Archive for the Confusion Category

[I, Petunia] Not for sale; Decency

Posted in Communication, Confusion, Fellow Human Beings, Honesty, I Petunia, Life is like Christopher Guest said it was, Life Performance Art, Literary, Love Thy Fellow Man, MANNERS, Narcissisim, Petunia, Philosophy?, Regretful Human Behavior, Schemes, The meaning of life with tags on July 19, 2013 by Admin

A work of fiction, by Petunia Jablonsky, to be presented in serial format, a few sentences or paragraphs whenever… our attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.

I, Petunia, am not angry. I no longer feel anger, at anything; I am angered out and logic has prevailed. I am flattered in some cases and proud in others. The common denominator of what I, Petunia, feel is pity. I am absolutely content. I always survive. I have me to thank for being that smart, that logical, that strong, and I am that grateful for these gifts such that all I can muster is pity.

They say we teach others how to treat us, that we seek that is what is most familiar, that the first 3 months of a person’s life are the most important in terms of early childhood development, that we make our beds. I, Petunia, believe all of this. I believe I am the common denominator of all interactions i have in life and thus I merit some responsibility for my part in them. I did not choose my adoptive family but I did choose my partners in life and I taught them how to treat me. Once I realized this I set about changing. I’d always been working toward change, struggling to evolve, but it often seemed like shoveling against the tide. Sometimes if you cannot beat the mouse infestation you need to burn down the barn. My barn was burned down when I was robbed, emotionally beaten, and left for dead. It took a complete breakdown to rebuild where effecting change was unsuccessful. Thus, I would not change a thing that has ever happened to me and with me, because it is how I got here — to complete contentment, however modest.

“She always had her hand out”, explained my ex-brother regarding my years-long absence to one of our relatives in the state to the north, who listened and nodded, filing this tidbit away so as to tell me later.

greedIt was an absolute and absurd lie as he, the ex-brother, the “martyr”, had schemed and plotted over a decade or so to steal my inheritance because, as he’d reminded our entire family ad nauseum since the day he arrived as an inexplicably grasping, greedy, and sad infant, that he was “the good one”. He got off on being “the good one” as he had an empty life and so money and material gain, the reward of attaining all of these empty means, became both void-filler and lover of sorts. I used to be angry about it but after many years of rumination could muster only pity, though there was a time when I was all too aware of the fact that his daily walk from home to office meant having to walk past the huge marquee announcing the movie, “The Forty Year-Old Virgin”, during it’s run at the little theater downtown. Now I feel shame for snickering at that, and can muster only pity.

I’d never coveted money — preferring to spectate as others shamelessly and transparently fall all over each other, selling their souls and yet believing themselves absolved by way of a weekly trip to church or whatever justification they fabricate — and had let this happen while never believing it could happen, just as I had politely turned down the lawyer who had insisted I sue another ex, the sole ex boyfriend (of a list I can count on one hand) with whom I am no longer friends, for Malicious Prosecution, after he’d unsuccessfully sued me (not his first or last visit to that rodeo) in a case the judge had thrown out while shaming the DA for even daring to present such a travesty in an actual courtroom, though it had cost me $4800 to hire a dense lawyer; a criminal defense lawyer at that.

Lrainater I was told that the window clerk who’d allowed the bitter ex to even file the criminal complaint — an expansive and sad girl “not impervious to flirtation” — had been reprimanded, as had the clerk of courts who’d nervously allowed this farce to proceed from complaint to trial, and the DA who’d blushed when the judge had forced him to repeat the charges aloud, so as to emphasize the taint now blighting his career record.  The judge had later insinuated that he might feel inclined to award treble damages should I wish to pursue damages for the time and money I’d spent, but I declined, finding the idea unseemly.

220px-40-Year-OldVirginMoviePoster

I’ve forgiven both exes since, on my own and in lieu of any sort of apology or reparation though I have reached out and provided the opportunity, and have unloaded that baggage in a metaphorical dumpster, content to have my integrity intact, yet I feel the stories are forever mine to tell, as I am a fictional character and this, of course, is a fictional tale…

It was 2 am as my dog and I walked the dark mountain road through a monsoon reminiscent of the ones Tony and I had experienced in Chaing Mai, with rain of the sort that was not made of raindrops and did not fall, but rather drove and it pounded in sheets,  punctuated by thunder and frequent lightning which seemed to hit the ground dangerously close, and we were terrified. A car rolled up and I heard my name…

THE KEVIN SERIES: Intricate Polychromatic Art Speak for Incongruous Fun Torturing Kevin

Posted in Activism?, Adventures and Interludes, Being a Virgo, Communication, Confusion, Life is like Christopher Guest said it was, Life Performance Art, Literary, Narcissisim, Pest Control, Philosophy?, Photoshopping Kevin, Special People, The meaning of life, The Process of Art, Therapy, Thoughts with tags on November 26, 2012 by Admin

An old image I found years ago:

which was then modified for an old blog post:
https://benigngirl.wordpress.com/2008/04/05/intricate-polychromatic-art-speak-for-incongruous-fun-and-conflative-prophet/

recycled for THE KEVIN SERIES.

