Sunday, November 21, 2010

After a November Rain

Buried under a stack of reading, the couch is your burrow. 
But then you look out of your window and see this.

You catch a glimpse of your  rose bush, an orange flame tilted upward at the same sky.

You can't resist.

 You are taken in by 




not yet ripe, but promising something

So now you have the courage to leave your house and visit your favorite neighborhood tree--
a tree you think of as a vanquished giant rammed headfirst into the earth by an enemy

 strong legs visible while his heart beats beneath the ground
eyes and mouth and nose filled with dirt. 
The leaves he drops are offerings 
and you bring one home to remind you of something but you're not sure what

so you make an offering of it too.
And when you stand at your patio gate
you see the beauty of all of it 

and you give thanks to your made-up gods--
to the guardian of the camellias

and to the god of yellow

and the gray god of rain
because when he stops hurting you
the world looks like this

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Pinteresque Marriage

I just read John Lahr's piece on Harold Pinter and his play,"The Homecoming" in the Dec. 24th & 31st 2007 issue of The New Yorker. Okay, so I'm a little behind. It was the week I started grad school. Five months after Mr. Ex dumped me. And I wasn't reading much due to an inability to concentrate, an inability to comprehend a more than a sentence at a time, an inablity to breathe in and breathe out. Not a good state of being for a student in an MFA program in creative writing. Oh well. That was then.

I loved Harold Pinter. He, along with Edward Albee, were the playwrights of the moment when I began college in 1970. A word about the pre electronic-connectedness time warp of the era; it took time for what was new and hot and interesting to work its way from England to the American Midwest. Unlike the Beatles, Pinter didn't do the Ed Sullivan Show. (Pinter joke: And if he had, they probably would have edited out the pauses.) "The Homecoming's" New York debut occurred in 1967, and John Lahr, who was a schoolteacher then, writes, "I didn't quite know what I'd seen; I knew only that the play's spectacular combination of mystery and rigor had taught me something new about life, about language, about the nature of dramatic storytelling."

I'm sure I couldn't have put it that articulately, but I knew something was up. Pinter's plays frightened me--and they also made me laugh. But like the first director of "The Birthday Party," I wanted someone to explain to me what they were about. "The weasel under the china cabinet," I remember reading in some interview with Pinter back then. That made me laugh too. Lahr writes in the New Yorker that Pinter refused the director any explanation. But Lahr quotes something Pinter did write about his work, "We are faced with the immense difficulty, if not the impossibility of verifying the past. I don't mean merely twenty years ago, but yesterday, this morning. What was the nature of what took place, what happened?" This is what Pinter's plays ask the reader/viewer to figure out.

And there are those famous pauses Pinter wrote into his scripts. "The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don't hear," Pinter wrote. "It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its place."

It's not that I didn't hear Mr. Ex's ruthless indifference. I just didn't want to. Anymore than I'd want to admit there was a weasel under my china cabinet.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adrenaline, Addiction, and Jerks

I don't watch TV. I have basic cable though--for house guests--and because I always think that maybe I'll watch a movie some night when I'm home alone. But I never do. Until a couple of nights ago. My body was (and is) still supercharged with adrenaline from an anxiety attack, so  I've been working on some couch time under a blanket with a stack of old New Yorkers and a cup of tea. Two nights ago I watched The Kids Are All Right. Last night: Freakanomics. Tonight I got better acquainted with the Pay per View menu. There are other categories beyond "drama," "comedy" and "romance." My cable company has a category called, "Battle of the Exes." At first I suspected I might be hallucinating or  having some kind of psychotic break, but no, there really is a category of movies about break-ups and the conflict that ensues. The list includes Fatal Attraction and the Kill Bill movies, but I went with Addicted to Love. Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick in a revenge/comedy/romance. I was entertained.

There are other categories that I was unaware of: "Single Ladies," and "Political Thrillers." And two categories  that might have some overlap--"Thankful Flicks," and "Thanksgiving Movies." Really, I'm not making this up.

