Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween with Katie Kat Joy

My mom was fixated on always making homemade costumes for her kids. These were not slap dash outfits. My mom would buy patterns, fabric and then spend a few hours sewing our costumes. I usually won first prize at our church's halloween party.  the one year I did not win was my favorite costume. I was Glenda the Good Witch, according to my mom, but, unlike Glenda, who dazzles in pink or lavendar in The Wizard of Oz, mom put me in shiny, sparkly black clothing with a heavily beaded cape. I think the cape might have actually been an adult fancy-dress cap, the kind one would wear to a formal attire event. Mom probably picked it up at a garage sale, for she never wore that cape. My mom never went to a formal event, as far as I know, not once I was born.

I even won the year I had to wear a costume I loathed. Mom made me a full blown nun costume, with all the layers that robed nuns wore in the early sixties, plus a large wooden rosary to signal the piety of my pretend St. Therese, the little flower of Jesus. As I walked around the church fellowship hall, parading before the judges, many of them nuns, I knew I would win and I hated that I would win. I hated, most of all, that my mom was steadily pressuring me to declare that I wanted to be a nun.

I loved my Glenda the Good Witch costume, although I knew going as a black-dressed Glenda made my chances of winning slim. None of the judges noticed that I shimmered, in black. No one got that I was Glenda. I looked like an ordinary witch, dressed in black. Still, I loved wearing that shimmering, veltvet and balck sequined cape, pretending I was a good Glenda, even dressed in black.

I remember begging my mom to let me sew on some pink and purple sequins but mom was invested in her Glenda vision. And, in the hindsight of more than fifty years, I am happy some other girl in my age  group got to win top prize one year. I won all the other years until I aged out of Halloween costumes.

So, once I had a daughter, naturally, I made my daughter's costumes, but I was not as dedicated to making everything from a pattern and fabric. I made Katie's costumes but not with sewing patterns. I made her outfits out of cleverness.

One year, when she was two, my sister gave Katie an outfit perfect for a calypso dancer.  It was a two-piece cotton knit dress, with slanting hems for the top and also for the skirt. The outfit was way too big for Katie when she received it. By the time it fit her properly, several years later, Katie refused to wear the somewhat odd two piece.  It still seems endearing to me that Katie's then-college-age aunt had bought her a funky, but way oversized, outfit. And it seems even more endearing to me that I saw its poential as a Carmen Miranda costume. It had a top that had ruffles on the sleeves and showed some bare belly. The skirt was slanted in length. It was supposed to go from knee to heel but Katie was too small for the outfit so we had to hitch it up. The cotton fabric had wild flowers printed on it. And all I had to do was tack up the skirt so it didn't trip her when she walked.

I bought a bright blue kerchief, to match the main color of the calypso dancer outfit.  I tacked down that bandana so it could be pulled onto Katie's head like a hat. And I bought a bunch of small plastic fruit that I stitched by had onto that kerchief hat.  Carmen Miranda! Carmen alays wore fruit atop hats on her head as she danced. And Carmen Miranda wore ruffling, slanted hem skirts that sworled and flashed a little leg as she moved.

I put the largest, brightest pink bangle earrings I could find on her ears. I made her cheeks as rosy red as I could, using lipstick to get them very bright. I used heavy eyeshadow, but no eye liner. I had to make do with the very limited make up I had on hand, not knowing, back then, that one can buy Halloween costume make up, I made do with what I had.

Oh, and from Goddess only knows where, I had found a big fat chunky beaded hot pink necklace that draped down to her navel -- and her navel was just a bit exposed by the weirdly slanted weird top. The bright pink jumbo beads were a surprisingly effective detail, making the whole outfit pop.

She looked awesome. I still have photos of that costume. She won a prize at the Children's Museum Halloween party that year. And I sent her out trick or treating on Halloween with her dad dressed as Carmen Miranda. I guess it was his turn to take her trick or treating.   He must have had his own ideas for a costume. He returned her to me in regular clothes, no make up and her Carmen Miranda outfit dumped in a bag like it was fit for the trash.

