Friday, December 31, 2010

The Universal Reset Button

I'm happy to say that the malaise of the last few days has passed.  Walking through the neighborhood this afternoon, saying "Happy New Year," to the people on the street was pleasant.  The snow isn't completely disgusting yet, although it's hardly picturesque.  I got fresh flowers to mix in with the bouquets of evergreens I've had around the apartment for the last few weeks.

VeryMissMary is cooking free range duck for dinner with green beans. I'm glad because ever since we got back from Texas, I've been living on Trader Joe's Gingerbread men and watered-down red wine. Then we're going out for cocktails and coming back over here to wait for the kids.  For the most part, these are Velvet's buddies from High School and they're meeting friends all across the city.  Sooner or later, they will wind up back over here.  Maybe we'll light some sparklers on the terrace.

I've been remembering Gayle the Hillbilly Hustler, the woman with the infamous panties (Stonerdate 02.16.08) Back around Rosh Hashana, which feels much more like New Year's than tonight especially since it's near the beginning of the school year, I saw her walking down Broadway. .It felt as if a Universal Reset Button had been hit signifying an opportunity to repeat a pattern with improved performance.

Not long afterward, I got caught in that ice storm in the Catskills and decided to view it as the Universe telling me to slow down and reflect before I made any major changes.  That's the great thing about The Universe.  It's so nebulous and subjective you can interpret it to mean anything you want.  Tomorrow night, I'll get some peace and quiet because Buzz Kill is taking Velvet to see Pee Wee Herman on Broadway.  Buzz Kill has been treasuring a talking Pee Wee Herman doll for years and years which is still in the original box. 

After the show, Buzz Kill and Velvet are going to wait at the stage door so Buzz Kill can get Pee Wee's autograph on the box.  While they are gone, I'll light a candle and breathe and on Monday, we can all face the new semester.

A Gift at New Year

New Year's Eve is, in my mind, a bullshit holiday.  The calendar changes.  Nothing more.  Worse, it's the Gregorian calendar, developed by a damn pope as an extension of Imperialist Roman convenience and it's not connected to moon phases or anything remotely significant.  If Life is different in the morning, it's not different because it's suddenly, arbitrarily 2011.  Life changes for the same reasons it always does - or not.

I am starting off 2011 with a mild Depression.  As someone who spent decades in a state of profound Depression, mild depression is no big deal.   It's still a drag, though, and steps must be taken to avoid the downward spiral.

It all started a few days ago, at my parents' house in Texas.  A real estate agent called to say that someone wanted to see the house the next morning at 11:30.  Since my mother keeps the house so clean and tidy that it could be ready to show with very little preparation, there wasn't much to do.  It already looks like Martha Stewart approved her linen closets.  The whole place could be free of water spots and muffin crumbs in roughly thirty minutes, but when it comes to depression triggers, reality is irrelevant.

Apparently, the very idea of somebody coming to see the house activates childhood trauma for both me and my sister since my parents bought, renovated and sold homes.  Every eighteen months or so, the house was for sale/  The family's financial fortunes were directly tied to selling the house for a good price, so my mother was seriously dedicated to keeping the house eat-off-the-floor clean at all times.  As soon as a real estate agent called to say somebody was coming, we had to get it even cleaner.  The shag carpet had to be raked, bathroom fixtures, including towel bars and toilet paper holders spotlessly shined, beds made without a wrinkle, trash cans tissue free.

This training must be so thoroughly ingrained in my psyche that when the real estate agent called this week, I flipped my shit.  I felt like I had to have the gutters cleaned out and the siding pressure washed by sundown.  Or maybe I should have been touching up the paint on the baseboards.  Either way, the next thing you know, a noisy, hurtful scene erupted because I wanted to throw away a tin of Chex Mix.  We had already eaten more Chex Mix than anyone ever needs to eat anyway, and I was trying to clear the clutter from the kitchen counters.

Ten minutes later, I was sobbing in the backyard.  Around the corner of the house, over by the pool equipment, out of sight, entertaining suicidal thoughts.  I rapidly managed those thoughts with all the expertise of anyone who has had fifteen years of psychotherapy, but during the time I was in the zone, the despair was as intense as ever.  Maybe even more intense since that's what happens when we return to our childhood roles.

My mother and my sister both visited me in the backyard and were very kind.  Helpful even.  But once the trigger has activated the pattern, you have to go through the whole process, just like running a maze.  Having had years of practice, I can now climb about half way out of the hole in under an hour, and I'm back to my usual charming self in a day or two.  Before I learned to cope, the bouts could last months - and there was a time when it looked like I might not be able to find my way out at all.  That's when I got locked up.

I'm delighted and grateful that a head trip that used to last for weeks can now be fully experienced and under control in a few hours, but all those intense emotions rushing around your mind can make you dizzy.  Even after crisis has passed, some feelings linger and others get tossed into the mix.  Like the agitation that's been nagging at me ever since I had to be brutal to the man on the periphery.   When I read his last note, it sounded as if he wanted to be understood, but he wouldn't volunteer any confidences without coaxing and assurance.  I could have made those promises and asked to be enlightened - but I didn't.  My response cut off any chance of conversation or understanding.

