Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekend Update: Week 4

 Elvira told me it's pretty boring reading about the plays, movies and parties I go to on the weekends, and I trust her judgement completely. So instead of writing about the young woman who was feeling up my boobs in a smokey dive where I was playing pool (badly, as usual) and singing karaoke last night --yes, that bar-- I'm just going to share some internet stuff that caught my attention.

Weekend Wrap-Up

What made me giggle:

This is silly, but just do it. Just click on this guy's nose. I know, right? It's hard to resist doing it just one more time.

What made me hot:

If you're not sure what to get me for Valentine's Day, consider this your hint. Mmmmmmm. Bacon Lube.

What made me cry sob:
No words.

Somebody posted this photo and story on Facebook: "The night before the burial of her husband 2nd Lt. James Cathey of the United States Marine Corps, killed in Iraq, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept.

'I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,' she said.

'I think that's what he would have wanted.'"

I am and always will be wild blue yonder all the way, but when it comes to a flag-draped coffin, we're all sisters under the military. I can't count the number of times I stood at my kitchen window holding my breath as I watched a dark blue sedan drive by, and then praying it wasn't going to pull into one of my neighbors' driveways either ... Well done, Marine. Bless your heart.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Working out the kinks

I've been invited--along with a few hundred other people--to an industrial goth birthday/fetish party. No big deal. I've been to dozens of fetish parties. Former Girl Scout leaders are really popular at fetish parties because we know our knots.... Awww, fuck it. I admit it. I've never been to a fetish party. Not one. And now I feel like I'm sitting by myself at a long table in a crowded high school cafeteria reading my English lit textbook.

Believe it or not, I haven't decided if I'll go yet for three simple reasons. And if you'll please bear with me, I'd like to share them and get your advice.

1. I hate to admit this because fetishes are so hip, so trendy, even I'm invited to a fetish party. Not that I'm a complete innocent. I read Dan Savage and I also .... ummmm ... (maybe I shouldn't overshare.... this isn't my secret sex blog, after all) I don't like to get too personal, so my former, private experiences aside, the problem is I don't think I have a fetish. There! I said it. Unless maybe chocolate could be considered a fetish, but I'm pretty sure it's not. So before I can RSVP in the affirmative, I think I should adopt a personal fetish ..... ..... ..... I'm thinking. .... ..... Writing is a process of discovery, so please be patient .... I've got it! I do have a fetish after all! Cookies! Cookies will be my fetish. Cookies can be a fetish, right? Even if everybody loves cookies? Anybody else have a cookie fetish? Anybody?

2. Next, I'm not sure what I'd wear to a fetish party because a) this mamma doesn't go out dressed in a tight corset and garter belt like trailer trash ... a 'ho' ... a really needy middle-aged trailer trash 'ho' ... shudder ...I'm not 21. Those clothing items I save for someone who has earned his way into my inner boudoir. I don't waste that good shit on strangers. So if I'm not going to wear underwear lingerie, what would I wear? Rubber, I've heard, doesn't breath. I'd worry about excessive sweating. I'm not into kitties or bunnies. My feet are ticklish, and I can't stand up walk very far in 5" heels anyway. Duct tape? No. Unless I dress like cookie monster and risk a costly trademark violation, what the fuck would I wear to the fetish party?

Get your own, Elvira. You can't borrow mine.

3. Even if I did knock off numbers one and two of this list, number three is a serious impediment to my fetish party enjoyment: I don't have anybody I want to go with. And since I started this, I'll be specific. I not only don't give out my number, I don't date, so I don't have anyone to go with, and I sure as hell am not going alone. Sure, I could take any number of friends -- hell a whole group of friends, definitely some family, and probably even a couple of enemies -- but in my perfect world, an adventure like this -- the story I'd want to tell -- would be more fun if I went with someone with whom I intended to share my fetish -- that would be cookies, of course -- later. A romantic partner. In my ideal world, I suppose I would choose an adventure buddy (or two, hee) from my stable of booty calls* gentleman friends, someone who would accompany me to the fetish party where I'm sure Miss Serendipity would prove a delicious and entertaining hostess. I mean, one wouldn't want to over-plan the first fetish party. Alas, I don't date .... although this is one of those times I almost wish I did. This puts a serious kink in the works.

OK, Dear Readers, these are my concerns. The invitation sits on my Facebook events page, awaiting my click. And I just can't decide. Should I go? What do you think? Tell me: would you go?

* Booty calls may apply at Remember it's only $39.95 per month to join. A bargain you won't regret. Or if you're too cheap to join, you can email me, but I will certainly mock you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend Update: Week 3

I give up. I swear I would have posted this one Sunday night, just like I planned, but I got home from church (yes, there are churches that take people like me) and found that once again Time Warner wasn't servicing me. My internet and land line were down until late last night. Too late even for me. I see a pattern here. Either I'm just a cheater or the Blogverse is fucking with me. Or both.

Oh what a gray, moist Sunday it was too. As Martini and I walked out of church he said, "What is this ... this in the air? It appears to be ambiguous precipitation." Ambiguous precipitation. I love that. Over the course of a few days we really did run the gamut from heavy snow to freezing sleet and rain to thunder and lightning last night. It was a good day to just stay home and .... and what? What the hell did I used to do before the internet?