Somewhere along the way, I found a photo of her dressed up in kinda sexy kitten costume. I get the kitten ears, the whiskers eyelined onto her face but I never would have put my two year old in a skin tight, leopard pattern thing comparable to a bathing suit plus black tights. That leopard print cat outfit was lined with 'fur', although not real fur. It was actually  kinda sexy and she was two.  Age inappropriate. I never said aloud, to anyone, that I thought her sexy kitten outfit was age inappropriate because that costume happened during the divorce years. I could never say anything about her father, to her or to anyone, that did not seem to sound like bitterness. Was I jealous of that costume, the sexy kitten? No way, although I may have resented that his family rejected my very clever Carmen Miranda get-up. That hat with the tiny plastic fruit tacked onto it was genius.

He was entitled to pick her outfit, of course, for his turn on Halloween, although I imagine his sister the spastic medical doctor, the hag who, praise Goddess, never had children of her own to destroy, probably picked it out. Or his daffy mother. Both those women would think nothing of sexing up a two year old for halloween. And Katie's pose in the one photo, which I also still have if anyone doubts my description, appeared to be coached:  she was slinking it up for the camera. A two year old slinking?

Geez, couldn't they have had her come to my door in costume and say trick or treat? You know, act like her other was a part of her life and her Halloween? Nope.

That Carmen Miranda costume was awesome. Homemade. And easy peasy to put together.

It was just about as awesome as the time she was a punk rocker, with black and white pipe cleaners stuffed into a pony tail on top of her head to evoke the idea of a mohawk, which was the rage for punk rockers in the early eighties.

She won the prize for best costume in her age group for the punk rocker, as a Halloween party at the Children's Museum.  As I have written elsewhere, whenever someone asked her "Honey, you look great. what ar eyou supposed to be?" She answered "I am Strawberry Shortcake."  I had painted half her face white, the other half black, with a black star on the white eye side and a white star or skull or whatever my drawing ability was up to, on the black side. I bought a bunch of cheap chains at a real hardware store that sold chains by the foot and draped her with chains. She wore an adult white male t-shirt, painted with a skull and crossbones and black leggings.

She looked totally awesome as a punk rocker.

The reason she told everyone, when they asked what she was supposed to be, that she was Strawberry Shortcake, was because she had begged me to buy her one of those cheap boxed costumes at Target In those years, such a bit of junk was mostly a mask with the cartoon character's face and then a very cheap vaguely princess sheath. Cheap junk, the kind of costume my mother had trained me to scorn.

Katie must have had much faith in me. And rightly so. I nearly always gave her what she wanted but my punk rocker idea was so clever that I couldn't give it up, esp. for a cheap boxed junky thing from Target.

Now my mom, in her prime, probably would ahve bought a sewing pattern for Strawberry shortcake and sewn a strawberry sprigged dress for Katie and made her a wig with red yarn, then made freckles on her face with eyeliner pencil. I could have done that, sure, but the punk rocker idea was just too good to give up.

I did make it up to her. I found a very large doll cradle at a garge sale in scruffy shape. I cleaned it up, paitnted it white and made a mattress, blankets and pillow for her actual Strawberry Shortcake doll.

I have a photo of Katie in her strawberry sprigged nightgown, for I made matching night gowns for Strawberry and Katie, and Katie tried to get in that doll cradle. It ws a large cradle but Katie was too big for it.

I wonder if she remembers that I made her matching nightgowns for Strawberry? And what about the matching outfits I made for her American Girl doll Samantha?  My sister stole that doll and all its accoutrements. I had told sis she could go into my brother's storage and take Katie's books for sis's kids but sis just took everything for a child, including all her Samantha stuff and Katie had a lot of Samanta stuff, even the official brass bed.

