Archive for May, 2009

La la la, I can’t hear you…

May 28, 2009

So, a man calls me up on the phone to tell me some bad news. I cringe and say, “that’s pretty upsetting, but,” I add, “it’ll all work out.” He doesn’t want to hear that. La la la. I’m not sure what he wants to hear, so I give him some advice. “Remove yourself from the situation,” I say. “Look at it from a different perspective,” I say. “Don’t jumble the fact of the issue so it suits your argument,” I say. I don’t know what to say after that. My one-liners fizzle. Everything I come up with gets a comeback that starts with, “No, that’s not entirely possible,” or “I don’t think you understand.” 

I try to sit back and listen. Just listen. Like a therapist. But that feels too contrived. Fake. No, I need to be apart of this. I need to get my hands dirty and shake things up a bit. I need to inspire him with some chunk of truth he’s never heard before.  So, I rattle off facts:

  1. people adapt
  2. worrying won’t help the situation
  3. there is no reality, only perspective
  4. this is not bad news, it’s challenging news

But I start to get the feeling that I am embroiling myself in a world that I shouldn’t be in. I shouldn’t be giving advice. That’s insensitive. That’s presumptive. A little too bold. Who the hell do I think I am? Who the hell am I to know the answer to everything? My words are failing…

But, words. I want to take away his pain. That’s all. That’s all I want. I want him not to suffer. So, I think my words will save him. I think, if I can come up with just the right collection of words and string them together in just the right way, I will take away your pain and make things right. And that’s all I want. To make things right for him. That’s what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it?

Communication is about saving someone’s soul, right? It’s about right action, right?

But we go on like this for twenty minutes. Nothing resolved. No resolution. It feels abnormal. Painful almost. I haven’t solved his problem and the bad news is still bad. I didn’t do my alchemical part and turn his metal into gold. In fact, I might be making things worse. And so I fall apart. Speechless.  Stammering. Until the route he’s taken has brought him to a place where communication is no longer possible and we slip back into separateness. 

I think of how I learned to communicate and expect a beginning, a middle and an end. I spent my entire youth watching those thirty-minute sitcoms we all grew up with. Think Love Boat. Think Fantasy Island. Think Brady Bunch. Week after week of the same thing. A conflict, a resolution, a happy, resolved ending. All loose ends tied up before commercial break, as I sat content upon the sofa letting Jan Brady work it out. Anything less that an Aaron Spelling ending was simply not acceptable.

I never saw my parents “work out” anything via dialog. Sure, they talked. But it was always my dad pacifying my submissive mother. Telling her he was right, she was wrong. “This is the way the world works honey. Just deal.” It was always so black and white. And then the issue never cropped up again. She believed him. And went about her day trying not to question or even notice the nagging loan sharks at the door. All part of the business world, honey. 

And then, I spent a couple hours reading MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” It was so much more than I remember, from when I read it years ago in a college comp class. He talks a lot about his non-violent campaigns, which helped to sway the country in abolishing segregation. Real movement. He says, “there are four basic steps [to a non-violent campaign]: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action.” I tend to see this manner of communicating as right and good and worthy of positive resolution. Hell, it changed the country. And yet, the very paradox of MLK’s ingenuity and creativity of communicating peacefully, seeking resolution, is that he is sitting in a jail cell writing about it. 

No resolution. 

At least not at that moment in time.

I think patience. I think that words can save, but they need to cook. They need to sink in. I think that other people have other ideas, which need to be valued and respected, and that communication is not so black and white–I’m not always right, he’s not always wrong. I think there is a lot to be said for saying nothing, and instead supporting with kindness, open ears and an open heart. Listening is not fake if you really listen. I think that not everyone wants to be saved. Sometimes they just want to bitch. And hurl angry sentiments into a phone. And curse the world for being so unfair. And they want to expose their tired, imperfect, scrappiness to you, not so that you will save them, but so that you will Know them and love them anyway…

Six

May 26, 2009

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I decided to go ahead and buy a copy of 6S, Volume 2. It’s a hardcopy version of select six sentences stories, which I’ve been avoiding buying because, quite frankly, I thought it would be cheesy. And yet, when it came in the mail in its blue glossy cover and uncracked spine, I shivered a little to think that I am actually published in a collection of work. Along with an intro by Neil LaBute and a special six by Rick Moody, two of my sixes made it in, The Diner and Love (both reformatted below). One inspired by G, the other by S. It makes me want to buy two more copies and send them off to my old lovers with a little inscription, “See, you inspired me after all.” But really, who cares? I wrote an entire story about S and got it published locally just so that he’d see it and he never even went out and got a copy (they’re free). Whatever. 

