Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cheryl B - This Death Stuff Sucks



This is a video of a woman I'd known for years, from the periphery. Our circle of friends intersected occasionally - usually at Drunken! Careening! Writers! a humor series at KGB Bar curated by the friend we had in common, Kathleen.

The video was shown yesterday at Cheryl's memorial service.  She was 38 years old when she died last month from Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  I didn't know Cheryl well.  We must have met years ago, before she was one of the first readers at Drunken! Careening! back in 2004 - but I really can't remember.  Kathleen and I were both gone from our respective jobs at the West Side YMCA by 2000.  For a time, Kathleen ran the Writers' Voice, which was a wonderful program for a while.  I don't know if it even still exists because the Y handed our programs over to a bottom line driven douchebag - a gay man who lived with his partner in a committed relationship but (rumor has it) kept a room in the residence there at the Y for afternoon trysts with handsome, hunky Latinos.  We hated that motherfucker more and more as he turned years of work into piss.

But that's another story.  The main thing is that The Village People weren't kidding when they sang about our very own Y in the song sung in baseball parks around the land about The YMCA.  Andrew Cunanan stayed there on his way to Florida to kill Versace.  Daryl Strawberry came to AA there, briefly.  It was a lively place, and somehow, during that time I met Cheryl B.  All my bohemian buddies from those years were working tirelessly on their Art.  I was focused on the Mom thing with Velvet.  I couldn't hang out 'til the middle of the night at Poetry Slams and stuff.  But I followed their emerging careers from a distance, and most recently, I followed Cheryl's blog, WTF Cancer Diaries.

But I made it out sometimes. One night we were out in a restaurant somewhere after a reading or a play or something and Cheryl B observed that all women were lesbians after three drinks.  I wished I could have three drinks with Cheryl that night, but I went home to Buzz Kill.

The first poem in the video is called New York Girl, and Thaddeus Rutkowski read it yesterday at the memorial service.

New York Girl
She's got the click of fierce high heels hitting blacktop
She's got sarcasm dripping from the tip of her tongue

She's got a bra made out of steel and panties made out of licorice
She's got a vibrator in her pocket and she's very elusive to see you

She's got that tri-state area glow and a laugh that comes out of nowhere
She's got a voice like a cannon and lips that unravel like spools of silk
She's got a body that curves like the beauty of the open road
She's got Polaroids of herself floating about this city, wearing
nothing but her pet snake

She's got no problem with that
She's got that edge, you know that edge, she's got that leather cuffs in the
top drawer of her dresser, hot wax dripping on warm flesh kind of edge

She's a New York girl with a flask full of courage and determination cocktail
strapped to her left hip bone

She's got important aspects of your psyche drowning in the milky
ocean of her complexion

She's got various parts of your anatomy tied up and quivering
in her fist and you're going to have to play a little game to get them
back.

When I heard that poem, twice in one day, I really wished I were edgy like that. For a moment, I may have even imagined that I was. Sitting there at Dixon Place, surrounded by literary and theater people and LGBT activists in the sense that everyone there was living out loud, their entire lives a manifestation of their authentic selves. A community that loved and supported Cheryl, and her partner - a wonderful woman who does stand up - throughout Cheryl's illness and hospitalization. I was proud to be among them.

And even though it stung a little, I was proud when a man rejected me on Match dot com last night. He'd shown up in my Daily 6, and was kind of cute, so I wrote him a note, warning him that my profile is now a Feminist Manifesto. He wrote a nice note back, saying I was "too edgy" for him and that he meant it as a compliment.

I'm hoping that it means a little bit of Cheryl B's edginess rubbed off on me over the years, and that I'll be able to absorb some of that fierce brilliance and fearless honesty that permeated her writing and her life.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Planet of the Apes and The Power Grid

Apparently America has been stuck under a heat dome.  I'm not sure because I haven't watched the news at all. Haven't turned on the TV, in fact, in several days.  I don't need some weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing, or not.

I'm just sitting here wondering if there's going to be another black out.  I doubt it would be as peaceful as the Black Out of 2003.  That made me wonder exactly what it would take for some motivated rebels to knock out the power grid to prove any number of points.  If the Koch Brothers are making money off all these polluting utility companies, it might be a good idea to knock out the power grid.

Now that I've become convinced that the logical consequence of all the corruption/foolishness in our Corporate State is a rotting infrastructure that no one can afford to maintain and/or repair, I figure we may as well get used to the idea of living on Planet of the Apes.  I just wish somebody would kick the process into high gear.  I don't want to see any more DC Kabuki or listen to any more speeches from Versailles.  Might as well let Bachman be president and get on with it since in a Democracy we're supposed to get the government we deserve.


The trouble is that none of us deserve this bullshit.  We can practically count the motherfuckers who do deserve this shit on one hand - that 2% with all the breaks.

I'm not hostile about it (much).  But it's hard to focus on the work of making the world a better place when the Owners endlessly fuck with the world.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Little Wicked and Gone with the Wind: my new match profile

I'm still bumming out about Abilene Steve.  I liked him; I really did.  And he looked so good on paper that I liked him even more.  He's behaved like a gentleman in all this folderol so I'm not mad or anything.  He just can't get his head around the idea of somebody like me in his life.  Given that he's read all about the black man and the gay porn stars, I can see how that might happen.   He followed a link from Worldwide Hippies over here before we ever went out to dinner, and he seems to have had nothing but good intentions throughout.



Whatever.

