit).
"Sounds like a ballad to me...This should get me in the Village Voice...I'm so cynical, I could just keep on doing this forever....they're gonna be selling my socks like Judy Garland...Sometimes I wish I was George Harrison, you know, got all the answers..."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The word of the day is...


The furniture men came with my bedroom set yesterday. Near the end of the process, one said, "Oh, I almost forgot your crown." He then took a decorative piece out of his coat pocket and screwed it into the top of my dresser. Very nice, thanks, I told him.

Later, when he'd gone, I noticed a hole at the top of the headboard of my new bed. Hmmm. Thinking that probably something went there, I took down the dresser ornament that the man had added and tried it out on the headboard: perfect fit.

So I was missing something. But how in the hell was I ever going to find it? Was it even there to begin with? Was it knocked off in the truck or warehouse or store or street?

I almost didn't bother calling the store today because chances seemed so rare that they'd know anything about it. I'd resigned myself to living without "the topper" to either my dresser or headboard (depending on where I decided to finally put it).

So I called the store: Hi, my name is, you guys delivered furniture to me yesterday, at the end one guy screwed something, a knob, into the top of my dresser, and I think that same thing's missing from the top of my headboard. Did anyone find a knob lying around the delivery truck?

Furniture-store man: Now, are you missing a "knob," or a "finial"?

Me: What's a "finial"?

Explanation. Then, YES! The man on the phone was the owner of the store, and someone had placed a random "finial" on his desk, with no explanation. He'd been wondering why it was there! We're both 95% sure that it belongs with my headboard. And I shall find out for sure in a couple of days, when I go to pick it up! :)


Monday, February 16, 2015

Paper Dolls by Zelda Fitzgerald

Paper dolls by Zelda.

Zelda creating paper dolls.

Zelda's "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers"

While Zelda Fitzgerald was in the throes of her ballet obsession, beginning in 1927, a couple of years prior to her very first breakdown (and while she was living with but emotionally estranged from husband Scott), she apparently spent hours daily at home performing to this instrumental. Says houseguest-at-the-time John Biggs (an F. Scott Fitzgerald classmate at Princeton and later a judge and executor of Scott's estate):

"...she would 'start at six or seven o'clock in the morning and...had one tune she used to play constantly, 'The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.' She would keep it up until ten o'clock at night when she would drop from sheer exhaustion.' So often had he heard the tune played there that he said the melody was 'engraved on every organ he possessed.' The repetitious music and Zelda's practicing disturbed Scott enough to make him move his writing desk from the main part of the house into the library."

The Wikipedia entry,,
explains that the tune was initially written in 1897, then became an American hit with lyrics by Ballard MacDonald in 1922 (which is when Zelda would have first heard it):

The toy shop door is locked up tight
And everything is quiet for the night.
And suddenly the clock strikes twelve,
The fun's begun!
The dolls are in their best arrayed,
There's going to be a wonderful parade.
Hark to the drum,
Oh, here they come, cries everyone
Hear them all cheering,
Now they are nearing,
There's the captain stiff as starch.
Bayonets flashing,
Music is crashing,
As the wooden soldiers march;
Sabers a-clinking,
Soldiers a-winking,
At each pretty little maid.
Here they come!
Here they come!
Here they come!
Here they come!
Wooden soldiers on parade.
Daylight is creeping,
Dollies are sleeping.
In the toy shop window fast;
Soldiers so jolly,
Think of each dolly,
Dreaming of the night that's past.
When in the morning,
Without warning,
Toyman pulls the window shade,
There's no sign the Wood brigade
Was ever out upon parade.

More from Wikipedia: "In 1923, Lee DeForest filmed "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers", performed by Balieff's company, in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process. The film premiered on April 15, 1923 at the Rivoli Theater in New York City, and is now in the Maurice Zouary collection at the Library of Congress." [Again, this something that Zelda would almost surely have seen.]

I was unable to find the DeForest film, but here is a 2008 amateur junior ballet version from Fort Worth (I hope to god Zelda wasn't doing this kind of thing for 12 hours a day, but I fear she might have been; I think Scott is a bit of a dick, but I do feel sympathy for him in this instance):

And here's a painting by Zelda of ballet dancers:
I pretty much see EVERY bit of passive-aggressive Zelda symbolism in all of the above!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

No TV in Bedroom: Good Thing Still!

