Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Financial decisions abound: As I've mentioned, I don't think I can BOTH get a car AND leave my current apartment complex when the lease is up at the end of August (with lease decision having to be made by the end of June, and car having to be bought by the time Trump is declared the Republican nominee in July -- the latter is my own deadline!).

I clearly have enough money for ONE of the two. (Car comes first.) I ALMOST have the money for both --- but coming up with the extra for both will be stressful. I don't know how I'm feeling about exerting myself right now. Trust me, I had enough stress over the past 8 or so years to last me a long, long time, and I don't want to create unnecessary stress. (But I'm also not averse to getting pumped up, as some are... Some days I lie around like a slug, but other days, I wake up thinking/knowing: "Just do it.")

My apartment is in a great location, only a few miles from work.
My apartment is a perfect size for me (800 sq ft).
I'd be saving so much money by not moving. (I took the apt over as a sublet in Feb. 2015 and didn't have to pay any deposit. It's also only $925 a month, a real bargain for Austin right now. If I moved, I'd have to come up with probably at least $1200 in a new deposit, plus pay $1000 to get all of my furniture moved.)
I like how my apartment looks; I'm happy here when it's quiet.

Annoying neighbors.

Constantly yelling guy downstairs, accompanied by constant door slamming. The 50-something black couple has lived there, according to apt manager after I complained about the guy last year, for the past 15 years; they're not going anywhere. But then the man also "travels a lot." The times when he's traveling are delightful. Because he's NOT traveling most of the time, though, I've had to completely give up my spare room that I wanted in the beginning for a study, because the guy hangs out in the room right below and shouts. A full quarter of my apartment has been lost to me for the past year; I just use that room for storage now, moving my computer to the kitchen table out front --- where I then have to listen to all of the comings and goings in the parking lot out front... which I normally wouldn't have had to hear had I had my "study" available to me!

Screaming kids. This problem fades in and out. The initial family 2 doors down with 3 little kids who rode their trikes and scribbled in chalk in front of my apartment and played on the staircase right next to my living-room wall have calmed down a LOT. Guess the young parents have been taking them to their grandparents' or something. There's also the trio of 12-year-old boys who like to skateboard up and down the sidewalks on the floor below -- also not heard from recently, but they sucked when they were active.

More minor annoying people.  During the day, a student in one apartment likes to keep his door open while playing music. The gay couple next door used to have "dramatic" conversations in the stairwell next to my living room wall (not recently, though). The biker guy that I wrote about over the Memorial Day weekend is usually quiet except for his obnoxiously loud revving of his bike every time he comes or goes. The seemingly gay guy and his "mother figure" like to hang out in the parking out (which my apartment overlooks in the front) and hug and talk constantly when the weather's good.

If the nasty, yelling guy left, I probably could stand the rest of it. Given that guy's constant loudness, though, I always feel on edge, waiting for the next SLAM of the door or the daily (when he's home) hours-long barrage of BLAH-BLAH-BLAH. Reminds me of living on edge with my father as a youngster. It's disgusting to me that I'm still feeling on edge at age 50 because of yet another asshole (and this one not even within my own home -- again, no control!).

Financially, and a little bit aesthetically, I feel I should stay. Psychologically, I want to get the hell out of here. I think I need to go with trying to avoid being constantly DISTURBED. (Though... Things could always be worse... And I will seriously have to live a more constricted way of life if I do move to a more expensive place to avoid creeps.)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Willie Nelson and My Grandma

I posted this video ('84 live in Austin, from a '73 song) on my Facebook page a couple of days ago. Got the following response from my cousin Lisa (a year younger than me; we were good friends as kids when our families would visit regularly):

"You know good music !! I love this music because of grandma fern !"

This surprised me because I don't remember my Me-maw (grandma Fern) playing any music at all when I visited. She lived in East Texas, and we would go out there maybe once a year until I was 12, when my parents divorced. My cousin Lisa and her dad and family lived in the same town, so she knew her more.

My main memories of Me-maw were when I got to stay with her for a whole week when I was 7 or so (in '72). I remember getting to rummage through her box of costume jewelry. I remember the fancily sculpted and nice-smelling tid-bits of soap by the sink in my bathroom. I remember the glamorous black-velvet paintings of Spanish ladies in her living room. I remember her mildly chastising me for saying the "beans, beans, a musical fruit" ditty while I was giggling in the back seat of her car.

Once I got home to my parents, I remember bursting out in tears; at the time, I didn't know why, but I later figured out: Me-maw had listened to me; she was nice to me. My parents weren't nice to me. My Me-maw hadn't coddled me, but...she'd listened to me. I could talk to a "big person."

