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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Silver Spooned

Seen on my last coupla trike rides—two different cars with the bumper sticker Proud to be an America. What the fuck does that even mean? To my mind, this has always sounded like blind jingoistic, unthinking flagwaving. Nothing more than feckless, football fan-esque boosterism.

It’d be one thing, to be Proud to be an American if, through mega adversity and your own personal heroic efforts you managed to immigrate here in order to fulfill a long held dream. I get that this would surely be an achievement to be proud of. But just being born here is nothing to be proud or ashamed of. It is what it is—nothing more than a giant cosmic accident.

What’s the pride bit all about? Is there an implicit accusation in there? Does the bumper stickered car owner feel that, because I’m not  wearing a flag pin, flying the red, white and blue from my porch and *shriek horror* I vote for the dirty hippy takers on the left, that I’m ashamed to be an American?

I’m not ashamed but I AM embarrassed to say that the hate filled, hypocritical, deceit driven, slavering-after-the-one-percenter-dollars, prevarication kings and queens of the “right” wing are, in fact, my fellow Americans.

For those of us born without the silver spoon in our hunger maws—you know, those of us not born in a money patch, any of us who rock coloring other than alabaster, women, gays, anyone else who’s slightly out of the main stream—life is much more of a struggle AND thanks to Reagan/Bush/Bush/Koch Bros and Company shit’s gotten exponentially harder.

Jeff Nesbitt, in US News and World Report, quotes a study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page of Princeton and Northwestern Universities.
...the wealthiest, most powerful elites in American society control more than just the levers of finance – they control the terms of public debates, what people care about and, ultimately, what gets acted on at the national level in Congress and the White House.
...snip...
The conclusion? The wealthy move national policy, and average Americans are effectively powerless.
Oligarchy
a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.
We are an oligarchy, not a democracy, now. Depending on your skin color, your gender and/or whether your family rocked the bucks or not, that’s how this country has ALWAYS been. The great, washed yet poor masses have grown and we continue to do so.

Then there’s the article in yesterday’s New York Times:
In 2012, the top 5 percent of earners were responsible for 38 percent of domestic consumption, up from 28 percent in 1995, the researchers found.
The rich are still buying, spending, splurging. Us in the middle? No, not so much.
While spending among the most affluent consumers has managed to propel the economy forward, the sharpening divide is worrying, Mr. Fazzari (researcher at Washington University) said.

“It’s going to be hard to maintain strong economic growth with such a large proportion of the population falling behind,” he said. “We might be able to muddle along — but can we really recover?”
And the places where those of us in the middle shop?
Sears and J. C. Penney, retailers whose wares are aimed squarely at middle-class Americans, are both in dire straits. Last month, Sears said it would shutter its flagship store on State Street in downtown Chicago, and J. C. Penney announced the closings of 33 stores and 2,000 layoffs.
Loehmann’s, where generations of middle-class shoppers hunted for marked-down designer labels in the famed Back Room, is now being liquidated after three trips to bankruptcy court since 1999.
When I shop, it’s at Sears. I don’t want to shop at Walmart or those other employee abusing, all Chinese cheap product buying, big box, screw-the-poor-but-not-until-after-you’ve-taken-their-last-dime emporiums. For that matter, I’d rather shop at a local independently owned store for everything I need but rents, the price of doing biz is so far out of the average person’s ability that non chain clothing, appliance and kitchen goods joints are almost completely a thing of the past.

And on the subject of rents, as long as I'm ranting, they are just insane. Mind, they always felt that way to me but now, they’re astronomical.

In the decidedly unposh Boston neighborhood where The Amazing Bob and I lived for a lot of years, a two bedroom now goes for $ 2-3,000 PER MONTH! Got a family? Need a four bedroom? $3,700 and these aren’t swank doorman buildings either.

In East Cambridge, where TAB and I shared digs with Jen and Oni? A small two bedroom goes for over three grand each and every month. Eleven years ago, TAB and I payed $900 a month for our comfortably sized crib.

Then there’s the low end rents of the elegant Back Bay area where a wee, no bedroom, studio flat starts at around $1,750.

