Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Into the Woods - the mother's turn

I'm off to Tree Hugger U this weekend for the Family BBQ. It'll be good to see Velvet. Some people apparently talk to their children on the phone. Velvet is hard to pin down that way. He's only called me once since Buzz Kill and I installed him in the dorm and that was because he wanted me to mail him my one hitter. I thought that was cute.

His father has been calling him with constant reminders which is good because somebody has to be the bitchy nudge. Buzz Kill is great in that role. Occasionally Buzz Kill calls to give me important information like Velvet has gone through his semester's spending money in a month.

Oh Well. According to Buzz Kill, Velvet has a plan to make some money. Buzz Kill warned Velvet that selling Ritalin is bad, bad, bad. I know Velvet won't sell his Ritalin because he can only get about $3 each for the 5 mgs. I checked with a friend of his who is a sophomore in Binghamton. He could get $10 each for the 30mg sustained released Ritalins - but he only has a prescription for one of those per day. He'll keep those for himself because he needs pharmaceutical intervention in order to remember to bring his Irish Spring Body Wash with him to the shower. He always has a surplus of the 5mgs, though, because he can take those as needed throughout the afternoon and evening. But he won't sell those - he'll use them to get chicks. Velvet knows all about social capital.

I'm not exactly worried about Velvet. I told him that it's just as well he ran out of money partying his first six weeks at school since it's time for him to study for midterms. Also I suggested that if he had that much free time, he could certainly get a job doing research for one of the professors projects a few hours per week. Everyone needs to master the skill of entertaining him/herself without the benefit of disposable income. Since we're coming up this weekend, though, Velvet has to deal with his parents. Fortunately, we've had visiting days up at the Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp so the little family knows how to manage a parental incursion into kidspace.

Buzz Kill has been over here a lot working on the bike we're taking up to Velvet. He's been quick to get hostile with me lately, but that tends to happen near the first of every month when I start looking for my money. I don't blame the man for getting touchy about forking over large sums of court ordered cash for my support. I wonder sometimes if he found the blog, though, and is waiting for an opportune moment to hit me over the head with the discovery. That would make him hostile, too. Since he will be riding up to TreeHugger U with me, the possibility of being stuck in the car for five hours with a hostile individual is troubling.

I'm looking forward to a solitary, peaceful drive home, though. I can reflect on the the changes in my happy little world now that I'm fifty, my kid is gone to college and I'm realizing that I don't have to be the person my mother hoped I'd be when I was younger. When Velvet was little, I struggled for my mother's approval of my own mothering which was actually a good thing even though sometimes it felt like she was harshly judgmental. It's difficult to say whether she's as hard-core as I experience her or if my own mishigas influences my interpretation. Either way, now that I'm fifty and my kid is at college, it's okay for me to follow my individual nature instead of making decisions based on the rigid definition my mother has set for responsible, acceptable, sensible behavior.

One of the scheduled events for the TreeHugger U's annual BBQ weekend is a tour of the forest. Naturally a university full of treehuggers would have a forest campus nearby. The weather in that part of New York State is a little chilly so there should be some fall color.

A trail through the actual forest 20 minutes south of the main campus

This morning I'm remembering that earlier in the summer, before Velvet went to college, it seemed to me like he was running off into the woods (In Which Velvet Runs Into the Woods Stonerdate 06.28.09). Now it's my turn. The prospect of making my way in the world now that I'm not a full time wife and mother anymore is daunting and sometimes overwhelming. Just last night I was feeling like my world is precariously balanced with very little security. Everyone must feel that way sometimes. Plenty of women have walked down this trail before, though, so it's not like I'm lost in the woods with no idea of how to proceed. I just need a little gumption.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Crackers at Yom Kippur

It's a school holiday here in New York on account of Yom Kippur which is the culmination of Jewish Holy Week.

Ever since I came to New York City, I've been friendly with lots of Jews. Jesse Jackson didn't call it Jaime Town for nothing. Folks said Jackson was an anti-Semite. Maybe he is - what do I know? I do know that some Jews are quick to holler Anti-Semite. Jews get touchy. Who can blame them? The Jews have been targets of genocidal mania for centuries.

Throughout European history, the Jews worked to remain a distinct people while the rest of us blended together with the conquerors when our regions were seized by another tribe. The Angles and the Jutes and the Celts and the Saxons and the Normans all fucked each other and became one mass of bloodthirsty white Europeans who then proceeded to build empires on the backs of dark people the world over.

This dedication to Jewish community and identity is plain to see in the family of The Artist from the South of France until WWII when his grandfather married a Catholic woman. His family lived in France as Pope's Jews who came into being when the Vatican was transferred to Avignon. The Pope's Jews did business for the Catholics and in turn were allowed to live. Since his mother and grandmother were Catholic, The Artist from the South of France was not Jewish. He wasn't a practicing Catholic either, but I thought dating an Artisit from the South of France would be a big change from the Ukrainian/Polish Jews to whom I gravitate. As it happened, The Artist from the South of France's family was so Jewish there is a street in Jerusalem named after his Great Uncle. So much for me not dating Jews.

I am not going to chronicle all the Jewish men I have dated here because (1) my mother would figure out that I was still married while I was dating a couple of them and (2) the story is too good to tell for free on the Internet. Further, most of my interactions with Jews have been as Velvet's mother and as a teacher. At Firestarter School, for example, there was a large population of Israeli Jews.

I have spent enough time among the Jews to be concerned that Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin or somebody is going to blame the Jews for the Wall Street clusterfuck and whip the Crackers into a frenzy.

Maybe Cracker is also a racist term - but it's helpful to use racist terms when discussing racist issues. To clarify racial and class distinctions, I like to look at New Orleans before the flood. During Katrina, you could see that an antebellum social structure had been dominant in New Orleans. The plantation owners became the folks who got out of town way in advance of the flood. Poor blacks and whites were left to die. Cracker Overseers were in minor positions of authority. They weren't so powerful they could get out of town and hang out with the plantation owners - and even if they had the money they were too tacky to come to dinner. But the Cracker Overseers were powerful and corrupt enough to take advantage of the situation.

The South is not the only place with lots of Crackers anymore than the South is the only place with the Klan. There are plenty of Crackers in Pennsyltucky, Ohio and other Midwestern districts where the settlers were primarily white - and Ku Klux has chapters in all those places. Of course, Gone With The Wind shows that land owners were also in The Klan. The need to keep all the wealth and power in the hands of the White Men is not restricted to Crackers. The rich supremacists simply boss around the poor ones, although those hoods must equalize them somehow.

Crackers will never have as much money as Land Owners. God made that clear with the Divine Right of Kings. Although that world view was challenged during the Reformation, the idea that some people are rich because God likes them best runs rampant in America today - from NASCAR rallies to Congress to Corporate Junkets.

Red Necks have nothing to do with anything in this context. Red Neck just means you worked outside a lot. Men who stomp around checking on their oil rigs and other property are just as big of Red Necks as hired help - and in point of fact, none of them are necessarily racist or conservative although Red Necks got that reputation during Vietnam. There is plenty of White Trash at every socio-economic level, too, because Trash is Trash - rich or poor, North or South. Two prime illustrations of trash with money are Crystal Allen, played by Joan Crawford in The Women and Dan Packard of Dinner at Eight played by Wallace Beery.










Joan is the bath tub being taunted by Rosalind Russel and Wallace Beery is with Jean Harlow. The Jean Harlow character has always been one of my favorites because she forced her Robber Barron husband to do the right thing in business so she could social climb to her heart's content. The point of bringing these movie characters into the discussion here is to show that rich folks may be ruthless, self-interested opportunists, but they aren't Crackers. There are no rich Crackers. Not for long, anyway. If a Cracker made money off Wal-Mart stock back in the day or by hitting lotto, the family either drank it all or educated themselves and aren't Crackers anymore.

The Teabaggers of September 12th are middle and lower class whites who, by racist definition, are Crackers. I say this with all the authority of the Southern Petite Bourgeoisie. I might have been a Duchess in Beaumont's Neches River Festival, I'll have you know. I'd have been on a float in a parade wearing a tiara and everything.

