Wednesday, September 19, 2012

There once was a place called Piratedom...

    For my nephews, and just for the fun of talk like a pirate day, the first chapter of tonight's bedtime story:

Tales of the Dreaded Pirate Brothers of Mustache Mountain

A Mother's Treasure
Chapter 1

Iron Jenny Vane was swabbing the decks of her family ship, the Iron Falcon when, suddenly, she heard a creak. She whipped around, best she could in her pregnant state, only to find herself staring into the steely eyes of the Dreaded Pirate Brothers of Mustache Mountain.

“Arggh, Wench, we are here for yer treasure!”, Robert the Red sneered as he grabbed her wrists and motioned at Robert the Yellow to hand him some rope. “We're takin' ye ashore to do us some treasure huntin'!”

“Don't be ridiculous,” Jenny Vane sneered back, “do it look to you like I can do any sort of huntin' in me knockered state.” She struggled to free herself from fierce Robert the Red as he began to tie her hands together with the rope he had snatched from Robert the Yellow.

“Knackered, Wench, ye look me a bit on the rotund side but sober still!”

“Not knackered, ye bilge rat with a tongue, knockered! Ye see me size, whaddya think, I just swallowed a whale whole!”

Robert the Red and Robert the Yellow took a good, long, wide look at poor Jenny Vane, and indeed, the woman was as round as though she had been stuck in a giant barrel of rum and had no more than her head, arms and legs hanging out.

“Blimey, me lady,” Robert the Yellow looked sympathetically at her tummy and then bellowed up at her, “Don't make no difference, its off to treasure huntin' or off the plank with yer belly of rum, ye hear!

All the while, below deck, Jenny Vene's sister Pirate in-law, Iron Bess Flint and her husband, Iron Harry Kidd, were hidden and listening. “Should we help her, poor lass?” Bess Flint whispered at Harry Kidd.

“I have me a better plan,” he snickered, “let the heavy laden wench lead them in circles, while we head to Mariposa Cove, then we will see who's treasure be ours by sundown!” Harry Flint threw back his head, his wild mane of hair and beard smacking Bess Flint in the face.

“You may have the pelt of an Australian camel but a smart mate ye are, quiet now til' they finish with her.” The pair stayed crouched in the furthest corner of the ship's brig where they had been laying new straw in anticipation of their raid on Mexico Valley. There was a big, Iron Pirate Family plan to recapture Iron Mann Barracuda and his handsome, stolen lass, Portugal Peggy, who were hiding out with what was rumoured to be more loot than any inhabitant of Piratedom had ever seen. Mann Barracuda had disappeared earlier in the pirate season only to return from the South with Portugal Peggy and the grandest ship ever to grace the seas. It was made of real Portuguese Oak and embellished with jewels, gold and silk sails, at least this is what Mann Barracuda claimed. To all others the ship looked rather dank and drab, not a trace of brass anywhere. Mann Barracuda said he had covered the ship in tar in order to smuggle the great treasures out of Portugal, disguising its hidden glories by building it with the spoils of every man's ship he had ransacked on his journey. When he disappeared from the Iron Pirate Family Lagoon, those left behind vowed to track him down and divvy up the spoils between themselves.

Bess Flint cringed as the sound of a scuffle began above her.

“Ahoy, skullywaggs, what makes thee think I'll be going anywhere with ye! And what makes ye think that if I do, I'll lead you to me treasure?”

Robert the Red squinted at her, then back at Robert the Yellow, “Because if ye don't, our parrots will do thee the favor of making space in yer pretty face fer some wooden eyes!” He cackled like an old drunk woman in a young man's arms, his golden teeth glinting in the sun. “Boys!”, he whistled toward the crow's nest.

Two mangy parrots swooped down, alighting, one on each of Jenny Vane's shoulders. “Wooden eyes, wooden eyes.” they chirped merrily.

Disgusted, Jenny Vane began the short walk to the side of the ship where Robert the Yellow motioned for her to get in a net the brothers had hoisted onto the deck. She shrugged off their taunts, sending the parrots flapping above her ears as she laid herself carefully on her back, into the net.

“Yer one heck of a catch wobbly wench, too bad we can't eat ye ourselves!” Robert the Red made sure she was tightly wrapped in the net then yelled to Robert the Yellow, who was waiting for the signal to start the rusty pulley, “She's ready, hoist the lass up!”

Robert the Yellow began cranking the reel until it rose high enough to pass over the side of the ship. His brother gave Jenny Vane's rump a push and the net swung over the dingy tied to the side of the Iron Falcon, he then waved as Robert the Yellow reversed his cranking and the net began to lower. “Get over there ye stupid swine, don't want her escapin' now do we!”

