Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Family Court with Kellie

One of my very best friends in the world is moving to California tomorrow. We've been friends since 1993 when we were in the stay-at-home moms group. Then we worked together teaching arts & crafts classes to preschoolers at the local YMCA for years and years. I'll call her Kellie.

Kellie and I went through our divorces at the same time. Hers was much uglier than mine because her ex was (an is) a chronically unemployed substance abuser who repeatedly cheated on her. All this time, she's been the responsible one, working two jobs and keeping health insurance for herself and the twins.

This morning we went to family court together because he petitioned to get out of paying child support now that the kids are 18. The divorce stipulates that he pays until they graduate from college or turn 22. He didn't have the correct papers on hand so the judge told him he better keep paying as ordered until she can find time to fit him back into her schedule. Most likely the judge got pissed off when he told her that his petition didn't require supporting documentation since it "was not brain surgery." Another case of extreme arrogance leading to extreme stupidity - but I'm thinking that this man is both arrogant and stupid.

I expect his 32 year old girl friend will be disappointed to hear he's going to be paying child support to his kids for a few more years because she wants to have a baby with this 53 year old piece of work.

Plenty of divorced couples play out their anger with the money, but Kellie's ex seems genuinely stunned that he has any responsibilities at all. His wealthy parents have facilitated this impression with numerous cash infusions. In fact, his parents are now letting him live rent free in their three bedroom/three bath co-op apartment near Lincoln Center.

Buzz Kill, on the other hand, seems to improve with age. Money was one of our primary issues when we were married but for the last several months, we seem to have reached an equilibrium. My spousal and child support were scheduled to be reduced this August under the terms of the original divorce decree, but since he owes me (a lot) of money, he offered to pay some hundreds more per month than the stipulated amount until we finally sell the apartment. When I said we should draw up an addendum to the divorce ourselves and have it notarized, he thought that was a fine idea. We've been working very well together ever since I got fired. There must be something going on that I don't know about, but I don't care as long as the environment in my living room is harmonious.

Seeing the hurt and humiliation my dear friend experienced as a result of that adulterous bastard, I have to say that I think cyber sex is a brilliant alternative for someone who is hankering for variety. Many people may disagree, but to me, it's much better for someone who feels an itch to scratch it virtually via web cam with a random individual from a swingers site.

I've always subscribed to Clinton Rules when it comes to monogamy, however. Even before the Lewinsky incident, The Man from San Antone and I had a distinctly liberal arrangement in that area. Of course, back in those days, the worst thing that could happen as far as STDs went was herpes so we could afford to be more relaxed. Getting herpes is still a drag, though, and current statistics indicate that roughly 25% of adult New Yorkers have herpes.

I like to pass this kind of information on to Velvet when I can. It's important for a young man to know there are lots of skanky folks out there of all genders. Kellie has been making sure her kids know that if it turns out they are Gay, don't be afraid to let her know. I haven't approached the gay topic with Velvet since he was 14 or 15. We have so many openly Gay and Lesbian friends that sexual orientation has never been much of an issue.

Calling in drunk on prom night to say he was spending the night in a hotel with Cupcake was an issue. In less than one month, though, Velvet will be as comfortably installed in his dormitory as any college freshman can expect to be. I hear the girls in Syracuse are major cute.

I've had this song in my head for days:

I never thought of it in terms of your own child growing up, but it applies just as well. All is still right in my little world today, but saying good-bye to my friend has made me cry. At least we're all healthy and San Francisco is just a plane ride away. Anticipating saying good-bye to Velvet gets the tears going, too. I know everything is going to work out beautifully (barring unforeseen complications). I'm trying to surrender to the sadness while he's away so that I don't cause a scene in the dorm. And now that I think about it, riding back to the city together with Buzz Kill doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

God's in Her Heaven

Today when I went for a mammogram, I ran into Velvet's kindergarten teacher. We recognized each other immediately because a couple of years ago we were in a class on Developmental Variations. She's pursuing her PhD now and looks wonderful. We both got all excited talking about educational reform there in the mammogram waiting lounge. Health Care was, of course, a topic since she had recently been without insurance for a year and my insurance runs out on Friday. The same question applies to both health care and education: Why are we even debating this stuff when the entire system is inherently flawed? It's flawed for for the people it's supposed to be serving, anyway. Clearly somebody somewhere is making a bundle or we wouldn't be stuck in this situation.

She's started a project for her PhD in which I have enthusiastically agreed to participate although all I know is that it has something to do with using comic books to increase literacy levels among children identified as reading deficient. Frequently, children with reading issues are simply being taught in a manner inconsistent with their learning style. Introducing different methods addresses this inconsistency. Sometimes there are neurologically based issues, such as dyslexia, that interfere with decoding, but with a curriculum dedicated to student success on high stakes standardized tests, alternative teaching methods can be neglected (as are a broad range of subjects necessary to develop critical thinking skills, but that's another topic). Problematically high student:teacher ratios also interfere with appropriate instruction. She's got tons of research to do, and I find this sort of activity invigorating.

The exciting thing to me, though, was reconnecting with her in the first place. It's like when Pineapple Head and I ran into each other at the New York premier of a documentary. My new job falls into the category of reconnection, too. Sometimes going backward is the best way to move forward.

This is a trailer for said documentary. Why We Wax by Kimberly M. Wetherell and Amy Axelson. Available to purchase from She Shoots to Conquer. I'm in it.

**Note ** I don't know why so many women reference their vaginas when discussing waxing since nobody waxes her actual vagina. You wax all around the pubic area, but never inside the vagina - there's no hair inside.

Even though last year was a lot like being stuck in molasses, much was accomplished on a personal level. I phased off all my psychotropic medications which was rough going sometimes, but ultimately I have remained stable. Most importantly, Velvet and I have navigated successfully through the teenage years into new territory.

