musings


A reminder to myself: “I can’t afford to hate anyone. I don’t have that kind of time.” —Takashi Shimura, in Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru
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Sometimes when I see the Trumpets waving their Trump 2020 signs I think it says Trump ZoZo. (Demon In-Joke)
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I will vote for Bernie if he’s the one although very reluctantly because I think he’s as much a Russian operative as Trump is. But anything blue is better than Trump.
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Yes, I’m wanting a kitty again, why do you ask? Actually, I’m in the process of making the house kitten safe before I take that action. It’s a slow process, given the arthritic knees, but I am working towards that goal.
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Weird irrelevant fact: Five of the accused Salem witches were executed on my father’s birthday, July 19. Eight were executed on my birthday, September 22. The other five were executed on August 19, and Giles Corey, the other victim of the hysteria, was pressed to death on September 19. I’ve always wanted to go to Salem, not so much for the touristy aspects as to pay my respects, but I doubt that will happen now. I watched an episode of America’s Hidden Stories on the efforts to finally locate the actual execution spot. Turns out the family who owns the property had handed down that knowledge through the generations but because no one in town wanted to talk about it, it had never made it into the history books. When the historians who were investigating it showed up on the property, the owner confirmed their suspicions. They erected a memorial there in 2017. So many secrets in Salem, so much official censorship.
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I will admit that Action Bronson watching Ancient Aliens (Viceland) is infinitely more entertaining than Ancient Aliens. With Action, I don’t usually want to throw anything at the TV even once. Granted, Action Bronson is stupid in his own way, just not Ancient Aliens stupid.
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I think the people in the Swiffer commercials are way the hell too anal.
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Everyone is eager to label other people fools, but everyone has something they’re foolish about. I guess it’s a multiplicity of foolishness that makes a true fool—or maybe it’s a blindness to our own idiocy.
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You never know what will launch someone on a screed. Sometimes it seems innocuous but echoes in the haunted chambers of their mind in ways the rest of us can’t see. Which is why I try not to take screeds too seriously. But sometimes they strike one of my private nerves—and we’re off!
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So strange how one’s taste and appreciation changes over time, sometimes dramatically. Yet it’s necessary. If you’re not changing you’re stagnant and dead inside. I was just reading “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold, a poem that made my young undergrad heart go “blech” back in the day. It seemed so stiff and formal. But today when I read it, it flowed, it spoke to me, I really took it in. How strange and wonderful is the passage of time.
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Bridging scenes are the worst. Going from point A to C in a necessary but difficult scene makes me want to scream. Sometimes it indicates I’m going in the wrong direction, other times it just means it’s boring. And will probably be edited out but I still have to write it first.
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Whenever I hear the word Apologia I think it should be the name of one of Prince’s former backup musicians.
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On Carl Jung’s birthday (July 26), I of course had a very interesting dream (said in a cheesy Austrian accent).

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not young enough to be absolutely certain I know the truth. The shades of grey multiply with each year. But that’s okay. The things that important are beyond those kinds of thought processes. We can feel around their edges, if we try real hard and remember they’re always changing shape anyway.

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I’ve been sick for the last few months, all sorts of unusual gastrointestinal and stomach issues, about every two weeks, interspersed with bouts of feeling absolutely fine. I finally went to the doctor last Friday. He thought it might be pancreatitis brought on by a medication he prescribed just about two months ago, because that’s one of the rare possible side effects. I’m not sure about that because people are usually hospitalized for pancreatitis and he didn’t suggest that. True, I resisted going to the doctor all that time–because that’s just what I do. I finally took myself off that medicine in late June. I’ve been gradually improving, sort of, although I’ve been sick again for the last 4 days. Each bout of this is milder than the last, but I am definitely sick of being sick. I think doc was mostly baffled by my symptoms but agreed with my decision to take myself off the medicine. He is having blood and other tests done, but no results yet.

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Today’s Google doodle is quite wonderful–and quite emotional for me. Maybe it’s because the moon landing was one of the seminal events of my young life; maybe it’s because we had hope then that the world might come together now that we could see how tiny and fragile our Earth was. I’ve never had that kind of hope again–well, maybe for a short time when the Berlin wall came down. Hope is as fragile as our Earth suspended in the immense blackness of space.

I should also add that I had that kind of crazy hope again when President Obama was elected. But.

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I bet the phone answering system in Heaven is Hell.

