Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Night Frolic — Moments of Ambiguous Limpidity

A rare experience of a moment at daybreak, when something in nature seems to reveal all consciousness, cannot be explained at noon. Yet it is part of the day's unity.
~Charles Ives

Internet source unknown

Much of this week has been spent living in my headspending the better part of the week cavorting with a new laptop, nursing my sick son, formulating few words, but thinking, thinking quite a bit I might add, about all my little daily delusions (triggered, in part, by seeing Laurie Anderson's brilliant and disturbing Delusion in Providence last weekend) like, per se, a new piece of technology improving my lifeoffering me not only the luxury of computing at greater speed, but also, peace and happiness. No?

I had another thought about my delusions. And then I lost it. I assumed: if I write and write and write, dammit, I will find it. But I haven't.

In its absence, I've come up with a new mantra for decision making and weedingas in purging unnecessary anything from home and heart: How will this enhance my life?

An old, faded blouse that I no longer wear but can't part with because it's a designer pluck from Filene's Basement. How will this enhance my life?
Kid 1 asks if I'll help with a project. How will this enhance my life?
Kid 2 asks if I can drive him to a friend's house. How will this enhance my life?
Kid 1 asks if I would make some cookies for the bake sale. How will this enhance my life?

Ah! You see how deluded I am? I think my mantra will actually enhance my life. I think my mantra is something that can be realistically applied to everyday situations like it's the final word. Perhaps what I need to do is consider substitutes for the word enhancelike change, or stress, or screw-up or prolong or abbreviateand then deal with the answer, wherever it falls. But of course, this means that I  manipulate the answer by sculpting the question in furtherance of my fantasy.

Today I am deluded. Yesterday I was too. And tomorrow, I shall be again.

I wonder, if I spend enough time drooling over this laptop, with no thought other than my sudden awareness of being overly deluded, will I write something shrewd and comprehensible? (Oh yes! and my children will sit straight in their chairs and behave like perfect little adults in restaurants, and my car will run endlessly without an oil change, and the real estate market will bounce back soon, and the ceramic pots on the deck will not crack if left out all winter longwhich began, prematurely, overnight.)

It's like I've been humming a thin, discordant tune... its tinny truth aches. And more, it comforts.

Laurie Anderson is an American musician, artist, composer, poet, photographer and filmmaker. And something you may not know about her: she's NASA's first (and likely last) artist-in-residence, and is married to Lou Reed. Her work is at once provocative, humorous, jarring, thoughtful, creepy, intelligent and inspiring. Lately, she's been peeling away the layers of our collective misconceptions and scraping fatuous seeds from its core.

From her most recent album, Homeland:

And from her Big Science album:

You can read more about Anderson's multi-media show Delusion, here. And here, a short video about the show.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mac and the Learning Curve

The Suburban Soliloquist a/k/a Mom (or Mother or, as Daughter likes to say now and then, Jayne) is on her own roller coaster of a ridefiguring out how to maneuver about a new piece of technology. And while she does that, she's sent the kids off to school or the park or the ice arena or the corner deli or wherever their little hearts desireshe almost doesn't careas long as they do not return until late afternoon because she has a lot of work ahead of her.

Learning curves. At fifty. At least there are still some curves.

While she manages new hardware and software (and shaky internet connections), she'd like to offer one of those letters she mentioned in her Meet the SS page. Here, a look backnearly four decades earlierto sixth grade:

Note, in particular, the limited answer choices for how she felt at the time.  Was she, in sixth grade, always either very good or very bad or just plain mad? (One might argue that she's always been just plain mad.) It appears she did not care to answer any of Keith's questions, nor comment on the color of Jackie's fanny. In fact, she does not even remember Keith (triple underscore), but is pretty sure of which Jackie he speaks. Every class has its own Jackie.

She wonders if her little sprite and knight pass around their own notes in class. Perhaps not. Perhaps they fear detention and the consequential black fanny for note-passing. Corporal punishment is not still employed in Catholic schools, now is it?

Come to think of it, the Suburban Soliloquist does not remember hanging out with Jeff either. Oh, but Jackie. One never forgets a Jackie...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Night Frolic — Fifty is Nifty?

