The quote in the title of this post is from The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s probably not the most meaningful, nor the most memorable quote in the novel, but it is the one I just read five minutes ago. I like it. There is, of course, truth to this statement. let me break it down for you:
You can read what this picture says here: www.geek.com/news/lobsters-really-are-cockroaches-of-the-sea-1614260/
There are even tree lobsters http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/11/465781993/love-giant-insects-meet-the-tree-lobster-back-from-the-brink, like the famed Hawk Lobster that the B-52’s immortalized in song –
I like the truth of the quote, but I also like the meta-truth, which is different than the post truth. It’s definitely different from the truth I usually post. Actually, I’m sure meta truth is probably a real thing, but I don’t want to look it up; I just want to use the word the way I feel it should be used, regardless of its actual definition or accepted meaning. In other words, I want to divorce the word from its significance or intent and remarry it to whatever I believe it should mean. This process, is, roughly, post truth. I’ll get back to that in just a second. Meta truth, according to me, is going beyond the surface truth to myriad alternate truths that exist simultaneously or codependently with the original premise. As such, meta truth can encompass shades of meaning – for example, a lobster that learned to fly would no longer be a lobster; or that a lobster – or anything, really- is not just one thing, or doesn’t have to be the thing that it once had been.
In fact, when one looks at the possibilities of truth, we see that each truth contains its opposite, as in”To be, or not to be”, yin and yang, or ebony and ivory. And just to drive an obvious point even deeper into your squishy brain pan, since I alluded to Shakespeare, consider this, from Friar Laurence’s soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet:
The earth, that’s nature’s mother, is her tomb.What is her burying, grave that is her womb.And from her womb children of divers kindWe sucking on her natural bosom find,Many for many virtues excellent,None but for some and yet all different.Oh, mickle is the powerful grace that liesIn herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities.For naught so vile that on the earth doth liveBut to the earth some special good doth give.Nor aught so good but, strained from that fair useRevolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied,
And vice sometime by action dignified.Within the infant rind of this small flowerPoison hath residence and medicine power.For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;Being tasted, stays all senses with the heart.Two such opposèd kings encamp them still,In man as well as herbs—grace and rude will.
I’ll feel, therefore I’ll be. Let poverty go begging and climate change braise in hell. Social justice can drown in ink. I’ll be an activist of the emotions, a loud, campaigning spirit fighting with tears and sighs to shape institutions around my vulnerable self. My identity will be my precious, my only true possession, my access to the only truth. If my college does not bless me, validate me and give me what I clearly need, I’ll press my face into the vice chancellor’s lapels and weep. Then demand his resignation.
A fan – I call her that, but really she’s my sister, and she argues semantics with me even when I call her my friend- pointed out that now is not the time for us to quietly acquiesce, or keep our opinions to ourselves, a la Edith; what we need now is a Meathead mentality. Mike Stivic walked into every argument true to his conscience, using logic and reason to back his arguments. He knew what the outcome was going to be – Archies never change- but he kept trying, patiently (kinda) and persistently, and in the end, he made a difference in his family and community. He opened some eyes, and others at least began to understand and consider his point of view.
Turns out, Rob Reiner stays in character even when he’s not in character:
He comes by it naturally. His dad is outspoken and unabashed as well. http://www.thewrap.com/carl-reiner-rob-reiner-donald-trump-twitter-takedown/
If you are still not sure there’s a link between the tv we watch and the way we vote, check this out: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/26/upshot/duck-dynasty-vs-modern-family-television-maps.html?_r=0
So, now I’ve changed my mind. Now I say it loudly and proudly:
But in the meantime, we still have to deal with this:
You can just replace the names at your leisure. It’s hard to separate our present reality from the fiction that is entertainment. Keith Stewart posted this quiz. Scroll down and take it. I was surprised by some of the answers… but not that surprised.
So, here we are. A little more than two weeks ’til Trump. I’m trying to be optimistic. It’s in my nature. And I have faith in humanity. Of course, you know what Archie says about faith…* Here’s a poem.
2016 AT (After Trump)
I have to say
The prognosis is grim
The pulse is erratic
Breathing has become labored, thready
The circular in and out replaced by gasps.
Constricted windpipes wheeze long, hopeless sighs
Nope, it doesn’t look good.