Continuing the metaphor of me being in a castle with him as a minstrel or beggar wandering by, you could say that the gates of the castle used to be wide open, but now the draw bridge has been tightly closed and there are crocodiles in the moat.  I'm pretty sure a defensive position is necessary and wise, but it's not how I typically roll.  I had just fortified my defenses against this intruder when the Chex Mix episode triggered The Depression.  Although the despair has lifted, the isolation remains.  So once again, I find myself throwing out a blog post as if it's a message in a bottle.

These years of blogging have been one, long attempt to alleviate the isolation that makes life in the world so difficult these days even for people who don't get Depressed.   Our entire society is structured so that we remain isolated from each other, too despondent to protect our own rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness from Plutocrats and their Politicians.  If this article from Alternet is any indication, our European neighbors don't understand it any better than we do (America in Decline: Why Germans Think We're Insane).

Right now, I can't even think about the Government, and I'm certainly not interested in Recruiting for the Rebel Alliance.  I'd have a quiet, solitary New Year's Eve, but the kids will all be over here and maybe VeryMissMary too.  She and I might go out to dinner, then come back to HQ to make sure the kids are all right.  I heard the girls talking last night and they all want to wear dresses, so I imagine they will go out somewhere for a little while, run out of money and wind up over here.  One thing is sure - despite my own occasional bouts of suicidal despair, I've made a safe, comfortable environment for the kids.  It's a gift.

I'm pretty sure that's what actually attracts the men on the periphery.  I have nice skin and stuff, but I've become convinced it's not about Romance, or even sex although sometimes it starts out that way.  They appear to be seeking the same open-hearted acceptance I give to Velvet, and to my kids at school   That acceptance sometimes looks like indulgence, and I suppose it is - but as long as everyone is safe and respectful, there's no reason to be a authoritarian hard-ass when you could be having fun. Why not have the most pleasant home you can afford - especially when acceptance and understanding don't cost anything? Besides, it's not like Velvet gets away with murder.  He's off to Siberia in February.

Actually, he's pretty glad to be banished to Siberia - although the Wind River Wilderness in Wyoming isn't exactly Gulag Archipelago.  All I have to do now is arrange for him to do some volunteer work for an organization like Greenpeace and he can be an eco-activist like those guys who hang banners on oil rigs.  He's already told me that he wants to be like James Phillips, aka The Fox

I did promise Velvet that if he does well in the Rockies and figures out how to pass a class up at Tree Hugger once we get things squared away with the Dean, then he can have a semester in New Zealand or Patagonia.  Or maybe a summer in the Amazon.  If you're going to be an environmentalist, you may as well experience the dang environment.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Different Kind of Bar

A while back Teeluck, from Shock and Awe, and I discussed going to Drinking Liberally.  He went a couple of weeks ago and declared it Fun, so I met him there last Thursday.  It was nice of him to check it out and even nicer to meet me there since I would have been chicken to go by myself. 

Drinking Liberally meets at a bar on 9th Avenue.  At some point in the evening, I realized that I had not been in a bar full of straight men since college.  There is a place on Amsterdam where we went for barbecue when Velvet was little that is filled with young, straight men, but I only went there with Buzz Kill and Velvet.  For the last several years, any time I've gone into a bar without an escort, it's been a bar filled with gay men and lesbians, and most of them are theatre people so nobody causes much of a stir.  Or maybe everyone causes such a commotion that nobody notices.

It occurred to me that something was different about this bar when the bouncer started hitting on me,  I must have instigated it by mentioning my recent troubles regarding being undateable.  He said, "I'll date you right now," and pawing ensued.  I didn't really know what to do about the pawing since I was unsure of the relationship between the bouncer and the regular DL crew.  By the time the bouncer started going for mouth kisses, most of the DL folks had gone home, but there were still enough people at the table to have a conversation about my dilemma.  One fellow was a union organizer, another worked for Greenpeace and another worked with Working Families Party.  And of course Teeluck was still there.

I'm not sure if that very handsome, but very married, man from New Jersey was there or not.  He was a wonderful dancer and had amazing blue eyes and a long, thick grey ponytail.  Anyway, the delegation assured me that there was no need for me to be nice to the bouncer on their account, so I told the bouncer that I required eight feet between me and him at all times. I wiped a tear from my eye as I said it, though, and he was appropriately confused and concerned - and he remained eight feet away.

It wasn't the bouncer who convinced me that I'm not undateable, however.  Or even that very handsome married man I so enjoyed dancing with.  It was the 36 year old hottie I invited back to my place to smoke weed. Over the course of the evening, I decided he was undoubtedly the cutest fellow in the bar.  I told him so, and when it was time to go, I put him in a taxi.  Velvet was still out with Buzz Kill and Vagina Dentata when Young N Strong and I got to my place.  He got home a few minutes later, and the three of us hung out for a little while.  Velvet mentioned that hadn't seen Cupcake that night because she was at a party on the East Side, and I stunned myself by giving him $20 and telling him to go to the party.

