Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Quiet Privatizing of Medicare

I have linked the information on this topic to the title. The quiet privatization of Medicare is very carefully spelled out in the linked article. But I want to tell you how this effects a disabled person receiving Medicare parts A B and D.

For an American with a disability that eventually makes working impossible, the process of applying for State Disability Benefits is arduous, expensive and slow--very very slow. It took two years for my application to work its way through the Byzantine bureaucracy that is the disability maze. Their policy is to deny benefits on all first applications. Six months after my first application, I got my first denial. And, in the end, the only way to make it successfully through this process requires a disability attorney, but nobody tells you this ever at any point in the process. Yes, Dorothy, they do require an attorney to accept your application, and even then a judge can say, "Sorry, I'm not feeling the love today, and so, fuck you and the attorney you walked in with, waited hours with, and besides that I hate the look on your pathetic face anyway. Try again next year." It is humiliating, demeaning, and expensive. By the time you do get through the process successfully, you are bankrupt anyway. I sold my mother's antique furniture to stay afloat at the end, just to be able to eat and pay utilities.

My attorney was very skilled. And it was my lucky day that the judge seeing my case was filling in for the usual judge, who was out of town. The judge who saw my case lived in Las Vegas. I think it was his experience with crazies even worse than I that made him compassionate toward me. And once you do make it through that part of the process, you must then deal with your local Medicare and Medicaid offices. There you will face long lines and, once you get to the little window, you find the real obstructionists at the heart of any bureaucracy. They do not tell you over the phone what documentation you will need. But once you get to the little window, you will no doubt be missing one small bit of crucial documentation.

So, finally, two and a half years after my first application for Social Security Disability, I'm in the system and have received my first piddling little check. I have my Medicare Card. I have been referred to Valley Mental Health, and I have a good Psychiatrist. I've been tested and placed in a group of other women with bipolar disorder. And for several years that was as complicated as it got. But not so fast. We now have a new wrinkle in the Medicare system and guess what, you fine upstanding tax payers? Congress has quietly been doling out contracts to private insurance companies to give you less for more. And not only do they give the hapless senior or disabled person less service for more money and add another layer of bureaucracy on top of the one that has existed for a very long time, they also charge you guys a bit more because they are in the business of making money.

So, about four months ago, I got a packet in the mail about medicare coverage. This packet claimed it marked a change in the way medicare would be provided and that my account would now be covered by a plan called Evercare. I do not do well with reading the small print, but I should have called Medicare to check it out. This was the first salvo in the privatizing of Medicare. It duplicates what Medicare does, adds a new layer of bureaucracy, an enormous amount of paper--all very high quality glossy lists of this and that to confuse the elderly and disabled who often have a bit of trouble dealing with one layer of bureaucracy, let alone layer upon layer. It's smoke and mirrors. And it isn't continuous coverage. So when I go to my doctor's office with my new "medicare" card that now says Evercare, and the doctor's office makes a note of that, I start getting bills that have not been partially paid by medicare, and when I call Evercare, after going through phone mail hell, I get some jackass who tells me that on the billing date I was covered by traditional medicare. "Yessss? So you aren't medicare?" "Yes, we're your new medicare provider." "Well, I liked my old medicare provider better." "Just tell your doctor's office to bill medicare this time. Then they can bill us next time, and you'll be covered then."

What the Fuck? Is this what is meant by a ponzi scheme? I called medicare and asked why I was no longer on traditional medicare, and was told that I could indeed keep my traditional medicare, pay less and get more coverage. That it was the Bush administration's early work with a republican majority in the House and Senate to gradually, quietly privatize medicare. Holy mother of god! Just the paperwork alone must have cost millions. You should see the five pounds of booklets and formularies, and drug coverage, and exclusions, and networks, and favored hospitals, and on and on just to switch from what worked perfectly to what did not work at all.

The nice young woman at medicare spent almost an hour on the phone with me finding the best possible medicare part D drug package for me by having me give her a list of all my drugs and then checking them with all the insurance company options and found that Eatna covered all my drugs, even the diazipam and triazilam, drugs not covered by my old part D carrier. So next time you hear someone talking shit about the government bureaucracy making you have to see their doctors and how you'll get terrible care, tell them to talk to me. Bureaucracy is bureaucracy whether it's run by the government or a private, for-profit corporation with K Street lobbyists.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I'm Turning Into a Virtual Slut

If I had any dignity at all, I'd stop now. But I'm deep in the weeds of my own delusion. Ahhh. The guilty pleasure of inappropriate behavior. I keep thinking of lines from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. And find myself blushing that I identify with a character that a boy, only twenty two, created long ago. But truth be told, I also Identified with Aschenbach, Thomas Mann's character from Death in Venice. Only now, at the other end of my life, can I know I feel something akin to the longing, the foolishness one will engage in to follow the sound of a voice, or the very young man who moves so beautifully you blush to feel your lust and know you are invisible now at last. Only here in my words do I exist. You have real lives. Jobs you need to keep, families to feed, husbands, wives, lovers, children. I have friends who have lives, too. But aside from the occasional visit from a female friend or two, and the weekday matinee movie date with Nick, I have no life. A strange old dog and I share a small but comfy space. I'm crazy enough to be disabled, but not too crazy to live on my own. And though I am difficult, the people who love me, love me well and for a long, long time.

But still I am a fierce bitch now and then. Since I'm crazy and have been long enough to know one when I see one, I have a friend who is approaching her fifties and really needs some therapy. She is claiming to be too busy to squeeze it in, too poor. But she's also one of the most extravagantly generous women I know, and I've known her a long time. Extravagant with her time, loading herself with social obligations and wants that must be met, yet repeats a terribly dysfunctional dynamic of the same attraction to just the same kind of wrong man. She has plenty of time for the wrong man. Really the wrong man. Three wrong men in her past and one in her present. See what I mean about being difficult? Would you want me in your real life? I have high standards for everyone. Yet I am something of a cyber slut. I have no real life in which to misbehave, so I misbehave here and hope it's harmless fun. However if I were acting like this in the real world, I'd be making an appointment to talk it out with my therapist. I'd be seeing my shrink to get a med check. Anytime I'm having too much fun, I think I might just be crazy instead.

I knew this guy was dangerous in a sweet and seemingly harmless way, but I only noticed him when he was commenting on other people's blogs. And he lives "abroad" shall we say. There is no chance in hell I'm ever going to meet him, or so I hope. Because not only is he too young, he really is the wrong kind of man for me.

Recently Randal (who lives in Cincinnati (or so he says) and not abroad, (not to say I don't adore him, but he's married with children and I don't go there, so shut up), wrote about his fondness for the Baroque Italian composers and snowy weather. I'd have to go back to Randals to look to tell you the composers name, and it's late and I'm lazy. Vivaldi was a favorite of mine, and I didn't look much farther, but I did live in Italy in the mid 1060's and I was modeling in Milan, hanging out with famous artists and the world seemed to want to be my oyster, but I didn't believe I deserved it. So, other than the Italian bassist, who was so poor he didn't have his own apartment, the men I spent time with were very well off. And eventually I ran like hell. Happiness for me? No. Not in the cards. My crazy mother wanted me to come home. She needed me.

Well, she's dead now so I can finally live my own life. And I don't really like to travel anymore. Once train travel was replaced with flying sardine cans, and then they retired the old luxury liners with cruise ships, I stopped liking to travel. I lost my sense of adventure once they started strip searching me at the airport.

Anyway, to get back to my infatuations. I knew he was potential trouble. But now I find myself stalking his site. But he isn't my first virtual crush. My first crush was Scarlet Blue. I was very sad when she dismantled her site. And now and then I find her at Fairlane's place, and notice I'm a little jealous she talks to him but not to me. Oh well, love seldom runs smooth.

I've had a thing for the Unconventional Conventionist who is a sweet and snarky peach and nothing at all like the Progressive Traditionalist who is a troll, and a pompous ass as well. No UC pierced my heart one day by letting me know he was reading my novel and had left me a musical message of a very personal sort on a certain chapter. It was sweet, lovely UC sitting at this baby grand piano playing the Whippenpoof Song of the notorious Skull and Bones fraternity.

