Thursday, April 28, 2016

Anderson Cooper on "A fatherless girl..."

I usually think of CNN's Anderson Cooper as a rather bland gay man, but tonight during his appearance on Megyn Kelly's show on Fox, I listened a little:

"A fatherless girl thinks all things are possible and nothing is safe." At first, I thought this was a wildly original bon mot on Cooper's part, but it turned out (after an Internet search) that he got it via his mother Gloria Vanderbilt, who got it from the 1986 novel by Mary Gordon, "The Company of Women." Even after searching reviews of this book, which is apparently about a Catholic girl initially under the influence of a Catholic priest going on to have affairs with radicals in the '70s, etc., I still couldn't figure out the meaning of the quote in relation to the book's theme. The quote actually seems pretty glib upon reflection. In relation to the book, was this quote considered an excuse to go off and explore herself and desires?

I don't really see how being "fatherless" has anything to do with any woman's self-exploration. I do consider myself "fatherless" since my parents divorced when I was 12, and the years prior to that were filled with ugliness and emotional (sometimes physical) violence that I, even as a small girl, recognized as such.

I hated my father as a kid for his ongoing emotional (and sometimes physical) abuse. Unlike the conventional wisdom that a child was supposed to be disturbed by divorce, I on the other hand was extremely happy when I found out that my parents were divorcing (after my father threatened to shoot my mother -- it took THAT). Maybe THAT is what "a fatherless girl thinks all things are possible" means. Once my abusive father was out of the house, I could breathe a little easier, that's for sure. I no longer had to deal with his mental and emotional problems and sadism that constantly pervaded the entire house. Well, I take that back: For years after the divorce, he continued to make his presence felt. Calling the house threatening suicide. Driving out to the house and either passing out in the driveway or skulking around the back of the house, peering in windows, tapping at the back door at midnight, when I was the only one up, watching late-night TV. At the time, it was weird and creepy. I was 12 and 13 and 14, and I didn't have a name for what was going on, other than my feelings: "weird and creepy." Today, at 50, I'm amazed and horrified at the constant barrage of mentally ill behavior that I had to endure.

All of that said: I disagree with the glib "A fatherless girl thinks all things are possible and nothing is safe." Other than "Wow, thank god my abusive father is gone -- I can finally breathe a little!" and "Nothing is safe because my father keeps calling and showing up at the house." Which I don't think is what the author originally had in mind.

Oh yeah... I couple of other items from the Cooper interview: "I wanted to be around places where the language of loss is spoken." That's true for me. At 50, I can see clearly that some of my earlier attractions to people have usually been partially based on relating to that person's own sense of loss, their "outsider"-ness. Not so for Ginny, my high-school love, or Bill, the 50-something exec that I worked for when I was 28 --- those two I just had fun with. But when it comes to Mollie (ex-con dominatrix who was in jail when her mother died) or Murrah (gay father who told her mother after 20 years of marriage that he'd always been pretending she was a man while they were having sex) or Julie (online male tranny who'd claimed to have had abortions) or Sandra (abused as kid, parents dead at 12 and 17)... Wow. I thought they were all tragic, so compelling. Their situations so extreme and interesting to me, probably because of the weirdness that I myself had experienced as a child.

But here's the thing: "Extreme" does not equal "Meaningful" or "Profound." Horrible situations experienced do not mean that the person who experienced them learned anything or became a "better" or more intuitive person because of them. I think it's a complete myth that hard psychological times automatically make you better. In fact, most likely, being exposed to extreme adult psychological disturbances as a child make you more paranoid and neurotic! This can come in handy professionally if you're, say, an editor, as I am! But, kidding aside, it's a killer when it comes to relationships with others, where looseness, calmness, and trust is essential. I never relax with anyone. I'm always completely on alert for when they're going to "go bad" and when I can call them on that and hit them back for that.

As I age, though, I'm beginning to understand that the definition of "going bad" is not the same for all people. For instance, many, in their "dark" moments, are just "squirrelly"--- not "bad." Sandra's not talking to me at a restaurant, or not feeling up to driving me to work, for instance. Annoying as hell, but... not the same as making me take down all of my Bay City Rollers posters because I, as a 12-year-old, wouldn't sunbathe topless in the back yard.