When I woke up the next morning, I knew for sure I am very dateable indeed. In fact, the reaction of the fellows to the bouncer showed that I can still stir up a ruckus in a bar.  I haven't caused a fight in a bar since I was twenty-something.  Now that I think about it, I remember telling Buzz Kill that somebody had to marry me soon because of the bar fights.  I never meant to cause any trouble, of course, in the olden days or last week.  I don't even know how these things happen, exactly, except that I'm a lively female, and some men think that means I'm hot to trot when that is not the case at all.  At least not with that particular bouncer.

I'm just glad to know that I have been wrong about my romantic life.  I'm not undateable, and I'm not too old to be a cougar, either.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Velvet's Report Card

Velvet's grades for this semester were the worst collection of grades I've ever seen in my life.  There have undoubtedly been worse report cards in this world, but never in this family - unless my brother got one that was worse and hid it so thoroughly from my mother that no one in the family ever knew how bad his grades at college were.

Both Velvet and my Pulitzer Prize winning brother did very well in high school, but they are both the kind of people who need to be duct-taped into their chairs at class.  My worry about Velvet isn't that he's a fuck up - because he is totally not a fuck up.  There seems to be a major disconnect between how he perceives his academic performance and Reality.  Until I can get some concrete information from the school, I am thinking that he is so clueless about his daily assignments that he doesn't even know he's fucked up.  He's learned to follow the syllabus well.  The trouble is that professors often vary from the syllabus once the semester is underway.  If you go to class and pay attention, it's pretty easy to keep up.  There may have been some serious deficits in the Going to Class and Paying Attention arena.

I would be pissed off about it, but he's so sincerely disappointed in himself that I can see he really, truly believed in his deepest heart that he was getting a B in a class that he failed.  My task is to assess and define the specifics of this disconnect between perception and performance.  Until we fully understand the nature of this deficit - Velvet is not going back to Tree Hugger.  We haven't gotten the letter from Tree Hugger yet, but we can be sure that Velvet is suspended.  Many times, parents have successfully appealed a suspension and the student goes on to perform within normal parameters.  I have already told Velvet that is not going to happen.

What is happening is a Semester in the Rockies with an outdoor education program that is similar to Outward Bound.  He went for a summer in the Wind River Wilderness area of Wyoming back in 2008.  If he likes the semester program, which will give him 16 college credits through a university in Utah, he can stay in Wyoming and pursue a four year degree in Environmental Science and Leadership. Either way, he'll be a certified Wilderness First Responder which will help get him a job with the Parks Service.

Blessed Be

Velvet on the right. Wind River Wilderness Summer 2008

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making it up as You Go Along

VeryMissMary and I are at her little house in Connecticut.  We got in just after mid-night last night because we stopped at the Mall in Danbury.  We both had a few things on our lists, but I was most eager to visit the Chanel counter at Lord &Taylor for new mascara.  I should have gotten some a few weeks ago, but there's no Chanel in my neighborhood, and I refused to go the the new Sephora across the street from my apartment.  I didn't feel like going down to Bergdorf's either, so I've been using up miscellaneous sample sizes from the bottom of my make up drawer.  Mary Kathryn accepted my insistence that nothing besides Chanel would do since Lancombe reformulated my favorite mascara so that now you have to use two separate products to get the same look you used to could get with a single swipe of the wand. Greedy bastards.

The next thing you know, Very Miss Mary got such a make-over from a brilliant stylist named Chaz that she bought every product he used on her face.  Even the eye cream.  I was held for ransom at the Chanel counter, too, but having played this game with Chanel before, I didn't need to get my credit limit increased.  VeryMissMary had to open a whole new account.  We looked nice, though, when we went stopped at the grocery store so we'd have yoghurt this morning.

Sadly, when we tried to turn on the heat, we discovered that there was a problem with the furnace in the basement.  We built a fire, put on our snuggies and called the oil company where the landlord has an account.  The technician arrived about 2:00 in the morning.  By that time, we were so cold that we were wearing hats in the house and I was looking for a hotel on Priceline.  Fortunately, the technician was successful, and we are grateful and comfortable.

In the process, however, VeryMissMary declared that my hat is one of the reasons I am un-dateable.   She wasn't making a random observation. She was contributing to an ongoing discussion since for most of the drive, I had been pondering all the reasons why I might be un-datable ever since that guy told me he'd rather catch up on his reading than meet me in person.

Velvet says it's because I have Zero-Tolerance for assholery, which may be true, but generally somebody will at least have coffee with me.  It's possible that this fellow learned enough via email to determine that there's no taming this shrew.  The thing is that even though I will call somebody on his/her bullshit now that I'm over 50, I'm fully accepting of human foibles and don't hold a grudge.  I'm even good-natured when somebody calls Bullshit on me.  At least, I'm good-natured once I've stomped and snorted for a little while.

I know this assessment is accurate because I go through it with Woody Konopelli.  Every now and then he can be an aggressive SOB when he's proving a point.  Despite both of our tendencies toward strong opinions and stronger language, Woody and I get along famously.  Maybe Woody is more evolved than many folks, and maybe that means I would have better results if I stuck to more mature men.

