Tuesday, September 6, 2016

An interview with Moi. Everything you never knew you wanted to know about me.

Thanks to Misha, a talented costume designer and seamstress whom I met a few years back (like 22 years or so) when we were babies…at Penobscot theater. She was the sweetest kindest most generous funniest smartest most kickass person then and she still is now. Also talented. And married to a talented wonderful good fellow, too. Thanks for the blog material. These are great questions! 

What to you eat for dinner when no one else is home?
pop corn, also eaten for breakfast

What is the one piece of clothing you still hang on to even though you know you should have tossed it long ago?

I still wear this old blue plaid shirt from kmart that belonged to brad but I stole it and it’s missing all the buttons (I was so mad one day many years ago, I did a Hulk move, and ripped all the buttons off that sucker because it was that or break a wall with my fist and that seemed like too much work) anyway, the blue shirt has paint splatters on it and sometimes I keep it closed with safety pins (no buttons) and sometimes I wear it over a shirt. It’s probably 15 years old, and it’s so worn you can see through it, just like the sheer curtains my mother always preferred. I never knew why she liked those sheer curtains so much because honestly, they don’t really work like I think a curtain ought to work but then again she always had shades to draw if she wanted privacy, so there’s that and that’s enough about my favorite shirt in the world that I should totally throw away but I never will because I stole it from my husband 15 years ago, and it’s mine damn it. It’s mine.  

What do you say when you talk baby talk to the cat, dog, hamster (or baby) when you are sure no one can hear you? I say different things to different creatures, of course, but here’s a bit of the conversation.
1)    Talking to my dog, Ty the Dog, who is my best friend. “Hello handsome, you’re such a good dog, you’re such a good dog, I love you, you handsome fella you. You know what, Ty? You’re the only person I’d give the last bite of my sammich to, you want my sammich? You wanna peanut butter sammich? I love you Ty. I love you sweet fella. Please don’t ever die. Momma loves you…”
2)     A typical conversation with one of my kitty-pals, there are 4 of them, though one of them keeps mostly to herself. The three kitties I speak with most often are, Tonks and Ginny, identical twin sisters, both very fluffy, very white, except for Ginny who had a black nose and a couple of black marks on her forehead, and Tonks, who is heftier, perhaps fluffier, who has a pink nose and black splotches on her forehead and a bit of black at the tip of her tail. I call these two gorgeous girls the Languid Sisters, as they are unashamed of their ability to do absolutely nothing and be gorgeous. And there’s Nan the Lovely, who is also fluffy, but has multicolored splotches, some stripes, and is the picture of cat perfection. A typical conversation with the girls sounds like this, “Hello Bee-oo-tee-ful!  Oh my God but you are a bee-oo-tee-ful darling, aren’t you? Did you puke on my floor and poop right outside the cat box again? You know, you’re lucky you are so fucking gorgeous or cleaning up after you would make me cranky. OMG. Get off my BOOB.”
3)    To babies, when I have a chance to speak to them, which isn’t often anymore because my babies are growing up, but to babies, I say things like, “Hello you brilliant small human! You’re just so perfect in every way! Try to remember that, ok? Because there are so many assholes out there who are going to try to convince you that you aren’t, but you ARE. You’re brilliant, and perfect, and you contain the answers to all the questions ever asked by anybody, living or dead, ok? I’m glad you’re here tiny human.”
4)    I try not to talk to hamsters.

Did you really read all that shit I just wrote about what I say to the perfect beings among us? Because if you did, you deserve a prize. You’re not getting one, but you deserve one.
Bless your heart.

