Sunday, June 28, 2009

In which Velvet runs into the Woods

Pretty soon, I'll be saying "good bye" to Velvet for some weeks. He'll be back for a little while in August, then Buzz Kill and I will take him up to college. It occurs to me that when I've gotten a bit panicked about Velvet going to college, it's because I've been looking at this milestone as if Velvet would be gone forever. Nothing will be the same in our little home - but that doesn't mean he's Gone Forever.

Granny the Ho is gone forever since she's graveyard dead. You have to say Good Bye when someone dies regardless of your views on an afterlife. Dead is dead, after all. Velvet is simply taking some of his shit and living in a dormitory a few hours away.

At the graduation ceremony on Friday, I watched Gigi looking at babies and little kids. The world around her went into soft focus, and you could practically hear, "I want one," hanging in the air. Women often get like that when they are about 30. The longing for a child becomes palpable. Interestingly, the longing never fills the air when they're looking at teenagers. When my mother caught me looking at a little kid with longing, she never failed to say, "They all grow up to be teenagers." Scared the hell out of me. I love the way my mother bursts glowing bubbles of dreams with stark practicality. She does that with all her children to this very day - which just goes to show that your relationship with your child may go through changes, but it's constant.

The dance of attachment and separation is a constant, too. For the moment, I'm not worried about separating from Velvet. We seem to be managing this process admirably. Spending half a day with Buzz Kill and his mother left me thankful to be divorced. I may be attached enough to Buzz Kill so that I don't want to say Good Bye Forever, but I'm cool with never seeing his mother again. Same with my assistant at my former job. I cordially despised both of them, though, and the relationships with them were something that I had to tolerate like an anal exam at an annual physical. Separation is a cause for celebration in those cases.

There are romantic relationships and friendships - attachments - that last forever despite time, distance and lifestyle changes. Then, there are relationships that are out of balance and eventually collapse. I've got holes in my life right now where some people used to be. I wished those friendships were different, but I didn't want them to end.

Some relationships do end, but not the one between me and Velvet.

The first summer he went to the Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp in Vermont, I was a bit desolate without him. After three weeks, his father and I went up for Parent Weekend with enough "contraband" -- Oreos, Skittles, Red Twizzlers, Beef Jerky, Nacho Flavored Doritos etc, etc, etc -- to give all the boys in his cabin a stomach ache. When it was time for the parents to go home, I thought Velvet would give me a giant hug and . . . Hell, I still don't know what I was expecting. What I got was a quick, "Bye, Mom," as he charged into the woods, running down the hill to find his friends.

I was stunned at how quickly he disappeared. But after a moment, I knew things were as they should be. Those woods were alive with shouts, laughter, learning. Sun on green leaves against a brilliant blue sky. He could dart off so easily because he knows with complete certainty that I'll not only be delighted to see him whenever he gets back; most likely, there will be cookies. That's a secure attachment.

The Road at the Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp in Vermont

He's dashing off to the woods again, sort of. At college, he'll be studying environmental sciences and engineering instead of survival skills, but within the first month of school, the freshman go on retreat in the Adirondacks with the kids in their major, so there will still be woods involved.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Remembering Farrah Fawcett on Velvet's Graduation Day

I can't decide what to wear to Velvet's graduation ceremony this morning.

It's not like I have a lot of things from which to choose. It's not even that I don't like my body - although that has something to do with it because I'd probably wear the dress I wore on my birthday last year if I didn't hate my arms so much. Another trouble with that dress is that you can kind of see straight through it, and I don't have a slip. I don't have a slip because I normally don't care if you can see straight through my skirts. I know I should care, but I don't. If I were going out in the evening with a man, I would wear it with a light silk shawl around my flubbery arms like I always do.

Since the event is in the morning and I'll be surrounded by former Parents' Association friends, and Vagina Dentata will be there, I'll probably wear the red dress I wore when I read at KGB as PENolan for the first time. My arms would still show, but I have shoes and a bag that work well with it and I'm pretty sure the color is still good for me even though my hair is a different color now than it was when I bought it a couple of years ago. My mother was there and said I looked like a floosie in a red dress - which is another point in it's favor since I don't look like a floosie at all. Unless you count Jessica Rabbit as a floosie - but my hair is more auburn now than blonde so I don't look like Jessica Rabbit anymore.

It's difficult to maintain blonde hair for years and years without frying the ends - just look at Stevie Nicks. I love Stevie Nicks. I even look a bit like Stevie Nicks in terms of body shape and coloring that's because we're both Welsh. Nevertheless, her ends are fried and frizzy unless she's had it blown out straight in which case it looks pretty good.

I'm not sure if Farrah Fawcett was Welsh, but she sure had great hair. She kept her well maintained blonde to the end, too, which is no easy task. Farrah Fawcett was from Corpus Christi, Texas. Her parents lived in Houston by the time she got famous on Charlie's Angels. We were dang proud of her, a nice girl from Texas, as we traipsed around the Houston Suburbs, most of us girls with our hair cut just like hers while we drank PBRs or Sloe Gin & Dr. Pepper. Sloe Gin & Dr. Pepper tasted just like Cherry Dr. Pepper from the Dairy Queen.

