Dream Song

November 17, 2012 § 2 Comments

Can a person go insane from an earache and a few mad cats? What about LUST? I wish I had mouths all up and down my arms, so I could go out bare-armed like Paula Broadwell and have everyone run away in terror. Zombie Apocalypse it’s not, but enough for a Friday night. Though I couldn’t be any scarier than that ruffled dress Paula wore on Jon Stewart that made her look like Big Bird’s bridesmaid in mourning.

A friend said that in this era anyone having an affair, especially at that level, can’t use email or cell phones. But there are lots of ways they could have passed messages on the Internet, not even employing the fancy encryption/tech stuff. No, I won’t tell you. I may be involved with a CIA agent someday. I’d be the one asking about undetectable assassination methods, not what happened in fucking Bengazi.

Four people died! That’s what happened. John McCain should be serving soup to the even-more-elderly in an area nursing home, the sort of volunteer who never leaves and the staff say, after while, “We’re not really sure if he’s a patient here…but as long as we tape his mouth shut every morning, he’s fine.”

No comment on the gifts gaffe. I have Romnesia. I have a crush on Susan Rice, as well as my continuing crush on Chris Matthews. My husband is in love with his guitar. He doesn’t hear me when I speak. I don’t hear him when I’m reading. He’s an A plus husband, but we need to get out more. Sometimes, we’re too bored to eat.

I have stories I need to commit to paper, or its facsimile. Yet I hesitate. Writing my memoir, in the 1990s, I cried for two straight years. I’ve already put in my tears for this decade. I’m tired of feeling like a woman after a back-alley face-lift. I want some of those millions wasted on the election. “Will you give if you win the lottery?” asked the woman from the LGBT organization after I explained all my charity monies had gone to Sandy victims lately. “Absolutely,” I said. “Even if I win the $ 5,000 Better Homes and Gardens sweepstakes.”

I have a sparkling resume, for a writer. If you’re desperate, they’ll smell it on you, Lisa said. But I’m far from desperate. I didn’t end anyone and hack her body up and hide the pieces. I may talk too much. I apologized to my husband recently for my shitty mood and bad manners. He laughed darkly. “If you could get to me, you’d have been dead a long time ago…”

Murder is the lowest expression of imagination, although joking about it isn’t. Trolling for sweepstakes is the next lowest. The epistolary erotic novel is enjoying a renaissance. I want to laugh while I write.

Lola still attacks like a kamikaze fighter. Mouchette vanishes under the bed at the slightest excuse. Charles keeps me locked in the bedroom all day and night so Mouchette won’t be lonely, while he stays in the living room with Lola. Fitzroy goes back and forth as he pleases. He tests the water level in his bowl with his paw before drinking, contaminating it for everyone. The kitty litter is so close to my bed now, I can hear them peeing. It’s oddly intimate, like the sister who leaves the bathroom door open.

My new favorite poet

Dear Reader

You have forgotten it all.
You have forgotten your name,
where you lived, who you
loved, why.
I am simply
your nurse, terse and unlovely
I point to things
and remind you what they are:
chair, book, daughter, soup.

And when we are alone
I tell you what lies
in each direction: This way
is death, and this way, after
a longer walk, is death,
and that way is death but you
won’t see it
until it is right
in front of you.

Once after
your niece had been to visit you
and I said something about
how you must love her
or she must love you
or something useless like that,
you gripped my forearm
in your terrible swift hand
and said, she is
everything—you gave
me a shake—everything
to me.
And then you fell
back into the well. Deep
in the well of everything. And I
stand at the edge and call:
chair, book, daughter, soup.

–Rita Mae Reese

The Death Panel

August 16, 2009 § Leave a comment

jwdiehlHawaiiHawaiian Cemetery, J.W. Diehl

Sit down, dear lady, sit down.

You have trouble sitting? How old are you?

That is very, very old.

You’re older than Nancy Pelosi! Doesn’t that make you feel old? Do you have many cats? A car that makes funny noises, but only you hear them? Do your grandchildren walk right through you at family functions, tangling up  your nerves like wet spaghetti?

I see. You’ve never had children, and you’re retired, no pets. You don’t drive. You wouldn’t need much in the grave now, would you? We can spare a blanket. They have pills so that you won’t notice when the dirt is piled on top. Only two, though, we need to save some for the other septuagenarians. 70 is the new 99! Yes, we can!

You don’t have to worry about your mortgage anymore, or all those jury duty notices you stuck in the kitchen drawer. The plots are free. Isn’t it something that a sprained ankle can get you so much? Used to be an ace bandage, five minutes with the doctor: now you get personal, red-carpet service and a gently used pine coffin! Complete with the latest issue of The New York Times! Some call us socialists, but we like to think we’re being neighborly. Soon you’ll have Internet access and cable.

