Saturday, December 30, 2017

Winter resting, lobster and love...

"Looks like you got a lot of snow."

"Yeah, we have had a few storms so far this year. Snow hits the ground and stays there til it thaws out in the spring."

"That's how it should be," says Hellion from next to me. 

"Where are you all coming in from?"

"New York City."

"That gets a fair amount of cold, too. This your first time in Maine?"

"Yes, I wanted to take a short vacation, and this seemed easy and close enough for a quick break."

"Well, you came at the right time, some things are still open." 

We drive in the crisp cool afternoon as the sun gets close to setting on the horizon. This close to Christmas you would expect the traffic not to be very bad, however, we run into a few bad drivers on the road. 

She mutters under her breath and the bad driving. 

"Sorry, I don't mean to talk back at them, just sometimes they can make me so angry."

"Don't worry about it, my Dads are pretty aggressive drivers." Hellion launches into a story about driving, swearing, and chasing down people that might give the fingers after cutting someone off.

"Oh, no, I wouldn't chase someone these days that gave me the finger. You can never be to careful and I don't want to get shot."

"That's right, Maine's an open carry state, right?" Hellion knows far more about this than I do, so I sit back and listen as we take in the snowy scenery on the way to the hotel. 

"That's right it is. I usually have my gun on me, but I don't always take it with me on trips when I drive like this. But I have a special pocket for it in my bag and everything so I can reach right in and pick it up. My little gun, it's a 9mm."

"That's not a very little gun."

"I know how to use it to, I go to the range on a regular basis."

They talk guns and eventually switch over to local points of interest as we drive into downtown Portland, Maine. The little hotel looks over the harbor and is right across the street from restaurants that promise wine and food and good times with good people. The city was perfect for a one day trip, easy to walk to everything, lots of seafood. 

In the morning we wake up very, very late and get out of bed much, much later than that. We decide on the chowder house across the street after a quick online search reveals they serve chowder in bread bowls. I get a lobster stew that is really just a glorified excuse to eat lobster claws in a thin broth. The place we ended up at was full of locals, and the locals were asking about the lobster twin meal. 

"Well, that's two lobsters for 31 dollars and you can share it if you want to."

"That's a good deal," says Hellion listening in. 

"This is good lobster."

We take the day to wander, going about a variety of shops, looking at cards, local knickknacks and specialties, walking arm in arm through the 20 degree weather. 

"The weather is so perfect." 

"Yes, it is," I can't help to agree. 

"I could totally live here." I can't help but to agree with that either. 

As the sun starts to fall we hit up an oyster bar to stave off hunger until dinner rolls around. We liked the lunch place so much we went back for dinner and got the twin lobsters. We drank wine and lay in each others arms until late into the night, before dashing early the next day for a very early morning flight. We napped in bed together back in New York until it was time for Hellion to work, and for me to check into a hotel and read. I spent three days reading and being with someone I adore, even if I'm not particularly fond of New York city, good friends and good people make it easier. 

The lobster is now but a brief memory, but the love isn't.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Pick Up Lines

There is a disconnect when trying to meet people in a time when meeting people means meetings strangers because there are no real communities anymore, all those old institutions for interacting with new strangers who can become new friends are slowly foundering. Meeting and creating meaningful social interaction is frowned upon in bars, in bookstores, in theaters, at work, even at those old places of worship. The world has become a thousand tiny cliques and the only way to break through the fortress walls and motes that everyone has built to protect them from everyone else is through apps and websites and shots fired via electrons in the ether.

In this, there should be some grand amusement, "I have built an impenetrable wall that protects me from all these strangers who may want to do me harm and I shall- Ooo, someone swiped right, let's be new best friends!"

It is actually about that bad. In this, though, there have been some interaction that are better than others. As I have explored the ravished wastelands of one of the few ways to meet new humans I found myself in the pickup line trap. I had not realized there was such a thing, in my naivety as a forty-one year old I actually thought a person had come to cleverness. Alas, this was no clever choose your own adventure, it was merely lines and lines and lines, harvested and used with the hopes that those lines would land. 

The first time this happened I was surprised it was a ruse, but amused enough to see if the person using such a ruse would be interesting. 

They were not. 

The second time the ruse was so complex I thought for sure that anyone who could hold all the parts of that in their head would be entertaining. Rather, they ended up being so creepy that I had to physically reject (I was safe because I am strong, but I feel badly for another woman who might have ended up with that exceptional creep). 

