Of Rodeo Clowns and Waterboarding

Acceptance

I accept that:

I’ve aged enough to become invisible, which I agree is a superpower.

I’ll never understand someone else’s delusions because I’m busy with my own.

When I sing, I hear a blend of Amy Winehouse and Billie Holiday, and everyone else hears cats being waterboarded.

When I dance, I see the love child of Gene Kelly and Martha Graham, but everyone else sees a rodeo clown who’s amped on cocaine while doing interpretive dance and running from a bull.

I’m on fire!

Call Me Diane Von Dufus-berg

Minimal

My office walls are sad. I mean in the sense they are pathetic, but if they could cry, I’d have toxic mold. I’m looking at this beige expanse behind my computer, and all I see are a couple of nails and a PAWS calendar.

As unevolved as this may be, I feel a sense of chick-based pressure to be amazing at decorating. This despite the fact that I work in ratty pajamas and Paul’s hand-me-down shirts in my home office every day. What makes me think my home should look better?

My first defense: I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s. Although Virginia Slims gave women the confidence to burn bras while dropping acid as a birth-control chaser, there’s still this lingering guilt in my mind that I should be a classic homemaker. Apron, tidy hairdo, Laura Petrie figure.

It doesn’t help that seemingly out of nowhere, Paul recently blurted, “You want to nest, right?” He sounded a little desperate.

In fairness, I don’t believe he’s totally asking this because I’m female. I think it’s about the two of us. We’re lazy bums who keep hoping the walls will magnetically suck pictures onto them, in a tasteful way.

My second defense: Paul’s got the aesthetic eye. I mean, he paints and draws. Stuff you’d recognize. I’ve even hung a few pieces on the wall (and my pride over this is way out of proportion to the achievement).

I, on the other hand, paint as though I’m drunk. On a roller coaster. And I’ve just vomited all over the canvas.

My third defense: So why isn’t he nesting?

As I sit here in my blank-walled office, I’ve made a decision to stop apologizing and self-flagellating (at least about this). I’m going to enjoy my non-cluttered space because I have a style. I’m a minimalist.

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I think that cat’s judging me.

The Homophobic Bisexual?

Label

Just over two decades ago, I was fortunate to work with Stephanie, an outspoken lesbian who decided to coach me out of my foolhardy bisexuality. One day she declared, “You need to pick a side.” For about thirty minutes, she chewed me out gently educated me, concluding with “You’re really a lesbian who’s too afraid to admit it.”

This was a revelation to me. I had no idea I’d been living a life of such hypocrisy. She also pointed out that my boyfriend was just cover for my lie and that I needed to dump him.

He’s my husband now — regular readers will recognize him as the long-suffering St. Paul — and we’ve been hanging out since 1995. Most days I like him a lot, so I’ve decided to stick around and live the lie.

My mother’s also a lesbian. She gamely tried wearing dresses, high heels, and bouffant hairdos in the 1960s, but she always seemed more comfortable in men’s clothes. She could drive a big-rig truck, fix the garbage disposal, and run an offset printer at our family’s business. She was part-mother, part-handyman, which was cool because my father was usually asleep or having affairs or something. He was a busy guy, and we respected that.

A long time ago I had to let my mother know that I needed to say a fond farewell to her and my father so that I could reluctantly give up the thrilling suicidal ideations I was experiencing because of their violent exciting marriage.

Mom always had great empathy and insight, and I appreciated that. When I told her what I needed to do, she sensibly asked, “I’m too butch for you, aren’t I?” I mean, she could get right to the heart of something every time, and she had a knack for seeing another person’s point of view.

When I reminded her that I’m bisexual, and butch/femme concepts don’t matter to me, she was spot on with her understanding words: “Yep. I thought so. I’m too butch for you.”

These two women taught me a valuable lesson about labels. Probably.

 

Confessions of a Stat Slut

There. I’ve revealed my sin in the title, and I feel reborn. Life is new again!

Or I’m just sleepy and grumpy because I haven’t finished my morning coffee, and I should work instead of blog.

I do write for my own gratification, but as you’re reading this (she says with uncharacteristic confidence that anyone is interested), you know that’s not completely true. Otherwise why would I inflict share my thoughts with the universe?

On that first day of blogging, lo those many weeks ago, I announced with deceptive confidence, “I’m writing for me!”

“Good for you, Sweetie,” Paul said, checking the horizon for shark fins.

“I don’t care if I ever become popular. Or publish my memoirs. Or Oprah interviews me because she’s fascinated by my life.”

Paul tossed “That’s the spirit!” over his shoulder as he checked his watch and bolted from the house.

And ever since that day, I’ve written and posted without worrying about whether or not anyone’s reading my stuff.

Or I’ve checked my blog stats every. single. day. How many views? How many visitors? How many views per visitor? I’ve had visitors from Ireland, Australia, and the United Kingdom today! There’s been drool.

