Sunday, April 28, 2013

Players Playing

Life at HQ is slowly settling into the a routine that looks like the New Normal.  There will be no house guests again until Punk Patriot arrives in June.  He'll be in the city for Left Forum.  If he wins the DFA scholarship competition, he'll then go on to Netroots Nation.  He's been to Netroots Nation before and seems to find it educational and inspiring.

There's still time to vote for him if you're inclined to help a brother out by clicking on a link.

As it happens, my dear old friend Pineapple Head will be working at Left Forum, manning the table for MoRUS, the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space.  It's a growing organization in the East Village that preserves and promotes grassroots urban space activism like housing and gardens.  It's all very exciting, I suppose - or at least I feel like I'm working on the Revolution without ever disturbing myself from my regular routine.   Other people are doing the hard work.  I'll surely attend Left Forum, however, because there's a possibility that I'll meet a man that I like there.

The British Banker may have confirmed that it's time for me to rethink my ideas about potential romantic partners, but beyond that, he was fully useless.  Although it always stretched the limits of the imagination to think that a banker could be any help to anybody, I had at least hoped that the bar he said he frequented would provide a suitable alternative to Cafe Luxembourg since they have a happy hour.  Cafe Luxembourg never discounts anything.  They develop a consistent, reliable group of faithful regulars by slipping us freebies - much more subtle.

I had been to 'Cesca, the place where the Banker goes, years ago for dinner with Buzz Kill, and again with that married guy who was trying to impress me (Stonerdate  08.04.09).  I'd been there another couple of times for drinks when I was computer dating.  'Cesca is nice, but over time, I'd come to associate it with married men and alcoholics and hadn't been there in ages.  Nevertheless, the idea that there could be eligible bachelors at a bar as geographically accessible as Cafe Luxembourg at half the price was so compelling that I decided to check out the happy hour.

It was easy enough to pop in there for a drink last week before Woody got here.  I was meeting Gigi downtown later that evening and had a little time to kill anyway.  For the record, I don't hang out in bars.  I hang out at bars in fancy restaurants.  Gigi likes bars at fancy hotels, too, but whenever we go to a fancy hotel bar, I think we look like hookers.  That may be okay for her because she's young, beautiful and lithe.  I'm old, pudgy and creaky.  Actually, I'm still an attractive red head, but I've got my own money, and can drink almost any man under the table and kick his ass.  In truth, the only man I've ever met who challenges me that way is The Man from San Antone.  We're on speaking terms again, but since he's nowhere in sight, he is largely irrelevant.

But back to the bar at 'Cesca.

I wasn't worried that I'd run into the Banker because I figured I could go to that bar 200 times and never see him.  This is a big city, after all.  There was another Brit there who was badly, if expensively, dressed and wearing a wedding ring.  He was talking to the bartender about going out drinking yet again with the person he was meeting and how all the drinking was wearing him out.  Since I was on my way to meet Gigi and didn't like the bar anyway - mainly because they had CNN on TVs at either end of the bar and that severely undermines the relaxation factor at a happy hour even if the sound is off - so I was in the middle of paying my tab when the British Banker himself joined the other Brit at the bar.

He didn't see me at first, but when we made eye contact, he was stunned and visibly shaken.  To me, that indicated he had never once considered that a woman he had been aggressively chatting up would turn up in his territory.  He may have also been afraid I was a stalker when I was simply doing a little reconnaissance.  I didn't stay to clarify.  I finished my wine, swooshed my periwinkle cashmere shawl around myself and left, retaining my impression of the place as a hang out for married men and alcoholics.  There seemed to be some regular folks from that neighborhood, too - but Cafe Luxembourg is infinitely superior unless, of course, you're in the mood for Italian.  'Cesca has really good Italian food and is conveniently situated near Lincoln Center.

If that banker had been half the player he thinks he is, he would have said something like, "What a pleasant surprise," even if he were suspicious about my motives and/or sanity.  He'd have bought me another drink while he assessed the situation.  That's what The Man would have done because he can back up his bullshit, no matter how deep it gets.  The good news is that I must meet whatever criteria 40-something year old men who think they are hot shit have established for determining which women to hit on in bars.  If I were as old and creaky as all that, he wouldn't have hit on me at all.

