Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Hot Date, Sparkling Rosé and Brer Rabbit

I'm in a bit of a quandary because of Jon-El Williams.  I'm not entirely satisfied with that name, but at the moment the trouble centers on discussing him at all.  I don't know how he feels about stuff like that, and I find that I care about how he feels about stuff like that.  With The Narcissist, I didn't give a flying fuck how he felt about anything I said or did, but that was only after I was pissed.  I was definitely respectful on the blog about The Preacher from the Mountains (Stonerdate 03.05.2010) and about The Artist from the South of France because they were both decent individuals.  I had plenty to say about The Preacher privately, but because he was a regular blogger himself - with the knowledge of his superiors in the church hierarchy - it would have been wrong of me to say anything online that was damaging to his reputation.

I didn't care if I damaged that damn Narcissist's reputation online because he was such a ___(insert perforative)___ that the public at large deserved a warning.  Kind of like when the Starship Enterprise runs across a contaminated planet and launches a warning beacon.  After I saw that the man had left an eight page google trail of posts by Bluestar727 on various adult websites in his quest to find a flaming red bush, I figured there was no reason to be discrete. However, I was always aware of legal ramifications if I got too close to his real life identity.

I'll admit it was bad of me to fuck with the keywords so that the post Ass-Wholes Great and Small (Stonerdate 01.30.2010) came up in the search results when his little books about investing were published - but that's what happens when I try to be reasonable and peaceable and somebody acts like a complete asshole, hence the term "Ass-Whole"(h/t Woody Konopeli).  And besides, Google didn't have an issue with anything I said even after he apparently reported me, so it couldn't have been as bad as all that.  Certainly that episode - even before I took down the post where I linked to the most extreme example of his asswholery on Attraction Forums - wasn't nearly as tacky as what Dan Savage did to Rick Santorum (Rick Santorum's Anal Sex Problem, Mother Jones), but then, those guys are professionals.  In any case, it's not like I didn't give that Ass-Whole fair warning and ample time to respond in private.

The reason I'm worried about all this today is that I have a steaming hot date with Jon-El Williams tonight.  Normally, I don't pay much attention to New Year's Eve and it's not like Jon-El and I have plans to go out. We have plans to stay in which is why this date is significant.  The fact that there are any plans in this direction at all is significant because typically, I'm a woman who considers the consequences of certain activities only after we've reached the point where all I can say is, "Too Late Now."

If I had been the boss of the trajectory with Jon-El, it would already be too late - but Jon-El has been doing the driving.  I'm not sure if he's been moving slowly on account of he's cautious about getting mixed up with a lunatic or if he's unusually perceptive so that he can tell when a woman is 100% ready for action.  I've never waited until I was 100% ready for anything except getting pregnant with Velvet.  Getting pregnant is not something anybody should enter into lightly.

Before Jon-El Williams became an Emmy Award winning producer/writer/director with a bunch of programs on his IMDb page, he was an entertainment lawyer.  I like it that he has emmy awards and stuff - but it's the lawyer part that concerns me.  By the time the Narcissist threatened to sue me, I was secure enough in my position - and drunk enough during that phone conversation - to say, "Let's go."  I believe I may have mentioned getting the court to subpoena his estranged wife.  The point is that I wasn't a bit afraid of or intimidated by The Narcissist.

I am, however, thoroughly aware of Mr. Williams' credentials as well as his generally astute character and level of practical experience which means I would think twice before pissing him off.

It may be that fretting is premature, as it were.  The outcome of tonight's date may be such that I'll be sending him on his way by midnight, in much the same way that I made that Preacher go sleep in Velvet's room for the duration of his visit.  

Considering the way my head hit the wall during that good-bye kiss the other night, though, it would be nice if Mr. Williams had a recurring role in the sitcom of life here at Menopausal Stoners Temporary Digs. And we all know that if has a recurring role, then there's no way I can help talking about the man on the internet.  It would be too bad if he felt it were necessary to squash me like a bug especially since he has that capability.  Consequently, I'm minding my Ps and Qs.  I'm also shaving my armpits, and I think I'll get a nice bottle of sparkling rosé.

I'm pretty sure that if Jon-El really does get a recurring role, I'll give him creative control of his character and, especially, his name.  Meanwhile, I'm not sure why, but this whole thing is reminding me of Brer Rabbit.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Tuesday Night in Texas

After a couple of days with my family, I've noticed a subtle shift. Up until this year, I've always thought of my mother as The Mother with my sister and I being Daughters.  My brother and sister have always been siblings - and all of us and our spouses, as they were added to the family group, have been the Children.  When my sister and I started having children, it was pretty much as if we had just added more kids to the mix.  The table is big enough so that we can all sit together - without having to relegate kids to the children's table in the kitchen, although now that my brother's wife's parents have moved to Houston and we're becoming a Clan - we don't all fit anymore.  Five of us had to sit in the kitchen, and arranged the seating alphabetically.

I noticed that everyone - including me - was getting older a couple of years ago during another Christmas in Texas.  I had just turned 50, and Mortality was smacking me in the face for the first time. I spazzed.  Back then, Mother was fully convinced my dad had Alzeihmer's and I was noticing all my own friends still smoking or sucking down an ice cream float while fixing up an insulin shot.  Turned out that some of my dad's medicine was effecting his memory - so now that they changed his meds he's good to go for another decade.

So now that I've figured out that we're not all going to die any time soon - and that, in fact, life goes on, my sister and I seem to be the Mothers with my brother and his wife, JJP, as well as my sister's husband the physicist, occupying the same generational space.  Velvet and his cousins are now the Emerging Generation.  Certainly aging is part of this shift - but I think I've noticed it more this year since Cupcake is with us.   Everyone is getting along beautifully.  My mother made a point of thanking Velvet for bringing home such a pleasant, sensible girl instead of one of the high maintenance lunatics who attached themselves to my brother.

Cupcake has taken a tranquilizer or two, but nobody holds that against her.  The Physicist had to take to his bed the first few times he was around the whole crew.  If I'm remembering correctly, Buzz Kill managed the whole family thing well enough, but I was a nervous wreck in those days.  JJP always fit in pretty well because she had an advantage because her parents and my parents had been friends for years and years before she and my brother got together.  Also, as long as the cats were still alive, Buzz Kill and I typically stayed in a hotel because  Buzz Kill is highly allergic to cats.

Last year, I felt a little resentful at having to share my mother with my sister the whole time - but I was tense on account of Velvet getting suspended for his grades.  This year, even though the semester didn't turn out the way anyone had hoped, we're all proud as can be that Velvet is such a nice fellow, and I have to say that being able to maintain healthy relationships is a hell of lot more important than a college degree.

Hanging out in the kitchen together, or piling into the cars to go out for barbecue like we did this afternoon, there is genuine, warm comraderie in this family (Thing of Beauty #44-101).  Even though I've been a mother for nearly 21 years, and my sister's kids are both teenagers - this is the first time that my mother feels more like The Crone instead of The Mother.  She's called herself Crone whenever she comments on Citydata and other websites for some time now, but in my mind she's been The Mother.  Maybe I felt like an imposter or something since I hadn't come to terms with my own authority and power even as I was exercising it.

Plenty of people - friends and neighbors mostly - call up my mother regularly for instructions on how to fix stuff, or deal with contractors or community disputes.   My dad is also a respected elder in their little community, but I don't know what they call men.  Since the Goddess has always had three faces - Maiden, Mother, Crone - it's easy to see which stage of life we're in.  Mom may have called herself Crone for a few years now, but she is fully Crone now.

The other day, my buddy Gwendolyn Holden Barry and I were talking about archetypes and personality structure.  Gwen looks at that kind of stuff from a mythological, ancestoral perspective where I'm more Jungian about the whole thing - but there's a lot of overlap.  Anyway, it was back when Gwen was first blending up an essensce for me designed to facilitate the healing of my shoulder.  Gwen's business - Daughters of Isis- Ancestor Aromachologie is all about healing essenses.  Anyway Gwen was saying that the Mother is very strong in me - so that even when I'm officially a Crone, I'll still be Mother.  I'm thinking that my mother is such a Crone that she's been Crone even when she was technically still Mother.

