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Posts Tagged ‘aging’

As I age, the legions of celebrities who shaped the popular culture into which I was born will continue to die. Their deaths will increase in number and rapidity.

I never had the slightest idea that Lou Reed would be on this list. Yes, not even a foggy notion.

I probably came late to worship at the altar of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, but I don’t really remember. I don’t have any monumental story to tell you about the first time I heard the album Loaded or anything.

When I was in high school, I didn’t know about cross-dressing or what a transvestite was. Take a Walk on the Wild Side was a radio standby throughout those years, nothing radical about it.

I wasn’t raised Catholic where you dress up and attend funerals on a regular basis; in fact, I was purposely shielded from death by my parents who believed that it was appropriate to do so and it would keep me safe. I never saw a dead body until my own father died when I was 23. My first viewing of an open casket was several years later.

After John Lennon was shot (I was a mere 17), the possibility of any of the other Beatles’ dying became real. Lennon’s death was hard, but we had each other, we had the legions turning out in Central Park singing Imagine to help us through, and, like I say, I was 17, on the cusp of the wildness ahead of me and full of disdain for the adult world I was about to enter into in some small measure. I was woefully unaware of the process I now know as “aging.” Not only that, but the Beatles’ zeitgeist jumped generations and genres of music. There was so much to love about them—who even remembers that they pushed boundaries and people’s buttons? Their music’s universal appeal wiped out the shock of their long hair; the bed-in; the Jesus statement (which was willfully and ignorantly taken out-of-context anyway). 

Lou Reed and the VU captured the sound that was still alive when I was a student at Kent State University in the early ’80s. Attending any art opening had the grit and recklessness the VU sang about in the ’60s. There were drugs, fags, lesbians, cross-dressers, punk bands, hair dye, glam, 1950s vintage; and we were all sexy, every last one of us; all of this before Grunge hit the scene. By the ’90s, I had gotten sober, bought a house, started to settle into my life with my man.

I remember one particular thesis show where the artist had created huge, found-metal musical instruments and everyone who went through the exhibit spent the next 3 or 4 hours demolishing the sculptures by “playing” them with the flat, rusted metal strips left around on the floor next to each one.

I went to as many art openings as I could. I went for the free booze and the food and the scent of sex, but also to be on the edge of all of those real artists. I was an English major and didn’t have the stomach for that much radicalism or creativity. What I hear when I listen to the Velvet Underground is the sound of that time.

I knew a guy, a friend of another guy, who said if you looked up the word cool in the dictionary, there would be a little picture of Lou Reed next to it. That’s how cool Lou Reed was. I always loved that.

Lou Reed, your death belongs to my generation, too. Thanks for the trippy guitar, the sex and the drugs and the grit, the psychedelia, the poetry, your rich and soulful voice.

You were a light in the darkness because you didn’t deny the darkness and from that place you were one of its true voices.

Now if I could pick my favorite song, I’d post it for you right here. I’m dancing and singing along and you should be, too.

Beautiful, just beautiful:

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1. In trying not to get too far away from my blog, I present this post.

2. Ogunquit, Maine. Halloween decor:

IMG_1599I call him “Dashing Charlie”

3. Monday is the day I found a dead rabbit in the side yard, a part of our yard where none of us tend to go. I didn’t touch or disturb the body, but it looked large, an adult; and perfect. It seemed too big for the cat to have downed. Hubby moved it yesterday and indeed said it did not have any apparent marks or blood on it.

4. What do you think about the rabbit (multiple choice):

a. natural causes

b. zombie apocalypse coming just in time for Halloween

c. at least twice in the 13 years we’ve lived here, the cats have brought baby bunny tributes to the door. Their fur is always perfect and thick and beautiful.

d. sad, even haunting

e. where should one put such a large, dead animal?

5. Though not completely recovered from recent injuries, I am still here and much better. I am learning that setbacks are part of injury recovery. It’s not all I’M BETTER AND BACK TO NORMAL ACTIVITIES NOW, FULL OF VIBRANT GOOD HEALTH (FOR FUCK’S SAKE). It’s more like CRAP, I TRIED SOMETHING I USED TO BE ABLE TO DO, IT HURTS LIKE HELL, AND CAN’T DO JACK SHIT FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS.