And yet, they’re both bound together in this one book- the two men that is, symbolically linked forever. Almost as if I can now say, I am closing the book on those chapters of my life. 

Ok, there’s cheesiness for you.

The Diner

Carmela tasted the red on her lips. When she was nervous or excited she’d bite down, puncturing the skin and cause bleeding. She remembered hearing that the Egyptians used their own blood as make-up to lure potential lovers. But, when he entered the diner where she stood taking orders at the counter, holding a hand that was not hers, she wiped at her wounded lips, took their order, and skirted through the double doors to the kitchen. “It’ll be alright, darling,” George said to her from behind the line, “we’ll spit in their soup.” And as Carmela readied the bowls, she wondered how many drops of love would pass unnoticed into the Fasolada. 

 

Love

We always do it missionary; you above me, staring down. Me, buried in the tattoos on your right arm. Buried between the pin-up and the Devil with a cigarette, the eight ball at my nose, the dice at my eyes. Silently, you ask me to tuck away my need for something deeper and save it for another time. Yet somewhere in between the vulgar emptiness and tired release, you always say, “I love you.” As if you knew that seeing God were not enough.

Birthday Bash

May 26, 2009

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”

-Henry Miller

I’m posting my journal entry here instead of in its usual place (in my physical paper journal) because I’m hung over and too lazy to crawl under my bed and dig it out (I hid it before the party), and because I haven’t updated here in awhile and there’s lots to say.

The party was smashing. There were about 75 people there and all my favorites showed up. The best part, however, was after almost everyone left and we were down to our usual core group of favorites: D, K, B, N, T, my D and his two friends V and A. I think everyone instantly fell in love with V and A (how could you not) and it made truth or dare all that more exciting. We sat around the bar, outside, under the cheap plastic tent as it rained, laughing and drinking margaritas. Someone humped a tree (dare), someone else sat his “bare” naked ass in a cooler of ice (dare), a couple of the girls french kissed, I took my top off twice (tradition) and D and I switched bras (her bra size is three sizes smaller than mine, which makes for quite a funny looking picture). Our truths rested almost exclusively on the topic of sex, though no one came out and said “let’s just keep it to sex.” And though this is my usual idea of “fun” I wasn’t quite sure if we would scare our new friends away. But we didn’t. And they stayed. And some of the best questions and dares were theirs. 

Q: “what would you like your current boy friend to do to you in bed that he’s not currently doing?”

A: “play doctor.”

Q: “Through all the sexcapades you and your significant other have had, have you ever had a threesome with two men?”

A: “No.”

Q: “What’s the kinkiest sex you’ve ever had?

A: “Frozen pizza sex.”

Um, OK, so most of us are almost 40 or, in my case, 41. But, hell. If we can’t act like insane twentysomethings once a year, then what’s the point in growing old? Wisdom? Dignity? I don’t think so. 

D and I abandoned everyone right before one o’clock. We never even said goodnight. The rain had stopped and the sex questions were getting lame. “V, blow out the candles…” I said, dragging D behind me- who was quite willing to be dragged. And off we went for kinky loving emotional drunk middle of the night sex. 

We didn’t fall asleep until almost three.  He must have said, “I love you, Tracy,” thirty times and every time it meant the world to me. I wrapped my arms around him, we kissed and I said, “I don’t want us to end.” And his response was, “I believe in us, Tracy.”

Oh belief. Oh faith. Oh love. 