Katie also tried to get in Samantha's brass bed, and she bent it. We never quite got the kink out but no matter. It was only a doll bed and she was such a good little girl.

I made Katie and Samantha very fancy Chrismas dresses one year. I worked so hard on those dreses. I even had-sewed stretchable seam binding on the inside seams so the dress was as well made on the inside as on the outside, like a real rich girl. Samantha was, in the stories that came iwth her, very rich so I wanted Katie's Samanatha Chrismas dress to be tailored like a rich girl's tailoring.

I wonder if she remembers that I used to make her matching clothes for herself and a few of her dolls?

How can she just dump me when I did so many lovely things for her?

Oh, I just now remembered what I set out to write about. My initial point was brief:  on Halloween, I would let Katie eat as much candy as she wanted, even if she wanted to eat it all. She would always get wild on her sugar high and I reasoned that aif she ate it all in a day or two, the nights of sugar highs would end sooner. Many parents voiced opprobrium for this choice but katie loved it. And it wrked for me, getting the sugar out of our lives quickly.

I can hear her now, running through our house in Minneapolis, squealing from all the sugar, and she would keep saying "Really? You mean it, I can eat another candy bar?" And I would feel a bit like the Queen of Sheba and so purely loving and generous as I said "Really, I mean it. Eat all you want".

And I would silently pray that she ate  it all fast.

some parents doled out one piece of candy a day but that seemed wrong to me. That kept a kid on sugar for months, at least until the Chrismas crap snacks kicked in.

For the great Hlloween snowstorm of, I think, 1992 (maybe another year) Ktie nad I were staying temporarily with joni and Cary. We were supposed to move into our new home on Nov 1st but after the Halloween blizzard, or moving company called and said "We will get to you last, it will be at least a week, maybe more, because your stuff is in storage. all our other customers are under pressure to get out of spaces that have new folks moving in. With your tuff in storge, you are not a priority."

And then Katie and I trudged to the Lilnden Hills retail strip, most just to get out, but we bought some food. And Ktie was shocked when I bought the last large plastic sled at the hardware store. Everyone in that store was sorry that ad not spotted and nabbed that large, plastic, purple sled. Katie thought I bought it to give her a luxury pull all the way back to Joni's.

I never told her that I bought it so I could buy a 12 pack of diet coke and pull the diet coke home. It was a very long sled, plent of room for her and th diet coke.

The day was marred in one regard:  I bought three packs of Byerly's frozen wild rice soup, one for me, one for Katie and one for Joni. I bought some other soup for Cary because she usually made a show of being a vegetarian and that wild rice soup had chicken or ham in it. Cary was angry. I tried to give her mine, she turned up her nose. I did not enjoy that soup. And when we went back the next day to buy more for Cary, the store was basically sold out of everyting. It was just a neighborhood shop, not a full blown grocery store.

The kids sang Christmas carols while trick or treating in a full blown blizzard. I enjoyed that.

Many tol dme Katie's costume was racist. I had put on my beautiful, elaborately patterned Huajacan poncho, a large Mexican straw hat and painted a mustache on her face, for it was not a feminine costume and I wnted to signify maleness. But many folks said it was racist. How is making your kid look like a mariachi player with a mustache racist?

I loved being a mom. Loved all such complications of life.

I sed to hope, so happily and fervently, that I'd be a grandmother some day. Now I sincerely believe I would keel over dead if I were to learn I have a grandchild I ahe een denied a relatinship with.

I'm never going to get over losiong Katie and I feel my unrelenting heartache sapping years off my life. And that's okay by me. I'm ready to go. Give me my Katie or give me deth. Please

Auden's Funeral Blues

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

An old, much beloved, friend of mine is facing his mother's death this week. I have shared e.e.cummings "I carry your heart in my heart" to remind him that his love for his mother and her love for him will always buoy him. I will directly share this poem with him once she has passed.

