11 May, 2018

Skin Deep

...I don't believe them when they try to tell me / life is more than / skin skin skin skin deep...

"Are they actually more lovely, pound for pound, measurement for measurement... than any other women you've known? Or is it that they just... well, act beautiful?" –Dr. McCoy, Star Trek TOS
Which is the point of the episode, in case you don't remember.
"It wasn't until years later that I realised people weren't making a fuss over me because I was some incredible beauty or genius; they were making a fuss over me to compensate for my being slashed. I accepted all the attention at face value and proceeded through life as if I really were extraordinary." ---Tina Fey
Of course it's arguable that she actually IS extraordinary, or became so. Self-fulfillingness and all of that. Predetermination because she was smart and clever and funny, and that was never going to not be realized.

Why one should never say "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," from The Book Of Life blog:

It’s a phrase with the power to silence. Once it’s been uttered, trying to keep up a dialogue about the merits or drawbacks of certain visual things can come across as shrill, anti-social or just plain rude.

This tendency to surrender to relativism is a paradoxical symptom of a scientific age. Science, the most prestigious force in modern society, deals in objective truths. The things it passes judgement on are obviously simply not in the eye of beholders. One can’t fairly say: ‘Well I don’t really feel that way about the boiling point of water or the nature of gravity.’ We have to be subservient to the facts science hands down to us.

Although lately, even science has been subjected to subjectivism. Everything is. Bad behavior "on all sides," a legitimate investigation termed "witch hunt," any sort of criticism becomes "bullying," and calling someone out on actual bullying is "reverse bullying." Beauty seems simpler, because it is superficial and everyone knows it, or should.

I'm a big fan of The Bombshell Manual Of Style, as is xoJane who is very obviously much MUCH younger than I as evidenced by her remark about Britney Spears in 2001.

At any rate, the Bombshell Manual, in addition to being rather foundational for my own Principles of Princessness, casually remarked that women who are beautiful treat themselves as if they are beautiful. The inverse is also true. Women who treat themselves as if they are beautiful (and, as Dr. McCoy suggests, "act beautiful") ARE.

I adopted that awhile ago, in hopes that treating myself like a bombshell would help me feel like one (it does) and that would reflect in my approach to most everything (it has) and encourage self-care while staving any temptation to 'let myself go' and not in the Frozen way.

Someone hoped I wouldn't be offended that he shared a remark about a co-worker who just loves my rear end.

Yeah, I get that a lot. It's been following me around almost my whole life. 

Mind you, this is YESTERDAY, not a decade ago.  I've recently been feeling a great deal of angst about my own age-related irrelevancy and fading attractiveness. The world is harsh for women such as me, who haven't yet achieved the goddesshood of Emma Thompson, Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Glen Close, Jane Fonda or Betty Davis. Although, last week, a young intoxicated man who was celebrating his birthday, the same number Pugsley celebrated in February, was about to get separated from his friends, and I said he should hurry to catch them or risk spending his birthday with me.

"I dunno, you seem pretty cool," he replies. I insist he should party with people his own age.
"Oh, come on," says he, "What are you, like, 32?"

Wondering how many beers exactly he's already consumed, I reveal my actual age, at which he goggles.

I'm really good with makeup.

In any case (and I may have mentioned this) I don't take remarks about my own looks particularly seriously. I don't get to keep them (though I'll fake them as long as I can) and the Legendary Ass will eventually degrade into myth. I've tried to cultivate Cute And Fluffy, along with Charming and Witty, because I maybe CAN keep those, and no one is ever going to notice my large and beautiful brain.

Which, if my mother and grandmother are any yardstick, I also won't get to keep.

Vanity and fear, my defining qualities. Nice.

Crack The Sky; Skin Deep

10 May, 2018

Sunny Day

...I need to laugh, and when the sun is out/ I've got something I can laugh about....

The weather has improved, and with it, Mother's mood.

Not to mention mine.