What can I say, my daddy taught it to me. And in the chapter called Body Warmth, little eight or nine year old Judy is doing dinner dishes as she warbles the Whippenpoof song. The very real, real time, virtual man, UC, was there in my novel, at the bottom of the page, playing accompaniment to my little reedy voice as I sang the lyrics. That my dears is nothing short of magic. And it both ripped me asunder, and healed me as well. So, UC isn't really a crush at all. I really love him. I love him like a... There are no words.

But there are other virtual men I have had the occasional crush on. I now have two crushes going on simultaneously. Only two you say? Well, Dr. Ziaus has Germaine, Mathman has Dcup. Probably the rest of the men and women I have lusted after had mates of their own as well, not even imaginary mates, but real flesh and blood mates. I trust Randal's claim that he is married. Besides, he doesn't ever flirt with me, and he does flirt. Oh yes he does. Just not with me. But there are bloggers who may not really be flirting who leave such provocative comments I find my heart going pitty patter at the thought of them. Take Fairlane for instance. I ran across Fairlane at Scarlet's and then of course followed him home. (She was probably posting there.) But I found Fairlane very interesting. He is one of the funniest bloggers around. Thoughtful and smart as well. So I kept going back like a bad habit I couldn't quite break. Then every once in a while, Fairlane would visit me and commit what amounts to a virtual hit and run. He would leave a comment like "Well what about Sartre!" Like I was some dumb shit and had completely left out the main ingredient. When what I was posting about had nothing to do with the Existentialists or the early twentieth century or... What the Fuck! And I would obsess like mad trying to solve that riddle. Pure nonsense. Not exactly a crush--more like fear and insecurity.

But now I loves me some Tengrain. And I'm hungry as well. But I only have white bread. How sad.
Oh yeah, there's Kelso and his nuts. I'm overly fond of him too. He's so easy. All you have to do with Kelso is smile and nod and say, Ummmhummm? And he'll go on and on like a top sent spinning. So very satisfying.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Heart Mandala for the Bloggers With the Open Hearts

Susan, she of the Crow with the beautiful voice, and the two sites, Phantsythat, and Adventures Ink is a talented artist, and not just with the words, though there is no denying her talents there. She is a visual artist too. Randal asked for a new painting from her and she painted a Heart Mandala. I studied Buddhism and had an old hippie friend who made several of those fashionable trips to India in the 60's along with the Beatles and every other musical type with an eye to a trend. One of my friends in that category came home with a guru and some Indian friends and she and her partner opened a little shop in Brentwood called Sat Purush, where they sold beautiful handmade Indian clothes for men and women with means, and some very fancy concert get-ups for the big name rockers. A friend of hers came back from India with a side trip through Tangiers and brought back one suitcase full of hashish and another full of Bedouin wedding dresses. I got one of the dresses and smoked my fair share of the hash. None of this is very Buddhist, more like some amalgamation of Krishna consciousness and Buddhism with a little hippie hashish thrown in along with the beautiful Bedouin dresses. And out of all of this, the hash smuggler--a life long painter, began to paint Mandalas. Extravagantly beautiful Mandalas. The lower chakras were her specialty. Nuff said.

But Susan has painted a Heart Mandala, and if anyone needed an opening of the heart it is I. Susan must have sensed this to address my heart's need for opening, and so Randal, the Boarder Explorer and I were the first recipients of this lovely art to become a new Award. I do not remember if there were instructions or suggestions for the passing of this award, but I believe that this award needs to be passed to those whose hearts have been wounded and yet manage to remain open and honest about their wounds and the ways they work on healing. Or perhaps it is the bloggers with hearts so open they can read your heart and know what you need and are only too happy to ask for your address to send it to you. Imagine all the trust in that?

At any rate the first blogger I wish to award this Heart Mandala is SaoirseDaily2 for her incredible generosity of heart. If you've missed the earring post, go back and look. If you missed yesterday's Jenna Mamnina clip. Well, you're hopeless, keep up.

Next to Liberality who gave me my first Award ever in my entire life, ever, and I had only been blogging a short while. Well, it thrilled me no end. I had so little skill it took weeks to get it home and "Link?" What is this link of which you speak? It only took me six or eight months to give her credit for the gift. That takes a lot of patience on her part. But I give this to her because... Well, she knows why.

And to Linda Sama The Ageless Hippie Chick who gave me The Rebel Grrrl Award. Now that goes right to my badass image of myself. Pretty funny when you think how old I am. But Linda IS
a Buddhist and she does indeed collect Mandalas. Who better to get one than one who loves them so. Besides that she teaches Yoga and could probably teach me how to open mine.

And to Dcup whose hearts as big as her cup size, and as open as her mind. I love you dear. Have you figured it out yet, that my heart belongs to Dcup, no matter my deep and heartfelt flirtation with Tengrain, and Kelso and his nuts, and Fairlane, who never even noticed, and yes, Dcup even Mathman.

And to D.K. Read, because with hair that red, her heart is shining right through her hair. Can anyone deny it? Because when Stella doesn't take the silly Anonymous commenters on, DK does. My fierce protectors.

And to Stella who posted the very first comment on my blog and then told me I reminded her of Dorothy Parker. What better reason could there be?

This comes with no strings attached. No rules that I know of. So hang on to your heart or pass it around. It's your heart after all. The only thing I ask is that you post your Mandala on your sidebar and link it back to Susan.

Jenna Mammina

Ms Saoirse Daily2 sends not only handmade earrings I'm now calling my "Lobe Jewels" just precisely because it does sound a tiny bit nasty, and I'm that kind of woman, but she sent me a CD. Now, I have to confess something and I know it makes me sound like an asshole to admit this, but I have a hard time visiting sites where there is music playing the moment the site pops up. Often my speakers are turned up too loud because I might have been listening to my favorite Diana Krall last night and now, I'm just not expecting music I didn't chose, to come blaring at me from anyone's peaceful space but mine (which might not be exactly peaceful, but has my own soundtrack playing, if anythings playing at all). This might mean I'm a snob, or closed to the tastes of others, and that could be true. I wouldn't argue with you if you said that about me. But it's more that I feel oddly assaulted by waves of sound not of my choosing. Again, those words--"of my choosing." There are many of you who have turned me on to music I didn't know existed, and now that I do, I spend at least 99cents a week buying music you led me to. So it isn't just that I hate new stuff, but I do hate most of what you guys have playing on your sites like it was goddamned elevator music. Sorry, I had to say it. But what you like and wish to listen to is very personal. If I post a music clip and you cruise right past it without a pretense of a listen, I completely understand. I do the same thing. I may say something like, "Lovely music. So what did you think about the stampede at WallMart at FIVE FUCKIN' AM this morning?"

Ms Saoirse is the loveliest of women. She is talented and generous too. Why after giving me gifts must she listen for a moment to what I have to say about the music playing at her place? Because it explains the time it took me to open the CD cover and slip that baby into the slot and crank up the volume. And what I heard brought tears to my eyes from almost the opening notes, but all through the whole CD did I weep. Because Ms Saoirse has been paying close attention to my taste, and she has the magic of the true gift giver--she gives, not from her own desire, but for mine, or yours, or to whomever she gives. So, I can't tell you how much I love this gift of terrific new jazz, now I will be pulling up the YouTube clips almost everyday to not only listen to, but to watch as well. If you don't like it, put your fingers in your ears and go lalalalallala as loud as you can, but I'll be here either dancing or singing along, or crying, because it's just all so damn poignant and touching, and it swings.

Eugene Fodor Used to Play Paganini In My Backyard

This was the Eugene Fodor I knew. His fiance was a student of my husband's in the mid to late 1970's. I remember entertaining them in our tiny apartment in the Cherry Creek section of Denver. She was a small, voluptuous, dark haired beauty and she and I hit it off immediately. I was not so sure about Eugene. He was more politically conservative than she, and if I remember correctly, an ardent gun enthusiast. And when we met them, he was already a virtuoso concert violinist, world famous, and with a certain rock star following of lovesick young women. So I watched him for signs of arrogance, but what I saw instead was inexperience with anything other than his doting mother and his ambitious father whose talent was not so great, but a fierce desire for his sons to have what he could not. Eugene was a boy who grew up on a large ranch with an older brother who was also a talented violinist. Eugene was both a young genius and a strutting cowboy. And then it came so early, this star stature. Underneath that wattage was a sweet, generous, romantic young man with great good looks, a bit of a rough edge and a monster talent.