Here in Quincy, a two bed rents for, between, $1300 and $2,000

We’re NOT one of the opulent, pricey suburbs either. Sheesh!

Who can afford this shit? We, TAB, Jen, Oni and I were priced out of Boston/Cambridge. Though we found Valhalla, I surely resent that we were unable to afford to stay in the town that was our home.

Still Proud to be an American? WAKE THE FUCK UP! The obscenely rich have gamed the system so that they become even MORE obscenely rich while the rest of us struggle massively, fight amongst ourselves over their scraps and leavings and become ever less able to survive.

It has always been the scheme of the “right” wing to pit the middle class against the poors. Great plan. Keeps us too busy with internecine horseshit to notice that we’re being robbed blind by our “betters.”

A vote for a republican is a vote against your own needs and, most assuredly. it’s a vote against the needs of the vast majority of the American people.

WAKE UP!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Winter Is Dead

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.
 
She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    "Winter is dead."
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
 
When daisies pied and violets blue
   And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
   Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
                         Cuckoo;
Cuckoo, cuckoo: Oh word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!

When shepherds pipe on oaten straws,
   And merry larks are plowmen’s clocks,
When turtles tread, and rooks, and daws,
   And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
                         Cuckoo;
Cuckoo, cuckoo: Oh word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!
Shakespeare, Spring

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right

Little darling
It's been a long, cold lonely winter
Little darling
It feels like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun

“Life in the World is but a big dream;
I will not spoil it by any labour or care.”
So saying, I was drunk all the day,
Lying helpless at the porch in front of my door.
When I woke up, I blinked at the garden-lawn;
A lonely bird was singing amid the flowers.
I asked myself, had the day been wet or fine?
The Spring wind was telling the mango-bird.
Moved by its song I soon began to sigh,
And as wine was there I filled my own cup.
Wildly singing I waited for the moon to rise;
When my song was over, all my senses had gone.
Li Po, Waking from Drunkenness on a Spring Day 

April, come she will
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain
May, she will stay
Resting in my arms again
June, she’ll change her tune
In restless walks, she’ll prowl the night
July, she will fly
And give no warning of her flight
Paul Simon, April Come She Will 

Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.
Yoko Ono
Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/sittingbul260496.html#2gXGZeYL5wYXvmj0.
Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/sittingbul260496.html#2gXGZeYL5wYXvmj0.99
Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/sittingbul260496.html#2gXGZeYL5wYXvmj0

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Monday Random Fluff

So, in my morning Scrabble game, I think I’m playing the Italian word for kisses and getting away with it. Nope, abaci is the plural form of abacus. Looked up kisses in my little Italian dictionary and the word is baci. Shades of my deaf/grape/pigeon debacle in Berlin!


Woke at two this morning when a giant wave of doubt, anxiety and fear (topped off by a snarling crest of memories of every embarrassing thing I’ve ever said or done), crashed down on me with extreme prejudice. Seriously, this was a killer tide, a tsunami of awful and it was out to swamp me but good.

Lemme just say this...WHAT THE FUCK?!

How did I deal with this? With my usual impatient profanity and the promise that I will never ask Jen to concoct another cocktail for me EVAH. And then I rolled over and went back to sleep.
You know you’re a print industry lifer when you wake from dreams of mic-ing (micrometer) out card stocks and doing press checks.

Rough night. Did I mention that I will no longer be making aperitif appeals of Jen?
                   *****
Have I mentioned John Scalzi yet? There’s my grande love of his sci fi novels, particularly The Android’s Dream which begins:
Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could really fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out.
And then there's his blog, Whatever. His posts on feminism (yes), politics in general (he seems to be a pragmatic lefty), being poor (he was) and, of course, books—his own  and those of other authors.

Scalzi’s funny, serious, to the point, lyric—in short, entertaining as all hell.

Oh yeah, he also has a running list of name ideas for his next theoretical (imaginary?) band.
*****

In cat news, our loud boy Gaston hasn’t been around much at all lately. After a few days absent, I became quite concerned, wicked worried and all. He finally showed up a couple of days ago, hungry as all hell but otherwise healthy. And now he’s gone again.

