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This house.

Hideous, isn’t it?

Of course, it’s a Livingston mansion.

Well.

Sort of a Livingston mansion: It dates back to the late 1800s, a renaissance period for truly hideous Gothic architecture. It replaced a Livingston mansion called Massena, built in the late 18th century, that was renowned for its classical lines.

Massena was acquired by someone called John Lloyd Aspinwall who had no genealogical connection whatsoever to the Livingstons. Mrs John Lloyd Aspinwall ordered up the replacement. When she saw it for the first time, she hated it so much that she fled to Europe, never again to return to American shores.

I stumbled across the house on my Steely Dan nostalgia tour of Barrytown yesterday.

###

Barrytown is a deeply weird place.

After hiking for an hour or so around the grounds of Massena – which is now owned by Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church (talk about deeply weird), I drove slowly down Barrytown’s main drag. Past decrepit 18th century houses that would not look out of place in some horror movie about swamp monsters in the bayou except that Bard students were sitting on their crumbling porches.

Then I saw this red brick early 19th century Federal-style house with a big sign – For Sale By Owner – and thought: Valerie! In case the Bennet Road property doesn’t work out. I got out to take pictures of the property:



And I decided to explore.

I walked down along a bend in the road, past the Red Hook marina – small; unprepossessing – and came to a series of tall box hedges with a gate. The gate was open, and through it, I glimpsed a table set with a white linen cloth, bowls of vividly hued dahlias and glittering brass objets d’arte

How could I resist?

I walked through the gates, and…

OhmyGAWD!

Edgewater!

This was Edgewater!

Gore Vidal’s old Hudson River Estate!

I’ve been trying to find Edgewater for ages and ages and ages!

Gore Vidal sold the house in 1969 after losing a race for the 29th Congressional District in New York. In public, he shrugged the loss off, but clearly it rankled since it precipitated his flight to Europe. Just like Mrs. John Lloyd Aspinwall before him!

Close friends Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward maintained that it was this move that caused Gore Vidal’s life to fall apart, and I can see it: The magical terroir in these parts is very strong and very… protective.

Some garden party was going on at Edgewater, a lot of men in suits and ties, a sprinkling of women in cocktail dresses.

I, of course, dress like a bag lady on practically all occasions so there was no question of trying to blend in with the crowd and cop free alcohol.

I just stood there and gaped
.
Nobody noticed me. Or everybody pretended not to notice me.

I felt a little bit like Rip Van Winkle stumbling into the magical dwarves’ bowling party.

After a minute or so, I stumbled out.

Edgewater is another Livingston mansion. Built in the 1860s or so by the original owner of Massena as a wedding gift for his daughter.

Architectural trends in the 1860s were far superior to what they would become 30 years later:



Railroad tracks run almost parallel to the property. While I was standing there, an Amtrak train went by.

And it dawns on me that the real reason why millionaires may have stopped building Big Old Houses in the Hudson Valley and started building them instead on Long Island has much more to do with the construction of that railroad track than any preference for the island. Who wants those types of disruptions at their cocktail parties?
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Dreamed that I was deeply, passionately in love with a brilliant architect, but he would never love me back because he was a dwarf, and at 5’10”, I was simply too tall.

I suppose the dream’s status detail is borrowed from the Celeste project, but it’s interesting the way it took something that many people, myself included, would view as an advantage, my height. And turned it into a disability.

###

I scraped yesterday’s English lesson with Samir in favor of helping him hammer out a business plan.

He seems bound and determined to transfer operations to New York City.

I think that plan is beyond awful, but I don’t get to make his decisions; I am but a tool for actualizing his goals, etcetera, ad nauseam.

“You know, there are an awful lot of people repairing phones in New York City,” I told him.

“Yes, but there are an awful lot of broken phones,” he said.

I suppose.

We sat in the library making up numbers:

Rent, New York City: $1500 for office; $1200 for living = $2700

Versus

Rent, Poughkeepsie: $1200 for office, $500 for living = $1700

Etcetera.

Samir, for whatever reason, is just bound and determined to have a physical address from which to run his smartphone repair empire.

I think that’s cray-zeee.

True, I know nothing about the commercial real estate market in New York City, but it seems to me that even if his rent guesstimate is correct – and I suspect it’s way low – it sticks him with a 12-month operational expense that would be a cement block around his neck if the business didn’t take off.

And he wants it to take off in three months.