I've come to hate the lines, and there are so many lines. There are the simple vulgarities like:

"Do you have a comfortable place to sit?"

Imagine, mind you after delivering a line, there is always the wait for the response from the party that the pickup artists hopes to pursue. Your response doesn't matter because it will always come back to...

"My face is pretty comfortable."

Some of the random lines I've had this month include: 

"Do you like crunchy or creamy peanut butter?" The answer, regardless of what you say, will be something about how they would like to spread your legs. Yeah, ewww. 

"Do you like pancakes?" The answer, regardless of what you say, will eventually get worked around to, "How about IHOP? Because I'd like to hop on the ass." Also, yes, very ewww.

"What would you rather have: 
A. A nice date?
B. Meaningful intelligent conversations?
C. Multiple orgasms?"  

The setup is sure to have you asking if there is an option D, which means you have walked into "Oh, so you want the D?"

Yeah, it is really that awful. 

From Wednesday: "Are you my appendix? Because I don't know how you work but I have a funny feeling in my stomach and I want to take you out."

This gem is from yesterday morning: "So I just go ta new set of silverware, but I'm missing the little spoon. Can you help me out?"

There are a billion of them, they are constantly there, ever present and before long it's easy to be drowning in a thousand bad lines. At least in the old times you could see the look of revulsion or the smile of a "well-played" in person, but how or why these have transferred, often poorly, into the digital medium is beyond me. 

And yet, the lines keep coming. The lines work better than the walls of the fortress in a way, as they manage to be thin and predictable and eye-rollingly painful, but they manage to keep me away most of the time. The thing I've learned most from the users of pick-up lines is that there is nothing creative on the other end of such a line, the line is a map drawn to a hole and the hole is a chasm of narcissism, psychopathy and disrespect. There are no good people behind the good lines. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Higgs Boson Blues

The space is small and I putter around it while he finishes writing out cards to his friends and families to mail for the holidays. I could have stayed in the hotel, reading, drinking wine, waiting for the evening but I wanted to do something, and more, I didn't want to be alone.

He plays music on his phone, some of it I know, some of it I don't know.

Nick Cave, I always know. Things I remember, the first time I played Nick Cave for him when I realized he didn't know. We sat on my couch and I found a song that I thought might be most interesting to a young man who had a passion for both thrash metal and Lady Gaga: No Pussy Blues.

He came upon Red Right Hand on his own. One afternoon, as we were laying in bed, holding each other, loving each other, he pushed me back into the bed and told me not to move. The guitar riff was impossible for me not to recognize, and I laid back and allowed myself to be immersed in him, and the Higgs Boson Blues.

In his small cramped basment apartment I heard that riff come out of the tiny speakers on his phone, but it mattered not as the song filled the room, as only some songs can manage to fill an entire room.

By his bed, tidying up, trying to make myself useful in his life, for a moment, for a minute, not wanting to be alone, not wanting to be away from him for longer than I have to. There are so few minutes and I want them all to mean as much as they can.

It was then that I felt his arms warp around me, he stood behind me, trapping me, for a moment I tried to pull away, and then he started to sing along and hold me, hold me tighter, hold me to tight to pull away from him, hold me in place, this place, our place, our moment.

I've been sitting in my basement patio
It was hot
Up above the girls walk past
Their roses all in bloom
Have you ever heard about the Higgs Boson Blues?
I'm going down to Geneva baby
Gonna teach it to you
Who cares, who cares what the future brings?

Shaking, trembling, I stood there in his arms and for that moment, didn't care what the future could possibly bring.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Historical Perspective

It’s not that I’m not okay with everything currently going on related to talks of sexual harassment and abuse. This is important, this needs to be done and people, especially those that used there personal and political power to lord over those that were vulnerable or beholden certainly need to be held accountable.

I’m not against it. Have fun with it.

But stop looking in my corner and asking me, or any other person who lived through sexual abuse, degradation, humiliation and torture to get on board and tell stories because “now is the time.” Just because everyone is suddenly talking about it doesn’t mean now is the time.

There was never a time.

There will never be a time.

It’s impossible to chronicle all these things that you would define as horrors that are instances in a chain of instances that started sometime back in the early 80s. For the average person who has been fortunate enough to experience the average of sexual harassment and abuse the horrors are almost too horrific.