I just have to remark upon how not having a TV in my bedroom is STILL a good thing. (As I mentioned in an earlier post, there's no cable outlet there, and landlady wouldn't let cable guy drill one. I'd been used to going to sleep with the TV on in the same room for 15 years now.)

As I've been doing the past 2 weeks now in my new place, I woke up today with no audiovisual distraction right in my face. Kinda lay there for a bit, then picked up my Scott/Zelda bio and read for a bit, then, as with last weekend, had the impulse to jump out of bed and go get stuff done for the day! Tried a new eatery for a breakfast taco to go; took it into work, where I stayed about 3.5 hours and got a lot done in the silence; on my way home, went again to the used book store on the corner and got a Vivienne Haigh-Wood bio plus Donna Tartt's "The Goldfinch" for $4; tried another new eatery/cafe for a salad to take home... I like this new "lifestyle"! There's stuff to do all over the neighborhood very close to where I live. Aside from the billions of food joints (some fast food, some longtime Austin staples, some newer Austin staples), there's also the bookstore, the Savers, the Dollar Store, the billions of vintage furniture stores...just lots of places to pop into without making a 1-hr bus trip. (I do miss my one tiny Tex-Mex place with the great fish tacos from my old 'hood. But other than that, there really wasn't anything for me to do just by quickly walking to, unless I wanted a crappy microwaved sandwich for $10.) Oh, and I found a place right next to the bookstore where I can get a pedi for $25 and then walk home easily in my flip-flops! This 'hood is really suiting my everyday needs! I haven't even mentioned how a 12-pack of Bud is $1.50 cheaper at the corner CVS than it was back in my old 'hood!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Went to bed and woke up celebrating appropriately with "Sometimes Madness Is Wisdom," about that oh-so-Romantically-dysfunctional duo, Scott and Zelda.

Other favorite literary Valentines:

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
Anne and Kayo Sexton
Vivienne Haigh-Wood and T. S. Eliot
(Wound up my Valentine's Day by buying a bio of the tormented female half of the last couple at my favorite used book store up the street.)
p.s. Why was it always the woman going mad in these relationships? You could say that Vivienne was not her husband's equal, talent-wise. I think Zelda Sayre was definitely her husband's equal, though unacknowledged and constantly tamped down by Fitzgerald, actually forbidden by him, with the complicity of her psychiatrists, to write about her own life for fear that (1) it would "excite" her too much, and (2) that her writing about her own life would interfere with Scott's desire to incorporate her own thoughts/life into his writing, which he'd done constantly, often verbatim. (This is the sickest thing of all--his argument was that since he made the money in the family from his writing, that he had the right to HER thoughts as well as his.)
Plath, a more profound poet than Hughes, though he received the accolades while she was alive and married to him (after SHE, with her early East Coast US literary connections, ensured that he was published in America). Sexton's husband was a non-literary businessman and supportive, while violent.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Beware of Pricks (Joan Crawford, 1926)

Screaming at strangers...

...sometimes feels sooooooooo good.

Of course, there are always the doubts: "WHY, Steph, WHY? Aren't you even a bit embarrassed about losing it? Aren't you afraid that it's only going to get worse as you get older, and you're going to end up as the neighborhood 'Really Crazy Old Lady Who Always Screams at People'? Some things are a Slippery Slope, you know."

Yes, I'm a little bit embarrassed. Yes, I'd eventually, ideally like to be a calm, gracious old person and not a crazy, bitter one.

But... oh well.

With my new apartment, my bus-ride to/from work is only about 20 minutes each way. On the Rapid, which my employer pays for. The Rapid's 50-cent-higher rate also ensures that mainly professionals and students ride it, so it's not the writhing-masses-of-humanity scumbag hell that some of the regular city buses are. The rate difference, though, sometimes creates confusion among those waiting at the stops shared by both regular and Rapid buses. As in, sometimes people at the stops want to get on whatever bus stops there, without a realization that the Rapid buses cost more. When the driver tells them about the price difference, there are often arguments and annoying minutes of delays while we passengers all sit there and listen to the pointless blah-blah-blah back and forth.

Same happened this afternoon on my way home. Mid/late-20s couple, both grimy, with backpacks. White guy with dreads. Bleached-blonde Asian woman. As soon as I saw them, before they even opened their mouths, I thought, "San Francisco."

