Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another New Year

Down here in Texas, it's often hard to know exactly what season it is unless it's summer. There's no confusion about summer in Texas. Up North, the seasons are much more distinct, although lately spring and fall have been ill defined. Since Velvet went away to College this past September, I've been getting used to the idea that I'm no longer in the summer of my life.

Autumn has come on me slowly. You can't help but notice milestones like your fiftieth birthday, but it takes a while to understand the significance. A couple of months ago I realized that I've crossed into new territory where the folks are mellow and welcoming.

We all know that you can't escape assholes at any age. Similarly, the acceptance and good humor you find among friends is not age related either. Being over fifty, though, informs your perspective on life. It's kind of like Geometry class in High School - you struggle and struggle to understand what the hell all this stuff is supposed to mean, and then in an instant, something clicks in your head and things start falling into place.

Things start falling into place when you're over fifty kind of like the leaves falling from the trees. Sometimes brilliantly colored leaves swirl around gracefully in a clear blue sky. Other times a cold blast of wind hurls a bunch of crusty brown shit in your direction. It's just the fall, and when you are prepared for the conditions, you simply deal with whatever comes your way.

Many fall days are so warm and sunny, it's easy to believe summer is lasting forever. Then a few cold, gray days let you know winter is coming soon.

On my trip to Austin I had to face the winter because there's no denying people are going to start to die. A friend's dad died right before Christmas, and one of the dearest friends I'll ever have has diabetes. People can live decades with diabetes, but given that his youthful drug use was indicative of alarming self destructive tendencies, and now he's drinking sugar soda while he gives himself an insulin shot - it sure looks like self-destruction is here to stay. Other friends will surely get sick, especially since a couple of them are still smoking like chimneys. Sooner or later, my own dad will pass, and sooner or later, so will I.

Driving down 290 back to Houston, I was listening to an album called Drag Queens and Limousines by Mary Gauthier. Between the fiddle and the chorus, "A Lifetime ain't no time at all," this song made me cry and cry and cry.
Share Lifetime by Mary Gauthier
I wasn't all together sad, though, because bawling to the stereo is delightfully satisfying, and mostly life is long and full of surprises. The title song from the album got to me too



Mary's life and friends are more colorful than mine, but there's a line in this song which felt particularly pertinent during all this thinking about life paths and people dying:

Sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do
and pray that the people you love catch up with you.


I was thinking specifically about that guy who won't talk to me. I haven't seen him in real life since January, but he showed up so much in the statcounter that it came to feel like a kid playing ring and run with my doorbell. No matter what I say or do, however, he won't talk to me which is a drag because he's one of those people I'll always love no matter what. Most likely, he doesn't understand about that stuff at all which is why I decided to leave him, figuratively speaking, out on the road to Ithaca (Marijuana and Mercy, Stonerdate 11.08.09). I'm rolling along own path and can't get bogged down by somebody else's baggage. He can catch up or not.

Looking at my personal development over the last year - Velvet turning 18 and graduating from high school, me turning 50, getting fired from that piece of shit job and landing firmly on my feet, the major changes when Velvet went away to Tree Hugger Academy which resulted in my getting a gold star in parenting from his shrink - and wrapping up my own therapy after 16 years of work to recover from suicidal depression - I feel a lot like the little triangle in a book called The Missing Piece Meets The Big O

The story is about a little piece who feels like she's not whole so she looks for someone to complete. If she can fit into somebody else, then they'll both be whole. The big O shows her how to move until she becomes a whole circle herself and can roll along on her own. They roll happily beside each other for a while, complete in and of themselves.

I'm like that now. It's taken a life time, but like Mary says, a life time ain't no time at all - and the nice thing about being fifty these days is that, if you can believe AARP, fifty is the new thirty. I feel pretty young and pretty healthy, and I feel kind of old and kind of wise. All things considered, that's about as good as it gets.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gone to Texas

When Davy Crockett lost a congressional election in Tennessee, he is supposed to have said, "You may all go to Hell and I will go to Texas."

There's only a couple of folks I'd like to tell to go to Hell today - not counting all the public figures - but I'm going to Texas right this very minute.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cockroach Stew

Health care reform is getting me down. Everything about it makes me fear for our country, from the town halls this summer to the watered down BS they call a bill today and the endless argufying that leads us all straight back to the middle of No Fucking Where.

I was as hopeful as anyone when Obama took office. For months, every time I heard him speak I got teary because it was such a relief to feel like the president wasn't totally full of shit. Now I don't know if Obama is a willing pawn in the corporate game or if he's a good man who is doomed by an entrenched system that will chew him up and spit him out like Jimmy Carter.

Health Care is only part of the reason I'm bumming out about the country. There's the endless war in Afghanistan which may or may not be "justified," but sucks balls no matter how you look at it. And I'm not even starting on Education - but I guarantee that standardized testing has so dominated the curriculum for years that we've raised two generations of complete morons. Not only does most of the American public lack the analytical thinking skill to know bullshit when they hear it, their ability to entertain themselves is so limited that all they do is watch TV or shop for the stuff they see advertised.

Sadly, most of the people who are taking their outrage to the streets are the damn teabaggers and every time one of them opens his/her mouth, it's more proof that Idiocracy rules the day. Maybe Progressives would be encouraged enough to take to the streets, too, if our leaders weren't in such a hurry to cave to Special Interest Whores like Joe Lieberman. As long as the people we personally elected will cheerfully throw us under the bus - what's the fucking point? It's getting harder and harder to believe this country will head in a direction other than the one envisioned by those bastards at C Street.

I am still hopeful enough to sign internet petitions and send money to ActBlue because the folks with the stamina to fight the fight should be supported even when I feel like hiding my head under the covers. You can't have a revolution if nobody gets out of bed.

One of the main reasons I teach preschool is because I really believe that the world can be a better place. My parents used to say, "Each one, teach one," so that little by little, we become a more ethical society. Lately, though, I've been remembering that all those visions of a peaceful, productive society as presented in fiction always come after World War III convinces humanity of our folly.

Somehow I doubt we'll have a world war - the global economy is such that nobody can afford it except maybe the Chinese and miscellaneous criminal elements like the Russian and Israeli Mafias. We'll go under because of genocide and general bullshit.

If film and literature give us a hint of what is lies ahead, hope for the future lies in the hands of dreamers like Zefran Cochrane who flies the first warp ship out into space where the Vulcans notice it and come to our collective rescue in Star Trek: First Contact.

A Sci Fi movie coming in February 2010 continues the trend toward complete bullshit in contemporary Ameican culture. The Book of Eli, a high dollar piece of what may be Holy Roller propaganda, features Denzel Washington as a post-apocalyptic savior who totes a book that looks suspiciously like the Bible around a world that looks a lot like the Old West. Nobody is allowed to touch The Book except him, and he has a bevy of young beauties following him around like disciples or groupies. Believe in The Book = Get Hot Chicks.


The military have used movies as recruiting vehicles for years and years - why shouldn't Holy Rollers get into the act?

I figure that it'll take a few years before the hand basket in which we're riding splashes into the seventh layer of Hell. In the meantime, I'll be focused on protecting Velvet's future. The future may suck balls, but the only thing to keep the future from coming is some kind of catastrophe and I'm pretty sure that even then, there will be tribes of survivors huddled together in the woods somewhere. I'll be the old broad making cockroach stew.

Most likely, though, that's not going to happen. Sometime in the early 80's, I realized that life would go on in spite of Ronald Reagan. Everyone was not going to die in a nuclear war, and somebody was going to have to pay off Master Card. Today is much the same.

When Velvet and I got home from Tree Hugger University on Friday afternoon, Buzz Kill came over to tell me that he's going to declare bankruptcy before December 31 so the loss will be recorded in 2009. I've been hearing about potential bankruptcy ever since I filed for divorce and had my decree written accordingly - and besides it's just corporate bankruptcy so he can get out of some debt. It sucks to be Buzz Kill, for sure, but we've been cooperating well these days.

Buzz Kill and I have had to cooperate since it has become clear that Velvet went off to college under the impression that he was a major character in an MTV movie. I'm not saying anything on the internet that will incriminate my child - so there's nothing left to say on that topic.

It's a good time to be leaving his father in charge and heading off to Texas. I have to abandon the religious cult idea and research weed related alternatives since Velvet's budding college career indicates one thing is certain: the child has an abiding interest in weed. I still say Velvet is Al Gore with Panache, and there is every reason to be optimistic about his ability to overcome the recent academic distaster especially if he applies himself to class with as much dedication as he pursued his social triumph. Nevertheless, it would be prudent to look at getting off the grid.

