Sunday, January 31, 2010

Proof Sheets

This photo shoot was done in my mid-fifties by a photographer who did a lot of fashion shoots and liked my ability to work quickly, do my own hair and make up and never complain about the crap I had to wear. Apparently I was the only one to wear the dress naked underneath.

He'd found a black stretch lace dress at a secondhand store and wanted to see how it looked on fifty women of disperarte ages and sizes.  The shoot was for an art exhibit.  And these are just proof sheets, since the session was done before everyone had made the switch to digital.  This is one of two proof sheets I still posess.

I've just cut my hair like this again.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The New Kids

My new tenants arrive tomorrow.  Since the first of Feb is Monday, I'm letting the new kids move in early, so today Ms M and I cleaned the house she's lived in for the past five years.  It was the hardest physical work I've done in ages.  We moved furniture (the house is mostly furnished) cleaned almost all the blinds (that took a long time and is a tedious job).  We washed windows, cleaned floors, scrubbed the bathroom and all the hard stuff in the kitchen.  My hands are like sandpaper and my back aches but I'm glad the house is ready for the new kids.

The new kids are both writers.  She's getting her PhD in creative writing and is a poet.  He's a playwright and will get an MFA.  They met in Americorps.  How adorable is that?  They both have jobs in different parts of Social Services network.  They love our handsome President and don't give me a blank stare when I talk politics.  That's pretty damn adorable.  Can you tell?  I like the new kids.  They have two dogs, one small (pug mix) one medium (an Ossie mix) whose names are Olive and BeaBea.  Isn't that sweet?

So tomorrow at noon begins a new chapter in the life of this property; my big house gets a new family.  And Roscoe gets dropped off Sunday when his mama goes to work.  We're working out the details of an adoption to make both their lives easier.  Even that's adorable.

Hitler Responds to the IPad

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The State Of The Union

The State Of The Union address last night was the best political speech in my memory.  We've all become used to great speeches from President Obama, so I'm sure there will be a lot of "Ho-hum,  so what.  Yes, he can give a good speech, but we're still fucked."  Well, yes we are, but whose fault is that?  Not his.  If you're a Republican, look in the mirror.  If you voted for George W Bush you can thank yourself for our current wows.  It will probably take a generation to fix the mess we're in.  But with this smart, thoughtful, amazingly good natured and horribly burdened man at the helm, we may begin to dig our way out of this very deep hole.

Seems that every big speech now comes with some right wing asshat shouting or mouthing something revoltingly stupid.  Who knew the Justices of the Supreme Court needed to get the memo that that sort of thing just isn't done in a State Of The Union Address?  Samuel Alito is the latest moron to break with the tradition of respectul behavior at these speeches, mouthing the words "Not True," when the President was speaking about the danger inherent in the latest SCOTUS ruling granting corporations the same rights as individuals.  Apparently if the POTUS is African American the rules of decorum don't apply for the Italian American Justices of SCOTUS.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Alas Ms M Has Left the House

It's true I'm sad to say
Alas Ms M has left the house
Sadder still she took fair Roscoe with her
He of golden hair, who came each morning
Weeping at my door at dawn to crawl upon my bed
I'd wake and stagger to the door to let him in, then sleep
The warm safe dreamy sleep of a satisfied Woman.
To wake late, to feed him with the others, to listen
To him moan with satisfaction at his pleasure in the meal.
He's been my daily guard and great companion.  He stayed
With me in salad days through Geeky's autumn death
He was a comfort then.

I'll wonder how she's doing when she stops dropping in
To smoke my pot and then her cigarettes.
There are so few people who'll let a girl get by with that.
I know she's using me.  I'm used to it. This is a trial for her.
It's true I love her but
She doesn't know it yet as she steps back
Into her future full of ambivalence
And dread the hopes, and fears to dream
She needs that weighty warm and living presence
In her bed.  But here's the rub. Roscoe hates to be alone.
Alone he'll be, and howl and weep incessantly

And when he's weeping I'll wake to sob along.
He needs his pack.  We're his responsibility
We're always here, waiting, glad to see his proud superiority
His handsome legs, trotting front to back he covers miles.
To waste away alone to satisfy a selfish girl.
At every step he'll make her life a trial
The neighbors will complain about the howl
She'll have to move and move again
And in his pain he'll tear her life to shreds
As it was in their beginning,
Before they landed here.

