Friday, October 17, 2014

The Plaster People

I needed weird inspiration, so I decided to go to the sculpture garden. A coffee shop or a library wasn't going to cut it unless they were floating in the sky.

Writing The Water Door Magician has been challenging in a way that writing the other books haven't. Usually I write about people who could be real and the real things that could happen to them. But now I'm writing about a 16 year old locksmith super hero who travels to different worlds by picking locked doors. The most normal thing about her is that she's gay.

The other day when I was making edits, I was struggling too much in the real world to be creative in another. I needed to get out of the house, but I knew I needed something other than the normalcy of a coffee shop with its stuffed chairs and students who possessed no super powers other than the ability to function on two hours of sleep and a hang over.  I needed to be outside - in a garden. A really weird garden. Some place where when I turned a corner, I'd potentially see a bronze monkey holding a baby smoking a cigar.

That's when it hit me - the sculpture garden in City Park! Of course!

And so I went. At first it seemed like a great idea.  I walked into the garden like a hitchhiker, with my backpack on and my eyes scanning for a place to go. I felt different from all the other visitors who were there on a clear, sunny day, touring the art and moving on. I was looking for something I could sit next to and type away, fueled by the art's complexity and other worldliness. It made me feel interesting, and I spent a while walking around high on my own intellectual superiority, which I mistook for being cool.

I wasn't sure what I was looking for. There's some great stuff out there, like the statue of a naked lady poised on one foot, pulling back a bow and arrow. I think it's a goddess or something. Then there's this other one I've always liked that looks like a giant, black chess piece. It's a soldier beating a drum and it looks menacing and vulnerable at the same time. But these things weren't calling me to write next to them.

There's a semicircle path lined with hedges, and a few statues only two of which I clearly remember. One of them is a man in a coat with letters sticking out of his back like porcupine quills and it's called, "Standing man with radiating words." Another one is "Ruth and Naomi," two women standing together, one with her arm around the other. On the edge of the semi circle are two benches, back to back, and on one of them is a life-sized plaster man sitting with his arms folded. On the other side are two plaster women sitting next to each other. These three people look so human, like those plaster molds you might have seen a picture of Pompeii - people caught in a moment in time. Only the plaster Pompeii people are locked in the moment of their deaths, whereas these three are in moments of contemplation. They look so real, with pants that wrinkle at the waist, and arm fat. 

I decided to sit next to the man because he was facing Ruth and Naomi and the Man Radiating With Words. He was so human looking but not human at all, which I kind of respected him for. I opened up my laptop and began to write.

I only ended up staying for an hour. I hadn't accounted for the other live people at the park, how they felt about my plaster friends, and how loud they would be about it. People had two reactions - fear and too much bravado. 

The first person to pass was a lady who looked at the women and said, "That’s too scary.” The guy next to her said, “Oh, these things are all over the place. You get used to 'em.” He sat next to the plaster man and said, "Hey bud, how's it going?" and the lady laughed.

People did that a lot with the plaster man. Men and women would sit next to him and talk to him like they were old friends, or pretend to accidentally sit on him and say, "Oh excuse me." One woman accused the him of groping her.  Then they'd take pictures with him. No one asked me to move and I didn't say anything, I was just trying to write. There are probably a lot of pictures of me now, that those people will look at later and remember that weird girl who bent over her laptop and tried to ignore everyone. Which was impossible.

No one sat next to the plaster women and called them "bud." The men who talked to them said things like, "Hey babe, mind if I put my hand here?” And the women who weren't too afraid to sit next to them or touch them accused them of being bitches or sluts. 

And really, that's what made me go sit somewhere else. The sexual harassment of plaster women actually began to make me feel sick. I know that they're not real and they don't have feelings, and honestly if I saw someone joking around like that in passing I might have laughed too. But after an hour of a variation on the same joke it became disturbing. This is what people will say to someone who can’t move or talk back. This was unbridled human social behavior and it was just mean.

So I went to a coffee shop. It was loud there too, but if anyone was harassing each other it wasn't obvious. There was this one weird, older lady who was giving bizarre life advice to a woman who seemed to be in her early twenties. Older lady was making way to many hand gestures and her blond, gray-streaked hair was falling out of the ponytail on top of her head with every wild jerk. She told her, “Your resistance gets photo transparent.”

I wrote it down because I didn't know what that meant. The young woman she was talking to nodded as if she got it and I wondered if she really did, and if she thought that the loud lady was just as bizarre as I thought she was. I imagined the three of us as plaster people, frozen as we were, Loud Lady with her hair falling and her hands in the air, Nodding Lady leaning forward to listen, and me looking up from my laptop at the two of them.

