Thursday, August 30, 2018

Russian Tsar anniversary: 100 years since the royal execution

Ghost of the Romanovs with Helen Rappaport

Our Lady of the Sign

Icon from the Imperial Bedroom of Nicholas and Alexandra.

"This ikon was on the wall behind the Imperial bed.  It hung at the top on the right-hand side near the entrance to Alexandra's small chapel.  It was presented to the Imperial family around 1910.  This ikon shows "Our Lady of the Sign" in the center, surrounded by images of the Imperial family's heavenly protectors.  The ornate silver setting is by the Moscow firm of Olovianishnikov.  This icon stayed in the Empress's bedroom until 1941.  After the war it was sent to the central depot in the Alexander Palace, where all of the returning treasures of Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovsk were stored.  In 1956 many of the treasures of the Alexander Palace were divided up and sent to other museums.  This icon went to the Hermitage, where it is today."

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hurt or Bored? (Live with it.)

Is there any in-between?

Of course there is. There's "intellectually stimulated." There's "someone fun to have sex with that you can talk to before and after." There are friends that make you feel happy.

I don't necessarily go for "nostalgia," per se. But once you hit post-50, the experiences you have start to repeat themselves and you can therefore start to compare them without being overly emotional about it.

My senior-year-of-high-school love Ginny: Aside from being pleasant in general, she was interesting and intelligent and open and sensitive. And there was physical chemistry, as evidenced by the time she came by my house when I was in bed with menstrual cramps. As soon as she walked in my bedroom, a wave of what I now (but didn't then) know were "endorphins" flooded my body, and all cramps and nausea vanished! At the time, I didn't know what such a physical reaction was.

I liked the stuff we did together, too: Tried to explore one different religion, at least. (We went in search of a Unitarian church in Fort Worth, got lost on the way.) Loved Jessica Lange in "Frances" together and got matching "Frances Lives" T-shirts made at the mall. Got matching "Japanese" sweatshirts because they were cool. Snuck cigarettes. Went with her on a cross-country trip from Texas to her grandmother's home in Georgia.

What we did together was kind of a blueprint for what I wanted for the rest of my life: to explore together.

What she wasn't was loyal. The personal experiences that I thought were special were something that she was able to re-create with others once I went off to college. That fact hurt deeply.

Myself, I've been unable to re-create those "personal experiences." I've never felt as close to anyone as I did with her in the spring and summer of 1983. I never thought that would be the case --- I had awards! I was off to college in the fall! I thought I had a whole exciting future ahead of me.

And I did have a future. I did some stuff. I achieved some milestones despite being personally miserable: Got my bachelor's degree. Went to San Francisco and got my master's degree. Went to live in New York City. All things that I wanted.

But I've never had love. I loved Ginny. I don't know that she loved me --- she was a bit too quick to find someone new once I went off to college! But I loved her, and I felt real love from her at the time. She saw me, and she was willing to experience things with me.

In the 35 years since Ginny, my most intense infatuations have been with (1) one of a set of twins that I was really close with as friends --- this twin constantly "let me" massage her but nothing else; (2) a low-life coke-shooting dominatrix into the club scene and teenagers; (3) a married man, my boss, 25 years my senior; (4) a Norwegian tranny via the Internet; and (5) a former 1980s poetry classmate of mine, also via the Internet, who wanted phone sex and my concern, but no emotional closeness. Despite the scattered few months of intensity in each case, there was rarely any "there" there.

I've been alone for years and my psyche has been cleared of the last one (#5) for months now. And I can't imagine anyone ever coming into my life again. Which is puzzling. Why am I singled out for such a solitary existence? I don't get it. I don't get what appears to be my "fate." (But I suppose that's the point of "a fate" --- deal/live with it.)

Sunday, August 26, 2018


The guy that picks up the poop at my apartment complex (who is also the guy with a very loud voice who constantly annoys me when he hangs out in the next-door supply/break room) approached me today at the supermarket: "You nearly ran over me with your cart!"

I protested that, no, I'd seen him and didn't come near him... Then he introduced himself as the apartment guy. He was joking: I hadn't nearly run him over.

It was nice to see him out of context. (Or, as I told him at the supermarket, it was strange to see him out of context.)

Does "out of context" mean anything to those not versed in college-speak? It's actually a good, precise phrase, though with a pretentious genesis.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Fun in Hesse, 1899

Nicholas II at right; Alexandra, second from left.

Romanovs: 1899

I'm up to 1899 in the lengthy "A Lifelong Passion" book, the letters of Nicholas and Alexandra (with accompanying diary entries from family members). They've just had their third daughter and are about to meet "Philippe," the forerunner to Rasputin.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Dr. Jordan Peterson: Clean Your Room

Sunday night programming on Fox is interesting: Objectified (with TMZ's Harvey Levin), The Next Revolution (with Steve Hilton), and Life, Liberty & Levin (with Mark Levin). The latter two are quiet, relatively intellectual discussions. And Harvey Levin of TMZ manages to dive deeper into the pasts of today's super-hyped personalities (Pitbull, Dana White, Kris Jenner).