©2010 Peggy Pendleton

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Barack Obama (played by Hitler)

I'm sorry, but it made me laugh.  It's been a hard couple of weeks. Leave your insults in the comment box.  I got called a cunt by a good Christian woman last night on twitter in front of 15,000 of my closest friends.  And for half an hour or more she flung invective at me.  Granted, I was asking for it.  But when her last insult was "Jesus loves you, but you're still an asshole," I knew I'd hit the all time low or the motherload, depending on your point of view.  Then this dropped into my twitter stream...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

She Roams

My mother never really died.  It seems
She now roams freely in my mind waiting for the slightest self-doubt
Then she speaks to me in my own voice.  "Stupid cow, I always hated you."
She tells me I have no gifts or talents, no brains no guts
"Failure!  Idiot Failure!"  "All that potential, my good looks"
"Brains wasted on you." "I never loved anyone." You know what I mean."
"You always gave yourself so easily." 

"Embarrassment!"  She screams this in my sleep
Contaminates my day with the echo of that word
"They all loved me best" she says, "even your boyfriends..."
The implication hangs there...
"Ask him, you know who I mean.  He'll lie to you." 
"You're a patsy, you know that?" "You always were."
" I should have given you away."
She spits this last in my face in a thin burning stream
That shoots from her mouth like a serpent's tongue

©2010 Peggy Pendleton

Monday, January 18, 2010


The disaster in Haiti is bringing out the best and the worst in us all.  Millions of us have donated money, in most cases $10 at a time.  For others a $1,000,000 at a time.  If you watched 60 Minutes last night you saw an image straight out of the Holocost: there were trucks lined up and a big earth mover machine with a giant scoop scooping bodies and dumping them in the trucks, bodies bloated and stacked like cordwood blocking the roadways, bodies left so long in the sun they looked like blowup dolls overinflated to bursting.  No one could get used to that.  No one could do that work and shrug it off. These are the images of a lifetime of nightmares.  Will any of the people who survived the earthquake ever sleep a peaceful night again?  Will the man in the earthmover whose job it is to scoop bodies and drop them into dump trucks ever have another peaceful moment without the scent and sight of such horror invading his mind like a cancer? Will the people who survived the January 12th earthquake and the seven days since without a drop of water or a morsel of food ever forgive the rest of the world?  We have rushed in with search teams and dogs.  We have transported food and water and doctors and medical supplies and soldiers to keep the peace while desperate survivors fight to get the first drops of water in a week and then the water runs out leaving weakened starving people who have waited almost patiently at the end of the line with nothing but desperation, fear, rage.  How many days can one go without water?  Seven days if there are no other bodily traumas.  It's been seven days.

I've heard news people refer to the Haitians who have broken into buildings searching for food or water or shelter as looters.  There is no looting in Haiti.  There is only the desperate need to survive.  Can you imagine yourself in similar circumstances?

There are no roads in Haiti in good repair.  There is destruction everywhere.  There is no power, no hospital, no government, no infrastructure, no police, no safe place to sleep, no rest, nothing but waiting and fear, nothing but the body's need for water, nothing but helpless rage.  There is no looting in Haiti.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Little Girl, Big Girl

Can you see the little girl in the woman?  Can you always?  I think in my case you can.  The little girl is too prefect. The little girl wears her sadness like an old dress.  The woman wears her wounds like a shield.

I Remember Life

Life’s first feelings were pain, then fear
A lump of nerve and muscle, soft little bones
The spot of skull not closed, the brain so
Temptingly near the finger probing for any weak spot to injure
That’s all you need to know about my family

Lust and skin hunger trade entry for simple human kindness
Trained to be an object of desire, the model femme fatale
A cast out human child too pretty to live in the eyes of her mother’s gaze
Too tempting for a father to resist, too smart for her own good
Gone to other eyes in other places, other women to mistrust

I tried everything to act normal, needing every drug known
To man to calm the rage just under the perfect skin, to dull
The crazy glitter just behind the big doe eyes, pain just under
The surface of every waking moment, sleep this girls best friend
Forever to have them poke and prod my soft spots at their pleasure

Not allowed to object to my complete objectification I become
Female impersonator always on the rag in bitch heat barking mad
Looney psycho freak fuck dump truck, I have lived life low and
High on everything but life, turned off dropping out all but dead, not for trying
Failed eventually at everything but aborting my own spawn, did not love my fellow
Man but not for wanting, yet I have lived far longer than I thought possible

Now an alien even to myself I offer thrills to no one
Can go unnoticed, unrecognized even to myself. Why this life lived so
Passionately punishing myself for every sin committed against
A woman like me everywhere in any age at all stages of life and time
An object still, she’s a nice old lady with her dog, all the rest at long last dead

©2008 Peggy Pendleton

Thursday, January 14, 2010


To breathe and not to stay indoors to wear a mask
And feel the fool, that crazy woman
Wears a doctor's mask and wonders
Why does that mother take her baby out
To stroll within the shallow stroller
14 degrees Fahreheit, windchill 6?  She walks
Without hurry, in deliberation, without expression, in air
Too toxic to breathe.  We're having an inversion
(The baby's face is pale blue in the weak light)
She looks depressed
Like the rest of us.