The other good news is that I was able to get along very nicely with Woody Konopak for the whole five days and seven nights he was here.  My mom and I got along very nicely, and we spent three weeks together - and that included four days in a car as well as a week in my little apartment.  When you add three months at Gigi's place last summer, and another three months living with my buddy the tapper during the renovation project - it looks like I really could live with somebody again.  For the longest time during and after my divorce, I thought I never, ever wanted to live with anyone again.

I'm still not so sure I'd ever want to have an old man in my house for any length of time, and I'm pretty sure most old men would say the same thing about old women.  The point is that I'm not ready for a rocking chair just yet.  The experience with the banker suggests I'm looking for a Player who has had enough playing - not because I've been so impressed by Players but because I'm apparently a bit of a Player myself.   

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Waiting for Konopelli

Woody Konpelli aka Dr. John Konopak (because he Piles his bullshit Higher and Deeper = PhD) is scheduled to arrive tomorrow at LaGuardia airport at about 10:00pm.  He produces the following blogs:

He has a couple of other blogs, but hasn't posted there in a while - proving that even the most prolific pontificator eventually runs out of something to say.  I don't look at any of his blogs because he generally uses his Facebook status reports to shape his material, so by the time he posts something on a blog, I've already heard it a couple of times.  I keep telling him that he should develop his ideas and rhetoric in a blog post until he's got it right (or at least the way he wants it), then post a link on Facebook - but he won't do it.  He seems to enjoy the immediate feedback offered by the "Like" button.  I still say he'd like the data in his sitemeter more when people follow the links over to his blog posts because he'd have more solid numbers about who actually gives a shit about his comments and opinions.
Maybe that's exactly why he hasn't made a fan page . . .
In any case, he's arriving tomorrow and staying until early Wednesday morning.  Seven nights and five days with Woody Konopak may or may not be more than I can handle.  We shall see.  The cool thing is that Woody was a professor of Curriculum Theory for 20 years before he got run out of Oklahoma all together and OU in particular.  Since I'm in the process of deconstructing teacher practice at my school in order to determine what values are reflected consistently in all of our classrooms.  Now that I've uncovered our common approach to teaching and to children, I should be able to articulate the theories embedded in our practice and, subsequently, describe an approach to curriculum that is unique to our environment. Woody can help me figure this shit out and write off his trip.

Except for when he writes an "Education Beat" column for Joe at Worldwide Hippies, Woody likes talking about politics and current events.  I hadn't really been paying attention to current events or politics when Velvet was little because (1) someone would have had to interrupt Barney to report breaking news if I were going to hear about it and (2) the government is such bullshit anyway that I didn't fucking care - and that went double when George W was president.  Couldn't look at the man on TV without throwing something.  I had hoped to have a different attitude about the president and the government in general when Obama took office, but we all see how that turned out.

Woody became a fixture in my life about the time I started paying attention to the world again, a little over five years ago.  Neither one of us can remember if I found his blog first, or if he found mine - but either way, over time we became best buddies even though we've never met in real life.  For all his confrontational mouthiness with regard to current events and politics, Woody is really a teddy bear who will endlessly listen to me sort out my romantic behaviors.  He's the one who said my relationship with Notta Goodman was really an ethnographic study of Self in Relationship.  He's also the one who keeps telling me to read Goffman's Presentation of Self in Everyday Life - and I really did try.  Goffman may have been brilliant, but he was a boring writer.

I much prefer Tom Robbins, and Woody introduced me to him, too.  Woody has read a lot of books in his time, and he has the kind of mind that retains details like author's names, publication dates and the vocabulary words people use to describe philosophies.  I can never remember that stuff unless someone's work makes a serious impact on my development - like Kurt Vonnegut and Anthony Trollope.  When I read everything I can find by an author, then I remember his/her name.