We were invited to the family ranch for an engagement party. It was a Spanish style event with a Mariachi band. And a short time later we were invited to the wedding. They moved to New York and I remember working on a painting in a new medium to send to them for a wedding present a few months later.

Shortly after that we moved to Missouri, where my husband got a teaching job at one of the lovely State Universities. We used to see Eugene play now and then on Johnny Carson.

They wrote letters, called occasionally, and then we got a call that they were playing in a concert in another Missouri City and wanted to come stay with us the night and day before the concert and that we would be their guests for the event. We were both delighted and worried. I more worried than my husband. Eugene's wife, my friend, whose name I can no longer recall I'm embarrassed to say, was very pregnant with twins. I worried that the bed in the guest room wasn't big enough or comfortable enough. But they were both so sweet. We had a lovely afternoon. Fixed dinner at home. We ate simply, at their request. And when she went to bed, he wandered into the backyard and played. So under a cool autumn sky full of stars on the edge of the Ozarks, we listened to perhaps the worlds most famous Paganini virtuoso play Paginini. It was the most magical, transcendent musical moment of my life.

And again, late the next afternoon, he wandered the backyard and played for at least an hour. Then the black limousine came to pick us up for the two hour ride to the concert hall. When we got out of the limousine, hordes of girls began screaming. Eugene signed some autographs and then we were herded into his dressing room. We had champaign, caviar, cheeses, fruit. And then we were taken to the first box in the balcony to look down on the stage. Before he began playing he blew his wife a kiss, and people rose from their seats to look up at us, she looked around and smiled and then the concert began.

I had never been a fan of classical music. I grew up with jazz. Oh I'd certainly heard plenty of classical music. My dad's mother loved it. But not until high school had I gone to concerts or listened to classical music of my own accord, until I heard Rachmaninoff's Isle of the Dead did I find something other than Jazz that really moved me. Then I discovered Stravinski's Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring. And then Vivaldi, and so it went. Yet still, I did not like Beethoven, or Motzart, or Wagner, especially not Wagner. Then later found Bach and that was the sweet spot, classically speaking.

After the concert in an unnamed city in Missouri, there was a reception. As we walked into the room, a wave of applause swept over us, Eugene's wife grabbed me by the hand, asked me to come with her, approached the nearest matron in a flowered dress, and asked her where the ladies room was, all the while tightly clutching my hand to her ample bosom. She dragged me to the crowded ladies and then, just inside the door to the packed room, put a hand to either side of my face and pulled mine to hers and planted a juicy kiss on my startled lips. And the room went silent for just a moment as most of the waiting women held their breath. Then my hugely pregnant friend spoke in her rich musical contralto and asked to cut in line, as her husband was waiting for her, and because she was so very preggers, she needed to pee so very badly. And we walked into the first available stall together, since she still held my hand. Once inside, she opened her little evening bag and pulled a tiny silver vial out, unscrewed the lid, dipped in her little finger and scooped out a nail full of coke. She snorted rather noisily, then giggled and kissed me again. She had me backed against the wall, leaning into me slightly as she bent back and scooped another nail full. She whispered, don't breathe or you'll blow it all around. Then she snorted another. She said, close your eyes and hold your breath. I did. She said, "breathe" and I sucked air in through my nose along with a powerful hit of coke. And again. Then she pulled a joint from her purse and hiked her skirt and sat on the toilet. I whispered, "Do you think this is wise in here?" Never mind, "You're pregnant, aren't you?" She lit it, and we giggled through a joint while the ladies room emptied.

That is my last memory of them other than a birth announcement and a couple of letters. His career was in full swing, and she was hanging around with the guys in Divo and going to all the hot clubs and parites. I heard she was studying Opera Singning. Then silence.

Then we heard they'd divorced. Then we divorced. I moved back to Salt Lake and then First Love/Last Love and I started living together. Then one night we saw something on TV about Eugene Fodor's arrest in the Hamptons for a break-in and a drug bust. And then nothing after that. Such genius and the demons that sometimes accompany extraordinary gifts. And today, while listening to Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg I thought of Eugene.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nadja, Sergio & Odair

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sarah Palin: Poet Lauretate

Julian Gough celebrates a new voice in poetry, Sarah Palin:
And the relevance to me
With that issue,
As we spoke
About Africa and some
Of the countries
There that were
Kind of the people succumbing
To the dictators
And the corruption
Of some collapsed governments
On the Continent,
The relevance
Was Alaska’s.

"I no longer recognize marriage"

Tom Ackerman
I no longer recognize marriage. It’s a new thing I’m trying.

Turns out it’s fun.

Yesterday I called a woman’s spouse her boyfriend.

She says, correcting me, “He’s my husband,”
“Oh,” I say, “I no longer recognize marriage.”

For Tengrain: Leda and the Swan, by William Butler Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By his dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

How can anybody, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins, engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

Literature Network » William Butler Yeats » Leda And The Swan

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Things You Pick Up at Politits

I dropped by Dcup's and found this delightful meme/notmeme

Other Names Meme:
1. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names): Jean Brian

2. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother’s dad, father’s dad): Linton Ralph

3. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of your first name): Pepegg

4. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal): Red Dog

5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you live): Evan Salt Lake

6. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink, optionally add “THE” to the beginning): Black Old Fashion

7. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name): Peon

8. GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie): Chocolate Peanutbutter

9. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet’s name, current street name): Cyrus Lincoln

10. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on): Tippy Lincoln

And to follow Dcup's lead, I won't tag anyone, unless they comment. Then you're in the game.
I did think her answers were hilarious, while mine seem rather ordinary. I always liked the alliteration of my name, but it cramps the style when creating a Star Wars Name. Sounds like a stutterer. And was there ever a less Fly name than Peon?

Stella Speaks in Response to a Comment at My Place

Red, let a native Californian school ya, even though a Red Rasputin is a cocktail.

Proposition 8 was purposely written in a deceptive manner, especially in the initial draft. Many people thought if they voted Yes on 8, they supported same-sex marriage. The ads were utter prevarication.

The original ballot language read: "[Prop 8] Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

The election official's change, however, gives the legislation a more straightforward read:

"[Prop 8] Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over the next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact to state and local governments."

Red, note the convoluted language. The only fiscal impact is that companies and the government that insures heterosexual families would be required to insure same-sex families. Where this "tens of millions" came in, I do not know, especially when the end of the proposition states "likely little fiscal impact." Huh?

"The Proposition 8 ballot was created in opposition to amend the constitution and overturn the 2000 Proposition 22. Prop 22 was an initiative to prevent same-sex marriages from being recognized by the State of California. The measure was defeated by a wide margin of 61.4% to 38.6%. Oppositionists tried to fight this decision in the California Supreme Court and the decision was upheld in May 15, 2008 and same-sex marriages were finally allowed in California."

Your logic is flawed, Red. I find the comment you selected bordering on bigotry. Your quote is from one minister at one church: hardly a consensus on African-American voters.

Please take your question back to the Mormon Church and the Knights of Columbus who violate separation of church and state. These organizations, along with right-wing Christian fundamentalists, such as the Christian Coalition, poured millions of dollars into passing this proposition—most of these organizations are not in California and don't belong in our politics.

Furthermore, , "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Sunday he will not join legislative Democrats in a court fight against Proposition 8 despite his opposition to the same-sex marriage ban, but he believes the courts ultimately should and will allow such marriages in California.".

Sadly, Attorney General Jerry Brown, has his hands tied to defend the laws of the State of California. He has stated he wants to ensure that same-sex marriages that occurred between May 15 and November 3. But, that's another story.

