Thursday, November 29, 2012

Restoring The Man, a Work in Progress and Thing of Beauty #62-101

While I was fragile - and for the record, I may be more fragile than ever now so that I'm held together with spit balls and bubble gum - but I'm not depressed and over the weekend when my emotional gestalt was thrown fully off kilter by The Man, I was teetering on the border of depression.  Anyway, let's pretend I'm perfectly fine.  In a sense, I am perfectly fine because as Popeye says, "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam,."  Some of the world's best philosophers are cartoon characters.



So even though I'm perfectly fine, in a metaphysical sense totally perfect even -- because we're all filled with the loving energy of the universe and so we can be nothing less than perfect energetic beings.  We are stardust; We are golden et cetera - Despite all the love and light in the Land of Namaste, my head was spinning on Friday night after crossing swords with The Man from San Antone.

Years ago, when I first met The Man, I was so overwhelmed and depressed by my life situation that I felt like I was being washed away by a flooding river. Then I met The Man in a creative writing class at The University of Texas at Austin where I was apparently working on my MRS degree.  The class was taught by a poet named Albert Goldbarth, whom I later learned was marginally famous.  He called us all by our last names, and to this day I still call The Man by his last name.  I can't use that name in this venue, however, because his whole family is marginally famous, but in most ways, that's irrelevant anyway.  The point is that once I stopped giving The Man a hard time for being a rich douche bag, I started seeing his many fine qualities, and so I reached out of that flooding river and grabbed his hand.

We were both damaged and in despair - as damaged, despairing 20 year olds can be -- but in each other we found an understanding, loyal friend.  We were truly partners, and I suppose I've been trying to replicate that with someone for decades.  The Man held out against his family's machinations for years, but when they arranged for him to have a job with a state senator (who was later convicted for misappropriation of funds or bribery or both), The Man gave up his job as a bartender at a lovely little marina dive on Lake Travis, put on a suit and started working the room at The Quorum Club.  I'm not even sure The Quorum Club still exists, but it's where I learned how to run up a thousand dollar tab in one sitting. This was back when I looked like Daisy Duke


I'd post a photo of The Man back then except the photos are in storage with the rest of my treasures. There are whole pages devoted to him in albums with acid free paper -  one of him with the 944 Turbo Porche he leased with his allowance, and a few on the beach in Jamaica when we were staying in the same little villa the Kennedys had used at a resort called Half Moon Bay.  I was afraid I wasn't allowed to swim in the pool.  By that time, though, The Man was fully on the road to leaving his life in Austin behind and joining the family business.  I could have come with him, but I didn't want to turn into his mom.  She wandered around her big, beautiful house all alone all the time, drinking Beaujolais Nouveau until she fell into bed for a nap.  Then she did it again for dinner - and she was usually still alone.  It was a nice house.  It was featured in Architectural Digest and everything.  But I didn't want to be her.

Last Friday night, The Man was a composite character of his dad and his brothers.  It was an exceedingly sad sight.  But now that I've had a few days to process the whole experience, I've realized that he not only sought me out, but he opened up to me in a way he probably hasn't opened up to anyone in practically forever. It turns out that he sustained a serious injury a couple of years ago and had to spend four months in bed.  He didn't stay off his feet, though.  He revealed to me that he was such a bullheaded dope that in order to prove he could take care of himself by his own damn self, he got from his upstairs bedroom to the downstairs kitchen in his swinging bachelor pad by bouncing down the spiral staircase on his butt.  I'd like to see a photo of that in Architectural Digest.

Apparently, this injury occurred a couple of months after I had sent him the text that said, paraphrase:  You're dead to me, and you owe me money.  He was pissed about that - but really, he had promised me not a month earlier that when I left him a message about something, he'd get back to me in a timely manner even if it wasn't an emergency.  I sent him a text inviting him to join me in Austin because there was a party - and it was practically Cotillion Weekend.
*Note* The Man and I were originally supposed to get married on April Fools' Day, 1982.  The instant we set the date, I went out and got several bridal magazines.  The Man and I proceeded to fight with blazing intensity for two weeks.  That's when I knew I didn't want to get married at all.  I wanted a party and a new dress - so we started having an annual Bluebonnet Cotillion which was basically an LSD driven vortex of celebratory splendor.  We had one for four years before he moved to San Antonio for Law School and I moved in with my parents - who lived in St. Louis at the time - and went on to become the educator I am today.  I still have that engagement ring.
Anyway, The Man didn't respond to my text within 24 hours - not even to say he was swamped and would call me later.  So that was the end of that, and I sent the text saying he was dead to me and owed me money.