Now that Michael Jackson is dead too, people won't remember Farrah nearly as much as they should on account of how her hair influenced a generation. The other day, La Belette Rouge was wondering if someday after she died, Farrah would sit on top of her former apartment building in LA like an angel in a Wim Winder film. It would be nice to see a statue of Farrah looking like a golden angel. I have no clue what Michael Jackson meant to kids around the country when he was a star, but I sure know what Farrah Fawcett meant to girls in Texas back when I was in High School. I know because I was one:

This photo must have been taken prior to August 1978 since it's pre-blonde

Notice the PBR in the photo. I got Velvet some PBRs the other day up at Fairway. He's 18 and graduating from High School this very day. He hasn't registered for the selective service yet, but I imagine he will have to submit in order to get his drivers license this summer. He'll to register before fall, for sure, to receive his Federal Financial Aid for college. The drinking age may legally be 21, but I continue to believe that if the government says you can vote and get drafted, you should be able to drink a beer. As a rule, I refuse to buy said beer because that could be construed as contributing to the delinquincy of a minor - but it's a special occasion.

Velvet and his buddies drank them all last night after me and Dad went to bed. Then Velvet fell asleep on the couch and left the living room a mess again. I'd get bent out of shape except looking at that photo of myself when I was about Velvet's age reminds me that we were morons too.
As I contemplate what to wear this morning and fix my hair, I can't help but admit that in some ways, I'm still a moron.

But my hair looks nice, and I have a smile as big as Dallas sometimes - which is what we admired about Farrah.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Million Can March

Food banks have been suffering since before the election. A nun in San Francisco left a comment in a thread on Huffington asking everyone to remember food banks back in October.

Today, I discovered something on Drinking Liberally in New Milford. The Million Can March.
*note* Sometimes this cool little animated graphic of a marching can loads. Sometimes it doesn't.

From the folks at Les
Welcome to the Unruly Mob and the launching of our Million Can March! This all started with a vague notion that we should do something more than just have a good laugh at the next round of tea parties scheduled for July 4th. I thought that if tea baggers are so afraid of socialism, maybe we could show 'em socialism on a national scale. And what is more socialistic than sharing our food with others. Food banks across the nation are struggling with shortages as increasing demands meet head on with decreasing donations. But bloggers also reach across the nation - and the world - and we could make a real difference for our neighbors and make this a memorable 4th of July.

Tengrain over at Mock, Paper, Scissors designed participant badges to go in blogger's sidebars. You can even get a single can in a color to match your blog template. Tengrain says:

Here’s the deal: Reverand Phat over at Les Enragés and the unruly mob over there decided that they wanted to do something positive to counteract all the silliness of Wingnuttia, and to co-opt their event they are challenging the conservatives to participate in the food drive. Clever, n’est-ce pas?
Obviously, if I didn't think it weren't a very clever idea, I wouldn't have instantly jumped on board. More importantly, I've loaded up some bags to take up to my favorite local food pantry.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Families and Fathers' Day

Let the record show that on June 22, 2009, I officially became an unemployment statistic.

I have many reasons to be grateful, but first I'll be grateful for a computer and the internet so that I didn't have to stand in line all day in an uncomfortable, institutional office. I'm sure I would have met a number of interesting people, but it would still have been tedious.

More importantly, I am grateful that I have the love and support of friends and family - in addition to alimony, child support as well as some thousands due in back alimony so that the wolf will not be at the door.

I'm one of the lucky unemployed people with resources, but if the tightness in my chest directly under my throat is any indication, this unemployment thing is alarming. I feel like I need to run to the George Washington Bridge and back, screaming all the way.

It beats the hell out of going to work at my old job. I was terminally unhappy there.

I'm also grateful that our little family unit has a clear definition now. Buzz Kill thrives in crisis situations. That's probably why he works so hard (unconsciously) to live in a state of constant crisis. He and Velvet will be back from visiting family on the Carolina Coast this evening. I remain grateful that he and I don't live together anymore because that man's anxiety disorder and obsessive/compulsive, passive/aggressive tendencies make living with him exceedingly unpleasant - that's why we call him "Buzz Kill" after all - but he directs all that feverish energy into litigation like nothing I ever saw.

About six years ago, our GE dishwasher spontaneously combusted. It was the beginning of the end of the marriage because we'd been trapped in a dysfunctional spiral that resulted in us being uninsured. It was very pricey to live in a hotel all summer while the apartment got put back in order - and the renovation wasn't cheap either - but Buzz Kill got everyone from the Fire Commissioner to the Consumer Products Safety Commission involved and GE wound up paying for everything - including the Odawala smoothies I kept in the mini-fridge at the hotel.

