Saturday, December 6, 2014

guns and knives, okay.

i don't like that i don't like lili kershaw but hit replay like clockwork on three of her songs recently loaded onto my lifesaving musical device, now saving life in day's light as in night's, and losing efficacy as well as temporal dominion. maybe that explains lili kershaw and how she weaseled her way into my music.  lili kershaw is easy;  she calls it honest;  others call it young, and, irritatingly, folk for the 90s.  what is that supposed to mean: folk for the 90s?
still, i've begun thinking so much about guns -- knives, too --  because how can i be honestly engaged  in the nation's flippety-flappety social dialogue without getting intimate with a gun?  [fred scared the bejesus out of moi by offering me the actual knife featured in one of my short stories (penance: heaven's casting couch -- just published here, but old stuff). it's one scary mofo of a knife, but beautiful, in person, for it's clear intent.]  so, yes, guns are admissible in my imagination, now.  mark the date, and believe that old dog-new tricks thang.
i'm going back to the awake::asleep brainwave pattern that got me through the last 10 hours, if blessings for longevity hold on behalf of the magical musical machine.  also, say a prayer for my last sucky earbuds, and that the cats will refrain from the final thoughtful chew of its tiny, teasing wires.

take a moment of your life
to find out where you are going
and crawl
through the barren land
of your plan to the beauty of not knowing

and come on down to the place where we met
and i sent you that shot of whiskey
smoke was in your eyes
and your hair fluttered by
you were never with me

so pull the trigger nice and fast
cause the best for me hasn't happened yet
you're the marlboro man
predictable with your plan
you're so damn scared
you don't understand that

life is for the living
not the living dead
you make your bed
refuse to lie in it
life is for the willing
you're only willing to stick to the plan
go buy a pack, marlboro man
marlboro man

please don't get down on your knees
and act like you're repenting
i know you know i know you better than this
and i am done mending

what was meant to be a broken joke
get out of my house
go have a smoke
i'm on my way to wonderful
my future is bright
don't get blinded by the light

so pull the trigger nice and fast
cause the best for me hasn't happened yet
you're the marlboro man
predictable with your plan
you're so damn scared
you don't understand that

life is for the living
not the living dead
you make your bed
refuse to lie in it
life is for the willing
you're only willing to stick to the plan
go buy a pack, marlboro man
marlboro man
marlboro man

i counted the hours it took for you to call
and i counted those same hours
leading out into the fall

so pull the trigger nice and fast
cause the best for me hasn't happened yet
you're the marlboro man
predictable with your plan
you're so damn scared
you don't understand that

life is for the living
not the living dead
you make your bed
refuse to lie in it
life is for the willing
you're only willing to stick to the plan
go buy a pack, marlboro man
marlboro man
marlboro man

-- lili kershaw

Penance: Heaven's Casting Couch (Attempting Fiction)

Penance: Heaven's Casting Couch

She heaved such a sigh that the fat rolls rolled.  You'd think she'd try to hold it in, perhaps add another ten degrees to the arch in her back, instead of relying on that brick wall for the little bit of upright left in her.  A long, narrow store that fronted on MLK and extended its tired side down Euclid's small bit of a curvy road, Dick's One Hour Martinizing Dry Cleaning was more than just an obvious whore's joke:  It was hers, once all of Dick's one-hours were up and the sidewalks of the neighborhood shifted clientele.

LuAnne knew this guy, the guy provocative of the fat-rolling sigh.  She knew he didn't care about the arch of her back, or whether she could still hike up a firm thigh, leaving a high-heeled foot to rest --like a feather -- upon old sooty masonry, studded with petrified wads of gum, stained with years of tobacco spit.

"Don, Don. Ron," she ran through her client list, mentally tapping each dog-eared, scribbled card with a red acrylic stiletto nail.  She hadn't seen either of the two Dons in at least six or eight months, and Ron?  Not since last month.  The Dons -- either one of them -- would have kept her for the night.  With Ron, as with most monthlies, she needed a stopwatch.

LuAnne knew her game of mental Rolodex for what it was.

The years had given her their best gift: pragmatism.  She kept the heels for the virtue of what four and a half inches can do for a girl's walk -- no matter what age -- for the sass and the ass;  but she also wore only strapless mules that she could toss off in a heartbeat, in case she needed to run. Her cracked black vinyl mini could hike up to her tits, but she could not run in heels.

"And who am I kidding!  I can't run unless this damn skirt shimmies up to these fine boobies!" she laughed at herself, and gained a little heart.

Rhinestones on the high heels and on their shiny silver platform, too, a little something to catch the light, bring the eye down, and then slowly back up the slope of her best parts, elongated legs that sashayed now without the trouble of moving.  LuAnne was a thinking girl, a curve and a cuddle from the corner, old and fat the closer a guy got, so control the guy.  She'd always thought that should have been the first of Madame Galore's Rules, not that vague exhortation to "lady-like behavior."

The glitter on her feet echoed the glint and flare of her vintage beaded hair clips.  Stress or something was causing her own hair to fall out in patches, so she used colored crystal combs and claws to attach black glossy real hair hairpieces to her own hennaed patches.  Real hair, expensive hair, black to highlight her impeccable pale skin, make the scarlet of her lip and the flush of her crimson blush stand out.  The henna had to wash out before she could dye her whole head, unless she wanted to be purple.  Some days purple didn't seem like that bad an idea.

LuAnne was confident that her best, her oldest customers knew that what you saw was not all that you got. LuAnne was homegrown goodness.

"Ronnie, sweet cheeks.  What's going on, darlin'?" she tossed out in a slow drawl, as she rooted around in her bag for cigs, lighter, condoms, and the reassuring heft of her blade.

The first knife she carried, a gift from a gentleman who tried to lure her from the street, was an actual eleven inch Mattie Silks Sidewalk Companion, a dainty little thing, in spite of the eleven inches of blade. She'd kept it tucked in a hand sewn leather sheath complete with a thimble for a chape, and the sheath in the boots she was never without in those high-fashion days.  She'd never drawn it out and treated it more like a decorative talisman than a weapon.  To be honest, back then, she did not much care about living, about her life.  A very lucky whore, that's what she was -- but that luck felt more like Hell's licking flames teasing and taunting her.
Over the years, she had learned. A stiletto, because of the size -- the narrowness -- of the blade, cannot be kept very sharp. Not for years, and a blade should last years, if anything should.  Most of all, she had learned that it was for thrusting and that thrusting required time, and in close quarters, time did not exist.

She'd also begrudgingly accepted her fate of a life that consisted of the coming attractions of brimstone's stink and the fevered pitch of fire.