Maturity is not defined by age, of course.  It's more about having enough experience with Reality and Relationships to understand that there's no reason to sweat the small stuff.  Lots of people think they don't sweat the small stuff, but it turns out like they expect you to accept all their bullshit and your small stuff is intolerable.  Certainly some relationships face insurmountable difficulties - like me and Buzz Kill - but none of those issues Small Stuff.  It was major shit.  Sometimes you can even overcome major shit, but only if you're willing to make an effort that includes respecting the accuracy of each others perspectives.  It can get noisy while you're sorting things out - and some people aren't willing to listen to, much less accept, another person's point of view.  That's where effort and openess come into the equation.  It's not easy, but it's always worth the effort.

Driving for a morning is inconvenient, but not for the right friend and lover.   Then it's no trouble at all; it's just time management which is definitely Small Stuff.   But, some people must like their lives the way they are, and don't need to make efforts or take chances. Lots of people are afraid to take risks.  The Preacher took a big risk, and for that, I will always respect him.  It became clear very rapidly that there was no chance for Romance for lots of reasons - but that's okay.  We would have never known if we hadn't made an effort.  And the thing is that even if you think you know what you want from a relationship, you could wind up in a great relationship that's not a bit like the one you imagined for yourself.  You take your chances and figure it out as you go along.  Kind of like Indiana Jones.

It's really hard to hear from someone that you're not worth the effort.  I don't know if it's better or worse that he doesn't know me in real life at all.  What he actually said was that he doesn't have the time or the inclination for a long distance relationship.  I didn't consider 200 miles a long distance.  In fact, I thought it was just right - but then I need a lot of space and am very concerned with balancing intimacy and  independence.   I'm beginning to think that when you're older, you value your solitude in ways that seemed impossible when you're younger.

VeryMissMary still thinks it's the hat.  Apparently, men are more likely to date women who are dolled up like trophy whores than women with practical, utilitarian accessories - no matter who makes your lip stick.  She says that when women are as available as I am, men don't want them.  People want things they can't have, so women have to make men "work for it."  She's probably right, but that all seems wrong to me, although I have to say that it looks like the reason I fixate on that guy who won't talk to me is because he won't talk to me.  If I got mixed up with him, I'd remember why I broke up with him - but only if he hadn't matured over time.  When people are maturing and evolving, they still have all their idiosyncrasies, but they let go of old patterns and make room for growth.  Growth is good.  Instead of remembering why we broke up, we could remember why we were together. 

I'm getting used to the idea that when it comes to most men, I'm undatable.  When I was young and had all those fiancees, I was very dateable - but I also sublimated my own identity for the relationship.  I did that with The Guy Who Won't Talk to Me, too.  That's an effort I will not make anymore.

I like to think that I'm undatable because men see me as the kind of woman who, if he can make it through one weekend, he'll be fooling around with for years - but I like to think lots of things.  I clap because I believe in fairies, for crying out loud.

No matter what, though, it sucks to be the person on the receiving end of Nothing Personal.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Afghans for Peace

Food not bombs
Jobs not prisons and torture . . .
Accountability not corruption
True democracy can only grow in a climate of peace, education and hope

As true for the people of the United States as it is for the people of Afghanistan

Monday, December 20, 2010

Packing for the TSA

Something I learned last week at Best Lesbian Erotica about "packing," which is when somebody wears a dildo in his/her underwear, got me thinking about those naked scanners at the airport.  I wrote about it over at Black Magpie Theory this morning (link), and by the time I was finished I bought Kill & Eat The Rich T-Shirts from The Punk Patriot for everyone on my Christmas list.
This country may be rapidly going to hell in a hand basket, but we don't have to go quietly.  Here's Dennis Trainor, Jr with a modest proposal:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Archetypes and Internet Romance

We often enter into situations with a concept in mind and then discover that the concept doesn't exactly match reality.  I'm afraid that has happened to a fellow on the periphery.  No telling what he had in mind when he first contacted me.  He'd seen the blog so he had ideas about who I must be, but he hadn't delved into the archives or anything and learned the back story.  Maybe he thought that November provided enough information.

In the beginning, he said that I seemed to be discontented here in my self-imposed convent.  It's a lovely place to begin and not surprisingly, an internet flirtation developed.  It would be nice to say that this flirtation fizzled out naturally, but I nuked it when he admitted he had no interest in exploring a relationship in real  life.   I respect his reasons, and since we never did meet in person, I suppose there's no reason to take it personally.

I've always had a tendency to look at Life, The Universe and Everything through a lens of story.  After reading Caroline Myss, I've seen how Archetype and Story make human interactions easier to understand. For the purposes of sorting out this particular disappointment, it is useful to apply the conventions of fairytale  Let's start with a generic Lady in a generic castle.  I'm the one who prefers the castle to be a convent since I like peace, quiet and contemplation.  Let's say a minstrel wandered into the yard.

As the conversation between the lady and the minstrel progressed, he discovered that the castle was not a harmless diversion from the pressures of work.  He wasn't even in a conventional fairytale.  He'd wandered into Castle Antrhax from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I freely admit that this prospect might seem alarming to a fellow who was probably just procrastinating at work when he first contacted me.  I figured he wanted to talk about his own writing or something equally as interesting.  I'm the one who brought up spanking. Like many problematic topics, it all started as a joke.  I suppose that's inevitable when your fairytale turns into Monty Python, but when you consider that the Lady we're dealing with here is me, there's really no where else to go except down the rabbit hole.