Robert the Red grabbed a rope tied to a brass nob and shimmied down into the dingy where Jenny Vane had landed with a thud and jangle. “What are ye, full of empty bottles?” He peered down at her, “We'll keep ye there til we get ashore, no need of nuisance from ye in the meantime.” Robert the Yellow joined them, sitting near the back of the boat, oars in hand, he started the half hour row to dry land.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Neurotic Joy Erupteth, 'tis Our First Anniversary

     A year ago today, at about this time, my newly christened husband and I were arriving at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. We were in our wedding attire and upgraded to the Presidential Suite, it was bigger than any place I had ever lived. We ordered a pizza, hamburger and a few, very expensive, bottles of wine and began to unwind. I love everything about that day, Saturday the 9th of July 2011.

     On Tuesday the 12th we received news that we wouldn't be staying with the Navy. We had a honeymoon anyway, just not knowing what would come next but feeling united in facing whatever variable we would be dealt. And we have.

     We made plans for our first anniversary, a return to St. Helena (Napa) on our anniversary date, wine tasting, just celebrating. Then the F.B.I. called, husband would be having an interview with them on the 10th of July and would need to fly to L.A. on the 9th-of July 2012, our one year anniversary. Plans got rearranged, reservations moved, situated, adjusted, everything adjusted except my attitude.

     I'd just like to celebrate my marriage without challenge after challenge affecting that sense of joy. The first year we were so burdened by uncertainty that we did our best to enjoy our nuptials without worry, and we did ok, but to face it again, on the day that I'm supposed to just love every minute and reflect and be feeling great, there is so much stress, due to the interview, that I feel like I've time-warped to last year, again, overwhelmed by something being more important than me.

     For a year I've looked for a lesson, if we had gone to Colordo Springs, Colorado, as our pre-separation orders said, there's a chance we would have lost our home and more, by now. Alright, but.

     I have an amazing life, anything I want with the person I want most, so why am I so pissed off?

     When I left our hotel room to come to the lobby and peruse the internet, rather than keep him awake, the song that was playing was Hayling by FC Kahuna (the first song I ever heard by them, by the way):

Don't think about all those things you fear

Just be glad to be here

Don't think about all those things you fear

Just be glad to be here

    Those are all the lyrics, over and over and over again. Today in the taxi to the hotel, the wedding march came on the radio, I have never heard it played, other than at weddings, so how unusual is that. And there's more, coincidences, lost acquaintances, being across the street from Santa Monica Highschool where I attended a few classes with, and watched, my amazing friend Rima graduate from. I'm in a place that I spent so many summers, from the age of 14, that its like another hometown. But I'm still angry.

     The food, the setting, the company, the music, the damn weather-nothing could be better unless he was here with me instead of having to spend this night almost alone so he can get a foothold in our future. I get it all you writers of love songs, of sonnets and Tracy Chapman, I get it when you would rather just have nothing if you can just have the one you love.

     That's what I've done a less than stellar job of communicating-it doesn't matter what job or if there's a job, it just matters that we have one another.

     Please forgive me for sending out resumes rather than laughing with you on the couch and reassuring you that no matter our income, your love is our most valuable asset. No, doesn't feed us, neither do ideals but when our focus is that love, we have the strength, ambition and motivation to work for more.

     This has not been our year in a nutshell, but in a hotel lounge playing an Astrud Gilberto remix and serving very sorry excuses for a gin and tonic.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Aesthetically Challenged: The Weight of Women in Brick, S.

    I stayed up late last night wondering why Samantha Brick's article, on how much she is hated by women for being prettier than them, was keeping me awake and then it dawned on me-I've been hated by women that actually meant something to me, not acquaintances, neighbors or co-workers but women with whom I have had deep connections as well as loved and appreciated. I'm not sure Samantha has ever been close to another woman, to say that she is shallow is an understatement of her complete lack of knowledge about the social constructs of female relationships. It is almost as though she suffers from a kind of “She'spberger's”, wherein she cannot relate socially or emotionally to other women through any other channel than that of oppression. From her counts, I say she has actually been bullied by women who are, socially and professionally, stronger than her. Her reaction to her perceived victimization has been to go behind the backs of these elderly, female tyrants and talk shit with other sulking, confused females, like herself. Women expect other women to talk behind their backs but if you confront a female, she will, most likely, respect you. Samantha admits that she often bursts into tears when bullied by women, really, that ruse only works with men, but again, evidence of her social autism.

