Lawrence of Arabia

After watching a million hours of MSNBC News the other day, I decided to look for something else to watch. Lawrence of Arabia had just begun on Turner Classic Movies and since I’ve never seen it all the way through I decided to give it a shot.

Peter O’Toole was such a babe, duh, but I mean truly gorgeous. His black eyeliner was subtle but gorgeously queeny. I’m not a fan of blond men but in this case, I get it!

Since it’s a slow movie, I had the time to reflect on Peter O’Toole’s finely chiseled nose and wondered if he’d had a nosejob. Lots of actors did this back in the day, far more than actresses for some reason. So I googled it.

Google has removed all mystery from everything, a double-edged sword if ever there were one, right? I am constantly looking up everyone’s age to make sure I look better than them or at least less wrinkly. I particularly love before and after pictures of celebrities, who keep morphing before our eyes.

So anyway, yes, Peter O’Toole got his nosejob before he became a star but after he’d had some notable success. It came out much better than Harrison Ford’s or Jeremy Sisto’s. It works with his patrician facial structure and I’m okay with it not being natural.

I also read a review of a biography that catalogued his bad behavior on set and in his long marriage to Sian Somebody. His drinking is legendary and part of his persona, but I was disturbed by the account of his divorce. After his wife could no longer endure his affairs, she moved out of their house. He never let her return and refused to let her have her famed collection of antique jewelry. He banned her from visiting her children and a messy court battle went in his favor.

Here the story rung a sinister bell for me: A friend described him as “a man who prided himself on his resolutely unforgiving nature.” I’ll repeat it for emphasis:

a man who prided himself on his resolutely unforgiving nature.

Do you know anyone who might be described like this? I do.

In fact, I used to cherish a self-image that could be described as “You don’t know who you’re fucking with!” I enjoyed feeling like the embodiment of never giving an inch. I scoffed at people who gave up grudges and felt it was proof of how shallow they were; a person of substance should take their grudges to the grave.  If you’re a longtime reader, you know this as deeply as my family and former friends.

Both of my children admired this posture. But Max was nothing like me in this respect. He forgave people right and left…including me. He never even hesitated when someone wanted to patch things up.

I’m trying hard to be different. I’m trying hard to be the shepherd, you might say. I’ve learned to say “I’m sorry, I was a jerk” and “Please forgive me!” In fact, I say it all the time these days.

Life is so hard, so full of calamity and tragedy and unexpected turns. It takes effort to be compassionate, like Morrissey says, but eventually it comes naturally. Empathy is sometimes all we can offer each other, but what are human relations without it?

So I’m trying and I’ll keep trying. There’s nothing noble about being stubborn and hardhearted.

Lawrence of Arabia also reminded me of the disastrous date I had with Michael Shamberg, who bought the movie for us to watch on his gigantic home movie screen and then got huffy when I said I enjoyed the homoerotic energy between the co-stars. So I was going to write about the part where we had terrible sex because he was so ignorant of female anatomy…but I decided not to.

That’s how nice I am now.

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Triage

Having left off with a heartbroken post about Mother’s Day, I am back with more miserable reflections of the state of things, or more specifically the state of me, Sister Wolf.

Remember when I fell and broke my pelvis? Well, I have done it again! Hard to believe, I know, and yet there it is. This time I fell in my own home in a stupid fluke accident and landed on my bad leg with the hardware in it. The hardware was sturdy but my pelvis was not. The part that broke is the pubis ramus, a fucking bummer.

So I had to get an ambulance, and the EMT guys were sorry about taking me to the hospital, acting like they were delivering me to certain death from Coronavirus. I sobbed about dying but since I couldn’t stand up, I had no choice.

The hospital was great! There were no COVID patients there, and the nurses were lovely young women who chatted with me about everything and brought me extra coffee when I begged for it. At night, the ward was full of screaming and moaning, but not from me. One doctor talked to me for more than an hour about his life and aspirations. When I went home after 2 days, I missed all the companionship.

Twelve years ago when I broke my pelvis, some awful Russian cunt made it a project to mock my pain on her stupid blog, which I then parodied on a blog I devoted to mocking her back. Those were the days, eh?

So now I need to use a walker to get around my house, and I’m in nearly constant pain. I guess I could take this opportunity to become addicted to opiates, but nah, why bother? I have a nice physical therapist who keeps calling me ma’am. My poor husband has to help with everything, and I secretly wonder if he can distinguish me from his 103 year old mother. His mother has a better attitude, obviously.

