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

hairdos for my daughter

I always -- always -- went to beauty schools to get my hair cut and, occasionally, foiled. Minneapolis has a great beauty school run, at least originally (I don't keep track of who owns it now) founded by the guy who founded Aveda hair Care products, Horst.  I know Horst sold Aveda to a big hair care products business so it would not surprise me if Horst no longer owns the beauty school in NE Minneapolis. But it was that beauty school where I always got my hair done when I lived there.

Here in CA, hair stylists are trained in salons, not schools. One can troll craigslist to find students in better salons who need hair to cut for their training. I did that a bit when I first moved here but it was a pain in the neck.

I took my daughter to the same beauty school when she grew interested in having her hair dyed. It is expensive to get a foil, ya know? But she cringed over going to beauty school instead of a salon so I, always too indulgent, took to paying for her to get her hair done at an Aveda salon at Hennepin and Lake, the heart of Uptown. I paid ten bucks for my haircuts and sixty, 18 years ago, for hers. I don't want to remember what I paid for her blonde foils.

Nowadays, I see online, she is a dark brunette.  I nveer saw her natural hair color live and in person. Growing up she was blonde as a little girl but when her hair beganto darken, she took to getting blonde highlights so I never saw the natural color of her hair. Her hair looks pretty dark in her latest FB profile photo, darker than any relative of hers that I know, and I know the natural hair color of her relatives on her dad's side. Her dad has dark, very curly, even kinky hair. His sisters are all brunettes. Maybe her very dark brown color is natural. She looks beautiful to me but Katie can only look beautiful to me.

I just paid full salon price for a bad haircut. It is going to take months to grow this puppy out. And I am angry. I even wonder if the stlist butchered my hair, for she has always been a gifted, subtle stlist, doin exactly what I requested but not this time, m last time with her.  She scalped off nearly all m hair!

o well. It will grow back.

M main wvetch here:  I chintzed on beauty schools for myself but sprang for high end salons for my daughte. And still she shuns me. Her shame, not mine. Shame on you, Katie Joy.

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?

does the full moon influence you?

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.

security cameras guarantee crime on BART?!

I went over to the city, which, of course in these here parts means San Francisco several times in recent days. The first time I heard the pre-recorded announcement that says, I swear, "The presence of security cameras guarantees crime can happen", I assumed I had misheard the pre-recorded message. But now I have heard it several times, even asking a guy over in SF at the Powell Street station if he heard it too. Soon everyone near us on the platform was laughing.

It is awkwardly worded. It is clearly unintentional. But the pre-recorded announcement, which is probably supposed to say security cameras are no guarantee against crime, or no certainty that no crimes will be committed. Even this statement, if it is the intended one, is kinda lame. Seriously. Who thinks security cameras protect us from crime? Once in a very great while, a security camera might help identify a criminal but no security camera protects humans from crime. It's not like BART has a crackerjack security staff watching all the security cameras, with cops at every single  station so they can act fast to stop crime seen on the security camera.

And criminals know that security cameras are not protection so citizens must know.

The goofy, clearly misrecorded message amounts to say "security cameras will gaurantee that you will be a victim of crime" or, as one laughing young man suggested on the Powell platform today "our security cameras guarantee you might be mugged, maybe an armed robbery, but for sure you'll be a victim of crime."

BART employees get paid very well, with great benefits like lots of vacation and paid days off great health care and really great pension coverage. And high wages. The BART staffers who sit in the booths in the stations and do just about nothing can make eighty to 100 grand. So I bet whoever recorded this insipid message that says security cameras are a guarantee of criminal activity gets paid well even though she, or her script writer, is a moron.

"The presence of security cameras is a guarantee of criminal activity."

Or has BART given criminals, and would-be criminals, a free pass to commit crime on BART and they are making a public service announcement warning hapless BART riders that they might get shot. Because security cameras gaurantee crime on BART.

I swear I heard the announcement right.  I know most folks tune out the pre-recorded BART messages. It's a bit of a fluke that I heard this one but once I did, now I can't not hear it.

The goofy, wrong announcement is a kind of public service if it helps BART riders chat with strangers although, since BART has guaranteed crime will happen because they use security cameras, does one dare talk to anyone?

Lewis Carroll really nailed human daffiness. I see the Mad hatter's Tea Party in so many aspects of contemporary life in America. And I don't want to be prejudiced. I am sure other countries have goofy mistakes like the BART announcement I just know America so I can only point out our absurdities.

Wel, our country's absurdities are endless. No human has the time to point them all out.

Helga, The Thorn Witch and Katie

Frida was way cool. A visionary artist, she overcame severe physical crippling, took female lovers openly when no one did that openly and painted what she saw in her own being, painted things no one had ever seen. But she also endured open, chronic abuse from her husband, Diego Rivera. Not my idea of a female role model to mend the damage of endless princess fairy tales.

Do you know the Tomie de Paolo book, Helga's Dowry? Helga is a troll, beautiful by troll standards but poor so the cute troll she crushes on tells her he must marry a troll with money, a fat dowry. She Helga goes out and generates gerat wealth and then, sure, the pretty boy wants her but as she went about acquiring her fat dowry, the troll king took notice and he fell for the powerful woman. She rejected pretty boy before the king proposed, accepted the king and lived, one hopes happily ever after.

That was my first feminist take on princesses that I read my Katie. I give it to any little girl who crosses my path. So if you are expecting a chick grandchild, send me your address, and I'll give the baby Helga's Dowry. An oldie these days but still a goodie, imho.

For Katie's first 2.5 years, we lived in Omaha. I all but haunted the one good children's book store in Omaha, prowling for female protagonist children's picture books. A proud day was the day the book store owner told me my determination to give Katie different female book characters had her whole staff more aware of the need for books for girls. There were other bookstores and I haunted them all and all the clerks in them knew what I wanted:  female protagonists for children's books. This was pre-internet when one could just google to find what one wanted.

Another favorite, and I have a spare copy already, but it is a little more advanced, like age 3 for smart kids: The Thorn Witch. Oh my gosh, Katie and I loved that book. She took it for show and tell in her kindergarden. The kindergarden teachers would read any books the children brought. After school that day, Katie morosely told me that the teacher read it all wrong, that she didn't know how to use the voices that I used. I was a proud mama that day and until Katie complained about the teacher reading in monotone, I did not know Katie loved how I gave every character their own voices, in every book.
My daughter loved me then. What happened?

