Monday, December 30, 2013

The Last Days of 2013

Dear Everyone Who Reads This:

Thank you and geez, sorry if that sounds like the beginning of a suicide note, it's not. In fact it's the opposite, this is a hey I'm here and thank you for being with me and for all that you give to me and make me feel even though that sounds kind of corny, annoying, "I'm on my life journey, choosing my path" crap sort of note. I'm not going to make any resolutions except to say there will be changes this year and some will actually stick. I'm posting a few of the posts I had the most fun writing and I highly recommend reading these when you have a hundred other things you should be doing, because that's the same place I was when I wrote them.

Buying Pants With My Dad: The Odyssey Part OnePart Two,  Part Three.

Wisdom From Strangers: The Time That It Was

Sex in The 21st Century: Going Hard

How We're Related: Ding

Eulogy for James Gandolfini: RIP Jimmy G


This year: I learned about my Selfie from my children.





Saturday, December 28, 2013

Me and Jacob Marley

I feel like Charles Dickens must have been driving around his old neighborhood, visiting relatives, reviewing his past, bemoaning his present and considering his future when he wrote A Christmas Carol. Does that sound obvious? I mean, of course he was! He was sleeping on the old mattress he peed on  as a kid. He was 13. He was 9. He was 23. He was smelling the smells, walking the walk, talking the talk. He was crying, laughing and popping a boner all within a five minute period. Do you think that's weird? Check out this guy:



Old Charlie pulled this guy out of his own head to share with us. Is there a scarier motherfucker in the history of all literature? Come on. When else would such a character make an appearance than jingley-jangley, hippity happity, merry old Christmas with the very people who represent everything that you are and are not, so help you god. I'm telling you: he was at his childhood home, with a pile of unwrapped gifts he bought after standing in a sweaty, halitosis plagued line only a few hours earlier; he had turned his phone off so he wouldn't have to talk to anyone; eaten dinner with the same people who had changed his diaper as an infant and the new ones who would be changing it again in about 30 years, and then gone to bed at 7:30 because he was "jet-lagged", when this guy showed up in the doorway and tried to set him straight.  Forget about artistic creations, Charles was a reporter!






Thursday, December 19, 2013

For Mo and Everyone Else



Christmas Oldie



      

Last night Harry wanted to go see Santa. He is nine and has been mulling over this for some time. He still believes, but Darla told him he’s too old to sit on Santa’s lap, and there are kids at school who have told him Santa isn’t real, so he feels a little self-conscious. Mo believed until she was 13, I think, when she wrote him a letter saying she had been told he didn’t exist but she still loved him and believed in him and could he please just leave some proof. Dar loves the idea of Santa but can’t help reasoning: Who can fly around the world in a sleigh with reindeer in one night??
So we went to see Santa. The only other kids in line were two infants and a three year old on a leash. "See Harry?", Dar shrugged and held her hands up. I shot her a glare, while Harry walked away with his hands in his pockets and his head down.
I found him leaning on a column around the corner. “Come on Bub, you don’t have to sit on his lap or anything, you can just go over there and say hey how’s it going.”
Naaa
We’re here. Might as well just say hi.
I don’t want to.
Really? You might feel sad if we leave and you didn’t even wave at him.
I’ll just email him.
Email?
Yeah.
Ok. Well let’s go say goodbye then.
I started to walk back to Santa’s throne, but he didn’t follow. I looked over at Darla who was trying on sunglasses at the Kiosk and looking in the mirror, turning her head this way and that. I walked over closer. Dar! I whispered. She turned her head slowly towards me like I was an annoying paparazzi. Go tell Harry you’ll come say hi to Santa with him.
She looked at me with her big Elizabeth Taylor goggle sunglasses, took one last look in the mirror,  placed the glasses slowly back on the table, and brushed by me in Harry’s direction.
Be nice, I said. I walked over to Santa. As far as Santas go, this guy was the top of the line: real white beard, little chubby, twinkle in the eye. He was sitting by himself.
Santa? I whispered and he looked over at me. I actually got a little nervous myself. The guy’s a superstar. “My boy’s feeling a little shy. He really wants to see you but he’s worried he might be too old.”
Where is he? He got up out of his chair. Dar was walking him over; she had her arm flung around him like they were buddies back in Nam. I pointed with my thumb.
What’s his name, he said quietly to me. I told him.
Harry? He said and waved him over. Hi Harry. Come here, lad. He leaned on the white fence that divided his little area. I thought maybe in real life he might be a farmer, or a plumber. His voice was high, a little strained. He definitely did some sort of physical labor.
Dar kept her arm around Harry and walked over, Hi "Santa", she said.
Hello, what's your name?
Darla.
He looked at Harry who was still looking at his feet.
Is this your sister?
Yes.
How old are you son?
9.
Nine! That’s fantastic. And what do you want for Christmas.
A Playstation .
Anything else?
Harry shook his head.
And you’re a good boy?
He nodded.
“I can see that. Your mother told me you are. Come here a second, son.” He let Harry in through the gate and put his arm around him and walked over to the throne. They were talking but I couldn’t hear because the photographer came over and began trying to talk me into a series of photos for 46.99. I shook my head and he said, Just a meet and greet?
Yeah, just a meet and greet, I said. I was trying to see around him to catch what Santa was saying, but by the time he moved, Harry was walking back towards me with a coloring book in his hands. His head was up and he was practically laughing. He could barely speak.
Did he tell you it was all a charade? This from Darla.
Dar, stop. I looked back at Harry, What’d he say, sweets?
He said you’re never too old for Santa.

