Monday, May 31, 2010

Dancing In The Streets, 1964

The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 legally ending institutionalized racism.
If the Underground Railroad covertly communicated to their operatives through song, it's no wonder white folks believed this communication from Martha and the Vandells was a call to riot. There's white girls dancing in cages.

Welcome to The Dead Zone

In this clip posted by Dandelion Salad, Audrey Bomse, a legal advisor for the Free Gaza Flotilla, reminds us that a Human Rights report to the UN, The Goldstone Report, has called the blockade a "probable crime against humanity." She was responding to an Israeli minster's explanation that it was necessary to prevent a group of known terrorists from intentionally breaking Israel's legal blockade of Gaza when they could have simply given humanitarian supplies through the Israeli government.

Damn right they were running the three year blockade.

I've got nothing to say about Israel and Palestine because informed and educated people have been argufying passionately on this topic for generations. I refuse to get involved since I don't like it when people start hollering at me on my own blog. But I will say this - my son is Jewish enough for Hitler. He's not Jewish enough for Jews because I'm not Jewish, however, his paternal grandparents were Jewish. Buzz Kill's grandparents came to New York from Russia during the Pogroms - which is Fiddler on the Roof times which makes my son a Jewish Quadroon which is Jewish enough for Hitler.

My son, circa 2006. Such a punim

I mention the boy's heritage because I want to stress that questioning Israel's treatment of Palestine doesn't automatically make a person Anti-Semitic. I'm angry and outraged at Israeli Aggression not Anti-Semitic. In point of fact, I'm what is known in my neighborhood as Jewish by Injection: A Shiksa who has had relations with one or more Jews. After 20 years on the Upper West Side and relations with more than one Jew, I feel like Jon Stewart - a Jew - provides one of the only forums in America where it's socially acceptable to question Israel (Indecision 5769, Wyatt Cenac at 1:40).

Again, I'm no expert. I'm just a preschool teacher floating along in the American Mainstream who is afraid to mention Israel in public because people yell at you.

Sadly, these days the main stream in real American life - the Mississippi River watershed- carries so much fertilizer and pesticide to the Gulf of Mexico that every year, for years and years, there's a 7,700 square mile Dead Zone in the Gulf. It chokes the oxygen out of the water and causes the red tide, dead fish, and other unpleasantness. My mom is wondering a lot about the oil in The Dead Zone this year.

What makes the Dead Zone Dead? Play the game HERE
and that was before the rig exploded

I don't think The Dead Zone can explode even though it will be filled with trapped crude oil, but if it did, I imagine something like the asteroid that hit the Yucatan Peninsula during prehistoric times which is in the same geographical region. Scientists think that asteroid killed off the dinosaurs. I refuse to speculate on what Sarah Palin and them think about that explanation since I've never understood how so many people who make a fortune off fossil fuels can deny the existence of fossils.

Just as pesticides, chemical fertilizers, crude oil and sundry other bullshit have turned America's watershed into a Dead Zone, Imperialists and their bullshit have turned American Mainstream Life into a Dead Zone, too.

One thing we've learned here in the Dead Zone is that governments are often big fat liars. So, even though I'm not Anti-Semitic, I have to wonder just how much bullshit that Israeli minister is spewing from his podium. I can't help but notice the trappings of theocracy behind him, either.

A tempered statement from two UN officials - trained in speaking to the Mainstream American -- is included in The New York Times article, At Least 10 Are Killed as Israel Halts Flotilla With Gaza Aid:

“We wish to make clear that such tragedies are entirely avoidable if Israel heeds the repeated calls of the international community to end its counterproductive and unacceptable blockade of Gaza,” the officials said.

Strong words from pussyfied diplomats. It could be a long, hot summer The Dead Zone.

A Peace of the Action is working on a Sizzling Summer of protests in Washington DC.

They even have a facebook page

Cindy Sheehan is up to her ass involved in this protesting since the July 10 event is a birthday party for her. As I recall, Cindy Sheehan was Just A Mom until her son was killed in Iraq in 2004. She was so pissed off she camped outside George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford.

Casey Sheehan: another one of the valiant war dead to remember on Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

DADT: Fatal Equality

In a show of characteristic existential absurdity, the Government is working to repealing DADT for Memorial Day - a day when we remember those who get killed while serving this country in war time - thereby giving GLBT people the opportunity to get their asses shot off in or out of the closet.

My mother says that there won't be a draft any time soon because they'd have to draft women and "they" won't do that. She's probably right about that because she's usually right about most things. But if there ever is a draft again, you won't be able to dodge it by being GLB or T which must be a BFD since the Patriarchy has had issues with Gay Men for generations. If it had been remotely okay to be Gay back in the day, the draft board would have looked like La Cage Aux Folles during the Vietnam War.

Parents across the country thought it was better to send their sons to Canada and risk never seeing them again than to simply say they were gay and keep them home safely. The operative term here is Safely since we all know what happened to Matthew Shepard just 12 years ago. And Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover understood just how problematic being Gay could be in April, 2009.

But back to the Military. To explain the draft process during the Vietnam War, a character in Hair says, "The draft is white people sending black people to make war on the yellow people to defend the land they stole from the red people." Although Black Boys/White Boys includes the idea of homosexuality in the military by using men as the back up singers, the number focuses on inter-racial sex. Inter-racial sex might have been taboo, but it wasn't keeping anybody from going into the military.

Maybe homosexuality was such an open secret at the time that it didn't raise eyebrows - much like Klinger in M.A.S.H. was a running gag. But then, Klinger wasn't really Gay - he was a hairy straight man in drag. I'm thinking that during Vietnam, queer folks had to be so firmly in the closet that most people would not or could not acknowledge the implications in the gay chorus in Hair. Much better to shout about all those degenerate Hippies. Who knows, though. Maybe the military was a haven for gays and all these Conservative Christians have fucked it up for them, too.