By 'improved' naturally I mean 'changed to something I prefer' because weather isn't intrinsically either good or bad, just preferred or non-preferred. Tornado chasers, for example, probably wouldn't care for these nice warm days of full-on sunshine and Fahrenheit temperatures in the 60s and 70s. I still don't know what that is in Celsius, which, because I am That Old, I sometimes still refer to as centigrade.

My shift is due to start at 9:30, which is impossible today, but I arrive at 10:10 without too much stress. The back door is locked, but she's been up. Dog dishes are on the floor, with food, which suggests Second Breakfast. She doesn't remember whether she's fed them or not, and doesn't remember either to mark or check the chalkboard that tracks that very thing. The chalkboard is for us, the caregivers, to tell each other, or to use to remind Mommala that the dogs have eaten already, thank you very much. The other day, I pointed it out, and she said, well, I'll just give them a little bit, then.

Because it's not about the dogs, and whether they need nutrition or not, it's about Jackie Junior (have I told you that story? Remind me to tell you that story. Mother can still tell that story with a remarkable degree of clarity) and her needs.

Give them each a cookie instead. That's what they're for, right?

"What? I'm just going to- -"

No, give them biscuits. See, they're in the bear.

She gives me a look of extreme annoyance, but fetches the clear bear-shaped container that once held animal-shaped cookies for humans to eat, and now holds 'bone' shaped biscuits for canines to eat. She gives a cookie to each, but is irritated by my over-ruling her wishes, as usual.

The OTHER other day, she picked up dishes from the floor, headed toward the dog-food bin, turned to me and asked, "Have I done this already?" I wanted to applaud.

You have. Look, it's marked on the chalkboard.

"I see. Monday, 4:30, dinner."

I can tell it's Second Breakfast because there's food left in both dishes. Dogs eat all of First Breakfast, usually. A grapefruit knife is on the counter, and beside the toaster, the egg carton, a package of English muffins and the butter dish. I guess I know what she wants for her Second Breakfast, the first being her half of grapefruit, the rind of which rests in a bowl on the dining room table.

I bustle her upstairs, cheerfully telling her I'm going to toss her filthy ass into the shower, but I'll lay out clothes for her first. I make the bed hastily, so that she'll get into the shower instead of back into bed. I tell her so. She sits down on the made-up bed, flings her body backwards and pretends to snore.

You're ridiculous, you know that?

She pops up and bursts into laughter.

All right, go on with you, get your filthy self into the shower and don't come out again 'til you're clean. I don't want to see you EVER AGAIN until you're clean.

"I don't want to see YOU ever again until I'm clean, either."

Better shut your eyes, then, coz here I am. 

She laughs again and goes into the bathroom. I lay out some linen gaucho pants and a tee shirt, with bra and panties. When she puts out her own clothes, it's panties, socks, a bra, socks, tee shirt, socks, a sweater, socks... she just gets a little stuck. Today she doesn't need any socks, it's that warm. I tell her so, though I expect when I see her, she'll be wearing socks anyhow.

I hear the shower start and scurry out with the dogs. I've surreptitiously been teaching Panda his new name, Yogi. Why she would call a redheaded Golden Retriever Panda is still a mystery to me, but when I introduce him, I tell people he's obviously a Red Panda, which, by the way, isn't exactly a bear.  We go an extra half-block or so, hurrying to time our (my) arrival to coincide with Junior's exit from the shower. I call to her, to see if I should start cooking eggs.

You dressed yet?

"I'm clean!"

That sounds like No to me.

"I'll yump into my clothes in one minute and be right down."

I start the eggs.

After breakfast and pills ("rattlers," since every time she sees her meds and vitamins she says some variation 'I'm going to rattle with all these pills') we take the dogs out. There are men in front of the house milling around a plumbing truck so we cross to the other side of the street.

Shall we go around Church Circle, the way we used to do?

"We could do that."

As we round the far edge of the circle, we spot some children milling around outside the church with their parents.

Would you like to pet the dogs?