Party Questionaires

I was invited to a party where I was asked by the host to tell something about myself that most people don't know. I thought of a few things: that I worked for a Private Investigator, that I was in a Bon Jovi music video, that I worked in a sleep disorder center where one of my job requirements was to run an impotency test where I measured penile tumescence while the patients went into REM sleep.
Is that weird?
But then I also kept thinking of people I have met that I haven't ever told anyone about:
A handless sculptor
A homeless concert pianist from a wealthy family
Jay-Z
Desmond Tutu
My friend's dad who had a horrible stutter but who had the most beautiful laugh I ever heard
I wonder how much of what we do is not interesting until we tell someone about it and how much is less interesting for the same reason.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cold Morning

"Good morning everyone, time to wake up, get dressed and eat some goddam oatmeal," I flick the light switch and speak into it in the calm, pleasant, musical tone of a flight attendant, "Don't forget to make your bed and brush your teeth. We hope you've enjoyed your sleep, but it is now over and you need to get up or risk being late to school and start a pattern of irresponsible and undisciplined behavior that will haunt you your entire life and will prevent you from having fulfill-

MOM!, this from Harry. Dar is still asleep with her mouth open. If Mo was here, and if she had a loaded gun by her bed, she would've picked it up and shot me in the forehead without opening her eyes. 

"Thank you and have a beautiful day".

No one ever wants to play. : (

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Santa Baby

Dear Christmas,

   Seriously? I love you so much, don't you know that? We had such amazing times years ago. I was obsessed with you, with everything about you. I thought about you all the time. I couldn't sleep because of you. I wanted you around the clock. But, you know, I'm older now, I'm tired. I need to clear my head a little. Can't you understand that? I don't like it when you sneak up on me, and I don't like it when you're in my face 24/7. I just really need you to back the fuck off. I'm sorry, I hate myself for saying that, but come on baby, it's too much. I can't take it. You're stressing me out. You're stressing me out so badly and we're getting into some really bad patterns that I'm not sure we can get out of. (sigh) I want you, I do, I want to be able to be a good person for you, giving and loving and happy, but you just gotta let me get there on my own, you gotta stop pushing me. Have faith. Isn't that what you like to say? Believe. It'll be good I promise.

xo
Deird

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Photos Of The Year


At first I thought this was a photo of some miniature dollhouse thing, but then I read about it and realized the brown back-drop is flood water and it was shot from a helicopter. Of this picture, the photographer, Thomas Peter, said "The order we take for granted is a mere illusion in the face of nature's caprices". As someone who lives in earthquake country, all I can say is: Shit.

If you like photography and want to drop down an internet black hole today, check out the years best shots. 


Thursday, December 5, 2013

so be it


The summer I was 11, I stayed with my brother Pete and cousins in a cabin the size of a barn, in the middle of the woods, in Ashaway, Rhode Island, 20 minutes from the ocean. Before that we all stayed in my grandparents house half a mile down a dirt road, but by then my grandfather decided enough was enough and we needed to get the hell out. Of course he didn't put it like that; he made it sound like it was not only a privilege, but it was a magical vacation in a land far away. Which it was. No one said: What if they burn the place down, or get attacked by wolves, or meet up with a bevy of pedophiles on the prowl? Or at least if they did, the answer would have been: so be it. Basically they sent us away with a flashlight and a canteen, and told us to scream really loud if we saw the man with the ax.

We slept on the second floor on iron hospital beds with squeaky springs and moldy mattresses: a horny teenagers dream (although we didn't know about that yet). . When it rained we played a game where we weren't allowed to touch the floor; we had to hang from the rafters and if it got too difficult we could jump onto someone's mattress for a full minute-long break; but before we could do that we had to bribe them with an imaginary gift (For example once my cousin Miles told my brother he would install astroturf in his bedroom).

During the rest of the year we all lived in apartments in the city; some of our parents smoked weed, were divorced, divorcing, dead or not around. We argued and got bored and sulked and ganged up on each other, but we also told stories and played music and pretended we were in a castle in Vietnam.  We weren't scared or worried or allergic to anything. All we could think was how lucky we were.



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Soldier or Prisoner





A few days ago I did something I've never done before,  something that is both disgusting and oddly satisfying, something that only people in the Army and in prison do: I cleaned the toilet with a toothbrush and a razor blade. Why a toothbrush and a razor blade? I don’t know! Even as it was happening I couldn’t explain it. You know how there are certain moments in your day when you are in the present and involved and there are other moments when you are outside of yourself watching and narrating? This was that second thing. It was like I was sending my self on a hero’s journey and these were the tools I was giving/ given. Adios! Fare thee well! Discover something about yourself that you never knew before and don't come back until you do! (slam)


I'm not a cleaner. I usually put it off until my only options are to either deal with it or set fire to the whole shebang and walk away. I mean, I straighten and tidy. I shove things into drawers and closets and dump all kinds of things straight into the trash, but I'm too busy or tired for more than that. Still, I'm always amazed at how good the world, and life in general, feels when things are sparkling and clear and organized. I feel like it bleeds off onto me somehow and makes me a better person, an upstanding citizen who is responsible and disciplined and on the road to success. 

