Friday, May 26, 2006

Gone East for the Summer

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I invented a new fetish, feel free to use it

Late 70s product characters!
Remember how in the 70s during the feminist revolution suddenly all the cleaning products and food products got all manly? As in "it's not a sandwich, it's a manwich?" I LOVE the term "manwich". It could be used to describe a 3some involving a girl and two guys.

And also, Brawny paper towels. During the feminist revolution of the 70s were they trying to make substitute manly husbands who helped with the cleaning? i.e. the Brawny Guy, the Warren Beatty yacht-guy in the Tid-E-Bowl, Mr. Clean--or maybe they were trying to make housecleaning more manly so that men would want to do it? I don't really think it worked, except that children of single mothers imprinted on the male archetypes of the Brawny guy, et. al, and now yearn for lumberjack types who did the heavy cleaning. I am so hot for the Brawny guy. I wish men still looked like that.

The fetish could involve the female dressing like the Sunmaid Raisin maiden (or maybe the tuna mermaid) and the male kitted out like the Brawny guy and they could have naughty product-placement late-70s style sex. You know, with vaseline-lens lighting, and string-bikini tan lines, and meadow flowers, and polyester backdrops. Wouldn't that be a fun fetish? I also love the babe on the Land-O-Lakes margarine container. And Mr. Clean always wet my whistle. Damn.

Also, I found the giant Koolaid pitcher simaltaneously frightening and erotic--the way s/he/it blasted through barriers, brought Koolaid, and had shapely legs in red tights. Now what do we have? That scary animatronic Snuggle Bear (creepy) and that's about it. Bring back the Brawny man! Bring back the lady with the dentures! Bring back the Koolaid monster and the tiny little man who puts his periscope up your ass. People could get so kinky with this... And in the afterglow, they could ride the Rice-A-Roni cable cars to a nice bar and drink some good old Blue Nun....

poison oak is draining

Literally. It is draining in these magical yellow crystals, like I am exuding my own personal amber.
And it is draining because it itches, it feels like something is simaltaneously chewing its way out from the inside, and lighting fires as it goes. I am showering every hour. I wake up in the middle of the night itching. I have showered so much I am sick of showering. And the showerhead in my apartment broke, and was trickling about as much water as a drooly baby, and I was screaming, covered in TecnuExtreme and cursing and itching, so I finally dismantled the whole f*cking thing and now shower in a hard stream of water coming out of bare pipe; it's disgusting.

And all I can think about is poison oak, and how the hell I am going to sit on a round black cushion for hours at a time when my ass is like a topographical map with raised archipelegoes of rash, and my car is busted, too, and no one knows what is wrong with it, and I guess I can be grateful her clutch cable didn't snap on the Tassajara grade, because I'd have been off a cliff like Thelma and Louise, and I guess car trouble and a rash is better than being dead.

So I'm leaving very soon, and I can only imagine that all these setbacks are my unconscious ambivalence about returning to the monastery.

Whatever, I'm going.
I'll probably get bit by a rattlesnake, but I'm going.
So I won't be around here for several months.
Have a great summer, blogland.

Friday, May 19, 2006

My Gollum

flightman71@yahoo.com continues to harass me, and I continue to be convinced that it is the evil poet. This has catapulted me unexpectedly back into regions of memory I have worked very hard to repress, patterns of addiction and emotion that were as piquant as they were grotesque. He is my Gollum.


He's as furtive as a crab. He insinuates. What I don't understand is why. I mean, Gollum was obsessed with the Precious, the ring had him in its thrall. He didn't really have anything else, being a twisted creature of darkness and slime. But the evil poet has a successful career as a full time poet and teacher, a lovely and talented wife, and a baby daughter. He is well regarded by all hs peers (except me) and has already published three books, won numerous awards, and charms almost everyone he meets.

It is only with me that this shadow emerges--the deviancies, the lies. I suppose either he feels free to express his shadow with me and only me because that is the only safe place he can act out, and possibly the fact that I exist is saving him from far worse depths, maybe I'm all that's standing between him and the prostitutes, or between him and a series of grisly ritual murders. I don't know.

What I do know is that it really, really gets to me. We had a really bad, bad, bad relationship for three years and I lost health and time over it, while he thrived. I would be reduced to migraines and hives, unable to get out of bed for days at a time after an especially violent fight. He, on the other hand, would go home and write a poem. As if he fed on blood. It's only fairly recently that I've realized I cannot metabolize stress very well, and that I have to guard against depression the way people in medieval times guarded against the black plague.I have to propitiate ghosts, wear garlic, and fight like hell just to be fairly even, fairly normal. He was an alcoholic at the time, but he has this amazing resiliency. He could drink, fight, stalk me at all hours, and go home zesty-fresh and ready to write another poem. Like a vampire.

