Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wednesday Morning Beach Report: Found Art, Summer in Paradise, and News from the Wizard of Many, Many Jobs

the minotaur

The Getty's is below.

It is summer here in paradise. There  are 33 people in the cluster of beach-goers pictured below. But I think it might be that some people are getting an early start on 4th of July weekend and the "crowds" will be gone next week. 

Report from the Wizard of Many Many Jobs: (currently wearing Ministry of Death hat):

I received this message from my brother's wife in Iowa yesterday-- the mail today we got mom's death certificate . Came from XXXXX (the credit union) of Baltimore. No check. No note enclosed.

I sent the credit union the death certificate. It was required in order to close her account. I sent two other copies of the death certificate to Baltimore as well. I forget why, but I could remember if you insisted. I'm just not in the mood right now. It seems that it should be easier to wrap all of this up that it has been. The dead get mail, they haunt our dreams, the possessions of the dead fall out of closets and onto our toes. Sometimes we almost forget that the dead are dead. I can walk the beach for hours now if other obligations permit, but instead of feeling the pull of the waves out to sea, I sometimes feel the tether of my mother here in my house, sitting in her room or at the dining room table, reeling me back inland.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday Morning Beach Report

Pelicans at Hollywood Beach
 There were surfers and many Saturday morning beach walkers. I was alone though when I spotted  the man walking with his bike at the water's edge. I'd seen him the other day swearing at himself, at his bike, at the universe. I kept my distance. I think he's the guy with the eyepatch that I had a conversation with some months ago. He wasn't shouting obscenities that day, but was definitely on a bit of a rant. He told me the sun wasn't really the sun. It was a fake sun launched into the sky by the military. He told me the military was controlling the tides. That we were all being watched. He told me he'd been shot in the head, and that he had terrible learning disabilities and chronic pain. He didn't frighten me then, exactly, though I was wary and aware. This morning I had a bad feeling as soon as I saw the guy wheeling the bike. There really aren't any bike riders on the sand, so I figured it must be the guy with the eye patch, and I headed the other way just in case he was still raging.

A dark sail in gathering seas.
June gloom makes for strange beauty these mornings on the sand. I could have walked for hours, but I have things to do. Little things, big things. Like filing away more papers in my mother's file box. Like trying to convince the insurance company she's dead so she won't be paying her premium, like scrubbing the last of the wheelchair scuffs off the walls. I have the final draft of my estate plan and will to read, home maintenance chores to keep the ever howling beast of my HOA at bay. But I took a moment away from all that to learn how to teach Siri to call me by a new name. My Siri, by the way, is a guy with an Aussie accent. And he now calls me "Oh Wizard of Many, Many Jobs."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Weather Report: Foggy with a High of 72

Yesterday Morning at Hollywood Beach

There are fires to the north. Fires to the east. My patio table is powdered with a fine coating of ash. The signs at the beach warn that there are no lifeguards on duty. Risk is everywhere. We can be shot down in a club, in a school, in a movie theatre, a church. We can be shot because we are black, gay, different, or for no discernible reason. We have a presidential candidate spouting hate speech as regularly as a national park geyser. Our legislative branch is broken. Global warming continues unabated. The rising tide of all these problems might do us in.

Despite it all, it's foggy and cool here. If you're a friend of mine smoldering in L.A. or the San Gabriel Valley, isn't it time for a visit?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Party Isn't Over

My parents, 1950-something

I have not blogged in nearly 2 weeks--a personal low, I'm sure--offset perhaps by the 3 or 4 posts per day back in the era of post-divorce wreckage.  Those posts were medicinal, and the recent absence was too.

It doesn't feel appropriate to  blog about family get-togethers or vacations with our recluse vs extrovert family dynamic. Suffice it to say that I went somewhere, ate delicious things, and saw weird and interesting stuff.

Not Holland. Not Denmark. Not Santorini. Solvang.

Solvang is foodie paradise. I could go on, but it would take forever to describe the delicious things we ate. This is a hollow ball of chocolate filled with poached pear on peanut butter fluff. I forget what the little balls mixed with the pear are. They were fantastic, whatever they were. 