I wanted to go over to the young woman and tell her how weird everybody is, really. "These things are all over the place," I'd say. "You get used to 'em."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bags With Big Damn Polka Dots

I often feel threatened by ladies who carry cloth bags with big polka dots on them. Especially at work. The bag says, "I am filled with work things, like maybe a laptop," and the polka dots say, "I am fun and fanciful." This is a mixed message.

My job is not fun. The people I work with are fun, but not the job itself and I am often confused by it. Therefore anything containing work materials should be covered in pictures of "The Scream" or snapshots of the Ebola virus eating a clown. I've seen pictures of the Ebola virus and they pass it off as this squiggly line that looks more like fish bait than something that could kill you. I imagine it looking more like a raccoon with rabies, holding knives. A rabies-infected, armed raccoon would also make for an appropriate picture on a laptop bag for my job.

The polka dot bag (which often comes in pink or teal dots, against a brown background - a color scheme that I also do not understand) hints at femininity that I don't have, and I just automatically assume that women who are more feminine than I am are judging me. This is wrong on my part. For all I know they're thinking, "What a lovely young woman, so proud an unafraid to wear the pants that have been lying on her floor for three days." Or maybe Polka Dot Bag Lady is thinking, "Thank God we don't have the same laptop bag. I really stand out now, which was my goal. I think I'll sew more polka-dots onto this bag when I get home."

My laptop bag is the black one that they gave me at work. It holds the following: 1 laptop, 1 writing notebook, 1 copy of "Courage to Change," 1 pen, and 1 watermelon scented highlighter. I don't carry spare polka-dots, but maybe if I did this would be a good conversation starter and perhaps even a peace-offering for these women that I feel irrationally threatened by.

Me: Hey there! It looks like one of your pink polka dots fell on the floor.

Bag Lady: (gasps) You're right! Awe, it was my favorite one.

Me: I carry extra. Here...

Bag Lady:....This is a picture of a frothing raccoon holding a knife.

Me: Oh, sorry (rummages through black bag). Here...

Bag Lady: It's even pinker and sparklier than the one I had! This is just heaven! Thank you, Tall Plain Girl!

Me: You're welcome, Bag Lady!

And peace was restored to the land. This is a great idea, I'm gonna go cut some polka-dots out of construction paper. It's what they want me to do at work. REALLY.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Shriek! Gasp!

I can never go this long without logging on again because through the click of a couple of keys, I accidently deleted the post Why Gay Moms Should Play Softball. It's gone. And now no one will know why gay moms should play softball.

This is like some sort of blog trauma. It's NOWHERE! It's like I never wrote it. It makes me want to gather my other blog posts around me and hold them!

Or maybe have another cup of coffee for now because I'm at work and I shouldn't be blogging. I should be drinking coffee and resetting passwords. But just so ya know...I'm back. Que the music and the dancing boys!

PS- gay moms should play softball because I do and everyone should copy everything that I do at all times.
PPS - Except maybe that. No, don't imitate that. Now that I've seen you do it, I think it looks weird on me.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Peaches Does Herself and Taps My Boot

I don't want to give you the wrong impression. I'm not as jaded as I was in that last post, the "Valentine's Day at the DMV" one. It's only been a month, but my perspective on love, dating, marriage, soul mates and all that stuff is way, WAY better. Why, just in the last few weeks I've gone from listening to Elliott Smith's "Everything Means Nothing to Me" to Peaches "Fuck the Pain Away."

No really, this is an improvement! You have to be alive to fuck the pain away, people, you have to have ambition. Did I tell you that I met Peaches, by the way? Like, yeah, actually met her.

Ok, I didn't actually meet her. But I touched her shoe with my foot WHILST her shoe was on her foot! It's a great story, so a couple of months ago I was at the Prytania Theater want to know who Peaches is? You don't know this? Oooooooh! Well, no wonder you weren't as impressed as I thought you should be. Ok so Peaches is a musician who looks like this:

Iiiiiiiimpressed? So am I. But on the night that I touched her shoe, she looked more like this:

I'd gone to see the mock rock opera "Peaches Does Herself" and knowing what little I did about her, I'd decided to go by myself. See, Peaches is sexual in an undefinable way. Which is one of the things I like about her. She's a Tomboy sometimes, and then not other times. Just when she feels like it. "Tomboy" is putting it mildly. Sometimes she wears girly lingerie and sometimes she wears a dildo and a beard. She's boldly freakish. Whatever her sexuality is, and I'm not really sure, it's hers and she doesn't care if anyone understands, accepts it, or thinks she's pretty. There's a line in her song "I U She" that says "I don't have to make the choice, I like girls and I like boys." Her movie has hermaphroditic joy, like it's something beautiful instead of perverse, which is totally different from the message I've gotten about sexuality which is if you stray from being a feminine woman or a masculine man, there's something wrong deeply with you.