I'm delighted to have had very little to detract from Velvet's last year at home full time. And I'm delighted that some great people I knew in the meantime are coming back into my world now that he's off to college. Things feel ideally placed for me as I embark on the next phase of my life.

Velvet will get home from Texas on Sunday. Some of his buddies came over yesterday evening because one of them owed Velvet money. Velvet wants the cash the minute he gets home from the airport to facilitate some major plan with Cupcake. During the hour and a half they hung out, it occurred to me that there has been so much testosterone in my living room this past year that there was no need to import any other man into this home. These kids are handsome, charming, and discuss philosophy and current events with good humor. None of the aggressive debating to establish dominance that many men seem to think passes for conversation. I was surrounded by strapping young men, and we all agreed the world would be a better place if more people got high.

The best part is that I am the boss of it. Velvet thinks he's the boss, and I can see where he got the idea since I gave it to him - but I'm finally the boss of my living room. There is all kinds of trouble in the world, but as long as I have a home that is comfortable, well provisioned and filled with loving acceptance, that's about as good as it gets.

Reviewing the situation, some months ago I was examining the differences in my life since I was without a boyfriend for the first time since I was Sixteen. Liberality said this is exactly how it would be when a man shows up and wreaks havoc. If her analysis was correct, I hope -- Dang, I'm going to start sounding like one of rotten Disney princesses if this keeps up.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Light, Shadow & Internet Porn

The other day someone was looking for ShatAKing again (The Saga of the Wall Street Rockstar, Stonerdate 09.06.08). This individual has read the tale a few times over the past few months. I know because of the statcounter.

I suspect The Narcissist (Stonerdates 01.10.09 and 01.12.09) has been checking in consistently since St. Patrick's Day, but I may be misinterpreting the data. I've misinterpreted data before.
Even if it's not The Narcissist, this returning visitor uses the same internet service provider and browser as he did. Whenever this person appears, I wonder if it's The Narcissist and why he'd be looking at the blog so much when he's declared he is done with me.

In any case, The Narcissist's screen name popped into my head this week. Naturally, I googled it. I was not surprised to find several pages listing his activities on adult dating sites, dating forums, personal ads etc. I was surprised to find that he alleges he is 38 years old and calls himself an epicurean. He's 47 and has been known to live on Pop Tarts, for chrissakes.

I have enough experience of my own with adult dating sites to know that it's not unusual for people to live out a fantasy life on line. Some fellows, however, apparently adopt the persona of James Bond or Eric Clapton as if a brief fling can turn him into someone other than a miserable 45 or 53 year old man attempting to reconnect with the potential of youth. If he can convince a woman that he's who he wishes he were, then maybe he can convince himself he's someone he can like and respect. In these cases, NSA Sex (no strings attached) is probably crucial because once a partner starts to peel away the persona, that same old fart is waiting.

I like old farts, myself, and when he wasn't defended by his persona, The Narcissist was pretty endearing. Some would say that his vulnerable humanity was simulated in order to secure a supply source.

I'm not bent out of shape because someone I was sincerely attached to was cruising the internet in pursuit of a white gang bang for an ebony beauty, a huge clit to suck and a woman with a flaming red bush. People say all kinds of things when they think they are anonymous, and some famous Medieval Catholic said something along the lines of Porn being necessary so that humans could flush out their baser impulses and concentrate on their work. It might have been St. Thomas Aquinas.

Talking dirty in some chat room is something I can understand, much the same as I can understand that a recently separated man might need a woman to tell him he's great and help with his laundry. I could also understand that The Narcissist needed to remain free to recapture his mojo after the collapse of his marriage. He and I had an ongoing conversation over some months about my wanting a relationship while he couldn't deal with the obligations involved. The obligation to his almost ex-wife and children were all he could manage. I could understand and accept all that because I had my own emotional gestalt to worry about, and he fit in nicely to the sitcom of life over here at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters.

What I can't understand is why he took me to South Beach and told me my eyes looked like the ocean and came with me to Austin last summer if he was so opposed to being in a relationship that he built a wall between us and fortified it by chasing gang bangs with strangers. I call that selfishly stringing a woman along for a couple of years.

When I saw him back in January, he made a point of letting me know just how badly I treated him when he'd been nice enough to come to Austin. He conveniently forgot how disrespectful and hurtful he'd been while we were there. He's not the kind of person to accept any responsibility when something turns out badly, and I have learned that trying to point out his role in a situation is a waste of breath.

It's like Carolyn Myss explains in Sacred Contracts. Life sends you a teacher, and if you don't learn the lesson, it will send you another one who will be worse. What I learned from The Narcissist is that I was afraid to look at the hole in my soul. Like many people, I tried to fill the hole with a relationship - but others try to fill it with stuff, or alcohol or sex.

We need that hole, though, to let in the light. Once we find our own light, the hole in the soul is filled. Is it God or Grace, Consciousness or Acceptance? Who knows and who cares? I'm just grateful to have found it and found myself, finally outside of someone else's shadow.

The sad thing is that when a girl feels emotionally secure, she might go places with a man where he'd be shy to go by himself and I ain't talking about the altar. I learned that from Granny the Ho.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Man Who Always Makes Me Smile

"Naked Cowboy" runs for NYC Mayor
Tosses everything but hit hat - and his underwear - into the ring

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rejoice and Be Glad, but watch out for Red Necks

It's still Arsenic Hour in America, but here at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters, it's time to rejoice and be glad.

I have secured employment for the fall with full benefits.
Whew! There are many, many reasons to be glad about this job, but I'm keeping them all to myself since I've vowed to never mention work in this venue again. Suffice to say the crisis has passed and I can get down to the business of collecting unemployment and making the most of the rest of the summer.

Smoke 'em if you've got 'em.