THE KEVIN SERIES: Dissecting The Projectile Photshopping Opus Of My Muse, Kevin

Posted in Activism?, Adventures and Interludes, Being a Virgo, Communication, Confusion, Life is like Christopher Guest said it was, Life Performance Art, Literary, Narcissisim, Pest Control, Philosophy?, Photoshopping Kevin, Special People, The meaning of life, The Process of Art, Therapy, Thoughts with tags on November 26, 2012 by Admin

This is part of a new series I have only just realized I have been working on for days and which I shall post here as both intellectual fluff and bloggerly filler, as I slowly find my way past the crushing pain (I live with NINE herniated disks/sheer pain, daily) and back to the habitualities of blogging regularly.

This blog has been untended for some time yet I realize that with this sort of Spy vs. Spy relationship I have going on Facebook with my pal Kevin, I have created a series of artwork which should be shared with all, for Kevin says and does the craziest things.

After a grueling day spent posting about politics (which hurts my head, even to simply post that which I have observed, for posteriority) my brain needed an exorcism of sorts and so I made ART. I have a new muse, Kevin who, much like Dwight Shrute, is a farmer. Kevin is my muse. Kevin pretends to me angry about this, he rants, he raves, he threatens, and yet if I miss a day he starts baiting me which I smartishly recognize as begging for more.

Also, this is how my brain works:

And so, I present the new and ongoing series (until I become apathetic), Photoshopping Kevin. It begins with random photos stumbled upon in the interwebs and takes on a life of it’s own. So each opus shall include the before image.

I call this one, Dissecting the Projectile Photoshopping Opus Of My Muse, Kevin, With Identities Blurred.

Before:

After:

The Road to Hell Is Paved With Unwanted Ceramic Owls

Posted in Confusion, Fellow Human Beings, Philosophy?, The meaning of life, Thoughts on September 26, 2012 by Admin

An exercise in/of unfinished and unpolished fiction, with interspersed summary of Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis — a brilliant parody of “idealistic” middle class life from the perspective of one man’s (aka, everyman) delusional self-satisfaction arisen from self-perceptions of “superior social standing”, materialism, and delusions of grandeur as derived from comparison between oneself and others  — courtesy of sparknotes.

On April 20 1920, dawn breaks over Zenith, a Midwestern town bustling with new skyscrapers, automobiles, and factories. George F. Babbitt, a 46-year-old real estate broker, reluctantly awakens from a recurring dream about his fairy girl, a slim maiden who fulfills his fantasies of being a “gallant, romantic youth.” In reality, Babbitt is a middle-aged, rather pudgy family man. His home, replete with all the modern conveniences, is located in Floral Heights, the middle-class residential section of Zenith.

Petunia was in the parking lot of her boyfriend’s office building, waiting. It was a small and nondescript one story building in a suburb well outside the big city where he evidently made a lot of money, but she had little interest in money — a taste she would never acquire —  though she worked at the plush corporate headquarters of a purposely snooty worldwide women’s fashion retailer. Petunia’s responsibilities sometimes included making copies of the buyer’s sheets for clothing purchased in China and marked up, for example, from an $8 purchase price and sold through their catalogs and stores for an end price of 98$, to women of a certain self-satisfied confidence like that of the women executives at the retailer, who, according to their oddly loud conversations while in line at the cafeteria, would wear their new garments to garden parties on the expansive grounds of stately homes, or weddings in which the bride would carry pink roses and the place settings would be marked by monogrammed green golf tees. She often wondered if the green tees would ever make it to a gold course and why these women never smiled. Petunia did not aspire to this world. It did not seem like much fun. In fact, Petunia would never fail to be surprised upon encountering those who did aspire to this life, and this would become a lifelong series of such surprises from what she thought of as unlikely sources.

The morning newspaper calms his agitated nerves. He reads it aloud to Myra, but only the popular society column interests her. Babbitt grunts at the praise heaped on Charles McKelvey’s parties at his lavish home. Myra hesitantly ventures that she would like to see the inside of his home. Babbitt asserts that Myra is “a great old girl” and states that it is regrettable that he didn’t keep in touch with McKelvey after they graduated from college. Babbitt kisses her before leaving for work.

Grumbling to himself at Myra’s desire to associate with “this millionaire outfit,” Babbitt exits his home to start his beloved car. He wishes he could dispense with “the whole game.” He doesn’t mean to be irritable, but he constantly feels tired.

While waiting for her boyfriend, Fred, to exit the building, Petunia watched his co-workers parade past the car. Some seemed startled at the sight of her behind the wheel because she was definitely not Fred, yet she was in his unmistakably very bright red car, but then they kept walking.

Petunia liked her boyfriend’s sense of humor, as well as the fact that she had met him once as a child while camping in another New England state, the one he was from, which made him seem more down to earth and where he would register the red Porsche he’d be driving when they would meet again years down the road. The car she sat in now was also red, though not as expensive as the Porsche would be. This one was registered in the town he actually lived in, also outside the big city, which he shared with 2 other very aggressive salesmen. The term “salesman” made her think of Rotary Clubs, Fuller Brushes, and the novel, Babbitt, by Sinclair Lewis, who also lived in that other New England state at one point.