I figure my original purpose in joining Match dot com remains the same - Steady Sex through these Dark Times.  Also, I need to continue to pursue my calling as Recruiter for the Resistance.  To that end, I wrote a new profile based on the rant I deleted the other day.  Match wouldn't let it through the censors because I said I'd be sparking up a fat one and preparing The 420 Report from Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters.  The computer said that I'd made statements referencing violence or illegal activity.  You bet I did - I just said Storm the Bastille with Worldwide Hippies, but that wasn't a problem. 420 is a problem.
A Little Wicked and Gone With the Wind
When I signed up for Match a couple of months ago, I was thinking that since we're watching the decline of the American Empire from the front row these days, I may as well get laid. It wasn't so difficult for a female to get laid years ago, when we were college kids. But then, guys in their 20s didn't have issues with dating women who were their own age like so many men in their fifties do here on Match. And guys were happy with women whose bodies were "About Average" or "Curvy." They certainly weren't sporting beer guts and claiming to be Athletic and Toned while posting photos of themselves in convertibles as if they were Male Enhancement advertisements - but then, the Internet hadn't been invented yet. No telling what would have happened if we'd have had the internet instead of Discos and Keg Parties.

During the promiscuous period around my divorce, I learned that despite years of despair over sex in my marriage - I really like getting laid. I'm not into NSA relationships at all because (1) I fully believe that sex is better when you've had the time to learn about each other and (2) The whole No Strings Attached idea is an invitation for Herpes. Some people consider the effort necessary to build a foundation to be Work or Pressure. Maybe the time and effort it takes to build a relationship is Work when you're with the wrong person, but with the right one (or two) it's exciting, stimulating and fun. Besides, there are all kinds of relationships. When you know how to be real with somebody, you can balance intimacy and independence. And you can have somebody in your life without having him/her in your house all the time.
So between finding myself unable to Wink or Email those men who won't date curvy women their own age, and one disappointment - I've had to get used to the idea that I'm stuck with BOB, my battery operated boyfriend. Bob doesn't have much to say, but there's none of the cycle of Anticipation and Disappointment that goes along with Dating in general.

My membership will expire in early August. After that, interested parties can find me on the internet via Worldwide Hippies. I'll be focusing on the Intersection of Art and Activism and plotting to Storm the Bastille with my counter culture buddies.

*NOTE* The numbers I plugged into the age range and distance categories were chosen randomly. If we met at a party, I wouldn't immediately ask you how old you are, and I hope you wouldn't ask me either. As for distance, I'm a confirmed city dweller, but for the right person, I'd be glad to jump on the train for an hour or two, and I'd enjoy making a fuss over him when he came into the city occasionally. Actually, I'd be glad to do lots of things for the right person, and maybe one day we'll find each other.
Sincerely,
PENolan

I haven't decided whether to post the tits or not.  I just submitted this one from Dr. Monkey's Graphic Novel, Hip Deep Mountain High



The censors at Match have cleared this photo for posting once and denied it once. We'll see what happens tonight.

*UPDATE* Match dot com censors have refused to use the photo for a long list of broken rules - not the least of which referenced children under 18.
Curses.  Foiled Again.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

All About Sunshine

I've been up since daybreak working on The Resistance with Worldwide Hippies. This week, I'm talking about Greenpeace going to some music festival in Bridgeport with their BioDiesel truck The Rolling Sunlight.


The truck carries a full load of solar panels and can power all kinds of stuff.  In a very literal way, these folks are spreading the light.

I was doing a bit of reading last night before I went to bed that reminded me about sharing my own Light.  I don't talk much about A Course In Miracles because some people - particularly Conservative Christian Right Wing Republican or Crazier Types - think the Course is a brainwashing mechanism practiced by a cult.  I can see why since the Course presents Jesus himself talking in the first person about how his message got all fucked up in the Bible.  Jesus is not surprised that so many people are using it like theological terrorism since Fear is the problem he was trying to address in the first place, and he hopes we'll all start expanding the love within us.  Jesus himself says that we are responsible for our own salvation since it's all in our heads anyway.  Fear, Guilt, Salvation, Love - all in your head and all your own choice.  The End.

Now, maybe the Course was channeled to those psychiatrists up at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, or maybe those shrinks were fooling around with psychedelics and hallucinated the whole thing.  Either way, it makes perfect sense to me.

Anyway, according to Jesus, all I have to do is relax and let my own little light shine and the Universe will take it from there.  It's nice that Jesus says the same thing George Carlin said to Bill and Ted.



Actually, Jesus His Own Self says all kind of things in the Course that make Christians shit bricks - but that's not why I am benefiting from it.  I've been working on feeling my own light for some time - even before I heard of the course.  Finding my own light and letting it expand is what helped me emerge from cycles of deep, dark depressions.

It's very simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy at all.  With regard to Abilene Steve, I figure the best I can do islet my own light shine as usual.  Maybe he'll see it and climb out of that black hole and head in my direction.  Maybe not.  His choice.  For now, I'm off to Poughkeepsie to see a shining light named Chris Wiekel in 39 Steps at the River Valley Rep.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Treasure in the Trash Can

Hope may spring eternal, but once it collides with a brick wall, you still have to wipe up the blood, snot and tears.  It's not just Abilene Steve - although I have to admit that's a large part of it.  It's about accepting the fact that I will remain single the rest of my life, and as long as people live these days, that's a very long time.

I could understand it better if people weren't always telling me how beautiful I am.  Even that old grouch Woody Konopeli says I'm a beautiful woman.  I'm not rich or thin, but in real life, not many people are.  I have achieved a certain independence financially which is as much as anyone can realistically expect in this economic reality.  And as for being thin, in my experience most men don't complain about my belly once they get an eyeful of the tits.  I expect there are plenty of men who are more into butts or legs or whatever - but they'd have been chasing somebody else to begin with.  Or maybe once there's real pussy involved, men are so focused on that, they forget about details like muscle tone and Cesarean scars especially since, if a woman has a Cesarean scar, her vagina muscles are usually as tight as any twenty year-old's.