There is plenty of Bullshit in Texas - but when I'm with my family and my oldest friends, there is love all around. There are also lots of straight men in Texas which will be a pleasant change.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Path Appears


I'm off to Tree Hugger University this afternoon to get Velvet.
We'll come back to the city in the morning through the Catskills.
We may get a Christmas tree up there somewhere and toss it in the back of my 2003Subaru Forester on top of the laundry.

Last night, Velvet and I were on the phone talking about his semester. He actually apologized for letting us (his parents) down with his grades. I told him that was a very nice thing to say, and that while I had expected a better report card, he had done great. Not everyone can be King of the Halloween party.

Velvet sounded so mature and responsible that I was bursting with admiration and pride. He took responsibility for getting behind in class, and he's got a plan to address his academic issues that involves taking fewer classes. Personally, I have supported the idea of a lighter course load all along because it's his first experience with Mainstream education. He has been in a self-contained, private school for kids with Dyslexia, ADHD and other sundry language based disorders since second grade, and while it wasn't perfect - in the land of American Education, Velvet's school was out-fucking-standing. That school is so great, someone should arrange a fireworks display in their honor.

Velvet may have gotten to college and fallen on his academic ass, but he sees that Tree Hugger University was probably trying to teach him a lesson. I'm sure they were. It's been clear for a long time that Velvet would have to fall on his ass before he decided to cultivate a little motivation for school stuff. Until he got to college, he skated through school. He's not the first kid to do that - or to find out in Calculus I that he's no longer the smartest kid in the class.

I doubt that I can make it all 4 - 5 hours in the car without saying "I told you so," but I've been so accepting, understanding, empathetic and all together supportive, loving and proud through this vignette that a little gloating is okay.

Velvet was glad to hear that I have had the benefit of a couple of advisers this semester who have convinced me that an F or two on your first college report card is not the end of the world -- notably, Woody (Walled-In Pond, The Well-Armed Lamb, and others) who was a college professor himself for a while and understands that universities "separate the sheep from the goats," during the first semester. Velvet will be on academic probation, no doubt, but he's not kicked out. That's a victory. Bradley, my first love in Austin, spoke in Velvet's behalf, and The Man from San Antone was particularly helpful during the King of the Halloween Party episode. As Velvet was pointing out that four years in college is simply a guideline - kind of like the Captain John Sparrow says about the Pirate Code - I had to interrupt him to say that I took five years, myself, and The Man from San Antone took six. What's the rush?

Although the Pirate Code applies just as well to college as it does to life on the seven seas, Velvet himself looks more like a scrawny, young Wolverine which is a testimony to how well Max the Genius cuts hair. Velvet's hair is fabulous even when it hasn't been regularly trimmed.

I am positively delighted to getting my baby today. Back over the summer, when I was getting used to the idea that he was growing up, there were distinct similarities between his situation, my changing role as a mother, and the Sondheim/Lapine musical Into the Woods:

In August, both Velvet and I were hovering on the edge of the forest searching for the right path. We are both fully on our paths now, and I have confidence they are the right paths even though no one knows where they are leading yet.

I've had a lot of support during his formative years so I could become the mother I wanted to be. Growing up is never easy for anyone, and we're all still growing up. At least, people should continue to grow and evolve as long as they are living.

One of the things that makes me proud is that Velvet is everything I wish a kid would be - which means that I must have internalized the moral of Sondheim's story: Watch what you say/Children will listen.

Every day, there is a mountain of evidence that the world is a horrible place filled with awful, awful people - that's what makes The Woods so scary (and let's leave the Tiger Woods family out of this even though he's pretty scary making all that money off sweat-shops and obscene consumption at that resort in Dubai with unfair labor practices and illegal sex trade. Who cares if he fucked 15 porn stars and cocktail waitresses? How many kids got fucked because of him?). I'm thinking more about Joe Lieberman and every other whore in congress, those bastards at C-Street who thrive from the patriarchal double standard - and all the pedophiles and murders out there. The World is a scary, scary place.

But it can also be beautiful - in small, private ways. The intimacy between people feeds our souls. I have little moments like that in my classroom every day, but Velvet and I have those moments all the time.

As I'm fixing to go to Texas for the holidays, sans Velvet, I'm walking back into intimacy so warm you can wrap yourself up in it like a cashmere shawl. It's humbling and exciting to be surrounded by so much love -- With my family and my oldest, dearest friends, like Bradley and The Man from San Antone, and all my buddies from High School who are still in Austin. The best thing is that when I come back home to New York, there is intimacy here too - not only with Velvet, but also with dear friends like Gigi, the daughter I never had, and Kyle and DN. When I think about my New York friends, I can see that I've been able to develop and sustain relationships which is one of the main goals of therapy, after all. Many of my most important relationships predate therapy which suggests that I've always had this capacity, but it's not always easy since when we're intimate, we're vulnerable and occasionally devastate each other.

That vulnerability is so alarming to many people that they can't tolerate intimacy. Buzz Kill is like that, and I'm pretty sure that guy who won't talk to me is like that too. That's probably why he won't talk to me. I make this observation with all the acceptance and empathy of anyone who knows that it takes one to know one - and the recognition that despite the intimacy issues in their adult relationships, both men are dedicated, loving fathers.

One thing I've learned on the long path to recovery from suicidal depression is that I can trust the process - which is much the same as Bokonism. Things happen as they are supposed to happen. G*d doesn't have a damn thing to do with it - it's a simply the laws of physics. At least I think it's physics. I quit taking math and science the minute it was no longer required to focus on the Humanities. As it happens, there's every reason to believe that the force of creation created Life, The Universe and Everything which includes science. Science and Theology are not mutually exclusive unless you're Sarah Palin and them.

Those folks are just making money off fear and God anyway - which brings me to the idea of a religious cult built around sexual mysticism. That's an idea I'll be developing in a trailer home in the hills outside Austin. When you've got a trailer in the Texas countryside, you're already half way set up to have a cult. All we need now is a website set up for donations via pay pal.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Serious Business

Things have been kind of serious at HQ for the last several days.
Velvet is certainly flunking Calculus. The rule about school is that I only pay for classes that Velvet passes. I'm not sure how that rule will eventually play out. At the moment, I'm more focused on making sure he knows he is Loved and Wanted even when he fucks up.

He freely admitted that the tutor helped a lot but he started with the tutor too late. I refrained from saying, "I told you so," because he accepted responsibility for the situation. Accepting responsibility is a big deal. Ergo: Velvet is not in trouble for flunking Calculus, and I am looking forward to seeing him on Thursday when I drive up to Treehugger University to bring him home for the holidays.

Buzz Kill is philosophically opposed to my going to get Velvet. He says Velvet needs to grow up and take the bus like everyone else. I pointed out to Buzz Kill that a parent can learn a lot during a few hours in the car with his/her kid. The opportunity to review the semester with Velvet in depth before the gang floods into the living room is well worth the time and gas money. I refrained from mentioning that if he was so concerned about my finances, he could fork over the Twenty Grand he owes me in back alimony.

Buzz Kill didn't make a big deal, but he got huffy in a way that makes me wonder if he's jealous of me and Velvet having the time together or if he's bent out of shape because nobody ever came to get him from college. Maybe he really does think taking the bus is a sign of being a Man, but I suspect that attitude has more to do with the fact that Buzz Kill can't drive. In any case, it's nice to be able to hang up the phone and be done with Buzz Kill's opinions.

It was especially nice to stop his tirade about our terrace being a major liability issue because one of the kids could get drunk and fall off. I can see why he might be concerned about somebody on acid deciding to use the terrace rail as a balance beam, but if that thought occurred to him, Buzz Kill kept it to himself. I explained that when Velvet has friends over and they are out on the terrace, I leave my bed room window open so I can hear what's going on. I did not tell Buzz Kill that I already informed Velvet that he is absolutely not allowed to do hallucinogenics at home. I did point out that when you consider the liability involved with underage drinking, the terrace was the least of our worries. Buzz Kill is not concerned that an 18 year old dumb ass will get shit faced at our place then go out on the street to get hit by a car. He believes that as long as the injuries are not sustained on our property, it's not his problem. Try telling that to a judge.

