Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I was thinking about Mr. Rogers. I was thinking about him this morning because I was talking to the cat that lives here in a special meow language so he would get it, (yes, I have seriously lost my mind) and I had a flash memory to that weird puppet segment on Mr. Roger’s show. You know the part where he would set off the trolley to the neighborhood of make-believe, and then those freaky hand puppets would appear and they all sounded exactly like Mr. Rog doing a high voice. “I’m meow sad because meow I’m meow hungry”, and the queen who sounded (hello Frisco!) like a real queen if you know what I’m saying, and they all looked so endlessly odd and fascinating with their paper mache heads. I was riveted and not entirely un-giggly and light-headed. Something about the whole show felt weird and wrong, not in a perverse way, but sort of like it was made for crippled children in the hospital and NOT YOU.
But I always liked Mr. Rogers, although of course I went through the period of condemning and denouncing. I imagined that Mr. Rog was my father (this was a habit I had with pretty much any TV figure since my actual father was not in my life). I loved his whole coming home at the end of the day, walking in singing and changing into his comfortable clothes. How great would it be if your Dad really did that? Someone who gave you all his attention and time and took you to the crayon factory? Come on, don’t judge. My grandmother loved him too, though she used to say, “He’s a little light in the loafers but who cares”? She liked him because he was a good musician. His piano playing always went against the melody of his singing, like here and here. Sort of like Mr. Rogers himself: one flavor on the outside, another on the in.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
When I stay in Agoura, as I did this past weekend, there is only one place to go for coffee, I mean unless I go to the gas station or the diner, I have to go to Starbucks. I don’t hate Starbucks (or really, the gas station or the diner) but for the first cup of the day I prefer something else. (I just sat here for 5 minutes trying to come up with a better description than “else”: less burnt, less corporate, less cigar-butt-like, less empty, but none of them really hit the nail on the head, so I went for vague, sorry.)(Actually, maybe “less vague” is the exact term I was looking for!)
So at around 5:55 am, I got into the car and headed to the town. The other people who are up at this hour are mostly middle aged (I now think of 60 as middle aged) men in full Lance Armstrong regalia, and horse people, identifiable by their footwear, and they are all friendly and wide-awake.
“Morning!” “Hello!” “Another hot one today” “Wooowee”
The best part is: No one is looking for conversation. It’s all business. (Although once one of the Lance Armstrong guys was sitting, with his tight blacks and his cap and his shirt with the built-in elbow pads, in front of a lap top saying “Would you look at that?” and pointing to the screen. “How is this possible?” he exclaimed, begging for someone to come have a look. I took the bait and saw some of the guys from the Tour de France riding up the hills of the French countryside. “This is happening right this moment…as we speak!” he practically had tears in his eyes. “Technology!” I said, and that was pretty much the extent of it).
Like I said, it’s all business. There’s no thought or emotion other than: Coffee. Get. Have (sometimes there’s a “People” in there). But this weekend there was a sign on the door that said “Take Comfort in Ritual” and I blew a fuse. First I thought: I hate (love) quotes or daily thoughts put up in public places; depending on my mood I can be inspired: Yes! I will! So true! Or annoyed: Oh fuck off. Stop shouting.
Take Comfort in ritual. First, I thought yes coffee, ritual, comfort but then I thought isn’t ritual religious, isn’t it something we study about a tribe or culture to learn more about it and isn’t it weird that coffee drinking could actually be a symbol of our time that people study about us thousands of years from now like cave paintings or weird rock formations?
Then I got home and looked it up on wikipedia and it said also:
“ In psychology, the term ritual is sometimes used in a technical sense for a repetitive behavior systematically used by a person to neutralize or prevent anxiety; it is a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
And then I thought, yes that’s it.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.”
That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I was thinking about the way you are perceived vs. the way you are, how sometimes there are differences, and the ways these differences influence each other. For example, I talk slowly (which can be easily observed), but I’m also very impatient (which can’t) and while that’s going on, I also am desperate to be liked (which can sometimes be apparent, sometimes not), which I can manage by trying to be funny (same as last one). So I wonder if A (talking slow) + B (impatience)+C (eager to please) + D (humor) is the full equation of me. (i.e. the way I am) Or do they just hear the slow talking and think: airhead. (i.e. the way I’m perceived) If it’s that, then isn’t there also an element of: oh, poor thing. Yes, I sometimes think there is. In fact I have to admit, I’ve counted on it, because then when I do say something smart, it’s a total shock, and therefore worth more points, like a word with q or x in scrabble.
And does talking slowly influence my own impatience? And, though I’m not desperate to be liked by everyone, why am I desperate to be liked by people who want nothing to do with me? And while people who haven’t known me for longer than a week may read this and think it’s interesting, everyone else knows that all of this is simply my habitual disorder of wasting time.
Yet this is what is going on in my head this morning while I’m trying to get myself and two sleeping children, out of bed , dressed, coffeed up, fed and into the car before 7 am. The reason it was going on in my head is because at 5:30am while I was staring at my computer screen, I heard “Come out with your hands on your head. Your house is completely surrounded”. Carlos!
I ran to the window and saw 10 police cars in the street and cops lined in a U shape around Carlos’ house. All I could think was: how did 10 cop cars drive right beneath my window, unload a full force of vest-wearing cops and create a U formation in complete Navaho warrior silence, all while I was staring at my screen with nothing to write.
