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Friday, October 21, 2016

The Tension Tango Strikes Again!

My furry alarm clock
Could NOT sleep last night. Did NOT sleep last night. Until, until a little before 4AM, which is, of course, when I usually get up. I was dreaming that some fit-beyond-belief, young, TALL, pro-cycler woman was temporarily living with me.

She chased a large, adult black and white cat (sort of a reverse image Coco or Rocco – like Skitter but with black not grey spots – into my bedroom where I was sleeping (HEY cool – in my dream, I was getting rack time!). I woke and, naturally, began petting the precious but scared boy. And then realized this was a newbie – NOT one of my regular herd. 'the hell?

Biker Babe, seeing that I was awake, began a fast plea to allow Whitey to stay. It wouldn’t be permanent, she begged.

Of COURSE I said yeahsureK but was dreading the 99,000,000 kinds of holy hell that Coco and Rocco would give me for this.
And then, then, our fierce former feral gave me my wake up nudge. He was not to be turned away either. Hiding was fruitless. Smart thing’s figured out how to drag the covers down offa my head. Rocco is a determined old boy.

That black blob is our not so sweet and innocent escape artist
new floor tiles!
So then, why couldn’t I sleep? I was rockin' the Anxious City action. Gets me every damn time.

I’ve just gotten a few big design/layout jobs which is GREAT, I needed more work and not just for my wheezing bank account. When I'm teasing out solutions to sticky layout problems and making someone’s presentation more, em, presentable, I get laser focused. For a few hours, my mammoth grief takes a backseat. Work is now like a mini vaca. (how d'ya like that!?) So what’s with the Worry Watusi? Two of the jobs are due Monday. Will I get them done, and done well, by Monday? Umm, hope so!

Another source of disquiet – I’m having my kitchen floor redone this weekend. The seashell themed linoleum that I fell in love with when we first viewed Valhalla, has become ratty as all hell. It’s time, well past time even, to give it the heave ho. Helen’s husband John’s doing the work. YEA!

But wut up with the Tension Tango on this front? Cats.

Coco’s always a flight risk. For her, running out the door and having me chase her around the neighborhood is brilliant amounts of fun. For me? Not so much AT ALL. With work being done en la casa, there’ll be much coming and going and many opportunities for our girl to zip out. Given less than half a chance she will too. *sigh*

Rocco? He'll just hide in the back of my closet until he’s sure we’re alone again. That’s fine – he's safe but I hate that he’s so afraid. I wish there was a way to chill him out. He needs kitty lorazepam.

So then, I'm up. Coffee's made. It's time to jump to lightspeed.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

No, I didn’t watch the debate last night. Why put myself through the blood pressure detonating aggro of watching our future president debate FuckFace Von Clownstick? Me and the cats had WAY better things to do – like watching Big Bang and reading Harry Harrison short stories.

Knowing full well that the only way I could watch that shit show masquerading as a presidential debate, would be with a full bottle of Jamo at hand, I felt it was better to just turn the damn television off. Drinking every time the tangerine tornado, the fascist carnival barker lied, would have, assuredly, lead to alcohol poisoning. By switching off the squawk box, I lived to see the dawn. See, I was thinking ahead and being all healthy and shit. Plus, Coco and Rocco need their ZZZZZZs and how could they possibly slumber with me screaming at the TV?

So, for those of you who DID take your lives in your hands, here’s a palate cleanser.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I get it BUT...

Garrison Keillor is, very kindly, concerned about Cheeto Jesus' future. In the Chicago Tribune, he says (amongst other things):
I worry about Donald Trump. What is he going to do? He has damaged his brand. The steaks, ties, home furnishings, fragrances, whiskey, resorts, condos, golf club memberships — when you associate yourself with white supremacy, male chauvinism and invincible ignorance, this is not smart marketing. He can't go back to the Tower. Manhattan is about 83 percent Democratic. Why live among people who don't appreciate you and ride around in a black limo with smoked-glass windows through crowds of pedestrians giving you the finger? It's no way to live.
He concludes that, after Trump’s inevitable loss, the Angry Creamsicle ought to move to Nebraska where, right now, he’s leading two to one.