Buzz Kill is getting nervous because I'm going to Texas for a week which puts him in charge of Velvet and Friends. After he made his point about liability issues, Buzz Kill said he's not babysitting Velvet and started bitching about the empty Olde English 40's he found in Velvet's room when he was helping Velvet pack to go back to school after Thanksgiving.


I don't blame him about the Olde English 40's. In fact, when I was blowing my stack about Moneypenny last month I declared Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters to be a Forty Free Zone. I may believe that it's wrong for a government to say you can't drink a couple of beers even though you're old enough to vote and to get your ass shot at in a war, but that doesn't mean I want those tacky bottles in the recycle room for all the neighbors to see.

Buzz Kill is most likely more anxious than usual on account of the German kid who might land in the living room on the 24th. We don't know the German kid at all. Velvet's buddy Circle Seeker, aka Dime Bag (Velvet Goes to College, Stonerdate 08.28.09) met the fellow at the commune in Hawaii where they are both currently living. Dime Bag spent a semester or two at Hampshire College in Massachusetts then took a leave of absence so he could travel around Africa and Asia. He's not a rich kid at all. Dime Bag's dad is a retired high school teacher. Dime Bag quit selling weed to be an Orkin Man the summer before he went to college. Now he's at an Hawaiian Commune and has directed a German kid toward my sofa.

I told Velvet that since Buzz Kill would be in charge when the German Student planned to be in New York, the matter was between him and Buzz Kill. I would be finishing up my year long 50th Birthday party with my friends in Austin. I also suggested to Velvet that the German Kid might be better off in a hostel and provided Velvet with links to three hostels in the neighborhood which he can forward on to the commune in Hawaii.

Frankly, I don't know exactly what's up with the house guest, but somebody has to figure out what's going on sooner or later. I have, however, started collecting stocking stuffers because if someone is at my house on Christmas morning, he will be getting a stocking from Santa. Everyone does. For now, there's only one of those chocolate oranges but that's because I'm tapped.

I'm seriously lamenting my decision to pay all my bills on time this month. I know it was the responsible thing to do - which is why I did it - but now I don't have any extra money. I'm clearly not as broke as all that since I got my hair cut and colored today by Max The Genius. You don't spend 20% of your paycheck on your hair when you're impoverished - but spending 20% of your paycheck on your hair can have a serious impact on your cash flow.

The color is outstanding, however, and I paid cash so it's not like I went into debt at the beauty shop. As it happens, I pay cash for everything since all my credit cards were confiscated years ago when Buzz Kill and I were trapped in a marital dysfunction.

The good news is that I stayed on budget when I was grocery shopping this weekend and I barely stole anything at all at the self-checker. I will confess that I was a bit ballsy because I had to call the clerk over to fix the receipt printer which had got knocked askew by the soda bottles. He wasn't there long enough to notice that there were six 2 liter bottles of soda on the belt and two on the receipt - and I guarantee that even if he did notice he didn't give a flying fuck. Nevertheless, I feel like it's something of a moral victory that I have curbed my impulse to steal groceries in New Jersey.

Notably, Trader Joe's employs live humans to check out the groceries. Most likely that's because they already knew that "Green Shoppers" are more likely to steal. I read about this trend on Alternet this week: Study Says Eco Shoppers More Likely to Cheat, Steal. The study, in my view, was total bullshit because it was all a computer simulation and didn't involve real stealing, but it makes a good headline.

I figure Trader Joe's knows that anyone with any sense will be swiping a few items when they use the self checker, and in this context I am using the original definition of "swiping," not the modern definition which means scanning the bar code into the computer or sliding your charge card through the machine.

By most moral standards, stealing groceries in New Jersey is Bad Behavior. I have no excuse. It's just that those damn self-check out machines piss me off every single time when they order you to scan another item or hit Done. If the machine tells you to scan or quit, why not pay for everything you've scanned so far and bag up the rest?

Personally, I'm hoping that the German kid is a Freegan. I figure that there is some good stuff in the dumpster behind that new Whole Foods across the street. As a nice lady from Central Park West, I would never dig through the dumpster behind Whole Foods. I would send a bunch of college kids over there to see what they can find.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Smoking Weed, Therapy and Blue Sky

According to this article on AlterNet, which my buddy Woody has posted over at Whisky, Dogs & Weed, women who smoke marijuana have a bigger Amygdala - that's a major part of our brains: The Secret to Legal Marijuana? Women

It's a long, informative article focusing primarily on medicinal marijuana. I have to say that my personal experience supports their conclusions since once I started smoking weed again a few years ago, I was able to stop taking psychopharmaceuticals after over 12 years. Since one of the women the article references was using marijuana for seizures, and since Depakote which is widely prescribed for manic depression was originally developed for Epileptics, I can see there could be a correlation.

Not that my shrink ever told me to smoke dope. Maybe I should suggest it to her. We're in that final phase out period of therapy where I'll be going every other week for a month or two, then that's all she wrote. After 16 years, it's a big fucking deal.

Last week, I told her that I had decided I'm as cured as I'm ever getting. To my surprise, she was fully supportive. Apparently, when you tell your shrink that you care about your financial security in the future, it proves you're more interested in where you're going than in your own personal psychodrama. I have to say, I left the session feeling like she's been wondering just how dang long it was going to take me to get to this point.

Walking through Central Park that day, I was noticing how different the landscape is since over 100 trees came down during that alarming storm we had over the summer.

The clean up efforts were massive at the time, but there are still some roots laying around to remind us of the destruction. It's sad to loose a bunch of old, beautiful trees. However, now there are big, open patches of sky. Sunlight streams into places that have only seen shade for years and years.
It just goes to show, once again, that a person can't step in the same river twice. Even though the park is different, and some favorite trees are missing, it's still a great place to be. And some things about it are better. Either way, the destruction of those trees has cleared the way for new growth, and some fine, smaller trees can finally get some sunlight.
I feel like I'm finally finding my place in the sun.
Does getting high help? Maybe. For me, smoking weed releases emotions that I keep bottled up during the regular work day. Not all the time - but when I've decided that I want to access and experience those feelings so that I can fully process and integrate them. Sometimes I just like to smoke weed and talk shit with Woody.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Circle of Friends Award

Lou from The Quiet Life has graciously bestowed an award on me. When you pop over to her place, you'll find an inviting slice of life in New Zealand complete with photos that often make you want to jump into them and wake up on the other side of the world with her.


Now my task is to share five things that I like before passing the award on to five folks who fall into that Circle of Friends. It's getting to be a pretty big bloggy circle, so I'm going to go with some of the blogs I've been reading the longest. Their outlook on life, which you can see through their posts and their comments, have made me feel like I'm a part of their circle.

First the blogs:
Gail at Know your It's
Kevin at Comrade Kevin's Chrestomathy
Lisa at That's Why
Vancouver Voyeur at Change Happens
Woody at Woody Guthrie's Guitar.

Now, for the five things I like.

(1) My job. Spending the morning with great kids in a great classroom with great colleagues makes working a pleasure.
(2) The sunbeam in my apartment. A perfect place for naps
(3) Yoga Class. Helping me learn to fully experience the present.
(4) Macaroni and Cheese. One reason why I'll never be a thin woman.
(5) Smoking Weed. Did you doubt it?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World Aids Day

It's World Aids Day.
I learned about it from blogs I read.
Here's one from Frank H. Jump:

There's something profoundly disturbing about today being both the day to raise awareness about this disease - which brings to mind other diseases as well as the issues surrounding health care in this country - on the very same day that the president is going to tell the world we're sending more soldiers to Afghanistan which is, to me, pretty much like saying we're going to simultaneously throw bazillions of dollars down the toilet and kill a bunch of people on purpose.

Meanwhile, legions of TV "journalists" are camped out at Tiger Woods' house. Last night, a sports writer named David Zirin made a some pertinent points on Rachel Maddow:



Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

So we see that Tiger Woods thinks it's okay to use civil rights imagery to sell sneakers and profits from all kinds of obscene excess, illegal sex trade and shameful labor violations in Dubai. Apparently he needed hitting with a golf club.

Here at HQ, I'm still pondering my over-reaction to Velvet's comments about Moneypenny and Smurfette (Moneypenny and the Patriarchy, Stonerdate 11.28.09). I've let the Moneypenny thing slide because (1)it all started because of something some other kid said and (2)he took it back gracefully and sincerely when he saw what I meant about the support staff. The Smurfette thing continues to percolate but not because of anything Velvet said.