It's all my fault, of course. Once I got the idea in my head that a reliable source of outside discipline had found his way into the Triciasphere, I was eager to move beyond correspondence and out to lunch. I've always been someone who says, "No day like today," and the tendency is more pronounced now that the days ahead seem so dark.  Sadly, we hit a common but very unpleasant reality wherein he said he would call and changed his mind.  I'd seen his IP address in the blog stats at about the time he was supposed to call, which suggested that he hadn't forgotten.

In my mind, if he had enough time to cruise the blog, he had enough time to send an email saying he was too tired or stressed or whatever.  I knew he was busy with work and had additional concerns in his life.  All responsible grown-ups do.  If he had sent me a note, I would have let it all alone.  When he didn't, I feared he was another fellow interested in cybersex.

Since his study of the blog was limited to current events, the Minstrel had no way of knowing  that The Narcissist blogstalked me for over a year after we'd broken up,  hovering like Peter Pan outside the Nursery window listening to Mrs. Darling's stories.  I was a virtual girlfriend he visited when he wanted conversation which I suppose is kind of a complement since he liked to divert himself from work by chatting up virtual women on Adult Friend Finder.  A man is certainly entitled to pursue No Strings Attached sex with willing partners on Adult Friend Finder.  Why else have we been fighting all these wars except to preserve these freedoms?  I just thought he should have left me alone, especially when I had asked nicely.  He persisted for months because was getting what he wanted:  NSA sex and NSA conversation without the bother of a real woman. 

The Minstrel didn't know about Double Wide either - the married man who took me out to an expense account dinner and gave me a webcam (Stonerdate 11.13.08).  Double Wide thought that he could chat with me from his basement office while his wife cleaned up the kitchen after dinner and his boys did their homework upstairs in his big, beautiful home in an affluent suburb.  When I suggested that The Minstrel had similar motives, he was highly offended although he contended I had stereotyped his sexuality. 

I have to say, though, that I was impressed with the way he handled himself during that bit of correspondence.  He took responsibility for his actions, directly addressed my concerns and defended his own integrity in the process.  It was neatly managed, so we continued with the emails until he was compelled to inform me that despite my obvious merits, he'd rather spend an afternoon catching up on his reading than meeting me somewhere mutually convenient for lunch.  It would have meant an hour drive for him, and I know what it is to be stressed and exhausted.  I don't blame him and respect his candor.

At the same time, I had made matters worse by referencing him, albeit anonymously, in something I posted elsewhere.  He made a simple, justifiable request - to which I immediately agreed, but when I made a joke, he thought I wasn't taking his professional stature seriously.  Sadly, he sounded so pretentious, pompous, sanctimonious and controlling that he landed himself at this castle:

Apparently, that's more archetypal interaction than a man can bear, especially a man who is too busy and exhausted for lunch.

As an old woman myself, I can relate to being so drained that you need to conserve your limited energy for work and personal projects. I just wish he'd have procrastinated with somebody else.  Then I never would have imagined an interesting, attractive, witty straight man on the horizon.  But then, I'm an optimist who believes relationships can enhance your life, even when you're an old poop, so that you wind up with more energy and enthusiasm for everything.

When your only contact with someone is email, with no vocal inflections and without the ability to quickly correct a misinterpretation, confusion can rule the day.  Maybe I came off like a Disney Princess singing, "Some day my Prince will come."  Or maybe there's a Double Wide Princess or two in his own history.  What do I know?

Either way, we are in The Land of Shoulda Coulda Woulda.  At least we never had lunch. I might be taking everything personally. Now, it's just the internet.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Veterans for Peace

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Traditions

I'm heading out to KGB right this very minute for a free reading of selections from Best Lesbian Erotica 2011

For several years, December has been Best Lesbian Erotica month at Drunken! Careening! Writers! but I've never been before.  This year I'm going to be running the credit card machine to sell the books.  Should be entertaining.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Stayin' Near my Baby

Busy, Busy, Busy.
That's what Bokonists whisper whenever we think about how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.  After a busy, busy, busy week, this Bokonist has come to the conclusion that it's totally too soon for me to retire to Texas. The driving force behind this conclusion is, in a word, Velvet.

Fortunately, my mother understands perfectly, so there's been no argufying in the family.  I'm quite sure my friends in Austin will not be surprised either and hope that anyone who was making bets made some money.

There are other factors, of course.  Most notably, there is the economic and political situation in this county which suggests that this is no time to be moving half-way across the country with no job and no insurance to a state where the dumb ass teabagging governor has run up a $18 billion deficit from cutting taxes and making deals for miscellaneous business interests such as BP.  I'm merely speculating on BP, but having grown up near the oil patch, I know as well as anyone what happens when Bubba is in charge.  It's worse when Boudreaux and Bubba get together.  Take a look at what happened after Katrina in Louisiana for an example of what happens when Boudreax and Bubba are running things, and then take another look at the Gulf.

Anyway, I'm not going to Texas right now.  I got in a rush to head back after last Christmas vacation because I was feeling my own mortality and looking at all my friends smoking and drinking and carrying on.  I panicked and thought we were all going to get sick and die soon.  Especially my Dad - not that he's been smoking, drinking and carrying on.  He's just getting Old Timers'.  Over the last few months, I have come to realize that although everybody dies some day, most likely folks in my happy little world will be just fine for a few more years.  Ergo:  there's no need to make a mad dash for the Hill Country.