In 1978, when The Village People made this video, I know exactly what homosexuality was. In 1975, around the time Nixon resigned, my uncle told me that after his divorce he thought he might be homosexual. I knew that homosexuality had something to do with two men being together, but I had no hint of the specifics. Here s/he is a couple of years ago with Barney Frank:

Turns out that Uncle Jennifer was not a homosexual at all because as a post-op tranny, Jennifer still prefers women which I suppose means he was always a lesbian. This gender stuff is tricky.

For myself, I wish there were a draft - for about 10 days or so - just long enough to watch these teabaggers go fucking insane when their own kids have to get out of their Cameros and into woefully under-protected vehicles in territory where Haliburton employees do the same jobs in better circumstances for five times the money.

But then, I still think the best way to honor our war dead is by declaring Peace.
All we are saying . . .

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Ten Things: Honest Scrap Continued

Earlier this month, The Butler Way gave me the Honest Scrap Award. It comes with these instructions:
1.You must brag about the award
2.You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to the blogger.
3.You must choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Scrap Award.
5.List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself.
Then pass it on with the instructions!
I'm pretty sure I bragged about the award at the time because I love to get awards. I'm the kind of person who needs a bit of external validation every now and then. And I not only linked to the blog that gave me the award then, but I linked to it again here with my sincere thanks for the recognition.

I passed it on to six folks, and I left a comment in their blogs informing them of the award. I'm not so sure I gave them the instructions though, and I can see that I mentioned that there were instructions at the time, but I never posted them. SO - here is the list of links again and maybe they will figure out they've been tagged if they look at their stats and see that somebody clicked onto their blogs from mine:

Utah Savage of Utah Savage
Punch of A Theatre of the Absurd
Yellowdog Granny of Yellowdog Granny
Liberality of Liberality
Lisa of That's Why
Mimi of Mauigirl's Meanderings

Since I originally fell short in passing the award on to seven bloggers, I'm adding Teeluck over at Shock and Awe because he just published a book and also asked me to lunch. He has taken pains to declare that it's not a date, which could be an indication of brilliance in and of itself. I can be a harsh female, evidently. I haven't followed him much lately because he gets all fired up about politics, and I have been actively avoiding politics ever since the BP incident. To me, you can look at that disaster from 1,000 different angles but every single one of those thousand leads directly to one conclusion: We are screwed. We've always been screwed, and we'll be screwed for all time unless there is a massive revolution which seems doubtful.

I haven't felt like doing much of anything lately on account of Velvet, aka Tiny, aka Ming the Merciless has been wearing me out, and on account of I'm a wee bit bummed about The Preacher and The Pagan. The worst part about it is that I have plenty to say on the topic, but I simply have to keep my thoughts to myself because too many people who know him in real life have started coming over here. The man is looking for a job, after all. As much as it pains me to be respectful, I'm forced to keep my mouth shut.

I really wasn't expecting much of a romance to develop - but the idea of me dating a preacher was so inherently ironic that I liked the concept. The Preacher and The Pagan could have been a diverting summer mini-series, although now that I've had the experience, I have to declare conclusively that talking about the bible all the time can bore a woman into a coma. The Summer Boyfriend Reality Show got old after a while but that was because it was annoying. It would have saved a lot of trouble if I'd have written an online dating profile that mentioned the blog and that I like to smoke weed. Whatever it may have been, The Summer Boyfriend Reality show did lead to the episode with that phony bastard ShatAKing which became one of my favorite stories as soon as his wife left a comment here on the blog. Let that be the first of 10 honest things about myself.

1. I love the ShatAKing story (The Saga of the Wall Street Rock Star, Stonerdate 09.08.3008)

2. I'm reading at KGB in July, and will probably tell the real story of The Pagan and The Preacher.

3. I kind of miss talking to Woody even though I still think he was an asshole to ignore the woman who was distressed in his facebook comment thread. It's fun to get high and talk shit with Woody.

4. I'm pretty sure I got my autoimmune disease from running behind the DDT truck back when I was a kid in Beaumont. Running through that cloud was more fun than the ice cream truck. All the kids in the neighborhood were there.

5. One of the main reasons I am a preschool teacher is that whenever I have to work strictly with adults, I wind up crying in the stock room because grown-ups are often big assholes with fucked up priorities. As a group, preschool teachers are pretty cool people.

6. I'm really pretty scared of people in general. Thinking about people in general makes me cry.

7. Actually, I cry a lot. Not for long, drawn out periods of time - in short, intense bursts of sobbing. Although the sobbing technique looks suspiciously like a scene from Gidget or Ann-Margret in Bye Bye Birdie, once the crying is done, I feel able to face my challenges.

I have this exact same phone

8. I fully believe that we are energetic beings walking through an energetic universe, and that one day humanity will reach higher ground. It's just too bad that it's a 10,000 year journey and we've barely begun. Like the song says, "When we've been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun . . . " Some people say that 2012 is when the old order will pass away - as if the Mayans were simply keeping track of The Patriarchy. I wish that were true.

9. Every now and then, I think I should get my teeth whitened and stop drinking coffee. Then the next day, I drink more coffee.

10. I like doing yoga, but I don't like going to yoga class with a bunch of people. Sometimes yoga makes me cry. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll gas the whole class with a massive, toxic fart. Getting a good yoga DVD is on my To Do List.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Greetings from Hookah House

For the moment, life is good.
It will fall to shit again soon enough because that's the way of the world, so I'm savoring the moment. And breathing. I'm all into mindful breathing right now on account of Max the Psychic Life Coach. Namaste.

