(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

The Mutant Telepath on the Subway Game



I’m in a very gritty part of The City. The full Edward Hopper bleak and uncaring urban experience, updated, of course, to allow for modern technology and zoning laws.

The big thing in this part of town appears to be Space to Work rentals:



I don’t actually get why anyone needs a Space to Work rental. I mean, unless they’re homeless or can’t pony up $5.50 for a cappuccino and two hours at the local Starbucks. But in that case, how could they possibly afford what I’m sure is the hideously inflated price of a Space to Work?

Just another business model that I’m too old and clueless to understand!

In the subway, I play my favorite game, which is Pretend you’re a mutant telepath, and try to connect with someone so they’ll turn around and make eye contact:



Nobody ever does.

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Dead Deer Heads on the Virtual Wall



RTT’s 25th birthday.

He had a rough year.

There are a couple of Practical Things, which if he’d only do, would make this coming year so-o-o-o much better, and he knows it, and I know he knows it, so what’s the point of nagging?

Either he will or he won’t.

And I kind of get why he doesn’t. I have that same peculiar fatalistic, passive resistance to doing Practical Things that would make my life easier.

At a certain point, I force myself to do them. And I’m always vaguely shocked by how easy it is. Why didn’t I just do this six months ago? I’ll think. Think of how much less time I would have spent squirming!

Maybe I like squirming? On some level?

I’d hoped to make it up to Tburg to see RTT before the snowy season, but that will depend upon whether or not I can scrape together the $$$$ for brake and strut work on my ancient car.

I’m trying not to use credit cards.

Credit cards should really be reserved for airplane flights and emergencies.

###

Else?

THE social event of the season is tomorrow! I am very excited!

Went to the mall only to discover that my favorite haircutter had closed down shop.

Wandered a bit through (mostly) vacant Temples of Conspicuous Consumption.

Took a bunch of Art Photos. But they didn’t convey the look of soulless devastation and bleak anomie I was angling for. Am I losing my Art Photo touch?

Got my nails done. Bright red! Makes them look as if they’re dipped in arterial blood.

Found another hair place away from the Mall. Had my hair chopped! Not sure what I think of the cut and not gonna post any selfies ‘cause pictures of myself make me cringe these days. How did my grandmother get into that shot? I wonder.

###

Came home in a punchy mood, which I decided to exorcise by battling liberal progressives on FB!

They were dissing Tulsi Gabbard.

Happens I like Tulsi Gabbard.

She’s not my preferred candidate, true, but I think she’s got guts and integrity.

In 2016, Gabbard resigned a post as vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee because she believed—correctly in my opinion—that Hillary Clinton is a warmonger. She formally endorsed Bernie Sanders, thereby earning Hillary Clinton's wrath for all time.

In typical Hillary Clinton fashion, HRC is now sliming Gabbard because she’s identified Gabbard as an easy victim. In this respect, Gabbard is not all that different from Monica Lewinsky, Juanita Brodderick, or any of the other victims of HRC's rabid defense of her sexual predator of a husband.

True, Gabbard’s father is a famous homophobe, and it took Gabbard until her early 20s to publicly disavow her father’s sentiments.

It’s so much easier for those of us who grew up in liberal households to be good liberals!

Hillary Clinton is awful, and I cannot believe that part of the DNC’s shadow platform is to exonerate her.

They will lose an enormous number of voters if they persist, I’m thinking.

I firmly believe that apart from LJ/DW, the online world only exists so that I can be aggressive and obnoxious whenever I want to be without any impact on my real life, so I’m looking forward to getting blocked by a whole bunch of people today. Dead deer heads on the virtual wall!

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Joker or the Incel Creation Myth



It was a dark and stormy day. Exercise was out of the question, so instead, I went to see Joker.

I hadn’t been planning to see it, but [personal profile] croneitude posted the Michael Moore review, and I thought, Well. Maybe it’s important!

Joker is the Incel creation myth.

Its box office success? Kinda depressing.

The guy who made it, Todd Phillips, is the guy who made The Hangover movies—which, come to think of it, are also Incel panegyrics though of a higher-end sort.

Guess what, ladies?

We live in a world with a lot of men who really, really do not like us.

