Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Spirituality in a Walmart Bathroom

You know people have delivered babies in there
Probably even died
Yanking on the oversized roll of industrial toilet paper
Dispensed across every state line
Delivered by the truckers who pray for a titty flash on their way
Under the auspices of Arkansas
Somehow vaulted to an international comptroller of commerce
Of the destinies of families, employed or forced to shop there, 
Or molding the plastic dreck Americans require in some foreign land,
Their necessary evil, or needed good.

And on that trip
Bowels working, oblivious to the outside anything
You have to make that stop, not wanting to, dreading it
And yet, like the world's cathedrals, it waits for you, with open arms
Pure white porcelain ready to receive your most animal of offerings
Whether you believe in evolution or not.

The question is there, though, do you know the good news?
Do you know the freedom that is ready for you,
As long as you're willing to chain yourself to the one path?
Unwavering, determined?
Sin passing out of you like yesterday's Froot Loops, bleached, sanitized
and three for nine today to nourish you again like loaves and fishes
Dispersed among the People of That Place
We're better than them, aren't we?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Zappadan Adventure

It's Zappadan, that time of year between December 4 and December 21, when we gather together on the warm tendons strung between us (internets) to celebrate the life of Frank Vincent Zappa, delivered to us at precisely the right time, then taken too soon.

During the summer, I purchased this poster, which to me is sublime for a number of reasons:
1. The cheap Chroma-Key? background
2. The partly dead plants
3. Those shoes, which some stylish gent would covet nowadays
4. Peter Max socks
5. The jaunty neckerchief
6. Unapologetic smoking
7. Leopard-print Speedo flocked by generously untrimmed pubes 
8. The smoky, sardonic glance

I'm sure there are more. Turned out, I procrastinated just long enough for the hanging up of this poster to coincide with Zappadan. Unintentional brilliance.

Anyway, because it's just for me and not for the prying eyes of others, I wanted to laminate it (so I could use tape to hang it on the back of my closet door, so that I could go in and look at it when I needed a laugh or confidence or courage or acceptance, so that I could gaze upon one whom I regard as a bodhisattva of sorts). For this, I'd need to hit the Christian bookstore, home of the thickest, cheapest plastic coating machine in the land (25 cents a foot! Thick!)

I strode into the Christian bookstore, thronged round by dogma, strode to the back of the store, past the homeschooling dreck, to the waiting, already warm laminator. Into its primed maw I thrust the raw image, sexual, hilarious, unflinching, using my ample body as a barrier between it and any virginal gazes. A few times, believers approached, yet the dark force of my will and determination must have turned them back. Finished, I cut the smooth plastic, rolled up the rock and roll, and headed to the register, where a predictably prim woman jockeyed competently. "Is that all?" she asked, her hand starting to unroll the edge. "YES, just one poster," I said, a little too loudly, moving it deftly back. I paid the 81 cents and left, heart beating faster.

If I'm truly the jaded rebel that I think I am, why did this feel so dangerous?


"Look here, brother, who you jivin' with that cosmik debris?" - FZ

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Sack of Slightly Sad

Sometimes, when people ask how I am
I give the real answer
Instead of just mumbling "fine"

I might say how I'm content to survive
Stay in line
And out of trouble
Never far behind.

I might bend an ear
With a rant on why
I try not to cry
But the more I see and know
The more flow.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Red Bicycle Dream

It seemed like New York, but on Dream, it could've been any other grotty conclave of run down shops and restaurants and tenement houses, dirty, with big windows, swirling painted letterforms of old, damp, grimy streets, but the sun was shining.

I walked along, seemingly lost, past one window and another, until I reached a bike shop. From the front, it looked closed, so I continued walking, around a round corner. The back was open and inside stood a bald man, Gandhi-esque but gruff, in a dingy white shirt, white Van Dyke bristling slightly, skin like creased umber leather, maybe a cigarette burning somewhere in the background. 

Somehow I convinced him (though it was closed? I don't really know) to let me clean the tires of a red bicycle. He let me borrow it, take it for a spin. I rode, freedom on wheels, through the dingy alleys, wind fanning my hair out behind me, lost in the fun of it, the remembrance of being a kid and doing just this thing, but in some suburban setting instead. Wandering far from the shop, I almost didn't find my way back, but did. 

