Sunday, April 30, 2006


Here's the trouble with the push-pull of romantic, what shall we call it, inquiry. You boys are either so careless or get so worried about showing us you don't want serious attachment, that you douse the fire before it's even warming.

What to do with a fumbled first date, as experienced by a good friend of mine this weekend? Meets a guy through a good friend at a dinner. Guy is handsome, well-spoken, has an interesting career he's excited about, but most of all, his interest is visible. He is very attentive, pursuing. He lights up when she addresses him, but he never intrudes - I saw it in action. Still, she's a little skeptical, as she is with all men (and women), who like her too much right away. With guys it most often seems to mean that they are stressing about undressing. Sometimes it's a genuine smittenness, but in LA that's a rarity. That, and he's a little too pretty to be a safe bet.

Anyway, she doesn't balk when he asks for her digits, though she does back away when she senses a goodnight kiss looming. Not a puritanical impulse, she's just showing good self-preservation. She feels a little guilty about having lied that she wasn't available for the weekend (untrue), but next week was open (true). So she sends him a quick email the next day (Lovely to meet you, a succinct joke referring to something they'd discussed, then have a great day), in case she seemed too standoffish.

He responds right away, wants to know about her availability, a few emails are exchanged. One message he allegedly didn't receive, that being the one where she invites him to a Sunday afternoon cultural event (safe), or she's available Friday. Bad one to miss/leave unanswered, but what choice but to believe the first time? By Tuesday they establish Friday as the best possibility. He says they should speak in the next couple days to confirm it. No call. She feels that burden is his as he suggested the date, and the date of the date. Plus he 'missed' that email.

No call Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, when an email is sent in the evening:

Hey _______,

Work has been crazy...I'm now in Dallas area for a few days shooting a
show about __________....
I'll be back towards the end of the week, I'd still love to get
together, maybe we can plan some time for this weekend, or early next
week... :)

Hope all is well,

She phones me. What should she do?

I think this guy is either a "nice" player, careless cause he can be; completely overwhelmed with work and socially retarded; or he's being a little gamey. He probably gets away with a lot with women, because he's too pretty, successful and charming. In person, he comes across as sincere. His "niceness" has been well demonstrated by his consistent use of smiley faces in each and every email. Irrefutable iconography. Smiley-ness is his logo.

I do not like the fact that there is not so much as an acknowledgement that he's blown it off, save his drive-by quasi-explanation, "work crazy." How about an apology, Jackass? Do I seem angry for her? I'm not, but it's just all so ridiculous in this era of cell phones, wireless computers and blackberries. There's NO EXCUSE for no preemptive contact. To do anything less is just poor manners. Plus, you're activating all sorts of anxieties in people before any of it is really at a critical romantic stage. Totally unnecessary. If you wanted to keep things casual, you just raised the stakes on yourself, dum-dum.

She points out that sometimes one wants to take the strong approach with these oafs and say, "You know, I'm not angry. You're a nice guy, but Honey, you blew it." This is hard for us, because you know, we're compassionate, we want to understand. We're raised to be compliant, but come on, people. Weren't you trying to woo? Why would a guy blow the very first date if he really liked a woman? My best guess is that he wouldn't. He would never let it happen.

My curt suggestions for her reply:

1. I'm sorry, what?
2. You didn't confirm, you didn't cancel. Still, I'm not a hotel.
3. I don't like emoticons.

That's right, the sounds of silence. Do jackass maneuvers warrant a response?

What choo think? Really, vote for one, write in a candidate, give us your thoughts.

(*the title of this post is a saying invented by a friend's seventy-ish mother, in regards to the ambivalence of the generations of men following her own. it's total genius. thank you, Phyllis.)

The Darling Buds of May

Happy Beltane!

Tomorrow's May Day, Di Maggio, when Maya of Maj, the Virgin Goddess of Spring, comes "wearing the green." A new garment for the new season, and the "honey-moon," or lune de miel, a time of sexual freedom. In 16th-C rural Europe, marriage bonds were temporarily in abeyance, and new ones deferred to June by taboo. Only 'bad women' married during the month of license, when all the flora and fauna couple madly, all around the potently symbolic Maypole. "If you will patiently dance in our round/And see our moonlight revels, go with us." (Titania, Midsummer Night's Dream, II,1, 140-1) Because, as Edmund Spenser wrote, "Make hast, therefore, sweet love, whilest it is prime; For none can call againe the passèd time."

Still, a "divine marriage" ritual was enacted. The Queen of the May: Queen or Lady Mab, "she is the fairies' midwife," Queen Maeve (which means "mead"), equivalent to the Roman goddess, Flora "a Lady of Pleasure," led knights and ladies on horseback through the woods, as they impersonated Frey and Freya, "whose union made fertility magic each spring."

"THESE, I, singing in spring, collect for lovers,
For who but I should understand lovers, and all their sorrow and joy?"
-Walt Whitman

But what of Faeries? Known to the Irish as The Mothers, or The Mother's Blessing, fairyland was the Land of Women. This realm, according to the fairy queen in Book of the Dun Cow, a "land of the ever-living, a place where there is never death, nor sin, nor transgression. We have continual feasts: we practice every benevolent work without contention." The Fairy queen/fertility goddess had many faces: Titantia, Bean-Sidhe (later corrupted to banshee), Diana, Venus, Abundia, Morgan le Fay, Morrigan, among others, one of them was death. Fairies represented Fate or Fata, from medieval Latin fatare "to enchant," which became French faer or féer. Fairy fortune was fortune, fate and fear.

Fairy worship was a clandestine affair, under Catholicism. Joan of Arc was sent to the stake, in part, because she 'adored the Fairies and did them reverence.' " In Brittany, fairies were man-devant, "Moon-goddesses"; in Romania Fata Padourii, Girl of the Woods, like the Irish banshee. Old women taught maidens the rites of Venus and "fairy feats, shape-shifting and raising storms. They were known as fatuae or fatidicae, "seeresses" or bonnes filles. The Norse, Scots and Irish believed the fairies were progeny of the fallen angels.

In the Middle East, they were peris, "Persian spirits of great beauty who guide mortals on their way to the Land of the Blessed," like Valkyries and Hindu apsaras, celestial nymphs.

As the old Irish woman responded when asked by William Butler Yeats, "No, of course I don't believe in fairies, but they exist nonetheless!"

O, then, let me see Queen Mab hath been with you!

(sorry I'm too lazy to cite all the references, but I did sack the Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, and without mercy.)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Les Fleurs du mal

I've been intending to post an excerpt from my friend's memoir, The Boy Who Fell Out of the Sky (see April 4th post), a work which really impresses me in so many ways, but specifically for our purposes, in its many illustrations of "meaningful coincidence." Late last night I started to build the post, but demurred, as I couldn't quite find the thread that would weave it into my experience. That's not to say that everything in the blog has been or must be tied in this way, I just happen to find things more interesting when they bear multiple meanings.

So, here is the passage I wanted to share. (For new readers, the following refers to a friend's brother lost on the PanAm Lockerbie crash in 1988. And to pre-clarify, Ella Ramsden was the name of an unfortunate lady whose house was littered with bodies, on the rooftop and in the yard. David was found under her collapsed stone wall, and his book was retrieved from her yard)-

"I dug through my plastic bags of Lockerbie relics, looking for David's copy of Baudelaire's, 'The Flowers of Evil.' Judging by the mud on its cover, and the lack of mud on the covers of the other books returned from Lockerbie, I decided that David might have been reading 'The Flowers of Evil' at the time of the explosion. I used to rub at the mud and try to picture where the book could have fallen to have gotten so dirty. Now I knew that this was mud from Ella Ramsden's backyard, but this did not much diminish my preoccupation with the last things of David's life.

For all the time I'd looked at the Baudelaire book over the years, I'd never bothered to read any of the poems. The corner was turned down at "The Voyage," so I decided to start there. The poem begins with an image of "children crazed with maps and prints and stamps," their "brains on fire" with all they don't know about a vast world they've never seen. The children, it becomes clear, are really the living, and what they can't comprehend is the experience of the dead. The children cry out: "Amazing travellers.../ what have you seen?" And the dead reply: "We have seen stars and waves/We have seen sands and shores and oceans too/In spite of shocks and unexpected graves/We have been bored, at times, the same as you." Then the dead explain how their journey began:

The solar glories on the violet ocean
And those of spires that in the sunset rise,
Lit, in our hearts, a yearning, fierce emotion
To plunge into those ever-luring skies."

The definition of "synchronicity," a term coined by C.G. Jung, he described as, "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events." This elaboration comes from Wikipedia: "Having two (or more) things happen coincidentally in a manner that is meaningful to the person or persons experiencing them, where that meaning suggests an underlying pattern. It differs from coincidence in that synchronicity implies not just a happenstance, but an underlying pattern or dynamic that is being expressed through meaningful relationships or events."

Or as someone smart wrote me recently, "Ever hear someone refer to 'God winking'? It's one of those coincidental moments that just blows your mind and reminds you that you're somehow connected to something bigger."

So Friday night I shrugged off the notion to write this down. I simply thought it best to wait.

Saturday morning I met my roommate at the local auto repair place, so I could drive her home after we had breakfast at the 101 Cafe. I could find a spot in neither of the adjacent parking lots, nor on the sidestreets. This is notable as it has never been the case, and I was forced to park what in LA is considered an arduous walking distance of four blocks. I was nonetheless pleased to see a quaint strip of twenties-era apartment buildings, and as I passed behind the Franklin commercial strip which houses my favorite cheap Thai restaurant, I passed a dilapidated couch, upon which was a rent and dirty book.

