Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From Shibari to Haiku

Haven't run since the day before the big storm. Thought it was work, and the cold, and holidays, and just plain lazyassedness, and yes, it's all that plus low blood count/anemia AGAIN, discovered by accident when I went in to get a damn Retin-A refill. So a round of inconvenient and pricey tests will be committed, just to find out that I'm anemic because I'm an old lady who doesn't eat much meat.

I'd been feeling this not really unpleasant swoony feeling for a couple weeks, plus the skippy heartbeats, and thinking--This is familiar. Where do I remember this from? And being so spacey I couldn't quite place it. Then I almost blacked out--I was at this club party thing and a guy was doing Japanese ropework, which is really beautiful, so I volunteered to get into the web he was making a couple times. It's not a sex thing for me, it's being part of someone's living, changing work of art, is why I've done this a couple times. But then, as he was putting on some finishing touches, I realized I was about to pass out. And I'd been drinking water, and I'd had dinner, so it was mysterious. It was also embarrassing, but I had to ask this poor dear man to unweave me, which he did with all dispatch and a great deal of solicitude, keeping me talking, or sort of mumbling, until I could lie down. Fact: Every BDSM person I've met has been of the sweetest and most caring disposition--almost too damn nice, if you want to know the truth. Then again, I would never put myself in such a position with anyone who was unkind or impolite (abandon all hope, trolls and frat boys who enter here). I ran three miles the next day, and thought OK, all better, but then it happened again, though of course not nearly under as interesting circumstances, and I feel kind of funny right now, and it takes for fucking ever for a thought longer than a facebook update to percolate to the surface of my blood-starved brain. Brains. Brains. Am I a zombie or a vampire? This is about the level of brains you'll get from me lately. Lifting my hands above elbow level to keyboard feels monumental, yet I just won't shut up, will I? DH puts on an on-demand movie and I fall out, I open a book and I fall out, I try to write and it's all blah blah blah. Energy goes first to my daughter, then to work, then there isn't any more. Poor DH. Usually I have extra to do more. No more. Use fewer words. Haiku. Silly me, forgot/ Bad girls aren't allowed to love/ Husbands or children.

So I'm doing little writing and less running, and my only contact with the interesting parts of the planet, like you, has been virtual. Luckily, BAker is coming in this weekend for a visit. It is nice to have friends with whom one can sit on the couch.

When tests are done I can go on supplements etc. and I'll be rolling again.

Photo: The Thakoon Shibari shift dress--you can get it at Saks for $1,500, or a kindly rope artist might build you one for free.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


My Prayer to the Polar Bear

Give me one more summer,
A true summer, not a mush
Of mosquitoes and viruses,
Please, good beast, trudging
Through the slush we have made
Of your world, please grant me
One more bloody mary morning
In a bar with clean wood, indirect sun,
One more time to feel the dip in my stomach
That to me means love

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Xmas Chex Mix

Two Doves, Dirty Projectors; Everlasting, Wilco; For You, Big Star; White Winter Hymnal, Fleet Foxes; Right On the Tip of My Tongue, Brenda and the Tabulations; Waters of March, Cassandra Wilson; The Wonder, Golden Palominos; Work to Do, Isley Brothers; All My Friends, LCSoundsystem; Alone Again Or, Love; Halfway Home, TV on the Radio; Home, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros; The Perfect Space, The Avett Brothers; Me and Jane Doe, Charlotte Gainsbourg; Epistemology, M. Ward; It's All Good, Bob Dylan.

Have had a shit ton of paying work (one of my coworkers developed serious health problems, which besides being sad and worrying means juggling there) plus child care, so very lazy about any other writing or doing much of anything. Want to write about the Solstice, about Copenhagen, about the tsunami anniversaries, about the astrology, about a story I read, about all the year/decade lists, but too bad for that, we're off to the library and to buy milk now.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What Tiger Woods Didn't Do

The golfer didn't do any of these things:

--Refuse to sell a breast cancer survivor health insurance.
--Cut off funding for children's health care.
--Take gift cards given as holiday help to the poor and spend them on himself.
--Make peanut butter with factory equipment contaminated with salmonella.
--Tell a homeowner in trouble that he could help them get a new loan to avoid foreclosure, take the last of her savings, and run off.
--Spend people's retirement savings on bottle service in nightclubs.
--Collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses after running a company into the ground.
--Threaten to expose a CIA agent as political retaliation.
--Make up news in order to promote a political agenda.
--Threaten harm to a witness in a drive-by murder case.
--Dump PCBs into a creek.
--Continue to manufacture known carcinogens.
--Refuse to meet safety standards in a mine, causing deaths of workers.
--Lay off hundreds of people to save his stock options.

What he did do, apparently:
--Have sex.

Why are people so upset about that last thing, and not mad at all the people who did all those other things?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Being Present

Someone I like...what should I call her...Synchronicity Spice? It'll do for now. (It's not a good day for naming. Today I got a whole list of potential business names back from a client with an email saying: "I hate them all." I agree. But I hate everything related to marketing. Unfortunately, I think the clients are on to me. That's going to be a problem.)

Anyway, she asked me about the Not Buying Anything. Truthfully, it's not going so well. I've bought plenty of things this year I don't really need. A couple of t-shirts--the other day I was at a store looking for a coat for my daughter and came out with a t-shirt for myself. Not cool. Some stuff from Patagonia, leggings and sport bras, during the end of summer sale. A book. Probably downloaded about $30 in tunes. Some sweaters to replace two I lost. A cheapo running fleece and pants, just this weekend. And on the New York trip, I caved on a sweater at Muji and two of those fake $5 pashminas they sell on every corner.

She asked about gifts. Books always work, or something made by an artist. Sometimes herbs or teas I grow. I bought several crafted baby gifts this year. For years, I've given all the families my siblings have spun off donations to someplace--wolf rescue, MSF, probably Potomac Appalachian Trail Club again this year. I am so, so lucky that they don't get weird about not getting things.

Anyway, this is dull, but it being near the end of the year--new moon tomorrow, Solstice next week--I thought I might start reckoning up in a number of ways.

I am bad at giving gifts and at receiving them. I do not like getting presents. I cringe this time of year, with all the commercials telling me I am supposed to want, want, want, diamonds and jewelry in particular. I tend to get gifts impulsively and not according to occasion, often choosing things that leave the recipients bewildered, and I forget important occasions--I never like to celebrate holidays, my own birthday, or my own anniversaries of any kind. I didn't like celebrating the wedding or anything else, either. I think I am probably a bad relative and a bad friend by the lights of Hallmark marketers, but I also like to think I have some things about myself that can make up for it.

Anyway, what follows are two lists for Santa, my daughter's and my own. If you guess which is which, you get a present. Neither of us will get all we ask for.

List #1
1. Mini lime green shuffle like Kyle's.
2. Remote control black widow spider.
3. Candy jewelry making kit.
4. Pajamas for dolls.
5. Me being able to do a split.
6. Real live dog! (Please.)
7. Bath set for doll's dog.
8. The ability to know if something is real or not.

List #2
1. Nobody to
feel like this anymore.

2. Kyoto perfume.
3. Universal health care in the United States.
4. Time.
5. Support. Or at least some sense occasionally that I won't be laughed at or sent straight to hell for doing the things I care about.
6. Better poetry collections in the libraries.
7. Me being able to run a trail ultra.
8. The ability to know if something is real or not.
9. Your presence.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And There Were Those Who Did the Double Bump

The Bump

Back there before we got it
The way we did the dance
Was to slam a skinny hipbone
Aimed to set your partner
Reeling across the room. Battle bumping,
Laughing, never mind bruises.

Bertha Butt had plenty of backup.
I look back, see none. I have run my rump
Down to a plane and a duet of knobby bones.
Feet pounding over mountains flattened out
My own mounds and hummocks. Run away,
Run away; no softness behind me.

But now I am looking for that bump,
The one that gets me over, sets my
Pendulum back in swing, moves
My hip to barely brush the other's:
To the left, to the left, to the right,
To the right, to the back, to the back.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Back from taking my daughter to NYC. She wants to be a Broadway actress and I want to live at Muji. The more complicated one's affairs become, the more simplicity one's wardrobe demands. OK, it's not Oscar-worthy, but my hands hurt.

