Fuck Me, I Think I’m Elder

Is this like something you have to be?

Or automatically become?

And why are there these special, all-cringeworthy words for getting older?

Why aren’t I the same person, granted in somewhat different form?

More bouts with that chronic illness that periodically take me off to OtherLand. You know, the one where you don’t live. Least not if you take life for granted. Your physical life, your mind. Which my illness blows all to hell. The body produces some killer chemicals, trying to keep it all in check. Whereas you, you lucky dogs, you just piss it out.

Naw, not during this whole time that I haven’t posted here. What that’s about is … I don’t know what that’s about, except I think it’s lousy to walk away from a blog without a word, which is what it looked like. Continue reading “Fuck Me, I Think I’m Elder”

Men. Women. Just Saying.

Heart-rending story in the New York Times, The Life and Death of Therapist Bob Bergeron.… but perhaps not in the way you think. Depending perhaps on whether you are gay, a man. I’m not, but the beauty-fade? The loss of looks?  Getting old? The Creeping Decrepits, my son calls them. He, however, is only eighteen years younger than I, so he’ll get his. (He’s a Good Boy.) (Also a Senior GeoTech engineer, so I probably won’t be sending him this post.) You know the first thing I was thinking? Ladies,  do we kill ourselves when our looks disappear? The bright and shiny looks of youth? Noooo. And guys: this meat market, the whole guy hookup thing. Of which the Bergeron obit writes so blithely, so blindly. You think maybe it’s a tad empty? A tad suicidal, in and of itself?

Continue reading “Men. Women. Just Saying.”

You Don’t Know What Is Happening Here, Do You, Ms. Katehi?

Verrry interesting. The slow tap tap of her heels … in all that silence. Just devastating.

Depending on which video you see, her face is quite visible, and she seems to look out over that long line of students with some surprise. No threat. That there was no threat to her was palpable. That extraordinary silence. The smartest damn protest I’ve ever seen. We’ve come a long way since the Sixties. When general melee was all. That or stopping troop trains, that was a fair biggie. Then of course the trains were routed elsewhere, and eventually the tracks torn up. But whoa, lost in the past again. Continue reading “You Don’t Know What Is Happening Here, Do You, Ms. Katehi?”

The Shock of the New


On Richard Brody’s New Yorker Blog, the DVD of the Week is that fave, that treasure, Terrence Malick’s Badlands.

Brody writes:

It’s a jolt to see “Badlands” again after having seen the new movie; what seems, in the earlier film, to have been mere hints, adornments, and suggestions—background gleams, silhouettes, shots of nature and landscape, a fascination with the celestial, a sense of the cosmic …

And I am like, stop right there! What about those crickets and other night cries in “Days of Heaven.” What about those “background gleams” that sure as hell came to the forefront in the prairie fire. Silhouettes—Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, swiping at the fire with what was it, their shirts? Tricky fire, it seemed so small, so manageable, before it swept the plains. Just clumps of grass.

Grass. What a motif, throughout Malick’s work. The New World … nothing but grass whispers, until, y, Colin Farrell appears like a god, from nowhere the natives had imagined, ever had reason to imagine. The Thin Red Line. Must I go on? It is a pleasure to go on.

Then a commenter gets his pants in a knot. I make it a rule not to read comments, because they always spoil the damn piece.

… Kael’s opinion wasn’t based solely on the performance style of the actors. She says, “Kit (Martin Sheen) and Holly (Sissy Spacek) are emotionless, and the film looks at them emotionlessly.” She says that “Kit and Holly are kept at a distance, doing things for no explained purpose; it’s as if the director had taped gauze over their characters, so we wouldn’t be able to take a reading on them.” If any “mistake” has been made, it’s been made by you, Richard Brody, in your consistently skewed interpretations of Kael’s words.

Like Pauline Kael was someone to look to on the subject of emotion? Kael, as quoted here, is so misguided, I can’t help but think she was threatened by all that Malick foretold—not her kind of film. And film was hers, then.

For if Kit and Holly represented anyone, it was precisely nowhere kids like them: bored, without resource, without a future. Kit grabbed at what everyone grabs at now: fame. Via murder? Does the shooter care?

And Holly? Didn’t you know phlegmatic girls like Holly back in school?

Then you didn’t grow up in a small town. Where no one gave a thought to a college education. Where your life held no surprises. Only risk.

I left Mr. Pants a reply. Funny how you can care about a film.

Maybe it’s an age thing, or where you grew up, but nothing could convey that empty forward push of people like Kit and Holly than their “emotionless” demeanor. Which shows them as all the more lost, in the modern world to come.

