Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cast of Characters

The other day, when I was searching the Menopausal Stoners archives for a reference to Velvet's old buddy Hawkeye, I noticed that I posted my first post in the fall of 2007.  That's five years of Menopausal Stoners which just goes to show you that time flies whether you're having fun or not.  For the most part, it's been fun.  Velvet makes my head explode sometimes, but that's just kids.

Here are three posts from that illustrate how Velvet keeps me on my toes as a mother:
Mom's Hand-Me-Down Weed Facilitates World Peace (Stonerdate 04.12.08)
 The Drunk Girl in the Bathroom (Stonerdate 08.20.08), and The Militia of Love (Stonerdate 04.05.10) which included this infamous shot:

The reason I had trouble finding references to Hawkeye, which I knew were there, is because for a time I called him Big Bear.  Big Bear is fitting because he really is a big bear of a fellow in that he's a large young man who seems tough but is really a softie.  Hawkeye suits him better, though.  He and Velvet met at Hippy Dippy Quaker Camp the summer after our dishwasher spontaneously combusted - the incident which led to my divorce from Buzz Kill.

I mentioned Gigi in an addendum to the same post, and Ellen Abbot, who writes Stuff from Ellen's Head, asked in the comments if Velvet had a sister - since I often refer to Gigi as Velvet's sister even though it's not a bit true.  Velvet started calling her his sister when she was going to grad school in Chicago and stayed at our place when she was in town -- about five years ago, as a matter of fact. Velvet says that Gigi is the one who started the sister story.  Frankly, I can't remember.  Shortly thereafter, however, when we were out together, people started asking if I was her mother.  It started at the nail salon, but waiters and waitresses, the porters at Gigi's building and miscellaneous others often ask the same question.

At first, it bothered me that I must look old enough to have a daughter as old as Gigi, but then I started to enjoy calling her my daughter the pole dancing quadroon since she's mixed race and studied pole dancing as part of her thesis project on dance and women's sexuality.  She's abandoned that topic in favor of dance therapy as treatment for eating disorders, so I don't call her a pole dancing quadroon anymore.  She's more into yoga these days anyway.

Gigi's most notable early appearance on the blog involved the mystery of the pink thong:  Are These Your Panties? or What is it with Underwear in my House? (Stonerdate 10.15.08).  She was part of my life long before the inception of the blog, however.  She around for the episode with Gayle the Hillbilly Hustler (Gayle's Panties, Stonerdate 02.16.08), and she met The Narcissist once or twice.  Gigi and I worked together the summer I got thrown off the horse, too.

Here's Velvet and Gigi at Cafe Luxembourg about 18 months ago:

They really do resemble each other.  Here they are at Velvet's graduation from high school in 2009:

At that graduation, my father enthusiastically embraced the story that Gigi was his granddaughter.  He didn't corroborate any details, but we could tell that Buzz Kill was wondering if it could possibly be true.  Velvet and Gigi like to say that The Man from San Antone is Gigi's father, which leads to the question of whose family has the black blood - mine or The Man's.

For the record, my father's family has an entire black side up in the middle of NoFuckingWhere, East Texas.  I'm sorry to say that my great-great-great grandfather really was known as Big Daddy.  When he died, he left land to all his offspring - black and white alike.  It's just that the white ones kept control of the mineral rights because that's what white people do.  A couple of years ago, the family was making a bit of money off of natural gas leases - or at least the white side of the family in Beaumont was making money.

That brings us to my Uncle Jenifer:

Years ago, not long after my MeeMee (the pitbull in pink) died, word came from the family in Beaumont that Jenifer had a website devoted to being a Transperson.  It's gone now, but on that website, Jenifer said something about being a female inside ever since he was a little boy.  I never believed that for an instant.  I still believe he became a woman because in his mind, it erased all the shit he pulled as a man.  He was never prosecuted for anything, although his mother left him in jail overnight once when his girlfriend called the cops after he'd beaten her up.  I reckon he's stopped molesting children now that he's a woman, but from the stories coming out of Houston, s/he's still crazy as hell.