That Maiden, Mother, Crone stuff has more to do with seven year cycles than the exact stage of a woman's fertility, but when you're a woman, your cycle is a fundamental part of who you are.  All of us, though, men and women alike, go through stages of life just like the phases of the moon or the seasons of the year.  My parents are going into their winter; my sibs and I are going into the Fall.  Velvet and Cupcake aren't quite ready for summer.  It will come, though   I still think those two may very well be one of those couples that gets together in high school and stays together for a lifetime.  Time will tell.

For now, I'm wondering what time will tell for me next year.  First things first, though.  The minute all the real estate agents get back to work in New York City, I'm buying an apartment and entering into a new phase of life in New York.  The whole time I was married to Buzz Kill, I was living near Central Park.  Since it's at the center of the city, it's like a metaphor for focusing inward on personal identity and stuff like that.  The defining characteristic of my new neighborhood is the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge which is all about connecting with others.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to say that even though I was very anxious about taking the medicine for my inflammatory arthritis - which is derrived from the chemicals they use for chemotherapy, so in a very real way I was home alone and taking poison on Christmas Eve - my shoulder really is improving.  Even if I am telling myself a lovely little story by looking at the potion Gwen made as an antidote to the poison, when you consider how much of our healing depends on our perception and attitude, I'm fucking-A delighted with this one.

I collected a bit of earth from the yard of the house where I lived when I was young and healthy, and Gwen blended it together with the same things our own Celtic ancestors used as medicines back before the Romans chased them into the woods and called them Witches.  It's like I have my Self returning to myself in a concrete, tangible way to help my body heal.  Maybe there will always be some pain, but I'm the one who decides whether or not there is suffering.

No matter what happens with my shoulder, my home and my potential romance, there's still a lot of suffering in the world.  I'm finally starting to feel well enough again to work toward Being the Change.  There's no denying we're looking at the collapse of the American Empire -and we seem to be taking the Environment down with us.  But the movement is still afloat - and January 20, we'll be Occupying the Courts.

For more information about events across the country, visit: Move to
 I can't think of a better way to mark the anniversary of the Citizens United decission.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Buzz Kill's Birthday & Thing of Beauty #43-101

I can see why people hate the holidays.  So many people hate the holidays that, at the moment, I can't think of anyone who really loves the holidays.  I say "holidays" instead of Christmas since Thanksgiving and New Years are included.  Most likely, major holidays for every nationality, race and religion can be included since the trouble centers around being alone and feeling unloved.  If feeling alone and unloved is the issue, then we would also have to include Valentine's Day, for sure, and other marketing opportunities.

Certainly, stating tomorrow, I'll be with my family in Texas long enough to feel overwhelmed, misunderstood and, perhaps, even suicidal.  Family has a way of bringing out the suicidal tendencies in many of us.   In some ways, being surrounded by family and/or friends but feeling Isolated and Separate is kind of worse than feeling Alone and Unloved.  Either way, though, it sucks.

Physical pain seems to heighten the experience.  I hate to complain, especially since in the land of pain, my shoulder situation is nothing.  Bust even still, being alone and in pain has a way of kicking your emotional state up a notch.  My hormones do that too - but this morning I was forced to admit that the reason I was teary yesterday had more to do with Buzz Kill's birthday than my period.  Staying home alone while everyone else is out boozing it up in the nicest restaurant in the neighborhood is a drag.

Velvet called at 11:00 last night to say he was staying over at his dad's, which is totally fine and I'm glad he called.  But as I rattled around this big, empty apartment this morning, my shoulder stiff and kind of on fire with bones so deteriorated that I'm sometimes afraid they will crack right the fuck in two so that the only thing holding my arm to my body is the skin
I see why people hate the holidays.

Velvet 's staying over there again tonight since Buzz Kill, Vagina Dentata and Velvet are all going to a lovely Christmas Eve cocktail party that a family friend has had on Christmas Eve for years and years.  As lovely as the party is, in many ways it's torture for all concerned.  I'm not sorry that I'm not invited.  And I'm not sorry I divorced Buzz Kill, especially since the bankruptcy and sundry issues with the IRS proved I was right to take steps to protect the property.  Nevertheless, it's hard when Velvet is at events that I normally would have attended - like this party and Buzz Kill's Birthday Dinner - and I know that even though the guests are all people who used to consider me a friend won't even mention my name.   Bringing me up makes people feel awkward, especially since Buzz Kill will probably have his new girlfriend in tow.
So as far as they're all concerned, I've disappeared.  Almost as if I were never there at all.

I'm happy to say that my shoulder feels less stiff in the afternoons and evenings, especially when I spend the day resting as I have lately.  Maybe it's been so creaky the last couple of days because I've realigned since the surgery and all the gravel in the joint has finally worn itself into sand.   Who knows?  Maybe that one little dose of the chemo derivative is already working a miracle.  The good news is that I'm not afraid it's going to crack in two at the moment.  When it comes to my emotional state, however, as I'm ratting around this big, empty apartment alone except for the ghosts of Christmas parties past - I feel like I was broken in two by the divorce and all the heartache that led up to it.

I'm just sorry that Velvet has seen me crying over this - bitter, resentful tears because my husband chose to nurture his dysfunction instead of our marriage which essentially meant he chose to be with his mother instead of his wife.  On some twisted level, it just feels like the fundamental balance of The Force would have been disturbed is Buzz Kill hadn't moved back in with Vagina Dentata.  He's always taken care of her, even before his father died from Lou Gehrig's Disease.  He passed when Buzz Kill was 15.  As it happened, Velvet was 15 when Buzz Kill finally moved out, leaving Velvet alone with me just as he had been left alone with Vagina Dentata, giving a sense of symmetry to family dysfunction.

Let us all pause a moment and be grateful that I am not Vagina Dentata, although I can see some similarities.  And Buzz Kill, despite everything, has been a good provider for Velvet - I just had to get the law involved to protect the property and to make sure a portion of the cash was secured for Velvet's needs against the claims of creditors during the bankruptcy.  I am particularly grateful that Buzz Kill's sister might be a robber baron, but she did give Buzz Kill the money to pay the alimony and child support on time in the months leading up to bankruptcy court.  So life for Velvet turned out better than life for Buzz Kill, so far anyway - even if there are similarities in their experience.

Vagina Dentata did all right by her kids, though.  Her relatives helped them financially while Vagina Dentata developed a career on the soap operas which was a natural step for someone who had been a chanteuse in the Poconos.  Today Velvet said that at Buzz Kill's birthday party, he grandmother was, "Shit faced and feeble."

I have faith that Velvet gets the picture about his father, his grandmother and me.  And it's a good thing that Velvet is there to support his father now that Vagina Dentata is starting to fade more dramatically by the day.  I can't say I'm sorry to miss this time of life with Buzz Kill - so maybe I should stop feeling resentful about being alone and start thanking my lucky stars that I'm not facing the prospect of wiping the ass of Vagina Dentata.

In fact, I'm so glad I'll never, ever have to wipe that bitch's ass that I declare it Thing of Beauty #43-101.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter Solstice and the Number 42

On the subway yesterday I heard a man telling his neighbor that his girlfriend had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer when his dad had a stroke.  He was on the way to the hospital.  That puts my own situation in perspective - although I have to say that I think that poor man's family is a fairly accurate metaphor for the socio-political/economic situation in this county.  I still can't even pay attention to anything coming out of Washington because it's all so fucked up, and that includes the Bradley Manning thing.  I refuse to dignify those proceedings by using the word "trial."

Comparatively, things here at Menopausal Stoners Temporary HQ in Washington Heights are great.   But even though we have a warm, comfortable roof over our heads, good food to eat, decent health, supportive relationships with friends and family, a job that I love, seasonally appropriate clothes that fit and new boots - today, I feel like all that just proves how life pretty much sucks.  It's not that I am ungrateful.  Really.
This is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and Be Glad.
Every day above ground is a good day.
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I'm pretty sure my attitude reflects my hormonal state since I got my period last night.  My period has been erratic ever since I followed my doctors' recommendation to discontinue The Pill on account of my blood pressure and my age.  It's only been a couple of months. but after one normal period, then a bonus period about 10 days later, I hadn't had a period in about six weeks.  I was kind of hoping that I had gone through menopause and didn't notice.  I thought maybe I was done having periods forever, but I must have conjured it yesterday.  I was talking about it with Gigi over lunch in the bar at Bergdorf's and later at Molly Equality Dykeman's Molly Jolly Christmas.  When I got home, there it was again.  Now I'm hoping that Jon-El Wisdom  has had a vasectomy.