Who is the person from your past (still living) that you think about the most but never talk to?
Hmmm,, that’s a tricky one. So many of the people I used to think about but never talk to are dead now. My Speech teacher Mrs. Browne, whom I adored, who saved my life, even though she may not have known that. But she died before I got the chance to tell her thank you. And that makes me sad. I used to think about my dad but rarely spoke to him, and that’s probably for the best and he’s dead now, so, oh well. I talk to my mom, she’s dead too, but I talked to her a lot when she was alive. So she doesn’t count. Also, like I said, she’s dead. But I still talk to her. Who else…there was a woman I worked with in Memphis, a good dear funny amazing friend, who also saved my life, she’s still alive, is married to a lovely woman and she and her wife have a sweet baby boy, the last I heard anyway. And I think of her often, but we fell out of touch, and I haven’t spoken to her in probably 20 years. But wow. She was the coolest. And I still adore her. So, yeah, Sharon-Ann. Hey there you amazing woman, you force of nature, you life saver, mover and shaker, I think about you fondly and often. I hope she and her family are well.

What do you hide at the back of your underwear drawer?
 I do not own a vibrator. So I don’t hide my vibrator there. No really. I don’t own one. Some of my women friends are astonished that I don’t own a vibrator. I mean, it has come up in conversation. What I do hide at the back of my underwear drawer is a broken antique Hummel figurine my mother gave me many years ago. And obviously, I broke it. And I was too ashamed to tell her, and felt too guilty to fix it or throw it away. So, there it sits, amongst the assortment of 100% cotton old lady panties…a reminder of my carelessness.

What do you spend way too much money on?
Books, music, cigarettes, whiskey, coffee, breakfast at Bagel Central.

What can you actually afford but are too cheap to buy?
A vibrator

What are the two things you always have with you besides your iPhone?
I don’t have an iPhone, I have a cheap trac-phone, because I tend to break shit when I’m angry, and I am not going to spend hundreds of dollars on a phone I will only pitch across a room in a fit of anger. But I do keep the cheap phone on me, most of the time, and I always have my pocket notebook and a pen. Because ideas, words, and such.

How many drinks can you have before your friends realize you are drunk?
Depends on what I’m drinking. Wine makes my cheeks turn a stunning shade of merlot, so I may look drunk after a couple of sips of wine. But probably after one drink, I’m drunk, and I can’t hide a thing from anyone, except that broken Hummel figurine in my underwear drawer. So, yeah, one drink, and the people start to notice I’m no longer sober. It’s a little pathetic, but it’s the truth.

What is the one thing you do better than everyone else?
One thing I do better than everyone else? I have no fucking clue. I guess, honestly, I’m getting better at being myself, and since nobody else can be me, I’m probably better at being me than anyone. But you know, that’s sort of a stretch.

Thanks to Misha for the material. I had been writing another piece about depression and what you should say to your depressed friends, parts of it were pretty good, and it was funny, and I had been working on it for several hours but I didn’t save (DUH) that motherfucker and it’s GONE. And it’s been a long time since I wrote a post, I mean, I’m overdue, and so, there was this fun stuff to write about and I’m glad I did.

Feel free to write your answers to these questions and share them with me if you like. I’d love to read about you. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What's so F'n great about being a girl?

“So, what’s so awesome about being a girl?”
My daughter can’t think of a thing.
And frankly, I’m coming up empty, too.

My dear son is just lying on the floor listening to his sis and me talking, he pretends not to hear but I know he hears us. He is very quiet, intent, he’s got those listening ears ON.

First, my daughter says something about how it sucks to have a period.

I have to concur. But because I’m a mom and my daughter is my daughter, I must also try to spin the whole period thing into something grand and beautiful. Moms have to say that shit. It’s in the Mom Rules, so I add that bit about the awe and how amazeballs it is to be able to have babies.  “But women can bring new life into the world!”

And my daughter says, “So you’re saying that women are special because they can have babies? What about women who don’t want to have babies? Are they worthless? If you define what’s good about being a woman in terms of reproduction, then women who choose not to have babies and women who are physically unable to have babies have no value. Do you really want to go there, Mom?”

And I have to admit that NO. I do NOT want to go there. I DO NOT WANT TO GO THERE. Because having babies is NOT how we define the value and the potential of being female. NO.

“And did you know that fetuses suck the iron and calcium right out of their mother’s bodies. You know that, right Mom?”