Ergo: While many factors contributed to the divorce, the pertinent point at the moment is that Buzz Kill is relentlessly litigious. That comes in handy sometimes. Most recently, it came in handy to the tune of 60 Grand or so, when Vagina Dentata had been drinking Grey Goose Maritinis with one of her fashionista buddies and walked into a delivery truck when she was looking for a taxi on Third Avenue. The driver of the vehicle was under the impression that he had hit her, never realizing that Vagina Dentata fully believes traffic should stop for anyone in fabulous headgear and stepped right in front of him. I may have the amount wrong and it wasn't 60 Grand - that might have been from the time she tripped in a pot whole. On both occasions, no one at the emergency room said anything about her blood alcohol level - if they even checked. Buzz Kill certainly knows better than to ask anyone to check her blood alcohol level when there's been an accident.

Dick Cheney's friends at that quail shoot knew better than to let anyone test his blood for alcohol, too.

So we are, again, a family. If I hadn't been fired, we wouldn't have wound up in a crisis. And if we weren't in a crisis, we wouldn't have found our way to a new definition of an accepting, goofy, divorced family. We can stand together cordially next week, proudly celebrating Velvet's graduation. We can even get him installed in the dormitory without killing each other. I'm hugely grateful that this crisis is merely about a dumb job instead of somebody's health. Looking at it in that context, this situation is not a crisis at all. It's just another pain in the ass.

My dad and I were talking yesterday morning - not because it was father's day but because we've talked on Sunday mornings ever since 1978 when I was attending The University of Texas at Austin. We were discussing the situation with my former employer and the blog, and I'm sorry to say he did not seem convinced that I have learned my lesson. Or perhaps he's not so sure what lesson I have learned.

I'm grateful that I still have my father. He's going to be here next week for Velvet's graduation and he's staying through to go with me to the mediation regarding the fee dispute with my divorce attorney. As it happens, I just scheduled a very promising job interview and dad will be here for that, too. My life has always had a way of falling into place as soon as my dad comes to visit. Having a dad like that is a blessing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rain on a Tin Roof

There's an apartment building going up next door. Lots of girders, cranes and stuff. In some ways, it sucks, but right now there are floors and floors of bare, corrugated steel. The falling rain lands on that steel, and when I'm snuggled under my lace sheets and quilt, it's easy to imagine being out in the country listening to rain on a tin roof.

It's been pouring rain all springtime here in New York City. All over the country, apparently, and unseasonably cool. Someone told me years ago that the seasons blending together was a sign of Armageddon. Maybe so - but every now and then, I like to have rain washing over my face and dripping from my hair.

It's summer solstice today and new moon tomorrow. Time to let go of old BS to walk fresh into the new season. Maybe Armageddon is around the corner, but for the moment things are getting better by the minute in my happy, little world.

And hopefully, things will be better soon for the people of Iran, and for a dear friend whose family lost a brother/uncle/son last week. He died of a heart attack at 41.

It's a good thing I found my own Light over the winter (Stonerdates 12.27.08; 01.01.09) Having that light makes it a little easier to face uncertainty with confidence and gratitude. I suspect it's that Grace thing, again. I still don't know exactly what Grace is, but I'm glad it's here early on a rainy, summer morning.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Soul is Free and May Have a Law Suit

Although I'm in a bit of a crisis at the moment, having become another unemployment statistic in America, it looks like life is better on all fronts. Except financially, of course, but I'm accustomed to teetering on the edge of financial ruin.

It's a long, convoluted tale - much of which has been deleted on account of the blog spies - and this very blog was mentioned as one of the reasons for my termination. It is an illustration of my inability to maintain proper boundaries. Maybe if I had allowed a quart of melted wax to ignite on a hot plate endangering the safety of my students, I would have gotten off with a warning like my former fennel seed chewing assistant. I have been fired and allowing a student teacher to eat potato chips in the classroom was on the list of my transgressions.

Although I've taken the precaution of adding a new feature to the blog - toolator the ip address blocker - I know very well that any of the blogstalkers could simply walk to a different computer and reappear at any moment. Fortunately, some of them were my advocates and are protesting my termination. If my lawyer were here to advise me, he'd tell me to STFU. He's either on the golf course or running from the law himself - you never know with the Man from San Antone.

I love the Man from San Antone. He's like a cross between Matt Dillon, Charlie Wilson, Dr. Gonzo (Hunter S. Thompson's 300 lb Samoan attorney), and Hoss Cartwright from Bonanza:

The nicest thing to have happened so far is the confirmation of my belief that Buzz Kill, Velvet and I remain a family despite the divorce. For months, the issues that have erupted with Velvet going off to college have swirled around the concept of family. According to Velvet, I have been extremely naive to believe a divorced family is still a family.

But one thing is true as the wind and rain -- in a crisis, families stick together. We may want to bust each other in the head when life is good, but in Times of Trouble families stick together. My mother and Buzz Kill agree that a wrongful termination suit is in order. Buzz Kill is chomping at the bit to get the process started next week when he and Velvet get back from the beach in North Carolina. The problem with that plan is that I doubt there's any way Buzz Kill can lead this charge without finding out about the blog. And since the blog was included on the list of reasons why I was terminated, as soon as Buzz Kill sees the documents regarding this event (which I requested via certified mail yesterday), he will know all about the blog.

If he doesn't already.

As it happens this is not the first time I have been asked to leave a job when I already had one foot out the door. And as it happens, back then something I had written was a problem too.