Though torn in half, with the front cover faced down and three clumped pages ripped out entirely, I could still discern from the back cover that it was some sort of academic grade publication. With a bit of trepidation, owing to the squalid state of the couch, I reached for the three pieces and reassembled them. The tome was Baudelaire, The Complete Verse.

I wrangled with my conscience for a few moments. I clearly wanted the book, but what if it were a source of pleasure for some indigent soul who spent his moments of repose at this same spot? The works were entirely in French, so it seemed unlikely, though I hated to presume it. It appeared unlikely to be a prize possession, as it was neither kept close to its owner, nor treated with care. Someone intentionally ripped it. The book was a disaster; it was mine.

As I sat with my roommate in the diner, I tried to explain to her the words in Ken's account. Finding my memory of the verse wholly insufficient to express the poetical tragedy of it all, I opened the paperback to the index and located "The Voyage" on page 240, in the section of 'The Flowers of Evil' known as "Death." Opening to that page, I found it was dog-eared, one of three pages in the four hundred page text. Three poems were found notable enough for this mark, in order, Le Vampire, Tout Entiere, and finally, Le Voyage.

What to make of this, then? The same book, of all the books there are, dirty, wrecked and prompting attention to the same poem, ten hours after I'd last thought on it. For me, the best coincidences in life have the strange beauty of poetic logic and meaning, but they also retain their mystery. That gives them the brushtroke of the sublime; that is how you know you have grazed up against the unknowable. I optimistically read these moments like signposts telling me I am on the right path. Reminded of a dream recently shared here, about a man and a girl on a raft, I hope my own voyage is on its rightful course.

So I'll end with two more passages, in translation, from this eight part poem. I'll leave it up to the reader to assign the meaning.

"But the true travellers are those, and those alone, who set out
only for the journey's sake; with light balloon-like hearts
they never swerve from their destiny,
but, without knowing why, keep saying, 'Let us fare forward!'

Those whose desires are shaped like clouds,
and who, like the conscript dreaming of his cannon,
have visions of boundless, ever-changing, unexplored ecstasies
which the human mind has never been able to name!"

In the end, death, 'O Death!' is called, and -

"Though sea and sky be black as ink,
Our hearts which you know so well are full of shafts of light!

Pour us hemlock, for our comfort:
Its fire so burns our brains that we long
to dive into the gulf's depths, and - what matters if it is heaven, or hell?
Into the depths of the Unknown, in quest of something new."

Penny Candy Update

New pictures up on Penny Candy.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Death Takes No Holidays

This writing's a mess, but I'm tired of working on it.

There are certain themes to a person's life - tendencies, patterns, inclinations. Some of them are self-created and some regularly delivered, like the newspaper, or the mice your cat brings as affectionate offerings. Sometimes the events in your life form in unfortunate clusters - like jury duty three times in five years, or a string of mechanical failures. First the dryer goes, then the engine block cracks, computer crashes, and every time you turn the toggle on a lamp, the light bulb burns out.

I have an inexplicable history with Death and Loss. These are facts about which I have no difficulty speaking, and yet the prospect of a written record is a cumbersome task. I neither feel victimized, nor am I cut off from my feelings. Emotion is not a discrete world for me. It's not a question of residual emotion or sorrow, necessarily. It might be that growing up in a largely secular culture, and one lacking helpful grief rituals in place, one is left largely alone to deal with loss. Suffer and be still. People just don't know how to help you. Everyone wishes the problem away. So how to tell it?

My inability to write well about it may be sourced in this, too - perhaps it's simply that it revives a long period of chaos and calamity; a period when I glazed over a bit. So, even though my memory of it is clear, I can't formulate the idea of what it means. Not really. It was all too big.

For a long time, the statistics of my loss were overwhelming to me. There are plenty of people who have suffered more, but odds are against one person nearly losing nearly everyone. I have in the past felt rather paralyzed with fear, and as a child I literally felt I might be cursed. Someone recently personified Death as a robber to me, I think rightly so. Death is a thief for those left behind.

I've covered my grandmother's suicide attempt, the disappearance of my siblings, the two divorces, a boy I had just started dating in college who died in a car crash, and the death of one of my closest friends just five years ago. What I haven't discussed, and I wonder at the wisdom of saying anything at all, is the period of my adolescence. Maybe this is something to be laid out like a timeline, we'll call it "Major Disruptions in the Life of an American Teenager." Any conclusions or interpretations about what this means for me will probably have to be left for a different time.

Seventh grade, Spring. My step-father takes all of my school savings, landing himself in divorce court. The consequence to me is the loss of place at my private school for the Freshman year of high school. That is huge, as it was my place of refuge.

While in eighth grade, living with my mother and her temporarily lesbian sister (the lover of whom is terminal with cancer, and spends some weeks with us as she ails), my father gets it in his fool DT-lusional head that he should somehow legally bar contact between my aunt and myself. This comes as a major threat, for I think she is the person I love the most in all the world. I don't know if he had a leg to stand on, but it puts the big fear into our household, and disturbs me enough that I refuse to speak to him anymore.

Holiday Season, Freshman year of high school - My aunt has abandoned her relationship with the woman to remarry her second husband. It's not really working out so well, and a week before Christmas, she OD's on prescription drugs, while his three children are in the house, putting her in a coma for at least a week. I am devastated by her cruel and selfish disregard for the kids, this woman who force fed me morality. Our relationship is shattered; I feel personally abandoned by her decision to give up on her life. Later in life I will develop some compassion for the kind of suffering that leads to such choices, but I am fourteen at the time, and that is no time at all.

Summer, post-Freshman year - Two days before my 15th birthday, my father lapses into a coma, brought on by cirrhosis of the liver and kidneys. I go the hospital, our first reunion since I exiled him, and it will only be to say 'goodbye.' His body is badly bloated and jaundiced, yellowed like the acid of cheap paper. My birthday comes, and two days later he passes. The funeral at the Vet graveyard is the first time I see my sisters in years; they refuse to come to the memorial service or to our house after for "refreshments." My mother picks Pachelbel's cannon for the service, a mundane choice really, as evidenced by the fact that I will have to hear that tune perpetually afterwards. There is an insurance policy pay out, which puts me back in my private school for the rest of high school. This is a major blessing.

Six Months Later, Sophomore Year - It concerns my uncle, Brian, first husband to my aunt, a lively and brilliant psychiatric doctor, who was a concert level pianist, lively wit, and genuinely sweet man. In 1974, Milos Forman and crew went on location at the Oregon State Hospital, a mental asylum, to shoot One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Brian, a staff doctor, befriends Jack, and they get to carousing and, no doubt, skirt-chasing in and about Salem and Portland. Jack gets him a bit part in the film as one of his own shrinks. His one line is, "A rolling stone gathers no moss." Many years later, when I am fifteen, Brian meets his end at the hands of one of his patients, left waiting and unattended in his office. The ill man wrenches a leg off a chair, which he uses to bludgeon my uncle to death. It is all over the local and national news, and they show his cameo each time the story is aired. I refuse to go to the funeral, a fact which enrages my aunt. I can't articulate the why not of my decision, but I am completely numb to it by this time.

Summer, Post Sophomore Year - My ass gets sent to therapy, by some very good friends of the family. Within a couple of months, my therapist will determine that my mother is unfit, and suggests that, if I've some place safe to go, I should leave home. I "run away" to live with my emotional benefactors, right as my Junior years begins. While my mother is at work, I pack my things and leave. I cannot recall if I left her a note or a phone message, but it will be awhile before we speak, and nine months before I return. My aunt is consistently unsupportive of my decision, as she will be throughout my young life. Her disapproval is rooted in her belief that "family is the most important thing."

November, Junior Year - My mother's father, after drunkenly running his propane delivery truck up through a fence and up on some lady's lawn, takes his life in the family camper with a shotgun, Ernest Hemingway style. Despite the estrangement with my mother, I agree to travel with her and my aunt to Wichita, to help clean out the house of personal effects. We work for several days. I am angered by the fact that my mother will really give me nothing of his as a keepsake, except for a silver bolla pin of a bronze bas relief cowboy, breaking in a pony. It is mine because nobody really wanted it. My aunt and I go into the chapel to see his body laid out, a fact which greatly distresses my mother. His head is wrapped entirely in gauze, making it twice as large as normal. Covered this way, he is impossible to discover; the body could be anyone's. I can't see why everybody in my family gives up. I don't understand why they don't love me enough to stick around.

Spring, Junior year - My art teacher, she and her commonlaw husband are favorite instructors of mine, falls ill with cancer. She will die within a year, and I will remain close to him for years after.

On May 12th, several kids from our rival school go up to Mt. Hood for a traditional school trip. The mountain climbers are lost in an unexpected storm, and three days pass before all the students are found; we spent many evenings waiting with groups of students from OES, hoping for good news. Ultimately, nine students and the Reverend who leads them, freeze to death. One of them is the brother of a childhood friend. When the rescue crews finally find and are able to get into the snow cave, eight remain inside the cave, barely alive, so frozen the paramedics can't get intravenous lines under their skin. Ultimately, two are found alive, probably because they laid one atop the other. One of them is a girl I've known since grade school. Then there are weeks of waiting to see if they will pull through. There is a large memorial service at the Episcopalian church that the student bodies of both schools attend. We invite them to all our parties, we share with them our prom. It is an intense time of taking care of other people in their grief. Eventually, after six weeks Brinton pulls through with some nerve damage, Giles loses both his legs. We remain tied to them throughout the coming Senior year.