“Yes, my dear. I do know that.  You know what else, sweetie? Carrying a baby totally does a number on a woman’s body. I mean, your skin stretches all out of shape and then you’re stuck with stretch marks and floppy belly skin FOR FREAKING EVER. “

My son looks at me and said, “I’m sorry Mom.”

And I say, “Oh no, son. It was totally worth it. Plus, really, my floppy skin is your sister’s fault. I gained a ton of weight with her.”

“Did you hear that Lily? You ruined Mom’s body.”

That comment meets with the ice-glare stare, my daughter’s super power. It causes the speaker to immediately regret having ever spoken ever.

“Having you was totally worth a lifetime of saggy boobs and floppy stomach skin, Lily. I would do it all over again.”

“Okay, so, anyway, being a woman means you can potentially have babies, big deal. It also means that regardless of your desire to have kids, you are going to bleed from your vagina one week out of every four from the time you’re around 13 until you’re 50. Think of all the money women have to spend on pads and tampons not to even mention how physically uncomfortable it is to have a period. Honestly that sucks.”

“Yes, dear. It does suck. And if you don’t want to get pregnant, women are the ones who have to spend money for birth control. That adds up. Plus the US has the highest maternal and infant mortality rates of any 1st world nation, no mandatory paid maternity leave, and childcare costs a bundle. But do you know what else sucks? By the time you go through menopause…”

My son asks, “What’s menopause?”

I say, “Well sweetie, you know…it’s sort of like a second adolescence for grown women, only in reverse….so, a woman’s hormones go completely whack, and she gets all sorts of physical symptoms, like hot flashes, and headaches, and she has mood swings and can get really irritable, and it’s totally a pain in the ass…and it’s because her body is changing from a body that can have babies to a body that no longer can have babies, and  menopause can take YEARS…and so a lot of adult women are walking around trying to do life while their hormones jump around all over the place and they feel like crap. When that’s all over a woman doesn’t have her period any more, which can be a good thing, but getting there is a completely crazy ride, uncomfortable, with some negative health issues due to a deficit of certain hormones, and it can potentially be emotionally difficult.”

And then my daughter adds, “Oh, and don’t forget vaginal dryness, your vagina gets all dried out after menopause.”

At which point my son looks like he’s going to pass out. That bit about vaginal dryness has totally freaked him out. He’s not exactly sure what it means but it sounds bad.

I’m slightly annoyed because I had sort of forgotten about menopause bringing drought to the lady nethers . “Oh. Right. Thanks for reminding be about the vaginal dryness. Yay.”

My son says, “I’m so sorry Mom.”
I say, “There’s nothing for you to be sorry about, son.”
My son asks, “Do you guys hate me?”
 I say, “Hate you? Of course not!”
And his sister is significantly quiet.
And I shoot her my superpower glare, which is a look that conveys without words, ‘Say something reassuring to your little brother NOW.’
She relents and says, “You haven’t done anything wrong. It’s not your fault you’re a boy. I blame dad for that.”
And I try very hard not to roll my eyes.

“So,” I ask, “is being a boy really any better? I mean, can’t we agree that sometimes just being a human being is hard? There are shitty things about being male in our society, too.”

And my daughter asks, “Like what?”

“Oh, I don’t know, guys are expected to be tough, not to have a range of feelings.”

I can tell this line of reasoning is leaving my daughter unswayed so I go somewhere I probably shouldn’t go.

“And what about having an erection when you don’t want to? That would be embarrassing.”

“An unwanted erection? I’m sure that would be embarrassing, but surely it’s not on the same scale having cramps and all that. And do you think a rogue erection is more embarrassing than bleeding all over yourself at school? The occasional embarrassing untimely erection isn’t even close to having a period.”

Yup. I agree.

“But how about the fact that men are shamed for showing any other emotion except anger?”

“Well, so. Women are stereotyped as being over emotional and men are shamed for being vulnerable because emotional vulnerability is associated with being female. So it really all just boils down to women hating again. “

“True that. And women are expected to cry and get hysterical but if a woman gets angry she’s labeled a bitch. So there’s that part, too.”