On a side note, it's strange how many similarities there are between soldiers and prisoners; maybe more similarities than differences. But the differences are huge. A soldier, when he works, thinks: "Yes, Sir, thank you, Sir, I will clean this toilet to the best of my ability, Sir". A prisoner thinks "This is motherfucking bullshit. Why the hell do I have to do this? I don't deserve this". My thinking was much more along the lines of a prisoner. And yet, of course it was my decision to do it in the first place. 

**

I have been getting into a lot of fights lately, both real and imagined. I feel agitated and annoyed and chafed. Everything feels like a shove. I was at the grocery store the other night, Harry and I went in for a second to get a movie, and when we got out, there was a note written on a napkin on my windshield. "You hit our car the other day when you were parking. A witness saw. My husband wants to press charges. But I don't. Please contact me blablabla". I thought Press charges? Press motherfucking charges? Because I bumped your car while I was parking? I'll go back there right now with a fucking bat!

Freeze that frame.

See the way my face is right now: screwed up and pissed off? Kind of a "Are you kid--What?.. I'll fuckin..."? That's a picture of me getting my button pushed. When I say I've been getting into a lot of fights lately, this is what I'm talking about. 

Okay, back to the scene.

 I looked around the parking lot and didn't see anyone slinking off. I thought, have you been following me? It's dark out, how did you even know my car? I did bump that car. I was parking on a hill! What do you think bumpers are for? Sneaking behind me while I'm with my son? Why didn't you just wait by my car so we could have a conversation like two humans. Go ahead, press charges. The cops will have a good laugh. Then they'll get pissed that you're wasting their time.

I took a deep breath.

Harry says "What?"

Nothing, bub.

****

Here's a list of possible reasons why I've found myself in so many confrontations:
From Philly
Italian
Irish
Welsh
Single Mom
Working for the man every night and day
Coffee
Sugar
Been Shafted
Because I'm the oldest
Because I hang out with negative people
Tired
Unresolved issues
Combination of all of the above

I was going to say bad timing, but that's not it either and as far as luck, I'm one of the luckiest people I know. I'm an optimist too, so that's not it...

Ssshh, ssshh, ssshhh: It doesn't matter...Calm yourself.

****

One thing that happens when I am cleaning, or doing anything physical really, is that my mind rests. It doesn't shut off exactly, but it gets to a place where thoughts drop in randomly and out of the blue. I wish I could say that while I am cleaning I go through my personal inventory and examine it carefully, sorting through what needs to be addressed and coming up with solutions that are pleasing and satisfactory to all. I like to think, oh I'm crossing paths with this particular person for this particular reason and it's going to lead to something good or, I understand that other person, why she did what she did, and I needed to have this experience to help me understand this, that and the other about myself. But it doesn't work that way, especially when you are scraping poop off of porcelain. There are no sudden awakenings or brilliant insights; you've just got to get it done. This time the thought that dropped in out of the blue was this: are you a soldier or are you a prisoner? Are you going to be mature and efficient, respectful and thorough, courageous and above all, honest? Or are you going to be disgusted and hateful, angry and insufferable and blame the crusty brown smears on everyone else? 


















Monday, December 2, 2013

My Three Sides

Monday Morning rewind:



My dog Lester has a brain the size of a pistachio. Without the shell. Sometimes when I am working, I look down and slightly to my right and he’s staring at me with his eyes glazed and unblinking like someone who has been hypnotized. Then there’s the underbite. Isn’t an underbite always a sign that your parents were brother and sister? There’s also his passive willingness to let Darla dress him up in wigs and baseball caps or to let Harry put a tube sock on his head. He just sits there and lets them.
Oh Lester. Oh Laz. Oh Lazlio.
It could also mean that he is a superior being, possibly a genius. So far above all living creatures that nothing disturbs him. Not even a tuba played near his head while he sleeps. Maybe he is meditative, thoughtful, accepting of all. Yes, cover my head with a bucket and have a chuckle, I am filled only with love.
Of course, if you could listen to his interior monologues, you might just hear wind blowing, possibly the sound of tumbleweeds on sand. And that is all.
Daisy is a pleaser. The moment I open my eyes in the morning, she is sitting up and looking at me. What do you need? What can I do? How can I help? This can be annoying. Nobody likes a kiss ass. Or desperation. But she smiles too. It’s more like a grimace and a snarl. It’s curious, this smile. It keeps you guessing. It simultaneously makes you laugh and feel uncomfortable.
What the hell is happening? I’m talking about animals. I’m talking about my pets on a blog. Should I just keep going?
I hate cats but of course I have one (inherited from Mo) and of course I love him most of all. Why? He’s mother fucking Leroy that’s why. He seems friendly and like he cares about you, and then he shreds your arm with his nails and teeth. Shreds. I have seen him cause more than one adult to cry. He doesn’t care about you or the goddam horse you rode in on, so step OFF.
OK, I’ll stop. I’m done…
I think I just realized I described the three sides of my personality.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Turn It Up



Friends of my friend's sons: Grace and The Carnivore. Boston, Mass. 2013 To listen to the whole album, click on Out of Context.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks, Appreciating the Small and Protecting Yourself From Ninjas