I woke up super early to a house that smelled like stale tequila and grease, but couldn’t be happier.  The doors were left open all night and there were a million mosquitos on the walls. Aside from D and I, the house was empty. We cleaned, went back to bed, cleaned some more, went out to breakfast with D, K and B. V and A happened to pop in as well. 

I know why Hemingway wrote while he was drunk. There’s an emotion and a lust for life that comes the day after a night of drinking. It doesn’t last very long, but it makes me Know and Believe in the essence of life. It creates waves of passion in me for all things, and that is how I feel this afternoon as I write this. I feel alive. I feel in love. I feel about Medford Lakes and D and my little home what Henry Miller felt about Paris or Hemingway felt about Spain. I feel stirred. I feel soulful. I feel full. Intoxicated. 

I feel happy.

Confession Mondays: Talkin’ Tim Shields Blues

May 11, 2009

My dad wrote a song many years ago that he called “Talkin’ Tim Shields Blues.” He wrote it in an hour or so and he played it all the time for us when we were kids. There is a rumor that  Jimmy Ibbotson (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) played this song one night for Jerry Garcia (The Grateful Dead) who loved it and ended up playing it out one night in a very small venue.

Heels to Jesus

May 10, 2009

Surprise at N’s house.

A friend of mine recently moved back to town and so I went for a visit. She invites me and the kids over for dinner and gives me the tour. It’s a typical house. Nothing unusual. Then she tells my kids to wait downstairs, she needs to show me something in private. I’m wondering what the heck it can be. So, we go into her bedroom and it’s a typical master bedroom, except for the fact that there’s a little Alice in WOnderland sized door that’s locked and has a sign on the door that says something like: “Do Not Enter.” She opens the door and inside is an A-framed attic-like room that she’s converted into a sex room. Literally a den of iniquity, fully adorned with black shag carpet, red walls, mirrors on the ceiling, gold wall sconces with red candles, black curtains with purple tassles, videos, DVDs, sex books, a side table filled with dildos and vibrators, a twin bed covered in black sheets, and a rack of costumes and sexy outfits galore. The following themes were present: catholic school girl, wonder woman, cat woman, playboy bunny, amish girl (?) whore, etc. etc. There was a leather bull whip, black pleather boots and stripper heels tossed about the room. She had it all except a heart-shaped bed and a sex swing.

I found this to be quite amazing. The only other person I’ve known to have converted a room  for the purpose of pure sex was, dare I say it, my father. He turned his basement into a dungeon.

I can’t help but wonder if this sort of thing crosses any lines. I mean, there are any number of ways you can look at this. Sex as a hobby. Sex as a healthy obsession. Sex as an addiction. Which is it? And what are the behaviors that throw you into one category or another. For example, D buys me sexy lingerie all the time. And, he bought us a fairly dirty DVD (topic not disclosed). I, on several occasions, have already made mention of my trusty vibrator. But I haven’t built a room to house all these things. They’re tossed into a drawer or hidden under the bed. But what separates mine and D’s passion for sex from someone like N and her husband? Is she obsessed? Or is it simply a matter of being more devoted to her hobby? And what might others think of me and my drawer of goodies? What’s the difference really, if you have a drawer or an entire room dedicated to sex?

Oh the questions. And none can really be answered.

Bottom line, I guess we’ve both got our heels to Jesus. It’s just a matter of logistics, space, style and commitment. And the fact that she’s a lot more Martha Stewart about it all than I’ll probably ever be– unless, of course, I end up like dear old dad. Let’s hope the apple fell far from the tree!

Dream of the week

May 5, 2009

I awoke early from a very strange dream this morning. I was at a coastal town and on the edge of the sea, up in the dunes was a cave-like area, dark and cool. And in this cave were the petrified remains of three people; one man who looked very much like Jesus and who was alone in his own section of the cave, and two women who had died in an embrace. A few others and myself sat down besides these stone figures, as if archeologists on a short break and Dani (my son) went to pick up the man. As he did so, he fell a part, quite fragile like, and needed to be put back together. A little later, we moved closer to the figures of the two women. We were all talking, gathered around them and suddenly both of them sat up and began talking. They at first were quite confused and could not remember what era that had lived through until suddenly one of them said, “I remember Ghandi.”