I’ve written about Carlos before. There is obviously a huge gap between the way he really is vs the way he is perceived. I mean I know he does illegal things, I just don’t know what. But I also know him as a guy with kids and a granddad and a dog with huge balls that we call Mr. Jing-Jangles.
So while I'm driving in a huge line of cars down the 101, I am thinking does the way that the cops perceive Carlos define who he is to himself, I mean partly? Or are they just an annoyance to him, usually outside of his realm of existence.
What is the equation of Carlos?
Friday, September 17, 2010
Every time I open the front door that goddam cat runs out. Well, not every time. When I actually want him to go outside he sits there and stares at me like I must have lost my mind. (This is just an aside but am I seriously talking about cats right now? Yes, evidently I am. Now excuse me while I try to get this hanky tucked up my sleeve.) I have always hated cats; they smell bad, are unfriendly and will rip the skin off your hand if you pet them one second too long. The owners of cats are worse, they’re slightly off, like bad milk; they’re superior and judgmental but don’t change their underpants for a week. You know it’s true. I have no time for them. But then Morgan got a cat. And I had to rethink everything. And after I rethought and fully accepted that he will jump onto the table while we are having dinner and will only drink water out of a faucet, she moved out and left him here.
He doesn’t smell though. I know you probably think I’m delusional (oh honey, he smells) but he doesn’t poop or pee in the house. He’s outside all day. He knows everyone in the neighborhood. People talk to him like he’s a human being. Even the homies across the street. (Once when I couldn’t find Leroy for 2 days, one homie said “If anyone ever hurt that cat…” and then he looked up and shook his head at the heavens, ashamed of all the medieval violence he would have to inflict). Another time I was out walking the dogs, and I looked over at someone’s huge front living-room window and there he was, in their house, all curled up like a cobra in the sun. When I called his name, he slowly turned his head to me and winked.
So, it was ten o’clock and I was turning off the porch lights and out he ran. I chased him down the block, under cars, over a fence and down a hill. Then I said screw it and went inside. At about 3 o’clock I woke up to the sound of a cat having his guts ripped out through his mouth. Coyotes! I had just seen one two nights ago and chased him down the center of the street (I was in a car, I’m not crazy). I went outside, in my pajamas and started calling for Leroy. I checked under cars and on the neighbor’s garage roof. I wondered if it would look odd to anyone who might drive down the street to see me crawling under the bushes. And what the hell was I doing, there were coyotes. I called his name once more and went back to my porch. And of course there he was.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Before I started working for the private investigator I had an interview on the phone. At the time I thought I was just calling to schedule. I didn’t even know what the job was for exactly, other than “Assistant: must have writing ability and office skills”. He asked me why I thought I’d be good for the job. I said, because I was desperate. He was quiet for long enough to make me feel I had said the wrong thing. How so?, he asked.
“How am I desperate or how does being desperate make me good for the job?”
“The second one.”
“Well,” I had to make something up, “ it would make me work hard to make sure you felt like you made the right decision hiring someone with no office experience.” I tried to laugh but he was quiet so I had to keep going, ” and also it would make me less afraid of making a wrong choice if I didn’t know what to do.”
I worried I sounded too much like an ass-kisser waiting for a head-pat, so I said, “After a while I would get more comfortable and slack off.”
It was the end of September, 2001. Rescuers were still searching for bodies in the rubble, I had had a baby 2 months earlier, my children’s father had told me that he was “kind of” seeing someone else, I had no money, my oldest child would soon be driving, and I was living at my mother’s house. I’m not saying these are the reasons I didn’t do a better job of editing myself, but they gave me a different perspective in talking with a stranger.
We set an appointment to meet the next day at his home near the Devon train station. I worried a little about meeting at his “home”, but I didn’t obsess. It was much easier to focus on worrying about childcare and transportation if I actually got the job.
When I checked the computer later though, I found an email from him telling me to just come in to work tomorrow, why dilly dally? I would have been more excited except that the last word stopped me in my tracks. Who uses the word dilly dally?
An insane murderer that’s who. I imagined the full scenario of him abusing me, and then cutting off my limbs with a chainsaw and throwing them into a plastic bag.
Dilly dally, dilly dally, DILLY DALLY.
I called my friend Amy to discuss. We agreed that it was possible he was gay though hard to tell because he had been so vague about the job description.
Gay people are not usually vague.
Maybe he’s old fashioned.
We practiced saying the word in an old fashioned way. Tossing it off with a shake of the head.
Maybe he wears spats.
And does the Charleston.
We laughed, and then when it got quiet Amy said, you’re doomed.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I am grateful for the following:
Morgan, Darla, Harry, Joan, Geoffrey, Bub, Don, Mary, Don, Lillian, Peter, Kim, Lightfield, Juliette, Brandy, Beau, Amy, Holiday, Matt, Rainn, Erin, Raf, Elizabeth, John, Josh, Dave, Victoria, Leslie, Dallas, Michelle, Holly, Ashley, Moon, Toby, Rose, Nancy, Erin, Geoff, Miles, Ryan, Madeline, Genevieve, Alexis, Lex, Arabella, Juliet, Gail, Lester, Daisy, Leroy.
Thanks for being there, laughing, giving, talking, healing, rooting for, believing in, supporting, singing, dancing, playing and thinking I can.
I am almost halfway there.