Read my old crap

Oh, people. I just don’t have it in me today.
I have spent the last week reading some of the most hateful posts, seeing so much fuckery afoot from our government, and mourning with a community in Florida. Mourning with a nation. I don’t have any creativity in me.  I don’t have the ability to survey the wasteland and say, “Well, we can clean it up and grow crops.”
Nope. Not gonna do it. When things like this happen to me, and I find that I am well and truly blocked, I dip into the bank of bullshit that I call my writing and find something I don’t mind reading again too much, and then I hope that you don’t mind reading it, too. Thank fuck for years of crap in those archives! Enjoy this light-weighted, prosaic little ditty of nonsense That I penned about 6 years ago. (Let’s also remember that now, 6 years later, I have even more reasons to not want to live in this clusterfuck of a country. My musings in this dribble seem almost carefree and logical now!)

Last night, I found myself watching two of my favorite films: Notting Hill, and Love Actually.By the end of the evening, I was wistful and blissed-out and irritated. Yes, I said irritated. Every time I watch a Hugh Grant film, I find myself filled with an irresistible longing to live in the UK.

I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. I suppose it makes me sound un-American and like I aspire to become an ex patriot, and I suppose the latter is true. The former? I’m still unabashedly an American and proud to say so, at least in circles that recognize the word as it should be – America – and not this newfangled form of redneck speak which identifies a great big growing segment of this country – ‘Murica. I’m an American. I can enunciate. This is not ‘Murica to me.

And yet…..and yet. The pull of the UK is magnetic and overwhelming whenever I view Hugh Grant movies. I’m no psychologist, but I suppose the reasons have a lot to do with my overall dissatisfaction with my own life as it is, and obviously, picking up and moving to a foreign country is not going to fix most of the problems I have. If anything, it would create new ones. The very idea of moving to a foreign land and starting over is both frightening and exciting, and I’ve daydreamed about it for many years. The daydreams had mostly faded away, except for the occasional conversation with my best friend, who shares dual citizenship with Australia and the UK. She has, numerous times, urged me to come live near her, because the money’s better and while the politics are easily infuriating to its citizens, it’s not as much of a mess as it is here. She’s contemplating a move from Australia to the UK, and I guess that’s where this little seed of a daydream began for me again. I am envious of her ability to pull up stakes and make a new life if she wants to, but I know that her circumstances are different than mine and so I can’t be cross with her. Oh, how I wish, though. I wish.

When my daughter was young, we used to daydream together. We wanted to go to Ireland and find a little cottage near the sea and live in it, away from everyone and everything. We would have a garden and flowers and a goat. We would have kitties. We’d ride bikes into the nearest village and have an old, bockety car for bigger trips. It was, of course, a sweet musing between a young girl and her mother, and a beautiful one at that. I still long for it at times, but then I will view Hugh Grant in nearly any film he has starred, with his self-effacing personality and twinkling blue eyes, and I will find myself wondering why I can’t have a life like that?

 

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This is a very close match with what I daydream our cottage would look like. Amazing that it is so similar! Haha!

Look at the elements of a successful Hugh Grant film, if you will. Listen, I don’t have a thing for Hugh Grant. I don’t necessarily find him attractive. I do find his characters attractive, but I would much rather be one of the ensemble that surrounds him. Those people lead such interesting lives and they’re all such good friends to one another! The group who supported him in Notting Hill when Julia Roberts rejected him was funny and kind and quirky and above all else, human. Who wouldn’t want a group of friends to commiserate with, to drink wine with, to just be with in both good times and in bad?  Who wouldn’t want a “Spike” to gape at when he pulled something ridiculous or wore some sort of outrageous t-shirt? Who wouldn’t want a group of friends who would do ANYTHING to help another friend be happy? The same goes for the ensemble in Love Actually. Those characters are fantastic and interesting and I always find myself wishing I could just drop right in there and find my niche.