Fifty is nifty when you're twelve years old and in pressing need of rhyme for Mother's birthday card. But when you're fiftywhen you're actually fifty, well, somehow it doesn't feel so nifty. Nor peachy, nor swell, nor cool. Nor... you get the picture. I mean, you get the picturejust look at it! Filled with squiggly lines and creases and greenish-brown age-like marks. It's a bit crumpled and uncertain of whether it's an upper or lowercase condition! Clearly, it wants to be uppercase, but the t and y informs us that its appearance is dwindling.

Say what? You don't see age marks and wrinkles on that card? You mean it's confetti and streamers? Ooooh! You see how twisted one's perception becomes at the ripe old age of fifty? Fifty is shifty is what is fifty.

For my birthday, Hubby gave me poetry 180A Turning Back to Poetry, which is an anthology of contemporary poems carefully selected and introduced (said introduction can be read here) by Billy Collins. In it is one I loveprobably the shortestby Carol Snow:


Near a shrine in Japan he'd swept the path
and then placed camellia blossoms there.

Or—we had no way of knowing—he'd swept the path
between fallen camellias.

Without touching upon the poem's symbolism (camellias, shrines, Japan, paths!) which might reveal much about its meaning, but I have no way of knowing—just as I have no way of knowing if the flowers have drifted to the ground, or have been trampled upon the ground, or are untouched in full bloom on the ground, or who he is or when or how precisely he may have swept the pathwhat Tour speaks of to me (and that is what a poem is all about, after all, right?—what it says to you) is perception. 

In Tour, there are possibilities. There are lovely fallen camellias on a path that has been swept near a shrine in Japan. Does it matter if we do or don't know when or how the camellias came to be placed upon the path?

That's what fifty is like. I'm on a tour. Paths have been swept. Camellias have fallen. There are other bits and buds with which I've littered the path, and some I've gladly cleared it of. I can't know everything about the path, or the fallen camellias—other than they have, indubitably, fallenbut there are possibilities. Still.


Maybe fifty is nifty. 

If I had to pull together a soundtrack covering the paths I've traveled these past fifty years, there would likely be a trail sprinkled with Neil Young song crumbs. It would lead one from his early days with Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young up to his live album A Treasure, released in June 2011, which includes a half dozen previously unreleased songs.

Some of the many paths I've followed over this half century remain constant, reliable courses lined with pretty flowers, while others became worn and treacherous and had to be abandoned. Still, paths await to be swept. Or littered with confetti and streamers.

Here, Neil Young returns to his native country in 2005 to perform with his wife, Pegi.

The Bridge School Concerts—25th Anniversary Edition—will be available on DVD and CD this Monday, October 24, 2011. You can preview the official trailer here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Flash(card) Fiction #002 — RAVENARK


(À la 1960s) 
Because I am still having too darn much fun with these...

And in the event you've forgotten how it all worked
in this post, I'll gladly reprint the

Read between the lines.
(Or between the words, as the case may be.)

Ah! You've got it! Now let's begin the story:



Even so, he walked determinedly, but with little feelingaside from the ache 
for homeas if in a trance, as if, perhaps, one might feel on an opioid.

But despite its obvious beauty and verdant surroundings, its Romanesque 
features felt bleak, and he sensed a certain doom.  Yet it was to there he was 
headedfor he had somehow known, though had not been toldwhere 
a gathering of literati were to exchange similes and metaphors and sip 
from grand glasses filled with champagne.

Upon entering the domain (was it the House of Usher?) he eyed
what appeared to be a vision(was it real? he could not discerna
 petite, flaxen-haired, alabaster-faced woman, and he was 
instantly buoyed by her beauty.
The dazzling woman noticed the stranger, toohis wide shoulders, his 
dark hair and serious countenancewho was now approaching her carefully. 
She adjusted the silky ribbon around her tiny waist and stepped backwards a few feet, 
her skirt brushing against the hardwoods, whisk,whisk.

As he advanced within steps of her, she recognizing what she thought to be 
a familiar face. "You are William, the Anthropologist, are you not?" she asked.
he replied, "but I am a poet, immersed in the origin of words. 
And, please, call me Bill." He took her hand gently in his, and his heart 
felt heavy as his lips grazed the soft posterior of her hand. 