And yet with him, I could exorcise my shadow, too. But it is terrifying, what happens when you really let yourself go, let yourself cross all the lines. It is exhilirating, the way driving off a cliff might be exhilirating, or the way that beating the shit out of someone might be exhilirating. But then you crash. I crash. I crashed. And the result is that it has taken me five years to put myself back together, and there are pieces missing, pieces that got smashed in the fights and that he either ate up or that got ground into the floor with the rest of it. He has gone on to quit drinking, write 2 books, marry, and father a child. The greatest accomplishment I can boast of is that I managed not to commit suicide.

I am bitter about this, though I try not to be. So any time I hear from him, (he always finds me) I can't help but think what a weak person I must be, not to have done better. And I can't help seeing him as somehow demonic, for thriving on other people's, on my, pain. And I can't help but think I must be talismanic for him, or else why would he need to contact me again and again?

I have a frightening tendency to cling to continuity at any price. I think I moved so often and lost so many friends and family member, pets and teachers and places, that anything that offers continuity, no matter how vile, feels vital to me. It is very seductive. I have lost touch with some of the people who really loved me and cared about me, and I think some part of me believes that continuity, even with people and things that are damaging, will keep me whole, give me a sense of time and place that I never had. The first time I rode on a airplane, I was in the womb. I haven't stopped moving since. So, too, it is perversely comforting when I hear from the evil poet, knowing that the devil, at least, hasn't forgotten me.

The greatest hold he has over me, I think, is that I feel like I have to GET HIM. That I have something to prove. That I still, still, in spite of everything, want to WIN. If you can get someone hooked into you that way, they're pretty well hooked for good. If I could give up wanting vengeance, or proof, or to prevail, if I could let that go, then I'd just feel sorry for him and get on with my business. Why can't I let that go? The hook is really, really, deep. So I can't completely blame him for all this. It is something we're still doing together. Sometimes I think we'll go on like this, like Spy vs.Spy,until one of us dies, hopefully him, he can't last long on one good kidney. But he's so full of bile and will, I'll probably die first.

What kills me is he has the life I want. The writing, the marriage, and hardest of all, the little girl. I worry about that little girl. Her father is a very unstable person, and he acts out toward women. All women. Not just me. That little girl is going to have a very confusing childhood. But still, I envy him.

So, envy and vengeance, the two least attractive human addictions, and he brings me bushelsfull, and I take them.

Ugh.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

mindf*ck

Back when I was completely insane I started dating an evil poet. What can I say, I was doing penance for sins I'd committed. Anyway,evil poets, believe me, are worse than evil clowns, evil twins, evil scientists, or evil dead.

Their torture methods are as strained as their verse. In fact, this particular evil poet used to torture me by reading--no, I'm sorry, reciting his poetry aloud. To me. While I was trying to write.

But I was way up there in the self-flagellation trying to prove that if I just took it it would wash me clean of my sins.

The problem is, if you date the devil, you begin to change in subtle ways..


But that's a story for another time.

Anyway, my point is, even now, almost five years later, I am convinced that this evil poet is still trying to get under my skin.

For example, this morning I come into work and there is an email from someone calling himself "Dan Evans" aka flightman71@yahoo.com.

The email says: Guess who I am? (Hint:I am not Dan Evans)

Of course I am an easy mark--unsatisfied with job, obsessed with secret identities, secretly yearning for distraction and perhaps a secret admirer, even a stalker. I am still a little crazy. I am working on it. So of course, this email is going to bug me obsessively, because even though I am pretty sure it is the evil poet, it might be I dunno, Wes Anderson, or someone worthwhile.

But I doubt it.

It could be that someone's pulling a "Da Vinci's Code" on my ass, or it could be a more global prank--someone doing a kind of Rorschach psychological experiment to see what respoinses they come up with, because everyone has an evil poet or two tucked away, everyone has, or believes they have--a tormentor--and this prankster probably has a book deal already about this experiment, and I fell for it, and all these suppositions say more about me than about "Dan Evans", but I still think it is the evil poet. If there is anything I've learned from self help books and detective stories, it is to go with your hunch.

Anyway, my readers (all 2 of you) are welcome to send this mysterious "flightman71@yahoo.com" emails asking him if he has 4 kidneys, does he know where the pyramids of malaphagi are located, and why the hell he isn't tending to his baby daughter and wife instead of harassing innocent people?