Six months, Samir,” I said. “You want to have enough cash in reserve to tide you over for six months.”

“No, no, three months,” he said adamantly.

I think the ideal business model for him would be a mobile phone repair operation, which he could do in conjunction with his current admittedly awful job. (Not only is his current employer exploiting him, now his current employer is refusing to provide him with a reference! Because he doesn’t want to lose Samir!)

As the mobile repair biz gained traction, he could cut down on hours at the bad job.

He could do the repairs out of the back of his van. He could start off by parking the van three days a week alongside the Vassar campus.

(“But students,” said Samir. “They have no money.”

“Oh, trust me,” I said. “Vassar students have money.”)

He could paper the campus with fliers: Phone fixed while you wait! He could do the car wrap thing! Maybe his van could play a little jingle like an ice cream truck!

I sang the little jingle for him: “Oh, don’t you weep and don’t you moan, for Samir is here to fix your phone. La-la-la!”

Samir laughed.

“Really, you have to think in terms of your long-range plans, Samir,” I said.

Samir looked at his hands. “I want to marry my girlfriend. I want to bring her to the U.S. But, you know, in our culture, wives do not work. I do not want my wife to work. I want to make the house for her, and she will make me the home.”

Start-up costs for a mobile phone repair business should be considerably less than for a stationary phone repair business since he already has the tools he tells me, and presumably, word of mouth would be his chief marketing channel. So let’s say $5,000 for a van and another $1500 for a generator so he can sauter motherboards when necessary. If the business goes kaput, hey! he still has capital in the form of equipment that has some resale value.

I’m looking into crowd-sourcing platforms.

But how do I make Samir stand out from all those other worthy candidates vying for your Beneficent Bwana dollars?

###

First day of autumn. Wow! This summer went fast.

Hoping to drive to Barrytown and Annandale-on-Hudson this afternoon for a kind of Steely Dan nostalgia tour. But that will depend upon what my masters at the Scut Factory have in store for me.

Fucking Mick Jagger

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:09 am
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All morning long, I’ve been musing over poor Evelyn Waugh who died of a broken heart because some B level pal told him he was boring.

I suppose I’m boring.

That’s because I’ve always been much more interested in books, and ideas, and the swoop of people’s lives, and those strange, uncategorized floaters of unencapsulated memory that seem to pop up at the oddest times, than I am in sex, celebrity, status detail that’s grounded in marketing trends rather than personal style.

I mean, if – for example – I decided to write about my sexual history over five decades, this could be the most popular blog on the Internet, right? Mick Jagger: Uncircumcised. His dick was maybe five and a half/ six inches. Very lazy! You had to crawl on top of him and grind! Celebrity spoils the mutuality ethic. It was a lot of work getting him off in fact, so much work that very little concentration was left to get myself off. But, hey! Mick Jagger.

Etcetera.

###

Actually, that description of Mick Jagger would bore most readers, too. Celebrity spoils the mutuality ethic, they’d think. Huh? What does “mutuality” mean? What’s an ethic? Why didn't she give him a score between 1 and 10?

Maybe I just can’t write anything that interests anyone other than me-e-e-e!

###

Strange, unsettled day. Tropical Storm Jose safely out to sea, but the winds are high and dense with moisture here in the quaint and scenic Hudson Valley so that walking any distance at all, one gets the sense of displacing one’s own weight.

One project, I need to finish; one project, I need to start. But you know me! I’m all about the meh.

I really need to have a long transcendental conversation with someone. That would get me back on track. I’m not isolated, but there’s practically no one in these parts who likes to have long, transcendental conversations. But those are catalysts for me. Plus they ground me in my own non-boringness. [Insert wistful smiley.]

The Interesting Question

Sep. 19th, 2017 07:42 am
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Despite ample evidence to the contrary, every generation is secretly convinced that they’re the ones who invented sex.

Thus, books like Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead are always slightly shocking. The book chronicles – in the most exhaustive detail – Waugh’s youthful indiscretions both at Oxford and as the self-appointed chronicler of the Bright Young Things, which is what they called Generation X in the UK back in the 1920s.

These blurry buttocks belonged to Alistair Graham who accompanied his early 20th century version of sexting with instructions on the best way to drink fine wine: You must take a peach and peel it, and put it in a finger bowl, and pour the Burgundy over it. The flavour is exquisite.