(an oldie)
I read something over the weekend about a guy who had Thanksgiving by himself. He was saying that even though he tried to prepare himself for it being just another Thursday, even though he wasn't a big fan of the holiday to begin with, he still had a hard time not feeling depleted by it. He went to a movie and all he could think about was how sad it was that he was the lone guy in the theater. "The distance between gratitude and self-pity", he wrote, "is miniscule". That stuck with me, and I think it's true, but it also led me to the idea how self-pity can make an appearance when you're in a group of people too, especially a group you are related to. You don't need a day locked up in solitairy to figure that one out. Holidays are weird, you have more than the usual conflicts going on: joy and love are next to rage and guilt. Annoyance? Pull up a chair! Empathy and grace? Right here between shame and regret. And pass the stuffing!

The negatives are there, as usual right on time, but they don't need to be indulged; I mean, they can't really be ignored, but pay close attention instead to the moments. Think about seeing your mother dance to Benny Goodman with your grandmother; or secretly giving the cat a piece of turkey and watching her trot off with it like she just won a prize; or reading a text from a friend who writes about hiking in the mountains: "Walks in the snow where the flakes come down so huge and lightly whole lifetimes pass until they fall". Think about that.

And here's a video you need to see in case you find yourself being attacked in a back alley today.
Happy Thanksgiving.




HOW TO FIGHT - watch more funny videos      


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

History

                       Can you guess who this is?

I found this link of historical photos that have been colorized and it made me think of a few things. First it made me think of how all the photos in history books should be both black and white, because they look beautiful, and color, because it makes the past seem less far away, less strange, and less like it will ever happen again. That guy up above, Charlie Chaplin, made me think of the history of entertainers. It used to be that performers: actors, clowns, singers, dancers were the mouth-breathing, tongue-chewing fringe people (as my long-lost cousin Holiday lovingly refers to our ancestors). Never mind that he's beautiful, that's just the luck of the draw, look at Charlie's big head/little body! He's a perfect example of that type of impoverished, inbred oddball. Entertainers: we loved, worshiped and elevated them and forgot that they were just hillbillies who had sex with teenagers. It doesn't seem fair that we judge them so harshly.

But I also thought: what are the differences. Look at this gorgeous couple for example:


I mean they are living in a homemade tent and he's wearing filthy pants, but he still had time to carve out that mustache and comb his hair. Would that happen now?

What do you think? (There's something to talk about at the table tomorrow).


Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Morning Book Club

I'm still plowing through 50 shades (yeah I said plowing) and still wondering what is wrong with the world. Every time I think I can't take it, fuck this and the goddam horse (stallion with flowing mane) it rode in on, I then think how did this happen? What are these readers thinking? Are we just desperate for titillation that we are willing to put up with this. By now we all know that the main guy character is a perfectly gorgeous billionaire with a huge dick, but did you know that he also walks around with his shirt on and no pants. Just a shirt PEOPLE. Come on! He also. Talks. Like. This. With. Periods. Between. Each. Word. "That. Was. Incredible". Like a valley girl, oh. my. ga... Like a val girl one minute, and then this gem: You smell divine. You smell divine, he says!!! What's he going to say next: two snaps and a twist? Oh Hey.

The morning after the first bang, the girl wakes up to the beautiful sound of... (no, not a loud fart and pee hitting the toilet water. "Stay there babe and roll over and pull up your nighty because I'm coming right back"), she wakes up to the sound of Bach (pronounced with German accent) on a beautiful grand piano. She walks out, still a little glazed, and there's our man, fully nude of course, playing the piano. Is that not ridiculous to some people? Who are these readers? Who gets through this and then says I love this so much I'm going to read book 2, 3 and 4? No one that's having sex with a real human being.

I know I'm late to this party but who wants to stay if everyone is on medication, fantasizing about things that aren't real, and not laughing when they should be.




Friday, November 22, 2013

Frank Fairfield's Situation

The last time I was in New Orleans, Mo and I were walking around and invariably we'd see a group of people, sometimes 3, sometimes more, just hanging out close together, a little shifty eyed but otherwise not communicating; maybe their hands were in their pockets, maybe one held a beer or a bottle in a brown bag. They'd get even more still as we approached but they didn't turn their heads.

That's a situation, Mo would say.

Yeah it is, I'd say back.

I mean we saw this, in one variety or another, all day long. Various situations. Any minute, something was about to bump it into the category of serious situation. Or maybe the serious situation had just happened. It wasn't always clear.

I see this from time to time here in my neighborhood, but not all day, every day. In New Orleans though, it's basically one situation after the next.

**

Anyway, last night I went to see a friend read from his novel at a bookstore downtown in the city. The bookstore used to be a bank that had those old vaults with 3 foot thick doors. The floors were wood in parts and there was a balcony and and columns and chandeliers made out of old wheels. I'm pretty sure that back in the old days, various crimes had taken place in there, maybe a shoot -out, maybe a suicide. It just felt like a stage set for a situation.

In between the reading part of the event, this guy Frank Fairfield, played his fiddle.