Imagine me reading this line with a screechy, shrieky, loud voice "Now, will you come quietly or will I have to carry you in this?" and then I would wave an imaginary gunny sack, just like the one on the page of the book,  in Katie's face. She giggled and snuggled me a little closer every time I waived (waved?) that imaginary gunny sack at her. In the book, The Thorn Witch is threatening to put Charlotte in the gunny sack but Charlotte capitulates and walks along as she is told.

michelle obama

I agree wholeheartedly with those quote from the First Lady. But what messages do our children get when we sent drones with bombs that kill civilians, when we are at war for about ten years and counting with hundreds of thousands of deaths if we remember to count the non-American dead. What message do children get when they see homeless people on nearly every corner in the SF BAy Area (less in places with frigid winters, I think).

I saw a photo today of a family in Portland sleeping in a close row of sleeping bags with a little boy sleeping just atop a blanket.

What message do we sent our children and grandchildren when the governor of WI says, and Scott Walker just said this, that feeding a hungry child a free meal at school feeds his body but corrupts his soul?

As you likely know, you can delete things others post on your wall and I will take no offense if you delete this one. I admire your positivity about Michele Obama. Did I ever tell you her dad worked with mine? But I feel slightly queasy when I heard her say she felt queasy herself when she heard Donald's pussy audio. Does she feel queasy knowing she shares a bed with a man who gave up on single payer health care in a back room deal with corporate overlords, a bed with a man who drone-kills civilians?

I know many connected to me on FB want to make the best of things and voice support for Hillary. Of course Hillary is a far better choice than three-chin, portly Donald with small hands and hate in his heart and mind. Here in safely blue CA, I can safely vote for Jill Stein. We need the Green Party to get 5% of votes so they can qualify for public financing and begin to break the choke hold the two political parties have on our country. Baby steps.

Lately, and this surprises me for I am not at all a historian type and I don't know much about FDR. But I have heard snippets of some of his radio addresses and, just lately, my being is sometimes straining to hear FDR's powerful, authoritative voice talk about our shared obligation to take care of one another.

what if this happened?

What is a bunch of billionaires and, anyone's money is good enough for me, multi-millionaires decided to let go of their capitalism and chose to dedicate most of their fortunes to funding an international movement rooted in protecting nature and indigenous rights as well as indigenous traditions of reverence for nature?

Bill Gates need not apply. I am painfully aware he and his wife run an allegedly philanthropic foundation but that foundation is, imho, about control and manipulation. I actually heard Bill say, on some video that floated across my screen, as things float these days, that he funds lots of vaccinations as a means of population reduction. I listened to the clip at least a dozen times because I could not beleive he said what he said, knowing he was being recorded. But what difference does it make if he said it on film?  Few humans understand how the world is really operating. With almost no real journalism anymore, and unreliable media being the best we have, and Bill Gates would know this far better than I do, can say whatever he wants and, and this is horrible, he can do whateve he wants. So if he wants to fund vaccines that have been proven to cause autism in far more black boys than any othe category of humans subjected to the vaccines, gee, do you think that is an unintended consequence of this multi-billionaire's decisions?  He's playing a kind of chess game, the world is the chess board, a,d humans on massive scales are the pieces. And like a god, he can take all your rooks, your knight, queen and utimatley, your king. He can do whatever he wants.

But I think it might be possible for a group of super rich but, magically -- maybe it would require magic?! -- decice to plow much of their amassed wealth into fighting the oligarchy.

This fight needs to be different than anything we have ever seen.

When this idea came to me, I had that feeling I used to get when I played old-timey pinball, the kind of pinball with manual flappers and lots of pinging noises and lights flashing when you played well and you feel just a bit more alive for a few fleeting moments -- that's why I used to play pinball btw, for that rare moments when I beat the machine.

We humans have to beat the machine of oligarchy. Can we?  Yes.  How?  I'm cogitating on it.

In the meantime I have a 5 p.m. date in SF. I was going to shampoo and blow dry but it's too late. I go with two day old hair. Oh well.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

any true friends?

first cell phone in my clan

In the fall of 1996, I guess my daughter's father was feeling prosperous. He and I rarely spoke. We had an unhappy marriage, then a bitter, painful custody battle. The father-favoring child psychologist he hired actually told each of us, for I showed up so he could evaluate me (my ex never showed up to be evaluated by my child psychiatrist . . . another story for another time?) that we should stop the custody petition immediately, that it would cause wounds that might never heal. He was right. My only child grew up with me but she hasn't talked to me since I dropped her off at her Ivy League college. She talks to her father, who used to let years pass without acknowledging her birthday or Christmas and on those rare occasions when he did talk to her, he would say "I call you all the time but your mom screens my calls, she lies to you and says I don't call."  Not true. I used to offer to pay to fly her to see him, ignoring her court appointed lawyer, who was supposed to set up visits. I did't tell her because the first time I tried to get him to visit his daughter, I told her and then he cancelled at the last minute. She was shattered and so I never told her again when he said he might come.

He came to see her play Titania in the 7th grade. I still wonder why that drew him. Who knows? Sure, he showed up, drove 400 miles but, oh my gosh, I worked for that win.

Anyway, in the fall of 1996, her father called me, a rare event. He said he wanted to get her a really special Christmas present, smething that would really blow her away, what was her big want that year?

"That's easy," I said. Katie had just started high school and cell phones were around but not yet ubiqitous.  "Get her a cell phone."

"How much would that be?" he said, kinda showoing off, hinting that money was no object. "$200, $250?  I'll do it."

"Oh no," I said, "You can't just buy her the phone. You have to pay for the monthly charges."

And he did. So she was one of the first kids in her world to have a cell phone. How she loved having it. And any role I played in her getting it meant nothing.

In the beginning, she occasionally would leave her phone at home, I'd hear it ring. I was forbidden from touching it and I, mostly, honored it. I did make a few calls on it because I had never had a cell phone and I wanted to play with it.

Once, she talked to me about the young man, probably in his twenties, she said at age fifteen, who had asked for her number. She was proud that she looked a lot older. I used to say "It's fun being seen as older than you are at fifteen but I hope that pattern doesn't keep going. You won't want to look older than everyone else at age 30!" So she told me about this adult male flirting with her and told me she gave him her cell. Actually, she said he leaned over and took it down, but I never did grasp the logic in that.  Oh well.

The next day, she left the phone at home and this guy called. He said "I met Katie at Such-and-Such" and I said "Do you know Katie is fifteen?". He hung up. She never heard from him again. And was angry with me. He would not pick up her calls either.

Fifteen. Come on. I was right. 

She left high school after her sophomore year, started college two years early. And her dad ordered me, not his princess, to mail the phone to him. In those days, with her program based in one state but she in another, roaming charges added up fast. So I mailed it to him, wit h her angry with me, blaming me for the loss of the cell phone I had actually made possible.