"Ah!" she chirped. "I'm Samantha, and I see
Like so many others here," she smiled.

"Yes, you could say that," he replied. "Come sit with me, we'll dine, and 
I'll tell you more." He took her by his hand and lead her to the banquet. 
Was it possible the feeling of gloom was beginning to lift from his shoulders?

They sat together at the expansive mahogany table and he filled
their glasses with wine.
He looked earnestly at Samantha, and spoke, as if 
reciting something he long ago heard: "
They can be found in the lurid tarn and gray sedge," he said
in a monotone voice, as though he were spellbound. 

Samantha shifted back in her chair, bewildered. 
She felt that the

He sensed her puzzlement, and after a long, awkward silence 
(as if it could have been more awkward than his hypnotic blather)
"It is as if I am like the Raven and you, the Skylark," he explained.
"Forgive me, I've had little sleep. I've been working on a poem 
for some time.  I know I must appear an enigma (he was, in fact, 
perplexed himself). Please permit me to read my poem to you." 
He pulled a piece of paper from his trouser pocket and read:

"The raven cawed
The skylark awed
Her bracken cover
now less blithe
she flied
across the heath
away from Raven
so dark
but the shaggy corvid
Bill so thick
gained quickly
on the little stick
of a bird
who scattered beholden
of her bids
Raven panted forth
a flood of rapture so divine
harmonious madness
in his mind
and seized the skylark
for his kind.
Nevermore, nevermore."

Samantha sat still, eyes fixed on his. "Yes, well," she said, "
I'm feeling the need for fresh air."

Bill took her hand and held it tight. "Please, I implore you. I'm sane.
Don't you think?"

"I don't know what to think!" she squawked. "To be honest, I'm a bit frightened."

Bill, himself afraid he'd lost her affection, pulled Samantha from 
her chair and cried, "I'll take you outside at once!" 

He led her beyond the heavy, arched doors, beyond the patio, through the 
dense field. He moved as if he were sleepwalking, transfixed by the 
luminous moon. But he was quickly roused by a flock of geese 
overhead, and stumbling for words, said,

They came to a pause at the top of the slope, and looked beyond the river. 
Lights sparkled from the tall buildings, stars fell from the sky, and Bill, 
again, felt overcome with trepidation.

 His legs grew spongy and he sensed himself losing equilibrium just 
before he tumbled down the hill to the edge of the river.

Samantha shrieked with great 
and ran to him. 

Bill rose from the damp sod unaware of where he was or how he 
had come to be there, but keenly cognizant that he had, once again, 
left his lonely bed while still asleep. 
He was mortified.

He was afraid of what his somnambulate-somniloquist self
 might have done, for he knew that

Samantha understood immediatelythough his discordant tune hurt 
her earssweet, empathetic soul she was. "Don't fret, dear William. 
I had a feeling it was you, the Anthropologist, all along." 
She continued, "Its all right, 

They held each other tightly. This was a relationship 
he'd long want to study.
And a passionate embrace ensued.

"By the way, my sweet Samantha," William smiled,
his heart heavy no more, 

And then he kissed her.

 Together they flew awayWilliam's
 tail quivering with joyhe'd never again somnambulate
He was home.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Night Frolic — Are You Still Dreaming?

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, 
that prevents us from living freely and nobly.
 ~ Henry David Thoreau

Adbusters Corporate Flag

You know, about the Dream. The American Dream: Justice, Freedom, Equality? Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Oh, that's right, the American dream has fizzled along with your investments and savingsif you've been so lucky as to have saved at all.

Really though, are you still dreaming?

Or are you weary to your bones?

The dream, as James Truslow Adams wrote in his book, The Epic of America, is the "[...] dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement..."  Yes, life should be better for all. It should, dammit. Now wake up from the dream. (If you are, in fact, still dreaming.) Because that dream is over. Poof.