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Great article by Maria Popova at Brainpickings: The Banality of Evil: Hannah Arendt on the Normalization of Human Wickedness and Our Only Effective Antidote to It

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Best fortune cookie fortune I ever got? After a long dinner conversation with my artist friend about whether we should continue to pursue our art or give up: “Art is your fate, don’t debate.” My friend got the same fortune. We told a mutual artist friend about it and went back to the same restaurant, partially because of the food but partially because of the fortune. We got the usual run-of-the-mill fortunes but our other friend, who had also been questioning whether to give up the art, got “Art is your fate, don’t debate.” #Synchronicity

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That feeling when you listen to a piece of music you loved in your youth that you haven’t listened to for a long time…but it no longer works. #NotOdeToJoy

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The Universe is infinite, yet small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

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SOCIAL EXPERIMENT: Someone on Twitter posted, “If you come across this tweet, reply with the grade you were in when you had your first nonwhite teacher.” Oh God. I can’t remember even one, even in college. THIS IS SO BAD.

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People are surprised that a large segment of the public are credulous and strenuously resist logic. Even a casual reading of history shows this has always been so. The difference now is that we have entire news outlets and social media sites promoting the lack of critical thinking.

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Everyone is a conflicted human being. We have to admit that to ourselves or risk getting ourselves into a lot of trouble.

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It’s interesting: Because I just write and push through without editing to get words on the page, my first drafts always have a lot more of my working class origins in them. I leave some of that language in if it suits the character, refine it if not.

TV Show pitch: This Old Crone
Like the PBS seres, This Old House (the original remodeling show), but featuring the transformation of an old crone rather than an old home. It should be hosted by the person who really knows how to do the work rather than the half-assed dilettante hosebag. In this series, instead of covering up the flaws in the crone, we shine a bright spotlight on them so that anyone, including the crone, can learn from them. And the eccentricities of construction will be celebrated rather than trying to turn them into something sleek and modern. Repair work will be done, of course, but with the knowledge that decrepitude is inevitable and the only sure and certain principle ruling the Universe is entropy. Rather than mourning this, the show will encourage us to accept it with as much grace and dignity as possible and learn from it, as well. But we must also remember that if entropy rules the Universe, irony is its only begotten daughter.

Everyone’s path is their own. No path is superior. Everyone has to find their own way. The path of quiet contemplation is as valid as the full-throated war cry. Anyone who judges your path isn’t as secure in their own as they think they are. One person has trouble crossing a room without pain; another climbs mountains. In the end, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is the flame in your heart. If it dies, you’ve failed. If it’s still burning, you’re still burning, and you’re where you need to be.

One of my ancestors is named Mary Polly Armor and I always want to read that as Mary Polyamory. #BecauseThatsJustTheSortOfBrainIHave

What’s the first major news event you remember in your lifetime? I was going to say the assassination of JFK but it’s really the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember those drills, our young teacher herding us little bitty kids into the cloakroom to shelter. I remember her crying each time and I didn’t figure out until later that it was because she never knew if we were hiding out because it was real and the bombs were on the way or if it was just another drill. I was terrified and didn’t really know why.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion that paranormal activity is caused by places being built on Indian burial grounds. It’s quite prevalent in paranormal research and I’ve also fallen prey to the thought of vengeful native spirits. Lately, I’ve reconsidered this. It’s as essentially racist as the Ancient Aliens/Van Daniken notion that primitive (read “people of color”) societies could not possibly have invented the wonders they did—it had to be gifted to them from Space Overlords. The Indian burial ground notion has even pervaded popular horror movie culture. The one exception to this that I can think of in popular culture (rather than supposedly legit research) is the movie Poltergeist. The dead folks in that movie were just vengeful dead folks, not vengeful natives. I can’t think of such an exception in paranormal research. It makes me feel guilty that I even considered the Indian burial ground scenario. Although I’m not sure my white guilt is any more helpful than white appropriation or white nullification of culture. Mostly I realize it’s not about me except for when I can work for positive change.

Here near LAX we got a gentle rolling from the July 5th 7.1 earthquake (downgraded to only 6.9), but it did go on for a very long time. Sometimes they are gentle at first then the big whammy hits, so until things stop there’s always the fear it will get bigger. One of my neighbors was standing out in her front yard screaming, however, which I thought kind of extreme but it takes everybody different. I did feel seasick afterwards, though.

The only thing I know is that whatever negative thing you are when you’re young, you will still be that negative thing when you’re old, only more so. Unless you do a s*** ton of work on yourself between youth and age, if you’re a young rage monkey he’ll be in old age monkey; if you’re a judgmental young twat you’ll be a judgmental old twat. The good news is, if you’re a thoughtful, considerate person when you’re young you’ll most likely still be a thoughtful, considerate old person. The seeds of who our selves are planted at the moment of our birth.

I think the dictation on my Word program must be Scottish. It never wants to capitalize the name Ken.