When they initially stepped onto the bus, the guy had a soda, the girl had a Styrofoam container of food. The driver told them no food or drinks on the bus. They, grumbling, went back out and tossed their stuff. When they stepped back onto the bus, there was the above-mentioned argument about what fare they were supposed to pay. They finally got all of their appropriate loose change into the fare box and headed toward the back of the bus, muttering.

GIRL: This is so fucked up.
GUY: Austin's a shitty city anyway.

ME: [turning to look at the guy, having had my absolute fill of smarmy San Francisco attitude 20 years ago and carrying the "trauma" forward to this day, and yelling] Why the FUCK are you here then?!

I was sick of  (and nauseated by) San Francisco attitude in '94, and I've been sick of the recent influx of West Coasters into Austin who've been partaking of the town while tossing out smug judgments on it. (One asshole I overheard on the bus months ago was actually CRITICIZING the fact that the streets here weren't more "dangerous," unlike his hometown San Francisco. Another guy on the bus, a grad student, hometown unknown, was bragging about the money he was getting from the University to study here, but belittling the state as a whole.)

Why the FUCK are you here then, indeed?!

When I shouted at the guy today, just about every professional/student head on the previously quiet bus looked up at me, then just as quickly turned back to their devices. The response of the guy himself was first a smirk and then a subsequent quieting down. (I must admit that I was, at that moment, in the incredible mood for a fight.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I'm asking this question in the hope that you'll be kind

Well I tried so hard to stay alive
But the angel of destruction keeps on hounding me all around
But I know in my heart that we never really parted
Oh no

They say the Lord helps those who help themselves
So I'm asking this question in the hope that you'll be kind
Cos I know deep inside I was never satisfied
Oh no, Lord help me
Lord help me now
Please help me Lord, yeah yeah yeah
Help me to help myself

Monday, February 09, 2015

Whatever comes with a fox

Just ordered this pillow. The fox is not my totem (I don't think I have one; I'm more attracted to the cat family on a conscious level, though I also pay attention to foxes and wolves.), but I came upon it by accident. The pillow reminded me both of Klimt's style and of two of my favorite poems by Ted Hughes (one exultant, one utterly heartbreaking). I felt I needed this for my study, where I keep all my poems.

The Thought-Fox

I imagine this midnight moment's forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock's loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow,
A fox's nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business
Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.



London. The grimy lilac softness
Of an April evening. Me
Walking over Chalk Farm Bridge
On my way to the tube station.
A new father – slightly light-headed
With the lack of sleep and the novelty.
Next, this young fellow coming towards me.

I glanced at him for the first time as I passed him
Because I noticed (I couldn't believe it)
What I'd been ignoring.

Not the bulge of a small animal
Buttoned into the top of his jacket
The way colliers used to wear their whippets –
But its actual face. Eyes reaching out
Trying to catch my eyes – so familiar!
The huge ears, the pinched, urchin expression –
The wild confronting stare, pushed through fear,

Between the jacket lapels.
    'It's a fox-cub!'
I heard my own surprise as I stopped.
He stopped. 'Where did you get it? What
Are you going to do with it?'
    A fox-cub
On the hump of Chalk Farm Bridge!

'You can have him for a pound.' 'But
Where did you find it? What will you do with it?'
'Oh, somebody'll buy him. Cheap enough
At a pound.' And a grin.
    What I was thinking
Was – what would you think? How would we fit it
Into our crate of space? With the baby?
What would you make of its old smell
And its mannerless energy?
And as it grew up and began to enjoy itself
What would we do with an unpredictable,
Powerful, bounding fox?
The long-mouthed, flashing temperament?
That necessary nightly twenty miles
And that vast hunger for everything beyond us?
How would we cope with its cosmic derangements
Whenever we moved?

The little fox peered past me at other folks,
At this one and at that one, then at me.
Good luck was all it needed.
Already past the kittenish
But the eyes still small,
Round, orphaned-looking, woebegone
As if with weeping. Bereft
Of the blue milk, the toys of feather and fur,
The den life's happy dark. And the huge whisper
Of the constellations
Out of which Mother had always returned.
My thoughts felt like big, ignorant hounds
Circling and sniffing around him.
   Then I walked on
As if out of my own life.
I let that fox-cub go. I tossed it back
Into the future
Of a fox-cub in London and I hurried
Straight on and dived as if escaping
Into the Underground. If I had paid,
If I had paid that pound and turned back
To you, with that armful of fox –

If I had grasped that whatever comes with a fox
Is what tests a marriage and proves it a marriage –
I would not have failed the test. Would you have failed it?
But I failed. Our marriage had failed.

