(no subject)



This is basically a writing diary where I write all kinds of stuff that will be immensely boring to anyone who stumbles across it.

Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long Holly. ---- Harry Lime

Fifty Pounds of Tomatoes



Back in the garden, there were fifty pounds of tomatoes waiting for me to harvest.

Plus four varieties of chili peppers, including some reasonably hot habaneros:



I was up till midnight making tamale pies and pesto to bring up to Tburg with me.

I’m not particularly looking forward to this trip.

But ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

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Maenads and Lime Jello



Women are arguing over which of them saw most deeply into Ben’s soul. On Facebook, of course. In a world in which physical proximity is no longer a relevant determinant, Facebook is the de facto town square.

They remind me of Maenads fighting over Orpheus.

I’ve been cast as Mountain Girl to Ben’s Jerry.

Which irritates me no end.

###

Two long conversations yesterday.

The first with Max. “Look, Mom,” he said. “I’m sorry Ben’s dead, but I am not about to revise history. Ben was an asshole.”

Oh, implacable Millennial!

“I wouldn’t say that to Robin if I were you,” I said. “And, of course, he was an asshole. But he was also not an asshole.”

Max is flying in tomorrow. Together, we will dissemble the Tburg digs. This will be an immense undertaking, and Robin will never be grateful enough: He will still argue to put me in a substandard dementia home in 10 years where they only serve three flavors of jello simply so he can buy a Camaro.

(Of course, he will have to learn to drive a Camaro before he can buy one.)

I am counting on Max’s implacable nature to get me the lime jello I deserve.

###

The second conversation was with the last official Ben girlfriend Sarolta, who is being roundly vilified by the Maenads.

She initiated.

“Sarolta, I do not judge you in the slightest,” I told her. “Ben’s obsessive lying is what broke the two of us up. I remember feeling what I suspect you are feeling, and it was really, really awful. Lying like that is a kind of abuse—though I imagine if you were able to confront Ben with that fact, it would be impossible for him to recognize that.

“I am deeply disappointed in him. Had he lived, had he recovered, I would have let him know that. But, of course, he didn't live, so I could only let him know I love him—which, of course, is also true.”

Then Sarolta sent me an FB “friend” request.

I’m actually pretty selective about FB friend requests since popularity isn’t anything I’ve ever cared about. Not even when I was a teenager.

“Are you Facebook friends with Sarolta?” Lew had asked me during one of our all-night vigils at Ben’s bedside.

“Why would I be Facebook friends with Sarolta?” I said. “What are we going to talk about? Ben’s dick size?”

Of course, I had to accept Sarolta’s request. But I do hope it’s not a prelude to any more long conversations about Ben. I do feel badly for her, but my primary interest in all of this has always been to safeguard the emotional wellbeing of my son.

Not my tragedy!

Your tragedy.

Although as a relentless narrator sort, I can describe your tragedy so accurately and with such status detail as to make you believe I think it’s my tragedy, I suppose.

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Snakes on a Plane!

Came back to the Hudson Valley Friday for R&R.

Had great plans for yesterday: I was gonna go on a 10-mile hike! I was gonna generate vast sums of $$$$!

But instead, I curled on up on my bed with Sybyl the cat and watched Seasons 3 and 4 of The Hills, a show whose immense popularity never failed to mystify me back in the day and continues to bewilder me now.

As best as I can extrapolate, Lauren, Heidi, Spencer, and the other “real life” personalities on The Hills are kind of like the Sims made flesh.

I have no idea how I feel except that I’m exhausted. Peevish even. I also feel vaguely guilty because honestly, at this point, if I was alone with Ben in his hospital room for 20 minutes, I’d be tempted to smother him with a pillow. How can he still be alive? He hasn’t had anything to eat or drink in five days now, and he’s not getting IV fluids. This must qualify as some sort of medical miracle although not the type of miracle that anyone would wish for.

He must be hanging on for a reason. But what is that reason?

Is Robin anchoring him here?

Or is it something else?

Could it possibly be Max who is flying in Tuesday? In my last lucid texting exchange with B, I sent him that photo of Max and Mia at the Eveready Diner, and he texted back, I love Max.

Max had been texting with him, too. B actually cried when he told me Max had texted him on Father’s Day.