Yesterday, my oxygen saturation was 94 %, not good. It connects me to the cultural inflection points of George Floyd ( I can’t breathe) and the pandemic (low oxygen is a symptom of COVID 19.)

I watched the funeral service in Houston today, and envied the solidarity of black families. My friend Romeo told me that this is because we’ve never allowed black people to have anything else. If this is true, I still envy those families. The love and the loyalty is so absent in my own family, a pill that grows more bitter the older I get. All the feuds and petty squabbles. Even when times are tough, my family is incapable of pulling together.

On top of everything, I found a hairdresser who is making house-calls, so she came over last week and spent four hours ruining my beautiful hair. She left me with some shit in my hair to rinse off in 15 minutes. If she’d stayed for it to dry, she would have heard my shriek of horror when I looked in the mirror to find a platinum fright wig where my beautiful highlights used to be.

Ha ha! Life is full of jokes, if only you have the sense of humor to enjoy them! I do enjoy them, up to a point, you know?

If you have time, pray to the gods of your understanding that my pelvis mends and I don’t die of Coronavirus before I get to have a last laugh at someone else’s expense, hopefully Trump’s.

Thanks in advance! xoxo

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Crazy Mothers Club VIII

The approach of Mothers Day fills me with a constellation of emotions that are tough to untangle. Maybe they can’t be untangled. Being a mother and having a mother seem like conflicting states rather than complementary ones.

My mom left this photo on my doorstep when I was 37. I know that because on a note she included in the manila envelope full of baby pictures, she wrote: “You piece of shit, thanks for 37 years of misery.”

Look at my innocent little self in that party dress! I wonder what the occasion was. She usually dressed me like a boy. At 21 months, according to her, she already hated me.

My mom was mentally ill but no one ever explained that to me and my sister. We knew she had mood swings and an explosive temper. We knew she was given to theatrical screaming. We knew she had an assortment of pills in her handbag that she sometimes threatened to kill herself with. But I didn’t grasp that she was crazy until the manila envelope appeared.

She was not a good mother. She was divorced early on and unequipped for the job of raising kids. Her own mother was cruel and rejecting; her passive father didn’t protect her. Her sister spent time in a mental hospital and abused her three children. It’s a mess.

But how can I hate my mother? How can I even blame her? What did she know? Now in 2020, what does anyone know about being a mother?

I know mothers who won’t vaccinate their kids or let them watch TV. I know mothers who won’t let their kids eat gluten or dairy. I know mothers who take their kids to shaman healers. I know mothers who abandoned their kids, and mothers who cling to adult children with disturbing tenacity. Everyone is just flailing around, trying to do their best.

I’m learning to strive for compassion when it comes to my mother, and for myself as well. I made so many mistakes raising my children but much more often I did okay. I made sure they knew how much I adored them. I was their advocate. They never had to be anything but themselves. They didn’t have to perform in school or anywhere else to be valued. They knew I admired them. I loved their friends and their girlfriends. I tried to always be honest with them.

I was a good enough mother. It’s a relief to know that.

My life as a mother is still the best part of who I am. My heart is broken but it’s full of love.

Those of you with crazy mothers, try to forgive them. Those of you who are crazy mothers, it’s never too late to apologize or to get some help. Don’t write shit on baby pictures if you can help it. If you can’t, it’s probably not your fault.

May we all find someone to mother and be mothered by, today and always.

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Coronaland

Sure, this is a challenging time but even though we are alone we are together like never before. I only wish I had children at home so we could spend time doing homework, puzzles and crafts!

Since it’s just me and my life partner, I begin the day with ten minutes of meditation followed by an entry in my gratitude journal, where I also set my intentions to be present and productive.

I have been making a morning smoothie to drink while I apply a fragrant citrus mask to my feet and elbows, at the same time oiling my dry scalp with African castor oil and wrapping my head in a reclaimed plastic bag. I sprinkle some flax seed and bran onto a crust of bread (no wasting!) and chew slowly for at least five minutes.

Obviously, with so much free time, I am starting those projects I meant to do in junior high but was too stoned or depressed to tackle. I’m learning Swahili, finally! and old Norse, and I’m arranging zoom conferences with impoverished refugee women in Tanzania. We carve things out of potatoes and root vegetables to sell on Etsy, or sometimes we just do native dance moves and draw up plans for menstruation huts.