That's why I was surprised to find him so attentive during the hurricane a couple of weeks ago.  All of a sudden The Man was leaving me texts to say he'd left me a voice mail.  And the next thing you know, he's ditching Miss November to meet me for drinks at Cafe Luxembourg.  No wonder my little head was spinning.

In any case, I have begun to suspect The Man came to a realization of sorts while he was bouncing down that spiral staircase on his ass.  An epiphany, if you will - and now he's trying to find a part of himself that is so thoroughly defended by a custom made suit that I may be the only person in the world who can even see that part of him anymore.

It's funny that he'd turn up just as I'm fixing to move into my new home - and when I've been working steadily for months now on the Renovation Project which is all about restoring my own energy to its original, loving, childlike intensity.

Anyway - I invited The Man for Christmas.  I'm not sure how it will all turn out, but it will be fun, no matter what happens.  I'm declaring that to be Thing of Beauty Number #62-101 (Exploring Beauty, a challenge from realia)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Living in the Fire

I'm still fragile.  I was out last night with The Man from San Antone, and he would say I'm about as fragile as a samurai sword, but if you ask me, I'm still fragile.  In many ways, it was like breaking up with him all over again because the same issue is wedged between us.

In an individual, microcosmic sort of way, The Man from San Antone provides insight into what happens when a person abandons his authentic self to become who his family wants him to be.  On a macro level, it was more like seeing what happens when a person enters the land of wealth and power with good intentions, only to become as fucked up as everybody else in that world while he's trying to do a little good for a handful of people.  All that moral ambiguity and compromise has a way of confusing an issue - so that killing little Pakistani kids with drones is justified simply because you happen to be representing a client whose parents were in seats 5A and 5B on one of the planes that flew into the World Trade Center.

But that's what happens when somebody is convinced you have to work within the system.  Although The Man is not nearly as obnoxious as Chris Matthews, he clearly shared Matthews' opinion that anyone who voted for a third party candidate is an idiot.  We're living under this system ergo it is impractical to play by any other rules.  I refused to discuss my choice to vote Green with him for a while, but when he told me that he was going to the inauguration, I couldn't help saying something about shooting the drones his own self.

The Man from San Antone really does want to make the world a better place - it's just that he is so surrounded by cheaters and liars that he has to become one to function at work. I suppose he's a liar in his personal life too since he was up here with a woman and told her he had to go to a meeting when he ditched her to see me. While I can see how it would be unnecessarily complicated to explain to a new female that he wanted to meet his college girl friend for drinks, I still hate it when a man tells a woman that I'm a client meeting.  Those shit heads on Ashley Madison did that all the time - but at least The Man didn't tell me to shush while he called her from the bar and pretended to be delayed.  I'm pretty sure those married men from Ashley Madison got a hard on simply from calling their wives while they were out with another woman.  I'm not sure The Man can get a hard on from anything except money and power.

In any case, I did the right thing when I walked away from all that years ago because I could see then and I could see now that there was no room for a preschool teacher in all that foolishness.  He'll be up here a lot for the next year or two because he's representing some people in New Jersey whose homes were destroyed in the hurricane - which for some reason has to be called a super storm so that they don't have to pay an exorbitant deductible.  They're all being royally screwed by a crooked insurance company based in Texas.  It really is a good thing that the people he's representing have an advocate like The Man who has a lot of experience dealing with crooked corporations and who really does want to make sure they are treated fairly.