Babbitt is first and foremost a parody of post-World War I middle-class American culture. The name of the town, Zenith, implies that Babbitt’s community views itself as the highest point of American civilization. Zenith worships the world of business: its skyscrapers, factories, and automobiles are symbols of rampant commercialism. Babbitt’s home is a miniature representation of the American middle class’s worship of material objects. It has all the modern conveniences, including an alarm clock blessed with all the latest technology.

One might think that Zenith’s gleaming, modern skyline and Babbitt’s slick, modern home imply that Zenith is indeed a wonderful, interesting place to live. However, Babbitt’s fantasy fairy girl reveals that Babbitt is dissatisfied with his life as a middle-class family man. The description of his house reveals that its sleek, modern appearance is just that–appearance. It is designed to show off the occupant’s wealth more than anything else. Lewis states that Babbitt’s house lacks the aura of a home, that it is as impersonal as a hotel room. He compares it to an ad in a magazine for “Cheerful Modern Houses for Medium Incomes,” further emphasizing Zenith’s empty commercialism. Lewis’s description of Babbitt’s house reveals the monotonous conformity of the American middle class. All of Babbitt’s modern household appliances are the “standard” possessions of his class. Babbitt’s house is simply a mass-produced, standardized symbol of middle class affluence. It is like every other prosperous middle-class house in Zenith and presumably like middle-class houses all over the country.

Petunia had the fancy red Saab because her Hyundai was in the shop, and Fred, her boyfriend of several months, had let her drop him off a work in the morning so she could drive to her own office. When she got to her office she’d not been able to get the key out of the ignition so she’d had to leave it unlocked while she ran to her desk to call his office. It turned out that Saab’s must be in reverse with the hand brake on in order to be able to remove the key. Everyone had a good laugh at that. When her boss saw the car she’d advised Petunia, “Marry that man”, but at 21 Petunia felt too young to get married.

[Babbitt’s wife’s] entire outlook on life is heavily influenced by the middle-class worship of material objects, as her argument with Ted about the family car further reveals. Like many other middle-class college graduates, she is more in love with the idea of liberalism than anything else. Ted is obsessed with nice clothing, cars, and girls like other middle-class sons. Again, Lewis emphasizes that the materialistic middle class favors appearance over substance.

Petunia “liked” liked Fred but his friends intimidated her as they were all of the aggressive salesperson type and all talk was of money and commissions. Petunia had convinced herself that Fred was different despite the book on his shelf titled, “How To Dress Rich”, which she thought somewhat hilarious, especially the part about wearing the oh-so-obvious cravat. Petunia’s dress was from the Dress Barn in the same town as her office, but she thought it looked good enough, given the compliments she’d received. It was not her size but it was cheap and flowey so she’d gotten it anyway. Fred had said he’d liked it the last time she wore it.

They’d gotten off to an odd start as weeks had passed since he’d first called her just two days after meeting her in a bar downtown and she’d had been unable to accept his offer of dinner due to firm plans to go to her hometown for her brother’s birthday. She’d then heard from Fred weeks later only because one of the friends she’d been with at the bar that night had been dating one of his co-workers and had suggested they all four go out. They laughed a lot.

Babbitt’s diatribe against Verona’s “liberal” opinions and his reaction to the morning paper clearly indicate that he has few original opinions. Rather, his entire belief system is based on the opinions of his community, often absorbed without question from the newspaper headlines. His middle-class hubris is revealed in his empty diatribe against giving the poor “notions above their class.”

A few minutes before Fred finally emerged from his office building, a woman had walked by and had made a point of staring at Petunia as she sat in the driver’s seat. The woman seemed older than Petunia by six or seven years with a somewhat dated yet preppy dressage and hair which had obviously been blown out straight and set on rollers; women still used hot rollers back then. The woman lingered longer than might be polite and Petunia had the odd feeling that her own hair and dress were somehow not acceptable to this woman. Petunia’s hair was not styled, nor straight.

When Fred, who was a year older than Petunia, had finally emerged from the nondescript one story building, he’d seemed troubled — a different person from the extremely happy guy of the night before and that very morning. Petunia made some small talk yet Fred remained distracted, troubled. Finally Petunia asked what was wrong, to which Fred replied, “Jennifer, our secretary, just said that she saw you in my car and that you “don’t look like my type.” Fred seemed disproportionately unnerved and in Petunia’s mind she saw the book on his shelf.

Years later at another downtown bar near her apartment Petunia and a friend would bump into Fred (after an embarrassingly unsuccessful attempt to escape through the back door, thwarted by a security guard), and he would regale them with stories of having been cleaned out in his divorce from a woman named Jennifer, joking that he’d gotten nothing but an unwanted ceramic owl received as a wedding gift, adding that he could not recall from whom it had been given.

When the bar closed they’d have drinks on his friend’s large boat docked nearby — named for the business scam by which it had been purchased, a scam not to be divulged yet to be hinted at repeatedly — and have non-conversations about material things. The next day they would take a ride in the bright red Porsche registered in the other New England state to save money, and when Petunia picked a long blond hair off the seat and remark that she must be shedding, Fred would laugh and say, “No, I am sure it was already in the car”, and Petunia would be glad to get home.

Petunia would remember this decades later when a friend would say, “So, Jane asked me the other day (imitating a falsetto-ish voice), “Oh, is Petunia your new best friend now?”