Great Day!

I haven't had a great or even pretty good day for months, it seems, but I sure had one on Sunday!

I think it has something to do with no TV in the bedroom. (Surprisingly, there was no cable outlet there, and the landlady didn't want the cable co. to drill one. So... I only have the one TV in the living room.) I woke up with only a mild hangover, but normally, at the old place, that would be enough to keep me in bed channel-surfing all day unless I just desperately had to do laundry or grocery shopping. This time when I woke up, however, I just lay there for a bit and then got pretty bored with myself!

So UP I jumped and guess what I did! Went into work for a few hours! Again, back at the old place, there's no way in hell I would have gone through all the drudgery of between 1 and 2 hours each way to and from work, especially with the Sunday bus schedule. At my new place, though... 20 minutes, and there I am! There's a crapload of stuff that I need to get done this week, with 2 hard deadlines, and it had been weighing on my mind. I ended up staying for 3 hours and cleaning up a lot of odds-n-ends so I could focus on the big stuff this week. Felt great!

After that, it was about 4 in the afternoon, and a GORGEOUS 78-degree springlike day in Austin. There's a little used bookstore a couple of blocks from my apartment, run by the Austin libraries, which I'd been eyeing, and I finally went in... Hardbacks $2; PBs $1! That is how used books SHOULD be priced, I think, but unfortunately, even at Goodwill and Savers, they're charging $5 or so for hardbacks--and they're usually extremely stained, grimy hardbacks! (Half-Price Books went bad over a decade ago. When they started out, they charged exactly half, for instance, of what a PB cover price was. So if you found a PB from 1973 or so and the cover said $1.95, you'd pay a dollar. NOW, though, even if the book is from '73, they mark it with what the same title would sell for TODAY; so you'd end up paying $3.50 or something for a tattered book.)

This store, though, was FANTASTIC! It was set up like a library, with some tables and sofas for browsing, and all the books were arranged by category. I spent over an hour in there and ended up getting "Sometimes Madness Is Wisdom" (Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald bio), "Culture of Ancient Egypt," and the Collected Gertrude Stein. $4 total!

My mood was getting better and better, so I moseyed on over to the café up the street -- it was jam-packed, so I didn't stop and eat there, but I did pick up a menu to take home and saw that their prices were reasonable (gourmet sandwiches for $6.95-$7.95), so I'll definitely be stopping in again; just have to figure out an off-time, when so many people might not be there and I can actually eat in and stay a bit to read and/or write... I ended up getting a take-home sandwich at Thundercloud. My kitchen (yes, I now HAVE one!!) looks beyond the small apartment parking lot to surrounding trees and the wooden buildings that house a Wellness Center and small vintage store next door, and it's high enough up to where I can look toward the street that I was just shopping on, as well as watch bicyclists and walkers going by. The sun was starting to set as I ate and looked out and browsed through my new books, and I was just smiling and thinking to myself: I have a kitchen! I have a bookstore! I have a café! (And, from Saturday--I have a diner, too!)

Once it got too dark to read with the blinds open any more, I took my Scott-and-Zelda book to my bedroom (that's about to be so much lovelier even) and read until I fell asleep, waking up sans alarm in time to read some more and STILL get to work Monday an hour early! (And my boss is out all this week, so the day had a relaxed feel to it, despite the workload.)

I'd forgotten what a sense of contentment felt like!

Sleep with me!

Bedding that I just bought to go with my new bedroom set. (Yes, I plan on having sex again. Sorry, but you can't NOT have sex with covers like that!) ;p

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Feed me!

Saturday after furniture shopping, I got a good chicken-fried-chicken meal with mashed potatoes and a side salad for only $10 + tip. In an old-style diner, the type of place I like, and only 2 blocks from my apartment. Old-school Austin that I'd been missing so. Why I fell in love with it in the first place, back in the '80s when I first traveled here from Azle for a high-school UIL writing competition and found a "John Lennon: Shaved Fish" T-shirt at a local record store on the Drag.