And my daughter says, “Yeah, and honestly, that emotional crap…I’m not really an emotional person. I’m not “typically” girlie in that respect, so that doesn’t apply to me anyway. What’s so fucking good about being a girl?”

“Well, I don’t know Sweetie.”

“You’ve got the fact that women make significantly less money for equal work, and the fact that married women who work full time still do the majority of the housework and childcare…”

“But,” I say, “on average, women live longer than men do. There’s that.”

“Oh great. I get to live to be really really old. Wow. That sounds GREAT.” Her words drip with the special sarcasm only a 17 year old girl can produce.

At this point I don’t even mention the fact that most elderly women live in poverty after a lifetime of working and raising children and doing all the housework, and straight women have the near surety we’ll outlive our male life partners and live on a paltry income alone and forgotten.

So I just leave that part out because it’s sad.

And then I have it. I have the answer. “You know what’s so good about being a woman?”

Both kids’ eyes are on me.

“Are you ready? No. Never mind. I can’t…”

“Oh my God, Mom. Just say it.”

“Well, the only thing that I can think of that’s sort of good about being a woman is…No. Seriously. I can’t say it.”

And both kids are just staring at me….and so because I am pretty much known for saying all the most inappropriate things in front of the children I think, why stop now?
And I start again.

“Okay…. the only thing that I can think of that is sort of good, great, sort of good and actually maybe great about…about being a woman is…multiple orgasms.”

My daughter says, “EXCUSE ME?”

And my son says something that sounds like, “WHA?! HUH? HAHAHAHA!!!” and he’s rolling around on the floor turning a truly stunning shade of crimson while laughing the way only a 13-year-old boy can laugh when his mother has just spoken the word “orgasm” in his company.

So I continue, “Well, you know, men, they pretty much get the one orgasm during sex, they ejaculate and then they’re done for a while, but women, women potentially can have orgasm after orgasm.”
And I realize perhaps this time, I really and truly have said too much. And I jump up from my chair and start to get busy tiding the dinner mess we’d left on the table hours ago. Because suddenly I feel a little exposed.

And my daughter says, “Mom, do you really think that bleeding from your vagina one week a month for 40 years, 10 years of menopause, making 30% less than your male co-workers, the pain of childbirth, the toll that pregnancy takes on a woman’s body, institutional sexism, violence against women, living until you’re so old everyone you love is dead…do you really think that being able to have multiple orgasms makes up for all that?”

“Well…uh…does it make up for all that? Gee…uh…”
I think it over for maybe a few seconds too long.
“Well…no. No. I guess you’re right dear.”

But in my head I’m thinking, “but it’s something..."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hope is a Green Dress

Happy Wednesday, good readers.

I was feeling so super good there for a while.
But all things pass, the good and the bad.

The bad seem to linger though, while the good stuff evaporates like Isopropyl alcohol on your skin, leaves you feeling a little chilled tensely anticipating the needle prick that inevitably comes next.

Yeah, so there's that.

I guess I'm reluctant to unload completely here.
I'm depressed.

This is my default setting.

But I don't want to make other people feel bad.

I want to offer other people a hand, some comfort.

I don't want to suck all the life out of the room even though I'm feeling completely shit.

It's sort of like finding a dress a certain shade of green that would make me look like something out of The Walking Dead, but knowing it would fit someone else and be just the right color to complement their hair or their eyes.

Hope is like that for me today.

It's going to look great on you.

You can do anything.
Be brave, be strong.

And if that's a dress that's just not going to work for you today, put on your favorite dirty shirt and jeans and endure.

We'll endure in yesterday's dirty clothes together.

My wish for you today though, is that you're decked out in hope.
You're resplendent.
Hope looks good on you.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Great Pretender

Yesterday I was talking to a person who doesn't know me very well.

We were talking about the upcoming election. 

The name Donald Trump came up, as you can imagine it would.