Although Babbitt is quick to demand that the poor stay in their assigned place, he and Myra harbor a desire to move into the elite circle of the McKelveys. Myra wants to be invited to their parties. Babbitt criticizes the McKelveys as snobbish highbrows, but it seems that his criticism is merely a means to salve his bruised ego at being excluded from their world. Lewis implies here that typical Americans, regardless of their class, are obsessed with excluding those less fortunate, as well as gaining the acceptance of those more fortunate…

…despite the pleasure he seems to take in his affluent lifestyle and its accompanying symbols, he seems rather dissatisfied. He mutters that he would like to dispense with the “whole game” as he leaves the house.

Wonder Bred

Posted in Activism?, Adventures and Interludes, Being a Virgo, being defensive, Confusion, danger, Empathy, Fellow Human Beings, Get Informed, Honesty, Important Social Issues, Life is like Christopher Guest said it was, Life Performance Art, Love Thy Fellow Man, Non-Selective Empathy and Compassion, Northampton Police Department, Philosophy?, Regretful Human Behavior, Special People, The meaning of life, Thoughts, We Are ALL Peers with tags , , , , , , on September 19, 2012 by Admin

UPDATE: It seems that Mr. Sir and John counted fourteen policepersons in all on this fateful evening and so I thought this worth adding. Because so often people tend to exaggerate numbers and situations, it is my way to… what is the opposite of exaggerate? I am going to check the antonymary… I am going to go with understate. Anywho, I tend to always round things down as I find that hyperbole discredits the point one is trying to make. My memory of that evening is very clear though it is the emotional part of it that is most fixed. As we waited for forty-something minutes for the FOURTEEN policemen to decide what to do with us, I ruminated on the inherent hypocrisy of the situation, the shame, and the tragedy, while my ethnic companions counted cops over and over, as the numbers increased. Part of me doesn’t want to believe there were quite that many uniforms surrounding mar car but I know my companions to eschew hyperbole as well. I am not going to go back and edit the post below, so this update shall suffice as sufficient edit.

All that for a YELLOW light.

I have a friend, whom I shall call Mr. Sir for this post, and who is a rather wonderful mixed breed of African American, German, and Native American, which is rather evident in his features. Mr. Sir is a well-educated and accomplished sort of sir and holds a very prestigious position at a highly regarded art museum with a notable (7$s worth) collection of Fine Art. Often Mr. Sir is sent to other countries by this museum as trusted escort for priceless artwork — by the likes of Monet, to name a one — when this museum borrows or loans work from/to other prestigious museums. Museums do this, and the work being shared MUST be escorted for various reasons, all of them, like, totally important. He has also been sent to other countries to authenticate rare works of art ($729,000 worth of rare art on one trip alone) before his employers write the check, and is responsible for conserving six figure works, like when kids stick gum to paintings and whatnot.

Art is also “handled” by “Art Handlers” and shipping companies, but that good, bad, and sometimes rather ugly inside scoop is for another post. Mr. Sir is not an Art Handler though, yet our pal Biggie is, who is big. And strong.

Cowboy Curtis,  looking surprised, in a gold fine art frame. I kill me!

Mr. Sir has experienced his fair share of flights running late, resulting in his dashing through airports alongside said priceless works (think very large packages and/or crates) in order to make connecting flights and he has been stopped — due to the packaging and the features and the dashing — at a more frequent rate than other running airport people, the point being that he is among those who seem to attract such visual scrutiny in airports. Therefor, Mr. Sir is ever-s0-vigilant to shave on flight days, even if that means shaving at 3 am, because he has learned by the seat of his delayed-ass pants that the combination of facial hair plus dark skin color and exotic features can result in scrutinizinglied missed flights, and how often can one ask their employer to purchase yet another last-minute flight due to attention attracting (not ALL of it bad, actually) exotic features?

I have tried to walk a figurative mile in Mr. Sir’s various ethnic shoes yet I am merely able to  approximate what life must be like for persons of different colors and ethnicities, having been born a whitey through no merit of my own (I’m looking at you white people who feel superior for “winning” some sort of pre-birth lottery). Recently, however, I had a small taste of this thanks to the Northampton, MA Police Department. Thank you NPD, I am now ever more sensitized to the dubious perils of being non-white. Though having been pulled over in the south — by another baby-faced, blond-haired, blue-eyed officer — and astronomically ticketed for being a Yankee,  I know a wee bit of the helpless rage one feels at such injustices.

It’s all fun and games until someone gets profiled and finds their car surrounded by policemen wielding flashlights and a few rounds of hollow-point suspicion.

I don’t choose my friends by visuals; I choose them by their souls, how they make me feel about myself, and that which is abundant in their hearts. My companions on that fateful night are two of the most sensitive, sincere, compassionate, spiritual (by which I mean that they believe in and practice that which is truly good and beneficial for fellow humans, though not affiliated with any particular brand of religion), kind, generous, intelligent and evolved people I have the fortune to know. They are beautiful people, inside and out.