I have started to press flowers and crochet doilies in case a wormhole in time sends us all back to the nineteenth century! I’m scrap-booking, making collages, covering the driveway with mosaics, tie-dying rags, growing tomatoes and radishes, and making my own pasta from scratch. I’m baking bread like a maniac, because it just smells so good, and also making balloon animals for charity.

I’m hand-washing and ironing all our curtains and re-grouting around the toilets and bathtub. I am nearly done writing a critique of Finnegan’s Wake, which I’ve just translated into Spanish for when my gardener can come back to work. Also, I’ve started reading Spinoza and Kant again, along with the Quran and the Book of Revelations. I still can’t get through the Hobbit, so maybe I’ll save that for the next pandemic.

I have stopped looking at twitter, since the negativity there is so toxic. Instead, I read stories about our heroic workers on the front line, sobbing and sewing masks while counting my blessings at being born in Los Angeles instead of Capetown or a poultry factory.

I’m working out with light weights, running in place for 60 minutes, practicing salsa dancing and twerking, and trying to strengthen my core with sets of 500 crunches and leg-raises. I know that staying fit and toned will help me with the uncertain times ahead.

Staying home has been a learning experience, hasn’t it? We’ve learned to slow down, to stop and listen to our inner selves, and to download food delivery apps. I think we will all be much more resilient and multi-talented when this is over, and if it goes on forever, we’ll all become Superbeings who can get along just fine with nothing but our bellybuttons and Netflix to entertain us til the end of time.

Right?

 

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Assholes

Okay, it’s too much. If I implied that it wasn’t, forgive me, I was wrong.

Last week I read advice on how to take the best selfie of your asshole. It was in a newsletter for men that happens to offer a fun modern take on pop culture. The advice was not meant for me, clearly, but nevertheless she persisted.

The advice made me sad, in a deep 3 am dark night of the soul type of way. Inexpressibly sad. We have come to this, the need to capture our very asshole in the best light, for the admiration of others.

We are our own assholes. All roads lead to assholes.

We crave toilet paper. We joke about it but still look for it on Amazon. Our family members reveal the purchase of bidets from a company called “Tushy.”

The word Tushy brings a whole new cascade of agony and regret. A close friend nearly kills himself when I email him about Tushy. At least I’m not alone in the universe where a single wrong word plunges one into the abyss.

I have had many dreams about overflowing toilets, with shit everywhere. Is this a metaphor for life itself, a pile of unmanageable shit? When I told my sister about the dreams, she assured me that she’s had them too. Is that good or bad?

Now, assholes are everywhere, sharing their personal tales about how they’re spending their time in lock-down. Each asshole feels it’s important to speak their Truth about their Journey.

Here’s a quick list of what I don’t want, in case you need corroboration of your own rage:

Recipes
Exercise routines
Pictures of your cat (or asshole)
funny stories about your domestic conflicts
Cute photos of your beautiful children
Crafts and craft suggestions
Reflections on what you miss most
Platitudes
Silver linings
Amateur or professional performances with guitar or piano

I am starting fights with people, in real life and online. I can’t seem to stop being an asshole, the asshole I’ve always been but now somehow exaggerated in the absence of the usual distractions and inhibitors.

On Instagram, I commented on a nude performance artist, “she loves to be naked and yet so waxed.” This brought down the wrath of everyone across the globe. What kind of feminist was I??? I was a “diet totalitarian!” Why couldn’t I just be positive??

HOW SHOULD I KNOW, FFS! I AM JUST ANOTHER ASSHOLE!

Walking the dog and wearing a pair of Uniqlo boxers over my face, joggers and skateboarders race past me, unmasked. I mutter, “Wear a fucking mask motherfucker”, feeling my own spittle hit the boxers and fly back in my face.

The boxers once covered my ass, I now realize.

And the ex-wife just published her monthly journal thing, comparing herself to the Little Engine That Could.

I cant. I can’t even. I know I can’t, I know I can’t, I just can’t.

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Choose Your Own Adventure, Coronavirus Edition

There are now an increasing number of stances you can take about being forced to stay home. The stances may be infinite for all I know, but let’s review the ones getting the most play.