###

Reviews have cited Joker as a bookend to The King of Comedy, one of the few Martin Scorsese movies I actually like—in general, I think Martin Scorsese is waaaaay over-rated. More of an homage, I’d say. That part, I liked.

The cinematography is excellent. The art design hovers on brilliance. New York City during the dark, horrific 80s! Because at least Joker doesn’t shuffle around on the Where is Gotham City really? question. All those seedy, roach-infested stores on the verge of extinction! Those dark, graffiti-encrusted tunnels! The Bronx steps! (The Bronx actually has 63 sets of such steps; I scampered up most of them in my spry, delinquent youth.)

Joaquin Phoenix’s much-vaunted performance?

Well. He did lose a staggering amount of weight!

But I dunno. There’s no real way to evaluate the performance of an actor who plays a completely over-the-top character because there’s no real-life analogue to compare that performance to. And I think it’s probably easier as an actor to pull out all the stops than it is to give a subtle, modulated performance.

Joaquin Phoenix’s performance was neither subtle nor modulated.

###

Michael Moore is absolutely fucking nuts if he thinks Joker is any kind of political statement. (Although his throwaway line about the “KFC grease-stained nuclear codes in the Oval Office” is pur-ty good.)

Could it be that Michael Moore is trying to rationalize his own Incel tendencies?

Moore rattles on and on about how Arthur Fleck is a victim—typical Incel hagiography by the way—but in fact, the only things we really know about Arthur Fleck is that (1) he’s an unreliable narrator because (2) he’s a paranoid schizophrenic.

I worked with a number of paranoid schizophrenics in my nursing rotation at Highland Hospital and subsequently as an ER nurse there. Kassie, whom I like a lot, is a paranoid schizophrenic.

Are they victims?

Well. They certainly have a difficult karma.

But, of course, that sense of victimization is one of the symptoms of the disease.

Michael Moore fumes, No one wants to ask why two smart boys skipped their 4th-hour AP French Philosophy class at Columbine High to slaughter 12 students and a teacher. Who would dare ask why the son of a vice-president of General Electric would go into Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT and blow the tiny bodies apart of 20 first-graders.

Seems to me that a lot of people have asked that question.

And the answer is: Those shooters were mentally ill.

Their particular type of mental illness is like a magnifying glass under which the minor slights and indignations to which we’re all subjected as part of the human condition become combustible.

Hey! Arthur Fleck’s Bronx apartment is pretty big! No junkies to trip over in the lobby! (Unlike the apartment building in which I grew up.) I didn’t see any cockroaches! (Again, unlike the apartment building in which I grew up.) And the elevator might be bumpy, but it worked.

Arthur and his Mom have a lot of electronics—a VCR—that were pretty pricey back in 1981.

Even in 1981 NYC, there is no way that Child Protective Services would have returned custody of an abused kid to a crazy mother.

Also even in 1981 NYC, there is no way that when a social services office shut down, they would not have given their patients a six-month heads up and an alternate source for their anti-psychotics.

Again in 1981, no small consumer cameras existed that would have allowed anyone to video Arthur Fleck’s disastrous open mike routine without him noticing. But even in 1981, you did have to sign a release before a TV show would be allowed to show footage of you.

Confidential to Michael Moore: Joker is not cinema verité!

###

Else? I am considering getting my hair cut. It has reached that long and stringy stage.

It is bright and sunny again this morning. Shortly, I will go running.

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Don't be a Tough Guy. Don't Be a Fool!

Monster storm last night. Three inches of rain in as many hours. Because winter is coming (cue Game of Thrones theme music), I couldn’t help translating the rain into snow: One inch of rain = 12 to 20 inches of snow (snowflakes have lower mass and greater area.) We dodged the bullet!

###

Woke up this morning to find the letter Trump purportedly wrote to Turkish president Erdogan was not, in fact, a stilted Saturday Night Live parody but an actual example of Trumpian diplomacy:

Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy…

I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don’t let the world down…

…Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!


I was disappointed there were no Xs or Os at the end of the note. Bet Trump signs all his letters to Vlad and Kim with Xs and Os. But that exclamation point after Don’t be a fool almost makes up for it.

WHAT A FUCKING IDIOT.

I mean, I get that the people who voted for him, who continue to support him, did so and do so because they wanted a disruptor. And they don’t like people like me!

But this has lurched into the realm of bad comedy. Unless you're in northern Syria, of course.