Ms L. at SaoirseDaily2, Sends Earrings to Civilize the Savage Beast in Me

There are two more pair, and I will soon be modeling them for you. I tried to photograph all three pair on a dark green velvet scarf, but my hands shake due to bipolar meds. I would need a tripod to take a photo that isn't blurred at such close range, so I am forced to let my computer do the work for me. It is interesting to me what the direction and source of light does to the color of flesh.

Ms. L of SaoirseDaily2 fame is a very talented jewelry maker and does a great job choosing the right earrings for a particular woman. I have been wearing this pair all afternoon. My hair is a fairly simple bob and an earring that doesn't dangle a bit is invisible.

Thank you Saoirse darling. I love my new earnings and will step up my wardrobe so I can justify the lovely bit of glamour hanging from my earlobes. You are a dear. And I just might be a bit less savage, looking so civilized.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Mormons and Proposition 8

The Washington Post is reporting on the Mormon Church's support for Proposition 8. Don't forget about this violation of The Constitution. And that this is a very rich Church with a very small central governing group, ruled by one wise old "white man" chosen by god, and his twelve apostles or elders, all of whom are also white men. Did I say rich white men? I should have.

Women with ambition in the Mormon Church are relegated to The Relief Society. Men rule, women serve. And everybody in the church pays tithing. So come all ye saints is a way to enrich the church. If you are poor and live in a country where you are oppressed or have very little chance for improving your situation and the nicely dress duo of clean cut, sweet faced, well behaved, young men knock on the door of your hovel offering not only eternal salvation, but the possibility of immigration to the US of A, what would you do? Utah has very few restrictions for immigration. Utah will expedite the visas for converts. And once here they will help you find housing, a job, and the tight embrace of the church.

Mormons also run "charities" where we donate, and they sell. And in these hard times, they just raised their prices for the stuff they get for free but sell back to us. They own vast swaths of downtown real estate. They build enormous Temples all over the world, and send out an army of young men (only recently have they allowed young women to join in the conversion brigade). Please pay attention to what this fundamentalist, right wing, wealthy, and well connected Church is doing. This is a church with great organizational skills. They are the only financial backing Mitt Romney would need to finance his next bid for the presidency. They run Utah and are making inroads in the national government.

D.K. Raed said...

"They run Utah" ... and most of Idaho, a heckova lot of Nevada, northern Arizona, and western Colorado -- all part of the original "Deseret Territory".

Thanks for putting this up UT. As I shopped in Costco today, surrounded by polyg women, I always wonder why they are so eager to obey. The Relief Society -- don't get me started, it's a relief to not be a part of that zombiette society. It's enough to make me swerve the car a little too close to the curb as I pass those clean-cut white-shirted young men bicylcing around town.

People think they are so nice & mannerly, but I live near Mountain Meadows Massacre, so I can never forget they are capable of extreme violence, if so ordered by that "old white prophet guy".

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Art for Art's Sake

I've been longing for some new art. I've grown used to the pieces hanging on my walls and hardly give them a glance anymore. I've also lamented the mostly rather primitive works of art that we give one another when we want to pay homage to our favorite bloggers. Susan at Phantsythat is a remarkable artist and talented writer. And it seems Randal asked her for a painting. It amazes me that those with extraordinary artistic gifts so seldom see themselves as the enormous talents they in fact are. Prior to this, the prettiest award being passed around was the Marie Antoinette award given to me and others by Liquid Illusion. My first award was the E for Excellent award and I treasure it, then I got the Rebel Grrrl award, and that thrilled me because it was finally acknowledged, and celebrated. Halleluia!

I'm a woman who never won anything prior to blogging. So now I love the awards. I can't get enough of them. I was amazed that in this particular time of economic peril anyone would think Marie "let them eat cake" Antoinette was a fitting award, but she is pretty, you've got to give her that. And it does make one think of the French Revolution and the quite literal toppling of a corrupt regime. Which of course makes me think of the guillotine. What a lovely word for such a fierce and fatal final execution. And there sits Madame Defarge, on a stool, knitting as the heads roll off the block and into a basket at her feet. I, being somewhat old, no longer lovely, and rather bloody-minded at this point in our nation's history, feel rather more Madame Defarge-like and would like to see some rough justice for the rulers who brought us to our knees, forced some of us to lose our homes and cars and livelihood. I'm wanting to see the Bush administration, the entire pack of liars and thieves beheaded, and I would sit smiling as I knit and watch the heads roll. Oh yes I would. Am I nice? No, not so much. Did I ever claim to be? Where is my sense of forgiveness? Killed long ago.

"But didn't you say you don't believe in capital punishment?" Well, yes I did say that. But that's because so many people on death row were not rich enough to hire world class legal teams to defend them. And the "justice" system is filled with republican justices appointed by republican regimes, and the prisons are now so often privately owned and operated and are crying "poor me, I need more prisoners to justify the hefty profits I make running these mighty fine prisons you pretty much gave me"--like the ones in Texas that are owned by the Chenneys and looked over by the likes of Alberto "I don't recall" Gonzales. It must have been some mighty horrific conditions and abuses of power that prodded a Texas grand jury to charge both Dick Chenney and Alberto Gonzales. Remember that Texas is the state George Bush governed and calls home. Now that takes balls, Texas. Good on ya. I'm not so embarrassed to have been born there now, if only for a moment or two. Oh how I'd like to see those two heads roll. Let's open another bottle of wine and toast that thought.

Anyway, to get back to art. Susan has painted a Heart Mandala and is giving it as a blogger award. And Randal Graves and the Boarder Explorer and I are three of it's first recipients. There will no doubt be more. And maybe this will open my heart chakra a little. But forgiveness for those criminal bastards will be a little harder to accomplish. Nothing less than a War Crimes Trial will do. Maybe I do have a trip left in me. Lets all meet up at the Hague when the time comes. And to celebrate after the convictions, I say we spend at least a couple of days in Amsterdam.

A Fine Romance

If you haven't read the notes on my last musical Sunday post please do so now. This is a continuing sloppy saga of fatally flawed infatuation.

I've Got to See You Again

Is it possible to fall in love with someone you've never met, whose voice you've never heard, whose only words are typed upon a page, who lives in another country, who scares you a little? Maybe love isn't the right word, maybe it's only flirtation, or the time of night he speaks to you through the lines on a page, like the words in a dream, when you know that it's real and not real at all.

Bill Evans, piano, Chuck Israels, Bass, Larry Bunker, Drums

This was the year I sailed for Italy.
Thanks anonymous for the suggestion, which surprised me. Weren't you the one who said, It's much like the music of Richard Wagner's not as bad as it sounds? I would rather listen to cats fucking than anything by Wagner. Wagner is torture. Bill Evans is sublime. Shall we continue this conversation?

Giant Steps

For all the Sunday morning Jazz lovers
John Coltrain, posthumous winner of a Pulitzer, a giant talent.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Try a Little Tenderness

For Kelso. He knows why.

A Bit of a Squirrely Update

Linda of Vulture Peak Muse left me a comment in my first chapter of the three part series on Squirrels in the Attic, informing me that squirrels use their feet like raccoons, they carry their food into the attic through the red tile roof and since they put foot to mouth, they are not likely to like cayenne pepper. I went on a hunt for large amounts of cayenne pepper and lucked out at Big Lots. Big shakers of cayenne pepper for $1 apiece. I bought eight. Today we, my two tenants and I, embarked on the cayenne pepper raid. I supplied the pepper, the masks to protect the pepper appliers from inhaling pepper and other crap (literally), the rubber gloves, and the ladder. They climbed into the attic crawl space above the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom and found the openings where the squirrels are entering, sprinkled the pepper generously around all places where there is any sign of squirrel activity. In the nesting area, all over the walnuts in storage up there. Wherever there is any sign that a squirrel has been, it has been sprinkled with a heavy coat of cayenne pepper. Thanks Linda. We'll give it some time and I'll report back to you as I know whether or not this has discouraged the squirrels. I know you're all holding your breath waiting for these answers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Men (the condensed story)

I like the idea of men. I like men in the abstract. I like one man in the present real time and see him often. But he has seen me marry and divorce, love and leave, and in the end isolate myself from the company of men. We're old friends and are likely to remain old friends so long as we never try to live together.