Thinking about the thoroughly modern Thackeray saga of the White House gate-crashers--first thing I was wondering about, which I haven't seen addressed anywhere, is what's becoming of the horses. These two reportedly haven't picked up a tab in a while, but they must have horses, so who's caring for them, and with what funds? Other thoughts:

--Oasis started out as a contender winery, and the scion reportedly did enology at Davis, so what happened? The wine got bad real fast and the tasting room turned into a shrine to the party-crashers. Naked Mountain took the Chardonnay honors, Horton took the innovation prizes, and Barboursville took the history/tourism. All Oasis had was a pretty good fakey limo tour business. This is an interesting blog entry from someone who worked for that.

--Why was there ever a real housewives of DC anyway? We don't do that kind of thing here. We're prized for our dowdiness. It's what we do best! We are Ugly Betty! We are the brains of the operation.

--It was funny that some local media make a point of saying that the couple have a home not in Fauquier but in Warren.

--If Bravo is doing all this as a modern morality tale, tracing the downfall of a folie a deux, that's fascinating--and horribly cruel. Maybe there's a new pseudo-celebrity delusional intervention reality show in the offing. People do get desperate in this New Depression. Just please, make sure someone's taking care of the horses.

--It's all been done.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

You Will Eat a Banana Soon

1. My daughter has been making these "fortunetellers," where you fold paper into quarters and etc, then switch it in your hands according to colors and numbers and open up a flap that tells your fortune. If you've ever been an 8-year-old girl, you know just what I'm talking about. The four possible futures she has written in: You will eat a banana soon; you will have 22 children when you grow up; you have a big head; you will be the star of a Hollywood movie.

2. More journalists getting laid OFF every day; our jobs hang by a thread and all I can think of is health insurance. Fucking trapped! I'm going to die from the stress of worrying about the prospect of not having fucking health insurance!

3. My job is getting too stupid to be borne anyway. Today someone wanted me to write this: "We live at the interplay of data and analytics." No, no, we don't live there! I refuse to live there! Maria doesn't live here anymore! You live there if you want somebody living there! Foreclose that son of a bitch and tear it down like it was the Amityville horror! I won't live there! You shouldn't live there either! Get out, get out now!

4. Just give me health insurance and I'll work doing dishes, I promise, you can give my job to someone else, just don't let me have to worry about what will happen to us if one of us gets sick!

5. And we never do get sick, really. Knock wood and goddess willing. Really, I'm not even suicidal anymore since I had my daughter. Except for those flashes when I encounter people who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars and don't know how to wipe their butts.

6. Not that how often you get sick really makes any difference, or should, when it comes to health care, because it's a right. Did you hear about these pricks at Lincoln University who won't graduate students with a BMI over 30? BMI is a crock of shit; any athlete knows that. Absolutely dumbass, meaningless measure.

7. The topper is that the school head says he can't afford to provide fresh produce and nutritious food for students on campus because the school is in a "remote location." Where, the fucking arctic ice station? Even there, they get frozen vegetables. Asshat. I sentence him to not being able to afford treatment by a brilliant medical specialist who is fit but fat.

8. And nobody yet has proposed fining me for endangering my health and possibly costing taxpayers by running at night and on rocky trails. At my age. No problem, as long as I've got that cute little BMI number.

9. I downloaded a bunch of Gary Numan the other day. The early stuff. It is beautiful and romantic and gay. Someday I want to hear the break from "Replicas" in a club. If I only got out more.

10. I have to keep reminding myself that we are not in the time of Charles II. Bubonic plague AND a great fire, plus Milton and beheadings and hangings! Taking DD to the library tomorrow; hope I can find that one.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"You Know What I Feel? Bored."

Maybe it was the lightning, but the Choir was on fire tonight, spontaneously combusting into two new verses of We Three Kings that had poor Santa possibly being violated in a jail cell. But it turned out to be the beginning of a new romance!

I shouldn't be having a smoke, the way my throat was catching tonight singing, but after the rum, it tastes so good. Which two facts bring us to...

Twimoms, a, um, phenomenon, that's been written about everywhere else, so it was time for the Post to give it a front, in the charmingly tentative way it treats all newfangled trends. Written by Monica Hesse, bless her heart. It's a manu-trend, older women who are obsessed with the Twilight books and movies. I haven't read or seen said books and movies, except for this Buffy mashup (linked for the Facebookers, embedded for the rest).

The Salon columnist steered it to my demographic's conflict with distant Daddies, and I'm really glad I didn't have to read Miss Hesse going there. (I remember interviewing Sherman Alexie in a former life, and there's this line he threw down that stuck with me, tho I couldn't use it in the article: "Brown dads leave, but white dads leave while they're still sitting in the chair. They're reading the newspaper, but they're gone.")

Reader, I'm sticking with Snape. I know, I'm behind the curve, but at least he's a grownup. Disillusioned, bitter, used by the powers that be, working for the Man and never getting the damn job you want and are fully qualified for--I can relate. That Twilight vampire just sounds like more abstinence and stalking--two things I've had way too much of in life and don't enjoy.

But as for the whole, um, phenomenon? It's those Brontes again! Look, working is boring, being a grownup is boring, marriage is boring, it's all a big slog from time to time. Our minds and bodies and emotions are constructed to crave a tough workout, and life gives the typical working woman none of it. A woman today's circumstances are as imprisoning as any corset; you need to watch every bit of what you might do lest you be labeled immature or unhealthy and drugged into dullness--for your own good. I don't blame them one bit for seeking an escape valve. If I didn't have openminded, supportive DH watching my back (as I watch his, believe it or not) and my pseudonyms and writing, I'd be clawing at the yellow wallpaper, too. I wonder what it would be like if all the Twimoms decided to become artists, though. I'd like to see what they'd do.

Now the lightning tonight? That was exciting.

Image: Kris Waldherr's Tarot of the Goddess. She's really beautiful.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Les Autres Blogs

--You owe it to yourself to check out wrekehavok's November project, which is entirely focused on egregious '80s music. It's astounding.

--I think I'm going to have to just break down and buy Kyoto. I like reading fragrance blogs, but a lot of them hate on Comme des Garcons and Kyoto in particular, saying it's "too popular." I actually fought my CDG love for a while for this reason (and because they're expensive as hell). But of all the samples I got last year, they were my winners.

I read a review of Dover Street Market from this guy, who I might actually let be my shrink if I lived in San Francisco, and was a little disconcerted when he said the drydown was like 10 Corso Como, which I hadn't liked at all. So last night after a shower, I opened the sample and gave it another chance. Wince, there I was, Lauren Bacall in the 70s in Halston silk and furs. It ain't me, babe.

I also love two from the CDG Red line, Carnation and Sequoia. Sequoia is a woods/cedar plus carnation/clove and it is perfect, it is Humboldt without skunk weed, it smells like my imagination of Viggo Mortensen sleeping in an elf treehouse; I wear it to work and out sometimes, but not around the house. DH doesn't like clove. He would be very happy if I just stuck to Comptoir Sud Pacific, which is to say smelling like a cupcake. I liked their stuff when I lived in Miami, but the vanilla is too cloying up north. I hear they're Nicole Kidman's favorites, and that fits; Comptoir's vanilla-cocoa-pineapple mixes are exactly what I imagine she'd smell like.

I like men's fragrances or unisex ones best, which also puts CDG ahead.

With fragrances, you have to take into account what makes those closest to you happy, so that means I don't indulge my clove love much. The funniest sample I got was Spirit of the Tiger by Heely, which smells like TIGER BALM! which I smell like half the time anyway.

I liked L'Artisan's Timbuktu when I tried it in Paris, but not when I got home. Maybe the falafel changed my skin composition that afternoon.

Kyoto. Kyoto.

--I miss seeing Fern, but can keep up with the omnivorously brilliant mind of this locavore here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Exercising the Prerogative Traditionally Extended to Women But Which Actually Goes Both Ways

I changed my mind.

UPDATE: Then changed it again. Really needed editing. Was too tired the other day. It's still not there.

King of Swords

Permission, Forgiveness

You have the power to make the decision
(And I'm ready to let you have it)
Once again I approach to ask,
And--I can't help it--it strikes me--

I know you're not much for art, but
In all these years of submitting my will
(Groomed to a turn) for your perfection,
May I say (may I?) that we've made something

Between us, something you could take
Pride in, really. We do this well.
We do it so it feels like hell--
(That's what she said.) I should say,
There is nothing amateur about it.