I acted like a mom. I don't think I was a bad mom. I don't think young women get academic scholarships to ivies when raised by monster mothers.

The first cell phone I ever owned, I bought in 2008. It was a cheap flip phone I got for free by giving Virgin Mobile $20 for phone time. I still have that free flip phone, having replaced the battery once. No smart phone, although it looks like eventually one will need a smart phone to thrive in a technological society. Sigh.

kalamata olive oil

The olive and olive oil vendor at my regular farmers market noticed me eyeing the kalamata olive oil, which cost about twice as much as his other olive oils.  To butter me up, or to use his knowledge of selling olive products, which I tend to buy from him regularly, he said "That oil there, the pure kalamata oil is like butter, the best olive oil you'll ever taste."

Who could say no to that?

I buy a tub of chopped kalamata olives every Saturday, turning simple eggs into scrumptious feasts. And this tub of chopped kalamata feels decadently indulgent. It does not come cheap. It tastes so good.

I tried to talk myself out of the kalamata oil, telling the guy I had half a quart of his next level premium olive oil and I work through olive oil very slowly. 

I knew as soon as I saw it, I'd buy it. I thought I might send it to my brother but mailing liquids takes special packing and I hesitated.

Today I opened it.

Like butter. So yummy. Once I use up the ordinary organic olive oil, unless kalamata oil is sold out, I'm a kalamata olive oil gal for life.  Sorry Dave.

night of the living dead

At least some of the guys involved in making "Night of the Living Dead", which premiered in 1968, went to my undergrad university, which may explain why it was screened at my undergrad university.

Every monday, in the only large auditorium with film screening capacity, my undergrad university screened a classic film. (the university specialized in very small classes so there were only a couple large lecture halls altogether! plus the chapel, which was huge --- yes, a chapel at a nonsectarian school). And I guess the music conservatory must have had a concert hall, which I think was the chapel. I heard Van Cliburn play in that chapel!

Those Monday night screenings gave me a great background in film history.  They never showed trivial films, although most students thought "Night of the Living Dead", then only a few years old, and not yet a classic, was out of character. Until, in the Q&A afterwards, we learned the filmmakers, or some of them, had gone to school there.

I went to the movie alone. I've nearly always preferred going to movies alone. Maybe it started in college. Nobody I was pals with cared about those weekly films like I did.

For Night of the Living Dead, I got very, very stoned.  I did not get stoned much in those days but, unthinkingly, I did that evening.

When the movie was over, still quite stoned, I could not move. I was so glad there was a Q&A to give me time to hear normal humans talking, to begin to come down and feel safer, to find the courage to walk back to my dorm. I remember going over in my mind, many times, the path out of that auditorium, take a right, cross the quad, take a right, and head to the dorm furthest from anything else on campus.  So I guess I saw it my senior year.

Now, zombies are so ordinary.

Night of the Living Dead has been restored and is being screened at NY's MOMA. Not too shabby.

I don't know if I'll ever see it again. I am very fond of The Walking Dead, even with the very wickedly cruel Neegan stalking the good guys.

Visionaries made a movie in 1968 about the undead dead. Way ahead of its time? Or just prescient? Or both?

rich in the world, if not in my world

When I approached my bathroom sink last night to brush my teeth, I turned the light on. I was, unexpectedly, vividly and with a kind of awe, suddenly aware of the miracle of electricity. Just flick a switch. Then I ran the water very briefly to wet my toothbrushed, crushed, and then ran the water again, briefly, to rinse out my mouth.

Then, alive, fleetingly, in a new way to the very day miracle of power and water at my fingertips, I felt, almost, like a new being.

I felt reverence. I had some awareness of the very long stream of humanity that lead to my electric switch and tap water. I had a stronger awareness of my great privilege, even though I am as poor as the proverbial churchmouse.

I thought of one of my first writing teachers, who grew up on a farm in MN and then traveled in Africa. When she would meet farmers in Africa, she would describe her family farm, which was huge by the Africans standards and the Africans would say "you are rich!" and she would say "No, not in America, we are not rich, our farm is small and humble. Not rich at all." Then finally one wise farmer said "but in the world, in the world you are rich."

I am poor by many standards but in the world, I am rich. Power. Water. Shelter. Food. Internet. Laptop.

In the world, sitting atop a mountain of unearned privilege, I am rich.

I am also aware of all the riches I think I would prefer to have. I'd like to live rurally, close to nature, get to know animals in my neighborhood. I'd like to grow my own garden. I'd like to have a life mate.  I'd like my daughter to be a part of my life again, in some way, anyway.  I'd like to have a chair outside I might sit in, as I used to have on the deck of y house in MInneapolis. All year round, I often went out to that deck and sat, even in bleak midwinter, and enjoyed my maple tree, enjoyed my garden when I could see it and enjoyed knowing my garden was there under snow and ice when I could not see it but I knew it was there.

I'd like to be richer.

I am rich now.

Friday, October 28, 2016

you shouldn't mess with the federal government

People are funny.

 I took one of those package slips to the post office to pick up a package. The postal delivery person did not ring my apartment because I was here waiting for the package. Then I had to wait to the next day, then wait in line almost two hours and when they got my package on the counter, they demanded a driver's license, would not accept my clipper photo id. So I just took MY property, tossed it in my cart and rolled out. No one tried to stop me. It was, um, my property.  The postal worker was being a cunt.

Right behind me in line was a guy I know.  He saw me later that day and said "You shouldn't have done that, you could get in trouble. That's the federal government."

"Nah", I said, "I am not going to get in trouble. What will they do? Arrest me for taking what belongs to me?"

He said "But it's the federal government." and he sounded so cowed, so bowed. And this is a very big guy, like six feet four or even taller.

I told him I am an attorney and was confident I was not in trouble.

He was walking away but kept saying "No, man, you can't mess with the feds." And I didn't feel a need to show off but I was thinking "What do you think, that the local federal prosecutor is going to bring criminal charges against me for taking my own stuff? Get real!".

are 14 things enough?

I read, in past day or two, about someone who decluttered his life and now only owns 14 things. The news report (is that news?) did not list the fourteen things.

I am full of questions?

If the person owns a bed, does s/he count bed, mattress and box spring as one thing or three? Sheets? Blankets? Pillows? And, sorry, pillow cases?

Does underwear count or just shirts and slacks/skirts/dresses?

Do pots and pans count? Electric tea kettle?  mug?

Does the fridge count? food in fridge? food in cupboards?