Wut up!

Jen suggested that, now that the weather’s nice, not so arctic, he may be out sowing his Tom Cattish oats. The Amazing Bob posits that, with the Neck mousies moving outdoors in this lovely warmer weather, G’s getting his three squares on the hoof. Maybe he’s gone green, gourmet and picky—his food must now be wild caught.

Dunno but I miss him. Yeah, I know—I’m the only one who does. See, this is one of those times (and there are many) when being deaf’s not a bad deal at all. I don’t hear his soul scarring yowls so I can love and appreciate him for his other grand qualities. What are they? Emmm, he’s a cat. A Maine Coon Cat.

He needs other fine attributes? I don’t think so.

Monday, April 21, 2014

One Year On

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
Robert Frost

It’s one year and some change later.

Wheelchair racers begin at 9:22, women start at 9:32 and the men at 10.

From the top of RunTri.com’s advice page:
The bus ride from downtown Boston to Hopkinton always seems long, long enough to make you realize that 26 miles is quite a distance to run. As if you didn't know that already. But it is a little intimidating, still.

There can also be a small delay between the time your bus enters Hopkinton and arrives at the high school, as it takes time to empty each bus in order. I only mention this because it happens every year: a long bumpy bus ride with dozens of runners constantly hydrating inevitably leads to one or more who beg the bus driver to make an unscheduled stop for emergency bladder relief. Lesson: everyone, as we tell our kids before long trips -- go before you leave.
Everything seems normal—excited, celebratory, focused on the joy, the thrill, the pain of the run—right? Well, no. Of course not.

From CNN’s article Boston Marathon security: How can you keep 26.2 miles safe?:
This year's marathon will be a massive enterprise.
The race will have 9,000 more runners than last year. More spectators than ever before will also line the course, according to the Boston Athletic Association. 
Keeping that in mind, police will double the number of officers on patrol from last year, with 3,500 scattered among the crowd. They will be aided by 100 additional security cameras and bomb-sniffing dogs.
Why so many more runners and viewers? Dunno what everyone else’s motivation is but mine, were I to venture into town, is/would be along the lines of “fuck you, you fucking rabid, bit brained, terrorist death merchants! We have survived and we WILL have our joyous hoopla, our Marathon, our welcome to all that is spring, our triumph over fear. You do NOT win!”

My default setting, in the face of egregious, shit bagged adversity, is anger.

 Why am I not going into town today? Oh please, I worked in Back Bay for a thousand and one half years—right at the finish line. After the first five Marathon Days, right there in the midst of everything and everyone, shit got old. As soon as I built up enough seniority, I started taking that day off. The crowds were just too much

On this gorgeous Valhalla spring day, one year later, I’ll trike, paint and maybe plant a whole bunch of daisies and sunflowers.

Give sorrow words;

the grief that does not speak;

whispers the o’er-fraught heart

and bids it break.
— William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Eggs

Fabergé really had the coolest job!

From PBS:
The Easter of 1885 also marks the twentieth anniversary of Czar Alexander III and Czarina Maria Fedorovna, and the Czar needs an exceptional gift for his wife.

So he places an order with a young jeweler, Peter Carl Fabergé, whose beautiful creations have recently caught Maria's eye.

On Easter morning, Fabergé delivers to the palace what appears to be a simple enameled egg. But to the delight of the Empress, inside is a golden yolk; within the yolk is a golden hen; and concealed within the hen is a diamond miniature of the royal crown and a tiny ruby egg – both now lost to history.

His wife's delight is all the Czar needs to reward Fabergé with a commission for an Easter egg every year. The requirements are straightforward: each egg must be unique, and each must contain a suitable surprise for the Empress. With consummate craftsmanship and an inventive spirit, Fabergé repeatedly meets the challenge, borrowing inspiration from the gilded lives of the Czar and Czarina.
Too bad Egon Schiele wasn’t in on this sweet egg action. Can you imagine how awesome it would be to have The Embrace on a lovely little spheroid? And, who knows, maybe he wouldn't have had to ditch Wally, marry that respectable tart Edith *sniff* and die of the Spanish Flu at the tragically early age of 28. So much hard doom could have been ducked if only he could've done up a few eggs!