Sooner or later, I need to get down there - but not right this minute.  For the moment, I need to remain close enough geographically to Velvet to intervene instantaneously if necessary.  It was necessary yesterday for me to head out into the pouring rain to put money into his bank account.  Parents across the nation may well have been doing the same thing.  I doubt they were braving a torrential downpour because their child needed to pay someone who had fronted him weed because that individual was trying to get out of town and wanted his money.  Somebody somewhere would object to my actions, but as I was splashing through the puddles on my way to Broadway, I was glad to be a push-over.  I have been called a Republican Nightmare as a parent before.

Velvet is pretty sure his grades are going to suck balls again this semester.  I'm thinking that it's not going to be as bad as all that but he's not getting off academic probation.  School would probably go better for him if he gave the impression of being a serious student just so his professors wouldn't automatically assume he's an irresponsible, dope smoking, dip shit.  He may be an irresponsible, dope smoking, dip shit, but that doesn't change the fact that Executive Functioning Disorder, which is part of the ADHD package, manifests in ways that make a kid look hopelessly irresponsible.

The trouble is that it's very rare to find anyone outside of the Education Department on any college faculty who understands how deficits in Executive Functioning can fuck you up.  For example, most kids can walk into the book store and walk out with their books.  It may be aggravating and intense.  The kid may bitch, moan and/or cry - but s/he still walks out with the books.  It could take somebody with executive functioning issues a couple of weeks to figure out the whole book thing.  They get totally overwhelmed and go home to feel like retards because they can't manage the same simple tasks as everyone else.

I hope to high hell Velvet doesn't get suspended, but I've already got a staff of Special Educators ready to advocate on his behalf.  I feel like we've been able to determine the types of adaptations necessary for him to succeed in this academic environment. Frankly, I believe it's in Tree Hugger's best interest to facilitate Velvet's success because there are plenty of smart, creative, passionate learners who simply need interactive, collaborative teaching.  Parents always pay extra for that option.

Good teachers across all age levels are well aware that there are all kinds of minds and are dedicated to reaching the kids in their classes.  So far at college, it seems like only about half of the folks teaching freshman classes are remotely concerned with whether their students understand them or not, and among that portion, even fewer know how to work with SPED kids.  Sadly, a lot of professors seem to resent the fact that SPEDs have made it into college at all, as if the only valid way of learning is reading and listening to some professor lecturing along to a power point - and the only possible way to demonstrate adequate mastery of the subject is by writing papers and taking multiple choice and short answer tests.

Certainly college students should be able to read and write fluently, but there are other ways to demonstrate that you have absorbed the material.  Making videos, for example.  Discussion groups are often more effective than lectures.  Some teachers use a variety of methods.  Either way, though, Velvet can't seem to sort out what material will show up on the test. 

I'm thinking he may need to live at home and go to community college for a semester or two until he becomes more familiar with how to manage academics at the college level.  Hookah House may not be the best environment.  His brothers took good care of him when he got sick, but Velvet may need a bit more supervision.  Or maybe he needs to take three classes instead of four. I'm beginning to think that the troubles kids have at college is a systemic issue that results from overemphasizing standardized tests at every grade level.  But I'm not getting started on standardized testing, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and the all volunteer military right now. 

I still have to get the apartment ready to sell in January, and this weekend, I'm going up to Tree Hugger to get Velvet for the holidays.  We're going to Houston for a few days so we can really participate in the war on Christmas.  Here on the Upper West Side where most folks are Jewish, we've been saying Happy Holidays for years and years.  It's the polite thing to do.

I've already got bouquets of roses and balsam branches all over the apartment, and I can find Robert Earl Keen singing "Merry Christmas from the Family," all year long.  This year, though, I'm feeling more like Nina Simone.  Since I'll be moving to Harlem soon, I need to broaden my musical horizons.

If I'm moving to Harlem for a couple of years, there's plenty of time for my 32 year old daughter, Gigi the Pole Dancing Quadroon, to teach me how to pole dance. Gigi is a dance therapist this an MS in Psychology. Her thesis is on Dance and Women's Sexuality, but I'm more interested in releasing the pain in my right shoulder. Since my spirit guide first presented itself as a Beaver, sexuality might be somehow involved in the shoulder pain but I've got a feeling it has more to do with Aleister Crowley.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Swinging in the Breeze

Although Bernie Sanders' filibuster is heartwarming, I remain seriously bummed out about the government.  When I sat down on Wednesday to write for Worldwide Hippies, I intended to take the position that we should get legal weed if we have to pipe down and take the deal for Tax Cuts.  We're having to tolerate a lot of bullshit and deserve anesthesia.   Then I read about how our tax dollars went to a military contractor who has been pimping out pubescent boys to fat cats in Afghanistan in the article, Wikileaks: Texas Company Helped Pimp Little Boys to Stoned Afghan Cops.

Once I knew about the bacha bazi I couldn't write about Weed.  I wrote this post at Worldwide Hippies instead:  Swinging in the Breeze. Dre added a lovely illustration.

