Monday, February 14, 2011

Exploring Beauty

Jennifer, over at realia, has issued at challenge that involves exploring beauty.  I hesitated for a little while before I decided to take the plunge because dedicating yourself to seeing the Beauty instead of the Bull Shit is a big commitment.  I'm thinking that seeing Beauty - which is all around us in abundance if we keep Beauty in our awareness - is just what I need to pull me out from under all the bull shit in the Buzz Kill zone.

He's still hovering around here with a paint brush - spreading tiny amounts of Spackle in spots on walls that have already been covered in joint compound from floor to ceiling, primed and given two coats of fresh paint.  I wish I could see the Beauty in that kind of OCD bull shit - but I just can't.  It's a beautiful thing that we were able to take Velvet to the airport together without fighting, but I authorized a sleepover for Cupcake on Saturday night because I was counting on her to provide a buffer between Buzz Kill and me on Sunday morning.   On the way to LaGuardia we dropped her at her apartment on the East Side since she wisely declined to participate in a prolonged public good bye.  All in all, Cupcake continues to get a Gold Star from me.

The other day, Velvet confessed that even though Cupcake made demands on his time, especially when she wanted him to hang out with her goofy friends, he would have probably burned down the house if it weren't for her.  I confessed to Velvet that I had been thinking about burning down the house myself lately.  It's a thing of beauty when you can have moments of real sharing with your child, so I'm counting that as Number 1 of the 101 instances of Beauty I have committed myself to noticing. 

Velvet is safely in Wyoming now, excited about heading out into the back country.  As it happens, one of his instructors went to Tree Hugger University and majored in Environmental Studies just like Velvet is doing now - or would be doing if he weren't suspended.  Pretty soon, he'll leave his cell phone and iPod behind for some weeks and enter into a phase where no news is good news.  It's kind of hard to be totally out of contact with your kid, but truly, if there were a problem, someone would call me.  For tomorrow, though, the guys are going to a local golf course to get accustomed to their skis.  On the phone today, Velvet told me that he couldn't sleep last night because of having nightmares where he'd been kicked out.  I told him that I was glad he was taking things seriously, but there was no need to worry.  They'll only kick him out for drinking or smoking weed, and he has total control over his own behavior.

He'll be back in the middle of May, buffed up from the trail and proud of his accomplishments, busting a gut to get up to Hookah House to see his friends.  I imagine the apartment will be sold by then, and I'll be in the final stages of figuring out what the next step is for me.

Nothing makes me feel like moving home to Austin like winter in New York City - especially this year with the heaps of frozen dog shit on top of piles of sooty black snow.  It's fucking awful.  Not a bit of Beauty except in so far as I should be grateful I can see at all.  Old snow in New York City is nasty shit.

Part of me thinks that my best plan is to get a small two bedroom apartment in Harlem for a year or two, do A Course in Miracles with Magic of Life Max and take pole dancing lessons under the guidance of my daughter Gigi the pole dancing Quadroon.  She's not really a Quadroon, and she's not really my daughter - but it's so rare that a person gets to say, "My daughter Gigi the pole dancing Quadroon," that I try to work it in to a conversation whenever I can.  Gigi's thesis for her Masters in Psychology has to do with women's sexuality and dance which led her to explore pole dancing.  She got pretty good at it when she was in class with some girls downtown, and now one of her friends got her own pole dancing studio so they could manage a few private lessons for an old broad like me.  I figure it's the very best thing for my aching arm.

I believe I'll declare it Thing of Beauty Number 2 that I can seriously consider living in Harlem and taking pole dancing as a plan for the coming school year.  I may run off to Vermont for a while, though.  I have a fantasy where I create a hippie haven - or a home for wayward bloggers with a sun porch, wine cellar and a garden full of weed.  I also have a fantasy in which I can rent my uncle's house a few blocks from the shores of Lake Tahoe on the California side and write - but I could do that in Vermont, too, assuming that I can find a day job with insurance.  Another part of me wants to go float in my mother's swimming pool for an extended length of time and call it a sabbatical.  These last few years have worn me out.