Furniture Shopping

Now that I'm in 750-sq-ft instead of 400, and 4 rooms instead of 1, I realized just how crappy (and inadequate) all of my stuff is! While my 4 tall bookshelves add warmth and interest to the rooms they're in, my actual furniture has been ridiculously cheap and unattractive. It was "cute" stuff to "start over" with when I was forced to live in the 1 room... The cheap bed bought sight unseen (and unfelt) online, whose springs started poking me within a year... the 2-ft-wide little "desk-on-wheels" I was doing all my work on (a hand-me-down from my mom)... plus random odds-n-ends tables and such bought cheaply off Craigslist or found by my old apartment dumpster or also handed down from my mom. It all served a functional purpose in that 1 room. (Thought sometimes ill-used: My mom had given me her old 3 x 3 solid wood kitchen table--a nice one--which I had shoved into a corner with papers and reference books and my printer piled onto. It's now properly a KITCHEN table! Though one of the two chairs is still IMproperly used, as my desk chair.)

My route to work for the past year, and the new area where I live, are filled with many vintage/consignment furniture stores, which I've been eyeballing while on my daily bus-trip to work. I already had personal experience with a couple of them, from shopping for bookshelves the past couple of years, so I knew which one I wanted to hit up first---and because it had a flat $80 delivery fee regardless of how much you bought, I wanted to do the bulk of my shopping there.

So I got up today with my furniture shopping list already made (*s are how I'd starred them on my list, by most needed/wanted):

**couch (my living room currently hosts nothing but a TV table, a 1999 TV, and one bookshelf)
**chest of drawers (my old apt. had built-in drawers; all of my underwear, socks, etc., are currently either lying on the bedroom floor or housed in cardboard moving boxes)
*coffee table (living room)
small bookcase (for the study)
ottoman (study)
end table (living room)
dressing table & chair (bedroom)
plus various lamps for all rooms

When I got to the store I liked, I quickly saw that the couch selection was meager, so I gave up on that right away. (Plus I'd been online browsing recently for a charcoal-gray couch/chaise combination--that seems to be trendy both style- and color-wise nowadays, but I actually like how that looks; none of the used couches came close to what I was in the mood for.)

OK, no couch. Next, I focused on the chest of drawers and/or dresser. Was torn between a vintage oak dresser (no mirror) for $389 and a cheap $90 black particle-board chest that actually looked very good and seemed solidly built for what it was. But... the black chest wasn't going to match anything else in my bedroom, and it was a cheapie, and... I was darn sick of the hodge-podge, the throwaway furniture I'd been living with. I didn't want to buy yet ANOTHER thing that I'd just be keeping for a couple of years, or just for utility's sake. I kept pacing and pacing, staring at one, then the other... The vintage dresser was a bit scratched, not exactly hitting the spot, either (for nearly $400, I wanted EXACTLY what I wanted, not just something to settle for)...

In the same area of the store was a bedroom set for $1149 by Broyhill: queen-sized bed, dresser with triptych mirror, chest of drawers, 2 night tables. Solid wood. Made in the '90s, but a classic look. Hardly any wear. The plush mattress/box springs was $250 extra.

I hadn't come in there for a bed. My own full-size bed with a metal frame (no headboard) was still serviceable (after placing a thick bed pad on it and rotating it so the various springs poking out weren't directly poking me). But I'd been waking up back- and neck-achy for the past couple of months--personal stress, work stress, hitting middle age, bad bed? All, probably. But I suddenly blamed the bed. And I suddenly equated being a middle-aged adult with having a bed with a headboard, and a footboard, and, moreover, with thick mattresses. Plus I needed somewhere to put my underwear and socks. And something else to place my perfume and jewel-box on. This set gave me the whole she-bang. It wasn't a hodge-podge. It looked like something that would last me for the rest of my life, which, at nearly 50, I wanted: MY bedroom furniture. To grow old with.

I bought the set. A hundred dollars knocked off the price helped, but STILL... It was a MAJOR purchase. The most major purchase of my life. (My computer cost nearly $1000. And I've never bought a car on my own. So this bedroom set is really THE most major purchase of my life.)