Not to bore the shit out of you because the day wasn't really worthy of a novel, but I got a hell of a lot more done than I normally would have. I started by throwing some laundry in the washer and then stretching out on my Humvee big bed to read The Help* on my Kindle. That, of course, led to a long, delicious nap. Who doesn't love a nap? After my nap I checked to see if I had internet yet, crocheted a pair of glittery hot pink booties for Coraline, did more laundry, tried to get on the internet, graded all the papers in my backpack and planned lessons for Tuesday, played the piano with no interruptions, reset my modem so I could get on the internet, talked to Elvira on my cell phone 5 times, tortured myself with a long, painful yoga workout, tried the internet again, ate enough chocolate to balance the calories I burned with the yoga, and knocked a few TV shows off my DVR. 

Eventually I called Time Warner only to be told my modem wasn't connecting to the internet -- fortunately they don't charge me for telling me the fucking obvious -- and that Aaron would be glad to get someone out here as early as Wednesday. I said, "That's not acceptable." He said he'd be glad to keep an eye on the mumbledyshit and let me know if an appointment opened up on Monday. I said, "That's not acceptable, Aaron." He said he wanted more than anything to give me an appointment earlier than Wednesday, but he just didn't have anything available. I said, "That's not acceptable." He said sometimes people cancel but right now there's nothing before Wednesday. I said, "That's not acceptable. And give me credit for the three days or longer I won't have phone or internet." Really? Really. He did it and then he said, "Oh look! An all-day appointment just opened up for tomorrow. Do you want it?" Thanks, Aaron. I thought we might be able to find something that would require me to stay home all day and wait for your technician to call fifteen minutes before he comes out. It didn't matter. For some reason the problem resolved itself.

I also cleaned my sock drawer. I'm still don't remember why I saved all those baby teeth.

See? I did a lot. Maybe my internet should go down periodically just so I'd get more done at home. On to the update.
  • I attended "can night"** for a local professional production of RED, which won the 2010 Tony for best play. It's a story about abstract expressionist painter, Mark Rothko, and a fictitious assistant, Ken. I'm not sure what I missed that other people saw -- the two-man cast got a rousing standing ovation, although it could be that the lack of an intermission meant people were eager to stretch their legs. I know I was -- but I didn't like it. The performances were excellent, but the script left me sleepy. Such self-indulgent narcissism. If the guy didn't want to sell couch art, nobody was forcing him. Then again, no artist is guaranteed a living from his art. I didn't care a bit about either of the characters, even when Ken revealed a horrible story about his family. Just didn't care. Rothko didn't either. The beginning of the play summed it up for me: Ken shows up for his first day of work; Rothko asks him what he sees -- and then delivers several self-centered monologues before Ken can answer. Finally Ken says, "Red." I could have left the theater then. To be fair though, several of the people I went with loved it and were still moved the next day. You shouldn't avoid it because of my recommendation.
Wait! There was a dog in the movie?
  • I do not have the same complaints about The Artist, although the play and the movie share the similar theme of an artist who can't or won't keep up with changes brought about by commercialism. Maybe it's because Jean Dujardin is so fucking hot, but I don't think even his "oh my god one cookie with this man and I'd be set for life" sexiness alone would carry a movie that has no color -- not even red -- and no talking, just a soundtrack. I almost expected not to like it. There's a reason film-makers started adding speech and then color to movies, right? We like that shit. It's real. It keeps us interested. It allows for nuance and subtlety, as opposed to the manic over-acting and simplified, derivative plots of the silent movie era. The Artist, despite its lack of color and talk, delivered more subtlety and nuance than I've seen in any movie in a long time. It's a brilliant, heartbreaking tribute to the genre. I rarely give out A's -- ask my students --but this one gets an A. So does Jean Dujardin's mouth. I wonder if I can stalk him on Twitter.

"... the small of a woman's back,
the hanging curve ball ..."
  • I helped my good friend, sometimes cycling partner, and most excellent photographer the Architect with a nuts-and-beer reception for a photography exhibit he has hung this month. In other words, I poured the beer, collected money, and laughed at Architect's dirty puns. And I finally found a beer I can tolerate. I've tried hundreds of beers and I've never found one that didn't taste like raccoon piss in the back of my throat. Not the Schlitz my dad used to give me sips of from the time I was two, and not the expensive artisan beers my friends bring to my house. The Architect has been trying for years to find a beer I would drink more than a tablespoon of. I just don't like it .... until now. I finally found a beer I can swallow: Curve Ball Blonde Ale. I drank at least two full ounces of it and it didn't taste at all like raccoon piss. Not even squirrel piss. I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but it almost tasted good. It's like finding the holy grail. My only complaint is that they don't seem to brew a ginger ale. ***

  • Later I braved the winter storm to hang out at a local watering hole and play pool to celebrate a theatre sister's birthday. Even with my own stick, I'm a lousy pool player, but the upside of that is that games take longer and the night costs less overall. I'm apparently incorrigible about getting overly friendly with the natives though. It happens too often to be considered accidental any more, but I still apologize and act surprised. One of the natives actually seemed disappointed kind of pissed off when I refused to give out my phone number. It's not personal. Maybe if he'd helped me scrape half an inch of ice off my van windows when I left, but ..... no. I leave with the stick I came with.