I was mindful of my breathing when I visited Hookah House with Velvet this weekend - but mostly because of the smell. It seemed to be a combination of cigarette butts, bong water, beer cans and the spray cleaner they used to wipe up spills. The living area was free of dirty socks, but something vaguely like musky sweat hung in the air. Maybe it was testosterone. Velvet's room kind of smells like that now. It's as if his luggage absorbed Eau de Frat House. I can't say it's attractive.

Most of my extended family is perplexed that Velvet has joined a fraternity - most likely because they remember that when I was at the University of Texas at Austin, I hated those smug-assed motherfuckers, and I hated those sanctimonious heifers in the sororities too. Once I saw Hookah House, I could see that the Hookahs are not smug-assed motherfuckers. I'm not sure exactly what they are, but it's more along the lines of Animal House.

Since my brother happened to be at Big Beautiful Private University with his cameras last weekend, I talked him into taking some pictures so that my family's collective mind could rest easy, secure in the knowledge that Velvet is not on an elitist trajectory leading to a job on Wall Street. More likely it's an elitist trajectory leading somewhere ridiculous, but since he comes from a family that values story above most everything except character, then I really don't know what else we can expect.

The Values and Priorities of Hookah House are clearly visible. The basement kitchen indicates that cooking, for example, is not a priority:

Clean clothes are important, though. Velvet says the crutch makes this machine run better:

The brothers don't seem to care much about the carpet:

But this little refrigerator in the living room practically sparkles:

We can safely say they value cable TV:

And they are starting to explore gardening:

Now that Velvet has all the rights and privileges of a Brother, he will be Velvet no longer. He prefers to be known by his pledge names -- Tiny Dancer or Helen Keller. Tiny Dancer after the well known Elton John/Bernie Taupin song. He sang the hell out of this song all semester, and he can really carry the chorus.

He got the handle Helen Keller as a result of the incident with the Douchers (Velvet Gets Arrested, Stonerdate 04.17.2010). The brothers had already determined that Velvet doesn't notice a thing going on around him, which makes him effectively Blind & Deaf. After the arrest, they added Dumb so he became Helen Keller which seems appropriate to me, but it looks like Tiny is going to stick. I don't know what to call him anymore, so for the moment I'm going back to Baby.

The best part of the whole Hookah experience is that Baby can't officially be on the fraternity's roster until he has a cumulative GPA of 2.5. He is absolutely dedicated to getting on that roster, so I'm pretty sure his days on academic probation will soon be over. As I have already said, it's hard to believe that a fraternity house with a six foot bong could be a source of structure and support, but I'm grateful for blessings whenever they appear.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Good Enough Mother & Child

I like Velvet better now that he's not getting suspended for his grades.
His GPA for the semester is .25 higher than the lowest possible GPA anyone could possibly have attained in order to remain enrolled. His grades are: Good Enough. Given that I have always endeavored to be a Good Enough Mother, as defined by Donald Winnicott in the early 1950's, I can ask no more of Velvet than to be a Good Enough Student.

He will be under disciplinary probation for the rest of his Tree Hugging days. He got finger printed and mug shot today, but they don't give you a copy for the baby book. He got his Letter Jacket for the Hookahs. It's a fur lined pearl grey hoodie. If South Park Kenny got pimped out, he might wear this hoodie. I don't think it's nice enough for Butters when he was a pimp, but it does create a stylin' ensemble with his head phones and sun glasses. His ideas on personal style may have been influenced by this video, which was his very most favorite when he was six or seven:

The good news is that Velvet never, ever wears Bling. Not even at Halloween.

I'm off to Tree Hugger again this morning to get the last of Velvet's stuff. Even though he's allowed to go to school in the fall as far as Tree Hugger is concerned, for the next few weeks, I have decided to remain unconvinced that anyone should pay his rent while he's fucking off at school. Maybe he should go into Americorps. Or to NOLS for a Semester in the Rockies since he enjoyed their summer program in the Wind River Wilderness.

As it happens, the National Press Photographers have moved into the Big Beautiful Private School to which Tree Hugger is attached this week because they are sponsoring some intensive course for photojournalists. My little brother, Smelt, is one of the Award Winning professionals who is coaching the participants. Velvet and I will be hanging with Smelt when he's not being professional.

Velvet has always l-0-v-e-d his Uncle Smelt, and I'm particularly glad he happens to be in town to provide Velvet with an example of how to build a career by following your bliss. Not that Smelt doesn't have the same worries about job security these days as everyone else - or that Smelt has never struggled with Corporate Overlords. But he still provides a role model who has become a productive member of society without finishing one successful semester at college. Of course, Smelt had a talent and a passion which could be developed into a career path. And as far as everyone in the family knows, Smelt has managed to avoid arrest.

I'm looking forward to seeing my brother. His freshman year at college was so dismal that he was not allowed to return. For his second Freshman year he lived with me in Austin, Texas where he was supposed to be attending community college. If I recall correctly, by October he had ditched school to take a job at the local newspaper and shortly thereafter, he started winning awards and developing a professional reputation.

My brother is color blind, and when he was a little kid, I would make him tell me what color the M&Ms were before he could have any. We loved that game, and I wasn't a bit evil because my brother got the colors right 75% of the time. Velvet is also color blind, but I never tortured him with M&Ms. I'm pretty sure that Velvet winds up getting things 100% his way within 48 hours of any conflict on account of my natural indulgence.

When Velvet was little, I read Penelope Leach's Your Baby & Child and learned that you're not spoiling your child if you are natural inclined to grant requests. It's when they nag you into submission that you're spoiling them. If you give in to the whining and/0r theatrics, you're doomed for the rest of your life.

I'm not sure if it was in this book, or if I read it somewhere else, but one of the bits of information that became a foundation of the environment I created in our home for Velvet, and now in my preschool classroom, is that nobody ever told Margaret Mead, "No."

She was not allowed to create havoc where ever she went. The adults around her made sure the environment was safe and secure so that she could explore to her heart's content. As she grew more capable, her environment expanded to include more and more of Reality and The Wider World.