Mr. Sir, like many of his related relatives before him, has in the last few years been getting more involved with his Native American roots.  He grew out his adorable jheri curls and now sports braids, often sporting Naive American-ish clothing. Noooooo, not feather headdresses and immodest scraps of buffalo hide barely covering his manly bits, I mean “ribbon-ed” shirts and beaded necklaces. “Ribbons” in this case refers to hand stitched designs — by an authorized person — which signify one’s specific tribe and whatnot, including admirable accomplishments I believe, though not scalps of whites brought back to the rez, silly. I don’t understand all of it and so I will leave it at that. Mr. Sir goes to Pow Wows all over the country, participating more and more in Native American ritual and philosophy, which is about kindness, peace and forgiveness. They best believe in forgiveness, for what was done to those native to this land was deplorable; being slaughtered and herded onto fenced millifractions of what was once their own land. And it hasn’t ever gotten much better, though the slaughtering ceased ages ago.

My stash.

Mr. Sir always bring me back a satchel of sage blessed by a Medicine Man at the Pow Wows and I burn it for friends who need prayers. I swear sometimes it works. I have never been to a Pow Wow or even a reservation — not because I haven’t wanted to go, but because, “It’s not a fucking theme park”, and I get that.

Through Mr. Sir, I had the fortune to meet Gary Farmer, an accomplished actor (Dead Man, Adaptation, and Dances With Wolves — in which he uttered his now-iconic line, “Stupid Fucking White Man”, and who now tours North America with his band, Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers, and with whom I once did a pretend duet at a gig and furtherly for whom I am to one day do a documentary of his life as activist, actor and blues musician — our interview went THAT well. Mr. Sir plays in Gary’s band, as does his pal John, who is part of this story.

BTW, soon I will post here an interview I did with Gary Farmer over a year ago (shamefully delayed) and which I have since been editing down to an hour.  Our conversation was so fascinating that I didn’t want to lose a single sentence of it but, alas, 2.5 hours is too much.

AnywhatthehellwasItalkingaboutanyway, this post is about profiling in what had once been considered one of our most “sensitive” and progressive  towns here in “The Happy Valley”, and involves a traffic stop, a few police cars and foot/bike patrolmen, my car being surrounded by EIGHT policemen (there were no female police present, hence the term), and a subsequent verbal warning, after about 40 minutes in all of boredom and profound embarrassment for all involved (looking at you and your armed cohorts, Babyface).

The Northampton, MA Police Department at work; As seen in my rear view mirror.

It all started one night when Mr. Sir and his pal John and I were on our way back from seeing a band in Greenfield, Ma. It was a dark and stormy night… yet it was a clear and balmy evening.

John, the other passenger, was in town from Rio Rancho, New Mexico for a visit with his pal Mr. Sir, as well as for a reception; he was showing his work at an area gallery. John is a big guy, and has hair down to his waist. One can easily guess at his heritage. John also has a business crafting beautiful custom guitars and plays as a studio musician and in several bands including Gary farmer and The Troublemakers. A friend of his from high school in was playing at The Art Bank in Greenfield and so we all went to see her band and I paid 3$ for a airplane-sized bottle of water, while Mr. Sir and John each had a single $20 (ish) beer, as I don’t often drink and we’d been fairly depleted by the $10 cover charge.

On the way home we took the scenic route and as I approached the intersection of Main and King/Pleasant streets in downtown Northampton, MA the light suddenly changed from green to yellow, just as I reached the stop line. Rather than slam on my brakes — though I was in second gear and thus only going about 20 mph, having just stopped at the Cumberland Farms for a candy bar and thus having not driven far enough to get past second gear — I felt it safest and perfectly legal (it is) to just go through the intersection. As it is a short yellow light, it turned red just as my tires crossed the stop line at the other side of the intersection.  Just then Mr. Sir said, “Monkey (he calls me ‘Monkey’, because of this picture of me as a child, in which, logically, I look like a monkey), there was a cop right at the intersection on the left, facing us!”, and I said, “No problem. That was a perfectly legal maneuver.” But the cop had seen Mr. Sir’s ethnic face in the back seat window — they looked right at each other — and soon enough I saw the flashing lights in my rear view mirror.

I pulled over immediately, which un/fortunately was right in front of The Elevens ( a local bar popular with the young folk), and as luck would have it, half the bar was on the sidewalk out front providing us with an audience. It would later turn out that one of Mr. Sir’s coworkers was on that sidewalk, watching the whole show and wondering whether or not to jump in, being a sophisticate and well-connected and all that.

View from passenger side window.

Then there was a flashlight in my face, held by a young, very white face. “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“Yes, because I went through a yellow light.”

“Well, it was red…”

“It was yellow.”

As we spoke, his flashlight searched my car. A second cop then joined the non-fray, and his flashlight also got busy all over my car through the window on the passenger side, including into Johns face in the passenger seat, and all over the back seat including, as I noticed during one of my rear view mirror glances, right into Mr. Sir’s non-buffalo-hide-clad crotch.

“How much have you had to drink tonight?”

“Nothing.”

“You sure? Because..I mean, you ran that red light back there.”

“It was YELLOW. I had nothing to drink. Check me.”

“Well, no, I don’t really smell alcohol.. it’s just that…”

“Check me.”