I stunned Paul out of his office chair by blurting “I got another visitor from India again! It’s probably the same person, right?!”

As he ponders the laws of probability coupled with the population of India, he’s still kind enough not to cast doubt on my hopes.

Paul does try to find this as thrilling as I do, and I appreciate that. Although I would like my popularity to rise with him just a bit.

Yesterday I chirped, “Did you see I posted a haiku today?”

He smiled through his exhaustion and whimpered, “I sure did.”

“What did you think?” Big eyes, wagging tail, piddle on the floor.

“I don’t know yet. I haven’t had time to read it.”

Maybe I need to get into pornographic limericks. Or politics. Wait. Maybe I can combine the general concepts:

Clinton’s Cottontails

Got your attention now, Paul? How about the rest of you? May I go viral now, please?

 

The Latent Accountant

I’ve been chastising myself lately, and not in a fun, sexy way.

It’s about money management. I keep wondering why it’s taken me half a century to focus on financial responsibility in a somewhat grown-up way. My mother modeled great fiscal behavior, and my father offered sound advice, but I suppose when we’re young, that sort of thing doesn’t get through.

My mother taught me how to stick to a grocery list, fiercely, so that I could plunder the impulse purchase area at the grocery checkout. This resulted in a lot of quality time with my dentist.

And when I was fifteen, she was generous enough to hook me up with the guy who had the best pot prices in town. There’s no sense in overspending when you can avoid it. Such an important lesson.

My father didn’t model anything until his last years of life, when he married a woman who took him from the edge of bankruptcy to wealth (and back to bankruptcy and a fatal level of debt without his knowing it; he died believing he was a rich guy. She was a great wife and stepmom, bless her).

He did offer several pieces of monetary and general life advice, though:

“Marry someone safe, and be a secretary.”

He offered this advice when I was ten. For years after this statement, I thought of myself as a rebel. No way was I going to do what my father said – until I married an Air Force officer and became a secretary. But I was steadfast in my belief that his words had no influence on me. Such an unappreciative daughter.

“If you want to go to college, get a scholarship.”

He tossed this ditty at me as he strolled through the living room and disappeared down the hallway, and he lovingly allowed me the room to figure out what a scholarship is. I was also ten with this one, so there was plenty of time to research it.

He had a habit of offering life tidbits as he was passing through rooms.

“You should take up the clarinet” was one. He was thoughtful enough to suggest this when I was wearing braces. I remember lots of tears. Probably of joy.

“You should take up stamp-collecting,” whoosh, gone. Although this is possibly the most boring sport in the history of humankind, there is a bonus: I learned what “philately” means. It’s an awesome Scrabble power word, and someone always insists on challenging it.

“Buy real estate from women who just became widows. They’re vulnerable and ready to sell at any price.”

I was so lucky to be thirty-two when he imparted this one – and even luckier that he didn’t leave the room this time, so we could finally have a great father-daughter talk. I could appreciate the point he was making even though I didn’t fully grasp the wisdom of it in the moment.

We were sitting in his den, waiting for his mother’s wake to begin, so my grandma’s death was pretty much on my mind. My father and I were getting into the innocuous sort of chitchat that happens right after death, kind of catching up on family members. He mentioned that my stepbrother was going to visit Seattle.

I said, “Oh, Ricky will love it. It’s so beautiful.”

Dad said, “Yeah, and I told him he’s going to find great pussy there.”

Instead of berating myself, I’m going to appreciate that I’m now paying attention to my finances and be thankful for the nurturing guidance of two caring parents.

 

A Virtuous Viper

Righteous indignation is my favorite emotion. I can stay high for days on that shit, especially if I believe I’m defending someone I care about. Standing up for myself is fun, but grabbing a lance, jumping on my bicycle, and pedaling at full speed toward a friend’s enemy is a moment I can mainline.

(I’m afraid of horses, so I joust by penny-farthing.)

But I wish I were more forgiving. It’s as though Irish rage and Italian vengeance make up most of my DNA. The rest is paranoia and snarkiness. Wouldn’t you love to hang out with me?

Today I addressed an unkind remark that someone made to a buddy on Facebook. My buddy reacted with understanding and serenity toward the author, but I went a smidge Medieval. I didn’t attack the author, just the type of remark. I honestly believed I was doing it for my friend, but my bud said not to worry about it. She had forgiven Ms. Totally McWrongerson (possibly not her real name) and called the remark “a bad use of words.”

I tend to cry bullshit when people forgive others. I stamp and shake my fists, spittle flying, while others shrug. Maybe I should work on this part of my character, but I enjoy jousting too much.

penny-farthing_circa 1900_no known CR restrictions
iPhones are great, aren’t they? Paul was able to capture the moment a sunproof vampire was trying to steal my bike.

 

"I've always found paranoia to be a perfectly defensible position." – Susan Lowenstein, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

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"I've always found paranoia to be a perfectly defensible position." - Susan Lowenstein, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

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