I am heterosexual, though I have wished I weren't at times. Sadly, I can attest to the fact that sexual identity is not a choice, or I would be a lesbian. I gave it a try, and it isn't for me. Too bad, because I can't seen to find a man that I can actually live with. I must confess that the fault could be mine and not the men I've known, since I am a "difficult" woman. More on that later.

I have tried, god knows, I've tried to make it work with not just one, but three husbands, several relatively short term lovers, and even one very very long term lover. And when I leave them, as I have done, sometimes more than once, and in one case over and over, I know that it isn't really that there is something intrinsically wrong with the man I'm leaving, but that the relationship (not necessarily the man) doesn't give me what I need. Which brings up one question. What do I need? What did I want from a particular man that I wasn't getting? And the answers aren't easy to find. But my past, my long distant past, holds clues to that answer. If you've read my novel or any of the older stories you probably could answer that question for me, because all the clues are there.

So let me try to start at the beginning with a list.
1. My biological father had no use for me and made it clear to me that I was in the way. He did not leave us, but once my mother made a run for it, I never heard from him again.

2. My three much older brothers left home one at a time and never really looked back. I don't blame them at all. Given their age and gender, I too would have left and never looked back.

3. My second father, the one who adopted me and was my "real" parent for a year, then started sexually abusing me and kept at it for five years, told me I was too old for him when I turned eleven and started menstruating. You can imagine my confusion.

4. My mother was a narcissistic bitch who was from day one in competition for attention with her only child. And so, a very bad role model for what it is to be a woman.

5. I was very pretty. (there is no good or bad about that on its face, but with the other deficits of my family's collective psychosis turned out to be a very bad thing for the sensitive person I was to become) Too pretty for anyone to see much beyond the prettiness and see the person inside. I know very few people, men or women, who would feel sorry for a woman who was as pretty as I was, since envy and the comfort of dismissal make empathy impossible for the envious.

That's a pretty good start. So I begin with abandonment, then shift to abuse and then abandonment again where the significant men in my early life were concerned. Add to that the angry, competitive, hostile mother, and you have the making of a woman unable to bond or trust. So, I might be capable of loving, but never able to fully trust. I always believed that any man I loved would leave me (the early imprint) and so I left first. It was the only way I knew to avoid abandonment. Really very easy to understand laid out like that (like a patient etherized upon the table). So I do not dare to eat a peach. Unless alone, that is.

There is more on this subject. But not today. Today I am vacuuming.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bill Evans on piano with basist Scott LaFaro, and drummer Paul Motian

Oh to have been young and in New York for this. Recorded live at the Village Vanguard in 1961. And check out the hands. Ahumm

Squirrels in The Attic, Part 11: The Savage Women

I am an old woman living in her converted garage so I can rent my house and afford to eat and pay my bills. But getting together the money to pay property taxes gets harder every year. And every trip to the grocery store costs more to buy less. I dread leaving my house. I have a full tank of gas in my van, and it might last the winter if I'm careful.

I have no credit cards. I filed for bankruptcy the last year of my mother's life. Caring for her had made working impossible, and it made my bipolar illness worse. She was too difficult for anyone. And I was her only living relative and had the legal, as well as moral, responsibility to care for her. Then suddenly, with all money gone, she finally qualified for Medicaid. And under Medicaid's watchful eyes we got a social worker, and meals on wheels, and three days a week an aid came to our house to bathe her and take her for a walk. And for the first time I slept for an hour without fear.

Early on in her dementia she saw her brother in the house and wanted me to make him go away. He had been dead for years. She wanted to sleep with me, and I could think of not a single thing on earth I would have hated more. Once I woke in the dark of early morning to find her standing looking down on me. How odd that my mother could still strike terror in my heart. Panic and terror was what I felt at the prospect of my mother in bed with me. I thought she might kill me. It was more probably a projection of my own dark wishes.

One morning in the deep of winter I went into her room to wake her, change her diaper, dress her, fix her breakfast. She wasn't in her bed. I searched the house and worried that she'd found the hidden key, and let herself out into the snow and freezing temperatures. But the key was in its place and all the doors were still locked. Than I ran through the house again, looking everywhere calling her name, while my dog Lucy searched with me. We went down to the basement, looked in her closet, under her bed, and finally I checked the attic where squirrels were nesting in the last of the shredded insulation and torn bits of paintings, scraps of summer dresses. And there she was, bedded down on the wood floor with the walnuts and the squirrels, her nightgown hiked around her hips, curled like a fetus. Sagging diaper leaking, her wrist cold to the touch. It was freezing in there with the uninsulated ceiling. I had trouble rousing her. I was afraid she might be dead at first, and for a moment I thought of leaving her there and going back to sleep. Then the moment passed, and I did my best to scoop her up and take her to her bed. I quickly changed her diaper, put her in a warm, clean nightgown and while I changed her like a sleeping baby, her eyes slitted open and glanced sideways at me and she said, "Lucy." Not a question. Lucy was her little sister. Lucy lived in Arkansas then, but had also been diagnosed with Vascular Dementia as well. My Aunt's lifelong companion was blind, and I wanted not to think about their reality. I tried not to think about the implications of my mother and her sister and their mother and all the Savage women who had something called Malignant Hypertension which, prior to blood pressure drugs had claimed all the women in my mother's line young--all with massive strokes, or heart attacks or they just dropped dead early with no apparent cause, until the advent of the treatment of high blood pressure with diuretics. And as the drugs got better we survived the strokes to end our days in nursing homes, drooling and vacant and wearing diapers.

I remember when, after my grandmother survived her second stroke, my mother and her sister swooped in, packed her shit, sold her house, and divvied up the jewelry between themselves. They left her in a Nursing home, never to visit again. I wasn't living in Salt Lake then, and I wasn't told about any of this until months after it was accomplished. I was horrified. Two daughters, both single, and neither for a moment considered caring for their mother.

Now I know why. They were smart. They each had a strong survival instinct. And grandmother was a drooling idiot. And I was a sentimental fool, who wanted to believe in the power of love to overcome distaste. Some kind of love. But they wanted to have their lives. And she, they said, would never know the difference. But still, didn't they owe her anything?

There is probably no one more sentimental about love and its absence than a child who never felt loved. We grow up craving it and never recognizing it since it feels so unfamiliar. And we seek the familiar because, though it might be abuse, it feels like the thing daddy called love. And if mother is withholding, we give everything to try to earn her love. And eventually nothing feels like love. And if you believe the family mythology that you were never good enough, you know you don't deserve love. So you work a little harder, sacrifice a little more. Until you live alone and she now needs you at last. And just when you can really help her, you turn into her dead sister, who she always hated anyway.

So I thawed her cold body, fed her broth, and tried so hard to be the good daughter. I know now that it wasn't for my mother that I was doing all this. It was for me. I wanted to see myself as the good daughter, since no one left alive would every know what I was, but me. It was my image of myself that so needed to believe despite the lifetime of abuse and criticism, that I was a good person, and good people take care of their dying parents.

She seemed no worse for her slumber with the squirrels. She was as active and odd that day as any other. She fought with me over the shit in her diaper, just like any other day. I had a number of concerns about her running around the house with poop in her pants. She had, in the recent past, taken to removing her poop and hiding it in the most inappropriate of places--and really, is there any appropriate place to hide poop but in the toilet? I found it along with a fork behind a sofa cushion. I found it under her pillow, and have to admit that I considered for a moment leaving it there. It was only my daily stripping her sheets and washing them that made this unworkable. She hid it in the dryer as I've said before. One never thinks to look into the dryer for shit before tossing in the days laundry to dry. Do you?

There were special nighttime diapers that were supposed to be able to absorb any amount of nighttime bed wetting. It's a lie--don't believe a word of that advertising. So every morning, once I managed to get her changed and dressed and fed, my next job was the daily bed stripping and sheet washing and bed making. So leaving her hidden turd under her pillow wasn't an option no matter how much it might please me to do it.

