Friday, July 31, 2015

You Do Not Do, You Do Not Do

Another thought about my father as I near my 50th birthday: He's never done anything to ensure that his offspring would be better off than he was.


He was born Poor White, 1940, and constantly railed against "niggers" and their irresponsibility. But when it got right down to it, he didn't do anything for his own children. And he didn't work a day in his life past the age of 40, thanks to a government stipend granted to him after 20 years in the military.

I went to college on a very small scholarship ($1000 total), and then my mother (on her very small government salary) sending me $100 a month. After that, I took out government loans. To this day, I'm paying over $400 a month from my salary to pay back my student loans.

What was my father thinking? Nothing? (My advice to Daddy: Don't act intellectually/morally superior at all if you're not willing to help your children be more than retail sales-people. Whatever I've accomplished in my life has been in spite of you.)

Birthday Dinner

I've got my 50th birthday coming up in a couple of weeks. In past years, I've wanted to eat brisquet at County Line or fajitas at El Mercado. The brisquet and fajitas at these Austin staples has degenerated in the past couple of years, though. Both used to have extremely tender meat, lately run through with fat and/or gristle. Not a treat any more.

This year, I asked that my family take me to a German place with wienerschnitzel:

I have no idea what good German restaurants exist around Austin, though there are plenty of German communities around here dating from the 1850s or so. I've been in Austin for over 30 years and have never been to New Braunfels, for instance, which is known for its German heritage and restaurants (as well as the Schlitterbahn water-park).,_Texas

Just have to throw this in: I think it was my 12th birthday in Azle, when my parents were still married. I got to choose then, also, where I wanted to go for dinner. I picked Long John Silver's. My father mocked me for picking a fast-food restaurant. (He didn't just make an off-hand comment; he made me feel like a real loser for choosing such a place.)

The thing is: Up until the age of 12, I'd probably been "out to eat" maybe 5 times. Most of those to fast-food restaurants like Shakey's Pizza. (One Big Deal was going to the Officer's Club on my father's Air Force Base. Once.) So what was I to pick at age 12? Was Long John Silver's so crazy given that I'd never seen any other options? What ugly hypocrisy.

I'm about to be 50 years old, and I still wonder why in the world an adult would treat a 12-year-old like shit on her birthday. (After my parents were divorced when I was 12, there was still a lot more ugliness to come from my father. Late-night calls to the house threatening suicide. Late-night "visits" to our driveway, when the police were called but wouldn't make him leave because "his name is on the mailbox.")

My visit to him in South Dakota at 15, when he constantly berated me and jacked off in the next room. When I was 16, he was back in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and took me on my driving test... he yelled at me the whole way home, turning what should have been a fun day ("I got my driver's license!") into something shitty.

As I got older, I got to hear others' stories of their parents and of their shared milestones... What I tried to write off as "normal" when I was kid, I've since discovered was incredibly ugly and emotionally abusive in comparison.


Today I finished solely editing a 400+ page scientific book aimed not at sales to captive school districts by educational publishers (as in my old days of group-edited textbooks), but rather to the general public.

I recognize that this news differs considerably from my usual posts here. Wouldn't it be amazing if all I had to share here were professional triumphs rather than my irritation with various shitty people in both my public and private life?

Finishing this book gives me some idea of what actual professionals experience on an ongoing basis.

When you're young, the emotional bullshit is kind of interesting: At least someone's interacting with you. As you get older, though, and start to establish yourself in other ways... You start to gravitate toward things that might satisfy you intellectually (i.e., what you were interested in before you started thinking that who paid attention to you sexually was the most important thing in your life.).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Hundred Dresses (and Hundred Shirts?)

One of the books that I ordered from Scholastic as a kid was "The Hundred Dresses." I liked it because it was well-written and emotionally evocative, although I didn't at the time relate to the now-stated concept of a "Polish immigrant girl who is mocked by others in her class for being different."