The note is signed, With love from Alistair, and his poor dead heart.

Alistair came to a bad end.

But then, so did Waugh. He grew old and fat and Catholic, though his trenchant tongue continued to amuse. Upon hearing that doctors had removed a benign tumor from his sometimes friend Randolph Churchill, he confided in his diary, A typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant and remove it.

Ann Fleming a/k/a Mrs. Ian was one of the circle of friends in far-flung corners of the world with whom Waugh spent time. After one such Jamaican holiday, Waugh heard third-hand that he had bored Fleming and her guests while there, and that damning word “bored” threw him into a depression from which he never recovered. He lost his teeth, stopped eating, began drinking. Don’t let me in my dotage oppress you, he wrote his favorite daughter.

Waugh died on the toilet – just like Elvis! Damn! That Valsalva maneuver will get you every time.

Of course, this raises the interesting question: Is any end ever good? Except Lord Marchmain’s?



In that other place where it is always summer, the strawberries are always ripe, and Aloysius is always in a good humor, Waugh continues to live on. Because as is the case with most novels, Brideshead Revisited was really artfully rearranged autobiography, and Evelyn Waugh was Charles Ryder.

This is Madresfield Court, the manor house that inspired the Brideshead.

As you can see, it looks very little like Castle Howard, which is the house that posed as Brideshead both in the very fine 1981 miniseries and the mediocre 2008 film.

Unlike the harmonious, baroque mansion in the fiction, Madresfield – Olde English for “mowers’ field” – is an architectural hodgepodge, that has been lived in and added on to by the same family, the Lygons, since the time of the Domesday Book. A thousand years of continuous habitation! Nor was Brideshead the first piece of great fiction to be written about Madresfield: A dispute over the property was immortalized by Charles Dickens as Jarndyce and Jarndyce in one of his driest but most entertaining novels, Bleak House.

The property is surrounded by a moat. The doors opening on to the bridge were carved from oak in the 12th century, but the house’s medieval core has been smothered by Tudor brickwork on the outside, and swallowed by Gothic, neo-Gothic, and Georgian extensions on the inside.

Oh, how I would love to visit it!

###

In other news, I made all the phone calls in my queue, thereby solving many practical problems and moving ever closer to achieving my ambition, which is to become a Real Human Girl.

I toiled for the Scut Factory.

I remonstrated with Samir: “I know it’s not my job to give you advice, but moving to New York City would be such a terrible thing for you.”

It dawned on me that we might be able to raise capital for his mobile phone fixing enterprise by crowdsourcing. We shall see.

I bickered with Celeste about the contract and about the upcoming house party dates.

Max wants me to write an op ed about my experiences as an ESL teacher.

###

Somewhere, I heard that Greta Garbo walked eleven miles a day right up to the day she died! (She died at 85.) A scarecrow in white with enormous dark glasses wandering Third Avenue.

This really shamed me since I often find it difficult to walk four miles.

Especially in humid weather when my hip joints actually ache. I think the humidity must make the synovial fluid reservoir shrink though I’m unclear about the actual physiology.

Yesterday was not particularly humid, so I was able to walk a fairly long distance.

It’s definitely autumn, though a strange autumn: The leaves aren’t turning so much as drying up. Here’s a maple that’s bucking the trend, though:

MEME!

Sep. 18th, 2017 07:18 am
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Meme copped from [profile] lifeinroseland

1. Are your parents married or divorced?

Dead.

2. Are you a vegetarian?

No.

No question No. 3?

(Pretentious)

4. Have you ever come close to dying?

Yes.

5. What jewelry do you wear?

Earrings. A little rhodite bracelet with pictures of Catholic saints.

6. Favorite time of day?

Sunrise, sunset.

7. Do you eat the stems of broccoli?

Yes.

8. Do you wear makeup?

Sometimes.

9. Ever had plastic surgery?

No.

10. Do you color your hair?

Yes.

11. What do you wear to bed?

Pyjamas

12. Have you ever done anything illegal?

I take the Fifth.

13. Can you roll your tongue?

Yes.

14. Do you tweeze your eyebrows?

No.

15. What kind of sneakers?

Decrepit cheap ones.

16. Do you believe in abortions?

Yes.

17. What is your natural hair color?

White.

18. Do you have any children?

Yes.

19. Do you snore?

I'm told I do. (I don't believe it._

20. If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?

Xinjiang

21. Do you sleep with stuffed animals?

No.

