Good Intentions

What are these actually worth, especially when what they amount to is hurt and pain and misery…or inconvenience or humiliation or shame?

No one says, “Well, at least I had good intentions” when everything turns out OK and no one is upset or offended or otherwise injured. When the shit doesn’t hit the fan.

You can’t take credit and admit guilt. Absolve and take responsibility.

But you can try, and probably get away with most of what you’re after. Eat that cake, and have it too. Big bites, anyway. Juicy ones.

If that’s what you intend.

If that’s the best you’ve got.

If you know what I mean.

 

 

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Filed under Ceremony, Communications, Language, Words

Choice Animals

In the 2015 film, The Lobster, single people have 45 days to find a partner with at least one key trait in common with them (could be anything, love of the outdoors, matching catsuits, a hangnail), or be turned into the animal of their choice.

(Alternatively, they can reject romantic love altogether and, if they can manage the harrowing escape from society, live in the wilderness amongst a motley crew of single people known as The Loners. But that’s where the plot meanders about and becomes dry and rather unengaging.)

But still. A neat premise, that: the literal dehumanization of people who do not conform to heteronormative standards of coupledom, if not outright love. It is ostensibly a punishment for being single…though as a reward for not being in a relationship, there are worse things out there certainly.

Imagine it. Any animal. You choose.

The animal of choice for the protagonist, David, is the lobster: they are long-lived and anyway he’s always loved the sea. His brother chooses to be a dog. One woman chooses to be pony. Yet another hopeless person decides to be a wolf.

For me, it would be a hard decision.

But I think I’ve narrowed down the list:

1. A Cat.

So I can judge you.

2. A Galapagos Tortoise.

So I can be alone with my thoughts for 100 years.

3. A Bumblebee.

Hive mind, hive mind! Hivemindhivemindhivemind!!!

4. A Giant Squid.

Ten big arms so I can terrorize all the seamen.

5. A Pangolin.

So hot right now.

6. A Black Rain Frog.

My inner self turned out and made fabulous.

7. A Spotted Hyena.

Such a gorgeous laugh it’s crime not to have it.

8. A Dung Beetle.

Because why not a dung beetle?

9. A Caiman.

Like, an alligator, but not so much.

10. A Moth.

OK, for real. I want to be The Mothman.

***

I suppose….

I suppose deciding on your choice animal is, actually, a lot like deciding to commit to a relationship. Everyone has their reasons, their likes and dislikes and preferences for the long term, or at least for the foreseeable future.

Whatever those are, and whatever that is.

***

BONUS ROUND:

11. A Pelican.

I would really enjoy that beak.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Movies, Philosophy, Relationships

Please Select That Which Best Applies

If I do not know the ordering procedure of a particular eating establishment, I will:

a) Decide to go somewhere else.

b) Eventually convince myself that I am not that hungry after all.

c) Stare on in puzzlement until it’s officially socially awkward for everyone involved.

d) Turn heel. Run home.

e) b & d

f) a & c

 

Your puppy:

a) Is the most adorable thing I have ever seen. Your puppy has therefore ruined my life.

b) Is the absolute best.

c) I WANT A PUPPY.

d) I cannot afford a puppy right now.

f) All of the above.

 

What That Guy Said?:

a) “Old.”

b) “Ode.”

c) “Auld.”

d) “Bald.”

e) “Sassafras gonads.”

 

PUNCTUATION THROWDOWN:

a) .

b) !

c) : OR ;

d) c OR Both

e) c & d

f) How come no one cares about ampersand?

 

Discreet Flatulence:

a) Acceptable.

b) Diabolical.

c) You ruined it by calling if “flatulence.”

 

Book or Movie:

a) Book.

b) Movie.

c) Both is not an answer.

c) Both.

 

You’ll be in:

a) My heart.

b) My thoughts and/or prayers.

c) Deep shit.

d) Shallow Paraguay.

 

I would love to:

a) Help.

b) Be able to help.

c) Consider helping.

d) Consider being able to help.

e) b, c & d

f) Never a.

 

Choose Your Fighter:

a) Emperor Penguin.

b) Death Cap Mushroom.

c) Giant Spider.

d) Tiny T-Rex.

e) Haunted Waterslide.

f) Ugly American.

 

Nonsensical:

a) “Owning the Libs.”

b) “I can fix them.”

c) “I’m sorry if…”

d) “All lives matter.”

e) “Books are dead.”

f) All of the above (plus a few others, TBA).

g) All of the above (but e especially).