It’s going to be a slow death
Humiliation and Outrage piercing as icebergs
Slowly melting, slow as glaciers,
Until we are all awash in a flood of self-pity
Each of us secretly hoping we are Noah,
All the time knowing
We haven’t been that good
And we won’t be that lucky.
Of course, we will still rally.
In times when our blood pressure rises
We will brace ourselves to fight, be vigilant
Outsmart the insidious cancerous squid ink squirt
Leaking from a tear
A rotted carotid
Surreptitiously at first, then later
Pumping, hemorrhaging boldly, aggressively, vigorously.
We had always known it was in our veins
But thought we’d outlive it
We might not
Inevitably, we grow weary
Weak with worry
Our will sandpapered
Even the mighty heart is compromised
And something’snot right in the head
Still, there are so many plans to make
Faces to wipe free of tears
Documents to be put in order
T’s to cross and I’s to dot
It would be easier
Better for us all
To just relax, let go
Ah, no, we all know what that means!
Do not go gently! No,
No rest for the wicked or the righteous,
Put on a brave face and go on
Keep calm, Keep on trucking
Keep the faith
Fight the good fight
Do it for the children
For the good of us all
Hold on, be strong…
It’s all we can do, right?
it’s looking pretty bleak from here….
*In case you didn’t go to the link and scroll down like I told you to, here it is. You’re welcome. I let you get away with WAY too much!: “It’s not supposed to make sense, it’s faith. Faith is something that you believe that nobody in his right mind would believe.”
You may or may not recognize that phrase; it depends on how old you are. It comes from a TV show I used to watch – Zoom. Man oh man. When I was 7, it was the coolest show in town. All the kids were smart and friendly. They were creative and were up to trying anything. Boys and girls played together, kids from all different backgrounds and colors, and sometimes one of them just hung out alone, talking about things she liked to do, or practicing some talent he had. It was way cooler than Sesame Street, which was for babies, or Electric Company, which was…well, Electric Company was cool, too. I was totally over Mister Rodgers by then, though. That shit was wack.
Around the same time as Zoom, there was a TV special called “Free to Be You and Me”. It was pretty fantastic, too. It was about gender and stereotyping, and it had this amazing cast- Marlo Thomas, Alan Alda, Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Rosey Grier, Mel Brooks, Tom Smothers- and it was funny! I didn’t even realize that it was teaching me things. I had never seen anything like it before.
I loved Bat Man, where the forces of good always triumphed, and The Monkees and Josie and the Pussycats, where friends stuck together through zany shenanigans and hijinx, and every show ended in music. I watched the CBS News every evening with my parents at dinner, and even though I didn’t understand – or care- about most of it, my mom and dad talked to me about what we saw and answered all of my questions the best they could. When I was older, my family and I watched Roots and the mini-series Holocaust. We all cried together, and I had long talks with my mother about injustice. Most of the time, we laughed. Once a week we all got together, on the couch or on the floor, and watched All In the Family, where the joke was always that Archie was so backwards in his thinking, and the real hero was Edith, because she was always evolving.
I have a friend who made fun of me because of what one might term “my aggressive dedication to uninterrupted television viewership”. I think my last four of five posts have at least referenced my reactions to, or analysis of, whatever it is that I’m currently watching. It’s kind of pathetic; it takes up a lot of time, and they don’t call it the boob tube for nothing.
But here’s the thing. Those shows I watched as a kid shaped me. We were supposed to be the generation that was colorblind, tolerant, inclusive, curious and creative.We thought more ideas were better than just a few. We were taught to use our words and take turns in conversation. We assumed everyone wanted to live in peace, on a block where we celebrated our differences, and we could find it in our hearts to forgive the Archie’s, all the Archie’s, no matter how ridiculous and off base they were.
I believed all that stuff. I was a kid. Even though I watched the news, I didn’t really notice all the wars and the blood, the riots in the street, the anger and fear that was taking place then. The world was too big for me to take in, but the microcosm I chose to watch was just my size. Even though my shows guaranteed a conflict, and were sometimes downright depressing, they usually resolved neatly, and even if they didn’t, there was the hope of resolution.