Hopefully, that's has also been Velvet's experience. He may not have made good grades, but he managed his freshman year with panache. No matter what your perspective, we cannot deny that Velvet is a character in his own right. Until he got to Tree Hugger, Velvet had never felt like a worthless failure before - and I consider that an accomplishment in parenting since most of us felt like worthless pieces of shit by the time we were in Kindergarten.

So I'm heading off across the Catskills this morning, singing along to the stereo and enjoying the river that winds around the highway all through Delaware county, happy for a moment that we seem to be Good Enough for just about anything.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Partners and Preferences

You can't be fifty on Sugar Mountain either.

Today I'm feeling the lack of a partner. Shortly after I finished therapy back in March, I realized that one of the primary roles my shrink had played all those years was Parenting Partner. Buzz Kill wasn't particularly good in that department, so I had to hire somebody. She was great, but it would have been better to have a real partner.

I had hoped that the preacher would be able to lend some support in that area, but the preacher has issues of his own and as a result is unable to contribute anything to the parenting discussion. Or any discussion at all, for that matter, since I'm done listening to him for the time being.

Oh well.

Buzz Kill would be by my side today if I had wanted a partner badly enough to tolerate being kept in the dark about all our family business. I didn't mind teetering on the edge of bankruptcy all the time - I minded being surprised by clerks knocking on my door to deliver papers saying the apartment was going into foreclosure - again. I especially hated being reprimanded by a lawyer I had never met for not signing off on papers I had never seen regarding a lawsuit I hadn't known was settled even though my name was on it. Never mind the damn IRS.

Buzz Kill would be snuggled up in my bed today if I hadn't asserted myself financially - and the way things work in this country the only way one spouse can really assert him/herself financially in a marriage is to file for divorce.

So I find myself partnerless. It's not that I lack for support because my friends are great, both in real life and in blogland. I have requested that Buzz Kill confiscate Velvet's cell phone as a result of a comment made by Vancouver Voyeur over at Change Happens. I could confiscate it myself - and I might - but Buzz Kill pays that bill and I want him to participate in disciplining Velvet. I'm happy to say that my mother reminded me that I can always remove the door from Velvet's room. He has been warned: one more episode with Cupcake and he will learn the meaning of Unhinged.

I recognize that Velvet believes he's doing his best to respect the rules of the house while simultaneously demonstrating he's a college man. But I specifically said that I didn't want Cupcake sleeping over here last night, and she was here when I woke up this morning. He says he was going to walk her home but she conked out. He tried to wake her up for over an hour, but then he fell asleep for a little while. He was trying to wake her up again when I got up at 5:00 am, noticed her purse on the living room floor and hit the roof.

Maybe he was trying his best, but if she can't go home when she's supposed to, then she can't come over at all. In fact, now nobody can come over for days and days and days.

I have come to the conclusion that Velvet cannot deal with ambiguity. He needs clear definitions. Once he told me that when he asked me if it was okay for him to do something, he always knew there was a Yes in there somewhere - it was just a matter of figuring out the combination to unlock the Yes.

Today the Yes is gone for the foreseeable future, and I wish I had a partner who could act as the enforcer when I run out of energy or when my natural indulgence takes over.

There is no strong, reliable man anywhere in sight except for The Man from San Antone, and he's busy coordinating the search efforts for a missing baby. Back in January or February, a disturbed young mother took her 8 month old baby to San Antonio where - speculation has it - she handed him over to a couple in a park. Maybe for an illegal adoption or maybe to hide him from the dad. Nobody knows. She then told the dad she had killed the baby and dumped him in the land fill. Authorities and volunteers searched the land fill for a couple of weeks, and when they found no evidence of a dead baby, she said she had fabricated the whole thing. Who knows why. It's a damn mess, though, and The Man from San Antone is now the dad's attorney.

So even in my dreams, I know The Man from San Antone is taking care of important business somewhere else - and the fact is that the main reason he's there for me when I'm really in trouble is that I'm perfectly capable of managing without him even when I'm really in trouble. I suspect that when you make a living by taking on other people's problems, you look for friends who can take care of you sometimes.

Somebody told me recently that there's not a suit of armor strong enough or shiny enough to protect a man when my talons are out. Maybe so. Frankly, I have concerns about anyone who imagines he's a knight in shining armor even when he's comparing me to a dragon. He didn't compare me to a dragon, really. What he really said was that there was no armor strong enough to protect a man from my body guards when their talons are out. So the comparison was really more like me as the object or goal, and in order to reach his goal, the knight must vanquish a collection of fierce, invisible creatures.

If we go back to those infernal Disney Princesses, we see a collection of lovelies looking wistfully out the windows of towers owned by their fathers waiting patiently for their princes to come take care of them. As it happens, I own this tower and am a passable dragonslayer myself, but I will admit to body guards.

When I look down from my window and see a suitor approaching, I generally think, "Oh, Dear God, here comes another one in a silly metal outfit. Let's hear what he has to say for himself." It may seem to the man that I'm surrounded by invisible body guards ready to garrote him the minute he makes an ass of himself, but that's not how it is. Velvet knows how it is -- the Yes is always there. It's just that the body guards don't suffer fools gladly, and they know bullshit when they hear it. It's kind of like being in a class where everyone starts off with an A, but it's up to you to keep it.

I don't deny that I would like it if somebody brought me a glass of wine and rubbed my aching neck while he helped me sort out a situation. Or to celebrate small victories, enjoy simple pleasures and to tell me stories when I can't get to sleep. I'm not isolated or alone, of course, because my friends and family are a great comfort and support - even my mother. Nevertheless, I wish there were a partner.

I suppose that partner could be a female, but in the end, I prefer men. We all have our preferences.

