Good Gracious

gracious

I’ve been having an epiphany of sorts for the last few months.

Is that possible? To have an epiphany that stretches out over days and weeks? Perhaps a true epiphany is more like that typical “Aha!” moment. The lightbulb winking on and whatnot.

But the mommy brain I’m working with these days isn’t the speediest of creatures. Just this morning, I locked my scooter keys inside the seat compartment before I even pulled out of the garage.

And let’s not even talk about Monday, when I parked the scoot on Mission Street and walked away from it, leaving the keys dangling in the side lock ALL DAY LONG. How people passed up that opportunity for free wheels for 8+ hours is possibly proof that everyone else’s brain is just as sluggish as mine.

So it’s no wonder that this particular lightbulb has taken a looong time to illuminate. But now that it has, I can’t get the buzz out of my brain.

Being gracious. That’s the long and short of it.

I’ve been obsessed with the idea, turning it over and over as if in doing so I will discover some new meaning, a hidden key.

Becoming a parent makes you think of yourself differently. In some ways, it spotlights your biggest flaws, or turns up the volume on small eccentricities that you previously thought of as cute but now realize are just juvenile.

I have never made any bones about being a bold-faced misanthrope. I’m not a people-lover. Especially not en-masse. Crowds make me twitchy. Parties make me crave a quite nook and a book.

In my twenties I wore my misanthropy like a shiny silver badge. I flaunted it. I reveled in it. I embraced my inner grinch and dressed him up in big black boots.

I toned it down when I hit my thirties. I got more comfortable in my own skin and discovered that I was fine just being who I was instead of showing and telling all the time.

But I could still whip out the grinch at a moment’s notice, withering strangers with a glare. My sister has dubbed it the “Bugle Boy look” because of the time ages and ages ago when she and I went holiday shopping and for some reason ended up in a very long line at a Bugle Boy outlet. Someone tried to jump the line in front of us and I melted the skin off their face with my stare.

The thing I’ve begun to realize as I’ve gotten older and, yes, as I’ve become a mum, is that I tend to glare alot more than necessary. It’s my default setting, especially under duress.

And it’s not only strangers who feel the sting. I can whip it out on those closest to me, too. Even more so sometimes because I tend to filter my thoughts alot less around the people I heart the most.

But now I’ve had this epiphany about graciousness, and I’m trying very hard to be more selective about my misanthropy and grinchitude. I’m trying to save that withering glare for the occasions that truly call for it, such as keeping the skeeves out of my way when I’m strolling the baby.

I’m finding that I can be really good at being gracious if I stop to take a breath and put some thought into it.

Taking a few seconds to think before I speak or react or even blink gives me a chance to remember that it’s not all about me and how I’m feeling today. The stranger to whom I’m about to give a verbal smackdown might be having a much shittier day than I am, and I, in these few seconds, can either add to that pile of shit or shovel some of it out of the way.

So I’m working on it. It’s hard, especially when that default grinch setting is so easy to flip.

Recently we had a house full of people who have a history of putting me on edge, and that tense, prickly feeling has only increased now that my baby has been added to the relationship equation.

When I admitted to myself that I was going to be unable to defuse the grinch in this particular situation, I opted instead to stay silent so I wouldn’t say something stupid. In my head I kept hearing that old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Going mute isn’t exactly gracious, but it’s a step up from bitchness, so I’ll take it. This new attitude will take some time to cultivate, after all.

But I’ve had the epiphany. I’ve seen the light. And I know it’s time to grow up. It’s time to be gracious.

-Lo, who will still wear stompy black boots, don’t worry. She just might remove a few of the pointier spikes.

Wee Ones

underwatertoesMood: Anticipatory
Drinking: Fluids

See those juicy underwater toes right there?

I’m planning to be nibbling on those in a couple of days. Perhaps even underwater, since it is still 93 degrees up northern Cal way, and there is a pool not too far from my sister’s house.

I always used to think it was weird when people would describe babies as delicious, as if they wanted to slather them in marmalade and feast.

But now I understand. My wee nephew is the possessor of many juicy appendages, and I have already been guilty of trying to gobble him up on more than one occasion.

I’ll have to remember not to mention that to him when he’s older and more easily embarrassed.

I’m not sure why people do that, anyway. At age 29, I met a woman who lived next door to my parents when I was a baby. She couldn’t stop shrieking at me, “I used to change your diapers!” As in, “Don’t tell me you don’t like onions, I used to change your diapers!”