Of course it could be a virus, or spam, but my spam filter didn't catch it, so use a public terminal or something if you do email him/her/it. But my gut tells me it is him.

Or not. This is going to bug me all day.
Which is so exactly the evil poet's style.

Prick.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

the things we keep

Sometimes I see my life as this big cane laundry basket--and I know where I got that image--my mom bought one 20 years ago at some Maryland farm auction, and I am not sure what became of it--the kind where some of the canes are broken and cut your hand if you do'nt carry it the right way, and the weave is coming loose in places, and the basket holds most everything, but as you carry it from the clothesline to the house, things fall out, things that you don't miss at first, because the basket is piled so high, embarrassing things, like underpants, or a favorite shirt, or little things, like a single sock, or maybe that handkerchief you started using because your best boyfriend used them, and you wanted to be close to him, so you bought one too. Sometimes you're walking and you trip and the whole basket spills and you miss things in picking up the pieces. Some things the wind takes. Others seem to leap out of their own volition. Some are left behind in the dryer, some get stolen from the line, some you ruin through mishandling.

And then as you're folidng it all, you think, what the hell--where did that go? And certain items you miss and you miss and you miss, and you go for years missing them, and they are gone forever, and often it's your favorite this or that, and the things you keep--or that keep you, well isn't peculiar, what we don't lose?

Some of the things that survive wreckages and moves take on a kind of value just for surviving--stuff you didn't care about that much in the first place--a cashmere sweater that you got from him that he got from her that is so ratty it must've originally belonged to a beatnik and that you only wear when you are very cold and very sick and running a fever, and it is so soft,but such a hideous maroon, that comfort in illness is its own function as a garment, or an ugly shirt, say, and after a while you think, how come THIS particular thing sticks with me, when I lost that other thing, the thing I loved so much and wore constantly, how come that is gone and this isn't? And then it seems unfair. And you don't know whether to be pissed off or grateful, or to just go shopping and buy new clothes, hoping you'll find something that will take the place of that perfect dress, or that one pair of shoes. But you never find those things through looking. Sometimes they find you. And then you lose them.

Then there's the stuff that's so lame you can't even give it away--and all the crap that accumulates that you don't really want, that just shows up. The guilt gifts, the bad choices, the stuff you got in a fit of mania, or maybe you were drunk, or stoned, or lonely, or depressed, or just had five bucks burning a hole in that pair of jeans that you've had forever even though they never really fit.

But you keep on missing the things that dropped out. That can never be replaced. After a while you start to mythologize them--the dress that always looked good no matter how bad you felt (even though if you're honest you were always ambivalent about it--half of you thought it was hideous, and wore it anyway), that eccentric velvet thing that, if you were being objective, had lost too many buttons but that made you feel like a madcap genius, pettable and brilliant--and the mythologies dwarf the things themselves, and you miss them and tell stories about them and spend too much money on shit that vaguely reminds you of them, that would better be spent on therapy and a gym membership.

That's how I feel about some of the people in my life, or should I say, the people who were once in my life, and aren't any more.

Sometimes it really rankles that objects outlive people, disasters, love, all of it. I mean, the flip side of "you can't take it with you" is that these objects stay behind--passed from hand to hand, saturated with meaning--while their givers, their possessors, pass away. Sometimes I want to howl because I still have a maroon cashmere sweater, when I don't have the person who gave it to me.

Back when I was pretending to be hard-boiled, I used to call these remnants trophies--like I was a great white hunter or a serial killer. But now I look at them and think, shit, why didn't I take better care? I would much rather have shrunk the damned sweater down to doll-size by washing it in too-hot water and kept the precious intangible. These fucking mementoes are just a pitiful assemblage that hints at what was once complex and alive. It is grisly.

But if I lose the things, then everything is gone. Because there's voodoo in them. If I have the thing it reminds me and if I am reminded I remember and if I remember than it isn't wholly lost. But ultimately we lose even the objects, and they go on to other people, trigger other memories, and they persist and persist and persist, and we perish like uneaten dairy products.

This, my friends, is why I dread packing up my stuff and moving. And this must also be why, my friends, I move so often. So I can pick through the wreckage once again. Sometimes I envy people who lose things in fires or floods. I think if I lost my shit I would probably get amnesia. Which might be a good thing.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

revenge of the mole

I like to think that my liberated mole reinvented itself as the boppy dot that bounces over the words in karaoke videos, and is even now happily bouncing along on top of the lyrics to "Copacabana" in a happy place, maybe in Japan town, maybe at a mall in Bangkok, or even in good old Bear's Place in Bloomington of a Thursday night.

that mole bugged me. It was an outie mole, the kind that sticks to you like a tiny spit ball, and it hurt whenever it got tangled in a necklace or high collar. But what a hole it has left in me.