Klimt’s Danae, Kiss and Medicine would, of course, be perfect.

And how about some Absinthe drinkers—hmmm? Degas and Picasso weren't exactly hard up for the odd centime, the stray peseta but, ya know, a few eggs couldn't have hurt.

Wonder if I could get an egg painting gig. I think I'd be dazzlingly fab at this. Oh yeah!

Emmm, Buona Pasqua, Frohe Ostern, Joyeuses Pâques, Felices Pascuas, A' Chàisg sona and a rousing Beannachtaí na Cásca y'all!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Slave To The Rhythm

I was born with the internal clock of a senior citizen. Yes, I AM in fact the youngest person at an early bird special and no, it’s not because I’m a good daughter, taking my aged folks out for a meal.

Dinner at eight? Don’t make me laugh, cry or eat that main meal twice. I can’t possibly hold out until our appointed supper hour so, inevitably, I have two.

You’d think I’d have gotten the hang of this by now. I’ve been a morning person, out of step with friends, family and the trendier sort of restaurants (who often don’t open before seven) all my life.

I could have a small salad at five and then a full meal at that unholy dining hour of eight or nine PM. Right?

Yes, yes, makes LOADS of sense. Except, I’m never hungry after that early amuse-bouche. Still, I gaze at the menu— the Eggplant & Dumplings in black bean basil sauce, the Chiles Rellenos De Queso, the Saag Paneer call out to me. I can resist anything ‘cept temptation, don'cha know.

This, THIS is why I struggle so mightily to lose weight. It’s all due to the entire world, or so it seems, being out of tune with MY circadian rhythms! OK, OK there are other issues but still, this is truly giant. Honest!

Naturally I Googled the morning versus night thing.

From WebMD:
A recent study in Belgium found that night owls are able to stay more focused as the day goes on, compared with early risers.
Morning people, however, also have advantages. "Larks generally sleep better, have more regular sleep patterns, and have more flexible personalities," Sharkey says. They also tend to be happier and feel healthier than night owls, according to a recent study from the University of Toronto.
Yea me on the happy/healthy bits! Re: the focus dealie—I’ve def found this to be true. My best work, whether that’s writing, painting, triking, math, research—whatever, is done in the morning. Woe betide me and my boss if she gives me a big, urgent project in the afternoon.

I found this interesting bit at the LiveScience site:
About half of the population falls in the middle — neither a morning nor an evening type, Brown said. These people can adjust more easily to changes in dozing schedules.
**********snip*************
The remaining half of individuals split evenly into morning or evening types, though this preference "ranges from mild to extreme," said Brown.
What I want to know is, if night people are just a quarter of the population, why, WHY is it that everyone’s evening meal time is so goddamned late?!

What? What’s that you said? Could you write it down for me? (deaf here, ya know)
It’s that I’m an extreme morning person and a seven or eight PM dinner hour isn’t late. In fact it’s the fine and dandy norm for the vast majority?

Oh.

Dunno how I ended up like this—my parents were total night owls.
Slave to the Rhythm—Grace Jones

Friday, April 18, 2014

Octopus's Garden

So, this is Good Friday, huh?

A) isn’t that redundant?
B) wasn’t such a good Friday for Jesus, now was it?
C) When do I get my chocolate bunny?

dammit.


Had a dream that I was triking through the cobblestone streets of Prague which, just as I reached the Charles Bridge, metamorphosed into Cambridge and the Harvard Bridge over to Boston’s Back Bay. Why Prague? Why the Harvard Bridge? Beats me—I was just trying to get home.

Mebbe this has something to do with yesterday's art supply odyssey?

Possibly my nocturnal travel fancy MIGHT have something to do with that martini Jen magicked up for me last night. I don’t generally drink them anymore. Why not? Too many damn calories, Dahling! OK, that and they’re vicious little hot flash triggers.