The way I see it, when you're with the right partner, there's no need for armor. We all need armor occasionally when confronted with struggles and challenging people in the outside world. We're also all vulnerable, and we say stupid shit we don't mean. We make mistakes and sometimes we're filled with regret and sorrow. We get mad at each other and even get into passionate, noisy arguments. But the armor is only necessary in the outside world. Home is a sanctuary.

Looking at it that way, I don't blame the occasional suitor for trying to get inside the castle - but there's no Sleeping Beauty here. Maybe one day, there will be a wise old woman with a long, silver braid. For now, there's just me, and I'm becoming more and more convinced that when it comes to the meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything, the Hokey-Pokey may really be what it's all about.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Son the SPED

I have had mixed success with grounding Velvet. He's barely had any friends over, and when he has, they've been a well behaved bunch. It's been pretty quiet, as a matter of fact, except for Cupcake.

Friday morning I knocked on Velvet's door before I went to work. He said, "Yeah, Mom?"
I opened the door a crack and Cupcake was hiding under the sheets. I shut the door without a word, but two days of argufying ensued the minute I got home. I'm not sure what was worse. Cupcake in the bed or the hickey on his neck. Hickeys are just dumb, if you ask me.

At first, he couldn't understand how I could be such a hard ass about Cupcake when I was relaxed about weed. Velvet thought it was a leap and twist of logic to say that by permitting Cupcake to sleep over in his bed, I might as well go ahead and buy a crib. Once I listed all the women my age he knows who have had abortions because of failed birth control methods, he started to understand.

I also reminded him that my original policy about weed, put forth during his senior year of high school, was that as long as he made good grades and stayed out of trouble, I wouldn't give him a hard time about smoking weed. To date, he has failed over half the classes he took at college, turned my kitchen into a marijuana brownie factory and gotten arrested for swiping letters off a frat house. Not to mention the photo he posted on facebook where he was wearing a gas mask bong.

If I don't take a hard line about Cupcake in the bed - when is he going to start picking up random chicks in Central Park and expecting me to make coffee?

On most levels, I'm happy for Velvet. He has loved Cupcake ever since last year when they went to the prom together, but she continued to insist that she didn't like him "that way." She seems to thrive on drama, but I can't hold that against her since I have similar tendencies. After a suitable amount of drama, she and Velvet are now officially Together.

Cupcake and Velvet at the Prom, 2009

What I can't understand is how this situation can possibly be okay with her parents - unless, of course, they are looking to marry her off. She's fully nineteen years old, after all.

To his credit, he has told Cupcake that she has to stop with the hickeys since he will soon be working, and hickeys are unprofessional. Apparently, he is not a complete moron.

With all his foolishness, it's easy to forget Velvet is profoundly ADHD. We have several evaluations to prove it. If Velvet had been to a large, mainstream high school, he would have developed compensatory skills by now - but Velvet has been in a self-contained special education environment since he was in second grade.

The students primarily had language based learning disabilities that manifested in a variety of constellations. Velvet is dyslexic with ADHD and other non-specified language based issues. With roughly 400 students K - 12, there are 12 kids in a classroom with two teachers, one of whom has always been Mastered in Special Ed. They break into smaller groups for reading and math. The entire faculty is trained in multimodal teaching techniques so that they can present the material in a variety of ways in order to complement various learning styles.

The kids show that they have comprehended the lessons not only by passing quizzes and writing essays, but also by making sculptures, films and presentations. My favorite project of theirs was back in 8th Grade when Apple came into the school and taught the kids how to make silent films for their book reports. The films were then shown at the screening room at the Apple store down in Soho. A reception followed. Velvet played the kid in The Ransom of Red Chief.

It's not like that at Tree Hugger. It may not be like that anywhere in college. Velvet scored in the 98th percentile on the ACT, he did quite well on his SATs although they weren't outstanding. He also made superior scores on the NY State Regents exams - that's how he got into engineering school in the first place. It's just that once he went to class, he couldn't process the information at all what so ever. In fact, he had a hard time finding the damn classroom.

It would be easy to get all bent out of shape at Velvet for being a partying fool and a fuck up - except that I remember how Velvet choked in first grade when the curriculum began to focus more formally on academics. We hoped that Velvet could stay in the mainstream with medication, tutoring and other supports. Then one day he dove into a pile of stuffed animals, covered his ears and pleaded for the other children to be quiet. The teacher was kind and dried his tears, and we were lucky to get him into a self-contained, special education setting.

A special ed lawyer who worked on a sliding scale guided us through the system, and a team of experts determined that the public schools did not have appropriate facilities to support Velvet's learning needs. According to the Board's Special Education team, Velvet's intensive educational needs could not be met in a public school program so he needed a state approved non-public school. Board of Ed picked up the tab or else we could never have afforded it. I believe the tuition is around $36,000/year these days, and there are typically 500 applicants for each spot. Most kids in his school get the funding because their families have the resources and the stamina to navigate the system.

Until recently, it only went up to 8th grade, but a few years ago, they added high school. I think Velvet's class was the fifth to graduate - and we're all still learning what happens when these kids get to college.

Tomorrow, I'm calling the head of school to ask for help advocating for Velvet and with arranging appropriate supports up at Tree Hugger. The good news is that Tree Hugger genuinely wants to see their students succeed, and they already have all kinds of support in place - it's just that they are designed for students who have been to mainstream high schools. As it happens, the Big Beautiful Private University that shares campus and services with Tree Hugger has a graduate program in Inclusionary Special Education for grades 7 - 12, so I'm betting we can hire a grad student to help Velvet with organizational issues.

I'm grateful to have the resources and skills to be able to manage this task - and am hoping that Velvet is taking it all as seriously as he occasionally seems to be. It's nearly impossible to use the word "seriously" when that photo of him in the gas mask bong is permanently embedded in my head - but I'm doing my best for my kid, even though he's a dip shit.