Ya know what information this election’s giving me? Yup, a map of where in the US I should never set foot. I just can’t envision feeling safe enough to holiday in these places.

Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Wyoming and West Virginia are solidly in the no-go column for visitable states. Mind you, I’ve been to them all already except Wyoming. There’s nothing I want to see in any of 'em (except...except the Field of Empty Chairs looks amazing).

I know, I know, there’s beauty and cool, intelligent people who live in these blindingly red states. There really is. I get that.

Naturally, this brings me ‘round to the article in Cracked which Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station recommended, How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind by David Wong. The column is an attempt to explain why the hinterland Trumpers support this racist, misogynistic, not over bright, born-in-a-money-patch-and-thinks-he-got-there-through-his-own-hard-work, entitlement-mad, coked up orange hellbeast.

The thrust being:
The rural folk with the Trump signs in their yards say their way of life is dying, and you smirk and say what they really mean is that blacks and gays are finally getting equal rights and they hate it. But I'm telling you, they say their way of life is dying because their way of life is dying.
Yes, very true – I understand this. HOWEVER, while the article gives a picture of the desperation and angst of the ex-factory workers, ex-coal miners, ex- steel workers whose jobs were all exported to China and Mexico, Wong does not explain how these same people fall for the Republican/Tea Party lies, the slight of hand which authored their losses and struggles.
It feels good to dismiss people, to mock them, to write them off as deplorables. But you might as well take time to try to understand them, because I'm telling you, they'll still be around long after Trump is gone.
Again, very true. Is there any way to educate the masses so they understand they’ve fallen for a giant con? Do they want to see how they’ve believed lies for most of their lives? Boyhowdy, that’d be one helluva rough awakening, wouldn’t it?
You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
~ Morpheus, to Neo in The Matrix
John Cole of Balloon Juice took the Red Pill long ago and kindly explained. 
Josh Barro, senior editor for Business Insider, just recently switched too. His reason for being a Republican for so long, despite all the insanity, seems to fall in line with the flaming canard that the GOP is the party of good business and economics. Ummm, nope – that's more of that slick grifter action for ya.

All the lies, distortions and damned lies somehow became self-evident truths to the deperately deluded.
If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.
~ Joseph Goebbels

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Palliative Life

I received a helpful handout from the MGH Palliative Care Center. It’s a list, an intro of sorts to Grief World.
A. For many people it can take 18-24 months to re-stabilize one's life and daily routines after the death of a family member. It can take much longer when the death was a violent one. Recognize the length of the mourning process. Beware of developing unrealistic expectations of yourself.
A friend's mother related that, after her husband of 70 years (!!!) died, the first year was hard. Another friend, who lost her beloved husband, told me that it was a couple years before she got her groove back. I need to be patient with myself – this is a long road and there ain't no shortcuts.
As for daily routines, with The Amazing Bob’s death, there were/are giant gaping holes in each and every day. In the weeks after he vamoosed I came to understand how much time was spent caring for him. Does that sound resentful or petulant? Boyhowdy, that is SO NOT how I meant it. All I’m saying is that, to a large degree, I’ve had to, not just resurrect daily routines, but create whole new ones in this shipwrecked TAB-less life.

I’m 105 days into this new universe. I’m back to taking daily trike rides or long walks. I make sure that Coco and Rocco each have regular one-on-one periods with the Cat Doormat (moi!) and plenty of play and cosset time. Work helps – a LOT. I’ve made a couple new friends. I’m gonna try that silent writer MeetUp group. I make a point to be as social as feels possible given the leviathan of heartache that’s riding me.

I’m getting there but this is Baby Step City.
B. Your worst times may not occur the moment a tragic event takes place. At that time, many are in a state of shock or numbness. Often you slide "into the pits" 4-7 months after the event. Strangely, when you're in the pits and tempted to despair, this may be the time when most people expect you to be over your loss.
Yup. I’m so there.