Aside from my concerns about the double standard perpetuated by the patriarchy that restricts women's sexuality and my extreme resentment that all those "whores" in Congress who have been bought by corporate interests thereby ruining the good name of prostitutes everywhere - I'm pretty sure that whole episode goes back to my own struggles with sexuality. Specifically, I would hate for Velvet to think I was a Ho, and under the terms of that patriarchal double standard, we must all acknowledge that I would be considered a slut from a family of sluts. Granny the Ho was a Ho, after all. It's just that back in those days, getting married was the most lucrative career choice open to most women so she got married a lot.

Any way you look at it, we come back to the world going to hell in a hand basket. I'd be more worried about it, except for all of recorded history shows the world going to hell in a hand basket and yet we're still here shaking our heads over everything from global warming to The C Street Family who are currently working to have gays in Uganda executed.

The good thing about hanging out with two year olds all morning is that they completely pull you out of your own adult head and into their own world order. It's a small, self-contained little world. Bad things happen, of course, but it nearly all comes from the adults. In the preschooler world, all you do is try to make sense of things as they effect you personally.

I guess that's all any of us are trying to do in the adult world too - it's just that the world extends beyond the corner and includes so many awful, awful people that you never seem to be able to make sense of anything.

No wonder I stayed late today straightening out the books in our classroom library. It's safe in there.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Moneypenny and the Patriarchy

I lost my temper yesterday and threw an empty beer can at Velvet. I wish it had been totally empty since a bit of liquid spilled on the sofa, and it wasn't really beer. It was a drink called Sparks which is a low rent malt liquor product some kid brought into the apartment. I'm pretty sure all malt liquor products are low rent, and I'm not sorry I threw it at him. I hit him over the head with an empty seltzer bottle a couple of years ago for the same reason: A disrespectful comment about an indispensable woman.

I smacked him on the head with the seltzer bottle because he said Smurfette was a ho. Yesterday, I threw the Sparks on account of he said James Bond could get along just fine without Moneypenny.

I'm nearly certain that on both occasions I was cleaning up the kitchen. Truthfully, I'm not certain what the situation was on the Smurfette day. I just know that I had recently purchased an ice blue wig for Halloween and was involved with Double Wide - that married man, adult child of Holocaust Survivors who gave me the opportunity to experience the world of the narcissists without much emotional connection. Forming emotional connections is tricky with adult children of Holocaust survivors because their ability to form attachments with others has been undermined since their parents got so thoroughly fucked up. There's all kinds of documentation about this phenomenon, and I know a little bit about it because I was at a period in my life where I needed to interact with emotionally unavailable men to sort out some personal issues.

If you ever need to work out your own mishigas by interacting with an emotionally impervious individual, a narcissist is perfect because they will not be damaged by anything a normal person says or does. It so happens that many adult children of Holocaust survivors are narcissistic, and there happens to be a number of them in New York City. I wasn't seeking out the second generation. I simply wound up with a few when I was dating fellows from Ashley Madison, the online hook up site for married people.

Note: It had been over a year since I filed for divorce but Buzz Kill wouldn't move out. I thought I needed to practice dating and didn't want to go on Match until my divorce was final. Ashley Madison made sense, although I have to say that the men were astoundingly self-centered. I could never understand why so many men thought I was looking for a new husband on a website where all the men were cheating on their wives.

The point is that I had just bought a blue wig when Velvet said something about Smurfette being a ho. Most likely, I was over identified with Smurfette on account of the wig although Smurfette is blue with blond hair. I would have been light skinned with blue hair which sounds remarkably like an old church lady but in view of my activities with Double Wide nothing could have been further from a blue headed church lady - which is probably why I was touchy about Smurfette being called a Ho.

It seems to me that when there is only one woman in an entire society, and sex is never mentioned in that society, it is exceedingly patriarchal to assume that female is having sex with every man in the village. I barely watched the Smurfs so I'm not going to talk about Gargamel and Papa Smurf (more patriarchs). I'm just saying that Smurfette was not pulling a train like some poor whore in the mining towns of the Old West. And even if she did have sex with multiple partners, that doesn't make her a "whore." To label Smurfette a Ho is a patriarchal, moralistic imposition.

Some people say that Smurfette was introduced to the village because the network didn't like all the speculation that Smurfs are gay. Others say it was strictly a capitalist trick to sell Smurf toys to girls. Wikipedia says that Gargamel created her for the specific purpose of causing jealousy and competition among the smurfs in order to cause their fall. None of that is relevant when when your son is being disrespectful to women. And to say that James Bond would be the world's greatest spy without the support of Moneypenny is just dead wrong.

The fact is that without an outstanding support staff, James Bond would have been killed early on.

We got into this discussion after some dumbass kid who was in my living room said that James Bond fucked Moneypenny all the time. I went into the living room and said, for the record, that James Bond never touched Moneypenny. Up until that moment, Velvet and I were in complete agreement. I went on to say that James Bond would have been up shit creek on several occasions but was saved by Moneypenny's foresight and efficiency and that James Bond had better sense than to risk pissing off Moneypenny, and Velvet was compelled to argue.

He was just talking shit in much the same way the boys do when they argue over who would win if Superman were fighting Spiderman, but as he kept arguing I got more and more pissed off.

The thing is that it's pretty damn foolish to argue with your mother when she's been facilitating your party for days on end and it's even more foolhardy to disregard the contributions of the support staff to someone who has been warming your pumpkin pie and doing the dishes after you're done.

We eventually came to an understanding and he apologized for hurting my feelings and said, in front of his friends, that if it weren't for Moneypenny, James Bond would be stranded in the airport without an assortment of passports, large sums of various currencies and clean shirts. Without his support team - and let's not forget Q - James Bond might as well be MacGyver.

When people don't recognize the huge amount of effort that carries the Talent, it reminds me of Katie Couric covering Katrina. Wardrobe had provided her with hip waders and other sundry gear to protect her candy ass. As she reported on the toxicity of the water, standing there safe and looking good, the camera crew was in sneakers and jeans - completely at risk to the very toxins she was going on and on and on about. Who got the glory? Katie Couric, not the camera crew, and in the end, not New Orleans either.

And who can we blame for New Orleans? Patriarchal assholes, that's who.

If I have to throw every beer can in the house at my son, I'll be damned if he grows up to be a Patriarchal Asshole. I threw out his pumpkin pie, too. That's what happens when you dis the folks in the kitchen.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Exoskeletons and Ear Pollution

Thanksgiving Day has never been one of my favorite holidays since I associate it with hassle. Of course, everything is what you make of it, so you can arrange a pleasant holiday for yourself - and others if you choose to include them.

My thinking about holidays is not dissimilar to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Whatever you're celebrating is not restricted to an artificially imposed calendar date. Actually, I don't know much about Jehovah's Witnesses and I'm not going to make the effort to learn about their beliefs because, frankly, I don't care. The point is that we should be thankful for all kinds of shit all the time. Anniversaries and Birthdays are tied to specific dates, but the reasons we celebrate them are not. I figure if you feel like throwing a party there is no reason to wait for the calendar to tell you to have one. If you don't, you shouldn't go through the motions just because everyone else is.

I would feel this way even if I had gotten enough sleep.

Velvet being home from college is much the same as when he was home before - further illustrating that there's no need to fret over an empty nest. Your daily activities and routines change when distance becomes part of the package, but that's about it. I'm pretty sure if I had to keep up this routine all year long for a whole other year, I'd collapse.

It's great to see all the kids again, even Cupcake who remains as aimless as ever (Cupcake and The Prom Stonerdate 05.15.09). I could have gone my whole life without the information that Velvet is currently engaged in selling hash for Mike The Russian. It's not a permanent arrangement, and the quantity is very small, but I wish to high hell I did not have this information.

I probably could have done without the information that he imagined himself turning into a dragon fly as he went to bed after an all-night adventure involving Mushrooms. Before Velvet went away to Tree Hugger University, I didn't give much thought to the types of substances that would be popular at the parties. Upon reflection, it seems inevitable that a bunch of ecologically inclined scientific types - particularly botanists - attending a college that describes itself as Hippilicious (a term I learned from the Senior Counselor at the Academic Success Center of Tree Hugger University) would lead straight to Mushrooms.