22. If you ever won the lottery, what would you do first?

Cry.

23. Gold or silver?

Gold.

24. Hamburger or hot dog?

Hamburger.

25. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Flautas.

26. City, beach, or country?

Country.

27. What was the last thing you touched?

Library copy of "Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead."

28. Where did you eat last?

At a table.

29. When's the last time you cried?

Yesterday.

30. Do you read blogs?

Obsessively.

31. Would you ever go out dressed like the opposite sex?

Yes.

32. Ever been involved with the police?

No.

33. What's your favorite shampoo?

Neutrogena.

34. Do you talk in your sleep?

Maybe.

35. Ocean or pool?

Ocean.

36. What's your favorite song at the moment?

"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" - Leslie Odom Jr.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRLI4tpIjTM

No. 37

38. Window seat or aisle?

Window.

39. Have you ever met anyone famous?

Yes.

40. Do you feel that you've had a truly successful life?

It's not over yet.

41. Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it?

Slurp.

42. Ricki Lake or Oprah?

A bullet to the brain.

43. Basketball or Football?

Basketball.

44. How long do your showers last?

Till the hot water runs out.

45. Cake or ice cream?

Ice cream.

No. 46.

47. Are you self-conscious?

Not anymore!

48. Have you ever drank so much you threw up?

No.

49. Have you ever given money to a tramp?

Yes.

50. Have you been in love?

Yes.

51. Where do you wish you were?

Brideshead Manor.

52. Are you wearing socks?

No.

53. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?

Yes.

54. Can you tango?

No.

55. Last gift you received?

A fritata.

56. Last sport you played?

Pokemon Go.

57. Things you spend a lot of money on?

Rent, cats, car

58. Where do you live?

Hyde Park, NY

59. Where were you born?

Queens Naval Hospital, Queens NYC

60. Last wedding attended?

Cody and Shannon's

61. Favorite fast food restaurant?

McDonald's.

No. 62

63. Most hated food?

Zucchini

64. What's your least favorite chore?

Washing the car

65. Can you sing?

No

66. Last person you instant messaged?

Ben

67. Last place you went on holiday?

Brooklyn

68. Favorite regular drink?

Grapefruit juice

69. Current crush?

Crushless at the moment

70. Do you want people to do this meme?

I want people to do whatever people want to do so long as they don't harm people, cats, or other living things
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Car insurance people send me a letter: Your monthly rates age going up ten bucks.

I peruse the 0.1 font print at the very bottom of the letter. It tells me my Defensive Driving Class discount has expired.

Well-l-l-l. It’s easy enough to take another Defensive Driving Class and to take it before the car insurance payment comes due.

But the whole thing just pisses me off massively. I feel like an antelope on the Serengeti plain surrounded by jackals. How hard would it have been for the car insurance people to send me a letter: Be advised that your discount is set to expire… ?

I am a sitting duck surrounded by predatory corporations that see me as prey. That want to wring every last cent out of me.

###

In other news, I’ve been rereading Brideshead Revisited – yes, you’re missing a book, mystery pal! – and thinking that Evelyn Waugh and Scott Fitzgerald shared common neuroses. Both fascinated by money – not for anything that money can buy but for its mysterious mana; both obsessed with mutability and loss. Both novels are a search for timelessness. Both novels acknowledge that timelessness does not exist.

I am thinking some grad student in English literature could get a very nice PhD thesis out of contrasting Brideshead Revisited with The Great Gatsby – assuming there still are grad students five years hence and that somebody hasn’t already done it.

In the pantheon of Great Writers, Fitzgerald is generally acceded the higher perch.

Part of that, I think, is the dog-preaching effect that Samuel Johnson mentions. (Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.) Fitzgerald is an American, yet he has a flawless command of canonical, vernacular-free English.

They were beset by many of the same, uh, life challenges. Fitzgerald’s life, became a total train wreck; but while Waugh’s life as a young man was picaresque to say the least, after he hit 30, he became so stable, you might describe him as stodgy.

Both social climbers: Waugh ingratiated himself with the upper classes by developing a very nasty sense of humor. Fitzgerald preferred to stay the aggrieved outsider.

Both drinkers: Fitzgerald became a drunk. Waugh, it would seem, drank an equivalent amount but did not become a drunk.