    It is sad to me that she is incapable of looking beyond herself, that she must have been so wounded by an experience, early in her life, that she has shut out reality and moved into the warm, dark chasm of Narcissism. I'm not sure she is capable of understanding the phrase, "Beauty is on the inside."  In her world, there is no inside, just her looks, her French husband and her feelings of being reviled for being pretty.  Undoubtedly, there was serious competition in her home, either between she and her mother, or another female sibling, for her father's attention.  Or, perhaps, vice-versa, for her mother's approval, as her most vehement complaints are against older (French, she mentions this in the video interview though she is complaining about British women in her rebuttal) women. One has to wonder if she was abused and justified her mistreatment by believing that she was attractive to her abuser, therefore becoming victimized for her beauty, not her vulnerability, as a child. There is more to the story but she cannot tell it for to reveal the root of her seemingly oblivious vanity, would be to destroy her a thousand times more completely than a world of “vile” emails and tweets, possibly could.

    But enough about her, a bit of reflection on my experiences with women: 
    The first female I recall disappearing from my life, for no apparent reason, was L.C. She and I rode the bus to High School together every day and were fast friends. Then, I met Rima. Rima and I became good friends and within, what I percieved to be a very short time, L.C. went as far as to leave the school we attended. I would call her house, try talking to her Mom but I was forever shunned for some sort of mysterious atrocity I committed.

    Then there was Myssi. She and I lived together in my room at my parent's house for a year, finally moving out and getting our own place.  Our relationship, which I once described as having the qualities of a marriage (little did I know), deteriorated into a few violent confrontations and her moving out of our apartment, within 4 months. What had changed, besides the fact that we had to buy our own toilet paper, I got a boyfriend.

    Probably the most painful for me, was Nalani. We were friends for 8 years when, in the midst of my Mother's re-diagnosis with cancer, she became hostile, distant and ultimately unavailable. When my Mother died, a mutual friend told her and she sent me a card. Without opening the card I put a big question mark, “return to sender” and put it in the mailbox. In effect, death is not anyone's invitation to step back into relationship with me.  If I couldn't trust her to support me in one of the most important moments of my life then I opt to never trust her again, seems a sound decision.

    Over the course of my and Gary's relationship, Regina, an eventual bridesmaid of mine (take that Samantha), became increasingly insane. I'd love to dump all the juicy details here but I will simply say, she became someone I did not recognize who's hatred for me was so obvious that she could not even smile in my presence any longer (we have wedding photos to prove it). We had been friends for twelve years, she had written poems for me and wonderful letters about how I would one day have all that I deserve, etc. Her behaviour became erratic and cruel, I confronted her, asked her to be a bridesmaid and hoped for the best.  I have not seen her since the wedding, despite several attempts.

    What do these 4 women have in common besides being close to me and becoming crazy? I think each of them felt threatened that something greater than them had come along. If a woman behaves strangely, I am much more likely to believe its their insecurities, not my infallible attractiveness, coming to light. I hate how much I hurt for each of those women, some still girls when they left me. I hate that I had to lose them to become who I am because they meant so much to me at the time, but I am neither ashamed of my actions, nor frought with regret.  Not everyone can go onto the next stage of our lives with us, not everyone meets the opportunity to grow and change with enthusiasm and gratefulness, never mind Grace (that one's for you, Mom).

    And so, Mrs. Brick, Aesthetically Challenged as you are by your “beauty” (quotation marks compliments of my husband), subjected to the horrific paranoia that accompanies denial, you are telling the world how much you think a woman weighs-
    You are the epitome of female insignificance and of someone who pines for invisibility because its safer than being challenged by the charge of your own Worth.

Original article:


Video Interview:

Saturday, March 31, 2012

That Party, is Never Going to Happen

    But I have an outfit if it does.

    I have a lot of clothes, this was an easy thing to admit in my studio apartment which was converted, year after year, to house the clothes, and other wares, that I picked up for “That Party”.
    I have too many clothes has come to mind continuously since we set out the 10 wardrobe boxes and assorted others of my belongings, clothes, shoes, makeup, scarves, even gloves, so many that I became afraid of my closet, of the boxes that hadn't entered it and of why all these boxes existed in the first place.