Cat's Cradle tells us that Bokonists know that things happen as they are meant to happen. That's why when a Bokonist says, "As it happens," everyone knows that is how events were supposed to unfold. It doesn't mean there is predestination or fate - it's more like you can't stop a train wreck, I suppose.

Twenty years ago around the end of May, I was a secretary at a major Public Relations firm and detested one of the account executives. He was a short man in a necktie who said I was as smart as I was beautiful which might not have bothered me if (a) it wasn't so sexist and (b) he wasn't recently married but if he were single it might have bothered me more. Either way he was a pompous ass. I had already arranged for a better job at a different PR firm that would start when Buzz Kill and I got back from our honeymoon, so I had already given two weeks' notice, but I was fretting over something the pompous ass had done. A well meaning individual suggested I write a pretend letter to him in order to vent my spleen then rip up the letter.

Thanks to my father's gift of frequent flyer miles, Buzz Kill and I spent nearly a month in South East Asia: Bali, Singapore, Phuket and Bangkok with overnights in Tokyo and LA along the way. We watched the sun set into the Indian Ocean in Uluwatu. We had lunch in a fishing village on stilts over Phang Nga Bay. Two of the hotels we stayed at and a restaurant where we had dinner were on an episode of Life Styles of the Rich and Famous. Buzz Kill was very adept at traveling and back in those days, the dollar went a very long way overseas.

I took the advice and wrote the Pompous Account Executive a letter explaining that I refused to be bossed around by a dip shit and listed my reasons for believing him to be a dip shit in the first place. The words Douchebag and Buttroy had not been introduced to my vocabulary twenty years ago, or I'd have used them. Like most offices, we were trapped in cubicles and shared a common printer. I printed out the missive, but in a distinctly Freudian moment, forgot all about the inflammatory document. One of my colleagues thoughtfully placed it in plain view on the top of the printer where it remained for a couple of hours. The IT Tech, who worked in the cube right next to the mainframe and printer, told me that people were cracking up all afternoon.

The next day was my last day.
I'm still not sorry about that.
And I'm not sorry about this episode either.

Granted, I made some mistakes - especially about the blog but maybe they didn't hear about it from the coworker I foolishly told. For all I know, one of my PENolan cards fell out of my handbag onto the closet floor where the fennel breathing dragon discovered it, thus sealing my fate.

I may be unemployed, but my soul is no longer being crushed. My little family may be a divorced family, but we're still a family. I have the love and support of friends and colleagues from coast to coast - and the parent of one of my erstwhile students slipped me a hundred bucks. I promptly frittered it away (twice) on mani/pedi/eyebrow wax and massage at the nail salon, two new tops and a lovely lunch with Gigi that included chardonnay and creme brulee, and a diverting English Country House mystery romance by one of my all time favorite writers, Georgette Heyer.

I was already in the process of getting a new job anyway, and my dad arrives on Thursday for Velvet's graduation. Dad's going with me next week to the mediation about the fee dispute with my divorce attorney.

I don't need my dad to get me out of this, but I sure am glad he'll be here soon.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Velvet and his Big Sister the Pole Dancer

I could have sworn I grounded Velvet from having friends over this weekend, but somehow they appeared - albeit in much smaller numbers since a few were out of town. And he didn't go out, either, which was unusual except that it was raining. Velvet doesn't like to go downtown in the rain. He could be sticking close to home because we've had so dang much excitement the last couple of weeks that he's just worn out, but I suspect it has something to do with Cupcake.

Cupcake's mother had called a while back to invite Velvet to Graduation at the Convent which was this past Tuesday. Velvet was flattered and gloating, but it turned out that Cupcake knew nothing about her mother's phone call. She told Velvet not to come because it would be a big, fat drag and nobody but the Convent Girls and a few poor saps would be there. She was right, of course. Turns out the event was four hours long and included a mass. That did not stop her mother from calling twice on Tuesday to convince Velvet to attend.

Clearly, the woman has issues. Cupcake was mortified and has been avoiding Velvet which has confused the poor boy given the fine time they had on Prom night. That's the night a tipsy Velvet called from a hotel to say he, Cupcake and some other kids would be staying there that night.

At least he called.

It must have been very glamorous to stay out all night - in a suite paid for by somebody's dad - then go to brunch and walk a lovely girl home nearly three miles up Madison Avenue in your evening attire. He got home around 3:00 in the afternoon.

I'm not pissed about that anymore - and Velvet knows it - but he's still grounded from smoking weed in the house on general principle. He has gone over to a friend's place now with the crew which includes Cupcake. This particular friend has diplomatic immunity on account of his dad's job. A few of Velvet's friends fall into that category. It's my belief that they can smoke weed where at least one of them has diplomatic immunity.

As JD pointed out the other day, Velvet's antics are not dissimilar to many an 18 year old in generations past. True enough. Actually, my friends were substantially worse, and nobody had diplomatic immunity.

Long ago in a suburb far, far away, two of the guys in our gang jumped the fence into a cow pasture to gather psilocybin mushrooms. That was an easy trick out by the blimp base north of Houston in a land called Spring. They then proceeded to bake the mushrooms into a pizza before one of them's mother's very eyes.