Senior year - Fairly uneventful for my family, a welcome respite. I have returned home. One day I catch my mother in something I won't talk about here. Though I say nothing, she won't speak to me for a week. Then we go to therapy together, where I confront her. She denies everything, and won't talk to me for two more. Overall, I'm doing well. My grades are good, I win some writing awards, I get into a great school with a great big financial aid package. All I can think of is that I'm about to escape. To honor my achievements, I am given an hours long intervention with my aunt and the woman who recently housed me for almost a year, both of whom are high school teacher. They tell me I am being terribly unfair to my mother, to ask for help paying an Ivy League education. I wonder what all the years of intensive education were for, exactly. Perhaps I should go enroll at the Junior College? On the bright side, boys who aren't at least five years older are finally starting to pay attention, though I don't really have a first boyfriend until Spring.

Summer, post Senior year - My mother accidentally electrocutes herself. I am afternoon napping in my attic room, my friend Charlie does the same on our living room sofa. I am awakened to the sounds a dog makes after being hit - it's a gruesome moan. I worry for a second, that it might be human. What if someone's been attacked? What can I do about it? I snap out of my debate and run downstairs past Charlie, who is still sipping the waters of Lethe, and out the front door. My mother is clutching an electrical cord in one hand and pliers in the other, flattened out on the grass. She is flopping about, there is no delicate way to put this, so I'll put it as my aunt did, "not unlike a carp on the lawn." I run to her, then back inside to unplug her. She says that by the time I reached her, she was losing consciousness.

Freshman year, First Semester - I break up with my high school boyfriend. We are fully in love, but he is a year younger, and left behind in Portland. He is torturing me for it. I don't know how to handle my immense fear of all the changes happening in my life and take care of him. In a couple of months, he will send me a letter, a "suicide note." About how he wants to die so much he has been going through the motions of it. His sister had tried and failed a year or so before. It's a thing the family has kept from him, but that he already knew. This is a source of his despair. I left him, this is another. I call his father, the Rabbi, something I am utterly terrified to do. I felt he should know.

Two weeks before finals, my mother phones and tells me she wants to put my dog to sleep. I've had this dog since I was five and a half. When I was fourteen, we moved to a new house, and my mother decides that after nine years, Amber will now be an outdoor dog. She is not allowed in the house. The damp winters are hard on her, and are making her arthritis worse. My mother thinks she must be put down. I argue with her with a force I rarely exhibit, and buy just enough time to get home for winter break. Just to see my dog one last time. My mother will have a new indoor Golden Retriever within the year.

I am coming unglued. I cannot study, I cannot concentrate. I go to Psych Services, tell them about my suicidal ex-boyfriend, tell them about this particular history in my family. At the end of the session, the counselor says to me, "Well you seem to be handling this all very well, what do you hope to get out of this? I mean, I can give you a referral, if you want." I stare at her in stunned silence, then excuse myself. I take incompletes I will never amend; I ditch a final.

Christmas Break, Freshman year - I am back home. My mother kills my dog. I resume therapy with my God-given psychologist of two and half years. She tells me that this will be our final session, she is terminally ill, this woman who has been like a mother to me. She asks me not to let the occasion of her death, which comes the following September, be an excuse to give up on my own life. I cannot help but think that my world has been reduced to a joke in a Woody Allen movie. Whose therapist dies?

I had another therapist, after college, who urged me to write my memoirs. I guess it was because she couldn't quite account for why I wasn't crazy. Actually, what she said was, she didn't know why I wasn't "locked-up somewhere." But she assured me repeatedly that I was not, in fact crazy, just grief-stricken. "You have an extraordinary constitution, you are well socialized, you try as hard as you can to do the right thing, but you are depressed." She convinces me to take medication for two years, an idea to which I am strongly opposed, because I don't want to rely on substances to fix my problems. Her rationale is that I have spent a lifetime in pain, I am conscientious and good-natured, but there is no value now to my suffering. I am not learning anything new, I simply suffer. Under her guidance, I get well again. Later on, a regular yoga practice smoothes the residual rough edges, and leaves me brighter and happier than ever. As for the memoirs, I thought it ludicrous on three primary counts - 1) I felt absurdly young to presume such a venture. 2) No matter how "deserved," I didn't want to publicly skewer my mother (a bit guilty of that already, although what I've said is mild compared to the actual history). 3) I wanted first to be able to write a happy ending. Nobody really needs stories without some kind of redemption.

So why write it now? I'm not sure, except that it is making me write. I am finally gravitating back towards the things I love with discipline and commitment. I don't have so much trouble committing myself to others so much as I do to me. Maybe it's because I'm no longer sad. Maybe it's just time. If there is someone, somewhere, that it will help, that would be reason enough. Whatever the reason, I'm tired of justifying my every move. It wants out, perhaps to clear the way for other stories, better stories to tell. They need the room.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Bed Bug and Beyond

While painting his bed and bathroom today, I had this conversation with my friend Joe:

Joe - I want to have a new romance.

Me - Well why don't you go back online and dig one up for tonight?

(He's uber handsome, and could accomplish this easily, but it's funny advice coming from someone who has sworn on her life she'll never internet date.)

Joe - No! I want butterflies, not crabs.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April the 24th

Today as my friend Joe and I drove from the Hollywood Home Depot back to our little canyon, we saw swarms of cars bearing those flags along Sunset Blvd. At first I thought they might be celebrating our reader, Huckleberry's, birthday, but then I remembered I was in Little Armenia.

I reminded Joe of a rather hideously funny memory I had of the equal opportunity bigot, Jesus (the unmistakably gay Mexican friend, and when I say he's predjudiced, that includes his ilk), calling me on the same spring day, a couple years ago. Responding to the chafing tone in his voice, I asked him what the matter could be.

"Well, Blanche..."

I must interrupt the progress of this story to inform you that Jesus is primarily obsessed with five particular movies, all of which he likes to (mis)quote with an alarming frequency -

Vanilla Sky - "When you sleep with someone, your body makes a (promise), whether you do or not, David."
Mommie Dearest - "Christina! Bring me the axe!"
Fatal Attraction - "You won't answer my calls, you change your number. I mean, I'm not gonna be ignored, Dan!"
Reform School Girls - "Keep your fingers above the sheets girls, we only change the beds once a week!
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (with Joan Crawford and Bette Davis)

"Blanche: "You wouldn't be able to do these awful things to me if I wasn't in this chair."

Jane: "But ya-aahr Blanche, ya-aahr in that chair!"

Any noticeable recurrent themes you can discern therein, are quite recurrent with the lad, I assure you. Anyway, he calls me, among others, "Blanche." Or rather, "Blan-shh, " and as sibilantly as one can with that "ch." And, if something is making you unhappy, he will needle, "Why are you being so tragic, Blanche?" This is a good friend.

So, I asked him what the matter could be.

"Well, Blanche, it just took me an hour and a half to get across Hollywood back home. The traffic was crazy. All those Armenians and their so-called Genocide Parade."

I was confused, "Why 'so-called' ?"

"Well, they're still around, aren't they?"


I just wanted you all to know that, as Joe put it, "Archie Bunker is alive and well," and he's even more vitriolic, probably because he's trapped inside a gay Mexican.

Anyway, as bitterly comedic as that was to me, it was as much the laughter of nervous fear as anything. I am always amazed at the way suffering people lash out against others bearing hurt. Maybe sympathy or even empathy, if you can bear it, comes only when you have cleaned out your own wounds.

I have to remember this too, when I'm angry at Jesus for his negativity.

Bless the Armenians. And may God bless you too, Jesus-Blanche.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Many Happy Returns of the Day, Huckleberry!

from Chapter 6 which Eeyore has a birthday and gets two presents (with apologies to A.A. Milne for the severe abridgement and wobbly edit)

"Many happy returns of the day," said Piglet again.

"Meaning me?"

"Of course, Eeyore."

"My birthday?"


"Me having a real birthday?"

"Yes, Eeyore, and I've brought you a present."

Eeyore took down his right hoof from his right ear, turned round, and with great difficulty put up his left hoof.

"I must have that in the other ear," he said. "Now then."

"A present," said Piglet very loudly.

"Meaning me again?"


"My birthday still?"

"Of course, Eeyore."

"Me going on having a real birthday?"

"Yes, Eeyore, and I brought you a balloon."

"Balloon?" said Eeyore. "You did say balloon? One of those big coloured things you blow up? Gaiety, song-and-dance,
here we are and there we are?"

So there we are, Happy Birthday! May it be full of "Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Loving Someone After Death...

"And this is the Comfort of the Good,
that the grave cannot hold them,
and that they live as soon as they die.
For Death is no more
than a turning of us over from time to eternity.
Death, then, being the way and condition of Life,
we cannot love to live,
if we cannot bear to die.

They that love beyond the World, cannot be separated by it.
Death cannot kill what never dies.
Nor can Spirits ever be divided
that love and live in the same Divine Principle,
the Root and Record of their Friendship.
If Absence be not death, neither is theirs.

Death is but Crossing the World, as Friends do the Seas ..."

