Monday, December 29, 2008


It's like these crazy-ass radiators wake up when they think we're all in bed and they hope to have some privacy to talk to each other. The hiss starts first, then banging and clanging gets going gradually. It's like they speak a language of bangs and clangs, that they're having a frenzied conversation with each other, and they're all hard of hearing. They must be saying awful things about us, the residents of this building. Or maybe they're just having an argument. The radiator in the living room gets so worked up it sounds like it's trying to break free so it can pace the floor while it rants and raves.

But you can't beat steam heat. We are some cozy folks here.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Post-X-Mas Hysteria

At last the torturous onslaught of X-mas music is over. I had an appointment this a.m. and I overheard a nurse say, "Thank God we can listen to regular music again." Regular music had an extra special quality landing on the ears today because it's been so rare. I heard Rod Stewart's "Tonight's The Night" and King Harvest's "Dancin' in the Moonlight" in the waiting room and they were very satisfying.

I'm thankful Christmas is gone, and deeply thankful it's been so beautiful outside. Perhaps because it was so damn cold and windy last week, this week's weather has seemed positively tropical. Yesterday morning I took a very pleasant walk downtown, where it was eerily deserted and quiet. I like downtown best like that.

Back at the parents' house in Booneyland yesterday, the fields around their house are covered with soybean stubble, which makes for easy walking. Wyatt and I attempted to mitigate the effects of too much persimmon pudding by taking a stroll just before sunset. At one point I heard the familiar cluck of starlings in flight and looked up to see a thin banner of them heading north to southeast overhead. A few minutes later a smaller flock of birds with light bellies marked with a rosy patch flew against the line of starlings, making a brief X of birds in the sky. The weak western sun glowed golden on their undersides.

We called Uncle Felipe while we were there. He's in the hospital again and I could tell he was hurt nobody's been to see him since he was admitted on Monday. We all felt bad about it, but the hospital's about an hour and a half away and God knows the week of Christmas is a clusterfuck of gotta do this and gotta do that for everybody. It sucks but he's been in the hospital so much over the past year we've all gotten to the point where it's not such an urgent band together and visit all the time kind of thing anymore. But it is for him. He's lonesome up there.

Felipe was supposed to be discharged last night. My parents wanted to wait to open family gifts until somebody could go get him, but Wyatt and I had to take his mom home. Her health's not good either. I think my brother and Dad went to pick Felipe up, and hopefully he managed to get home and see my nieces before they went to bed.

Last night I dreamed I told Felipe he's got to start taking better care of himself because his mom is too old to do it for him and the rest of us have a lot going on in our own families. Then I went back home, which happened to be a cabin I stayed in at church camp when I was 11, and a woman came by and told me I'd made a big mistake having that conversation with Felipe. He can't handle that, she said, and your relationship with him is never going to recover. I was saturated with remorse and woke up glad it was all a dream, but I still feel bad about it. At the same time I have resentments about every time I've seen him eat fast food, over-salt his dinner, or consume caffeine. Or wait too long to make a doctor's appointment because he's feeling bad.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why I hate X-mas Music (Part II)

When I look back on this, at first I can't imagine why we'd still go "party" with a fat married man who'd just purchased about 40 condoms and whose wife was away. Then I remember we were about three years away from being able to purchase alcohol legally ourselves, and we were still living at home and not free to drink there regardless. We depended on people like Blane for opportunities to poke holes in our jar lids, and we usually did that with substance abuse, or occasionally vandalism.

So there was never any suggestion that we might should skip Blane's party. Georgia told her mom I'd be sleeping over at her house that night, and I told mine I'd be at hers. We took some consolation in the fact that Kenyon was also invited to this party, but he was a poor chaperone because had to be home at midnight.

Blane's motor home was really snazzy. Georgia and I sat on the couch we would later sleep on, and we partied like mad dogs with Kenyon and Blane, who had gone to the liquor store for us earlier. Blane made us laugh til tears streamed down our faces, but I can't remember why. It's a shame my memories of good times don't survive the brain cell damage that happens at the same time. Blane made a big deal about setting an alarm for 6 am - I needed to get my mom's car back early in the morning so she could go to work. As per usual, I went to sleep pretty early in the evening, leaving Georgia to fend off Blake's invitations to join him in his bedroom with a quarter bag of marijuana. I don't even remember her begging me to stay conscious. Eventually she dealt with it by pretending to pass out too.

I woke with a start what seemed like ten minutes later. The motor home was dark and quiet. No Blane in sight. Georgia snapped awake at the same time, and without saying anything we shrugged into our coats, walked outside, and got into the cold car. The dashboard clock read 7:10. Out on the highway the sky was a flat even sheet of metallic gray. Halfway to Georgia's house I said "What's all this dust blowing across the road?" Pretty soon we realized it was fine snow, and not long after that it was snowing hard enough to obscure the trees in the distance.