Tonight on the Hilton show was an interview with Dr. Jordan Peterson, whom I'd never heard of before, on how to start taking control of your life, even if you're a child living in a destructive environment. Here's an interesting page of responses about Peterson's simple concept of "cleaning up your room":

Penny's Butt (and other boring summer tales)

Over a month of regularly putting out a dish of food and water for the stray cat that I named "Penny" has seen Penny visiting nightly but no closer "relationship." In fact, things are now deteriorating: For the past couple of evenings, some other stray cat has shown up ahead of Penny and eaten most of the food. This new cat looks younger and sleeker, like it already has some other place to call home and is just being greedy by showing up at my place. It only eats about half of the food that I put out, whereas Penny used to scarf down the entire bowl, looking left/right/backwards the whole time. I don't want to feed this new cat; I liked Penny, and Penny looked like she needed the daily meal... But I, honestly, don't like her so much if she's gonna let some other punk cat steal her meal out from under her.

Here's a shot of Penny's butt and tail as she ate last week, snuck through the blinds (because she'd freak out if I ever actually opened the blinds).

In other boring summer news: I fried myself by the pool today. The first time I went swimming at the apartment pool since early July.

Here's TMI: Since last October (2017), I've had a pea-sized cyst right in my cleavage area. In July of this year, I got sick of looking at it and tried a home remedy recommended by the Internet: tea-tree oil. Well, the tea-tree oil caused a huge infection, so... I didn't exactly look so hot in my swimsuit. Six weeks of prime summer swimming spent indoors... A real downer.

Today was the first day that the nasty thing looked close to healed, so I went out to the pool... Didn't want to put any sun-tan lotion on my chest (to avoid infecting the cyst again)... So now parts of me are fried after two hours.

Aside from that, it felt GREAT to swim and soak in the sun again! Prior to my absence, I'd figured out that getting to the pool around 10:30am was the best way to avoid other, more obnoxious, visitors. ("Obnoxious" being loud gangs of people and/or their kids and/or their loud music playing.) Today my plan didn't work at first: One couple was out there already; they were parked under an umbrella at one end of the pool, and at the OPPOSITE end of the pool they'd set up their music device (not as big as a boombox, some sort of smaller device) that was blaring out Southern Rock (at least a bit better than loud rap, the music of choice of other pool visitors).

Why not have your device with you under your umbrella? Why post it at the opposite end of the pool? Weirdly aggressive. I felt like intentionally splashing it, but didn't. I did, though, "aggressively" jump into the pool and do all sorts of strokes and floats to establish my presence.

After about an hour, the couple left, and I had the pool completely to myself for the next hour, which was FANTASTIC: Peacefully floating while looking up at trees, doing strokes for exercise only, sitting and sunning reading an old New Yorker article from 2015 about Rubio's chances in 2016...

So now I'm fried from the two hours, but I feel fine. It'll fade to a tan in a couple of days, and I always feel/look better with a tan.

Another thing I've not done all spring/summer: Getting a pedicure. I've had a pair of flip-flops in the front seat of my car since April, in anticipation of wearing them home after the spring pedi I was to be getting, but never did... Prior to moving to NYC in 2007, I always did my own nails. Once in NYC, I discovered that having them done was cheap ($30 or so) and worth the price; since 2010, I'd had regular pedis... until now.

This summer has been a waste, by even the most basic accounts.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

From Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology newsletter this week

Psychologist Carl Jung believed that all desires have a sacred origin, no
matter how odd they may seem. Frustration and ignorance may contort
them into distorted caricatures, but it is always possible to locate the
divine source from which they arose. In describing one of his addictive
patients, Jung said: "His craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low
level of the spiritual thirst for wholeness, or as expressed in medieval
language: the union with God."


Psychotherapist James Hillman echoes the theme: "Psychology regards all
symptoms to be expressing the right thing in the wrong way." A
preoccupation with porn or romance novels, for instance, may come to
dominate a passionate person whose quest for love has degenerated into
an obsession with images of love. "Follow the lead of your symptoms,"
Hillman suggests, "for there's usually a myth in the mess, and a mess is
an expression of soul."

Monday, August 13, 2018

Mild Birthday Effort

On a scale of one to ten, I'd say the effort put out for my birthday by anyone I knew was maybe a 2 or 3. ("1" being "no one but Marlboro paid any attention.")

I woke up with a hangover on my birthday, having been up 'til all hours the night before working on my Joan Crawford website. After 9 Budweisers the night before, I only felt like lying around on my couch channel-surfing on my "big day."