I don't usually listen to this kind of music. Living in a hipster part of town I've had just about all the banjo playing/foot stomping/hand clapping music a person can tolerate. But this was different. I just got sucked right in and taken somewhere else. I don't know if it was the bank, or the vaults, or my mood, or just the spirits in the room but I listened to him play and I saw the whole story. I saw a guy wake up in bed with a pretty girl he met the night before, I saw him jump into his pants while she was still sleeping and grab his hat on the way out. I saw him trot down the road on a sunny day until he met up with his pal leaning against a tree. I saw the pal hand him a gun. I saw them hop two horses and ride to the bank. I saw them walk in, raise their guns and shoot the security guard. I saw them jump the desk, and I saw the teller holding his hands up. I saw them step into the vault and come out a few bundles of cash in white sacks and I saw them run out. I saw that their horses were gone so they just had to run. I saw the whole situation and then I saw the history of that situation, how the two met and their whole lives up until that very day.

And then when Frank was finished I came back to where I was.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rainy Day


It's raining today which means there's a lockdown on the whole city. Everyone panics and no one knows what to do. Bomb Sirens go off. People who dare to drive go 5mph with their hazards on. Wireless networks shut down or only work sporadically. We're all forced to sit inside and stare at each other, build a fire or make hot chocolate, stay under the blankets. It's fantastic.

Here's an oldie on Being Part of A Team

I played lacrosse in high school. This wasn’t really a special achievement since at my school everyone had to play a team sport. Still, just as a quick aside, I have recently realized the importance of team sports. Now, finally, light-years later, I get it: the team, a group of people working together, depending on each other, communication without words, all that. Why didn’t our gym teacher just say that to begin with? Miss Guilfillan, Miss Yarnell, in your kilts and your kneesocks, your whistles and windbreakers, why didn’t you just tell us: Okay okay ladies, hustle up! Everybody in. You know all this? The teamwork, the practice, the skills, the goals, the winning and losing and how you deal with it? It’s a metaphor people. It’s a goddam, motherfucking metaphor. All right? LET’S GO!! (I don’t know why I just made Miss Guilfillan sound like Samuel L. Jackson).

Yeah. I played lacrosse. The first year I played goalie. I didn’t really want to, but I did. Even in my formative years I was the person to volunteer when no one else would.

"We’re doing shooting drills today ladies and we’re gonna need a goalie. Who wants to put the pads on?
(crickets)
Anyone?
Manning?....Featherman? Come on, we can’t practice until we get someone in the goal.
(sigh) I’ll do it.
Atta girl, Lowry.
Lewis.
Er—Lewis.""

I wasn’t very good. I was too small and I did not like having balls thrown at my head (insert crude joke here) but I didn’t mind being alone and I was the only volunteer. In a few weeks I was on the varsity team. I remember my mantra was Let’s get this over with. Everyone did their best to keep the ball at the other end of the field which was fine with me because it gave me time to daydream and watch the sideline activity. 

At this time, there was a new teacher at school, Mr. Driscoll. We didn't have many male teachers then, I went to an all girls school, so he was a superstar celebrity. Handsome in that preppy/ half-ugly/ long teeth/short upper lip way, he loved all the attention, and made sure to make regular appearances at lunch, sporting events and school dances. 

And now introducing for your learning pleasure, the fabulous, the fantastic, the one and only Mr....Jim....Driscoll!
(swirling lights, loud applause, trumpet theme song)

I didn't buy it. There was something creepy about him, not in a dangerous pedophile way, just in an ex-jock teaching at a small private school way. He sniffed and crossed his arms before speaking. He was sarcastic. He used big vocabulary words. He taught philosophy.

Once at one of our last games he put his hands around his mouth and yelled Get Lewis out of there. She's a sieve! At first I heard my name and thought he was cheering me on but then I realized the word he used was Sieve. Sieve! The guy was trash talking a 14 year old. Me! With a fancy word! And I had volunteered!

I don't know what ever happened to Mr. Driscoll, maybe he's still teaching philosophy to high school girls, trash talking easy targets in his spare time, walking through the hallways with a jaunty little spring in his step or maybe he's working in an office, following orders, philosophizing over why things are not always what you think they are.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Six Years Old

I was sitting on the sunporch with Nana. I had been crying and she was tending to me. Actually she was blindfolding me, but she was patient and loving. "Bend your head forward my darling," she said it softly and it sounded like ma-dullie. "That's it, there you go". I could smell her perfume and Salem cigarettes and, for once, I wasn't worried about anything. She had a small pillowcase that she had filled with random objects and she took my hand and guided it inside, "No peeking," she said.

"Okay," I whispered. I kicked one leg against the sofa and pulled something out.

"Do you know what that is?"
I held the object and circled my fingers around it. I knew what it was but I didn't want the game to go by quickly so I kept touching it. "A shell?" I said finally.
"Good one!" she said, "You're going to be good at this".

I could hear her sifting her fingers through the bag. I could hear the loud ticking clock and a lawnmower outside down the big hill.  "Why isn't my Dad coming?" I asked her.
"He really wants too"she said quickly.
"Oh," I said after a while, "I thought he was".
"I know my sweetie" she put her arm around me. I couldn't see much with the blindfold on except for a line across the bottom, wood floor, rug, my knees. Nana pulled me closer to her and rested her chin on the top of my head. She took a deep breath, and after a while I pulled away slowly.