-William Penn, 1693

Rainbow Sleeves

You used to dream yourself away each night
To places that you'd never been
On wings made of wishes
That you whispered to yourself
Back when every night the moon and you
Would sweep away to places
That you knew
Where you would never get the blues

Well now, whiskey gives you wings
To carry each one of your dreams
And the moon does not belong to you
But I believe that your heart
Keeps young dreams
Well, I've been told
To keep from ever growing old
And a heart that has been broken
Will be stronger when it mends

Don't let the blues stop you singing
Darlin', you've only got a broken wing
Hey, you just hang on to my rainbow
Hang on to my rainbow
Hang on to my rainbow sleeves

- written by Tom Waits, recorded by Rickie Lee Jones on Girl at Her Volcano

Tom Waits (1979): "The first time I saw Rickie Lee she reminded me of Jayne Mansfield. I thought she was extremely attractive, which is to say that my first reactions were rather primitive - primeval even. Her style onstage was appealing and arousing, sorta like that of a sexy white spade. She was drinking a lot then [1977] and I was too, so we drank together. You can learn a lot about a woman by getting smashed with her. I remember her getting her first pair of high heels, at least since I knew her, and coming by one night to holler in my window to take her out celebrating. There she was, walking down Santa Monica Boulevard, drunk and falling off her shoes. 'I love her madly in my own way - you'll gather that our relationship wasn't exactly like Mike Todd and Elizabeth Taylor - but she scares me to death. She is much older than I am in terms of street wisdom; sometimes she seems as ancient as dirt, and yet other times she's so like a little girl."

Chuck E. Weiss (1979): "She's all woman, and seems tough - I remember when she was broke and used to sleep under the Hollywood sign. But she's also real soft and playful. She and Waits and I used to steal the black lawn jockeys from homes in Beverly Hills and hop freight trains together. Once we three were at an exclusive party in the Hollywood Hills, invited there by Tom's lawyer, and Rickie went right in, sat down, and put an avocado between her legs. Tom was embarrassed but got a great kick out of it. Nobody would talk to us after that, so we spent the evening going up to people with cocktail dip hidden in our palms and shaking hands with them."

Spiritual Growing Pains

Kirk Cameron has found God and would like you to join him.

Now, I am not a Christian basher, so please don't misunderstand, but poor reasoning and absurd illustration is just plain funny. In this video, you will learn:

- That studying Evolution in school made Kirk an Atheist

- Despite the common belief that Atheism = Intellectualism, it really is the exact opposite

- The Origin of the Soda Can (1:36 ish)

- Why the Banana is The Atheist's Nightmare. (3:34)

- The Intelligent design of the banana, which was intentionally built to fit the ridges of your hand (LOVING the demo on that one).

(Recommended viewing time on this one is 1:36 > 4:40 - click on the post title)

What I can never quite understand is how the ideas of Creationism and Evolution are mutually exclusive. I guess you have to throw out the Garden story, for one, unless you're willing to retain your faith and yet still read the Bible as metaphor. But seriously, could there really not be a creative deity who set a grand equation/master plan/formula in motion, and let it unfold? And why is anyone so arrogant as to think that a ubiquitous and omnipotent being didn't cook up a recipe that exceeds our current powers of comprehension? I'm sure our current understanding of Evolutionary Theory is faulty and, well, is still 'evolving,' but the creationist model seems awfully elementary to me. Sorry guys.

And by the way, Rev. Comfort, I read in that some primates peel the banana from the end opposite of the stem, because it is easier to pull open.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I Love You to Death

I hate that phrase.

Someone said it tonight to me on the phone, though no one I'm still with, thank you very much. I've asked that person please never to use those words with me, but apparently he can't help himself. That's right, keep drinking while you're on the anti-seizure medication. What a waste.

I first recognized my abhorrence for the phrase when it came from another quondam boyfriend as he was giving me the old heave-ho. Chris used it as a sort of assurance of my intrinsic value. Some consolation. "I love you to DEATH!" he said nervously, and protesting I don't know what. I should simply have replied, "Don't waste your energy."

What does this mean, really? In his case he was saying, "I like you a lot as a PERSON, but I'm not IN LOVE with you. Don't be angry!"

I object to this phrase because it has so many possible interpretations, its ambiguity is dangerous, but mostly because it's always masking something:

Masochistic- I love you so much it will kill me.

Sadistic - My love is going to kill you.

False and frightening - I don't really love you, so I overcompensate with mock passion to the point of ferocity. Yet, I kind of wish you'd just go away. That's like death, isn't it?

Passive Agressive - I might actually love you, but with a chip on the shoulder.

Glib - Similar to F & F, minus the second F. Reserved for hairdressers, sales people, and casting agents.

Hypermanic - I sincerely need my Ritalin, Lithium, or Thyroid medication.

There is one positive take I can think of. It requires the assumption that it has its origins (those being something I could not discover online), in something older, quainter.

Such as, "I'll love you 'till Death do us part."

I can guarantee you they don't mean it that way. People who love you say, "I love you."

Gay Ghost Dad - It's Never Too Late to Come Out!

About two years ago my mother staged a posthumous "outing" of her first husband, my father. I was an audience of one. What occasioned this revelation escapes my memory. I believe there was little connection to anything in our telephone conversation, and so the news was rather jarring. Let me be clear that I was never upset by the notion that my father was potentially a big queen. Even if I saw that quality as a failing, which I don't, it would fall so far down his list of poor qualities as to seem insignificant.

What does upset me is that he was an equal opportunity cheater - she caught him with both men and women (not at the same time, so far as I know, but it WAS the 70s). Let's just say that he was, well, experimental. About everything, really. My father wanted to try it, what ever it was, at least once. And that was genuinely a part of his rakish charm.

That and his perpetual boyishness, puer eternis. Successful and commanding as he once was, he was also endowed with a playful, impish quality. Impossibly funny, jaunty, dashing even. Despite all the sadness I've written of, I really remember him nearly always wearing that cocky grin on his face. My dad was just plain fun, and despite his choice of profession, I believe he lived to break rules. It was his revelry.

Except that he inherited a crushing historical and cultural weight, and yoked himself to it. Sad to think of him living inauthentically, but it was a different time, though not quite different enough. I've wondered if he had remained in the city of his birth, Los Angeles, if he might eventually have discovered some acceptance. As it was, the family moved to Mormonville Central, while he was still in grade school. Given his generation and his "upbringing" (a curious word given the way many of us are raised), he probably could not have gracefully escaped the mandate of shame in our culture. My brother thinks he was doomed to play that out. He wrote this to me recently (it's so good to have him back in my life, he's funny):

" If Dad had lived, I really doubt he would have come to grips with his
sexuality. As with numerous examples from his generation (Roy Cohn, etc.),
once you have incorporated repression into your everyday life, you build
everything else around it and it becomes impossible to extricate,
especially if your peer group still thinks that being gay is evil or
bad. Look at Ken Mehlman. In fact, Dad was worried that I was gay.
He was always saying things like "B____, you should be more interested in
women." Another time he refused to take me to see Scarecrow, about a
deep friendship between Al Pacino and Gene Hackman, because "it'll just
make you like men more." So he was also deeply ashamed of his
attraction to men, and I doubt that would have changed. However, he
could have become a bigwig in the Republican party, it's chock full of
closeted gays. "

We really have got sexuality all bound up, haven't we? When I try to resolve this question in my head, "was he really gay, my father?" Gay gay? Or simply bisexual? My mother claims he was passionate with her. Did he really need two full beards - two wives and children from each one? Why leave the first family for my mother (I grant you she had her charms), if what he really wanted were men? I have no answer for this question, and I doubt that even he could answer it, were he alive. And that's what I object to so strenuously, a world that requires people to live against their very beingness. We constrain sexual expression to the point that one can't so much as explore safely to discover what the true nature really is. The unexamined life is not worth living, and as it turned out, for my father it wasn't even possible to continue. I'm sure it's what ultimately killed him.

Do you think there is a God who creates such a torment in a man, such that it destroys him, and then punishes him for it on the other side of his demise? I don't believe that, and I will never bow before such a God. I've been bent down, I have knelt, I've been forced to the ground by the circumstances of my life more times than I can recount or even recall. Times when I thought I might expire just from the sheer pain of it. I will accept trials and tests and the strength that is built, but you will never get me to believe that God hates a grown human being who reaches for another in a moment of loneliness, or desire, or just plain love. And it does exist outside of hetero relationships. I have seen it.

My father was quite a fellow, in many ways. He came from a very large and quite poor family in Salt Lake City, but he was unreasonably bright and equally ambitious. At least three people have told me he was the smartest man they ever met, or maybe they didn't get around too much. After a short time at the U. of Utah, he enlisted in the Korean war, but was stationed in Germany for having flat feet or something. He studied at the University of Heidelberg, and owing to a famously photographic memory, he learned German in a heartbeat. Then off to Harvard for law school, where he graduated magna cum laude, while he and his first wife raised their three children. Once transplanted to Portland, Oregon, he co-founded his own flourishing corporate securities practice and was making money hand over fist by his early thirties. I'm told that back then, he was one of the most prominent attorneys in the Pacific Northwest. This is something I care little about, the wealth he accrued, then lost. I will admit to an occasional pang over a woebegone inheritance, but my father was unhappy, and all his land and capital didn't change that fact while he had it.

Sometime in 1965, and smack in the middle of his career, he took off to Mississippi with a group of Oregon attorneys. They were among the first in the country to volunteer through the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (which was established in conjunction with Kennedy's Civil Rights Act of 1964). This was a dangerous time. This was the Mississippi that had taken Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman just a year before. People died for helping Black People. It has always struck me ironically that my father, outspoken against practices of homosexuality to the extent that he tried to separate me as a child from a beloved aunt, would risk his neck for the color line. If he were still alive, and if I had known about all this before he died, I would have told him so.