Velvet returns at the beginning of August. He's still bored into a coma by life in the suburbs, but it's good for him to experience the sense of social isolation that goes along with that territory. It's the opposite in New York City because we have to interact with people whenever we get in the elevator to go out or go to the laundry room in the basement. You can't avoid your neighbors. Consequently, there are times when we are forced to make pleasant small talk whether we feel like it or not.

In the suburbs, a person could go for days without speaking to another soul even if you went to the grocery store and stuff. Velvet's not as bad off as that - but he has been couped up with old poops which has convinced him that The Rolling Stones got it right: What a drag it is getting old. Luckily for Velvet, he's out with the two old poops who live down the block working as a Gopher. The three of them are driving around Houston in a big, black pick up truck allegedly inspecting job sites for environmental integrity - but I suspect there's a lot of barbecue and beer involved.

One of these old poops is an excitable Libertarian who fully believed that the Houston ship channel would be bombed on July 4, 2008. I can't remember why that date was significant, but rumor had it that terrorists were supposed to blow up all the refineries. We can be sure the Zionists would have been behind it.
His wife was pissed that they had to dash up to their property in Arkansas - which I believe has an underground water source so they'll be safe from the mass hysteria that comes as a result of the current economic clusterfuck. He doesn't worry about Obama being black like the fellow who took Velvet to the gun show. Although The Libertarian worries about Zionists, he has Jewish relatives himself so he doesn't make sweeping Anti-Semitic generalizations like my mother's former Real Estate agent. Last time I was in Houston, I absolutely yelled at that woman when she declared that the Jewish entertainment moguls showed mixed race couples kissing on TV years ago because the Jews want to do away with all the white people. I had to shout her down because some levels of stupidity are so great that we have a moral responsibility to object to the statements and educate the moron if possible (usually not).

It's important that Velvet sees all these varieties of people since, growing up on the Upper West Side you can get the impression that everyone thinks as progressively as you do. I believe we were the only area of the country that voted solidly for Michael Dukasis in 1988. When Newt Gingrich came to power, I got a twitch in my eye that lasted for weeks. The doctor said that always happens on the West Side when Republicans are in charge.

With all this good news today, I'm clapping because I believe in fairies again. There's reason to believe this health care debacle will drag on til Christmas, but sooner or later, the red necks will get drunk and pissed off and start setting things on fire. Corporations and Lobbyists may be relying on red necks being dumb enough to buy the socialized medicine line - and red necks can be that stupid, for sure - but sooner or later, they'll get drunk and pissed off.

Some months ago, Slate ran a piece called, "Choctaw Bingo: A modest proposal for a new national anthem." According to Ron Rosenbaum, Choctaw Bingo, " . . . more truly represents the America of today: post-crash, pre-apocalypse, meth- and money-addicted, heading down the highway to self-destruction." My mother's neighbor The Libertarian is convinced that when this country starts going faster down the slope to Idocracy, all manner of white people will start drinking and shooting. That's why he's going off the grid in Arkansas.

Link to lyrics

My mom sent me this song a couple of years ago when Gayle the Hillbilly Hustler was gearing up for the Bloody Mary Juice Fast. When this song was on, Cousin Rhonda Gayle got her ass off the sofa and danced around the apartment wearing a big red tattered T-shirt that came to her knees with no underwear on at all. That outfit was nearly as troubling as those panties of hers, and it just goes to show you James McMurtry accurately captured the Red Neck Groove with Choctaw Bingo.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Arsenic Hour in America

I looked at my bank balance this morning and realized that filling my account is my personal responsibility. It may sound odd, coming from a fifty year old woman, that personal financial responsibility is a realization, a whole new concept, but facts are facts.

I face this day feeling gratitude to Buzz Kill. For all his mishigas, he's been a decent provider which is all he ever wanted to be. Now that I have felt the pressure myself, I can see how someone with anxiety disorder would be perpetually overwhelmed - especially since he's self-employed.

When a couple decides that one person will stay home with the children, that person becomes financially dependent on the breadwinner. My first career choice was Wife & Mother, so it was no surprise to Buzz Kill that I would be staying home with Velvet. When I went back to work, I worked part-time at a non-profit organization that gave me an excellent discount for on-site day care. I stayed there until I went to grad school. Once I got in grad school, I got a different part-time job. So I've always been contributing towards the family income as well as providing primary care for Velvet - which as anyone who knows anything about Velvet will acknowledge - is an exhausting, full time job.

Once Velvet started High School and I finished the MSEd, I went to work full time -with disastrous results, but I maintain that if they hadn't been so tacky, I wouldn't have said such awful things about them on the blog. I am 100% unrepentant, but this financial pressure has got me thinking about the worries of men under the patriarchy.

Some guy once told Oprah that if women were looked upon as sex symbols by men, then men were considered Success Symbols by women. He used the example of a blind date set up by friends to illustrate. Men may ask how big a woman's tits are, but women nearly always want to know what a man does for a living so we know how much money he makes.

This pressure to make money is a drag.
Today, I've had to compete against a former colleague to secure a job. I still don't know if I've got said job, so I had to go out on another interview for a job that I'm really not into, but since I can't count on the first job, I have to keep a number of irons in the proverbial fire. It was an unpleasant, rainy day. Normally, I'd have done the first job thing, gone home and taken a nap. You don't enjoy naps nearly so well when the wolf is hovering around the door.

For years now, I've slept blissfully even when money was tight secure in the knowledge that Buzz Kill, or my dad, or The Man from San Antone if absolutely necessary, would always make sure my bills were paid. In point of fact, they still will. It's just that this morning, my chest tightening with worry and insecurity about the future - I had a taste of what a lot of men must go through every morning.

It's also true that like most Americans, I'm finally running out of confidence. Usually I'm very confident about the future. Hell, I clap because I believe in fairies all the time.