Laundry detergent, laundry basket/cart?

I don't believe someone housed can live only owning 14 things, not if we counts sheets, cookware, dishware and underwear.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

the perfume of our own existence. . . .

"....Chaos and order, love and sorrow—we are surrounded by seeds of so many possibilities. The mind wants to select only a few, to present us with a linear picture of our life and its potential. But the lover who looks with the eyes of passion does not want to limit love, does not want to deny tears. For lovers there is neither chaos nor order;passion does not exist in straight lines, but takes us over the edge of ourself. Those who are addicted to order cannot make sense of love, nor can they give themselves to life. Lovers are friends with the abyss, with the moments in which everything can be lost or a single glance can recapture paradise.
Giving ourself to love, we surrender to a completeness that holds and takes us. It takes us beyond ourself, beyond any pattern we might think to impose. Love is quicker than the mind so it leaves thinking behind, though thinking may try to catch up,to understand what is happening. But love just is, and the mystic is someone who is immersed in love’s isness. W e are held captive by love, and the mind is marooned elsewhere, struggling with what it cannot understand. Lovers know this with
a knowledge that comes from being drunk, from that momentary ecstasy of annihilation when what is free and unlimited slips into consciousness.
Love is chaos and beauty, passion and poverty. When we are taken by love out of ourself, love saturates us with the perfume of our own non-existence. Love can never be limited, just as the heart’s sorrow is endless. The mystic lives with a consciousness attuned to love, waiting for love, watching for her Beloved. The mind of the mystic is immersed in love, just as any lover is absorbed with thoughts of her beloved. Love alters the mind, changes its patterns. In the mind of the lover two become one, ecstasy happens. And this is real, not just empty fantasy. Love brings the mind into the heart and trains it in the ways of oneness."

-Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
From: Signs of God
Image by Rassouli
— with Moon Marie.

I was made for frolicking

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

where are you from? straight outa vagina

like straight outa comptom only your mom

we are strong, we are green

whole world needs livable wages, not just Americans

Something I don't understand is why so many, including progressives, rail against NAFTA and the TPP, raging that such trade deals take away American middle class jobs, fail to EVER discuss the folks supposedly doing those jobs in countries with lower wages. Those people need livelihoods too and we only have the one planet. Americans seem to, too often, think that 'we' should be able to maintain a high level livestyle, with good jobs and home ownership, health care and pensions, but humans in Mexico, Indonesia or Haitians paid Hillary's 35 cents an hour minimum wage, are taking something from us. We have been taking more than our share of the planet's resources since forever, greedily grabbing whatever American wants, like a baby grabbing for shiny baubles with no consideration for how our grabbing affects all.

At the same time, I read a lot about 'interconnectedness' and 'interbeing'. Folks, people in Somalia have a right to livelihood, shelter and to get their needs met as much as we do. Hillary, Donald, Bernie, whoever. I never read any commentary that acknowledges that the U.S. has greatly contributed to a lot of the poverty around the planet. I never read any commentary that acknowledges low wage workers in Vietnam deserve a decent standard of living.

Americans can come across sounding as if only our middle class matters, only our way of life matters. Our way of life is a huge part of the problem generating global warming, climate change, water pollution, etc. Do folks still reading know about landgrabs in Africa, with traditionally community-owned (since forever) lands being sold by corrupt governments to huge corporations who throw the folks whose cultures have lived there forever and derived their livelihood forever so some corporate agriculture company can cheaply grow bell peppers to be served in fine hotels in Dubai. And what about mowing down tribal lands in Africa, planting palm trees for the palm oil and then hiring the locals for unlivable wages while stripping them of their homes?

There's a documentary I recommend called "landgrabbing" that tells the unfolding,, very real and very tragic story of landgrabs all over the planet: Ethiopia, Cambodia, Nigeria and more.

my sis taught English in Gallup, NM

When she finished her MS in Education, my sister took a teaching job in Gallup, NM. She left after one year because she got married to someone from NYC. Gallup is surrounded by a massiave Navajo (Dine) reservation that spans much of NM and a lot of AZ.

Her fellow teachers mostly were intimidated by students who lived on the rez, which was most of the students. Gallup itself is not a very big place. And teachers talked about how it was almost impossible to find students homes even if teachers tried to do home visits.

My sister made a sincere effort to meet the parents of all her students. And she had a lot of them since she taught English all day to six or seven different groups of kids.  She was unable to visit most families on reservations. But she figured out that some parents had some of the few jobs to be had in gallop. Waitresses at the famous Earl's diner, cashier at Dunkin Donuts, clerks in stores.  She tried to find out where her students' parents worked and tried to meet them all.

When she visited the parent of a female, high school freshman at her job at the Dunkin Donuts, the mother she visited cried. My sister had said something like "I think if your daughter paid just a little more attention to her studies, she could go to college." The mother cried saying "You are the first person who has ever told me my daughter could have a future off the rez, or go to college or even just to meet me."

She as popular at that school. The principal told her she could always come back, that there would always be a job for her in the Gallup school system. Sis said "You don't understand. I am getting married to a man who lives in NYC. I'm not going to ever come back."

That marriage lasted only a few months, sis moved to Korea, then to Egypt, then Kuwait, then did a doctorate in the states and now lives in Shanghai.

I guess she is never going to live in Gallup again. My daughter and I visited sis and niece for Xmas and New Year's. I love New Mexico.

And I love the vicarious memory of that mother working at Dunkin Donuts who was so touched that a teacher, a white lady, took an interest in her smart daughter.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

dormant sexual abuse memories awakened

Since Trump's talk of sexually assaulting women because he could get away with it, many, many memories of how I was sexually abused as a child have surfaced. Well, the memories were not suppressed, but I did not think having boys grab my very large bosom that erupted all at once at age 11 was wrong -- just a fact of life. I didn't think having grown men ogle me and make lewd suggestions to me because I have such a full bosom (a 36C at age 11 is no fun . . . ). I didn't think boys forcing me to let them touch me in ways I did not want to be touched was wrong, just the way it was. and as I got to college age and became sexual, many of my sex acts were performed under duress, under veiled and not-veiled threats of violence.

One somewhat insignificant sexual assault keeps cropping up. I never told anyone about it. Instead, I felt great shame and blamed myself. I was walking to church for Sunday mass and took the 'shortcut', walking through the church's rear parking lot to enter from a rear church door. It saved me walking more than a block more and I was late for mass.

