31 August 2007

pretty -- ugly





God help you if you are an ugly girl, 'course too pretty is also your doom, 'cause everyone harbors a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room.

-- Ani Difranco

You scored as Albert Camus, You are Albert Camus, so you are one sweet absurdist. He built largely upon the framework of existentialists before him, but introduced the concept that life is absurd, but that we should continue living anyway. You have strong liberal leanings, although you annoy the Communists. You are susceptible to driving fast, and possibly crashing into a tree.



Which Existentialist Philosopher Are You?
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30 August 2007

menstruation


dirty old moonlight, originally uploaded by McBeth.


If women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn't it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long?

-- Gloria Steinem

28 August 2007

unfilled wishes


JC, table for two?, originally uploaded by McBeth.


It is not good for all our wishes to be filled; through sickness we recognize the value of health; through evil, the value of good; through hunger, the value of food; through exertion, the value of rest.

-- Dorothy Canfield Fisher

27 August 2007

the dreaming days





Is the proper term 'unconsolable' or 'inconsolable'?

Whatever. Whichever. I am that. It doesn't make sense that I'd have anything to feel in particular need of consolation, but that fact hasn't seem to dawn on those chemicals and situations that cause mood upheaval lately. Whatever. I am that.

I should have found something to do when I woke early again this morning, this time at 4a.m.

I've been having bad dreams again, or maybe I've had a constant marathon of bad dreams that I haven't remembered a blessed thing about. If so, I am grateful not to have to feel like someone has peeled my skin off with a rusty potato peeler while I've slept, and I wish those I'm having now would go away.

This morning's dream began innocently enough. I was living in what apparently was my regular city but it had become one of those 'wave of the future in the industrialized world' kind of metropolis. Getting anywhere was a time- and labor-intensive venture. New corporate development everywhere. What used to be fields had been bulldozed to beyond a centimeter of its life into magnificently steep hills and valleys.

My dream mother had called me, not sure why an alimony check from my father had not arrived from the state agency responsible for issuance. She had waited months for the funds though it hadn't occurred to her to place a phone call before this moment in time: she believed she had to physically show up, in person, to get a meaningful response. But she was afraid to drive the admittedly complex maze of roads, as if they themselves had become a governmentally constructed way of keeping regular people from getting where they really needed to go.

As I would do in a non-dream state, I agreed to take her where she needed to go so she could get the answers she needed. She was babysitting my niece and I'd already agreed to run my son on a car part errand (the story of his early driving years: always another part) so, to make the best use of our collective time I drove my son and myself to my mother's house. In my dream I was driving a micro-mini car that hadn't the space for three passengers, so we switched over into my mother's car - a huge monster of a Suburban or a Tahoe or something equally reprehensibly too much.

I acted as though I was a capable behemoth driver, winnowing through tiny passes, narrowly avoiding side-view mirror clip-offs in tight construction zones, guiding us op and down and around steep grades and implausibly tight curves. Mom held on, screeching 'watch out!' when I was navigating particularly tight places. I held my tongue, chose not to further complicate the situation by asking if she'd ever considered a less bulky and imposing and fuel-inefficient vehicle. I'd guess that the answer would not come as a surprise, nor would it be anything I was remotely interested in hearing.

The building we arrived at was the government's solution for one-stop shopping. Gleaming and too tall to see the top floor when standing outside at the bottom floor. From the main entrance one was required to travel through a maze of elevators, escalators and too-bright corridors, all of which provided travelers a way to get to airline terminals that also were located within the building but on the far side.

My dream niece had an understood penchant, as many children do, for public restrooms. Whether she had an actual physical need to relieve her bladder pressure or whether she just wanted some automatic paper towel dispenser play time was unclear, but she had to go, she insisted. Harrowing traffic had also left my mother feeling inclined to make a "quick stop, just to be sure". I figured, "oh well, why not?" then spoke briefly with my son and we agreed to meet up at a specific location further along. He'd have a few minutes to hang out to do whatever he wanted to do while he waited for us.

Bathrooming done, my mother, my niece and I continued along to our agreed-upon meeting place. It was an industrially noisy and chaotic intersection, so we took a long relaxed pause to locate my son. We didn't see him. Longer wait. More looking: still no kid.