Not that he's even called.
Not that it would matter if he did since Velvet will not be returning to Tree Hugger as planned in January.  He'll be taking on the role of the Cockblocker instead.

I shouldn't rag at Velvet since he really did do his best at school.  But when a kid is only taking two classes and still gets a D in one of them, it's time to conclude once and for all that the student cannot successfully function in a mainstream environment.  The good news is that Velvet finally understands exactly what his issues are.  All these years, miscellaneous adults have been listing Velvet's issues for him and telling him what he should do.  Now he finally gets it and has to figure it out for himself.  All in all, this development is exactly what needed to happen in order for him to successfully function throughout his entire life.  Nevertheless, we were all hoping for a different outcome.  Well, maybe not all of us.  I'm pretty sure that Cupcake has been hoping he'd move home and go to school in New York City.

We'll have to finally count up his credits and see if, after five semesters, Velvet can officially be considered a sophomore somewhere.  Anywhere Velvet applies for admission as a transfer student will have to be an alternative educational environment, so the grades aren't really such a big deal.  Personally, I don't see any reason for him to apply to school at all anywhere until he has a clear idea of why he's going to school in the first place.   He still likes the idea of Outdoor Education, and I think he'd be good at that, so maybe the best  option at the moment is another Semester in the Wilderness where he can sort all that out.

My trouble with that course of action is that, although a Semester in the Wilderness may very well be whats best for Velvet right now, I'm concerned that sending him to Patagonia, New Zealand or the Desert Southwest simply suits my personal agenda.  I love every molecule of that boy and wouldn't change a single thing about him - but I really hoped that a romantic relationship would develop between me and Jon-El Wisdom, the Emmy Award Winning Black Man.

And maybe it still will.  At the moment, though, Jon-El is up to his eyeballs in a personal shit storm.  It's his little family's first Christmas since The Separation.  They've lived apart a few months but it's only been about six weeks since their separation agreement was filed at Family Court.  Being as he's a lawyer, Jon-El Wisdom handled at those documents himself which, in my view, shows that his wife hasn't started thinking clearly yet.   I'd have my own lawyer working on getting every penny the man ever made for my children and me - but that's just me.  In any case,  I don't need to be participating in his marital dysfunction.  Ergo:  Velvet as the Cockblocker is probably all for the best.

Meanwhile, I'm focusing on my own health and, of course, buying that charming little apartment on Riverside Drive just north of the George Washington Bridge.  I'm not sure I'll wind up buying that particular apartment since the sellers will take a substantial loss even if somebody pays 100% of their asking price.  Based on the amount the public record shows they paid for the place in 2005 and what they apparently spent on improvements, they're already losing about sixty grand at current asking price.  They'll be losing even more than that if they accept what I intend to offer.

As it happens, I can totally afford an apartment for sale across the street from Little Cutie.  It needs a ton of work to make a nice little home for Velvet and me, but then I can create an environment tailored to our own needs.  And besides, I have my mother to advise me.  She may be stuck in her big house in Houston because things are tough all over - but she has flipped 21 houses in her time.  Could be that the apartment across the street from Little Cutie will be the 22nd.  It's filled with original architectural detail from the turn of the last century and has a view of the bridge from the front room.

No matter what happens with school and real estate, Velvet and I are going to be okay.  I'm calling that Thing Of Beauty #41-101 (Explore Beauty - a challenge from realia).  Number #42-101 is that my blogging buddy corticoWhat is hanging in there.  I like popping over to his blog, CBGD, to see how he's doing.  Sooner or later, that CBGD is going to take corticoWhat over to the other side.  Now, he writes when he can.  The Hitchhiker's Guide tells us that 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of the meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything - and here in the Triciasphere, Cortico is 42 for ever and always.

I'm almost certain that the Human Connection already has had a place on this list, but since that connection may very well be the most beautiful thing of all, it can have another one.  Call it Spirit, or Consciousness, Humanity or whatever you want, that connection is what makes life worth living.   This Winter Solstice, corticoWhat shows the light that shines within, drawing us toward one another.  Blessed Be.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Morning (in progress)

Christmas vacation, or holiday break as you prefer, started yesterday at about 2:30. The parents association arranged a luncheon for the staff. It was lovely, but I had to get out of there because I had a date with Jonelle. I wanted to get my hair done.

He was just coming over to my place for a glass of wine because he was the parent on duty last night. He wound up being able to stay out 11:00. It was all very appropriate and respectful, and I believe he's the type of man who would be glad to come over one evening when I need help getting the lid off a jar.

This morning, I was wondering what I would write if I were to update my Match profile. The membership expired but I think if you update the profile, it stays fairly high in the rotation. I was considering: Creaky old MILF, with arthritis, needs help with jar lids, light bulbs and boxes. Then for some reason this song popped into my head.

I didn't intentionally find an illustrated manifestation of this song, but as it happens, my arthritis may necessitate wearing similar lingerie because bra straps hurt my shoulder.

I'm happy to say that it looks like Jonelle and I will be able to coordinate well logistically.  I like it that he seems to be proceeding with caution when it comes to getting more involved.  We had a relaxing, comfortable chat over weed, red wine and guacamole.  We hadn't been talking long when New Orleans came up, and I realized that I like the idea of a relationship with a man that included a long weekend in New Orleans.  Since I was in brain to mouth mode, I said that's what I was looking for in a relationship.  I also told him that any man in my life will have to be able to maneuver in Austin.  He's been down there to teach film at UT or something.

New Orleans will have to wait until after I get my apartment issue settled.  I saw the practical one last week and it turned out to be a colossal piece of shit, which leaves the path clear for me and little cutie.  The mortgage broker said I could probably have it.  She said I could spend even more on an apartment, illustrating that the lending industry is still irresponsible.  But it's nice to have assurances that the financial picture with Little Cutie will develop in the way I envisioned.  I will be jettisoning lot of furniture because there's less square footage over there, but it's efficient like a boat.  I won't need a dining table anyway since the sellers' update of the kitchen combined counter and dining space.  Here's the picture from the internet:

Velvet and I will be looking at it together on Wednesday.  He gets home tomorrow, but he has jury duty on Monday and Tuesday.  He'll be home for a month, during which time I hope to secure Little Cutie. I don't know if it would be the first step or the next phase or the last step of the old one - but it would be a good place to spend the next few years.  Meanwhile, we'll be heading down to Mudgie's for the holiday, and my whole family will be in the same city at the same time for two full days.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Room with a View

When I look out my window and the sun is coming up or going down, it hits those white marble gravestones and reminds me of a song:

from Enjoy Yourself, Guy Lombardo
You work and work for years and years, you're always on the go
You never take a minute off, too busy makin' dough
Someday, you say, you'll have your fun, when you're a millionaire
Imagine all the fun you'll have in your old rockin' chair

Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think
Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as a wink
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think

I like that song every day, but it seems especially appropriate today on account of the biopsy - which I'm happy to say says that my shoulder situation is the result of some unnamed inflammatory process. I'm cool with that since if there had been an infection, I would have certainly believed my former surgeon, the Ass-Whole (complete and total asshole) was responsible.  I'd be terminally pissed and unable to sue since it would have been highly unlikely that I could prove anything.  Now it's just another autoimmune mystery which could, conceivably, go away on it's own with no explanation at all whatsoever. My morphea scleroderma improved mysteriously years ago, and now it just looks like I've got an old motorcycle burn on my leg or something instead of an incurable disease.

Appearance is everything.

Today I went apartment hunting with my friend Jamie, an actress/real estate agent.  She's lovely and talented on stage, and she's the best kind of real estate agent since she's fun, realistic, energetic, practical and wants me to be happy.  We've seen several apartments in my price range but none, so far, can beat a little cutie she sent me to see at an open house last weekend.  It's a fully renovated two bedroom in a restored Arts & Crafts building just north of the George Washington Bridge overlooking the Hudson River.  The view of the river from the apartment itself is pretty lame, but that's why I can afford the place.

This little scenic overlook is across the street from the building.  This photo is from the NYTimes article "On the Fringe with Benefits."  I would be very grateful indeed if that all worked out, but there is another apartment closer to where I am now that might be more practical.  Or it could suck balls - you never know until you go look.  Something feels right about Little Cutie, though.  Even though the views themselves are unremarkable, the sun still streams in the windows since the apartment is on the top floor.  My room would get the morning sun, and I'm pretty sure I can arrange the furniture so that the afternoon sunbeam would directly hit Velvet's bed.  He'd have to get used to the idea of me napping in his room when he was gone, but I figure if he's too comfortable in the new place - no matter whether it's Little Cutie or The Practical Choice - he might live at home forever.  That would be unfortunate for everyone.