Later on that afternoon, I impulsively clicked "interested" on a Tea Pot Party meet up for next week, made facebook friends with some lawyer in Queens who says he's a political organizer with experience in introducing marijuana legislation in Alaska in 1986. I said they could have the meet up at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarter on Central Park West, but I wouldn't give him my address or put it on the internet.

Simultaneously, I called Worldwide Hippies Joe and asked if I could have a business card and say I'm a correspondent for Worldwide Hippies. He said "sure." So now if I want to I can have a cocktail party for the tea pot party at HQ. None of it may go anywhere, but I figure no matter what happens it would be a good idea to get involved with Willie before I head back to Texas.

Then I called my lawyer, The Man from San Antone, and asked if it's a good idea to have a party for Willie Nelson's Pot Party. I also asked what was up with Kinky Friedman since he and The Man have done business in the past.

The thing is that I don't really feel like going back to Texas at the moment.  I can't stand the idea of being so far away from Velvet.  Sooner or later, but not quite yet.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What's in a Name?

I've got a new post on Black Magpie Theory:  Sex and Civil Disobedience.  I'm always kind of stumped about what to write for Black Magpie on account of they're pretty serious over there, even when they're joking.  My friend Kathleen provided me with material this week.  She has been the editor of Best Lesbian Erotica for a couple of years, but this year, the publisher put her in charge of publicity.

The Magpie piece turned out well and the comment string is interesting which, I suppose, is about as good as it gets. I'm happy to say that things got better than good yesterday because Care2 News Network picked up my essay about the bacteria in Mono Lake.  Joe had it posted over at Worldwide Hippies, and Care2 linked to it from there. I was so jazzed I had to call my mother and my sister.  It's gone now, but for a while, there was a link to something I wrote on a news site that has over 14,000,000 members.  That's a very big number.

It was exciting, for sure, but once I caught my breath, I was kind of bummed because of my name.  The whole time I've been blogging, I used the pen name PENolan which are my real initials with Granny the Ho's maiden name.  Nobody except my parents call me Patricia, though.  On facebook, I'm Tricia Penolan because those fucks at facebook can write thousands and thousands of complicated algorithms but they can't fix it so that a person can use initials as his/her name.  There can be no P.E. Nolan in the land of facebook.

Tricia Penolan is better than Pe Nolan, which is who I used to be.  I hated that as much as when my family moved to Webster Groves, Missouri and my new third grade teacher started calling me Pat.  I had no clue how to correct a teacher, so everybody at school called me Pat until I went to Junior High.

Meanwhile, Monkey Muck finished the pages with my pictures in his graphic novel- which is totally cool even though Woody Konopelli said I look like a Meth Head.  Actually, I think that's the point since Hip Deep, Mountain High is all about hillbilly white trash in the hills of Tennessee.  Or somewhere like Tennessee.

Since Steve/Dr. Von Monkerstien and I are facebook friends, he naturally listed me in the credits as Tricia Penolan.  He's got PENolan now which is a good thing because my mother is going to shit bricks when she finds out that I have become a hooker in an on-line graphic novel.  It's very important that my mother be able to separate herself from my activities.  As long as Tricia _____ had nothing to do with it, then Mother can act as if she had nothing to do with it either.  If my shenanigans could be traced back to her, then she'd feel like her parenting was to blame for my disgraceful behavior.  Notably, when I made the Digg Patriots' list - or penolan made the Digg Patriots' list - Mother kvelled.

I don't have an issue with writing under a pseudonym.  It was Buzz Kill's idea to begin with, or at least the idea of a pseudonym first came up when we were sitting at a conference table with our lawyers negotiating the final terms of the divorce.  I can't blame Buzz Kill a bit given what I had said about him in that story I read at KGB.  It turned out to be for the best because if I used my real name here at Menopausal Stoners, the folks at Firestarter Academy would have been infinitely more pissed off about everything I said about my former assistant, the fennel breathing dragon who set the damn classroom on fire.  Getting fired was a drag, but at least I got unemployment all summer.  Besides, you never know when some random stalker might start hanging around outside Menopausal Stoners Headquarters.  That Geezer down at KGB was bad enough (Stonerdate 07.26.10, The Socioeconomics of Romance).

I'm pretty sure that the Geezer never knew my real name.  I might have told him, but he was too busy trying to figure out a way to use Menopausal Stoners to further his writing career which is about the goofiest thing I ever heard.  Menopausal Stoners has a ring to it, but even though it's a good title, it's not my name.

In one of life's little ironies, Steve had just corrected my name in the comic book when the subject came up in a different context. Lisa from That's Why and me conjured up a man.  The last time I wrote something for Magpie, Lisa made a joke about being my Yenta.  The next thing you know a very attractive fellow sent me a friend request.  He's smart, articulate and witty - not to mention employed which is quite a bonus these days.  The best part is that Lisa had nothing to do with it, although the minute she saw him make a comment about one of my links, she jumped on the idea because this fellow is a real, live, eligible bachelor.  If his pictures are any indication, he's substantially cuter than the man we had originally targeted, The Rude Pundit.