It’s not just a timing thing.

Three years ago I went to see the last of a set of family groups I was working hard to try to maintain a relationship with. I drank wine and sat outside with one of the members and we talked. They asked.

I told.

They asked me to stop talking, but you see, once you start talking it’s a torrent, a wave, a flood, a tsunami and you can’t just tamp it down and bottle it. It all comes out and spills over and even when you see the actual terror on the face of the listener you can’t stop talking because sometimes you just can’t bottle it up and tamp it all down.

It cost me the connection with the family.

With all the exposure, there has been no reach out to consider a reconciliation and try again. There is no interest, because the horrors were to difficult to understand and the feeling of culpability because “we always knew something was going on, but who were we to interfere” becomes too great.

That’s the thing, at least for me, as I watch this movement happen. The sense is that people really only care about the titillating horrors that can be processed, felt, a shared experience of “I understand, I went through that, too!” The thing is, for me, for those others like me, we don’t get to share at the same level because our histories go beyond titillation and cross over into the levels of story book trauma so tragic and awful and evil it can’t possible be true. While the world screams for everyone to share their story, the reality is only the okay stories and the comfortable stories and the ones others can relate to. If you do have real tragedy is has to be mega tragedy (abducted and abused for 15 years, tells all) because a mega-tragedy indicates that it is a rare occurrence. It’s okay to recognize that very, very bad things happen, but only if those very bad things happen rarely.

It’s not okay to know that, right now, somewhere, a young girl is sitting in her uncles lap and he’s telling her this is okay and Mommy won’t mind, that somewhere right now, a girl locks her door at night so she can sleep and knows that won’t be enough to keep her father or her brother or her mother out. Somewhere, right now, there is a teen who wets the bed because he knows from experience that it is going to happen again and it might never stop and the only way out might be death. Somewhere, someone, is going through the pain of trying to process both the guilt, the shame, the fear and worst of all the reconciliation of the body that processes experiences as pleasurable when the mind tells you they shouldn’t be. It’s hard to know these things. Harder to write them. Impossible to read them comfortably. Those of us with these stories, we walk around knowing, and even when we don’t know, it’s never as far away from our lives as we would like it to be.

At this point I’ve had 22 years to process my tragedies and yet I am still broken.

Those horrors have happened before. They are happening right now. For some they will keep happening. When their voices are finally discovered they will feel like I do, I think, sitting here and watching a movement I can have no role in because our experiences are so far beyond the pale that there cannot be any hope they will ever be fully understood.

When I seek out therapists I have to find those that specialize in the real horrors, because I feel guilty talking to someone who has never heard these things before. I don’t want to hurt them, you see, with the things I am going to have to share in order to get whatever help it is that I need. When I share the things I’ve been through, I want to be sure the person I talk to can still sleep at night. Most nights, I can’t and I don’t want to do that to someone else.

This is not a casual admonishment to those who are driving the movement, no, I respect and cherish that in some aspects of life things are changing enough that we may actually see a great deal of improvement in how people are treated by others. Keep sharing, keep burning down the walls that are used to protect all levels of maliciousness. Just a reminder, that there are a lot of us out there with entirely different perspectives who are working to try to understand and praise others while not rocking the boat to much by dumping in tragedies and nightmares that will topple and sink the ship. For us, each new story is a constant reminder of all the things we haven’t share, and won’t casually share, with the rest of the world. Appreciate the favor of that silence and what it costs so many of us personally to maintain it. For us, there simply isn’t a level of sympathy, empathy, or understanding that is sufficient.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

The Room

This is, in fact, about the movie The Room. 

Having been abroad there are a great many of things I got to do that most people who haven't spent a lot of time living overseas will never really fully understand. 

Not living in the US means there are a lot of things that sort of missed me until they are on my radar than I become very curious about them. This is especially true of anything that is a cultural phenomena. I'm still trying very much to catch up on cultural phenomena (literally just learned that the fluffy dog meme is called Dodge, so yeah). 

The Room came on my radar because of the Author (may he burn in hell for this). I watched the trailer and sort of sat staring in awe at my screen for the better part of what felt like 10 years, wondering why in the hell this was a movie people watched. 

Later, in a small movie theater in Indiana, I noticed a box office poster advertising a midnight showing of the room. Literally, in nowheresville Indiana. What the fuck was up with this movie. It started, then to catch my eye more frequently; theaters in New York with midnight screenings, theaters in Chicago with midnight screenings, theaters in nowheresville Baltimore with midnight screenings. 