I wanted to backhand her.

You know when people ask you what your superpower would be? Most people choose super-strength or flight or invisibility.

I think I would like the ability to say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. Of course, I would totally use this power for evil.

I am not always great with words in their instantaneous, spoken form. On paper I get to push and prod them around until they line up in the little shapes I like, but when put spot on in any given situation, I can’t for the life of me find the words I most want.

In high school I was tormented by the constant lack of a clever retort, which would have come in handy with all the social awkwardness. Even now, with all these years of practice, I come up with a great response 2 or 3 days later.

I would like to add some measure of invicibility to my super-word superpower, though. So after I tell the shrieking diaper lady, “That’s nice, but don’t expect me to ever change yours!” I won’t be worried that she might pinch me.

Or, in more common situations, when some dude yells something from a passing vehicle, I can make my smart-ass comment back and then go all Buffy on his ass when he turns his truck around.

Wow. Look how far we’ve come from underwater baby toes. I have no idea how that happened. Or why. Or what the point of this post is, really. Except that I’m roadtripping for nephew time this weekend, and I’m excited.

It’s been an odd sort of week and I’m all out of sorts, so if you’ve made it this far in this post, you deserve some sort of medal. Or a snickers bar. Your choice.

-Lo, wandering off in search of baby bits.

Girls Will Be…

mannekinMood: Distracted
Drinking: Diet Coke

They say what goes around comes around, and sometimes it’s true. Though not as often as you’d hope.

The evildoers don’t always get their comeuppance.
The naysayers are not always proven wrong.
The good guys don’t always get the credit or even the white hat.

But sometimes, sometimes it all works out.

Lately, the goings and comings around here have been a surprisingly pleasant resurgence of people from the past.

Most of it started on myspace, which is not, as the talking heads would have you believe, just a “teen website”. There are a whole heckuvalot of us non-teens on there, mostly because we’ve discovered that if you do enough clicking around, you’ll run into some long-time-no-see faces.

Sometimes during the expected lifetime milestones (like high school graduation), you look around at all those familiar faces and think to yourself, “Weird. I may never see these people again.” In my case, that thought was quickly followed by a “Thank God!”

But many times the milestone rolls by unnoticed and you transition from this thing to the next without taking notice of the names and faces that will soon be forgotten or, at the very least, grow a bit musty there in the back corner of your mind.

Then years later, when a name resurfaces unexpectedly in your myspace inbox, the recognition kicks in, with a whole host of unbidden memories of the time when that person was just another fixture in your daily routine.

One of the familiar faces that has recently reappeared in my virtual world belongs to AP, a girl I knew just in passing for about 4 years or so in my mid-twenties.

And here’s where the part about girls being (catty, competitive, backstabby) girls comes in…

AP and I could never honestly have called ourselves friends back when. True, we shared mutual friends and often collided at parties, but usually we shook it off and kept on walking. Much of it was my fault.

You see, one of the people I chose to let my little light revolve around during that time was Queen of the Misfit Social Club, and fought tooth and sparkly silver nail to keep her crown. She never wanted anyone to shine brighter or longer than she did.

As her unspoken understudy, it was my job not only to keep my own wattage on the dim side, but also to fend off the advances (real and imagined) of other “unworthy” luminaries.

So I’m afraid that AP got the brush-off, more than once. I didn’t give it much thought at the time. There was so much else going on and, let’s be honest, most of us don’t have the brain-space to think about anyone but our own sorry selves in our twenties, during that mad rush to figure out who we are, with accompanying whys and wherefores.

Fortunately, AP and I have gotten another chance to collide here on the far side of 29. It’s going much better this time around.

We’ve exchanged a very long and ever-growing string of emails, getting reacquainted and reconfiguring our perceptions of each other. And for the first time, we’re actually building a friendship.

I said to her recently, “I don’t think you and I would have ever had this conversation in our 20s. But here we are now, and it’s a lovely thing.”

So here’s to girls being kind to each other, to girls being unthreatened by another’s brightness. To girls just being (supportive, understanding, tag-tucking-in) girls. Woman power and all that.

It’s a lovely thing, indeed.

-Lo, who relinquishes her misanthropy on a case-by-case basis.

Love Thy Neighbor

redblue
Mood: Wicked
Drinking: Liquid

If I love you
chances are
you’ll soon be experiencing
a violent act of God.