 

Good answer:

a) Yes.

b) No.

 

Best answer:

a) No.

b) GOD NO.

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Books, Communications, Dogs, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Places

3 Ghost Stories

1. Bannister

The first house my parents ever owned was haunted. They lived there for a year then moved before I was born. Whenever we drove past the house (a two story derelict Victorian), my mom would point it out and say, “That’s our old house. It’s haunted.”

She knows this because every night she lived there she dreamed of an old woman who beckoned her from the bottom of the stairs.

Follow me, the woman commanded. Follow me.

It took her entire strength of will for my mom to resist, clinging with all her might to the bannister even as she felt herself irrevocably pulled towards the woman. It happened every night. Every night, the struggle, the temptation.

Sometimes my mom is convinced that it wasn’t a dream, though she never doubts that the ghost was there, real as anything.

Lesson: Better safe than ever sorry.

Sorry, not sorry.

 

2. Bathroom

My aunt often told us the story about how when she was a little girl, she was terrified of having to go the bathroom at night. There were toilet ghosts, you see, that grabbed at her or which appeared in the mirror or in the corners of the room. They stared and laughed at her and ran the length of the ceiling, disappearing behind the toilet and into the walls.

Most nights, this would happen.

Eventually, she learned to hold it until morning. She advised us to do the same, because who knows?

Lesson: Anyone can learn, given the right incentives.

Also: anything can happen if you decide to go wandering at night, even the ridiculous impossible. Even in your own home. Especially in your own house. Ghosts can do more than just beckon.

 

3. Bedroom

My siblings and I shared a bedroom for the years we lived at my grandparents’ house. A multigenerational household it was too (our family of five, my grandparents, a few aunts and an uncle), though for me that just meant dealing with a lot of overbearing bodies: too many talking, jabbering heads, befouling the air around you; too many pairs of hands and feet, taking up space. There was a lot of tension, living in that house, and no escape from it.

I found out much later that my parents, grandparents, my aunts and uncle believed that 1) our bedroom was, indeed, very haunted (specifically by a being that liked to sit on you and draw your “essence” away from your body, as they each in their own turn had experienced), but that they also thought 2) it was OK for us to sleep in the very haunted bedroom because “the ghost won’t bother the children.”

The fact that we knew not to listen to ghosts, the fact that we stayed in that bedroom all night without compliant was proof of that, wasn’t it?

Lesson: The cost of a reprieve can be invaluable if you don’t have to pay for it yourself.

“The ghost won’t bother the children.” They seemed so sure of this. More, it seems that despite their own beliefs, the adults had no trouble transferring the responsibility of their fear to us, of saddling us with the burden of keeping things in check.

I had believed hauntings to be many things. I had not known until then that they could be also be convenient. Expedient to a point, and to a fault.

 

 

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Filed under Family, Ghosts, Interruptions, THE PAST

Q&A

Asking questions to which the answer is known is one thing.

Asking leading questions in search of an answer is another.

Questions are said to be more important than answers.

Because there are no stupid questions.

There are no stupid questions?

How about ridiculous inquiries? Pointless inquires? Abject probes?

Yes and yes and oh, hell Honey, yes.

But I guess that depends on who’s asking, never minding why.

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Interruptions, Language, Ritual, Words

The Loving Huntsman

A minor triumph recently: I finally secured a nice copy (an excellent edition) of Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes; or The Loving Huntsman.

It’s taken about a year to achieve this. Over a year, actually, plus a month or two.

I was, and remain, committed.

***

Lolly Willowes is a story of struggle, privilege, humiliation and personal retribution (which looks very much like vengeance, though it is not). There is a cool intelligence in the writing, a wry and discerning mind behind the prose. A rarity, even now. Even today. Possibly always.

***

Lolly Willowes (or The Loving Huntsman) also has the best narrative portrait of the Devil I’ve ever come across:

 

To be this – a character truly integral, a perpetual flowing of power and cunning from an undivided will – was enough to constitute the charm and majesty of the Devil. No cloak of terrors was necessary to enlarge that stature, and to suppose him capable of speculation or metaphysic would be like offering to crown hi with a few casual straws. Very probably he was quite stupid. When she had asked him about death he had got up and gone away, which looked as if he did not know much more about it then she did herself: indeed, being immortal, it was unlikely that he would know as much. Instead, his mind brooded immovably over the landscape and over the natures of men, an unforgetting and unchoosing mind. That, of course – and she jumped up in her excitement and began to wave her arms – was why he was the Devil, the enemy of souls. His memory was too long, too retentive; there was no appeasing its witness, no hoodwinking it with the present; and that was why at one stage of civilization people said he was the embodiment of all evil, and then a little later on that he didn’t exist (1999: 220-221).