I'm not philosophically opposed to Mushrooms since they are organic, after all. I would prefer that he participate in All Night Adventures after exams, but he seems to have sorted out that particular detail.

The trouble is that when he was talking about turning himself into a dragonfly, he got enthusiastic about his skeleton turning into the bug's skeleton. I was compelled to point out that dragonflies have no skeletons. He instantly corrected my mistake by saying they have Exoskeletons. Their skeletons are on the outside. I explained that I knew all that - but they don't have bones. He maintains that an exoskeleton IS bones. I tried to tell him that an exoskeleton is simply a crunchy coating like on M&Ms at which point I was told to keep studying philosophy because I suck as a scientist. The coating on M&Ms is not a bit like an exoskeleton.

It's a good thing I got the hang of the eternal game of You Can't Win that children love to play with their parents long ago and already know that everything I say is wrong.

We started in on another round of You Can't Win at about 1:00 am when I had to get out of bed to let in one of his friends. I was happy to see her, actually. She's the one who needed a lesson in making herself throw up last year when she tried to drink as much as some of the boys. Sensible, attractive, stylish, bright young woman who is clearly not bulimic or else she would have already been proficient at barfing.

I just couldn't understand why Velvet had gone back out on the terrace with his friends when I had just told him that the doorman rang to say Isabelle was on her way up. He not only went out there, but he stayed out there so long he didn't hear the poor girl pounding away on the front door even though I'm confident all the neighbors heard distinctly.

Maybe he's gone deaf from the dang headphones he just got which can double as speakers. The brand name is Ear Pollution, and he used his emergency funds to order a pair exactly like this from Amazon:

Pretty Fly for a White Guy

In reality, you can never hear anyone at the door when you're out on the terrace, so that's no indication that he's deaf. It's evidence that he's still a dumb ass. I'm pretty sure these flashy ear phones are evidence that he's a dumb ass too. It's difficult to believe that the RA in his dorm says people are complaining about the music in his room when he's using a headset for speakers, but that's what he tells me.

What the hell do I know? I just know he thinks he needs a sound board for Christmas and his sister the pole dancer has offered to arrange an internship for him with some hipster DJ sound engineer. She's babysitting at this very moment. A celebrity mom whose children attend the school where Gigi teaches gave her regular nanny the weekend off, so Gigi has the children this morning at the Macy's Parade. They have tickets somewhere conspicuous in the stands. Public Relations people like celebrities in the audience at televised events such as The Macy's Parade. They will have Gigi, today, though, in addition to the celebrity ex-boyfriend who fathered the celebrity mom's first child. I believe the second child was adopted from war torn Africa after the Celebrity Couple were on the skids. The bio-dad is with his own child for the parade, and Gigi is in charge of the sib. The four of them will be picturesque since Gigi has the striking mixed race look of a J Crew model. There is sure to be some speculation on their relationship, and Gigi enjoys that sort of thing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Velvet on the Horizon

Velvet will get home Tuesday evening. Most colleges make arrangements for buses to run from the student union to Port Authority at school vacations at a reasonable, affordable fare. He has already asked me to come pick him up at Christmas and take him back in January - which would cost four times as much, but I'll probably do it since I like the idea of having him all to myself in the car. Now that I take Route 17 through the Catskills instead of the crowded, annoying interstate through New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it's a lovely drive. Riding in the car with Velvet is especially fun because he sings along with the CD player so enthusiastically that he occasionally howls like a hound dog.

That reminds me: I have to make an appointment for him to get a hair cut while he's here. As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I was wondering how it is that I seem to have more money than I thought I would lately. The explanation is, in a word: Velvet.

As it happened, a number of the folks who were supposed to come to the Gemini Party after their performances on Saturday apparently went home to bed instead. That suited me fine since the idea of jumping up at 11:30pm to play Hostess to a room full of buzzing actors sounded exhausting at about 11:00. Apparently, this sort of thing can be expected now that they are all approaching or have passed the 40 year mark.

We old poops get tired.

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to hold off on opening the hemp chips and smokey peach salsa from Trader Joe's until I saw the whites (or reds) of their eyes so that there is now an abundance of snacks for Velvet and his buddies. I haven't decided what to do about Thanksgiving dinner since it's only me and the boy. He's waffling between ham with mac & cheese and turkey with mashed potatoes. One good thing about HQ is the ease of food shopping in the neighborhood. Between Whole Foods and Fairway, we're set. We're in especially good shape since I loaded up at Trader Joe's last weekend.

For the record, Menopausal Stoners prefers Trader Joe's to Whole Foods. Whole Foods does have an excellent selection of "gourmet" kind of stuff - but for that, we'll go to Zabar's or Fairway. I only go to Whole Foods for the salad bar. Nevertheless, it's handy to have Whole Foods across the street. We just always have to remember that Whole Foods ultimately sucks because of the boss, John Mackey. I maintain that there is no point boycotting somewhere that you can't afford to patronize in the first place - but I always bring my Trader Joe's shopping bag to carry my purchases home. I may buy a couple of things at Whole Foods, but I'll be damned if I'm advertising it with one of their paper bags.

While we were drinking punch and listening to Ella Fitzgerald on Saturday, my dear friend Kyle mentioned that an acquaintance was working hard to make the MFA program for creative writing at Hunter College an attractive, affordable degree program to compete with NYU and The New School. It never occurred to me until that very moment that I might need an MFA.

I had been kicking around the idea of going to Teacher's College at Columbia for a PhD ever since Woody and me started talking about Curriculum Theory. Until I started talking to Woody, I never knew there was such a thing as Curriculum Theory since I've been too busy floating ping pong balls in the water table. Once he mentioned it, though, I ran with the idea because of course there are lots of good, theoretical reasons to mess around with ping pong balls.

At the moment, I'm ideally situated to go back for another degree as long as it doesn't wind up costing too much money. Columbia is pricey, but I hear that PhD candidates get all kinds of financial support. The thing is, though, that I'd rather be working on my personal writing projects than piling Early Childhood training higher and deeper with a PhD.

An MFA in Creative Writing from Hunter would be just the ticket. Ergo: I need to get my fifty year old self over there tout de suite to determine if this idea is as good as I think it is. I'm happy to say that as soon as my mother heard that an MFA wouldn't drive me into debt or cost her any money in any way shape or form, she was in total support of the plan.

In addition to popping out of Hunter with a completed manuscript, I'd have the benefit of total hand holding through the publishing process in New York City. I need a lot of hand holding sometimes because I'm a chicken. The prospect of finding a handsome professor for hand holding purposes is an attractive idea, too. Or maybe a charming grad student. There will be straight men at Hunter who are not married and not the fathers of small children. When you teach preschool, finding a Single, Straight Man with No Small Children is virtually impossible.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Matters of Trust

Since I started turning fifty last spring, I've been examining my identity. We create and polish identities here in blogland. I've been developing and understanding the narrator, PENolan, and recently changed her avatar to my picture which is fitting since she's me. I haven't got that one quite sorted out yet.

I'll be turning fifty at least through New Years. I figured that a fiftieth birthday required more than one party. I didn't realize that my 49th birthday dinner was the beginning of the occasion. I was with The Man from San Antone. I'm particularly grateful to him at the moment because he sent a cash infusion just in time for the Gemini Party on Saturday. It's not as much as I asked for or wanted - but it's enough, and there's sure to be more where that came from. The good news is that it's the sort of amount that qualifies as a gift as opposed to a loan. Not that we've discussed repayment. When I went for the big amount, I swore I'd pay him back, but he's never mentioned it. Some people might think my instant dismissal of repayment shows that I'm untrustworthy, and I admit that in certain contexts, perhaps you're supposed to keep your word. I do keep my promises when I actually say the words, "I promise." If those specific words have not been used or if I haven't signed anything, agreements are as light and variable as the wind.

I am, however, consistent and dependable. Dependability is a lot like being trustworthy.

Some people may think this cartoon shows that Lucy is terminally untrustworthy, but I say Lucy is as reliable as Old Faithful. As sure as the sun rises and Mr. Moose's ping pong balls fall.


This clip is all from the color version and the Captain looks kind of scary - but it's the best I could find.

Both Lucy and Mr. Moose would probably stop playing with their targets if those guys were sincerely distressed because they aren't evil characters. They are both simply following their essential natures, and their interactions become fixtures in the cosmological landscape of their worlds.