From my perspective as a person who's trying to let go of a lot of shame and repression, this is a liberating perspective. And also in the movie a lady lights matches and tucks them into her inverted nipples. That is liberating for a whole heap of reasons, not least of which being that I was always told not to put fire near my breasts. The Half Naked Cow Girl set me free (THAT'S HER NAME).

Anyway, as open-minded as my friends are I didn't know if they'd be comfortable so I went alone, and that's how I ended up in an empty row near the back of the theater. No! Not so that I could do that! It really was a coincidence. Which, now that I think about it would have been a great chance for me to take advantage of myself, but I'm just not the kind of girl who would use a vulnerable person like me in a movie theater. However, it proved to be a great spot for accidentally touching a musician's shoe. BECAUSE near the end of movie this woman and this guy filed into my row, and the woman sat down next to me. I thought it was a little weird that they would pay to see a movie where they'd only watch the last ten minutes of it, but I decided to not judge them or turn my head to look at them. Except for when I crossed my legs, and accidentally tapped the woman's shoe with my boot.

"Sorry," I whispered, glancing at her quick enough to notice that the sides of her head were shaved but in the dark I didn't recognize details of her face.

I don't think she heard me or even noticed that I'd tapped her shoe. Since I'm quiet and hyper sensitive to touch it's possible that only I noticed the tiniest tap of a pin drop point on her foot, and only I heard my squeak of an apology. So I let it go and focused on the last five minutes of the movie, where Peaches rides a tricycle contraption through the streets of Berlin repeating the line "Fuck the pain away."

Just before the lights came on, the man in my row got up and the woman next to me followed him to the front of the theater. And then he introduced her as Peaches.

I'll never wash that boot again.

She was there for a Q&A thing at the end of the movie. I didn't ask any questions, though that would have been a great opportunity to actually talk to her so that I could tell you guys something more exciting than "I touched her shoe and she didn't notice." Though I'd liked the movie, I couldn't think of anything to ask that had anything to do with it.

"Do you ever feel shy or embarrassed?" That would have been my question. But the questions from the audience were like, "Was the mutilated dildo custom made?" "How did that woman stick matches in her tits?" And then something about feminism. "What do you think the difference is between your style and, say, Lady Gaga's?" I don't remember how the question was worded. It was something about female sexuality in main stream pop culture vs. Peaches. You would think that an interesting question like that, especially since I have daughters, would stick with me rather than "How did that woman stick matches in her tits?" but here we are. I do remember, however, the woman starting the question and Peaches cutting in with, "You're going to ask me something about feminism, aren't you?" She didn't say it in an irritated way. It sounded like she could just tell. I guess she gets that a lot.

I've been listening to a lot of girl music that I've lumped into a category called "I don't give a fuck." It's not all one genre, just has that same theme. Joan Jett, The Donnas, Peaches, and The Pack A.D. are a few. I needed raw, dynamic women who are funny and pretty sometimes but not all the time. Just like the rest of us.

So here are the questions I would have asked Peaches if I had no problem speaking in front of a theater full of people:

1) Are you really confident about your sexuality and your body or is that a stage thing, and if you really are then how do you do that?

2) Did you always not care what people think or is that something that you had to work on?

3) What do you think healthy sexuality is?

4) Did you sit next to me because you thought I was cute in the dark?

5) Hee hee.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Valentine's Day at the DMV

I wrote this in the back cover of Singing School by Robert Pinsky while I was waiting at the DMV.

I took the day off of work to come here. I'm sitting in a plastic chair in a row of many other rows with other people who are dressed against the cold. There are red streamers hanging from the ceiling because it's Valentine's Day and I think the government workers love us. I brought this book with me. It's kind of an anthology called Singing School, and I'm finding that only some poems are working with the rhythm of this place.

William Blake's "A Question Answered" - no. Nothing by Emily Dickinson either, or any other poem that sounds like something you might hum to a baby.

But "Howl" is working. It fits somehow with the electronic calling of alphanumeric names and the monotone questions.