I read everything by Georgette Heyer I could find in the library when I was in high school and college. Granny the Ho was into reading bodice rippers, but she also belonged to some book of the month club and gave me hand-me-down novels.  Georgette Heyer was among several gothic and historical romances.  Granny gave me so many hand-me-down novels that when I finally decided it was time to get rid of them, they filled the entire trunk of my hand-me-down Oldsmobile.  I intended to take them to a women's prison since that's the only place I could imagine that would be glad to have enough bodice rippers, Gothic Mysteries and Regency Romances to fill the trunk of an Oldsmobile - but after a couple of months, I tossed them all into a convenient dumpster.  Recycling hadn't been invented yet, and I never located a women's prison, which is probably a good thing.

More later . . . I'm late to work as usual, but today I'm dressing with care because I'm going to the happy hour that British Banker said he frequents.  He had come over to Cafe Luxembourg last week as a change of pace.  He lives on the same block as Cafe Lux, but it's typically too crowded for him and besides, they never discount the drinks.  Regulars often get free drinks, but it takes a while to become Preferred Customers, like me and Gigi.  After I check out his favorite bar, I'm meeting Gigi somewhere downtown.  Last week, when Gigi and I visited her friend Prudence the Performing Artist and Bartender at a trendy spot near Stonewall, we met some guy Gigi said was such a prominent IT entrepreneur that I had to be nice.  Gigi keeps up with that shit.  I guess in New York Magazine or something.  Anyway he'll be there tonight as well as a fellow Gigi calls Restaurant Jesus because he knows so many owners and bartenders.  If you've decided to have a freewheeling summer in the city, it's imperative to know lots of restaurant owners and bartenders.  It's how we get free drinks.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Character, Fairytales and Chakra Alignment

Velvet must have gotten tired of my All Star Trek All The Time approach to television viewing and introduced me to a series called Once Upon A Time.

When my mother was here, we went to Costco and got a TV for the living room as well as as many packets of organic chicken as I could stuff into my freezer.  For what seems like the last 10 years, I've only gone to  Costco when I was in Texas in order to get Melatonin, Ibuprofen, Vitamin E, Strivectin and various products from Oil of Olay.  I knew from all those trips that there were copious amounts of shit at Costco.  I just didn't know they had good shit.  Now that I now there's good shit, I'll probably get a membership of my own to use quarterly at the urban Costco on East 116th Street.  There are car service drivers on hand in the parking garage to take you home for a flat fee.

Last week, I went home with a flat screen in Mother's Subaru, and commenced watching Once Upon A Time.  Velvet showed me the pilot episode before I went to Texas while we were having dinner.  We've been watching Arrested Development with dinner sometimes using his Netfix account on my computer, which has a screen fancy enough to be the only TV in the house.  It's just that I prefer watching movies and other longer shows from the sofa instead of a dining chair or desk chair - which is why I broke down and got a TV for the living room in the first place.  We've had a TV this whole time, it's just been in Velvet's room because he needs it for Xbox Live.

For the record, Velvet and I have conversations at dinner, too, but we've always liked to watch TV together. When he was in fifth grade or so and my former friend Rhet lamented that half the world today doesn't realize there were movies prior to Star Wars, I instituted a Classics program, also using Netflix. Lion in Winter may not have been the best place to start since young Velvet ran from the room in tears, shouting "How could you make me watch such a horrible woman?!" Years later, I realized that he may have been equating his mother with Eleanor of Aquitaine which is understandable given the nature of my marriage to Buzz Kill.   I showed him John Water's Serial Mom as an example of black comedy about the same time.  It proved much less problematic, although the language in the first scene is certainly not how you'd like your children to hear you talk.

But back to Once Upon A Time, I like it because it takes the typical notion of fairytale princesses and turns them into kick-ass, proactive, smart, strong women.  During the first season, the main theme was how everyone has the power to change his/her life.  We're not defined by our pasts or how others perceive us.  The whole set up appeals to me because of my own personal interest in the intersection of real life and fairytale through a lens of archetypes.  The characters on Once well-rounded for TV.  Everyone is a mixture of strengths and frailty, and they call each other on their bullshit in a way that facilitates character development - not only in a literary sense but also in a real life sense where we reflect on our behaviors and feelings, see where there's work to be done - do it and evolve.  So they're developing strength of character over the course of the season.