I asked Hellion if he had ever heard of The Room. 

"Don't waste your time, it's the worst movie every made."

"Have you seen it?"

"Of course."

Curiouser and curiouser. 

Then I noted, via the internets a trailer for the new Franco/Rogan comedy. Since I rather enjoy the bromance movies they put out, I was curious and watched the trailer. Even with limited knowledge of The Room, I understood pretty quickly that this was going to be a film about The Room. 

"Did you see the trailer for the Disaster Artist?" the Author shoots me a text. 

Me: Dude. I still haven't seen The Room. 
Author: Don't think it's a requirement. 
Me: I feel like I should. 
Author: It is really, truly awful. I have seen it three times. 
Me: Dude. Let's go to a midnight show. 
Author: Ugh. 

I knew he'd be in, if I could find one that would work with my schedule, and finally the Music Box accommodated on December 1st, the opening day of the Disaster Artist. 

Considering how bad this movie is, I figured the theater would be busy, given the new movie tie in, but probably not that busy. Surely not show up to line up an hour before the show busy. How, very, very wrong I was. 

We got to the theater just before 11 and it was already packed with people waiting in the lounge to get in. We grabbed drinks while we waited and I let Hellion know I was going to see the room. 

"Get very, very, drunk."


We didn't have time for very, very drunk as an usher came around to announce to use waiting in front of the theater that they would be seating the line that had formed outside the theater first, so if we wanted to be in-line we needed to go outside. The Author and I looked at each other, tossed back our drinks and stepped out into the cold to wait. 

The line was already halfway down the sidewalk when we joined, and it was getting longer by the minute. There was a line watching party happening across the street. It was one of those lines that has power as passerbys began to wonder if they should get in the line. A group walked up behind us and bought tickets online while they waited. Another group stopped them. 

"What is this line for? What are you all doing?"

"It's a line to go see the movie The Room."

"Wow, this looks like an event, like a party. What is the movie about?"

"It's pretty much the worst movie every made."

"Oh." The passerby ended up getting out of line and going on their way. 

"Shit, I forgot to bring spoons!"

I looked at the Author.


"You'll see."

"Wait, your serious?"

"Yep. I even had some spoons."

I looked down the street, the line was now so long the end as not visible. 

"What the fuck have you gotten me into, dude?"

"You'll see. It's truly an awful movie."

A quarter to midnight they let the throbbing swarm into the theater. The Author and I grabbed some nice isle seats near the middle and he enjoyed the starry night and clouds of the main stage theater while I got a some sparkly and popcorn and beer. 

The theater, when I returned, was rowdy and full of people. There were groups of men tossing around a football. One pair of guys sitting up the aisle and to my left had a pile of a dozen boxes of plastic spoons next to them. 

"That's fucking impressive!" Someone commented as they walked by. 

The menagerie that was the audience fascinated me. I think I had anticipated a rather bland, single palette audience, i.e., a lot of white dude-bros. For some reason, the film struck me as one that would bring out that crowd, but this was not what the audience looked like at all. In reality, the audience was as diverse as the crowd at the Hump film festival. Queens and queers, black, white, brown, purple, pink, the fascinating diversity of it was refreshing and comforting. I was happy to have been proven so wrong. 

As the lights finally went down, I dug in and prepared myself for whatever this was about to be. 

It was something else. 

There is such a weird, fascinating energy in the crowd as the movie very slowly played out. I mean, my gods the epic novels you could write about how bad this film are have already been written. This is a horrible movie. At the same time, this was an epic fucking crowd experience. The comparisons to going to see Rocky Horror are not off the mark at all. The vibrancy as cars cross over the Golden Gate bridge. The hilarity of the spoons swimming like salmon almost every time the camera is in the living room, the complete inability to hear a single line, but the audience reciting them all anyway. The weirdness of random characters and the ever so easy to fall into callouts and clapbacks made this not only fun but also spiritually satisfying. In some way, we are all in this theater torturing ourselves with this painful, painful movie, and we are all finding in it some type of redemption that turns black and white into a kaleidoscope of color. 

The Room is a horrible, horrible movie whose existence serves a far greater purpose. 

For that, I'm happy that it exists and that I got to see it. 

I'll still take the Author's name in vain for several weeks, though.