So, my beloved, exceptionally dry, Sapphire gin martini currently makes only the rarest of appearances. All in all this is a good thing but...sigh.

From Science Poems:
 
3 Octopus Hearts - a poem
Octopus floated,
Under the sea,
Crying her eyes out,
Why would that be?
Her boyfriend had written,

A letter with ink,
 


A letter as cold,

As an ice hockey rink…

He said it was over,

He’d found someone new,

And so she was crying,

What else could she do?

It hurt really bad,

In all of her parts,

But the pain was the worst,

In all 3 of her hearts…
What is an octopus?
Octopuses are cephalopod mollusks that live in oceans all around the world.
Octopuses have 8 legs (tentacles) that are lined with suction cups.
An octopus body is soft- it has no skeleton, the only hard part being its beak-like mouth.
Octopuses have 3 hearts- one main heart and two smaller hearts by its gills.
All octopuses have venom, but only the blue-ringed octopus is potentially deadly to humans.
Octopuses have a number of ways to protect themselves. They are fast swimmers that can hide in small spaces. They can also eject ink from their bodies that help them hide and also make it harder for predators to smell them.
Octopuses are considered to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates.
You're most welcome!
Octopus' Garden—Ringo Starr and the Roudheads

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Odyssey

TAB and Miles in East Cambridge
Apart from canvas, I’ve not needed to make an art supply buy in awhile. Lucky me, eh? I’ve always shopped at the easy-ish to get to and park at Pearl or Utrecht in Cambridge. Smart babe that I am, I checked the web before we left the house to see if the shops were still there. Utrecht, yes. Pearl, no.

The Amazing Bob and I set off on our mission, just after ten—post morning rush or so we thought. Traffic crawled. With Cambridge-ness achieved, we took a spin around the old neighborhood. As ever, it's buried and besotted in development.

Finally, we arrived and actually found parking right across the street from the store. YEA!

I dashed over—figuring I’d be in and out in five minutes —only to find an empty building, a husk. 'the fuck?!

Between business' unupdated websites and Google Maps' interesting take on directions, I’m starting to rilly distrust info acquired online.

What to do? What to do? I need to buy stretcher bars live and in person so I can check for warpage before purchase. Can't order online.

We drove down Mass Ave through Central Square because I’d thought I’d seen a supply shop there. Yes, one exists but it looks more like a hobby/crafting-goods emporium versus pro artist supplies merchant. Apart from the hellish traffic, no parking could be found anyway. No surprise there.

I was losing hope but had one last idea. Utrecht had a store on corner of Mass Ave. and Huntington in Boston—right by Symphony Hall. It was more or less on the way back toward the highway home so we figured we'd give it a shot.

Given our luck to that point, I shouldn’t have been amazed to find mega construction EVERYWHERE, traffic so bottle necked that it could easily choke a pigeon and, of course, no parking. We attempted to go ‘round the block—surely there’d be a wee space for my tiny Bix! The first three turns were either blocked by construction vehicles or sported one way signs in, naturally, the wrong direction.

Finally, we came to a heavy equipment free street only to find that the spaces, if one had been free, were all resident only. We drove on, attempting to get back onto Huntington Ave.

No such luck.

Utterly derailed and now in Roxbury, we gave up. I knew how to get back to the Symphony Hall area  but not how to navigate/maneuver around the stratospheric congestion. Defeated in our quest, we motored home.

I think Jason had an easier time going after that damned Golden Fleece.


Ulysses had an easier time getting home from the Trojan Wars.

Christ, what an exhausting experience and worst of all, no prize, no new stretchers to show for all that stress and effort. All I wanted was a tidy little quartet of 24” stretcher bars and another of 36”. I need to start a couple of new paintings!

What will I do? Cannibalize a couple of old paintings—roll the old canvas off and stretch new. That and, next week when I'm in town for a doc appointment, I'll try a place supposedly near Fenway Park. The significantly more skilled and patient driver, Jen, will be at the wheel so there's a good shot we'll score the goods.