We are living in troubled times, and it’s hard not to become despondent, or to just tune out. I have friends who are sad, angry, bewildered and frustrated. Some are dreading the holidays, because they don’t want to be forced to deal with people – even those that they love- whose viewpoints and attitudes they find repugnant or idiotic. It seems like many want to make America great again by returning us to a time when the Archie Bunkers of the world roamed unfettered and powerful, tiny-brained dinosaurs that made policies that ensure that change will be stifled by a “My house, my rules, like it or leave it” mentality. We are right to be sad, angry, bewildered , and frustrated. So, what can we do?
We should try to be Ediths. She sure as hell didn’t know all the answers, but she was always willing to listen to suggestions. She tried her best to understand all sides, and was willing to sacrifice her personal preferences if it kept peace in the house. Edith was uber-empathetic. She had a thick skin and appreciated every bit of love and generosity thrown her way, and Edith opened her door wide an welcomed everybody in – The Jeffersons, Maude, Archie’s work buddies, Irene, the Meathead- she was happy to see everyone around her table, and she would give up her own chair to make someone else comfortable. She wasn’t a pushover – when Edith stood her ground, there was no getting around her, but she looked for ways to make things better, not worse.
This morning I heard an interview with 94 year old Norman Lear, who created All In The Family. He ended the interview by saying, “Art brings us together. Music brings us together. Laughter brings us together.” We can’t stay apart forever. It’s too lonely and painful. We should do what Lear’s Edith did -find beauty and wonder. Sing. And if you can’t laugh yet, at least try to smile.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard a podcast about the benefits of procrastinating. I wanted to write about it earlier, but, you know, other things came up. Anyway, now I think I’m a genius.
Really, the show was about slowing down. One can slow down without putting off things that are unpleasant or overwhelming, but I focused on the procrastinating part, which is actually something that happens pretty quickly. When you postpone doing one thing in favor of another, it’s prioritizing, which is bound to be one of the seven habits of highly effective people. (I’ve been meaning to read that book, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Since I have decided what it says already, I may be back-burnering actually reading it for awhile longer.) I prioritize in just a split second every day, based almost solely on an acute awareness and constant analysis of psychological and physiological data, accessed and assessed continuously.
Here’s an example:
(Me, consciously, to myself) Do I want to get out of bed now? I can get an early start on my grading and have a whole weekend to do whatever I want! I could pump up my flat tire and go for a bike ride, or finally clean that room in which I store all the mail I haven’t yet opened!
(Me, subconsciously, to myself)- Nah. Stay in bed. You should lay here awhile. Turn on the radio. Lay here and listen to a podcast. Learn something, why don’tcha!
So, you see, procrastinating keeps me in touch with myself. It allows me to live in the moment, and figure out what is truly important to me at any particular time.
This may lead some of you to wonder. You are scratching your head, feeling a bit smug and self-righteous because you get out of bed right away, just as soon as you wake up or the alarm goes off, smiling before your eyes even open, leaping towards the pleasures of a vigorous shower, pausing only to trill to your loved one or dog, “Out of bed, sleepy head!”, or “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!” You are wondering why, exactly, it is more important for me to lay in bed – even if it is a school day, and I have already been written up for being late and it’s only the third week after the summer break – why my genius brain has made laying around my top priority.
Well, I will tell you.
First of all, sometimes I really do learn something. I ease into wakefullness because I am mentally stimulated. I become engaged -slowly- with the world around me. True, sometimes it takes a little longer than I would like, but the process can’t be rushed. All of us geniuses agree with that. Often, when one is doing things other than what one is supposed to be doing, one learns serendipitously, and like I always say, “The more you know, the more you know!”* You never know when what you know might come in handy, so it’s best to know a lot.
*Whenever I say this, I always say it in a knowing-but-perky manner, as if the simplicity of it masks a much deeper, slightly elusive meaning. It’s like War and Peace reduced to a Bazooka Joe bubble gum comic.
