Charlottesville

A terrorist murdered and maimed people in my home state today.

I haven’t been in Charlottesville since the late Seventies. I went down there a couple of times to hang with a guy I dated in high school and off-and-on through my twenties, who was fucking brilliant — 100% scores on his SATs, double major at an Ivy, could play Bach while necking without missing a note (his mother never felt like she had to come down to the rec. room), He also, alas, was addicted to the buttoned-down conservatism of William F. Buckley, whose racist dogwhistles were under my radar then (I suspect I was more aware of the parallel sexism, cheering when Germaine Greer got under Buckley’s skin on Firing Line). It was sort of a case of pervert-to-convert, it just never took entirely, despite his acquiring a taste for Bertrand Russell. The last I saw of him, he was whoring on Newsmax, giving a split-screen interview which seemed to be all about repeating the cant that Black Lives Matter consisted of “thugs” who were being “encouraged by Obama,” all pseudo-validated by the fairy dust of his academic credentials. Funny, considering how when we were still dating, any ethnic epithet used to bring on a prissy fit. I guess times change, or maybe people stop trying to pretend.

One evening in C-ville we were walking back to his apartment in the student district and I became aware of four young black men strolling along behind us. We crossed to the other side of the street. One of the men called out, something like “Hey, scared to be on the same sidewalk with us?” And I couldn’t say anything, because I was. One side of my family came from red-dirt, redneck Georgia, and I had grown up on a steady admonition of “Don’t go downtown [in Washington DC] because the n—–s will knock you on the head.” I could scoff at that all I wanted, and did, but some part of it stuck, like a tick that took a long time to dig out. I’m not saying people haven’t been mugged by groups of young men who followed them, but I know I wouldn’t have crossed the street if they’d been white, and I’d hazard a guess they were just going for pizza. I’m still learning how much more people in various shades of brown have to fear from white people than we do from anyone.

I had to go into an appointment just after learning that one of the Charlottesville victims had died, still gobsmacked from seeing cell phone video, and I’m glad the client was one of those who just wants to go into the zone because tears kept coming as I scrabbled for something to think or feel about it — tears that I know are a luxury, because I wasn’t there, I wasn’t at risk, all I can do is try to find a crowdfund helping the injured, because we still don’t fucking have a decent health care system in this country and the Virginia legislature won’t stand for taking Medicaid money to help poor people, God forbid. I can’t even stand up indignantly and say This Is Not My Country, because I’m afraid it is. Maybe some day that won’t be true, but what can you say when hundreds of angry white men, faces contorted in hate, assemble in a peaceful college town waving torches and swastika flags, and vilifying people of color, Jews, make a list, because of an ill-defined sense of grievance?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police:
We must love one another or die.

As usual, Auden was on it.

 

 

 

As I Was Walking On The Green

In the first volume of C. S. Lewis’ under-celebrated “space trilogy” — which I choose to regard as a passionate personal narrative riding under the banner of Christianity, rather than the didactic allegory I suspect Lewis himself thought he was writing — in Out Of The Silent Planet (that’s us), one of the three Martian races, the most arty and poetic (they look like glossy upright seals), tries to explain to the hero Ransom — a stand in for Lewis’ friend J.R.R. Tolkien — how there is a distinction in longing: there are things that everyone longs for in memory, though not in the same sense as one longs for a thing to manifest presently in one’s life (“no one longs for it in his senses”).

I miss my late and ex sometimes. The Engineer has been out of town for several days, and it lets my mind wander that way. No, I don’t want him back in my living room, with his freight of dysfunctionality and copelessness; but I long for a conduit back through time, to his wit and budget of knowledge of everything — recordings, films, basefuckingball even, and of nuggetty aphorisms that have receded on the tide that runs only into the past.

A few times, he alluded to a quatrain which I cannot find mentioned anywhere on the mighty Internet.

As I was walking on the green
A tiny English book I seen.
[something something lives of? grammar?] was the edition,
So I left it laying in the same position.

That third line. I can’t think of the title, and it’s maddening me, because that’s a bit of my past that’s slipped its moorings. Is anyone else familiar with the cantrip? Anybody?

 

The God Of Panties

There, that’s going to lure a stream of fetishists. Whatever.

What it is, is the most popular, ever, post on this blog, attracting readership over a span of eight solid years, was my tirade and jeremiad about the Betrayal Of Beaucoup Butts committed by Victoria’s Secret in the late oughts. Once upon a time, I could buy the perfect pair of underbritches for five bucks a pop in bulk. I wore them year in and year out. They hit me right where you want an undergarment to hit, at the elusive (you can feel it though no one else can exactly point to it) “natural waist,” they didn’t grab my crotch like a sleazy old perv on a packed subway car, they didn’t crawl into my crack. They were perfect. And of course, when you find that one perfect shoe or bra or pair of underwear, they stop making it.

Worse, they effed with it. They brought it back, but with a stringy elastic that sawed at your upper buns. Then with an even stringier one that fell barely above your bush. Unless you pulled it up tight so that you had anal floss, plus bush escaping from the leg elastic. Sorry, but these are the realities of underwear.