From Wikipedia:

The book centers on Wanda Petronski, poor and friendless Polish-American girl. Her teacher, outwardly kind, puts her in the worst seat in the classroom and she does not say anything when her schoolmates tease her. One day, after Wanda's classmates laugh at her funny last name and the faded blue dress she wears to school every day, Wanda claims to own one hundred dresses, all lined up in her closet at her worn-down house. This outrageous and obvious lie becomes a game, as the girls in her class corner her every day before school, demanding that she describe all of her dresses for them. She is mocked, and her father, Mr. Petronski, decides that she must leave that school.
The teacher holds a drawing contest in which the girls are to draw dresses of their own design. Wanda enters and submits one hundred beautiful designs. Her classmates are in awe of her talent and realize that these were her hundred dresses. Unfortunately, she has already moved away and does not realize she won the contest.


Reading the above description reminds me of what I remembered most about the book --- I could see and feel (and even smell) that "faded blue dress" that the main character wore. It smelled like and was faded by the sun, was often warm off the line when she put it on. And I saw and felt the colors of the character's drawings of dresses, and had my favorites among them... And, strangely at the time for an 8-year-old, I felt a sense of loss when the character disappeared.

This entry was initially going to be only about: Look at all the shirts I have now in 2015! When I was in New York City back in 2008 et al, all I had for the summer were maybe 3 black shirts and 3 white shirts to my name! I've got a bunch of summery shirts now, with shoes to match. (I also, back in NYC, had a couple of pairs of black loafers and one clay-colored pair of loafers to my name for summer.)

The city itself was so intellectually and aesthetically glamorous for me that I didn't always feel bereft, clothes-wise, because I was too busy soaking everything in and worrying about finding work. I would, though, occasionally bemoan my loss of something pretty and light to wear on a summer's day. (Winter up north, I'd spent money on: 3 new coats and 2 pairs of weather-proof boots once I'd arrived. Plus numerous scarves and hats sold by street vendors for about $10 each. I never felt out of place in New York in the winter.)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

"The planets are now shaking you like a fruit tree"

Your horoscope for July 18, 2015 
 What do you have to lose? The planets are now shaking you like a fruit tree in the hopes of ridding you of your old objectives to make way for new growth. You feel doubt where once there was only certainty. When you consider the worst that can happen, it may help you realize that what you are clinging to so dearly really is not all that important to you. It's time to let go and begin anew.


No shit! :)  I think a perfect example of the above is my meeting with Sandra a couple of weeks ago. Sandra, of the "7 years of wanting Sandra" Sandra. I will not say anything more in particular other than one thought that ran through my head during that time: "She's not listening to any thing that I say." The whole two days were like that. I finally just shut up and kind of sat there, interacting more with her sassy dog.

What I was clinging to "so dearly" really is "not all that important" to me. I do want companionship, but not just physicality -- there has to be some intellectual interaction!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ivan's Childhood

I caught this 1962 film by Andrei Tarkovsky by accident on TCM on Sunday night.

I thought the "Masha" bits were unnecessary. I thought some of the male posing and close-ups of shirtlessness and lips were a bit forced and, yes, gay, although the actual depiction of male comradery was not either.

Both the boy and the story broke my heart.

I can't remember the last time that anything moved me.

p.s. I have a suspicion that the below 1982 U2 album cover was based specifically on the above photo shown at the end of the Tarkovsky movie--only heavily sanitized, arted up. When I was 17 and bought the album, I thought the cover was profound. Looking at it now in comparison to the revelation of Ivan's final prison picture, I'm almost sickened by the saccharinity.

How could I forget this from my Saturday bus adventures??

I was at a bus stop on Burnet on Saturday after getting take-out to take home. The one guy next to me at the stop was 275+ pounds and had a plastic tray of wings that he was busy scarfing down amid car fumes and the 100-degree heat. I was fascinated by his slurping in public and couldn't stop looking at him despite trying not to. After 10 minutes or so of my looking/not looking, the tragic happened: He accidentally knocked over the remainder of the tray of wings onto the pavement! I was worried for him --- he'd obviously been looking forward to those wings... what was he going to do now? Go back into the supermarket behind us for another tray? Just give it up? Never fear. He had some take-out napkins with him. He scooped the fallen wings up off the ground with the tray, swiped at them with his napkins, and then dug into them again.

[photo below from the Internet, not the actual guy]

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Riding the bus in Austin is relatively pleasant the first round, if you've looked up the schedule ahead of time and the bus arrives as it should. It's only afterwards, if you have more stuff to do, that the whole process gets ridiculous.