On this Jewish High Holy Day, I worry because now that Rupert Murdoch and them are stirring up the Crackers with all the fear they can muster about a Negro president, it won't be long before the Jews are the target. If the Crackers get going on the Blacks and the Jews at the same time, nobody will notice anything else about Health Care, Afghanistan, Education, the Environment - nothing.

I'm not worried about Long Island becoming a Jewish Reservation like in the movie C.S.A.:The Confederate States of America because enough Jews are in positions of power and influence in this country to prevent that sort of thing from happening in Reality.



If the people manipulating the teabaggers have their way, then we will become as close to a world like The Confederate States of America as we can legally be. Now that the Crackers are just as broke and without prospects as other minorities in America, they are running scared. Of course they were horrified when Obama addressed classrooms. The last thing Crackers need is more Negroes with education, money and access to power.

The propaganda mongers might be able to find the one black man with a machine gun in Arizona and trot his ass out for the news to make it look like people besides Crackers are riled up - but that blip in the 24 hour cycle is not the first time somebody found a token black to prove a point.

I don't know enough about Zionists and American politicians of every variety working together to protect Israel to even begin to participate in that kind of discussion. I'm just saying that today I'm worried about the malevolence on the loose in our country as we hover on the brink of a class war. I wonder how much longer it will be before Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh starts going after Ron Emanuel. I wonder what they'll make of the Rabbi in Michelle Obama's family.

Michelle Obama's cousin, Rabbi Capers Funnye

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You Can't Step in the Same River Twice

The other day, I was explaining something to somebody and said, "You can't step in the same river twice." The river may look the same and flow in the same direction, but the water is always new. The bank might curve a bit differently and the river itself might even be deeper. My river changed dramatically yesterday. I can tell the effects will be far reaching although right now I'm not sure how.

I'm under the protection of The Man from San Antone again. That's an ancient expression, "under the protection." It was still in use during Victorian times to euphemistically describe the relationship between a man and his mistress. She was under his protection. That's not exactly the case with me and the Man from San Antone. Nevertheless, he is providing a much needed cash infusion. My therapist will be delighted to receive this news since I haven't paid her in six months, and most of the cash will be going straight to her. Some will be going towards mani/pedi, new boots and the Gemini Party. The maid, too, if he sends as much as I said I needed.

One of the primary reasons I was always astounded by HCW's conviction that I wanted to marry him is that if I'm going to get permanently mixed up with anyone, I'll go with the man who sends me five figures when I ask nicely. HCW, as I recall, thought he was generous for leaving behind a roach.

I am sincerely attached to HCW; I really am - even though he won't talk to me. I like all those other guys hanging around the periphery too. I especially like Woody since he's 2,000 miles away. At the moment, though, all I have to say is:



Somebody better tell the Man from San Antone that Velvet and Gigi have been circulating the story that The Man from San Antone is Gigi's birth father. They love this story. The first time Gigi met The Man from San Antone she told him he looked like a typical john. We were in a hotel bar talking about hookers at the time, so it's not like she pulled the comment out of nowhere. He acted offended and stomped off - but he was just going up to his room to get high without anyone tagging along. She was unrepentant and called him "daddy" all night long. She even told him that I needed new lingerie from La Perla, bless her heart, as if Le Perla makes anything that would hold up these old knockers.

Velvet was impressed by the Man from San Antone since he knows Charlie Wilson and has a nodding acquaintance with Willy Jeff Clinton in Vegas. Velvet also likes it that I backed The Man's Trans Am into a tree which resulted me being grounded from driving the Turbo Porche The Man then leased with his allowance. Now that I think about it, The Man from San Antone had a little Fiat Spider between the Trans Am and the Porche which I loved driving down Devil's Backbone down the the sailboat at Canyon Lake. I liked driving it through the tall grass going the back way to the beach, too. I wasn't allowed to drive the Maserati either, but it belonged to his brother.

In the end, maybe The Man from San Antone and I are more like siblings than a romantic couple. We always made a good couple, though. We make good partners, too. This whole thing has me thinking about the nature of relationships again. Going back to the spring, when I was thinking about the enduring nature of love (Stonerdate 05.24.09), a tree served as a metaphor instead of a river. The river is more about Life, The Universe and Everything than that tree on my terrace which was an anniversary gift to Buzz Kill and me right before we got divorced.

Buzz Kill and I are finally stabilizing into a more harmonious state - maybe because we've both finally got the freedom to grow into our own natures instead of living someone else's ideas. Neil Young has the right idea:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Coming Attractions

If you happen to be in Brooklyn on the evening of October 2nd, drop by The Red Horse Cafe for a screening of the popular documentary Why We Wax from Kimbery M. Wetherell and Amy Axelson of She Shoots to Conquer.


I can't make it because I'll be up at Tree Hugger Academy for the annual barbecue which must be something like Homecoming except that Tree Hugger Academy does not have a football team. They use Syracuse University's football team for the day. The athletes at Tree Hugger Academy are more into Extreme Frisbee. The school has golf, soccer and cross country teams, but they are best known for their intercollegiate Woodsmen team which has been competing since 1911 in traditional timber sports. Velvet may join next year. For now, He's gotten into student government and is in charge of securing vegan dining options in the student union near the freshman dorms. Velvet himself is not remotely vegetarian. As soon as he mastered the art of eating solid foods, me and Buzz Kill let him gnaw on beef ribs as big as his little head.

Now that Why We Wax is on Current TV and has a distributor, more people are seeing it which means it's only a matter of time before my mother is thankful I appear under my pseudonym. I'm thinking my mother would not want to be associated in any way shape or form with anything I said in Why We Wax.

She knows I was in it, of course. As it happens, Kimberly and I used to share the same nail salon, and when Kimberly was looking for wax stories, the owner put us in touch on account of the time I accidentally got half a Brazilian wax. The Rebbe Mohammed McCrory figured prominently in that ridiculous incident, and when my mother first heard the story, she laughed so hard she peed - and we were sober.

That's pretty much all my mother knows about it, however. If she heard my observations regarding oral sex and orgasms relative to Brazilian Bikini Waxes, she'd be mortified. I didn't get explicit. I simply said that it was my feminist right - nay! a feminist imperative - to have as many orgasms as I possibly could.

Mother thinks oral sex is tacky. In fact, she has declared that Bill Clinton and Monica Lewisnki are perverts. I expect her attitude is a result of having Granny the Ho for a mother. When my mom first started getting used to the idea that my easing into a second career as a writer would be personally mortifying for her, I pointed out that her embarrassment at my behavior most likely wouldn't be any worse than what she suffered as a child because her mother was a Divorcee. Back in the 40's when mom was a kid, some people wouldn't let their children play with her because of Granny the Ho. That's one of the main reasons my mother made damn sure that there would never be any doubt that my sister and I were Nice Girls.

Whatever I have done that would embarrass my mother, I'd like the record to show that I always sat up straight and crossed my legs at the ankle as prescribed by The John Robert Powers Way to Teenage Beauty, Charm and Popularity (Prentice-Hall, 1962). Whatever I may have said, I said it like a lady. A lady who cusses like a sailor, perhaps, but a lady none the less.

At least I said some very nice things about HCW in the process. A few of his good points happened to come up in the interview Kimberly and Amy taped and included in the documentary. And I am not the woman who says "You haven't lived until you've had hot wax in your ass." That's Rock n Roll Hot Mama, Robin Slick, who wrote Daddy Left Me Alone with God which may or may not be a memoir involving Eric Clapton.


This is the trailer showing on Current TV where a person can download the film thanks to Al Gore. Or an interested individual can go to WhyWeWax.com and buy a copy for $6.00.

As wonderful as being in Why We Wax is, I'm looking forward to sharing new material on November 19th at KGB where I'll be reading in the humor series Drunken!Careening!Writers! The reading is free and the drinks are (relatively) inexpensive. Maybe I'll have the story finished that my friend Kyle wants me to submit to this year's Best Lesbian Erotica. For the record, I self-designate as heterosexual, but I still have something to contribute to a girl on girl erotic discussion. This Time Out New York article says Drunken!Careening! at KGB is part of Essential New York (the DCW part is near the end). If you happen to be downtown, do drop in.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dumb Bitch in Ikea Leads to Grocery Theft

Once upon a time, an old Girl Scout went grocery shopping in New Jersey. She was cranky because prior to arriving at the grocery store that evening, she had been helping a friend buy a sofa at Ikea Paramus when some dumb cow who lived in the Dakota monopolized the delivery desk for a half hour. Everyone knew she lived in the Dakota because when the clerk asked for her zip code she announced it was unnecessary to have the zip code since everyone knew where the Dakota was.