These things will happen down in the Sabine River Valley.  Crazy shit happens everywhere.  Just look at this outfit Vagina Dentata used to wear all the time:

Vagina Dentata is the name I chose for Buzz Kill's mother because for all practical purposes, she ruined her son.  Buzz Kill was about the age Velvet is now when Vagina Dentata asked him to move home from Ohio, where he was happily working in a sporting goods store since quitting school - although no one can say for sure whether Buzz Kill left college voluntarily or not.  Nevertheless, he was climbing frozen waterfalls and following parts of Lewis & Clark's trail across Wyoming in the winter.  Buzz Kill was totally into winter sports.

Buzz Kill was 13 when his dad went into the hospital with ALS, and 15 when he finally died.  Initially, Vagina Dentata fell back on her theatrical skills to make money.  She was a chanteuse in the Poconos when she met her husband - a career military man - and before that she had been on a TV show much like Dialing for Dollars.  After her husband died, she went on the soaps.  Eventually, she wound up importing straw bags from Kenya which was a good business for a while. But there were unscrupulous business partners and other reversals, so she asked Buzz Kill to move home and take care of her.  His sister told him not to because she knew that Vagina Dentata would always land on her feet.  Sadly, Buzz Kill moved home and the rest is history.

There were many reasons for our divorce, but his relationship with Vagina Dentata was a key component.  They were business partners, and she was irresponsible and intrusive, so he hid all the money from her as part of their ongoing dysfunction.  I think our marriage was collateral damage - but he was a fully grown man when he made the choice to nurture his dysfunction instead of our marriage.

Throughout the marriage, Vagina Dentata was taking car services while I was digging in the sofa for bus change - but what's done is done.  These days, she's in assisted living, and Buzz Kill's younger sister the robber baron is footing the bill.  Buzz Kill has the rent stabilized Classic Six on Central Park West with the view of the reservoir, and I'm happily settled in Harlem.  No matter what, though, Vagina Dentata loves Velvet to pieces and Velvet loves her just as much.  As it happens, she's in the hospital right now with a perforated colon.  Yesterday, they thought she might die, but she didn't.  Her own mother lived to be 101, and Vagina Dentata is just about 86.  This could go on for years, or she could die next week.

The same could be said of us all, I suppose.

To be continued . . . 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ready or Not - the playlist

Sometime in the morning last week, just before dawn, my brain was thinking, "I'm ready," just as I woke up.  Naturally, I instantly concluded that must mean I'm ready to actually consider the possibility of a man in my life.  Since my divorce, the new man who has remained longest in my life is Woody. Woody lives 1,500 miles away and I've never met him in real life. Further, I was recently challenging him to examine his perspective and as he stomped off to get another drink, his manner was much like my dad's when I've been challenging his perspective and he stomps off.

Listening the playlist this morning here at HQ, I don't appear to be interested in anyone who reminds me of my father.

 Then there's this one, which always reminds me of the Preacher from the Mountains.

Herb, the artist in the woods, is in sort of the same position as the preacher in that he's someone I only know from the internet. I like Herb's work better, though, because conceptually, Herb falls at the intersection of art and activism which intrigues me. Church was always a drag, and the Preacher confirmed what I always suspected: Jesus himself cannot come between the clergy and the collection plate.

This song turns up on my playlists all the time:


I couldn't hear it when I was floating between homes because it wasn't authorized on my laptop. The line that never fails to speak to me is:
I know a lot of things that you don't 
You want to hear some?