I'm fixing to find myself at one of life's crossroads again, and I'm delighted to have options.  Probably Options should be Thing of Beauty Number 2 with the Pole Dancing & Harlem plan as Number 2A.


intelliwench said...

For every yang there's a ying...sounds like the sane thing to do (the beauty challenge, I mean).

Anonymous said...

The first thing I thought when yu said you were going to do the challenge was "yesss - attention away from that damn Buzz Kill."

A hippie haven and home for wayward bloggers in Vermont? Beautiful! Would it be cheating if I added that?

I can't help but envy your crossroads a little.

PENolan said...

Jen - how can it be cheating if you're the one making up the rules?

The Vermont idea occurred to me the other day when I was fixing to urge Velvet to work at the Hippie Dippy Quaker Camp this summer. It's in a valley in the Green Mountains in Southern Vermont. I figured that I'm always saying he needs to work there because it's really ME who wants to work there. Like everyone else, the camp is downsizing, so I doubt it's an option. Grad School could be a possibility, however. A girl can never have too many superfluous letters behind her name.

Intelli - that's exactly what I was thinking myself. Loved your Valentine Monday Meh.

mac said...

I ike the idea of taking time to notice the beauty that is around us. It is everywhere if we but look.

Yes, even in that dog shit encrusted NY City snow (where, I do not know ;-).

There's a beauty in having those options, also. I might opt for the extended sabbitical, but that's just the lazy in me ;-)

Lisa said...

I think you've got a great start there on the 101 Things of Beauty.

Susan Tiner said...

I will be the contrarian.

Jennifer's challenge made me want to uplevel, not make a list.

So, we watched the 1971 Visconti film A Death In Venice, after remembering that yes, we read that Thomas Mann novel over and over again. I think three times. It seemed to be getting at the essence of beauty. And the language is so gorgeous.

Beauty is such a God awfully loaded term.

I'm so glad Cupcake gets a gold star.

Beach Bum said...

The hippie haven sounds good but I'd have to locate mine someplace warm and tropical.

Jaliya said...

"Beauty, eh?" -- that's what hoseheads up here in Canada say when we encounter something that tickles our aesthetic sense ;-)

Beauty's rampant, that's for sure. I think it was Monet who said, "There are flowers everywhere, for those who bother who look." I love the phrase -- it's so cranky ... and true --

You're a beautiful mother. I so respect the way you engage with Velvet. Is it me (especially as I'm not a parent), but is this a very rare thing --> to share a true feeling of friendship between a child and parent? What a lovely thought ...

Vermont! I vote Vermont! I've never been there, and it's probably about as long a drive as it'd be to NYC. Here's yer itinerary, girl: hit Mom's pool 'til early May, planning your next move all the while from your flotation device ... then launch yourself north!

Gail said...


Beauty? You only need to look in the mirror.

Love Gail

Vancouver Voyeur said...

Good luck with that whole "beauty" thang. ;-) Also remember, beauty is fleeting, and the very instant you find a thing of beauty, some ass will swoop in and show you some ugliness. Not meaning to be a downer, just chuckling, because it's going to be a tough road to follow, speaking as one who has attempted something similar in the past. I think my last words before I gave up the good fight were "fuck it!" Maybe I should try again....maybe after this next local election cycle. :-)

okjimm said...

Exploring Beauty???? I thought of doing that today... but then I laid down until the notion went away.

PENolan said...

I remain enthusiastic about Exploring Beauty even though I know it's a long row to hoe. It would be harder if I thought I had to define beauty, but that's not necessary. If I had to, I'd go with: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on Earth, and all ye need to know." - Keats.

Gail, Ha! There you go being the Kind one again ;)

V.V., I'm betting there's precious little beauty in politics.
Okjimm, I'm fixing to take a nap right now.
Beach, A sun porch on a winter day is very cozy and you get to do the snow thing without all the dog shit. You might like it for short periods of time. Plus Vermont is warm in the summer and the mountains are lovely. Not to mention the fall. There's a lot to be said for seasons. Maybe you do the tropical version and I'll do the New England thing and we'll time share ;)

Jaliya! Nice to see you. Today I am leaning toward that exact trajectory (with the timing a little different since I'm not going anywhere until school lets out in June). Although if I get the deal I asked for at my work, I'll take the Harlem path for a little while. We'll see what turns up after spring break.