I'm not sure that playing games with someone counts as untrustworthy anyway especially since the nature of games involves strategic thinking and outsmarting your opponent. Mr. Moose is certainly playing a game with the Captain, who is certainly playing along much like grown ups play along with little kids. Lucy, on the other hand, makes a point for Charles Schultz, and even though a person may be playfully proving a point, s/he is serious. Serious intent always spoils a game. Friendly competition is one thing, being seriously intent on winning is no fun.

Either way, though, both are acting according to their natures just like in The Tao of Pooh. The task of uncovering your Pu is tricky. In Taoist terms, P'u is a sculptor's uncarved block - something in it's most simple, natural state. In Winnie The Pooh, Pooh is Pooh which is much the same thing.

Charlie Brown's trouble is that he expects Lucy to go against her nature. He trusts that she'll act the way he wants her to - and as I recall, she usually swears up and down that she will, but that is also in accordance with her nature. The readers know that they can trust Lucy to yank that football aside at the last instant, and on some level Charlie Brown does too - so Charlie Brown on his back lamenting his own gullibility doesn't make Lucy untrustworthy. It's the same as expecting Barack Obama to act like someone other than a politician. He may be more liberal than George Bush, but he's still a politician. If we're flailing around on our backs like cockroaches, it's because we had a fantasy.

The Man from San Antone both trusts me implicitly and doesn't trust me any farther than he can throw me. He understands my nature. My high school friend, Cretin Vodka, who may or may not still be mad at me for being untrustworthy, was told in no uncertain terms by all our common friends that trusting me, particularly in an emotional context, was a bad idea. And I will confess that I felt remorse as he was lying stunned on his back after I'd yanked away the proverbial football. But I couldn't feel altogether guilty on account of it never made sense to me that somebody would trust me in the first place.

Which brings us back to my quest for influences on and illustrations of my essential nature. This song is an illustration, but Granny the Ho was the original influence.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Excerpt

I'm getting ready to read at KGB on Thursday. I fleshed out the story of the Drunk Girl in the Bathroom which was on the blog last year which should take about 7 - 8 minutes and then I'm reading a chapter from that book I've been talking about forever.

Here's an excerpt to prove the book is not a figment of my imagination. It's about what I was thinking when Velvet was a tiny baby.
Fortunately, the baby started smiling at me after a few weeks and I finally had moments of tenderness, but it was still like being trapped in the house with someone on acid. He stared at his feet in fascination. He’d be peaceful then start screaming for no apparent reason, completely freaked out by his own stomach growling. Nobody – not the nurses, not the OB/Gyn, not my own mother, my grandmothers, nobody in the books and especially not the other mothers at breastfeeding support group – nobody ever mentioned that it was perfectly normal for a new mother to feel so thoroughly overwhelmed that she might imagine locking the baby in a closet under a few pillows until he stopped crying. So naturally I thought I was the only mother who hated having a baby, and being a grown woman with a nice husband and home, I didn't have a good excuse for giving this baby away like I would have if I were a 16 years old crack whore.
There are lots of things I won't talk about in public because I am afraid people will holler at me. Talking about hating the baby feels just as socially unacceptable, but I have a feeling that lots of people hated it when their kids were infants and will be glad the topic is on the table, although this week at KGB, I'll probably be one of the few people there who is a parent. The audience for Drunken!Careening!Writers! tends to be Gay/Lesbian/Bi Singles. I've seen some straight men there, but the only time I ever got a date from KGB it was with the man who owned the joint which wasn't bad, but it wasn't much either -- most likely because he could be considered sexually ambiguous himself.

Actually, I'm pretty sure some women have mentioned hating the baby in the beginning in recent parenting books or books about women's issues. I'm a woman and I'm a parent, but that's not what the book is about.
As it happens, the book is about sex.
And that's all I'm saying on the internet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Existentialism and Grace, with soundtrack

I don't pretend to know what he's talking about in this song.
I just need to hear it every now and then, especially when I'm feeling hopeless and lost.



This one too:



The need to hear the song has got something to do with healing.
We all have wounds that need to heal.
Just when you think you're okay, you're lost and filled with hopelessness again. Old pain? New pain? New Pain that triggers Old Pain that triggers the plunge into despair? Who cares? It all sucks.

Sometimes when you reach out, you'll find somebody there to surprise you with understanding and wisdom.

Other times you reach out into nothing. The isolation is particularly crushing when you think there is a bridge between you and someone - actually, you know it and you can see it. You can stomp on it, hear it and feel it solid beneath your feet. But when you reach out to that someone, you're still alone, bewildered and afraid, crying in the dark, absolutely unlovable.

That's when I used to want to kill myself.
I'm pretty sure I didn't really want to die. I just wanted the hurt to go away and it seemed like dying was the only thing that would surely stop it. I already knew I could knock myself into a coma with drugs and that wouldn't work.



Eventually, I learned that it was safe to let the sadness take over. To sit with that permanent despair, alone except for my tears and tissues,and stay there long enough to see that my Self was waiting there. Maybe that's what it means to be beside yourself - conscious mind beside unconscious self.

Maybe you've got to be beside yourself before you find grace.
I'm thinking that red rain has something to do with grace.

Some people might say that I didn't find my Self, I found God, but I'm pretty sure that if there's a god s/he'd give us internal peace. It's not unlike pleasuring yourself which some people would call Godless or Sin - but they're the ones who depend on God the Patriarch. Since there's no way to prove or disprove god - and I'm sitting here in a state of grace, I can't see that the phenomenological distinction really matters.

Sometimes you have to quit analyzing shit out of existence.
You just have to be.

You can count on finding yourself in the same place again soon enough, but next time it won't be nearly as desolate. And you don't have to have mousy hair, either.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pondering Christians


According to the person who made the video, when David Bowie sang this song, he was exploring the writings of Aleister Crowley. In his day, Crowley was called "the wickedest man in the world," possibly because he was a notorious hedonist, bisexual, drug experimenting social critic (Wikipedia). I only learned that stuff today when I was trying to find the video. I originally heard this song because my mother listened to a Biff Rose album called The Thorn in Mrs. Rose's Side over and over and over again when I was a little kid.

I've been pondering my theological foundation lately. I'd have to say I'm a Universalist Christian, but I hate to call myself a Christian on account of so many Christians are perfectly awful people making a mess of everything they touch. That twisted group at C Street call themselves Christians, and so do countless suburban dumb asses who think they found a good place in the parking lot because God loves them Best. Of course, most of these people would say Universalists are going to Hell, but they call themselves Christians. I don't want to have anything to do with those people which is difficult since they seem tirelessly intent on being the boss of everything.

As I understand it, Universalists do not think there is any One Right Way to enlightenment. Further, I can't say that I believe in God per se since belief about God, and everything else when you get down to it, is all in the mind anyway which brings us back to Fill Your Heart by Biff Rose and Paul Williams.










I only learned that Paul Williams had been involved in writing this song today, too, which made me think that it's pretty easy to dismiss anything that could be attributed to Ewoks.

Warm Fuzzies notwithstanding, the idea that people need to let go of their own xenophobic fears so the world will be a better place is compelling. We see these societies in Sci Fi all the time, perhaps because Science Fiction is the only place where societies that are based on open-minded compassion can actually exist.

I wasn't particularly surprised to read that Aleister Crowley experimented with drugs and may have been behind David Bowie's choice to record the song since the lyrics remind me of the way you think when you're tripping - or to be more historically accurate, the way we thought back in the late 70's at North Texas State University when we were tripping on the acid somebody cooked up in a bathtub and sold to a school full of jazz musicians.

Given that Timothy Leary has been credited with spawning the New Age movement with his book High Priest, I think it's safe to say that the philosophical underpinnings of our tripping came from that vein of thought. It was all about Love and An Open Heart and Mind. And so is that Biff Rose song my mother listened to over and over and over again when I was a little kid which evidently became a central influence in my personal theology.

It doesn't really matter if you believe in God from a Kabalistic view or the Christian view. Or if you view God not as a being at all but more like The Force in Star Wars, or The Colors of the Wind in Disney's Pocahontas. Or if you don't believe in God at all. Your spirit is the key. I'm much too much of an existentialist to say "eternal" spirit because, in the end, it doesn't matter whether the spirit is eternal or not. What matters is how we live our lives.

Looking at America today - with all the rancor about Gay Marriage and Health Care, not to mention endless wars, crime and whatever other bits of reality that make you want to hide under the covers forever - I'm wishing that I could go live with aliens like in Cocoon. It's easy to blame Congress, Christians or Corporate Greed, but all kinds of people in all walks of life are ruled by fear, anger and suspicious self-interest.