I also ended up picking up a small desk and accompanying chair, plus an ottoman, for the study. (All three of those, though, only totaled about $200.) This makes the bedroom and the study done. What did NOT get done at all, however, was the living room! With only a TV and no place to sit, it's completely unusable for the time being. I can't quite bring myself to spring for a couch, etc. (and the big-screen TV I wanted), right now, though. Too much, too soon, I feel. I feel like I need to, in the coming weeks, simply spend time in my bedroom, appreciating both the cushy bed and the ability to sort out my undies. No sensory overload! ;p

Below: Not quite the Broyhill style that I bought today, but similar.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Thursday, February 05, 2015

In The Dark - Freddy Martin Orchestra (1935)

One thing that's interesting to me about listening to music from the '30s is getting a sociological feel for how people romanced/related to each other then. (Most people aren't profound poets and can't express their deepest feelings; so they often let pop culture do it for them. There's shallowness in mass culture, sure, but... there's also, in the best of it, a truth that gets expressed amid all of the glossing over.) This is a sexually sweet song by today's standards, but a sexually provocative song for 1935. It's a popular song because it's catchy and talks about a favorite activity of young people at the time, going to dance clubs (in that, nothing has changed!)... but it's also emotionally honest and intimate. I relate to that, as well. Most of my best memories from my own clubbing days (up until 2000) were of the moments when I connected with an individual amidst all of the chaos (though many such "connections" also somehow involved cocaine and/or a penis---but hey, who's to say that the crooner in this song, or at least the songwriter, wasn't also recollecting a night in a club when he gave a young flapper some then-newly-hip coke and pressed his dick against her...only to clean it up later for public consumption).

Charlie Barnet - Make Believe Ballroom

I've been listening nonstop to this 4-CD set for the past few nights--101 songs from 1929 through 1940. "Make-Believe Ballroom" is my current favorite. "Tho' you've only a small room / make it your ballroom" is my favorite line; I also like the clever "dancipation" and how the song incorporates the then-trendy new invention of the it makes poor and/or young people trapped in small spaces feel happy despite their meager surroundings! "If you've got a radio, you're OK--the world is available to you." I've often felt the same way. Back in the '80s when I used to listen to late-night stations for some/any emotional sustenance, and today, when the Internet provides the same small, fleeting comfort.
Let's dance, in a mansion or hall room
Here's your make-believe ballroom, let's dance
Romance at the tip of your fingers
While the melody lingers, let's dance, dance, dance

Start in swayin', while the band is playin'
Music is worth your while
Let this station give you dancipation
Simply turn the dial
And keep on dancin' tho' you've only a small room
Make it your ballroom, let's dance...

Sunday, February 01, 2015

On one of my last bus rides...

...on the 21/22, connecting me to my old Eastside neighborhood, a 30-ish woman got on, accompanied by a trolling hipster (on crutches--symbolism). This same woman, I'd seen for the past couple of years in the mornings, usually accompanied by her toddler son, Jude. (Jude is a determined little charmer, always marching on the bus and claiming his seat, sometimes smiling broadly, sometimes giving people a "what you talkin' bout Willis" look.) I wondered about them. The mother looked like she was married to an academic; she didn't seem overly pretentious herself, only borderline so, but she looked pretty and intelligent, like someone an academic man might choose. One day on campus I saw Jude not with his mother, but with a man in his early 30s, wearing a typical "summertime academic" outfit: A long-sleeved see-through Philippino shirt with a white T-shirt underneath, khaki pants, hiking boots, and an academically approved jaunty straw hat. As soon as I saw him, I thought: "Perfect." He looked like a bit of a pretentious ass (I find that people who dress for the occasion -- like "summer in Austin" -- are almost always pretentious asses). After a few months, I saw the three together on the bus: The couple sat side-by-side, never saying a word to each other. "What a dick," I thought.

Last week on the bus, the woman got on, sans Jude, in the middle of a conversation with the trolling hipster/crutches guy. Because of him, I learned her age (29); where she worked (at a learning center on campus); her college major (Biology); what her husband does (it's her ex-husband; she's divorced; they have 2 kids, ages 9 and 3 --- the latter is Jude, I suppose).

The guy on crutches was actually physically attractive, but his overt New Humanitarian hipsterism made him sound like an idiot. For instance, when the woman mentioned that her college major had been Biology, the guy began a spiel about how, like, even though he was currently an unemployed English major, he'd always, like, been interested in Biology, because it was, like, LIFE. In all my years, I've overheard dozens of girls going for this kind of line, and was kind of waiting for her to, also. To her credit, she did not. (Jesus, she had one kid when she was 20, and her husband has recently forced her to raise a 3-year-old by herself. Perhaps the Reality Gene has kicked in early with this lady.)