All the reasons a woman would get beaten down--
Too sunny, too sparkly, too smiley, too bold--
Oh, just the first course; we ran through that
Quickly, back and forth, like brushing the dirt
From your hands, a laborer done by five. No,

We're in the C-suites, with bonuses, options;
Executives, aligned. I exist,
You destroy; I breathe, you knock it out of me.
No mere well-oiled machine, not you:
A quality provider of comprehensive solutions.
(You've always had mine.) I might say I know
How you operate like my own mind:
What you like to watch, what you like to eat,
What raises your ire, and what puts you to sleep.

And that's how I know now
That this is the right time
To slide closer on my knees
To keep an eye on your eyes,
Closed, to keep singing softly,
And slowly reach my hand
To your lap, to tilt the hilt
And let fall into my hands
The sword you hold
That once was mine.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rainy Night House

Strange hearing that driving the New York Avenue gateway into the city, seeing condos I wrote ads for years ago with dark windows and the clubs, too early for lines to form. Tonight was very cozy, with a poetry reading by one of my favorite poet friends who just put out her chapbook, and an open mic. I'm always so amazed at what happens at open mics of any size and the odd combinations and congruencies. Tonight it sounded like everyone had a poem about fish, and everyone had a poem about time. You could say that's typical for poets post-surrealism, almost like a ticket in. When the last open mic reader got out his sax and started doing this one-man bebop coffeehouse thing along with a computer track, I started feeling how close we were to the water, with the wind blowing the drizzle around outside and us in this old-house cafe, a small hurricane party of poets.

When I got home, I decided to pick a card for the next poem and I was hoping it would be Page of Cups, with the picture of the man holding a cup with a small fish leaping from it. But it was Knight of Cups, whom I'd actually been thinking about last week, so I'll get to work on that.

And before that a surreal trip to the mall to get DD some shoes. The mall is so big, we kept getting lost. Every few stores I'd have to check the map. There is still so much stuff there, and all of it sparkling and glittery, but not so many people, and thank goddess no Santa bombing, just perfume bombing. Every few steps, someone wanted to help us or show us something, anything, anything but how to get to where we were going to get kids' shoes. DD was a little rattled by all the people pushing us; it was like a souk out there. I tried to explain that it was hard to sell things now because many people didn't have jobs or money to spare. "Are we in the Depression?" she asked. She is fascinated by Kit, the American Girl Depression-era doll. I am glad I won't have to go to a mall anytime soon again.

Me, I'm thinking about a different decade. Shame there's just a glimpse of Jaco Pastorius, but my ears still work sometimes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My One-Line Holiday Film Guide

In a past life, I was a movie reviewer. Now I wait for them to come out on On Demand and fall asleep. Tis the season for one-line reviews. I'm challenging myself to do this in 20 minutes. See how far into the season I get.

Pirate Radio: I'd do 'em, just for the fashions.

Precious: Got to break the one-line rule on this one. One of my fave Jezebel commentators offers pre-viewing must-reading. But for those concerned that it's just a voyeuristic immersion in one community's pathology, I can offer that there is no lack of depictions of appalling human misery from every corner and culture from anyone who's been able to pick up a camera and try to show the world. If someone uses it as "proof" that [these people] are all [like this], that's a viewer problem, not a filmmaker problem. I hate the idea of self-censoring to create a "proper" impression, precisely because that is at the root of most of the suffering (and gifts) in my own life. I'm of the more-talk-not-less-is-better school, except when it comes to these reviews, so I better cut this--

2012: Slam-dunk on Vatican City!

Bad Lieutenant, New Orleans: Nic Cage does frontal; spoiler alert: He gets eaten by a grizzly at the end. Who then staggers off to get more coke and bet on the Phillies. Oops, broke protocol again!

Fantastic Mr. Fox: Isn't this the Lars Von Trier sequel?

Twilight New Moon: Holding out for Part III, with sea monsters: "Cthulhu, Where Are You?"

The Road: Foraging for food and outrunning cannibals is a typical day in the Cougar household.

Everybody's Fine: Can't deal with DeNiro when he gets all twinkly around the edges.

Serious Moonlight: Will give Hines a chance.

Invictus: "Get off my rugby field, you kids!"

Me and Orson Welles: Awwwwww.

The Lovely Bones: Would like to say something funny about "Heavenly Creatures" and Orson Welles, but truthfully, I just can't even deal with the concept of this picture.

We Live In Public: When it comes to commentary on contemporary social phenomena, I'm waiting for the doc on the Human Carpet.

Avatar: "You write dialogue for a guy and then change the name."

Young Victoria: I'd be the only one in the audience.

Broken Embraces: Such a crush, such a crush.

It's Complicated: Please stop twinkling, please, please.

Nine: Yeah, nine big crushes!

Sherlock Holmes: The slash will write itself.

Up in the Air: Want.

Hey, I made it thru xmas!

Update: Dag, in my haste I messed up formatting. Fixed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

He Won't Stand Beating

Five of Swords
Beating Time

Each sword a slice of time,
It’s mine, it’s mine, an hour
You left behind, dropped and ran
Into the smoke, into the slime.
Whole days once yours I now possess.

They call us vultures when we glean
The fields for the fallen. Sometimes
Those I step around are still alive. Today, I found
A world from sundown to dawn, time
For one lover, two bottles, three songs—
I keep accounts, pile seconds into stacks.

The oracle said to find time I must be clever;
I will be clever, leave off
Fear or feeling my own wounds.
A chunk of iron to a wing,
Black feathers fly loose,
No matter, no time:
I see another minute
You let fall,
And now it’s mine.

Image: Today I stole the card from Serennu, home of geniuses, the source for any astrological aspect and most obscure asteroid you could want to know about, and a random tarot generator on top of all that.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Light As A Feather, Thick As A Brick

Tomorrow my little brother is scheduled to leave for a solo sail from San Diego to his home in Maui, in the 44-foot boat he just got. It's something he's wanted to do for years; they've been wanting to get their own boat for years as well. Despite everyone making jokes about him pulling his own teeth and taking out his own appendix en route, I'm not in the least worried, just excited for him. Both my brothers are great sailors, though I never got the hang of it. He stays cool under any circumstances, it's only about a month tops, and teenagers are going solo around the world. If anyone who knows who I really am wants to follow him on his blog, let me know, and I'll send you the url.

Meanwhile, I fucked up my ankle running on the stupid Crescent Trail today, so goes to show. Bumming because I want to do this simple parks fundraiser 8K in a few weeks. Plus I've been living on red wine, steak, pizza, and chocolate for about five days straight and feel like I could roll down the trail like a big rubber ball if I don't get some major miles in soon. DH says as he gets older, he may be able to run with me more often, because he'll be able to be as slow as I am. I told him not to aspire to too much; not everyone can function at my kind of speed. It takes a unique tolerance for boredom and infinite patience to perfect the 20-minute trail mile.

Plus, I'm a solo type.

But a healer at the dinner tonight told me the place that was hurting is at a meridian, so I'm hoping the Singing Acupuncturist can work some magic on it next week.

Came home choco-and-wine buzzed after the trick-or-treat extravaganza and lit the candle at the Dumb Supper for the ancestors, set out with my daughter before sundown. Greens, gingerbread, beer, peanut butter crackers, chocolate; all the things the ancestors like to eat. In my buzzedness, had a terrible yen for some Jethro Tull and downloaded a dozen songs; thank the goddess DH got home or it could have gotten really ugly. I already would have been jigging around the kitchen playing the air jazz flute if it weren't for my ankle. Forgive me for planting such an image in your no-doubt fevered brain. Blessed Samhain and Happy New Year; that which is remembered, lives.

Photo: There's supposed to be a pretty wild movie that goes with Passion Play. If anyone knows about it...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ten Titles In Search Of

Don't say I never gave you anything.

1. The Cabaret License

2. Shake It Til the Metal Ball Rattles

3. Rampant

4. We Need More Skulls for the Steps

5. The Surveyor's Marks

6. Pinking

7. Polar Mambo

8. Heather Waits for the Signal

9. The Garam Masala Incident

10. An Acute-Angle Sandwich

These came out of a run this morning, except for #9, which came out of an actual conflict among me and my sisters-in-law, and #10, which I've had in mind to write for going on 10 years. I'm slow.