  • Saturday night I went to a winter party where I ate lots of good food --I'm afraid I'm going to have to buy a tricycle just to carry my weight on the bike path this spring -- drank lots of good wine -- I wasn't driving -- and reconnected with many old friends I hadn't seen much of in the past few months. It felt good to be in a place where everybody knows my name, and my kids' names, and even my LtColEx's name. Where we share stories and history.
Weekend Wrap-Up

What made me laugh:

David Thorne at 27bslash6 always makes me laugh. Read some of his other pieces too. Kevin gave up way sooner than most people do.

What made me cry:

It's the heroes. They get me every damn time.

That's it for tonight. Have a great week!

* Just read it. There's a reason why so many people are reading this book, and it's not because of the movie. I'd be glad to write a review if anybody cared, but better you just read it.

** As part of their service to the community, the theater opens a dress rehearsal to the public and collects food instead of ticket money.

*** Either you got the pun or you didn't.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do you know what's stuck to the bottom of your fridge?

So I finished reading and commenting on papers about 12:15 tonight and I admit before I started I watched the last episode of Dexter on Showtime on Demand and wow! he's cooked his shit now (I won't spoil it if you haven't seen it) but he's so fucking hot this season with his big muscles and tight shirts, isn't it about time we saw him naked? Enough with the blood and the little kid already; let's balance Mr. Nice Guy Sociopath out with some sex. Mmmmkay? So anyway I justified the Dexter fix because I wanted to finish crocheting a hot pink bootie for Coraline before I started on the four stacks of papers I needed to read and comment on tonight so I can go out to the theatre tomorrow night. A couple of hours later I finally finished the papers and entered the grades into my Excel grade book. My kids are writing some really hard stuff this quarter--like about rape and suicide and football and the price of pot--so after I read their papers I was finally ready to relax and start the new season of Shame but first I headed to the kitchen and measured out exactly one serving--according to the package--of Lays classic potato chips into a bowl

One serving = 15 chips. The broken ones don't count.
and reached into the fridge to pull out the Black Box so I could pour myself a glass of wine. I pulled and I pulled and I pulled but the box wouldn't come out of the fridge. Shit. It was stuck tight to the bottom shelf so I finally gave an extra hard pull and ripped it away from the glass and of course you know there was some kind of brown, gunky mess all over the shelf which I couldn't ignore because elves don't clean that shit up in the night, so I started digging for whatever was back there turning putrid .... nope, not the lemons, although they were sitting in sticky brown gunk too .... not the celery ..... I  threw those in the sink to wash later ..... kept digging through the milk licker and the baby romaine and the leftover eggnog from Christmas Eve and ah ha, here's the stinking culprit. A bag of spinach that probably wouldn't have gone bad if I'd eat fucking spinach instead of chips but who eats raw spinach with their wine after a long day of teaching and grading? I don't.  I'd probably get thin or something and what would I have to complain about then? So of course the fucking gunk was all over the glass shelf and had crept down into the cracks and crevices and of course I'd gone to Kroger just yesterday so the shelf was full and everything had to be unloaded so I could wipe that nasty shit up even though it literally made me gag and then wash the lemons and celery and put it all back. And the Black Box box is now damaged and certainly not fit to serve to company so now I'll have to drink it all myself but thank god the actual wine is in a plastic bag so I can.

I would not serve this to anyone but myself.

All I wanted was 15 fucking Lays potato chips and a glass of wine after a long day of teaching and grading papers and driving a van that sounds like a giant, fucking electric Hitachi vibrator. Was that too much to ask?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekend Update: Week 2

I can't get these weekend updates written on Sunday. Oh sure, it will look like I posted on Sunday because I'm going to lie and cheat tweak the date a bit, but I still have to make my confession here. Week 2: FAIL. Let me distract you with the cuteness of my granddaughter.

I stayed at Mamá's and all I got were these purple slippers. They weren't very tasty. In fact, they tasted like feet. I prefer booby.
  •  Coraline spent the night Friday night--her first overnight with Mamá! I'll write more on that later in the week. For now I'll just say this time we got through it with only one fussy spell, about three cups of spit up, but no poopy diapers. And when I asked Elvira if she got laid, she said, Hell, yes, three times!* Oh, Elvira. You are your mother's daughter! I'm so proud.
  •  Colorado was supposed to come for an overnight Saturday, but she got stuck at work. So instead I went to a last-minute party without her, where I filled up on homemade cheeseburger pizza**, homemade ice cream, cookies, cherry lambic, and karaoke. I gained three fucking pounds in one night. After hours of karaoke, we mellowed out the end of the evening by passing a three-foot-tall hooka. I may have been a little sleepy by the time I made my way through the cold to my van, but I woke up as soon as the engine fired up. In fact, I have no doubt the entire fucking neighborhood woke up because my muffler seems to have given up on this life. My van sounds like a B-52 eating up runway. My ears burned as I imagined the neighbors cursing me from their warm beds the whole long five minutes it took me to scrape a heavy layer of frost off my windows. Nothing shouts "trailer trash comin' down the street" like the sound of a blown out muffler. Nobody wants trailer trash in their neighborhood.
  •  Sunday afternoon I took in a funny, charming play titled Heroes at a local community theater. It's a French play adapted by Tom Stoppard about three elderly men who live in an old soldiers home. I wasn't so sure a stone dog and three old guys sitting on a park bench talking would keep me awake, but I didn't close my eyes once. Probably because I slept through church .... no, I mean I didn't even get up and go. They have noise ordinances out there in the suburbs.