C. When people ask you how you're doing, don't always say, "Fine." Let some people know how terrible you feel.

Easier said/thought then done.
D. Talking with a true friend or with others who have been there and survived can be very helpful. Those who have been there speak your language. They can likely be believed when they say, "I know, I understand." You are not alone.
E. Often depression is a cover for anger. Learn to "uncork your bottle" and find appropriate ways to release your bottled-up anger. What you are going through seems so unfair and unjust.
I’m not sure that I’ve a hard time with expressing anger. Appropriately? I’m usually, though not always, good with that too. Maybe there’s another way to “uncork the bottle” beside screaming and raging fluorescently to poor Jen and Oni? Any ideas?
F. Take time to lament, to experience being a victim. It may be necessary to spend some time feeling sorry for yourself. "Pity parties" sometimes are necessary and can be therapeutic.
G. It's all right to cry, to question, to be weak. Beware of allowing yourself to be "put on a pedestal" by others who tell you what an inspiration you are because of your strength and your ability to cope well. If they only knew!

H. Remember, you may be a rookie at the grief experience you are going through. This may be the first death of someone close. You are new at this, and you don't know what to do or how to act. You can ask for help.

I. Reach out and try to help others, at least in some small way. This little step forward may help prevent you from dwelling too much on yourself.
I’ll check with the local animal shelter again – see if they’ve got any volunteer openings in the cat department.

Yesterday, Janice urged me to give myself permission and space to mourn. Sometimes I just want to be alone – on my own with a cat and knitting in my lap. I have to accept that this is AOK.
Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.
~ Megan Devine

Monday, October 17, 2016


TAB at 56, two years younger than I am now
our East Cambridge digs
After my fabulous Saturday, I came crashing back down to Planet Grief. I couldn’t sleep last night – just kept staring at The Amazing Bob’s side of the bed – passionately, fiercely wishing and willing him to be there. Turns out, my determined heart has limits. TAB was a no-show.

Below, a few of The Amazing Bob's thoughts on poetry followed by, of course, a few poems.
Every once and a while I think about writing something on how I feel about poetry and how I write them (poems). But then I think I shouldn’t waste time – I should use that time to work on a poem or at least do something that might lead to a poem. The older I get, the more difficult it becomes to get inspired and then to find the form. Also, I’m not satisfied cranking out doggerel. But I have a strong aversion to spending too much energy on form, like the academics who spend their years working on sonnets and sestinas and so on – learning to encipher their meaning – the calculus of poetry. I’ve always thought poetry should be simple and clear, like Gershwin (Ira) or Cole Porter without the music. You should communicate something – not so very different from conversing with a friend. The meter should not be too complicated – Dr. Seuss knew this and Langston Hughes, for example. And yet it shouldn’t be caveman brutal like the rap or hiphop crap. Sneering gets old, real quick. Attitude is no substitute for quality.

The first thing: What do I want to say? 
       East Cambridge
Moonrise over the bay
People today speak of love
       speed to love
       need some love
As if it were a commodity
       some new oddity
To be procured on demand
       like a one-night stand
To be scheduled for convenience
       trained for obedience
Bringing with it gratification
       and congratulations
From all the bright faces
       the right faces
In all the right places
In all the trendy stores
From those who never ever snore

But we who’ve grown in years
       we who’ve known some tears
       who’ve been ‘round the block
       and seen all the schlock
Say it’s not about the glitter
       the chatter and titter
No, you must first understand
       it’s not a one man band
It’s bad breath in the morning
       watching movies and yawning
Making lunch for your sweetie
       giving yourself completely
Taking care of biz
Until she accepts you
For what she is.

       East Cambridge
This morning the osteoarthritis
Attacked my right font shoulder;
This is merely one small thing
That you get as you get older

Tonight the pain attacked again
In my left hand, in the main:
I think they say variety
Is indeed the spice of pain

       East Cambridge
Am I now in the median
For a guy of my age,
Having had two heart attacks
Last week?
Not that I’ve suddenly started to give a shit
About my place within the demographics
Of anybody’s distribution curve.
Now my awareness of mortality
Is no longer an intellectual concept;
It is an experience of oneself
As a terrified, helpless bit of life,
The flip side of being born
Most likely.