Things are beginning to get a little ugly on Wall Street (as if they were not already grotesque). And elsewhere. Police and protesters are clashing across America. Our government's leaders praise the youthful anti-establishment protests overseas, but in AmericaLand of the Free, Land of Hope and Promisepeaceful activists are being arrested and even run down by police scooters. Who knows what's next.

"...It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it..." 

I'm dreaming...

I can't help it, I wonder what's gone wrong.

Our young have taken to the streets in an assemblage of civil disobedience, giving temperate expression to anger. I pray it remains peaceful. They do, we do, of course, have every right to protest. As we should. We must rise against corporate greed and confront Wall Street, the banks, the thieves with their crimes! After all, our government (ha!) simply won't do it. They won't. They prefer to bail out the thieves. With our money.

We are still a nascent country. We are still trying to find our way and we are floundering. Worse, we are drowning in our own greed. And make no mistakeit's not just Wall Street or big corporate or the banks. It's a two way street. Greed runs both ways. Greed throws rationality out the window. Greed takes hostages and then forgets about them. Disposes of them. Makes casualties of them. Greed never looks at the fine print. Greed signs contracts while disregarding consequences. Greed makes ill-advised and just plain wrong decisions. Greed gives bogus advice.

"...It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position."

What we are sorely in need of, as individuals and as a nation, is self-actualization. You laugh. Bwahaha! I mean it,  we need to get ourselves self-actualized and but quick. Has our collective dream become solely the pursuit of mounds of money? Does that trump all?  I think not. (Though many's the time I've been mistaken.)

The disparity between the wealthy and poor is profoundly absurd. And no matter how one spins this dubious distinction when it comes to a full stop it is transparently clear that it's a dizzy and thickly layered black blotch against humanity.

I'm still dreaming...

What if, my OWS and Working America and Adbusters friends and All those interested in reformand I don't care from where the financial backing comeswhat if we considered doing more than just hanging around financial centers throughout the country. Now that OWS has gained momentum, what if the cause were to  use the cash to find us a new leaderhell, we should All use our cash for that purposeto broaden the candidate pool (the pool obviously ought to be emptied, political parties sucked down the drain, cleaned and re-filled with a fresh, clear, odorless solution), and not another politician chained to big corporate and financial institutions, but someone, some thing, who's nested in the loamy grass of the earth. Someone, some thing, that understands the heart and soul of a country, its people, it's greatest desire, its dream—we could search Thoreau's woods and root him outand what if we stood him firm on packed soil (though he may not come so willinglywho, what, in their right mind would)—brushed him off a bit and tossed him into the pool (which has been cleansed of its greedy, beastly, sell-your-soul-to-the-devil political system that has never truly represented We the People)? What if? What if we rewrote the whole damn system?! Our new earthly candidate won't need to answer to or feast with the great corporate powers that be. The People will back him! You think he'll get eaten alive like a vegetable? The People will back him! He will serve humanity. Humanity will feast!

Uh, I am having night sweats. I am turning and tossing...

Oh, dang, I just woke from my dream!

... But it's all right, it's all right
You can't be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day
And I'm trying to get some rest
That's all I'm trying to get some rest.

* * * 

Paul Simon turned seventy yesterday. When he wrote  American Tune back in the 1970s our country was in high turmoil. We were in the midst of the Vietnam War, the Pentagon Papers were laid out for public consumption and horror, and the Watergate scandal sealed Nixon's fate. The American people had been mislead and violated. 

History does have a tendency to repeat itself.

And then comes Simon with his textured and rhythmic, So Beautiful or So What, which the Rolling Stone declared "His best since Graceland."

The road to America's self-actualized soul is littered with obstacles. The journey is long. The GPS is our collective conscience. I hope we never lose sight of it: our destinationour Dream. I hope we've enough fuel to get us there. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Transcendental Tuesday

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone

Look how bright everything is today! Fall is brilliant. Fall is a cache of the year's bounty that transcends seasons. It is a boldly sensual time of year. The brightest orange Begonia blossom I've ever seen sits on the deck table, bursting with its here-I-am-savor-my-succulent-blossom-love-I'll-give-for-as-long-as-I-can-give-in-these-final-holding-on-to-grand-summer-slouching-into-autumn-days Begonia magnanimity.