  • Sunday night I went back to the classy downtown art theater for My Week with Marilyn, a movie based on two of Colin Clark's "memoirs."*** I liked the old guys on the bench better. I think the movie was meant to be precious and sweet in a "how I lost my innocence" sort of way, but what I saw in  Monroe's character was a typical addict fucking with other people's lives and then charming them out of their righteous anger. And the author, whether the story is true or not, came across as a  big old fawning co-dependent who welcomed being used so he could stand in line and feel self-important about "saving" Marilyn Monroe. For a whole fucking week. Even by writing this possibly fictional memoir, he still appears to be trying to be some kind of hero in her story, years later. If there's any truth to it at all, it's that the people around Monroe were the ones who needed to be saved from the effects of her behavior--typical of alcoholics and addicts-- coupled with her cruel charisma--again, typical. The one bright spot was Kenneth Branagh playing Olivier, but he's fucking Kenneth Branagh playing Olivier. How could he fail? I'm much more looking forward to seeing the fearless Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs. By the time My Week with Marilyn was over, I was looking forward to grading a monster stack of papers.

  • Next I graded a monster stack of papers.
 Weekend Wrap-Up

What made me laugh: 

And what made me say "Hey, I did that shit once and I had the bruises to prove it!":

That's it for tonight. Have a great week!

* Comment deleted by the Reticulated Censor.
** Ground beef, onions, pickles, mustard and the usual tomato sauce and cheese. It was a mouth orgasm.
*** Some doubt has been cast as to their veracity. I have to say the movie seemed more like a young man's fantasy than reality, but who knows. He waited until after most of the characters were dead to publish his diaries.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wednesday night, after karaoke


1:00 am
Main Street
Driving home from Wednesday night karaoke
and everybody was ON tonight.
Streets glassy with rain, shining wet,
Stop lights, reflections stretch red … green … red
The RTA bus pulls up beside …
A lone woman rides
fluorescent lights shiver inside.
Long, green limousine.

The bar… earlier,
gin and tonic tall, with a lime.
That man who sat at a table by himself,
turned to talk to me and wanted …
he wanted what we all want.
He asked me to please sing “Angel of the Morning,”
the Billie Davis version from the 60's, not Juice Newton.
He asked me to change the song I’d given to the DJ,
sing a song for him.
But I ….
I don’t do requests now --- closed for business.
Another night, I said.
He smiled and said, Yes, another night.

1:00 am.
Driving home from Wednesday night karaoke.
Jessica Williams playing Miles Davis on her piano and
I wonder why I don’t touch those black and white keys   
like I used to.
Those jazz chords so close
so tight …. they clash and resolve.    
They resolve….
I miss …. the jazz ... and you, but
the light turns green
rain mists the windshield …wipers on low,
I slide through the reflections of the night.
Main Street.
I could go anywhere and the name would be the same…
anyplace else, but I love this fucking city.
I could leave my fractured heart here on Main Street and run
and run…
But I won’t this time …. not tonight.
1:00 am.
Driving home.
Fucking Dave Chappelle showed up to sing karaoke
right after I left
I don’t care.
The wipers
this city
this night
these shiny streets
red … green … red … green

And Melvin, the alcoholic who lives across the street,
sitting on his porch smoking, drinking gin and juice,
he shouts, How you doin’, baby?
I’m fine, I say.
I know you are, he says. You are so fine.
I love you, baby. You know I love you?
I know you do, Melvin. I love you too.
Good night, baby.
Good night.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Weekend Update: Week 1


I had this idea to write a weekend update every Sunday night starting with the first week of the year, and I didn't get 'er done. Reticula, you ignorant slut. In my defense, Rock Dad came over to hook up my new Wii; then Elvira and Coraline stayed for a girls' night of Dean  Supernatural and Desperate Housewives. They left late--remember trying to watch TV with a 5-month-old? It takes three hours to watch a 50-minute show, even with booby breaks. That's my excuse. Watch for more as the year progresses.

I'm not sure how I'm going to do these just yet, so I'll develop some kind of format as I go. Local readers, if you want to read something interesting about yourself here, you'd better help make my weekends rock. And then send me text or email reminders of the things we thought were funny or clever or bizarre because I do tend to forget a lot.*