It's a fucked up feeling to look at yourself as a commodity, but we live in a patriarchy after all, and it's not like women don't objectify and commodify their potential partners.  It's particularly fucked up to look at yourself as a commodity, and see that as far as commodities go you're very marketable, but in the end, you find yourself in the trash can with the McDonald's wrappers and coffee grounds.

I can easily get myself up and dust myself off, but I'm not starting all over again with men anymore. Abilene Steve was very kind about putting me out with the trash, but when someone told you that you're a treasure, it's very confusing to find yourself covered in coffee grounds, metaphorically.  I know he was entirely sincere when he said it.  That's why I believed he really thought I was a treasure.  I always thought I was a treasure, and it was nice to finally have confirmation that another person thought so too, besides my Granny the Ho who is graveyard dead.

He says that he's in a dark, foul mood which is possible since he comes from that Scots-Irish tradition that indulges in "black moods" and long, brooding walks across the moors.  Generally, these moods also involve heavy drinking - but not always.  I don't remember Heathcliff drinking heavily in Wuthering Heights.


Everyone gets depressed sometimes, and Abilene Steve turned 65 ten days ago.  From what I hear, the 65th birthday can be extra tough because you've entered Bucket List territory no matter who you are.  For his birthday, Abilene Steve went to visit some friends from his salad days, and they all wandered around one of those outdoor music festivals that go on for days and stretch across acres and acres of Midwestern Parkland.  Nothing like a bunch of sweaty, young dancers to remind you of your own encroaching mortality, but from the little he has written to me, I gather he was more disturbed by the lovely, orderly lives his friends had built for themselves in lovely, orderly homes in lovely, orderly suburbs.  All that lovely stuff left him feeling out of place and clueless, and I'm sure that him being a widower makes it worse than if he had a bitchy ex-wife in the background.  So now he's been in deep dark mood that makes him bad company, and that deep dark mood means he's not into talking to me. (Note: I'd consider it a kindness if any men out there who are reading his and saying, "yup, that's about the size of it" would tell me to relax).

I have all this information because a few nights ago, I wrote him an email saying that I really enjoyed being with him, but I had the impression that he's not interested in pursuing anything further.  I said I hoped he changed his mind some day - and that was it.  His response left me feeling hopeful. When it turned out I'll be in seeing a play in Poughkeepsie on Sunday, I wrote to suggest we get together.  Abilene Steve lives about an hour north of there, so I  proposed a simple dinner and then I'd get a train back into the city.  Unless he wanted to see the play too - which would be fun since it's a parody of Alfred Hitchcock.

But he said no.  The No itself was bad enough, but he said it in such a way that made me feel exceedingly rejected because the email started out with, "You're very sweet," and went on to say he already had stuff to do on Sunday.  Once I heard that, I started thinking that the encouraging words from before were really a variation on that old refrain, "It's not you, it's me."

Suddenly, I am a one night stand again - even though it was two nights, if you count the night he stayed over here after that reunion of the last surviving VJs.  I can see how a man could get swallowed up by Depression after an evening in a noisy restaurant in Times Square with the remnants of MTV's original crew.  As it happens, Abilene Steve was one of the cameramen on the original MTV crew a million years ago.  I thought it was cool, especially since he could have helped me learn more about making those little videos for Worldwide Hippies.  But he's evidently more into being Depressed Dinosaur than talking to me.

In a way, I get it.  He's been back from the birthday jamboree for ten days.  To me that's a lifetime, but when you've been traveling and having an existential crisis, time gets away from you.  He'd also cracked a tooth in the meantime, and I figure a cracked tooth is good for a Three Day Pass from communicating with friends since that kind of emergency will fuck up your schedule.

I'm trying to be reasonable and understanding, here, but it's hard when I log into Match dot com and see he's been active within twenty four hours.  So every day that he's too depressed to talk to me, he's well enough to check out what's happening on Match dot com.  Maybe he's doing exactly the same thing I'm doing on Match which is clicking on my Daily 6 out of simple curiosity and looking to see when he logged in last since I'm only interested in him anyway.  Sadly, I've grasped at straws before especially when I really, really wished that something were true.

What's true is that this treasure is in the trash can.

Like I said, I can pick myself up and dust myself off - but when I start all over again this time, it's with the realization that I'll be on my own until the end of my days.  For someone as naturally nurturing as I am, that's a little tricky.  I can always nurture my own self in addition to all the kids in my classroom, and there's Velvet, of course, who may or may not be going back to Tree Hugger.  The Dean hasn't said that Velvet has been readmitted yet, so the immediate future is uncertain in that department.

I enjoy my own company, and my life is filled with stimulating people and activities, dear friends and close family, and of course, we can't forget The Resistance and my own writing.  All in all, I'm content.

I really did wish for a boyfriend, though.  Just a night here and there. And I still believe in Fairies. I just I can't seem to clap anymore.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Room with a View

Since I moved in - one month ago today - I've divided my time between unpacking and arranging stuff and laying up in the bed looking out the window.

Here's the view to the west


The graveyard straight across the roof tops keeps it real on an existential level:


There's a church to the east


You can see a building peeking out between the roof and the trees.


And there's New Jersey - near the end of the day


At the end of the day, I'm happy to say that I'm back to being hopeful about Abilene Steve. These things take time, but with a view like this out my window, I'm not going anywhere for a while.

Anticipation and Disappointment on Match dot Com

Looks like it's time for me to abandon the Match dot com project again.  Last time I hit the wall with Match, I wound up deleting 1200 profiles of men who were within 10 miles of my zip code who wouldn't date women their own age (976 Removed Profiles and a Shape Shifting Goat, Stonerdate 01.27.09).