Here is the blimp base a few years after The Pizza Incident

Velvet was still trying to talk his way out of being grounded on Friday night when he went out to dinner with Gigi and me. Occasionally, we like to say that if I had scandalized our Texas neighborhood by coming home from college with a black baby, Gigi might have been that baby. Velvet loves her through and through, and they refer to each other as brother and sister. Fortunately, Gigi never calls me "mom" or I'd have to snatch her bald.

Gigi stayed with us a lot before she moved back to New York last summer (Are These Your Panties? or What is it with Underwear in This House? Stonerdate 10.15.08). She also happens to be a pole dancer. Not a professional pole dancer - but an accomplished pole dancer nevertheless. As it happens, Gigi's thesis for the Masters in Psychology had to do with Women's Sexuality, and her research focused on pole dancing. I forget why - but she did an outstanding job with it and was invited to present the paper somewhere prestigious. To my knowledge, she did not interview any exotic dancers (at least not in New York. She could have spent plenty of time in strip clubs in Chicago for all I know). These days, some gyms offer pole dancing as an exercise alternative. She took a class several times a week, and talked to the girlfriends she made at the gym.

Velvet likes the idea of being semi-related to a pole dancer. He thinks she's completely hot, and given the way men turn stupid in her presence, I suppose she is. She looks a lot like Angelina Jolie, especially when she's spent an extended period of time under the hair dryer in what, for many black women, is a weekly ritual. Gigi is lighter skinned than me, but as she has explained clearly Black is a Race, not a Color.

Gigi's hair dryer is like this one only pink

At dinner, Gigi said she thinks I should write a Shiksa's Guide to Dating Jews since I seem to find myself involved with Jewish men every time I turn around. I categorically refused because it can only lead to trouble. Velvet thinks I should do it because even though it might be trouble for me, it would be fun for everyone else to watch.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Grounding Velvet

I am in the process of reasserting my parental authority.

Grounding Velvet from perpetrating any 420s in this house seemed like a sensible place to begin. And no friends over here this weekend either - especially not Cupcake since she travels with a gaggle of girls. He can go out if he wants to, but he has to abide by a curfew. I maintain that 2:00am is a reasonable curfew on weekends on account of that's when the bars close in Texas.

He thinks he can charm me out of my resolve, but I reminded him of the time I took him down to the local precinct when he was almost five and asked the desk sergeant to show him where they put the folks who don't listen to their mothers. She was delighted to oblige. She showed him the shackles the cops lock onto the ankles of the people who have to sit on the bench and the holding cell. He still remembers it vividly. Nevertheless, it might be time for another visit since he believes he can out argue me any day. He laughed, shook his ass at me and declared he was a superhero. I had to kick his ass and call him a baboon.

I have told him that I'm mightily provoked, and as much as I love him and all that, there's no telling what I'll do now that he's driving me crazy. He has admitted that he's been driving me crazy on purpose in retaliation for me throwing him out - which is how he insists on referring to my sending him to his father. Except that the incident on Monday where he left the living room looking like an MTV movie set -- that wasn't on purpose. Velvet continues to call that foolishness an unfortunately timed oversight because he really meant to be respectful. He and his friends were in such a hurry to get to see Up in 3D that he forgot to clean up those empty bags of potato chips, dirty glasses and sundry paraphernalia. I could only respond that there's a reason why they call it Dope.

He's actually making an effort, however. He's remembered to put a fresh liner in the trashcan after he takes out the trash, and he even made his own lemonade.
We'll be going around and around about this until the session Velvet, Buzz Kill and I are having with Velvet's therapist on Monday. Fortunately, he is already scheduled tomorrow and Sunday night with his father - although I'm anticipating that he's going to want to be home on Sunday night because the first episode of the new season of True Blood is on the TV.

It's a good thing that Velvet is spending six weeks this summer down in Texas doing hard labor at Mudgie's house. He's building a flagstone patio and will have to be working by 5:00am in order to get finished for the day before the heat gets brutal. Then he has to replace a bunch of tile and a whole list of other things she can't do for herself anymore since she's 70 and my dad is working full time again. And frankly, ever since Dad fell off the ladder taking down plywood from the upstairs windows after Rita, there are plenty of things he shouldn't be doing either (Pink Thong Mystery Solved and An Epiphany about Being Nice, Stonerdate 10.25.08).
It's not the hard labor I'm eagerly anticipating. Velvet worked plenty hard when he was up at the Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp. Not only did he tend the farm, build a chicken coop, maintain trails and chop firewood - he had to clear beaver dams from a neighboring state park. All that physical activity is how he started getting so Crazy Ripped.

He has no idea of what it's like to spend multiple weeks with someone who is so negative that her job could be cutting the balls off the Dog of Life. She's mellowed out a lot since I was a kid, but she's still a double barrelled bitch. And although my dad is an easy going fellow who likes few things as much as his share in the season tickets to The Astros in the club level - he has an ability to make someone feel like a disappointment that combines the skills of Andy Griffith, John Walton and Jimmy Carter. Throw in some Clint Eastwood and Matt Dillon, and that's my dad. You don't want to disappoint my father.
Six weeks with them ought to do the boy some good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

An Evening Downtown with The Nervous Breakdown

I'm not sure, but I may have made the world a better place last night.