It's just that The Man thinks money leads to healing when it's really just compensation.  Granted, a person has more time to heal when s/he's not worried about finances, but it's not Justice anymore than killing Osama bin Laden was Justice.  It was vengeance (assuming he hadn't been dead for years and the US perpetrated another big, fat propaganda farce staring Special Ops - which some people believe is what really happened since no soldiers witnessed the burial at sea, but I digress).

Lots of people think vengeance and justice are the same thing.  I'm not so sure there is such a thing as justice in this life, except for poetic justice sometimes.  But I know there is such a thing as Love, and there's no room for Love in the world The Man from San Antone has chosen for his own.  It's really hard to love someone who is so tightly closed and defended that he can't even imagine love is real.  Money, power and influence is real, and that's what leads to compensation that masquerades as justice.  The Man occasionally takes on a police brutality case in San Antonio, and he really does secure compensation for the victim or the family.  I suppose the money makes it better on some level, and certainly it makes The Man feel like a hero and a savior to that family.  But to me, he's taking on those cases in much the same way as he said Hail Marys back in the day when his father took a priest along on vacations so that the priest could absolve The Man and his brothers from all the guilt they incurred with the local ladies before the plane took off.  Kind of like in MacBeth - if you kill a sinner when he's praying, he won't go to hell.

I didn't tell The Man that last night, though. I did tell him that I had noticed he only had time for me if I was in a jam, and after months and months of unacknowledged texts or calls when everything was fine, I realized he cared more about being somebody's Savior than he did about being a friend. Who knows if I'll ever see him again.

From the experience last night, I was able to see how Notta Goodman reminded me of The Man in some key ways.  First, because both are tightly closed and defended against any emotional involvement and second, they both use people for a particular purpose and then put them back in their pigeon hole until they want a small dose of that person that again.  I'm pretty sure the whole detached intellectualizing thing was so familiar to me when I met Notta Goodman that I felt immediately comfortable - and at the time it had been so long since I'd talked to The Man that I was seeing the relationship through a rosy haze of nostalgia.

I imagine lots of lawyers are detached and intellectualize their feelings until they have no feelings at all. I did it for years and years myself because of my own fears and issues with intimacy.  For all his mishigas, however, Buzz Kill wasn't exactly like that.  He had his own issues with intimacy, too, but from the first time I met Buzz Kill it was clear he wanted nothing from me but love and acceptance.  I had already told The Man I wasn't going to marry him after all by the time I met Buzz Kill, but when I finally encountered somebody who was open to Love, I left The Man and married Buzz Kill.  Actually, I left The Man, my home and all my friends and family to move to New York and build a life with Buzz Kill.  It was a bold move at the time, but it was the right one.

I suspect there's another man out there who is open to Love - not in a Hallmark Card, adolescent romance sort of way, but more like feeling the life force of the whole universe so that his authentic self expands in a loving, creative way to everyone and everything around him.  I don't know if that's really true or not, but last night I decided to write an say "hello."  He lives in the woods a few hours from here.  I've been dodging Big, Bad Wolves like Little Red Riding Hood for so long that I would be glad to finally find a kindly woodsman.

Naturally, that reminds me of a song.  We sing this song with the kids at school, and I've come to the conclusion that it's a good way to live:




Do you know who I am
Do I know who you are
See we one another clearly
Do we know who we are
Oh, oh so is life
Abatiwaha, so is life
Oh, oh so is life
Abatiwaha, so is life

Water make the river, river wash the mountain
Fire make the sunlight, turn the world around

Heart is of the river, body is the mountain
Spirit is the sunlight, turn the world around

We are of the spirit, truly of the spirit
Only can the spirit turn the world around



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Grace and Thanksgiving

I'm a little fragile today.  Yesterday, I was a little fragile too.  Next week, I will have been between apartments for six full months.  As tricky as that has been sometimes, I'm glad to know that I'm the kind of person people like having around.  It's nice to fit in so completely to somebody else's home that they miss having you around when you're gone.  At least, that's what Gigi said, and it feels like that here at Diane's too especially now that her cat is starting to cozy up to me.  There will be ten people here for Thanksgiving today, including me and Velvet.  That means Velvet and I are now official part of the extended family which is humbling and a blessing.