All the Yellow Submarines in the world won't free those minds, and they make up the dominant culture. I truly believe that Love, in a universal sense, could cleanse those minds and make them free - if only they weren't tragically and dramatically afraid. Frankly, I don't understand what is so damn scary. Romans don't like it when people try to take away their power and their money which is why Jesus had to go. And most Americans today, regardless of the religion they claim as their own, are simply petty little Romans fiercely clinging to their sorry status in this socio-economic hierarchy we call home.

It's no wonder a lot of us turn into recluses smoking weed.



Sunday, November 8, 2009

Marijuana and Mercy

My visit to Tree Hugger U was pleasant and productive. It looks like Velvet simply needed a bit of parental support and encouragement. When he said that he wasn't cut out to be an engineer and thought he should be a DJ for raves, I told him that the next ten years of his life were meant for exploration and as long as he got some kind of degree and a day job, he should follow his bliss.

The next morning over a Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's he announced that he and his buddy Mad Max want to go to Cannabis College in California. I said that was fine by me and that when it was time to sell this place on Central Park West, I'd be happy to stake him.

Years ago, when I lived in Austin, my vision for the future involved being a cool old lady with a long, gray braid sitting on my wrap around porch in the country. My biggest problem would be keeping my horses out of my pot plants. At the time, I figured on living in Bastrop or Gruene. Since I'm pretty sure the Baptists will still be in control of Texas when it's time to sell HQ, maybe we'll move up to Lake Tahoe with that side of the family. Then again, Vermont might have medical marijuana before long. I always liked it up there, too. I found this video in my inbox this morning from a dear friend who shares my enthusiasm for hemp. He didn't even know Velvet wanted to go to Cannabis College.



We must all remember that life in America today would be very different if it weren't for the corporate interests that banned hemp production. I think it was the cotton growers, but I may have the story wrong. I refuse to speculate on any changes that may or may not occur in America now that the health care reform bill passed the House. There's still the Senate, and plenty of BS will be served up in the meantime.

Who knows? Maybe it's time for all those Insurance Company execs to get behind Medical Marijuana.

The original Cannabis College is in Amsterdam. I could go there my own self. People are always telling me I should open my own school. I could start a Cannabis Campus in Lake Tahoe. The funny thing is that I know for sure my mother would be proud. Hell, the Cannabis Campus could be a new family business. Stranger things have happened.

Driving home down I-81, just as I was passing the road to Ithaca, this song came on the CD player. Somebody I used to know went to school in Ithaca and the verse about the brother reminds me of him. He also seems to be trapped behind fear and doubt. He was weighed down by his baggage, for sure, and could use some mercy just like every single one of us.



Right now, one of my buddies is having the final stand-off with his parents because they are convinced he's going to Hell for being Gay. More "Good Christians," so entrenched in harsh, judgmental bullshit that they'd condemn their own child. Like other Good Christians, they are convinced they are right to be harsh and condemning. Like God approves of their fucked up attitude. Now that I think about it, that bastard Jehovah might have approved - but he was an invention of the patriarchy, if you ask me. Besides Cat's Cradle, I get most of my theology from Christopher Moore's book, Lamb: The gospel according to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal.

It all starts when Biff observes Joshua and his little brother at the village well. The little brother smites a lizard on the head and kills it, then Joshua puts it in his mouth and brings it back to life. Then the brother smites the lizard again, and Joshua brings it back to life again. Biff thinks that's a fine game and decides to make friends. Joshua and Biff eventually set out in search of the three wise men. It's a well-researched, satisfying, funny look at what Jesus was trying to accomplish.

Sadly, there are plenty of folks in every religion who are judgmental, unhappy, critical, self-righteous and isolated which brings us back to Mercy and, quite possibly, a future as a marijuana grower.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The King of the Halloween Party

I'm off to Tree Hugger University.
You might say that Velvet needs an intervention - at least that's what Buzz Kill thinks.

The last few weeks have been tricky as far as Velvet has been concerned. I'm not exactly worried, but I have some work to do, and I'm fixing to head out to the hinterlands to do it. Buzz Kill, on the other hand, is fraught with anxiety which makes him so completely unpleasant that he's not invited.

The issue is Velvet's grades if you can call them that.
He has a D in Calculus. Velvet never got a D before.
Velvet has never been King of the Halloween Party before either.
In my view, the two are inextricably intertwined.

There are a number of factors involved. When Buzz Kill and I were up there for freshman orientation, the three of us met with the boss of the Office of Disability Services at Big, Beautiful Private University. Tree Hugger University, a SUNY school, is integrated into BBP's campus so that they share a lot of stuff like dorms and dining halls. libraries and student services. The young science and math majors up the hill at Tree Hugger take all their liberal arts and language classes at BBP. We had to make sure that the BBP office had all the documentation outlining Velvet's accommodations - such as extra time on tests, a distraction free environment for testing, note taking services, an audio version of his text books on CD as well as individual tutoring. BBP takes care of most of them, but the tutoring comes through Tree Hugger. Since the beginning of school, Velvet has been supposed to set up this tutoring.

Most likely, Velvet is unhappy about being a SPED - a special ed kid - and just wants to be like everyone else. It is not unusual for kids, particularly 18 year old boys, to get to college and act like their issues have magically vanished. He has never been good at admitting he needs help which means he absolutely doesn't know how to ask for help either.

Meanwhile, Velvet was spotted at a party by the daughter of one of Buzz Kill's friends. As it happens, Buzz Kill has an old, dear friend who is married to a woman that teaches English at BBP. This couple - who was at our wedding - have a daughter who is a month older than Velvet. She's not at college this semester due to their own personal family drama which is why she happened to see Velvet at a party the other night. In response to questioning from her mother, the girl said that Velvet seemed very energetic at the party. When Buzz Kill heard that, he concluded that Velvet was taking extra Ritalin.

That's when Buzz Kill called me in an enraged panic, reporting that Velvet said he hated me and wanted to go the school far, far away from us because we were up his ass all the time. I'm pretty sure he told me about the D in Calculus during the same conversation. I was pretty pissed off about the D, but told Buzz Kill that the extra Ritalin idea was about the dumbest thing I ever heard. I suggested we needed to be looking at something infinitely more mind altering than Ritalin, but Buzz Kill wouldn't hear of such a thing.

I understand about Velvet's issues in every way a good mother can. I'll be taking the blame for those issues for the rest of his life, after all. We all know that if it's not one thing, it's your mother - although in my view, it's preferable to blame everything on Buzz Kill.

Put the LD/Sped stuff together with being exceedingly annoyed at his father's aggressive, attacking whine, and Velvet stopped picking up his phone.

After a few attempts, I got a hold of Velvet who said, first of all, that he never said he hated me. He said he hated US for being up his ass all the time and he felt like going to school out of state. I pointed out that Velvet is the one who couldn't find three minutes in the last two weeks to email the program coordinator at the Academic Success Center. I hadn't talked to him for more than 15 minutes during the month of October and had sent money and cookies. If he wanted to see "up his ass" wait until he's flunked out of school and has to live with Mudgie in Texas because I'm so pissed he's not safe in this apartment. He said I didn't understand and hung up the phone - although he said "good bye" first. Then I called back and left a voicemail saying he couldn't get into the University of Afghanistan with his grades, so he better think about his transfer options while he was doing everything else in the world except arranging for tutoring.

Then I proceeded to call every ten minutes for a while, but Velvet wouldn't pick up his phone. Since it was clear that Velvet wasn't going to talk to me but that he needed to talk to somebody, I left a message for his shrink. Velvet has been seeing Mr. Laidback since the evaluation he had in eight grade indicated that we needed to address his anxiety. Velvet has always felt comfortable with Mr. Laidback because Mr. Laidback is familiar with Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp. Velvet has always said that he felt most able to be himself at Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp, and Velvet felt Understood by Mr. Laidback.

I figured that if Velvet wasn't going to talk to me, he could talk to Mr. Laidback. Buzz Kill approved this plan which is good since he has to pay Velvet's therapy bills. Mr. Laidback was concerned when I told him what was going on. I left a message for Velvet saying Mr. Laidback was going to call and that I wanted him to have a phone session. The next day, I called Velvet to say Happy Halloween. He answered the phone and agreed to my request. They'll be talking this afternoon while I'm driving up to Tree Hugger U.