If the United States can’t get rid of Trump, it deserves to go out whimpering. And it will.

###

Else? I had lots of complex dreams last night but can’t remember any of them.

I do have this sense that I’m in some kind of very pleasant game preserve or zoo, as far removed as can be from my real life with its real concerns, real connections, real passions.

Work blitzkrieg continues for another two days.

But a very pleasant weekend in the City awaits at the other end of the tunnel, filled with social encounters and pleasant activities.

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Suicidal Democrats and Squicky Obstetrical Details

And the Democrats stage yet another opportunity for Trump to cherry-pick nasty comments for the upcoming election with the disclaimer, Hey! I didn’t say it! A fellow Democrat said it!

Three debates—maybe—are all the Democrats need.

Twelve debates is suicide.

Honestly. I do not understand how the DNC powers that be can be so tone deaf to how badly it plays to the majority of Americans when Democrats knock each another.

It’s like they want to lose in 2020.

And maybe they do.

###

Work blitzkrieg continues.

Bitchy mood continues.

Yesterday, I was beset by flashes of a particular stretch of the 580 freeway that I drove every day on my way to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, which was the last place I worked as a nurse.

The memories are really smudgy. As if I’m seeing those highway loops from above—which, of course, I never did.

Perhaps connected to RTT’s upcoming birthday?

Because while I was working at Oak Knoll, I got pregnant with RTT.

I also had a miscarriage while I was working at Oak Knoll. The timing of that miscarriage and RTT’s subsequent birth have always been a bit of a mystery.

###

I didn’t know I was pregnant with RTT until I was about five months along in the pregnancy. Willful not knowing? Maybe. But I wasn’t gaining weight. And the D&C I’d had at Kaiser after I started gushing blood and barreling over with severe cramps one day on Oak Knoll’s well baby ward had made my periods very sporadic.

Finally, when I missed two periods in a row, I went to see a doctor.

I thought I might be going through premature menopause.

The kindly doctor smiled. “Well. We can run some tests. But as long as you’re here, let’s do a Pap smear.”

I climbed up on the table, stuck my feet in the stirrups, assumed the position.

The kindly doctor sank down between my legs.

And emerged a few seconds with a strange expression on his face.

“Well, it’s not premature menopause,” he said.

“Is it cancer?” I screamed. “It’s okay! You don’t have to beat around the bush!” (In retrospect, a most unfortunate metaphor.)

“You’re pregnant,” said the doctor.

Pregnant cervices are a very distinctive grapey color. That’s how he knew.

Since the pregnancy was confirmed so far after its onset, my due date had to be determined by the size of the fetus. That meant I really didn’t have a due date. I’d give birth some time. Probably in mid-October.

By this date 25 years ago, I was the size of a beached whale. Really uncomfortable.

My cervix remained undilated though the baby’s head had engaged.

I desperately wanted to go into labor and tried everything I could think of—orgasms, chili peppers, raspberry tea. B and I even went for a long walk around Lake Merritt, which was the only exercise I was capable of at that point.

I think my OB may have finally decided to induce me on October 19.

Think.

I honestly can’t remember.

Booter had wanted to be a birthing coach, but poor Booter is a fastidious, maidenly sort, and she got incredibly squicked by the attendant birthing activities and had to leave before an hour was up.

I’d decided to have a natural childbirth.

With Max, I’d had an epidural, and the result of that epidural was that I could not push. (The labor had been ridiculously long anyway, like 34 hours—I couldn’t believe they weren’t giving me a C-section.) They’d ended up using a vacuum suction device to dislodge him from the birth canal with the result that he was born with a huge hematoma on his head. I think Max must have had a bad headache for the first two weeks of his life; he was really fussy.

I was determined this would not happen to my second child.

###

So. Natural childbirth.

It hurts.

A lot.

In fact, nothing can prepare you for the pain of natural childbirth.

That ridiculous Lamaze breathing?

Fuggeabout it. It does nothing.

The pain was like being an animal abandoned on the dark side of the moon. I howled.

And Ben, who cradled me the entire time I was in labor, threw back his head and howled, too.

You know what?

That helped. Immensely. I didn’t feel so alone.