In any case, I'll know by Friday which direction the wind is blowing us.  I'll call that Thing of Beauty #39-101 (Explore Beauty Challenge, from realia).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Three Things of Beauty and a Man

I have not been my usual charming self lately, most likely because of The Surgery.

I have known for a months and months that the shoulder needed a biopsy to conclusively determine WTF is happening to my bones in that region.  I would have had it done over the summer, but the shoulder surgeons I saw in the spring were assholes, and I would not, therefore, let them touch me.  In fairness to the young surgeon who wanted to perform a shoulder replacement on me - he was well intentioned, and once I burst into tears over his approach, he mellowed out and became exactly the kind of doctor I would like to have.  I just want a doctor who acts like that before I get so agitated and overwhelmed that I bust into tears.

The doctor who performed the recent invasive procedure is exactly the right kind of doctor.  I finally got in to see her in September, and she said it was fine to do the biopsy at Thanksgiving.  My other doctors all concurred.  In my book, that's Thing of Beauty #36-101 since concurring doctors is a rare and wonderful thing.  I have never had an issue with having a biopsy, and when I heard that the doctor would be maneuvering tiny TV cameras down into the shoulder joint and taking samples with an itty bitty melon-baller, I had no problem with that either.

I started having a problem when I got the Pre-Surgery packet in the mail from her assistant since nobody had used the word, "surgery."  Invasive Procedures are simply a pain in the ass.  Surgery is scary.  Max the Psychic Life Coach talked me down off the ceiling about all that a couple of weeks ago, which is all good - and should probably be Thing of Beauty #37-101 because helping people calm the fuck down is also a rare and wonderful ability.  It's not so rare to find people like that in my happy little world, since I seem to choose friends who have that capacity - which is probably Thing of Beauty #38-101.

By the time the nurses were checking me in for the procedure last week, I had calmed down to the point where my blood pressure was normal.  Typically, my pressure runs high - especially when doctors are taking my blood pressure.  The reason my ass has been dragging is because the doctor prescribed percocet for the pain and it's made me so woozy that I didn't want to smoke weed.  That's bad medicine in my book especially since weed is my favorite remedy for nausea.  Something had to be done.  Fortunately a different doctor had recently prescribed a different pain medicine which isn't narcotic but is stronger than Advil, and I've been able to manage on that during the day.

Still, the whole thing is troublesome.  On Monday, I have the follow up appointment with the surgeon and will hopefully get some conclusive information regarding the status of my shoulder.  I'm reasonably certain that little Pac Men are not devouring my bones - even though that's pretty much how it feels.

In a way, I'm hoping it's rheumatoid arthritis because if it's a slow moving infection, I'm going to blame that arrogant bastard who performed the original surgery back in 2007 to shorten my floppy tendons and stabilize the shoulder.  If that is the case, then I'll have to get Buzz Kill to help me sue him.  Buzz Kill is wonderful when it comes to litigation, and I'm sure he'll be glad to help me for 20%.

Buzz Kill and I get along quite well these days.  We only need to speak with each other every couple of weeks and, more importantly, he doesn't owe me substantial amounts of money.  I'm pretty sure that I experienced a major attitude shift toward Buzz Kill after seeing him in that spandex bicycle outfit with shoes that looked exactly like the white Mary Janes I wore with my Easter dress when I was two years old.

 My personal attitudes may be shifting as a result of the global paradigm shift.  Most people point to the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street as evidence of this shift, and while I agree that these events are significant, the development which has been most persuasive for me is that I have been favorably impressed by a man even after going out with him twice.  That's the longest I've been favorably impressed with a man in years - not counting Woody, of course, but Woody lives over a thousand miles away and I've never met him in real life.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to give Match dot com one last shot since I only had about 10 more days left on my membership.  I updated my profile so that I sounded nice:
The last time I got my hair done, my hairdresser said I looked, "Causal, sexy and HOT."  Hairdressers get paid to say things like that, but I liked the sound of it and decided to use it for my Match headline.  It's not like I'm getting anywhere with Match anyway.  Evidently, the dating scene is complicated when you're over fifty.
I'm on a list of subversives compiled by the Digg Patriots and a list of Bergdorf's customers who receive free Chanel cosmetics samples in the mail.  I must be an eclectic female.  Personally, I don't see anything inconsistent about subversives who frequent Chanel counters, or a Rebel Alliance that enjoys dark chocolate and pinot noir.  But then, I'm so comfortable with chaos that I've spent the last twenty years or so with two and three year-olds.  We spend our days making rainbows with prisms and bouncing ping pong balls across the room.
I'm looking for a man who can not only take the heat but kick it up a notch.  He's going to have to be a very strong character who is smart, quick, compassionate, creative, well informed, playful, and self-indulgent with a fine appreciation of life's little ironies.
A day or two later, an attractive fellow made me a Favorite.  I wrote a pleasant response.  Once he gave me his regular email address, I was able to google him and found out that he is an accomplished film maker with Emmy awards and everything - but truly, I was more impressed by the way he read my profile closely enough see that Cat's Cradle is one of my favorite books and used Bokonist terms to chat me up.

He took me out for Barbecue last night, and we wound up talking for hours.  He's a wonderful story teller who apparently thinks I'm amazing.   He is a bit older than me, narrowly escaped the draft and was on his way to becoming a privileged, prep school version of a Black Panther when his father sent him on a three month program doing construction in West Africa.  While there, he learned that real Africans didn't think he was their Brother at all and came back thoroughly chastised.

I am cautiously optimistic.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Velvet, Van Wilder & Character Development

According to the headlines, retailers have cause to celebrate the holiday shopping season.  Apparently, shoppers flocked to stores, both in meat space and online, and whipped out their credit cards.  I have heard that the level of Black Friday mayhem has become an economic indicator in the USA.  Some analysts somewhere count the number of violent incidents and injuries to make projections about our near economic future.  They must be like actuaries.

You have to wonder what would happen if all those crazed Walmart shoppers - and Best Buy and Target and Macy's and Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Barnes & Noble, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera - would stop consuming shit on a sandwich and devote their resources to overturning Citizens United, for example.  Instead of pushing through the doors at Walmart, they could push through the halls of justice and pepper spray Clarence Thomas.

Before that could ever happen, though, the shoppers would have to stop to analyze their own behavior and Contemporary Non-Thinkers in America do not examine the content of their own character.

As hopeful as I am about the spirit of Occupy Everywhere sweeping the nation in the coming months, I'm pretty sure that the consumer crowd doesn't even know that Hillary Clinton was telling the Arab world to pay attention to their disenfranchised youth while our own department of Homeland Security was coordinating a national effort to beat disenfranchised Americans into submission once again.  Like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan before them, Obama and Hillary use every tool at their disposal to make sure that We the People STFU and shop.  God Bless America.  I can't shake the feeling that somehow Hillary Clinton, as she ages, is turning into Margaret Thatcher.

In other news, there was a family summit in the Triciasphere.  Buzz Kill, Velvet and I sat down together to discuss Velvet's college fund.  His performance this semester has been such that we are all pleased to continue funding this project, but Velvet himself is concerned that he's turning into Van Wilder.

Although I was unfamiliar with the specific character, it was heartening to see that Velvet is focusing on his own character development and does not want to live in Hookah House indefinitely.  He remains more interested in life with his brothers than in school - but that's just because he has no clue what he wants to do with himself and feels certain that his future is pretty fucked.

I wish I could tell him otherwise, but all I could only say that when I was his age and Ronald Reagan was elected, I was convinced we were all going to die in a nuclear war.  We didn't, and I had to get a job.  The same is true for young Velvet.

I'm not sure how things will play out as far as his schooling goes since he clearly needs a program for Non-Traditional Students..  He's planning to take four classes in the spring.  Then he's moving out of Hookah House once and for all.  Cupcake wants for him to come home and go to one of the many fine colleges here in New York City, and maybe he will.  Maybe he'll work for the Parks & Recreation department again this summer; or maybe he'll work for the Fish & Game Department in Alaska and spend the summer counting salmon.  Either way, he's working somewhere.  I have proposed that he remain enrolled at Tree Hugger and do another 90 days in a wilderness environment - but for Tree Hugger credit this time as a semester abroad.  He would be enrolled in the same program where he did the Semester in the Rockies, only this time he'd go to the desert southwest.  I kind of like the idea of sending him on the Semester in New Zealand to spend some time among the Maori in addition to learning about marine ecology via sea kayak.