I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know…

I’ve been doing some planning for the celebration of Ben’s life, the huge Irish-style wake, we’re planning for September 2 at Cinemapolis. It feels kinda ghoulish. But if anyone is gonna show up, the notifications have to go out now so people can calendar it in.

Oi!

I’m going back up to Ithaca on Tuesday, and I sincerely hope this is resolved by then! Either Ben spontaneously recovers (and I’m reviewing recruitment materials from the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Latter Day Saints to prepare for my conversion in that event), or he dies.

Meanwhile, here’s a photo of the 16-year-old Ben. He’d just returned from Guatemala with a suitcase filled with snakes, which he was busily opening on the floor of Lucinda’s house in Rochester.

I like this photo of Ben a lot. His changeling/Orphic ancestry is clearly evident in his face:



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The Instructive Cautionary Tale of the Sweetie Pie Tattoo



Three days stretched into six days.

It was an indie movie.

Ceaseless streams of visitors, all of them with stories to tell. Do you remember that time Ben smuggled an alligator on the plane from Florida and brought it back to New York? Do you remember that time Ben lost his wallet hitchhiking in Big Sur on Christmas Day and found it again in the same truck in San Francisco exactly one year later?

Robin and Lew sobbing by the bedside.

Me reading aloud from a Dave Robicheaux novel but a different Dave Robicheaux novel than the one I read aloud from last time Ben fell into a hepatic encephalitic coma.

But he didn’t die.

And so far as I know, he’s not dead yet.

“I mean, is it even remotely possible that he won’t die?” I asked Adam.

Adam raised his eyebrows and did a palms up. “I’m not Yoda. How would I know?”

“If he does recover, I swear to God, I’ll think seriously about taking Jesus Christ as my own personal savior.”

“You’d be better off taking Thor as your own personal savior,” said Adam.

Adam kept me sane.

If I were 20 years younger, I’d think about falling in love with Adam.



I’d gone up with the intention of dissuading Robin from trying to do hospice care for his father in that hideous, dark apartment. It had jolted me so badly to see Ben on the sickbed there at the beginning of July. The spare room was just so awful. No light, no attempt to make the room pretty. God knows, I had tried and tried for months to get him to let me clean up that apartment. But he wouldn’t.

Maybe things were just waiting for me to get there to turn bad.

Or maybe he just stopped wanting to live after Sarolta dumped him.

Or maybe it was after the hospital lost his dentures. That robbed him of his last bit of dignity. Now he was just another gomer in a warehouse masquerading as a house of healing that was filled with gomers.

In any event, he was expected to last another few weeks when I arrived on Sunday but by the time Monday afternoon rolled around, the docs had revised their estimate: His sojourn between the two worlds would be brief. He was walking briskly toward the exit of the circus tent.

We had a Moment.

I was reading to him: Her face is lost in thought, either about him or herself, he’s not sure. To her, Jude LeBlanc is a mystery, one she never quite understands, but it’s obvious she accepts and loves him for whatever he is or isn’t, and imposes no judgment on him—

Ben’s eyes opened.

I closed the book. “Hey,” I said. “Hey. Do you know who I am?”

He nodded. “Patty.”

“Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben. How did you let yourself get so sick?”

He tried to grin. “I don’t know. I love you.”

“I love you. Are you off adventuring across the wide universe?”

“Not exactly. Close. Robin.”

“He’ll be okay.”

“I trust you,” he said. “I know you will.”

He closed his eyes and he was out again.

Will what? I wanted to ask.



I liked Adam’s Ben story the best. Adam is a tattoo artist. He did Ben’s tattoo of the Lascaux dawn horses, which is the best tattoo I’ve ever seen though I should out myself here: I don’t like tattoos. Maybe they look okay on flesh that’s firm, resilient, young (although that’s debatable, and I personally argue on the con side.) They look like shit on flesh that’s sagging, hypotonic, and old. And you spend as much time being old as you do being young.

Adam used Ben as an instructive cautionary tale. “Any time anyone wants a sweetie pie tattoo, I tell them the story of Ben and Callie.”

The Peace Corps had sent Ben to a small village outside Tela on Honduras’s Caribbean coast. He was supposed to help reestablish the local sea turtle population there. On a trip to the American consulate in Tegucigalpa, he met Callie; she was the wife of the American consulate.