Writing that last line I realized something intrinsic to our relationship. What I wrote is absolutely true, I argued with him quite a bit, and I was free to do so. My father encouraged me to know my mind by allowing me to exercise it. We had long telephone conversations when I was small that were about ideas. I know he found me funny, and often he would say with an amused laugh, "You're too logical." That, of course, is highly debatable, but notable in that to the rest of my family I was always "too sensitive." In the good and private hemisphere of a world I shared with my father, he indulged me. I was free to be as I wanted, say what I wanted, even if he couldn't in his own adult life. I am eternally grateful to him for that. As much as my father is mysterious to me, there is little doubt I am more like him than I am my mother. I really loved him, all the way along the rough road he drove us down.

It is a real pity I never learned of his time in the South until later. Without any knowledge of it, I naturally gravitated towards a course of study in high school and college that linked directly into his work. I wish I knew what he experienced there. For me, his pro bono civil rights work is the greatest mark of his life. About seven years ago, he and the other attorneys were honored by the ACLU. I accepted a posthumous award on his behalf; Myrlie Evers gave the keynote address. It gave me so much that night to know that he had done at least one great thing.

Anyway, the night my mother dropped the G-bomb, after I got off the phone and tried to process it all, I was suddenly struck with an idea for a movie. "Gay Ghost Dad," haunting his family. Rearranging furniture in the middle of the night, because the placement of the divan was just all wrong! The stereo mysteriously plays an old Bette Midler LP. The distant cackle of Paul Lynde echoes down the long hallway. Last season's clothing mysteriously disappears from wardrobes and laundry hampers, like stray socks, never to be found again. It's never too late to come out of the closet, and now the household's in an uproar.

But that's just like me, spreading love and acceptance, and busting up stereotypes when and where I can.

Ce Petit Hardy

L'amitie -

Beaucoup de mes amis sont venus des nuages
avec soleil et pluie comme simples bagages
ils ont fait la saison des amitiés sincères
la plus belle saison des quatres de la terre

ils ont cette douceur des plus beaux paysages
et la fidélité des oiseaux de passage
dans leur coeur est gravée une infinie tendresse
mais parfois dans leurs yeux se glisse la tristesse

alors ils viennent se chauffer, chez moi
et toi, aussi, tu viendras

tu pourras repartir au fin fond des nuages
et de nouveau sourire à bien d'autres visages
donner autour de toi un peu de ta tendresse
lorsqu'un autre voudra te cacher sa tristesse

comme l'on ne sait pas ce que la vie nous donne
il se peut qu'à mon tour je ne sois plus personne
s'il me reste un ami qui vraiment me comprenne
j'oublierai à la fois mes larmes et mes peines

alors, peut-être, je viendrai, chez toi
chauffer mon coeur à ton bois

-recorded by Françoise Hardy, 1965

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Wind

(this is what I'm listening to right at this moment. The rest of the time, Miranda Lee Richards is in heavy rotation.
Blowing you a kiss, Miranda!)

I listen to the wind
To the wind of my soul
Where I’ll end up well I think,
Only God really knows
I’ve sat upon the setting sun
But never, never never never
I never wanted water once
No, never, never, never

I listen to my words but
They fall far below
I let my music take me where
My heart wants to go
I swam upon the devil’s lake
But never, never never never
I’ll never make the same mistake
No, never, never, never

-Cat Stevens, when he wrote it. Now Yusuf Islam. née Stephen Demetre Georgiou.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My Sentiments, Exactly

"Give me a man who is man enough to give himself
just to the woman who is worth him.
If that woman were me, I would love him alone and forever."

Francesca Bruni, "Casanova"

Tool Time

I helped to build this house - Did the trim carpentry around windows and doors, and rebuilt the soffit over the back entry door. Then I painted the whole damned thing in five colors. It was an easy commute, just up at the end of my street. I had no hand in designing the place, which is a somewhat unfortunate amalgam of Victorian and Craftsman features. The gazebo certainly has no place with the latter style, and is too large in scale and way too close to the house. Plus, the pitch of the roof is extreme, though you can't see it well here. It is a cute enough place, though. Warning to all future remodelers: put your money into good custom windows. Those depicted here are false mullioned jobbies, where the "dividers" sit behind the glass. It is what it looks like, cheap, and cannot be painted.
This is a recent project, a steel trellis. Painted it a chocolate brown. I have no picture of it completed. I didn't build it, as I've no training in welding, though I would learn if someone wanted to teach me. Then all my childhood Flashdance fantasies could be realized, um, except that I was never an exotic dancer. I spent days degreasing the steel. This phrase reminds a friend (and homeowner in question), of an episode of the Litle Rascals, "I can't come out and play," the boy from Our Gang whines, "I've got to stay home and grease Wheezer." Anyway, after cleaning it, you look a bit like an auto mechanic. Makes a girl worry a bit about her femininity.

This is me with my pops, "working" in his shop. I couldn't have been more than three, but I'm holding a screwdriver.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

To Do List

‘Now must thou thus cast off all sloth,’ said the Master ‘for sitting on down or under blankets none comes to fame, and without it he that consumes his life leaves such trace of himself on earth as smoke in air or foam on the water. Rise, therefore, conquer thy panting with the soul, which conquers in every battle if it sink not with its body’s weight. There is a longer stair which must be climbed’

-Dante, Commedia, Inferno XXIV, 46-55)

Whirlwind of Lovers (Illustration to Dante's Inferno), William Blake

The Ballad of the Sad Young Men

I am sorry to rely too heavily on the writings of others, but thinking about the dream I posted and your comments (and thank you for them, they are excellent), I suddenly thought of this song. It is intrisically tied into what I feel is one current of meaning in this dream, for myself, and the broader problems I see in our culture.

If you have never hear this song, I urge you to seek it out. My exposure to it comes through Roberta Flack's recording from June of 1969.

Sing a song of sad young man
Glasses full of rye
All the news is bad again so
Kiss your dreams goodbye

All the sad young men
Sitting in the bars
Knowing neon nights
Missing all the stars

All the sad young men
Drifting through the town
Drinking up the night
Trying not to drown

All the sad young men
Singing in the cold
Trying to forget
That they're growing old

All the sad young men
Choking on their worth
Trying to be brave
Running from the truth

Autumm turns the leaves to gold
Slowly dies the heart
Sad young men are growing old
That's the cruelest part

All the sad young men
Seek a certain smile
Someone they can hold for a little while
Tired little girl does the best she can
Trying to be gay for her sad young man

While the grimy moon
Watches from above
All the sad young men
Play at making love

Misbegotten moon
Shine for sad young men
Let your gentle light
Guide them home tonight
All the sad young men

Music written by Thomas J. Wolf Jr. and lyrics by Frances Landesman,
from the 1959 Broadway jazz musical "The Nervous Set".

Daughter of the Mistral

Several years ago I had a dream which I experienced as something not quite belonging to me. It was unusual for several reasons, one being that it was narrated, and in a lovely male voice and a language I had never heard before. Somehow, through dream omniscience, I guess, I was able to understand what was spoken. And yet it was almost as if there were no actual voice at all.

Also atypical of my dream life, was the fact that I was nowhere to be found in the dream itself. I generally have some role in these narratives, even if it's simply that of an observer. The dream felt like mythology. I'm sure it has it's meaning specific to me, but I couldn't help feeling like it meant something else, too. I would love to hear any interpretations.

It went like this -

Everything is hued in gold, a bright shining sun over the Mediterranean. A man sits naked on a raft, his weight is shifted onto one hip. His legs, though bent some, jut out behind him. He props his torso and head up by keeping his weight on his hands. In his left hip, or maybe just a bit down the thigh, is an embedded arrow.

On the shore are two other men, one of them an archer.

The man is in peril - our man, the subject of this story. The raft is stealing him away from harm, but he has no oars, no means to guide his craft.

For some time he floats. He going where the winds want to take him. It is said on the wind he must find the Mistral's daughter.

For who knows how long he is on this course. Then, one day he lands on a distant shore. She is there, lying on the beach. Still now, all is golden with the sun, like her hair. She is young and lovely, and trying to give birth. She cannot, and a pact is made.

He pulls the arrow out of his hip and carves the baby out of her mother's belly. Her mother, who inevitably must perish, and so he has promised to take her, this girl child.

They are floating on the raft together, this man and this little girl, a daughter of the Mistral.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Tonight, along with my Vegetarian Pho soup, I ate spring rolls "wrapped in wanton paper."

Salt of the Earth

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let's drink to the salt of the earth

Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth

And when I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
In fact, they look so strange

Raise your glass to the hard working people
Let's drink to the uncounted heads
Let's think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders but get gamblers instead

Spare a thought for the stay-at-home voter
His empty eyes gaze at strange beauty shows
And a parade of the gray suited grafters
A choice of cancer or polio

And when I look in the faceless crowd
A swirling mass of grays and
Black and white
They don't look real to me
Or don't they look so strange

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's think of the lowly of birth
Spare a thought for the rag taggy people
Let's drink to the salt of the earth

Let's drink to the hard working people
Let's drink to the salt of the earth
Let's drink to the two thousand million
Let's think of the humble of birth

(Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

There's No Use Crying Over Spilled Milk

Unless it's in your car.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday Egg Massacre

I originally thought to write some long-winded and didactic essay about the "origins" of Easter. You know, Eostre, Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility, and the symbolism of eggs, wabbits, and the meaning of hot cross buns. Instead, I'll leave it to you to get your hands on a copy of The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Don't get all reactionary about the title - it's really a great reference book that traces the origins and histories of mythologies and human practices governed by religion.