It's interesting to me to hear my cousin Lisa say that she remembers our grandmother Fern via Willie's music. As I said, Lisa, living in the same town, knew her much better than I did. I just experienced my Me-maw's "polite" side. There was apparently a much earlier, wilder side that I'd also heard hints of. I missed the mid-point: what she really liked, in retrospect. And, pretty importantly, what she liked to listen to.

A side-note: While I was growing up, my parents had a total of about 8 albums in the house. An Elvis "Golden Greats" album (Dad). A Caterina Valente album (Mom). A Jim Nabors patriotic-songs album (Dad). A Mozart album (Mom). A Bill Cosby comedy album (Dad). Janis Joplin's "Pearl" (Dad). "Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang" and "Jungle Book" soundtrack albums garnered from gas-station promotions.


Orange Tortoise-shell Cat

On my way out to my bus travels Sunday, found an unknown orange tortoise-shell cat huddled by the legs of my porch table. I said a friendly "Hi, Beautiful Cat" to him/her (whom I'd never seen before, but who meow'd back at me), then went on my way. When I got home 3 hours later, the cat was still there, in exactly the same position. I again said "Hello," and he/she meow'd back.
I started to worry: Had the cat come here to die or something? Why would a cat be in exactly the same position after 3 hours?? Who would I call to get rid of the dead cat?
I put a container of water out (while wondering: Should I put out food, too? But I didn't want that much responsibility). Then I took a nap. By the time I checked again a few hours later, the cat was gone. It was a skinny thing, not at all like the picture here (which I found online just to show the orange-ness).

It was on May 29. I wonder if I know someone who died on that day. Or if it was just a cat who found a comfortable place to sleep for 3 hours.

Car vs. New Place

In the Ongoing Saga of Making over 40K Per Year But Still Not Being Able to Afford Both a Car AND a Better Apartment (AKA, "Austin Sucks: Because of this and because of my 3 dead cats being buried underneath bars now")...

Today (Sunday) had to return something to Old Navy. A 15-minute car trip, but a 30-minute bus trip, plus the walking-a-mile in 90-degree-weather to the bus stop and the waiting at the bus stop (both before and after). Most people don't have to be sweaty in order to go to a store.

I also have a penchant for Target's generic Woolite and face cleanser; the Target's to/from the Old Navy route, and I halfway meant to stop there, too. But I left my home at 11:15am; by the time the bus arrived after I was finished with Old Navy, it was near 2:30 pm. I was tired. Had I hopped off the bus at the Target, I would have added another hour-and-a-half to my final return time home.

Good argument for getting a car!

But here's an argument for leaving my current apartment (aside from the ongoing loud guy downstairs):

Saturday night around 11pm, the biker guy (who makes a point of revving his bike every time he either leaves or departs the complex) had a couple of chicks over. He's usually, aside from his bike, pretty quiet, but this time his guests obviously inspired him: Hootin' and hollerin' aplenty! After a half-hour of countless "Whoooo-hoooooo"s and "Fuckin' [this and that]," I finally jerked open my door and stood out on my stoop staring over at the "party" going on across the way. They stopped whoo-hooing and stared back.

Now, at 50, and after years of being in apartments, I'd finally learned that the way was NOT to start yelling. Here's the key: "Hi! Can I ask a favor?" (Kind of like making eye contact with the person in the car next to you on the highway and waving/smiling when you're trying to cut in, rather than just edging in and cutting them off.)

So I stepped out and called over, "Hi! Can I ask a favor?" Silence and stares. Me: "Can you not yell?" Silence. Then, "Sure." Me: "Thanks, I appreciate it."

I didn't even want to learn the results of my request, so I retreated to the bedroom at the back of my apartment to read the latest Ted Hughes bio that I'd abandoned months ago because of its boring-ness but that I'd felt guilty about not finishing... I'd made the "shut-up request" around 11pm, ventured back into the front of my apartment around 1am (to make some popcorn to accompany my book but also to see what was going on out front)... The "party" was still going on on the stoop, albeit slightly more toned down, although I could still hear "fuckin'" this/that... I made the popcorn, retreated again.

I just don't think I should have to do the stereotypical school-marmish "you kids keep it down/you kids stay off my lawn" shit. Yes, grown people in an apartment complex should pretty much know how to act, how not to be hootin' and hollerin' at midnight. But on the other hand, I, with a Master's degree, and an editor's job, and at age 50, should also not be living in proximity with people who don't know how to act --- but I simply don't have the income to escape those types of people.

It's frustrating. I feel like I've done everything in the world to better myself, but I can't seem to better myself. I'm still stuck living around the same types of people that I lived around when I was a student and in my 20s and early 30s. Yahoos screaming at midnight aren't "interesting" or "cool" any more.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sorry, Memory.