You’d prefer to not to be connected after death? You don’t want to hear Keith and Rachel, dear little Anderson? You don’t want to tweet all your demented, frail, wobbly, healthcare-gobbling sexagenarian friends?

America needs more like you. Michelle and I are going to pray you get on the waiting list for Heaven. Every year, they take a few who haven’t been to Harvard, according to Rahm. No, I don’t know what happens to Jews after death. Nobody does, not even Jews. That’s why they’re so active all the time.

And yes—since you ask—it’s true Rahm said Satan has a Sarah Palin pinup calendar. But don’t make too much out of that. I think they’re actually going to put her in Limbo with all the unbaptized babies. Just for laughs, you know. God has a wicked sense of humor. Rahm told me—well, never mind. Goodnight, dear lady, goodnight, goodnight.

Bullet Fever

May 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

Tamas Dezso for The New York Times, Mangalista pigs

Do you think it would help if President Obama announced we have a pandemic in this country, killing thousands, including an inordinate number of children, that everyone is at risk, especially in crowded public places?

He could call it Bullet Fever.

The next time someone glares at you or your kid for sneezing without a hankie remind then it’s your 2nd amendment right. Disease has traditionally been a weapon of war, from besieged townsfolk catapulting corpses over the walls at the enemy to the Japanese carrying out (very successful) plague experiments in China during WWII to all the nefarious games going on today.

I think a sick kid falls under the definition of a well-armed militia as much as a psychotic college student with an assault rifle.

In fact, there’s no evidence at all that this flu wasn’t created in a U.S. lab to be used against…well, whomever, let’s decide that later… and escaped on the person of a Mexican janitor who was then righteously fired to cut costs, gave up on the American Dream, and went home.

But the important thing is we’re all entitled to our deadly diseases, and though you shouldn’t infect someone on purpose unless they sneeze first or are part of an invading enemy force, accidents happen.

A well-prepared individual purchases the flu in a sealed pouch with a spray nozzle, from a reputable dealer, and carries it along with his level 4 contamination mask whenever he ventures into dangerous territory: work, school, trains and buses, the mall and all fast food outlets.

It’s common courtesy to leave it at home when dining with the in-laws, important clients and the President.

Twitter me a Tweet, Boz

March 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell walking up the High Street, Edinburgh, from a print by Thomas Rowlandson, 1786. "Mr Johnson and I walked Arm in Arm up the High Street to my House in James Court; it was a dusky night; I could not prevent his being assailed by the Evening effluvia of Edinburgh." As we marched along he grumbled in my ear "I smell you in the dark."

Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell walking up the High Street, Edinburgh, from a print by Thomas Rowlandson, 1786. "Mr Johnson and I walked Arm in Arm up the High Street to my House in James Court; it was a dusky night; I could not prevent his being assailed by the Evening effluvia of Edinburgh." As we marched along he grumbled in my ear "I smell you in the dark."

I read that celebrities are now hiring people to ghostwrite their twitter entries. I don’t mean ‘now hiring’ as in send in your resume. I’m sure they have the requisite flunkies on hand, or if they didn’t before the Times piece, they do now. Young assistant or actual freelance writer composes, publicist OKs, star is informed of what he/she said if it has any likelihood of ever being quoted, and all the little people realize that access to the real private lives of the famous is not in fact available at the click of a mouse. You still have to put the hours in. Stalking is not a lazy man’s art.

Social networks are for our own grubby networking (and fun, yes, that too) and I’m not expecting to network with movie stars or Barack Obama. I know I’m the perfect person to help him with the new book; he may be a fantastic writer but he’s kind of busy these days. I could bring that rare “I’m not a speechwriter” quality to the manuscript, but I doubt Twitter will land me an interview. Maybe if I saved one of his kids from drowning? Oh yeah, they already have people for that. And it’s too late to become a dog psychic. That’s the sort of business you have to start when people are itching to get rid of their cash and the dog won’t eat it.

The Times quoted 50 Cent’s twitter (something he actually said in an interview; his assistant plucked it for a tweet): “My ambition leads me through a tunnel that never ends.”

We could all use that sentiment, and that sentence, with a little tweaking.

“My sex addiction leads me through strange vaginas that never end.”

“My nostalgia leads me through a fictitious youth that never returns.”

“My mother-in-law leads me through a wilderness of stories that never discover their point though they do grow fainter when I leave the room.”