Got Milk? -

My roommate phoned me Sunday afternoon from Hawaii, bursting with a child's delight. Seems that morning, just over the neighbor's fence, they spied a hen sitting on a clutch of eggs. Sometime later, the yellow chicks burst out of their shells. (It is only now occurring to me that chicks are the same color as the yolk of an egg. How can I be such a dullard?) One lone egg failed to join the others (had I been there, I would have named it for myself - the one who was born a month late. I understand the reluctance to step out into the world), and RPP was concerned that the mother was not tending to it, that it might not hatch after all.

"Some eggs are sterile - maybe there's no chick inside."
"It was moving."
"Maybe it's a runt."

There was some confused conversation about how this all works, which was charming really, as it seemed RPP had completely regressed, in all her excitement. Bear in mind, his woman is smart, and she's a nurse.

"So, the chicks sit on the eggs, and then the babies are hatched, but the rooster..."
"Don't you mean the hens sit on the eggs?"
"Oh, yeah. But then do the roosters come from the hens, or how do you know if you are going to get hens or roosters..."
"You really were raised in the city, weren't you?"
"Um, yeah."
"Well, so was I, but hens are females, roosters are males, chicks are babies of both genders, and which sex you get from a clutch - well, it's just a mix. But both come from the hen... (pause) ...Now, RPP, where do we get milk?"

"From cows and your breasts."

Ok, this is funny for reasons I won't tell you.

The Bleating of the Lambs, Clarice -

Last evening I had Easter dinner at Henry's house. Henry's the reason I started this blog, to get me over the sadness when we parted ways. It seems he's sad we've not been seeing each other socially, so he sent one of his emissaries to bring me back into the fold. As much as I get disgruntled by the manner in which the invitation was extended and limpdick tactics generally, I was grateful to spend an evening with people who were a regular part of my life. Still, I don't know why he's so scared to pick up the damned phone. It was warming when he told me he was glad I had come.

I ate an entire shank of lamb, and the heavenly potatoes that had been steeped in all that fatty gravy goodness. Lamb needs almost no seasoning, it's so aromatic. It's my favorite meat, though venison and beef run close behind. Of course, I violated my vegetarian creed, something I've been doing often enough to make me not quite a vegetarian at all.

I sat next to Henry, and at some point I had to cut the meat off the bone for him. You see, as part of his ancient injury, he lacks a certain dexterity, though he's a successful storyboard artist, and draws quite fast. He has a term for his cumbersome fingers and lack of legerdemain. With his dry tone and British accent (almost the same thing, I reckon), he will say, defensively yet with intentional humor, "Well, you try tying your laces with bunches of bananas."

It was a nice evening, even with Jesus running wild as usual. That's right, Jesus, our crazy gay Mexican friend. Don't ask, "what would Jesus do?" He's so hyper, it's like someone's putting a perpetual roll of quarters in him. The mouth doesn't stop. It exhausts me.

I got quite tired, mostly from the Tryptophan (it's not just for turkey anymore), and made an early departure. Henry looked discomfited. I leaned over to give him kiss goodbye, and though I aimed for the cheek, he maneuvered so the impact was on my lips. I switched cheeks for part two, and he really got me that time. He looked sorry I was leaving. I guess he was marking his old territory a bit. Perhaps he was doing that thing guys do when they know you've slipped a bit past their grasp. Just as you're falling off their radar, the inevitable phone call comes. They don't really want you back, they just test the romantic waters to see if they've still got their hooks in you. It's pure ego.

I guess I shouldn't sell myself short. If he misses me, well, he should. I'm glad to be past all that, though I could try to be friends at this point.

And someday, if you're really good, I'll tell you all about what it was like to be with a man in a wheelchair, since all my girlfriends have asked.


My Peeps!

One Easter, four years ago, I was dating a guy. Wanting to do something celebratory for the holiday, I decided I would buy package after package of marshmallow bunnies and chicks to stick all over his front door. He, being a funny sort, would have enjoyed it. Plus, the glue would simply be the sugar, so no harm could come to the door.

Unfortunately, events transpired that made it impossible for me to make any such romantic gestures in his direction. Too bad. I always though it would look so cool. But don't steal it, I'm using the motif in my new screenplay, "Peeps on a Plane."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hawaii Five-0

My roommate's in Hawaii, and I have the house to myself, plus two large black dogs, for the first time in quite awhile. She asked if I'd ever been there, to Hawaii, and I said "Yes." "Yes, when I was very small."

So small I got forgotten.

I've been forgotten a lot. Left behind, left out, alone. In fifth grade, on a school trip to Vancouver, Canada, I asked to go to the bathroom while we were in the Sears tower, and when I returned five minutes later, the whole class was gone. I went to the ticket office and told the guy I thought we were going on a harbor tour next. He called around until he found a booking for The Catlin Gabel School, then drove me over on his lunch break. I fell asleep on the sofa in the office of the boating tour company. When the teacher walked in, not only did he not notice me on the couch, they had never realized I was missing over the last three hours. There were fewer than forty kids. Even though it was their fault I missed lunch, they wouldn't stop to feed me. I'm sure they felt just terrible, but you'd think they could have gotten me to a sandwich. I had gotten myself across a foreign city to find them, when they should have been finding me, hadn't I?

It's something in my cosmic makeup - could you find it in my astrological chart? Is it some great Karmic payback? And what's up with that Karma thing? I could get behind that more squarely if we could actually recall what we had done wrong last time round.

Anyway, in second grade, my mother consented to a trip for me in Hawaii with my father. I'm sure she arrived at this decision with great trepidation; my father was unreliable, to say the least. Yet off we went, my father and me, to Honolulu for a week. We visited Kauai, we toured tropical gardens, we watched polynesian dances, we bought oysters curbside from a man who knifed them open to see if they revealed a pearl, my birthstone. I tasted sugar cane, I tasted mango, and I tasted poi, from the purple taro root. I thought I'd never taste anything worse.

One morning, we left out hotel room and walked the few blocks to Waikiki Beach. On the sand, in my swimming attire, he said he had to go buy socks, and would return shortly.

Hours went by. I don't remember eating anything; I must have been quite hungry. I do recall walking out into the aquamarine water, but never really swam. I think he told me not to. So I waded, and I dug holes with my feet in the sand, and I tiptoed along the shoreline. And I waited.

An old Hawaiian man was there, weaving those crane-like figures out of something like palm fronds. He kept me company for quite a long while, speaking to me gently, and offered me one of his pretty birds, for free.

I don't know if he stayed with me until dark. The sequence is a little blurry, as things tend to get when they go on too long. It was dusk or worse when my father returned.

I wonder now at the things that could have happened to me alone there in that city, on that shoreline. A girl of seven, and pale as I was, I don't know why I didn't burn.

As we walked back to our hotel, we passed the large glass window of an art gallery. Showcased there was a large oil painting, a jungle garden in greens and purples, and broad painterly strokes. I mentioned liking it, and out came The Wallet. My father was notorious for buying presents when he felt guilty. This is when I realized he was drunk. We argued for maybe ten minutes, as I obstinately refused to allow him to make such a purchase. What kind of child was I? I had this acute sense that if he bought it, it would be dreadfully wrong. "Too expensive, Daddy," I kept telling him. That, and I didn't like the way it made me feel.

I prevailed, and we made it back to the room in time for him to pass out on his bed.

I must have been awfully hungry, but I don't remember it at all.

Then I did what I was told. Mother had given me clear instruction: "If he gets drunk, you call home."

Home. What's the distance between Portland and the middle of the South Pacific? 2600 miles.

The man at the front desk was brisk and officious, in that Disneyfied over-friendly manner. If you've ever been to one of their theme parks you know what I'm talking about, they hurt themselves smiling. Anyway, I might as well have been talking to a government worker; clearly there was no paragraph in the employee handbook that covered what I was telling him. No box to check, no button to push. He was incredulous. I don't think he thought I was making anything up, he just refused to hear me at all.

Why don't you go back upstairs to your parents?

At some point, my father rallied enough to open an eye and notice something missing from the room. He phoned the desk while I was standing there. I believe the man put me on the phone with him. I believe I explained to my father that I could not possibly rejoin him, my mother had forbidden it. I wrested myself from the grip of his morose slur as quickly and as tactfully as I was able. I didn't want to hurt his feelings any more than I had.

Again. Why won't you go back upstairs to your father? He wants you with him.

Was everybody so doused and high in the late seventies that the languid warp of a drunken voice failed to register? This was the point that day when I felt the most abandoned, I think. Abandoned not only by my father, but by reason, by decency, by humanity. Did this man really not get it? I buttressed myself with sheer will, so I could repeat it, one last time. Once more was about all I could bear. The turmoil wasn't solely explosive frustration, it was also fear, shame, loss, and guilt.

My father is drunk. He has a drinking problem. My mom said if this happened, I'm supposed to call home. Will you please call my mother?