Clip: Purportedly from the Solid Gold TV show--but then where are the damn dancers?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

So To Speak

When I imagine that at my age I cannot be shocked, I learn I am wrong. I may have a passing familiarity with many terms in the Urban Dictionary, but when after a recent post it came to my attention that there are pages and pages of erotic fan fiction based on the character of "Professor Snape" from the Harry Potter books, I was shocked.

Obviously, first, because erotic fiction based on kids book characters, ewww, yuck, gross, stop. But a two-hour cruise of Teh Internets, purely for research purposes, alleviated those fears slightly, as all the authors take great pains, so to speak, to spell out that all fictional participants are of legal age and fully consenting adults. But still. All I can think of is, oh, that poor Alan Rickman, such a good actor, and this...oh, and poor Ms. Rowling. High price indeed for fame and fortune.

I know how the game works; long long long ago, I wrote erotica for a while because I thought it might be easy money, which it wasn't. Easy, yes, but not much money. You shape your stories based on whatever the paying anthologies and contests are calling for--vampire lesbians, rough trade interplanetary warriors, etc. This practice may have led to the writing of a short story of an encounter between a certain secretary of state and the wife of a Nobel Prize winner (not the latest winner, go back a bit), and also one that was a magical realist story set at a bass fishing tournament (it was an attempt at an environmentalist homage to Carl Hiaasen, which, looking back, I doubt he would have appreciated, but one does what one can). I ain't saying. But this world pays more for a 70-word web page blurb about an "IT Solution" than it does for 1,000 words of high-quality erotica, which is just one among many indications that this world is heading in the wrong direction.

Anyway, my skim of the Snape archives revealed a lot of British-flavor bodice-ripping softcore Mr. Rochester memes, starring somewhat spirited but pure woman and head-game, so to speak, playing, brooding, authoritative man. The other one that pops up, so to speak, ok I'll stop already, is the Heathcliff meme, in which the woman is just as nuts as the dude. These are also the most common romance novel models. I felt a twinge of nostalgia, because the Mr. Rochester model used to be my specialty. Oh well, another art chokes, so to speak, ha ha!, and dies. (Which last word, if you're doing Olde English softcore, could also get a "so to speak.")

And no, I will not provide links. Poison your own damn search history.

But let us go a little deeper here, you said you'd stop doing that, and explore the origins of the archetype. I'm a Stones person, a George Harrison person, and a Jane Eyre person (as opposed to a Beatles, John, Wuthering Heights person). The real Jane Eyre, of course, is as absolutely whack and wonderful as anything by the Brontes, and much more feminist and in touch with reality than her sister's book, relatively speaking. The story makes no sense, but everything she says is revolutionary. You can hear how smart and above it all that poor innocent 'Bama Charlotte believes she is; she fends for herself with such effort and ingenuity; she practically ends every third sentence with "unlike YOU bunch of dumbasses and hypocrites." What's funny is that what appeals to Jane about him isn't his "Byronic" brooding and smackdowns, but his willingness to talk to her as an equal in intellect. But it's the Byronic parts that live on in the model.

And that's not even touching the whole madwoman in the attic racial-social thing. I love Wide Sargasso Sea just as much.

Fully by chance, I came across this hilarious, weird piece from the Daily Mail years ago that's a perfect primer on Jane Eyre, "the sexiest novel ever written" and "simply the best novel ever written by a toothless parson's daughter from Yorkshire or anybody else." One correction, though--Charlotte Bronte did not "die of disappointment" after her marriage; she most likely died of dehydration and exhaustion after weeks of prolonged morning sickness, something that still happens today more often than many realize. From all biographical accounts, she really, really wanted to hang on to life and have that child.

So here's a dramatic chunk, when Rochester's doing his usual head games, trying to trick her into going for him by saying he's going to send her away, and she's like "fuck your horse, buddy," but so honest! She's freaking blazing! Emphases mine.

"I grieve to leave Thornfield: I love Thornfield:- I love it,
because I have lived in it a full and delightful life,--momentarily
at least. I have not been trampled on. I have not been petrified.
I have not been buried with inferior minds, and excluded from every
glimpse of communion with what is bright and energetic and high. I
have talked, face to face, with what I reverence, with what I
delight in,--with an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind.
I have
known you, Mr. Rochester; and it strikes me with terror and anguish
to feel I absolutely must be torn from you for ever. I see the
necessity of departure; and it is like looking on the necessity of

..."Do you think, because I am poor,
obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think
wrong!--I have as much soul as you,--and full as much heart! And if
God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have
made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave
I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom,
conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh;--it is my spirit that
addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave,
and we stood at God's feet, equal,--as we are!"

"As we are!" repeated Mr. Rochester--"so," he added, enclosing me in
his arms. Gathering me to his breast, pressing his lips on my lips:
"so, Jane!"

..."Jane, be still; don't struggle so, like a wild frantic bird that is
rending its own plumage in its desperation."

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with
an independent will, which I now exert to leave you."

Also keep in mind that sex with the governess was seen as every man's right and every wife's nightmare; that it was about the only job a woman could get if she wasn't on the street; that any governess could end up on the street for saying three honest words to an employer; that women who asserted equality could be jailed and force-fed or put in insane asylums. What on earth gave that toothless parson's daughter the idea she could write such things--under a pseudonym, of course?

I am not toothless, and I do not write fan fiction, and that's enough disclosure for the day.

Photo: From the latest BBC miniseries. Because as much as I love Orson Welles, and as good as he is in it, I just can't get with him in the role.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Voices in the Mist

Night's work done, time to have a glass of sake and decompress. I hate looking at old work. In fact, I rarely revise anything. Once I write something, I'm kind of creeped out by it and bored by it, and it's all so disappointing--improve it? How? Not because it's perfect, but because it's hopeless. I also get this weird feeling of "who wrote that?" as if someone else had taken over my mind and voice. So to avoid that, I rarely look at it at all.

Which makes an evening like this, once DD is in bed, dull and taxing, and more of it to come. I'm turning a series of old poems into a play in the hope that they can be useful somehow. On top of that, with our computer limping into senility, I now have to go through some 70,000 old emails, with all the mixed feelings that entails. I want to save some things, like emails from friends, those to my daughter from my mother, for instance.

Plus decide which poems, stories, outlines, drafts I need to save and keep somehow. Plus I guess I'm supposed to gather up things and try to publish them, but it's a horrible exercise--for all the reasons given, and larded with futility; publication is unlikely, even if publications themselves weren't keeling over daily.

I guess I should be glad that actual revising, cutting, pasting, tossing, changing--none of that is difficult. I don't have any sentimental attachment to what I've written. Maybe because I never feel like it's mine, like I really wrote it, anyway? And some 25 years of newspapering gets you used to being chopped up. This makes me unpopular in writing workshops, for instance, where I say unintentionally mean things like "you could just kill that middle section." Another side effect--if it's not from the past week or so, it's like I haven't written anything. I always hated it if I went for a week without my name on something new. A lot of poems I've just written on this blog, cold, and never looked at again. I'll have to sort through those and gather them up sometime, too, I know, I know. I know if I'm going to be a grownup writer, I'll have to show more respect for The Work, but it's a drag. I have so little time left, but even less time to waste in making excuses this way.

So going through old poems goes against my nature, but I know, even if it's to no use, it's something I'll have to learn to do, as a karmic exercise. It's just like sifting compost. I hope it will build up some muscles, at least.

Speaking of something new, the Post redesign--fail. Appalling in its willingness to scoop up scraps from other dying newspaper carcasses and paste them onto its thinning skin--an NYT logo here, a WSJ engraving there. It's like someone costumed out of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. And everywhere, column after column of underpaid people telling me I have to go out and buy overpriced vodka at some damn club. Glad the City Paper called them on their shit, but it's not like that's a hotbed of ingenuity either. Sigh. Nobody has any new ideas.

The crap happening with the LA Sheriff and TMZ is proof that the "new models" are no solution--unless you have a strongman with lots of money and lawyers sworn to watch your back, you'll be at the mercy of anyone who wants to sue, take your notes, whatever. Journalists at "new model" media will have to not only buy their own health insurance, but buy something akin to malpractice insurance, not to mention save up bail money.