Monday, November 21, 2011


When I was a kid, and people across the nation were demonstrating for peace and social justice, folks used to say, "Keep the Faith."  The trouble is that you've got to have faith before you can keep it.

Faith and Trust go hand in hand - or at least they do in my happy little world.  That little world wasn't altogether happy last week on account of I shot off my mouth on a friend's Facebook thread.  I'm not sorry I mouthed off on Facebook since I'm pretty sure the best thing we can do during this global paradigm shift is share our evolving thoughts which should, theoretically, strengthen the human connection.

I just wish that I would have been mouthing off about the pertinent topic.  When I saw this Facebook thread talking about how OWS was wrong to tie up traffic at rush hour because it hurt the 99%, I had no idea that a Fox Local News anchorman, Greg Kelly -  son of NYPD Commissioner Kelly who brutally evicted the occupation from Zuccotti Park last week with the help of Homeland Security - went on TV and said that OWS was going to shut down the subways.  I was mad at my FB friends because they said OWS was inconveniencing commuters when the trouble actually involved having more faith in the Mainstream Media than the Movement.

Instead of saying:
You know, that march years ago in Selma led by Martin Luther - what's his name?  That was pretty inconvenient too.  And I'll bet those folks in Pakistan getting hit by drones have also been inconvenienced - but at least they don't have to worry about babysitters anymore now that their kids are dead.
I should have said:  What are you talking about?  Nobody is shutting down the subway today.  Who the hell can shut down the subways in New York City anyway?  Bat Man? 

If I had been smart, I'd have included a link to where OWS publishes their daily plans.  But I wasn't smart.  My head exploded and I got mouthy.   Just as my friend had fallen for the BS in the Main Stream Media, I fell for the "divide and conquer" technique.

The good news is that neither she nor I blocked the other - which I suppose is the FB equivalent of stomping off in a huff determined never to speak to someone again.  It feels more like one of those family dinners where people who love each other get all fired up and start shouting until they realize they are talking about two entirely different things.  We can be grateful that it was way too early in the morning last Thursday for alcohol to be involved.

And we can be grateful that we all learned something important.  I am assuming that my dear friend learned something too.  I can make that assumption because I have faith that no matter what words come out of her mouth sometimes, she's a caring, thoughtful, ethical human being.

My wish for everyone, as we head into another holiday season surrounded by all sorts of relatives is that when we feel our own heads starting to explode, we take a breath and fill ourselves with love before mouthing off.  That doesn't mean we don't state our opinions as strongly as we can.  God knows some there are plenty of dumbasses out there vigorously spouting off about all manner of shit, and that BS must not be allowed to go unaddressed just because we're trying to be cordial over dessert.

I know it's possible to be strong and respectful at the same time because I watched Marianne Williamson do it last Saturday at Middle Collegiate Church.  Although everyone in the audience that day was 100% behind OWS and everything it stands for, during the Q&A after Marianne's talk, it was clear that there were plenty of mouthy, albeit well-intended, assholes.  Marianne softly pointed out that their words carried blame, judgment and an air of superiority.  For example, one man had been down to the park and was delighted to see that classes in non-violent resistance were being offered daily, but he was dismayed to find that the people at the information table were clueless about the teachers' credentials. Marianne said that asking for someone's credentials was inherently shaming - as if somebody needed a pedigree to care about peace.  She said that all anyone had to do was read A Testament of Hope by Martin Luther King, Jr. and s/he would know everything anybody ever needed to know about Non-Violent Resistance.  She went on to say that in reality, the only credential anybody needed was being born, and told the man that he should go back down to OWS and offer to teach the classes himself.   That man sat down with a lot to think about, and Marianne hadn't been rude at all.

It's different at Thanksgiving when we're forced to be nice to miscellaneous family, friends and neighbors who don't know their asses from their elbows - but we are trying to educate people, not eradicate them (as attractive as that notion may be).

Marianne referenced this MLK quote, too:
You can have no influence over those for whom you have underlying contempt.

And this one:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr delivering the Time to Break the Silence speech about Vietnam from the pulpit in the church where I work.
It's easy to hate people like Mike Bloomberg, and Rush Limbaugh, and Rupert Murdoch, and Ann Coulter and Grover Norquist, and Dick Cheney and Phylis Schafly et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  It's not so easy to veiw them from a place of love and respect for their wilted humanity.

If this movement is going to be successful - and I have faith that it is - then we're going to have to nurture our own humanity and help it grow and develop with love.  Most of us will never actually have to speak to Bloomberg or any of those people face to face.  However, we will have to engage old friends, relatives and neighbors in active conversations that facilitate evolution of thought for everyone in the conversation - including ourselves.

Every day people across the world are standing up for economic and social justice, motivated not by hatred of the 1% but by love of each other and ourselves - even those among us who are simply pissed the fuck off and ready to bust windows at the Bank of America.  It's a struggle every day.  But when I see videos like this one Dennis Trainor, Jr made last week of the #N17 demonstration, I have absolute faith in this shifting paradigm and trust we're going to make it to that mountain top Martin Luther King talked about the day before he died even if it takes ten thousand years.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rush Hour Traffic

Some friends are bitching that the Occupation is holding up traffic.  They say that the demonstration today inconveniences the wrong people - if the 99% can't get to work on time and their pay is be docked, who does that help?

I can see that revolution often disrupts a person's commute. And I know that stock brokers don't take the subway to work. But one woman I know continues to say the Occupation is misguided because a few waiters in Wall Street restaurants got laid off - as if those jobs weren't tenuous already. As if waiters aren't already getting totally screwed by Wall Street. As if thousands of people without homes and health care should be more sensitive.

Let me say, here, that I am fully aware that there are a lot of Occupiers who are misguided about a lot of things. And certainly there are so many voices represented in the Occupation that it's noisy and unorganized.

And New Yorkers bitch about anybody who fucks up traffic for any reason.

But when I hear people who have comfortable jobs - who are still barely able to pay their bills, and who will be completely without health care if they get laid off - complaining that the movement is about to lose popular support because we are inconveniencing folks who are trying to get to work, I despair for our future.

There are plenty of examples of how working within the system, so nobody is inconvenienced, has gotten us no-fucking-where. Two things are stuck in my mind. First, BP and their friends in our government, including Barack Obama, have successfully convinced half of America that everything along the Gulf Coast is fine and dandy. No matter that whole communities are out of work, can't' breathe and have weird skin conditions from the dispersants in the environment. All is well. BP and Haliburton are free to practice business as usual. And secondly, in 40 years of working tirelessly within the system, the LGBT community has achieved the right to get openly shot at in the military - but they still don't have equal protection under the law. In most states, when one partner has been hospitalized, the other cannot visit since s/he isn't family. Both individuals better have their own health care since many employers don't extend benefits to domestic partners. God forbid one dies without a will, leaving the other one homeless and at the mercy of state laws about property. Personally, I don't see how being allowed to serve openly in the military is such a victory for the LGBT community. So many soldiers commit suicide these days instead of reporting for a fifth, sixth or seventh tour of duty in Afghanistan, that the US Military was having serious trouble attracting volunteers.

Meanwhile, the 12,000 demonstrators who surrounded the White House in an effort to get Obama to block the Keystone Pipeline didn't inconvenience anyone. But word has it that the pipeline deal is so done that Bechtel has already been paid to build the damn thing. Obama said he'd delay his decision until 2012, but all he's really done is delay the announcement until he's gotten all those Lesser Of Two Evil votes. So much for working within this broken system.

Years ago, college kids took to the streets because of the draft. Our side said, "Hell No, We won't Go." The Establishment said, "America: Love it or Leave it." Then, as now, the college kids may have been in the forefront, but people from every walk of life finally joined the chorus demanding an end to the Vietnam war. Similarly, during the civil rights movement, African Americans were leading the call for justice, but all kinds of Americans were also involved in those demonstrations.

And all of those demonstrations inconvenienced people. It must have been pretty inconvenient to be blasted with fire hoses, too. Scott Olsen was surely inconvenienced by that tear gas canister.