Second, as I may have told you in a previous post, I don’t think big thoughts all that much. Lots of times, all my brain space is taken up trying to remember what the neighbor’s name was on Good Times, or about this cat I saw one time with a fish in his mouth (did he eat that fish, raw and flopping?), or about how you never see anyone smoking a pipe anymore, unless they are a ridiculous hipster with a stupid mustache, or if said pipe is packed with weed. I think about my hair, or parasites, or Florida (the state, of which I am not a fan, or Esther Rolle’s character on Good Times, who I don’t have strong feelings about, but who I definitely like more than Florida, the state.) I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about 70’s TV shows. So, when I am lying there, half listening to the podcast I had previously decided I really must hear rather than doing something productive in a timely manner, I think. I think about the day ahead, or about the dream I just had. I make a mental list of what not to forget at the grocery store, and figure out a way to use a painting I saw at The Met to explain the idea of leitmotif to seventh graders. I remember to bring a marble made out of moonstone to a friend who needs hope. (I call it a “possiball”; after you squeeze it in your hand, it reflects the light onto your palm – it looks like possibility glowing, hope shining, opportunity gleaming. Coming up with “possiball’ took lots of hard thinking.) I ponder aging and perspective, or what in the world Nietzsche is talking about in Thoughts Out of Season, or what I can do to be a better person. Sometimes I think poetry. I make plans, and hatch ideas, and figure things out. As Aaron Sorkin says, “You call it procrastinating? I call it thinking!” Deep thinking, getting lost in thought is good, and we should all do it from time to time, even if we have to take the time to do it.
The third thing that makes a genius is this: sometimes I work better under pressure. This point is less compelling, as sometimes I just crack under the pressure. I get overwhelmed and paralyzed. I panic and moan and cry and cry, and then I have to waste a little more time by hating myself and buying new clothes that hide my fatty-fat-fatness. But not always. I think that if I have something that is causing me stress, I can run, but I can’t hide from it. Though I try to put it out of sight, I can’t put it out of mind, and there it stays, churning around in my conscious and subconscious, until it gels from a liquefied goo into a delicious buttery morsel. (Like how I carried that metaphor? Gee-nee-yus!!!) I think so much that at the last minute, when I begin the stressful project that I have put off, I am ready. I know where I’m going, and I am confident about getting there. Of course, sometimes I only do a half-assed job because i ran out of time and my final project sucks, but at least I know I could have done it if I had started earlier. That’s reassuring.
The final thing is that by recasting one of my most frustrating personality traits as a positive attribute, I am acknowledging that my name is AVR, and I am a procrastinator. I have always been, and I will always be a procrastinator. Instead of the self-loathing spiral that has often led me to purchase muu-muu type frocks so hideous that I won’t even wear them when I am alone, I can just relax. The things that must get done, will get done, and I will do them as well as I can. Sometimes my last minute is better than someone else’s two weeks ahead. I am a genius, but I don’t need to be a tortured genius. No more anxiety about being anxious! I have to accept who I am, and appreciate the good that comes from being me.
So there you have it. I SHOULD stay in bed that extra 15 minutes. I SHOULD ride my bike instead of clean my house, or do my homework. I SHOULD put off showering all weekend; it saves water and lets my foxy pheromones float freely. I SHOULD spend an hour and a half writing this blog post instead of grading my papers – you needed to know all of this about me. Anyway, there’s always tomorrow. Right now I have to walk the dog for the third time. It’s too pretty of a day to grade papers!
In case you are interested: http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/490624293/slowing-down
P.S. After writing all of that, I found another guy named Tim Urban who wrote a blogpost on this same topic, but way better and with pictures.It’s really good. That dude is probably my soulmate, and now I love him and must read everything he has ever written.
http://www.incimages.com/uploaded_files/inlineimage/images_32959.pdf – Epic flowchart! Whoever made this sure had a lot of time on her/his hands!
Is your refrigerator running?
You should vote for it!
Chm Chm had to call me this morning to ask if I was all right after my RNC Live Tweet. You’re a nice friend, Chm Chm. I’ll admit, finally having an epiphany about the doomed nature of partisan politics and the human inability to compromise and peacefully, productively coexist, did bum me out. However, I’m an optimist, and despite evidence that refutes the wisdom of the position, I am a humanist. I have faith in humanity. Faith, of course, is an intrinsic belief even in the face of evidence that seemingly negates it. So, yeah, I still have faith in people; for now, anyway.
I guess one of the reasons that I do is that people are smart, creative and funny. Did you guys see this?
I think this is funny, too: Don’t you think this is a Create-A-Caption contest waiting to happen? Something like; “Neurosurgeon massages tiny dinosaur brain” or “Carson revives his role as Carnac the Magnificent” or “Keeping your eyes open is hard!” Poor Ben Carson!