A while back, Mel Levine founded the All Kinds of Minds Institute whose mission statement says:
. . . we believe once teachers understand how students learn and put that into practice—every day, with every student—achievement gaps will close, disengaged students will decrease in number and the chronic underperformance of students in our schools will diminish.
Until college, Velvet went to a school that embraced and advocated for these beliefs. We must continue to advocate for our kids - and kids everywhere because the fact is that educational equity should not be reserved for a few privileged SPEDs.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hot Boxing the Bathroom*

It's a good thing I've settled the question of the relevance of The Church to today's society (answer: none) because Velvet gets home from school tomorrow and he's grounded for sure.

I still think that if the time comes when life in the USA becomes so chaotic that we have to build a compound off the grid where we can be safe and happy, it will come in handy to know a progressive preacher who can shoot. You never know what will happen when it comes time to hold off Teabaggers convinced it's the End of Times. In an article at Alternet this morning, Chris Hedges examines religion's demise within the context of Nietzche's Last Man: Should We Be Cheering Religion's Demise? He explains the whole thing - not only about the church but also about how America is sliding down the garbage pile into Idiocracy although he doesn't reference that movie.

After having a Preacher in Residence at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters on Central Park West, I've settled a lot of questions about a lot of stuff for the time being - not the least of which is Men and Their Mid-Life Crises. I will say that the theological explorations made this one more intellectually stimulating than others, and that it's nice to know that I still have whatever qualities I had as a young woman that lead to this sort of male behavior. And I still wonder if, in the end, it all comes back to the tits. The Preacher - and all those other guys - would passionately deny that, but I still have to wonder. It has to do with the objectification process.

It's not like I never objectified anybody, so I get it and am not distressed in the slightest. It's flattering, after all. Some would contend that my radiant energy that attracts certain individuals. The Preacher is not the one who would say that, however. Max the Psychic Life Coach would say that. I still say that anyone who can do hair like Max understands the external manifestation of our radiant energy as much as any human ever can. He expresses it in terms of Angel Energy - but really, that's just a vocabulary word people need to explain the unknowable. The proof is in the hair.

Here's me with my brother (who shall remain nameless).
My sunglasses are on my head and it's not a particularly good hair day since there are no good hair days in Houston.

Now that my exploration of The Church is concluded, and I'm firmly back on the Bokonist path of Existential Absurdity and Moral Ambiguity, I have to shove Velvet on the existential path called: Get A Job. He's grounded until he gets one, and as far as I'm concerned he doesn't have one until he's filled out his I-9 and reported to his shift supervisor on time.

Grounding Velvet has proven to be difficult in the past, probably because the definition of "grounded" is kind of fluid over here at HQ. To me, Grounded means no more than a couple of friends can come over. There will be absolutely no Olde English 40s, and everyone needs to leave around 10:00. That often translates into everyone leaves after The Colbert Report - which is fine as long as they are reasonably quiet and haven't been hot boxing Velvet's bathroom.

Under anyone's definition, Grounded means No Hot Boxing the Bathroom. And it means no random Kazakhstanis or other inherently cool kids -- with or without diplomatic immunity -- can come over when you're supposed to be grounded. Grounded is Grounded, for crying out loud.

*Hot Boxing is where a bunch of kids go into the bathroom, turn on the shower and smoke joints. The smoke mixes in with the steam. I don't know for sure if it's supposed to get you higher than normal or if it's supposed to be less smelly because of the steam. I just know the smoke filled steam leaves little trails all over the bathroom walls.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Preacher and The Pagan

A couple of weeks before the preacher arrived, this song started looping through my head. Frequently.

I don't believe for an instant that The Preacher was ever on a mission to convert me into a professing Christian. It's just that he gets passionate about the Bible and in a debate, he seeks to persuade. He's curious about Pagans, Celts and Goddess based religions, but he finds all manner of opportunities to talk about God as an external presence. Or maybe that's just what happens to a man when marijuana is introduced into the environment for the first time in twenty five years. Weed has a way of taking conversations on tangents.

Before he left for the airport, he said that he had needed the preparation of fully five years in Seminary to spend a week with me. And it wasn't even a whole week. I'm not sure how I feel about that statement, although I can see how he might have found the last few days challenging. Deflating, even.

He's a great guy, for sure. I respect him for who he is and for what he's trying to accomplish in his career and calling. He's dedicated and earnest and sincere. And I was impressed and flattered that he threw caution to the wind and got on a plane to come see me. Nevertheless, I must confess I'm wondering if there is a connection between mainstream American Christianity and a tendency to be uptight and inhibited when it comes to celebrating life as a free spirit.

I'm pretty sure there's no room for free spirits in an institutionalized patriarchy. Woody used to get hardcore about religion demanding obedience, etc, which I don't necessarily think is true when you consider the way Jesus and The Buddha approached Life, The Universe and Everything. However, looking at The Church as Institutionalized Patriarchy, I sympathize with the urge to rebel. The Church requires people to accept and live by the authority of a hierarchy of officials who have abused their power for generations. Jesus may have encouraged folks to free their spirits, but The Church needs frightened spirits to fork over their cash.

The Preacher acknowledged the existential absurdity of insisting that one individual knows more about God than another - but he has a hard time stepping outside of that institutionalized patriarchy. He wants to, I think, but as a servant of that institution, albeit a more liberal minded denomination within that institution, he's really stuck on the universal significance of the Bible.

Personally, I prefer novels. If the Bible is filled with parables and stories that inform our laws and morality, and if the guys who wrote down those stories were directed by God - why can't Isaac Asimov have been equally moved by the Holy Spirit when writing the Foundation Series? If God can move one writer, why not all writers? Why not Kurt Vonnegut, Fay Weldon, PG Wodehouse, Douglas Adams? Christopher Moore or Robertson Davies? Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope? Why not Ghandi? It's not like the Bible is the only book on the fucking shelf.