It was down town, somewhere by Union Square, where I had been to the successful launch of a new reading series from The Nervous Breakdown:

After the reading, several folks went down the street to a neighborhood bar which is where I met an attractive young fellow who I estimate was in his early thirties. The conversation was odd at first because he persisted in bringing up sex but we weren't flirting and he wanted me to guess which actors gay men told him he looked like. He was very concerned about what kind of sexuality he projected. He didn't want to seem gay, but he finally admitted he was even though he dates women.

I wound up giving him excellent fashion advice on how to show off his body without looking like a hustler. In the process, he kept flexing his muscles so that I could squeeze them and tell him how strong and buff he was.

People are weird. But it was a pleasant way to pass the time. The drinks were cheap enough so that I was pleasantly tipsy until KMW bought me one more drink. It's always that last drink that causes problems - never the second one. Fortunately, I'm proficient at drinking too much and stayed properly hydrated. I also had some supper before I went to bed, and when I woke up briefly in the night, I remembered to take Advil and drink more water. So no hangover. I hate hangovers.

But a few drinks and silly conversations in some bar downtown is good for a person who has been under stress. The current crisis has passed, and things with Velvet are pretty cozy again.

Today would have been Buzz Kill and my 20th wedding anniversary. That's enough to make a person jumpy. It's also one of life's little ironies that I was giving fashion advice to a fellow who is gay but didn't want to appear gay and still dates women when Buzz Kill's own sexuality has always been a bit of a mystery. The general consensus is that he's straight but is a bottom who needs to be dominated. Just look at his mother, Vagina Dentata:

She wore white to our wedding.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thought(s) for the Day

  1. Don't take adolescent behavior personally. Acting out is typical when the adolescent has reached a milestone such as High School Graduation and going away to college because of the Separation and Individuation process.
  2. It is always difficult to be the person on the receiving end of "nothing personal."

Many times, when women are trying to understand annoying male behaviors, they conclude said behaviors are "adolescent rebellion," and that the male is working out his shit with his mother on them. Ergo: The way I deal with Velvet's typical adolescent behavior -which I'm assured could be so much more hair raising that I should be thankful - will influence the future relationships he has with females. They'll say "he's working out his shit with his mother on me."

  1. I'm his mother, and I don't know how to respond with strength in a way that won't alienate him.
  2. If I permit and/or enable disrespectful behavior, women will blame me - rightly - for decades.

What's a poor mother to do?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

About that Shotgun

I have noticed that New Yorkers generally frown on firearms. Although I was insulted by Buzz Kill's insistence that I put the shotgun in my closet, I cannot deny that there is some justification for his nervous concern.

I declare for the record that the firing pin (or something like that) is solid busted. It needs cleaning and I'm not sure you could load said firearm even if you had ammunition - which I don't.

I might get pissed off enough, though, that I'd grab a few of the little ceramic sculptures Velvet made in grade school and take them out on the terrace, along with the 1912 Remington that has had my daddy's initials carved into the butt since 1949, toss the sculpture in the air like I was practicing soft ball and hit it with the butt of my shotgun over into the construction site across the street.

If I were in Texas, the neighbors wouldn't have much problem with somebody smashing pottery next door. After all, it's legal to shoot anyone in your own yard in Texas as long as you aren't related. Not so in New York City. It's pretty unusual to have guns in your apartment on the Upper West Side, and I know better than to be messing with the shotgun on the terrace especially if the Christmas lights are on.

Buzz Kill's just upset because he saw me doing arm curls with the shotgun when he was over yesterday to take pictures of Velvet going to the prom (Stonerdate 06.05.09) I will confess one of Velvet's friends said that me cocking that little shotgun was one of the scariest sights he'd even seen. That was the friend who said I could manage the Samuel L. Jackson role in Snakes on a Plane. Velvet and I were tossing the Remington in the air, catching it by the forestock and cocking it in one smooth motion.

Even though the shotgun is busted, it still makes that distinctive gun cocking noise. I suppose I can't blame Buzz Kill for thinking about me cocking that shotgun now that I'm in a bad mood about Velvet. I can't even pretend to be offended that someone would suggest that I am not always entirely responsible when I loose my temper.

I also come from a line of crazy Texan bitches. The phrase itself is worrisome: Crazy Texan Bitch with Shotgun. I try to be a lady about the whole thing - like Maureen O'Hara or Sophia Loren when they're angry - but once I get on a tear there's no telling which direction the wind will blow. I'm not sure why Granny the Ho cut bald spots into her second husbands hair one night when he was asleep. He'd done something that pissed her off. Or maybe that was the fourth husband. I know she chased the third one with a hammer. The third husband, a crooked CPA in Beaumont, Texas, is the one that reminds my mother of Buzz Kill.

In New York City, it's wise to avoid becoming a Post Headline. I suppose it's a good thing that my ex-husband (and a few other men besides) think I'm unpredictable enough when I'm pissed to cause some shit with my gun. But I really do have enough sense to stay out of the New York Post.