     Clothes are the journal upon which my skin writes. I can pick up a shirt and remember songs I danced to while wearing it, underwear and the man it first met (upon reading this to my husband he has informed me that those undies had better be thrown out), hoods and gloves meant for cold that never happened and then, just that beautiful thing I wanted. I have, physically, grown out of most of them. Emotionally, I've grown out of some. I still have the tank top I was wearing when my husband remarked about how beautiful my skin looked against the color red (it was 2001). I wore red every time my mother saw me for nearly two years, as I believed red represented healing. Eventually she went into remission and the red faded to pink, which has, (3 years after her death) softened to green, my husband's favorite color. One friend recommended that I make a quilt of these valuable items, that I keep a square and let the whole go, but I need to let a lot of these clothes go completely. All the shoes that I've never worn, the dresses that still bear price tags, the crazy fuchsia Guess sweater jacket with sparkles that belongs back in the single girl closet and that pair of size 2 jeans that never should have fit in the first place. But each have memories, strong, seemingly important memories that I need to keep so that I keep me.

    I am a kept woman. Kept by a man who loves me, worked for our future and has given me every opportunity in the world to be anyone I want, even a clothes hoarder. I don't want to disrespect his intentions by holding on to everything I have ever been, afraid, me thinks, to embrace what could be-bereft of the need for


Holding on, the head says.

Holding on, the heart says.

Sometimes its just holding on to knowing those memories will remind me of my Mom, others to the time before she became sick and life seemed so easy.

    It was effortless to be me back then, what a feeling.

    Don't misunderstand, I had all the angst and the traditional doubts but I didn't have the burden of being emotionally responsible to anyone other than myself. I knew that bad boyfriends expected me to be emotionally responsible for them but I just got more angsty, it didn't really make a difference. With my Mom, I had to be aware, so that my family would survive. Someone has to stay awake in the dark or no one sees the light and that dawn has come.

    In 1986 my Mom was packing up my closet and said, “I didn't realize how many clothes you have.” So it started long before she got sick. I write my days in clothes, actions, memories, the smells the fabric collects, the years stay untouched, waiting. Waiting for me to take the time to heal enough, to accept the choices I made, and let the garments go. I don't need a quilt of my past but an understanding. Every day that I go through the boxes I take steps to put the red clothes away, the club years, the Jack years, the first trip to Paris and the pair of Dickies that I bought for a dollar, never washed and wore every day for more than a year. By the time I threw the Dickies out I hadn't worn them in 12 years, but I remember what they felt like, who I loved, met and became, in those pants. 

    What I have ultimately learned is that if the pants are gone and there is no quilt, the journals are still written. I can still share every memory for I am the canvas, the parchment, the great internal hard drive of my own history.  I choose to accept myself clothed or unclothed and there is no need to forget, hide or throw away (but one must for hygiene's sake). When we allow objects to become our history we lose our own role in its creation, what ought to be effortless, yet is often, a fleeting understanding of all that one knows of one's self.  Tomorrow you will put on another outfit, and maybe, like me, have a whole new experience of who you are becoming.

    As an aside: On our trip to New Zealand/Australia I was allowed to carry 40 pounds, total weight, for 5 weeks and it was liberating. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Eloquence, Divided

Eloquence, Divided

for Zeena

The Author turned and spurned a page

tickled by that fickle Mage

known to some as muse or thought,

by which artist's dreams are wrought.

And here it seems the author froze

bereft of any worthy prose,

each note salt upon the tongue

and so the choice, to utter none.

Watch now as the flowers die

watch the clouds consume the sky,

every beast withered there

in the winter of the Author's fear.

Waiting for the faintest spark,

a dim delight to break the dark,

but not sublime enough for She;

all art loses its magesty-

So sing!

A brittle song is praising still

if joy has stirred its ailing will-

Give in, give in!

Forget to correct,

surrender instead to the whim of the imperfect!

The Author sighs, no sign of relief,

“Leave me to the peril of my wordless grief.”

And with that muttered, painful plea,

the Mage is surrendered to humanity.

Within Her, beauty never sleeps,

it hides and teases, often weeps.

The moon knows best your Author's fight

let it rest,

that You, may write.

     I believe that at the heart of many a fulfilling and successful friendship, is admiration.

     I met Zeena when she was “Going on Eighteen” with a personality as fiery as the red, satin BCBG skirt she was wearing. I challenged her in an online forum and a friendship was struck. Our friendship has been tumultuous, with tantrums, silent spells, gorgeous music and lush dances and lots of long nights in brilliant conversation. Sound a bit daunting rather than nourishing, well, there has never been anything boring about our friendship and I treasure that. But back to admiration, she is an amazing person, that's all very well and easy to say, especially if you've met her, what I admire most is her persistence toward a very imminent grandness. Now, she would smack me while blushing if she were reading this in my presence but its true, the woman is just that talented in so many diverse ways, one of which has her quite frustrated as of late.