As a few Americans are taking to the streets today - again - to demand Human Needs take precedence over Corporate Greed, it seems like desperate times call for desperate measures.

Maybe there are more effective ways to demonstrate than marching in the street. Ways that would have a direct impact on the lives of the 1%. Seems unlikely, given that the 1% can effectively insulate themselves from any discomfort and inconvenience with their fortunes - especially when exercising our Freedom of Speech requires more permits than Fracking. If anybody has any ideas, I'd love to hear them.
Today, and every day, I fear for my friends in the streets - as they courageously fight for our rights, while we're going through our ordinary routines in comfort. Any one of those demonstrators could wind up injured like Scott Olsen, or tear gassed like Dorli Rainey, an 84 year-old activist in Seattle.

She's working for a better world, while we're worried about getting to work.

**Thanks to Krell for re-posting this piece at Roundtree7**

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Let the Agita Begin!

Cupcake is coming to Houston with Velvet and me over Christmas vacation.
Here they are at the prom in 2009:

Somebody at my parents' house will surely take their picture together while we're there, unless the whole experience of meeting the potential in-laws sends Cupcake to her room.  My sister's husband the physicist took to his bed a lot the first few holidays he spent with our side of the family.  For the record, his family is no picnic.  I can't remember if his family drinks when they're together or not - and frankly I'm not sure that they'd be any fun under any circumstances no matter how much alcohol they consumed.

Not that we're a bunch of lushes, but it was entertaining the year my sister got soused in Tallahassee on Christmas Eve and demanded we open the gifts instantaneously.  We've always waited until Christmas Morning.

This year, we're Occupying Christmas, and I'm not quite sure how that will manifest.  I am sure my mother will be 100% in favor of the idea of a Buy Nothing Christmas.  Nothing except Dinner, that is.

I'm not exactly interfering in their relationship by inviting Cupcake to join us and paying her airfare.  I could be interfering in my son's life, however, since I figured he wouldn't bitch about being in Texas for three and a half days if Cupcake were there.

Velvet likes his Texas family.  He just doesn't like being stuck in Houston.  I can't say as I blame him.  I like being at my parents', too, and I like seeing my sister's family when they're there.  I especially like three full days of barbecue and Tex-Mex, and talking about politics, current events, theology and the neighbors with my mother - but I don't especially like being stuck in Houston either.  That's why I'm always heading up to Austin when I'm in Texas.  In a perfect world, my mother would finally be able to sell the house, and my parents would move to Austin.

Who knows? Maybe now that the asteroid has passed between the earth and the moon, we'll finally shift into the New Age.  Mother will be able to sell the house for a price that doesn't make her choke; I'll meet a single, straight, attractive, employed, reasonably sober man whom I like instead of another delusional, arrogant fool and Velvet will finally have enough college credits to be a sophomore.

I am pleased to report that the man-child has an A in both his classes this semester.  Sadly, though, since Tree Hugger wouldn't accept the 16 credits in Environmental Science, Ecology and Ethics that Velvet received from his Semester in the Rockies.  He did manage to pass a couple of classes during his previous three semesters at Tree Hugger, but I don't think he has successfully collected 20 credits yet.

Oh Well.  We've finally figured out an approach to higher education that works for Velvet.  For my next trick, I have to convince Buzz Kill to structure the college fund he is required by the divorce to establish this year so that the money also functions to extend Velvet's child support beyond his impending 21st birthday for an additional four years since we all know he's not going to be done with school, working and paying his own rent for quite a while.  Could be he's living at home until he's 30 like many of the folks his age in this country.  If I'm not mistaken, unemployment in that demographic is the highest since World War II at 55%.

I am happy to provide a home for Velvet forever and always.  Cupcake, too, for that matter.  It just means I need a decent sized apartment which will require more money than I am currently making - which is where Buzz Kill and the College Fund come in.  Buzz Kill is already agreed in principle with my proposal.  Now we just have to settle on an amount and create a document that is official enough for me to take to the bank and or co-op board.

Meanwhile, I've been laying the groundwork to make more money.  My first choice is to start teaching courses like Foundations of Modern Education or Curriculum at one of the colleges in the neighborhood.   One of my new responsibilities at work is to coordinate student teachers with these three colleges, and hopefully I'll be able to parlay that into an adjunct position.  Or maybe I'll hit Lotto.

I haven't abandoned the idea of writing a book, or the whole Menopausal Stoners Guide to Parenting idea. I have abandoned the notion that I'll make any money from writing a book or any kind of writing at all.  That's not to say the idea is impossible - but I recognize that the entire lower tier of the publishing industry has been replaced by the internet.  More importantly, though, I realized that my need to publish a book was driven by my need for external validation.  I believed that having a hard backed book for sale on bookstore shelves was the only way to conclusively prove I had a voice.

A couple of weeks ago, I was riding the subway and started noticing all the people reading from their iPads, Kindles and Androids.  In an existential context, there's nothing about the text on a Kindle that could be considered permanent - except maybe the impact the text has on the reader.  Doesn't matter if the author of the text is somebody's friend from High School or Copernicus.  And when you consider the number of folks that self publish via Kindle - or that $5,000 service from Amazon where you get an editor to facilitate the preparation of your book for publication and Amazon will print paperbacks when a customer buys one.  Until somebody orders the book, it's not printed.  Vanity Press of Today.  Anyway - I know plenty of people who have gone the Self-Publishing route so that they have books in print and I don't.  If you're looking to publication to prove your voice has impact and value - as well as your very existence, self-publishing doesn't count.   Seeing the people on the subway equally absorbed in their reading whether they were reading a blog or a "published" work on a Kindle convinced me that if the real thing I want from writing is an indication that my voice exists and has an influence on people - then I've already done that with Menopausal Stoners.

Ergo:  As an Existentialist, I can relax.  As someone who often needs external validation, I can relax.

I can kiss all this relaxation good-bye once Velvet gets home for Thanksgiving.  Cupcake's father wants to have Velvet and me over for dinner now that Cupcake accepted my invitation to join our trip to Houston.  I'm sure we'll all be a little nervous about that.  I'm not sure if Cupcake eats in front of people these days, or if she has overcome that bit of adolescent idiosyncrasy.  The situation will surely come up in Houston since there's a very good reason why we called the family corporation, WFD Inc for What's For Dinner?
Fortunately, my mother and I have already got the sleeping arrangements figured out.  Velvet will be sleeping downstairs in my father's office.  Whenever either of my parents are wandering the halls in the middle of the night, as old poops often do, they will be making sure Velvet is where he belongs.  My mother made it perfectly clear that he and Cupcake will not be sharing a room under her roof.

I doubt Velvet ever imagined he and Cupcake could share a room at my mother's.  We don't know when my sister and her family will be in Houston, but when I talked to my sister last week, the first thing she asked was, "Are we going to get to meet the girl?"  Their family cheerfully acknowledges all manner of idiosyncrasies, adolescent and otherwise.  I'm sure we'll all be playing a domino game called Chicken Foot, or putting together a big, challenging jig saw puzzle like we do every year, and listening to folk songs my mother has chosen to illustrate a point.

The Austin Lounge Lizards aren't exactly folk, but they have the kind of lyrics my mom and dad enjoy.  Here's one of my parents' favorite songs, Old Blevins

Dad says that when he starts rambling like an old poop, we're all allowed to sing the chorus.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gail and Skipp: Thing of Beauty #35-101

All kind of folks are getting inspired by the revolutionary spirit of Occupy Wall Street.   The fellow who recorded this song and slide show is the husband of my dear bloggy buddy Gail, from Know Your Its.

This video goes to show you that there are all kinds of ways to use your individual talents and creativity to show solidarity and support for The Resistance. It's like Chris Hedges said in Power and the Tiny Acts of Rebellion:
It is time to think of resistance in a new way, something that is no longer carried out to reform a system but as an end in itself. African-Americans understood this during the long night of slavery. German opposition leaders understood it under the Nazis. Dissidents in the former Soviet Union knew this during the nightmare of communism. Resistance in these closed systems was local and often solitary. It was done with the understanding that evil must always be defied. The tiny acts of rebellion—day after day, month after month, year after year and decade after decade—exposed to everyone who witnessed them the heartlessness, cruelty and inhumanity of the oppressor. They were acts of truth and beauty. We must take to the street. We must jam as many wrenches into the corporate system as we can. We must not make it easy for them. But we also must no longer live in self-delusion. This is a battle that will outlive us. And if we fight, even with this tragic vision, we will lead lives worth living and keep alive another way of being.
When this article first appeared last year, the Occupy movement wasn't even a twinkle in anybody's eye.  Punk Patriot told me that Adbusters had been trying to instigate and facilitate a movement for years - Buy Nothing Day, for example, is nearly 20 years old now and is still a hard sell even in an economy when we could all benefit from opting out of the annual overspending binge we call Christmas.