Disastrous early loves: Fitzgerald never severed the emotional rope that bound him to Zelda. Waugh shed She-Evelyn without a second’s hesitation and married again the year after his divorce. That marriage took.

Both harbored same-sex crushes: Fitzgerald repressed his homosexual desires. Waugh had numerous male lovers at Oxford, but this seemed to have been a developmental phase.

I suppose one could sum it all up by saying Fitzgerald was hopelessly sentimental, but Waugh was not. Maybe, that’s where Waugh’s Catholicism came in. Maybe if you institutionalize your yearning for redemption, you don’t have to act on it.

###

I prefer Brideshead to Gatsby. The language in both novels is comparably sumptuous and lovely, but Brideshead has more connective tissue. Also, of course, it’s got religion – lots and lots and lots of religion! And I like religion.

Plus Brideshead gives the rich an out: When I was a girl, Lady Marchmain tells Charles Ryder, we were comparatively poor, but still much richer than most of the world, and when I married I became very rich. It used to worry me, and I thought it wrong to have so many beautiful things when others had nothing. Now I realize that it is possible for the rich to sin by coveting the privileges of the poor.

BadaBOOM.

Ever Heedless of Propriety

Sep. 15th, 2017 10:52 am
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Dreamed that I saw Robin Hobart.

Omygawd, Robin Hobart.

This was on the grounds of some kind of vast, beautiful university complex – Oxford or maybe even my old alma mater, Berkeley.

Robin Hobart was about 100 feet in front of me. I lost her in the crowd. I thought she went into a house, so – ever heedless of propriety, particularly in my dreams – I went into that house, too.

Inside the house, they were preparing for some sort of celebration. A wedding celebration. There was a kitchen that was stuffed with flowers – spring flowers like daffodils, narcissi, anemones, freesias. And a sleek cake.

Further inside the house was a mass of people.

I didn’t see Robin Hobart anywhere, so I bolted into a side room.

This side room was a bedroom of some sort with two beds. Two men were lying side by side in one of the beds. They had a conviviality with one another that did not come from having just had hot sex but rather from having lukewarm sex every other Friday – and today wasn’t Friday. But they obviously liked each other.

They were mildly put out by my presence in their room. But not too terribly.

I tried to explain to them what I was doing in their bedroom. But they weren’t particularly interested in anything I had to say. They talked over me – an easy conversation that had been going on their entire time together. From time to time, one or the other would look at me, raise his eyebrows mockingly, shake his head.

There was another male couple in the other bed.

They must be professors, I thought. Only professors could entertain such outré living arrangements.

But towards the end of the dream, I found out that they were auto mechanics.

And I never did catch up with Robin Hobart!

###

I went with Summer and Chris to Olana. The official Farewell Tour! Yes, I’d said goodbye to them in NYC but for some reason, it really hit home that Summer was leaving when I saw her yesterday. I suppose because most of the associations I have of her are tethered to the Hudson Valley.

I’ve been to Olana several times, but I always enjoy it. I can’t make up my mind whether the house is a wildly self-indulgent celebration of Orientalism at its absolute worst or a whimsical architectural folly. It’s very Victorian. Since the State of New York acquired it from the last living Frederick Church descendent, it’s crammed full with the painter’s own collection of knick-knacks, gewgaws, and tchotchkes. And reams and reams of truly awful paintings. I’m not a big fan of the Hudson Valley School.

(On the drive home, I was trying to figure out why I like John Singer Sargent but detest Frederick Church. Their subject matter was very similar, and their styles were not wildly dissimilar: They both practiced the kind of photorealism that was expected from painters before the use of cameras was widespread. I couldn’t come up with an answer.)



“It is very profitable to be a painter in the 1800s!” said Chris after we left the house.

“Oh, it wasn’t very profitable at all,” I said. “Frederick Church made his money the old-fashioned way! Through dead relatives. His father founded the Aetna Insurance Company.”

It was then that I made the remarkable discovery that Summer and Chris are rich! Between them, they own four houses – two in Szechuan and two in Guangdong -- and four cars.

Maybe visiting China and staying with them for a week is a reasonable goal after all.

###

“You are my family,” Summer said as we embraced one final time.

A banal sentiment, I know. But I feel that way, too. Like somehow, outside of culture, outside of time, we recognized each other.

I cried hysterically when I got home.

I shall miss her.

###

And I know, So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past is widely considered the sweepstakes winner in the contest for Best Line in the History of English Language Fiction.