I'm thankful that Meg Ryan fell out of love with the jerk who used her and fell in love with someone sweet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Credit Card Company Caves to Divorcée's Demands

I won.
But if no one tells you you've won, is it really a win? I think perhaps it is.

Back in May when I was already nearly three years into the warped world of divorce, it suddenly occurred to me that I still shared credit card accounts with Mr. Ex. I had tossed the cards into a box under my desk when I began receiving alimony, but he continued to charge things as if he was channeling Eloise in her room at the Plaza. The debt he racked up was impressive--and my name was attached to it.
"We don't recognize divorce," one of the credit card companies told me. My contract with them superseded  a piece of paper from  Los Angeles Superior Court, they said. My determination supersedes your dictatorial attitude, I thought. I had already gone to Mr. Ex's office in person to get him to sign their form, and when that didn't work out, I went again.
I worked diligently on  second my letter to that financial fiefdom known as C____ that is holding on to some views on marriage and divorce that belong in the dark ages. Then I let it go until I began pawing though my "divorce in a box". (Everyone needs a hobby, right?) That's when I found that I had a need to view an old credit card statement I couldn't seem to find, so I tried to view it online--without success.
I called customer service.
"I'm sorry, you're not allowed to view this account because you're not on it," the woman on the line said.
"Really?" I said. And then I asked her if she could confirm that my name had been recently taken off this account and that my ex-husband was now solely responsible for it.
"No," she said, "I can't do that because you're not on the account.
"Thanks very much," I said.

Love Conquers All

You can read more here:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Can't Buy Me Love, Oh

I've always been somewhat the reluctant shopper. There was no money for new clothes when I was growing up, and other than what my mother and I sewed, the gifts that  magically appeared under the Christmas tree were pretty much the only injection of fashion into my sparse wardrobe. But those presents were so fabulous that I remember them all these decades later--a faux fur "maxi" coat, lace up suede boots, a red and white sweater that conjured an elite ski resort. During my college years it was fashionable to shop at The Salvation Army and Goodwill, but I didn't do much of that either. When I moved from the midwest to L.A. in 1975 all of my clothes fit into one suitcase.

But even though I had nearly a decade of living near the poverty line in Los Angeles, I began to acquire more clothes. Thrift stores and garage sales were a cornucopia of bargains, and the wholesale prices in the fashion district beckoned. Soon I needed a closet organizer system. Then garment bags and storage bins for the off-season items I stored in my garage. I was an actress then, and I needed a large wardrobe for auditions--or so I convinced myself. Then came maternity clothes, tops that accommodated breast feeding, ensembles suitable for law firm parties--all in a range of sizes as my weight fluctuated between 114 and 180 pounds.

These last few years, I've engaged in a constant culling. I  now have two pairs of jeans, a drawer full of t-shirts, a drawer of exercise clothes, and a shelf of sweaters. Everything else fits comfortably in my closet--but these nicer things in my closet aren't worn very often. I remind myself of this whenever I have the urge to buy something new. Retail therapy seems to promise sanity and salvation whenever I'm in the vicinity of the two banks that house the joint checking accounts I still share with Mr. Ex. A particular store in this neighborhood sends out its siren call and, before I know it, I'm in there fondling bowls and dishtowels, and  trying on things that  somehow channel the fashions of my own youth while managing to also be the style of the moment. The merchandising alchemy in this place is formidable. But I've figured it out. They have perfumes that smell like an amalgam of the two scents most popular when I was a teenager--Heaven Scent (if you were trying to be a good girl) and Tabu (if your impulses were a bit more daring.) The dishes and furnishings look like they hail from places I want to travel to. They have displays that include the books I most loved to read to my children. And, for the coup de grace, a slim volume of poetry, The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, selected by Caroline Kennedy.

But I look awful in most of their clothes. I have no more room for dishes or rugs or embroidered pillows, so I'm saved by vanity and lack of space. But they've got me.

If only this merchandising genius could be applied to the things the world really does need. Things that we would hold dear the rest of our lives.