 

Forgive and forget. Who doesn’t need that, once in a while?

Who doesn’t crave it, the reprieve of disremembering just the right thing, at just the right moment, so that everything (present, future and past) will be alright. Will just turn out that way?

Pick and choose, overlook. Exonerate.

That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Speaking especially of the Devil himself.

 

________________________________________________

Warner, Sylvia Townsend. (1999). Lolly Willowes or The Loving Huntsmen. NYRB: New York.

 

 

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Filed under Books, Language, Philosophy, THE FUTURE, THE PAST, Words

Beat It

A year taken month by month, a month taken day by day, and days taken by the hour. Break that down into minutes, seconds…

I’m told (I’ve been told) that’s the secret to getting by. I’ve tried it.

And so:

Yesterday now is tomorrow; September was five minutes; it’s already Christmas. I was never a child; dinosaurs roam the earth!

Beat-by-beat-by-beat.

10 seconds or a year, it doesn’t matter. Does it?

Just got to get through, and on to the next thing.

Whenever that is.

Like it matters.

 

 

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Filed under Change, Philosophy, Time, Travel

Thin Slices

As a warm-up/breaking the ice kind of exercise, the class facilitator asked us each of us to name ONE GOOD THING that has happened in the past week to SHARE with the class.

In her case: she won resort tickets from the local radio station.

In another: a pregnant person in class said that she felt her baby kick for the first time.

In another: someone got the unexpected (but very much welcomed) gift of cash instead of the dreaded presents they were expecting.

Or was that the dreaded present?

I can’t remember. And I forgot the rest. 18 of us in the class, but I forget what else was said.

I was too busy scraping my dregs of my mind for something – anything – GOOD that happened that week to SHARE.

Recent memory is sometimes the worst memory.

“It doesn’t have to be a big thing, like winning radio tickets,” the facilitator added hastily, sensing the trepidation among those of us in the class facing the immense, the profuse difficulty of finding something – anything – GOOD to SHARE. Anything GOOD that happened that week.

It had to be GOOD and you had to SHARE it.

Big ask.

“Not anything that big. You can slice thin. Slice it really thin and share.”

She gave examples: not stubbing your toe. Not getting stuck in traffic on the way to class. Not having a swing a dead cat anywhere to make a point. Not being diseased in any serious way. Not being (as) destitute (as you could, and probably someday will, be).

(I may have made some of those up.)

“Slice it real thin, and you’ll see how having just a few good things happen can get your through the day.”

Slice it thin and you’ll see.

How thin, though?

But how thin? 

How thin must we go until we get there?

 

 

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Filed under Communications, Education, Language, People

No Holiday Excuse

Happy Thanksgiving.

Spent all day yesterday making: turkey (now little more than a carcass), brussels sprouts (roasted – none of that boiling like it’s a severed head, or anything), mashed potatoes (spaced and left the skin on), peas (ripped from the pod) and stuffing (for the stuffing).

Is that not an excuse for this truncated blog post? I think it isn’t.

After all:

turkey

brussels spouts

mashed potatoes

peas and stuffing.

 

Such a fine repast! Such a cultivated dinner, civilized, tame.

***

The preference of white meat over dark meat (and vice versa)? Perplexing.

 

 

 

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Filed under Ceremony, Food, Holiday

Dream State

Lou got me up early and it was a relief.

“I’m tired of dreaming,” I told him. “Let’s go out.”

It was a miserable, wet day and the sun had already decided to shun the remainder. That was also fine, also a great relief. Such a pitiless contrast between the dream and waking world was exactly what I needed to ground myself in the here and now. The real world?

I suppose I could describe the dreams; these dreams I’ve been having over the past couple of days (and days). And I do remember them.

But no.

The imagery is still too sharp, the flashes of dream reality too visceral. I feel more than I remember, but that’s more than enough.

Why this? Why now? That is not for me to say.

Let me just say: the subconscious is a lewd, lewd place.

Also: I am so over cowboy hats.

 

 

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Filed under Dogs, Dreams, Interruptions, Mind and Body, Pets