 

Don’t get me started on the scenery, either. Notting Hill itself is absolutely stunning in its beauty and endlessly interesting, with its shops and street vendors. It looks like the sort of place where one feels included as well as having the ability to step back and be anonymous if one wants. The building facades are charming and the overall feeling is welcoming. Who wouldn’t want that?hugh2 Similarly, there’s London to consider, with it’s historical aspects intermingling with skyscrapers and the people bustling about and the charming rowhouses and the cobblestone streets. The scene in Love Actually, when the Kelly Clarkson song cues and all the Christmas lights of the London night are shown – breathtaking! Oh, I could go on forever about what I love about it. I want it all. I want to be dipped in it like a strawberry in chocolate. I want to absorb it, to be a vital element living and breathing within the throbbing beauty of it all.

Listen, I know I may sound a bit ridiculous to some. I happen to know that I don’t sound at all ridiculous to more than a few of you. I also know that it’s a dream, a silly pipedream, and that I have a perfectly good life with the ability to seek out and create beauty right here. Let me tell you though, life here ain’t so hot these days. The growing anger within this country and the fractured values, the de-sensitivity to violence and heartbreak, and the millions of faces who immerse them in little screens and big screens and who cut themselves off entirely from the whole population while “living” within their social media…..it’s becoming intolerable. I’m just as guilty as most. I pull out my phone at the drop of the hat and look up a factoid or peruse Facebook on my work break. There are usually two or three perfectly good humans for me to have conversations with seated at the table where I’m at. We could be carrying on lively conversations. Are we? For the most part, no. We are looking at our phones and shoveling in the food. It’s the same in the car. On the street. In the parks. In the checkout line at the grocery store. We are surrounded by people and yet we are completely alone. Kids are growing up not knowing how to socialize if it doesn’t include and structured sport setting or the ability to navigate through a video game of some sort. 3 year-olds are learning how to use Ipads with frightening speed.

I don’t think that it’s better in the UK. I know that these kinds of sub-human activities are going on there, too. I also know that I have good friends who would have my back if needed, even though we are scattered all over the country and in other lands as well. Maybe that’s a key thing for me. I need friends to go to coffee with right here and to drink a bottle of wine with right here and to hang out with, moaning about the mundane trivialities of everyday life. I work too much, make too little, and find the life sapped right out of me at the end of every day. I have neither the energy nor the time to cultivate such relationships, and yet, I feel that maybe I ought to, if I want to get to the place where I think I need to be in order to survive the joy and pain that is life. I have cocooned myself away, and the price I’ve paid for that is to watch Hugh Grant movies and to envy people who don’t exist and a life that doesn’t exist. The possibility of having a life like that is ridiculous; I’m too old to start over and to have to navigate my way through the uncertain waters of employment and housing and the seeking out of an ensemble of friends like in one of those movies. I don’t truly want to do the work it would entail. But I can wish, right?

.

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Oh, Hugh.

But gosh, to have a friend like Hugh Grant, with that hair and those eyes!

Valentines and fish dinners and bears, Oh My!!!

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and the Male Sibling Unit’s thoughts have turned to love.

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*Insert your own platitudes of love!* I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Yes, you can groan inwardly, like I have, because the thought of the Male Sibling Unit being romantic makes me slightly sick to my stomach. Any thoughts of a family member in the throes of passion causes that knee-jerk reaction; the desire to stuff one’s fingers in one’s ears and yell “NONONONONONONONONONO” until the conversation is drowned out. Ew.

It is a double-edged sword with the Male Sibling Unit, though. His disability makes it so. He is, in a word, awkward. In his mind, intellectually, he really is an 8 year-old sometimes. With life experience, though, he has learned to fake being an adult. You know, like most of the male population! He knows romantic protocols, like taking his lady out to dinner, dancing with her at functions, calling her “Sweetie” and making all the appropriate gifting gestures. I am not saying he is totally genuine about it, because it really is all about him, even if it is all about her. The premise is great, but his mind doesn’t work that way. He rarely does an unselfish thing “just because” since his mind cannot function in that capacity. If he buys her a gift, it becomes a constant musing of “What is she going to think? Is she going to tell me thank you? Will she think I did a good thing?” It is about his gratification, and not anyone else’s. He needs the validation as much as he needs air to breathe. He wants everyone to ply him with compliments about how thoughtful he was. It sounds like a terrible characterization, but it’s just the truth. And we – everyone who knows and loves him – understand his ways, and we wouldn’t want him to be any other way.