This time, I've gotten an attitude about Old Farts who only want to date Slender and/or Athletic & Toned women.  I fully understand that we all have preferences - I just think that it's rude to advertise our prejudices in a forum like Match which stirs up everyone's insecurities in the first place.  Further, I fail to see what makes these arrogant bastards the prizes they apparently think they are.

It's wrong of me to jump to the conclusion that they are arrogant bastards.  Perhaps they are just stupid.  Either way, it's time for me to get off Match again.  Fortunately, I had the benefit of my earlier experience and recognized that there was no reason to pony up for more than three months since we all knew I'd be stomping off in a Match Dot Com Huff after 60 days.  Yesterday, I updated my profile so that the conclusion said:
RE: Body Type
In the past, when I've been on Match, I've gotten an attitude about men who are 55-ish but whose search parameters state they are not looking to date women who are over 50. I have come to see that age range is a lot like height, and many woman are not interested in dating short men which give guys who are under 5'7" an attitude too. Again, we all have our preferences and I suppose it's best to state them clearly in the beginning. To that end, when someone is only interested in dating Slender and/or Athletic and Toned women, I'm not interested in dating him. It's not like I'm a barking lard-ass over here, and when I see that someone only wants a thin woman, I figure they probably aren't interested in a smart one either - especially when he's posted a picture of himself in a flashy Viagra-mobile. Or at the wheel of a boat like he's going to sail up to the 79th Street Boat basin to pick up a 32 year-old date who he fully believes is out with his bald self without regard for his money. When I see that stuff on Match I begin to despair that there's nobody out there who I'll like better than BOB, the Battery Operated Boyfriend. My membership expires in a couple of weeks, and me and BOB are doing fine. He's not costing me money or sneering at my stretch marks - and he's certainly not married and looking for a salacious internet flirtation or some action on the side. I'm sure that there are plenty of dumb, superficial women on Match looking for walks on the beach with her soul mate the meal ticket who lives up to her lifelong romantic delusions. Maybe those broads will hook up with Mr. Viagra and everyone will be happy. I'll be sparking up a fat one over at Menopausal Stoners, making plans to storm the Bastille with my radical hippie buddies, if anyone is interested.
Sincerely,
PENolan
After a couple of hours, I got embarrassed and hid the profile.  Now I revised it so that it's not so harsh because (1) there are some nice fellows on Match who don't deserve to be hit with my bullshit even if they are so dull and cliche-driven that I won't talk to them, and (2) I'm corresponding with two men now and they don't need to see exactly how bitchy I can get at this juncture. At the moment, I'm thinking my profile will not see another dawn on Match dot com.

My dear friend and alleged daughter, Gigi the Pole Dancing Quadroon, suspects that I'm so bummed out about Abilene Steve that I'm hiding myself under the covers again.  I'll admit that his disappearance has hurt. I really did like him a lot and was hopeful.  If he turns up again, I'll be glad to see him.  So glad that I'll be sure to take some Simethicone before the date so I won't worry about Farting.  There's a bit of Reality about dating in the AARP zone.


Abilene Steve said that he had been intimidated about meeting me because I was so talented and filled with horse power.  Nobody ever said anything like that to me before.  At first, I thought it was High Time that a man thought of me like that, but now, I'm pretty sure that it's part of what makes me ultimately Undatable.  It's one of life's little ironies since the super in my new building felt compelled to tell me that I should be married.  I can only conclude that he took the liberty because when my father left for Texas, he shook Jacob the Super's hand and told him that he was in charge.  Jacob is a handsome Mexican man about my age and height who has just enough English to tell me I ought to be married.

I have a lingering feeling that most men come to the same conclusion about me and marriage.  You don't have to be around me long to know I am a proverbial Nice Girl, although anyone who enters the Triciasphere will see that I'm a nice girl in the same mold as Jacy Farrow in Last Picture Show



As I recall, Jacy wound up divorced in a big house in Dallas, and Cybil Shepherd went on to other roles. I expect I'll find myself in new roles soon enough. Right now, I see myself moving toward Merryweather, the fairy in Sleeping Beauty who adapted Maleficent's curse, or maybe the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. Both Disney versions are pleasantly plump - and I suppose that term could be accurately applied to me.


If I get to choose my own archetype, however, I'd rather be Glinda the Good from The Wizard of Oz.


She's not particularly Slender, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear there was no boyfriend for her either - at least not on Match dot com.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Songs in my Head

This song has been stuck in my head for a couple of weeks. No brain surgery needed to figure out why. Another man with nice boots is corresponding with me on Match. I know about his boots because he posted a picture of his feet kicked back in red dirt somewhere out west.



Listening to the song, it's easy to understand why people in my demographic often want to avoid relationships.  Having babies is behind us, but certain expectations and patterns linger no matter how evolved we may have become.

Fortunately, I've finally reached a place where it's much easier to appreciate someone else's perspective.  Or maybe it's that I've quit interpreting neutral situations as evidence that there's something wrong with me.  And I sure don't think that if I were better somehow I'd have a boyfriend.

It's just that getting involved with another person when you're perfectly content on your own is a tricky proposition. I like having my time, space and resources entirely at my own discretion, and I need a lot of time and space to rest after interacting with other people even when I've been having nothing but fun.  I'm not even sure I want somebody completely involved in my life, and I am especially skeptical about living with someone in the same house full time ever again as long as I live, unless it's a very big house.

Or two little houses on a very big property.

Ventura Highway has been stuck in my head too.


No telling what to make of that - but it could have something to do with a free wind blowing through my hair.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Me and USAISC

Dang it - USAISC Headquarters showed up in the stats again.  I guess Homeland Security is perusing the blog which is kind of cool. I haven't noticed any particular military activity for a while, and the first time USAISC appeared, they came from a yahoo email link so I swore my ex-boyfriend that blogstalking narcissist turned me in on account of Assholes Great and Small.  I guess he's still pissed about that, but honestly, I warned him about acting like his invisible friend was blogstalking me - and then I stumbled across the eight page Google trail he left looking for a woman with a flaming red bush from coast to coast when he was still married.