"Here, you want to try another one?" she said. She handed me a shoe horn. I knew what it was right away but I held onto it.
"I'm not sure," I said. I touched it with my fingers.
"Just feel it," she said, "I know you can figure it out".

Monday, November 18, 2013

50 Shades of

I have been trying to read 50 Shades of Grey for nearly two months now. I'm doing some research. Really. I'm not embarrassed to say I read crap. Anyone who knows me will vouch for this: my crap to decent ratio is about 2:1. I seek it out. I like it. But this thing. Two lines in and all I can think is: I'm out. I've read the sex parts, I know my buttons will get pushed, but ugh, what I have to go through to get there.

My Gram used to read books like this. She had stacks (stacks!) next to her bed. This was back in the day when Fabio was on the cover so it was easier to make fun of.
Ooo, Gram's dreaming about Fabio!
It's a good book, she'd say
Heaving breasts! we'd say, Quivering swords!
It's on the New York Times Best Seller List, she'd say; bless her, having to explain herself to a gang of annoying, disrespectful idiots.
Ooo New York Times! Best Seller!

Poor Gram, couldn't get her groove on in peace.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Devotional

Two short shorts written by a well-known author when he was 18.

EXPELLED

It didn’t come all at once. It took a very long time. First I had a skirmish with the English department and then all the other departments. Pretty soon something had to be done. The first signs were cordialities on the part of the headmaster. He was never nice to anybody unless he was a football star, or hadn't paid his tuition or was going to be expelled. That's how I knew. He called me down to his office with the carved chairs arranged in a semicircle and the brocade curtains resting against the vacant windows. All about him were pictures of people who had got scholarships at Harvard. He asked me to sit down.
"Well, Charles," he said, "some of the teachers say you aren't getting very good marks."
"Yes," I said, "that's true." I didn't care about the marks.
"But Charles," he said, "you know the scholastic standard of this school is very high and we have to drop people when their work becomes unsatisfactory." I told him I knew that also. Then he said a lot of things about the traditions, and the elms, and the magnificent military heritage from our West Point founder.
It was very nice outside of his room. He had his window pushed open halfway and one could see the lawns pulling down to the road behind the trees and the bushes. The gravy-colored curtains were too heavy to move about in the wind, but some papers shifted around on his desk. In a little while I got up and walked out. He turned and started to work again. I went back to my next class.
The next day was very brilliant and the peach branches were full against the dry sky, I could hear people talking and a phonograph playing. The sounds came through the peach blossoms and crossed the room. I lay in bed and thought about a great many things. My dreams had been thick. I remembered two converging hills, some dry apple trees and a broken blue egg cup. That is all I could remember.
I put on knickers and a soft sweater and headed toward school. My hands shook on the wheel, I was like that all over.
Through the cloudy trees I could see the protrusion of the new tower. It was going to be a beautiful new tower and it was going to cost a great deal of money. Some thought of buying new books for the library instead of putting up a tower, but no one would see the books. People would be able to see the tower five miles off when the leaves were off the trees. It would be done by fall.
When I went into the building the headmaster's secretary was standing in the corridor. She was a nice sort of person with brown funnels of hair furrowed about a round head. She smiled. I guess she must have known.

THE COLONEL

Every morning we went up into the black chapel. The brisk headmaster was there. Sometimes he had a member of the faculty with him. Sometimes it was a stranger.
He introduced the stranger, whose speech was always the same. In the spring life is like a baseball game, in the fall it is like football. That is what the speaker always said.
The hall is damp and ugly with skylights that rattle in the rain. The seats are hard and you have to hold a hymnbook in your lap. The hymnbook often slips off and that is embarrassing.
On Memorial Day they have the best speaker. They have a mayor or a Governor. Sometimes they have a Governor's second. There is very little preference.
The Governor will tell us what a magnificent country we have. He will tell us to beware of the Red menace. He will want to tell us that the goddam foreigners should have gone home a hell of a long time ago. That they should have stayed in their own goddam countries if they didn't like ours. He will not dare say this though.
If they have a mayor the speech will be longer. He will tell us that our country is beautiful and young and strong. That the War is over, but that if there is another war we must fight. He will tell us that war is a masculine trait that has brought present civilization to its fine condition. Then he will leave us and help stout women place lilacs on graves. He will tell them the same thing.
One Memorial Day they could not get a Governor or a mayor. There was a colonel in the same village who had been to war and who had a chest thick with medals. They asked him to speak. Of course he said he would like to speak.
He was a thin colonel with a soft nose that rested quietly on his face. He was nervous and pushed his wedding ring about his thin finger. When he was introduced he looked at the audience sitting in the uncomfortable chairs. There was silence and the dropping of hymnbooks like the water spouts in the aftermath of a heavy rain.
He spoke softly and quickly. He spoke of war and what he had seen. Then he had to stop. He stopped and looked at the boys. They were staring at their boots. He thought of the empty rooms in the other buildings. He thought of the rectangles of empty desks. He thought of the curtains on the stage and the four Windsor chairs behind him. Then he started to speak again.
He spoke as quickly as he could. He said war was bad. He said that there would never be another war. That he himself should stop it if he could. He swore. He looked at the young faces. They were all very clean. The boys' knees were crossed and their soft pants hung loosely. He thought of the empty desks and began to whimper.
The people sat very still. Some of them felt tight as though they wanted to giggle. Everybody looked serious as the clock struck. It was time for another class.
People began to talk about the colonel after lunch. They looked behind them. They were afraid he might hear them.
It took the school several weeks to get over all this. Nobody said anything, but the colonel was never asked again. If they could not get a Governor or a mayor they could get someone besides a colonel. They made sure of that.