I had to be crying at this moment, hadn't I? If I wasn't, or if I hadn't already been, I was nothing like the child I remember. I was so sensitive, so easily hurt, and yet always with this unnatural composure in tough situations. My stoicism did not always include absence of tears, still, I never fussed, I never made a scene. I must have had a mother lode of compressed emotion from my silence and my stillness. It's abnormal for humans not to react when their world goes awry. It's certainly not normal for children. My mother will tell you I was a bit of a whiner when I was very tiny, but I never once threw a temper tantrum, my entire childhood. How can that be? My mother slapped me across the face continuously for sassmouthing when I was only telling the truth. My father was a train wreck by the time I was three and a half. In that same year, my grandmother tried to kill herself while I was in her home. There were sirens and flashing lights, and men in uniforms taking her out of there and to who knows where. My father flew into physical rages at my brother, and his own schizophrenic brother had recently killed himself. When we drove up that steep hill on his property on John Day River, our land with the indian petroglyphs and the antelope, I was terrified because I didn't know about gravity, and I was sure the wagon would fall backwards off the hillside. He wouldn't stop the car, not for me, his littlest one. He was laughing. I might have been sleep walking when I had night visions of a smallish cartoon dragon who followed me around the house. It scared me so badly I would sneak into my parents room, where I was not supposed to sleep, to curl up on the floor at the foot of the bed with my mother's dog, until such time as they found me. I had dreams of the house on fire, and I was afraid of my own heartbeat, because I didn't know that was what I was hearing. I thought there were soldiers marching, and they were coming for me - no doubt it was seeing the end of Vietnam on the tv, while my dad drank bourbon and Coke. For years I slept in closets and under beds. I would clear my toy box out just so I could hide inside. Once, my mother panicked after she couldn't find me or the dog for over an hour. I had crawled up inside a long laundry bag full of dirty clothing and fallen asleep, clutching the poodle. I just wanted to be safe. My mother gave away my pet rabbit before I turned five because, as she put it, I wasn't taking proper care of it. Four-year-olds don't take care of pets, they spill water on the way to the cage and scatter pellets. In later years she would tell me that the bunny had died, and she thought telling me some farmer had it would be greater consolation than knowing it had croaked. It doesn't really matter what happened, all I know is what marked itself indelibly on me: I had lost something I loved because I hadn't loved it enough. All this before I was five.

Then we left.

So I don't know what finally broke the hotel employee down. Maybe I looked just pathetic enough to distract him from his busywork or the fact that I wasn't going away, but it was an epic struggle to get him to dial the eleven lousy numbers they undoubtedly billed to the room.

Next I was staying at the home of my stepfather's childhood friend, for the duration of my holiday. Al Harrington was Det. Ben Kokua on a popular tv show that bridged the end of the sixties into 1980. I watched Jack Lord bust bad guys amid all those bikinis and surfboards and beautiful dark women with keen interest. I didn't love it quite so much as Emergency! and Johnny Gage, but the theme music was thrilling enough to keep you hooked. In some ways my life consistently has this ridiculous and strange twist - just as things have gone all to shit, no sooner than my people have reached their lowest abjection, up pops some remarkable circumstance, in drops a celebrity. Al was very handsome and very large. I don't remember much about the few days I stayed with them, these complete strangers. I must have completely disassociated by this point; on the other side of trauma are people you've never met. They were nice and I was polite, and then I was back on an airplane for home.

The stewardesses were nice and I was polite, and they were probably just relieved the kid was quiet. It was nighttime, and the weather was bad. One of them wrote me these letters in red on a white cocktail napkin I kept for years. She wrote them because I asked.

"Male Kalekemaka." Merry Christmas.

What Flavor's Yaws?

Since a reader asked for the definition of "milkshake," and I don't like to be abstruse, here's this from the Urban Dictionary:

1) noun - A drink consisting of milk and Icecream.
2) slang - A woman's body and the way she carries it.
Word usage:
1) Chocolate flavored milkshakes taste so good, they really quinch (sic) my thirst.
2) Ahh shoot cuz, did you see that chick's milkshake? I mean, the way she was walking with that booty shakin' was so off the hizzy.


"Milkshake is just that thing that makes a woman stand out from everyone else. It's a thing that makes you sensual and warm and maternal. It could be about breasts but I don't have huge t*** so you gotta work with what you got."

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard...

Of course, a third definition is given, that being blow job, which fits my favorite lyric, "I could teach you, but I'd have to charge."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

One Need Not Be A Chamber To Be Haunted

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting
External ghost,
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.

Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase,
Than, moonless, one's own self encounter
In lonesome place.

Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror's least.

The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O'erlooking a superior spectre
More near.

- Emily Dickinson


*(sorry for that. sort of.)

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
no one knows the name of.

Give your life
to be one of them.

1207-1273 CE

It Ain't Hangin' in the Met...

The "School" is expanding. Got a new blog. Mostly pictures.


La Poubelle

Today is the day we put our garbage out curbside.

I've been reevaluating certain friendships of mine. This has been going on for quite some time, really. Redefining boundaries; learning to be more careful about circulating information (who gets to know what); tightening the screws on my own mouth, which (and this is probably surprising, given how open I am on this site), was already pretty tight. I've never been much of a gossip, and can be relied upon for confidentiality. People have always told me their deep dark secrets, even when I was inappropriately young. But we can always use improvement in these areas, and partly it's been a struggle to really learn non-judgement. It's easier when I don't give careless people the opportunity to be hurtful. Most people are so very very careless. The sorry side-effect is finding oneself just a little more isolated than before.

I do get judgemental. I want high standards for myself and others. But anyone who really knows me will tell you, I am kind and open of heart and mind, and I forgive easily. Too easily. Except when there is no acknowledgement of a hurt, then I will be as remote as northen Greenland. I don't know if that's a shortcoming or not. I don't tend to lash out or fight. Being distant seems controlling, I'm sure. Mostly it just keeps both of us safe.

We all do so many things that hurt each other, many of them inadvertant. Part of loving people is accepting the fact that they will, inevitably, disappoint you. Love them anyway.

Here's a favorite quotation of mine from Huckleberry Finn. It's Jim to Huck. Click on the post title if you'd like to read the short chapter.

"Trash is what people is dat puts dirt on de head er dey fren's en makes 'em ashamed."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My Milkshake

That's right, it's better than yaws.

Booga Booga

In the French Tarot, the word for this card is "La Force." Now for a little synchronicity:

I have a somewhat odd relationship to this imagery.

In grade school, my mother gave me a greeting card of a blonde girl with a lion, which strongly evoked this image. Similar to the meaning of tarot card #8, she describes me, accurately or not, with Aesop's fable of a contest between wind and sun. Each strives to see who can make the man on the road remove his coat first. The sun won through gentle persuasion. It was not the cold and ragged wind.

While in therapy during high school, my Jungian psychologist gave me a card of another blonde girl, her arms wrapped around a lion. She felt it represented me, and my mother was, partly, the lion.

The first time I ever had a tarot reading was on a Portland city bus - this strange girl was learning to read them, and wanted to pull the cards which "represent" me. Among others, I got the Magician, The High Priestess, and Strength and the Empress (both are the same woman). Since then, I get those cards pretty consistently in readings. It's a big deck.

In my bedroom hangs a print of a favorite painting, Henri Rousseau's Sleeping Gypsy. Bought it at the MOMA when I was in NYC in '98. It's of a woman lying in the desert under an open sky and crescent moon. Beside her is a lute; wandering minstrel is the meaning of my last name. A lion stands over her as she sleeps. My connection to that work is rather strong; it brought me to tears when saw it for the first time. That's an uncommon experience, though I had the same reaction to Picasso's Guernica. I only recognized the relationship to the strength card imagery about a year ago.

If you open up the "Birthday Book," which is an astrological-numerological interpretation of your birth date, a tarot card is given. Mine is the Strength card.

Last week, I wasted a bit more of my life by taking the "which tarot card are you?" test. It's random. You type in your name. Still, I got the Strength card.

Interpretation of the card reads:
"This is a card of courage and energy. It represents both the Lion's hot, roaring energy, and the Maiden's steadfast will. The innocent Maiden is unafraid, undaunted, and indomitable. In some cards she opens the lion's mouth, in others she shuts it. Either way, she proves that inner strength is more powerful than raw physical strength. That forces can be controlled and used to score a victory is very close to the message of the Chariot, which might be why, in some decks, it is Justice that is card 8 (the sign of the Infinite) instead of Strength. This card assures the Querent that they can control not only the situation, but themselves. It is a card about anger and impulse management, about creative answers, leadership and maintaining one's personal honor. It can also stand for a steadfast friend."

Either I am like this lady, or need to learn to be like her. Perhaps it's both.

What does it all mean? Don't say nothing, because nothing comes from nothing. Ex nihilo nihil fit.


Back in 2001, my Parisian friend, Claire, and I started compiling lists of names that were ironic, funny, or somehow prophetic of the lives of their bearers. In religious rituals, the act of naming is considered sacred and powerful. Do you know what your name means? They all mean something, I can guarantee it. Unless of course your parents simply strung some random bits of alphabet together, in which case I'm sure the act itself signifies something.

Here are a few of our findings -

John Wayne Bobbitt's, er, dismemberment. That one's obvious.
Bianca Duffy - first name name means white, the last black. I love the polarity, and she is mulatta.
A beau with the middle name of Bacon - odd one for a vegetarian.
A woman who decided to hyphenate her last name with that of her bethrothed, making her a Lawless-Hussey.
Unhappy with her appellation, Lois legally changes her name to Doris.
Hannah and Max are my long-standing favorites if I ever have children. This has nothing to do with our theme.
The US Secretary of Education is named Margaret Spellings.
Anyone studying or practicing law named Justin.
A bereaved would-be mother, after miscarrying her baby at eight months, endeavors to do everything more perfectly second time round. The new baby emerges quite healthy. Upon seeing her, the mother has an epiphany, throws out the agreed upon choice for something never on anyone's list - Angela.

(The following are Claire's words)
"A French friend named Turie. "Tuerie," pronounced the same way, means killing. He had a child. She died of cancer at age three. Off they go to the funeral. His mom & pop & sisters in one car, he & his wife in another. His family die in a car accident. He's the last one in the family. The only one to use this name, Turie. His wife commits suicide.