“My blogging leads me into digressions where I have to confess a lot more than I might otherwise in order to make the entry flow, so if I mention you and you don’t like it, send me a rewrite and I’ll consider it.”*

  • This is not a paid position.

I find I journalize too tediously. Let me try to abbreviate.

~James Boswell

I read the news today, oh boy…

March 10, 2009 § 1 Comment

Warthog. n.(wôrthôg, -hg) 1. A wild African hog with two tusks and warty excresences on its face. 2. A person who always eats the best bits. 3. Inspiration for name of school in famous children's story  (slang) Banker

Warthog. n.(wôrthôg, -hg) 1. A wild African hog with two protruding tusks and warty excrescences on its face. 2. A person who always eats the best bits. 3. Inspiration for name of school in famous children's story 4. (slang) Banker

From The New York Times, March 10, 2009, explaining the huge jump in the stock market this morning, “That hint of hope came in the form of a memorandum from the chief executive of Citigroup, Vikram S. Pandit, saying that the bank had turned a profit in the first two months of the year, and that its quarterly performance to date, before taxes and special items, was the best since the third quarter of 2007.

Mr. Pandit gave no indication of how much special items, like write-downs or credit losses, would be…”

Does anyone else feel the slightest twinge of mistrust? This nugget of questionable news made bank stocks rise in the double digits. A sweet profit for somebody. Think of the possibilities for a person with advance notice of this memo. Think of the temptation to write it.

Think of all the money people will lose when the market changes its mind tomorrow or Friday.


In its weekly grammar column, The Times castigates itself for its cornucopia of errors, having apparently decided this approach is cheaper than hiring more copyeditors. Today’s column concerned metaphor abuse, citing a sentence that contained this specimen “…a stew of programs, some with warts and all.”

I find that strangely evocative. Is it really an error? I’m sure I’ve had warts in my stew. Middle School cafeteria, maybe? Not that I’m complaining. Pretty soon we’ll look back on these days nostalgically. The few ancients will tell stories: “Once upon a time, children, you could still get warts. Real warts, served up hot in a stew. You can’t imagine how tasty they were: chewy, protein-rich, and no two exactly alike…

“But never mind; dirt’s good enough for us. We can live on dirt thanks to our genetic modifications derived from stem-cell research. Of all nations, America produced the most aborted fetuses in the early part of this century, giving us an unbeatable technological edge, and ending the old argument about whether sex is good for anything. It’s a shame we had to let it go.

“Now, children, what your older siblings told you that made you cry and have nightmares is in fact true—if a 2009-era person saw you, he’d crush you underfoot or spray you with nasty chemicals. But they were primitives, greedy, stupid and mindlessly destructive. They didn’t understand the elegant efficiency of the human-insect hybrid with built-in wifi capability, access to communal memory farms and daily upgrades. They didn’t even appreciate wart stew, for god’s sake; I used to have to tell my husband it was chipped beef. Beef? T bones on the grill, filet mignon with béarnaise? Forget about it. Eat your dirt.”

The Apparition of those Faces in the Crowd

February 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

facebook-blogIt appears that Facebook has let go its claim to own my stuff forever, even if I quit, but as I understand it, the corporation still owns it now. And, as has been pointed out, even if they ‘erase’ the file when I exit (Can I bear to? How much in life must I renounce? ), there will always be copies. A few months ago, I was irritated that none of my friends were posting status updates that were the slightest bit interesting—nor were they responding to mine—so I said, “Margaret is trying to figure out how to dispose of the body of the man she just killed.” I expected comment. Questions. Advice. Maybe even concern that it was my own body my ghost was tasked with cleaning up before it could join the party in Hell with all the cool suicided poets and how does a ghost do that? I haven’t the faintest idea. If I were in that situation of course I would ask my friends on Facebook. Nobody said a word. They weren’t amused; they had compelling real lives; whatever. I added more friends. In actuality, there was no body (my apartment is very small, and I’m completely sure of that) so it’s unlikely I’ll be framed for murder. But what if I’m nominated to a Cabinet post someday? Wouldn’t the murky circumstances around the ‘confession’ torpedo me instantly? But wait. I don’t want a Cabinet post. I’d be the first to swear that I am utterly unqualified, unless Obama decides we need a Secretary of Imaginary  Friends—in which case my murder rep would still be iffy, but I could probably explain it to House Republicans, who are well versed in creative lying, and who understand the need to do anything to get attention. They’d also be pleased that I’d require such a small budget. A token salary—100 k would do fine—and I’d create a portfolio of imaginary friends for any citizen who asked. The actual chat would be outsourced to Africa where for pennies an hour farmers, truckdrivers, unhappy wives and lonely young men would study the specs and write charming, nonsensical, and smart-assed notes on their complimentary cellphones; English speakers would be paid a bit better to translate. Update The Wall Street Journal reports some Christian parents are considering giving up Facebook for Lent! How can they do that?  These are people who used to think it was silly kid stuff but now check in 20 times a day. They’ll be so lonely.  The article says of one penitent, “She’s also joined an online quitting-Facebook-for-Lent support group. (Since the group is hosted on Facebook, none of the members — in theory, at least — will be logging on to comfort one another during their days of trial.)” Prayer won’t help these people. Not this year. Jesus, my angel sources tell me, was summoned by Obama for advice on the economic meltdown but Tim Geithner rejected his idea to raze the banks and re-institute barter. I think the discord upset the Stock Market, but it’s hard to tell what ails that delicate beast. It blowth where it listeth. These days our Savior is occupying himself being the ‘mutual friend’ linking Malia, Stevie Wonder, the goddess Athena (now reincarnated as a 13 year old Pakistani boy) and me. I have to say, the Son of God has access to some awesome video.