So I missed writing this Sunday night, but so fucking what. I'm going to sit here with a glass of wine and a bowl of Lay's potato chips, write it and post-date it to Sunday night. By February, I won't even remember any of this. My weekend, in review.
  • Elvira, Coraline and I went shopping for stuff for their new apartment, my big Christmas gift to Elvira. Coraline was suffering her first cold, poor baby. She was so stuffed up Elvira couldn't get anything out with the nose-sucker. So she stuck her boob in Coraline's nose and sprayed milk up it. Pretty soon all the gunk drained out and Coraline's nose was clear for hours. Next time I get a cold, I know whose boob will go up my nose. It's kinda crazy, but I wish Elvira and I could be friends raising our babies together.
  • First bike ride of the year! Who would imagined the temps would creep up above 50 degrees in January, and I'd be able to get out and ride a few miles with our local, monthly courteous mass bike ride. I missed the last two because of plays so I was jonesin' to ride my bicycle. It was a beautiful night to get out and hit the streets of one of our historic neighborhoods with some friends I mostly only see on the bike rides. I was glad to see Kerry, the guy who originally invited me to join the group way back in June, right after I bought my bike. We met at a pre-opening menu-tasting for a local restaurant. I told him then I was too new to cycling to join a bike group. I'm glad he insisted and didn't let me get away with my insecurities. 
In any case, the courteous mass ride is supposed to show people how cyclists can ride in big groups and obey traffic laws or something like that. I think maybe I broke the rules just a tiny bit this time when two guys turning left in a rusty old tuna boat classic 80's sedan met the last three of our group at a yellow light. I could see they were trying to turn into the far right lane instead of the appropriate left lane. So I slowed, but the guy ahead of me rode on. As I suspected, the car turned into my lane, and as they squealed through the light and careened very close to me, the passenger yelled, "Blah blah blah, you crazy sons of bitches." As courteously as I could, I yelled back suggested, "Go fuck yourself." For all I know, they took my advice because they roared off in a blaze of glory, leaving behind a noxious cloud of exhaust. I didn't call them assholes or get kicked off the ride .... this time. I only rode a total of seven miles, but it was wonderful to get out and wrap my legs around my bike.

  • The ride ended too soon, and my friend the Diplomat and I rode back to my house so I could change out of my sexy cold-weather cycling tights and eat a quick bowl  turkey soup before we headed off to a local art movie theater to meet some friends and watch Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I read the book decades ago, so I didn't remember the specifics, but it was typical of those 70's cold-war spy thrillers. The pace of the movie was slow, plodding almost, and there were dozens of long, loving close-ups of Gary Goldman's face as he delicately teased out the identity of the double-crossing double agent. By the time it was over, I had explored every pore on his face and counted every nose hair. About halfway through the movie I started to regret the bottle of water I drank on the bike ride, and the soup and milk for dinner, although I was glad I hadn't given in to a glass of wine from the concession in the lobby.** By the end of the movie, I had to pee so bad I had unbuttoned the top button of my jeans to relieve the pressure on my bladder. I have to recommend the movie simply because my back teeth were floating and I still refused to leave the theater for three minutes and risk missing anything. If you like spy movies at all, go see it. If you think Gary Oldman is sexy, you might be disappointed.
  • Without a plan for the rest of the evening, we said goodbye to some friends and joined up with some others who had been sitting behind us in the theater. (OK, to be fair, they were Diplomat's friends when we joined them, but I don't know a stranger, so they're my friends too now.) We found a rather empty bar with a pool table in the back and settled in to play pool and drink. We had to all share one stick because most of them didn't have tips, and the ones that did cried when we touched them. A couple of us wanted wine so the bartender ran out somewhere and brought back airplane bottles of Riesling for us. I don't think they get much call for wine. A group of four young men came back and took over the pool table for a while. They only played one game for some reason. I helped each of them with their shots throughout their game, and I suspect they learned so much they wanted to go home and let their brains rest. I'm sure they appreciated my help. Or maybe they left because they've got their own moms who tell them how to do every little fucking thing and they didn't need me doing it too. I couldn't really tell.
Want. Probably wouldn't help my game.
  • Saturday morning I met my friend Sunrise at the local market, which is now packed with people even in the winter when the farmer's market is closed. We drank tea in the sunroom and talked for 3 1/2 hours while a duo played jazz in the next room. The tea was loose, served in little reusable muslin bags. I brought both of ours home with me because I could hardly stand their fucking cuteness. And I get 10% off if I bring my own bag next time.
  • I got home just in time to rehearse with Chicken Grrrl for a last-minute special music gig at church. I haven't touched my guitar much in the past few months. My fingertips aren't even ugly any more. But we played through some songs we've done before and finally decided to sing "Let It Be." We got a new sound system a few weeks ago at the church, and this was the first time I'd sung or run Miss Gibson through it. It felt good to have strings under my fingers and a mic in my face, and Martini running sound back there in the booth. I need to keep my fingers on the strings even when I'm caught up in a play. I missed it.
I guess I'm back to Sunday night. Most teachers don't really get weekends off. Ask one. I had lessons to plan and papers to read Sunday afternoon. And napping. Tell me I'm not the only one who loves a nap. 

If you've read this far, here are a couple of recommendations to start your week Tuesday.

This video made me laugh this week. (Have I ever mentioned how much I love a man in a kilt? I do love me a man in a kilt.)

And this made me cry. Because acts of heroism, especially the small ones, always make me cry. This is a letter to a boy who stuck up for his younger brother. Tell me it made you cry too.

That's it. Have a great week!

* Some of you already do this, and I'm grateful. Often my textbox gets full and when I go through to delete most of them, I see a text that says "circle jerk" or "licking a frog" or "cookies in my pants," and I just know I meant to write something about that, but ..... too late. Maybe I should just write found-text poetry.
** I know! How fucking cool is it that you can buy wine to take into the theater and drink through the movie? This is how the smart, sophisticated people live.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The year so far ....

Day four of the new year. Just another mid-western winter day. Drake lived here for two-and-a-half weeks over the holidays, Montana for a week. I told Drake before he left Monday I expected to crash this week, and maybe to crash hard. I've been riding a high activity level for weeks now--Scrooge!, Christmas, lots of parties and impromptu outings, several enticing flirtations. But this week my house is quiet, school started, I gained five pounds of cookies on my ass, and it's fucking winter out there. The next auditions are almost a month away, my van still needs a new transmission, and there aren't as many parties on the calendar .... yet. Who wouldn't expect a crash after a long vacation from real life, right? I earned it.