My "first round" today got me to the post office nicely (to return a crappy eBay sweater). The trouble started when I then wanted to move on to shopping at Target to stock up on face wash, body wash, delicate-cycle wash, pre-brush mouthwash (which I mention because I actually do like these specific cheap Target brands that I can't buy as cheaply at the supermarket up the street). Waiting after at the upper-middle-class Hyde Park bus stop was genteel enough (only me and a hipster couple with matching skinniness and straw sun-hats). Catching the next bus further north, though, was a bit stupid: an actual drug deal going down, though the guys were low-key about it.

Once I got to the Target to get my beloved cleansing products, I was not particularly in any sort of mood, other than a mood to get my cleansing products. Once in the store, though, I found myself in "agitated" mode because of two different clusters of loud assholes. (One group was black, one was Hispanic --- is it racist to point this out? Yes? OK, let's just say they're assholes, then. Loud, obnoxious assholes acting out in a shopping center for no particular reason.) What were they doing that was so obnoxious? Oh, let's just say that various products don't particularly need to be referred to as "motherfucking" and "goddamn" over and over again at the top of one's lungs.

After my lovely Target experience, I went on to wait at the bus-stop that would carry me home... The bus I needed had apparently just passed, so I was stuck there for 40 minutes with a host of fuck-ups all clustering together in the 6 x 6 piece of shade in the Texas July and screaming amongst themselves. After the first minute or so, I decamped to a nearby bush to have a smoke and stay away from these assholes. The super-stars of the bunch were a one-legless white vet, a black drug dealer, and a simpleton Colombian that the white and black guy mocked for not making more drug money before emigrating to the United States.

Once I finally made it home to deposit my Target finds (I'd left the house at 10:30; it was now 3pm, which is INSANE for 2 errands), I headed out again to get my favorite dinner from McAllister's Deli: At this bus-stop was a big ol' bearded white guy (looking like a larger Si from "Duck Dynasty") asking me for quarters (Me: "No, sorry, I save all of mine for laundry"), then bitching about "the Obama Bus" --- Austin has a regular bus that costs a dollar to ride, and then the Rapid, which costs $1.50. This guy didn't approve of the Rapid, which, according to him, cost "3 times" the amount of the regular bus. I didn't say to him, "Thank God for the Rapid, which is less crowded and less populated by assholes such as yourself." I'm extremely glad that the extra 50 cents keeps the riff-raff away. Oh wait -- is that "riff-raff"-ist?

I need a car. I wasted 4 hours today putting up with a whole bunch of shitty people that I never should have had to be around at all. (I'll never be rich enough to live in a gated community, and I don't have kids that I've sent to a private school -- but I certainly understand the impetus for wanting such. You kinda get more Republican once you've had actual experience with what's out there.)

Saturday, July 11, 2015


1980 single from the "Union Jacks" album. I was 15 and thought it was all very profound.

Friday, July 10, 2015


My mother called me at my office a couple of days ago re driver's license info for me that had come to her house. (She had the number from a business card I'd given her last year when I was in the throes of excitement about my new job after years of schlepping around as a temp, and thus passing out my new business cards to everyone I knew.)

When I answered the phone, she was, surprisingly to me, surprised to hear me answer -- she'd felt almost sure that I wouldn't be there. Why?

She thought I had probably quit by now! HUH??

My mother hadn't called me in 6 months, and in the first minute on the phone I had to -- HAD TO -- correct her about something that apparently only she and one asshole from my online Joan Crawford world hadn't known:

That when I moved to New York City in 2007 and had a hard time finding a job, and then had a hard time finding a job when I got home to Austin in 2010...

(1) The market did indeed crash in 2008. (2) Almost every editor I know was hard up for work during this time period.

I didn't expect the stupid dick from online to know anything about me, but I did indeed expect my own mother to be a little bit more aware.

In short, yes, I was there at that number. Why wouldn't I have been?

Despite the weird insinuations on her part, I was happy to hear from her. Such is blood.
It's only afterward, though, that you start thinking: REALLY? (And then: See what I mean? My whole life has been full of this stupid shit. I remove myself from it, then question why I isolate myself.)