The Dakota Building mostly known for being John Lennon's house

It's true that most everyone on the West Side knows where the Dakota is, but it was a presumptuous, entitled remark. The old girl scout and her friend wondered why someone who could afford to live at the Dakota was so dim that she thought it was a good idea to make her apartment look like the Ikea Showroom except for the gorgeous woodwork. Perhaps her real furniture was being custom made from Rainforest Wood and the Ikea stuff was disposable. After waiting for more than 20 minutes while the dumb cow tried to buy a baby bed she saw someone returning, the friends caused a commotion with the manager and finally completed the sofa transaction so they could go to the grocery store.

The old girl scout was also grouchy because she hadn't been sleeping well due to financial distress as well as recently concluding that she was so contrary in the man department that she might as well get used to living without one. Fortunately, in New York City in the Twenty First Century, she could contemplate other options such as women and couples - but those were not thoughts for the grocery store in New Jersey being as there was no one attractive wandering around the aisles.

She was fixing to check out when she noticed that there were only two human checkers running registers and those lines were absurdly long. She much preferred working with a pleasant human than one of those automated, self-serve check-out stations. But if they were going to make it home before Rachel Maddow, she had to take her chances with the robot.

Here's where I became so astounded by my own behavior that I had to approach this story as if it were fiction.

There were three or four automated registers on either end of the check out zone which had a customer service booth in the middle. The two human checkers were also in the middle. Some poor schmuck ran from one end of the line of registers to the other monitoring the self-serve stations.

I started out by following instructions properly like the good girl scout I am. From the start, it was a hassle because every time I reached for an item in the cart, my handbag slipped from my shoulder to my elbow. You can't leave your handbag in the cart unattended because you never know when someone will swipe your dang wallet - or the whole handbag for that matter. Thieves are everywhere.

Despite my growing annoyance, I continued to follow instructions until the electronic voice told me to take an item off the conveyor belt. Apparently, said item - liquid laundry detergent - was too heavy, but where the fuck was I supposed to put it? Back in the cart, I guessed, because the grocery bags were ten feet away in the self-service bagging area. The electronic voice and I repeated this process with the bleach. I scan it and put it it on the belt; the electronic voice says take it off. So I took it off and put it back on again, and the voice says "take it off." So I took it off and put it on again and the voice says "Scan another item or press Done." The bleach went back in the cart, too, but I was dissatisfied with this solution because if half the stuff had to go back in the cart, I wouldn't be about to tell what was paid for and what wasn't. That's when I started wondering why anyone paid anything at all when there isn't a weight sensor on the belt to tell if the number of items swiped equals the number placed on the conveyor.

I scanned a couple of boxes of pasta. Then I scanned two of the five cans of tuna I got for 74 cents each. The machine got both of them, but the voice started squawking that I needed to wait for the attendant. So I looked around and I waited. Then I waited some more, and the voice says,"Scan another item or press Done." That's when I quit scanning the groceries and started swiping the groceries.

I tossed all five cans of tuna on the belt and scanned a few more things - but not the diet ginger ale because I figured on the voice telling me to take it off the belt. I swiped the soda.

There weren't more than 15 things left in the cart when I tried to pay for the Vidalia Onion. I had already gotten brazen and tucked the Rosh Hashanah greeting card in my hand bag and tossed a few more things down the belt. So when there was no fucking way to weigh the onion and put in the correct produce code, and the dang electronic voice said, "Scan another item or Press Done," I thought: Well Hell, I'm done.

Since I had given the machine my store card first thing so I'd get all the little discounts, Stop N Shop knew exactly who walked off with all the groceries. With the code on my card, the great computer in the sky has a record of everything I've bought in that store in addition to everything I've ever purchased anywhere using my debit card. The Great Computer in the Sky has all that information, has correlated it with my credit report and other demographic statistics and uses it to decide which ads to show me on facebook, for crying out loud. I was hoping they would hunt me down here at HQ so I could tell them to fuck off in person. But no - The Man has already run the numbers and determined that absorbing the cost of shoplifting at the Self-Serve Checker is still cheaper than paying the cashiers they laid off.

I will confess to being a little nervous leaving the store. I had not shoplifted anything since I was in 7th grade and took a pair of earrings from the Woolworth's, and I was consumed with remorse about that theft. Not this one. I put the bags in the back end of the Subaru and wondered exactly how many more items were in my car than on the receipt and slammed the hatchback shut.

On the way back to the city, my friend and I were speculating on exactly how much we were all authorized to steal. I figured next time, I'd rather steal a roast than a couple of cans of tuna, a greeting card, shoe laces, a box of whole wheat Rotini and some Diet Gingerale.

When I told my mother the next morning, she pointed out that there were probably folks watching on camera from the office betting on how much I'd finally take. They don't give a shit because The Man has fucked them over too.

I blame Dick Cheney. When did we become a culture of No Accountability? I'll blame G. Gordon Liddy, too.

Notably, there are always human checkers at Trader Joe's. Maybe that's because Trader Joe knows that the stoners who shop there regularly would walk off with everything in the store if nobody was there to stop them. I hear Trader Joe separates out their garbage for the convenience of dumpster divers which means that the company is very familiar with the consumer behaviors of a certain demographic.

Freegans in action

I would sure as shit rather be a Freegan than some unimaginative cunt from the Dakota. Since I've become a righteous shoplifter, it's possible that when it's time to sell the apartment, I could wind up moving Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters to a Yurt in Vermont.

As it happens, Velvet met a fellow last summer when he was out in the Tetons going to NOLS who lived in a yurt in Vermont when he wasn't at Bard College at Simon's Rock. Simon's Rock is a college for kids who graduate from High School early and is a notorious stoner school, I'm told. This young fellow, also a freegan, was an expert on all kinds of mushrooms and knew tons about organic farming. That's probably why he had been approached to work with some medicinal weed growers in Vermont.

I'm thinking that's a fine choice for my next career.


Here's Velvet and his buddy somewhere in Wind River Wilderness

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another one from The Vault

This song has been on my playlist for years because I'm damn grateful that I've reached a time in my life where I am comfortable being myself in most situations. Along the way, there have been a few memorable individuals who showed me it's safe to be yourself. It's worth stopping to say "thanks" particularly when new moon is coming up and it's Rosh Hashanah.

There aren't many versions of this Menopausal Stoners' Theme Song on youtube. This one with George Clinton is great conceptually. The video doesn't show the whole song, if they ever even played the whole song, and it's doutful that they are stictly sober. The point they succede in making is sort of like "thank you for letting my goofy old ass up here to fool around some more."

Monday, September 14, 2009

An Award, A List and Some Links


Liberality gave me a blog award which is a great way to end a great day. I love reading her blog because she's a compassionate, thinking woman, a wise grandmother who does yoga, takes classes and reads non-stop at her job as a librarian so I take it as a high compliment that she likes to read this blog.

My task is now to make a list of seven things I like that does not include people.

In no particular order:
  1. Wine. All kinds, especially with good food. Perhaps I should just say I like Sensual Delights.
  2. Parties, especially at my house since they include wine, punch, tasty treats and lots of lovely and talented people. The other good thing about parties at my house is that I can wear my pajamas if I want to, and I have very nice pajamas. 2a. Pajamas
  3. My job - great colleagues, fun kids, excellent facility, smart directors.
  4. The concept of HCW which doesn't count as a person right now because he's become a character that lives in my head, providing endless hours of distraction from tricky real life situations as well as opportunities for introspection and reflection.
  5. My Great-grandfather's 1912 Remington Shot Gun (that I mentioned my gun directly following HCW is strictly coincidental)
  6. Velvet's school: SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Brilliant kids and wonderful teachers working diligently together to create a more sustainable modern lifestyle. He'll be off at their campus in the Adirondacks next week on retreat with the other Environmental Resources & Forest Engineers. Here's the view from the webcams at Huntington Wildlife Forest.