On a more serious note, the idea that my son is 18 years old and must register for the Selective Service makes the hair on my neck stand on end. Fooling around with your great-great grand Daddy's shotgun is one thing. Going to war is quite another. That's why there is a Quaker paper trail on Velvet stretching back eight years.

Peter Pan and The Point of View Gun

For a while yesterday, I thought the tide had turned and life as we know it had resumed. It all started when Velvet barfed on his way to school yesterday morning on the subway. He wasn't sick; he was sensitive.

Just before Velvet left his father's apartment - or more accurately, his grandmother Vagina Dentata's apartment where his father has been living since he stomped down Central Park West nearly three years ago - Velvet called to wish me happy birthday. It was a strained conversation because we've been on the outs since I sent Velvet to his father Wednesday night.

He was contrite. I was still hurt and disappointed. There was palpable distance and longing. Then he got on the subway and barfed. I was gratified because I believe it shows my son is a sensitive soul. There might be more picturesque ways of showing his sensitivity than hurling, but there's something oddly masculine about a young man who is so sensitive he barfs. No doubt he was also a bit nervous about the prom that night which may have also made him hurl.

Once he cleaned himself up from the morning's excitement, he stood in his boxers in front of the full length mirror and proceeded to admire his "crazy ripped" abdomen. He raised one arm and twisted, asking me if he looked like one of those Greek statues. He does, of course, because one of his electives at school is working out with a personal trainer four times per week. Once he returned from getting his hair cut, his self admiration reached heights that can only be equaled in Broadway show tunes. The one that sprang immediately to mind was Peter Pan's song, I've Got to Crow:

When I discover the cleverness of a remarkable me,
How can I hide it
When deep down inside it just tickles me so
That I've got to crow!

That's when Cupcake's mother called him on his cell to invite him to Cupcake's graduation next week. After they hung up, he proceeded to gloat in addition to admiring himself. He's spent some time with Cupcake and her family recently and has evidently won the parental seal of approval. High School graduation ceremonies are hot tickets here in the Big Apple.

Getting him ready for the prom that evening, I noticed that his vest needed to be tightened in the waist. I turned it inside out to discover that the vest cinched in the very same way as his little blue jeans when he was four years old - elastic lined with button holes so that you can secure the elastic at the correct length with a button.

It was all very charming. Buzz Kill even brought me flowers for my birthday.

At 2:38 this morning, everything fell to shit. The specific events are, in reality, typical teenage BS and, also in reality, probably no big deal. What they represent, however, is an ongoing trend in the superfluous nature of mothers at this time of life. A man needs a maid, of course. A cook too.

Recently, someone pointed out to me that women always think men are wrong no matter what - like that T-Shirt that reads:

This adage wouldn't be on a Tshirt if there weren't validity to the observation, but I have to wonder how many ways a man can negate a woman's thoughts and feelings so she is rendered irrelevant until some menial task needs to be performed - or of course, he needs an audience to applaud his singular excellence.

And I also have to wonder just how much of this behavior Velvet absorbed watching his father and me. The nature of our entire marriage is illustrated for me by the towel rack in our bathroom. For a couple of years, Buzz Kill got out of the shower every day and took up all the space on the towel bar so that his towel would dry completely. It made sense, of course, because no one likes a musty towel. The trouble is that he never noticed that there was no room for my towel in the bathroom anywhere. Sometimes I folded his in half so that mine could go next to it, also folded in half. Sometimes I hung mine on a door knob. Day in and day out, Buzz Kill never even noticed there was nowhere for my towel. He got out of the shower every morning and took up the entire rack as usual. After a year or so, I decided it was time to mention this oversight, but not before I had collapsed in sobs in the bathroom floor.

It was easy enough to install another towel bar. Some would say it was very silly of me. Entirely too sensitive. But when someone is your partner and is supposed to consider your needs, and that person takes up all the space for himself for years without even noticing - to me that says he's a butt head.

An item was introduced in the movie version of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy that was never in the books - but it was a good idea developed by Deep Thought for an intergalactic consortium of Angry Housewives, The Point of View Gun. Here's Trillian about to shoot Zaphod.

One hit and the other person suddenly understands your point of view. As I was facing a testosterone driven 18 year old Aries who thought he deserved a medal for taking his dirty dishes to the kitchen, I wished I had a Point of View gun because there is no breaking through that level of adolescent conviction.

I had been pissed off that he called me, drunk, at 2:38 to say he'd be staying with some kids in a hotel room in midtown. I would have let that go, though, since it was prom night and Cupcake likes him and all that. What got me was his righteous indignation that I was irrational enough to suggest that if he were old enough to get drunk and spend the night in a hotel room with a date, he was certainly old enough to earn his own spending money. I would, naturally, continue to give him lunch money - and I would pay him to do any work around the apartment I would hire someone else to do, such as paint the bathroom. I'd even pay him union scale - but there would be work involved. According to Velvet, there is no justification for such a reaction. My son is a man, and I am a crazy female all on my 50th birthday.