Those of us for whom nothing else would do were reduced to horrible granny panties, or scanty goose-me’s that only look or feel good on anorexic adolescents. We wore our Victoria’s Rios until they shredded.

And no one else in the vast underwear market — count the women in the United States, multiply by a decent number of britches to keep in the drawer, subtract a few hardcore nature types who want a breeze blowing round their privates (cf. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — prize to anyone who finds the reference) — no one else in that market had the focus to relieve what was clearly a nationwide experience of desperation. Look at the damn comments on that post.

No one, till now.

I have Frank to thank. Late in May, he burst upon this blog with a revelation.

Of all things, American Eagle Outfitters — which I haven’t frequented since buying a pair of cork sandals twenty years ago; I mean, they make jeans, I don’t wear jeans — or at least their girly spinoff, Aeriefinally mammyjamming figured it out.

I hesitated a bit, you know, will the size work, is this for real, and most of all how do I figure out the discount thingy on the website?, but… yesterday I extracted my first pair of Aeries from the plastic packaging and put them on.

Light broke through a gap in the eastern clouds. A distant chorale sounded. There was a release of pigeons, and a soft breeze conveyed the scent of lemon blossom into the room. Confetti fell in drifting spirals around my head.

My ass said, “We are home.”

The headlines make me bang my head rhythmically on rigid surfaces,  and the heat index today was 107 in DC, but for the first time in years, my ass was happy. Trust me. If your ass ain’t happy, ain’t no part of you happy.

Some of the other correspondents had a gripe or two — the waistband creased in the wash, there was Spandex — but the ass does not lie.

Frank, you are the God Of Panties, and I salute your contribution. You don’t even have to model them.

I ordered ten more pairs.

The Kidney Meridian

Chloe has been my client since early days. Meaning since before 1991, when I vacated my studio at the late lamented Spa Lady, which divested and fragmented and mismanaged itself out of business in all but a few metropolitan areas. She moved to the American Southwest over a decade ago, then came back to my turf over family issues, and here she stays.

She’s a creative worker. Meaning that, increasingly, she competes in what is referred to as the “gig economy,” aka “you’re on your own.” When you’re over sixty, that is not a good place to be.

A few months ago she hit a wall of some description, and ended up in the hospital with tanked kidneys. Long years of intrusive pain, lots of NSAIDs which are not balm for the kidneys, might have had something to do with this. I’m not a doctor. I just see people year in and year out.

Chloe is a natural spinster; meaning that she likes men but isn’t ready to let one dictate the circumstances of her life, at least not so long as he is any degree of an asshole, so she is on her own in more ways than one, the asshole issue being so prevalent. Our culture assumes that you will be partnered and buffered therefore and not have to face the world on your own. Yeah. Tell me another one. I didn’t find that place until a year ago, logistically, and that was altogether a fluke.

She showed up today, fresh off six days in the hospital, with its freight of neglect and humiliation: “I was throwing up, and they gave me pot roast. In July.” Hospital staff emptied the trash in her room at two a.m.; someone requiring a blood draw showed up not much later. The doctor doing grand rounds on the Fourth said: “I know you aren’t happy to be here on the Fourth of July, but so are we.” “It isn’t at all the same thing,” she told him. Good on her.

She was shaking, ten pounds lighter than I last saw her, when she got on the table. I suggested attention to the kidney points on the Chinese acupuncture meridians, though I have no robust certification in this art; just a value-added proposition. I keep an acupuncture mannequin so as to jog my memory of these loci. I’ve had acupuncture, beaucoup times, and it fixes things. Manual attention to these points has a track record. She went eep every time I dug into the kidney points. I honestly can’t say what I was doing, other than no harm. On either side of the matter, I did what was called for, work on the flanks and back exhausted by immobilization in a hospital bed.

I think Chloe is a year or two away from Medicare. At the worst, the US government has elected kidney dialysis, of all interventions, as the one that will always be funded. Dialysis sucks. I hope Chloe can avoid it. I hope to hell she doesn’t need expensive intervention of any other kind before Medicare kicks in, because none of us know what Congress can ram through to relieve obscenely, unimaginably rich people of paying taxes so that Chloe or anyone like her can live without worrying about being bankrupted by medical bills.

I had some arnica oil for the bruises from four IV sites.

And a homing instinct for acupuncture points.

It’s all I’ve got.

 

 

 

Giving Reiki, Which I Don’t Know How To Do, To Someone I Probably Hate

Del Ray is a little district of the City of Alexandria, just over the line from where I live in Arlington. We are all outliers of the nation’s capital; with no injuries (don’t ask) I can walk to the White House in an hour.  From Alexandria, a little longer, perhaps. The Engineer and I go to Del Ray — once a colony of railroad workers’ homes, now gentrified, full of yoga studios and specialty grocers — to buy tchatsch and gourmet diddlies when we feel poised to splash out. Sometimes we go to the movies at nearby Potomac Yards, though the cineplex features a popcorn whose festering odor is a bit much for me.

Potomac Yards is a skip and a hop from where a woman- and animal-beating fuckface with an automatic rifle and a political excuse shot up a Congressional baseball practice this morning.