Better drink up and clean the kitchen. Tomorrow: Write something new, even if it's just a wheeze of exhaust.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Severus, Severus Awaits You There

We've made our way to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in print and to Phoenix in DVD. Because you don't get to see the movie until you've read the book. Before checking Half-Blood out of the library, DH wondered if it were too grown up for our 8-year-old, with all the dating and kissing and such. Now I'm wondering if it's too much for me, and we're only a few chapters in. I mean, if you've read it? What do you think? What am I supposed to think, with Dumbledore spouting lines like "let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure"? It really is Oscar Wilde's birthday, isn't it?

And the scene with Snape plying the sisters with wine and they're all kneeling at his feet and taking the Unbreakable Vow or something? Do I just not get out enough, or is that not kind of hot?

DH always accuses me of having a thing for Snape, and as usual, he knows my inclinations. I know most people would cast their lot with Gary Oldman, but I'm a contrarian. A supernaturally talented Goth guy who got beat up in high school--what's not to love? Let's qualify that a bit: Goth guy who's in pretty good shape and doesn't wear too much makeup.

But of course I'm also thinking about this.

Well, Phoenix was so phoned-in it's not surprising my eyes and mind went wandering after serving the pizza on movie night tonight. On the shelf next to the TV is a jug brought back by BA and KennyMac from London, evidence of hopes of better days; the idea is you put coins in the jug and when it's full, we would have had enough to go to the World Cup. There are strict instructions from the craftspeople who make these jugs that the vessel must be shattered with a hammer in order to bring in good luck and more money. But the jug will be spared. Besides the economy and layoffs, I'm dismayed at the practice of removing South Africa's inconvenient poor from the premises so as not to rattle the tourists. Look for something similar to go down in Rio around the Olympics. As much as I love Brazil, the love isn't blind.

This New Yorker article on the Parque Royal favela in Rio tells of a drug lord who allied himself with an evangelical pastor who admits he pretends to cast out demons from the assorted dealers of the island. Like any tyrant, the drug king has attempted to limit freedom of religion and has has forbidden practice of candomble, as well as umbanda and macumba, and even Kardecism and spiritism, which actually are based strongly in Christianity, saying they are all akin to devil worship. They are also religions that acknowledge and respect African traditions and are creative, original, uniquely Brazilian in detail, culturally connected and powerful and, surprise, even have strong woman as leaders and practitioners. But the drug lord says these religions are devil worship, and you can be hacked to death if you're caught at them on his watch.

"The writer pointed out the contradiction between Fernandinho's religious faith and his continued life as a drug trafficker. He asked, “For you, where is the dividing line between right and wrong?” Fernandinho smiled, and said, “Who's deciding?”"

Anyway, the jar is too beautiful to smash.

Monday, October 12, 2009


When you try new things, you learn more about yourself, like that you suck as a DJ. The only way I could have sucked more as a DJ is if I'd woken up at 7:30 a.m. and started blasting Ram Jam's "Black Betty" from a 40-foot tower of speakers. Somebody beat me to that one.

(As usual, names changed not out of some creepy George Bush homage, but because innocent people may not want to have their real names associated with my fake name in public.) What happened was the Handyman got offered an extra-long set at this sort of um festival thing I go to, a mini-Burning Man, and he asked if anyone wanted to help, and I was all me, me, pick me! Except that my computer skills are barely at a functional level, I'm actually afraid of most technology because I'm sure I'll just break something expensive, and the music I like is kind of like, well, music not many people like.

You'd think I'd have realized this the night before, seeing people dancing in 40 degree weather in their underwear to real DJs. Like DJ Sequoia (whose real name I'll use in case you want to check him out when he plays around town, and you do), who had this whole lineup of cute Princess Sparkle Pony Go-Go Girls crowding the stage to dance to his music. Or while drifting off to sleep as brilliantly deranged mashups created by the Handyman and Handsome Handsome D played into the dawn.

Nope, I went on ahead with it. So it was later in the afternoon that I stood on the stage in front of the Handyman's computer, which has one of those knobs on it instead of an old-school mouse, the thing some people call a nipple but which is known around the Cougar household as a "clit." It was appropriate for that computer, because said knob was bright red. It also began to behave in the elusive manner for which its titular organ is notorious, and I rubbed and clicked away for a while, getting nowhere and eventually freezing the computer, which then began to play the Monsters of Folk song I wasn't even sure I wanted to play in the first place. Again. And someone yelled "You suck!" and I wanted to cry. Except that I was wearing a devil costume with booty shorts and a belt whose buckle was in the shape of red sequined lips, and it's illegal to cry in an outfit like that, and I am a law-abiding woman. DJ Sequoia came up to help, and then the Handyman came back, and then he and Handsome Handsome D started doing more of what they'd been doing the night before, and all the humans and woodland creatures were again happy and playing and dancing, and I grabbed a friend's abandoned hoop and spun my troubles away.

Apart from those few minutes of dead air, it was a lovely weekend, and I can't wait to go again and try something else new. And it was very kind of the real DJs to be so patient with me.

[Exit singing:] "I woke up this morning...and my thumb was gone..."

Photo: Duty-free heliotrope. This is how dumb I am about computers--the blog thingy wouldn't let me put pictures up for a while because I hadn't agreed to terms of service in a while or something like that. I just forgot to click a box.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Irish Spring, Indian Summer, Fortunate Fall

Death by PowerPoint this week, including a 12-hour stretch creating one Monday, probably payback for not atoning. Luckily, and I do have some half-Irish luck, the weekend was a lovely work-free zone, with a lazy visit from BA and a lot of rainy snoozing, aside from a sloppy 6-mile run on the not-restored part of the Crescent Trail. And even that was relaxing, because the usual Beltway traffic on the other side of the trail doesn't all venture past the Bethesda Barnes & Noble.

Because I'm running often when my daughter's in her extracurriculars now, I'm doing urban trail runs, dodging fractured sidewalks and Bethesda cafe sitters, trying not to give in to the urge to swoop in and run off with a coffee and donut. Other days I run on the strange streets around the old industrial park that has the big warehouse building where she has gymnastics, breathing auto paint fumes from the body shops. It is easy to think the earth might not recover when you see the kind of trash on the side of some roads. I just start to feel like, well, this is it. These are places no one ever cleans up, no one worries about making it look nice. A tangle of plastic and slime, all at my feet.

I'm scared to get the new Margaret Atwood from the library.

But at night it looks different, and for my birthday, BA took me to see Steve Wynn. I was worried that with all those songs about baseball it would be all fratty and overgrown cargo-short toddlers bobbing their heads in the white-boy dance, they're perfectly nice I'm sure, but they make me feel uncomfortable. It's true it was a bit of a sausage fest, manly, yes, but I liked it also! Some guitar trouble meant we got a quasi-unplugged version of When You Smile, quick repairs made for lots of Paisley Underground, lots of fast talking, and I can't get the new songs out of my head. They're fun and smart.

They played for THREE HOURS and the drummer kills.

Except there's another song I can't get out of my head, because BA and I were goofing around on the interwebs and she was showing me Real Housewives of Atlanta and now I can't stop singing (Don't Be) Tardy for the Party (Party-party-party-party)". At first I thought it was Tarty but of course I had that wrong. It is so tarty!

I can go back to not watching TV for 20 years again. I saw five minutes of Housewives, really scary! And that Cougartown show? Reader, I watched it. After all that, I had to. I can't believe all the outrage. It's a 30-minute sitcom y'all. One in which a character admits that she gets kind of lonely sometimes and enjoys having sex. One in which, at one point, the character yells at the guy across the street because he gets to cavort all he likes and nobody says anything, yet she's constantly judged and gossiped about and taken to task no matter what she does. Come to think of it, it's kind of refreshing. But that doesn't mean I'll take time to watch it again.

How come no one's writing NYT columns of outrage about all the shlubby guys on sitcoms? Don't men of a certain age feel misrepresented and insulted by 30-minute sitcoms, like it's an offense to their entire lives and gender? Get busy.

And I had to watch a little Eastwick, as part of my witches anti-defamation duties, and man, don't make me ever again. Plus, that noise last week was the sound of a giant Evel Knievel motorcycle revving up to jump the shark tank that was House. Cute cuddly mental patients? A catatonic revived by a music box? No, no, no, no, no, Bryan Singer, how could you? Never again.