It didn't happen. I don't think it's going to. Sometimes just allowing a crash to happen short circuits the thing. It's like the crash is only happy if it can surprise you and then fuck up your good mood. If it can't surprise you, it goes and pouts in the corner. This time though, I think I just found a little perspective, the kryptonite of the post-holiday crash.

It started when I wrote the looking-back post on New Year's Day. First, I looked at all the amazing things I did in the past year and I wanted to be me. I know that sounds incredibly proud and self-centered, but fuck it. I know I could have done more and better; I'm my worst critic. However, I really dig some of the things I did last year, and I love some of the people I met. I wish I could give them all cookies--and yes I mean that kind. And the people who didn't want to play with me--their loss. I didn't write about a lot of other things that made me happy throughout the year, so that list is even longer for me than what I posted here. Hard to believe, I know!

It wasn't all happy shit in that post though. Some of it was hard to put out there. I wrote some things that I felt uncomfortable about, vulnerable, mockable. I know at least one person reads here who would take joy in some of that shit. Maybe more than one. But I had an epiphany when I wrote that post--an epiphany about what is my shit and what belongs to someone else. I blamed myself for a long time for  outcomes that I couldn't possibly have controlled, and now .... now, I just don't. I still feel sad. I still wish some things could be resolved over a game of pool in a smoky bar. But I no longer believe anything that happened was a result of my being crazy or of my misunderstanding the situation or even that it has anything to do with me. Not now. Regrets, yeah. Responsibility, nope. It's not my shit. Praise Jesus.

Other things have happened in the first four short days of 2012. My students could tell you I love lists, so here's a list just to move things along.
  • I learned a secret. A delicious, dirty secret that will just sit here with my smile until I have a reason to tell it. And I know I will one day tell it when it will have the biggest impact. Some secrets are like fine wine: they need to sit in a dark, dusty cellar until just the right time to pop the cork.
  • A sweet, yummy friend reminded me of my worth. No, he didn't give me worth; I already have that. He just reminded me that nobody can take it, and lots of people value what I have to offer the world. No there weren't cookies, but I anticipate more delicious, naughty flirtation in the future. Stay tuned.
  • Elvira, her beloved boyfriend Rock Dad, and my sweet granddaughter moved from the suburbs to the city, and they're much closer to me now. Only about ten minutes away. I'm so happy to have them closer, and she loves her new apartment. It's full of sunshine and hope and it overlooks a cemetery. It's perfect for her.
  • School started yesterday. Every section of English composition the department offered is full, including my classes. They always are. And yet, in my first class yesterday, 16 out of 25 students showed up. And in the another section, 17 of 25 showed up; of those, one left 40 minutes early and another showed up an hour late. I felt discouraged for a few minutes. And then I realized it's perfect really. I'll have more time for the students who really want to be there, and I won't have as many papers to grade. Win/win.
  • I bought Drake new tires for Christmas. I intended to pay a certain price and ended up paying much more. I was a little freaked out over how much they cost, in spite of how desperately he needed them. And then I wrote my new-year post and realized that young man saved me from buying a new washer and dryer. The cost of his tires was far less than that. Perspective. Always welcome here.
  • And I won a prize! No shit, I won a $250 Visa gift card on a Blogher giveaway. The day I entered several weeks ago, I posted on my FB that I had no idea why I wasted my time entering these things because I never win. And that's the one I won. Oh, Miss Serendipity, you're such a vixen.
  • I have some serious shit to deal with this month that I thought was over. Shit my $9/minute lawyer hasn't been able to fix in the past two years. I'm pissed and scared. But I will go back and find another angle. It's too important not to.
And finally, to bring this back full circle, I have to admit sometimes it's easy to feel like the sociopaths (and cannibals and dendrophiliacs) are winning the game of life. Sometimes it's easy to wish I could cut out my own tender heart and join them, become just as self-centered and cruel, and care just as little about other people. I could have felt that way after I exposed my silly curb=stomped heart in public posted my new-year post,  but a FB friend posted a video on my wall while I was writing that post, and she added this comment: "I'm listening to this fabulous video and keep thinking of you. You're one of the whole-hearted."

I wrote until almost 4:00 am Monday night. (Yes, I back-dated that post so it would publish on January 1 instead of when I finished early the morning of January 2.) So I didn't listen to the video that night, but I had finished writing the post in bed on my laptop, so before I got up Monday morning, I listened to the video in the comfort of my big bed. And it was just what I needed to hear. I cried to think I might be whole-hearted instead of just broken. What a concept. It locked in what I hope will be my perspective for 2012.

I know I'll listen to this video several more times. For the past few months--OK, all my life--I've been terrified to be vulnerable. But I am compelled as a writer to dig into that terrible, iron-tasting vulnerability and push nuggets of it into the light of day. I'm telling you it's terrifying. I'd rather write about difficult issues like sex. Or .... OK, I really like writing about sex. But sharing recipes or mommy stories or even dildo stories is so much safer than some of the more personal posts I write here. And one of those personal posts may have--although I'll never know for sure--but it may have caused the trouble I wrote about with that guy.