  7. Blogging. I appropriated this item from Liberality's list because I like blogging, too. Not only is it a satisfying creative outlet, but through blogging I've developed connections with lots of interesting individuals. I'll mention Woody here since he's not one of the four blogs I'll be passing the award to. Like many bloggers, he's an accomplished, intriguing character. He got my attention with a great line about finding my consciousness attractive. My consciousness? I'm still impressed by that line even though I'm pretty sure his neighbors duck when they see him coming - but that's just because of the uninhibited way he expresses himself.

As for the four - first I have to say that all the blogs in the sidebar are "creative" since bloggers are a creative bunch. Following the links to discover new connections is one of the best things about blogging (besides getting awards). All the links in the sidebar merit multiple clicks - as do the links on their blogs and their blogs and so on and so on.

Since four must be chosen, however, I'll go with:

Utah Savage because she's got an ongoing writing project at her blog that is outstanding

Realia, for great stories and a bit of inspiration

Banquet of Consequences Too since JadedJ never fails to amuse and needs to change the award in his side bar

To Someone Likeminded. Pondering Life, The Universe and Everything from Tulsa.


**Special Thanks to Intelliwench at Post-Raphaelite Sisterhood. JadedJ passed the award on to her, as I hoped he would, and she had the good sense and manners to correct the spelling. The original spelling bothered me and Utah too.

Schools and Creativity at TED

Frank H. Jump at Fading Ad posted this link to an enlightening, entertaining talk at a TED conference given by Ken Robinson. Ken Robinson is, according to his bio, "A visionary cultural leader, who led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements. His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, a deep look at human creativity and education, was published in January 2009.

It's so captivating that you don't notice you've been sitting at the computer watching it for 20 minutes. I wished Ken would keep talking. The point of this presentation is that schools, and the societies that built them, are educating away creativity which he defines as having original ideas of value.




Sir Ken says a lot of things in nearly twenty minutes, but near the beginning he shows how it's a good thing when you're not afraid to be wrong. As someone who has recently had to admit I was very wrong, I found it comforting to hear my willingness to make an ass of myself is actually a great thing. We can only hope the results worked out as well for HCW as they did for me. I may have been dead wrong about his character, but by believing he was toxic, I was able to let go and find my own path - which led to me finding Grace, but that's another story. Maybe my favorite story, but beside the point right now especially since HCW won't talk to me (not that I blame the man since he has experience with my maniacal tendencies). But as I said, that's beside the point. The point is that I bet a lot of us out there in blogland have been wrong, wrong, wrong about a lot of things and the willingness to go there is a wonderful thing.

Ken doesn't bore on and on about the need for reform or what those reforms should be. He simply presents some ideas and possibilities about education that are important and inspirational for anyone who cares about the future. It's good to hear/see whether you have kids or not - but it's particularly uplifting this morning because I'm on my way to work. No kids yet in our progressive private preschool - just a world of possibilities on a sunny morning.

I'm excited and proud because the school has given us enough budget to create an outstanding environment to nurture curiosity and creative problem solving. When my assistant - who is blessed among women - and I have it put together, I'll post pictures. A dedicated, talented, beautiful artist who is guiding our aesthetic. She's been to Reggio Emilia and everything which is significant training for early childhood specialists.

Listening to Ken, I get jazzed because I'm one of the people who is working in my own way, with dilegence and joy, to make the world a little better. I'm thinking that everyone I know in blogland is doing that too.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I've Got Mail

Dear valued Subscriber,
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Some people really believe this stuff. Charles Boustany, for example, might contact Mr. Benfield to see if an Earldom was included among the prizes.

It's odd that the Republicans would look to Louisiana once again to find someone to deliver a response to the president's congressional address. While Boustany wasn't as staggeringly stupid as Bobby Jindal, I can't imagine why anyone would choose a doctor who had been sued three times for malpractice to applaud the idea of reforming the medical malpractice laws. It seems like getting someone who'd been arrested for armed robbery a couple of times to talk about relaxing the laws about armed robbery. Maybe Boustany was framed, but it looks to me like all the Republicans got is Dumb Asses and Crooks.

Plenty of doctors complain about the cost of malpractice insurance, and for all I know they could be getting screwed by insurance companies like everyone else. I don't know and, frankly, I don't much care. I just think the Republicans might have found someone who hadn't been sued to make the speech especially when so many people have noticed the Republican double standard that we have an acronym for it: IOIYAR (It's Okay If You're A Republican).

I'll be glad when this Health Care bullshit is behind us. I just noticed there are conservative protesters in Washington DC with signs saying "Stop Socialism." I understand, intellectually, how such a thing is possible, but it's making my brain hurt to witness people so thoroughly manipulated by propaganda in this class war that they don't even know they are advocating their own destruction.

For now I have a fantasy: The Democrats really do use their majority to pass a good health care bill with a solid public option and the conservatives have to sit down and STFU (Shut The Fuck Up).

Human Imperfection

As a Bokonist, I firmly believe that the little dramas that transpire between individuals happen as they are supposed to happen. Giant international dramas, like World War II and the current economic clusterfuck probably happen the way they are supposed to happen too, but I don't know enough history to support the idea. I am very well versed in the comedy of life that unfolds in my living room, however.

Believing that things happen as they are meant to happen does not leave events to predetermined fate. Events unfold by way of simple cause and effect. It's more like physical science than metaphysical or Presbyterian Predestination. Once a ball is set into motion, Newton's Laws govern the way it will roll.

While Quantum Mechanics may render Newtonian Laws irrelevant when discussing the meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything, when looking at the interactions and collisions that occur between two people, we plainly see cause and effect in operation. Once the cause/effect operation takes over, the process has started and must reach its logical conclusion. There will be variables to consider, but just like a basic, Aristotelian proof, it's simply one long If-Then equation.

As it happens, testing of that particular band of cognitive functioning has always provided quantitative indications that my logical reasoning is so proficient that the scores are off the chart. Even higher than "superior." That score means that if presented with a pattern like AABBCC, I can always determine what comes next. It also means that I can whip through Aristotelian Logic Proofs.

Proofs start out with "Given" information. For example, Given: A = C and e > f. All you do is work the problem factoring in the variables until you arrive at the beautifully symmetrical solution. Everything makes perfect sense. It's the music of the fucking spheres as long as the Given is correct.

This passage from "The Philosophy Pages," illustrates the language, the symbols and application of Formal Logic relative to Implication:

Implication

The É symbol is used to symbolize a relationship called material implication; a compound statement formed with this connective is true unless the component on the left (the antecedent) is true and the component on the right (the consequent) is false, as shown in the truth-table at the right.

In this case, there is a reliable correspondence with the conditional statements that are commonly expressed in the English expression "If . . . , then . . . ." Although conditionals have many other uses in ordinary language (to assert the presence of a causal connection, for example), virtually all of them exemplify the basic sense of material implication symbolized by the É .

It's easy to apply this way of thinking to any proposition at all - everything from dogs having tails to Birthers being wackos. I get all jazzed about this stuff because it takes abstract ideas down to concrete operations so that you should systematically arrive at The Truth of a situation. Once the question has been settled, accept The Truth and move on to the next situation. Birthers are full of shit - Next! Dogs have tails, Squirrels have tails but Squirrels are not Dogs - Next!

But what if the Given is wrong? What if, for example, HCW was never a narcissist at all? What if he simply had a number of the characteristic traits of a narcissist, which is actually not uncommon among Jewish first born sons? What if while I've been carrying on like a Valkyrie, all he wanted was to pursue a sexual fantasy that had fascinated him since his teenage years - like that orgy scene in Conan The Barbarian? Teenaged boys love that scene. I know because I've heard Velvet and the guys talking while they watched the movie for the 20th time.



Going back more than a year ago to the origins of the narcissist theory, I must emphasize that a person can only work with the information at hand. Given the information I had, the only reason I could find that HCW would have said what he said and did what he did is that he's a Narcissist. I did the research, too. I not only read a number of articles from a variety of sources, I also talked to shrinks who know about narcissists, friends whose mothers are narcissists. I even talked to a diagnosed narcissist (Mr. Polo). I was consumed with finding a reason why everything fell to shit between me and HCW when we were so clearly attached to each other.

The X-Rated Google trail I found in July shows there was another perfectly logical explanation. He just didn't want to discuss it because that explanation involved his dedicated pursuit of a sexual fantasy.