I wish I’d thought of including this yesterday…
Anyhoo, before my meltdown, it was fun to write again. Thank you to Kari and Smurp for your comments – they are encouraging!- and thank you to all of you who are still reading these sporadic posts. Maybe I will start to write more again. Two in a row, so far! I’m on a roll!
I’ve wanted to write, really. It’s just that all my posts would be about sweat, vegetables and naps. I’m taking this summer vacation thing very seriously. Of course, I could write about the myriad things that are going on in the world, but the only way I can express it is in rants. I’m angry and sad about the state of our union, and the messed up things that are going on in the world; it’s all so disheartening!
Truthfully, I’ve been in a serious writing funk for a long time now. I start things, but they peter out; I take a walk to clear my head, or get inspired, and end up thinking about how much sweat I expend, or how I need to water my garden to attempt to get some vegetables out of it, or how walking makes me sleepy, and I need to take a nap. Nothing is coming to me, and I just can’t find the words. I think my brain is getting broiled. But, loyal readers, I’m not going down without a fight! This ought to cheer me up – for my re-entry into the blogosphere, I’m going to do what all the cool kid bloggers are doing out there – I am going to live tweet the RNC, Make America Skate Again, 2016 edition! The only thing is, I can’t tweet, on account of I’m not on twitter, and it’s not live in the sense that you will read it in real time, but I’m eschewing grammar and spelling to make my observations appear spontaneous.
I watched last night, and since the adorable and always super sweet Olivia Newton-John wasn’t there, it seemed a little more like the Make America Shake edition. There’s a lot of ‘hell in a hand basket’ rhetoric. (What a weird phrase that is! Aren’t most baskets supposed to be held in the hand? If things are so bad that we are all going to hell, wouldn’t the image be more like we were all hurtling chaotically to casa del diablo, instead of all gathered neatly in a hand basket, arguably one of the slower forms of transportation? Why do we say that? Is that even how the saying goes?) The RNC is convinced that we should be very, very scared, and that we are becoming a nation divided into “Us” (White people? People over 50? Christians? Duck Dynasty?) and “Them” (Anyone who doesn’t spit and cross himself when the name Clinton is dared to be breathed.) “Us” are normal, good people, and “Them” are coming for us. It is true that things are really scary out there. I hope that fire isn’t flamed into a holocaust. (See what I did there?)
It also could have been called the Make America Hate edition. So much fear leads to a seething hatred for that which is different, new, or unknown. I understand that. I hate many things about this political season. Readers, you may not have guessed this about me, but I am not completely unbiased. In fact, my own father calls me a “knee jerk liberal.” I hate that, too. I don’t like being reduced to a non-thinking stereotype…and yet, I find myself judging others that way. It’s wrong, but I think those who are pompous, blowhard braggarts, who have a blatant and unrepentant disregard for facts or truth, who are bullies, misogynists, racists, and elitists, who are self-serving, crass, and lack integrity, and who have mouths like liver-spotted assholes, represent the very worst stereotypes of the truly ugly Americans. I hate that.
The RNC hates Hillary. That’s mostly what they hate.
Anyhoo, I watched most of last night’s convention; I had to turn it off when Chachi came on, because, like Joanie, I once loved him, and didn’t want my happy memories ruined. Not much was said about why I should like Donald, except by Melania, who apparently supports him just as much and for almost exactly the same reasons as Michelle Obama supports her husband. I Googled Melania after the speech, because I was impressed by her words. Here are some other words she wrote “with as little help as possible”.
“Call me Ishmael!” Melania Trump
“The bird, bird, bird, I said the bird is the word.” Melania Trump
“Nobody puts baby in a corner!” Melania Trump
“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Melania Trump
That last one was really George Orwell. Gotcha! If I was to rewrite that quote, I’d make it more specific and less open to interpretation. My version goes, “all animals are equal, but seals more than otters, and snake head fish, nutria, and Monitor Lizards are not to be trusted, ever.”
But I digress.
7:08 – RNC to Alaska: Huh? What? Are you talking to me, Frosty? Zip it, Frozen Tundra!
7:12- Oooh, Mitch McConnell, booed! Yikes! bet he’s looking forward to making his big support speech in front of this crowd later on!
I’m ignoring the guy from the UFC, because what do I care what a guy from the UFC thinks about anything? It’s just like when Antonio Sabato, Jr. spoke. It made me think: who the hell is Antonio Sabato, Jr.?
update: He’s a soap opera actor who is “absolutely sure” Obama is a Muslim. yeah…hard to care about whatever he has to say.