Meaning Beyond Question

All I know is, my soul is a pest. Or whatever is that internal thing that has kept yammering away, lo these many decades. Always with a very clear idea of what is right. Not what was easy, at the time, or even possible. Certainly not taking my children into consideration, when I was young and most wretchedly married. Just, Move on, move on. You’re going to leave here, sooner or later. One of the leavings was without my children—and I have never been able to explain why that was something I had to do. Granted, I thought it would be a separation of months—but back then, and perhaps still, a girl who would do such a thing was a slut. Beyond slut: inexplicable. I simply knew that if I had to move to Iowa and live in married-graduate student housing, I would kill myself. Having seen the sad and depressed women who lived in the same at Princeton, which I figured to be a fucking palace compared to Iowa.

Women then had nothing to do but childcare, which is a really boring thing, as occupations go. And the grad student housing itself had wallboard that picked apart in shreds, the rooms were tiny, it was terribly hot. I saw enough. We lived in a cottage, as my then-husband’s family knew someone, a family so extended it was hard to go anywhere in America and not know someone. In truth, for a while I wanted to fit in with them, it was ever so much better than my family, which had no influence at all–except for my father’s fellow physicists, scattered along the Eastern seaboard at just enough removal so that every night, when we travelled north or south, there was always someone from whom to cadge dinner. For all six of us. Something I did not know was strange until I studied the whole autistic-spectrum thing and began to see my parents for who they were. People hugely without a social clue, which is where shades of autism show up. Who saw nothing wrong with arriving, four children in tow, just in time for dinner. I remember clear as day my father checking his watch, noting that it was ten to six, and, getting out his address book, punching into a pay phone the number of tonight’s potential suckers. And the worried look on the wife’s face of the wife, trying to make her bean casserole stretch.  Wondering, I realized later, how to feed another six people, while my mother sat silent, mortified—but then, she was always mortified—as the husbands talked physics or whatever the hell it was they talked.

The soul so intimately tied up with memory. When everything fell into place later, in adulthood, I realized most of what my soul had nattered on about was the normal. Healthful. Not a massively distorted life. It definitely wanted and still wants for me to live amongst people who love me, and whom I love. Something I’ve had very brief experience of. And trying to stay sane in the midst of thought-disordered people is the biggest damn energy-suck. The point always was, I coulda been a contender. Instead of a bum. Which is of course what I turned out to be.

Words to that effect.


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Who’s Sorry Now

Of all the scenes in the book, the one most resembling the later life of the Tolstoys is not a Levin-Kitty scene, but the final row between Vronsky and Anna just before she goes out to throw herself under a train. Tolstoy’s mastery of the feat of simultaneously putting the reader inside the heads of both characters as well as his own, as if the ball is being tossed from Anna to Vronsky to the narrator at high speed without ever being dropped, is one of the supreme moments of craft in all fiction … James Meek, LRB

A statement so disarming, I had to go find it.

In rereading even this small part of the novel, I was struck that Tolstoy turned Anna into someone who had to destroy. Was this supposed to be her guilt, then? Her self-punishment? The nagging, clinging woman she seemed to will herself to become was nothing like the Anna we first met. I suppose we all do this. Historically. Take great leaps of faith and then, as day follows night, render upon ourselves in spades precisely what society thinks of us, the society whose norms we have so dashingly ignored. The moral? Well, for one thing — when it pays off — this is probably how women have always gotten ahead, gotten a leg up in a world made by men. You have to defy.

The second part, the tearing it all down—perhaps it comes of not really knowing what love is. What it’s for. Romantic love is simply not transformative. Did Anna think so? I expect she simply struggled with and failed, as we so often do, at the more difficult task of finding meaning for herself. And it drove her mad.

What I found was a perfect bit of modernity …

“Oh, by the way,” he said at the very moment she was in the doorway, “we’re going tomorrow for certain, aren’t we?”
“You, but not I,” she said, turning round to him.
“Anna, we can’t go on like this…”
“You, but not I,” she repeated.
“This is getting unbearable!”
“You … you will be sorry for this,” she said, and went out.

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Burning the Hajib

hajibBurning down the cloth house. Have you a shred of a chance of realizing all that you know in your heart are your dreams withheld, stifled, lost? And does this loss, what you have already lost and what will come, does it resonate anywhere? Or do your struggles as women rise and disappear like waves in the ocean, what does one woman matter, in a world you know is Wrong. Misguided, stupid to the core. Could you do better with one little finger than the men you refuse to call, anymore, leaders. And don’t you have to live with the terrible obviousness. Your perfect skill to find the moral balance midst conflict. Isn’t it all a big pissing contest, no more than gang behavior … and aren’t you, as a woman, with your maternal, familial skills, aren’t you the hope of the world?

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Special, Not Special


As a result of the blending of reality and fantasy, some women have chosen to willingly play along by a new set of rules in order to keep their men interested: They’re intentionally impersonating porn stars. Sadie, a real-estate agent, says, “A lot of guys have come to expect P.S.E. [the “Porn-Star Experience”] as a common thing — snatches waxed bald, access to every hole —and plenty of women are more than happy to provide. A few might enjoy it, but for most it’s harrowing. I think there’s a fear that if they can’t make it happen, their boyfriend will retreat online.” New York Magazine

Continue reading “Special, Not Special”