As I left the shop, I was again lost and penniless, searching for a subway train, oddly huge, I realized I didn't have the money to get on. I came across a deserted pay phone. In it was a letter from a crush I haven't seen in over a decade. The letter contained 14 dollars, enough for me to get home on the huge train, somehow left for me with some impossible knowledge that I'd be there to collect it. 


"Sunlight on chrome, the blur of the landscape, every nerve aware." - Lee, Lifeson, Peart

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Naughty Dog Requiem

Eleven years ago, except for when I was a kid, I'd had nothing but cats. I'd moved out of a roommate situation, amicably, but into my own space, the first apartment I'd had just to myself. My cat, a fluffy Himalayan, had passed a few months ago, and I decided I wanted a dog. No one I knew had a dog. All my friends were cat people. Yet the idea persisted: a black pug was the dog for me. "Dogs take so much attention," the cat people warned me. "Are you sure?" Yet I searched on. I found a breeder. I kept thinking, overthinking, agonizing. It became a calling. The trepidation increased: was it the right thing to do? Could I give him enough attention? Would I walk him enough? Still, I decided on a name. Pugs are rather hobbitlike - stocky, focused on creature comforts, independent, second-breakfasting - so Pippin was perfect. In Lord of the Rings, a life manual of sorts for gamer nerd girls like me, Pippin was the mischievous one who did things his own way, yet it always worked out for him. Though I chose the name before I even knew the dog, it fit.

In the vast marketplace of the interwebs, I lit upon a photo of a pug puppy. Someone who was in my life then, but isn't now, who was a dog person, said, "I like him." This emboldened me. I trekked an hour plus to the lady's house who raised him. I went twice, and even brought a trusted friend. On the second visit, in a laundry basket, there were two pups left. One was pulling the tail of the other, fooling with and bothering him, with no regard for the wishes of his brother. There's something about all contrary creatures, those that play with other beings, that disregard the rules and upset the order, that appeals to me. I knew, watching him, that Pip was my kind. He was the dog for me.

Through these past eleven years, he was constantly by my side, almost always within three feet, if not touching me. I've never married and have no kids of my own, so in that kind of life, pets become even more magnified in their unconditional devotion. No matter what winds were blowing outside the walls, or within me, his snorty, snuffling love endured. The moments of joy, frustration, and laughter he brought me are countless: As a baby, he sat behind me on the couch when I sat on the floor watching The Sopranos and yanked my hair in his tiny teeth again and again. I christened him "Overly" (overly cute) or "Hobbit Dog" (because of his name) or "Gator" (because of how he bit my fingers snapping up his favorite food - chicken) and a thousand other things, depending on his whimsical antics. We went for walks in the park, unwittingly terrorizing dog-fearing ladies. He ruined floors and mattresses, anointing my house with unauthorized pee for over a decade, trenchant in his dedication. We played "Toro" after he got out of the bath as he charged, dripping wet, into the drying towel again and again. He went into a biting, berserker frenzy if you ever stepped on his toes accidentally, and drew blood from me more than once. Back in the days of AOL, he trained himself that when he heard "Goodbye" from the PC, mom was going to bed, so it was time to head to the bedroom. Armchair ottomans were not a place for feet, but an intermittent threat to be menaced by him, chewed at and tugged across the floor. He once found beef jerky, forgotten in a road trip bag in my closet, and kept going in, snuffling through anything his nose touched, for years, determined that he might find hidden treasure again. At age nine, after the vet confirmed he had lost his sight, I held him and cried, but even blind, he was never afraid of anything, charging down the sidewalk on his leash as he always had. He never cared a lot what I wanted, and any shouted admonitions from me went unheeded as some irrelevant noise outside the realm of his concern. He loved me more than anyone he knew on earth, but had his own pug agenda, not to be trifled with by humans. That defiant spirit carried him through two more days than he should have survived.

On Friday evening, I lost him. He and I fought hard, with money and lots of vet effort and love, but it was time. I was there, and he wasn't alone or in a hospital kennel, so I'm glad for those things.  I have three other dogs, and I love them, too, but they came along, needing rescue. They weren't chosen so carefully, haven't yet been cherished so long. We aren't supposed to, but we do have favorites, and he was mine.

Pugs are said to be "multum in parvo" - a great deal (of personality) in a small space. My Pippin was that, a memorable character, and is mourned this weekend by everyone whose life he ever touched. I'll love him always.