Before I started floating, I was pretty sure that I never wanted to live with another person again as long as I live - except Velvet, of course, but I've come to see that I kind of like living with a good friend.  Buzz Kill and I were good friends for a while, and I liked living with him then.  Once Velvet got beyond the lazy-assed, disrespectful High School Senior year, living with him became a pleasure most days.  He and Cupcake are still playing house over at Buzz Kill's - and Buzz Kill is still gone all the time doing his own thing.  Velvet was supposed to go upstate with that side of his family, but he ditched them.  He said he wanted to be with me, but I know that those people are so uptight and judgmental that he's uncomfortable around them.  If they were any fun, he'd be up there causing a commotion right now. He'll be here for a while before he goes over to eat another Thanksgiving dinner with Cupcake's family.

Gigi is working for the fitness guru this Thanksgiving.  She started babysitting again once she lost her job this summer, and landed a nanny gig for some fitness guru with a shit ton of money.  So she's taking care of his kids in the afternoons and writing her thesis in the mornings.  It's worked out well for her, especially since one of her best friends needed a roommate about the time Gigi couldn't afford to live by herself anymore.  As it happens, she's just a few blocks from my new place, so we can get back to having dinner a couple of times a week once I finally move in.  She may even come over to do her laundry.

Unless, of course, she's got a date.  Gigi has been very involved in the dating scene ever since she signed up with HowAboutWe.com about six weeks ago.  Naturally, she convinced me to try it too.  I'm glad I did even if I'm not having nearly as much fun with it as Gigi.  Actually, I'm not sure Gigi is having any fun with it either, but I haven't talked to her in a while because she's been so busy.

Here's Velvet and Gigi last Thanksgiving when we were all very thankful for Cafe Luxenbourg


Here's me trying to look sober:


I think we make a lovely little family.

Last Sunday, I went out with a fellow who turned out to be nearly 10 years older than his profile said which is not unusual in the land of computer dating.  That he was a crazy Vietnam vet was a little unusual.  He clearly had a lot going for him because he was smart and insightful.  After he got out of the Air Force, he went to college on the GI Bill and wound up in broadcast news for years and years. He's in the city trying to get work as an actor. I learned all this over coffee because I went out with him without asking any questions.  His email approach was fine, and by this time, I'm pretty good at spotting the red flags of asswholery in a dating profile.  This fellow wasn't an asshole at all. It looks more like he was so damaged by the Tet Offensive that he was never, ever the same and that over time, the damage grew so complete that it's all you can see anymore.

We were talking in the plaza at Lincoln Center when I was finally able to leave gracefully,  He grabbed me by the shoulders in a clear attempt to kiss me as if it was the big moment in his audition for the romantic lead, and I actually turned and ran away.  He said, "You're leaving?!" and I said "Yep!" and bolted down some stairs that lead to Juliard.
The stairs are to the right of the lawn on the roof of this restaurant. The movie theater is underneath the restaurant on  West 65th and Juliard is across the street.  As it happens, I was only a few blocks from home
After looking over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't followed, I called Woody right away since Woody knows all about crazy Vietnam vets. Woody knows all about a lot of things - kind of like Owl in Winnie the Pooh.

But that's not why I'm fragile. The other morning, I realized that there hasn't been a Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters for 18 months now. All in all, it's been a smooth transition - even though it's taken three times longer than I ever thought it would.  It's been smooth because I've had the support of dear friends who have shared their homes while I haven't had one of my own.  Floating between homes has been unsettling, for sure, but I've been able to look at myself differently because I haven't been surrounded by my self, if that makes any sense.  When you're in your own home, with all your books and treasures and other stuff - you're sort of insulated from your Self by the trappings of your outside life.  Without the things that physically or concretely make up your persona, all you can see is the you on the inside.

I suspect I'm fragile because I feel so great about everything in my life that it's alarming. It reminds of me of this little video narrated by Marianne Williamson that Max shared with me a long time ago. Thanksgiving seems like a good day to share it again:

  Some people get bent out of shape the minute they hear the word, "god," and given how much shit has been disturbed in the world because of God, it's a reasonable response.. Tripping Jesus, as I've come to know the narrator in A Course in Miracles, says that God is Love, and Love is inside all of us. That's it.

