Monday, April 29, 2013

Mad Menderplatz

Maybe it is all the grey clouds of this afternoon or the hovering helicopter that lingered right near my apartment building last night for 40 minutes at around midnight last night or my dream the previous night of delivering a stillborn child but I find myself under siege by existential dread today. It may be a mild form though since I have managed to laugh a few things and even had a pleasant lunch with my mother. Still, I can actually pinpoint the moment this strange mood began. It was during last night's episode of Mad Men. I was watching a scene when the characters find out about Martin Luther King Jr. being assassinated. I was transported, as I often am while watching that show.  In retrospect, I may actually be too invested in Mad Men. The series has become a thing of dark beauty. I get the sensation I am slowly descending an ancient, spiral staircase into the dark recesses of humanity at the middle of the 20th century. I often think of what's happening with the story and the characters and I just feel how badly it will all end and I see almost everything as fraught with symbolism which (co?)incidentally is the way I think about things that actually exist as opposed to, you know, a fucking television show. I'm actually a bit relieved the seasons are only 13 episodes long because if I had to put up with this for any longer, I might put a foil hat on my head, sit in a corner and rock back and forth for a few  years. In fact, lately when I watch the series, I get the same sensations that I got when I watched Berlin Alexanderplatz. And no one wants that. No one.

In keeping with the theme of the day, I watched an episode of 20/20 that featured an hour's worth of truly disturbing subject matter; the kind that occurs to you only when you are lying in your bed at midnight, trying to sleep but hearing a helicopter hovering and searching for what is, without a doubt, an axe murderer. Por ejemplo, the episode included the story of the Boston marathon bombers carjacking victim and his act of desperation that ended well for him but could have easily ended very badly, the story of a horrific 118 car pileup in Texas which was almost cartoonish in its violence and the piece de resistance: a training video that was produced to prepare people for a mass shooting in an office. Let me repeat that information: there is a training video produced by the Department of Homeland Security that instructs people on what to do in the event that their office is overtaken by an insane person with a gun.

This is the world we live in right now. I fully expect that these kinds of videos will become the norm right alongside those endless power point slides about sexual harassment in the workplace. I am old/young enough to remember when this shit was an anomaly. I'm no longer surprised when I hear about it happening. But this, this training video? This surprised me.

I suppose the culmination of all of those things is what has me in a kind of stasis, mentally. In fact, I'm reasonably certain that all the activities I've done today have been on auto pilot. Perhaps I should have called in sick.

I'm going to attempt another blog everyday month beginning May 1. I tend to pick the longest months because I'm a masochist. If there is anything you want to suggest I blog about, please comment below or over on facebook. I'm pretty sure I'll run out of ideas by May 10.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Extraction of the Stone Madness

I often fancy that I'm a woman with the courage of my convictions. That I am stalwart about what's good for me and I follow through. I advise friends and family to live in ways that are good for them. It seems so simple to me: this variable is making you unhappy, eliminate it. But I'm learning, much like my newer past time of watching videos of yoga positions demonstrated: just because it looks easy, doesn't mean it isn't the hardest thing in the world.

I want to stop some of my behavior but apparently I am unable to do so. I find that lately I'm easily able to rationalize behavior that is self destructive, that is soul crushing. I rationalize it with whittling knife. Fuck, I DECORATE that shit with that knife, digging through it, forming it into a souvenir, something you'd put on a key chain. It becomes something I can wear around my neck and show off to strangers, LOOK what I did! SEE how I am unable to be hurt! It actually kind of makes me sad that I often fall into the cliche of self aggrandizement to hide insecurities. I don't know if pretending to be content is self aggrandizement or if it just feels that way inside my head.

Maybe it's just today but I'm a peeled orange. I feel raw and pulpy. With little to no effort you could quarter me and drop me in a blender. I'm just in one of those states of mind that makes falling apart seem a viable option. It could be the collective consciousness of how vulnerable everyone is at all times. It's been what this woman I used to work with would call a week. She'd sigh through the word week and in that one turn of phrase just communicate all that needed to be said and we'd all just go: I know.