I also had a super OB nurse who kept doing perineal massage so that I didn’t tear when Robin was finally delivered. With Max, I’d had quite a sizeable episiotomy. I actually had to relearn how to have orgasms after that episiotomy; it was such a dramatic rearrangement of my intimate anatomy.

(I’ve never read anything about having to relearn orgasm after an episiotomy, so I have to believe that this is yet another topic which male-dominated medical science willfully ignores. An awful lot of women have episiotomies, and I can’t believe I’m the only woman whose sexual responses were affected by one.)

I will say that for all the unreal levels of pain, the natural labor went very, very fast: Robin was born in four hours.

In the unlikely event that I had to do it again?

Natural childbirth. Definitely.

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Foliage and Zombies

Dreamed I was a tagged lab specimen in some kind of complex cosmic experiment. That’s what accounts for my compulsion to track and transmit.

I found out quite by accident in the dream, and I didn’t know what to do with the information. Do I rebel and stop tracking? But I quite like tracking. Do I care if my free will is a complete artifice designed for some remote purpose I’ll never be able to guess? Not really. All I care about is the illusion of free will.

Woke up.

Not of my own free will.

Sybyl was sitting on the pillows, tapping my head with her paw: Feed me…

###

So! All I do is exercise and generate income. Dull. But not unpleasant.

The autumn foliage is not quite at its peak:



Useless Halloween crud is metastasizing through every retail outlet:



Why are Americans so preoccupied with zombies? Barbara Ehrenreich has a good riff on this in Natural Causes. She ties it into the epidemic of wellness as the fetishization of the natural and inevitable process of death. This being capitalism of course, individual obsessions are commodified.

Maybe ya had to read it.

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Getting on the Bus



Someone left this picture near the Walkway entrance.

I liked it enough that had it not been nailed to that signpost, I might have taken it home.

What I might have done with it then is anybody’s guess.

It’s not exactly Crate & Barrel.

It’s the frame I actually like.

###

After a long day spent exercising, generating moolah and feeling virtuous, I watched Ghost World. Which meant I had to watch The World of Henry Orient. Which meant I had to think about watching Diary of a Teenage Girl.

That particular tryptich of films defines my girlhood perfectly, but Ghost World is the standout. In 2001, back when it was in theaters, I went to see it every afternoon for a week.

I hadn’t seen Ghost World in many years when I watched it last night. But it holds up.

I caught something last night, though, that I’d never thought about before. At the end of the film, Enid gets onto a bus that doesn’t exist to go to a place that is nowhere.

Very Door in the Wall-ish.

When I saw the film years and years ago, it seemed to me that Enid had unlocked the door of her own imagination! (To steal from Rod Serling.) A happy ending!

But when I saw it last night, all I could think was that the bus was a perfect metaphor for suicide.

In the very, very last part of the film, all Enid’s PoMo irony and self-satire has drained out of her; she has become completely porous. She walks through the strip malls and horrifying franchise stores in a city that is Not-LA but Obviously-LA. It’s the hero’s final trek up the dark side of the volcano. Desolate. Hopeless.



Impossible to second-guess what awaits her there or what will happen to her when she gets on that bus.

Or at least, I’d never cottoned on to that uncertainty before.

It was chilling.

###

Interestingly, both Ghost World and Diary of a Teenage Girl were graphic novels before they were movies.

Man, I wish I could draw!

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Turandot



Turandot is deeply, deeply weird.

So, it’s always been one of my favorite operas.

In the age of social justice warriors, it’s also politically controversial since it commits the sin of Orientalism.

As if any of the three people reading this needed any further proof that I am the un-Woke—just think of that as the political equivalent of the un-Dead!—I will merely note here that I LUV Orientalism; indeed, I love mythologizing human cultures in all their forms and honestly can’t see much difference between Charlie Chan movies and The Godfather or Jersey Shore.

But I digress.

Turandot is largely a choral piece. It takes place in an imaginary Peking—so not Beijing!—and has this almost Brechtian beginning in which the city residents march around, singing to one another with great relish about the various tortures that have been visited upon the Principessa Turandot’s unfortunate suitors.

See, Principessa Turandot just doesn’t want to get married!

We are given an explanation for this: Thousands of years ago, some female ancestor was raped and tortured, blah, blah, blah. But instinctively, we know this is bullshit: She just doesn’t wanna!