Real Jesus may have said the very same thing, but that message has been lost over the years. Plenty of people think that God is just in your head, and it seems to me that is the best place for God to be. That way, you remember Love. It's easy as pie to forget all about Love if you trap God in Church and the government, giving dominion over the planet to the military, the fossil fuel industry and corporate farmers with GMOs. Not to mention the Walton heirs and Wal-mart, where 6 people have the combined wealth of the lower 40 percent of the country.

It's a drag when the idea of Love gets all fucked up just because a bunch of patriarchal dick wads used God to bully their way to the top of the food chain and generally fuck up the planet. Even though those guys may say God gave them dominion, etc, God had nothing to do with it. Grandpa In the Sky may have had something to do with it - and he's just imaginary.  But that doesn't mean Love is imaginary.

With that in mind, I have to get up and face the world this morning.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Restoration (cont.)

I'm on my way up to the new apartment to meet an appraiser.  I have to get a little loan to cover the cost of the restoration.  Restoration is a beautiful thing, but it doesn't come cheap, so it's kind of like I'm restoring my bank account to a state that provides me with a sense of inner peace  Inner peace is the whole point of everything, if you ask me.

The restoration project in the apartment continues to provide an lovely metaphor for the restoration of my Self to whatever sort of perspective provides inner peace, joy and all that stuff I've been working on these past two years or so with A Course in Miracles.  I'm nearly done - and as it happens, I'll be finishing the Course at almost exactly the same time as all my stuff comes out of storage.  Another Restoration, when you think about it since my treasures will be restored to me.  Granny's Ashes, my tiara and my shot gun weathered the hurricane nicely although I still can't say exactly where they are.  I just know they're all safe in some warehouse in Queens.

When I first got the apartment, the wall behind the bath tub looked like this:


Then it looked like this:



Note that the faucets are really far to the right.  The shower head is up on that little wall which would have been built sometime in the middle of the last century whenever somebody decided it was time to install a shower.  I'm not sure why that end of the tub is squared-off when the other end is round, but that's just the way life is.


That funky looking cylinder is the bath tub stopper.  It's fixed now,  but the sink did not survive.  For the moment, it looks like this (only not blurry in real life).


I'm putting in a fancy new wall mounted sink with jazzy chrome everything. I'm happy to say that Eva at the contractor's office found the company who sells to Gracious Home - the high end hardware store.  Now I can get all this cool stuff wholesale.

The bath tub has been a bit of a challenge.  Because the drain is at the left end and the shower is on the right end, my head will be leaning back against the wall with the shower when I take a bubble bath.  That's not a big deal, but I didn't want the faucets knocking me in the nose when I was letting Calgon take me away.  Andy the Contractor and I talked about it, but when the plumber put in the faucets, he left them in the original location.

I therefore wrote a note:
"Is it possible to move this faucet as far to the left as it will go?"
It was a few days before the election, and I realized that I wished the whole country would move as far to the left as it would go.  I think the country actually IS as far to the left as it will go which is a crying fucking shame.  After the election, I experienced my first bout of  Hippies' Despair - a condition that I first noticed in my buddy Woody who came back from Vietnam and hit the streets for peace.  He wound up chucking tear gas grenades back at the cops and dragging injured friends to safety after the cops beat them up.  Lots and lots of people worked very hard back then, and thought they made some progress - then watched it all fall to shit under Ronald Reagan.  It keeps falling and falling, too.  So here we are today all wondering if Wall Street is going to pull us into war under the pretense of standing by our Israeli allies.  God knows every fool in Washington DC will support that bullshit - and really, there's not much difference between Israelis bombing little Palestinian kids and Obama droning little Pakistani kids.  Dead kids are dead kids, but as long as there's nobody droning this country, nobody at Walmart gives a shit.  They keep buying crap from China and griping that Americans don't have any jobs.  They don't even care how hard the Walmart workers are fucked just as long as they get the lowest prices possible.
There is much over which a Hippy can Despair.