Or at least, that was the story he told me.

“Do you think that was true?” I asked Adam.

“Well, I know he was in the Peace Corps. And they sent him to Honduras.”

“I mean, that she was the wife of the American consulate?”

Adam laughed. “Does it matter? It makes a great story. Which means in some larger sense, it’s true.”

Callie fell madly in love with Ben. Ben fell madly in love with her back. That was the thing about Ben: Women were always falling madly in love with him. And whether because those women were all inherently loveable or because Ben himself was exceptionally obliging, he always fell madly in love with them back.

Multiple adventures ensued of the type that always befall callow youths in love with the wives of powerful men. He recited them to me more than once, but I can’t say I remember any of them.

Eventually, Callie left the husband, and Ben left the Peace Corps. They decamped to the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically to West Oakland, which in those days, was a kind of Tijuana, a border outpost hammered together out of spare parts and industrial waste. Ben got a motorcycle and worked in a chopshop—or at least, that’s what he told me. Adam remembers the bike but not the chopshop.

Callie, who came from money, was not at all comfortable in this environment. The couple began having problems. Ben was not getting laid.

Adam and Ben had first met while they were working together at the Bronx Zoo. From there, Adam had gone on to become an EMT, and he made decent money, too. But that job entailed hauling gunshot victims, ODs and other soon-to-be corpses too numerous to count from Castle Hill and Soundview, the two most notorious warzones in the South Bronx. Adam worked all night and drank all day. At some point, he realized this was not a healthy lifestyle. He’d once studied illustration at the Parsons School of Design. So he decided to do something with his degree. He became a tattoo artist!

And Ben decided to do something he was sure would win back Callie’s affection and cement his place in her heart for all time: He’d tattoo her name on his right arm!

“Are you sure, man?” Adam asked. “I mean, the technology has improved what with lasers and all. Still, it’s not easy to get rid of a sweetie pie tatt once passion ebbs.”

Ben was sure.

Adam, however, remained unsure. “Tell you what, man,” he said. “Let’s do a trial run.”

So they did. They put a temporary tattoo on Ben’s arm, and they rigged it with Vaseline and ketchup-soaked bandages to make it look like a fresh tatt.

Ben went home to show it to Callie.

And arrived back at Adam’s shop the next morning before it even opened.

“She loved it,” he crowed to Adam. “She melted, just melted! She—“

“All right, all right,” said Adam. “I don’t need the details. One sweetie pie tattoo coming right up.”

“Make it as permanent as you can!” Ben told him.

Of course, when he got back to their hovel that afternoon, Callie was gone. But there was a letter: Dear Ben…

Unbeknownst to Ben, Callie had been having an affair with her boss for the last couple of months. The job had something to do with raising vast sums of money for worthy nonprofits. The boss, who was from the same socioeconomic background as Callie, was absolutely appalled that Callie was living the way she was living, had determined to snatch her away from it. Caught between mercurial, changeling-child Ben and the irresistible embodiment of capitalism at its most macho, Callie went with the most identifiable brand of testosterone.

Ben was back at Adam’s shop the very next morning. “Get rid of it!

“No, you motherfucker, no,” Adam said. “I tried to warn you! And I used a very concentrated form of red ink that’s almost impossible to cover up. You’re gonna have to learn to live with it.”

So Ben did.

His next girlfriend Sharee, a hustler from Australia, hated the damn thing and kept trying to steal equipment from Adam so she could perform a DIY erasure.

“Keep your fucking hands off my tools,” Adam told her. “And even if I did let you borrow the machine—which I won’t—it won’t work.”

I was the girlfriend who followed Sharee. I didn’t mind the Callie tatt—which is to say, I did mind it, but I minded it the same way I minded all of Ben’s tatts: They were all equally regrettable to my mind.

Forever afterwards, Adam told this story to each and every prospective client who came to him with the wild idea of turning a girlfriend or boyfriend’s name into an indelible barcode on his or her flesh.

“I like to think that over the years, Ben’s misfortune has saved a lot of people from getting sweetie pie tatts that they’d later regret,” Adam told me. “In that way, Ben has contributed to the betterment of all mankind.”