Somehow, the artist in the woods was pulled into the Triciasphere back around the hurricane. I don't know why the media continues to refer to the hurricane as a superstorm. The Man from San Antone said it had to do with litigation. Somebody who was suing over a hurricane has to prove damages against a superstorm.  Apparently, the Courts will have to acknowledge climate change with regard to liability and litigation against their friends in the Insurance business.  Litigation has a way of clarifying societal arguments - much like that Catholic Hospital who dodged a malpractice charge by claiming a fetus is not a human even when the mother is seven months pregnant (

The Man told me about litigation and the superstorm when we had drinks at Cafe Luxembourg right after Thanksgiving.  I think The Man has the same sort of role in the world as my great uncle the crook down in the Sabine River Valley.  He's going to come over to my new place when he's up here next month for depositions.  I'll be glad to see him, but he doesn't count as the first man in the new apartment any more than my father, the contractors, Buzz Kill or the super.  The Man might think he should count, because he is a man, after all, and I suppose there is a possibility that we might get Romantic again - but as much as I love and adore The Man from San Antone, he's fundamentally isolated from other beings.  The Man needs some healing, for sure, and I'm evidently getting good at healing.  However, there have been entirely too many Miss September, October and Novembers in his life for me to consider him a candidate for First Man.  He may be The Man, but he's not going to be the First Man.

The key line in this one:
 I'll be burning rubber 
You'll be kissing my ass

When I'm being fully honest with myself, I have to acknowledge that the thing I liked the very best about Notta Goodman was that The Man would be jealous of his resume. The Man always wanted to make films, and Notta Goodman successfully maneuvered from entertainment law to Emmy Awards.  There's no denying that the wall between Notta Goodman and other people is very similar to the wall between The Man and others, just like there's no denying that the both of them have wound up as corporate hacks.  I'm not interested in being with a Corporate Hack, which seriously limits my dating possibilities.

Buzz Kill's head would have exploded over Notta Goodman, too, but only because Notta Goodman is a black man. If Buzz Kill hadn't read that story I wrote about the black man with a dick the size of a Mag Light, he might have taken a whole 'nother year to move out of the marital residence on Central Park West. After he finally moved in with Vagina Dentata, Buzz Kill became convinced I was a lesbian. True, a few weeks after he stomped off down Central Park West, hollering at me from his cell phone, "Once you go black, you never go back," he was taking pictures of me leaning the Gay Pride Parade down Fifth Avenue - but I was simply helping out my friend Donna, who was in The Sirens at the time. The Sirens used to be called Dykes on Bikes, and they traditionally lead the Pride Parade. Although it was one of the greatest rushes of my life to be leading the Pride Parade when we turned onto Christopher Street heading toward Stone Wall - that doesn't automatically make me a lesbian. I'm glad it gave Buzz Kill some comfort, but really, when you consider the amount of time he spends running around the country in Spandex displaying his camel toe to all the other mini-triathletes, not to mention that he and his swim coach wound up in Coney Island smack dab in the middle of the Mermaid Parade allegedly practicing ocean swimming,  that Buzz Kill has some nerve pointing fingers at my sexuality.

I listened to this Peter Gabriel song a lot back then, and I still listen to it now.

I'm not sure why I reached out to Herb when my head was reeling after seeing The Man.  I think it's because he seems genuinely open to intimacy, but he's still fully unavailable.  I can daydream about him because there's no chance he'll actually show up at my door.  He functions more like an illustration I can examine and determine what I find attractive.

As it happens, he's developing a project that involves distorting Facebook profile pictures.  He's interested in the constructs of internet communication.   I've been looking at selective presentation of self on the internet for a long time mainly because of the things I choose to say or not to say on the blog, but also on Facebook and dating sites.  In many ways, it's easier to be more authentic on the internet because the distance between self and others provides a level of safety - but then, I use a pseudonym.  Buzz Kill may have insisted on a clause in the divorce that stipulated I write under a pseudonym, but in the end, it was a very good idea.

The Artist in the Woods, whom I'm calling Herb at the moment, has a very buttoned up Facebook profile because (1) it's his real name and he uses Facebook primarily as a professional thing and (2) the lawyers aren't done with his divorce and his wife isn't shy about collecting information she can use against him.   People get that way during a divorce.  One spouse initiates a divorce because s/he believes the other is the source of all his/her personal misery then subsequently becomes a source of complete misery to the other.  Lawyers exploit all that for their own financial gain.