Not so much today.
It reminds me of something intelliwench said over at Post-Raphaelite Sisterhood about Ronald Reagan and the 80's: "It was morning in America, and we hadn't had our coffee yet."

It's not morning in America anymore - and that morning was marketing bullshit anyway. But we privileged whites had confidence in our incomes, that's for sure.

Right now, America feels like the Arsenic Hour: That afternoon time when as a mom you're fucking exhausted from whatever you've had to manage that day and still have to cook dinner, supervise homework and bedtime, be supportive to the man when he drags himself home from his own miserable day, and think ahead so that tomorrow morning runs smoothly. Now that I think about it, I normally managed Arsenic Hour fairly well - particularly since there was enough money to order in Chinese food or Pizza and a Salad.

There may not be enough money to spend on luxuries for a while, but the good news is that I'm well credentialed in a field where there is always work - it's just a little harder to find these days and more people are competing for the jobs.

As we face this awful, endless afternoon in America -one giant economic clusterfuck with millions of people without health care -- it's imperative that We The People band together to fight against Corporate/Congressional Greed. For the first time in decades, there is a chance to change the existing system, but it won't happen unless people make their voices heard over the lobbyists' dollars. It seems impossible when we're all so worried and tired - but we have to do our own little parts. Give $10, or sign a petition. Write or call our congresspeople. Cirlce the capital on a loud motocycle demanding that Health Care should be like a Beer Run like Gordon says over at Alternate Brain, "Single Payer is Like a Beer Run."

Once this fight is won, maybe we really will have morning in America. Before that happens, however, we peasants may finally have to revolt.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite, Captain Kangaroo and Quantum Reality

There are a few similarities between these two gentlemen from CBS. The Captain first appeared on CBS in 1955. Walter Cronkite wasn't the anchorman on CBS until 1962, but he was on TV at the same time as The Captain. They may not have looked a bit alike in the 60's, but over the years their appearances traveled the same trajectory. The Captain seems to have been cosmetically enhance, though. It didn't occur to me as a television-watching kid in the 'sixties that The Captain was wearing a wig. To me, these guys were equal.

I could trust that Walter Cronkite was telling the truth about Vietnam as surely as I could trust that Mr. Moose would drop ping pong balls on the Captain every time.

They left CBS around the same time, too. Walter retired in 1981, while CBS canceled The Captain in 1984.

It makes you wonder if there's really a parallel between these two gentlemen and trust on TV. It's kind of like quantum physics where, as I understand it, the very act of observing an object changes it's nature so that all reality is simply a matter of consciousness and mind. Ergo: If I observe a parallel between Captain Kangaroo and Walter Cronkite, there very well could actually be one, but it doesn't really matter because there is no Reality or Matter either.

You can find out about this stuff by watching lectures on TED: Ideas worth spreading. You can find out all kinds of stuff at TED.

The line between science and philosophy gets exceedingly blurry when discussing quantum physics. I like it, personally, because it all leads to a Namaste kind of place where the only conclusion is that our society is run by fear mongers who scare the shit out of the masses -- like when folks were buying duct tape at Walmart to protect their families from chemical and biological warfare after 9-11.

It's nice to believe that enlightened people could collectively focus our energies and think these bad guys out of existence, but I'm pretty sure everyone's chakras would have to be fairly well aligned. That's a tall order.

I just wish Walter Cronkite and Captain Kangaroo could appear night after night to our congress men and women like the ghosts in A Christmas Carol and scare them into actually reforming health care.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pondering the Feminist Agenda

I woke up grouchy this morning.

Maybe it's due to financial insecurity. Or this sinus headache. Or general rage at my former employer who may have played favorites with her employees and retaliated against anyone who went over her head, but is protected by narrowly written laws that benefit the bosses. It's beyond annoying, but it's a fact that must be accepted.

I might be grumpy as a result of the because the banging and crashing metal at the construction site out my window. A fifteen story building is going up next door - part of a larger project that's been making a racket for two full years now. Another unpleasant fact that must be accepted along with the economic clusterfuck that traps me here for who knows how long.

Or maybe it's just PMS.

One of the things I have been contemplating now that Velvet is safely occupied learning important life lessons with my parents in Texas is convoluted feminism. Sarah Palin's antics and popularity have made me wonder if there's room at the feminist table for girls who liked Barbie. Not that Sarah Palin is a feminist by any means. But there are plenty of women who had princess phones and pedicures who are just as outraged by the patriarchy as anyone else. Often women who acknowledge that there are inherent, biological differences between males and females and/or who choose to follow a more traditional path feel excluded by main stream and radical feminists.

My mother has never been a Girly-girl. She wore plastic goggles while she knocked out tile with a sledge hammer and renovated our home. Since she was home when her kids got out of school and considered her family was her career, many first wave feminists looked down their noses at her. If feminism was supposed to prove anything, it's that people of all genders should have the freedom to make their own life choices. Those choices should be treated equally under the law and in the work place and in divisions of domestic labor. No one's life choices should be dictated by anyone else's ideas on proper gender roles. That so many "feminists" seem to denigrate the choices of other women as somehow counter feminist is distinctly problematic to the movement as a whole.

Further, many of these same feminists are quick to attack men - who clearly have to deal with their own brand of bullshit under the patriarchy. Granted, white men make more money and have benefited in many ways from the double-standard that seems to be a Republican banner. That people manipulate the rules of this patriarchal society for their own gain is no surprise. Phyllis Schafly provides one of my favorite examples of this irrationality since this woman ditched her family to grab the national spotlight and make a bundle by telling other women they should be staying home nurturing their families.