There’s the Gratitude stance, which I personally find horrifying. This one is popular on Instagram, often with a stupid Buddhist-style image of a sunset and a silhouette of someone doing a yoga pose. It’s a sanctimonious sermon on how this pandemic can teach us to use the planet more gently, how we now have the opportunity to rethink our selfish ways, blah blah blah. It’s an awful slap in the face to anyone who is actually suffering. I refuse to be grateful for a pandemic. Fuck that idea and the horse it rode in on.

Then there’s the Scolding stance, another dreadful position that tries to make you feel bad for spending hours watching Netflix or staring at your phone. This one blames you for losing touch with your Inner Life and your creativity. What’s wrong with you! it gripes, You brainwashed consumer! Have you lost the ability to sit in a room and just be present? Please. As if.

Then there’s the Silver Lining stance. This is the one where you finally have the time to learn a new language, to read War and Peace, to finish that screenplay, to rearrange your living room, try out new recipes and to host zany get-togethers with your girlfriends on Zoom. It’s fun being home with free time! Let’s get busy!

There is also the Existential stance, and that’s the one I’ve chose for now, although it’s more accurate to say it’s chosen me. This is the one where you face down your dread, the continual dread of being alive but close to death. It’s the one where you realize your existence can be reduced to almost nothing, just eating and sleeping with some time-wasting stuff in between. You wonder why you bought all those clothes, all those stupid eye pencils and shoes and trinkets. Life is only about having someone to talk to, to hold you, and a decent bed to crawl into. Life is about waiting for something to happen but hoping it won’t be something awful or unbearable.

However, the last couple of weeks have brought some unexpectedly wonderful moments. I watched Jeopardy for the first time in probably twenty years, and one of the categories was “Otters.” I forgot the question, but it led to the revelation that otters hold hands while they sleep. This is the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard, and sure enough when I googled it, I found loads of pictures. I’m so glad to have discovered this, I can’t overstate the joy it has given me.

Also, in the same episode of Jeopardy, I was able to shout out a few questions before anyone hit the buzzer, a momentous burst of feeling intelligent that I haven’t experienced in ages. It reminded me of my mother, dying of cancer and watching Jeopardy in bed, crying out the word “Loyola!” in a weak but authoritative voice, and being correct.

As time passes, my stance may change. I wonder if I’m the only one who is mentally writing a will? In California, a handwritten will with your signature is legal and binding. I’ve already promised my tiger claw jewelry to my friend Marya and my footwear will go to Simone. Anyone want anything else? Now’s the time to speak up!

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Chillin in Paradise

A few years ago I asked Max what he’s been up to, I can’t remember if it was in a dream or just in my head. But I remember that he answered, “Just chillin.” He sounded relaxed and content.

Today is his birthday and he’s chillin in paradise. The force is with him and so am I, always and forever.

Posted in grief, love | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Now is the Time

Now is the time to be grateful for your friends, even though they won’t come over. If you don’t have friends, now is the time to regret being such a cunt.

Now is the time to refuse to call anything “the new normal.” Nothing is normal any more. Don’t pretend it’s normal and don’t adapt to it if it isn’t.

Now is the time to stop fixating on toilet paper. Think of people in India who never had toilet paper. Think of the girls in third world countries who don’t have sanitary pads or tampons!

Now is the time to stay away from Twitter, where no one can do a single thing without incurring the wrath of a billion lunatics looking for the scapegoat du jour. That way madness lies, or you know, The New Madness.

Now is the time to avoid lists of fun things to do at home. You aren’t at summer camp. You’re under house arrest! Admit it!

Now is the time to be the person you wanted to be, instead of the person you are. Be the better person. Pretend to care about your neighbors and ask them what you can pick up for them when you go out to stand in line for water and Tylenol. Call or text everyone to ask if they need help with anything.

Now is the time to retain your sense of humor! Shit is still funny! I’m trying to prank an entity that invited me to attend a fake Women’s Summit in my city. Keep your fingers crossed that they take my bait!

Now is the time to experiment with make up. No one knows that in real life, you don’t wear blue lipstick. So now you can!

When everything is forbidden, you are free from the old rules!

That’s all I have for now, comrades. Let me know what’s on your minds.

~

*cartoon by Sam Wallman and Miroslav Sandev

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Life Without Instagram

Yesterday, when I tried to like something on Instagram, I got a little boxed message that said I could not take that action. No reason and no means of further discussion. I pretended it was just a glitch, but the box meant business.

I went to google why this had happened and learned that it usually meant they thought I was a spammer or a bot or some other kind of menace. But why? Apparently, if you leave the same comment too many times, it trips some algorithm.