Who can blame the man? He had only been separated about twenty minutes when we met. When he told me he didn't want to be tied down to a relationship, I readily acknowledged his feelings were perfectly natural and that I had felt the same way when I first filed for divorce. Then I proceeded to create an environment filled with all his favorite things - like single-malt scotch, good weed, various desserts with chocolate sauce, back rubs and, occasionally, expensive lingerie. That's what I do. I'm a domesticated female who enjoys making life as pleasant as possible for her partner.

If he would have followed his inclinations in the beginning, maybe things would have been different. In the beginning, I said that as long as my health was not in jeopardy, what I didn't know wouldn't hurt me - and I meant it, in the beginning. Two years later when he became restless I said the same thing, but by then we saw each other too frequently for him to drop out of sight for a few days unnoticed. Even if I were as open-minded and accepting as I said I was, I know him well enough to know for certain that a brief episode of impersonal, get down and dirty sex would feel like cheating to him.

We never talked about that though. The atmosphere between us was so charged at the end with the tension of wanting to be together but needing to be apart that the rhetoric escalated and became counter productive especially since we are both articulate and animated individuals. The argument centered on his conviction that I wanted to get married and my astonishment at his arrogance. When discussing his need to find his mojo, I told him he could take his bald headed, pot bellied, unemployed ass downtown and see how far it got him with all the hotties.

Until I saw what he'd said along the Google trail, I didn't realize how important it was for him to have the freedom to heed the call of Conan. The direction we were headed would certainly have felt like commitment-land where fucking around randomly feels like cheating to someone with a bit of integrity. He had to light out for the territory like Huck Finn.

One thing follows the other neatly, in a symmetrical chain of cause and effect.

Ergo: HCW is not a Narcissist. He acts like one sometimes, and I fully believed he was a narcissist when I made such a fuss, but he's not a narcissist. New evidence from the Google Trail shows that while his egocentricity is excessive, it still falls within normal parameters on the continuum of human behavior. Some people may think an X-Rated Google trail is just as problematic, but to me, it's human and endearing.

A couple of years ago, some geneticists had evidence that Thomas Jefferson was a Jew. At the time, a professor of Modern Judaic Studies said, "We also like him. He's a brilliant, complex, imperfect person . . . " I always remembered that line because I want to be a brilliant, complex and imperfect person, and that's the kind of people I want around me. Now that I've come to the conclusion that HCW is just that kind of character, I felt it was necessary to publicly take back what I've publicly declared, and once again, try to put all this behind me for Tashlich.

Friday, September 11, 2009

One More Time

On a day like today, this one bears repeating:



Conservative Christian Right-Wing
Republican Straight White American Males

From East Nashville Skyline

Conservative Christian, right-wing Republican
Straight white American males
Gay-bashing, black-fearing
War-fighting, tree-killing
Regional leaders of sale
Frat-housing, keg-tapping
Shirt-tucking, back-slapping
Haters of hippies like me
Tree-hugging, peace-loving
Pot-smoking, porn-watching
Lazy-ass hippies like me

Tree-hugging, love-making
Pro-choicing, gay-wedding
Widespread digging hippies like me
Skin color blinded, conspiracy minded
Protesters of corporate greed
We who have nothing
And most likely will 'til
We all end up locked up in jail
By conservative Christian, right-wing Republican
Straight white American males

Diamonds and dogs, boys and girls
Living together in two separate worlds
Following leaders up mountains of shame
Looking for someone to blame
I know who I like to blame

Conservative Christian, right-wing Republican
Straight white American males
Soul-saving, flag-waving
Rush-loving, land-paving
Personal friends to the Quayles
Quite diligently working so hard to keep
The free reigns of this democracy
From tree-hugging, peace-loving
Pot-smoking, bare-footing
Folk singing hippies like me
Tree-hugging, peace-loving
Pot-smoking, porn-watching
Lazy-ass hippies like me

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Closed Doors

Everyone in New York has his/her September 11th story. Happily, mine includes no tragedy. My upstairs neighbor worked down there and had people falling onto his head. I just ripped my favorite pants hitting the deck in a gun scare at the grocery store across the street.

Once Buzz Kill could get through on the cell phone, he said we might have twenty people who staying over who couldn't get home. Being from the Gulf Coast, I knew about hurricane parties so I went to the store to lay in some supplies. There were cops all over the place, jet fighters circling the neighborhood and everyone was understandably nervous. The bus stop was right outside the door to the store back then, and just as I was going into the store, a crowd of folks got off the bus. One of the pedestrians thought somebody with a gun went into the grocery store and told the cops.

I was looking for margarita mix when the announcement came over the PA to get down on the floor. I ducked behind a big stack of cases of beer. The patch pocket on my khaki capri pants got caught on a long neck. It was a false alarm about the gun. I wound up talking to one of my neighbors whose daughter worked in one of the towers but had been at the dentist. I discovered my favorite pants were ripped later. George W would have blamed that damage on the terrorists, too.

Velvet was at the office with Buzz Kill and Vagina Dentata. As it happened, Buzz Kill's office was only a few blocks away from Velvet's school - far away from home down in mid-town. That morning, Buzz Kill and the handyman from his building were up on the roof looking at the first tower when the second plane hit. Buzz Kill dropped the binoculars and went straight to the school. No matter how many nasty things I say about him, Buzz Kill is a dedicated, fiercely protective father. While they were walking up Fifth Avenue, He told Velvet not to look back so Velvet didn't see the smoke. Thank G*d they were far enough away so that he couldn't have seen the people jumping from the windows. I always had the feeling that if it weren't for Buzz Kill, Velvet might have turned to salt just like Lot's wife that day.

Eventually they walked home, bringing Vagina Dentata with them. Buzz Kill's friends walked home over the bridges, so I didn't have 25 for dinner after all. Tons of people walked miles and miles home that day. Vagina Dentata wanted to watch the planes crashing endlessly on CNN, but I made her turn off the TV. As it happened, Velvet was the only kid in his grade who never saw the news reports. I never believed little kids need to watch the sensationalist crap that passes for news anyway. Little kids have enough trouble making sense of the world without some fool on the local news talking about murder, mayhem and parents abusing their children. The news sucked especially hard on September 11 and in the weeks that followed.

As soon as planes were allowed to fly again, the paper where my brother worked in Texas rented a little jet to fly a crew of reporters and photographers up here. The flight plan wasn't filed perfectly, so the Air Force forced their plane down in Georgia. My brother said that was weird, but he got some interesting photos. Before my brother and them got to the city, Buzz Kill had been to the neighborhood hardware stores to get heavy duty respirator masks like the carpenters wear for the team. When the store owners heard the masks were for journalists at the site, they gave Buzz Kill everything for free. Like I said, Buzz Kill's best self was showing.

That's the kind of stuff I like to remember about September 11th: hundreds of little, shining instances of people showing their best selves. Of course the political shit storm hit instantaneously. It's all history now even though some things still feel fresh - like the checker at the liquor store in Texas my sister-in-law heard talking to her friend about that movie on TV with the airplanes (she's probably been at town meetings this summer). And how people were saying we brought the attack upon ourselves. Even then I recognized the validity in that statement, but it was damn hard to hear when everywhere you went, people were posting flyers about missing loved ones. Americans may be assholes, but nobody deserves that.

Looking at a fence full of flyers with pictures of The Lost, it doesn't matter who was ultimately behind the September 11th attacks. Maybe the Bushes and the Bin Ladens did it themselves. Or maybe it was Mossad or the CIA. Or maybe it was Al-Qaeda and the Taliban like everyone thought in the first place. In the end, nobody deserved that shit. Nobody deserves most of the shit that happens every day in this world. That's why I try to remember the shining little moments when we show our higher selves - which is much easier when you work as a shepherd of very young children.

This morning, a couple of the other teachers and I are headed out to Long Island to buy classroom materials by the pound: buttons and ribbon scraps, corks and carpet swatches. We're going to Ikea, too, to get some knock-off Brio trains and miniature kitchen ware. The art teacher is leading this expedition. It's an appropriate September 11th project since we're doing our bit to make the world a better place in our progressive little school in a building we like to think stands as a beacon of hope and peace on a hill overlooking the Hudson.