People who benefit from the status quo are not interested in changing anything. That's why so many Republicans of all genders, and other people who aren't as easily labeled, cling to the Eisenhower era. That's why Ronald Regan told white people to go back to the suburbs and shop. It's what Jimmy Carter was talking about in the Malaise Speech - our commitment to consumerism, material possessions and other sundry bullshit. People who capitalize on exploitation - arms dealers, crooked bankers, industrial polluters, grandiose politicians: that's the result of this patriarchy. All people suffer regardless of gender - not just women. Ergo: there has to be room at the feminist table for everyone not just women who went to Ivy League schools and studied Women's History from militant feminist professors.

One of the reasons Sarah Palin got where she did today is a result of a large percentage of American women feeling so alienated by condescending, confrontational "feminists" that they won't even consider calling themselves feminists even as they themselves struggle to receive equal pay for equal work. I'm not sure why Sally Ride said feminism had nothing to do with her being an astronaut. Without the feminists, Sally Ride would have been a nurse, a teacher, a secretary or a mother. The end. Those were the choices. Perhaps Sally Ride had her nose in a math book and didn't read her history as she became a role model to little girls. Little Girls who liked science and weren't afraid to show it because they might not be popular with the other kids - especially the boys.

But some of those smart little girls liked tiaras and Barbie. And some of the boys liked tiaras and Barbie, too. That orientation is just as valid as refusing to shave your arm pits while reading Simone de Beauvior.

When I saw this photo of Farrah Fawcett, I thought: Now that's what fifty looks like.

Maybe some people won't remember that when told she didn't look fifty, Gloria Steinem said, "This is what fifty looks like." Naked Farrah would piss off a whole lot of feminists - and not only feminists with big asses and bad hair cuts. When she was young and hot, Farrah wouldn't even show her tits because she wanted to be taken seriously. As a mature woman, Farrah could do what she wanted and showed the world that fifty can be just as visually stimulating and very likely much more intellectually and sensually stimulating than mere youth. That's a feminist statement.

All this polarization and infighting among people who should be working together for the common good led to the rise of Sarah Palin and the audacious behavior of Dick Cheney, et al. This phenomenon is evidence that everything Jimmy Carter said was wrong with America is still wrong.

Plenty of people say Jimmy Carter sucked as a president. Maybe he did suck, but time has shown Carter was right on many counts. Maybe thirty years later, we're ready to give his famous speech, Energy and the National Goals - A Crisis of Confidence, the attention it deserves.

Carter's Speech Therapy, NYTimes, July 14, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Christian Bashing?

JD posted this clip over at This Tumbleweed Life

Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian, may be funnier but sometimes we need to be reminded just how deadly hate can be.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sublimely Silly

Under the right circumstances, I might be convinced. No complaints about the facial hair, and a line that stops a girl in her tracks:

If you even really cared about that vagina of yours
You wouldn't leave it in the hands of an amature

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Road to Nowhere

There's a big difference between being on the Road to Nowhere and Circling the Airport. When you're on the Road to Nowhere, you may not have a clear destination in mind - a concept, perhaps a vague idea. You may take a detour or two as you wander. The scenery changes along the way. You have new and different experiences. You grow and evolve.

When you're circling the airport, it's the same shit over and over again in the same way. Maybe one time you're a little more to the left, the next somewhat to the right - but you're stuck in an endlessly repeating loop. The phase circling the airport is used for airplanes in the air, but if you're a person on the ground going through the same shit day after day - you're digging yourself deeper into a big, fat rut.

If I hadn't have gotten fired, most likely I'd have stayed in that same old miserable, soul crushing job for another year. I hate circling the airport.

I will admit to a bit of anxiety these last couple of days because a potential employer emailed my references asking for letters of recommendation. So far, my favorite recommendation comes from a woman who was my supervisor for ten years who said, "How fortunate you are to have the opportunity to hire Tricia." I'm feeling confident and positive, but until papers are signed, I'll be nervous.

Buzz Kill has been moderately supportive, but he's starting to panic. He was over this week so we could work together to cut household expenses. We actually made good progress before he thought he'd help me stay motivated by declaring I'd be moving back to Texas if I didn't get a good job fast. I had to remind him that I'm not going anywhere without the $23,000 he owes me which put a stop to that line of thinking.

Even though all roads lead to Austin sooner or later, at the moment I can say for certain the Road to Nowhere is going nowhere near Texas. It's going to the East Village next week because I've got two readings to attend. Most everyone is broke these days, but we should continue to be creative and entertain ourselves. Hell, that's the foundation of Menopausal Stoners Existentialism: Life is uncertain and probably meaningless so let your light shine and live it up.

Velvet's time with my parents in the suburbs of Houston has been so productive that he's getting time off for good behavior. He started begging to come back to New York after just a few days because he is surrounded by dolts who believe Fox News is true. Not my parents, of course. They lean toward the Libertarian point of view, supporting Ron Paul and Kinky Friedman as long as Kinky doesn't take himself too seriously. Velvet has settled in now that he's taking drivers' ed and doing data entry for a neighbor's office. He's also been going to watch the Astros with my dad from his season tickets on the club level. Baseball is much more comfortable with a waitress and a full bar which is a good thing since the Astros have been playing uncommonly bad baseball lately.

Another neighbor is taking Velvet to a gun show next weekend. Velvet never went to a gun show before, and the fellow who is taking him is a redneck investment broker. He's nice enough as far as rednecks go - much nicer than Gayle the hillbilly hustler - but we suspect he is cultivating Velvet in order to distract his daughter from her high yellow boyfriend. When Velvet heard about all the whack jobs he'd meet at the gun show, he jumped at the chance to go. Somebody needs to tell the neighbor that Velvet gets his kicks by taunting schizophrenics on the subway.

The most notable change in Velvet is that now when he goes into a business, like Ben & Jerry's for example, it's not simply a place where he can spend money. It's a place where he could work. Velvet is showing strength of character, cheerful resilience, a sense of responsibility and determination to succeed when working toward a goal. It's damn nice when your parents are impressed with your kid.