Just wondering: How bad of a person are you when you tell the retarded bagger at the grocery store that you're just going to bag your groceries yourself?

In my case today, my decision led the check-out clerk to go on: "It's OK, Memory, it's OK! Memory, just let her do it. She's going to do it, Memory. Thank you, Memory! No, Memory, you can go help the people at the next line. Thank you, Memory!"

Memory didn't know how to bag groceries. I'd bought about 2 bags'-worth of groceries, with 2 bags to go along with. Memory put about 3 of the 20 items in one bag, then moved on to the next. I saw how that was going to go: Not getting my stuff within my 2 bags. I had to take a bus home. I had to walk over a half-mile. I had to take charge of the crappy bagging going on.

Oh, but I felt so guilty afterwards: "God, can't I even be nice to a retarded person? Was it SO important that my groceries got bagged properly?"

Yeah, it WAS of importance to me that my groceries got bagged properly. Since I have to take a bus and walk home, it does matter if I have numerous bags instead of two; it does matter if all the heavy stuff is in one bag and all the light stuff in the other.

Needless to say, I bagged my own stuff expertly. But I guess that wasn't the ultimate point. (I'm sure that I could do many other peoples' job expertly.) Was the point to be "relaxed" and understand that the grocery store hired retarded people and so I should be patient with them?

If I had a car, I wouldn't care much: Bag the stuff how you want, Memory. But given that I needed things packed correctly, I did care. Sorry, Memory.

"Pancho and Lefty": Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

A crappy video, but one of my favorite songs.

Waylon Jennings: Mamas Don`t Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys

Waylon Jennings: Good-Hearted Woman


Willie Nelson: The Party's Over (1966)

Willie Nelson on The Grand Ole Opry (1965)

Singing short versions of his compositions "Hello Walls," "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Night Life," and "Crazy."

Willie Nelson: I Never Cared for You (1964)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Avett Brothers - Part From Me (2013)


I was scared but I couldn't admit it
Hatred planted out of fear
Fight or flight, no choice but to hit it
The road, it calls on me my dear

I was lost as lost can be
Being praised for being found
All that praise got lost on me
As a mood swing was headed down

Apart from me
I would not dare take someone in love with me
Where I'm going
The part you'll see
How true it is and how back then
It possibly was impossible for you or me to know it

Your touch was nothing more
Than a child's goodbye and hello
It always left me feeling
Worse when it was time to go

Apart from me
I would not dare take someone in love with me
Where I'm going
The part you'll see
How true it is and how back then
It possibly was impossible for you or me to know it

And most of us out there got fooled
Cause the gold it glittered in the night
We chased it fast like drunk buffoons
The banker lived the artist died

And all our clothes were washed in gray
All our buildings and our cars
As the fluorescent light of day
Bleached the sky and took the stars

Apart from me
I would not dare take someone in love with me
Where I'm going
The part you'll see
How true it is and how back then
It possibly was impossible for you or me to know it


Sunday, May 22, 2016

And if I should falter...

Just one psychological drama after another

One rule for us
For you another
Do unto yourself as you see fit for your brother.
Is that not within your realm of understanding?
A fifty second capacity of mind
Too demanding?
Well then poor unfortunate you
There are a myriad of things that you can do
Like pick up a pen and paper or go talk to a friend
The history of the future
No violence or revenge.
Your shame is never ending
Just one psychological drama after another.
You are guilty and how you ever entered into this life
God only knows the infinite complexities of love.
We all have the ability
Our freedom is fragile.
We all laugh and we cry don't we? We all bleed and we smile.
Your shame is never ending
Just one psychological drama after another.
You are guilty and how you ever entered into this life
God only knows you're not to sacrifice the art of love.
Your shame is never ending
Just one psychological drama after another.
You are guilty and how you ever entered into this life
God only knows the infinite complexities of love.
We are guilty and how we ever entered into this life
God only knows we're not to sacrifice the art of love.
We are guilty and how we ever entered into this life
God only knows the infinite complexities of love.
We are guilty and how we ever entered into this life
God only knows the ultimate necessity of love.

Joan Crawford: 1942 and 1947

Being Mad

Over the years, especially now that I turned 50 last summer, I've understood that one must be more philosophical about things that piss you off. You'd think that once you turned 50, that many things that once bothered you as a youth wouldn't bother you any more.

Not true. For instance:

I've complained here before about the loud guy downstairs. For the past 2 weeks, he's been on vacation, though. While he was gone, I kept thinking: "What was I so mad about? This apartment is fine! I really like it here." However, today The Dick came back with a vengeance: Same loud asshole voice. Same door slamming (that shakes my apartment upstairs) every time he comes in or goes out.