C'est tout for the tube. Sorry to ramble on so long. Next time I babble this much, I'll make a PowerPoint out of it.

And that doesn't even get into the Nordstrom Steve Madden boots incident, in which I proved once and for all that I am not worthy of being called cougar. I just...don't really understand how to shop or how to behave in a mall. But they are great damn boots all the same. Thank you for the gift certificate, dear mother.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

John Deere vs. Courteney Cougar, Cage Match

So much cougar-hating coming across the doorstep, mostly engendered (get it) by the Courteney Cox TV premiere. Boffo.

Worst offender was the straining at a fun little piece in this morning's Post, in a voice that's this weird pastiche of blogger snarkery and Sex In the City-edited-for-Bravo-reruns voiceover. How'd that thing end up the display lede when they had good stuff like Hank Stuever, Lisa deMoraes, a new James Ellroy, Tom Shales, the new Taffety Punk show, MacArthur geniuses...oh well. I know the rules, no leading with reviews, but it's scary to think they probably didn't have the bandwidth to handle anything beyond an AP mashup on the MacArthurs. Just one more bad part about being old is you can remember a Style section that changed the industry instead of one that gave cute perky tips on lip plumpers, "dating dilemmas" and vegan dog food. (All respect to Robin Givahn on fashion, btw, who is a serious writer and reporter and knows her stuff. It's the Style Plus recycling that's so annoying.)

I watched a little Bored to Death last night too, not intentionally, and I was so afraid I'd pull a muscle from cringing from looking at this fucking hipster for 1/2 hour, but hey, not bad! Some decent writing! Ted Danson helped. I was getting a little nauseated from some of the twee needle-drop soundtrack, and then to top it off they played about .04 seconds of my favorite TV on the Radio song. Which will always be a great fucking song but was hip like two years ago or at least one year ago? Which is why I get so fed up with you youngsters. Your job is to show me something new, and you give me a one-hit in a pilfered Viagra bottle.

For someone who didn't watch TV for 20 years (I've still never seen that first show Ted Danson was on), I'm watching a lot of it. That's because the broadcast medias is so much better than the movies now, especially the writing. Exhibit A: You wake up and you're on top of the world, and then you get your foot run over by a lawnmower??!!??

I've decided I want my first ultra to be along the Delaware shore after running trails around Henlopen this weekend. They're flat. I found one nice piece that was about a mile and a half of everything ranging from gravel to soft sand. I know they say don't run on soft sand but up to a mile can't kill me. Maybe in Florida? Wild boar and alligators. That's another way to lose a foot. Or two. An ultra circling Okeechobee. Sign me up.

Photo: My blog won't let me push a little button and put up pirated photos anymore. Probably serves me right, bitch.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oh Dreamweaver, I Believe Etc.

Seven of Cups


If I had one breath
Left would I
Call to you

To come see
What I believe
Is in my reach?

The anger, the cries,
The counsel
To choose one,
To ground,
To test visions
Against reality --
Long since faded
To a ringing in my ears.

And here I am
Using that breath
To explain why
I do not call to you.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Little Green Teabag

Of course they were the topic all weekend. You can look at the pictures and the signs, or you can open up a can of the stuff on the right and get the same effect: Bland, slimy, and bad for you. People of bigger brain are pretty much clear now on two things:

1. Teabagger=Racist
2. Nothing else about what they do or say makes any sense. Aside from having a black president, they're mad about...what? Policy? That is so weird. For a longtime Washingtonian, it's almost kind of flattering, in a way. Here we go for so many years developing minutely detailed policy, and someone is actually paying attention! Even if they do get it wrong.

All I can say is it's one weird-ass world when I find myself working on poems about Rush Limbaugh and about Harriet Tubman at the same time. Course the Rush one is just an easy one-off, ought to be done in a day. It's about one time when I was in Miami in the car scanning stations and listening to his show for a while and thinking: That guy is SO HIGH.

(Remember that next time you think I'm just some happy housewife. I see all.)

Right now, I'm tuning in and getting this sense that the teabaggers, who after all are largely not powerful people, even in numbers, are actually super-bottoming masochists, hell-bent on testing the edge of human endurance of pain. Our President keeps trying to offer them a safe word, and they're all: no way. No rules. Take them away. Please, please, I must have Wall Street take my home, give CEOs my retirement, take my job away, make them beat me down to nothing, please, rich executives and limo preachers, take my money and kill our jobs and turn my town into a hull fit only for meth production, except that no one knows enough even to figure out how to cook it without blowing their asses to ash because we don't want education either, please, make me work for stockbrokers so they can buy ice sculptures and snort corks (that's not a typo, it's a shoutout to E) off naked nubile maidens. Please, no rules, no way to stop them, please do it until we bleed, and make sure there's no one there to bandage us up, no way. No government, no help, no health care, no options of any kind, no peace, no boundaries, no future, no change, no change, no change.

They couldn't get their rapture on with the war, so they're going for the End Times right here at home.

But you know what's worse? I'm also tuning in that all the protesting and talk radio bullshit is just a shiny-thing distraction. That as evil and real as the racism is, it's still all a way of saying, "hey, over here, keep looking over here!"

And I wonder what's going on where we're not looking. And who and why. And now I sound as paranoid as they do. And maybe that's actually how they get you.

I made the 13.1 miles in eight (slight correction) minutes less than I had two years ago. I feel a little achy, but fine. More than fine.

Friday, September 11, 2009

"I'm Tired. Tired of Playing the Game."

Rain, mud, horse poop, stupidly scheduled myself to babysit tonight, and I'm still going to do the race tomorrow. Now the girls are pulling out all the American Girl accoutrements, and the timer's going off.

Dinner break.

Pizza, baby carrots, apple slices. Conversation: Belgium, roller coasters, solar power. Eight-year-olds are all right. And it's actually easier to babysit than to have them hang out solo.

Happy to see Mel Brooks made the national honors list.

Worried about the right wingers. They are so anxious, so terrified all the time. They need treatment. But I don't think they can afford it. Here's what one of their leaders--they follow these leaders so blindly, poor things, out of their terrible, terrible fear--says:

"And so Americans are frustrated," Boehner told reporters. "They're angry. And most importantly, they're scared to death that the country that they grew up in is not going to be the country that their kids and grandkids grew up in."

I don't quite understand why that would be such a bad thing. But today might be a very good day to think about fear and what it does to people, and what it causes us to do.

I myself am terrified of Aetna. Terrified they'll drop me or worse, my child, at any minute. And I know damn well that's what you're afraid of, too, Mr. and Mrs. Bama. So I don't believe it for a minute that you're afraid of government health care, or socialism, or big government. You and I both know what you're afraid of. You can't fool me; I spent enough time in the same place you come from to know.

I'm off on the other screen searching for my favorite quote from the Washington Post this week, and I've just about given up.

--Holy shit. Speaking of health care, I just had to perform emergency surgery. My child just decapitated one of the Bitty Twins, trying to get one of those cute little shirts over her head. The doll's, I mean. I "saved her life!"--

Anyway, favorite quote from a parent who didn't want her child to see the "stay in school, listen to your parents, work hard" speech by our President the other day: "His charisma is frightening."

It's like The Blob, a miasma clouding civilization, threatening the nation, it's the dreaded Charisma of the Black President, coming your way! Run, Loudoun matron! Scamper!

Oh, I suck, truly, I can put the head back on a doll, but I can't do this justice. I wish Dave Chappelle would get back to work. He'd know just what to do.

PS: This week's library book is Mario Vargas Llosa's The Bad Girl. And it's good.

Photo: Late great Madeleine Kahn rides again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You Say You Don't

--How's about a little Buzzcocks.

--I have to write all I can in 15 minutes.

--Because I'm trying to get to bed at a decent hour all week because I have a race this weekend that I'm not too confident about. Women's trail half-marathon.

--All the way home just now WPFW was blasting Don Cherry.

--I had a dismal, charitably speaking 7-mile run Sunday and I almost hit a deer. A very slow deer. Standing still in the middle of the trail under the old trolley line. DH says it was a bad run because I was up the night before drinking wine and smoking cigarettes with BA, but that had nothing to do with it. Besides, we ate peaches too. They're good for you.

--I'm covered with mosquito bites from two outside parties, but the rain didn't start til the end of each.

--Catch the Douglas Sirk reference in Mad Men?