He got an excellent report card, too, despite the Old English 40's and evidence of marijuana those ruffians left all over the living room. So I said I'd drive him and a bunch of kids up to Vermont to the fair the Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp has every August. It won't cost much since the kids will be camping and I'll enjoy summer rates at a modest ski hotel next to the creek. I haven't been in that valley for a couple of years and am looking forward to dozing in the sun by the birch trees and attending silent meeting in the clearing the next morning. In that setting, it'll be easier to accept the idea that Cupcake will be sharing a little tent with Velvet.

That's how it is on the road to nowhere.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hemp Tortilla Chips

Every summer when Velvet goes away, I institute a pizza moratorium. Although I believe in the glycemic index, when someone consumes as much pizza as we do here at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters, pretty much all you have to do to drop 5 - 8 pounds is institute a pizza moratorium and start walking instead of taking taxis.

When I'm really on a diet, I begin my day by drinking enough coffee to make me nauseous so I won't snack my way through the afternoon. Since I'm not really on a diet, there are healthy snack alternatives in the fridge and the cupboard like carrots and hummus, apples with low-fat peanut butter and sliced mangoes. Being from Texas, I can't do without chips and salsa. Trader Joe's has a delicious, nutritious alternative to traditional taco chips made from Hemp.

The bag reads, "Though often confused with it's controversial kin, hemp is actually an incredibly nutritious plant food." Plenty of farmers have known hemp is a potential cash crop and have been working since the 1990's to remove the US Government's ban on growing hemp.

Hemp Industries Association
Jim Hightower former Texas Agricultural Commissioner
Hemp -- It's Rope, Not Dope: Farmers, activists seek to legalize crop, (San Francisco Chronicle, May 28, 1999)

More recently, the guys over at Alternate Brain were talking about an ad running in California supporting medicinal marijuana:

In the comments on that post, David Aquarius says:
. . . the biggest windfall may be marijuana's blander cousin, hemp. The production and processing of hemp products will bring in revenue from dozens of avenues: retail, manufacture, transportation, export, etc. The number of products that can be produced from hemp will give rise to thousands of businesses, big and small. Farmers in drought seared regions, industrial parks left vacant by the slowing economy and small businesses devastated by the big retailers can be saved by allowing them to work with hemp.
I can't remember where I first read about the real problem behind decriminalizing weed having nothing to do with the drug war. It's all about cash crops, corporate farming interests and cotton. Hemp has been grown for 10,000 years, but the US Government banned it in 1937 when it became illegal to smoke weed. Some people believe that the feds didn't give a flying fuck about people getting high. They guys making money off other major cash crops didn't want competition from hemp.

Maybe that's true and maybe it's not. I haven't researched it and I'm not going to.
I'm going to eat these tasty hemp tortilla chips, however, and continue to support the efforts of the Marijuana Policy Project.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Political Thought for the Day

It seems like folks are getting tired of waiting on the Change that was supposed to be coming to America when Barack Obama got elected president. Most everyone was happy to be patient for a while because the economy sucks so hard right now that it has to be the first priority.

Health Care, however, is a pressing concern since so many of us are without insurance. Then there's Don't Ask Don't Tell, Marriage Equality, Lobbyists and all those big ideas that haven't really gotten anywhere despite the fact that Obama certainly gives good speech.

If there is a similarity between political and sexual performance, then Obama's first six months are kind of like foreplay. I still have complete confidence in Barack's ability to perform, but eventually you have to move on passed foreplay and get down to business.

Perhaps America as a whole is not fast like a floosie when it comes to sweeping societal change. Some folks have to be seduced much longer than a garden variety floosie, so six months might not be enough seduction and foreplay time for some people - like Moderate Republicans and Contrary Democrats. And then we must consider that some folks are plain old whores and want to get the particulars of the deal nailed down solid before moving ahead to the main event. Negotiating a mutually beneficial arrangement can be tricky, especially with dedicated whores.

Not that I know anything about whores and johns in real life, but I'm not the first person to compare politicians to whores. It's common knowledge that until certain parties are assured something benefits them personally, nothing's getting done.

Given that Obama has to work harder to get some folks in bed with him than others, it seems reasonable to give the man until the fall to drive the deal home. That doesn't change the fact that for many of us, it's damn frustrating to wait around on a bunch of party poopers, slow pokes, nervous nellies and general butt heads. Eventually, Obama is going to have to ignore their yammering.

Being as Congress goes on summer vacation from the beginning of August until Labor Day, and we can be sure nothing major is going to happen in the few weeks before vacation. Since it always takes some time to get settled into work mode after vacation, that brings us to about October before Change really comes to America.

If Michelle is telling the truth, then we can have faith - but it would be nice to stop hoping and see the real deal.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

I haven't checked the news this morning about Sarah Palin on account of I hate this part of the news cycle when nobody really knows what's going on but they insist on talking and talking and talking. With around the clock news on multiple channels, TV news is complete bullshit these days. Most likely, there have always been issues with the corporate interest of networks, advertisers and robber barons in the news business. I'd have to ask someone who knows about that stuff -but it seems to me that TV news was more substantive back when Walter Cronkite, Harry Reasoner, Howard K. Smith, Roger Mudd and all those guys were bringing us the news from Vietnam and Kent State. When the news was confined to certain programming hours, we did not have endless chatter.

Fox News hadn't been introduced to Americans back then either. The Soviets had TASS, but Rupert Murdoch hadn't had an impact on News yet. Which brings us back to Sarah Palin.

I'm betting that Rupert Murdoch is somehow behind Sarah Palin's announcement. Maybe she's going to work for Fox News. Maybe she's getting her own show and her own line of cold weather gear, ready to wear, baby products and home decor to be sold at Walmart. They could have cooked up anything, but one thing is sure: Sarah Palin would not quit being governor of Alaska unless there was money to be made fast. She's got a family to support, after all, and Todd is a worthless douche bag when it comes to making money.