Reportedly the fuckface was shooting an AR-15. That is a spray gun that shoots soft lead slugs, man-stoppers intended to lodge in soft tissue. The Secret Service used to carry them. I’m not dead sure about that detail of the incident but it sounds right. There is no effing reason for a private citizen to own one, but politics for another day. [Correction: later reports verify that the gun was a Soviet-era automatic rifle with a ten round magazine, requiring manual reloading, less of a fire hose than the AR 15 but still not what you would buy to shoot skeet.]

By midafternoon we heard that Majority Whip Steve Scalise — whose assigned security detail, owing to his position in Congress, was at the practice and probably stopped a bloodbath while taking injuries themselves — was out of surgery but “in critical condition.” The report was that he had been shot “in the hip.” That leaves a lot of latitude: did a bullet lodge in the joint? Was he creased in the flesh lateral to the joint? Or shot squarely in the ass, which is a funny idea only if you have never had unrelenting pain in your ass muscles (raises hand)? According to the eyewitness report, Scalise was down on the ground and crawling away toward the dugout leaving a trail of blood. It takes a lot of blood to leave a trail. I salute his guts.

I thought about the people I have encountered who do “remote energy healing” and the like, such as Reiki, which I don’t really understand even if I am a body worker. Scalise is a Republican lawmaker of the purest ray serene, so far as I can learn, opposed to reproductive rights, homophobic, I have no notion of his nuanced position on health care but I would probably yearn to punch him out over it. Nonetheless, he was in Medstar Washington Hospital Center, shot in the ass, after having the grit to keep moving with blood pouring out of him.

I closed my eyes and tried to imagine healing energy going to him, not entirely selflessly, because if he dies the partisan clusterfuck will be unspeakable. But also because going to a baseball practice (like going to school, or a political shindig, or a movie or a mall) is a shitty reason to die. I don’t know if anything really, objectively happened, but I felt somehow glued to the place I was in.

I sat there for several moments, Then I said wordlessly: “Everyone who wants the people who were shot to recover, let me join you.”

It felt a bit like the sensations I experienced when my singing teacher, thirty years ago, told me to let the music come through me and not from me. You sense something behind your shoulder blades and the world feels bigger, more open. The glue eased up. I got out of my chair.

I am lousy as a mystic, and was probably talking to imaginary friends, but I’d like to think there’s good will in the world. If only it could move through everyone, not least Congress, to protect whomever needs it.

 

My Day

#1 Randy Rainbow Owns The Internet

(If you have been off the Internet radar or are, happily, a resident of a country other than the US, the last few days have been punctuated by hilarious speculations on what the hell the alleged President meant when he tweeted out something incoherent about “all the negative covfefe”. Presumably, “coverage.” But even Sean Spicer, the Press Secretary, reached a meta point of trolling himself when he answered reporters’ questions by asserting that “a small number of people know what the President meant.”

Nemmine honey. Randy has it covered.)

#2 Romania, Romania

I give money to panhandlers in the parking lot of my favorite grocery, even though I know they are probably working that spot because when you have impulse-bought a $7 bag of spiced nuts or a $9 bottle of wine that you hadn’t planned on, you feel like a fuckwad refusing a few singles to a beggar.

Honestly, I don’t know why they’re begging and I don’t care. Maybe they have a car around the corner. Maybe they are on drugs or drink a lot. Whatever, you have to have had some dispute with your own dignity to stand in a parking lot accosting people for dollar bills. My late and ex husband ended his life on the streets, as earnestly as he tried to keep from admitting it to me, and toward the end of the proceedings described to me how subway riders in nice business suits sometimes simply pressed a five dollar bill into his hand unasked (he never asked, not once). “People are so nice,” he would say from his hospital bed, this being the now-it-seems-fast-vanishing era when a destitute elderly man could end his days in clean linens.

I reckon I can afford a little in his memory. This time it was an old man of bearing, leaning but not painfully on a cane, his face marred by a large wen on his jaw, balding, olive-skinned, scythe-nosed. He looked like a man who should be sitting at the head of a table with a checked cloth, telling his children and grandchildren what it was like in his day; who ought to be taking thoughtful counsel with the government of his town or the elders of his village. Instead he had an index card attesting in crude ballpoint that he was a refugee “from Romania” and needed help paying his family’s expenses. Beside the index card he displayed a laminated ID that I am too blind to have read. I don’t know where he was from. Does Romania even have refugees, at this late date? But he could have as easily been Syrian. Maybe Syrians have figured out that other ethnic groups won’t get hated on as much. IDK. He most certainly did not look like a man who would drink it up; his eyes were clear, his skin was taut.

I gave him a couple of bills, and when he asked if I could spare more in a barely intelligible word salad, a couple more. He pointed to the place on the card that said “God Bless.”

I have no religion other than cats, but put my hand around his and said “God bless you too, Grandfather.”

It is going to get a lot more cruel out there before it gets kind again. I can spare a few bucks on what might be a hustle. Somehow it’s hard to think it was. I went home more at peace than I had been in days, which was worth the price.