Actually, he probably is still married even though his wife kicked him out before he and I started dating (just to clarify, I don't do the Married Man thing which is why I ditched that salacious flirt from Match. Something about the way he corresponded reeked of Married).  I will always be grateful that the Narcissist provided me with an opportunity to process a life time of anger at abusive men, and truly, I'm sure his ego is alive and well and tormenting everyone within fifty yards.  But back to USAISC: United States Army Information Systems Command.  This time, they came from Clarksville, Tennessee.  Last time, from somewhere in California.  Miscellaneous military types float through the stats occasionally, but I like these guys best because they sound so Official.

I guess somebody in their office is tracking people who posted the "button" for the Stop the Machine! action on October 6.


I put it in the sidebar yesterday, I think.  Of course, I could be wrong.  They may be tracking The Oath Keepers.

While I was doing a bit of research on the event, a Facebook friend who said he was on the steering committee told me that he withdrew his support for the Stop the Machine organization because the Oath Keepers were trying to co-opt the October 6th action for their own purposes.


The Oath Keepers wouldn't be the first group of second amendment enthusiasts who pulled shit to get on TV.  The FB friend, though, is seriously concerned that somebody will wind up getting shot. Naturally I called Woody to find out what he knew about the Oath Keepers.  He said they were tough customers who like to shoot Negroes and Hippies. I asked Worldwide Hippies' Joe about his thoughts on the Oath Keeper threat.  He says security around the White House area is at least as tight as when George W was in office, and maybe even tighter although it may not be as visible.  Barack likes to keep a low profile even if he is just as into surveillance as J. Edgar Hoover.

Although I doubt they'll do more than make a lot of noise, the whole idea of Oath Keepers made me think that I should not even consider going to Washington DC by myself.  I didn't want to go by myself anyway.  I wanted that Abilene Steve to come along and bring his video equipment so we could hang out on the periphery and document any altercations.  Sadly, he seems to be content to keep his distance so I didn't broach the subject.  I'm afraid that I farted on him in my sleep or something, although he was kind of remote and reserved when he got here, and there was no farting involved at all whatsoever.  Maybe he's just pooped because he spent an extra long Fourth of July weekend drinking wine and carrying with a bunch of his old buddies for his 65th birthday at some outdoor concert in Wisconsin.  Or it could be that he's simply not into the idea of an ongoing relationship.  The way he looked at me when he was leaving and told me to take care of my boy was sort of like the "I'm a Loner" speech Pee Wee gave Dottie in Pee Wee's Big Adventure except in a Western where I'm a School Marm and Abilene Steve is off to find some Shaman with a bag of peyote seeds.

Pee-wee: There's a lotta things about me you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand. 
Dottie: I don't understand. 
Pee-wee: You don't wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel. So long, Dott. 

I don't have a clue what's in his mind, but I'm not ready to settle into a relationship right this minute either.  Granny always told me not to get off at the first bus stop.  It's a drag, though, because I really liked him, and it would have been fun to document The Resistance especially now that Joe is sending me Worldwide Hippies Press Credentials and everything.  But that will be fun in any case.

Woody and Joe are into the idea of going to DC, and if we really decide to do this thing, we'll make a party of it for sure.  Maybe I'll get a cheap suite at a nearby fleabag hotel and host a happy hour for hungry activists with cold cuts and PBR.  I'm jazzed because when I asked for information via the Stop the Machine website, Dr. Margaret Flowers herself wrote me back.  She even liked the bit I did on Worldwide Hippies News & Stuff today (I'm just after 4:20 as usual).

I'm also excited to go because my current hero, Lee Camp, is supposed to be there. He was totally involved in the Geurilla Theater action at Lincoln Center where Rev. Billy Talen distracted the crowd in the plaza while a couple of guys climbed up on a ladder and posted a giant sticker over David Koch's name on the Ballet Theater that read: I'm the tea party's wallet.


Here he is in one of his Moment of Clarity videos talking about that night:



I think he's wonderful - but I believe he's married.  I'm sorry to say that I really do seem to be turning into Sally from The Dick Van Dyke show.  This dating thing is getting me down.

Gramps Smokes Dope

This friend of mine from Worldwide Hippies, Sherry who writes After the Bridge, posted a video today and I offer it now as an alternative to Grandpa in the Sky.  It's a shame that so many folks insist that God wanders around the clouds scowling and muttering to himself kind of like John McCain wandered around the stage during a debate with Barack O'Bummer - who I refuse to discuss at the moment since I'm in a good mood.

If God is a social construct for the most part anyway, there's no reason we can't make him a stoner telling all those Conservative Christians and other religious zealots to stop harshing our collective Mellow.  If, as we all learned in the Hitchhikers' Guide, the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything is 42 - and since 42 multiplied by 10 is 420 - it could be that (when certain individual factors don't mean it's contraindicated) Ganja is the answer.

Now that I'm thinking about it, Bob Marley may very well have been trying to tell us all that years ago.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Community: Another Thing of Beauty

I've written a Dispatch from Menopausal Stoners for Worldwide Hippies wherein I used the Hippie Dippy Quaker Camp as an illustration of how we don't have to buy into the American celebration of the Individual at the expense of the Community (Dispatch from Menopausal Stoners: Interdependence)

At the Hippie Dippy Quaker Camp, they did not celebrate independence day.  They had INTERdependence day complete with fiddles and a Contra dance to emphasize the notions of Stewardship, Sustainability and Community.  It's a simple concept that can be applied in any number of environments - not just an idyllic place created with the specific intention of nurturing the life of the spirit in community like a pod of organic farms in a valley in Vermont.