This blade, nestled among the Trojan Magnums and tubes of lube, was a Spyderco Matriarch. She'd loved its name, even after the cop who gave it to her said it was meant for bitch elephants, made for women in South Africa.  The one time she'd used it, she'd used it right, had ripped, fast, and slashed, close.  LuAnne walked away, none of the blood hers, though she'd tasted it as it trickled down into the corner of her mouth, salted copper, viscous iron.  She'd walked home before it was even completely dark, had strolled, imagined herself on her family's farm, walked in that slow, proprietary way along the line of oaks and elms that made a highway the length of the fields, dripping blood until it had all clotted on her like dried up jello.

A whole month she had hidden, knowing her DNA, prints, hair, clothing fibers, all that forensic stuff, all that Law and Order and CSI bounty, was everywhere in the frenzy's remains. Not her blood though, not one drop of that liquid life. But no one came to get her, so she ventured out again, like Spring, pretending that nothing had happened except the loss of fifteen pounds and a new hair color -- that's when she'd first gone red. Her girlfriends were jealous, said she'd loss the best of her self, that nobody would want to lay a skinny copperhead. The johns, though, they'd flown into her scarlet flame like moths.

"Looking good, LuziAnnie, girl, looking good.  What'll you give me?"

Ron was one to waste time, to chat, treating her like a cheap date, when she was on the clock, working. This was business, this went in the ledger. She frowned, a violation of an abiding Rule of Conduct: Never ruin the customer's fantasy.  None of the Rules were based on outmoded ideals of courtesy.  No, these Rules kept you alive, but she supposed that getting in good with the ghost of Emily Post couldn't hurt, either.
"Who am I kidding?  Ronnie's fantasy? Ejaculating into something besides a sock already stiff with cum.  My fantasy?  Making love, not fucking, with a man who looks nice, smells good, and is nice, and is good..."

LuAnne stove off impending fits of laughter, touched her knife, and once again, heaved such a sigh that the fat rolls rolled. This, of course, made her laugh.

The street's end was vacant, no competition swinging on the lamp posts, chattering in boyish Spanglish, looking better in toxic-colored spandex two sizes too small than she ever had in tastefully tight pleather.  The last car to cruise by, looking, had headed down MLK a good forty minutes ago, and she was tired of holding up the sooty sides of the dry cleaning store.

LuAnne thought of a few standard quips, settled for "something's better than nothing," and nodded Ronnie in with a rise to her chin, a coy glance ending with a very small smile that once "called hither," in a grand tradition.  Now, all the physical tics this half-lit whore put out were wordless invitations to a quick and dirty deal.

She had no pimp.  She'd outlived most, not a rare talent, but the ones on the street these days laughed in her face as they ran her off choice real estate.  She had no doubt they'd kill her for little cause, or none, and gave up her last best corner to the strangely beautiful tall, dark transvestites.  Some nights, when the word was out, she got a cut for acting as look-out for cop cars, and decoys, and then her face flashed some version of a "closed" sign, and she wore jeans, cropped tees, and tennis shoes.

This was LuAnne's life, as much in short as in full:  She staked her quiet claim at Dick's Dry, served nostalgia, let her belly roll, and knew what she knew.  She'd had two streetlights, one on the corner of Euclid and MLK, and the other right near her vintage store home base, right at the store's rear exit and tiny parking lot, but someone had shot out the bulb a few weeks back.

She convinced herself that being side-lit made her more of a mysterious figure, and maybe required less of her, a boon on those days when she she started out dead on her feet, sore at the mere thought of touch, wincing at skin's innocent brush of skin, nauseous at each whiff of booze and rotten gums.  "No kissing on the lips" was a Rule both she and Madam Galore had insisted upon, with over a century between them.

Probably predates the Magdalene.

"Oh no, giggle-jiggle. Damn it!"

Close enough now to share air, which is precisely where the preliminaries to the dance paused for several beats, Ronnie said again, "Girl, are you listening?  Here I am, baby, what'll you give me?  What you gonna do for RonRon?"

"What, you want a menu?  I could go for a coffee and some pie, you buying?"

"Jesus, girl, give a guy a break, would you?  I can go back around the corner, down a block, and buy me some concentration camp freak that I could bone and spin like a top at the same time, but no, baby, I want you, a handful, I want..." and Ronnie was off on a Ronnie trip.  He did that sometimes, his brain so fried. Ronnie would light on the government, on conspiracies, and then there'd be no money from him, just frantic spittle, and rigid arm waving.  She was afraid he had some kind of seizure attack disease and would lose his decency along with his drug-addled mind.

She wondered if it ever occurred to him, sober, that the only reason he could buy drugs and get his monthly screw was because of a government conspiracy that landed in his post office box at magical thirty day intervals.  But then, Daddy would never have made it without the farm subsidies, either, so she kept her mouth shut.

"Ron, Ron, Ronnie, sweetie.  Half-and-half for sixty, thirty minutes, but we gotta find a place, I don't got a place tonight," LuAnne confessed, because even her welcome at the hole they'd all used to use as a hotel was "too full" for her these days, despite the keys hanging behind the desk attendant's pimply bald head.
"All's I want is some love, baby, something to hold on to, baby, I gots me fifteen bucks, LuLu, I got fifteen dollars.  I remember when fifteen dollars'd take me round the world and make a woman bend every which way, let me fuck her all night, and love it, too, back before Nixon pulled all that shit, made me and the economy, both, go soft..." Ronnie meandered more than mumbled, and LuAnne couldn't tell which part was pure bull and which part was pure messed up old man in the tiny hours, alone on a dark street, just like her.

"Give it to me, then, fifteen -- and whatever you've got in your shoe, too, and I'll suck your dick like I half way mean it, you old fart," she announced, business being business, and feeling the need to invite some reality back to the tea party.  "And I mean now, Ronnie."

She didn't even laugh when he pulled three fives out of his socks, just pretended disgust at the sweaty fives and ones she was already unrolling and carefully, precisely folding in her signature swift style.  She snatched the additional Abes out of his hand as if she'd known they were there all along, and added it to her green, grey, white, and black origami styling. That was another thing LuAnne was known for -- her origami catfish, birds, everything from pelicans to the overdone crane.  She'd learned it from one of the fieldhands as a kid, did it now like some men whittle, like old women tat.  But she'd settled on money as the best paper, and when short on cash, would grab one of her origami creatures, each about a fifty buck lay, and undo the magic as ably as she'd created the illusion in the first place.

"What are you on, Ronnie?" she asked, as if needing the time and temperature report.

"Crack, mostly, all's I can swing.  Don't like it none, it wrecks my lungs, my teeth.  And it's sweet but you know, LuBelle, you always end up right back here, and hungry."