My mother is hoping that Sarah Palin quit because someone has finally established a connection between a sports complex Sarah Palin insisted on building when she was mayor of Wasilla and the brand new house she built for herself concurrently. Apparently, the community sports complex and the house have the same windows. Sarah Palin is not the first elected official in Alaska whose home pointed to ethics violations. Even if Sarah Palin follows in Ted Stevens' footsteps, she still makes good TV and could easily wind up as a regular on Fox.

Next week, when some clever, hardworking journalist has uncovered the money trail that explains Sarah Palin's decision, I'll watch the news. I'll read the NY Times in the meantime, maybe.

As entertaining as Sarah Palin can be, there are more pressing concerns here at Menopausal Stoner World Headquarters since I remain unemployed. Even if I get a job soon, I won't start work until September - and I might be making less money. You never know. It's time to economize.

HBO has had to go, and I'm going to have to get rid of the maid. I only had HBO so Velvet and I could watch True Blood together, and he's in Texas anyway. Overall, I believe HBO and other movie channels are problematic because you wind up sitting in front of the TV for 45 minutes watching the end of some movie you've seen multiple times already or you waste two hours on a movie you would never have actively chosen to watch because you found it while channel surfing. Either way, you've parked your ass in front of the TV for no reason.

I'm not going to miss HBO, and I'm not going to miss that impoverished musician who was on my terrace last night either. Turns out that he was not Brazilian at all. He just happened to live in Brazil at the same time as the friend we have in common did. Turns out that his family are Italians from New York City.

That's not why he won't be allowed in my house again, though. He can't come back because he's stupid.

I had suspected he might be stupid before he came over because (1) he has a soul patch and (2) he posted a link on Facebook to some rant by Bob Basso about the "We The People" stimulus package which urges folks to send tea bags to congress people and President Obama. I wasn't quite sure how an Impoverished Brazilian Musician could be a teabagger, and figured that he must be a Libertarian. I can find common ground with many Libertarians as long as they aren't foaming at the mouth about one governmental conspiracy or another. Libertarians often run off on tangents. They might make a number of interesting points along the way, however.

When he first arrived, I was inclined to listen to him with an open mind especially since he had brought me flowers and liquor and was mixing Caipirinhas. While he was telling me his life story, he mentioned that he's been out of work for a long stretch which can happen to anyone these days, so I didn't hold that against him. Then he revealed that he paid some car dealership $300 for sales training, then was surprised to hear he'd be working on weekends.

Logic dictates that anyone who is unemployed and pays $300 to a car dealership for sales training can only be stupid. If he is stupid enough to do that, then he's stupid enough to be a teabagger, and I'll have no teabaggers on the terrace - with or without soul patches.

I have always though that a soul patch looks like a man has schmutz on his chin. Foolish facial hair is understandable on young men for whom facial hair is still a novelty - like Apolo Ohno, a testosterone driven competitor with no body fat:

If memory serves, the year the Red Sox stomped the Yankees in the series, there was a lot of bad facial hair on the Boston team. More testosterone driven foolishness, if you ask me, but it's no worse than warriors painting their faces before going into battle. Like Braveheart:

Braveheart might have been a handsome, sturdy Highland Warrior, but in real life Mel is a jerk from a family of jerks. His father the crazy preacher says all you have to do to prove there was never a Holocaust is count the Jews in Brooklyn.

Soul Patches are not for men over 40 with paunches. I might overlook a mid-life crisis soul patch if the fellow weren't stupid, but I'm too old to put up with a dumb ass in my own home.

It's a shame, though, because I liked the idea of a studio full of Brazilian musicians as summer entertainment. Until I started developing that fantasy, I had forgotten that the first Summer Boyfriend Reality Show was back in 1978 when my dear friend Tish was living with family friends because her dad, who was in the oil business, had been transferred to some boring place.

These family friends were also in an oil related industry which is how the dad arranged for the youngest son, who was a couple of years older than us, to spend the summer as piloting a submarine that checked out pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico. The son had a pack of friends who were also spending the summer as deep sea divers and submarine drivers. Mostly they were Canadians with no friends or family in Houston, so the son brought them over to his parent's on the weekends which worked out well for me and Tish since we were floating in his parents' pool waving away bees hovering over us because our suntan oil smelled like pina coladas. Next thing you know, the pool was filled with silly girls from UT Austin and boys who were working off-shore for the summer.

I didn't realize it until today, but that was the first summer boyfriend reality show. It was much easier back in the day when the we were just beginning to understand certain characteristics are deal breakers.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sometimes When You Least Expect It

Back in the olden days, when I was a New Waver in Austin, Texas, some of my buddies were in a band called the Tickle Monsters. They mostly played at a beer bar called The Beach which eventually became a sucessful TexMex restaurant called something else entirely.

Some of the same fellows were in The Derelicts which was managed by The Man from San Antone. His habit at the time was to leave me in the care of cocaine dealers while he went off to bang the girl next door. He was smart that way because I was so diverted that I didn't care where he was, and since he was the biggest and the richest and paid all my bills, nobody ever messed with me. I was a Nice Girl and Property, after all.

That's what drugs can do for you, but we're talking about the Tickle Monsters at the moment. These were mostly the same guys I went to high school with - the ones who baked magic mushrooms into a pizza directly under the nose of one of their clueless, suburban moms. The Tickle Monsters sang a song that included the line:

Sometimes when you least expect it
Life gets fun.

Today is one of those days.

An impoverished Brazilian musician is bringing over a bottle of cachaca so that we can have Caipirinhas on my terrace at sunset.