We create little communities of our own where ever we are.  In the subway, for example, when some random person starts making a speech and you share a smile with a stranger, you've created community.  I'm pretty sure that establishing human connections is just about the only way to sustain ourselves through the Decline of the American Empire - or The Dark Times, as I like to think of it.  We're up to our ass in The Dark Times now, if the government is any indication, and as we move forward into an election cycle filled with Teabagging Clowns like Michele Bachman, it's only getting worse.   The thing is, though, that it's only awful when you look at stuff like American Exceptionalism.

Dennis Trainor, Jr discusses American Exceptionalism in this short video which ends with an invitation to join a specific community,  October2011.org, Stop the Machine!



I may actually attend this event. It's right at the beginning of school, which is a tricky time for me, but I think I can swing it.  Chris Hedges, Cornell West, Bill Moyers, The Yes Men, Tikkun and The Punk Patriot are all pledged to attend, and I want to be a part of that community.  

The other day, I was talking with a friend and said something about spending the morning working on The Revolution. He expressed some doubt that a revolution will ever come. I said, "Maybe not, but it won't be because I didn't get off my ass."  I have a feeling that it's too late to stop the machine, that the scales have tipped and the world is sliding into serious Idiocracy.  So be it.  But as long as we're living, we still need the human connection - the shelter and support we find in Community or Fellowship, if you will.

That brings me back to The Hippie Dippy Quaker Camp, Farm & Wilderness as it's known in real life.  When Velvet started going there years ago, I had my first experience with Silent Meetings and was impressed enough to start researching Quakers.  There are meetings for business and meetings for fellowship - and the same guidelines apply in both.  When somebody has something to say, everybody listens and nobody speaks for a few minutes afterward so that the comment can be fully appreciated.  If somebody has a response, s/he doesn't say, "Mr.Bill is Wrong," or "I agree with Mr.Bill."  If you have to reference the comment at all, you say something like, "While I was listening to Mr. Bill, I thought _________________," because it's not about Mr. Bill or about You.  It's all about the idea and finding resolution or consensus.

Imagine a classroom  or a conference room where individuals came together in fellowship to discuss issues respectfully and thoughtfully.  It will never happen in Congress, for sure, where people come together to stuff their wallets - but it can happen in small groups here, there and everywhere. I'll call that Thing of Beauty #14-101.  For me, it just happened to be at a farm in Vermont - Thing of Beauty #15-101.

Meeting Spot at Tamarack Farm

The Farmhouse

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dispatch from Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters: Interdependence

After reading Phil's articles about Capitalism and Socialism, I've been wondering about governments and economies, and what the real differences are between these systems.  The variations we've seen around the world over the last century or so have pretty much sucked because leaders seem to be dedicated to keeping all the privileges for themselves at the expense of everyone else.  That's what happens when governments will go to war under the pretense of protecting a philosophy when everybody knows the point is protecting and/or swiping natural resources like oil, water, lithium or fertile land and territory.  When leaders believe people exist to exploit, then it really doesn't matter whether a government calls itself Socialist, Capitalist. Fascist, Communist, Democratic, Parliamentary, a Monarchy, an Oligarchy or a Plutocratic Dictatorship. What you have is a fucked up country where the wealthy have lovely lives and citizens worry about feeding their families and getting sick while working in meaningless jobs or getting sent off to war.

The America of Myth and Legend, where people stopped into a local diner for a burger after making purchases at mom and pop shops in the town square is long gone.  Families stop for a meal produced on an assembly line on their way home from a giant box store like Target, Walmart or Costco where they've used plastic money to buy plastic shit they've been told they need in advertisements for consumer products paid for by the same corporations who dump sludge in the water and air.   Our society is deteriorating before our eyes so that we are becoming, in reality, the Idiocracy presented in Mike Judge's film where people are so stupid they irrigate the fields with Brawndo, a Thirst Mutilating drink with electrolytes made by a company that bought the FDA and FCC and convinced consumers that water was for toilets.



In my view, it's better to accept reality and deal with it. Kind of like when one of your parents has Alzheimers Disease. Complaining, sobbing and shouting don't change the facts - but there are things you can do to make it easier to bear. In the case of our country, it's not necessarily a bad thing that the American Empire is in decline given that the politicians who refuse to consider single payer healthcare are direct philosophical descendants of the wealthy merchants and property owners who refused to sign  the constitution unless slavery was protected by law.  Now we've got Domininionist Christians and Teabaggers, who believes God demonstrates His love with Stuff and good parking places,  convinced their buying power is diminished because the rich don't get enough tax breaks and our energy problems will be solved by fracking and deep water drilling in the artic.   Let's accept that these folks have trashed the American Experiment with American Exceptionalism and turn our attention toward the future - kind of like Harri Seldon did in Asimov's Foundation Series.  Recognizing that The Empire was doomed, he worked toward easing the chaos that would inevitably follow.

The question then becomes: What can you do, in your own way, to make the world a little better? It's not about money or materials - it's about nurturing the human spirit and creating community.  They do it every day in a valley in the Green Mountains of Vermont, at a place called Farm And Wilderness. I first heard the camp called a Hippie Dippy Quaker Camp by one of the counselors as she hollered out to the crowd of parents, friends and neighbors that the kids were parading down the road, signaling the start of the annual Fair. She was waving a big rainbow flag with a peace sign in the middle.   My son went there for six summers, first to Timber Lake, the boys camp and then to Tamarack Farm, the high school camp.