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Liminal Windows

My dear friend included me in her wedding website, which made me feel very loved, and that is something I need to feel right now ‘cause the crazy keeps right on crazying.

Going to Tburg for two days ‘cause RTT needs a support system.

Bringing 20 pounds of tomatoes, three enormous beets, a large quantity of Swiss chard, three cucumbers, 20 jalapenos, and half a tomato pie.

It’s all unspeakably grim.

On top of that, there are practical issues—like how are they going to pay September’s rent?

RTT has what I would describe as a place-filler job. There is no way he can pay the rent on his own.

He seems bound and determined to do hospice care in that apartment, which I think is ill-advised for many, many reasons.

L pulled me aside for a heart-to-heart: “Do not, I repeat, not give them any money. Do not.

She’s right, but it’s hard not to.

If only B had listened to me in June when I said, “Apply for short-term disability. Take your social security early.”

Short-term disability, which would have been relatively easy to get, is now off the table altogether.

RTT is having to grow up in a hurry.

This is not an altogether bad thing, of course.

Anyway, I will be driving him around to various social services appointments Monday. And helping him draw up a realistic budget. And if his Uncle Lew and the medical social worker can’t talk him out of bringing B back to that apartment, helping him draw up a nursing care plan.

Also cleaning, doing laundry and cooking.

###

In other news, Boy Wonder hits the Epstein nail on the head:

Ok folks, looks like we have another little "liminal window" (9/11, 2008 crash, Brexit, Trump election). Maybe we can nudge it open a bit.

You might have noticed that for the first time in quite a while pretty much everyone agrees that the "mainstream narrative" around Epstein's 'suicide' is bullshit. This is collective a "moment of clarity". Let's use it.

I know. In a few days, we will all largely be back wasting our time being outraged at each other. Probably it will be mapping "who is really most to blame" in this whole thing. A simple divide between "Epstein is a Trump guy" vs. "Epstein is a Clinton guy". Yay.

This kind of nonsense doesn't matter. Guns don't matter. Immigration doesn't matter. AOC doesn't matter. White Supremacy doesn't matter. Socialism doesn't matter. Foreign wars don't matter.

Of course, *all* of these things matter . . . in due time.

But what really matters *right now* is that we are all more or less sure that some group of elites can run a global pedophile/blackmail ring implicating a whole not of powerful people, get caught, off someone held in police custody and lie about it (poorly) - and we *CANT DO ANYTHING AT ALL ABOUT IT*.

Think about that. We are so easy to manipulate. So easy to distract and put at each-others throats, that this whole story is going to fade in, what, 48 hours? And we will all be pulled under into another 'news cycle'.

Here is the thing: if we can't do anything about *this*, we aren't going to be able to do anything about anything else.

Good luck solving any or all of the above problems unless and until a critical mass of people can hold their shit together, not get dragged down into participating in the spectacle and begin the slow process of recohering something like a civil polity.

It isn't going to happen through outrage, shaming or arguing. It isn't going to happen through the 2020 election. And if it comes to a civil war, God help us all.

See you at the next liminal event.



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Karma Is for POOR People



Torture by T-burg delayed till possibly tomorrow but possibly till some indeterminate point in the future, which is ducky with me ‘cause frankly, I love my kid, but if I could love him in some other geographical location, far from the weird, creepy drama, that would a Good Thing.

I texted with him late into the night. Consequently, this is two nights in a row in which I’ve slept very poorly.

BUT!

I did manage to do some revenue generation.

And I went for a run.

And I baked even more tomato pies (tis the season) and a banana cake.

And planned a couple of roadtrips for late August/early September.

###

I’ve been thinking a lot about karma.

I’ve also been thinking about the distribution of wealth.



This is a picture of a bunch of rich people on David Geffin’s yacht. I am thinking they are all a bunch of personally evil, slimy fucks—Geffen and Bezos in particular—and wondering why karma has been so remarkably lenient with them.

Maybe karma is just for poor people.

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In Which Our Heroine Feels Like Amy Irving

Crazytown went up several magnitudes of insanity last night.

I wouldn’t have thought that was possible.

But it was.