But I like this line better: But I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognized apprehension that here, at last, I should find that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city.

Poisoning Myself

Sep. 14th, 2017 07:49 am
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Apparently, I tried to poison myself yesterday by eating a berry from this plant.

That’s what happens when you take Big City Girls out of the Big City.

I often take tiny nibbles out of plants I find when wandering around the countryside here.

If birds can eat berries, then why, oh why, oh why, can’t I, right?

This one looked a lot like the wild grapes that grow all throughout Tompkins County. But it’s not. It’s poke weed.

It didn’t taste good. Very… foxy would be the word.

But I didn’t get sick.

###

In other news, I continue in my dyspeptic mood.

It’s brain chemistry.

I mean, there are proximal causes: I am the most insignificant human being ever to be spawned in the 100,000 year evolution of human beings on this planet – which is ironic, no? Since that degree of insignificance is surely a distinction!

Also, I worry about money.

What if I don’t get paid Friday? What if the Scut Factory simply decides not to pay me? How will the cats eat?

And what if I have some fatal disease? I loathe doctors. Haven’t gone to one in years. I try to eat right, exercise daily, and get lots of sleep. Every week when C comes to visit L, he lugs this suitcase, which is filled with prescription drugs! He takes all of them! And I just think, Ugh! Why? What’s the point? Why would anyone want to live till they’re 100? Either you end up like those poor people in that famous photo out of Houston, sitting around in the nursing home, waist-deep in sewer water, or you end up like the ones that dropped dead from heat prostration in that nursing home in Florida. Or you end up like Bob Zeigenhirt, whom frankly, I think, would like to die – only his kids won’t let him.

My kids wouldn’t care if I died. I mean – they love me. But I’m the Velveteen Rabbit. More a part of their memories than of their everyday lives.

These worries preoccupy me to such a degree that I find it nearly impossible to concentrate on anything else.

###

I owe you a phone cal, emailed Max.

You don’t “owe” me anything, I emailed him back. Of course, it’s always nice to hear from you.

They found a box filled with my stuff in the basement of the house Max used to live in in San Francisco. There’s a Miles Davis album and a Muddy Waters album I wouldn’t mind having, the owner of the house emailed Max.

The Great Diaspora and subsequent Storage Follies means hardly any of all the possessions I used to own do I own now.

So, of course, no random stranger is gonna get my Miles Davis and Muddy Waters albums. I remember when I bought them. Never mind that I don’t own a record player.

Yes, I want those back, I emailed Max.

I mean – Why wouldn’t I?

So, they sent Max the box.

Same way it is with friends – it’s odd the possessions you end up keeping. They’re never necessarily the possessions you once cared about the most.

Some old journals from around the time that Max was born. Pictures of my mother. A framed picture I once drew – back in the days when I still drew – that used to hang in Max’s nursery on San Lorenzo Street. Pictures of you when you were a kid, Max wrote. Except there are no pictures of me as a kid, my mother having not been the least bit sentimental about me. So they must actually be pictures of Max.

I guess I’ll pick them up when I’m in California in November.

It was a very odd feeling thinking about Max going through that box. Like I was dead, and he was sifting through my personal possessions.

So funny. I remember doing exactly that after my mother died. Trying to find something, anything, that would explain the enigma she ultimately was to me.

I didn’t find anything.

Dream On

Sep. 13th, 2017 08:29 am
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Three people showed up for my Intermediate English class last night.

One of them was the belligerent Jordanian whom I do not like.

Another was a young woman who’s a full-time student at Dutchess Community College and has two kids under the age of three.

The third was Tony whom I adore.

Down four people in two weeks.

Down from an all-time high of 14.

I attribute this most recent attrition to the DACA rescind. I’d heard way back in November that the Trump administration planned to use the Dreamer data to go after the Dreamer parents. Most of the students in my class were undocumented refugees, economic and political, from Mezo-America. Understandably, they’d like to keep a low profile. In fact, they’d like to be invisible.

Lois Lane – to her credit – refuses to collect any kind of personal info at all on people who use the Literacy Center’s services. So far, New York State has tolerated this. Cuomo and Schneiderman are actually bringing a suit on behalf of the Dreamers.

(And I will say here that while I have mixed feelings about Cuomo personally, he has proven to be a very able administrator as Governor of New York State. I am thinking he’d be a strong Democratic POTUS candidate in 2020.)