I mean, how could it not?

And we briefly talked about the Trumpster's obvious pathology. I mean, really, how can some people not see the dude is a classic narcissist? It's so clear. 

But maybe not everyone had a narcissist for a father, those lucky assholes.  

Narcissists are charismatic.  People are drawn to the persona.

 Narcissists spend an inordinate amount of time cultivating this image of themselves as special, bigger than life, smarter, more capable. 

Some people are drawn to the narcissist because on some level, they think the narcissist's magic will rub off on them. 

It won't, but I can understand the desire to associate with the gregarious bold bombast and bask in the glow of their accepting gaze. 

But, the narcissist always turns on you. You aren't going to be his darling forever and when that day comes, oh dear. Seriously. If you haven't lived with it, maybe you wouldn't know what happens next. But it ain't pretty. 

And so without skipping a beat in the conversation, my thoughts went from the Great Orange Windbag directly to memories of my own crazy-ass sadistic narcissist pop, lightning speed. 

Seemingly out of nowhere, with no segue, no explanation, I said, "Wow! I sure am glad my dad is dead!" 

And this look crossed my new friend's face; it was an expression that conveyed the listener's common decency. It was a look that seemed to question my humanity. 

What sort of monster blurts out during an amiable conversation, "Wow! I sure am glad my dad is dead!"  

So how did I respond to my horrified new friend?

Well, I laughed like a crazy lady. 

Because of course I did. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

just some random bullshit

Wednesday was supposed to be blog day, but I’m a slacker by nature and I let my self-imposed deadline pass, as usual.

Or have I? Because I’m just writing some bullshit down right now, so maybe this is the blog post. Maybe things are unfolding as they should.

Or whatever the fuck.

I’m sitting here in a pool of my own sweat, which frankly is better than sitting in a pool of someone else’s sweat, so that’s good.

I’m stuck in a place where my chest feels like it’s going to explode, sort of like that scene in Alien, you know the one. Maybe my heart is an alien.

I’ve been working on a series of self-indulgent poems and I think I have a title, My Heart and Other Winged Insects…I like the title, at least for now. Who knows.

Yeah, no. I hate it now. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter…etc etc, my heart crap, it’s been done better by better and it’s been done to death.

But how else do we explain that horrible amazing feeling? That feeling that life is just too too much, that your heart is too big for the bone-cage it’s in, that it’s clawing its way out splintering sternum and ribs as it makes it way from your body like a moth breaking its way through its brittle pupal case? Hellooo? Mixed metaphor much? 

Jesus, I wish I was just a normal Shmoe. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

making coffee: sort of a work in progress...

I was thinking about our daily rituals, the things that keep us grounded, the things we do every day without thinking, the things we do in our own way to our own standard for our own pleasure.

I was awakened early this morning by an ill family member who eventually settled down to rest so I was left awake again at stupid o'clock. I shuffled down stairs and the cats followed me.

I took a detour into the "powder room" to "powder my nose" and one of the languid sisters pulled open the door with her perfect little clawed paw, because, what's privacy to a cat? Right? so she came in and she and I had a little chat, and then I washed my hands, just so you know I'm all about the hygiene, and I fed the cats, and filled their bowl with water, and then I set about to make the coffee which as I've gotten older has taken on a level of complexity that seems self indulgent.

A thought dawned on me out of the blue,  that making coffee had turned into a ritual, one I was  not consciously  aware I was performing.

The fact that I'm the only coffee drinker in the house and I'm willing to perform this multi-step procedure for myself  points to a desire to honor myself. Also to caffeinate myself and jump start my sluggish heart, but if it was just about utility, the coffee making event would be less of an event.