My mother was becoming agitated, worrying that we wouldn't get to the office before it closed for the day and my wiggly niece was, despite her deep admiration for her older cousin, growing impatient. I pulled out my cell phone, pushed '9' for my son's preprogrammed cell phone number, and listened to it ring until, unanswered, it switched over to his voice mail message. I spoke apologetically to the machine, saying how I'd appreciated his patience when he had only wanted to pick up a car part. I said we've been waiting here at our agreed-upon meeting place for quite some time and that Gramma was starting to become vocal and nervous and about how she worried that we wouldn't get to the offices on time.

I hesitated, then said I was going to continue along to that office with Grandma and his cousin. I asked him either to call me back or to send me a text message so I could figure out where he was in relation to where were were headed so we could reconnoiter. I told his voice mail that I loved it, then pressed 'end' to complete my call.

We stayed close together, my mother, my niece and myself. Periodically my niece would ask why her cousin wasn't with us, where was he anyway? Each time she asked I'd glance down to my cell phone in my right hand; each time I'd swallow a little more concern while trying to calmly respond, 'I dunno. He hasn't called back yet, honey'.

My mother, my niece and I stepped into yet another elevator compartment after we'd waited for the passengers to flow out like a small carful of clowns. The panel of buttons was unclear, unmarked, seemingly planned purposefully to discourage passengers from going where they meant to go. My niece was eager to be the official elevator button-pusher, so after weighing out the probability of pushing the button that seemed most likely to get us to the office my mother required, I directed the official button pusher to press the circle labeled '21'. The elevator made whirring and cooshing noises, and eventually the doors opened. One look around and I knew I had guessed incorrectly: the walls and floors were decorated in an aerospace travel motif of reds and silvers.

We had not yet located the alimony office; we had arrived at the TWA terminal. Busy -seeming people sped past us on all sides. Try as we did, nobody would stop to help us figure out how to get where we wanted to go. My niece asked again, 'Where is cousin?' 'He'd know what to do', she assured me. I checked my cell phone again. No messages, so I sent off another brief text message: 'call me please?'. My mother's agitation grew. That office, she insisted, will be closing soon. I cannot - WILL not - come back here again.

What to do? What to do?

I moved my niece and mother to a small recessed area against a wall, telling them in jerky words DO NOT MOVE FROM THIS PLACE. I'll try to find someone who can help us, but you must stay together and you must not leave this spot until I come back for you. My mother was spiritedly displeased at the situation but my niece seemed to understand the stress of the situation so she asked my mother to tell her a Bible story. My mother's ire was short-lived and vaporized instantly as my niece redirected her into sharing one of her greatest passions with her progeny, and I felt a spark of renewed hope that I might have a few moments to get information that would help us to proceed.

I chose one potentially useful looking woman from the next batch of clowns to exit the elevator. She was wearing a red polyester knee-length skirt with a matching vest over a shiny block-patterned long-sleeved polyester dress shirt buttoned with small white buttons up to her neck. Her shiny orangeish-blond hair was cut into a sensible grown lady style, straightened with an iron then curled under at the ends, just below her jawline. I noted with some surprise that the crisp TWA woman was coming directly toward me, as though she knew we needed some help.

Ah! Finally!

The woman's smile and calm demeanor came as a welcomed change after the scores of people whose apathetic indifference to our questions had made me wonder about the inner workings of their animatronic robot parts and pieces behind their garments. The woman stopped immediately in front of me, then she leaned in to utter some inaudible thing.

I said, "I'm sorry, but I couldn't hear you. Could you please repeat what you just said?" She whispered something again but, again, I could make neither heads nor tails of what I couldn't hear. I repeated, "It's so loud in this corridor! I'm terribly sorry, but I just can't hear you. Can we go to a quieter place?" She didn't seem to hear me, either. We continued in this way for several minutes longer and it was apparent that we both were becoming frustrated.

Finally, reaching for my arm, she leaned into my and in a fake cheerful voice she hissed, "We need to have a word with you, ma'am".