       East Cambridge 
Instead of smoking
I’m eating crackers and fruit.
How long will that last,
Before I OD on healthy crap?
Serial killers on Death Row
Can have cheeseburgers and cigarettes
But I can’t.
Is that fair?

       East Cambridge
Why can’t I be the sweet sensitive poet
Dying gracefully, quill in hand
Instead of a wounded old monster
Snarling, ugly, one man band?
Why couldn’t my will, my steel belted determination keep him alive, healthy, happy and in no pain? I HATE this!

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Yesterday was fabulous. Not only was it sunny and reasonably warm (sweater weather – my favorite), I got to hang in Central Square (more favoriteness!) where I met, (first time, live and in person too) my friend Wendy.

We planned to rendezvous at Rodney’s Used Books so, naturally, I got there a little early so’s I could peruse the fresh, gently used, crop.

Right off I found Minnesota Vikings ex-punter Chris Kluwe's essay collection, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies.

From the 2013 Salon review:
Chris Kluwe, the punter for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, is as unlikely an essayist as he is a campaigner for free speech or gay rights. That’s part of his appeal as a public person. He complicates the stereotype, which forces anyone interested—fans, the press, readers—to deal with him as an individual rather than as an embodiment of a role.
“Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies” begins with a truly weird extended metaphor titled “Hello?” in which Kluwe pretends to “call my own mind” on the telephone, because there are “a lot of different characters in there, and I think we need to talk.”
Def looking forward to starting this one.

Next up, I found Tales from the Bed: On Living, Dying, and Having It All: a Memoir. The author, Jenifer Estess (actually it’s as told to her sister Valerie), was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Lou Gehrig's disease. Jenifer was a theatrical producer and founder/producing director of Naked Angels, a Manhattan theater troupe.

As I was looking over the hardcover – scanning the jacket, the introduction and a few interior pages – celebrity names like Billy Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox and Katie Couric kept popping up. I thought, hmmph, a rich girl, celebrity thing. Nah, can’t relate and I put it back on the shelf. The warmth and humor I'd espied in my brief flip through drew me back though and, for just $6, I figured mebbe I’ll learn something on the cheap. It could happen, ya know!

So yeah, that's another one I’m looking forward to.

And then Wendy walked in. We recognized each other right off too! After a brief stop at Bix to drop off my finds we made our way down to Mary Chung’s for wonderful Dim Sum lunch-y. You ever meet someone who you’re completely comfortable with right off the bat? If you’re like me, the answer to that is not bloody often. Wendy though – tout de suite easy and relaxed convo. I could even lipread her fairly easily and that rarely happens on first meet and greet.

Awesomeness. I look forward to seeing her again.

Sunny sweater temp day, an awesome used bookstore visit, the always fabulous Mary Chung's for Dim Sum and I got to connect and spend time with a wonderful new pal – a total day of outstanding favoriteness!

Saturday, October 15, 2016


My favorite dive is the bar at the Chinese restaurant up the street from me. OK, it’s three miles up the street but still, it’s conveniently close-by. It’s tacky – the walls seem to glow with a sheen of grease, the art is mondo cheesy, the barstools and tables all look like they came out of a cut-rate1950s Woolworth’s lunch counter catalogue. ICK, right?

Why do I love it so much? The barkeep is tremendous and a half. Despite the fact that I’m in there, at most, every few weeks, she remembers that I’m deaf and generally unsuccessful at reading her lips. She shows me what she’s talking about (when I ask for the house red, she brings out the bottle for me to thumbs up or down) and writes everything down if display and pantomime don’t work (also too, she has lovely, legible handwriting). She serves cosmos in the cutest little dessert/cocktail glasses and remembers that I’m awfully partial to their vegetable tempura.

Oh yeah AND she warns me if something I’ve ordered has meat. I’m wondering, why is it that Broccoli in Oyster Sauce and other items under the Special Vegetables and Tofu Dishes section of the menu have pork (it’s always pork) in them? It’s not just Imperial Terrace either. All the Chinese places I’ve been to here in Quincy are the same – I have to ask, even if a dish is in the Vegetable section – Is there meat in this. Just FYI to all you carnivores out there – chicken and pigs? They're not plant based. You're welcome.