As the days went on like this, I found myself unable to remain awake in the afternoons. I set an alarm for every official moment of the day, but once the getting up and doing morning chores and the answering the door for the meals on wheels guy, after watching my mother eat her tuna sandwich with sloppy gusto, I would take us upstairs and lock us in my suite of rooms, where she could "type" on my computer for hours, while I drifted in and out of consciousness.

My mother had once been an executive secretary. There was a time when she could take dictation shorthand and type ninety words a minute with complete accuracy. Hoping for the best, I turned on the computer and pulled up an empty page. I typed a few words on the keyboard and watched her eyes light up as words appeared on the screen. She all but pushed me out of the way, eager to get to the typing. It seemed she had something to say. So for awhile I watched. Her fingers hovered over the keyboard, gnarled knuckles, ravaged nails (but festooned with gaudy rings I could not pry off her fingers). Then she dropped the little finger of her left hand upon the z and the zzzzzzzzzs flew off her finger like sparks across the screen. Line after line of small z. I tried to show her that all the other letters were there, but she briskly pushed my hands away to very deliberatley place that finger lightly upon the z and leave it there. I moved to the small room off my office that held my bed and slipped away into the sleep of the damned.

I awoke to the slap of my mother's hand across my face, and her distress as she pointed at the wall behind my head. She looked at the wall and said her first words in days, and in obvious alarm, "Can't you hear that?" It was the squirrels scrabbling in the walls.

Bill Evans Trio: My Romance

(I am reposting this while I get my brain working again. Today isn't starting well. So, for awhile, lets ponder the troubles of my failed romance. It might be instructive.)

When I met Tom (the man I call first love/last love) he was just beginning to play the acoustic bass. I've always had a thing for bass players. There is something about the instrument--it's rather womanly looking, and the man playing it has it in an embrace between his legs. His arms are wrapped around her and he is fingering...

I like men with good hands, finger dexterity, and stamina. Bass players fit that bill, pianists, guitarists too. For a brief period of time, Tom used to ask me to sing to his bass or piano accompaniment. I was reluctant, but eventually gave it a try. I have a deep, smokey voice, fairly limited range, but almost perfect pitch and a great memory for the lyrics of jazz standards. Solo bass is one thing, bass and vocalist is another entirely. I would lead him through my vocal arrangement of My Romance in my key, and he would say, but that's not the right key, that's not the key it's written in. And I would say, but it's my key, my range. If you want me to sing with you, we will have to play it in my key. He would say, "Sing it. I'll follow." And we would run through the song over and over, and just when I would get comfortable with the arrangement, relax and really start enjoying myself, he would change it up, get loose and start throwing in a bit of bass virtuosity. Without warning, he would play a solo in the middle of a duet. It ruined everything for me as a singer. And then I refused to sing for him. It's a metaphor for what went wrong with us.

For Simstone, Who Will Understand Why

If you want to know more about Simstone, the link is in the title.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Have Been Tagged by Boarder Explorer

Boarder Explorer (whose blog is linked in the title) has challenged me to abide by these very difficult rules. I chaff at rules, wanting to modify them to suit my needs or taste, but the rules are the rules and must be obeyed. I have a very hard time fnding an entire album I like all the way through. This is one of the reasons I love ITunes, since it allows me to buy only the songs I love. But I will try to extrapolate from the songs I've purchased recently what albums I would currently pick. But my taste in music is pretty lopsidedly tilted toward a category that is missing in this list. So that will end up being my "if I would only have one" category pick.


1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE.
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar, along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you.

But first, will someone help me find my URL and help me transport this over to here?


* Latin: Moriza, Meu Fado Meu

* Blues: My blues roots go as far back as Howlin' Wolf, but when I look at my faves it's Eric Clapton, Live at the Fillmore doing Crossroads:

* Pop: And to satisfy many of my musical joneses, I give you my version of pop: Amy "trainwreck" Winehouse singing the title song form her album of the same name Love is a Losing Game

* Country: Amy Lavere's Anchors and Anvils with one song favored above all others

* Soundtracks: Randy Newman's lovely score for Pleasantville

* Folk: The McGarrigals and Rufus Wainwrigit Songs of the Civil War, and my favorite song, Hard Times Come Again No More

If I could have only one album: Diana Krall, The Girl in the Other Room

1. Dcup at Politits. Don't hate me for this. It just might be what you need right now. You never know.
2.Linda at Vulture Peak Muse, because there is more to life than visual art, though we all loves us some visual art
3. Nan, at All The Good Name Were Taken, because I want to know more.
4. Beach at Life and Times of a Carolina Parrothead, and it can't all be Jimmy Buffet
5. James our Average Patriot, because I want to know what a happy man listens to.
6. Mathman, because is is something of a mystery and I want to know what she posts and what he posts
7.Linda Sama the ageless hippie chick, because she's my sister and I want to know how related we really are--call it sibling rivalry

There are three omissions from this meme. There should be a jazz category, a rock category, and a classical category. Just saying.


I stole these maps today from Liberality. But before I found these maps at Lib's place I also found a button I had to have, and a vote I could make in favor of Unions, and a poem by Allen Ginsberg I hadn't read before. She has been remaking herself or at least the part of her self that is her blog. It is gorgeous. Go go see for yourself.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Special Needs

My dog, Cyrus' Veterinarian is the House Call Vet. He calls Cyrus a Special Needs dog. Those of you who've been reading me for awhile have heard Cyrus' story before, so if you know all this, skip this part. Cyrus was either born in a "shelter" or was dropped off there when he was very young. He's a lovely Rottie mix but spent his first nine years in that "shelter." I put quotes around the word shelter in this context, because there is some question as to whether the woman who ran the shelter was running a legitimate shelter or was just a hoarder and animals were part of what she was hoarding.

At first her house and shelter was located in a suburban part of Tucson. As the number of pets grew, so did the discontent of her neighbors. She was reported to authorities and eventually moved her shelter to an area in the desert about 200 miles from any populated area, and thus it was also 200 miles from a veterinarian or doctor. She was in her late forties when this move happened. Her records were sketchy, so not much is known about the health care or behavioral problems of her animals. When she was in her mid fifties she died suddenly. Her family kept calling and getting no answer or return call. They eventually called the authorities and it was discovered that she was dead and all her animals were in desperate straits. That's when Best Friends stepped in and rescued all her animals.

At this point Cyrus probably got his first real medical attention. He was bathed and groomed, probably for the first time in his life. He was anesthetized and given a thorough going over. His teeth were cleaned and a few extractions were done. It was discovered that he had arthritis in his hips and that one of his legs was at risk of needing an ACL repair. They discovered a thyroid problem. And true to any creature with a thyroid problem he was over-weight. He was ID chipped. He was found to be a sweet natured dog, and with a little socialization was deemed ready for adoption. But Cyrus would need just the right home. Cyrus was depressed.

It's hard to find people who will take an old dog. Most people want a puppy. Or if not a puppy, a well trained one or two year old. But I love old dogs. I'm a bit of an old dog myself. So after many calls and much time spent on the internet, we arranged a day when they were having an adoption event at one of the suburban Petcos. They did not tell me the size or breed of Cyrus. The reason for this oversight is that they had arranged for me to adopt another dog, who, at the last moment, exhibited behavior that make her unadoptable, so Cyrus was a bit of a last minute substitution. And in truth, I think they were afraid I would say no to such an enormous dog with health problems. His medication costs very close to $100. a month. Now I've added supplements to his diet, which brings the monthly pill cost to over $100 a month. This is a wild extravagance, but I would go without cable TV if my budget got that tight, and it is close to that now.

When I first saw Cyrus he looked depressed. In the midst of Petco, surrounded by thirty other animals there for the adoption event, he was lying flattened, head down. The only indication that he wasn't sleeping was the open eyes, tracking the activity. When I told the woman from Best Friends my name, she started crying. She reached across the table and hugged me. "We are so grateful to you. So few people will take an older dog. But you will really love this dog."