###

Crazytown is not just crazy, it’s also the darkest, most hideous, most squalid basement-dungeon you can possibly imagine. Michael Meyers, Freddy Kruger, and Hannibal Lector all live there, and it’s also filled with books, autographed first editions of Cthulu’s autobiography, the leather bindings—recycled from some Nazi warehouse—all cracked and covered with black mold and slime.

UHG.

Just UGH.

I am simultaneously an actor on that screen and a viewer in the audience.

Don’t go down into that basement, Jamie Lynn! I am screaming at the Me on that screen.

But I have to.

My kid is trapped there.

###

I’d spent a pleasant, solitary day working on my revenue-generation goals and trying to analyze just why it is that the first season of the British Skins is so brilliant.

In the afternoon, more thunderstorms rolled in, and after they went through, the entire sky turned lemony, and I saw this:



The pot of gold is in your backyard, I texted Neighbor Ed.

Let’s get shovels, he texted back.

###

And then the RTT texts began: Sarolta is breaking up with him...

WTF?

Not that I personally care if Sarolta breaks up with him. And not that I would have blamed her if I did care once RTT disclosed the proximal cause—a really, really staggering lie of huge proportions.

(Though why is Sarolta venting to RTT anyway? Does she not get how completely inappropriate it is to dump her personal drama on a kid who’s watching his father die?)

He’ll die regardless of whether she stays with him or not, but her departure will certainly accelerate that process, which is heartbreaking to RTT:

Dunno what to do. Feel even more alone now.
Just miss dad a ton. It’s been weeks since he was here and just normal.
Just miss his company
Here alone right now just crying. Even with all the bad diagnosis Sarolta had me excited to pursue alternative approaches and such and that we could still beat this and now I just am so scared
Not ready to say bye


Your Dad is great company, I texted back. One of the world’s great conversationalists and banterers.

Stayed awake with RTT texting stupid, cheery banter till midnight. Like most people his age, he prefers texting to phone conversations.

OhmyGAWD! Just watched that scene where Cassie shows Sid how anorexics “eat.” SO brilliant!!!!!!

Etc-cetera.

I texted RTT lots of cat pictures. Lots of pix of rainbows. Too bad I haven’t run into any unicorns lately.

I think I am going to have to go back up there tomorrow.

I absolutely do not want to.

Remember the final scene in Brian DePalma’s Carrie where Amy Irving is being mawkish at Carrie’s grave and then all of a sudden these claws shoot out of the grave and clutch at her throat?

I feel exactly like Amy Irving.

But I cannot abandon RTT to deal with this alone.

So, UGH.

Tomorrow.

Two days.

I’ll load up on Mrs. Meyers Plant-Derived cleaning supplies, I will scrub that squalid apartment till it shines, I will do 100 pounds of laundry, I will chauffer RTT to and from the hospital.

But I will not go near Ben’s hospital room. Unless I’m holding a branch of burning sage. Which I think is against hospital policy.

###

Jesus.

Ben, what is wrong with you? Why are you such a complete and total asshole? Are you possessed?

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Tomato Pies and Musee des Beaux Arts



It’s that time of year again: TOMATO PIES.

###

Turning off the phone worked wonderfully.

And the mantra: Not my tragedy. Not my tragedy.

Though as a concerned parent, I feel duty-bound to check in with RTT on a daily basis and give him whatever rah-rah I can.

###

Also, in the evening, after I turned the phone back on, Max called. “It seems like Robin’s having a hard time right now and I get the sense Ben could die soon but I don’t know.”

Max wants to fly in and take care of Robin for a week after Ben dies.

“Yeah, my sense is that the end is a lot closer than they think it is,” I told Max.

“What’s your sense?”

“He’s disoriented. Starting to hallucinate. My guess is that he goes into a hepatic coma within the next five days and is dead within two weeks. But what do I know?”

The dog barks. The torturer’s horse scratches its innocent behind on a garden post1.

Not their tragedy.

Not my tragedy either.

###

I’ve been reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming, which is—unexpectedly!—quite good.

In the late afternoon, the heat collided once again with a cold front, and we had monster thunderstorms.

After the last thunderstorm of the evening, I peeked out the window and espied what are probably the last of the season’s fireflies.

I love fireflies so much!



---

1. About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green


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