A boy I did not know, and would not have later recognized if I had seen him, slowly biked by me when I was at the far end, the empty end, of that large parking lot. I noticed him taking note of me but thought nothing of it since I did not know the kid. Then he turned around and rode back towards me, looking at me intently so I noticed him looking. I was still walking along in innocence, on my way to Sunday mass, for gosh sake. And about 12 years old.

That boy, that pig, rode up as close to me as he could, stopped next to me, grabbed one of my breasts and twisted it hard and then rushed off in his bike saying "I touched her boob, I touched her boob."

The worst part of this memory is not the assault, not to me. The worst part is that it never entered my thoughts that the boy had done something wrong. I believed I had done something wrong. At age 12, I was not dressed provocatively. Since I was headed to church, I would have been dressed as conservatively as my most conservative dress. In those days, all girls wore only dresses to school and church. In my world. So I was wearing a child's dress but, yes, a bra underneath. I have too much breast not to wear a bra.

No one. Ever. Talked to me about sex. No one. Ever. Not even my mother. Talked to me about my suddenly large bosom.

Well, mom did talk about it indirectly. She announced she had to take me shopping for a bra. She took me to a Sears store, the one at 62nd & Western, which I think is long gone. In Chicago. South side.  I was mortified and shameful the whole time my mom let a woman I did not know feel me up, measure me with a tape measure and pick out bras for me. Not pretty bars. Mom expressly forbid pretty, ordering the clerk to only show us plain ones. Like it would have been sinful for me to feel pretty. So I felt sinful just for being a female with breasts.

Throughout high school, although I never succombed to males' endless demands for sex, I did let some boys do a lot more to me than I wanted them to do. They would not take no for an answer. The pressured and pressured.

And it got worse in college. I went to college in 1971, when the sexual revolution not so subtly told everyone it was uncool not to be sexual. Even then, I did not have sex until my second year of college and then in Mexico, where everything felt so foreign that having sex felt foreign too.

Now I wonder what all those males were thinking. And what they had been taught, or signaled, by the adults in their lives.

Now I remember male friends of my brothers, mostly Chuck the fuck's pals (My next younger brother, my Irish Twin, was always kind to me and never once alluded to my breasts or legs or sexuality -- I still love my Irish Twin for how he treated me when we were kids).  Chuck's friends openly assess my looks with Chuck and he would come home and carefully recount everything any boy said to him about me. None of his friends, as reported by him, ever said anything nice. Not one. Chuck once said that a guy who lived right on the same block with me said I had legs like tree trunks. He said this over a family dinner and neither parent saw anything untoward in Chuck's behavior.  Larry Marphise was the tree truck pig's name.

College boys are more of a blur. I had a couple lovers in college I loved. I had a couple lovers who simply loved me and loved having sex with me, no pressure, only mutual passion.

But, over all, my sex life has been more about males' expectations and my, mostly, failure to meet them and me internalizing all their projected inadequacies as my inadequacies.

One thing about Trump's misogyny that almost shocks, that does shock, me is that I realize many, many males in my lifle, not famous, not rich, behaved as he bragged to Billy Bush about behaving. And I thought that was the normal way of male and female interactions.

I did not mentor my daughter, not much, about sexuality. I was not prepared to do so.  I did urge her to wait as long as possible, telling her that sex elicits powerful feelings and she would be better equipped to handle her feelings the longer she waited. I never gave her the message that she had to be a virgin until marriage, which, at least for me, was a message that forbid me to be sexual at all, to feel like a sexual being, to even acknowledge whatever feelings and desire I felt. And forget about enjoyment. I don't remember if I told Katie to enjoy sex. I thought I gave her nonjudgmental messages about sex, with cautions to exercise some self care.  I wonder what she thought. And I never told her that the little I did discuss sex with her was a thousandfold more than I got from my mother, who never said a word to me about sex.

Heck, years after my mom had had a hysterectomy, my sister and I once asked her when she had first noticed she was entering menopause. My mom acted as if we had asked her to describe her sex life with our father and her second husband. She acted shocked and insulted. And she would not tell us anything about her health history.

I am unhappy.

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.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

ladies, if you come across a man . . . .

everything matters

When my baby sister, and only sister, was in college, I was in in late twenties/early thirties and, at age 28, I had become a mom. My sister, admittedly an adolescent and known in the family as a sourpuss brat, her brattiness often attributed to her being the baby of our large family and, thus, spoiled. If she was spoiled, I helped enable that!

We were discussing some political issue. She was emerging as more conservative than the family I had grown up in. Born when I was 14, then she moved two states away to live with our mom's second husband who was definitely a conservative Repug, not a South Side Chicago Democrat (go CUBS!! win the series, please!!!).  . so she and I were chatting, I don't remember what, but probably something political.

Suddenly she said, scorn dripping with each note of her words, "People your age, you think everything matters." Her dripping, sneering, disgust for me for thinking everything matters is still palpable.

I said "everything does matter" and I silently recalibrated how I saw my sister, noting her lean into conservatism.

Just now, I read this lovely Rilke quote:  "Everything Matters: The tasks entrusted to us are often difficult. Almost everything that matters is difficult, and everything matters." - Rilke

Her name is Margaret. She used to hate it when I or one of our four brothers called her Marge. I always think of her as Marge but no longer 'call' her anything. She apparently thinks one thing matters:  shunning her only sister.

my humor saved me

My first marriage, to a law school classmate, was disastrous. Our PhD marriage counselor testified in deposition that my ex was the cruelest person he had made in 20+ years of marriage counseling. The doc said 'most people have a certain threshold of decency beneath which they will not sink and as far as I can tell, this man has no such threshold. I have been steadily shocked by how he has treated her. But I have also had to consider if she can recover from such abuse and go on to parent well, for a child's wellbeing is at stake. And I have decided her sense of humor saved her. Time after time, she'd recount an incident of abuse and I would be fighting back tears only to hear her laugh because she had seen some absurdity in the situation as she re-envisioned it. She'd see the look on his face, or remember something she had felt, and she would laugh. Her sense of humor has saved her, I believe."

I remember how I would review a scene in which I had been abused to tell my therapist, for he became my individual therapist when we gave up on the marriage, and just as I got to the lowest point in the story, it seemed to me, I would find humor in it, see some absurdity. Often what made me laugh was to see the petty tyrant futilely bullying me. He used to force me not to do things in front of him and sometimes forced me to do things I did not want to do (he liked to dictate what I wore and even tried to tell me how to blink). If I thought he was going to hurt me, yeah, sure, I capitulated to his petty demands but then when I recounted the scene for my therapist, I would see how absurd the petty bully was and I would know he had not broken me as he very much seemed to wish to do.