Even on a good day, early spring, full sun
I'd rather keep out of sight,
Where once I was a curiosity
Always in the garden with an old dog
Lying in the sun, ears pivoting like
Periscope, sentry, even dreaming
Children like me.  So do dogs

©2010 Peggy Pendleton

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This Is who I Was In My Fifties

I have known so many young women who dreaded turning 30, then 35.  I know women for whom 40 means the end of youth, the end of beauty, the end of all good things.  I know women who think 50 is really old.  But this is me in my mid fifties and these were some of the best years of my life.  I was more successful as a model in my 50s than I was in my 20s.  I was in demand as an actor in my 50s.  The only thing that brought that all to an end was my mother's vascular dementia.  Taking care of her aged me in a way that all the years leading up to 57 hadn't.  Taking care of my mother in her final horrible years damaged me in a way that all of life up to that point hadn't.  I'm now finally just about recovered.  But I want you to know, you lovely younger women, that your 50's just might be the very best years of your life, so do not dread them.

I was a woman who always claimed to be a bit older than I actually was.  I wanted to be thirty.  I thought people would take me seriously when I was thirty. I thought being older than I actually was would bring me credibility and gravitas.  I hated being treated like an object, like a brainless twit because others couldn't see past the pretty face.  And I had the kind of looks that made me seem ageless.  That's no longer true. And I take a certain comfort in the fact that I can move among you nearly invisible now.  I no longer lie about my age.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Feeling Fluish

Yesterday I felt like crap. I thought I had a too-much-fun hangover.  Friday night I was up late on twitter talking books and writing and all things literary.  There was no alcohol involved, but there was smoking.  Now today, after behaving myself yesterday I should feel better but I don't.  If anything I feel worse.  I don't remember looking in a mirror yesterday but I did get a glimpse of myself today in passing and it was shocking.  I'm almost a ghastly green and have big dark circles under my eyes.

It doesn't help that Cyrus refused to eat his breakfast this morning. Then to make matters worse he refused to take his pills no matter how I hid them or disguised them.  And just as his last terrible sore bloomed and then healed a new one is blooming on the side of his nose. He can barely walk, his arthritis and joints are so bad.  Maybe all I feel is empathy and maybe I'm not that sick. 

The air in Salt Lake is toxic now.  We are having an "inversion" where a cold layer of air is stangnating below a warm high.  If you're up in the mountains skiing you're warmer than we are down here in the valley floor.  Weak sun barely warms the sunroom in the late morning and it's hovering in the very low single digits at night.  Ice on trails is not melting with daily trafic on it by the dogs. I'm wearing layers of clothing.  Craving hot baths rather than showers, but feel guilty about the amount of water a hot bath takes compared to a quck shower.  Still my bones crave the heat, the soaking.

I have a busy week ahead and urgently feel the need to re-edit the second and third chapters of the novel.  I may enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest again this year, but I won't kill myself if I just can't meet the deadline.  I'm showing the front house this week and have appointments and dates every day.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cleaning House (part 1)

I have this odd feeling of Deja vu today.  I'm getting ready to start thinking about cleaning house and finally getting organized.  I do this thinking thing often and don't make much progress, so perhaps the sensation I feel seems so like a real experience, but is merely the repetition of one more day of procrastination.  I did make a bit of progress yesterday.  I purged my paper files from my too-huge four-drawer file cabinet that stands hulking at the back of my walk-in closet.  That resulted in a trash bag full of paper with either my name and address on it, or my social security number and/or medical information.  Then, whilel I was watching The Daily Show and Colbert, I separated my name from those papers.  Now I have two piles of papers to dispose of: those with no identifying markers and those with.  I'll toss the one bag in the recycle bin and shred the other.  So far, so good.  It did amaze me to find Vet records (for my long dead cat) from my days in Santa Barbara with my Cliff Drive address on them.  And it also amazes me to realize that it's still hard to part with evidence that I once lived on Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara.  I wish I still did.  Salt Lake is not my favorite place, especially this time of year.

My plan is to go through all the crowded storage areas in my tiny cottage.  This means getting rid of old crap so I can make room for my favorite crap, thus making it appear I have less crap, since it will now be in storage spaces and out of sight.  This is how I unclutter my space.  I know it's just an illusion, but I think I'll feel better once it's done.  I live in a space that's only 450 sq feet and I have five stuffed book cases taking up a lot of room.  That will never change, but I need to weed out the books I'm not likely to reread and iether move them to the big house or take them to the book exchange for future credits.  That way I can take the books in baskets scattered around the floor space and put them in book cases.  I think this is a version or robbing Peter to pay Paul.  I'm fully aware that this phenomonon is in operation throughout my life.  Paul is happy but Peter is about to start squawking.