Buy Nothing Day 2011 - Adbusters
Plenty of people have been working tirelessly to promote social and economic justice, peace and sustainability for years and years - and while many of us have supported these efforts in a variety of ways, we've all sort of been waiting on one charismatic individual to lead a national movement.

The cool thing about OWS is that there is no leader - and that's called anarchy in an anthropological context.  The Establishment - as represented by church, state and business leaders - inevitably says that society will deteriorate into chaos if they aren't in charge.  That's Patriarchy and Hierarchy.  Personally, I'm all about managing a community through consensus, but I have trouble imagining the sort of community governance I've observed at a small, idyllic Quaker sleep away camp in Vermont applied to a country with over 300 million people.

I guess that's where the spokesperson model comes in.  David Graeber (my current enthusiasm) writes about this concept in Enacting the Impossible.  I'm pretty sure David Graeber is not single, and even if he were, I don't know how I'd manage an introduction.  He's cute, intellectually stimulating and pervasively passionate, though, which I've come to realize is exactly what I'm looking for in a single, straight man in my demographic who is generally sober with his own source of income.

Indulging my little crush on Punk Patriot helped clarify my boyfriend criteria.  One thing I learned for sure while speculating on a relationship with someone a few years older than my son is that there's no way in hell I would get involved with someone a few years older than my son.  Not for longer than a weekend, at least.  Nevertheless, Punk has the essential qualities - Cute, Intellectually Stimulating and Pervasively Passionate.  My old buddy Woody has those qualities too.  He's hundreds of miles away, however, and cannot be called "reasonably sober."

I say Pervasively Passionate because too many folks associate Passion with Sex.  Certainly any man in my life would need to be passionate about that - but nearly every douchebag on Match dot com says he's passionate when the reality is that they are only passionate about getting laid, watching football and/or baseball and sucking down high fructose corn syrup. Pervasively passionate people are fully engaged in life on a number of levels.

As you can see,  Gail's husband Skipp (aka Babe) shows that he's pervasively passionate in his youtube video.  Some people might think he's goofy - but that didn't discourage him from joining in the Revolution in a way that suited him personally.  Not only that, but he and Gail have been snuggled up together for years and each still believes the other to be Cute, Intellectually Stimulating and Pervasively Passionate.

I'm going to declare that to be Thing of Beauty #35-10.

from realia by Jennifer Morrison

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Going Horizontal

The Punk Patriot has returned to Maine for the moment.  He'll be back for Occupy Central Park on 11.11.11.  Although it's billed as a one day event, rumor has it that there'll be three days of music and fun.  It reminds me a bit of a Happening or Be-In like the hippies used to have back in the day.

These days, I'm thinking that the demonstrators at OWS are definitely reminiscent of  hippies and the counter culture because in both cases, a rejection of Establishment values is at the core of a movement driven by the emerging generation.  There isn't much difference between Establishment values now, then or even back during the Gilded Age when the agrarian populists stood up the the Robber Barons.  Bill Moyers mentioned those populists in his speech at Public Citizen's 40th Anniversary (10.31.11).  Disputes with the Owners have a long history.

I've frequently mentioned that I believe Amazing Grace says, "When we've been there ten thousand years . . . " because it's going to take 10,000 years to get out from under the Patriarchy.  I've come to look at the movement toward Direct Democracy as a shift toward making community decisions via a horizontal process as opposed to a vertical, top down, hierarchal process.   You don't wind up with Super Committees and Citizens United when none of the animals are more equal than others.   David Graeber discusses that horizontal stuff on Alternet (What Did We Actually Do Right?), and Consensus Decision Making in the October 22 edition of the Occupied Wall Street Journal.

from Occupy Media 

OWS is not without problems, however.  Punk and I were speculating on what Bloomberg and the NYPD will do next since cops across the nation are somewhat subdued now that the Oakland police nearly killed Scott Olsen with plastic bullets and concussion grenades.  Punk told me that the cops are already sending a bus load of newly released prisoners from Riker's Island - New York City's main jail - every now and then.  The cops deny it, of course, saying that the inmates are just looking for free gourmet food.  Anyone who lived through Richard Nixon will remember the Department of Dirty Tricks, however.  And they would remember the term Ratfucking, too, which describes infiltrators.  Under cover cops around the nation have been instigating trouble - just like this guy who was the loudest mouth in Citibank when customers were arrested for trespassing when they came in to close their accounts.  He got in the security guard's face and caused enough shit so that the bank manager called the cops, then he arrested the demonstrators for causing a disturbance (Daily Kos, 10.19.11).

I love The Punk Patriot to pieces, but I have to confess that I'm a little star stuck at the idea that Dennis Trainor is coming over to my house.  Punk shot footage for the documentary project and uploaded it onto my computer before he went home to Maine.  Dennis has to come over and get it.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to say I think my hair looks nice.  The Establishment may be fully entrenched with SWAT teams working overtime to maintain the status quo, but they can't stop the movement toward direct democracy today anymore than they could in 1776.  I'm hoping something equally as encouraging happens to me.  Maybe a single, straight, attractive male activist somewhere between the ages of 45 and 60 will finally walk through my door.

Here's me talking to a kid in my classroom.  For those uninitiated to the ways of Early Childhood, the chairs on either side of me are the grown-up chairs.  Note the smaller one to the left of my knee.  It's for kids.  One kid is having snack at the table.  I don't know where the rest of the ruffians were, but they had to be there somewhere.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters

I'm filling in for Gwendolyn Holden Barry this Saturday on Here Be Monsters.  Once again, Woody Konopeli has agreeed to help me out since I can't talk to myself for a whole hour, and he can talk longer than that as long as someone is there to say, "uh huh." Just follow the link:

As grateful as I am to Woody - and I am particularly grateful since the first time I attempted to host Here Be Monsters my dang internet and land line were so fucked up that the only thing I could manage was playing some songs Gwen had downloaded while Woody was stood by in Albuquerque wondering WTF was going on - I am even more grateful that The Punk Patriot has landed in my living room for the weekend.  He's in town shooting film for Dennis Trainor Jr's documentary project on Occupy! and Oct2011.  Dennis is out in Oakland at the moment.  Here's his latest:

I'm not sure what Punk is up to tomorrow since I left for work this morning before he was up.  He's bunking in Velvet's room.  Yesterday when he came up to school to get the keys,  the mother of one of my young students asked me if he was my son.   Prior to that moment, I was indulging in a little crush on Punk. I'm pretty sure I've had a bit of a crush ever since I started watching his videos a couple of years ago.

Here's an oldie but goodie

Given that Velvet has had that very same manifestation of facial hair, it's no wonder that I'm developing a distinctly maternal affection for Punk. I may have to temporarily adopt him - at least for the duration of the project. There's talk of an Operation Detour where the Occupations in the North would migrate South for the winter, then in the spring, they'd all come back to New York and Washington DC. There's also talk of something resembling a Constitutional Congress where two delegates would be elected from congressional districts - one male and one female - and meet up in Philly on the 4th of July in preparation for the coming Republican and Democratic National Conventions ( Oct 17, 2011).

For now, though, who knows what will happen?  I fear that the violent response from the cops will escalate since the military moved heavy equipment, retrofitted for use with "non-lethal" weapons, to stations near major metropolitan areas last summer just in case there was civil unrest about the economy (WWH News 08.07.2011).   And lately, the NYPD has boasted that they have the ability to take down a fighter plane.  The way those jerks like to play with their toys, this can't be good news for the Occupation.

I remain jazzed, however.  Wednesday night, Punk was at the march on Police Plaza in solidarity with Occupy Oakland.  Some marchers went over to City Hall, and it turned out that most of the cops were chasing other marchers so there weren't that many at City Hall.  The cops decided to hurl kettling nets on the demonstrators, but the kids somehow got a hold of the nets and ran around the street hollering, "Whose Nets? OUR nets!"  Eventually they kettled the paddy wagon, and went on back to Zuccotti Park.