--Late night channel surfing surfaced the first half of 24 Hour Party People. "It's George Martin and Brian Epstein! Brian Epstein! Not George Epstein!" And the scene with Howard Devoto in the men's room. I love that movie.

--I'm going to take some of my time to find a good picture or something to link to now.

--Got it.

--I was feeling my grandmother for a moment there, very strongly, Saturday. The year she got her first seal-a-meal, she gave up canning for freezing. I lived on her turnips and kale for one winter. When she married my Irish, saxophone-playing grandfather, her family disowned her to the point that none even came to her funeral, 68 years later. He always had a victory garden, even when victories became not so clear. So Saturday, the berries and peaches and pesto were all in the freezer, and the peach cake was cooling, and the dark pink gazpacho was in a lighter pink bowl in the refrigerator, and my friend had just come to take her babysitting shift and take the kids to the pool. And I sat down and ate an ear of corn.

--And so this is all dedicated to Backstretch. You may not believe it, but in my experience, that which is remembered, lives.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Other C Word

My sister-in-law took the Outside magazine with Aaron Eckhart on the cover home with her. She said she wanted it to show her son the story about the skateboarder. Uhh-huh. OK.

The pictures inside are even better. But my real crush is from the month before.

But anyway. She is forgiven for taking Aaron away, because she lent me "The Widows of Eastwick," the Updike sequel. Only halfway through, but I get the feeling he gets it, better than a lot of women writers do. I had a lot of problems with the first one, but this one is just about age and time and change and death. The descriptions of nature, and of men's bodies, are poems in themselves. These women are in their 70s and they're still powerful and sexy, and they're losing their power every second. Voila, they're human; guess it takes a supernatural character to be just that.

We have cut back our cable to save money and now get "only" HBO and a dozen channels that show British football. So, TV report: I don't know how to deal with the last "Mad Men." It was just so sick and shocking. I know the show is all Stuff White People Like anyhow, and you know, somebody had to make the point that there was a lot more shit going on than those dresses and cool furniture. But I'd like to hear from some different voices about What It All Means.

I've watched a couple of "Hung"'s, which I like for the doofy guy and the economic collapse, but most of all Jane Adams as the poet/pimp, with her baked goods and bohemian pillows and noisy "reactions." No, not seeing anyone I know there, not at all.

And I read they're going to try to revive L Word as a reality show. Well, if it doesn't have Jennifer Beals and Pam Grier, it's not part of my reality.

Here's one I probably won't have time to catch, Cougar Town, which premieres on the day I turn 48!--not that I listen to bad reviews or anything. There was a wavelet of various cougar news and commentary recently that I was too busy to respond to in any way, despite somehow having become a default expert.

One more time: Reclaim the language and make it your own and claim its power (as this entry about the Other Other C Word elucidates). I chose Cougar for a name of this blog as half parody, half homage. There are women around DC I'm in awe of--perfect hair, perfect nails, perfect makeup, heels, handbags. I'll never be that. But I admire the way they refuse to give up, that they're warriors of a kind, refusing to accept the devaluation the market they've chosen might force on them. I don't like the market or the makeup or the money, but I like their balls. So to speak.

So, some protest that the Cougar word and the descriptions and the photos make older women's sexuality look scary or predatory or ridiculous? You know, depictions of just about any adult's sexuality look ridiculous, hilarious, disgusting, scary, weird, icky, choose your pejorative. Unless you're an adult who happens to be into what's being pictured. And then it looks sexy. Adults are funny that way. There aren't too many universals, as hard as advertising and men's magazines would like to try to make there be, so they could sell more shit more easily. All this fuss about older women, you'd think people had never seen a Hogarth or a Mozart opera.

And using that Cougar term? Doesn't mean I'm into young men in particular. The people I'm into are all of age and then some. And they're so diverse that all any of them have in common are brains.

Ummmm, brainzzzzz, yummmm....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hammer Don't Hurt Em

"If you want me, I'll be off dancing around," my daughter says. Good enough. I'm going out to weed, myself.

Eight of Pentacles
The Stone

"Art requires form," the trapeze artist told me,
As we sat in her tent, eating candied ginger,
And drinking that bitter tea her people like.
They brought me in on the matter of some riggings,
A problem solved easily with the right counterweights.

Sometimes since then I dream of hoops and horses,
Silks and nets, my feet light and my head
Swinging low, below me, my body turning--

Not the world. But I know the muscles in my arms
Are suited for this work alone: To swing a hammer
And carve what's needed in the rock, turning
Each one I'm given into a talisman. When I began
I placed the first the highest I could stretch,
And then the next lower, the next lower,
And then to earth, to be a stepping stone.

Update: Was thinking and realized I dropped a line of what it was supposed to be.

Friday, August 28, 2009

For Those About To Black Rock, I Salute You

The way to get over fear of falling on the trail is probably not to try a tough trail in the rain without your glasses, but it just sort of happened. I wasn't sure where I'd go after I walked my daughter to school, and the streets took me in that direction. The Melvin Hazen trail is short, but nearly entirely what they call "technical." Four creek crossings, steep grades and switchbacks, many fallen trees to duck over and under, and the closest thing to a level stretch is mined with rocks and roots. One near-fall on a simple stretch, two slips on the stones on the creek crossings, one day more of rebuilding confidence.

I attempted to steal a photo from this multi-author blog that has a lot of interesting wisdom about adventuring of all sorts and describes the trail well. But it actually starts from a stretch before Connecticut Avenue.

And I stole the above photo from this fine and funny blog about solo traveling.

Here is a present for those going to the desert.

"Drink before you're thirsty,
"Take more than you need." I am charmed
By the abundance of advice and anticipation,
The addresses exchanged for the near future.
"Maybe next year," I murmur into my glass,
And watch the polite smiles surface.
You are already far away.
The ground is hard here, too;
The weeds clutch at the clay.
Under the same sun that beats
Down on your tents, I reach
In among the brambles and the bees,
To pick the ripe berries.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Something For the Rag and Bone Man

I know I should take Hail to the Thief out of the car CD player. It's like August sealed it in there.

Two of Wands

See? We shrank it. Like your balls
When you leap into a spring-fed pool
In late summer. You can cup it in your hand.
From point to point now, our goods
Bump without a stretch. Catch! Kidding.
Of course there's always some gaggle
Ready to shake a stick. A scholar tried
To tell me the tide had receded past the point
It had ever pulled back to before. I don't see it.
And look at the olive trees, dripping with fruit.
My yard man says they bear like that
When they sense a crisis, a drought ahead.
Yes, I understand him, I know a good bit
Of his language, we can converse, a good man.
But look how the gourds and melons swell
Fit to burst, how the vines top the stones
Of the terraces. --There's our colleagues.
Let's go in. They won't stand the heat.

This is my daughter's song, which she was dancing around singing while I put this entry in. I think it's Beefheartesque:

Have you ever
Put your finger on a hot glue gun
Write back to me

Have you ever
Been on the Great Wall of China
Write back to me

Have you ever
Been to KD9 planet
Write back to me

Have you ever
Been to San Francisco
Write back to me

Everybody rock and roll
I'm a guitar
Everybody rock and roll
You rock, America
And other places

Monday, August 24, 2009

Escape Route Sought

Hurt and hiding and thanking the goddess for the library and my two novels a week. This time it's The Glister by poet John Burnside. An eerie story of a town once buoyed by a huge chemical plant, now poisoned by same--everyone and everything from the birds to the grass is sick, mutated, mad, despairing, violent. And then there are the disappearances. It is horribly real but has that abstract feeling of fairy tales.

I was rummaging around for more on Burnside and found this wonderful interview by William Rycroft, a blogger whose profile says he is an actor in London. More than this I don't know, but I thank him for getting these quotes:

JB: "...Seeing that this is a universal principle – that things are always in flux – helps us to overcome our local attachments – by which I don’t mean that we lose interest in, or passion for, anything, but we do see that things pass, and this moment’s pleasure or pain is clarified by the knowledge that it will pass.

There’s a tradition in Spanish poetry that I like – where the poet is in his garden, looking around, listening to the birds, enjoying the warmth and the scents, when it comes to him that one day this garden will still be there, but he will be gone, and someone else will be experiencing these things. Someone he doesn’t even know. This is a cause for celebration, though, not elegy or regret. The game continues. James P. Carse talks about this as ‘infinite play’ – there are times when we cease to play the game of being for finite ends, and play for the sake of the game itself, a game that will go on without us.