I was shocked to see these two stone women move and talk and I asked them questions for which they didn’t really offer any sensible answers. Overall, what amazed me the most was how happy they both were and how they kept chattering on about how lucky they were to have each other for all eternity in an embrace, while the man in the other section of the cave suffered and died alone.

Confession Mondays, Last chance-a-go-go

May 4, 2009

the tease
The Tease by ~lancephoto on deviantART

At 24 I was in a do or die situation. I was still living at home in what I referred to as “the Russian Peasant Room,” a basement-bedroom with flimsy drywall, pipes and wood beams for a ceiling, and a droopy little curtain separating my side of the room from my brother’s, who was also living down there at the time (see “Stay“). Among a slew of low paying, part-time jobs that weren’t even part-time (a waitress at a pizza place, youth advocate, ESL tutor), I hoped to add another more lucrative one to the list for the sake of getting my mother off my back. She was yelling at me daily to do something with my life and pay the rent. Imagine that. So I got desperate and decided that go-go dancing was the answer.

I mean, what the hell, right? I was  1.) sexy, 2.) a great dancer, 3.) bold, and 4.) desperate. How could I lose?

So, I answered an ad in the Courier Post for “Dancers: $1000 a week!” and showed up on a Tuesday at around noon at some go-go bar on the seedier side of Pennsauken, wearing little more than Daisy Dukes, a pair of biker boots and a black half shirt with the sparkly letters “Angel” written across my then  perky double-Ds.

The place was dark and stale, and there were a few crusty old men sitting around the perimeter of the bar. The stage, with pole, was behind the bar. An older woman, the Madame, I guess, sat stage left. She was a rundown fifty-something with flaming, dyed red hair and a dress that looked like something Mrs. Roper would wear. I sat beside her, along with another young girl, and told her I wanted to audition. I told her I never did this before, and asked if the other girl wouldn’t mind going first. She said, no problem as she continually took deep drags off her cigarette.

My competition was a rather plain-faced girl with a great body. She had a shelf for an ass, B-cup tits and milky white skin.  When she rounded the corner from some undisclosed room in the back she had on nothing more than a g-string, red heels and tassled pasties.  No stripping involved. She hopped up on the stage as the bartender cued Alannah Myles’s Black Velvet and without any facial expression whatsoever and eyes averted to the floor, she swiveled her hips, slunk around the pole and shook her ass.

Despite the fact that I knew in my heart I could do better, what I couldn’t do was wear pasties or a g-string. Nor could I get up there and experience the dance separate from those who were watching me (pervy, crusty old men). I couldn’t even get into Black Velvet, for that matter. And so I said to Mrs. Roper, “this isn’t for me.” She took a long, slow drag from her brown cigarette and said, “Know thyself.”

It wasn’t long after that that I applied for student loans and went back to college.

This is not a post

May 1, 2009

Fountain

 

I learned tonight that I don’t always have the resources or the capability to be a sturdy human being when the world chips away at me. Friends yelled at me. Work shat on me. Some crazy white trash ho in a Pinto (I didn’t even think those things were around anymore) kept screaming “Bitch!” at me in the parking lot of McDonald’s. The swine flu is driving me insane. One f’ing toddler, living is squalor, some where down near the Mexican border is dead and the world is resurrecting their face masks from back during the Avian flu. The word “pandemic” is sweeping the blogworld. I’m losing confidence in myself. These antibiotics are depressing me. And I can’t have sex for six more days.

What’s a girl to do?

The good news is, CG is engaged, or shall I say Wuffle-lump and Lover- nugget are officially engaged as per her announcement on facebook today. Probably done over the phone or in facebook chat. Probably haphazardly. Like he blurted out “I kinda feel like taking the next step.” While she concluded, “marriage?” Which ultimately led to being “engaged.” Folks, theirs is a four month relationship. Not even. Three weekends together that I know of, since Christmas. Do you even get engaged in your 40’s after three drama-driven weekends unless you’re a diner waitress in South Jersey trying to get rid of your current ten-miles-of-bad-road boyfriend with something else? WTF. As Delores, my cleaning lady would say, “don’t let me get my strut on.”