"You need to get off that mess.  Smoke a little bit of weed, drink a little bit of beer, mellow it out, get you a room."

She didn't often give out free advice but there was still nothing doing down the street, and she was tired.  Do Ronnie, go home, go to bed. Maybe she should start a newspaper column, or one of them computer online things. Type out all her whoring wisdom.  Everything she'd ever learned on her back, on her knees, in jail, in half-way houses, and at obligatory holy-roller revivals, waving her hands, shouting bona fide nonsense like a fool so that she could eat grits and corn bread, and take her turn at screwing the right reverend.

Heaven's casting couch.  It got you a hand-delivered bag of groceries every Saturday morning, courtesy of the church Food Pantry.

"C'mon, we'll go up to my room. Twenty minutes. I mean it, Ron.  I'll suck your dick and then you can suck my tits for the other 19 minutes, old man, and then you are out of there.  And you never, ever tell anyone where my room is.  Remember Lorena Bobbitt?  We're kindred spirits, we are."

"You and your goddamn knives, LuAnne, whacking at the whole freaking world. Oh, just do me, LuLu, c'mon, just do me right..." and Ronnie began to break again, telling her he wished all the street lights'd get shot out, they were all full of watching eyes, and only crazy people believed tin foil hats could protect them from the rays that were Phase Two.  She was half-way curious about Phase One, she'd missed that part, but shook off his addictive nuttiness, grabbed his elbow, and squeezed. That got his attention, or at least his eyes facing forward, and they set out in what she considered a sexy stroll of a pace, but that seemed to be a bit beyond Ronald's top speed.  LuAnne couldn't help but chuckle and felt her stomach flopping again, and cursed, meaning it.  It's not that she regretted letting herself go, it's that the going went so dang fast.

They walked toward the main drag. She thought about looking back to see if Dick's One Hour Martinizing Dry Cleaning had collapsed from her sudden abandonment, but not hearing walls tumble, she figured that part of her world would still be there tomorrow night, her bit of prime real estate, her plot of arable land.

"Hey, Ronnie, when did Orange Julius become Dairy Queen?"  Ronnie stumbled.  She pinched his elbow harder, compressing the ulnar nerve, which made it not at all a funny bone.  He yelped and glared at her, but was alert, and seemed to get that they were passing from yesteryear's shadows into today's fog, rife with danger.  He tried to reclaim his arm from her, but she just hugged it closer, and pressed the back of his hand to her soft breast. He sighed, and relented.

They made a smooth enough left at tranny corner and began the final pilgrimage of the two blocks to her boarding house.  Several outspoken "sex workers" had petitioned to have it declared a historic monument.  It was originally a famous brothel -- huge, spacious, and genteel -- that housed a group of prostitutes educated, mentored, and worked by the city's first Madam, the famous Smooches Galore.  A finishing school, of sorts. Under the watchful eye of Galore who controlled not only the behavior and services of her girls, but the premises, the alcohol (watered-down and primly poured, but always paid for in advance), and the money, or other means of compensatory accommodation. Without being Main Street, Smooches' Place was Town Hall, and many a political career began there. A few were carried out the back rolled up in worn out carpet, too.

The old-fashioned wrought iron black fence, with an offset gated entrance, led to a meandering brick walk, giving the illusion one was covering more real estate than there actually was. But even the least bit of a meander was giving Ronnie trouble, so LuAnne hiked up her right hip and half-carried the old man to the steps leading up to the wrap around porch. She plopped him half on one step, half on the one above, and he promptly nodded off.  Many nights she wished she could just plop down, herself -- but in one of the swings -- and let the shadows shield her from the world, and sleep, sleep right outside.

Yeah, draped in thin layers of diaphanous gauze over swimming, slimming satins, her hair one color and sweet-smelling, curls softly blowing in the city breeze, her mouth a dimpled pink heart, her breathing gentle, her breathing easy...

She got the giggles again. She jiggled again, and swore.  Sat down next to Gone Ron and pulled out a cigarette.  Remembered to keep her knees pressed together, still thinking of the long dead Madam, and her Rules.  How had they managed?  Their Rules were so few, so broad.  LuAnne needed specificity, subsets of subsets, definitions. Too much had changed, too much, too fast.  Madame Galore need only refer to "lady-like demeanor." LuAnne needed a separate:  "Don't let your business hang out for everyone to gawk at, Girly Girl! Glue those knees together, or charge for the view!"

She doubted, too, that Smooches ever used exclamation points.

A few friends passing by, also giving up for the night, called out to her, most in greeting, some in warning, shaking their heads at the Pile of Ron, but no one stopping, whatever their message.

Ronnie stirred, smiling, then groaning, trying to figure out where he was, and why he felt so safe.

"Well, I'll be doggone double-damned, it's you, LuLu!  I was just dreaming about you, and here you are.  Gimme a drag, would ya?"

She handed him the cigarette, told him to finish it.  Took a good look at him.  Laughed.  Jiggled.  Swore.
"Get up from there, old man, let's go on up, get you feeling like King of the World, and then let me sleep like its Queen, what do you say?"

After hiking to the third floor, quietly walking the path of the worn oriental carpet runner down the wood floor hallway to her door, LuAnne let them in, and silently pressed the door closed.  She leaned against it, as so many do, when safely home after a day in the world.

But now she had brought the world home, hadn't she?  She watched as Ron wandered about her room, touching her things, staring in awe at the hanging origami that she'd linked together with colored crystals and strands of beads to make a lacy covering for the yellowed window blinds.  Just his walking by set them stirring, and calling to one another, a greeny moving moss of money.

She set her purse atop her bureau, pulling out the knife, placing it with a distinct clunk on her bedside table.  Ron was immune to the noise, to her assertive gesture, lost in the murmur of the waving origami ones, fives, tens, twenties, folded and altered into a menagerie of tiny animals, all green, grey, white, and black, strung on fine fishing filament.

She watched him pick up her silver-framed photos, her mother and father, gone now, with herself at five. It had been Easter, so they were extra fine.  She watched Ron set her family down, and pick up the next, much simpler frame.  She was seventeen, a newlywed, leaning her body into the lean strength of Robert Lee, who held in his arms their baby boy, a small, slightly smushed origami frog in Andrew's grubby, chubby hands.
"All gone now," she said to herself, again, and laughed at herself, again, "so maudlin."  Robert Lee had turned into a drunken farmer, she a stupid drunk farmer's wife. The baby boy was their crime.  Who gets into a cotton harvester drunk?  With a baby?  Fallowed, hallowed land that she still owned and rented out. Meticulously, season by season, she inventoried the details of increasingly awesome harvests in her fine handwriting, and knew the source of their luck.