When children look interested, I ask, because the children won't ask, and the parents won't intrude. Not often, anyway. We cross and make the dogs sit down. The children pet the dogs by turns and are pleased. The dogs are pleased. Mother is pleased. We say goodbye and head homeward with nary a fuss.

Mother sits outside with the dogs, comes in again, sits outside again, comes in, while I work on baseballku. When I've finished, I ask if she's ready for some lunch. She is. I make a tuna melt for her which I cut into four triangles. She is more likely to finish a sandwich cut into four pieces than one cut in only two pieces. I imagine there's some psychology to that, but I don't know the specifics of it, only that it works.

After lunch, she goes outside with the dogs, back inside, back outside, inside again, back outside. My cold or whatever it is isn't gone even now, so one time she comes in as I'm blowing my nose.

"Who let a moose loose in my house?"

It'was me. I'm very moos-ical.

"And a-moos-ing!"

Moost we continue with the punning around?

"Of course we moost!"

We've been punning for as long as I can remember, and longer, by Mother's accounts. It's encouraging that she retains this, as well as her sense of humor. I've always loved her sense of humor.

Shall we head out now?

"Do you need your lunch?"

I've packed lunch for the ballpark, stowed it in Mother's fridge. As a reminder, I put a Post-It on the window of the back door, because my lunch will do me more good if it's with me at the ballpark rather than in Mother's refrigerator. She reads me the note.

"Cybele, do you have your lunch?"

Good call, thank you. Yes, now I have my lunch. 

"For the ballpark?"

Yes, while I'm working at the ballpark. I'm all set now. Are you ready to go?

"What are we doing?"

Going to the bank and then getting some frozen custard if their machine is working and a donut if it isn't. 

"Sounds like a plan!" She fetches her purse.

She doesn't need her purse, of course. But when she doesn't have it, she frets about it, and I grow weary of reminding her that she left it home. Plus it gives her something to do in the car. She plays with the visor mirror, fishes around for a lipstick, finds a tissue, blows her nose, fiddles with the mirror, finds her hairbrush, brushes her hair, puts back the brush, finds lipstick, applies lipstick, puts the lipstick away, finds a tissue, blows her nose, fiddles with the mirror, fishes for her brush, finds a lipstick, puts on lipstick, puts lipstick away...

...all the way to the bank. While we're at the window. All the way to Paradise Donuts.

Would you close the mirror, please? I'll forget, then when I go to work, I'll park the car and leave it like that, and when I come back, the battery will be dead.

(Actually, I think the car has safety features that prevent that, but it's a thing that certainly used to be true, even if it isn't anymore, and she won't know the difference.)

"Wouldn't want that!" She closes the mirror, after checking her lipstick.

Inside, the counter guy explains that their frozen custard is too thick for the machine, so they just scoop it now.

"Vanilla or chocolate?" he asks.

I turn to Mother. How about it, Mother, would you like vanilla?

"Hah! As if!"

Silly question.

Beatles; Good Day Sunshine

03 May, 2018

Overwhelming Options

...too many fish in the sea/I said, there's short ones, tall ones, fine ones, kind ones....

[Productivity includes finishing unfinished posts, when creating a new one is Too Much Pressure. I've been down with a virus nearly a week now. I'mma cut myself some slack in this portion of my Kick Your Own Ass And Get Your Shit Together mission]

Too many choices is TOO MANY choices. Leads to immobilization.

I stood for, I shit you not, half an hour in front of a toothpaste display at my local Target, trying to select the right product for my family's needs. There were twelve feet by five feet of choices, shelves from ankle to above eye-level.

I ended up going with the Pepsodent. There were only two sorts, and it was easy to sort out which of the two I wanted.

A custom sewer I know mentioned indecisiveness on the part of a client, that the back-and-forth was time consuming. Wondered if she was offering too many choices, and maybe that made decisions more rather than less difficult.

I agreed, and think more than 4 leads to overwhelming. Suggested she ask a screening question: brights, pastels, earthtones, or black and white?

Then once the screening question has been answered, show 3 options in that category.