There are variations of "sick." I cannot keep equating every single person's actions with my father's ugliness. I cannot keep thinking that "nothing is possible and nothing is safe."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Hall of Fame

2004 George Harrison tribute, with Prince on guitar.
 
 

Purple Rain

Poster from the "Purple Rain" album displayed on my dorm-room wall in 1984. For months, you couldn't walk down the hall of the dorm (Jester Center, UT-Austin) without hearing "Purple Rain" blaring out of literally every other room. That semester, I saw Prince at Austin's Erwin Center, about the 4th row from the very back wall --- I hated the show! We couldn't see anything!

The album was the soundtrack to my as-yet-unexplored lesbian angst. I was in love with a girl back home, spent many an evening copying tortured lyrics from "Purple Rain," "The Beautiful Ones," "When Doves Cry," etc., to send her, with oh-so-casual references to "Lisa and Wendy" (will she get it? -- I know she's into Prince, but will she see why I'm mentioning "Lisa and Wendy" all the time??).


Sunday, April 17, 2016

A THROW OF THE DICE WILL NEVER ABOLISH CHANCE

Mallarme

An 8-hr-day in the life of a bus-rider.

I've had a bunch of need-to-do stuff hanging around for weeks. Today I woke up fresh and decided to do them all. The tasks: Depositing a big overtime check that my company had screwed up months ago (should have been direct-deposited but wasn't), going into the office to do my taxes (since my printer at home doesn't work) plus some extra work, returning some clothes to Old Navy, going grocery shopping.

I started out at 10:45am. Got home at 7pm. Ridiculous.

#1. The company should have paid me back in March via direct deposit. After several screw-ups on their part, I finally had only a hard-copy of a check that I had to take to an out-of-the-way branch of my bank. This part of the trek actually went pretty quickly. I left my apt at 10:45, bus came soon, caught another bus back right after my deposit, was at work by noon or so.

#2. I went into the office, did the taxes, did the extra work. At the end of 3 hours, though (at 3pm), just missed a so-called "Rapid" bus. Had to wait an extra 20 minutes in the rain.

#3. Connected via the Rapid to another bus that took me to the Old Navy store across town, where I returned said clothes without incident and bought some more. Just missed the bus trying to go home. Trying to avoid a 30-minute-wait and trying to be clever, caught another bus that inadvertently took me in the opposite direction. Hopped off to get the right bus. (By now, 5pm.)

#4. Arrived at the grocery store at 5:30 or so, did the shopping, waited for 20 minutes at the bus stop to go home.

8 hours. Should have taken about 3.

Part of this is me thinking, based on my 3 years of life in NYC, that I can, indeed, live life without a car. I now have the money to get a car, so why don't I? Well, because in my mind, I don't go to that many places, and so why do I need a car? It would cost me an additional $400 per month --- THAT, I cannot actually afford: $200 in car payments, plus the insurance, gas, maintenance...

What I'm realizing now, though, is that you're not actually paying for the thing itself. Rather, you're paying to avoid being irritated by others. With my current salary, I have the option of being NON-irritated by others in only one of two ways: Either I can (1) move out of my apartment to avoid shitty people and their yelling, their multiple kids, their revved-up motorcycles, or (2) get a car to avoid the annoying people on the bus. Despite my Master's degree, for some reason I can't have both.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mallarme!

I've always been, on the surface, a Rimbaud gal myself, but a recent article in the New Yorker turned me on to Mallarme, specifically a translation of this poem:

The virginal, enduring, beautiful today
will a drunken beat of its wing break us
this hard, forgotten lake haunted under frost
by the transparent glacier of unfled flights!

A swan of old remembers it is he
magnificent but who without hope frees himself
for never having sung a place to live
when the boredom of sterile winter was resplendent.

His whole neck will shake off this white death-throe
inflicted by space on the bird denying it,
but not the horror of soil where the feathers are caught.

Phantom assigned to this place by pure brilliance,
he is paralyzed in the cold dream of contempt
put on in useless exile by the Swan.


The article goes on to explain how no one understands Mallarme, much less this poem. And how even the French ask for a "translation" of the French Mallarme.