Me too, Lisa.

Susan, I'm delighted about Cupcake, too. What do you mean by "uplevel?" Could be a fun and provocative adaptation to the challenge.

mac, I totally need a lazy break. I try my best at naptime every afternoon especially when the sunbeam in my room is absolutely perfect, like today, but a couple of months sounds divine.

Susan Tiner said...

By uplevel, I meant not list the beautiful, but define it. I'm in the midst of exploring the concept of a personal aesthetic, and in that context, the question of what beauty is, naturally comes up. Like when we perceive beauty in ourselves and others, what are we seeing? When does it start to get narcissist? Stuff like that.


if you come to Austin I'll tell you how to join a African drum dance group...Lane goes every week for many many years...she loves it..I watched one class and wore my ass out just watching...

corticoWhat said...

"I have a fantasy where I create a hippie haven - or a home for wayward bloggers with a sun porch, wine cellar and a garden full of weed."


joanneinjax said...

I don't know about the pole dancing - the hips are starting to go - but the 'hippie' retreat with homegrown veggies and herbs, with lots of wine sounds like heaven to me. Could we make the winter headquarters down here in Florida? Don't know if my southern ass could survive a New England winter.
Even though I've been a lurker for a while, I'm serious about this. I really like your writing.

Cali said...

Being a Californio, I vote for Tahoe. I'd actually be able to visit you there. I'm sure all those casino and hotel workers have to send their preschoolers somewhere, why not to you?

I'm glad Cupcake is getting a gold star for her behavior. I wish I could say the same thing about my son's fiancee. She's a rage-aholic and I'm this || close to being done with her. She wakes up in a bad mood every damn day-- and it gets worse from there. Worse, it's rubbing off on my son. He used to be rather fun to be around, but now his attitude is a match for hers. Heaven help anyone who doesn't give either of them their way.

They have taken lately to threatening to move out. It worked on me for a while b/c I'm disabled. The last time they flew off the handle it was because I dared to make them wait 45 minutes so they could take the bus home from college, rather than my driving 45 minutes to their college to pick them up and chauffeur them home. God forbid the King and Queen of Rage Land should ride the bus.

When my son threw the moving threat out I simply said, "OK. When will you be moving?" He started yelling at the fiancee about how quickly could they be out of "this fucking place." She told him all they needed to do was put in a phone call and get her brother over here with his truck. Of course they backed down before any actual phone calls were made. But there was one SERIOUS family meeting that night and I'm pretty sure they didn't like my laying down the law, but I don't care anymore.

If they don't wanna be here, fine. There are other people around who can help me do the things my nerve diseases will no longer allow me to do. Not that they do much anyway. My son makes dinner about half the time and, other than folding and putting away their laundry, she does NOTHING. In the year that she's been here she did dishes exactly ONCE. She put the dinner leftovers away maybe three times and cooked dinner once. When she gets hungry she asks my son what there is to eat and he checks and then gives her the options, she picks and he makes it.

Is it any wonder I'm done?

PENolan said...

Cali - I'd be putting the dirty dishes in their bed. Hang in there, girlfriend

Granny - African dance might be fun, but I'm eager to see the nekkid rain dance

Joanneinjax: We should have hippie havens all over the country. Maybe a mobile unit, too. No pole dancing required ;)

Cortico, I'll save you a place in the sunbeam

Susan, I can totally see how that works in with the personal aesthetic. Loving that series of your, BTW

verymissmary said...

Noticing the beauty in the comments. The post is some beautiful too. Word verification today "willies". Time for a salad then, eh?

verymissmary said...

How come your word verifications are so good? This one? "fockcr"

Real cab driver said...

You would have fit right in, in Xanadu. Which was located at 1811 Vinewood.

PENolan said...

I hope it was nice. I'm not familiar with it, sadly.

Lou said...

A sun porch, wine cellar and a garden full of weed sounds like my kind of haven.

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