7:30 -Mean blonde lady from Arkansas totes guns and hates Hillary. I don’t get it – what’s this thing all about? To make people who hate Hillary hate Hillary more?
8:08 – Trump makes his appearance for tonight and assures us he will be seen every night during the convention. Huzzah!
8:09 – McConnell booed again! he had polio as a child. I just found that out. He hates Hillary. I knew that already. He said “scandals follow the Clintons like flies.” That’s a good one. Fine imagery. McConnell speaks as though he knows stuff. He’s very pro-Republican. That makes sense, as he’s the Majority Leader of the Senate. I’ll bet they will not boo when he leaves. I think he just blamed the spread of Zika on Dems. He still seems reluctant to support the Donald, but party before country, people, party before country.
update: They liked him! They really liked him!
8:19 – oh, no! It’s Paul Ryan! I’m really angry at him. I think he’s smart, and he is doing something he knows is wrong, because he wants partisan power. He starts by thanking Cleveland (great city!), and pandering to police. He is going for a jocular, jovial tone, and then turns strong and firm in his support of Trump/Pence. what a puss! He knows better! He knows Trump is unfit, and he supports him anyway! But wait, that appears to be all he has to say about Trump. Now he’s saying how bad liberal progressives are. He calls the DNC a ‘four day infomercial” – “Hello, black pot, what color are you?” asks the kettle. He says we have worse poverty under Obama, but it was Bush who left us on the brink of an economic disaster unparalleled since the ’30’s! He says the dems are the ones who make group identity divisive! What the hell? How can I see things so differently from…
uh-oh…you’re losing your objectivity…pull out, valiant newsgirl, pull out! Reportage with integrity! You can do this!
Excellent speech, Paul Ryan. Rousing, eloquent, passionate. I wish you stood for good and not evil.
8:37- Chris Christie. Another bully. I wonder what job he will have in the Trump government. Prince? Name-caller? Wedgie-giver? Swirly Master? He got the crowd up and on their feet chanting “Lock her up! Lock her up!” Can you guess who he is talking about? Hillary is responsible for Libya and ISIS. Hillary fights for Al Quaeda in Nigeria and is responsible for the Boko Haram kidnappings, and is therefore the enemy of women world wide. Hillary prostituted herself for Chinese cash. She is responsible for 400,000 dead in Syria. She opened our country to nuclear disaster by dealing with Iran, virtually ensuring the destruction of Israel in the process.(The crowd goes wild! Evangelists love the Jews!). She is a Putin supporter. (Wait a minute! I thought Trump and Putin were BFF’s!) Hillary loves Castro and supports cop killers! She puts herself ahead of America with her lies and self-serving interests! She is guilty! She is guilty! Lock her up! BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
Aww, peeps! It’s only 8:50, and I don’t think I can do this anymore. I’m too biased, too partisan to report with humor and without vitriol. Plus, this whole scene is depressing me. The U.S. is so polarized. We see things so differently. I don’t know what will become of us. when Rodney King asked, “Can’t we all just get along?” he was mocked and maligned, and I didn’t understand why. Isn’t getting along the goal? I get it now. We won’t get along. We don’t have it in us.We are not evolving; we are just repeating patterns.
Also, I think this post will have to be deleted. It’s unprofessional. You’re bored, aren’t you? Bet you’re ready for a post about cucumbers, huh?
WOW! Update! Sleepy Tyrannosaurus Ben Carson pleads for reason to rule the minds of voters, and then, I kid you not, links Hillary Clinton to Lucifer, marking her as a disciple of Satan, and explaining how God will turn his back on those who support the Anti-Christ! Yowza!
I am finally on Spring Break! Hooray! Of course, I have made a million plans, but mostly I have spent a lot of time looking out the window. Everything is so beautiful and green! Here are some of the things I have seen, either from the window or around the hood.Here is the first robin’s egg I saw this year. I’m seeing a lot of birds, because a cardinal built her nest in a bush by my garage. It’s right at eye level, which is really cool, except that every time I get close to it, which is often, because I have to in order to get to my car, the cardinal mama gets freaked out and comes at me with her talons all sharped and her pointy beak aimed at my third eye. She hasn’t even laid her eggs yet. Can’t we all just get along?