IMG_1506JULY 2013

50th Birthday necklace, vintage

6. I know I talk about it all the time, but I have aged even more quickly due to my recent injuries (more rapid facial aging than from the last couple of years’ bouts with anemia). I offer the above photo as evidence. See the way I am not as present as usual, some part of me is withdrawn? That is the face of a body in chronic pain.

7. UGH

8. CRAP

9a. Though you think you know me well, the next item may overstep any previous TMI boundary.

9. As we were on our way out of Provincetown in late August (our two night, last hurrah of summer mad-dash to the Cape), I visited one of the public restrooms; you know, the one near the huge public parking lot in the town center. After I used the loo,

IMG_1564yes, that loo

I washed my hands and then cupped them to bring some water up to my mouth so I could gently rinse (see, TMI). I did so and spat in the sink. A woman (from New Jersey, mayhaps) standing near me said, barely audibly but definitely disapprovingly enough for my ears, REALLY?

Such a dare as that, how could I resist? So I said, very loudly: YES, REALLY!

New Jersey: That’s disgusting.

Me, Happy Valley: You’re disgusting.

or something like that. Let’s just say neither of us remembered our manners and the insults continued and heightened.

She “reported” me to the attendant and kept making quite the fuss even after I, head held high, exited the restroom.

The interaction was more in depth and lasted longer than what I have presented and I can’t remember much any more. Even immediately afterward, I couldn’t piece together the whole thing because I was shaken and stirred and triumphant and shocked and angry and embarrassed and righteous. L’il ol’ me, twinklysparkles, all of that, all rolled into one.

10. I really wish 40-something, overly-made-up women from New Jersey with big hair and clanky, not-inexpensive jewelry read my blog.

11. TRAGEDY STRIKES!

(some of you may have heard about this last week on Facebook)

All seven letters, perfect, ready for a 50-point bonus, but nowhere to place them on the board.

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12. How would you feel if you didn’t have a place to put your vaginas?

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Lately, when I look in the mirror, I see that the furrows and signs of age won’t be departing my face any time soon.

There are many rock anthems, the best of which have multi-generational appeal. When songwriting is this good, it feels like it is about me and the years between me and my teenage-self fall away.

Just when I’d gotten Fake Plastic Trees out of a weeks-long loop in my head, my kid played it in the car. I belted it out along with Thom Yorke and now it is re-lodged in my neurology. I don’t mind though; this is why I love rock n roll. This is why I understand why I was born when I was born. This is one reason I love men and don’t mind terribly much sometimes that rock n roll is dominated by them.

Sometimes I dig a cover of a really good original tune when it is Jeff Tweedy singing it and hitting the nail on the head. I love this rendition, his fealty to the original, his obvious love for the song, and the humility with which he plays it–no fancy tricks.

 

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Happy 79th Birthday to my mom!

As her memory goes, I wonder what I am responsible for. Am I the holder and keeper of her memories and secrets? When can I tell them? What does my brother know? What does she remember? Is what I know true?

I do wish my mother happiness, but it seems an elusive wish. She says she has always been lucky, lucky to have come to the United States and to have found the life she did. But her childhood tells a story, not of luck, but of trauma. I wonder how this fits into her definition of luck; but I will never ask her.

I titled this selfish because I am not using my post today only for a birthday wish for my mother. I don’t really think I’m selfish, because it’s my blog and I want to use it just for that—for myself. But I do feel guilty a tiny bit. I think being a mother, a daughter, a wife, means I always have a tiny lingering guilt. I am sure not all women are like this. I wish I could shake it, but apparently I am not yet evolved to that point. Perhaps this could be my Christmas wish for myself or my New Year’s resolution.

I have snippets of writing lately, nothing coming out whole cloth like I used to have. I know, honestly, most of that needed heavy editing anyway.

What do I wish for? Better poems, more poems, dream poems, publishable poems, poems that will make you swoon, will make you weep, make you laugh, make you buy my books (what books, twinkly? oh, right), fruit poems, frozen bud poems, bloody blue poems, pink poems, feather poems, leaf-and-snow poems, mom poems, wife poems, marriage poems, sex poems, fuck poems, love poems, fucking poems, magical poems, clear poems, anatomical parts poems, important poems, a-political poems, no-more-guns poems, deep poems, no-murky-bits poems. Enough! This kind of thinking is so anti-Alexander Technique that I can hardly continue to allow myself its luxurious indulgence.