A falling maple tree will crush your red Camaro.
Basketball-sized hail will obliterate your new roof.
Half a hill will cannonball right down into your swimming pool.
An unexpected tornado will (Poof!) disapparate your Shih Tzu.

If I love you
Lady Luck
will certainly
take her leave.

Expect to start by breaking a nail at least once a day.
Soon your lover will take back his grandmother’s ring.
Your boss will decide you’re all wrong for your job and
your creditors will hire the ATF (Blam!) to break down your front door.

If I love you
honey, it’s sad
but true – the End is near
and it’s coming for you.

It’s all over now but the crying.
The only question left for you is: Silver urn? Or casket?
Better pick one real quick and tease your blonde hair real high.
It’s the last thing you’ll get to do (Wail!) before you die, die, die!

But wait…
If I hate you
it might all
be ok.

It’s the least I can do.
Set aside the Golden Rule and
start practicing the philanthropy
of misanthropy – just for you!

So if someday you wonder why
I don’t like you, well,
I hope now you’ve understood…

It’s really all for your own good.

-Lo, who’s feeling the need for a little black humor today.

Peeves

internet_peevesMood: Stuffy. Crabby.
Slightly smelly.
Drinking:
Tea-time

Googling yourself is much like eaves- dropping.
You often end up hearing/ seeing/ reading things that you’d rather not know.

But who can resist the self-google, with its titillating promise of heretofore undiscovered gems about oneself? I cannot resist, Internet. Every once in a couple of weeks, I type my own name into the google box and let the link clicking begin.

Which brings me to one of my top five pet peeves. (It sits squarely in between public-sidewalk-loogie-hockers and close-line-standers/bumpers.) It makes me very cranky. And I have enough to be cranky about this week, Internet, what with the sudden onset of a spring fever, complete with a drippy nose, scratchy throat, and all-over aches. Not to mention the crazytown that work has been this week, plus a looming publishing deadline, uncooperative scheduling, and bangs that are now so long they prevent me from seeing properly.

I am justifiably crabby.

So. The peeve. Well, let me prevent bossy emails by first acknowledging that I do know when you put something out there, into the wide world, with or without the aid of the web, you no longer have control over where it goes, who sees it, how it is interpreted or mis-interpreted. I know this. But that doesn’t make me any less peeved when I find something that once was mine smeared all over somebody else’s blog without so much as a by-your-leave or even a simple spellcheck. But this is exactly what I discover all too often on one of my self-googling adventures.

Just a couple of days ago, a dude out there in blogland borrowed something of mine from his friend’s blog and reposted it. (And god knows where his friend got her copy. These things replicate faster than bunnies…) Basically, it’s the transcript of my infamous 1998 “This is who I am” video, copied and pasted without any appropriate paragraph breaks, making it virtually unreadable. I know the video is out there, making its tireless travels for nearly a decade now. But who in the world took time to sit down and transcribe the whole thing, word for word, so that well-meaning but ill-advised bloggers could manhandle it all over the Internet? At least this guy spelled my name right — but then he describes me as an “intense poet and blogger”. Um. Thanks?

But whatever. Blogger boy meant no harm, and although he really needs to learn how to break a paragraph, I’ll leave him well enough alone.

The Texan Preacher Man, however? Not so much. I discovered recently that someone, somewhere in Houston has decided to write a “discussion guide” to go along with the aforementioned infamous video. Unfortunately, Mister Discussion Guide is quite misled. Here’s how he describes Generation X:
“This is the generation of young adults born in the 1980’s who are coming of age in our world today. This is the generation born to the late Baby Boomers whose parents grew and matured during the late 1960’s and 1970’s. They were born in the gross materialism of the late Reagan era and the moral confusion of the Clinton sexual revolations (sic).”

Sorry, mister. You are wrong on so very many counts! You really must check your Wikipedia!

Texas Preacher Man also gets a great many things wrong in his version of my biography, and apparently thinks of me as an “internet poet and blogger”. Which, I guess, means that I write poems about the Internet? Or they exist only on the Internet? Or they are written with invisible ink that can only be read virtually? So many possibilities…

(One of my friends used to call himself the “Death Poet”, because of his penchant for writing about dead things. He had business cards and everything. Hmmmm. Perhaps I should market this Intense Internet Poet thing? …Nah.)