I knew this friend in Minneapolis. He came to some of the five-day intensives my biz partner and I offered in the eighties. And he occasionally helped me out with some childcare. Katie liked him and was glad when he would pick her up from her great AfterCare program at the YWCA. then he'd either take her to his house, which was a cornucopia of delights for any child of any age or else take her to our house. And he would buy her sme frozen yogurt at the corner of Lake and Hennepin.

I remember so well how good it felt knowiong my little girl was in such sweet, loving hands.

And Craig, the friend I am writng about, hit it off with my mom. Not many hit it off with my challenging mom although my mom regularly said that as an artist, she felt she had much in common with 'the gays'. My baby bro is gay and mom lived with him and his partner for many years and she often voiced that lunkheaded line about how, as an artist, she had a special connection to gays. My bro and his long-gone, longtime life partner (he's dead but they broke up before he died. . . ). Craig was in the Minneapolis Gay Men's Chorus. He invited my mom to come see his Christmas show and she made a special trip to Minneapolis to see that show. She visited us regularly and Katie and I were not her only kin in the area. My mom's parents grew up in Minnesota and mom (and me, I guess) till have lots of blood kin in MN. In the early days of mom's clan, there was no birth control and always big families. Thirteen kids. Nine kids. And then they all had kids so the list of relatives neverending.

But that one time mom came to see Craig. When I ased her why she made a special trip just for one gay men's chorus show, she repeted her grating line about as an artist, she had much in common with 'the gays' but she also said, and no one who knew him, or knows him, would ever deny this, Craig is a sweet peach.

So his mom must be a super sweet lady if she raised such a sweetie.

I wonder if my Ktie remembers Craig. I also wonder if she has any appreciationo for the intereting parade of humans we shared our lives with. No suburban vanilla for me. I think she longed for upscale, suburban vanilla but, geez, how many people does she know ever had a deformed dwarf named Cheryl as her babysitter? And does it ever cross her mind that by exposing her to the wide range of humans that I did that I was opening her world in ways few children get.

I love this Auden poem.  Maybe Katie will read it when she learns I have died. Although how would she learn of my death? No one in my life now even knows her name.  Everyone knows I have a daughter who shuns me named Katie but no one I know knows her last name. Why would they?

Sunday, October 30, 2016


I ducked out of my evening date early, the event I attended just didn't grab me. He was angry and wouldn't go out to eat. If I have any talent that amounts to being at agenius level, it is finding easily angered men. Or maybe men get more easily angry at fat women, like they are thinking "hey, you are fat so I can treat your shabbily".

Anyway, feeling bad and wanting to cheer myself up, I remembered that the movie "Moonlight", based on the play called "Black Boys Look Blue in the Moonlight", a picture that has been called full of poetic grace, is showing at the Embarcadero Center. It will turn up in Berkeley eventually. I hope. I hope. I hope.

I don't like to go to movies in SF and pay for BART when I live within a block of three multiplexes that tend to get all the movies eventually. But there I was, going home alone, which was not what I had anticipated, and feeling, um, incomplete. I so totally wanted to walk to the Embarcadero Center and see Moonlight. Well, I wrote that wrong. If I were a person in a Marc Chagall painting and I could have floated down market and then cut over to the Embarcadero Center, I really wanted to see the movie. I didn't know the show times. My knees creak all the time these days and I sincerely believe I'm going to end up getting a new left knee. I limp. I am in serious pain.

So if I had the magic ability to fly or the magic ability to stop my left knee from painfully creaking and if Moonlight was showing soon to the time I was on Market Street, I wanted to go. I had my iPad so I could have found free wifi, like at the Westfield Mall to see the film show times.

Then I got to a BART statirway. I couldn't see an elevator to BART. There are almost never any down escalators down to BART tations. My knees hate the tall stairwells required to get into the bowls of our underground transit system. I have to take the steps two feet on each step, like the old lady I am.  teps don't hurt. My pride is hurt, as people always rush by me. So far, no one has said anything unkind about my slow teps. And I usually use a BART elevator or escalator.