No, no one can argue this color. 

But why are my photos always crooked? 

Today, I'm working on answering that question and tweaking this blog's pages. I've deleted a couple of pages below the header and added, after much deliberation, an "About Me" page entitled Meet the Suburban Soliloquist. Creative, no?

I am thinking about adding old letters. And postcards. I wonder if anyone kept any of my old letters and how badly composed they may be. I am thinking about changing the header photo for some original artwork. Yet again.

I'm happily in that zone. It's about time, eh? 

Begonia essence, I have read, balances feelings of insecurity, quells the blues, increases body awareness and sensation, and eases fear. It does so by collecting the body's misplaced fragments and fusing them back togethera healing tonic for the heart and soul. I keep sniffing the flower. I think it works.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Night Frolic — Running Lights and Bulls

Andy Warhol. Cow 1976.

Racing to an appointment in Boston yesterday, the Suburban Soliloquist jumped off the highway and on to a one-way secondary road where she drove beneath a traffic light just after it turned yellow,  attempting, admittedly, to thinly beat the red light get past the light before it turned red. Just beyond the light, she was pulled over by at state trooper. A state trooper. The bulky, thick-necked trooper lumbered over to her car, his wide-brimmed Smokey the Bear hat snug on his unusually large head, his big, brown leather boots clunking like an ungulate, and without a hello, demanded her license and registration as though through a bull horn: License and registration. She promptly handed him the requested items and said, meekly, "The light was yellow as I passed under it."

“Ma’m, the light was red,” he replied in a deep, monotone voice.

“Officer, it was yellow. I wouldn't have gone through a red light.”

“Ma’m, you don’t want to argue the point. I saw it. The light was red.”

The Suburban Soliloquist was clearly annoyed (as was the trooper). Why won't he listen to me? It's like talking to a cow. Or is it a bull? He looks like a bull. “I’m quite certain it was yellow,” she mooed. 

She glanced at her watch as the trooper stamped back to his vehicleclomp, clomplights still whirring red. She was late for the appointment. She was udderly utterly frantic. There was virtually no traffic on the adjacent street (also a one-way)where only a right turn could be made at the stoplight onto the one-way street where she was parked. She had made sure, before she crossed under the light,  that no car was turning right on to the road. She had never received a citation. Well, at least not in the past twenty years or sothat is sort of like never. She had received only warnings. Of which there had been several.

She is not a reckless driver. (She wouldn't want you to get the wrong idea.)

The state trooper sat in the front seat of the grey and maroon vehicle, removed his hat from his mammoth head, and fiddled with electronic gadgets at the dashboard. The Suburban Soliloquist surmised that  he was checking her records. It took a long time. I wonder if he’ll give me a warning, she thought. Window rolled down, she tapped her fingers on the car door's outer side. She was becoming aggravated. Hurry up, dammit. She looked at her watch again. Autos of various sizes and colors whizzed by. She thought some of them might have run the red light, whereas she had merely beaten the red light.

When the bullish trooper returned he did not issue her a warning, as she had anticipated hoped.  Instead he handed her a piece of white paper and said, “I’m giving you a citation for running the red light.”

Her eyes brightened, “I did not run the red light!”

"M’am, I know you ran the red light. I saw you run the red light. So you ran the red light,” said the bully trooper whose speech had become more pressured. He did not look pleased. He looked like he might write her an additional citation. She saw smokey vapor stream from his nostrils. She thought he might gore her.

So, the Suburban Soliloquist thought it best to nod her head and say, "Ok, I'm sorry about that, but it looked like it was still yellow to me."

The trooper snorted, tipped his ridiculous looking hat at her and walked away. She slipped her license back in to her wallet and gazed at the citation: One Hundred and Fifty Dollars for running beating passing through a red light. $150.00! Preposterous. That is highway robbery, she thought. Everything went red.  I'm going to fight this bull!

Then, she remembered she was months overdue for her vehicle safety inspection. Fortunately, the mad bull had not noticed this error. He wasn't that smart after all. 

She drove off to her appointment, for which she was very, very late.