Saw this on a walk. Sometimes it pays to leave the couch. Not only did I see natural beauty, I also got the opportunity to see the beauty in human nature.
I saw a little natural booty opportunity between two frisky squirrels in a tree in my backyard. I know this happens all the time, but think about it – have you ever actually seen those furry fellows fornicating? I thought not. The foreplay lasted forever! They did this squirrel dance that looked like a lot of roughhousing and shenanigans, and then chasing, high jinx and tail flipping, and then one of the squirrels hopped up on the other one’s back, and then…well, come to think of it, then not much happened. The man squirrel just sort of looked around and then hopped off for more whackadoodely-doo antics. Maybe he weren’t mating. Maybe he was just storing his nuts for awhile.
This was in an alley. My eye was first caught by the weird kid size gold pompom. Go, glam! Then I noticed the woman’s business shoe – just the one, and standing at attention like it was guarding the pompom, perhaps protecting it from the puddle of urine that is just out of frame.Lots of stories here, non? I think this is a metaphor for all those happy, glitter-lovin’ kids who grow up to buy sensible shoes from Target and end up working a dead-end alley of a job, just a’pissin’ their lives away.
Of course, every spring, I’m compelled to get out into the garden, and this year is no different, except that I’m getting older and weaker. It’s getting increasingly taxing for me to haul the huge bags of organic composted soil up the slope that is my yard, and turning the red clay based dirt takes so long these days that I get frustrated and cranky. I love going to the nursery and buying all kinds of seeds and seedlings, plants and plantlets, vegetables and herbs and flowers that will come back every year or bloom brilliantly for just a short season. I buy way more than I can ever hope to get in the ground. This year: okra, 4 different kinds of eggplant, lots of different peppers (mostly hot and sassy, but some sweet or sexy, like shishito…just saying shishito is sexy…shishito…) tomato varieties, asparagus, radishes, chard, herbs, two kinds of beans, and lots of flowers. Hooray!
Congratulations to the lovely Kari on her latest flick, on to Edie for her Tony nominations!
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By Michael D. Mcgaha on April 22, 2016
I’m always surprised whenever I read or write something. Even though I enjoy both, I wonder if each time will be the last time. Do I still have the patience, the willingness, the ability to become totally absorbed, swept up, completely alone with the voice in my head? Will I be smart enough, can I understand, will I be able to feel? It’s hard to concentrate, to narrow focus, to pay attention in a world that pushes and pulls. I wonder when I’ll find the time. I wonder if I’ll make the time.If I do, if I can, I know I’ll be rewarded, and I’ll be proud that I bothered.
Right now I’m reading three books, so I’m beaming. I like them all. They’re healing, like soup on the couch after the fever’s broke. (I’ve been laid up lately.) They’re rich and hearty, white butter on black bread. They make me talk like this. They keep me up at night. I think I want to marry them. (The doctor gave me some drugs. They didn’t do much for pain, but I think perhaps the doors of perception are opening. That reminds me: “When life shuts a door, open it. It’s a door. That’s how they work.” I think Ted said that in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Ted’s the smart one. http://variety.com/2015/film/news/frank-zappa-documentary-alex-winter-1201546906/ )
The first book was Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. It’s a group of stories about familial relationship, be they blood born or chosen. I like it, especially Part II, which has a trilogy of stories about interwoven families that span time and place. Critics love Lahiri’s work; the NYT Book Review chose Unaccustomed Earth as one of the best books of the year in 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/14/books/review/10Best-t.html as did The Washington Post, the LA Times, Time, Newsday and People, and she won a Pullitzer Prize for another book, The Namesake. I like how she spends a lot of time on character development, and that they defy stereotypes. Many of them are Indian or Indian- American, and I like the cultural background that infuses the stories. They are all about real life, and so the stories are kind of quiet and easy to relate to. However, I think I must be missing something; the reviews say things like “shimmering”, “revelatory” and “ferociously good” – I don’t see it. She gives meticulous, detailed back-story, which I appreciate, but sometimes it’s a slog to get through, and after reading the book, I barely remember some of the stories. I enjoyed reading it, but I don’t have any urge to revisit it. Revisit it I will, though, as I read it for a class that I’m about to take, so maybe I’ll get a different perspective on it.