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

P.S. I Love You

Was just thinking about Ginny, whom I was madly in love with when I was senior in high school and she was a junior. But, aside from our high school connection, I was madly in love with her because I wanted to be YOUNG also in the future with her. I wanted to be in college and see bands and write poetry and get a first apartment, and have my first sex, etc.

She dumped me once I went off to college.

At nearly 50, I don't miss her so much as I used to. At nearly 50, I've done everything on my own (to a much lesser extent, quality-wise) than I once dreamed about doing with her.

All of my actual history with her was from February 1983 through August 1983 (and a few singular incidents after through '85, when she ran off to Austin, where I was at college). I was in love with her through 1988, when I called her parents' home in Georgia to find out she'd died ("We thought we'd told all the Azle people.").

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Song Sung Blue

I had a small transistor radio when I was 9 (maybe 4" x 2"). I remember walking around the neighborhood with it pressed to my ear, and this the very first song that I heard.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

July 4, 2015

Spent my 4th o' July shopping for groceries then watching "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" re-runs while putting together the side-table seen here. It was a GOOD 4th of July because I had no expectations.
Media suggest that the 4th should be spent in the company of family and/or friends having cook-outs and watching fireworks... I would have liked that. I've had such before in earlier years, but in recent years... there's nothing. My mom's not exactly motherly, and my bro's not exactly brotherly. I'm on my own. Which I've finally psychologically accepted by now.
I'm glad I got the side-table done! (My so-called "family" can go fuck themselves.)

Thursday, July 02, 2015

My Belly Is Now a Problem

I just noticed a couple of weeks ago that my weight had suddenly ballooned up to 170 lbs. By "suddenly," I mean that back in only May of this year, I was hovering, as I had been for the past 7 years or so, between 155 and 160, with a completely reasonable goal of getting down to below 150 before my upcoming 50th birthday in August. (I'm 5'8". When I graduated high school, I was a too-skinny 118. I consider my "picture/fighting weight" to be 137. I consider 150 or below to be "reasonable" for me.)

Around June of this year, though, some weird ballooning seems to have taken place. I haven't gone through menopause yet (though, at nearly-50, I'm surely about to). I haven't been drinking more or eating more. The pre-/post-stress of my move in late January has subsided. Perhaps I've just reached that fabled middle-aged plateau where you're just all-of-a-sudden dumpy?

I have a scale, and a couple of weeks ago I noticed the big jump in weight. And so took some minor steps that I thought would correct the problem: At my work cafeteria, when before I'd order some fries or a slice of pizza with my salad, I started just getting a bigger salad and deleting the fries or pizza. Mid-afternoon snacks at work I almost completely deleted. Eating fast food, I almost completely deleted. Eating around midnight after hours on the computer and just before bed, I almost completely deleted.

In my past experience with my body, changes in diet usually have taken about 2 weeks to kick in before showing results in weight. This time, though, I was puzzled that my weight had stayed the same even after my efforts. Fuck. It might be just like losing my 20/20 vision around 2010.

With weight, though, unlike vision, you do have a bit of control. In my latter high school years, I used to do 50 sit-ups a night, just for the hell of it. (After watching my mother's mild at-home exercise regimen.) But when I was 18, 50 sit-ups didn't feel like anything. I had daily PE at school, I was young and limber, I didn't yet smoke, I had milk and orange juice for breakfast...

Now, though, I can do about 15 sit-ups when I try... and I don't usually want to try. In the morning, I just want to get up and get to work; in the evening, I just want to either drink beer while I'm on the computer or else lie on the couch and watch TV before I go to sleep. Where/how does exercise, other than the 2 miles I walk per day on the way to/from work, fit in? And why isn't that 2 miles of walking enough, dammit?

Post 18 years old, I've never had to exercise or diet. As I said above, 155-160 felt "kind of heavy" but not crazily so. 170, though, has crossed into the realm of a problem I haven't yet been used to dealing with. Because I don't want to be a "fat office lady" and I don't want to be denied every single bit of clothing that I find attractive and I don't want to walk around like the schlub that I feel like right now, I do indeed have to do SOMETHING. I can't eat much less, and I don't want to drink much less... I guess exercising above and beyond walking is what's called for.