So yeah, I'm currently in the market for a new hobby. I mean, I can't actually solve any "problems" I have because I don't actually have any problems. Unless you consider the utter luxury and time it takes to participate in the mini dramas of my brain a problem.. (Oh these little we go again.)  And I cannot do that. So I'm looking to do what I presume we all look for: distraction. It can't be too thinky. Or difficult to learn. I don't feel up to challenging my brain to work any more than it does. I want the opposite effect. You know, along the lines of drinking but with no biochemical effects or self loathing the next day. I don't know. Maybe trepanning?? It seemed to be worth the effort in the middle ages. Everything old is new again.

Detail from The Extraction of the Stone of Madness, a painting by Hieronymus Bosch depicting trepanation (c.1488-1516) aka A viable alternative to drinking.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mold and mold but no mould

Is it still considered a donation if I "left" my old issue of NY magazine in my job's break room and it just happened to be all crinkly from getting wet via an open window in my car and a rainy day? And it is missing pages due to god knows what. I didn't intentionally leave it in there but I'm afraid everyone will think I did since I do sometimes leave recent issues behind when I'm done with them. The crosswords are usually already half finished by me which, if I'm being honest, would annoy me if I had picked up a stray magazine. I hate looking at in flight magazines and discovering pages missing or crosswords done. Meh, I don't actually think anyone reads it anyway. I just feel a bit grotty having left it in there.

Speaking of grotty, here's a PSA. The library doesn't want your moldy encyclopedias from Aunt Misty's basement. The collection you hold in your possession as part of her will, likely thrown together in 1981 by some sweating lawyer named Marv, stinks and is out of date and if, while you are packing it in bags to bring to your library and you find you are holding your breath so as not ingest spores of mold, just throw it away. Ditto for romance novel paperbacks that reek of cigarette smoke. Aside from the fact that they are odoriferous, they make me think of old women in housecoats, drinking sherry in a creaking rocking chair, feet enveloped in thick white gym socks and furry slippers, Wheel of Fortune blaring in the background,chain smoking and ruminating over Fabio's abdominals. Those are not going to be added to the collection. They are disgusting, despite the fact that your Aunt Misty was probably a lovely woman though she could have used your help cleaning the book collection in her basement, you ingrate. After all she did for you!

No, thank  you.  

In other news, the majority of my thoughts have been focused on one person. I'm in the stage of infatuation that tints everything in my world with a strange, but familiar color. But because I don't know him very well at all, because I have had a LOT of time to conjure up the person I think he is and just enough alone time with him to add a dollop of reality to this mold of a person I've invented, all of my thoughts are, in the end, only half formed. Or distorted versions of the original. I'm learning the actual black and white of him very, very slowly. So slowly in fact that I've fashioned my own transparent color sheets to put over the screens.

That's from this cool website, btw.

I've also been thinking a lot about how it is exactly that people truly get to know other people. All the people I currently know in my life seemed to just happen to me. They were there, I got to know them. And that was all. Seems so simple when it has already happened. When did this get so complicated?

I'm off to go in search of something more simple. A streamlined activity. Late night yoga? Late night french fries? A warm bath? Maybe I should borrow some romance novels from work and smoke in them. I'll let you know what I decide.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Rabid Monkey From Space

I began this Monday with a leaden head. I blame the one Sidecar and the one glass of red/white blended wine I had as a chaser at around 9pm last night. Incidentally, I blame those exact two things for my never ending posting on Mad Men's Facebook page until midnight last night as I lie in bed, my cats the sentinels (albeit asleep) on either side of me, the only light in the room, the flickering glow of my old laptop. It strikes me at this moment that the observation was made to me a few weeks ago that I should perhaps "get a more eventful life" vis a vis a relationship with another person and that when I reflect on what I did on an average Sunday night, if Facebook is any indication of real life (that's a whole 'nother post) all of the people currently in marriages or relationships did the exact same thing, making that suggestion a little stoopid. Pardon my French.
Anyway, when I opened my eyes I realized that I was in a mood and when in a mood, I try to stretch out time to do my bidding. I try by sheer force of will to give myself one more hour to languish in the land of half asleep. Never you mind that doing this is an exercise in more mood making.