He remarries. Has a little girl. She's a blossoming eight year old. he's happy, his wife is happy. They're both working and have masses of friends. The child drowned last summer. Her name was Ophelie.

What's in a name?

I used to be called Ham Bone (I'm not sure why, maybe because jambon and Hammond are similar in French). Everyone I meet takes it for granted I'm jewish, even if I am a ham."

Claire was an actress, and a truly great wit. Claire is a Medieval name derived from Latin clarus, "clear, bright, famous." Claire was incisive, she cut to the point, yet she was tender, she was light. Her house was airy; she wore clothes of only white. And the goofy pigtails.

The first time we really met, we were at Man Ray. In her usual opinionated, devastatingly direct way. Her favorite thing to say to Americans was, "Learn the fucking language." That night she got in my face about something. The way she would do with anyone. (I'll never forget the famous American actor, dropping his cigarette butt on the kitchen floor and snuffing it out with his Caterpillar boot. It should be noted that when sober, he was unfailingly polite. She marched over indignantly, and in her best scold demanded, "You wouldn't do that in your house? Well DON'T do it in mine!") I hadn't done anything, but I think she was trying to figure me out. I can't recall for the life of me what she was saying, but I swallowed my fear and reached up and gently rubbed her nose with my forefinger. She stared back for a moment, then a smile washed over her and she laughed hysterically. From then on, we were very close. She was one of my best friends.

My relationship with her gave me clarity. Compassionate and sincere, she met earnest conversation with unflinching honesty and decency. And she had a deep faith in me. Few things give you more strength than the support of someone you truly admire.

Then one morning, about a week after I moved to LA, Claire left her home in the Bastille for cooking school. She drove her moped through an intersection right as a man in a car ran his red light. In the last 17 months I've been in Paris twice, both times I looked for her at Pére Lachaise. You know, to pay my respects, to say 'hello.' But the cemetary's quite large, and the map is only marked for the notables.

A month or so ago, I had a dream. It's a bit hazy, but someone was telling me to go take her something - she was in the other room, or nearby. I said it was impossible; she was dead. No, they told me, she's not. She's here. I remember my confusion. I remember the unrest of waking after all that longing, joy and sorrow came back, all at once. I'm taking it as a reminder to me that the her qualities, the meaning of her name, are alive and they exist in me.

It's easy to imagine her trying to wrap up the grief of her friends and carrying it off; she would try. Here's how - Claire stands insouciantly, cigarette and extension of her balletic limbs, hips in contrapposto. The head lolls back and to the side, the eyes roll, and a sigh, low, gravelly and purring, "Oh come onn, get ohhver it!" Mock the hurt away.

C'est tout, cherie? Ton souffle n'est pas tombé et tu as reussi ta tranche de Colin sauce Hollandaise.
Tout va goodygoodygomdrops, mais tu me manques la bas, á la plage.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Green Fields of the Mind

Some people like to knock The Red Sox around, and I have no problem with that, sports being rooted in rivalry as they are. I was in Fenway just once, in May of 1991. Sox played Seattle, and we sat there through the Golden Hour, my favorite time of day. The warm light on those blue and red seats, and everything looked just magical. I have a photograph of the rows of empty stadium seats somewhere; today I searched for it in vain.

I am not an avid sports lover, but I do have a great admiration for athletes. Partly, it's a respect born of my own lack of agility in grade and high school. It's an odd fact, as I was a very physically precocious small child. I walked early, rode my unembellished bike at three, ran roughshod with the boys, lived in trees most of the time, and you couldn't get me out of the water. The clumsiness that eventually weighed me down was probably a combination of the fact that I grew too rapidly (nerve endings and muscle mass have to be able to keep up with the bones - a gangly kid to say the least), and was soon yoked with depression. So, there is the love I have for things that I am not, and a love of the "masculine." Combine these with a natural inclination to love all things aesthetic. Grace and motion and the pure physicality of humanness, what could be more lovely?

In any case, I really like to go to baseball games. Maybe it's the ease of it - let's face it, they are slow moving, and there's plenty of time for conversation. Maybe it's being out of doors in the temperate air. Or maybe it's really just all about the hot dogs.

Here's an essay by A. Bartlett Giametti, American lawyer, baseball commissioner, and President of Yale University, 1938-1989

The Green Fields of the Mind

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.

Somehow, the summer seemed to slip by faster this time. Maybe it wasn't this summer, but all the summers that, in this my fortieth summer, slipped by so fast. There comes a time when every summer will have something of autumn about it. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me that I was investing more and more in baseball, making the game do more of the work that keeps time fat and slow and lazy. I was counting on the game's deep patterns, three strikes, three outs, three times three innings, and its deepest impulse, to go out and back, to leave and to return home, to set the order of the day and to organize the daylight. I wrote a few things this last summer, this summer that did not last, nothing grand but some things, and yet that work was just camouflage. The real activity was done with the radio--not the all-seeing, all-falsifying television--and was the playing of the game in the only place it will last, the enclosed green field of the mind. There, in that warm, bright place, what the old poet called Mutability does not so quickly come.

But out here, on Sunday, October 2, where it rains all day, Dame Mutability never loses. She was in the crowd at Fenway yesterday, a gray day full of bluster and contradiction, when the Red Sox came up in the last of the ninth trailing Baltimore 8-5, while the Yankees, rain-delayed against Detroit, only needing to win one or have Boston lose one to win it all, sat in New York washing down cold cuts with beer and watching the Boston game. Boston had won two, the Yankees had lost two, and suddenly it seemed as if the whole season might go to the last day, or beyond, except here was Boston losing 8-5, while New York sat in its family room and put its feet up. Lynn, both ankles hurting now as they had in July, hits a single down the right-field line. The crowd stirs. It is on its feet. Hobson, third baseman, former Bear Bryant quarterback, strong, quiet, over 100 RBIs, goes for three breaking balls and is out. The goddess smiles and encourages her agent, a canny journeyman named Nelson Briles.

Now comes a pinch hitter, Bernie Carbo, onetime Rookie of the Year, erratic, quick, a shade too handsome, so laid-back he is always, in his soul, stretched out in the tall grass, one arm under his head, watching the clouds and laughing; now he looks over some low stuff unworthy of him and then, uncoiling, sends one out, straight on a rising line, over the center-field wall, no cheap Fenway shot, but all of it, the physics as elegant as the arc the ball describes.

New England is on its feet, roaring. The summer will not pass. Roaring, they recall the evening, late and cold, in 1975, the sixth game of the World Series, perhaps the greatest baseball game played in the last fifty years, when Carbo, loose and easy, had uncoiled to tie the game that Fisk would win. It is 8-7, one out, and school will never start, rain will never come, sun will warm the back of your neck forever. Now Bailey, picked up from the National League recently, big arms, heavy gut, experienced, new to the league and the club; he fouls off two and then, checking, tentative, a big man off balance, he pops a soft liner to the first baseman. It is suddenly darker and later, and the announcer doing the game coast to coast, a New Yorker who works for a New York television station, sounds relieved. His little world, well-lit, hot-combed, split-second-timed, had no capacity to absorb this much gritty, grainy, contrary reality.

Cox swings a bat, stretches his long arms, bends his back, the rookie from Pawtucket who broke in two weeks earlier with a record six straight hits, the kid drafted ahead of Fred Lynn, rangy, smooth, cool. The count runs two and two, Briles is cagey, nothing too good, and Cox swings, the ball beginning toward the mound and then, in a jaunty, wayward dance, skipping past Briles, feinting to the right, skimming the last of the grass, finding the dirt, moving now like some small, purposeful marine creature negotiating the green deep, easily avoiding the jagged rock of second base, traveling steady and straight now out into the dark, silent recesses of center field.

The aisles are jammed, the place is on its feet, the wrappers, the programs, the Coke cups and peanut shells, the doctrines of an afternoon; the anxieties, the things that have to be done tomorrow, the regrets about yesterday, the accumulation of a summer: all forgotten, while hope, the anchor, bites and takes hold where a moment before it seemed we would be swept out with the tide. Rice is up. Rice whom Aaron had said was the only one he'd seen with the ability to break his records. Rice the best clutch hitter on the club, with the best slugging percentage in the league. Rice, so quick and strong he once checked his swing halfway through and snapped the bat in two. Rice the Hammer of God sent to scourge the Yankees, the sound was overwhelming, fathers pounded their sons on the back, cars pulled off the road, households froze, New England exulted in its blessedness, and roared its thanks for all good things, for Rice and for a summer stretching halfway through October. Briles threw, Rice swung, and it was over. One pitch, a fly to center, and it stopped. Summer died in New England and like rain sliding off a roof, the crowd slipped out of Fenway, quickly, with only a steady murmur of concern for the drive ahead remaining of the roar. Mutability had turned the seasons and translated hope to memory once again. And, once again, she had used baseball, our best invention to stay change, to bring change on.

That is why it breaks my heart, that game--not because in New York they could win because Boston lost; in that, there is a rough justice, and a reminder to the Yankees of how slight and fragile are the circumstances that exalt one group of human beings over another. It breaks my heart because it was meant to, because it was meant to foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality that would resist the corrosion; and because, after it had fostered again that most hungered-for illusion, the game was meant to stop, and betray precisely what it promised.

Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion, or without even the hope of illusion. I am not that grown-up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun.

From - Baseball I Gave You All the Best Years of My Life © 1976 by A. Bartlett Giamatti.