Ever since the preacher got his plane ticket, I figured he was as interested in theological debate as much as a date. Or maybe he simply wanted a date with a woman who could debate theology over bong hits. It's not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning, but during the course of the conversation, that free spirit of mine felt the oppression of Institutionalized Patriarchy, and it reminded me of a song:

Not that I was anything but polite. All I did was sing a chorus.

Everybody Now, bring your family down to the riverside
Look to the east to see where the fat stock hide
Behind four walls of stone the rich man sleeps
It's time we put the flame torch to their keep

Burn down the mission
If we're gonna stay alive
Watch the black smoke fly to heaven
See the red flame light the sky
Burn down the mission
Burn it down to stay alive
It's our only chance of living
Take all you need to live inside

(Elton John/Bernie Taupin, 1970)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Intimacy Issues (mine)

I don't like it when men use my bathroom. They can use Velvet's bathroom all they want, but not mine. Women can use my bathroom, and even dig through the drawers for supplies if necessary. The floor plan of my apartment clearly designates my bathroom as the guest bathroom since it's in the hall. Years ago I moved Velvet into the master bedroom, so his bathroom is not for casual guests like people at miscellaneous pot lucks and parties. Or Buzz Kill, of course, but Buzz Kill apparently doesn't know that since he seems to use my bathroom every time he's over here. I've never told him it bothers me, though, so he must not know what I'm thinking. He can't read my mind. People can only know what you're thinking if you tell them.

It may be that one of the things I'm supposed to learn from The Preacher is how to communicate my thoughts and feelings like normal humans. When I'm discussing society, Jesus or politics, I don't have a problem sharing my thoughts and feelings. Naturally I am as respectful as I can possibly be even when I'm not exactly sober. However, if I have to communicate something of a personal nature, I typically choke on it and spazz. The feeling whirls around in my consciousness as if it were in a rotor ride at the county fair. One of those rides that spins around until the bottom drops out.

I actually like the spinning part, and at first I like it when the bottom drops out and the force of the spinning keeps you safely stuck to the wall. It's like that on other rides, too. Fun at first but then it goes on a bit too long and you just want off. The need to get off the carnival ride is pretty much how I need to feel before I am propelled to say something about my feelings. When it's clear that the only way anything will be different is for me to say something, then I will take a deep breath and say it. The trouble then becomes communicating in a way that doesn't disturb the peace.

In my classroom full of very young children, I frequently tell kids that they can say anything they need to say without being rude. You simply have to choose words that don't hurt anybody else's feelings. Of course, other people can be tricky because they get touchy and offended sometimes for reasons no one will ever understand. The Preacher isn't like that, however. He takes things in stride.

The Preacher has hung out with a bunch of families in the hospital - and with people who are fixing to die. Emotions run high in those situations so you can stumble into many poorly executed conversations. Who uses my bathroom is not a life or death matter, but it's still a big deal to me since it involves my personal space. I don't like it when Velvet's male friends use my bathroom either especially since they often dribble when they pee.

Although the Preacher shows no signs of dribbling when he pees, but I'm still having issues around personal space. I suspect that intimacy has something to do with it. I'm not prepared for intimacy on that level at the moment, and I have to remember that it's okay. In fact, it's more than okay. It's my assertive right, and I don't have to spazz about it.

Now that I've spent a couple of days with The Preacher, I'm beginning to see that I don't have to spazz about anything. He's a respectful sort of fellow and a very good listener, but that's one of the qualities I first noticed about him. He's not the sort of person who listens to me with half an ear while he's thinking of what he's going to say next. He cares about the answers.

I will say, however, that he manages to bring the dang Bible or Jesus Himself into almost any conversation. I keep reminding him that there are other books and that one day, somebody might go through Harry Potter and number all the passages. People number the lines in Shakespeare's plays, and King Arthur makes a pretty good story too. But even the best stories can wear a person out, after a while.

There's no denying that the Bible has had an impact on society - but like everything else humans have created, The Bible is a human construct. The Preacher isn't all literal about the Bible or he'd have never gotten through the front door of Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters. Nevertheless, there are other books and stories in this world. Again, one would hope a Preacher loved reading the Bible and that he could find endless ways of applying it to our daily lives - and I respect that he's excited about the Bible and Jesus and stuff.

I don't know, though, maybe we all retreat into our personal enthusiasms when faced with daunting challenges, and he is finding me a challenge. I seem to have developed a team of invisible body guards surrounding me.

For myself, I believe the body guards are a good thing - for the time being anyway. I like the idea of having a real friend much more than the idea of another member of Triciaholics Anonymous hanging around. A few years ago, when I was actively computer dating after my divorce, a man told me he was going to have to join a chapter of Triciaholics Anonymous. It was a clever, all together flattering line - but it didn't get him into my pants especially since I suspected one of the reasons he was so slick was because he was married even though he declared he was fully separated. Lots of fully separated folks stay married their entire lives.

The Preacher is not a bit slick. He's thoughtful and kind. Patient, too. He would probably say that's on account of Jesus, but I believe he was like that long before he got started reading the Bible in the original Greek.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Preacher and The Pagan: Overture

(Work in Progress)
I've been getting ready for the preacher. Mostly that involved cleaning - especially Velvet's room since I firmly believe it's best to approach his impending arrival with the idea that he's staying in there. Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters on Central Park West is cleaner than it's been ever since I got fired last summer for being tacky about Firestarter Academy on the blog and had to give up the maid. It's been a struggle without a maid, but in this economy nobody feels particularly sorry for me on that score - except maybe Gail who is an absolutely supportive friend. It could be cleaner, however, but I felt that shoe shopping, manicure/pedicure and a new brassiere were equally as important as freshly mopped floors.