Nevertheless, I instructed the contractors to place the bath tub faucet so that I can work it with my toe.  That was I won't have to put down my wine (or my reefer, as the case may be).

Now the wall looks like this:


Actually, the guys may have finished tiling the bathroom over the weekend. I'm pretty sure that they need the work because of time lost during the hurricane, and more importantly, people whose homes were damaged need the guys to come work on their places.

With a little luck, Velvet and I will be moving in during the first week of December.  I had hoped to have our stuff out of storage before we had to pay for December, but I am getting used to the idea that I'm paying for December.  At the moment, the delivery service Ikea uses has fucked up and my kitchen cabinets are stuck on a truck somewhere in New Jersey.  Meanwhile, the superintendent of my building has flipped his shit over the plaster dust and called the EPA.  The super thinks the dust is contaminated even though Andy patiently explained a hundred times how that's impossible.  The EPA is coming Tuesday to analyse the dust.  Andy says, "Bring it on."

Personally, I thought that tipping my super fifty bucks at the start of the job was supposed to prevent this sort of thing especially since I'd have tipped him another hundred at Christmas.  I probably still will tip him at Christmas - and who knows? Maybe they'll bring the kitchen on Tuesday while the EPA is there.  All I have to say about the whole thing is:  I love New York!  I really, truly do.  Velvet and I decided we're having Christmas at our house and everybody can come see us.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sunsets, Boats and Work

I've been spending much more time at my job than I have in years.  I never get to take naps anymore, except on the weekend which is actually a benefit since I'm not waking up ridiculously early all the time.  Maybe I'm more relaxed, especially since once the clocks Fell Back, the sun is coming through my window at about 3:30.  With this kind of light - I'm very happy to hang out in my classroom and pretend to be working.

This photo is kind of dark, but you can see the light hitting the masking tape sculpture that hangs on curtain rods over the tables.


That sunbeam lights up the whole room


Here's the light shining onto a piece of fabric we draped over a curtain rod and stuck behind the bookshelves.  It's kind of like a room divider between the kid zone and the grown up zone.


Here's the Grown Up zone.  The kids are allowed in there, of course, because the truth is that we couldn't keep them out.  Once my stuff is out of storage, my old desk top computer is moving to that little desk so I can crank up the stereo whether the kids are there or not.


That's my old sun hat on the rack in the corner.  The other teachers make fun of me when I wear it on the roof playground, but really - I'm not getting any more wrinkles if I can help it.  When my big computer is there, I may use it instead of the laptop since the laptop belongs to the school.  I don't feel comfortable blogging from work - so I restrict myself to facebook.  Here's the lap top:


And this is me:

Here's the view out the window from my work space - which is why I mostly don't work at all.  I just look out the window.  If you look closely, you can see the little boat.  I like watching the boats go by.



As it happens, the kids like looking at the boats, too


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Relating to Kermit

I'm over at Roundtree7 this morning, getting a little mouthy about politics.  The sad truth is that I try to avoid confrontation so completely that I won't even say some things on my own blog because I don't want anybody in real life to bring up certain topics next week, or even next month.  Or maybe it's because my personal feelings on this topic are so strong that I'm afraid I'll come off as attacking or judgmental.  I do wish that some of my friends in real life had come to the same conclusion - but what's important right now isn't really who is voting for whom nearly so much as the love we share for each other and for the larger community.  In the end, we're all facing the same challenges no matter how things turn out on Tuesday.

Ellsberg, Hedges and Me at Roundtree7.com



 Update: I've been told that John Cusack tweeted my post at Roundtree7 sometime Sunday and it got 600 hits that afternoon. Pretty amazing. I still feel a little lonely and a lot outnumbered, but I continue to believe that if this country is ever going to break the corporate stranglehold on the government - especially when it comes to fossil fuels and environmental preservation and protection, then some of us are going to have to start voting Green. It won't change anything tomorrow, but voting Green is kind of like taking the Road Less Traveled. It leads to a better place, even if it does take another 100 years to get there.

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