Martin Luther King preached against the Vietnam War at our church. Nelson Mandela addressed the nation in a celebration welcoming him to America. And our former preacher stood in the pulpit and declared that if George W. Bush actually knew anything about Christianity, he wouldn't launch a preemptive strike against anyone. Bill Moyers is a member. I used to attend regularly, but then Vagina Dentata started tagging along - in hats big enough for the Lord to see her from Heaven on Sunday. It wasn't fun anymore after that. She's gone back to Unity at Lincoln Center now, but I'm not in a rush to go to Church.

At the time, it was part of my campaign to prevent Velvet from becoming a Bible thumping adolescent. You don't see many of them on the Upper West Side, but there were plenty of Bible thumping teenagers in Texas and the Midwest where I grew up. The last thing I wanted was some damn kid telling me I was going to Hell in my own living room all because I never took him to Church. It seemed like the logical way to head that off at the pass was to force him to go to Sunday School until he begged me to stop. We were done in eight weeks - but I made him go another month just to be safe.

My favorite part of the Sunday Service was the money wave. Once all the ushers finished the collection, they gathered in the back of the sanctuary. At the opening chord of the Doxology, they marched up red carpet to the altar with their baskets of cash. The congregation stood up as the ushers passed by, pew by pew, and it looked just like a crowd doing the wave at a ball stadium - hence the term: The Money Wave.

No matter how inspirational a church service is, the collection plays a central role. And that's an interfaith phenomenon. God knows the Catholics weren't the first religious group to figure out you can make a killing.

And we're still killing people over the people who got killed on 9-11 over who knows what. The smartest remark I ever heard about the entire episode was made by a young woman who used to teach at the school on the hill. She had come to America with her parents from Iran back when the Shah was deposed. She she had a bit of insight into the convoluted politics of America and Middle East and provides another example of how being on a traditionally feminine trajectory does not preclude experience and knowledge about world history and politics.

She said that there was no way any of us would ever know what had happened behind closed doors, so live your life.

That's as true today as it was back in 2001. That's undoubtedly easier to do when no one is shooting at you, dropping bombs on your head, lobbing explosives at your house or trying to blow up the bus you take in the morning. And even Michael Moore doesn't really know what the hell is happening behind all those closed doors.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Politics and Pinto Beans

I'm fixing a pot of pinto beans for dinner. If I feel energetic, I'll make corn bread too.

I learned how to fix beans from my mother, who learned from Granny the Ho, who learned from her mother before her. That's as far back as we go in the South on my mother's side, and I don't think the Irish or the Welsh even had pinto beans although of course I could be wrong.

Even though I put baking soda in the beans while they are boiling, they will still make you fart. Sometimes not so much as others. More farting may occur when there are whole cloves of garlic floating around in the broth. When I had been married long enough to realize there was no point in fighting about things that won't change, which eventually turned into no point in talking at all whatsoever, I fixed a big pot of beans whenever I was pissed off at Buzz Kill. It was satisfying to gas him with noxious fumes.

I figure that President Obama's speech tonight is a good occasion for a pot of beans since there will be gasbags galore on the TV tonight. I can editorialize out my ass along with them.

I love to listen to Obama talk, so I'm sure I'll love his speech. It's another example of how we all hear what we want to hear. People who wish he would be stronger and more aggressive with the Republican Windbags will think he wasn't strong enough. Those who thought he was indoctrinating children will think he's Stalin, Mao or Hitler who are apparently interchangeable with Castro.

I'll just fart along with the rest of them - but at least I'll have had Cornbread and Beans with Bacon which gives me a legitimate reason.


When Velvet was a junior in High School he and his friend, who likes to be called Potus here on the blog on account of he watches West Wing endlessly, challenged their history teacher about the amount of time they were spending on the Holocaust. The boys believed that since Jew for Jew, Stalin killed more Jews than Hitler, Stalin should get equal time. The teacher said they spent more time on Hitler because there was more about the Holocaust on the Regents Exam - a standardized test taken by High School students in New York State. Maybe that's the real reason and maybe not, but it shut the boys up for the day. As it happens, young Potus had a great-uncle who was a propaganda writer for Stalin. Like most folks who worked for Stalin, he died young. The boys acknowledged that Stalin just happened to kill Jews when he was killing off other groups, such as doctors. Hitler went straight for the Jews, as well as Gypsies, Queens and whoever else was a threat to the master race. But it just goes to show you that if smart-ass kids like Velvet and Potus know the difference between Socialists, Marxists, Nazis and Fascists, all these television personalities and pundits ought to know the difference too.

Truthfully, I'm not so sure I know all these ideological distinctions because that sort of economic, political reading bored the living shit out of me in high school and I never addressed that gap in my education. I have enough sense to know that no symbolic portrait of Mussolini is carved into the side of Rockefeller Plaza like Glen Beck alleged.

It may be time to watch Idiocracy again this weekend and start thinking about moving out of the country. Two sets of friends in Texas have invited me to move somewhere with them when the time is right. Bradley and his wife Kanela are looking to move to a country where the cost of living is more affordable. He gets a little money from oil royalties and she's an excellent welder. They know about HVAC stuff and since she's originally from Argentina, she can conduct business in both English and Spanish. Then there is Jonathan and his wife who is an outstanding potter. They want to move to the hills of Arkansas. I'd live on the compound with them and a few other folks where we would secure the perimeter and keeps out the crazies. We'd have to venture out into the wider world for work and commerce, but at least once the drawbridge was up, we'd be insulated and free to entertain ourselves in peace. As it happens, the potter is an outstanding shot since she grew up in rural Oklahoma. She's the one who says that as long as the beer cans you toss into the backyard don't hit other beer cans, you're not white trash - and she can grow artichokes.

When it's time to sell this place and split the money with Buzz Kill, I have no idea what I feel like doing anymore. Last week, I started doing home visits to my kids for the year. Home visits are fun because you get to see all kinds of apartments. Some families have everything in the world you can possibly imagine - so that I'm pretty sure that if I knew what they did to make their money, I'd think they should be arrested despite the fact that it's all perfectly legal in America. Some are just soap opera actors and stuff who get paid a fortune. These are all families who spend $10,000/year or so to send their very young children to private school three mornings per week. The kids go home at 11:30 which is exactly what children their age should be doing developmentally since we no longer live in small, agrarian communities where kids run around playing with each other under the watchful, caring eyes of extended family and neighbors.

I stopped lamenting the fact that teachers don't get paid for shit (and neither do fire fighters, nurses, EMTs and all manner of workers who provide essential services to our society). But it would be nice if we could afford decent homes and a dentist. The good part about home visits is that even though the apartments we are visiting are out of my price range, we wander into some neighborhoods that I could swing if I decide to stay in New York for a while.

While I have faith in my personal future, the present remains challenging. All these douchebags on parade are making it worse, and I will admit that I'm a bit lonely watching the speech by myself. I guess that's why so many single people watch stuff in bars. As it happens, there's a handsome single fellow in the neighborhood who hangs out in a beer bar not far from HQ playing Foosball with his cute, single friends. They are all about 40. He's the kind of guy that would pay my bar bill and put me in a taxi, too. Gigi introduced us this past weekend and I wound up listening to one of his very attractive, muscular friends drunkenly obsess about his ex-girlfriend.

I'm not that lonesome yet. The truth is that I liked to watch Obama with Velvet and Potus. It must be that soft spot I have for rowdy, egocentric, smart-ass boys. Once they are old enough to know their asses from their elbows, however, those boys cannot be politically conservative.

Addendum:
I laughed. I cried. I cheered.
I love that Barack Obama.
And I waited to eat my beans until the Republicans hauled out another asshole from Louisiana.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Personality Cocktails

I'm a sucker for Cosmo Quizzes and the like, and this one posted over at Post-Raphaelite Sisterhood is so good I was immediately compelled to share it.


3 parts Superiority
2 parts Style
1 part Flair
And a Splash of Seductiveness

Finish off with a squeeze of lime juice




Money and Mahjong

In my spare time, I've been paralyzed by fear and anxiety.
Money is almost certainly part of the problem since making more money is an imperative right now. My new job doesn't pay as much as my old job because I only work 25 hours per week. I consider myself lucky to have full benefits and all this time to pursue personal projects - but these projects are going to have to generate some income.