I woke up at 9am or so, watched some TV, fell back asleep until about 2pm, when a knock came on my door. From my 6-inch-raised blinds, I saw legs walking away. I was sure it was a UPS guy --- they knock and walk off. So I blearily got up to open the door, just in case I had to sign anything.

Lo and behold --- it was my brother and nephews (ages 16 and 13) who had stopped by! "Come on in!"

They had a birthday card for me. But everyone had neglected to sign it. It was a blank card with a $25 Amazon gift card inside it that my brother had just picked up from a drugstore minutes before.

They hung out for about a half-hour. (My brother immediately said upon entering: "We can't stay long.") Luckily, my apartment wasn't too messy, so I wasn't too embarrassed. And I had a very fun time talking with my nephews, whom I hadn't seen in a year (since last August, when I broke with my mother, their grandmother, over her will --- so no Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.). I like my nephews a lot, and was happy to make fun of the 16-year-old for following Kylie Jenner on Instagram!!! (We were talking about today's rap artists, and he said he liked Travis Scott---when I mentioned that Scott was a Kardashian Boyfriend, he admitted that he followed Kylie, Scott's girlfriend...And he knew all about her makeup empire!!) :0

While the nephews were over, I got to bitch at them (lightly) for not saying "thanks" for my cards and gift cards that I'd mailed to them in May and July for their birthdays. The lack of response had been weighing on me, and it felt good to jokingly tell them in person: In the future, say thanks to your Aunt for sending you money on your birthdays, dammit! :)

I was grateful for the visit. It felt good to see the nephews and to talk to them and my brother.

But then afterwards, my negativity kicked in: They didn't think to sign the card? They couldn't take me to lunch or something? That sort of thing. But then, hey, they're not responsible for my birthday. (I guess, as an adult, no one is, except a lover.)

Friday, August 10, 2018

First World Problem Averted! Asian Spice and Lavendar Are Back!

No, I'm not in any way associated with Pier One. But... I've primarily bought my candles there (when on sale, because I just can't, on principle, pay more than $10 for a 3 x 6 candle) for the past 10 years or so. During that time, my true loves for my home were, first and foremost, Asian Spice, and, more recently (past 5 years), Lavendar.

The (please, I know--First-World) "trouble" started during the past year when these two scents were suddenly not available, either online or in the store closest to me. I tried substitutions for the white Lavendar candle: citrus, unscented, linen, pineapple... NO. The white looks pretty, but I wanted that specific clean lavendar smell. Substitutions for the reddish: Cherry. Yuck. NO. I wanted the heavy spicy, musky smell, not something sweet.

For the past year, I've been hoarding my ONE Asian Spice candle (for what "special occasion"?). And I had no white candles left to burn, didn't want to order any more random citrus or linen or whatever. Instead, was just going through odds-n-ends, purple or black or from other sources, that didn't look or smell that good.

Was this my life now? Living in an apartment that didn't smell how I wanted it to smell?? (The young woman in the Pier One store closest to me hadn't even heard of "Asian Spice" when I asked for it unsuccessfully a couple of months ago! "But, but... it's famous!" I thought desperately.)

Today, though... THEY'RE BACK!! Yesssssss. I went online to Pier One and... Not only did they suddenly have my two favorite scents back, they were on sale. I ordered 6 Lavendar and 4 Asian Spice. And am now happily burning my one saved Asian Spice because I can --- it's not my last one any more! More are coming!! Ahhhhhhhh...

Asian Spice: "A fusion of clove and grassy vetiver, spiced with hints of patchouli, coriander and sweet musk..."

Lavendar: "The scent of this handpicked bouquet of lavender, geranium and chamomile blossoms is breathtaking..."

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Tsar Alexander III

I'm only 139 pages into the million-pages "Letters of Nicholas and Alexandra" book. So far I've learned:

(1)  Daddy shouldn't have died so soon at age 49 in 1894. Nicky wasn't prepared. (Not Nicky's fault --- his father, Alexander III, never exposed him to any of the machinations of government.) At one point early in the letters, Nicholas says that his life with his new bride would have been so pleasant had his father not died and left him with such responsibilities. True.

Pictured: 1888. Tsar Alexander III and his wife and children (the future Nicholas II, with barely a mustache, standing in back).

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Sondra Locke: What's A Girl To Do

Clint Eastwood Day on TCM today. I'd never seen 1978's "Every Which Way But Loose" before. The successful-at-the-time film was terrible. But I was perhaps especially horrified by Sondra Locke as a "sexy" country singer. (The film wasn't sophisticated enough to intentionally portray her as a BAD country singer -- she was actually supposed to be a good singer and an alluring woman.) She was Eastwood's girlfriend at the time. His Yoko Ono, I suppose.