My dilemma is: I vowed over 6 months ago to purchase a car (after 9 years of being without one) if Donald Trump got the Republican nomination -- just so I could bare my soul and put my "The Donald 2016" sticker on it. Now that it's obvious he'll do so, I want to be true to myself and get the car. At the same time, my apartment lease is up at the end of August, and I must decide by the end of June whether I'll move...

I want the car, I want the new place... But I can't quite afford both. I can barely, but I can't quite. I'm scared financially to attempt both.

My apartment setting has been a dilemma pretty much from the beginning, back in February 2015. The screaming Hispanic kids who were initially running around have pretty much ceased. (The kids still live here, but at least they're not shrieking in front of MY apartment any more.) There's the white biker who revs up several times a day unnecessarily in the parking lot (seriously --- I used to think that bikes couldn't help but be that loud, but have since learned that the owners have full control over the throttle setting). There's the fat-ass black gang-banger with the rims on his outdated Chevy Malibu who pulls in after midnight and sits there for 10 minutes blaring his bass (most recently last night at 3:50am). There's the Asian college kid who leaves his front apartment door open and blasts his music.

Which of these are to be considered "normal" for apartment life? I've lived in apartments off and on for a couple of decades, and I've never come across this constant level of annoyance. The worst, though, has to be The Dick downstairs constantly yelling and slamming doors.

As of this date, I want a car more than I want a different place to live. (The creeps on public transportation are pretty much as bad as The Dick downstairs, who at least goes to sleep by 10:30pm.)

It's amazing to me that I have a Master's degree, and 18 years of experience as an editor, and still cannot afford to get away from scumbags.

Friday, May 20, 2016

What Makes a First Lady


Lauren Collins' 5/9 article in the "New Yorker" idiotically opens with the claim that Louisa Adams (wife of John Q.) was somehow more worthy of First-Lady-ship than Melania Trump by virtue of Adams' having "survived fourteen pregnancies" and knowing how to play the harp and raise silkworms. A quick Internet search revealed that Louisa Adams, a society girl, was a life-long depressive who didn't like her husband much and who preferred silkworm-raising to socializing at the White House -- Not sure how this, or having fourteen pregnancies, makes Collins' case.

Collins' further comparisons of First Ladies' "worthiness" of the non-office (while simultaneously nonsensically dismissing Melania Trump) led me to check out the "pedigrees" of First Ladies since 1960: Of all of the First Ladies since 1960, I can easily see Melania Trump promoting things like "the arts," "wildflowers," "volunteerism," "saying No to drugs," and "school nutrition" -- as did Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Nancy Reagan, and Michelle Obama, respectively. And, given Nancy Reagan's early acting career and Betty Ford's early dancing career, what's so odd about Melania's being a model in her youth?

What the author of this article ignorantly doesn't explore further is the fact that First Ladies have come from all walks of life, with a variety of educational backgrounds and a variety of ambitions. There's no one formula-- oh, wait, there is: All somehow subsumed their lives in favor of their husbands' more pressing ambitions, some more willingly than others. Now THAT would have been a more interesting article. What instead transpired was a snarky, ignorant hit-piece on Melania Trump -- a ridiculously soft target if you haven't done any research at all into past First Ladies.

I'm surprised that such a juvenile, uninsightful article appeared in the New Yorker.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Frank Sinatra "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm"

"I will weather the storm." Sinatra, 1961.


Sinatra's 1961 "Ring-a-Ding-Ding" is a really great album to listen to when you're just about ready to feel good after a long, long time of feeling downtrodden. You think the bad will last forever, not sure if you deserve more than the bad... When you listen to this on the cusp: Hell, yeah, I'm coming back!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Port Authority, 7am

Jumped a white-knuckle jitney through the tunnel of lerv
Spewed where neon duels with dawn--the balls, the gall, the nerve!

Gave Kramden's ass a squeeze, one "to the moon" before I dashed
Grabbing tabloids, jazzed to see what star, or plane, or market crashed

Slurping down each sluice of sunrise spilling toward me as I ran
Smeared my greedy mouth with juices from the street's jackhammer jam

How I'm starving, how I missed you ----
Manhattan, here I am!

April 30

April 30, the day I came out in 1989 (god, 27 years ago!) -- at Austin's gay march. Met my very first girlfriend at the same event. (Her first words to me, at a park after the march: "I've been behind you all day.") She turned out to be a pretty crappy person, but nonetheless that whole day/night was one of the best and most exhilarating of my entire life.

Also the day of the famous "Ellen" coming-out episode in 1997. Oh, and Hitler's suicide, 1945. (Thus, all-in-all, a pretty good day in history!)