But back to the video. It's 20 minutes long. You can listen to it if you want. It's compelling enough one of my FB friends picked it up and posted it twice so his friends wouldn't miss it. I relate to this woman, Brene Brown, in so many ways. She's a researcher/storyteller. I'm a storyteller/listener/researcher. She's self-deprecating. I'm self-deprecating. She talks about her journey toward the worth of vulnerability and empathy, the uncomfortableness of loving freely and openly and I am constantly on that journey myself. And we both have degrees in social work, and we both believe in connection, and we both understand how deeply shame can mold human behavior and feeling. She describes the struggle I face every day as a writer. This woman fucking spoke to me. 

And she reminded me that no matter how much the sociopaths (and cannibals and dendrophiliacs) take from me, I don't want to be like those fuckers. They can't feel shame or guilt or sadness--oh, how blessed that would be some days. But they also can't feel the ecstasy of connecting with another person through intimacy--emotional, physical, sexual--they can't feel it. They can't fucking feel that. They are to be pitied.

So in 2012, I intend to be grateful for my shame, my vulnerability, my empathy, my capacity to love, no matter how much it hurts. And it will hurt. It will hurt immensely sometimes, but there will be moments of blinding joy and perfect connection, of flying and singing and dancing, and I will be there with an open heart to receive the gift.

Here's the video*. I hope you watch it.

* The link was from Ted. You can watch the original here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011: The Year in Review

I rarely make New Year's resolutions. They must work for other people or they wouldn't continue to be so popular. But for me, writing resolutions reminds me of students who come into my office during the last week or two of class and ask what they need to do to pass the class. To at least get a C and pass the class. And then after I've given a discouraging list of what they've missed and why they can't possibly make it up, they promise they'll somehow make it all up anyway and impress me and get an A. It doesn't happen. I don't see many resolutions being kept either. In fact, I like resolutions even less than I like bucket lists.

What I find more useful is looking back over the past year and tallying up the things I've already done. I feel far more successful than if I make a list of the things I need to fix about myself. I've got a constant litany of that shit running on a perpetual hamster wheel in my head already. I admit, this post will be an example of extreme, self-centered navel-gazing. In other words, it's a blog post.

Before I get into it though, I want to say I'd love to read your lists too. What did you do or experience in the past year that made a difference in your life? Feel free to post in the comments or to post a link to your blog if you wrote about it there. What story did your year tell? Here's mine.

1. Of course the most exciting and enduring event of the year was the birth of my first granddaughter, Coraline. My face was a mere 10 inches from Elvira's vagina when that baby finally kicked her way out. Next to the birth of my own kids, it was the most amazing, life-affirming thing I've ever seen or done. I'm so grateful Elvira wanted me in the delivery room with her. Hell, I even felt privileged to change the first diaper. I can't wait to teach Coraline how to play the piano, dance the Macarena, and throw back tequila shots.

2. In January I had to have my faithful hound, Pippi, euthanized. I never managed to write about her last few days here, and I won't now. I'll just say, although she was alert and aware of her family around her, she had stopped eating and drinking; she was ready to go. She'd had bladder cancer for a long time, but I think she hung in there to get me through my divorce, the kids moving out, selling our family home, moving, and one last round of holidays before she had to cross over. I still catch myself wanting to call her when I drop food on the floor. I still miss her.

3. Although I was cast in my first play the last part of 2010, my involvement in the theatre community continued to grow through 2011. I performed in two plays: Octette Bridge Club, where I had my first big ensemble role, and Scrooge, my first musical. I also stage-managed for the first time for "Master Harold" ... and the boys. Even more important, I found myself fully embraced by a community of talented, hard-drinking working, crazy-ass people who both fascinate and terrify me with their brilliance. I feel nothing but gratitude that I've been allowed to play with them at all. (Yes, of course I meant the pun.)

4. I bought a bike! I don't know if I mentioned it here, but I bought a new bike! I rode some hundreds of miles on the bike trails and city streets, learned I'd rather ride in 98-degree heat than in 68-degree moderation, and again met some new friends along the way. I even--although I said I never would--wore bike shorts. I look like an Eastern European sausage in them, but my lady parts appreciate the padding, and I feel like one of the cool kids. The only negative experience I had was that whole concussion business, but I'm not going to do that again.

5. I got serious about writing on this blog. The proof is right here. I wrote every day in November for NaBloPoMo, even if I had a living room full of people and I had to leave my own party to write. I'd type frantically trying to meet my midnight deadline, hit publish, and hear somebody with a smart phone say, "She's done. She posted." It was a challenge, but you helped me get through it. Thanks for your support.

6. I danced on a pole and in a moveable cage in a club. When I say I danced on the pole, I hope you don't imagine me .... like, humping it or anything. I don't hump. I have more class than that. I was performing some kind of lame gymnastic feat that simply left me with sore muscles in every part of my body and large bruises every place the pole touched. And I only allowed myself to be encouraged into the cage the night I wore jeans. Nobody needs to see Mom's panties from the dance floor. My only regret is that I didn't have on white go go boots. More on this issue in a later post.