In any case, she remembers that I’m a vegetarian. I like that in a bartender. AND, just so’s ya know, I was able to get my broccoli sans pork. Nice!

I’m in there a lot more now that The Amazing Bob’s gone. He wasn’t keen on their veggie fried rice (too many onions which gave him nasty heartburn), so we’d order from Bistro Chi. Great food but the joint’s got all the atmosphere of a hospital cafeteria.

You see, I loved going out to pick up our take out din-din. I looked forward to sitting at some dark bar, having just the one indulgent drink-y whilst people watching and scribbling in my ever present sketch pad.  At places like Bistro Chi though, all I want to do is get in, grab the food, pay and get out.

In any case, Joe was over for dinner the other night so I got to treat myself to Imperial Terrace’s  slightly unsavory-but-that’s-part-of-its-charm ambience. I forgot to ask them if they’re open on Christmas though. Drat, this means I’ll need to stop by there again soon. I like to plan ahead, don’cha know. Oh and, as long as I’m there, I suppose I could manage a cosmo and a dish of veggie tempura too.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bespoke Narcissus

Judith Beheading Holofernes
First – LOVE Caravaggio. Of course.

Having declared that...rantward ho.

I’ve known my share of narcissists. I bet we all have a few horror show acquaintances, friends or relatives of this stripe.

Once it becomes clear to me that a person is all about themselves, that they're actors in search of audiences, trolls on the hunt for a Brooklyn Bridge (or, more likely, a blog with a lot of commenters), I stay, whenever possible, well the fuck away. If I'm unfortunate enough, at some social event, to be stuck in conversation with them? I don my Super Adult mantle. You know, listening, nodding, asking the odd short question and NOT reacting to tossed off insults/bait except to exit for the bar or loo.
A study in 2008 by Shedler and Westen et al suggested the official diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) was too constricted. Their research revealed that in addition to the “classic” arrogant narcissist with an over-inflated self concept, there is also a “fragile” narcissist whose grandiose behavior is actually a defense for underlying feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.
The grandiose (or malignant) subtype is characterized by marked arrogance, contempt for others and a strong belief that they should only associate with other people as special as they are (or more powerful). A fragile narcissist displays the typical characteristics associated with NPD but also tends to be gloomy and depressed. The high-functioning/exhibitionistic narcissist also exhibits the typical characteristics of NPD (especially the over-inflated self view) but appears more socially at-ease and highly articulate. (source)
The folks I’ve known have generally been a blend of the grandiose and fragile flavors. Common to all is/has been a pronounced lack of empathy and compassion. Unless of course displaying compassion benefits them in some way. I only mention it but...
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:2
At least the ego rockin’ boys and girls are occasionally doing good works. There’s that. I’m just not going to be in their adoring, oh-you're-so-good-and-wonderful swooning audience. Nope, no can do.

And then there’s Trump. If life was a Marvel comic, he’d naturally be a super villain with some bone chilling name like Captain Parasite. You know, feeds off the labors of others without giving anything of worth in return – takes and takes and takes all in service of his rapacious ego and empty core.


After interviewing Trump back in ’90, Mark Singer, a New Yorker writer, came to the conclusion that the apricot hellbeast was “an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.” (source) Trump IS Narcissus only without the charm...or beauty...or self-knowledge. OK, referring to Trump as a narcissist is mebbe a slam on narcissists. Sorry. Trump's more of a depraved superego gone supernova and a half.

In the June issue of The Atlantic there's a fascinating piece, The Mind of Donald Trump where a psychologist analyzes Trump's personality. It's long (and well worth it) so pour a cuppa before sitting down to read. 

And then, longtime political blogger, Steve M. over at No More Mister Nice Blog has a brill post up I'm Not Sure Republicans Could Have Headed Off The Trumpocalypse. He begins by saying I can barely keep up with the Donald Trump news and he's off to the races., READ!