     This poem is about the struggle that many artists encounter along their path, an Artistic Identity Crisis if you will, AIC. The AIC is characterized by feeling the need to be one's art, to be a photographer, a writer, a dancer rather than someone who takes photographs, writes novels or does ballet. What's the difference rather than a play on words? Its an extremely important event for an artist to recognize, as the AIC is resolved, that they are of value, not because they are an artist or someone who makes art, but because they have something to contribute simply by existing. Sounding too existential, I believe there are lots of other identity crisis to explain it by, like the MIC, the Mothering Identity Crisis during which women who either have no children, or their children leave home, experience a sense of worthlessness because their purpose went off to college and they've forgotten they have hobbies and friends and kids who still need them but in a different way. When my Mom was rushed into surgery eleven years ago she had to sign a waiver that it was okay by her that she receive a full hysterectomy, reason being, removing a woman's ability to have children can also initiate the MIC. I had an FIC, Female Identity Crisis, when I left my job and home to get married and move in with my husband, so we're married, now what? That was a confusing time.

     Anyway, the poem isn't about resolution, its to soothe, encourage and remind-each of us will feel lost at times, even in the midst of our greatest accomplishments and so, sing, give in, go mad, you are loved and admired regardless.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sheri in the Suburbs

    My husband and I were having dinner in a casual restaurant when I noticed that I was becoming increasingly irritated by the noises surrounding us, most notably, cackling women and screaming children. I then realized, feeling rather tricked, that somehow my husband had gotten me to co-sign an apartment lease on a lovely little place-in the suburbs. Oh the horror! I looked all around, nothing but families, married, silent couples, older, sober people. Living downtown for the past 14 years I was not accustomed to this sight, I was used to flirtatious students, homeless nuts and women with dogs in their purses and I preferred those folks over the maddening throngs of the procreating. Its not that I'm against the ideal of the nuclear family, I just don't identify with them, I think of them as the Ticky Tacky Families of Malvina Reynolds anti-establishment song, Little Boxes. Perhaps I am insecure and am struggling with losing my individuality to the all consuming Unit, when one becomes so and so's wife, and so and so's mother, and other feminine pronouns, slowly losing the privilege of having an actual name. Or maybe its the fear of succumbing to common suburban afflictions such as the need to leave the house with every human being you are legally bound to, crowding yourself, and strollers as large as your SUV, down grocery store aisles, across parking lots and squeezing into booths and highchairs in every chain restaurant on the South Side. I am exhausted simply looking at a grocery store, one has to have a strategy to get in and out without being accosted by the average suburban zombie and their apocalyptic spawn. Parks are for children, please take them there, leave them with a parent and do your shopping like a civilized person.

     Was life downtown really that different or is it all perspective? I didn't see many children on a daily basis, there were a few in my neighborhood but they weren't screaming down the street on Big Wheels. I ate in restaurants that did not say “Family Friendly” on their Yelp reviews, I watched movies at local theatres, attended yoga at facilities that had separate family classes. I lived in the land of boutique grocery stores, 40's era architecture and the best used bookstore in town. Those days are clearly over. I now live in a gated community, if I leave the house I see multiple children, there are no independently owned anythings over here except a fast food sushi joint that has saved my craving for the gourmet more than once. We have a garage and really, that's when I should have figured out what was going on, when we looked at a place with a garage. A garage is a sign of comfort, of modernity, of the fact that you have a lot of stuff and need a place to put it. I like our garage but I miss my old neighborhood.

     Truth is, I am going to have to adjust without blending in. I don't have to become a recluse or a chatty housewife to survive, I can continue to sneer at the hoards of humans blocking my path in the freezer aisle of Trader Joe's or I can time my shopping for later, earlier, not a weekend. Just like the movie Zombieland, there will have to be rules, one of them being to remember that I'm not the only one not having fun. Approach the chaos with a smile and watch it all go down while maintaining a sense of inner tranquility and share that peace at every opportunity to do so. Pick up items knocked off of shelves by unruly brats, compliment a stranger, avoid honking at people unless they really screwed up. Investigate what the suburbs has to offer-we had an impromptu Sunday afternoon picnic in the park and my husband's friends and dogs and children actually came out, it was nice, it was not something we could have done living downtown.

     Ultimately, feeling tricked or not, I need to remember just how happy my husband is to live here, we are literally in his old neighborhood and he feels the same warm sentimentality toward the suburbs that I feel toward my downtown haunts, its Home. Though it sometimes reminds me of an X-Files episode titled, "Arcadia", where inhabitants in a community are threatened with death if they don't conform,  I'll admit it, I live in the suburbs and am learning to call it home.