Fair starts with the parade of campers, spreads out across the meadow for an afternoon of fresh food the kids have made from the camp's organic gardens, human-powered rides, and smashing Conneggburts on each others' heads.  The teenagers from Salt Ash Mountain camp, SAM, perform an original skit for Friends, Families and Neighbors - like the one we saw in 2006 where Independent News was held hostage by Corporate Media.  The day ended with a big contra dance followed by a bonfire.  A pair of torch bearers from each of the five camps at F&W begin the ceremony and light the fire, and once the parents finally leave, the kids danced to their own wild drumming as the embers lit up the night sky.




Fair is a culmination of a summer spent living and working together in community, and reflecting on the experience during Silent Meeting.  Until my first Parent Weekend when my son was an 11 year old at Timberlake, I had never been to a Silent Meeting, which is the part of the foundation of the Quaker tradition.  I never imagined that 90 boys could sit silently for five minutes, much less an hour, until we joined them in a birch glade where the boys were scattered comfortably on rocks, benches and bare ground.  The difference between Silent Meeting and typical services at Churches and Synagogues is that there is no preacher and no speechifying.  The essential notion of Silent Meeting is that if people will shut the hell up for a change, they might learn  something.  And we did - You don't have to be in a idyllic setting like a Hippie Dippy Quaker Camp to take care of each other and the environment.  People can do that anywhere when they make a simple choice to carry the life of the spirit out into the world.  You can do it on the subway in New York City - the spirit lives in each of us and is not limited or defined by setting.

When we think about Community and Interdependence, the world is a very different place than when we focus on an Independence that leads to Isolation and Competition.  There is still plenty of room for individual pursuit and accomplishment within the context of the Community because each individual's unique spirit is nurtured and celebrated.  That rarely happens in Walmart, and never happens in Congress where our leaders only celebrate their personal bank accounts.  Old Bernie Sanders, who happens to be from Vermont, makes a stirring speech every now and then, pointing out the error of our collective ways, but few listen.

It is those few who will continue to work for the community in their own lives and subsequently their little corner of the world becomes a better place.  As Each One Teaches One, that community grows stronger even in the virtual world of the internet.  All we need to do is take the road less chosen



The Road Not Taken


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.



Robert Frost, 1915

For more information on Farm & Wilderness, go to http://www.farmandwilderness.org/
Or watch this video and find an antidote to Idiocracy:

Fourth of July



Simple Gifts

Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

Joseph Bracket, 1848

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fake Friends at Fairway

The other day I was hungry for guacamole and stopped in at Fairway at 74th Street to get some avocados and lemons.  I was in a hurry and didn't bother with a basket and was holding four small avocados and three large lemons when I ran into a woman I had been “best friends” with some years ago.  I’m pretty sure I never really liked her.  For years, most everyone I hung out with regularly knew her as Mrs. Finkelstein, The Friend that I Hate.  I suppose I never really hated her either – it was just that talking with her always left me feeling bad about myself as a person and as a mother.

She and I became friends at Breastfeeding Support Group a few weeks after our babies were born.  When the Lactation Consultant formed a New Mommies’ Group, Mrs. Finkelstein and I both joined.  So did a few other women, and we all ignored our differences so we would have a large group of comrades during the transition to Motherhood which is so scary you can’t even admit you’re scared to each other.   If one of us started to crack, we would all fall apart.  We stood together in solidarity, or rather we pushed strollers around the park and arranged lovely picnics with lovely cloths spread out in Strawberry Fields for our lovely food and lovely babies.   If we complained at all, it was about the long hours our husbands worked which enabled all of us to stay home with our babies for as long as we wanted.  Nevertheless, we still complained about it because it was safe to complain about husbands.  Complaining about babies made you a Bad Mother.

In many ways, Mrs. Finkelstein was a caring friend, but after a year or two of therapy, I concluded that her judgmental perspective reminded me of my own mother.  I figured if Mrs. Finkelstein would hang out with me, I must be okay.

Mrs. Finkelstein never missed an opportunity to tell me that I made wrong-headed parenting choices despite the fact that her own parenting led to a visit from school social workers once her twins entered public Pre-K.  For example, when the kids were four or five months old, Mrs. Finkelstein Ferberized her twins which meant that she followed the recommendations of one  Dr. Richard Ferber which had been oversimplified by the popular press into something like a celebration of letting your baby scream himself to sleep, or Cry It Out.  For the record, I understand that all babies need to cry sometimes - but I never let Velvet cry anything out.  Maybe I did have my own issues with abandonment, but given that Dr. Ferber himself went on TV multiple times to say he never once advocated leaving babies alone in the dark to cry until they vomited, I maintain that Ferberizing is Bull Shit.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Finkelstein took absolute credit for her children drifting peacefully off to sleep as a result of her wise commitment to Dr. Ferber's methods and determination to maintaining control over her children's habits.

Mrs. Finklestein is a well intentioned woman.  It's just that her own anxieties spilled onto her children, and she's one of those controlling people who believe that very young children are manipulative.  It's true that very young children are always exploring new and improved methods at getting their own way - but this behavioral experimentation is rarely premeditated,calculated and sinister even when they are as old as four.  By the time they are four years old, some kids are truly manipulative but when that's the case, you will generally find that one of the parents is Masterfully Manipulative and sometimes an Emotional Blackmailer.  

I'm not going to lay that on Mrs. Finkelstein, but in my view, her kids went to sleep easily because they slept in a room together and therefore had automatic companionship and because they were worn out from the way she shoved food at them all day, saying, "Eat! Eat!  When they were a couple of weeks old, the pediatrician gave the twins the label Failure To Thrive, and Mrs. Finkelstein felt so guilty about that failure that she continued chasing the kids around with bagles or roasted chicken when they were two and able to run away from her.  Or she strapped them into high chairs and wouldn't let them out until they finished the food she had lovingly prepared.  Needless to say, I avoided meal times at their beautiful prewar apartment on West End Avenue, especially once she started complaining about their lack of money as the maid busied herself around the kitchen.  