"All you got is this moment." - Hutchence, Farriss, Pengilly, Beers, Farriss

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Personally Exceptional, or Exceptionally Personal?

Being different: first it's a torture, a singling out, a wall built by the other typical small humans to isolate themselves from the diseased, the weak, the different, that will be picked off, and we find ourselves on the other side, alone, awaiting the wolf, hoping we have some defense against him.

Later, we own it, we choose it, it morphs into our identity. It becomes, not embarrassment but bailiwick. We jauntily don our red riding hoods and await the wolf, confident, unafraid, knowing what makes him tick, knowing we have something just as fearsome within us, this weirdness, our weapon.

In young adulthood, we believe ourselves superior, better than the common. Why would I want to participate in your old, outmoded, crusty ways? I am, we are, above it. We study radicals and hope we can ally ourselves, somehow.

Then middle adulthood arrives. We've fought the battles, wear an armor of mirror-polished cynicism, and yet at some level have cooperated with the world and its ways, if we have even a small measure of prosperity. We know it's all tied up. Go with the flow, get ahead. Even if you don't, you must sell to those who do. Self-hate ramps up. What happened? Where did I lose my way? We know we can't fight the world, so we fight ourselves, drink, drug, ignore, tune out, to survive. To stay alive, most of us blur the sharp edges. Still, we believe ourselves different somehow. Are we?


"Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." - de la Rocha, Morello, et al

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Wine: Once Upon A Vine

A few weeks back, I had some idea that I'd create a tumblr for tracking wines I'd tried or liked or just drank, but that turned out to require some small amount of effort, so after some consideration (15 minutes), I decided I'd post it here. 

Tonight's Offering: 
Once Upon A Vine, The Big Bad Red Blend 
Price: $12.99
Varietal: Unspecified
Origin: Diageo Wines, Sonoma, California
Flavors (according to the maker): Berry, chocolate
My thoughts: Obtained from the local liquor store when the original objective was bourbon. The label was highly persuasive, but doesn't match the wine. I sense no malice towards grandmas or anyone in this, really. Light, drinkable, easy. Almost too easy.
Would I drink it again? Yes.


"You're everything a big bad wolf could want..." - Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs

Monday, August 12, 2013

Deep Cuts: Guest Post from Why It Matters

Not too long ago, James Stafford, master blogger of the stellar Why It Matters, invited me to do a guest post. I've reprinted it here for your enjoyment or amusement or mere curiosity. Please do visit his halls of memoir and chronicles of music, as every minute not spent there is one you would have enjoyed!

"Greetings from the briny depths of the internets, where I inflict my octo-schtick. Here are eight tunes my suckered arms embrace, reflecting eight life obsessions.


The Cars, “Double Life”

“Lift me from the wondermaze, alienation is the craze.”

Programming streams of foul language in Basic as a kid on a Commodore 64 only paved the way for my taking up residency on the internet round about ’95. When it was pay by the hour AOL, I signed on for a volunteer position to earn time, because I couldn’t finance my habit any other way. These days, I’m awash in social media and virtual worlds, and it draws a line, forms a language I have to translate for the denizens of meatspace only, inspires piteous looks from the unaddicted family and strangers (all my friends understand, you see) who fear that I’ll never escape the event horizon of the all-consuming information singularity that I swim in hourly. Perhaps they’re right.


Gogol Bordello, “Undestructable”

“All is hardcore when made with love.”

Forging ahead with your heart in the right place, doing what you do, even if your grammar’s a bit off: isn’t that the only way to achieve immortality? When in trouble, put on sardonically, passionately observant gypsy music, I say.


Manowar, “Defender”

“To help the helpless ones who all look up to you. And to defend them to the end.”

1982: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and I first met, probably in the aisles of a mall bookstore, never to again be parted. The following Christmas, I requested a Basic Set, and a lifelong hobby began. Though most adventures began in an inn, doing some god-forsaken job for a local nobleman, this song embodies a greater quest, and the spirit of adventure and heroism that draws gamers in. Roleplaying and gaming of various sorts do wonders for public speaking, negotiation, problem solving, and creativity. (Yes, that is Orson Welles in the intro!)


Steely Dan, “Bodhisattva”

“Can you show me the shine of your Japan? The sparkle of your China?”