Because of all that bullshit, Herb is as unavailable personally as he is geographically - which somehow makes him all the more attractive to me.  The thing is, though, that he's not going to be unavailable much longer.  While I have no interest in being somebody's Rebound Relationship, I can see how he'd be a good candidate for First Man - at least in my head he is.  Hard to know what's in his head.

He must have sent me a friend request about the time he got separated.  I had just friended the founder of a lefty political organization called RootsAction who lives up in the woods too because I was all up into my activist beat for Worldwide Hippies at the time.  Herb showed up a few days later.  I couldn't help but notice his work is brilliant.  Politically, it's kind of subtle and In Your Face at the same time, but there's a playful air a whimsy about it too.

Besides, he's cute.  So far, he's been responsive, and he's initiated conversation enough so that I think he's actually interested although it's distinctly possible he is only interested in me as a concept - and as long as he's in the woods and I'm in the city, nothing will come of it anyway.  I always respected the way the Preacher from the Mountains took a chance when he got on the plane to come see me.  I respect his gumption to this day.

Even though The Preacher couldn't keep up with me, he was a fundamentally open person.  So is Herb.  I'm not so sure he's much of a risk taker, however.  I boldly go all sorts of places because risks don't bother me - it's the ramifications that wind up biting me in the ass.  I don't mind that either because, as Q told Captain Picard, if you can't take a bloody nose every now and then, you might as well stay home.

When Herb first showed up, he mentioned something he'd read on the blog in a private message to me on Facebook.  He said he liked my attitude toward Mr Wisdom back when I was still collecting information and had deliberately overlooked a few adolescent tendencies.  He also left a remark in a Facebook thread at Thanksgiving when I'd written about drinks with The Man at Cafe Luxembourg.  I wonder if he suspected, when he said he was eager for the next installment, that he'd be in it?

It takes The Presentation of Self in Every Day Life (Goffman, 1959) up a level, and may inform his creative project.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Things of Beauty and a Bath

My dad has been and gone, leaving many improvements in my domestic environment.  This weekend, Velvet has been playing Dungeons & Dragons down in the trust fund kids' dorm with Hawkeye.* Velvet wants Hawkeye to work at Hippy Dippy Quaker camp with him this summer.  Velvet himself may well have gotten a little promotion so that this summer, he'll be head of Outdoor Living and Wilderness Skills for his division.  They'll be working organic farms and wandering around in the woods.  It's a valuable skill these days since I'm pretty sure we're going to wind up living like Planet of the Apes on account of Climate Change and something I believe is called Neo-Liberalism which resulted in the destruction of most of the environment and global malnutrition with the peculiar consequence in the US of a horde of people whose minds and bodies are so compromised from ingesting toxins in plastics, pharmaceudicals and McRibs that . . .

Oh, who knows what the heck is going to happen in the midst of all this calamity?  I maintain that life probably sucked pretty hard back during the Bubonic Plague or the Ice Age, so most likely humanity will continue to muddle through.  Meanwhile, Velvet got three As and a B** last semester, and I've just had a bubble bath in my stylin' bathroom.  I can float in my tub as if it were a floatation tank from back in the 70s.  It's a little decadent, but I find water mediations very healing.  Nevertheless, there's no way I can pretend the practice is at all sustainable, and it reminds me of the scene in Star Trek Voyager when Captain Janeway ordered Tukvoc to see that Nelix got a bath.  Nelix can't believe the crew can replicate so much water that they squander it lavishly.
Here's Nelix:

Here's my tub:

I had the water deeper than that, though, which is why I could float and why I felt a little guilty even though it may very well have been two weeks since the last time I had enough peace and quiet to indulge in a water meditation.   I've been focused on unpacking and settling in so that there's a place for everything and everything in it's place again.