I've been looking at my own character for years, chronicling its development here on the internet - and I've been trying to shape Velvet's character for years.  That's my work.  For recreation, I've been examining the characters of men who qualified, to some degree, as Romantic Interests.  Woody says that when I get in a relationship, I've embarked on some sort of ethnographic study and uses the example of the Preacher from the Mountains to illustrate how I was much more interested in seeing a preacher's look at spirituality and in The Church as an institutional road block to human progress than I ever was in the man himself.  Rhet used to say that my boyfriends were essentially dildos with a Rubrics Cube attached.  Once I solved the puzzle, I got a new cube.

This tendency to make sense of the world through a romantic (read sexual) lens might have something to do with having a Beaver as my totem.  I learned my totem is a Beaver back in 2006, the summer I got thrown off a horse, got divorced, got involved with The Narcissist and got my DNA activated when I visited Granny the Ho in Lake Tahoe.  My cousin had recently had her DNA activated by a woman named Davis.  You could say she was a healer, a shaman or a witch - but she was also my cousin's friend and an amazing masseuse.  Apparently, it's fairly common for one family member's DNA activation to trigger a response in another family member.  Could be that's why I felt compelled to jump on a plane and get myself to Tahoe.

Davis was trained to activate DNA by this guy named Derek O'Neill.  Everybody knows that all kinds of physical characteristics, like eye color, are in the genetic information that winds up in our bodies on account of DNA.  That's where my own knowledge on this subject ends - but what I understood from Davis is that our DNA gives us both our physical and emotional heritage.  We can all see the physical characteristics in families - seeing the emotional stuff handed down through the generations isn't so easy.  It's kind of like "the sins of the fathers" because let's say something traumatic happened to your grandmother - her attitudes shaped your mother and your mother's attitudes shaped you psychologically.  That shit is passed down through generations not only because of the relational stuff. It's in the DNA too.  Davis' handout says:
Our human form is composed of 12 physical strands of DNA and 12 corresponding spiritual strands totaling 24 strands.  The average person has only 1 strand activated, which accounts for limited brain use in humans.  The 22-Strand activation is the key to unlock 22 of our 24 strands of DNA . . . The Codons, which are access points into our etheric blueprint and influence the DNA strands, are opened and infused with light.  As the codons take on light, they immediately translate a new light pattern to the master cell of the pineal gland.
The punch line is that activating your DNA clears your karma.

After we centered ourselves and my body was properly aligned and breathing, Davis dusted off my aura with a raven's wing.  I can't remember what happened next in the process, but eventually she energetically charged her crystal wand and placed it carefully on specific points along the back of my head - the codons.

Even though she always used the same wand, sometimes it felt hot and sometimes it felt cold.  When she was activating the fourth codon - I went to an intensely dark place in my spirit.  So dark and sad and lonely that she nearly moved on to the fifth codon but she felt me relax and knew I was okay with the dark place.  That's when she saw my totem, the beaver, was keeping me safe.

People have different vocabulary words to explain spiritual phenomenon.  Some people like the idea of Angels surrounding us who are there to help as soon as we ask.  Others think of spirit guides and totems.  Kind of depends on your tradition - Native American, Celt, Whatever.  Even people who are militant atheists still nurture their spirits by engaging in relaxing, fun activities like gardening, cooking, surfing, et cetera.  No matter what vocabulary words we use to describe what's happening to our emotional self, all you're really doing is listening to the still voice inside you.  The trick is turning off the   chatter of the ego long enough to hear the voice.

The DNA activation was cool for lots of reasons, and Davis followed it up with an outstanding full body massage.  That's when she told me that somebody else's secret is trapped exactly where my neck slopes into my left shoulder, which is the shoulder that got fucked up when I got thrown from the horse a few months before I saw Davis.  Coincidentally, it's the same shoulder that had the recent arthritis issues that led to the surgery in 2011, which was the second surgery on that shoulder.  I've come to the conclusion that my heart chakra was so blocked that my energy takes a detour between the forth and fifth chakras and instead of going out the top of my head like it's supposed to - it blasts out that shoulder so hard the cartilage evaporated.