I should take pictures of this process, but it's a little embarrassing to put my clutter on full display.  So I'll just leave you with this little gem ~ my bookcases.  Soon, I'll take you in the closet with me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hard Times and Property Taxes

My little world is about to undergoe some big changes.  I have a house that I've been renting to a young friend of mine.  (I live in the "cottage" at the back of the property where I have a gated driveway and my own parking space.) Up until now she's never had trouble finding a room-mate, but she's getting ready to make a big move to go to school out of state, so if she lived with her family for a few months before making that move she'll save money. And I'll be able to rent the whole house and make more money.  Sounds like a win/win doesn't it?  But because I live on the same (very big for an urban lot) property, I need to find the right person to rent it to. I'm not everybody's cup of tea.  The fact that I'm a bit of a misanthrope doesn't help.

I've spent most of my adult life trying to be as little like my heinous mother as humanly possible.  My mother was ungenerous in the extreem.  She was a tightwad and never ever gave anything away.  Even "gifts" came with a price tag or a trade off.  So I have spent my life erring on the side of generosity at the expense of my fiscal well-being.  It is time to grow up and stop living my life in reaction to a dead woman.  It's time to start thinking in terms of what's best for me for a change.  It's time for me to make enough money on this property to be able to pay my property taxes on time.

It's also time to finish the novel and put it to bed somewhere else.  I'm ready to move forward.  I'm ready to stop dreaming about the life I want and start working to make it happen.  I figure I just might have fifteen or twenty years to make at least one of my dreams come true if I work real hard right now.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Narcissist Has Moved

I've been writing and rewriting one novel for twenty years or more.  It's had at least five titles and has progressed over time from tattered scribbled yellow legal pads to typewriter to a word processor.  Then haltingly through three PCs to my Imac.  I have, in the past two years completely rewritten it on the blog, in full view, stumbling and fumbling my way through the puzzle that is an American family in extremis in a particular time and place.  It is personal.  And based on the comments so far, it is far too universal.  I began from one angle and then deconstructed it, peeling away to find ever greater complexity.  Now I've compressed the story, distilling it.  I began to focus in on a specific period of time, smaller, more intimate than the sixty something years of underlying history.

A month or a week ago I wrote a new chapter.  It was, like all lost writing, the best I'd ever done.  I know it has to be here somewhere, but I can't find it.  This loss was so shocking I began to move the book to Word to finish this incarnation.  So what you see here has now undergone another transformation as a Word project.  The title this time is The Narcissist.  I know that the last two or three chapters of the book are it's best.  I need to make the first three as good.  So for awhile, I'll be scarce here.  If you see me on Twitter tell me to get back to work.

PS  If you're reading the version of The Narcissist here, keep in mind that the comments you see refer to an earlier incarnation, when I was writing this family's history as a first person narrative on a very linear path.  And the book is thirty chapters long.  I think I have ten or fifteen up here.  But I always appreciate comments.  Without you this is all done in a vacuum and isn't half as fun.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Writing Life

I know I said this last year as well, but this IS the year I'm going to get published and in order to get published I have to submit something.  I did submit a few things last year, but in late November and early December so even if any of that finds its way into publication it won't be for a while.

I have finished the rewrite on Maggy, which is now The Narcissist, but that doesn't mean I'm through editing.  When you've worked on a book for twenty years or so, it's hard to come to the absolute end point with it unless someone else takes it away from you.  The rewrite I just finished was a drastic reworking of the material into a new form.  The whole story is now told as if it were being remembered in present time and in therapy, so there are millions of tense changes.  I will be editing to find missed tense changes.

I've been doing the last two hundred pages of rewrite on Word.  I had an unfortunate accident on Blogger.  I wrote a whole new chapter and was delighted with it.  The whole chapter was dialogue.  I saved it and went to bed.  When I woke up the next morning it was gone.  So I will not do my fiction writing on blogger anymore.  Phillip tells me it must be here somewhere, since blogger autosaves all the time.  I know that's true, but...  Where the hell did that chapter go?

So, for anyone reading The Narcissist on the blog, it's incomplete and unedited.  But once I have it finished to my satisfaction I'll probably repost it.  In the meantime there are several chapters from Maggy that have been dropped from The Narcissist.  This means I have work that can be turned into short story material.

I hope you all had a lovely New Years Eve and are now embarked on a lazy New Year's Day.  I went to the best New Year's Eve party ever.  I spent last night partying on Twitter.  It was so much fun.

Don't forget to eat blackeyed peas and cornbread today.  It's for good luck in the new year.  Besides, it's good for you.