Seriously.

It looks like someone put their cigarette out on my neck.

This makes me think of a Gogol story, "the Nose". If my mole is out there having a better time than me, I am going to be pissed.

I bet she is. I bet she's perfectly spherical and dressed in Versace and playing kissy-face with Peter Sarsgaard or even the hunky Mark Ruffalo. Maybe she wound up on some starlet's lip, thus ensuring her career. Bitch.

Oh well. I just have to say to my departed mole, ooh, baby baby it's a wild world...what are the next words? If only my mole were here to lead me through the lyrics. Alas.

Monday, May 15, 2006

relative values, 2

My God, I could cry. Actually, I did cry, a little.
So it turns out that my editor, bless his heart, is a sensitive person, fond of harmony, mild and quietly brilliant, who suffers the tortures of the damned because he is in the wrong job. I remember his face in meetings--he had the stoic,pained look of a secret agent stubbornly resisting the commandant's ways of making him talk. He looked like Albrecht Durer with a bad migraine. He looked like the picture of quiet desperation.

I became incredibly fond of him after he once, in a rare moment of actually speaking, made a reference to Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener". After that it was as though we had a secret pact between us--we knew that there were other worlds than these, better worlds.

So this editor's daily existence consists of having to deal with crazy rich folks who call him every two minuts about the status of their overpriced, overratedLarry Newman art (name has been changed to protect me from google searches). If dealing with harrassment from the rich with bad taste weren't stressful enough (and trust me, it is), he has to fight for every little decent thing for the other artist he handles, and this means going head to head with a hyperactive, garrulous, stingy and extremely rich and thus entitled boss, who changes his mind every three seconds and tends to follow his nose, like Toucan Sam if Toucan Sam liked blow. Long story short, the editor decided that he'd rather pay me out of his own pocket than risk the contretemps and dickering that would come of suggesting that I write the damn thing and that I get paid for it. This is what made me cry. First, that he'd do that. (That explains the modest figure. He can't make all that much money there. None of us did). Second, that he is under so much pressure that he would consider it worth it to be out the money rather than having to spend even a few minutes being badgered, harassed, and worried to death with fighting for every little goddamned thing. In fact, if this were domestic, I'd say he is in an abusive relationship and needs to Get Out.

So I was very touched, and very worried, and I told him to just forget it.
So it's all relative. What I thought was a stingy offer was incredibly generous, generous enough to make me cry.
And I wind up with bupkiss, yet feeling ok with it.
Funny thing, money.

relative values

Money is so insane.
I pay $200 for a doctor's visit that took fifteen minutes and doesn't involve (in the moment) any particular skill--I mean, a sushi chef could have lopped off my mole, lanced the infection.
$200 for 15 minutes = $800 an hour.

I remember being asked to find a Burberry raincoat, size 2, for one of my former's boss's girlfriends. Said raincoat cost about $2,000.

I got a gig I was excited about--writing a piece for my former place of work. The assignment gave me a week's deadline,(which is an incredibly short turnaround, considering I had to drive to SF, interview the artist, look at and analyse the work, transcribe the interview, and write the article) and I worked for a solid week--oh, let's say about 20 hours, after work and on weekends, on a freelance article for said former boss. They are offering me $75 for it.
That's less than 4 bucks an hour.

I was hoping this would cover my doctor's bill (my insane and stupid doctor's bill).
It will cover gas.

So now I have to dicker, and I feel really unworthy, dickering, like they are going to tell me my time and my work isn't worth it, because let's face it, they will find out I am a lazy slacker who cuts corners, they will unmask me and I don't really deserve to be paid anything. That's what I am afraid of. Or I'll come off looking like a greedy gold-digger because everyone knows writing isn't really WORK, anyone can write, it doesn't take any effort or skill,and a real writer writes for the joy of it, and poops words the way toads in fairytales spit out diamonds, and it is easy, and therefore worth less than say, a bottle of champagne.

Ok, a lot of art goes into champagne.

But when you really think about it, a lot of art goes into everything, and the amount of labor keeping the world spinning is boggling, and everyone has debts to pay, and everyone is contributing, and I don't understand why the rates are so skewed, and maybe I'll just up and become a communist.