His flashlight continued roving the depths of my car, breaking up his sentences as he divided his attention between what he was saying and whatever insidious contraband for which he eagerly searched. It shined into my eyes, down to my feet, straight into John’s and Mr. Sir’s faces. New flashing red lights arrived, reflecting off the rear-view mirror, and then there were a few more cops comically/cautiously nearing, elbows bent and hands twitching near hip-mounted gun holsters — while yet more approached the car, and us perps, from a different direction, suggesting they were not from the arriving/flashing car behind me. Perhaps they were on foot and/or bike? Northampton, MA has a few bike cops, because it is a very dangerous town. In all I counted ten cops, which suggests some of them had to be on bike or foot, as there were only two police cars; ONLY. I amused myself by picturing them all tumbling out of a single cruiser clown-style, while we waited. And waited.

“Go ahead. Check me. I give you my full permission. I had one small, over-priced 3$ bottle of water.”

I had handed over my license and registration, and so I added, “Run my license. I have a clean record. Perfectly clean.”

Me and my homies. Werd.

Throughout all of this both Mr. Sir and John had been staring straight ahead, neither saying a word. They seemed oddly immobile, and even possibly nervous, which surprised me because one does not get arrested for running a yellow light. And that’s when it hit me — this, the two police cars, the ten policemen in total circling my car with flashlights, the lights GLARINGLY flashing, all of it — this is what happens to them, this is what they expect and are what they are used to, even for more minor “transgressions” than running yellow lights. This was a nearly inconsequential example of what it is like to be them, to be viewed with what seems an awful lot like an assumption of guilt, rather than an assumption of innocence, or an assumption of neither.

Were I, a white woman, alone, and had that light actually been red, I sorta doubt there would have been an extra police car and a few extra foot cops. I felt angry, embarrassed to be white, sad, and resigned. With the crowd waiting and watching from the sidewalk across the street — likely thinking this was some serious shit going down and someone was about to be cuffed and taken away, due to the sheer number of cops and cars — I felt shamed, demoralized, furious. I am grateful that I am not made to feel this way on a regular basis, but there are those for whom this is a way of life simply by virtue of their appearance and it begins at birth.

NOTE: Neither of my passengers wore gang colors, do-rags, or saggy pants; both were securely belted, seat belt and otherwise. Neither of them wore face paint or wielded bows and arrows. There were no battle calls, tomahawks, guns, knives, glassine packets, glassy eyes, or vicious dogs involved. No test tubes, scales, suitcases full of cash (else I might have had an adult-sized bottle of water at the bar, or even two), there was no cloud of smoke in the car, no odor, and no lawyers on board.

I forget what the blue-eyed cop with the fair and enviable baby-smooth skin said next, but before he walked back to his car to run my license I found myself blurting/explaining, “Look. My friend here had one beer at the Art Bank, and he works at ____. And this is our friend visiting from Santa Fe, who is a musician and artist. I think he had one beer as well.  We went to see a high school friend’s band and now we are tired and on our way home. That is all.”

The accessories make the scofflaw.

My young, fair, blond, blue-eyed cop joined the bulk of the group of now TEN cops — well, he joined five of them; four were in front, ostensibly keeping an eye on us, while the rest had gathered behind the car. I watched in the rear view mirror while they discussed “the matter”  for 20 minutes. Does it take that long to run a check? For 20 minutes we sat and waited, and I kept an eye on them in the rear view mirror as they discussed us while facing my car from the back. There seemed to be some brainstorming going on as they chatted back and forth, while looking at my car, at us, back at each other, some chin stroking going on, some harsh reproving glances, more chatting, and then FINALLY Blondie came back to my window.

“I’m going to give you a warning. This time. But [something something something] red lights [something something]“, to which I replied again, yet this time halfheartedly, “It was YELLOW“, and he nodded, handed me my license and registration, and walked away. No written warning, just a mere verbal warning.

I was a bored/exhausted nervous wreck as I pulled out back into traffic, and I had trouble seeing because of all the still-flashing lights, but then we were free, and we waved to the few dozen patrons of The Elevens still on the sidewalk as we drove off, at 5 mph.

All that for a verbal warning.

This is fucking hilarious!

In Which Paula Burns Her Head With Her Instyler and I Come To A Rescue, Of Sorts

Posted in Activism?, Adventures and Interludes, Advice, Being a Virgo, Confusion, danger, Fellow Human Beings, Important Social Issues, Life is like Christopher Guest said it was, Life Performance Art, Literary, Philosophy?, solutions, The meaning of life, Thoughts on August 1, 2012 by Admin

For a client (facebook friend) who required that a customer service letter be written after tragically burning her head with her Instyler (whatever that may, or may not, be, which is in question on my end) in order to alert the proper authorities to the hazards of Instyling hair:

[IMAGE LINKS TO SOURCE]

Dear makers of Instyler,

While using my Instyler yesterday — which I ALWAYS use with the utmost measures of care and precaution — I somehow managed to burn my head. I wholeheartedly believe (due to said care and precaution) that this is the direct result of a flaw inherent in the design of this implement and/or that it lacks sufficient safety precautions for mere mortals such as myself (though I humbly yet honestly assure you that I am an extra-ordinary person, exhibiting a cerebral capacity and wit not common to the masses, yet, as I must now also candidly admit, is perhaps but a mere smidgen below that [intellectual capacity] of Marilyn Vos Savant, whom I find to be, at times, overly obsessed with dry unbuttered facts, and a twee bit humorless, as does my friend Malraux, who once notoriously spit out an omelet fed to him by Jean-Paul Sartre composed of cigarette, some coffee, and four tiny stones, and who, yet, was able to see the profound humor in such an experiment, for Sartre’s Cookbook.