Science fiction, jazz,and a sense of humor: that’s what Steely Dans are made of. I can dig it. A few of my votes for Bodhisattva would be cast for the musicians in this here writing. Sure, I believe in a higher power, but I’m also scrabbling down on the earth for the worthy, too. Nonchalant intellectualism and naughtiness is always enchanting.


Metallica, “Disposable Heroes”

“Back to the front!”

I know, they’re maligned now, but when we were young, when I was, they were thrash metal pioneers and therapists for this Anger that I played host to, and still do. I was introduced to them mere months before the Master of Puppets tour came through Dallas. I’ll never forget Cliff Burton’s bass solo, or his whirling arc of butt-length auburn hair. I’ve probably seen them live more than any other band among dozens and dozens of shows, so many that sometimes I can’t recall if I’ve seen a band (Iron Maiden? Can’t be sure…). This song has a special significance, as it not only was angry and anti-establishment, but also, on my suggestion, became the name of an ill-fated laser tag team, of which I was the worst player, too intrepid for my own idiotic good.  


Queens of the Stone Age, “Mosquito Song”  

“The further I go, the less I know, the less I know.”

Tied for “favorite band” status with Gogol Bordello is Queens of the Stone Age, because they deliver a poison that is heavy, dark, honest, sexual, yet keeps its sense of humor as it intoxicates you. My possibly morbid, reliably consistent obsession with the big ending is reflected here. It’s not always sad, either. It comforts, motivates, frightens me at intervals, but it’s always there, isn’t it, sipping a whiskey in the corner of mundane or fabulous moments, sometimes clearing its bony throat as a reminder.


Dwight Yoakam, “It Only Hurts Me When I Cry”

“The only time I feel the pain, is in the sunshine or the rain.”

Sure it’s prissy, and not saying the the suffering is literally continuous, but there’s always the Feelings, pulling and bugging. They’re deadened a bit now through control and/or the application of alcoholic anaesthetics and age, but they’re still there, under the surface, seething, no matter what the weather. It’s good to know that Dwight struggles, too, is all.


Frank Zappa, “Watermelon in Easter Hay” 

Outspoken, creative, courageous, diligent, transparently principled or not so as his authentic self demanded… Frank’s vast body of work has a lot of humor, satire, downright grossness, an utter lack of modern political correctness, but at the heart, there’s a sensitivity, a caring, an empathy with everyone, somehow, even though he made fun of everyone, too. If someone asked me to choose a track to explain life, I’d pick this one, bittersweet, melodic, melancholy, honest, yet hopeful, even in the face of the inescapable."

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Rubenesque? Revolution.

You say this fat is laziness,

I say it's dedication to pleasure.

Perseverance of sensuality,

Disregard of the magazine-cover worldview,

Elevation of the self against the onslaught of conformity,

Punk rebellion in adiposity.

This fat isn't mere sloth.

It's passion.

The road of excess, mapped out for all to see.

The palace of voluptuousness leads to me.


"You say you want a..." - Len/McC

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Dream Boundary

Tears streamed down my face this morning. "You could've let me say five more words, you know, just five more words." In my head, I was complaining to Dream. Outside, I was sobbing quietly.

In the previous scene, I was on other business, with some somehow familiar friends, when I had a feeling my mother was about to go, and I'd better get over there to see her. I left where I was, and went somewhere else.

I thought she might be gone, as if she were very ill somehow, but she was there, on a low bed, in an odd situation, bunking up with someone, as I'd never allow her to be in real life. As I opened the door, she woke up, and I felt relief she was there. She was sleepy, but alert, in her right mind, as she sometimes wasn't during our lives in this realm, looked better than she did at the actual end. Her hair was in her usual updo, messy from sleep, blonde and wild like mine, wearing a bright fuschsia gown with colorful piping at the sleeves.  I knelt down to the bed, embraced her still-lying form. 

"Hi, how are you?" she said softly, opening her green eyes for a moment. "I'm good, just tired from work," I said, hugging her more. There the scene faded to light, and I woke up, disappointed, crying. 

Seven years have passed since my mother did. I dream of her sometimes, not often. I wish I could know she was listening, but I'll say what I wanted to anyway, at the end of the dream: "There's been some trouble, but I'm taking care of everyone, Mama, like I promised you I would. And we'll be ok. We're working, and having fun as we can."

Maybe the mists between realms are still thin enough that my words can get through.

"Though the dawn may be coming soon, there still may be some time." - G. Wright
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