After a Break: Still Bus Hate

Backstory: Sold my car in 2007 when I moved to NYC. No car in NYC 2007 thru 2010. Back to Austin in 2010. Temping for 4 years 'til 2014, so took the bus 'til financially secure. Finally bought a car in summer 2016.

I've had no problems with my nice little 2011 Mazda 2 ever since I bought it used in the summer of 2016. Today, though, it wouldn't start. I had a hair appointment, so I was forced to take the bus again to get there (and to get in to work afterwards to do a few clean-up things like turn in my end-of-month timesheets).

I don't mind being out on the street waiting for a bus and walking to and fro. In fact, I like that in theory. I feel too cloistered just living in my apartment (which has no views) and getting in my car to go to work only 3 miles away. Cloistered and claustrophobic. That said, taking the bus today reminded me of why I hated the bus much more than my current feeling of mild cloisterism.

(1) You're at the mercy of the driver. On my way to my hair appointment today, the driver was super-nice and let me off at a corner where the bus usually turns rather than stops. Had I gotten off at the actual stops either before or after, I would have had to have walked nearly a mile to my destination. Because my driver was nice, I only had to walk a few steps. That was the good thing. Later in the day, however, on my way home from work... The bus has only one stop on the north UT campus. I came out of my building, saw the bus turn onto the campus, and started running for the stop (thus proving my sincerity). On this campus, there's one wide boulevard-type street with zero traffic on weekends, like today, hardly anyone around. As I was running, I waved frantically at the driver of the bus since I wasn't going to make it to the stop before he got there --- he intentionally ignored me and drove on. (As I said, he was driving down a wide, unpopulated campus street. Drivers have stopped many times before. He chose to be a dick.) So today: One extra-nice driver, one extra-dick. I don't want to have to rely on either.

(2) You're at the mercy of the passengers. Waiting for the bus on my way to my hair appointment, a large sweaty white guy with his bike struck up a conversation: What was the weirdest thing I'd ever seen on a bus? Boy, did I have some stories to tell! I told them: Creeps falling asleep on my shoulder, creeps reading out loud over my shoulder, creeps aggressively panhandling, creeps verbally abusing students (and me), creeps going on about their sex lives, etc. This guy was just striking up an innocent conversation while trying to pick me up. Turns out he had just moved to Austin from Luling, was trying to find work. I shut down his come-on with "Luling---my first girlfriend was from Gonzalez, right near there!" (After that, he wasn't so gauche as to discontinue the conversation entirely, but, still, his conversational ardor was dampened.)

(3) What else? Oh, I was sopping wet with sweat by the time I arrived (late) at my hair appointment. On the way from the hair place to work, while waiting at the stop, a sudden rain storm struck, so I was sopping wet again. On the way home from work, a crazy shrivelled middle-aged Indian woman moved to sit right next to two young Chinese students and asked them repeatedly: "Are you illegal? Are you illegal? Why are you here? What kind of visa do you have?"

Interesting, perhaps. But... no, not really. I'm too old for all of the shit. I want to be removed from it.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne ~ The Louisville Leopard Percussionists

Saw these kids perform last night on "Ozzy and Jack's World Detour" --- It was so cute and great, it made me cry!

Friday, August 03, 2018

Getting to Sleep

Last night, I fell asleep on the couch around 10pm to the TV, as I usually do, and then woke up at 12:30am or so to find my Spectrum cable out. I tried unplugging and re-setting every box, then finally called the cable number: "Outage in my area." After all of that "trying to get reconnected" activity, it was 2am... how was I supposed to get to sleep??

The first thing I needed was some background noise. Utter silence was too much. (Though I had the air-conditioner.) Back when I moved into this apartment in 2016, Spectrum took 3 or so days to get basic cable turned on (though I'd made an appointment for service transfer well ahead of time). During those non-TV days, I tried listening to NPR for background, but... god, the hours of left-wing propaganda! (I'd never realized it was propaganda before then --- I'd always had that station on in my car. But once I listened for hours at a time... I couldn't take any more personal stories from illegal immigrants or how picnic-ers reacted with kindness to a black ex-con who pulled a gun on them -- I thought someone at the picnic table should have shot the guy.)

So, definitely no NPR.

I have radio stations programmed in my car, but not in my home. I finally found a classical music station for background. And then I read from my recently-ordered book, "A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra" --- letters to/from Russian Tsar Nicholas and wife Alexandra.

The lack of TV screen proved rather soothing. The music was just at the right level, and the book was just at the right level... I fell asleep after about 45 minutes and woke up to the alarm at 6:55 feeling mildly refreshed and wondering: Why don't I do this every night? --- Listen to classical music and read things that make me think rather than try to fall asleep to whatever TV program is least intrusive?