This fellow went to school with my friend Bev years ago when she lived in Brazil on account of her father's job with an oil company. A couple of months ago, she suggested me as a friend for him on Facebook, of all places, because although he lives in the suburbs, he often comes into the city to work in the studio. I think he's an actor too - which goes a long way to explain why he's impoverished. That and an exwife who gets better alimony than I do as well as his two teenagers. Two teenagers can bankrupt anyone.

He's been hovering on the horizon for a little while, but today is the first time I actually called him back instead of sending a text or an email the next day. If I had to identify an event that convinced him to be more persistent and frequent in contacting me, I would have to say it coincided with me sending an invitation to join a Cause on Facebook -- the Marijuana Policy Project. He wrote me a note to say he'd be happy to join that except for privacy on the internet issues. Some people have issues with their privacy on the internet. After a correspondence that was mostly political in nature, he suggested he come over to my place with some toys.

I don't have a clue what he means by "toys," but the living room will have to be straightened up enough so that it's suitable for company.

There could be homemade CDs of Brazilian jazz are in my future.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mr. Buttroy, Smarmy and The $19,016 in Question

Before my dad went home to Texas on Tuesday, he went with me to an arbitration hearing regarding a fee dispute with my divorce attorney. I have been stressing about this hearing since I first received notice nearly a year ago that my lawyer - Mr. Buttroy - thought it was time I took care of the outstanding balance of my legal fees which amounted to $19,016.

The trouble I had with paying that $19,016 centered around the fact that the bill for the last couple of months of the divorce proceedings was more than the bill for the previous two years. When I noticed on the May 2006 invoice that my litigation retainer had been depleted so that instead of having money on account I owed my lawyer some thousands, I sounded the alarm. I told Mr. Buttroy I had no more money. If he wanted to get paid, he needed to structure my settlement in such a way that he would get his money from Buzz Kill. I had already paid Mr. Buttroy & Associates thirty grand, for Chrissakes.

He said we'd work something out, and at the end of August, I received a bill for $29,016. After an exchange of emails which I kept and used to support my case in the mediation, I paid him ten thousand more dollars. Fortunately, I sent a note with that payment saying that if $10,000 wasn't sufficient, then I'd need to make very small monthly payments for the rest of my life because, as I had repeatedly told him, I don't have any more money and neither do my parents.

On Tuesday morning, Dad and I were in the waiting room at the local lawyers' association building. A young fellow entered and asked if I was Mrs. Buzz Kill. He introduced himself as Smarmy, an associate of Mr. Buttroy. Then he complimented my smile and checked me out. He was about 35 years old and kind of cute in a Bridge and Tunnel sort of way. If he wanted to buy me a cocktail in a bar, maybe I wouldn't have bristled. As my adversary in a fee dispute with $19,016 on the table, he could kiss my ass.

A few minutes later, an efficient office worker led us to a conference room where we were introduced to the three mediators. They were all retired white men, kind of like The Over The Hill Gang. They were courteous, distant and direct at first, but after the first fifteen minutes, they were clearly on my side. I was my usual charming self, but that's not why they were on my side.

Buttroy and Smarmy went first since the burden of proof in fee disputes is on the attorneys. They rearranged everyone at the conference table so Smarmy could ask Mr. Buttroy questions as if it were a deposition. When Mr. Buttroy started rattling on about how much trouble it was to get financial information out of Buzz Kill, the lead mediator, who reminded me of Sam Ervin only Jewish, asked specific questions about our assets. When my attorney said that actually we never had any assets besides the apartment, Old Sam pointedly asked the man how he thought he was going to get paid in the first place.

A bullshit fiesta ensued. The mediators were not impressed.

Senator Samuel J. Ervin, (D-NC)

When it was my turn to talk, I pointed out that according to the terms of the retainer agreement, any time my account fell below $5,000, I had to replenish the retainer. I told Mr. Buttroy & Associates I was broke. They kept working without a retainer and never gave me a clue about the total cost. The emails supported my position.

My dad said that although I was clearly nervous, I did a very good job of being genuine, articulate, normal and endearing. I even made the mediators laugh a few times - especially when I told them that I knew my lawyer was expensive when I signed with him, but that all my girlfriends had told me that I was better off hiring the $400/hour lawyer because $185/hour lawyers take twice as long to accomplish anything. That cracked Sam right up.

In the middle of my story, Smarmy asked The Mediators if he could ask me a question. Smarmy said, "First let me say what a pleasure it is to meet you, Patricia." Immediately, I was suspicious. Then he wanted to know if I liked Mr. Buttroy. I said, "Sure, but business is business." Sam and the gang laughed again, but Sam leaned toward Smarmy and very sternly said, "What's your point?"

It's a good thing that Smarmy made such an ass of himself and Mr. Buttroy was so obviously cavalier with my money because when I got The Mediator's judgement today via certified mail, I found that it was determined I owe Mr. Buttroy exactly ZERO dollars.

I was hoping the answer would be ZERO, but I wasn't counting on it. Now if I can just secure employment for the fall, I can kick back and relax while Velvet is laboring away in the hot Texas sun. Today he had to scrub the walls of the pool. He was in the pool while he did it, but he was still working.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure what to make of a phone call I got from one of Velvet's friends. It seems that two of the guys think it's a fine idea to come over even though Velvet gone. I can only imagine what their mothers would think if they heard that these two 20 year old boys wanted to hang out at my house when my kid was out of town. Although it may look like Mrs. Robinson, I'm thinking it has more to do with those PBRs that I never should have bought. I don't quite understand it because for the most part, I stay in my room when the kids are over. A couple of times I've watched Star Trek with them. I will admit that I wasn't strictly sober and had some fun telling tall tales from my youth - but that doesn't explain why two 20 year old boys would want to hang out with somebody's mother. These kids are too dang comfortable on my terrace.