"We who?", I asked, "who is we? See, my mother, my niece and I seem to have gotten ourselves lost and we - the three of us, I mean - would appreciate your help to get to our destination". Still holding one of my arms, she reached for the other. "It's about your son".

My dream self felt a wave of relief tingle down my arms into my fingers.

"Oh good! I've been waiting for him to call me back since we got separated near the public restrooms on ground floor. I was beginning to worry because he hadn't returned my call and several text messages", I replied.

She looked at me as she held my arms in her hands, really looked into my eyes, trying to say something unspeakable with the blue surrounding her shrunken pupils.

"It's about your son", she emphatically repeated. Dread replaced the short-lived tingly relief.

"What about my son? Where is he?"

As if on cue, several brawny men appeared in the corridor, clustered in a semicircle around something, blocking my view of whatever it was. The two men leading the pack stepped to either side. Behind them was a person who very much resembled my child in stature and appearance. The man's hands were bound with plastic handcuffs.

"What are you people doing here? Where is my son?". My dream self had already begun to disengage from my shrilly shrieking voice.

"There was a problem", red polyester lady reiterated. A problem with your son. A problem with your son. A problem with your son.

I quickly glanced over to the recessed area of corridor where my mother animatedly reenacted the story of baby Moses in the rushes to my niece.

What problem? What happened? Where the hell is my son?

I looked again at the young man standing with assistance between the pack of men I'd determined were guards. He was tipping back and forth, staggering, lurching, balanced into an upright position due singularly to the band of guards surrounding him, holding him in place. His eyes were rolling around vacantly in their sockets, in different directions one from the other. Dried blood crusted the inside corners of the man's mouth, and crusted over spit mixed with who knows what else, maybe vomit, it looked like, splattered across the lower half of his face, as though he'd gotten sick on a Tilt-A-Whirl with no way of stopping either the ride or the barf fest.

The man was my son. That lurching staggering plastic-cuffed apparition of a person was my child.

I tried to loosen red polyester woman's grip from my arms, howling obscenities, demanding to know right goddamned now what the FUCK they did to my child. I wailed my kid's name repeatedly, right at him even, but nothing was registering; he looked soulless and confused and gone.

Just as three of the guards moved from their positions as bracing agents for my son, the woman emotionlessly whispered, "There was a problem. According to our information he took too long."

Motherfucking cocksucking sons of bitches have done something to suck the life out of my kid and she's still stuck in her goddamned "There's a problem" loop?? She's fucking right about a problem existing, I screamed in spit-laden chunks of grieving horror.


Still in that calm telephone attendant voice, she spoke in barely-audible tones, describing something about how during a routine surveillance process it had been noted that he was taking too long to use the restroom.

"Are you fucking KIDDING ME?", I laughed hysterically, "You electrocuted or tasered or drugged or whatever it is that these fucking lunatics did to a perfectly pleasant reasonable kind and gentle person because he couldn't fucking PISS fast enough for you? Is that what you're actually trying to tell me?"

My vacantly gazing son lost his balance and, with two less guards to help him balance, began to list forward. I escaped the grabbing hands of red polyester lady and her two thugs, shaking them scratching them kicking them with all my might to be able to catch my falling child.

I've no idea what might have happened after that because I woke in a sobbing panic, unable to catch my breath. I raced to my son's bedroom, stifling my sobs into my forearm, watching to see if he was there and then, reassured as to his whereabouts, I stared at him to determine that he was still alive. He was laying on his right side, arm wrapped tenderly around his girlfriend's waist. He was still and obviously sleeping, but I had to stand there to watch watch watch the rhythmic rise and fall of his shoulders.

He is fine.
He is fine.
I am fine.
He is fine.
He is fine.
I am fine.
He is fine.
He is fine.
I will be fine.

The only thing I could think to do after having reassured myself that my kid was alive and only sleeping was to make my bed. I made my bed well, tightly, smoothly, evenly. The pillows were just so. I needed order; I needed badly for something to be immediately right, to be okay, to not be messed up, to be fixed.

Neat and pretty bed.
Fixed bed.
Tidy bed.
Better bed.

Breathe.
Breathe.

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