After contracting with the lease management company for her room, and a few confidential amenities, "in perpetuity," she steadily and methodically gave it all away, that blood money.   Her philanthropy was anonymous and precise.

She'd funded some of the sex-change operations that changed the lives of the trannies that spit at her from the comfort of her old haunts, that got them out of there for good, making room for new terrified boy-girls, getting by on natural beauty, fear, hormones, and tape, lots of tape.

LuAnne never put the money to work for addicts, never for children's charities.  She had an investment adviser who made the blood bucks grow tall, like corn, like wheat, and she endowed places for their good work in the margins. Those jots on the edge of the text, the shorthand, the notation never reread. But no, never on hopeless causes, never on babies, never on drunks, never on bloody whores.

She gave Ronnie good head, let him rest a while in her bed.  She had clothes he could have changed into, a sink where he could've washed up, but she didn't offer what a crackhead wouldn't think of.  Then, she made him go, holding the Matriarch loose in her hand, for emphasis, and watched out the window to be sure he left.  She thought he stepped out with more intention, looked like a man on his way to buy a rock, having forgotten his socks no longer held his wealth, that his money was part of a school of whiskered fish.

LuAnne changed the sheets, polished the silver frames, smoked a cigarette, indulged in an orange soda, deliciously naked under her terrycloth bathrobe, breasts, belly, and butt unrestrained, relaxed.  She flip-flopped her way down the hall to shower and stood in the cold water, baring herself to its punishing, purifying barrage.

Done, she retreated to her room, cracked the windows for a cross breeze, slipped into her purple gown and under the sheets.  She listened to the talk of cicadas and just waking birds, watching them sway until her eyes closed. She dreamed of straight tilled rows and fledgling cotton plants.

Author note:  Dedicated to Seamus and to GA, with thanks and love.

© 2013 L. Ryan

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

For Baba: Made New

i am brimming with new posts, some very funny, some of scien-tific/istic ilk, some so personal as to succeed as universal.  more than a few are essays that would make montaigne sniff a dusty dead man's egotistical sniff.  so long as he does not sneeze, we're okay.

the post below was originally published on 3 december 2013.

i did not know, on 3 december 2013, that my brother grader boob, now better known as "lumpy," was very ill with cancer.  he had only the soupçon of the beginning of a barely nascent suspicion. he was then suddenly a very grumpy lumpy grader boob, and could not seem to get his bearings, seemed perpetually under that pathetic fallacy of the weather.

he pushed me to reconnect with our stepmother.  this man who now will not connect with anyone! he had that frustratingly perfect impulse -- outward.  i did not remember that he was the impetus, that he was the sweating, grunting worker plying the splintering board that leveraged the boulder... that was me (the boulder, if i lost you).

a gift.

i have two brothers, so similar, so different.  they give gifts like maniacal gift givers, crazy-assed coo-coo givers, scented personal shoppers in the virtual world we now share and the vague shadow of a long gone world. we all meet in the lobby in my dreams -- that dream lobby that morphs into a music room of bean bags and comfy mattresses and vinyl, into softball fields, hot sidewalks, the backseats of cars, tiny basketball courts, much like the end of a concrete driveway crowned with a backboard and a hoop.  always, there is music.  gifts.

there are things i remember clearly.  these things may not be true.

i remember the both of them, evil in their older age. i was in [very baggy] diapers.  you know, i have always been remarkably slim in the hips.  anyway, i am crawling, vaguely bothered by the drag factor of these very baggy diapers. i want it clear that they were not messy diapers, just not well fitted to my slim hips. i fear that soon i will renew the experience this unfortunate fitting difficulty, but we're not there yet, oh no, not just yet. yes, right, so... there i am, in ankara, turkey, exercising my cute little tush off.  i presume i am in a dining room because the trajectory of my efforts seem to end under the carved legs of our famous dining table.  the one i inherited and finally destroyed just before fred and i became squatters here at marlinspike hall.  it had, by then, been painted white and the cushions were of a scary yellow plastic -- that was stepmom baba's treatment, to make it match her "breakfast nook" concept.  that table must have seemed an albatross around her thin neck -- highly stylized, obviously "foreign" and not conducive to her admittedly matchy-matchy decorative ways.

oh, that woman could decorate!

ya, so, my two good-for-nothing siblings are egging me on, making great use of that linguistic "come hither" known as intonation ascendante by my later french linguistic professors.

"c'mon, you droopy-drawered excuse for a baby sister, c'mon!" and so they dangled a cup of something in front of my cherubic visage, luring me closer to the little fort made of table legs.

when i finally made it, drooling as only such a diva can drool, the chant became, "c'mon, take a sniff of this!  you're gonna love it!  c'mon, would we lead you astray, hmm?"  reaching the cup, smiling like the innocent baby i was and always would be, i took a dedicated whiff.

it was ammonia.
my first, but hardly last, loss of brain cells.

okay, so there's that in the negative column for those two.  i could add grader boob/lumpy almost taking my head off with a powerful warm-up swing with a solid wood baseball bat... but that was an accident.  so was the time that one of them (no recollection which of 'em did the deed) threw a dart in my arm.  see, there was a wooden fence.  they were on the "inside" -- picture a poor man's courtyard
-- innocently playing darts.  i was on the "outside," oblivious, and made the turn inward, stepping directly in front of the dart board just as a projectile was released.

big whoop -- a tetanus shot. still!  still!

other than that, it's been nothing but gifts, gifts, gifts -- from the both of them.  in return, i've given them terrible gifts, as in, stuff that i think they should want. lumpy/grader boob has also received more than his share of "things that a person very ill with cancer needs." they are, i know, piled high, box upon box, almost reaching heaven, unopened, and possibly tripped over.

i blush to think of the olde english curses that may be heaped upon my head every time lumpy grader boob sees or sidesteps my gift pile. an auditory heap on the head is detectable only to those who attain nirvana. i'm about two-fifths of the way to enlightenment, to having those individual desires and suffering go... away. so for now, he curses into the void, he pisses into the wind.

the gifts left to give may be few, but they're the best, the saddest, the silliest, the happiest, the most meaningless.  there's no suitable box, which is good, as i lack the dexterity to pack.  thank god for teleflora and the saints be praised that godiva chocolate delivers.

there is still music. there will always be music.
and, somehow, harder to explain, animals.
words. rhythms. winds. rivers. oceans.

yeah, so i wanted to make an effort to write something today.  anything.  and seeing this from exactly a year ago, and thinking of baba, the nickname given our stepmother by her baby brother, frankie something-or-other...