Later, she discovered that some ungulates actually listen (and clearly see):

The New Hot 5 is a New Orleans style jazz band that's getting, of late, a lot of press. This September alone, they were featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno;  Today on NBC (as video of the week); and, Good Morning America, as well as other news outlets. Their Jazz for Cows video has gone viral. And it looks like their new website was launched as a quick response to all the attention and interest. 

But they're not shy when it comes to sharing their talent with species other than the bovinae.  

Dr. Steve Call is a professor at Brigham Young University and is the ensemble's tubist and leader. All of his band mates are former BYU students trained in traditional jazz. The instruments played are the tuba, clarinet, trumpet, tombone and banjo!

Man (maybe even state troopers?) and bovinae patiently await their inaugural CD.

Monday, October 3, 2011

On Holding On


So the girl has pink eye. Hahaha! (Madwomen's caw. Yet again.) Is it Karma? Is this family in some mad swirl of karmic misfortune? This, after not too long ago being rushed to the hospital with a bad infection that had crept from her little toe to nearly her knee—completely unnoticed by me until she came home with a fever and pointed to the red line worming its way up her left leg. Truly, it's become a comedy of ails.

And I'm beginning to question my mothering skills.

I scramble eggs, steam vegetables and slice watermelon. I do whatever it takes to not lose my cool, to refrain from admonishing myself, to quell frustration over yet another setback and delay. Another day in which I'll get even less done.

Yes. It's minor. Keep it in perspective. Just another trip to the doctor's office. A Monday out of school. On the bright side, I imagine we've by now met our health insurance deductible.

This morning, on Blogger analyticsof which I rarely visit as it doesn't tell me anything other than referring sites or urls or keyword searchesI found under "searched keywords": girls with pulled up school skirts.

I've experienced chills several times over the last few months, but gazing at this, I froze. The search pointed to a photo, from last year, of my daughter in her school skirt. What was I thinking? And I was writing (more than a year ago, and poorly so) about  tailors and uniforms!

I question the wisdom of ever writing about my children. I rationalize by telling myself that Lulu is my daughter's nickname. Not her real name. Not even close to her real name. Lulu. As in Lucy. As in Luuuucy, you've got some 'splaining to do! (This, I kid you not, was a vocal warm up favored by my former voice coach, but it happens to be the perfect catchphrase for my daughterespecially when I take it up a few octaves.) Oh, Luuuucy, what do you have to say for yourself?

Keyword activity it not limited to perverts. Would-be writers Google quite a bit, too. Especially those with a certain weakness in the apology letters department.  To wit:

1) sorry handwritten;
2) apology letter for boyfriend;
3) sweet apology letters to him; and,
4) letter of apology to a sister in law.

Come on people, if you cannot compose an original, heartfelt apology letter to your beloved (well, maybe your sister-in-law is not a beloved, in which case you oughtn't bother) you ought to rethink the relationship. Actually, your beloved ought to rethink the relationship. If only the beloved knew. The would-be-writer-offenders are ultimately directed to this post. I wonder if they might try my son's approach.

Where was I going with this? Oh, I know, I was about to fall apart. I was want for a rant. And a caw. In the grand scope (of which I've seen many lately) of things pink eye is nothing, yes, yes. It's a day of missed school. It's gel in the eye. It's a nudge to get that new pair of specs for the girl—ones she can actually see from. (Yet more evidence of mother's neglect!) Contacts won't do for days. It's finding my twelve-year-old daughter in her room, head buried in TIME magazine, reading "Playing Favorites Never mind what your parents told you. They had a favorite child and if you have kids, so do you. Why it's hardwired into all of us."  It's Lu wryly smiling and asking: Do you have a favorite, Ma? It's me responding:  Well darlin', yes I do. (Her eyes widen.) I have a favorite son. And I have a favorite daughter. Lu, again: Oh Ma, that's a good answer. That's the best answer ever. Come over here, that deserves a big hug.

We've learned to put a lot on hold during the past few months. It's really not so bad. But I tell you this, if the U.S. draft is reinstated, that'll be the final straw. I'll be hightailing it to Canada.  I'll get a little apartment in Montreal and my son will attend McGill University. Let 'em try finding us. We'll be on hold.