Since my totem is a beaver, I know that the best way to fix the energetic issue with the shoulder is by aligning my chakras from the inside using methods best described as Tantra.  Looking at the boyfriend situation logically, we see that the two men who pissed me off most were The Narcissist and Notta Goodman.  As it happens, I was on serious pain medication when I entered into both of those relationships against my better judgment and have to wonder how much influence the narcotics had on my thinking.  Both relationships led to an ethnographic study of self particularly with regard to ego reactions in relationships which has been enlightening and liberating.  Physically, those relationships were both beneficial in aligning my chakras so that my energy is much more likely to circulate in my body the way it's supposed to instead of fucking up my shoulder.

I still need to address the issue of Somebody Else's Secret because that shoulder remains stiff as hell.

As it happens, I followed my inner voice to Cafe Luxembourg last Friday.  I was supposed to meet a friend, but the timing didn't work out.  I'd been conducting parent/teacher conferences for two days, so cocktails at Cafe Lux seemed like a good idea whether my friend could meet me or not.  While I was sipping one of their signature drinks, Three Naked Ladies, an attractive, British man approached me and almost instantly started massaging that shoulder.  Naturally one thing led to another, and I gave him my number.  That's how it is when you're guiding spirit is a beaver.  He's a banker, so who knows if he'll ever call.

He's 42, though, which I fully believe indicates that I should follow this path leading to younger men.  The British Banker is the third fellow in his early 40s I met last week.   Since 42 is the answer to the ultimate question about Life, The Universe and Everything according to Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy - I think I'm on to something.

Iconic image from a Cafe Luxembourg postcard

Thursday, April 4, 2013

On The Road with Mom

My mother and I made it safely to HQ, but we've remained on the move.  We've been tackling Ikea and Costco instead of tooling along the interstate, which is a good thing because the interstate can be tiresome.  The first two days were pleasant, in a Holiday Inn Express and Macaroni Grill kind of way.  By the second night, though, I had had it with mall food.  We were spending the night in a little town called Abingdon, Virginia where we found The Peppermill.  They had a decent white wine from Spain and speckled trout.  All was right with the world.

The Peppermill
The next morning, we set out with the intent of leaving the highway to take the scenic route through Virginia on a road called the Blue Ridge Parkway.

That there is a stock photo from the internet.  The closest we got to the scenic route was Total Car Care near Christiantown, Virginia.  I can't remember if there were any massive crosses springing up from the hills around Christiantown.  I just remember it was near the exit to Virginia Tech - but there are a shit ton of giant crosses on the hills of Tennessee and Virginia.  I can see why Doctor Monkey  has become a militant atheist.  Unfortunately, Doctor Monkey was seeing doctors all day on Thursday, or Mother and I might have visited with him and had dinner in northwest Tennessee which would have altered the entire trajectory of our trip.  Doctor Monkey VonMonkerstien is an artist and improvisational comedian in cranky pants who can alter any trajectory and very likely the space-time continuum too. The Total Car Care experience might have been avoided by his famously good cooking.

Here's Total Car Care:

And their back lot:

We wound up there because the Check Engine light came on for no good reason.  Subaru Foresters have a notoriously idiosyncratic gas cap.  If the gas cap isn't on just right, the car doesn't like it and zaps the Check Engine light.  If I were a more suspicious type, I'd think the car manufacturers and mechanics conspired to make sixty bucks every now and then by running a computer diagnostic and hitting the reset button.

As it happened, Mother has been driving this very same Subaru for something like eight years and never once had an issue with the gas cap.  I, on the other hand, knew all about the gas cap quirk because when Velvet and I still lived in the old HQ on Central Park West, the building had a cheap parking lot and I had my brother's hand-m-down Subie.  My sister has it now because we keep Subies in the family.  I've driven for weeks with the Check Engine light on because I knew the sensor was just fucked up.  