...thinking of how this dream of the beach house, and her ending her days there, painted toes dug in the sand, a silly hat keeping off the harmful sun, a book and a drink at hand... or having coffee on a front porch that leads your eye into an infinity of water, of sky...

well, once upon a time, pretty much just as lumpy was having his fears of terrible illness confirmed, baba required emergency surgery. she experienced a mental decline, as old people often do when wrenched from their familiar environments, particularly those that offer infinities of sky, of water. she lost much weight, developed bedsores.  a trial run was made back at the cottage but it was untenable. back she went into that euphemistic hell called "rehab," while her daughter, my stepsister, did the research and the calling, vetting of the scary, sad work of placing your parent in as great a place as you can find and they can afford.

she's a bit of a pushy person, this stepsister, but she will tell you, probably, to kiss her grits if you requested that she cut if the fuck out.  it is, she thinks, the only way to get things done. if a bit of the truth falls by the wayside, if someone else's wussy sensitivities become obstacles instead of whimsical happy hour stories, well, a bass track will start in the background and soon sweet baby james will be screeching something about Well, I'm a steamroller, baby, I'm bound to roll all over you-u-u.

the thing is, she's sweet, too. extremely nice. i'd try to relate to the goings-on of her life but -- jeez, i'm clueless. probably it's punishment for my natural reticence, because hell's bells! if i think something, it's going to be a secret from the entire blessèd world. no way are you going to weasel a thought or scuzzily judgmental opinion out of this tête!

she doesn't trust me. how could she?  she does not know me, nor care to.  do you know what it's like to ask someone several times for their address and not be answered?  that's me:  the bedridden psycho-killer, drooling in droopy diapers, ready to show your zombie-self a little zombie "mercy." and yes, that's me, who doesn't get the message the first two times!  it makes the moment of realization ("oh, this is actually all bullshit!") that much more embarrassing!

until, until, until --  in my effort to force friendship, force relationship, i betrayed lumpy, and hurt, very likely, his polite elder sibling, the unsullied wise one. it involves a letter that NO ONE forced me to write but which fed my desire to control and dictate.

it was about -- bleck! ick!  yuck! -- wills, as in last, as in testaments.
and the stepsister i am trying to make look villainous? she's not. she's careful, and she's smart to be that way. she and i, we will journey on, learning.

i'm sorry, rolling one, o winged pigweed, for sending you a copy of that letter. i cannot say "sorry" to the lumpy one, because there is not enough space there, even for that one word.

the ace i have in the hole? ["ace in the hole": This term comes from the game of stud poker, in which one or more cards are turned face down, or “in the hole,” as bets are placed.] i have the weightless gift of a greeting and good wishes from our elder brother-unit, safely tucked there where i safely tuck things. (hey! what is this? a "tell all"?  i don't THINK so.)  it's a greeting with good wishes and a memory from him to baba.  i've not delivered them yet, dear brother. but the time is now, apparently, because a bunch of well-dressed, colorful, handsome and beautiful strangers holler about "'tis the season" from the blaring idiot box.

i can already tell you that she will be happy, this ancient dancing woman who has almost worked her way back up to a hundred pounds.

we have traversed the seasons and are not where we started.  the orbit is a bit skewed but still an awesome testimony to arcs, gravity, and the-way-of-things. i choose to admire what the universe managed to keep within reach, and to thank it for what i can still see, and everything that i can remember... or imagine remembering.

i want to thank lumpy for taking this picture of our collective beach, from the vantage point of baba's former and forever front yard.  the stepsister-unit would kill me, but i continue to give baba hope that she can get back there.  i use a line that i used on myself when that older, wiser brother-unit, something of a photographer himself, was missing to me -- i have dusted the old line off for dearest baba, made a few verb tense adjustments:

"mom, maybe you'll go home in the spring..." then we talk... about the dangers, about her dog, about her cute hunky man neighbors, about the fears... and then we talk.

to completely ruin the mood, i have to reference the beginning of last year's post.  un-freaking-canny! in all my recent travails -- in case you can't keep track, i'm losing the use of my hands -- i never once remembered fracturing my left hand. not once.  never mentioned it to my new doctors. of course, this time it started in the right hand... oh, never mind!  it's just kinda creepy.

mwa ha ha!

hey, dear readers, especially you dear siblings (and associates -- i know who logs on, for nothing is secret in marlinspike hall) -- thank you for letting me wade far enough into the gentle waves to get my ankles wet.

because -- gasp! -- the days are long gone when lumpy grader boob and i swam far far out, way past the pier, where there was just the sounds of undulating ocean and wind on the water.  we'd float on our backs and play battleship. then just float, saying nothing.  eventually, in big brother fashion, he'd suggest i go back in, that he'd watch to make sure i didn't get eaten by a shark. then i'd sit on the porch with the binoculars, making sure that he made it in, too. he'd stay out there a long time.

be good to one another.

used without permission, this photo was taken by the inimitable grader boob

if you will kindly refer to an earlier post, titled -- with such gentility -- "i flushed the toilet," it will partially explain my latest round of stealing posts from other -- better but still "other" -- sources.  you know that it is never for lack of something to say.

sure, it's usually the same something, but i'm broadening my vocabulary and massaging the play-dough twixt the ears for the malleable fiction of neuroplasticity.  i'm trying.  but when i so famously flushed the toilet, i fractured my left wrist/radius and somehow also developed ulnar nerve palsy. CRPS has a weirdness not often discussed, as one tires of sounding insane, which is its perverse preference for symmetry.  i have developed the same symptoms, minus the palsy, in my right hand, which is completely uninjured.

in some other words, typing is a bitch.  be that as it may, this blog post needs writing.

since my "family," meaning the clan in its traditional form, has begun the unwieldy process of reconstituting its early semantic glory, a sontag metaphor-for of chipped and crackled bits of anachronistic mosaic tile, these full-blood, half-blood, and no-blood relations... are dropping by this blog in decline.

most of you are used to having kin.  i'm out of practice.  let's put it as it is:  i have to consult the dictionary to untie the knots of meaning behind cousin, nephew, niece, and sometimes, even aunt, uncle.  i tend to cling to the memory of loving people, whether it was me they loved, or not, and their anthropological kinship designation fell into the garbage heap of my wayside long ago.

there is an equal and opposite reaction of attraction for and [obliquely] toward the relations who hate me, whom i disturb, a new phenomenon born just within the last few months.  here is a very true truth upon which you can rely:  beware new "friendships" of the familial sort who quickly and with nary a bead of sweat clinging to their upper lips (or eyelids -- since my eye surgeries, my eyelids betray more emotion than your run-of-the-mill rosy cheek, and not by blinking but by their creepy dampness) speak of love, and declare it for you as a lifelong yearning, based on your fledgling, chubby, pigeon-toed stunted five year old self.