As you may by now have discovered vis a vis (added for affect, not pretension) my unmatched capacity for oxymoronic and enthralling run-on sentences, I am a multi-faceted and fascinating genius, and thus this accident — the unceremonious and unintended burning of my head (of which my horoscope* (reproduced in its full coincidental warning bell-ishness below) warned against this week, which has added to my new anxietal condition, for the wrath of the stars is vast and fierce) — is not likely to be the fault of a pedestrian intellect nor a careless use of said Instyler.

Perhaps hair was meant for self-protection, rather than serve as point of potential vulnerability, the maintenance of which, heretofore, herewith, and hereof/in can lead to catastrophe vis-a-vis flawed styling implements and their inherently herein-ted insouciant lack of the most basic human safety precautions and/or inherency-filled obstacledom to self-harm/foldment/spindlement/mutilation-ment, and so on and so forth, by way of desperate attempts to meredly adhere to ludicrously unattainable societally-imposed standards and measures (with applicable charts and graphs) of beauty? Such are the dramas, the potential traumas, the tortures of the mind, the conundria that Mr. Rogers never explained, which Captain Kangaroo never disclosed (because dude was absolutely into aesthetica, yet in a manner in which we were too meredly mortal to grasp) which torture me, keep me up at night, erode the last bastions (bastonia) of my sanity, as I insomniacally wonder  at the lost innocence that never was in this world in which we so dramatically and yet so shallowly live, in such an aesthetic manner. Werd. 
[IMAGE LINKS TO SOURCE]

While my grammatical tendencies may belie a jaunty disregard for the parameters of language and its regulatory aspects, I can assure you that one must be exceedingly well-trained in such grammaticalistic disciplines in order to thus nonplussedly swat them away with such a level of jaunty disregard, and thus, as it very logically follows, the masses are in the gravest danger lest safety measures be added to the Instyler.

Since the head-burning I find myself perplexed — a perplexion born of sheer terror and anxiety, which has resulted in a befuddlement of the most basic brain functions — by the simplest of appliances and tools. My anxiety has grown and has taken root like that of an aggressive climber such as a Clematis plant, perhaps, with a power like that of bamboo to voraciously take root and assertively unseat the foundation, in this case of my mind. I am utterly paralyzed by the thought of using my Swingline Stapler or grinding my coffee beans and as a result both my stapling and filing needs, as well as my nutritionary needs, are being less met with each passing, torturous hour, as my life devolves into complete chaos, directly opposed to my Virgoan tendencies and thus in opposition to the stars, the universe, life as I knew it.

The Instyler sits on the counter in my bathroom complete with attached piece of my burnt head and a pile of noxious odour (spelling used to insinuate my boarding school days in London), mocking me, mocking my un-Instyled hair, mocking my very existence as a now-damaged being. It cannot be long before my increasingly bizarre behavior will be noticed by my fellow Mensa members and soon the only club that would have me will have me no more, furthering my eddy-like clockwise-ishly (there must always be some Virgoan order, even in the throes department) descent into madness.

I fear it is too late, domestically — it has been noticed by my husband, whom I now suspect of trying to lock me up in a room adorned by the most crazy and appalling yellow wallpaper under the guise of  “a relaxing week’s vacation in The Berkshires”, while stroking our cat, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who smirks at me now  with utmost insouciance. He ( for Charlotte is a he) is the enemy, or is it my Instyler? I no longer have the mental capacity to tease such discernments out of this situation.

And how, pray tell, will I present myself to Berkshire society with un-Instyled hair?

Please, if you are human, help me. Please.

With utmost sincerity in run-on sentencery,

Mo Gareau

*Virgo Horoscope for week of August 2, 2012

Verticle Oracle cardVirgo (August 23-September 22)
A few years ago, a Malaysian man named Lim Boon Hwa arranged to have himself “cooked.” For 30 minutes, he sat on a board covering a pan full of simmering dumplings and corn. The fact that no harm came to him was proof, he said, that Taoist devotees like him are protected by their religion’s deities. I advise you not to try a stunt like that, Virgo — including metaphorical versions. This is no time to stew in your own juices. Or boil in your tormented fantasies. Or broil in your nagging doubts. Or be grilled in your self-accusations. You need to be free from the parts of your mind that try to cook you.
Whether it’s your time to ferment in the shadows or sing in the sun, fresh power to transform yourself is on the way. Life always delivers the creative energy you need to change into the new thing you must become.

[SOURCE]

ED NOTE: To me, Lim Boon Hwa is alliterationally reminiscent of Sis Boom Bah and thus it should be followed with a ! where appropriate.

The Practical Princess

Posted in Activism?, Adventures and Interludes, Advice, Being a Virgo, being defensive, Confusion, danger, Life Performance Art, Miracles, Obsessions, quick thinking, Schemes, Self-defense for women, solutions, The meaning of life, Thoughts with tags , , on March 22, 2012 by Admin

NOTE: This is a work in progress but I hit “publish” anyway because I promised…

Åt some point in my childhood, probably around age 6 or 7ish, I received this children’s book as a gift — The Practical Princess — and it immediately became my favorite book of all time, ever. Written by Jay Williams, and illustrated by Friso Henstra, it is an astonishingly beautiful and, well, very practical children’s book; a huge departure from the typical literary fare for kids of that era, revolutionary for its time. Yet it only became apparent a few days ago in therapy how very deeply impactful it had been on my development as a person, after relating yet another anecdote about escaping harm with quick-thinking.