Ever perform your daily morning routine in the stalwart determination to perceive that everything that happens, however small or mild an inconvenience as incontestable proof that the universe hates you and that life is rabid monkey? From space? With sharp claws and teeth? No? I guess it is just me then after all.

And sometimes, your day is exactly what you think it will be. You trip on your way out your front door. You forget your coffee in a travel mug on your kitchen counter. You notice the crack at the base of your windshield and right next to it, the nearly expired inspection sticker. Someone in a van cuts you off then flips you off in his rearview mirror. Someone remarks how tired you look. And all you really need to do is go somewhere big and open and empty and scream. Just one big long extended scream or, if it tickles your fancy a series of long barbaric yawps as it were. And that's where I was at about 11am this morning in my windowless office, on my sixth consecutive working day. Then I went outside for my lunch hour and it was the most beautiful day it has been since the last time it was beautiful which was probably in 2012, the year of the Mayan apocalypse. The wind started swirling in my ears and I heard birds and people laughing. Then, when my mood shifted from "anvil" to "baby anvil", I did what I always do; I fell into unpleasant rumination.

It wasn't entirely unbidden. I recently was asked to text someone of the male persuasion. I texted. I received nothing in return. When I text someone and am met with silence, I imagine that I am screaming into the mouth of a bottomless cavern, waiting around to hear even the faint sound of my own voice echoing back. Except I haven't said anything to begin with. I've used my thumbs to communicate that "I am here. I am available. I want this to lead somewhere. I want to know you." That's the thing about emailing and texting: it doesn't matter how long you work on what you want to say or what you mean or what mood you are in when you send the message: it can be ignored.

After work, I had about two hours to kill before my second job. (I am unaccustomed to such langour) And, seeing as the universe had so hated me this morning and so liked me this afternoon, I wanted to be in a neutral place to scowl privately. I decided to park my car next to Argyle Park lake and watch spring unravel before me: the geese and the dog walkers and the miniature speed boat racing. I turned the radio on and off. I checked my phone, again. I fiddled with my iPod for awhile until I finally just told myself to stop. Just stop and sit there.

I thought about including what I thought about in my car, I even typed it out. But this isn't a psychotherapy session. Just know that it ended with me thinking "At least I don't do that." followed quickly by "I wish I could stop thinking like that."

But then it was time to go. So I went. I'm comforted that in about two hours I'll be asleep. And tomorrow could be better. Or it could be worse but right now I just don't know which and that's fine. I'm considering reading a big stack of fashion magazines or entertainment magazines, maybe I'll start watching this. The description on that article says it is a series that encompasses a group of six friends located in Boston. It follows them as they endure everything from the stress of life to a night on the town. 

On second thought, if one unreturned text message caused today, lord knows what THAT would do.

Monday, April 1, 2013

"My life, and its hauled up notebooks"

March came and went and the only thing that truly sticks out in my mind is that I got paid one extra paycheck this last month. That (and not as Robert Frost would have you believe with his "the road not taken" malarkey) is what has made all the difference.

That is actually not true. I did quite a lot of stuff this past March including but not limited to having many house guests in my little Long Island town. Spending hours over craft beers or fancy cocktails or really, exceptionally good food, all a stone's throw away from my apartment is hands down my favorite thing about my life at the moment, and there was no shortage of that happening last month.

I continued doing a lot of yoga thanks to a series of groupons and new student specials at various studios. I think I have found the studio for me as a result but we shall see how that works out. I'll continue to shop around for the bargains since for some reason yoga is almost prohibitively expensive.