I lived a block from the Sidewalk Cafe in the 80s. We often ate there in the day time, but knew to stay off the Boardwalk at night: too wild & dangerous for girls on their own. It sounds like things have changed—and not changed: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2019/05/08/a-night-with-a-bouncer/#.XRlOldiNsgk.twitter

I have to confess that as much as I loathe Ancient Aliens, it’s a good show to have on for background noise when I’m not feeling very well. I can read Twitter while it’s playing and look up every once in a while to yell very rude things at the screen. #NeverSaidIWasntWeird

I don’t feed the crows every day. But every time I do feed them, the day after one of them will perch on the rail near my open front door and yell at me to feed them again. #LoveThemCrows

The Detectorists – a lovely, gentle, funny show. One of my favorites.

I have a terrible confession to make. I hope you’ll still be my friends once you hear it: I like the lumps in cream of wheat.

Last night I re-watched My Dinner with Andre for the first time in a very long time. At least 20 years, maybe longer. I’ve seen it many times. There was a time when my friend and I would go to see it every time it played at the Nuart cinema in West L.A., an “art house” theater which still exists (though it’s part of the Landmark chain now). Every time I saw Andre I felt as if the conversation had somehow magically changed, that new things, new concepts had been added. My sympathy would swing back and forth between the two people talking, I’d laugh at one and then the other, cry with one and then the other. The ending always made me appreciate the mystery and the wonder of life, from the ordinary details of a cold cup of coffee, to the mystical wonders of Findhorn, to living life consciously, and living life in a dream. And it still works. It still works.

In some ways it works better in today’s society than it did in 1981. The themes of living consciously rather than floating along; the themes of how distracted we all are and how difficult that makes it to live meaningfully.

“A baby holds your hand and then suddenly there’s this huge man lifting you off the ground. And then he’s gone. Where’s that son?”

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And speaking of watching, I just finished season 3 of The Detectorists. What a lovely, lovely show. Low key, gentle humor, sweet spirit. One of my very favorites.

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Mom and her starling, Baby:

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Butterflies are such beautiful creatures. Which is why I can’t understand the urge to collect them, kill them, and use them as art objects, preventing them from living out their life cycle and reproducing so that we will continue to have beautiful butterflies.

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My mother grew up right in the middle of Uintah Co., UT, a place well known in paranormal circles and home to the infamous Skinwalker Ranch. It was a little farming community called Willow Creek, not to be confused with the current day town of Willow Creek which is some ways northwest of where Mom grew up. Mom’s community doesn’t exist any more, as it became part of the Ute reservation. I had to locate the Creek it was named after to get an approximate location on Google maps (below).

I’ve often wondered if Mom’s nervousness regarding “weird shit,” as she called it, was because she grew up in a place where it was common.

Having said that, one of the shows she really liked to watch in the last years of her life was Finding Bigfoot. It was one of the few “weird” shows she could tolerate. Every time we’d watch she’d be fascinated and almost every single time she’d say afterwards, “There has to be something to this.” Not sure why she found it so convincing. But maybe Uintah County had something to do with it.

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Speaking of weird (as I do so love to), I was reading a thread on Twitter about the superstitions of health care workers. One of the most frequently mentioned was that health care workers would open a door or a window when someone died so the soul could find its way outside. (This is a very old folkloric belief.) While reading this I remembered that when my mother, who was in hospice here at home, passed away, the very lovely hospice nurse (a lady from Africa—and I’m sorry, sweet nurse, I no longer remember which country you said) took care of business and then went to open the front door.

I don’t think I even asked her why (I was in grief shock) but there must have been something in my expression because she hurried to say, “That’s so the funeral home knows what house it is.” I accepted it at the time but in retrospect, that makes no sense at all. It makes more sense after reading that thread on Twitter.

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It’s so difficult to overcome the “I want I want I want” mentality so many of us have been raised with in this society and replace it with the “We are we are we are” mentality. But necessary deprogramming.

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I’m a rather half-assed pagan. I do witchy things but I respect and honor witches too much to call myself one unless I feel I’ve earned it. I think I’m on a parallel but different path, anyway. I have a kind of spiritual practice that I’m getting back in touch with after many years of distraction and tamping it down to deal with this world. Any spiritual practice that’s worth its salt, I think, has to deal with both the mystical and the mundane or it’s just escapism. (Yes, I know, some would say all spiritual practice is escapism, but that’s their problem. I have no patience with them.)

In recent times, I have meditated and put out calls of—how to phrase it? Belonging? Certain deities respond and when they do I honor them on my mantelpiece. Others are just “the spirit of the rock” or “the spirit of the tree.” I am sure there is a spirit of the house, this house, but it’s unnamed. My mother, as I’ve mentioned, was not comfortable with discussion of anything spiritual. But I think she had some talents. She said the first time she walked into this house it opened its arms to her and said welcome. And I still feel that.