Petals on a Wet, Black Bough

—Ezra Pound, “In a Station of the Metro”

The Spry Fossil and the Grandmotherly Vegetable

February 11, 2009 § 4 Comments

'Celle qui fut la belle heaulmière', Rodin

'Celle qui fut la belle heaulmière', Rodin

Today in a New York Times blog called The New Old Age, Jane Gross reviewed current guidelines for how to refer to those formerly known as elderly.

‘Old’ is bad, as are a lot of other words, such as, ‘feisty,’ ‘spry’, ‘eccentric,’ ‘grandmotherly’ ‘biddy,’ ‘codger,’ ‘coot,’ ‘crone,’ ‘fogy,’ ‘fossil,’ ‘geezer,’ ‘hag’ ‘old goat,’ ‘old fart,’ ‘senile old fool,’ ‘prune’ and ‘vegetable.’

The appropriate term is ‘older adult.’

I’ve written a little play to illustrate the perils of these recommendations. The characters are a young man who’s just started at the New York Times, and his grandmother; it takes place in the skilled nursing facility where she balefully resides. It’s an eccentrically warm February evening and the young man, feeling charitable toward the world as a result of his much-coveted position, attained even as others are losing their jobs by the millions, comes to visit.

“Grandma, we’ve received new style rules at the paper, and I want to apologize. I used to call you old. That was wrong. You’re older.”
“Of course I’m older. I haven’t seen you in a year.”
“I’ve been busy…you like it here, don’t you?”
“Too many old farts.”
“I thought women liked older men.”
“You’re so wet behind the ears, you’re still dripping.”
“I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds disgusting.”
“Come back when you know something, schoolboy.”
“That hurt my feelings. Ageism goes both ways, you know.”
“I’ll take the other way.”
“I’m 32 but Maureen Dowd says I look 12. Do you have any idea what that does to my advancement prospects?”
“Well, don’t try it with that feisty Mo Dowd, but why don’t you find a woman her age in a sensitive professional position, have sex with her a few times, then tell her you’re really 12 and you want $100,000?”
“I hate that cackle of yours.”
“Chickens cackle. Ladies titter.”
“I don’t know… ‘titter’ sounds kind of dangerous, too.’
“Your grandfather wasn’t afraid of tits, nor of anything else about a woman. There was a man for you. He used to bend me over the kitchen table every night after work.”
“I really don’t want to hear this.”
“He’d throw my panties up into the air—they sometimes landed in the mixed vegetables, not that he minded—and have at me. A right randy old goat, he was.”
“You’re not supposed to say ‘old goat.’”
“I’m sparing your sensibilities. You should hear the things he used to make me call him. I’ll whisper them if you come closer.”
“Oh, god. I knew it was a mistake to visit. Mom was right! You’re a hag!”
“That dried-up prune? Sometimes I think she just pretended to be pregnant, stuck a pillow under her shirt, and then stole you from some dumb biddy babysitting the grandkid, too busy flapping her gums to notice. In the 1970’s, you know, girls like your mother thought sex and babies were a patriarchal plot to enslave women. She used to read this book called The Three Faces of Woman: Virgin, Mother, Crone. Excuse me, what happened to The Long Honeymoon: Too Fucking Sore to Walk? That’s the book I learned from. My son’s not even 60, and he’s a senile old fool because he never gets laid.”
“I’m leaving! I’m never coming back!”
“Fine with me, Junior. But tell your friends at the New York Times that the proper term is ‘death-challenged.’ As in, we’re not yet. Get it?”

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