Sooner or later, one imagines, some bureaucrat is gonna crack down, though. That personal info is a requirement under the various types of state grants through which the Literacy Center supports itself.

“It’s not worth my time to continue doing this,” I told Lois Lane after the class was over.

“I know,” she sighed.

“Adelina doesn’t really need this. She can do ESL through Dutchess. I’ve talked to Tony. He wants to be an electrician. He could do that through Dutchess. But he needs to improve his reading and writing skills to take classes there. I want to do one-on-one tutoring with Tony and stop teaching this class.”

“Sounds like a good plan to me,” said Lois Lane. She looked sad, though. “But what about Bilal?”

“What about Bilal?” I said.

And we both laughed.

###

In other news – This is actually funny in one of those It-should-have-happened-to-someone-else kinds of ways…

The problem with the car was a very easy fix.

But my check engine light was on.

My check engine light goes on and off a lot. I always figure it’s something having to do with my gas tank cap.

This time, though, the check engine light had been on for two weeks. I’m very paranoid about this car because many, many cars have crashed and burned on me before because I have a tendency to neglect maintenance.

Maintenance and upkeep are not among my strong points.

So I told the guy at Makem Begfer Mercy Auto to run a diagnostic on the check engine light.

And when he called back, his voice was grave and concerned. “It’s a vapor leak,” he announced. “But we won’t know where the vapor leak is until we run a smoke test.”

“A smoke test?” I screeched feebly.

“It’s the only way,” he said.

All righty, then! Smoke test it is!

A hundred dollars later, he called me back again. “The smoke test allowed us to diagnose your problem!”

“Which is… ?”

“Your gas cap was loose.”

You greedy fuckers, I wanted to scream. You couldn’t have tried tightening the gas cap first?

It’s kind of embarrassing to live in a world where $100 is a significant sum of money.

But, you know. My life is what my life is.

A few short years ago, $100 would have been a make-or-break sum of money. At least it isn’t that anymore.

Really. All you can do is laugh.

###

And as if to reaffirm my ascent into a Real Human Girl-hood again, yesterday’s mail brought me three new credit card offers!

###

I went for another long hike. This time on the grounds of the old James Roosevelt holdings that were not sold to developers of mobile home parks:



This part of the Hudson Valley was once famous for its apple orchards.

You still find a few ancient apple trees around here and there.

Flying the flag come harvest time.

We're All Venison Sausage!

Sep. 12th, 2017 10:28 am
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[personal profile] mallorys_camera


One great thing about Hurricane Irma! It kept the 9/11 Porn out of the headlines.

You already knew I was a Horrible Human Being (and really – why are you reading this?), so it should come as no surprise that I’m sick to death of 9/11 commemorations.

Yep. 9/11 was the day that changed everything.

I have a feeling that everything would have changed anyway, though. Just more slowly. The human world seems to be embarking upon one of its periodic tilts into darkness, fundamentalism, and collectivism. Did the events of 9/11 tilt the balance? Maybe.

But manufacturing was already on the brink of becoming completely automated. Leaving nothing but service jobs for human beings. Surveillance is the biggest service industry of all! Plenty of jobs if the government needs employees to spy on its citizenry!

I’m completely aware of the advantages I enjoy as an American. Call those advantages “privilege” if you like.

Am I grateful for them?

No.

Because I think they should be the baseline.

If Homo Sapiens is really a violent, sadistic species that enjoys killing and torturing members of the species that deviate from however the “norm” has been defined – and most improbably, the “norm” has been defined as white and male – then I don’t want any part of it. I should never have been born. I should have been abandoned on a mountaintop as a squalling female infant before my ego had developed to the point of attachment to the world around me.

I’m not patriotic.

For whatever reason, I tend to see the world from the perspective of an enlightened anthropologist, say, from the planet Mars.

Do you remember Pearl Harbor?

Do you observe a moment of silence at 11am on 11/11?

9/11 is only important because some of us know people who know people who were there. As those people die, it will recede into unimportance. Become just another brutal event in a world that’s filled with brutal events.

###

In other news, the repair I took my car in for was very cheap. But they found other things wrong with my car. Expensive things! That’s the real reason for my misanthropy this morning.

To cool myself off, I went for a looooong hike. And saw the deer in the photo above.

Hunting season is looming.

Run away, little deer, I wanted to say. Unless you want to become venison sausage.
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