do not trust anyone who tosses the love card with the wily acumen of a lifelong gin rummy pro, thanks to many hot, humid, buggy southern summer nights under bare bulbs, cards smartly slapping on real oil table cloths, red checks marred by cigarette burns, the buzz of mosquitoes broken by a smoker's cackle:  "gin!" the good ones, the best, are self-effacing, and languidly caress the discard, take it as their own... and knock. they utter "love" the same way.

yes, so i'm feverish, in severe and unrelenting pain, spasming like a done-for flopping fish, glaring as best a fish can with one eye on a rotting pier, and dealing with keeping home a center for holiday cheer with a broken wrist.  i cooked some overly herbed fish last night.  that's my only clue as to the intrusion of the fish into my tight, linear narrative.

it was an excess of tarragon perfume at fault -- i mixed it with lemon pepper, a pretty strong flavor in itself, and holmes himself wouldn't have deduced its presence, so overdone was the tarragon.

i'm in love with tarragon.

and this one, most recent sample of rosemary.  more perfume.  i like a slight artistic char on my rosemary. it served as counterpoint to wonderfully roasted vegetables -- and those vegetables with sufficient sugar content achieved that perfection of combined char and caramelization.

if i rummaged in the remains of my work ethic, i could eke out clever comparisons about perfumed fish and relatives i cannot recall ever meeting but who have "loved" me since i was but a near microscopic translucent guppy.

okay, for those relatives not in the evil category of easy love, for those who, without forethought, closed our first conversation in over 23 years -- telephonic, of course -- with a natural, casual "love ya," and who began what we decided to designate as "the breaking of the ice" with joyous laughter that cannot be feigned...

for such people, in this instance my step-mother margaret, about whom i thought during every one of the days making up those 23 long years -- when cogent, of course -- i owe more than a little bit of an explanation.

or maybe not.  somehow, it doesn't feel evasive to have picked up the fiendish phone and chatted and laughed for eight minutes without giving a single detail of my life.  we both have followed the other by means both imaginative and wheedling.  well, okay, nothing so very dramatic -- we made discomfiting use of one of my full-blooded brothers, the famed "grader boob."  lately, he's been getting a bit disgruntled serving as middle man, and in a wildly uncivilized move, simultaneously released home phone numbers to all interested parties.  he may have called me a "cowardly girly-girl," and mocked my telephone phobia (it's real!) with a professorial version of "nah-nah nah nah nah": "derr-i-da-da dah dah dah dah."  he should keep well in mind that i serve as his gate-keeper for the nefarious side of our family tree.  these are people with little sense of our cultured culturing of boundaries and who constantly threaten to appear on one's doorstep, unannounced, uninvited.

but in this instance he did well, grader boob.  "pick up the phone, damn it. what are ya, anyway, a freaking emotional misfit"?

well, yes.

margaret said something that made my heart stop, just a quick phrase but that wasn't a throw-away. she hoped i'd come visit her, there at the beach cottage where so much happiness happened, and tragedy, too. it's a touchstone of a place.

i talked over her, i think.  i said the same sentence three times, a pitiful diversion for such a smart old lady who had just extended herself -- the cottage is her sacred place, was the center of her childhood family, a tradition of sand, sun, storm, paperbacks, boiled shrimp, and happy hours.  it is also where she found my father curled up dead on the couch, and into her atlantic ocean did she cast his ashes. and i did not even acknowledge the graciousness of her invitation back into that space.

margaret, i'm basically bedridden, except when i take my breakthrough pain meds and antispasmodics, then i foist myself upon my limited world, and perform with aplomb what now defines me:  my ADLs, my activities of daily living.  basic hygiene, dressing myself, cooking.  i always think of you as i attempt to clean house -- our homes never looked lived in, they were so uncluttered and clean.  your standards became my standards, and when fred looks at me askance as i pry off the knobs to our gas burners so as to soak them clean of non-existent oil splatters and to clean the spotless enamel underneath... i always laugh and say, "but what would my mom say if i didn't do it right?" and to myself i imagine how living at the beach must have both complicated that aesthetic and simplified it, beautifully.

i miss tea and melba toast with you, a wonderful reason to come home from high school. i remember, at the oddest times, the afternoon we went sailing in a thunderstorm.

my standards have fallen.  i am not physically able to do all the things i "ought." it shouldn't plague me, yet it does.

i can walk for very short distances and lately risk falls when i "step out." and i flash on the day in washington, d.c. when you finally explained to my dad that i despised being grabbed by the elbow and told to "step out." i talk to myself -- hey, we all do, to some extent --and sometimes i hear chastisement from my his lips through mine -- "straighten up and fly right," that sort of thing. there are moments of hysteria, too.  i tried to teach fred that "it only costs ten percent more to go first class." fred didn't buy it, and, let's face it, it was one of dad's less successful aphorisms.

i have lupus, which led to something called avascular necrosis [AVN] or osteonecrosis, which led, in turn to adrenal insufficiency (and a few scary instances of adrenal failure).  but what has me beat, mom, is something called CRPS.  a lot of folks still call it RSD.  i'm coming up on my 12th year anniversary with CRPS.  it's made me pretty much unrecognizable and you'd be shocked.  mostly, it's a central nervous system degenerative disease but it shows itself -- when you have it as long and as all over as i do -- by what it does to your arms and legs.  in my case, naturally, it also does a number on my face!  in actuality, despite the skin, blood vessel, and bone damage, the havoc it loosens on the brain in terms of spasticity and neuropathic pain testifies to how monstrous it can be.

the only honest "cure" for AVN is to replace the joints destroyed by the lack of blood supply.  so i'm close to being bionic!  unfortunately, somewhere along that journey, my prosthetic joints picked up bacteria which slowly grew, and being the leftist that you always knew i would be, the little buggers formed communes that secrete a kind of antibiotic-proof material... so i finally declared "uncle" at the end of last year.  it's spreading from one piece of hardware to another, these socialist "biofilm communities."  so that adds to the discomfort of dealing with CRPS, as there are daily fevers and the general nonsense that goes with chronic bone infection -- osteomyelitis.  i ultimately lost my left shoulder, and to be honest?  i'm ready to give up the right one, it hurts that much.

however, mom, i have a great internist who tells me, when i hit the more grating notes of whining about pain:  "this, too, shall pass." i used to curse him under my breath, now i repeat his belief as if it were my guiding light, a mantra.

you've likely had enough.  i know i have.  a few more things, then i'm going to bed.

i don't know that you'd like fred, at first, but he would grow on you.  i've been with him for precisely as long as i have been absent from you.  he's gentle, intelligent, but struggling -- right now with the possibility that his hearing loss is due to an acoutic neuroma.  he's scared.  i need to think of your example, again, and make him my priority.