We went to an ostrich farm. Some of us wanted to eat ostrich. Some of us didn't. Some of us fed the ostriches. Some coveted ostrich feathers, one person got an ostrich souvenir t-shirt, and probably at least one person imagined herself to be an ostrich, running through the countryside, plumes bobbing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I voted.

Early Puberty in Girls Raises the Risk of Depression

Light Sentence for Rape Case

What Does a Lifetime of Leers Do to Us?

I cast my vote in the California primary today.  Maybe filling out that ballot will lighten my heart.  Maybe I'll feel just for a moment like I might be changing the fate of girls and women in this embattled country of ours where we still don't have an equal rights amendment and rape too often goes unreported or unpunished.

The three articles I've linked to above are all related. All the personal trauma riled up by them lies tangled together in my heart and gut while my head asks why in this day and age we have not yet put an end to rape culture.

In my small-town Catholic culture, it seemed that girls carried some intrinsic stain beyond the taint of Original Sin. Purity was a prize but our bodies were somehow construed as dirty and the prize always lay just beyond reach. I was ashamed when the meanest boy in my second grade class chased me across the playground and I ran so desperately that my shoes slipped off and my white socks ended up caked with mud. Why did you run from him, Sister asked. I could have said that he had already pinched and tickled me under the arm whenever I raised my hand,  but even then, at age seven, I remained silent. I was the dirty one.

Later I learned that girls were prick teases or jail bait.  Damned if we did. Damned if we didn't. Boys couldn't be trusted, but we were charged with maintaining our safety. Feet on floor. Skirts not too short. Eyeliner not too heavy. Watch yourself. It's your own damn fault because you know that you were asking for it. The term date rape was decades away from its first utterance.

Life in the big city was even worse. You didn't know who the wild boys were in a city of millions. Any car might carry a threat. It's one thing to make a stupid mistake in a place where everyone knows everyone else, but on a dark street full of strangers, a mistake might be a death sentence.

But it wasn't a stranger that pushed me down onto the seat of my car on a dead end street in the City of Angels and held his hands around my throat. I used to say that I escaped unscathed, but I know  now that I didn't. That attack attached itself to the man who groped me on the parking garage stairway which mingled his sour breath with the crazy-eyed motorcyclist who grabbed onto my car door handle one midnight which settled into my bones with the propositioning boss, the pawing acting teacher, and with the nicely suited man who motioned for me to roll down my car window like he was lost that sunny afternoon and asked, do you want to fuck? I could go on, of course, but if you're a woman you don't need my stories. You have your own. You probably had a job where you traveled for business and a business associate insisted on one more drink and the next thing you know you were on top of your motel bedspread, him whispering in your ear, you know you want it. And maybe you actually had lunch with him the next day because he terrified you and you couldn't  let  him know it. Maybe you woke up one morning with dirt or pine needles in your hair, your underwear missing, blind from a headache, resolved to just go on, go forward, survive, and get tested for STDs and try not to blame yourself too much. Maybe your darling baby-faced husband throws a chair in your face and blackens your eye and chips a tooth and only then after years of hiding his abuse do you cry in the arms of a friend.

We tell our daughters that their periods are part of life, that it's a beautiful good thing to be a woman,  that they're young women now, that they can get pregnant so let's get you on the pill if you fall for someone and want to do that, but don't do that right now. We tell them they are beautiful and that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that they are perfect and loved, but how do we warn them, really, of the terror? How do we take away the shame of being objectified into breasts and cunts and thighs that might or might not have a gap? And how do we take away the dirty words they don't even know whispered or shouted or graffitied? How do we make them blind to the leers and the gestures and not blind to themselves? How do we explain less money for the same job when they are just as smart and just as qualified and just as good? How do we convince them that they can have careers and be mothers and have daughters and and say something, anything that their daughters can believe? How do we convince them to press charges, to be heard, to remain whole and wholly themselves when there are wolves that want to tear all of us to pieces.