3 is psychologically right.

Good, Not So Much, Yuck. Or Blah, Better, I Like It.

(Additional branching is possible after Good/I Like It is achieved, if required.)

Though if the customer says Meh to all three, maybe offer additional options. HOWEVER.

It's just a baby carrier. You are not responsible for the permanent abiding lifelong happiness of your client, just that they have a carrier they are rather pleased to wear for the duration of time their child fits into it. I would think washability and disguise of spitup would be of more import than pattern.

However, mine is a post-parent brain. Presumably someone shopping for a babywearing sling is still in pre-parent mode, and likely pregnant. That first child teaches one's brain quite a bit.

Only brain surgery is brain surgery. Everything else is less pressure.

Marvellettes; Too Many Fish In The Sea

02 May, 2018

Get Together

...you're far away from me, my love, but just as sure, my-my baby, as there are stars above....

I've come to the conclusion that one can either Consume, or Produce, but not both.

Not well. Not efficiently. Not profitably.

And if I am to make lemonade of my Alzheimer's lemon, I must begin to Produce, rather than Consume.

Not that the Consumption itself is rewardless, no. Pugsley and I have been watching the Star Treks, all the Treks except The Original Series, which makes no sense to me, but he thinks it's corny and cheesy and he's not wrong except that's not the point. There's history, man. There's innovation, man.

But anyway. We've saved a few episodes of Next Gen, same with Deep Space Nine, and we are now on the final season of Voyager.

I've begun watching Enterprise, alone, because its pacing is akin to that of a BBC detective series, which Pugsley and Gomez find right plodding painful.

The point being, (I'm pretty sure I had one), that I'm enjoying bonding with my son over sci fi shows. There's a reboot of Lost In Space that people he likes seem to have good opinions of, but no, he's all about binge-watching Voyager right now.

Still, if I'm to be profitable, ever, I need to start now. Finding Nellie's Boy won't write itself, nor will My Mother The Horse, Adventures In Alzheimer's or Radio Baseball (which I just recently conceived, as a musical play first, then as a work of creative non-fiction, THEN a musical, I mean, why NOT double-dip, if I can?) Thus my first entry of 2018, coming in May, no less, is about me getting my shit together.

The Supremes; Someday We'll Be Together

10 September, 2017

Interrupting Blue

...I have a blue house with a blue window....

We interrupt the miseries of the moment for an expedition into poetry.

I can't tell if it's any good. Honestly, I feel that way about everything right now, as if I'm incapable of judging things with any degree of objectivity, since my filter has wrapped around me so many times that I'm swathed in... whatever it is. Rusty barbed wire, mesh made of rotted meat and maggots, synthetic peach-flavored fishing line, candyfloss blue fiberglass, I don't know anymore.

Beltway Driving

In front of my face
lines float upon a page
in front of my eyes
mist crawls across my brain
and with a buzzing blue
a blue trot
a blue gallop
a blue horse
is loose on the beltway

hurry, shouts a jogger
as he blazes past me, dressed for the
running of the horses
drive all the blue ones off at the next exit ramp,
explains another runner
a blue flash
a blue canter
a blue horse

among many horse-colored horses
and many sprinting humans
it is Barcelona and Chincoteague
amid the runners
on the beltway
with the horses that are blue
and not blue

driven steadily
blue ones grouped together towards the right
now, calls a driver rushing fleet-footed from behind

I stay with the
horse-colored horses
as the blue ones peel out, away,
up a curving blue exit ramp
against a blue sky
inside a blue thunder
into a blue neighborhood

I wonder what the residents will think

ahead of me
a blue horse
to the left of me
a blue horse
beyond my sightline
a blue horse
alongside many blue horses
we'll get them at the next exit

the prize is a garland
of blue roses

so we drive
until words float upon a page.

8 September 2017

Eiffel 65; I'm Blue

07 September, 2017

Extra Innings

...sun's comin' up I got cakes on the griddle/Life ain't nothin' but a funny funny riddle....