Best Friends gave me a two month supply of his meds. and about a weeks supply of his food. They'd had him on Kirkland kibble and mixed it with a bit of canned food to moisten it some. He was on a diet, so I was told exactly how much to feed him twice a day. So far so good. He came with me without any resistance, but I thought right then that Cyrus was a profoundly depressed dog. I had his medical records, complete with dental x-rays and copious notes--all of which has been very helpful to the House Call Vet.

I'm something of a recluse. I have my own mental health issues, and one of them is that I feel slightly agoraphobic when I leave my property. It's doable but I'm never completely at ease out in the larger world. This is probably a result of early abuse. I always preferred to play alone in my room and was forced to go outside to play with other children. Bipolar disorder has probably made this tendency toward agoraphobia more pronounced. But with Cyrus, I felt it was important to take him for a short walk twice a day. He was docile on his leash and would walk with me very nicely. He seemed interested in his surroundings, did a lot of pee trumping, and paid close attention to his environment. He was nice when we passed other dogs out walking with their people. And then one day while we were out, we heard what sounded like gunshot. Cyrus turned and started to drag me back home. He weighs about the same as I, so when he is pulling on the leash, I am the one being led. There is almost no stopping him. I did manage to get him to stop. I crouched down beside his head and talked calmly to him. He was trembling all over. And I then realized that he was not able to listen because he was terrified. We came home very quickly and he has refused to budge from the property ever since. He will go outside to do his dogie business, morning and night, but that's it.

The month of July was a nightmare for Cyrus. I contacted Best Friends and talked with their trainer. She said to put him on Melatonin and sent me an article about dogs with fear problems. We have no idea if Cyrus was ever shot at or if it's just the "normal" fear of a dog who is noise sensitive, but Cyrus and I are two of a kind. Both Best Friends and our House Call Vet have assured me that I have not made Cyrus crazy. Cyrus was raised in a crazy situation. He has lots of face scars so has probably been in some nasty dog fights--too many dogs in a too small area with too little supervision or training. And now if Cyrus is outside for his first pee of the day and has just lifted his leg, and a car off in the distance backfires, Cyrus cuts that stream and runs to the house. He will not go outside under any circumstances if I close the door behind me when we get outside--he simply wheels around and puts his face to the door, waiting for me to open it. In order to get him to go outside, I must go ahead of him, the door must remain open, and as soon as he's done he runs into the house and flops down on his bed.

Our Vet has reassured me that I am probably the perfect person for Cyrus. Cyrus seems happy enough to be in what must seem like a very luxurious kennel here in the little house with me. He has one large dog bed next to my bed and one near my computer table. He and Roscoe (Melea's big yellow Lab) spends three or four days with us when Melea is at work or out for the evening and the two dogs get along swimmingly. Roscoe likes to lick Cyrus' face which sometimes sends Roscoe into an air-humping frenzy.

For the first four or five months Cyrus was with me I never heard him make any noise at all. No bark, no growl. But now if someone comes to my door, Cyrus sits up and barks very authoritatively. So I now have a very large guard dog in the house, and Roscoe is the guard dog that keeps anyone who doesn't know us from entering the property without an escort from either me or Melea.

So the crazy old woman has a crazy old dog and we comfort one another.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Alma, for Anitaxanaxnow

It's almost poetry. For you Anita.

Part 1: The Back Story on " Squirrels In The Attic"

The squirrels have it coming. They started their invasion ten years ago. At least. At first I was preoccupied with other things, but I knew they were there. I could hear them at night. I would awaken at three to hear what sounded like bowling above my head. The chittering of squirrelly pick up lines. The scolding of young. I could hear them in the walls. Finally I worked up the courage to look in the attic and found that they had started tearing the insulation off the attic ceiling and had filled all my best boots with walnuts. And not just content with my boots and shoes, they had started to shred my old paintings. Motherfuckers!

After a month or so of cleaning up the mess they'd made, stripping off the rest of the insulation, sweeping up squirrel nesting sites, bagging over a hundred pounds of walnuts, I set traps. Humane traps. Expensive humane traps-- guilted into it by a friend. And as it turned out she also had a trap. I caught three. Tom had stopped by for a month or so, and while he was here he took the trapped squirrels away to release them elsewhere. Then he was gone, back to Costa Rica. And he'd barely pulled out of the driveway when the next family of squirrels on line for life in the big house moved in.

Then came my mother's final madness and with it my own. So dealing with the squirrels was more than I could handle what with the hallucinations. A year or two of changing the diapers of a eighty something year old infant who weighted more than I, had pushed me over the edge. A woman who fought with all her might to keep her poopie diaper firmly on her dirty butt, and who ran howling through the house and then hid her turds carefully in the dryer, Shhhh, it's a secret--well it captured my imagination and the rest of my senses and all my time. Old black men took up residence inside my head, and they sang (if you could call it that) gangsta rap of the vilest sort--not the sort of thing I had ever liked. I love the blues and these well dressed and dignified old black men looked like Blues Men. Gangsta Rap day and night. But it did drown out the sounds of the squirrels for awhile.

My mother was taken away by a friend of mine to a nursing home that would be, sadly, temporary, the day I went into the luny bin that last time. And when I got out, though I'm sure it didn't actually happen, I felt as if I had been lobotomized. And I suppose in a way I had. I do not remember shock therapy, but I couldn't swear it wasn't part of the treatment. But then wouldn't somebody have to have signed off on it? I did after all call 911 on myself. So wouldn't that be thought of as self-commitment? I remember signing nothing, but once they decided that I was psychotic, maybe they didn't need my permission to do anything. And would I remember shock treatments? Probably not. But when I did come out of the hospital, I was lost in a city as familiar as the map of grief etched on my own sad face. I mean lost close to home. Every trip involved taking a directory and street maps. This is a simple place in which to orient yourself directionally. The mountains are to the east. The Great Salt Lake and the Salt Flats to the west. And once you know that, the rest should just fall into place. I started having to re-memorize my place in this world. And I sunk into a depression I thought was going to kill me.

I was taking Depakote, and Geodone, and Zoloft, and Neurontin. But I was not exactly stable, unless a steady decline is called stable. My progress did all go in one direction. It wasn't so precipitous as to feel like I was tipping over, but each day I lost a little more energy and slept a little more.

The cottony sleep of the profoundly depressed is like the sleep of the enchanted. Like an evil spell cast to make you sleep for a hundred years. And when you emerge to pee and weep and drink some water, it's back to bed you go. I could sometimes hear the squirrels in the attic, but I hadn't the energy to deal in any effective way with them.

This was not intended as the definitive work on the invasion of the squirrels, but ten long years of cleaning up after them, and repairing damage they've done, and not being able to insulate the attic again, because why bother, they'll just tear the insulation down again. All the expensive shoes ruined, all the good winter clothes tossed in the trash after they tore it to shreds, and shit in everything. Do you notice the shit theme that is an undercurrent here? Oh god how I hate those squirrels.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Preparing the Poison as We Speak

What's a technicality like the season, when your poisoning squirrels in the Attic?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Marie Antoinette or Madame Defarge

You be the judge, but I think I more resemble the latter than the former. All I lack is a wine shop and some yarn. I have my knitting needles and have always thought of myself as a character out of a Dickens tale, like A Tale of Two Cities. And what could be more appropriate in this time of enormous contrast between the rich and privileged, and the very poor. All we lack is a gilliotine, and I'm starting to think it's time to bring it back. I'm ready to see some heads roll and I've been making a list. All I need is a front row seat. And yet, I have been given this lovely award--a portrait of Marie Antoinette to hang upon my wall. Hummm. How very revolutionary. Well Marie hold on to your head I'm about to pass you around. So instead of Chimpy's head I'll give Maries to the writers who have shared their own struggles against the Machine that is wealth and greed and gluttony unchecked.

From my lovely friend Liquid Illusion who sends me hilarious email when I'm sobbing and makes me laugh in spite of myself. Miss Liquid is so slippery she can't be categorized. She too may be a little Marie Antoinette and a little Madame Defagre

So to Dcup, who has written very movingly about the hardships of the "Housing Bubble" and "The economic downturn," and the "Credit Crunch" at about the same time John McCain was saying "The Fundamentals of the Economy are Sound"

And to Diva for just about the same reasons. Just as the "downturn" began her Big Soulless Travel Agency laid her off, and in the worst economic climate in my memory she took wings and began her own business. That takes real courage. We are survivors. Would we be this old if we weren't?