The interesting thing is that both of these peeve-makers seem to be aware of this website, with its handy “Says You” tab making it so easy to communicate with me. But neither of them have ever stopped by to say “Hi!” and “Oh, by the way, can I rewrite your biography and/or take your words completely out of context?”

I have written to Texas Preacher Man, thanks to the handy “feedback” link on his site, asking him to please correct his frighteningly obtuse errors, but that was two weeks ago and he hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Unsurprisingly.

Sweet.

And I know, naysayers, I know. I should be happy that anybody out there pays any attention at all. I should offer some benefit of doubt, I should cut some slack, I should quit my bitching, I should give a nod in the general direction of good intentions, I should, I should, I should.

But I’m not famous enough (not nearly) to have developed the thick skin necessary to not care about blatant misrepresentation. I am not used to getting ripped off, even by the well-meaning.

And also? Did I mention the runny nose, with accompanying red, chafey nostrils?

So leave me to my crabby. It’s entertaining.

-Lo, who needs to find the guy who made that mousepad and get another one.

Dribs and Drabs

Mood: Cantankerous
Drinking: Chai Tea

On the train to work this morning, all the strangers looked somehow familiar.

*******

At work, the woman across the hall turns out to be the LOUDEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD…
“Hieeee!!! This is Blanky Blankerson. You have a Happyyyy New Year, Okaaaay??? Bubbyeeee!!”
Silence. Silence would be good right now.

*******

My sister recently discovered the blog of a girl we both went to high school with. The website includes recent photos which are equal parts enthralling and disturbing. Enthralling to see how someone you haven’t seen in umpteen years looks like a more bland and bloated version of their high school self, with flatter hair. Disturbing to see how someone you haven’t seen in umpteen years looks like a more bland and bloated version of their high school self, with the same knee-length Baptist-approved skirt.
She didn’t evolve.
She didn’t change, except to lose the perm and gain a stomach.
She still believes that rock music will send you to hell.
She scares me, a little.
I can’t stop reading between the lines of her blog…

*******

Last Wednesday, on a whim, I paid someone to seize scissors and cut me a bang.
Bang!
On my lunch hour. Now I look like Emily Strange. I’m even dressed in red and black.
Somebody take my picture, quick.

*******

the time must come
when all things fade
like memories of that perfect day

the leaves fall first
and then the shade
soon everything is bathed in gray

everything
but you

you alone stay true
to form and soon, now,
your brilliant blue will finally blow me away

*******

I recently purchased Neil Gaiman’s new book, Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders. I dropped an extra $5 on an autographed copy at Cody’s Books on Stockton. Just so I know that, one time, he held this book, too.
I can’t stop reading it.
Sometimes the simple genius of his words ignites such a fierce depression.

*******

For once, I’m behind the camera and my friends are in front of it. I’m interviewing five of them for a special video project.
Three down, two to go.
They are beautiful and brilliant. Anyone would want to know them, but I?
I am the lucky one.

*******

At a recent holiday dinner, I heard a man with a red moustache say,
“My house belongs to the Lord. And so does my car. So if Jesus wants to take them, that’s okay with me.”
I don’t believe him.

*******

My neighbors stopped by on Monday with their six-month old baby girl. She was dressed in a white hoodie with lamb ears.
Her head smelled like powder and hope.
(Baby heads have a universal smell, like puppy breath.)
I want one of each.

*******

Sometimes I take pictures of myself to try to see how I look from the outside.
The new camera Boy gave me for Christmas is 10 megapixels.
It helps.

*******

Friday night we’re going ice-skating. Outside. In California.
How cool are we?

*******

There’s a guy out there, in Internetland, who wonders if “Daedalus” is about him.
It’s really not.
And never will be. (She says peevishly.)

*******

At the moment, my toes are wearing a fresh coat of Chanel Fire nail polish.
Purchased in Paris. At the Chanel flagship store on Rue Cambon.
But my fingers are entirely naked, and my fabulously firey-red toes are hidden in boots.
Go figure.

*******

Last night I dreamed of kissing a girl.
When I woke up, I couldn’t remember what she looked like.

*******

I was talking with a friend recently about MySpace, and described it as “masturbatory”.
I’m sticking with my statement.
And my profile.

*******

K and I are this close (holds thumb and index an inch apart) to finishing my book.
Funny how the end takes so much longer than the beginning.

*******

-Lo, who doesn’t think Jesus really wants her for a sunbeam.