i'm never going to see you again, i don't think.  won't be for lack of wanting, i can tell you that.  i'm embarrassed and ashamed about so much -- but also secure in who i am, what i became, the life i've lived, getting things right with a gratifying increase in frequency!

you once tried to help me by listing my "accomplishments," and were shocked when i thought you were mocking me.  you were not, of course.  you were trying to build up my sense of worth, my pride.  but i was right, too, because even in that very low moment, i knew that awards, scholarships, and degrees were not important.

but they did allow me to work at what i loved.  everyone always points to dad's mom, to nana, as the source of the "teaching" bug, but let's say that you honed my technique.

when it rained while we vacationed at the cottage, we'd go to what had to be the only pharmacy in town, and get to buy a paperback.  with such nonchalance, you steered a stubborn reader to the fruits of childhood. one year, it was harriet the spy, another, it was jane eyre.  [of course, we still have to discuss the year you took a razor blade to "offensive" passages in one of my christmas wish list books! "too adult," you said,]

my best teaching came when i managed, through sleuthing and careful planning, to allow a struggling student to find the piece of writing, a print of a painting, a translation, a song that would lead them into the "français." they had to find it but i had to learn their need, and supply its want.

it's what you tried to do for me, so faithfully.

thank you. [and good night!  i am going to imagine the sound of the surf...]  stay warm, stay safe.

© 2013 L. Ryan

Monday, December 1, 2014

REPOST: another potpourri post -- the one under the bodhi tree

I usually foist cat videos upon you at the end of posts, a casual ta-da, my te-deum wannabees. Here's one to begin with, for a change.

It's been a big day for Dobby, RuntChild of Marmy Fluffy Butt, and Friend to All. We discovered yesterday that he had his first health issue in four years of life: dread dandruff around the base of his straightforward, stumpy tail.

"Hark! I'm on it," I yelled, or something like that.

The ensuing stream of information from my astute googling of "dread dandruff, base of stumpy tail" mostly consisted of attempts to sell pet products, from dandruff-control shampoo to very expensive food and supplements. I finally hit on some non-commercial sites that all recommended beginning with a Washing of the Cat before spending big bucks on vets, all-salmon diets, and cat whisperers.

 I shared this with Fred, who snickered.

We don't bathe our cats unless there is a compelling reason having to do, usually, with Kling-ons of the Poo Variety, or after unfortunate encounters with, say, a skunk. Our cats are now all indoor pets and don't encounter much in the way of Stink Inducers. They just don't require bathing. I brush each adult cat daily, and grab Buddy the Freakishly Large Kitten whenever I can. 

Dobby happens to have a grooming fixation. You don't even have to make a brushing motion to brush him, just hold the darned thing at an angle and he proceeds to brush himself across the bristles, purring in an insane manner.  One of my first thoughts upon finding the flecks of crusty leavings was that we were going to end up on an episode of Intervention.  He must be grooming in secret.  He probably has a stash of secret brushes and hair product.  When he yowls at me about needing a few moments to himself among the  litter boxes, he's really meeting his over-coiffed feral friends by the back door, trading mousse.

Yeah, well, anyway. I got the message: Fred was not going to be much help in the quelling of this never-before-bathed cat. It's not that he is mean or anything, it's just that when he has his Mission Face on, the animal that is his beloved pet becomes an abstracted goal. The last time he cornered Marmy (in my office), he scared her so badly that she lost control of her precious bowels. In. my. office.

So I decided to give Dobby a good wash this morning, while The Manor slept.  Let the success or failure of the undertaking lie on mine own shouders, alone.  {put-upon-sigh}

It went really well. I whispered sweet nothings to his twitching ears and wild eyes, and Dobby kept his considerable cool. I think I was even efficient. And now that the cat is happy and dry again, there is nary a sign of the dread dandruff.

None of which has anything to do with this video.
This was recorded during the last minutes of the Pre-Bath Era.  Buddy had been following Dobby around in a worshipful fashion, as The Dobster had somehow regained control of the Gang of Three.  Dobby feels called to entertain the huge kitten -- in this instance, with flicks of his small, dandruff-afflicted tail.

We can only hope the rest of this potpourri post will be as tight as its introduction.

One of the functions of my Potpourri Series posts, in gustatory terms, is to be a palate cleanser. They're usually pleasant little amusements of the bouche, cutting through the unctuous as well as the outright greasy -- and the saccharine, the cloying saccharine.

My favorites are the traditional fruit sorbets. Maybe a shot of Calvados.

If you need to make a run to the grocery store before continuing, go on! We'll hold your place and promise not to say or do anything meaningful until you get back.


Ready? Okay, then.

In the course of speaking with folks these past few weeks, I've not worked very hard at subterfuge. Feeling disgusted with my life and what I've done, and not done, with it, I've steadfastly broadcast that disgust.

Or, if not feeling so explicit, I've challenged my inclination to annotate the truth when I happen to write it. By detailing myself to death, I have the delusion of being more accessible. Yes, I know, your experience doesn't bear this out!

I wrote the following about all that roughly two weeks ago, and didn't know what to do with it. But you know what the primary thought behind a Potpourri Post is? Why, none other than "whose blog is it, anyway?"! So, read it, don't read it, I don't care. It just had to be written, and now, it has to be published -- much in the way people must publish legal notices.

I needed something to happen, but had no clue how to shepherd that need.  And so I hurt my back this morning, at roughly 4 AM.  As a happening, that will have to do, and what it has done in only six small hours is interesting.

There's been an increase in my ability to focus but a marked decrease in my tendency to edit myself to shreds.  i'm ashamed, i'm so ashamed.

Which means that you, Dear Reader, may be the loser in this unbalanced equation. Oh, stop rolling your eyes.

I appreciate those of you willing to wait around as I cycle through the Crap of Life, being careful to jot down every bewildering, self-aggrandizing detail.  Maybe you feel relief at being invited to someone else's train wreck?  [That's okay.  If I can serve as Object Lesson so that you may avoid some catastrophe or other, why, Hallelujah and I'm glad to be of use.  If you just get off on my misfortune, well, may the Bird of Paradise fly up your nose.]  i'm ashamed, i'm so ashamed.

One of this blog's functions is to siphon off the incredible head of self-pity I manage to work up in the course of ordinary time.  Disguising my dedicated victimhood as justifiable anger fools no one;  Passing it off as a transitory reaction to a transitory situation is fundamentally dishonest.

So don't worry, Dear Reader, I am taking myself to task.

This hasn't been a Pity Party, here, of late.  No, this has been a Clemency Hearing for an Angry, Self-Referential, Wannabe Dadaist -- anything any pretense any snobbery any available snoot or snark, just so I don't seem a run-of-the-mill sorry-for-myself Loser.