And to Freida Bee, for too many reasons to enumerate here, but mainly the poetry in her soul as she contemplates, motherhood, possible bisexuality, mathematics, and whether tis nobler to douche or not to douche. These are the questions.

To Susan she of the gorgeous raven avatar, from whose beak issue forth the most intelligent and thoughtful comments of anyone. Really. I'm quite emphatic about that. She is also an incredible artist and story teller. Go see her. You'll never be the same again. Now all I want to do is go on a cross-continental train trip fifty years ago.

To Non, Je Ne Regrettes Rien because she held her breath and leapt free of this sinking ship at just the right moment and now actually owns her own piece of the French Pie and I'm not talking Quiche

And to Dr. Zaius who just explained the flat tax crap to all of us today and who will probably get the Pulitzer for his groundbreaking work in Economics.

Fire In Paradise

I awoke this morning to news that Montecito is on fire. (The link is in the title.) If Montecito is on fire and the Santa Annas are blowing, it will quickly engulf the canyons and move with lightening speed up the coast into Santa Barbara.

First Love/Last Love (Tom) and I were living in his house at the top of West Camino Cielo in 1990 when the Painted Cave Fire struck. I had been working all day at Robinson's in La Cumbra Mall on upper State Street, a few blocks from San Marcos Pass Road, (highway 154), but had a tennis lesson after work at the tennis courts by Hendreys beach. While on the court, I noticed smoke off in the distance toward the foothills. I immediately cancelled the rest of my lesson and raced for my car. When I got to the base of San Marcos Pass Road, the Highway Patrol had blockaded the highway and would not let me pass. All they would say was there was a fire at Painted Cave on East Camino Cielo (we lived on West Camino Cielo). I told one of the patrolmen I needed to get home to rescue the cat. I didn't mention Tom--I figured he'd rescue himself--but I was worried. The Highway Patrolman told me I could drive up the coast and try the back way in. Which meant taking 101 to Gaviota, then Las Cruces toward the cutback to highway 246 to Santa Ynez, which intersected with highway 154 and was the back way to San Marcos Pass. Another blockade and another Patrolman who refused to let me pass even though I could prove I lived there. He told me the residents living on the roads off the Pass had been evacuated. I turned around and retraced my route back to Santa Barbara. By the time I got back, the fire had come roaring down the canyons and crossed the eight lanes of the coast highway and was burning parts of Hope Ranch which is where Tom's ex-wife and children lived.

The fire moved fast in the Santa Anna Winds, roaring down the canyon, but no one ever thought a fire would cross eight lanes of freeway. I was there just after the fire crossed the freeway heading into town and all of us came to a screeching skidding halt. Cars started backing up and trying to turn. It was chaos. I finally managed to turn and drive back into Golita to find a Motel for the night. I got the last room available. I was there a week. Tom was in Los Olivos. It took us two days to locate each other(this was the world before everyone had a cell phone). He came and stayed with me until we could go back up the canyon to see the damage. Dave the cat was fine.

His ex-wife's house didn't burn, and neither did his house up the mountain. But the trip from home to work and back was a grim, moonscape of ash. There was not a tree, or bush or bit of grass that had survived the fire as it raged down the canyon. It was an arson lit fire. It was the beginning of the end for us as a couple. But that had nothing to do with the fire. Merely the scorched earth that was our relationship.

For Us, Because We're Almost Blue

The New Political Maps of the United States

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Things You May or May Not Know About Me

Zack and Miri Make A Porno made me laugh, especially early in the film. It turns rather predictable about half way through. But a laugh's a laugh and there are damn few of them these days, so I take my laughs where I find them. It's not a great film by any means, but will probably become a little cult classic.

But what I loved most about it was that it brought back the memories from my sordid past. I have written extensively about my sordid past in my "fiction." But I have merely skimmed the surface. There are so many unwritten but related stories that just might make another book. I wrote about my brief career as an entertainment impresario of the mildly grotesque, but fascinating phenomenon of male strip shows durning the declining days of Dicso. Randal knows. That story is called Too Damn Big.

Within that story is another story called A Strange Woman. I actually rewrote A Strange Woman and Too Damn Big for Scarlet Blue. I named the female character Judith Blue, trying to get Scarlet's attention. Scarlet is a big warm strong light. She's nice to have around. I envy Fairlane a bit because he and Scarlet are close. But I'm grateful to him that she still has a voice there. I was very disappointed when she closed her site, The Invisible Woman.

Junior is the husband of Judith Blue and he is a professor at South West Missouri State, in Springfield, MO. I even thought the setting might be close enough to Scarlet's actual geographic location. Now I was not stalking Scarlet, exactly, more like throwing myself at her. And it worked for awhile. I think I might have scared her a little when I threatened to slit Progressive Traditionalist's (could there be more of an oxymoron?) throat right there in her living room when he got into a silly pissing contest with me about a short story Scarlet wrote. PT took to counting words to make his point and I pulled my weapon. I think I said something like, "Yo Mamma Motherfucker! Want to step outside?" He called me names. Well deserved and true, but stupidly obvious and completely unnecessary. I took umbrage. Shit happens.

Anyway, this little movie, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, reminded me of all the stories I have yet to write. I have barely begun to plumb the depth of my sordid past.

My Treat

Matinee Movie Thursday.

And we have fresh chocolate chip cookies to munch. Maybe munch isn't the best possible word to use here. I'll get back to you on that one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I have Baked Cookies with Love and Chocolate Chips

Oh yes I have. Chocolate chips and a cup of butter. UmmmUmm good! I filled a tin and included a little fun surprise. I must be full of the spirit of love as I have summoned a long long distance phone call from First Love/Last Love. Notice how I capitalized that? He was in the plane on the ground In Dallas or Houston, waiting to fly back to Costa Rica for a month. It used to be the other way. He'd fly to the states when he had to get his visa renewed. He's been living in Santa Barbara with his second wife, restoring her house, or so he says. I'm waiting for pictorial proof. Hi Judith. Hi Emily. Your dad and I had a lovely conversation about you. He sounds like a proud and happy father. He says you'll set him up with the pictures and a blogger account so he can comment. I encourage you to do the same.

The point of this little diversion into my past love life, is to prove that there was enough love baked into these cookies to prompt FL/LL to call before flying. I have eaten two of the cookies to make sure they are delicious. I have filled the cookie tin and put it in a box. And tomorrow before I go on a matinee movie date with Nick, I will mail the cookies to Phillip. I do love Phillip, though I have never met him. He is my blog mate and Administrator and taught me everything I know about computing. I know that many of you have tried to help me. But it's Phillip who is the patient teacher. And he can come onto my side of the screen and fix whatever's gone wrong. And in the process he alarms my old dog Cyrus who thinks there's an invisible man in the house.

I'm sorry Phillip, I was an ass. It happens. I wish it didn't. Ask my first boyfriend. He knows what an ass I can be. I don't have great impulse control sometimes and my timing is off. I'd promise never to be an ass again if I knew I could keep the promise, but sadly, I cannot. I didn't mean to hurt you, or piss you off or embarrass you, honestly. I'm thin skinned sometimes in the spaces between being fine and being not fine. And in those moments I blurt out things I wish I hadn't. I hope you'll forgive me.

Lead me on Obama. You know I love it when you talk smart to me.

The election map changes.

Another Gem From My New York Friend

Hilarious account of your shopping exploits. I had to go to the local Fairway (aka embarrassment of riches emporium) a week ago today and aside from being joyfully teary all day my favorite anecdote is as follows:

I am doing the thorazine shuffle through the aisles with my fellow shoppers when I hear a boy ask his mother, "Why do we come all the way here to shop?", "Because," she says, "it's the only store that doesn't make me twitch." I crack up and she catches my eye, "See, she knows just what I mean." she tells her son. Oy.

Anyway - I see that you posted the Obama headline link. Oh how I love that. Makes me tear up still! But here is my current favorite.

Had to share it too.