The next book I read is Colum McCann’s new collection of stories, Thirteen Ways of Looking. I tell you what, I love me some McCann! Come on, Colum! The title piece and first novella of three in this grouping just blew me away.McCann really lets the reader get to know the characters; you live with and even inhabit them, as much of the story is a stream of conscious narrative from the protagonist’s point of view. I loved the protagonist, a retired judge in his nineties – so smart, so witty, so unique, so human! It is the story of just one of his days, and I was sad when it ended…and happy when I realized I still had more stories to go.
The plots held me and sometimes baffled me with their content and construction. They are imaginative and well-wrought, each different and compelling I remember them all, and I think about them unexpectedly. And the way he writes! I found myself reading, then rereading, then getting up compulsively in the middle of the night to get a pen to underline words, sentences, whole passages. McCann is the opposite of small and simple. His prose is lush, extravagant and musical, fat and chewy with images, sounds and rhythms. For example…
“Curious thing, the snow, They say the Eskimos have eighty words for it. An articulate lot. Slush and sleet and firn and grain. Hoar and rime. Crust crystal vapor blizzard graupel. Pendular permeable planar. Striated shear supercooled. Brittle glazed clustered coarse broken. An insult of snow, a slur of snow, a taunt of snow, a Walt Whitman snow, a bestiary snow, a calliope snow, it’s snowing in Morse code, three longs, a short, a long again, it’s snowing like the ancient art of newspaper, it’s snowing like September dust coming down, it’s snowing like a Yankees Day parade, it’s snowing like an Eskimo song.” (p.56)
I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but just the way the words swirl around you, how some of them go by in a blur, until, unexpectedly, your eye catches on one or two of them, a phrase, and you see it for what it is – so specific, evocative, pure – they way the words grow from flake to storm – dare I say ‘shimmering’? Damn, McCann, you kill me!
So, yeah, I loved that one. My mom gave it to me. She knows how to pick them!
The last book I’m reading is The Devil In the White City, by Erik Larson. I’m pretty sure I’ve started this one before and never finished it. I’m into the subject matter – clever serial killer uses Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair to lure hapless victims to their death; what’s not to like, right? It’s got history, mystery and a Ferris Wheel. Still, I’m finding it hard to get into, again, so more on this as it develops, if it develops.
Since I started this post, David Bowie died. Like so many, I loved him. He was so brave, dramatic and bold. He was never content to be just one thing, and he welcomed transformation and evolution. He spoke to us all, and we all thought he was talking just to us. He was magnificent and artistic. The way that he orchestrated his death, commingling it with the day of his birth, and the birthday of his latest album in a genre that refuses to be defined, all kept under wraps until the glorious, shocking, tragic reveal – life and death as art. There’s this word, ekphrasis, which means visual art transformed into verbal form. Bowie was fantastic ekphrastic.
Here is one of my favorite Bowie songs, though there are so many great ones it’s hard to choose. I love the opening lyrics in this; they’re like a movie, and the double meaning of “pull” pleases me. It takes you from sort of melancholy nostalgia tinged with regret to anthemic triumph – also, it has one of my favorite two word phrases of all times in it – “religiously unkind”. I can’t say I understand it all, but I sure do love how it makes me feel.
By Jacques Brel
My death waits like an old “roué”
So confident i’ll go his way
Whistle to him and the passing time…
My death waits like a bible truth
At the funeral of my youth
We drank for that – and the passing time…
My death waits like a witch at night
As surely as our love is bright
Let’s not think of that or the passing time…
But whatever lies behind the door
There is nothing much to do…
Angel or devil, I don’t care
For in front of that door…there is you.
My death waits like a beggar blind
Who sees the world through an unlit mind
Throw him a dime for the passing time…
My death waits to allow my friends
A few good times before it ends
Let’s not think about the passing time
My death waits there between your thighs
Your cool fingers will close my eyes
Let’s not think about the passing time…
But what ever lies behind the door,
There is nothing much to do
Angel or devil I don’t care
For in front of that door… There is you
My death waits there among the leaves
In magician’s mysterious sleeves
Rabbits and dogs and the passing time…
My death waits there among the flowers
Where the blackest shadow cowers
Let’s pick lilacs for the passing time…
My death waits there, in a double bed
Sails of oblivion at my head
Let’s not think about the passing time…
But whatever lies behind the door
There is nothing much to do
Angel or devil…I don’t care
For in front of that door