The moon is waning which means that it's a good time to release ideas that get in your way and/or weigh you down so I've been working on that too. Naturally I've changed the salt in the little dishes I keep in every room to absorb the negativity. I like to toss the old salt off the terrace and into the wind to remove negativity and restore creativity. I also like to toss flowers from wilted bouquets into the garden six stories below me and think about qualities in myself and my life that I'd like to grow.

Right now, I'm focusing on a life without fear and a free spirit that is open to possibility. That's why I took that book the Narcissist wrote a while back and tossed it into a river. I took it along on my trip to Tree Hugger University last week with the idea of leaving it out somewhere on the road to Ithaca since that Ass-Whole went to Cornell and I always associate him and Cornell - much like Kurt Vonnegut associates Cornell with a grandfalloon in Cat's Cradle. Grandfalloon is a Bokonist term for a false karass or a group of people who outwardly choose or claim to have a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is actually meaningless (from webdefinitions).

Driving down Highway 81, I noticed a river running just off to the west which could have been headed toward that gorge in Ithaca into which people occasionally hurl themselves. Since the small towns next to the highway had bridges, I figured it was likely that I could get to that river somehow and to me, it was much better to toss that book into the river than to leave it in a trash can at a gas station or McDonalds. As it happens, when you get off 81 at Marathon, NY there's a park right on the river bank. A goose watched me chuck that book into the river, and I watched the book float away carrying a sentiment printed in the acknowledgements: To (my real name) for your love and support during the writing of this book.

I'm sure he liked writing that to me and his two best drinking buddies since it made him feel superior somehow - especially since I'm pretty sure he didn't feel so superior once he set out chasing gang bangs on Adult Friend Finder. Now the whole thing is water under the bridge any way you look at it. I saved the page he autographed to me, though, that said some individualized bullshit about me being his number one fan. I burned that two nights ago along with some notes he had written me. I left the ashes out in the moonlight for the wind to carry off without any help from me. I didn't want any rotten energy from that turd to interfere with my ability to be fully open to the man arriving this evening.

I also got rid of a bunch of lingerie that I had collected during the Ashley Madison Experiment. Now that I've reached a certain age and level of experience, it has come to my attention that about the only answer I could give if someone asked me if I'd done something before is, "Not in this outfit." Since I'm fully committed to starting out this adventure with the idea that the preacher will be staying in Velvet's room, the lingerie may not even apply - but I didn't want that ridiculous Ashley Madison energy in the environment right now either. It was some pricey lingerie, too, and I toted it over to the Salvation Army store on 96th and Broadway in a giant "happy birthday" gift bag. Sadly, the store was closed so I left the Birthday Bag filled with French panties and camisoles out on the sidewalk next to a used stroller, car seat and who knows what other debris. Generally, bag ladies and street vendors cruise by the Salvation Army corner every hour on the hour, so my old drawers are cheerfully floating around New York City by now. And they were nearly as fresh as the day I bought them, too, because we all know how I feel about keeping your panties clean (Gayle's Panties, Stonerdate 02.16.08).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Honest Scrap from The Bulter Way

Paul and Kerry over at The Butler Way graciously bestowed The Honest Scrap award on me. I've seen it in the sidebars of other blogs and am delighted to be able to include it in mine - if I ever get a real computer back. Mercury is in retrograde once again which may or may not be the reason why every computer in my home died last week - except this ancient lap top which I am grateful to have, but I still prefer a desk top. Fortunately Buzz Kill was able to canabalize one to fix the other, but then it caught a virus (perhaps from Facebook) which caused an endless loop of malicious marketing from a spyware company in addition to IE opening spontaneously every five minutes or so to porn sites and Viagra ads. Very odd. It's in the repair shop now.

I could have sworn that The Honest Scrap award had something to do being brilliant since Liberality has one and she is certainly brilliant. Since one of the tasks that comes along with this award is passing it on to five other bloggers, and since I believe she writes brilliantly and passionately from the heart, I'll pass it on to her again.

One trouble with Facebook is that once you become friends with your blogging buddies, you don't go by their blogs as frequently anymore because you get these little updates all the time that give you the illusion that you're up to date with someone when you really haven't had more than a passing headline. These bloggers fall into that category:

Yellowdog Granny
That's Why
Mauigirl's Meanderings

Then there is Utah Savage, whom I consider my bloggy big sister - and not only because she's another crazy Gemini from Texas. She does write brilliantly and passionately from the heart whether she's presenting her well informed political views or coming to terms with events in her own life - from a friend's illness to one man's sadly scraggly ponytail.

Even though that's five, I'm giving The Honest Scrap award to Punch, too, simply because I like the captions under his photos.

The other part of this award is listing 10 random things about yourself - which I am totally not going to do at the moment (if ever). The Preacher arrives tomorrow and I need to run some errands since it's not everyday a character steps out of blogland and into real life in your living room - especially on the day of Velvet's judicial review at school.

Buzz Kill is tending to Velvet today and tomorrow. He is unaware that Velvet has, in fact, pledged eternal loyalty to the Hookahs - although the incident with the Douchers that led to Velvet's arrest had nothing to do with the process of pledging. That incident is partly why Velvet has been declared the Worst Pledge in the History of Hookah House. Another reason was the three sketchy, mad ghetto dudes who dropped by an alumni party at Hookah House saying they were friends of Velvet but who were actually looking to sell some Ecstasy. I don't know where Velvet met these fellows, but it's not the first time he attracted mad ghetto drug dealers.

One random thought that continues to percolate in my mind, however, is that the oil slick headed towards New Orleans could very well be a punishment from God on account of that damn Southern Republican Leadership Conference. I'm sure Pat Robertson would agree.

Really, though, I think it's more likely that Gaia has finally had enough of this bullshit and is raising her voice.