"Now serving E414 at counter number 5."

Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch!

"Now serving A016 at counter number 18."

Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo!

"Sir, do you wear glasses?"

Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows!

I look up at the electronic board above my head. It's blinking bright red letters and numbers. A014 is next but that doesn't tell me how soon it will be for me because they're not calling in any kind of order. A015 doesn't follow A014. It's H218 next.

I wonder, because it's Valentine's Day and the streamers are suggesting that I think about these things, if I'll ever have love in my life again. Sometimes I wonder if I'm even capable of feeling it anymore. This isn't something I'm sad about. What's more sad is how detached I feel from the question.

Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!

Nothing makes me feel less human than sitting in a room full of other humans who are waiting to be processed. Sometimes names are called, I guess the ones who are at the end of the process and their licenses are done.

But this is still better than love. This is still better than flowers and behind them all of the uncertainty, and my own bullshit. I am B105, waiting. Which window? Tell me when and which window? I'll wait in my row until the harsh red light flashes B105. It's preferable to chalky, tasteless hearts with alphanumeric codes like "Text u l8r." Staying single sometimes feels like self-love and a public service at the same time - and that perspective seems self-pitying and overly dramatic to me. I'm not really sure how to feel at all.

Dreams! Adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!

Ok, so maybe I'm not so detached. I'm just not sure that I can feel anything like that again. Maybe I fit with the rhythm of this place today. I'm ok with the little headaches of cracked plastic chairs and Window 11 now serving C135.

real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell. They jumped off the roof!

I was called to Window 18. And the computer is down. Cocksucker in Moloch. I dream Angels.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

27 Year Pause

I've written so many things in the last two months but my Vigilantes don't know it. So I'm writing this at work just to say hi, and of course, the phone is ringing. This ringing phone, my loves, is the reason for my great absence from this blog. I put the caller on hold just so I can finish this paragraph. Just a second...

The are times I wonder if I'll only be able to write consistently when I retire at 65. Assuming I can retire. Then I think, "But then I won't be sexy." As if it makes a difference that I'm a sexy writer, but apparently I equate writers with leather-clad rock stars and I just can't imagine myself with high heel boots and spike-studded leather when I'm 65. Though I guess it's good to have long term goals.

This is what I've accepted about myself recently - I hate self care. Regular bathing, cooking, cleaning, budgeting, lawn maintenance, and not quitting my job on the spot are things that just don't jive with my nature. Most of life is the daily maintenance of self and space, and I've just got to face the fact that I fucking hate it. I do those things, but I despise those things, and I can't make myself stop doing them but I'm going to stop expecting to suddenly enjoy or appreciate them. I would like to think that I could evolve into a functional human female who thrives off of pruning, preening, filling in calenders, and praying thanks to God for my 8-5 job every day, but that shit just ain't gonna happen. If left to my own devices I would shower twice a week, never clean, quit my job, take a bat to my cubicle, and spend the rest of my waking days writing, falling asleep, and then going out at night to hear music. I wouldn't even take a lover, and really, with the two showers a week that problem would solve itself.

But since I've committed to the day routine care of my self, space, and those around me, the blog has suffered. I don't have time to do all of those things, finish my book, and blog. The miracle is, even though I'm doing the practical thing for my kids, I don't resent my kids. This is just the time in my life when I have to remain a functional adult for them so that they have the things they need, and that's ok. That's actually the thought that keeps me from taking a bat to my cubicle.

When I turn 65, I promise you guys, more work will pour out of me than you can handle. In 27 years, when I am sitting on my couch, curled up with my laptop, in my spike-studded leather, that's when the work will happen without pause. Right now I have to work around the pauses.

Which is why I'm excited to tell you THAT I FINISHED THE BOOK!!! The Water Door Magician is done! I'm having a locksmith friend read it and make sure I got all of the technical details right, but it'll be ready to send out after that. Everybody get out your leather high heels and celebrate!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Shoeshank Redemption

Holy fucking shitkickers, it's almost been a month since I've written. There's the draft of a post I forgot about on the 6th called "Shawshank Fashion Tips" but it's unfinished. I'll get into that later. have you been? Feel free to answer in the commentary or just speak to your laptop as if I can hear you. It doesn't make you crazy, it's kind of like talking to the other cars in traffic. If you like my logic because it justifies your insane behavior, feel free to use it. I always do.

That last paragraph made no sense whatsoever.