Everyone on the mantelpiece seems okay with everyone else, but I always ask before I place a representation there if everyone welcomes the addition. On rare occasions they say no and I honor that, but most times they’re accepting. And not just spiritual things go on the mantle. It’s a kind of cornucopia of silly and sacred and artwork, but it seems to work for everybody.

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What’s something about myself that I once wanted to change to fit in but am now happy with? My weirdness. I never saw things the way most people did. I now realize that’s not my affliction but my treasure.

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“It’s not a swastika it’s some kind of Tibetan symbol,” said the guy in the Nazi war helmet when asked why he put a concrete swastika in his front yard. “I don’t think he’s a Neo-Nazi,” said his neighbor, adding sheepishly, “But he may be racist.” #TalesFromTheLocalNews

My problem as a fantasy writer is that I’m too logically-minded for dragons. I swore I would never use them, but I went back on that promise to myself for one novel and it didn’t work out so well.

Someone suggested that it might be interesting to do a story from the POV of a very logical/intellectual dragon. I tried doing such a creature but reached the inevitable scene where someone needed to ride it and my mind rebelled against the usual scenario. It’s scientifically impossible for a human to ride on a dragon’s back. They’d be killed instantly, torn off the beast by wind velocity and g-forces. I couldn’t suspend my own disbelief in that regard and the alternate solution I came up with was utterly ridiculous.

So, an otherwise good novel was ruined in the third act. Alas, I didn’t have the heart for a complete rewrite at that point. And as time went on I realized there were other problems. (I tried to write a trilogy in one book, for one.) The dragon was just the most egregious.

Lesson learned: if you’re going to pull the dragon trigger, you’ve got to go all in, suspend your disbelief and have humans ride them in defiance of all laws of physics. Or don’t pull that trigger.

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I hate it when a trilogy is just good enough that you need to keep going but not good enough to be enthusiastic about it.

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It’s always a toss-up whether the Science Channel is going to inform me or scare the crap out of me.

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Maybe our alien overlords will impeach Trump. Then again, I don’t think even they could get it through the GOP-controlled Senate.

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Finally worked up enough nerve to open this box.

 

When in conversation I mention that I never really wanted children there is a certain species of woman who goes on about missing out on the miracle of birth and I want to say to them, “What a bunch of sexist crap.” It’s about choice, ladies, not about being brainwashed by social norms. I even had one tell me, “I’m sure you console yourself with that.” Believe me, if I really wanted to get knocked up it’s the easiest thing in the world. I just didn’t want it.

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The crows around here get most of my table scraps and leftovers that are past their prime. There’s one crow who sits atop the telephone pole near my house as a lookout. His job is to caw-caw-caw really loudly if I (or anyone else) throw things out into the yard. But before he does that he first comes down to help himself to a nice snack. Then he flies back to the telephone pole or the roof of my house and sends out the alert to the other crows. He ain’t no crow’s fool.

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You know, even if you roast troll meat in olive oil and garlic with some fine herbes it still tastes like sweat and urine.

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“Primitive” is such a Western-o-centric word, don’t you think?

It seems this notebook I just finished using up is emblematic of my life: the spiral binding had gotten crushed at one point so it was impossible to turn the page without tearing it at the top but I persisted in using it to the very last page.

Ego is a necessary thing if we’re going to get anything done in this world, but oh the damage it can do if left unchecked. It’s a life’s work striking the balance between, the razor’s edge.

Old age is really the harvest of all we have ever been or known or done, for good or ill. So be mindful of what you gather around you in your youth and middle-age.

When it comes to pilgrimage, the destination is not the important thing, the prize at the end of the journey is not the important thing. The important thing is walking the walk.

Patience may be the hardest part of any artistic endeavor. “Why aren’t I good enough yet?” “Why isn’t this getting easier?” “Why can’t I break in?” “Are we there yet?” As my wise friend, L., says: “At the end of the day you realize that doing this [art] is the only sane alternative. Patience is the life-saver.”

Emperors are all sociopaths. When they give up their sociopathic ways and become soft they are overthrown.

Old age is really the harvest of all we have ever been or known or done, for good or ill. So be mindful of what you gather around you in your youth and middle-age.

 

 

When it comes to pilgrimage, the destination is not the important thing, the prize at the end of the journey is not the important thing. The important thing is walking the walk.

Patience may be the hardest part of any artistic endeavor. “Why aren’t I good enough yet?” “Why isn’t this getting easier?” “Why can’t I break in?” “Are we there yet?” As my wise friend, L., says: “At the end of the day you realize that doing this [art] is the only sane alternative. Patience is the life-saver.”

Emperors are all sociopaths. When they give up their sociopathic ways and become soft they are overthrown.

When it comes to pilgrimage, the destination is not the important thing, the prize at the end of the journey is not the important thing. The important thing is walking the walk.