While I was relieved that Mr. Laidback and Velvet would be talking, I decided over the weekend to take Friday off for the specific purpose of dragging Velvet into meetings with both the program coordinator and the senior counselor at the Academic Success Center. Velvet had spoken the the senior counselor back at the beginning of October, roughly one month after he was supposed to talk to her. He was miffed because when he called, she didn't know who he was.

Eighteen year old Male Ego? Typical reaction of a kid who went to a school with a total enrollment of 250 students, K - 12? Since second grade Velvet has had almost exactly the same 36 kids in the grade which was broken into 12 kids per class who were broken into smaller groups for classes like Math.

When I called Velvet on Monday night to say I would be there on Friday for these two appointments, he was prepared to give me an attitude and wanted to know why I was coming up there. When I told him that I felt sorry for him and was coming to help, he was surprised. Buzz Kill had told him I was furious and coming up there to kick his ass. Actually, Buzz Kill wasn't altogether wrong. I was furious at Velvet's lack of initiative in the tutor department compared to the superior motivation he showed at finding parties. He particular enjoys the parties at the fraternity with a six foot bong.

I knew something like this was going to happen last year when somebody left a drunk girl in the bathroom (Stonerdate 08.20.08).

When I told Velvet that his father had heard through the friend's daughter that he seemed very energetic at one of these parties which convinced his father that he was taking extra Ritalin, Velvet and I both had to sigh over the obtuseness of Buzz Kill. Then Velvet said, "I was rolling on ______ and it's the best drug ever! I was King of the Halloween Party!"

He danced around with glowsticks all night and says everyone wanted to dance with him. Maybe it will wind up on youtube.

I'm not particularly worried about this incident because it's not as bad as all that. The guys I hung out with did worse and most of them graduated, got jobs and became responsible members of society. We didn't have youtube in those days, but hopefully the child was masked since it was Halloween. Now that I think about it, me and the Man from San Antone hosted similar parties years ago in the Austin, Texas of myth and legend.

It was as a result of those parties that I could impart this wisdom to Velvet:

When you're at a party
and you're tripping,
and the police come to the door,
let somebody else open the door.

Happily, when Velvet was in Kindergarten, I had the foresight to take him over to our local precinct and asked the desk sargent to show him where the guys had to sit when they didn't listen to their mother. She was a little, round Latina and embraced my request with enthusiasm and vigor. She even took him into the holding cell so he could get a whiff of that industrial strength disinfectant. People thought I was crazy at the time and that giving my kid an individual tour of the precinct bordered on abuse. It did scare the living shit out of him so thoroughly that he remembers it to this day which is why I maintain that it was brilliant.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Boarder Patrol

I'm cleaning up the apartment because I've got a boarder. Actually, there are two people coming. I'm told the woman is a butch lesbian who used to be a corrections officer. She has Joan Jett's autograph tattooed on her arm. I don't know anything at all whatsoever about her colleague. I'll find out tomorrow night when they arrive.

She had arranged housing for the week while they are in town to work on a project for Comedy Central. Sadly, when they got to that apartment, she says it looked like a crime scene so she sent out an SOS to her friends. That SOS was received by a dear friend of mine who had a front row seat to the miniseries that took over my living room a couple of years ago involving Gayle The Hillbilly Hustler, aka Cousin Rhonda Gayle Texas Ranger (Stonerdate 02.16.08)

As it happens, that episode was instrumental in the evolution of my character. Cousin Rhonda Gayle awakened my inner Texan. I had always been recognized as a Shiksa from the South, but back home in Texas, folks made fun of my New York accent. It was a relief and a delight to converse with someone who talked like me and whose world view was informed and distorted by life along the Texas/Louisiana border. I'm pretty sure a vein of insanity runs pretty deep along that border just like the Sabine River.

Rhonda Gayle was from there too. We went to the same high school, but we only met after corresponding for a little while on Classmates.com. I don't know if Classmates is a hotbed of grifter activity or if I just got lucky. I'm glad the whole thing wound up with me requesting that she pick up her belongings from the doorman who had instructions not to let her pass the front desk. It was a bit extreme, for sure, and Velvet was understandably pissed off at me for months over the incident - but it's not often that you get to give the doorman a memo saying someone is not permitted to cross the threshold complete with a mug shot cropped from pictures taken on Christmas morning.

And as it happens, I am once again at a defining moment in self-actualization. Last year, I found grace (Stonerdate 01.01.09). This year, I'm coming into my self. It must officially be the start of the holiday season.



The evites are out for the Eighth annual Gemini party, and I'm very excited to be reading at KGB earlier that week, too. All that before Velvet gets home for Thanksgiving. It's already warming up to be a festive year.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Samhain

Some say Samhain is tonight. Others say next weekend.
Sounds like a week long party to me.

It might be New Year or it could be Old Year.
The end of one cycle and the beginning of another.
Either way, the Celts mark the occasion.
Just not with a pole in autumn. The pole is for May.

I probably should have gotten an afternoon job by now, but I've been busy. And if I'm not going to the shrink twice a week, I don't need an afternoon job at all.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tigers and Lambs

I was looking for this video today because I'm trying to relate to another person's point of view. Experiencing another's perspectives can be tricky because we have to step outside of ourselves to do it. It's hard to step outside of yourself when the only way you can experience and understand the world is through your Self. We're so informed by our own perspectives that accepting another's point of view as valid is kind of like being in an Alternate Reality. If you can finally stand in that alternate reality (which is smack dab in that other person's moccasins), you might be able to pull your head out from up your ass long enough to learn something.

Specifically, I'm currently pondering the reasons why a certain individual will not talk to me. Meanwhile, Punch shared this observation in the comments following a post about Vampires over at Termites of Sin.
Polan (sic) ...taking care of kindred spirits is well within your skill level. I'm not avoiding you I just don't want to piss you off. I'm a lit fuse and you live in a powder keg. Why would i not avoid you? (just saying)
Point taken.

Now, I don't know Punch in real life and am never likely to have that experience since he is hell and gone in Florida. Nevertheless, his assessment of a virtual situation can be directly applied to Real Life and may accurately reflect the perspective of a certain individual who won't talk to me.

I can totally understand why said individual objected to my actions. From where I sat at the time, I was simply managing a situation here in my own Private Idaho. Whatever I said or did was essential to my process, and if it's one thing I've learned to respect even when I don't understand, it's my dang process. Occasionally, during the process, this part of my character is in charge, and she has been known to burn bridges. Actually, she tosses hand grenades and takes no prisoners. It may be picturesque, but it's not pretty.




It's like Sally Bold says. It's just the way I am. Like in The Tao of Pooh. I'm not a tiger by any means, but sometimes I imagine that a person might feel like he's been hit by Hurricane Trish. While I respect this perspective, an occasional storm is no reason to forget about going to the beach. Half the time, once the clean up is complete, the beach is better than it was in the first place.

In the midst of all this personal reflection, this clip came up and turned my thinking in a different direction. This scene scared the bejesus out of me the first time I saw it. It still does.



Brian and the Baron would have been on the first train to Auschwitz because they were homos. Teabaggers hold posters of Barack Obama with a Hitler mustache while their patron saints Rush, Glenn and Sarah would happily exterminate all the oddwads, queers and weirdos they can round up. Which means, to use the psychological vernacular, that Teabaggers are projecting their own xenophobic impulses onto Barack Obama. Their fears have nothing to do with Health Care or Big Government. They are reacting to the hate swelling in their own hearts. And they are following leaders who would cheerfully exterminate anyone who doesn't look and think like themselves. Seen in this light, Rush et al are not simply loud mouths to be ridiculed. They are threats to humanity who really need to pull their heads out from their asses.

How many of us would they stuff into the oven?

But enough about social upheaval - back to the issue of the moment at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters on Central Park West.

I get it that I willfully stuck a flame to his powder keg and the resulting explosion left us both singed and shaken. Explosions can be destructive and disturbing. Sometimes, though, destruction is necessary like when lightening strikes the forest. The fire clears away the underbrush that chokes and stifles new growth. It lets in the sunshine and fresh air. Explosions can be scary, but sometimes they light up the sky. The results are often be brilliant.

I've never been so afraid of getting hurt that I won't take a risk. Maybe fools do rush in - but every now and then, the possibilities are worth taking a leap of faith.

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