After reading this poem, I "understand" Mallarme completely. Not knowing French. Having read nothing else from him. Makes me want to write again.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Saturday Night

You're lying there on the couch in the dark, with a couple of candles burning, watching "The Dead Files" and getting creeped out psychologically, but simultaneously grateful for a confirmation that there might be other entities out there...

And then, out of the corner of your eye, a huge cockroach crawls up the water-glass sitting on your coffee-table. You don't quite believe it at first. Nothing is actually that creepy.

For the next 15 minutes: Fuck the TV spirits and contemplation of the meaning of life. Sole focus is on killing the cockroach. It fucking won't die. I spray it on my water-glass, I spray it on the table, I spray it on the carpet it runs to, I spray it in the pile of CDs on the floor... When it finally runs onto hardwood, still not dead via roach spray, I'm finally able to squash it with the heel of a newly bought shoe.

Whew! The momentary FOCUS.

And then the angst of the cleaning up of the roach and roach spray afterward. The glass, the table, the carpet spots, the various CDs, the floor. And the remaining horror --- What caused the thing to come in to your apartment in the first place? The place is clean, no dirty dishes, et al....


Thursday, April 07, 2016

Portrait of Steph at 15: 1981 Azle Hornet Yearbook

My yearbook issued the spring of my sophomore year of high school, and the things people wrote in it. p.s. I do promise to always STAY SWEET! Trust me, y'all.


Steph, Boy after this year I can't wait to see what wild stuff you and Shelly come up with next year. but even though you're a little strange sometimes you're still a good friend and I hope we can get to know each other even better and have even more fun next year. Love Carla '83.

To a sweet and good [illegible]. I want your body. [illegible]

It has been an unusual experience knowing you. A.L.

To a nice gril,
Who ackts like a fool
in the back of the
room
Best wishes
Missey   I love you
Peace Man

Stephanie, You are one of the most crazest people I've ever meet. You'll make it in what ever you do, because you so out-going. I hope you get what ever your going after. Have a super summer. Lynda Stewart. Sr. "82"

I realy like you,
I love you,
I would like to take
you out some time
Your friend
allways, Lonnie

Steph, I know you can't help it when you go crazy but you could at least help Mrs. Wilson understand. Understand? Oh, well. Anyway, I'm really glad I know ya even though you get on my nerves. Not really. Don't change the way you are. Love ya, Lisa.

Steph. An OK person and a sorta friend. I want your body. Les.

Steph, Riding in my car was a honor for you wasn't it! No, seriously this year has been great fun, and Drama, or should I say Theatre Arts has been a blast! You've got a lot going for you and wish you all the best! Lotsa luck n God Bless! Cheryl Coomer

To a Real creap that lives next door to me. You drive like Virginia. Really your a cool neighbor with a crazy personality! But your cool just like me! I hope you enjoyed Chruch Camp and going to church 4 times a day! (ha! ha!) You really feel-in-love with Charlie so don't lie! Really thanks for being a crazy friend. And using me for my Space Invadors game and trampoline. Stay cool and Good luck on wishing for a cute guy to move in, in my house! Well Sweetheart I love you but I'm running out of room so gotta go. Love Your Sweetheart Marla.

Stephanie, You're a very nice girl no matter what Debbie and Shelly say. You're very bright and have alot of potential. Good luck next year and always. I'm sure you will be able to accomplish everything you strive for. If there were such a thing I think you would be voted most likely to become President (or screw things up good trying) Just kidding! See you next year Tim Fitzgibbon

Hi "Stephanie"  Have enjoyed you in my class, not only because you are a good student, but also because of your sense of humor. I don't know why, someday you're real wild. But your lots of fun. Good luck. Your favorite teacher Mr. "H."

Steph, I really wanted to say I love you very much and I wouldn't have been able to make it thru this year without you. Sorry this is Sloppy but I'm sneaking this in. Love "Me" (SMB)

Steph, It's been fun this year and I'm sorry we didn't have any classes together. Beware of the toilets. Gaye Sr. '83.