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Here are 2 recent poem snippets:

(SNIPPET ONE)

When Shall I Be Delivered

I begged for more from the world

It started inside
a pinprick
where I was once attached

You have not delivered me

With each bout
of bleeding
my density increases
alongside my insatiable hunger

My marrow
pumping erythrocytes
for every drop
that falls

Not much
they always say
a few tablespoons

If men bled
they would find
a more poetic measure
than cups and spoons
(a woman’s place is in the kitchen)

But I know the feeling
of the soldier
draining into the muddy earth
the sand with its greed
taking more than its share
pints and quarts and gallons for drenching

I am ready for the firing squad
or operating theater

I am ready for my uterus
to be yanked out by
its mooring ligaments

No scars
only
a virginal torso
left

I didn’t need you any more
anyway

But thanks
for the ride

(SNIPPET 2)

December 17

My mother is a husk
a Christmas walnut
cracked open

The meat of her
gone

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A new piece, very very rough

A Mother’s Gifts

I’d say it was stark

the way the student drove
on the wrong side of the road
side-swiping my mother’s Toyota

She pats its dashboard
like a schoolboy’s head
there, there; good car, good car

We listen daily to the story
of her first driver’s test

new to America,
fresh from her Nazi father

bribing the proctor
with a twenty
while her hands shook

She’s slipping
and
I’m slow to wake to it

When I finally see,
I want 50 bucks
to bribe my way out

I want my one call
from my cell
not to a lawyer
but to God

to shake his shoulders
and ask why
he left her alone with me

The car still needs to be fixed
the college student stays ignorant and votes for Romney

I live the hell unimagined
the one dream in which
my mother
does not know
who holds her in the death bed

I have to wake in an hour
and send my daughters to school,
my Flower Girls,
and me in the middle

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One of the definitions of submit is to yield or surrender to the will or authority of another

Yesterday, I got a rejection letter. The good thing about it is that they responded in less than a month. The bad news is that I feel crappy about it. We all know the stories, we all know we have to keep at it. We all know that within the next several months, I’ll be submitting and submitting and submitting and that I’ll get rejected until I can’t take it any more. But I ran into a poet acquaintance Thursday night and he just got his manuscript accepted. It will be published in January 2013. And it took him 10 years. And his poems are good, really good, just the way I like them.

I happen to know that submitting is one of the four responses to being attacked. It is also, obviously, the last: fight, flight, freeze, submit. It’s a funny word to use for sending poems along for consideration, especially when poets have to deal with all the levels of meaning of words: puns, double-entendres, shadings, gradations, and so on and so forth.

In a similar vein, there was an Amherst Block Party on Thursday night—a town first. One of my favorite “living statues” was there. She dons a long, old-fashioned dress, buttoned to the top, and wears a sort of bonnet on her head. She sits at a writing desk with an open book, fountain pen, and a small box in front of her. When you put money in her basket (on the ground), she opens the box and gives you a little Emily Dickinson verse scrolled up and tied with a ribbon. I mean, teeny-tiny. She is all spray-painted in a copper-ish paint. I simply love her. Failed, however, to have my camera on hand, so you’ll have to wait for another time for a photo.

#71

It makes no difference abroad,
The seasons fit the same,
The mornings blossom into noons,
And split their pods of flame.

First of all, this verse is GORGEOUS. Breathlessly gorgeous and sensuous.

It also reminds me of several Sacred Harp songs. Not so much the sentiment, because here Dickinson is not writing about death. But the words and the sounds of the vowels and the images and that time in which Emily lived. That time to which we will never return and yet to which we are bound by the same sun and moon and seasons.

These lyrics are from 1830. The song is in a major key which fills me with a strange cognitive dissonance when I sing it.

#436 Morning Sun 

Youth, like the spring, will soon be gone
By fleeting time or conquering death,
Your morning sun may set at noon,
And leave you ever in the dark.
Your sparkling eyes and blooming cheeks
Must wither like the blasted rose;
The coffin, earth, and winding sheet
Will soon your active limbs enclose.

I am not submitting yet. I’m still fighting.

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