It's a straight-jacket, it's solitary confinement.
i'm ashamed, i'm so ashamed.

Withdraw sense!
Violate expectations!
Question convention!
Do these prison duds make my butt look big?

That's right, I know I am in a prison, and I know it is of my own making.

A lucid moment, then? Sure, for a few more paragraphs. There is a certain sense to then writing about the robes of Buddha.


Ha! All I remember is doing some housekeeping in the middle of the night, and spending a serene few minutes oiling and sprucing up one of my Buddha statues. As I reviewed that litany of "i'm so ashamed," my mind reached for the comfort of a Jesus, a Buddha. [It may also be that Steve Jobs' life and death were preying on my tired brain.]

I went back to the computer that dawn and finished writing that unpublishable post, this way:

Anyway, the Board of Pardons and Paroles tells me to "[p]lease leave, if you don't mind," and The Warden bakes me sheet cake after sheet cake decorated with Pithy Sayings like "We left the doors unlocked" and "Here's a VISA Gift Card and the keys to my car."

Still I persist, defiant, defending meaninglessness with shrill, more-better words, all the while dressed in this silly orange jumpsuit.  What do I have to do to escape the Bad Fashion inextricably associated with my Bad Karma?  Awake the Buddha within?

I am not wasting my life by stewing in anger.
I don't subject the people (and critters) I love to oxygen-depleting roars of frustration.
Never, ever have I wished ill on another person.

Well, not unless you've been listening closely or paying attention.

I tend to leave out an important part of my story.  The playing the hand that's been dealt part.  The no one is responsible for my happiness but me part.  The this is my one shot part.

But back to the crux of the matter:  looking good while suffering, the Buddha art of dressing.  See, Buddha was Buddha because no body could be as oblivious as Buddha. Buddha is always good for a smile!

The only answer to "What did Buddha wear?" is that he wore traditional mendicant clothing, which was usually a rectangle of recycled, pieced-together cloth that was then washed and dyed with vegetable matter, ending up a color most often labelled as "earthy," which in turn has elicited "ochre" and "saffron."  The one calls up a little low brow, the other wiggles a little high brow, but who may say that another is attached?

Anyway, that is what Siddhartha Gautama chose to wear in his seeking life, both before and after he sat under the Bodhi tree.

Of course, at the end of the day, even if all is as it is, there are still people who cannot sleep for worry. These are the people who create need -- in this case, the need for a tradition based on established rules that no one had yet bothered to tease out.

Worried people are pure trouble.  Take, for example, the most obvious of admonitions for this, or any instance, of robing discussion:  "To make a Zen Buddhist robe, one should be a Zen Buddhist monk."

See what I mean?

The story I prefer about how the first codification of the traditional three-piece Buddhist robe came about goes like this:

After his enlightenment, he began to teach and many of those who heard his teachings – mendicants, former teachers, householders, even his own family and royalty – left their pursuits and followed him forming the Sangha of monks and, later, nuns. Their clothing was not codified, and various sutras refer to a variety in dress, some of it fairly fantastic. Tradition has it that those who ordained with the Buddha, as well as the Buddha himself, primarily wore the mendicant clothing of that time, essentially the same worn in India today; they all wore some version of a simple, serviceable, Kashaya robe.

This caused a problem for a Buddhist king named Bimbasara, who wanted to pay homage to Buddhist monks but was having trouble picking them out of the crowd. One day, he complained and asked the Buddha to make a distinctive robe for his monks. They were walking by a rice field in Magadha at the time, and Buddha asked Ananda, his personal attendant, to design a robe based on the orderly, staggered pattern of rows of the rice padi fields.

The progression then becomes predictably sorrowful: how to distinguish among monks by depth of study, power, wealth, or breeding; how to work in the fields with such billows; how to stay warm; and the enduring problem of symbols -- how to use them as distinguishing marks, in a world where they still matter and your indifference to that is completely feigned?

The bars of my prison are insubstantial.  The work I do, in words, the work that really makes me sweat, barely keeps enough stiff steel in those things to support the hint of a plaster ceiling.  Even the most malignant of talk, the nastiest of recollections, weeping sores and raw bloody hurt, over and over and over -- slithering in thick salve -- can't link those syllables into any kind of meaningful chain.

I used to think that the Buddhas and the Jesuses of this world were, above all, supremely abstracted men. They attracted adulation because of the blank canvas that being vague afforded.  They were safe, safe and dangerous. They were walking permission, benevolent, tall and broad and big!  Letting everyone pause that extra special, most needed second, that little empty moment where we can hear what's right and bask in it.  Darned if they don't expect us, though, to then stroll the stroll.

I'm wrong, of course.  In the middle of all that placidity and reality that bends and drapes, are Fudo Myoo, Angry Buddha, Acala -- flaming sword and rope.

Acala Vidyârâja is one of the Vidyârâjas (Myôôs) class of deities, and a very wrathful deity. He is portrayed holding a sword in his right hand and a coiled rope in his left hand. With this sword of wisdom, Acala cuts through deluded and ignorant minds and with the rope he binds those who are ruled by their violent passions and emotions. He leads them onto the correct path of self control. Acala is also portrayed surrounded by flames, flames which consume the evil and the defilements of this world. He sits on a flat rock which symbolizes the unshakeable peace and bliss which he bestows to the minds and the bodies of his devotees.

Acala transmits the teachings and the injunctions of Mahâvairocana to all living beings and whether they agree to accept or to reject these injunctions is up to them, Acala's blue/black body and fierce face symbolize the force of his will to draw all beings to follow the teachings of the Buddha. Nevertheless, Acala's nature is essentially one of compassion and he has vowed to be of service to all beings for eternity. 

And Angry Jesus, we shiver with delight at Angry Jesus!  Sure, there's the old toss the money-lenders from the temple, and he heats up the Queen's English over scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites"!  My favorite pissed-off Jesus, though?  That'd be The Case of The Withered Hand.  [The business about the Sabbath is a smokescreen.]

"Jesus looked around at them with anger, for he was deeply grieved that they had closed their hearts so."

That's where I think compassion comes from -- that space between active anger and paralyzing grief.

It was at this point that a good sleep happened along, and I escaped pain and prison in the camouflage of snooze. The truth may well set me free but I will opt for sleep every time.

Dobby is strutting his stuff, proud of his new sheen, and enjoying the dandruff-free life of a care-free cat. Me? I'm still ashamed of myself, still fighting when being would be easier. Back to not sleeping but -- thank goodness -- resisting the urge to write.

Be good to yourself, Gentle Reader.

: home is just some place I always leave behind"

You + Me =
Alecia Moore (P!nk) & Dallas Green (City And Colour)