If I could follow my own inclinations without the worry of generating income, most likely I would spend the next several months indulging my senses. I'd create something occasionally to entertain myself, and I would maintain a reasonably healthy lifestyle that includes lots of fresh fruit and pleasant walks in the park. I'm not going to speculate on what I would do if I hit lotto.

The fact is that if I hit lotto I would still want to accomplish the same personal goals that I want to accomplish when I'm broke. It's just that now, I feel like I have to make some money.

Not a shit load of money. Just enough to meet my expenses without depending on anyone else, to have some savings and a bit of extra money for small indulgences - like going to Austin to visit my friends and getting new snow boots for the winter.

I'm pretty sure this fear and anxiety is why I've been busting into tears periodically. Not extended crying jags - just a few moments of concentrated sobbing once or twice a day. It's worse when I wish somebody were here to give me a hug and tell me everything will work out okay. I suppose everyone wishes for that kind of comfort - and even if I had a loving partner or my parents were on hand or I was surrounded by my friends, other people can't really convince you that everything will be okay.

I don't feel isolated or lonely, although I will admit to being at loose ends without Velvet around sucking all the oxygen out of the air. The thing is that Velvet has provided me with an enormous excuse for not pursuing my own goals all these years, and without him at the center of my world 24/7, I have no one to blame but myself when I can't seem to focus on anything except stupid video games on Pogo.com.


For years I've been playing solitaire or mahjong on Pogo.com while I monitored the activities of Velvet and his friends in the living room. Pogo and The Sims also got me through my divorce. At the moment, these endless variations on computer solitaire are helping me cope with fear and anxiety. I don't for a moment suppose my fears are different from anyone else's, but that doesn't make me any less paralyzed.

I had these worries when Velvet was here, and the quiet is helping me center myself in my Self - which is a good thing. Maybe people just need to turn off their brains every now and then as part of the process of regrouping, refocusing and regaining their energy. G*d knows my brain hasn't been turned off in my sleep because my dreams have been vivid and illuminating.

Last night I found myself high above a crowd at a stadium on a foot-wide plank of plywood with a few other people. We were supposed to be doing simple stunts or leading cheers. All I could do was hang on for dear life until some experienced fellow appeared from thin air there on the plank and I saw there was a net below us. I woke up before performing any amazing feats, but the odd thing is that I vaguely remember thinking in the dream that if I got stuck, I could always make the crowd cheer by showing my tits.

In another dream, I was watering the garden in my family's backyard - although nobody I know ever had a back yard with such a giant flower garden - and a neighbor woman wandered in asking for Spanish tomatoes. We had divine tomatoes, but they weren't Spanish so she turned up her nose at them. I scooped them out of her hands and sent her away, making snide remarks about her under my breath to my mother.

All in all, I'd have to say these are encouraging dreams and straight forward enough so that there is no need to spend much time wondering about an interpretation. However, it makes for restless, fitful sleep which doesn't help relieve the fear and anxiety and probably exacerbates busting into tears.

Today, I'm going to try to be kind to myself and remember that it's only the second week of Life without Velvet and that the last couple of months have been filled with transformational events such as turning 50, getting fired, realizing I'm responsible for putting my own money into my own bank account, putting my kid in college and starting a new job. In fact, that I've remained emotionally stable throughout the process without any meds is actually an accomplishment in itself given that I was heavily medicated for 13 or 14 years on account of depression and mood swings. I may occasionally give into tears for a few minutes, but that seems to go with this territory. Under the circumstances, playing a few computer games while I've been incrementally taking care of business isn't such a crime.

I'm sure the folks at Pogo.com would agree. If I'm lucky, maybe I'll hit that $4,999 jackpot when I win a game and get the bonus spin.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Two from The Asylum Street Spankers

Mudgie wants everyone to hear these songs from the Asylum Street Spankers.
Musical activism regarding the War on Drugs and the Wars in the Middle East.




Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gigi's Birthday

We had a little dinner party here at HQ last night to celebrate Gigi's birthday. My favorite part about this party is that Gigi did all the cooking. She even bought all the groceries at the new Whole Foods across the street. She did the dishes, too. All I had to do is vacuum.

Today I wound up snacking on Tums. Maybe I ate too many left-overs in one sitting or maybe the organic whole milk from Milk Thistle Farm I drank with the cake was a bit too rich for my constitution. I doubt it was the two pieces of cake.

I still can't see my way clear to boycott Whole Foods. I'm a Trader Joe's shopper myself, although I occasionally shopped at the original Whole Foods in Austin back in the late 70's when you could get weed from the guy at the fish counter. We didn't get our weed there, however. The Man from San Antone bought Colombian by the pound which was much more economical especially since he sold a bit to his friends to cover the cost of the pound.

Even in the beginning, Whole Foods was too expensive for ordinary shopping. This new Whole Foods opened when I was installing Velvet in the dormitory at Tree Hugger U. Last weekend, Gigi talked me into going into Whole Foods with her to get a cup of coffee. I was surprised to find a number of apparently single men in my demographic wandering around the salad bar area. Gigi merely said, "I rest my case." Who knew Whole Foods was a pick up joint? Regardless of potential dates in the prepared food section, I maintain that shopping at Whole Foods will render me broke.

I'm already broke. That's why I never shopped at Whole Foods in the first place and why I am loyal to Trader Joe's.

I got an email the other day from Greenpeace saying they had succeeded in convincing Trader Joe's to start selling fish that are more sustainable. Greenpeace is bent out of shape about something else at Trader Joe's now - and they are working on it. I figure that anyone who is really pissed off about Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey mouthing off about health care reform needs to pressure that grocery store the same way Greenpeace pressured Trader Joe's. Boycotts aren't particularly effective when a large percentage of the boycotters aren't customers anyway because the store is too dang expensive.

Actually, I was pissed off about this Whole Foods moving to the neighborhood because now there are no affordable options within a few blocks of my apartment. I like it when there's a sale so you can get three cans of tomato sauce for $1.00. You can't get jack shit at Whole Foods for a dollar. You can get some particularly tasty treats when you feel like splurging. I particularly like those spicy pecans and the chocolate covered almonds. Nevertheless, I wasn't happy about this change to the neighborhood. I wasn't happy about the thirty story apartment building either.

A few months into the construction project, John Mackey was caught trying to manipulate the price of somebody's stock when he was purchasing their company - or something like that. It caused quite an uproar among the Masters of the Universe because they felt John Mackey's behavior was unethical. This episode occurred before the economic clusterfuck when Masters of the Universe pretended to be solid citizens who cared about the public welfare. John Mackey responded by saying (paraphrase), "You believe what you read on the internet? HAHAHAHAHAHA."

Once I heard that, I was proud to have the Whole Foods across the street like an Austin Outpost here on the Upper West Side - even if it is a yuppified lifestyle company like Starbucks.

Gigi outdid herself with the dinner. She served prosecco with the appetizers: Egg white and asparagus quiche, heirloom tomatoes, miscellaneous cheeses and some delightful, savory crackers. Polenta pizza with pancetta, spinach, mushrooms, caramelized onions and Gorgonzola.


Then Swiss Chard lasagna with fresh tomato basil sauce for dinner and an outstanding Cotes du Rhone. And of course the cake. It was a delicious cake from Make My Cake just up the street on West 116th, but Gigi wasn't 100% happy with it because someone took the liberty of adding a flourish of big, white flowers around the border of the cake. She specifically wanted a yellow cake with chocolate frosting because it represents her racial heritage. Gigi's mom is part white which makes Gigi High Yellow which is why she wanted a yellow cake, and she wanted chocolate frosting to represent her dad and her black self which people often overlook on account of she's so light skinned. All those fluffy white flowers undermined the personal symbolism of the cake. That cake wasn't cheap either and to my way of thinking, nobody should be taking liberties with a special order cake. It was too late to pitch a bitch about it, though, so Gigi valiantly persevered.
I don't pretend to understand the significance of the light skinned/dark skinned sister thing any more than I relate to the torture of getting my hair straightened. I refuse to be one of those dumb ass white women who think she knows about the black experience because she has read a couple of novels by Alice Walker.