Steph, Hey thanks for being a friend  you are the niciest and the sweetest person I have known   You are so luck being in Dama Because of Randy Mayhew and Shawn Scott. But Now I just think of them as friends now Because of Gene Chatham and now I even think of Kiven as a friend to   Just a friend  OK   Ps Good luck with all the guy's ok  Carrie Thompson

Steph, Well here passes by us another year. It has really been great having you in my English. We did have some good times together. You are a super great person and I really care for you a lot. You having such a good career in acting that I want you to persue that to the upmost of your ability. I know you will go very far in life because you really deserve to. The best of luck always and PLEASE remember me when you are a STAR!! Have a terrific summer and hope we have some classes together next year. Love always, Kenda Pettet

Steph, As you said in my annual, I don't really know what to make of our friendship. I know we're not that close like we used to be... but I still want you to know that I REALLY do care what goes on in your life. And I will go ahead and say this even though I know you won't but... If you ever need anyone to discuss your problems with I promise I will listen. Calm down a little, life is just as fun if you aren't Japanese. Love, Debbie Scott

Steph, You're very reliable information source for English, THANKS. I thought it was really dirty what you did to me with that very very very fake note to Shelly. I didn't appreciate that. Neither did Rona. But I understand it was all a big joke, Ha, Ha. Thanks for the real fun times and you were wrong about borrowing my paper in the 7th grade, it was the 6th. Love, Clint Riddle Hopper

[In index, arrow drawn to something in the margin.] Stephanie.. Whose bugger is this. Your gross to carry buggers in your annual. Oh well I like you anyway I guess. Jody. God Bless You.

Steph, You nigger butt! Well, I've known ya since 8th and I'm still not sure what's hit me. But I kind o' guess your my friend. Well, you're for sure my friend. So since you're my friend, I'll say good-bye and goodluck and see ya next year   NIGGER!!!   "Me" 

Stephanie, You are a very sweet girl. You have really changed my way of life a lot. HA! HA! Kevin SR 84

Dear Stephanie, I hope you had a good year and a fun time, this year. I know I did. You are right, I do think you're kind of strange, but what the HECK everyone to their own fling. You really surprise me with some of the things you do... Have fun this summer! Be happy! Love, Karen Johnson

Steph, It's been a blast having you in classes! You all-ways seem to make a boring day fun. Your a real sweet person with a great personality, even though you're strange at times. Stay the way you are and I know you'll always have fun and go far in life. Best of Wishes in everything your do. Love ya, Kathy Pullig

Stephanie, You're crazy and fun to be around. You gave World History a better name. I really enjoyed working in Up the Down Staircase with you. Stay cool, and see you next year. Have a nice summer. Luv, Nance  Sr '83

Hey Stephie baby, It's been a great year. If it weren't for you and Shelly I never would have survived Terezin. Take care, have a great summer and I'll see you next year! And a word to the wise, "Never try to inhale a piano." Love ya! Marilyn (Raja)

To a real foxy lady, and a nice girl, and a good friend. Good Luck this summer, and in the future. Hope to have some classes together. Love ya, Sr 83   Bill Collard

To a Neat Broad   Keep cool and Don't let the Vapors get you down   Love -- Dale  -Alias- Master Blaster

To a real nice girl that keep a nice smile   Love Brad Beaver

S. J.   I've only known you in driver's ed,  But I only have several things to say. 1st  When you say you hate me I say you better -- you better, you better, you bet. And last if you and me where the last people on earth, the human population would become extinct. I'm just kidding, I really like you as a friend O.K. It's been great. Ronnie D.

Stephanie, You're a wild and crazy girl, It's been fun in Science (Burl's class) HA HA   I'll never forget the memories, such as the M & M's, the window, January, February. M---A---R---C. Walking out of class without permission. Those were the good old time's, huh. Well I hope to see ya next year! F/F Shelley Cooley   STAY SWEET

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Displays of Affection

Can't decide which kiss is more utterly depressing, Ted and Heidi's or Al and Tipper's:


 
 
People have doubted the Clintons' relations for decades now, but according to this picture...
 
 
...they're good.
 
Similarly, based on this photo from Joan Rivers' funeral...
 
 
...Trump and Melania are also good. (You don't hold hands with someone after 15 years of marriage unless you like them.)