I was at some BART steps. Moonlight was still about four blocks away. I still didn't now when it started. And I knew I could be home and live it up with some lemon sparkling water and a green smoothie. So, because I really am a stiff old lady, I hobbled down those stairs, then hobbled to my building once I got to Berkeley. And I'm thinking about the smoothie.

The way smoothies happen for me if I have to think of all the ingredients for a little bit of time:  let me see, I have to think, is there kale? I like kale better than spinach in a raw smoothie. Do I have lemon? Check. Kelly gave me four of her abundant meyer lemons a day or two ago. Apple?  Check. I actually bought a frozen bag or organic apple slices -- in hindsight, a foolish choice, since it is apple season and pink ladies are tasty and these apples have no name. But they have convenience. Who needs convenience with an apple and a smoothi in a Vitamix?  I just cut the apple in half and toss it in. I just cut a lemon in half and toss it in. I toss in some fresh finger, rind and all. Cinnamon if I think of it.

I have done my thinking. Time to make, then drink, my greens.

I had kinda stopped doing raw green smoothies, because I was very sick for several months. Very very sick. But now I am back on coumadin and transitioning back on is hard. I had to eat a stable amount of greens daily and I don't eat stable mounts of greens. I just toss in whatever I feel like. Or, when braising spinach in garlic infused olive oil (yum!), I don't measure. I use a whole lot cause it cooks down.

But my coumadin test are all over the place and it isn't fair to my dear primary doc to take up her time.

A secret:  I love my primary care doc, in a perfectly platonic way. I left her for another primary doc last year and when I told her he actually said "We should get together for lunch." Aww. . . . shucks.

I left her because no one was monitoring my coumadin. and, bless my doctor, she doensn't know how to monitor couadin like Gwen did, the nurse practitioner who monitored my coumadin for years.

Isn't this a dull, run-on post? someone who loves me recently said even my most rambly, run-on messes always have something good in them. Cutting out everything but the good is the work of writing that I skip and why I don't submit.  I won't edit. It's boring. The fire of first draft is awesome sauce. Editing is boring.

Anyway. If Moonlight doe not turn up in Berkeley by this coming Friday, I'll make a date with a friend in SF and see it at the Embarcadero Center and pop for the BART costs.

SF is every bit as charming and beautiful as everyone thinks but I don't hang out, don't get to savor the city, explore its endlessly fascinating neighborhoods. I need a boyfriend. For SF adventure. And please, goddess, let him have a car so we can take impulsive drives in the country and go camping with ease.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

you carry me with you

"You carry away with you a reflection of me, a part of me. I dreamed you; I wished for your existence. You will always be a part of my life. If I love you, it must be because we shared, at some moment, the same imaginings, the same madness, the same stage."
-Anais Nin

This reminds me of the great e.e.cummings poem "I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart". Or something like that.

Friday, October 21, 2016

medicine for melancholy

Medicine for Melancholy is the name of the first picture directed by Barry Jenkins, director of a new, very interesting-sounding movie, Moonlight. Jenkins is a black man and he tells stories of blacks. Medicine for Melancholy is on Netflix streaming, set in SF. I recommend it.

Moonlight is based on a play called something like "Black Boys Look Blue in the Moonlight". It got a majorly enthusiastic review in the NYTimes. I can't wait until it opens in Berkeley, which it surely will soon.

In the NYTimes, the director talks about his frustration that it took eight years to put out a second film.  I guess his genius needed some incubation.

His first film, Melancholy, was interesting, especially since it is set in SF eight years ago, when the rising housing crisis had already purged so many blacks out of SF and the male character in the movie really cares about this purging. The female is a harder read. For me.

I don't see the medicine in Mr. Jenkins first picture but I am eager, eager eager to see Moonlight, said to be poetic, lyrical, visceral and tough. Like life?