By the time I dropped Georgia off, I was worried about getting home myself. The road was covered and I almost lost control of the car making the turn onto the highway. But make it home I did. By then the snow was a few inches deep.

If we had woken up much later, we would have been snowed in with Blane for at least a day or two. Would have been hard to explain to all the parents involved. We never saw him again.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why I Hate X-Mas Music (Part I)

My freshman year of college I worked at a mall during Christmas break. Twelve hour shifts at a kiosk selling T-shirts and decorator items emblazoned with ducks, big belt buckles with rebel flags on them, and pocket knives. The work was fun but such relentless exposure to "Surfin Santa" and "Little Drummer Boy" day after day will give one Christmas music PTSD. Enough said about that.

The boss, Blane, had a crush on my friend Georgia, who also worked at the kiosk. He had a big belly - it pressed against his sweatshirt so his navel made a dimple like a button does in a couch cushion. Blane looked almost as pregnant as his wife, who was eight months or more along. She worked there too, but that didn't prevent him from being a dirty old man.

He'd come around the corner with furrowed brows, looking serious, and eye a female off in the crowd.
"You know what would look good on her?" he'd ask.
Shit like that all the time, and it was disgusting but funny too. The kiosk was square, so it was easy for Blane to go around the corner from his wife and say something totally inappropriate to Georgia, and it was easy for us to go around corners and talk about him or customers or other people in the mall.

Right after Christmas, Blane's wife left to go back to their hometown because she was so close to her due date. One night after that, I left the kiosk to have a dinner of egg rolls and stroll around with my friend Kenyon. We were heading back when we saw Blane up ahead coming out of the drug store, also on his way back to work. He had something in a bag. "Is that two boxes of condoms?" Kenyon said. We walked up behind Blane to get a closer look, and indeed that's what it looked like.

We paused to let Blane make it back to the kiosk without seeing us. After break was over I went back to work and told Georgia what was up. "Well, there's a couple of good reasons he can't use them on his wife," she said. As soon as Blane went to the bathroom she went through his briefcase, found the drugstore bag, and verified that there were two boxes of Trojans in there.

We had major cause to be concerned about this situation. Blane had invited us to "party" with him in his motor home at the campground the following evening.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Narc Alert

Friday night I went to a potluck dinner at a friend's house, and there were several two and three-year-old children there. You know how a roomful of adults act when somebody brings in a baby. They all turn to look at the child, give big fake smiles, and start calling out in syrupy voices to try and charm said child. Then the child gets an alarmed, suspicious look on its face like it's thinking "Woah, this party's full of narcs," and starts either trying to leave or hide behind the parent.

I don't know if teens still get paranoid about narcs, or narcotics agents, infiltrating the school or parties they attend. In my day you heard rumors like that all the time. "That new girl's a narc." "Don't burn one in front of him, he's a narc." Nobody could document an actual case of somebody getting busted for partying in front of an undercover agent, but we were all on the lookout for one.

I was at a party at my friend Ron's once back in the day, and a friend of ours named Josephus brought a friend of his that might as well have been carrying a nightstick and wearing a badge. He was a little older than we were, and big, like he lifted weights. His hair was stunning - a perfectly coiffed blond cross between televangelist and pro wrestler. I thought it might even be a wig. Dude, his name was Rolf, was trying too hard in every way. It lead you to think he'd contrived his look based on what his staff seargent thought kids would really respond to. Rolf hung around the mall all the time.

It wasn't like rumor-mongering caused people to slip out of the room seconds after Rolf walked in. He just caused everybody's internal narc alarms to go off. Rolf and Josephus kept looking for the party in Ron's apartment and it kept vanishing around them and reappearing in another room.

Finally Josephus got pissed off and yelled at everybody. "What's wrong with you people? He's not a narc, dammit! Get over it!"
But nobody could get over it and that's the last time I ever saw Rolf at Ron's.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sometimes This Room Is Someplace Else

Sometimes this room depresses the shit out of me. Especially in cold weather, because there's just not enough storage space for the extra bulk of winter clothing. It's a perpetual mess.
But this room isn't always the same place. It can be quite different.
Sometimes morning light hangs in distorted squares on the wall. Also, whatever's going on on the other side of the bamboo patch in the yard next door can have an influence over here.
Sometimes classical music drifts through the bamboo and lets itself softly into the room. I can't seem them from the window, but it sounds like large tropical birds are brought out in their cages on warm days. Their cries are startling, raucus, almost violent. Sometimes the metalsmith hammers out there, and the birds accompany him.
"It sounds like he's beating those birds," Wyatt said once.
Sometimes there's whistling. The notes are very precise, trilled in something like scales but not like music. I can't tell if the metalsmith or one of those birds does it.

In times like these, this room seems fantastic.