I'm later than I mean to be, which is more or less always the case, and phone on my way over.

Hello, Mommy-Mom.

"Hello, Baby-Babe!"

Are you having breakfast? Are you up? Have you washed and dried and dressed?

She answers in an order that makes sense, which is not the order in which I asked.

"I AM up, I have clothes on, and I'm working on this grapefruit."

I'll make the rest of your breakfast when I get there. I'm on my way now.

We discuss going out to the ballpark. It's my last opportunity of the season to take her to a day game. Well, Monday would also work, but tickets are more expensive (the Yankees are in on Monday) and besides, that's Senior Day at MDRF, and I want to take her. EAS plans to take her later this month when her friend Anita can be there as well, but something will come up, with Anita or the weather or EAS, and then she won't get to go.

And Mother needs her chocolate covered frozen cheesecake on a stick.

I arrive, and she's done a fairly competent job of breakfast. The toast is about to burn, but I rescue it. After food, I hustle her into the shower. I keep expecting her to back out of our ballgame plans, come up with excuses for not going, something. Though when we went a week or so ago, it was fine, she enjoyed herself and is looking forward to going again.

The Toronto Blue Jays are in town, which means the whole city gets to hate on Bautista, which, it occurs to me, I will miss doing when smug jerk retires eventually.

After I've walked dogs, I make lunch for Mother, even though she's just had breakfast, hoping she'll nibble and nosh and fill up while I go home to buy and print tickets and get things together for the game.

Gomez and I spend enough time hunting for his baseball hat that we're late to fetch Mother, park farther away from the stadium than I like and miss out on receiving today's giveaway caps from Dap.

We sit in Upper Reserve, where seats are cheap and the sun can shine on us if it sneaks through the heavy cloud cover. But not too much with the shining- we have our decorated straw hats from last time.

In front of us, there is a family including a pair of teen girls. Mother repeatedly leans forward to tap them, to speak to them, to touch them. At one point, the one with hip-length hair pulls out a brush. Mother taps her and extends her hand for the brush. The girl tentatively hands the brush to her. After a few messy and ineffective jabs, I gently take the brush from Mother.

Let's let her brush her own hair, shall we? She probably likes it a certain way.

I mean, it's nice that she's engaged. It's nice that she's interactive. It's a bit embarrassing, though, for me, and, I imagine, disconcerting for the girls. They are more courteous and patient with Mother's frequent intrusions than one might expect considering the current levels of rudeness. Mom to at least one of them is there, and perhaps she's an anchor. Or they look comfortable there; perhaps frequent visitors, who have become accustomed to a variety of eccentrics surrounding them. At any rate, I am possibly overly empathetic imagining their discomfort.

Gomez disappears for a long while, returning with a Boog Powell barbeque sandwich. I remind Mother of Young Boog Powell, who plays for Oakland, who was pictured in her newspaper with Old Boog Powell and a sandwich. Young Boog Powell is Herschel Mark Powell IV and the son of a baseball fan. We watched him play when we went to the game on Wednesday the 23rd, leaving before the 12th inning had finished, and listening on the radio when Manny hits a walk-off homer.

Mother is engaged in the game, cheering enthusiastically for Manny, Adam, and particularly Trey Mancini, this year's amazing rookie. She's paying attention to the plays, as evidenced by her applause when Toronto players make excellent catches or during double-play action. I'm glad she's enjoying herself.

The teams are tied in the ninth, so throughout the following innings, people leave for their various whatever-they-may-bes, and the young ladies move down a few rows. I pen a tine thank you note for the mother, asking her to convey my gratitude to the girls, and give it to her during an exciting moment of action, when Mother won't see and question me. At the finale, she turns and says, "that's all right, hon." I reiterate my thanks for their tolerance.

Today's game also goes to twelve innings. It also has the correct outcome. We stay for the whole game this time, and get to see a little pie action.

Gomez helps me keep track of Mother during our exit with the throng. As we pass the gate, a stadium worker says, "Hey, where's ya'all's rally caps?" I turn back with a smile.