I wasn't enthusiastic about The Rude Pundit, even though he was my own suggestion, since he seems like another unavailable, condescending dick with a book.  I kind of like condescending dicks with books, but really, there are a lot of them floating around New York City and they all seem to think they're the only condescending dicks in town.  Nevertheless, Rude was the only straight man in sight when me and  Lisa put on our Matchmaking Hats.

So I was IMing on facebook this weekend with a handsome, single, employed, younger man who wanted me to tell him something about myself that a person couldn't easily discover on his own on the blog - as if there's something I haven't mentioned during all the time I've been running my mouth on the internet. Further, he had already read all about Velvet saying I'm a Klingon, and I figured that's all any man needs to know.  After some consideration, however, I realized that there is indeed something that isn't on the blog or on facebook:  My Real Name.

I sent him my real name without thinking, but when I saw it there in the message thread, crisp and neat in 10 point arial, I started to cry.  I wasn't a bit sad, but they weren't happy tears either.  I think I was suddenly overwhelmed because he crossed from the periphery into the Triciasphere, and he's close enough geographically to come all the way into the living room in real life.  It's a little bit scary, and not surprisingly, it reminded me of a song

Roam has been one of the official theme songs from the Gemini Parties for years and years - except for the year Kathleen had to listen to the radio the whole time because she was trying to win Joan Jett tickets.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Arsenic, Evolution and Idiocracy

Folks were getting excited yesterday about the discovery of a bacteria that has substituted arsenic for phosphorus in Mono Lake out in California. Scientific types were saying that the search for life in the universe has now expanded because we can look for life based on other elements besides our own - or something like that. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention because I was wondering if GFAJ-1 is our Replacement.

Plenty of people say we don't need to worry about the impact of humanity on the environment on account of the Earth takes care of itself. Maybe it's taking care of itself now by eliminating the carbon based life forms and introducing something that will stabilize and enhance the environment. The Earth may take care of itself, but it doesn't necessarily follow that it takes care of humans. Could be that Nature has determined we're too stupid to survive and has taken steps to remedy the situation we've created.

If we're currently poisoning the planet so thoroughly that we're as doomed as dinosaurs, then it makes sense that another life form will evolve to take our place on the planet once we're extinct. If it lives on poison, it can clean up our mess and restore Earth to its natural balance.

Looking at the History of Man in general, and specifically at the current socioeconomic dyanmics of America today where we seem to be fighting the Civil War all over again, and the seeds for the Civil War were embedded in the compromises that were made in order to get a few slave states to sign the damn Constitution in the first place: there's no reason to be optimistic about Humanity.

Humanity has potential and everything as we often heard on Star Trek, but if the "anthem" by Kid Rock was the best original song anyone could produce for the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear - we're fucked for sure.

I understand that this song brought a tear to the eyes of hundreds of thousands of sincere and earnest individuals who thought they were working to bring about social justice at a corporate sponsored event. I'm sure they are all well intentioned, but it's a sad commentary on the target audience when the basic premise of a song Rolling Stone called one of The 5 Most Memorable Musical Moments of the Rally lists everything we cannot hope to change.  Since there's nothing to be done, let's congratulate ourselves for caring and return to regularly scheduled programming.  Consider the chorus:

I can't stop the war
Shelter homeless, feed the poor
I can't walk on water
I can't save the sons and daughters
Well I can't change the world and make things fair
The least I could do
Is care

We have become a nation where caring about other people is an accomplishment worth celebrating.  Given the popularity of Randy Paul the Aqua Buddha whose supporters stomp the heads of little girls they don't like and a fire department that will watch a house burn to the ground over 75 bucks, I suppose caring about people is, in fact, a quality so rare that it must be meticulously cultivated.  Or maybe caring is the quality Comedy Central wants to attach to their brand to separate themselves from Fox News.  If that's the case, Comedy Central better add Intelligence to their demographic profile.  Glenn Beck's maneuvers in fund raising for the US Chamber of Commerce worked because folks send money to prove how much they care - exactly like thousands of Clueless Christians sent money to Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker at The PTL Club.

If Glenn Beck represents the dominant evolutionary trajectory and that trajectory includes Jim and Tammy Faye, we all might as well start learning to like poison.

This whole thing makes me wonder if I shouldn't forget the plan to move Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters to Austin, Texas and head for Canada instead.  I could get a big piece of land and create a refugee camp for Americans who have fled the Idiocracy. We could have as much fun as they did at Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's compound up in Oregon - except I think we should focus on the teachings of Aleister Crowley (1875 - 1947).   We might as well follow a bisexual, recreational drug using social critic whom the popular press called, "the most wicked man in the world."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hippie Day

I'm over at Worldwide Hippies today, talking about active following:  Small Steps to a Better World
There's some cool stuff over there about Aliens and a compelling piece by Marie Gage, The 99ers and the Trickle Down Effect.  They've also been running an informative series about human trafficking in the US that will make you want to pay very close attention to the people your kid is talking to online (most recent: Who's Missing?)

Dre sorts through the daily news and links to items pertinent to Hippies.  Joe produces regular videos of Hippie News with occasional editorial comments. The joint is hopping.

Follow at Twitter @over50hippie
or on Facebook!/worldwidehippies