Dream Shoes

Love me some shoes, now. Can't do much in high heels because of my wimpy ankles, but still have an eye for outstanding footwear. Especially these by John Fluevog. Those boots would really rock a skirt, and those others would anything else. Of course, shoes like these demand singular outfits, too, and maybe I'll post an ideal wardrobe later. But if I wore what I wanted to all the time people would stare at me. Sometimes that's okay.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm A (Hopefully) Temporary Half-Wit

Lately I've had a terrible case of dingbat's disease, as I do occasionally. I get freaked out when I notice changes in my brain. I fear it won't go back to normal. A couple of times when I became burnt out at previous jobs, the gears on my brain got stripped and the Broca's Area in there became a wasteland. I was unable to create syntactically accurate sentences and my vocabulary shrank 35%.

This time it feels like a rehearsal for Alzheimer's disease.

It goes like this - I think of something I need to do, but by the time I've arrived where I need to be to do it I've forgotten what it was. While I'm there I get involved with something else, but don't finish it because I remember the first thing and stop to do that. Or I find myself on the couch thinking of two or three things to do, feeling helpless because I know I'll be lucky to keep my brain together long enough to complete one. The rest are going to get lost in my head. Kind of like the guy in Momento.

I have so many panicked thoughts of "Why am I here and what am I doing?" it causes a pall of general anxiety that hangs over the whole day.

Ironically, this is exactly how characters in a book I'm reading seem to feel. I've had Viriconium on my shopping list for a while but didn't order it until recently. It's got characters so old they can't remember who they are, or who've been reincarnated and have a hard time telling the past from the present. They live in a setting kind of like Tolkien's Middle Earth, only the landscape has a more psychedelic quality. The story is hypnotically told - a lot of sensual description, much of it related in words I've never seen before. That's fine; it just adds to the sense of mystery. There's a musical cadence to the prose, too.

Anyway I was thinking about how seductive this world is. A reader wants very badly to visit this place. But then I thought, what the fuck for? Never do these folks get to change clothes. It's not mentioned but they certainly have to hike out in the woods and shit in the cold. And catch, kill, and cook what they eat. Surely it would seem as much like drudgery to them as our lives do to us. The reason this world seems so appealing is that nobody complains about the weather or appears to suffer a lot of silly anxiety. If we kept those details out of a story of our world, this would seem like a lovely adventure too.

Last night I walked home under a cold gibbous moon softened by atmospheric mist. A breeze nudged overhead branches and rubbed the remaining oak leaves together like dry, restless hands, and the sound made the night feel colder than it really was. Hold on, when I take the time to think of my surroundings with that kind of language, the real world starts to be beautiful and wondrous too. It's like I fall into a numb dream and it all sucks, then I have to wake up and see how fantastic it really is. Sometimes that doesn't happen until years later. Hindsight glasses are cold comfort however.

Monday, December 8, 2008

That Man O' Mine

So, I was reading Internet news yesterday when Wyatt got out of the shower. "I just realized something," he said as he toweled his head.

"What's that?"

"You know in that Superman movie, when he flies around the Earth really fast to turn back time so he can save Lois Lane?"
I was surprised to find that I do indeed remember, though I saw this movie in 1978.
"Well, that couldn't really happen. He'd have to turn the whole universe back, not just the Earth. It just doesn't make sense."

I remembered thinking that particular corner of plot was stupid when I saw it as a child. Even if it was possible to fly around the earth and turn back time, Wyatt said it wasn't a good enough rescue, because Lois had to die such a horrible death first. I admitted I couldn't remember what happened, but he blanched at the memory of it.

"You don't remember that? She got buried in her car. This bigass crack opened up, and it swallowed her car and she got buried alive. She was, like, choking on dirt. For a PG movie, it was a little much."

He paused.

"If I see a bigass crack coming at me, I'm getting the fuck out of my car. It might get me but not while I'm in my car," he said.

I don't really see what the difference is; death by dirt is death by dirt. But I think it's pretty cool I live with somebody who can surprise me with such a random tidbit of realization. At last he's resolved the troubled mind he's had about plot inconsistencies in a movie he saw when he was 9.

Later he was admiring my jacket. I sewed some decorative patches on it several months ago, and he said I should order more of the same. "Then you can sew them on my jacket and we can be in a gang together," he said.

You can’t buy entertainment like that.

Heavy Sigh

Well I took a little vacation from this blog location for almost a year. Now I'm back. Over the next few days I guess I'll be cutting and pasting from the other site and updating this one. Damn, what a lot of tedious work. On the bright side I haven't had much work of the obligatory, paying variety lately so I should have plenty of time.

I hope everybody's navigating the holiday season with minimal iceberg contact. I know it's rough out there this year - I'm going to say this in an attempt to get myself to heed my own advice - DO NOT SPEND YOURSELF INTO A HOLE FOR CHRISTMAS. JESUS SURELY WOULD NOT SUPPORT FINANCIAL SUICIDE.

There. Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Why I Hate Crocs

It's because they remind me of Circus Peanuts. You know, those orange nasty-ass styrofoam chunks that masquerade as candy.