Gigi's old now. She's 31. It would be possible for her to be the illegitimate bi-racial daughter I brought home from the University of Texas at Austin to a scandalized Houston suburb which is precisely what she and Velvet like to tell people. As soon as my father met Gigi at Velvet's graduation he threw his support behind this fiction - and now some people actually believe I have a 31 year old daughter. I'd snatch her and Velvet both bald headed for saying such a thing, except I myself enjoy saying stuff about Velvet's sister the pole dancer. I expect my father enjoys that too. My mother stoically ignores us all.

Gigi and I also went to see Julie & Julia as part of the birthday celebration on Friday night. Cute movie that carried a reminder to bloggers that people may not like the way they are portrayed on the internet. I felt a twinge of guilt watching that, but just a twinge related to HCW and Cretin - not a bit of guilt regarding Buzz Kill which probably supports Velvet's assertion that I am maniacal, but enough about that.

Saturday morning, I went with Gigi to Yoga class. Back when Velvet was a little kid, I regularly took exercise classes from a woman who was part of the Isadora Duncan dance company and she included lots and lots of yoga in the class. So even though this class was only the second time I'd ever officially taken Yoga, I was familiar with many of the moves. Fortunately, I stretch on a big, green ball in the living room all the time and was flexible enough to hang tough in the class. It was so fun and so relaxing and so all together wonderful that I spent some of my spousal support on a 10 class card - which I got for a 20% discount. As it happens, I pass right by this yoga studio when I walk home from work every afternoon. I'm looking forward to incorporating yoga class into my weekly routine.

I sort of miss Velvet, but not much. To tell the truth, I'm enjoying the clean, calm quiet in my home. Every now and then, get overwhelmed by a wave of fear and anxiety because for the first time in my life, I have total discretion over my time. For years, there have been layers of other people to consider before I focused on my own goals. I could make time for Grad School easily enough but that goal was work related, which had to do with contributing to the financial support of our little family. Having time to focus on goals I've set for myself - purely because I want to accomplish them for my own reasons - is making me feel guilty. And then if I don't work on my personal goals, I feel guilty for that too.

Gigi says to remember that Velvet has only been at college for ten days. It's a little early yet for me to have a whole new life completely wired. It's hard though, as I hear the theme song to Mary Tyler Moore in my head and see her tossing that beret into the air. These days, I bet Mary would have been laid off from the station. She would be struggling to make ends meet as a freelancer with no insurance.

Becoming mindful of my breath, I am grateful that the benefits kicked in immediately at my new job, so I am once again insured and am saving for retirement.

Blessed Be.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Full Moon in September

The moon is full today. It looked full last night, but it's not completely full until around noon. I've been agitated for the last couple of days, and if you can believe Jan Spiller, it's all on account of this particular full moon:
Because this FULL MOON occurs in the sign of PISCES, the emotional energy stirred in the atmosphere is quite psychic and perhaps even a bit fearful. There is an over-sensitive awareness of how current circumstances may not be supporting your vision or private dream.
This atmosphere surrounds everyone on the planet, so maybe it explains why so many people are freaking out about having a Negro for president. I can't imagine that all those folks would be taking their kids out of school if a white guy were addressing the class on the TV. The Daily Kos discusses the Republican led frenzy over Obama indoctrinating children in socialism in an post titled, The Axis of Lunacy, although it doesn't reference the full moon. According to Jan, this full moon energy will pass by the 6th, so by the time the address rolls around on the 8th, it will be so old news no one will care. We cannot blame the shouting about health care on the full moon because (1) it has been going on for weeks and (2) it is funded by rich assholes who use propaganda as a tool to hang on to their money.

My personal agitation has nothing to do with Obama although the level of stupidity in America is so pronounced right now that any thinking person must be alarmed. The thing is, though, that those people have always been xenophobes and we could argue that xenophobes are necessarily stupid so it should come as no surprise that there are thousands of stupid cows in America. What surprises me is that they are getting off their butts and getting involved in politics at all - but that could be because they are broke and can't afford their usual entertainments. More likely, though, their inherent racism propels them to action.

It's enough to agitate anyone - but I've been agitated by HCW. The way he's been continually making passes at the blog reminds me of a little kid ringing somebody's doorbell and hiding in the bushes to watch her look out the door. I've been perplexed by his motivation. The simple answer with narcissists is Attention, but since he can get plenty of attention from a number of other supply sources, the solution to this puzzle cannot be that simple. Besides, Narcissists are never that simple - that's why I like them.

It's also true that HCW may not really be a narcissist anyway. Just because an adjective can be applied appropriately doesn't mean it's an accurate assessment of the a situation. Very likely, HCW has the soul of a rowdy little boy. Egocentric, attention seeking behaviors are part of the package, and I've always had a soft spot for rowdy little boys. That's one reason I'm a good preschool teacher.

Rhet used to say that my boyfriends were fundamentally dildos with Rubik's Cubes attached. Once I solved the mystery, I moved on to another boyfriend - or in this case, life with no boyfriend at all which has been remarkably pleasant. I had moved well into this territory when HCW started yanking my chain. Since I had stopped paying any attention to him at all, except in a philosophical sense when I was reflecting on past relationships, he has clearly been the instigator this time around. Sadly, I am responding predictably although with less vigor and urgency than in the past.

Finding the X-Rated Google trail livened up the discussion, but I am much too reluctant to have my own behavior scrutinized to ever feign an attitude of moral superiority or even emotional distress.

Ever since Velvet said I was maniacal, I have looked back on highlights in my behavior and cannot deny a maniacal bent. Last year, I called HCW around forty times the night before his birthday. I wouldn't have done it, except that about every third or fourth time I called, his line was busy because he was listening to and erasing my messages. Granted I had been smoking weed so I was easily amused - but I found it highly entertaining that I had the ability to drive someone who was hell bent on ignoring me thoroughly and completely nuts. As soon as he erased the messages, I would leave more. And they were inevitably friendly messages focused on his adorable charm. He later accused me of being psychotic - but in retrospect, I believe we had an example of me at my maniacal best (or worst, depending on your perspective).

I will concede that leaving somebody forty messages in a row, over the course of a couple of hours, is excessive. What kept me going was watching his attempt to control a situation and act like he had the power in the relationship by not picking up the phone - and he kept picking up the phone like Pavlov's dog. I was equally as stuck in a Pavlovian behavior loop, but while he was stomping around all pissed off, I was laughing maniacally to myself. Smoking weed will do that for you. If he'd have really ignored me, I'd have worn myself out and quit.

Maybe the whole situation does revolve around his need for attention - which may or may not be narcissistic - or one of my own disturbing tendencies. Or both. Either way, when two people are so clearly susceptible to each other, I figure they need to stop fooling around and get a beer. But I'm a person who believes the best about the people in my life. Being optimistic and having a sense of humor about human nature and quirky behaviors goes a long way in a preschool classroom.

As agitated as I have been in some ways - and finances cannot be ignored here although G*d knows I try mightily to ignore my finances - going back to my old job is the best thing I've done in a while. The facility is spacious, sunny and well equipped. My colleagues are generally great. The turds are only turdish in that they are negative and gossipy which can be entertaining some days. As if that weren't good enough, the neighborhood itself is filled with people who are passionate about their work since within a few blocks there are two universities, two seminaries, our huge progressive church, a building filled with NGO's and non-profits as well as the Manhattan School of Music. The energy in the neighborhood is positively invigorating.

Work is great; Velvet is great and Buzz Kill left me a message last night saying he was paying the child support and alimony for this month in full today. Plus we're having Gigi's birthday party over here tomorrow night.

Maybe everyone feels a longing in his/her heart looking up at a full moon. I am grateful for many, many things, but there is still room for growth and improvement. It's frustrating to recognize that in your own little living room, adjustments that seem obvious and easy to accomplish may never happen.

Moving forward toward Tashlich, which is part of the Jewish New Year Celebration, I'm thinking of what I'd like to cast away this year. The real ceremony, I believe, involves tossing crumbs into a river to symbolize casting away your sins. The first time I celebrated this ritual, I invested my pizza crumbs with my wish for an ideal mother and thew them out the window. Ceremonies and rituals are great for giving concrete significance to abstract ideas.

This year, Tashlich is on Sunday, September 20 - just after new moon.





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