I know, I know. New age-y mysticism and such have made all these ideas into clich├ęs. I was a sub-hippie myself once. But as experiences, these things remain true, and cannot be diminished. Except, perhaps, in rambling on about them – which I’ve just done!

WR: Why do you think society has become so divorced from the reality of most people’s inner lives?

JB: Oh, God, don’t invite me to take out the soap box. Seriously, though, the problem has been well analysed and we pretty much know what has gone wrong – we lost organic connection with the world around us, everything was commoditised, our politicians and business folk became hopelessly self-serving (as they have often done, through history, but recently it’s been so blatant it saps the spirit just to watch them get away with it), we have a neo-medieval culture of celebrity, excellence became embarrassing, we began to think in soundbites, we published more and more books about ‘complexity’ but schooled ourselves to think in simpler and simpler terms. I could go on. The central thing, maybe, is that we were the first society to know – actually to see and hear – the misery that was being endured in faraway places, by people our appetites had impoverished, while we enjoyed our bland and joyless feasts at home. What a burden of guilt that is – and along with that guilt comes a feeling of helplessness, a sense that there is nothing we can do about it."

Burnside also points out in the interview that his inspiration was the toxic poisoning in Weston, via ICI. Here's more about that and some other similar sites.

On a lighter note, I'm also reading a David Liss, The Whiskey Rebels. He writes historical detective fictions set during civilization's economic system turning points. This one is set during Alexander Hamilton's establishment of a national banking system, and it really is funny and fun to read. It takes my mind off things.

Fell asleep during The Watchmen on demand. Love the book. The movie was too faithful except where it counts.

Saw Funny People. Not a waste of money. I've always found Adam Sandler to be incredibly hot. You know what was too fucking distracting in that movie? All the ironic t-shirts.

Maybe there's a secret tunnel in the basement. Or I could smuggle myself out through the kitchen, draped in white, past the steaming pasta pots and shouting chefs and clanging cleavers. Hide myself in the laundry cart, bury myself in the hay in the wagon.

Photo: You can get yours from

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"I've Got Your Head in a F-in' Vise, Here."

Nobody cares what I might say about health care reform, even less than they might about anything else I'd write. I should go to bed, I should organize my daughter's school clothes, I should read a book.

1. Corporate health insurance companies are death panels.

2. Conservative Republicans such as Dick Armey and Tommy Thompson have been making decisions for me about my health care all my life. Congress, administration, corporate health insurance board positions, for-profit hospital lobbyists, lather, rinse, repeat.

3. And as long as corporate health insurance companies can keep picking up the skim, the whole lot of them of any party would be fools not to take what they can get. Everyone gets their cut and it's been pretty peaceful, but you know how it is, people start getting greedy.

4. “People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.” This quote from the Investors Business Daily editorial offends most not because it's so way wrong--Hawking is British and actually spoke up for the NHS--nor because it perpetuates the lie about "death panels," but because of its infantilization of people with disabilities. From the sobby "This brrrrillllliant man" language to the Google I Feel Lucky selection of a poster child to the assumption that Hawking himself couldn't possibly have an opinion in the matter or care about how his views might be characterized in an international publication--it's just grotesque. But I know they only got carried away because they care, so, so deeply.

5. Republicans advocate giving "extra points" to those who take steps to maintain good health. What nanny will be responsible for counting the number of pushups Rush Limbaugh does daily? I fear some of our friends on the right will be quite deep in the hole, what with their cigars and steaks and painkiller addictions and alcoholism and hearing problems and obesity.

6. I don't have any moral problems about helping to pick up the tab for an abortion for a young woman in New Mexico, say, for whatever reason she might want one, or the Viagra for an old man in Iowa, for whatever reason he might give. Being sexual is healthy.

7. I find it morally repugnant to help pick up the tab for a corporate health insurance executive's liposuction or her child's private school tuition, for that matter. In countries with national health plans, some parents get up to two months of post-birth midwife visits. That would save the lives, health and/or sanity of countless women and infants. The US still has an appalling infant mortality rate.

8. It's not costing us more because they're giving us more care, or better care, or giving immigrants care, or because doctors are charging more. It's costing more because corporate insurance executives are taking a bigger skim.

9. They're taking a bigger skim not only because they want it, but because their stockholders, who may be you and me, want a bigger skim.

10. If I believe people are allowed to do as they please with their bodies, that liberty must extend not only to their sexual lives but to their diets, habits and more. If it's none of my business, it's none of my business.

11. Some get angry thinking about having to "pay the freight" for people who are "out of shape" (what, octagonal?) and "don't take care of themselves." People who know me know my diet and exercise habits. Last week I was in a trail race and did a face plant onto a rock. Just bruises and scrapes, from my cheekbone to my kneecap, but what if it had been worse? No one seems to be proposing I pay extra for my selfish, potentially dangerous "lifestyle" of fitness.

12. They say if they give us health care we'll just start going to doctors all the time, like it's going out of style, surgery here, shots there, tra la la, cause you know we can't be trusted to handle the stuff the rich people get and our kind will just take advantage. Cause hospitals are so cool and everyone wants a piece of what's behind that velvet rope.

13. I have no moral objection to giving up my piece of the skim in perpetuity in order to establish a national health system, even if it helps pay for dialysis for a stinky old racist piece of trash who never took care of his body one damn day in North Dakota, because he is a human and like me a parasitic growth on a planet struggling to stay alive, a parasite suffering like me from viruses such as language and auto-immune disorders such as love, at least once in his life if only for his dog, and we are all, after all, ending up in the same place.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pearl Sake

This came in on the way back from the restaurant.

The Ballroom Down the Street

I love the look of men in suits when they're
A little bit drunk and ready to take them off.
The tie, that got loosened an hour or two ago,
During the dancing. The jacket is shed in the parking lot.
A few more buttons, and it's the night.

The ballroom down the street hosts weddings
Over all the warm months, a harvest
Of festivities, a reaping of flowers, limos, music--
All to give the man his moment
When he removes the armor, the shell.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Swing That Thing, Ya Big Ol' Teabagger, You!

All the sugared-up little girls have gone home to wreck their own living rooms, and I am not fit to be anyone's babysitter, because I almost forgot to pick up one of them at camp today. I fend off despair by thinking that eight years and 90 minutes ago, I was at least lucky enough to have a little live human in my arms. She's made it so far, and I haven't lost her yet! I fend off that wearying, sighing sensation that makes you just want to sink back in and give up with the weapons of humor and absurdity. Like this guy, from a War Room post by Alex Koppelman. Because it's documented. This has got to be a huge surrealist joke (please?).

""I'm totally against government involvement in healthcare," Anthony Sutton, one of the Tea Party crew, told me. "It's not a right." Sutton, though, probably wasn't the best spokesman for his cause: at 53, he's eligible for Medicare, because of a disability claim, and the only reason he isn't using his government healthcare is because his wife's job has a better plan. He was pretty sure Obama was up to no good, with healthcare or anything else. If the country isn't careful, "we would come into a socialist state, or national socialism, like Nazi Germany," Sutton said. I asked him if he really thought Obama was a Nazi. "I don't think he's a Nazi, but I do believe that he is not what he appears to be," Sutton said. "He still hasn't proved his citizenship. I think he was born in Kenya."

"Alas, Sutton couldn't even get the bogus "facts" of the Birther movement right. The reason he knows Obama is Kenyan? "Because of where he got his education, and certain countries that he lived in -- the only way he could have lived there is if he was not a U.S. citizen," he said. "They wouldn't allow U.S. citizens." I asked him which countries he meant. "I wish I could name the countries, but I think it's -- I'm just guessing -- Malaysia, or one of those Muslim states." Obama never lived in Malaysia, and at any rate, neither Indonesia -- where he did live -- or Pakistan -- the country where Birthers suspect Obama must have traveled on a Kenyan passport -- banned U.S. citizens. Sutton also thought Obama "got money to pay for his school from the Saudis." How did he know? "It's documented.""

Now I'm off to write 20 pages of a public health document, because in this great country, even this moron has the right to have his food tested for salmonella, and to have that test done right. The people doing the testing to protect him will be so different from him in so many ways; their intelligence is only one difference, and likely not the most obvious one to him.