Sadly, Punk just heard about that activity since he was off with another group.  I hope I get a chance to talk with him before the blogtalk radio show at 1:00 tomorrow so I'll have more news from the front lines.  It sounds pretty cool until you remember that the Occupiers are all at risk.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Choir Practice

From the Church of Earthalujah, Reverend Billy Talen and The Stop Shopping Choir.

Everybody knows I love Rev Billy. I love most everything about Occupy Wall Street, too.  I became troubled, though, after I recently joined a Facebook group called Parents for Occupy Wall Street.

First, let me say that the people in the group seem well-intentioned, earnest, dedicated and willing to work hard. They organized a sleep over in the park for their kids, who were mostly between the ages of two and ten years-old or so. By all accounts, the event was well attended and well received. The Sanitation and Town Planning groups at OWS worked overtime to prepare a kid zone, and those efforts left the park more organized for everyone.   There was face painting and a local "celebrity" children's musician gave a little concert.  All good - if you have young children.

Reading about the final preparation for this event in the Facebook group, in addition to discussion threads on other topics, it sounded as if these parents, like many parents of young children, were so involved in their own experience of parenting very young children that they had apparently forgotten that those of us with older kids still count as parents. Like they hadn't realized that a ton of parents are supporting Occupy Wall Street when they're paying the cell phone bills for all the Twenty-somethings occupying cities across the nation. Let's not forget the "Parent Plus" student loans many folks are paying back while their kids are unemployed. Seems to me that the parents of those young women who got maced by Officer Bologna are surely supporting Occupy Wall Street.

I wrote a private message expressing my concern to the woman who has been managing the Facebook group because I thought she should know why I felt excluded from Parents for Occupy Wall Street even though I've spent 25 years in Early Childhood Education. I was compelled to use all the letters behind my name, as well as my blogging creds with Roundtree7 and Worldwide Hippies.  But my feelings were hurt.

I did not mention that there are plenty of reasons to work for peace, economic justice and sustainability whether a person has kids or not.

This thing with the Parents illustrates a larger issue regarding Special Interest groups within the movement.  Certainly parents of young children are a subset with specialized concerns - just like people who are African American, or LGBT, or who have Aspergers or Dyslexia, or who are faced with immigration issues. Whatever - we all have our individual voices, and those voices all surely belong in the choir of the 99%.

Sometimes, the tenor may sing a solo, for example, but then the voices blend again. It's the same with an orchestra when the violins are featured for a few measures, for example. Even though our voices sound different, it's the spirit inside us that moves us to sing.

We all share that same spirit. When we isolate ourselves into special, separate interest groups, we run the risk of becoming disconnected from the common, human spirit that unites us all. Especially when people are so attached to their individual identities that a divisive element is introduced - as is often the case with Religious Extremists of all varieties.

Nobel Laureate Tawakkul Karman, an activist from Yemen, spoke eloquently and passionately with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! about the drive toward Democracy in her country (  She was in town talking talking to the UN and specifically asked for the people of the Untied States to back up her people in this struggle.

From where I sit, she looks like one of the 99% too.  Yes, her voice is strong and she represents a whole lot of people working to assert their human rights.  Maybe that looks different in their neighborhood than it does in mine. But when Tawakkul speaks, you can feel the human spirit soaring from her.  We all deserve peace, economic justice and sustainability, and no group is more deserving than another.

One of the Parents for Occupy Wall Street suggested that they become a working group as part of the General Assembly.  I suppose that's the appropriate protocol for any special interest group who wants a voice in the GA.  I'm still learning about the evolving, horizontal decision-making process at OWS, but I have faith that the community will find the right path.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I had to share this clip Woody Konopelli had up on his Facebook wall from Cult of Dusty

There's a post of mine up over at called In Defense of Barbie. I have been pondering the relationship between Barbie, cognitive capabilities and masturbation for a while, but thought I'd put it all in the blender and give it a whirl for the Menopausal Stoners Guide to Parenting.

One of these days, I may actually write that book.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This is What Democracy Looks Like

Since there's little chance that the man who took me out for drinks Saturday will ever find the blog, I feel I can safely say that he reminded me of a garden gnome.  I went out with him in the first place because I was impressed when he told me on the phone that back in the early 1980's, Townes Van Zandt convinced him to move to Austin years ago to try his hand in the music business.  He lived in Stevie Ray Vaughn's old apartment while he played his guitar around town with lots of bands I recognized.  He's picked up his guitar again now that he's an old poop.  I can dig it.

He left Austin after a year, returning to the East Village to pursue painting or something like that.  He wound up going into digital design and dot com stuff, and made a comfortable living.  Some years ago, he and the woman from whom he is not fully divorced bought their dream house in Nyack.  Hudson view, jacuzzi, deck - he's stuck with it because it's a bad time to sell that sort of property.

If you have to be stuck in the suburbs, Nyack is a reasonable commute, but it's still the suburbs and the man himself is short and stout. Like a Lawn Gnome or a Smurf.  He didn't have a full beard, though.  He had a skinny soul patch which I guess makes him JazzMan Smurf or something.

He asked me to suggest a place to meet, and all I could think of was the bar at  Fish Tag.  I like it because of the white pinot noir and smoked salmon pastrami.   Nevertheless, I wasn't going all Smurfette on a man who was not fully divorced and said he was looking for the love of his life before I had even got settled at the bar.  He made me nervous.  And besides, he really did look like a Lawn Gnome  A horny Lawn Gnome.  I guess that's what makes him JazzMan Smurf.   Naturally, I ran up a bar tab, but when I reached for my wallet, he waved it off very nicely.   As a rule, I prefer men who pay my bar tabs over those that don't so I did give him a perfunctory kiss when he dropped me off at my apartment.

It never occurred to me to ask him up for a night cap.

He wrote me the next night, saying I was attractive and fun, but he was not convinced there would be a romantic connection.  I wrote back to say he was right to be unconvinced since I was in no way interested in having sex with him at this time.  However, I did not hate him and I was willing to let him touch me.  In my book, that's major progress.

In the morning, I received a note from him via MatchMail saying that he'd had epiphany after two therapy sessions.  The love of his life was his guitar and he was committed to pursuing his passion.  He'd be willing to try again with me if I wanted.  I said: Thanks but No Thanks.   I was not getting mixed up with JazzMan Smurf's mid-life crisis in Nyack.  Honestly, I"m glad he likes to play his guitar and for all I know he's as wonderful as he says he is.  Some suburban matron will be glad to sit in a bar and watch him play.

Me?  I'll be down in the drum circle on Wall Street.  I was there Monday afternoon.  I didn't find Malcolm but I found Jesse LaGreca surrounded by young men in their late teens and early twenties. He was giving them on the spot media training for dealing with malicious reporters who try to trick you into looking stupid for their own purposes.  He was gathering a little posse in case they needed to record and/or shout down the reporter Geraldo Style, like the Occupiers did the other day.

I hung out with Jesse for a while, talking to bloggers similar to myself who wanted information about him.  I happened to know how to spell his name and his twitter address, and fell into the role of Personal Assistant with my handy note pad and pen.

Jesse listening closely to a woman's question.
The fellow on the right is a Senate Intern listening closely to Jesse.

Sadly, he didn't remember Malcom at all.  But I'm sure he'll remember the conversation we had about his own self being single.  He's a nice boy.  I noticed some other attractive men in my demographic hanging around on Monday, and I've got a feeling that the Men of the Occupation are not Patriarchal Dickwads.  I'm under the impression that the Lawn Gnome from Nyack and the Yoga Master are both Patriarchal Dickwads.

After I said Good-Bye to Jesse, I stood at the periphery of a group around Amy Goodman and Democracy Now.  Amy Goodman's boots were fabulous.   Then I went down to the drum circle for about an hour.   I haven't been able to get to sleep ever since because I've been too excited.  I was dancing with a couple of young, black men.  Everybody chanted together:
I like the way the rhythm gets the energy of the Occupation flowing in my veins.  It's very stimulating.  I've been waking up with the chant in my head, and can't wait to get back down there on Friday again.  It's supposed to rain, and I'm thinking about bringing a bunch of jingle bells.  That way I can hold my umbrella and still play along.

There are so many beautiful things happening at Occupy Wall Street that I don't even know how to list them for the Explore Beauty Challenge.  While I'm pondering that, I'll declare The People's Library to be #34-101.

The People's Library
Many of the books were donated by authors who came to speak or give a class to the Occupation.

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