Anyway, Valentine’s Day is coming up, and he and his lady are going out to dinner. He was given a gift card for a local restaurant at Christmas by my daughter and son-in-law, with the suggestion that he use it for himself and his girlfriend; a nice, romantic dinner. He was ecstatic and they started making plans right away. They decided to wait for Valentine’s Day, and now the event is nearly upon us and as usual, it is all I am hearing about.

“We’re going to Beefeaters Wednesday! ”

“I think Carol is going to be so happy that we’re going to Beefeaters on Wednesday.”

“I wonder what she will say to me?”

“I think she is happy about this, that I am taking her to Beefeaters for Valentine’s Day.”

Get the picture? Now, expand upon this. This is the topic of discussion every day, the entire time we are home together. When we are not home together, he texts these pronouncements to me throughout the day. In between, of course, we talk about a few other subjects, like the next time he will be going to his community center and how many tests strips he has left to check his glucose and Oh-My-Fucking-God there are only 12 left and what does that mean? We made all of his prescriptions automatic refills, so he will not have to count pills and decide when to call in for refills and so on, but these old habits die hard and it usually takes me having to remind him, once again, that he has automatic refills and how that process works. By the end of the explanation, I need a refill of blood pressure medication for myself because there is not enough of it in the world to bring my pressure back down.

So yes, romance is in the air, and now, we are discussing things like what kind of gift he should give her and what they will be eating at their romantic dinner. They discussed this at length, apparently, and the evening of romance will include two fish dinners.

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I always say. if anything says romance, it’s a fish fry.

They are quite certain about that, don’t need a menu, so it is set in stone. The gift? This is much more difficult for me. For who, you ask? Why for you? Well, because the Male Sibling Unit does not buy gifts. He delegates this task to me because it is less about the choosing than it is about the actual giving. I guess he trusts me to purchase something that will elicit the response he craves, which is “Oh look! You are so thoughtful!” And he will take credit for that shit 100%; there will be no bashful admissions that “My sister picked it out” because nuh uh! He is a wily fucker! He wants that adoration for himself!

I know; you think that his reasoning is that she will be so bowled over by his romantic overtures that she’ll give it up, and he is hoping to get laid, right? A normal, 42 year-old man would think that way. And again, I cannot stress this enough: Ew. But if you’re thinking that he is thinking that she’ll be thinking along these lines, think again.

The Male Sibling Unit is the real-life 40-Year-Old Virgin. Correction: make that 42, and quickly closing in on 43. He has never actually kissed a girl, except on the cheek. If one suggests kissing on the lips, and even more, with tongue, he comes undone in a cacophony of giggles and hoots and 8 year-old exclamations of “Eeeeeeewwwwww!” that quite frankly puts any 8 year-old to shame in the dramatic overtures department. To suggest that he actually have sex evokes a honking, hyena-like fit of hysteria that sounds a little bit like Tiny Tim singing and a donkey braying in simultaneous chorus. Then, when he calms down, he whispers, “Ew. Ew. Ew.” in a creepy little voice.

The Male Sibling Unit does not like mess. Or dirt. Or anything sticky, or, well, anything that excretes bodily fluids. He says he likes boobs, but I am dubious. Does he? Really? And it is certain that he does not find vaginas attractive, because he can’t even say the word without disintegrating into fits of horror, disgust, and hysteria. The physical act of sex, even simulated on tv, stresses him out so badly that his legs twitch spasmodically and he erupts into nervous outbursts of “SEX” and “They’re humping” and “Breasts”, the latter which he utters in a creepy, insidious voice that would make any woman (or man, for that matter) run away in fear. Think Golem in The Lord of the Rings, saying “My precious” and you have a pretty good approximation of the Male Sibling Unit uttering “Breasts.”

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Alas, no wining and dining the lady; giving her gifts, and coming off as a debonair Jimmy Stewart-esque leading man on Valentine’s Day is definitely not on the roster for Wednesday. To be honest, it will more than likely be he and his lady, accompanied by me and the husband, because he isn’t really good at the tipping thing or the ordering thing or the paying thing. The last time he and the lady went to a sit-down restaurant that did not include an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet or the golden arches, they ordered nearly everything they liked on the menu, because my son was the chef at the restaurant and was comping them (in other words, he was paying for it as a gift to them) and it was a brunch menu. They ordered, well, everything: pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast, sides of fruit, big glasses of orange juice, muffins, french toast……the total came to nearly $50 at a place where two people can eat enough to last them for a day for about $28. And that’s if one of them splurges on cannoli! My son said. “Wow, they must have been hungry.” Nope, they just didn’t really know better and since they didn’t have to stick to a budget, all bets were off! Since they DO have a budget this time, we will tag along just to make sure everything goes okay. We might even sit at a different table, just to give them their privacy. That way, the Male Sibling Unit can take full credit for the stuffed bear he has required I buy for him to give her, but a task which I foisted onto the husband to purchase for him because he is at Walmart every fucking day and the less I have to see of that cesspool of hate, the better.