First there is the filling of the kettle. I like the old kettle, it makes me happy. I can't say why, I don't know why, but certain objects have a look about them that please us, and the kettle pleases me. Then I grind the lovely fragrant coffee beans in the old red Krupp grinder that had belonged to my oldest brother who lives in  Oregon. Every morning as I pour just the right number of shiny black coffee beans into the grinder I think of my brother. I think of the age of the machine, how it still runs so well, the mystery of how time passes, and then, I push the button on the grinder and the morning silence is completely shattered. The cats, every morning, every single morning, hear that sound and jump a mile in the air, then turn to look a me with accusing eyes, offended by the noise, deeply resentful. Every morning I laugh, because, I am simple, and it always strikes me as funny how the cats jump in surprise and then glare at me. At some point you'd think they would be used to the sound but no, and it's always funny to me, you might think at some point I would cease to be amused, but no, so the cats and I are more alike than I may like to think.

By now the happy kettle is starting to make its drum roll almost boiling sound, which I also find to be a lovely thing. I turn off the burner, pour the freshly ground coffee into the glass french press, the one my mom gave me for Christmas, it's a pretty thing, it looks fragile but isn't or I would have broken it by now, and I pour in just enough water to create a slurry and I stir it with a little wooden spoon and I delight each time in that wee little spoon, and then I pour in just the right amount of water, place the cover on the pot and start to prepare the milk, which makes me think of some friends of mine, it's a long story, but I'm thinking of some dear people while I warm the milk, first I shake the milk, and I use whole milk now, which seems like an extravagance but I like it better so I use whole milk, because liking it more is a good enough reason, which in the past it would not have been but now it is. I put the milk in the old Pyrex measuring cup nuke for just the right amount of time to achieve the appropriate temperature.

I go to the cupboard to select the morning's mug. Will I choose the brown flowered mug the kids gave me for Christmas a few years ago? The green one that has the perfect handle? The large white one with the oak leaves, 'made in England' printed on the bottom that used to belong to an old fellow a neighbor of my friend Ruth who passed away two years ago, she was such a sweet soul, bless her heart?

By the time the milk is warm and the morning mug selected, the coffee is brewed and I push down the plunger on the french press. I still think pushing the plunger is cool.  It pushes down with a little resistance as the coiled spring exerts just the right amount of pressure and the grinds are trapped below.What a clever invention.

I pour the coffee, I watch it pour, I pour it from a certain height because the sight of it and the sound of it please me, and then I pour in the warm milk in just such a way, I achieve the right shade of brown, not too light not too dark, then I take the foam (I shook up the milk first, so foam, yes, foam) and place that on top, which always makes me think of my younger days and working in the cafe, and I'm good with the foam and I take care to place it just so. It's perfect.

I always take the first sip while walking from the kitchen to the dining room. One might think the proper thing to do would be to wait, I mean, this is a ritual practice and rituals are about discipline and solemnity, but the process was unconsciously designed to honor myself, and I am an impatient person. I don't want to wait for that first sip of coffee, so I don't wait, I've been waiting long enough.

Most mornings everything comes together just right and the first sip as I cross the threshold from kitchen to dining-room is an affirmation and stands above the day. A small act to nurture myself, an affirmation to honor myself in a day that will be spent in service to others.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Too Pooped to Pop

You know that awkward moment when you need to use a public restroom to take the first poo of the day, and you know it's going to be an earth shattering shit splattering mega event? And you're in there and trying to keep the noise down, sort of like that time when you were on xmas break in college and you brought your 'friend' home with you and you're trying (unsuccessfully) to have quiet sex in you childhood bed with your parents "sleeping" on the other side of  2 inches of drywall and an assortment of Nirvana and Peal Jam posters?

You know what I'm saying here?

So you're taking your morning crap, feeling a little self conscious, trying to keep the noise down to a dull squilch, and you flush that shit away and wash your hands really good and you check your teeth in the mirror before you go, and you're looking, eh, it's morning, and you just shat/shit/shitted, whatever, you look like you only without that haunted look of a person who desperately needs to shit because you just did, and you leave the temporary sanctity of the public toilet room and you find a line of people waiting, people with that haunted look that you no longer have, and you know and they know that the horrible odor is something you did, the heinous smell is the smell of the inside of your bowels?

Nope, me neither.