7. Drake and I made some repairs that saved me some major bucks. Last winter we replaced all four brake pads and rotors on my van. They were shot to hell, so it took us hours to pound the rotors off with a sledge hammer and put everything back together. But we did it. And the other night we fixed my 16-year-old washing machine. I was ready to go out and buy a new washer/dryer set, but some  handy Facebook friends talked me into looking inside the machine first to see if it could be fixed. Sure enough, Drake figured it out and fixed it with nothing but a drill and a screwdriver. The kid probably saved me $5000 or more this year. I asked him if he was ready to drop a new tranny in the van, but he's not so sure he wants to take that on.

8. I killed my first turkeys. They were delicious. I'm still enjoying turkey soup.

9. I flew an airplane.

10. I took a sex education class for adults at my church. Why? Mostly to support the program. And because I would have been talking about sex anyway. Might was well do it in a class. Talk, I mean.

11. I also participated in a mentor program for the junior high class at church. It's possible I got more out of it than my mentee did. We even performed together with another of the girls before she moved to Indianapolis last summer. It was the first time she sang in public and she was amazing.

12. I only played one big gig last year, but it was with Elvira's boyfriend and we played at a seminary. Metal meets folk.

13. I started reading tarot cards again. If you're interested, shoot me an email for prices and to make an appointment. Over the phone or in person. Either works. I have a couple of surprising stories from this last round of readings, but I still don't believe in that shit.

14. I don't teach in the summer, so the last few years I've taken on an independent study project. Usually it's something that has forced itself into my life either through my own personal experience or because so many people are telling me similar stories and I can't ignore the connections. In 2010, it was alcoholism and addiction. In 2011, it was topic that turned out to be linked: sociopaths. I'm not talking Dexter or Hannibal Lector; serial killers don't interest me. I'm talking about the sociopaths who are fucking up ordinary people's lives by trapping them in fucked up relationships and killing their souls. I heard so many stories over a period of months about the same kinds of behaviors and characteristics-- extreme self-centeredness, lying, grandiosity, lack of empathy, purposeful cruelty, unapologetic using of (alleged) loved ones--I couldn't help but dig into what the fuck was going on. How do these people get away with this shit? And at my advanced age, I finally put on the mantle of cynicism I should have donned when I put out my hand for my social work degree. I used to think people were basically the same on the inside, just molded in different ways by genetics and experience. I was so wrong. Anybody watch Grimm?  The monsters are out there, and you probably even know a few of them. Sometimes there really is an "us" and a "them," and they understand us better than we understand them. I was going to write more about this subject, but it's a dark topic. Sociopaths get their only pleasure from manipulating other people and causing pain. I steer clear of them. And yet I'm still dealing with the fact that sometimes I think I'd rather be one of them than the empathic, vulnerable sucker woman I am.

15. I almost didn't write about this last one, but I can't tell the truth about this past year without including it. Although--see me flap in the breeze--I may delete it in the morning ... but as long as the situation remains unresolved......What the fuck. My only loyalty is to the truth and it's my story. Over the course of several months, I got involved with someone I eventually came to care deeply about. I had reasonable and significant concerns about certain issues, but I listened to his stories. I believed his intentions, where he wanted to go next in his life ... I believed his tears when he asked me not to give up on him ... and I chose to hang in there. In spite of the red flags, I loved spending time with him, finding small adventures, looking forward to new ones. I wish like hell I could write here about those things instead. I'm not sure what happened as things progressed--well, that's not true. I know exactly what happened and I don't think it really had that much to do with me--but somehow I found I'd suddenly been flung back into some crazy, lame version of junior high school and there the situation sits like a smelly, stagnant lagoon. The only thing that really concerns me--because this is somebody else's cesspool, not mine--is how severely I misjudged, not the situation, which I saw clearly, but his character and how he was capable of behaving. I wouldn't have predicted this outcome. So I have had to admit, I know now I can't necessarily trust my intuition and empathy like I thought I could. I fucked up.

I've come to the conclusion that my propensity to believe the best about people I care about isn't serving me well--and this isn't the first time. I'm not sure I can change, but for my own good, I believe I should. I need to learn how to give up on some people--and I should start with this one. I haven't yet, because I said I wouldn't (I hear that Who too, Horton!), but I have no choice. Yet even in this painful, ridiculous situation I feel more sympathy than anger. I know how hard it is to search for your true self after you've tried to please other people for so long, to try to metamorphose into a person you can like, or even love, when you have no experience loving yourself. Lots of us struggle to find our own acceptance. Sometimes it's easier and safer to become that which you claim to hate, and from my perspective, that's what happened. He became that which he claimed to hate. I suppose that can cause some pretty fucked up behavior.We've all seen Mean Girls and a dozen variations, right? I've sat on the edge of that myself, and I've seen others struggle too. It's not easy to answer the question: what am I willing to do to keep what feels secure in my life, even when I know it's choking my soul? Been there. It doesn't always have a happy ending like the movies. But I tried to resolve this situation, and I was rebuked. Damn it gets lonely up here on the high road.

I hate to end this post on such a downer. Looking back through that list, I had an amazing fucking year. I am truly blessed--especially by the people in my life, the people who love me whether I deserve it or not. I'm so excited about the new friends I made and will take forward into 1012, and the plays, music, writing, parties, bike rides, even unimagined adventures I anticipate. (I did notice that oxymoronish bit there.)

Mostly though, I'm excited to find out what that wild card Miss Serendipity has planned for me. And let's not forget that the new year could hold lots of ....

16. Cookies!

 May your new year bring you a glut of whatever you love. And peace.