I have been a voracious reader from the days of  Fun With Dick and Jane on, often climbing the tallest tree in my yard and precariously perching in a crook of the tree at the top, so I could read without being reached  — for chores, punishment, or random admonishments — and would stay there all day reading Nancy Drew mysteries, one after another.  Coincidentally, the first thing I thought when I first met my therapist years ago was that she looked a lot like my vision of Nancy Drew as derived from the era in which my books had been illustrated — Nancy Drew gets a new look for each generation — and I found this resemblance extremely comforting, fateful even.

I also very much identified with Ramona The Pest, and admittedly still do. I’d always marvel at the kids who seemed so wise and composed, like old souls or some such thing; my way seems fated to bumble through life blurting out whatever I am thinking, like last night at dinner with friends, when during a discussion about something else entirely I blurted, “I went for a walk in the woods naked the other day with a friend”, and it took Larnett 5 minutes to process it, pondering, pausing, only later asking, “WHAT? Did you just really say what I think you did?”, but then Larnett shows up along with Amy G. in a previous post, for saying “Next to ‘Free Association’ in the dictionary there is a picture of Mo”, so, there’s that.

But the benign and innocent world of Ramona The Pest is a far cry from the topic of this post — I segue as much as I free associate and blurt.

Years ago I had learned in a trial by fire — a studio fire to be exact, of which I bear scars still in the form of often irrational fears which, left unchallenged daily, could well lead to agoraphobia — that I tend to automatically react with lightening fast and flawless judgement in times of emergency. Who knew? Of all the fallout from that trauma, this one fact is the most palatable, resonant and important, yet in looking back, during therapy this recent morning, I realized that I have at many times in the past displayed precise and immediate assessment of danger — whether it be by way of people or situations — and subsequently react with instinctual and rapid plan-making and execution, saving myself (three times, that I can recall) from what may well have been gang rape, death by fire, and incalculable other potential harms.

This story absolutely assisted in facilitating that reaction. No one thing can determine who and how we are, and yet at a prime developmental period this book absolutely contributed to this, and also to my eventual feminist philosophy and art, as it made it glamorous, perhaps, to be practical and fearless. My fearlessness was obvious from a very young age and did not exactly endear me to my father, but that’s a whole other story.

In googling the author today I came upon this: “Williams was also one of the first and best of the authors who responded to the feminist movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s by writing a new kind of fairy tale. Though his stories are traditional in their choice of episode and motif, they also overturn nearly all the conventions of the genre to illustrate new ideas about women.

Williams’s famously funny and very influential picture book The Practical Princess (1969) reworked both ‘Rapunzel’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

Its heroine, Princess Bedelia, has been promised to a dragon, but instead of waiting for a prince to rescue her, she explodes the monster by arranging for a straw figure filled with gunpowder to be dressed in her court robes and thrown into its open mouth… Though there are now many stories like these in print, when The Practical Princess and Petronella first appeared, they caused a minor sensation, and as a result both readers and writers now approach fairy tales in new and interesting ways.” [source]

The dinosaur tracks trail/park at first seems merely like a little parking area on RT 5 along the Connecticut river in Holyoke, just over the Easthampton line. It’s a little slip of a parking area, an arc one eases into alongside Rt 5, with little fanfare. But it then leads to a little path through some fairly dense woods and down to the Connecticut river, with big flat-ish rocks which reach out into and over the water, on which one can sit or stand. Or one can walk the rocks like a ramp down into the water and wet one’s ankles, or even throw a fishing line perhaps.

There is an informational sign encased in lucite in the parking area which explains the who, what, where, why and how of the tracks but I forget what it says and have never been back — I cannot possibly ever go back — since the beautiful early summer day when I last visited, and so I have no picture to post of it. At the beginning of the wooded path, in an open and sunny clearing, said dinosaur tracks are perceptible, if one is paying attention and is looking for them, often marked by graffiti. Sadly, it is also clear where some of the tracks have been completely unearthed and likely carted off, probably for sale at whichever black market such things are sold.

After passing the tracks, the trail leads through a fairly densely wooded area for about 30-50 yards (I am terrible at measuring distances) through trees neither particularly tall or short, down to the Connecticut River to the rocky outcroppings at which point one is facing the river, from which point one can clearly see across the river to the houses on the other side, and one imagines those riverfront people can likely see those of us on this side of the river.
At times the parking lot is full, and it seems there is always a Subaru something-er with roof racks in the lot, as kayakers seem to use this spot as frequently as hikers, families, and sometimes people walking alone or mothers with a child or two. It seems safe, an innocent diversion even, far from the flats of Holyoke where I have my studio and where I exercise increased caution. So I thought nothing of taking my dog Jamoka for a walk there, that day a few years ago, a day much like today… beautiful, breezy, sunny, quiet…
TO BE CONTINUED…. tomorrow perhaps, after I scan more images from my book and write the rest of it.
READ PART II

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