Only one thing in this life has felled me, broken me and that is being shunned by my only child.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

dogs sniffing each other's butts

There is a new yoga business on the ground floor of my building, Hella Yoga.  For those not in the 'know' here in the East Bay, hella is a word most Bereleyans and Oaklanders think of as their own. It is a way to emphasize something. "That's hella good pasta."  "He's a hella jerk."  When I first moved here, just about ten years ago this week (!), the word 'hella' sounded odd. Now I use it, being, as my sister once pointed out she and I both are, linguistically impressionable.


Today on BART over to the city (and here, 'the city' is only SF, of course), I chatted up a bunch of Midwesterners. After a few moments, one of them asked me if I am from Chicago, which, of course, I am. Then another one said "But you also sound like you could be from Wisconsin or Minnesota" to which I said "College in WI, law school in MN, rasied my kids in MN and I am always finishing sentences with the tiny question, "eh?", as folks do up in North Country and, also, Canada. WI and MN are hella close to Canada, doncha know?

So. Hella Yoga. I like the play on words. They seem to have chosen to name their business 'Hella Yoga' to, very effectively, in my opinion, that they have hot yoga. And, hey, they also have hella hot pilates classes!

However they have chosen a red devil with a pitchfork as their logo. This red devil is slashed all its windows.  I am not a religious person. I'm one of those New Agey types who says "I am spiritual, not religious" because I am spiritual but not religious. And I don't see that red devil with yellow horns jutting out of his head and his pitchfork outlined near his face as a sign of evil.

What I see is a very ugly logo that represents lots opportunity.

I know what I am about to write is sexist but I am betting a dollar that the logo designer is a young male moron who is sleeping with the founder of Hella Yoga and the founder is a she and, giggle, cutesey, she let her graphics artist boyfriend -- although, hey, it could be a girlfriend or a transitioning male or female, I live in Berkeley, so I am hella openminded.

I am not openminded about ugly and that devil logo is ugly.

I've been walking past it every day, at least once, usually more than once a day. It is right here, where I live. But when they put up a large picture of two dogs circling one another and sniffing each other's butts, the mother in me felt a maternal rush of concern for the idiots running this new yoga school.

Hey, there is a lot of competition for yoga business within two blocks of here. There are several other yoga pads very nearby and none of them have offensive logos. I bet idiot boyfriend or transgender whatever friend came up with the whole idea of using hella and a devil to promote their hot yoga.  I think I get that moment of inspiration. Someone was likely high, drugs or dope. But in the light of days, come on, most folks into yoga strike me as humans with basic good taste.

The sniffing dogs were unbelievable.

Just now, walking home from BART on my way home from my outing in 'the city'*, I noted that the two dogs sniffing one another's butts has been changed. Seriously what serious business person ever agreed to put up a picture of two dogs sniffing each other's butts on the window of their struggling yoga shop?

The devil imagery utterly fails to capture the essence of the East Bay 'hella'. East Bay 'hella' is light, cool, a signal that one is in the know.

Let me wrap this up by sharing a dopey choke a guy told me while I was over in the city.

Why do hippsters like ice?  Because it was matter before it was cool.  He said he found that joke on the internet. I wish I had asked him what his search terms were to get that dumb joke. I'd like to read more such dumb jokes. Plus I could share them with the idiot who created the graphic of two dogs sniffing one another's butts. I am sure the same graphic dope came up with the ugly devil.

I bet they feel they are committed to the devil. No no, young entrepreneurs. It is not too late. Keep the name hella yoga. Find a good logo and dump the moron logo maker.  Unless he's hot in the sack and you love him. Or her. Or 'them'.

Note: I think the two dogs shown sniffing one another's butts were supposed to be admiring one another's newly fit rear ends, the result of yoga. they also have a sign up, with the dogs gone, that shows a guy in what looks like swim trunks (or boxer shorts) and it says "look good while naked).

I have never been into yoga but I thought it was more about mental fitness and physical wellbeing.  I've never seen it advertised as a way to make a person 'look good while naked'. Some of my closest friends have done yoga for decades and its mind-body for them, not 'look good while naked'.

I don't think Hella Yoga is going after quite the demographic I thought yoga places cultivated.

And I kinda like it that I never noticed that the dogs were supposed to be admiring one another's butts, not sniffing them. What a vacuous approach to yoga.

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?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

H.H. Dalai Lama on transcendance

The purpose of life is not to transcend the body, but to embody the transcendent.  ~ H.H. Dalai Lama

transcendance, Anais Nin & misc.

It has come to my attention, inadvertently, that there are subcultures amongst humans that believe exchanging sexual energy with others, and, for many in this subculture, with lots of others, is a way to achieve a better world, the more beautiful world we all know is possible.

This subculture especially likes to quote Anais Nin, the French writer whose work I inhaled in college. I had to special order all her work and I did, one by one. My goodness, in the early seventies, paperback literary novels ight have cost ninety five cents. 

Ms. Nin did write a lot of erotica because in her early struggles to earn a living as a writer, a patron paid her by the word to write erotica just for him. Being the great writer that she was, her paid by the word erotica is beautiful. Lyrical. And literary. But some in the kink/fetish culture quote her like a goddess and don't seem aware that she wrote erotica because as a struggling writer, someone offered to pay her to write erotica.

Yet now, the kink/fetish,BSDM world often quotes her like their patron saint.

Anais Nin was not about kink.  She did write some material about a woman acting as a submissive to a dominant male but that was some of her paid by the word work, material written designed by her paying client, not her.

And howsabout this consideration:  it has often been, and continues to be for some with religious vocation, that maintaining sexual celibacy is required for those seeking to attain transcendance.

Buddhist monks never have sex. Catholic priests that follow their vows remain celibate all their lives.  Nuns are celibate (if they abide by the vows they freely take when entering their orders. . . ).

So how does one woman having sex with ten men at a group sex party exchange energy that will magically help facilitate the more beautiful world we all know is possible?

There is no one single right way to show up on this planet as a human. I can, happily, accept that some people are drawn to group sex, polyamorous relationships, one woman taking ten men into her body over a few hours time (some of the time several men sexing her up at the same time!).  I think orgies, group sex and sybaritic sexual action has been around as long as humans have. I don't think monogamy is the only acceptable pattern for human sexual behavior. Heck, some of my best friends were prostitutes in their youth. One of them was in negotiations to buy a thriving whorehouse in NV when she abruptly realized that if she bought that whorehouse, she'd be in that life a long, long time and not achieving things she longed to achieve in life. Like go to college, inter alia.