-John Cheever

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Things I Saw Once And Have Never Forgotten


My third grade teacher Mrs. Camann smoking in her station-wagon with all the windows closed.

Blood in the snow after an icicle fell off the roof and stabbed a friend in the head.

My cervix on a small TV.

A body in a bag being rolled out of the apartment building we lived in.

Two parents and their son with down's syndrome laughing hysterically at their table in a restaurant.

A ghost in the bathroom at 3 a.m.

A kid on a bike who threw an egg at me the night before halloween.

A hand with a missing pinkie finger and another hand with an extra one.

You.







Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When I Was Sir Laurence Olivier

Here's some documentary footage of that time I made a guest appearance on a TV show:


EXT. Night in Mexico. After many takes, the director tries to explain what he is looking for.

Okay, the scene is you and the guy. Yes you're trying to run away from him, but you're also trying to seduce him.

Why?

Because you just are, okay?

Okay.

So, you're sitting down across from him and you're all non-chalant and crap.

Okay.

And then you pick up the bottle and you slowly lick the rim of it.

Seriously?

Yeah.

Um--

What. What is it?

Well, I mean aside from the fact that I'm running for my life and probably wouldn't want to engage this guy, it's just not very... mysterious, I think if I'm being seductive I should have a little mystery.

Hm, that's interesting, no, just lick the rim.

Okay. (looks at actor, but talks to director) Like this then? (demonstration)

(director gets fixed stare, dumb smile, says nothing)

Is that what you mean?

Yeah, that's good.

Or like this? (demonstration)

(director slowly nods head) Okay.

And maybe do this with my hand on the bottle. Kind of like...that.

YES! GOOD! Do that. Do that.

Okay, got it. (deep sigh, look at actor across from me, he shrugs)

OKAY! QUIET PEOPLE!!...QUIET PLEASE!

AND ROLLING

....AND ACTION.







Thursday, November 7, 2013

Round One: DING DING



Dear Readers and Friends,

I have been having a few glitches with the blog posts that are sent out, but I think it will be back to normal today, sorry if you have not been getting the emails. I haven't actually sent too many new ones out because I got stuck on writing this one about all these fights I've been getting into the past two months. I realized something. I'm always fighting. What's worse is that most of the fights are imaginary and passive. Like this one:

Me vs. Whole Foods


What the hell did people used to do before there was antibacterial gel at the supermarket? I was wondering this while I watched some woman slather it up to her elbows and then onto her child’s tiny dimpled hands. As if that wasn’t enough, then she squirted a load onto the handle of the shopping cart, and rubbed it in like she was a crack-whore giving it a five-dollar hand jobShe knew what she was doing, this gal. And she was smiling!  Smiling as if to say, I am taking control of my life, I will never allow germs, bacteria or possible bits of fecal matter to enter my world and cause me, or my precious family members, to get flulike symptoms. I have to say, it was mesmerizing. The whole procedure was so strange and wrong and oddly titillating, I wanted to drop to the ground and roll around like an old, happy dog on top of a dead squirrel.

Instead I gave her a self-righteous glare: Seriously woman? You think you’ve got it all under control? Everything all clean and perfect? Well it’s not! You’re going to get sick, you’re going to get germs, you’re going to get golden, oozing infections just like the rest of us, only yours will be worse because they will be rare anti-bacterial-gel mutations. “Now go buy your organic produce, YOU FREAK!” And I let my glare follow her all the way into the store.

Going to the grocery store is exhausting.



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Devotional

Marble sculpture from 1400s, Italian artist unknown.
I can't stop staring.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween



Here's some music for today.


Skelly



                                                                        Justin Beebs


                                                                Frida

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Thoughts, Exercises and The Me Decade

I have about 45 minutes each morning to write something  and usually most of the writing happens in the last 15 minutes. If nothing has happened after 30 minutes, I start looking through old posts that I never finished/started to see if anything has come to me yet. I have one called 15 Things Successful People Do Every Day that has been blank for two years now. I'm going to try to add one or two things a day just as an exercise for myself.
15 Things Successful People Do
1. Breathe
2. Get Things Done
okay I'll do 3
3. Make it count (someone said this to me on my birthday and I'm not sure what it means, but I like it)
one more
4. Be kind (see now, hold on, I'm not sure successful people are kind, I mean generally speaking. What do you think?)

That's enough for now, but here's an old one called The Me Decade

The Me Decade

When I was 9, I used to take the bus from my apartment building to the train station, get on a train, ride it out to the suburbs, get off at my stop, and walk 1/2 mile to my school. It didn't seem strange at the time. In fact I did it every day for almost 2 years. My brother Pete, age 8, was usually with me the first half of the way and then there were a few other kids who got on the train at various stops. We'd walk in a sort of staggered single file to the school. We wore uniforms: white button down shirt, green tunic with a belt, green knee socks, green blazer or sweater. I kept my hair in braids or else just hanging down, straight and stringy. I didn't carry a back-pack, no one did then; I carried my books and lunch in a canvas bag that was kind of like an electricians bag, which I sometimes held on my back like Santa.