Mother has had more significant automotive difficulties than I have - most memorably a VW Dasher with an accelerator that had such pronounced tendencies to stick that she decided the best way to get the dang car to stop was to drive it through the dealership window.  Fortunately, it never came to that but when she and Dad went to trade it for an Oldsmobile, the dealer told them it was eaiser to get rid of the clap than a Dasher.  Between that car and the one that stalled out on the freeway in Houston because the mechanics who were changing the oil forgot to put in any new oil - Mother's not taking any chances with an engine light. We pulled off the highway into the parking lot of a handy elementary school and called my father.  Then we called Triple A.  
The friendly, efficient fellows at Total Car Care would have been happy to send out a tow truck in 45 minutes, but since they were within spitting distance, I convinced Mother to brave the drive to the garage. They worked us into their busy schedule and got us back on the road in an hour and a half.   Mother was a little rattled, though.  It's unsettling to have something go wrong with your car when you're in the middle of NoFuckingWhere and you know with absolute certainty that you've used every single one of your mechanical skills by raising the hood of the car.
We agreed that it was best to stick the main road until she was satisfied that all was well with her trusty Forester, but we'd gone over a hundred miles before we relaxed back into our groove.  Once we both confessed that we fucking hated Virginia, our sense of humor was restored.  In the nick of time, as it turned out since the best restaurant around for miles was this Denny's:

Mother ordered coffee with milk and the young waitress brought her this:

You could see the Blue Ridge Mountains from the parking lot, though, proving we sometimes find little compensations in life.

Dad flies in tonight, and he and Mother will be heading back to Texas on Sunday morning.  Tomorrow is Velvet's 22nd birthday, so Dad is stopping by one of our favorite barbecue joints before he gets on the plane to bring Velvet a pecan pie.

Goode Company Barbeque often says, "You might give some serious thought to thanking your lucky stars that you're in Texas."  I'm thanking my lucky stars I'm in New York City, but Velvet and I do like that pie.

I'm also thanking my lucky stars for my mom.  Looking at the main road and the scenic route as a metaphor, I can see that my mother prefers her journeys to follow a more predictable path.  She likes to have a clear idea of what to expect going forward, even if it's Denny's and the Holiday Inn Express (which for the record was a good value and reliably clean).  Mom likes good values that are reliably clean.  I do too, for that matter, but I'll take the road less traveled almost any time.

The Blue Ridge Parkway doesn't count as a road less traveled, however.  It's a country highway that is well maintained for tourists. The speed limit is 35 mph once you hit Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Forest, so it would have taken us all damn day to get the hell out of Virginia, which may be filled with nice people but struck me as a hillbilly haven - and I'm counting those destructive, manipulative warmongers at the CIA in Langley as redneck hillbilly bastards.  They may be more sophisticated than the folks raising gigantic crosses on every clear cut hill they can find, but from where I sit, the CIA acts kind of like those bad boys in Deliverance.   I've never seen Deliverance myself because just hearing about it back in high school was alarming enough - but I believe it's a lot like the scene in Pulp Fiction where Bruce Willis and some other guy have been held captive by pervs who shoved ball gags in their mouths before committing acts so unspeakable even Quentin Tarantino shied away from splashing it across the screen.

I suppose you never know when you're going to run into pervs with ball gags.  Mother's worries tend to be more garden variety, but there was enough unpleasant unpredictability in her early life that I fully get why she prefers the main road.  She likes to make sure her family is safe, comfortable and well-fed too. 

Yesterday, April 3rd, was my 17th anniversary of getting out of the looney bin.  I continue to celebrate the fact they let me out after a couple of weeks because the doctors didn't have to.  My insurance company would have covered a whole month.  When you considered how many people - most of us, I'm betting - struggle with feelings of abandonment our whole lives, I'm really glad to have parents who not only supported me through thick and thin but also go out of their way to bring pie.
That must be Thing of Beauty #067-101 (Explore Beauty from realia)

Blessed Be