I’m bitter. It’s the antibiotics. It’s not me. But I wonder sometimes if, in all fairness, I have some worldly right to pass such harsh judgment on people I don’t even know. Who cares! Right? I mean, do morals need to be applied to facebook? These are the philosophical questions I seem to be unable to answer at the end of the day. What’s more is that I realize I am getting more involved in a virtual world, unhitched over the surreal. Not what is real, but rather a “representation” of what is real.

So, I start to read actual, real magazines and books to combat all this “virtual” stuff. An article on the Kindle, for example, from ADBUSTERS magazine caught my attention:

“The trouble with abstract thought is that the concepts we play with in our minds often become preferred to the real upon which these concepts were originally based. As soon as we draw a picture, or take a photograph, of a bird we often no longer care whether the bird continues to exist. The picture is, in our visual society, superior to the chirping bird. This trait of our world-view leads to a despairing and paradoxical situation where our cultural storehouse of symbols, imagery, art and concepts increases in direct proportion to the death of our planet, living beings, other world views, beautiful landscapes, etc. [emphasis mine]. ” –Melt Your Kindle, by Micah White (Adbusters Magazine).

Simultaneously, an artist friend of mine out in San Francisco was working on a design project on the life of Marcel Duchamp and I was able to appropriate this blurb of his life, circa 1923: “his [Duchamp’s] legacy includes the insight that art can be about ideas instead of worldly things.”

It sounds so positive on the one hand, and so nihilistic on the other. So, which is it? Is it a good thing that all that we think and feel can be absent of actual, worldly things, or is the very nature of abstract thought destroying us a la Dawkins’ memes?

As CG’s status goes from “in a relationship” (March 28) to “engaged” (April 30), I can’t help but wonder if she recognizes that she and her “smoochy-bear” only exist in the very narrowest sense. That their love isn’t so much love as a representation of love. And that I (as distant and as virtually unknown to her as I am) am a big part of her virtual engagement. Not only am I a witness. I am also taking the components and pieces of her engagement information and I am reconfiguring them. I am re-presenting them to you, which makes me a large part of her life, real or otherwise.

Understand this: I barely know this woman. I think we went to high school together. That’s about it. But today, shortly after she announced she was engaged (to which someone responded: “to who?”), she posted a computer-generated picture of what her and her fiance’s baby would look like IF they had one. Talk about creepy. Just imagine a picture of some baby with CG’s haggard, forty-year-old face morphed with Smoochy Bear’s weather-beaten, I’ve-spent-a-lifetime-suckin’-down-whisky looks. Cute, huh? But, whatever. They named it “Chris” and just like we used to carry around an egg in Home Economics class, they can virtually burp this thing and change its poopy diapers and hope to god that their computers don’t crash.

But I wonder if Marcel Duchamp saw all this sur-reality coming. I really doubt it. Heck, he was concerned with chocolate grinders and urinals (the “Fountain” by the way, according to a panel of 500 top artists, was named the most influential artwork of our times.”). And what about Magritte? I always loved his painting of a pipe and underneath it are the famous words, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” this is not a pipe.

But it is a pipe, isn’t it?

No. It’s a representation of a pipe.

But CG and Smoochy Bear are engaged to married, aren’t they?

No. They are a representation of two people engaged to be married.

And so, you see the dilemma and the freedom with which I carry this argument. On the one hand, I am writing judgmental things about people I barely know. On the other, I am merely only judging a representation of those people, in which case, I am not so much a judge as I am a “critic.” An art critic, if you will. If, indeed, you consider a urinal or the sloppy love story of two recovering alcoholics “art.”

In light of all that, I suppose I shouldn’t complain about the ho in the Pinto, the antibiotics or the no sex stuff. Those are real. Those are really real facets of my life. They are to be appreciated much like the bird chirping outside my window, the beauty of the earth’s landscape, and the slow, imperceptible sweep of swine flu making its way through the world in a cough or a sneeze.