I take my peace of mind where I can find it.

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Listen. Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise to tell EVERYONE?

Pssssst……..hey. You. Yes, you. I want to tell you a secret.

Life is short. It gets shorter with every passing year. The days when you were a child and minutes passed like molasses, the hours slipping by so infernally slow; when it felt like you would never be grown up and never get to do the things the big people did? Those have long since passed you by. I don’t care whether you’re in your 20s, or your 30s, or if you’ve ticked away 5 decades, like me. At some point, you’re either going to become aware of a clock ticking in the background of your life or a quiet humming.

That’s time. It is passing by. You can’t do anything to slow it down. My question for you is this: What are you going to do about that?

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Middle age is strange. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that in my case, I am both tired and very awake. Tired, as in weary in a way that speaks to the senselessness of the events that go on around me, both in my own private life, that of people I know and love, and in the world in general. I am weighted down with the sheer heaviness of my experiences, and some days, my only wish is to throw them off like one would a cloak. I think back to the innocence of youth and my belief that people were good, bad things wouldn’t happen, and life was a wonderful, golden opportunity and gift bestowed upon us and that we all could be as successful as we wanted.

Life is a gift. It’s a gift of chance, given to you by your parents, who chose to have you. From that point, chance plays into it, as well as your choices. You may come from humble beginnings and choose to get out of the desperation of poverty by working hard and succeeding. You may be born into a prosperous family and do just the opposite: squander that gift of privilege. The point is this: you can choose what you do. Most of it is chance, yes. You can’t just wish for good and receive it. Some bad is always going to creep in and disrupt the waters on your journey across the ocean of your life. The water is going to become choppy and the waves will crash into you from time to time, and it is very easy to veer off-course.

Keep swimming. Okay?

The awake part that I referenced? This is the moment when you are fully aware that you most likely have less time left than you have lived so far, and you’re apt to look backward and think, “What the fuck have I done with my life?” and wallow in disappointment. Okay, I will give you a moment to fully engage in how that feels.

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There. Now snap the fuck out of it.

That’s right, quit thinking about what might have been, what never was, what hasn’t happened, and what can never be. Don’t wallow in the unknown variables, because they in no way define you. YOU define you. Regret is not in your vocabulary, dammit. You can choose to be fierce and loud and out there, and you can choose to be quiet and docile and gentle. You can combine them and be fiercely quiet and gently out there. See what I mean? Who ARE you? That is the question you need to ask yourself, and the answer should not be something finite and defined by the parameters others like to set for you. It should be fluid and ever-changing and evolving, if you will allow me to use a scientific word. This isn’t at all about God or religion, or the lack thereof: it is about YOU. You are the Sun in your universe. Everything in your life revolves around you, and not vice-versa.

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I know; this is not a blog I normally write. I try to engage in sarcasm, satire, and sometimes, the quiet desperation I feel when I am really in my low times of depression. I sometimes choose to meet my challenges head-on and serialize them in such a way that can make you laugh, and make you think. Today is a mystery to me. Shit, who am I kidding? Most days are a mystery to me. But I see sadness, and a sense of discontent in so many others – not only in myself – and so I says to myself, I says, “Self, see what you can do to snap those dumbasses out of it. And while you’re at it, smack yourself, because you’re not getting any younger, either!” I just felt like I needed to take a moment to tap some people on the shoulder and whisper in their ears:

Life is not fucking around, yo. It’s marching, like a soldier into battle. Quit your dicking around and either engage in it and fight for what you want or lower your weapon and find a peace. The choice is yours, but know this: it’s going to keep on keepin’ on whether you like it or not.

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You’re in this. And you got this. I know you do. I believe.