I can't persuade myself that sex is energy and that the more humans have sex, the more positive energy is seeded into this world. I can't accept that strapping women's hands and feet and letting a bunch of men fuck her from behind is seeding any energy the world needs. I believe such activity suggests a profound disregard for the human body and, maybe, for some, a misguided attempt to escape one's human foibles with the powerful and even satisfying escape of hot group sex play.  I wonder if hot group sex play, especially S&M and other kink, might be comparable to cutters, which is how to refer to mostly young females living with lots of emotional pain and they slice their skin with  razor, rationalizing their self-harming behavior because in the instant they feel the pain of the cut, they are removed from their chronic emotional pain.

Maybe the only way through deep, chronic emotional pain is to feel it.  And I believe, although I have not yet found any lover(s) willing to hold space for me and my chronic emotional pain, that revealing myself, warts, or deep emotional pain, and all and still being loved is how to achieve transcendance, to transcend my pain, to transcend the limitations of being a physical body but also a spirit.  I do, thank the goddesses, have a couple female friends who are willing to be with me when I am what I call sick, which, for me, means when I am crippled by chronic depression.  My family does not offer me such unconditional love. No lover has yet, but I am holding space for him to appear in my life.

And I am never going to engage in what I believe is fundamental self harm by going to group sex parties, having multiple and serial sex partners.

There is no one right way for all but there  are some definitely wrong ways to show up in life for me. BDSM is definitely wrong for me. And why is it always the women getting chained, bond and fucked?  Fuck that, eh?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

the bobbsey (spelling?) twins

I know two women, married to one another, who are now white-haired but were natural redheads until their hair aged into white. Each of them are very small, short and petite. They are a perfectly matched set. And, apparently, Cupid's Arrow struck them hard and unequivocally on January 1, 2001. They married a year later, I think. Whenever they married, they are married now.

No spring chickens, as my dad used to say, each of them owned their own homes, beautiful homes which are the result of very successful, prosperous professional careers. One of them had just bought and begun building a home on a piece of property near the Sonoma County coast, with its own small stand of redwoods. Wow. Owning a stand of redwoods.  She cut six down to build her small, single-woman house and to build another small guest house which they rent out as an AirBnB listing when not using it. I think they rent it out a lot because they mostly live in the other woman's beautiful home high in the Berkeley hills, all the way up. On the chaise in her living room, where I have sat writing when our writers' group has met there, I can watch BART trains snack their way from Fremont up to Richmond. On very clear days, I can see the bay all the way down to San Jose, see Mt. Tam over in Marin, see the Golden Gate and even see the eastern parts of the north bay. For folks who don't know the SF Bay Area, this view only exists in very expensive homes.

The Berkeley house has sixty seven steps from the sidewalk where one parks a car up to the front door. The ground floor also has a small rental unit that is always rented to the same person (i.e. not Air BnB). Sixty seven steps. When our writers' group can't meet in our regular house near the Gourmet Ghetto, I just don't go. My knees just can't handle those sixty seven steps.

The first time I arrived at the top of those steps, I said to the owner "What are you going to do when you are an old woman?" She said "I am already an old woman. The stairs don't bother me."

Later, I did a weekend training with the Sonoma gal, and during a break I asked her how she could stand the stairs. She exclaimed "We need to sell that house!" but when I mentioned a possible sale to her wife, the wifey became indignant, saying "It's none of her business, it's my house." So I lapsed into silence on the stairs. I also stopped going up those stairs. My knees. My knees.

Another time, however, when the Berkeley homeowning gal must have been feeling more mellow, or just feeling differently, she mentioned they were looking into putting in an elevator. My writer pal is 75. I just went to her big 75th birthday bash up at the Sonoma property so I know her age.  Out of the blue before our writing group slid into silent writing time, the Berkeley gal said made that remark about the elevator and I deliberately  chose to silently nod, acknowledging I had heard her but not wishing to wade into that marital territory only those who live in it can fully know.

One time, at the movies with these two women, or, rather, on the ride home in their car, for I don't own one, I said, maybe as we walked to the car "You two are just like the Bobbsey twins."

Now if you don't know who the Bobbsey twins and wish to, google them. I was an intense bookreading as a child and I inhaled every book that came within my reach. I outgrew the very simple Bobbsey twin books quickly. But I loved the Bobbsey twins. so if I called two friends "just like the Bobbsey twins", I was speaking affectionately.

At the 75th birthday party, however, the non-birthday gal, the Sonoma-builder, brought up my Bobbsey twin remark. I said "That sounds like something I would think. Is it something I actually said to you?" And the gal said "Yes you did" but then her turn opened up for the restroom and when she came out, she was engaged by another party goer. 

A few weeks ago, just before these women jetted to Paris for a week, before they jetted to San Miguel de Allende for two months or more, I ran into them in the Apple store. I see the writer gal every week when she is in town but I never see the Sonoma homeowner so, even though I interrupted a sales conversation with an Apple person, I brought up my Bobbsey twin remark and said I regretted it if I had offended.

Fortunately, she said "Oh no, we get that all the time. I was not at all offended."

So why did she bring it up at the party?  I didn't ask. I can settle for smoothness, eh?

She was all smiles and seemed happy as she assured me she did not consider being callled the Bobbsey twins an insult. I said "Because I loved the Bobbsey twins and in my world view, it was a compliment." That was all I said but I was thinking of how much I admire their happy relationship, their, to me, magical life in which they travel a lot. This year they have been to Italy for a month or more, and Paris on the Italy trip. Then Paris again and now Mexico for months.

And my writer pal can buy new shoes whenever she wants to. I have to save for months to buy a new pair of shoes or, even, new cheap packs of undies at Target.  I notice she often has new shoes because buying shoes is one of my major purchases. Goodness, I cannot begin to contempalte a trip to Europe.

I did go to Ottawa for 12 days. I got a scholarship for a conference that I dropped out of but I was committed to Ottawa, by my air fares, for 12 days. One friend used travel miles to get me to Ottawa and another firned used travel miles to get me home. I had a lovely visit with two lovely friends. They were about to marry. They were so cute. When I dropped out of the conference, I was prepared to spend my days as I do in Berkeley:  reading, writing, roaming but they saw it as their duty to show me around. Art museum, riverboat rides, day trips to quaint towns, even a music festival. And mixed in was wedding planning. They invited me back for the wedding but I was not up to the flight, which had tormented my hips.