So you're good? Awesome! What have I been up to the last four weeks? I've stood in my sister's wedding, taken the GRE, and finished the third draft of The Water Door Magician. Oh and I cut my hair. Now I'm impatiently waiting to see if I got into grad school.

What do you mean that's no excuse not to blog? Aaaah! Thought I couldn't really hear you, did you fucker? Well, I did and I will have you know that all of those things take a great amount of concentration and leaves very little time for bloggery. What? No, I haven't been seeing anyone, why do you always assume that's why I haven't written in a while? I've really, actually, genuinely been busy .But now I am back and ready to talk about how the movie "The Shawshank Redemption" helped me pick out a pair of bridesmaid shoes.

Shoeshank Redemption

It was the morning of my sister's wedding day, and at 7:00 I thought I had everything ready to meet her at the salon where my sisters and I were getting our hair and makeup done. And anyone who reads this blog regularly should know how much I have to love my sister to get my hair done and put on makeup. Anyone who does not, can read this as a tutorial: Femme Failure

No let me say, I really, really love my baby sister. I would have done just about anything she needed me to do for her wedding day. Having said that, I hate getting my hair done. The term "updo" makes me want to shave my head. Because when I have this done to me, someone, usually a loud woman with long, stabby nails, rakes her fingers through my hair, ties it up on top of my head, and sprays it with something that they also use as a pesticide on crops. Then she tells me that I look really good when I honestly I think I would look better if I dropped my hair in a fish tank.

And don't even fucking get me started on makeup.

This was the hesitation I was feeling when I gathered my things to meet my sisters for a morning of artificial beauty before the afternoon wedding. While I was taking stock of everything I needed to bring to the car, I think I might have actually been chanting, "I love Stephanie, I love Stephanie, I love Stephanie" when I realized that I had forgotten to buy shoes.

I hate shoe shopping. Surprise!

But not enough to skip it completely when I'm the maid of honor in a wedding. I spent about five minutes beating myself up. "I can NOT believe you forgot to do this. How on EARTH could you forget the shoes? What are you going to wear? Black Chucks?...well, those would look good, but you CAN'T you just can't! It's 7:00 in the morning, you have to meet April and Stephanie at 10:00. No place is open practically until then!"

On top of a time crunch there was also the matter of my feet. I'm six feet tall. My feet are huge. Well, long at least, just like the rest of me. Shoes can be hard to find. I needed a pair of dress shoes that would match a lavender bridesmaid's dress. In two hours. In the morning.

So I hit Target. There was almost nothing to choose from, and keep in mind that it was about a week and a half after Christmas so I was left to pick through the odd ones that hadn't sold. I was trying not to buy heels, heels make me, at minimum, 6'2." The conversation in my head, while I desperately scanned the shelves for size 11's, went like this:

"Lavender...what goes with lavender? Silver? There isn't anything silver in my size - wait! Sparkly silver Converse rip-offs! YES! No, no, bad Genevieve, bad, choose wedding shoes. White? There are no white dress shoes. Does the fashion industry actually stick to the no white after Labor Day bullshit?...hold on...nude. Nude heels. Heels? No flats? There are no flats. Does that go with lavender? I...I honestly don't know."

I didn't. God help me, I could not figure out whether a nude heel would match a lavender dress. In my moment of crisis I realized three things. 1) I didn't have a choice, I was running out of time, 2) the dress came down long enough to cover them for the most part, and 3) the line from Shawshank Redemption, "seriously, how often do you really look at a man's shoes?"

Let's set aside how ridiculously fitting it is that I would use information from a prison movie to make a fashion decision, and just focus on the relief I felt.

"Yes!" I thought. "That's brilliant!...Maybe I SHOULD get the sparkly silver sneakers! Who'd know?" I didn't. I did the responsible thing and bought the ugly heels, which I think is what I was supposed to do as a maid of honor anyway, since it is my job to make the bride look good. And I got my hair and makeup done. Then we went to my aunt's house to get dressed for the wedding, and my sister brought out her rain boots.

"What are you doing?" I asked April, who pulled a rubber black and white checkered boot onto her foot.

"It's muddy out there, dude. We gotta walk across the grass, I ain't wearing heels."

April let down her dress, which covered the boots completely. Stephanie laughed and took pictures. She thought it was great.

Mother. Fucker.

PS- The wedding was beautiful. And because it was at my aunt's house the three of us hit the trampoline in the backyard during the reception. It's not really a family wedding unless you're on a trampoline in your bridesmaid's dress, trying not to step on the bride's gown while your other your sister does a front flip.