She continued bitching about money even as she used part of her inheritance from her mother for liposuction on her Size Two ass.  The kids may have been in middle school by then.  She had never been happy with her ass because it was kind of square, and when one of her friends from exercise class was diagnosed with breast cancer, Mrs. Finkelstein decided that life was too short to live without the ass you wanted and made an appointment with the plastic surgeon.  Maybe so.  If I could afford it, I'd have the fat off my arms sucked off and a tummy tuck - so I'm not condemning the procedure.  It was the way she moaned about having no money that bothered me.  She lamented loud and long about not being able to go on ski vacations as she and her family of five were boarding a plane for Israel.  I never knew how to respond to that kind of complaint - especially since my own mother said, "Well, Patricia, at least you're not in Bosnia," if I complained about anything.

When the boys were all in high school, Mrs. Finkelstein was compelled to call me up one day and say she did not approve of the way I allowed Velvet to smoke weed.  I explained that Velvet was not ALLOWED to smoke weed.  Velvet would not get in trouble for smoking weed as long as we maintained an atmosphere of Plausible Deniability and he got straight As at school. I also explained that it's hypocritical to punish your child for something you yourself do - and since Velvet knew I smoked weed occasionally, there was no way I was going to tell him that smoking weed is BAD.  That's when she told me that I knew I shouldn't be smoking weed either.

About the same time, Mrs. Finkelstein and I were on a different phone call when she felt compelled to tell me that The Narcissist would never marry me because I'm not Jewish.  Never mind that I didn't want to marry the Narcissist, or anyone else for that matter having been recently divorced.  Never mind that the reason the relationship never went anywhere because it took me over a year to understand that ordinary people could display levels of assholery I though were only possible among luminaries like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Dick Cheney.  The point is that Mrs. Finkelstein intimated that to The Tribe, I was nothing more than a shiksa whore.  She never used the term Shiksa Whore.  She didn't have to.  

I will always be grateful that Mrs. Finkelstein steered me to a great therapist when Velvet was little and I was in despair at being such an awful mother.  Mrs. Finkelstein visited me when I was in Four Winds, too, and I'm sure it was a sincerely supportive gesture.  For several years, I maintained the relationship with her simply because of that gratitude, but after those phone calls, I fully shut her out of my life.

Last year at Rosh Hashana, Mrs. Finkelstein contacted me, using phrases recommended for generations by Rabbis asking me to please tell her if she'd done something to offend me so that she could atone.  She wanted to be my friend.  She mentioned that a dear friend of hers had been diagnosed with cancer and she needed someone to talk to - so I knew why she wanted to be friends with a degenerate like me.  Nobody else would talk to her.  I agreed to have lunch with her because she was so insistent and because I didn't want to hurt her feelings.

I never told her what she had done to offend me, however, so she never had an opportunity to make it up to me.  In my mind, that would be another game of charades with a woman who can't allow others the freedom to be themselves.  Maybe one day, we'll have to have that confrontation - but I can't see any reason to go through all that with someone you don't want to be friends with.  Although now that I'm thinking about it, that kind of confrontation and honesty may be the only way to free yourself from pretense.  We'll see if it comes up again this year at Rosh Hashana.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence and Proto-Feminism in the Movies

I watched Abilene Steve walking down the street towards his car from my window this morning, drying my tears and pondering Attachment.  I deal with attachment and separation all the time in my classroom, and it's been clear to me for years that one of the reasons I'm a very good preschool teacher is that I'm really just a giant Three year-old with a decent expressive vocabulary and the ability to think abstractly.  Little kids remain concrete thinkers for a very long time.  Sometimes kids in my classroom watch from the window as somebody walks away.  Good Byes are much easier when you know that you'll be saying Hello again soon.  I don't know when I'll ever get to say Hello to Abilene Steve again.  It's hard to know how things will develop between Grown Ups.  Like they say in The Glass Bottom Boat, "Que Sera Sera."



My perspective on almost everything was informed by movies like Glass Bottom Boat, Please Don't Eat the Daisies and With Six You Get Eggroll.  My mother says that Doris Day was a proto-feminist because she had a job in The Glass Bottom Boat and was, therefore, demonstrating that women can go to work.  Granted, there's marriage and then staying home with kids in all the pictures - but still, there was a tantalizing hint of Independence.



Sophia Loren runs off from her father in Houseboat to get a taste of  Independence too.  Sophia's singing her song at 1:43 in this trailer.



Sandra Dee was in If a Man Answers in 1962 - just before The Feminine Mystique was first published.  I'm not sure if the idea that husbands can be trained like dogs is a feminist notion, but I'm pretty sure that a beautiful French chorus girl becoming a society matron in Boston and managing her stuffy husband through sex and trickery is a manifestation of certain widely held societal beliefs of some kind.



I'm sorry to say that it looks like Sandra Dee as Gidget had a lasting impact on most of my ideas about men, women and romance.



With a little Ann-Margret thrown in:



Independence and Romance just don't seem to mix when the women are in their childbearing years.  The Pill changed all that, but those kind of movies never made it on to network TV - especially not The Wonderful World of Disney, no matter what Walt and that bunch of stoners might have thought about the issue privately.

I'm not sure where I got my ideas on how grown women act - especially now that I'm a grown woman.  Certainly I had better sense than to get pouty or clingy with Abilene Steve just because he had to leave much earlier than I wanted.  He had to be at a meeting two hours up the highway at noon, so there was no lolling about all morning, and I didn't fix migas even though I had gotten chorizo and everything.  One thing you know once you're grown is that things don't always work out the way you want, and sometimes, that might be for the best.  Real life has a way of teaching us things that never show up in the movies - at least not when they are in technicolor. You may have to look at black and white movies to find the best shades of grey.

Blog Archive