I am writing this not so important post to distract myself from how I am feeling. I am in great emotional pain. Katie is gone and, well, sometimes it hurts real bad. Like now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

my man bun verdict

As the Beatles swooshed to super stardom, one of the things adults in my childhood world remarkred on was their 'long hair'. The Beatles, in the beginning, did not have nineteen fifties crew cuts and other super short male haircuts. Their hair, my goodness, went past their ears, and a little bit, in the beginning, below their hairline.

My brothers, of course, begged to be allowed to emulate the Beatles long hair (long by the standards of 1964) but our Catholic parish, where we all went to school and Sunday mass every Sunday (it is a sin for Catholics to skip any Sunday, they know how to try to hook their faithful, eh?!) railed from the pulpit about rock and roll and long hair on males. No boy at our school, not while I was still in grade school, was allowed in school with the Beatles nineteen sixties version of long hair. I started high school in 1967, at a girls school, but the guys I dated all maintained very short hair. My longest boyfriend wore a crew cut as he headed off the college. He was, of course, a dick.  I have an unerring knack of being only attracted to unkind males.  That dick hit me in the eye when I initially resisted giving him a blow job and then he shoved my face onto his penis and ordered me to suck or he'd hit me again. Thanks Donald; you are allowing many dormant memories to be revived.

By the time I got to college in 1971, plenty of guys wore long hair, but long hair for 1971, not 2016. Now I know men with hair down to their waists, always in a pony tail and men with hair of all kinds of lengths.

Which brings me to the man bun.

I support gender identities of any kind. Men can wear skirts, women can wear pants (not always true, of course), men can wear flowers in their hair, puffy shirts and mince like my best brother, my gay baby brother. And men can, of course, wear hair buns.

And I hate man buns.  I might like them if I ever saw a man bun that looked like the man sporting it knew howw to make a bun.

I know how to do a bun. I have worn my hair very long, in adolescence and college.  I've done all the things one can do with long hair, including various kinds of hair buns. But I know what I am doing.

As best I can tell, males sporting man buns reject bobbie pins. They just use a rubberband, it looks like, pull up a hunk of hair into the rubberband and, voila, the man bun.

Once at a book store reading, I asked a young guy sporting a man bun why he chose to wear a bun and how was his experience.  I tried to cadge my language so I didn't come across as challenging. I began by telling him, and this is true, that my Chinese American eye doctor wears a man bun and that doctor has very long hair and he definitely doesn't know how to make a bun. Or else that doctor really enjoys very messy hair. Last time I saw him, which is every April, I was itching to offer to show him, just once, how to do a bun. That would be rude, right?

So I asked this stranger at a book reading, prefacing my question by saying something like "I know man buns are in style, it's a new look to me but you look good. Can you tell me why you went with a man bun?"

What's a well raised young adult male going to say to a woman old enough to be his mother, or older than that? He said, with his good manners, as he shrugged sheepishly, "I don't know, I just like it."

I did note his awkwardness so I stopped but, gosh, once again I wanted to offer to show him how to do it.

Maybe these males are doing the man bun right. Maybe the man bun is supposed to be messy and appear poorly groomed. Maybe that is the style.

The man bun. I don't get it. I prefer my friend Ken's pony tail. And I love it when, once in a very great while, I catch Ken with no pony tail and I see his very long, now mostly white (mostly gray when I first knew him) falling around his face. Now he's got so much hair he could do a great bun, but a Tree bun, not a man bun.  I have not made such an offer to the guy. It would seem rude, even to me. I can think rude but not speak rude, eh?

to be or not to be

In August, I was actively suicidal. I live with chronic, major depression and I ride very rough times, sometimes, when I am suicidal, as in having a plan. My general way of handling such very painful feelings is to isolate. I have been in therapist, with decent relationships with good therapists, and the therapist had no idea I was suicidal unti I was found and rushed to an ER. Once in treatment, my therapist at the time asked me to enter into a suicide contract. I had made such agreements with therapists before but when I am actively suicidal, I hide it. So this last time, which was ten years ago because although I really need mental health care right now, I can't get any. This last bout, I was wicked sick and scared so I did something unheard of for me: I told my doctor and begged her to help me find help. She called the police, who can't connect me with what I need, which is actual therapy. And I saw her again yesterday. I am more or less stable now, no longer suicidal (but still in a lot of emotional pain) and my doctor yelled at me for upsetting her. So there you have it: health care professionals say they want me to let them know when I need help but when I do, if I act like I am in the deep emotional pain that I have to be in to be actively suicidal, they yell at me. I also talked to a social worker in my recent suicidal crisis and she said "Oh, don't talk like that, it is too hard for me to hear it". So I told my doctor the same thing I told that social worker: "What kind of health care provider are you if you don't understand that when someone is actively suicidal, they are sick. I am sick when my behavior that reveals my pain to you and I am too sick to care what you think. If I wasn't so sick, I would not have told you about how sick I was."

Every morning, every single morning, I am sorry to have awakened and that's standard even when I am not actively suicidal, even on what amount to my good days. It's a good day when I am not going over

I got a list of therapists that will take my very low compensation insurance and called everyone on the list and no one returned my call.

It was actually a signal that I trust my primary care doc that I told her how sick I was and begged for help. It was actually another signal of trust that I told my social worker and she yelled at me for upsetting her. WTF?

At least let people in emotional pain voice their pain. The absolutely lastl responsibility someone in the kind of pain I slide in and out of should have to worry about is taking care of the people who are supposed to be helping me.

I am intelligent and overeducated. I know, far too well, that my openness about my emotional pain and illness is courageous. I know that just as sunshine is the best disinfectant in government, sunshine is the only way to help people suffering in personal darkness. Maybe people blessed with families who love them unconditionally, something I do not have, or even close friends who love them unconditionally (I have a few such friends but they live thousands of miles away but at least they listen to me and don't yell at me when my pain spills out -- they know their listening helps me break free of my pain).

Nearly every therapist I have seen, which has been 4 or 5 over 40 years (none for ten, none since I moved to CA who won't pay for the care I need) has asked me to enter into therapist-invented 'suicide contracts'. These contracts are an agreement that I will tell them if I am ever suicidal. But you know what? The last time a doctor asked me to enter into such an agreement, I said "No, if I am suicidal, you will never know. I won't tell you so you won't stop me." She said "That's the point." And I doggedly insisted that I would not lie to her. For some reason, when I started that treatment, which was, by far, the best I ever had and is probably why, ten years later, I remain alive, I resolved before during the screening (it was treatment within a research study and still the best care I have ever had) that I would be rigorously honest. So if I knew I would never tell that therapist when I was suicidal, I also knew I would not lie to her about it. She accepted me. And she was blessed, too, because part of the treatment research involved a weekly support group for therapists dealing with people with my disorder.