To protect herself from marriage, Turandot has devised three riddles. If a prospective suitor can guess the answers, she’ll marry him; otherwise, he gets turned over to Pu-Tin-Pao, the lord high executioner, for fun and games.

They should try this spin on The Bachelor some time, don’t you think?

Of course, Our Hero Calaf gets the answers right away, so poor Turandot is forced to blast out dramatic arias in despair—Christine Goerke was singing Turandot yesterday. Man, what a voice! —and this absolutely bizarre Rumpelstiltskin plot twist materializes from nowhere: If Turandot can guess Calaf’s name, then she can still torture and execute him.

So, Turandot announces: People of Peking! Nobody’s sleeping till I get that name!

Hence inspiring one of the most famous arias in opera-dom, Nessun Dorma.

There’s also a subplot involving a faithful slave girl, whom Turandot tortures to death. Are we sensing a pattern here?

At this point, Puccini himself died, so Turandot is unfinished.

The production I saw yesterday used a stock ending by some minor Italian composer in which Turandot decides that Calaf’s true name is LUV, and they all live happily ever after.

But I like to think that if Puccini had survived, Calaf would have been tortured and executed like all the other creepy suitors.

###

Anyway, I had a great time at the opera. Not so great at the subsequent party where banter was expected and I was almost lured into an argument over the relative merits of Christine Goerke versus Eleonora Buratto, which I only sidestepped at the last possible moment.

I started liking opera when I started going to live performances. Recorded opera only moves me insofar as I like the orchestrations. Vocals on opera recordings fully live up to their bad reputation in Bugs Bunny cartoons.

But in person, opera singers make these strange, otherworldly sounds that are just amazing. They don’t sound human; they sound like supernatural beings. And I find that absolutely mesmerizing.

Goerke could shatter every wine glass at the bar mitzvah with that voice. But since I don’t actually know anything about music theory, I couldn’t really argue the point effectively.

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In a MOOD

In a Mood.

No excuses for it.

Weather still sunny, autumn at its most gently majestic. Went for another long tromp. Snagged a remunerative client for the winter lull when usually, there aren’t any clients. Even completed that Tedious Bureaucratic Task that’s been dangling over my head like Damocles’s sword since whenever was forever.

But I’m feeling disconnected.

Best I can figure is that the Mood is a response to two bits of gossip.

First, FMomUG’s marriage.

Second, Caro Snowdrop’s announcement—made on FB, of course!—that she’s pregnant.

Two people whose lives brushed up against mine for what in retrospect turned out to be the briefest of moments.

But, for whatever reason, I am staggering under the weight of connections severed and lives tranquilly meandering on even though I ME PATRIZIA am no longer a part of them.

I mean—how fucking dare they, right?

###

In other news, I have been an industrious little squirrel gathering my acorns! It’s all about the Benjamins! I’ve been using credit cards waaaaaaay too much plus the car needs work that should be done before there’s ice on the roads plus the cat likes to eat, plus… plus… plus…

So, I am hunkering down and generating revenue like mad. In between binge-watching Top Chef, which is kind of like Love Island for intellectual foodies.

I am supposed to go see Turandot in about an hour and show up at a dinner party later tonight.

These are two events I have absolutely no interest in participating in though I guess they sounded good when I accepted the invitations.

When I’m in a Mood, it’s difficult to mediate what comes out of my mouth. I’m afraid I’m going to be sarcastic, withering, and malicious if I utter a single word. That means I have to sentence myself to complete silence.

If I'm gonna be silent, I'd rather be alone.

###

Also, I went shopping at Adams Fairacre Farms yesterday, which is the upscale supermarket chain here in the quaint and scenic Hudson Valley.

Every place has one of these supermarket chains. Grocery stores where the aisles are wide, where fluorescent light fixtures are verboten, where the produce is fresh and beautiful, where the meat and fish were yanked straight out of an illustration in Bon Appétit.

In Ithaca, this supermarket chain is Wegman’s.

Standing in Adams, suddenly I thought, You’ll never be able to go into Wegman’s in Ithaca again. It will remind you too much of Ben.

I wanted to cry.

How is it possible Ben is dead?

I want to stand on the porch of the Tburg flat and talk to him about America’s Food Network fetish.

Now, I’m the only guardian of those hundreds of memories, floaters from an increasingly irrelevant past.

It’s a really lonely feeling.

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