It took me a couple of weeks to accept that this place is actually mine.  That no one is going to bang on my door, waving papers, and announce that I have to be out in 24 hours because there's been a big mistake.  The Christmas tree was down before I finally started to feel relaxed.  I don't feel fully secure yet - most likely because it's taken so long to get my loan through the process down at the Credit Union.  Finding a lender for an HDFC coop was a little trickier than I imagined, but I love the credit union.  I have successfully moved my money to an institution that stops business so that the staff can play with a customer's dog.  As it happened, it's been unusually warm here due to climate change, I expect, and the windows were open at the credit union.  My loan officer noticed a friend walking by and shouted from her desk, "Hey! You Jerk!"  The fellow put his head through the window to joke with my banker, and the next thing you know, a little terrier mutt was running around wagging her tail at everybody.

When I was down there six weeks ago to sign some papers it took the loan officer fully 10 minutes to find the papers, and I had made an appointment the day before and everything.  She found some Hershey's kisses in the drawer, though, and stuffed them into her pocket while she went into the back office to look for my papers, muttering "Shit, Shit, Shit," in a stage whisper.

I love the credit union.  My friend Shelia lives around the corner from the credit union's main office on the Lower East Side and says that sort of behavior is common in their neighborhood especially when an outfit hires former heroin addicts.  Shelia turned up during the Restoration project.  We have known each other since before I got married and became Mrs. Schmenkman.   The two of us, and our dear, dear friend Lesley, were the worst secretaries in America back at the Public Relations firm.  We used to ditch work at 3:00 to do shots at O'Neals - a bar that used to be on the corner of 57th and 6th. Lesley died from a blood clot years and years ago when she was just 31, about a week after she'd flown to and from L.A. for work.  She had her own little PR company that handled rappers, and when those rappers sung gospel songs at her funeral in Newark, it nearly blew the roof off the church.  Lesley and Shelia were very best friends. I had drifted away after having Velvet, although we did hit a couple of bars where Velvet could sit in his bouncy chair.

Anyway - the friendship between Shelia and me has been restored, too, which is Thing of Beauty #65-101 (realia).   Hopefully she'll join me at KGB Bar for the 10th Anniversary of Drunken! Careening! Writers! - the humor reading series developed and curated by the lovely and talented Kathleen Warnock.   I'm proud to have read in that series myself a few times over the last 10 years.  As it happens, Drunken! Careening! Writers! played a role in my divorce because (1) the first time I read there, when I was still Mrs. Schmenkman the owner of the bar made a pass at me the minute Buzz Kill left, and (2) a couple of years later, I read the story the story that blasted Buzz Kill right out of the marital residence and led to the clause in my divorce stipulating that I use a pseudonym when writing.  PENolan was born.

I think that's Thing of Beauty #66-101.

* Hawkeye is referenced in this post from the archives, Velvet the Dungeon Master (stonerdate 03.31.09).  He didn't have a name yet.  Neither did Cupcake, but she was certainly the young female hanging around the D&D game.  Searching the archives, I found that there are five years of posts from Menopausal Stoners, and one of the first posts was about that independent documentary I was in about Brazilian Bikini Wax (Why We Wax).  As it happens, Shelia and I found each other at the cocktail party following the New York premier of Why We Wax at some film festival downtown.   She was there with a friend who was also in the documentary.  What are the chances?  That's a perfect example of why Bokonists say, "As it happens . . . " when we know things have happened As they were supposed to happen - not through the machinations of some supernatural being but due to the laws of cause and effect in the great pachinko machine of life.

** The B was in Psychology 101, and the As were in Intro to Theater (he directed an updated Hamlet with Hamlet as the prince of a US Satellite nation in the middle east), Anthropology (his favorite) and African American Experience.  For unknown reasons, he was the best student in African American Experience.  He told his sister Gigi (a quadroon) that all you had to do was mention Angela Davis in your essay, and the professor gave you an A.