In my ongoing cinephilia, I watched the following films this past month:

A Free Soul (1931)
The Master (2012)
Argo (2012)
The Divorcee (1930)
Heat and Dust (1983)
The Fairy (2011)
Three On a Match (1932)
Female (1933) 
Night Nurse (1931)
Swing Kids (1993)
Elena (2012)
It Should Happen to You (1954)
The Burning Bed (1984)
Dazed and Confused (1993)
'Night Mother (1986)
Augustine (2011)
What About Bob? (1991)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
The Disappeared (2007)
Bachelorette (2012)
Hitchcock (2012)
Anna Karenina (2012)
Sound City (2012)

Discerning readers will notice that a good number of those films are from the early 1930s and the reason for that is my latest obsession with Pre-Code Hollywood. What censors found immoral and obscene 82 years ago in Hollywood, a place that was born from backstabbing, fucking, drugging and all manner of indecent behavior never, ever fails to crack my shit up. Norma Shearer was in a lot of those and I have grown to adore her, along with a slew of other actresses I really didn't know too much about before. I believe it was Ruth Chatterton in the film Female, which was about a headstrong woman in charge of a large corporation who also takes many of her subordinates as lovers, that the censors deemed "reprehensible." See? High-larious. I'd have been the actress in the films deemed reprehensible, I just know it.

I just don't think you are ready for this, how shall we put it, jelly?

I didn't read nearly as much as I wanted to and had a brief fit of anger about Goodreads being bought by but I find myself  unable to get rid of it. It is one of my favorite sites and until something better comes along, I just don't know what I'll do!
In the meantime, it is poetry month and I intend on taking advantage of it. Here's a poem by Anne Sexton.

45 Mercy Street

In my dream,
drilling into the marrow
of my entire bone,
my real dream,
I'm walking up and down Beacon Hill
searching for a street sign -
Not there.

I try the Back Bay.
Not there.
Not there.
And yet I know the number.
45 Mercy Street.
I know the stained-glass window
of the foyer,
the three flights of the house
with its parquet floors.
I know the furniture and
mother, grandmother, great-grandmother,
the servants.
I know the cupboard of Spode
the boat of ice, solid silver,
where the butter sits in neat squares
like strange giant's teeth
on the big mahogany table.
I know it well.
Not there.

Where did you go?
45 Mercy Street,
with great-grandmother
kneeling in her whale-bone corset
and praying gently but fiercely
to the wash basin,
at five A.M.
at noon
dozing in her wiggy rocker,
grandfather taking a nap in the pantry,
grandmother pushing the bell for the downstairs maid,
and Nana rocking Mother with an oversized flower
on her forehead to cover the curl
of when she was good and when she was...
And where she was begat
and in a generation
the third she will beget,
with the stranger's seed blooming
into the flower called Horrid.

I walk in a yellow dress
and a white pocketbook stuffed with cigarettes,
enough pills, my wallet, my keys,
and being twenty-eight, or is it forty-five?
I walk. I walk.
I hold matches at street signs
for it is dark,
as dark as the leathery dead
and I have lost my green Ford,
my house in the suburbs,
two little kids
sucked up like pollen by the bee in me
and a husband
who has wiped off his eyes
in order not to see my inside out
and I am walking and looking
and this is no dream
just my oily life
where the people are alibis
and the street is unfindable for an
entire lifetime.

Pull the shades down -
I don't care!
Bolt the door, mercy,
erase the number,
rip down the street sign,
what can it matter,
what can it matter to this cheapskate
who wants to own the past
that went out on a dead ship
and left me only with paper?

Not there.

I open my pocketbook,
as women do,
and fish swim back and forth
between the dollars and the lipstick.
I pick them out,
one by one
and throw them at the street signs,
and shoot my pocketbook
into the Charles River.
Next I pull the dream off
and slam into the cement wall
of the clumsy calendar
I live in,
my life,
and its hauled up