We didn't arrive in time to get them.

"That's okay, I like yours better anyhow."

"Me, too," says Mother.

Thanks, Mom. Really.

John Denver; Thank God I'm A Country Boy

03 September, 2017

I'll Wait

...reach down/ in between my legs/ ease the seat back....

"So, since it's raining, does that mean we can't listen to music?"*

Since I've just spent three days sick, and the rain is very heavy, it's probably a good idea if I concentrate on driving, so we can, but something soothing enough to not jangle me, something peppy enough to not sad me, and something that we can listen to at a volume that won't make me jumpy.

They consult, and conclude.

"How about this?"

I agree, and into the CD deck slides Van Halen's 1984.

The instrumental introduction kicks in, reminding me that this album has less of what we love about Van Halen on it, which is not what most people think of when they think of Van Halen. Diver Down, an earlier release, has the instrumentals Cathedral and Intruder, and an odd assortment of covers, including not only the well-know Where Have All The Good Times Gone(Kinks), Dancing In The Street(Martha and the Vandellas) and Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison), but also a lovely rendition of Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now), featuring father Jan Van Halen on clarinet, and an a capella version of Happy Trails. The Van Halen originals on Diver Down struck us (me, again; the kids for the first time) as incredibly interesting... until the vocals kicked in, at which point they became less so, due largely to the forgettable lyrics of The Full Bug and Little Guitars. Secrets redeems itself, but really, just ONE good original song on an album? According to Eddie, Van Halen's producer Ted Templeman wanted singles, not albums and felt the best way to get them was to cover songs that had been hits already. That's what Diver Down was. 1984 was far more what Alex and Eddie wanted for the band.

But the oddball covers and the obscure instrumentals are one of the things WE love about Van Halen, although Hot For Teacher is probably more 'trademark' VH. We just enjoy demonstrations of superior musicianship. 1984, happily, has plenty of that, despite a shortage of instrumentals and oldies. Hot For Teacher included.

I'll Wait, though it peaked at only #13 on the charts after its initial release, is one of the best examples of the '80s Big Hair Rock genre. The synthesized intro, (a bit like Journey's Separate Ways, written May of 1982, but longer and better), was recorded in what technically qualifies as Eddie Van Halen's "home studio," the new 5150 (so named after the California Welfare code for involuntary institutionalization of a mentally unstable and potentially dangerous individual) studio in 1983 for the upcoming album. The first son recorded there was Jump, which Templeman immediately assessed as "the" hit of the new album. Eddie remembers,
Once Ted heard that song, he was full-hog in. He said, “That’s great! Let’s go to work.” When I first played “Jump” for the band, nobody wanted to have anything to do with it. Dave said that I was a guitar hero and I shouldn’t be playing keyboards. My response was if I want to play a tuba or Bavarian cheese whistle, I will do it.
 The video for I'll Wait, released back when MTV was MTV and not the weird bastardized version of itself that it became, is also worth a look. It's, at a glance, not very different from Def Leppard's Photograph, and yet... but somehow... well.

*Do I need to explain that Primarily Decorative has trouble focussing when driving, worse when the rain provides distractions like slick roads and mists, moron drivers who drive like the whole sky is falling, other, different moron drivers who drive as if conditions are clear, dry and unworthy of adjustment, beautiful patterns of raindrops on the windshield and, if it's light enough, gorgeous clouds in luscious hues of silver and grey from horizon to horizon? It's not that I have trouble focussing, per se. It's that I have trouble prioritizing.

Now, where I was originally going with this post, begun in 2009 or '10, I couldn't tell you.

But I don't feel like (read: 'am not interested in') writing about braving today's persistent rain to go shopping for trousers with Mother at Target today, which is all that happened, so.

Well, that, and I walked dogs, saw 4 rabbits, photographed 2 of them, then wrote a haiku.

Yeah, it all sounded boring to me, too.

So, Van Halen. Really not boring.

Van Halen; Panama