When my mother hears the edited version of this tale, I predict she responds with one of her favorite explanations of why life is the way it is: Eve ate the apple, honey.

Years ago, a friend sent me this poem.

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat,
"But Lord, they are too big for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.

You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt.

Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."

I am taking a stand. I'm still not exactly sure what form this stand is taking - but I'm taking it all the same. I feel so confused and alone that I'm ready to chuck it all and move home to Texas on the 4th of July - except that's impulsive, foolhardy and probably an ultimately destructive course of action.

Meanwhile, I've been calming myself by doing arm curls with my great granddaddy's 1912 Remington. Buzz Kill had the nerve to say I better put that gun in my closet because he's not convinced it's totally busted with no ammunition anyway and that people in my family are crazy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mercury Retrograde

Thank Heavens that Mercury has gone direct again.

I had forgotten that Mercury has been retrograde during these past few weeks. Intergalactic PMS - No wonder it took Whoopi Goldberg to straighten out the Space Time Continuum. This time things were so convoluted it took the powers of The Space Mammy to make things right. I say that with the great respect Mammies everywhere have always deserved.

Some people denigrated Areatha Franklin's Inaugural Party Hat as Mammified. As if Mammies weren't some of the most influential, powerful women ever to walk the planet - or the galaxy for that matter.

Faced with such determination to fight for what is Right and True, every now and then the Universe must comply which is how Whoopi straightened out the Space Time Continuum on Star Trek NG last night.

Even if the music of the spheres is back in tune, a quick look at current events in real life shows that, as usual, people are fucked up. Any way you look at it, a Christian extremist taking out a man while he's on the Church lawn and G. Gordon Liddy, of all people, making remarks about a Supreme Court Justice and PMS in the same sentence is just fucked up.
I wish Mercury coming out of retrograde would fix that.

I've been battling a low grade depression for a couple of weeks, but Susan Miller's Astrology Zone promises I'll be feeling better any minute because Geminis feel Mercury Retrograde more than most folks because we're ruled by the planet Mercury.

Unfortunately, I'm fairly certain Mercury Retrograde does not explain the recent discord between Velvet and me regarding his unswerving conviction that life is a nonstop Velvet centered fiesta.

He and Cupcake are going to the prom tomorrow night after all. I wish I were more enthusiastic about how cute he is and stuff, but I'm too annoyed by his insistence that it takes him four days to get around to vacuuming the taco chip crumbs off the living room floor on account of he's so busy. All he's been doing for days and days is partying with his buddies, and the worst part is he wouldn't have any money to party on if it weren't for his allowance. And who is to blame for that?

I need no Mammy to point out it's all my own fault. It would be delightful to blame this situation on Buzz Kill, but at most he's only partially responsible.

I'm told this sort of conflict is typical when it's time to start separating. Much easier to say Good-Bye to your college bound child when you're ready to bust him upside the head.

It's also coming up on the first anniversary of Granny the Ho's ascension into The Great Beyond. Naturally, I continue to have a soundtrack to boost my saggy spirits.
I think Joan Jett is 50 too.

Love Is All Around (Mary Tyler Moore TV Theme Cover) - Joan Jett

Monday, June 1, 2009

Curiouser and Curiouser

Star Trek Next Generation is on SciFi Network.

I got the cheapest DVD player at Best Buy, but we can't figure out how to make it work with our ancient TV. I didn't even know the TV was ancient. Velvet was well on the way to solving the mystery when friends arrived. Now the fiesta continues - but he's been a good son and checked with me prior to inviting kids over. More impressive, he arranged his plans so we could have dinner together. It's hard to lament the television status as long as there is some variation of Star Trek available.

As my happy little world spins around in the rabbit hole, I'm going to take comfort in the fact that Whoopi Goldberg straightened out the space time continuum. I have a feeling my personal space time continuum will get realigned this week when I have dinner with a dear old friend on Thursday. She and I rediscovered each other at the New York premier of Why We Wax. One of the men in the film is best friends with this amazing woman. She and I were big buddies before I got married, and she met Velvet when he was just a few days old. I'll call her Pineapple Head since that was our nickname for her back in the days when we were all secretaries at a major public relations firm. She had a weave of very long braids tied into a top knot that resembled pineapple fronds sprouting from the crown of her head. On her, it was all together charming.

We haven't seen each other in years and years - since the funeral of one of my all time favorite people who was Pineapple Head's best friend in the world. Our friend, who had her own Public Relations firm specializing in Rappers, died when she was 31 from a blood clot in her leg.

Her funeral was at a Baptist church in Newark. That day I saw some rappers sing gospel that could have blown the roof off the church. Then an old, old lady whose skin looked even darker in her white dress, white hat with netting and gleaming white shoes, sang "He's got His Eye on the Sparrow," tremendously off-key and filled with the bliss that goes along with making a joyful noise. I wished I could be a Church Lady that day. It has to be a great comfort to have that kind of faith.

Finding Pineapple Head now that my marriage to Buzz Kill is behind me and Velvet is on his way to college brings me back to the beginning of my life in New York. Hopefully coming full circle will nudge me back on the right path. Lately, the path has been a little twisted.