No one ever told me to only walk in well-lit areas where there were a lot of people. No one told me to avoid weird freaks or scream loud if anyone came towards me inappropriately (I didn't even know what that meant). No one told me not to get into the back of someone's van or told me not to wait in front of the XXX movie theater at 17th and Market after dark. I think I knew not to speak to strangers or accept candy. I think I knew to cross at the cross walk and look both ways. But that was it. I never even had money. The times we did get some change, never a dollar, we'd immediately go to Parvin's pharmacy and buy pixie sticks, tootsie pops and sour cream and onion potato chips. All for 50 cents.

In other parts of the world there was a war, civil rights protestors were getting sprayed with fire hoses, 18 year olds were allowed to vote, women were standing up for themselves. Our older brothers and sisters were dropping acid and using words like fuck and no way and far-out in their every day lingo. Some of our parents were having key parties or getting divorced or smoking pot. Others were having parties at the country club or playing golf. A few of our parents were doing all of those things. What was the big deal about sending a 3rd grader on an hour long journey to school by himself every day. He knew where he was going.

Monday, October 28, 2013

On The Way

There's a new kind of funeral. I say new, but I really mean green. I say funeral but I really mean just the burying part. I'm not sure whose idea it was, this green funeral, but basically they wrap the dead body in an old sheet --a shroud I think they called it, to make it formal-- dump him in a deep hole, and call it a day. Someone said in small towns where there is less space they bury the bodies standing up. They lower  the body in a 10 foot hole and then just kick the dirt back over. Rest in Peace. I know it's just a body, but it doesn't seem very restful.










Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sounds I No Longer Hear



Both sets of my grandparents had a clock in their house that made noise. Don and Mary had a clock on the mantle that Don had built himself, it had loud ticks and chimed on the hour. If you were walking through the room you might not notice the loud ticks until they would stop. You'd stop too and take in the full silence, maybe feeling something was slightly off but not knowing what...Then you'd resume and the clock would begin to tick again.

Don and Lillian had a huge grandfather clock that went off every 15 minutes: a loud, full orchestration of gongs and jangling chains. It played a quarter of the song each time, so that when it got to the hour it was such a huge deal and was so long and interruptive you had to stop talking if you were in the same room. And this is how we lived! Every fifteen minutes it was as though someone yanked you up out of your comfortable chair, slapped you twice across the face, kneed you in the stomach, grabbed a handful of hair and knocked you into a wall. And we barely acknowledged it.

I miss that old clock.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thoughts I had Waiting in Front of the Toaster. Part 2

Here's Part 1

-I think it might be my best friend's birthday today.
-Out of 20 years I think I may have remembered 8 times without any prompting.
-Once I even got the month wrong.
-It's weird that we are such good friends.
-I mean of course there are 100 reasons.
-But we hardly ever see each other.
-Although it feels like we see each other every day.
-I remember the first day that I met her. I remember standing back stage by the curtain when we were in a show together. I remember the bar down the street from her old house and meeting in the driveway at my mom's house late one night. I remember the 8 foot bear she bought my daughter knowing we had to take a plane that day. I remember going to a weird country fair in Connecticut and that her boyfriend turned olive green after going on a ride. And that even though he was really sick and shaken and even a little bit frightened, we both openly laughed at him.
-I remember calling her up to ask if it was her birthday, and her doing the same to me.
-How do I remember all those things, but not the date.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sharing

I wanted to show you some things I found while I was wasting time working hard writing. If you can't see the videos, click on the title of this blog.

I get emails a couple times a month from this company called Imogene and Willie and I rarely open them, and in fact said to myself what is this crap cluttering up my inbox and then I watched this video again and remembered. Two hundred dollars is a lot of money for a pair of jeans until you realize that you will have them for the rest of your life. I liked their story.

out of blue from imogene + willie on Vimeo.

Two of my friends who live on a farm just adopted a new animal, and I can't wait to meet him. His name is Derrick, he's a zonkey, and yes it's exactly what you think it is.



This beautiful fabric is designed by a woman that Mo works for. Check out her site.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My Spirit Animal


                                         


I saw this photo again and had to repost. Cheers big ears.

I make a face like this one a few times a day. Not because I'm horrified. But because I'm trying to read something without my glasses. What is it about pulling the mouth down that helps a person see better? Another odd thing I do happens when I am driving and replaying a recent conversation in my head. While I'm thinking about what was said, I make the facial expressions of both the person I was talking to and myself. You don't have to tell me this is what insane people do.

It seems like a mystery until I trace my ancestors.

A few years ago my friend Holiday visited the isle of Lewis off the coast of Scotland and discovered we were related. Not only that, but our ancestors were (as she put it) "inbred, mouth breathing, tongue chewers". My first thought was, YAY we're related! and my second thought was "Well, obviously I was your queen because I still carry the name". Don't think I overlooked that our ancestors were feeble-minded nut jobs; we had our own ISLAND, people. We were a strong and hearty lot! We survived hideously cold and wet and dark conditions for six months out of the year!  I am from royalty. And after thousands of years I had been reunited with my sister/wife/mother/servant!

So many mysteries were uncovered.