Did I write “LOVE!” too many times?? That’s my typical comment, along with “Beautiful” and “Gorgeous.” That’s probably because I only follow photographers, stylists, tattooers, designers, models and jewelers. And I like to be supportive.

Occasionally, if it’s a really cute guy with long earrings and tight leggings, I comment “TOO HOT FOR ME!” with some little flame emojis. Is that so wrong??

Fucking Instagram.

Why am I even there? Why do I scroll through it incessantly, even when I’m watching TV? What is so addicting about my feed? Besides my effort to avoid having thoughts, is it a desire to be liked? Do I “like” stuff in order to be liked back or to indicate that I’m a really nice person? I truly have no idea. I know it’s something about occasional rewards that causes and maintains addictive behavior.

I didn’t think of Instagram as a negative entity like Twitter, which is just a rage-and-hatred recycling machine, but clearly it is not a plus in my life. My sense of anxiety and discomfort at being locked out is proof enough.

What if I could give up Instagram! All those hours could be applied to something else. Theoretically. Maybe I would actually read the things I have bookmarked, all those essays about serious matters like “Gen Z Shopping Habits” or  “Rumination: An overview.” Maybe I could at least put my phone down.

I plan to write more, because it forces me to organize the few thoughts I still have. It may also help with my waning word retrieval function, which caused a ten minute blockage of the word cucumber when I tried to remember what a pre-pickle is called.

Would you like to help out while you’re sequestered at home, wondering where to find bread or chicken? You can either help me figure out how to get right with Instagram, or suggest topics to write about.

Thanks! LOVE! BEAUTIFUL! TOO HOT FOR ME! (flame emoji flame emoji flame emoji)

Posted in Rants, Uncategorized, Words | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Virus Shmirus, Just Die Already

Before you go nuts, let me clarify that I’m referring to the old-and-sick. If you’re elderly with “underlying health conditions”, maybe your time is up. Maybe we weren’t meant to live lives extended by pharmaceuticals and pacemakers and stents. The planet can only bear so many people, remember?

I thinks it’s amazing to see normal healthy people hoarding toilet paper and going around wearing masks. If they would read the statistics, they would see how little their actual risk is. Being sick is awful, of course, but a virus that threatens the health of the elderly is not going to fuck you up if you’re outside this group. If you have a compromised immune system, you probably already practice safety measures in your everyday life.

Humans are so tenacious of life, it strikes me as poignant all the time. I have a friend in his 60s who goes around freaking out about an oil refinery a few miles away from his community. He’s afraid it will explode or be targeted by terrorists. I mean, those are real possibilities but what makes him worry about it so continuously? I’ve exclaimed to him more than once, “You really love life, don’t you!”

To constantly be aware of what catastrophes might befall you is to be absent from your immediate experience. How can you drive anywhere when the car coming toward you could smash into you at any moment? When you go to a movie, a fire might break out, or a guy in a batman outfit could burst in with an assault rifle. When you eat a chicken wing or a hotdog, you’re just minutes away from choking to death.

Real threats should be avoided, unless you’re a daredevil. I just read a sobering article in the New Yorker about mountain climbers and the grief their families must learn to process. They know it’s part of the territory but the climbers themselves are driven to test their mortality again and again. I’m not sure if they’re nuts or just wired differently. I wonder if they give a shit about the coronavirus.

There are so many ways I don’t want to die! I don’t want to be eaten by a polar bear. That’s at the top of my list. I don’t want to have my head chopped off or be set on fire. Oh wait, I don’t want to be trampled to death on a pilgrimage to Mecca or after a soccer game. I don’t want to die under a pile of metal shelves in CVS during an earthquake.

The right time to die is when I’m old and sick, in my own bed. That’s the best place for everyone to go, even though in the US, that privilege is only granted to around 17% of us. If the coronavirus wiped out ten per cent of the sick elderly people who become infected, that would leave more room for everyone else. Maybe millennials and Gen Z would be more open to the idea of procreating.

I discussed this with a Gen Xer last night and he was impresses by my “zen attitude.” I like that he didn’t accuse me of speaking from depression. I am depressed but obviously I’m not looking to die on purpose since there are plenty of opportunities for that.

I just see the value of thinning the herd.

What about you scaredy-cats? How much Purel have you got on hand? Or toilet paper?

Photo (c) courtesy of  Dr. LaRue

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