Monday, October 23, 2017

Goading time

Look up.
That's the moon.
Take your forefinger and thumb and make a circle around it.

Who knows that time doesn't stop?  Not you.
That wasn't always true.
No matter how noisy or numerous the the watchers, other animals full of night roamed amid us and what we held, circling, eating, watching, running.  Yours meant nothing to the starving, edging too close, twitching with terror, one moment beyond prudence.

Just wait. Be so, so still.
One buck and five deer with fawns step with deliberate feet through and by.  Look to the right or the left.  They bend their heads to the places your hand has rested, and wait through the heat of the day beneath old apple trees forgotten in your neighbors' back yard, in the clusters of low pine and hemlock all curtained with pincherry nightshade along the alleys, all of the deer soft breathing the day and soft exhaling the smell of crushed grass and sour milk, home where you live.

This is true. Listen.  Animals from the stories your mother read you are asleep deep in tangled gloom,  circle once, circle five times around, sleeping in the softest strands of deep green grass, the kind that grows in the margins between blackberry tangles and the objects their thorns devour. Make your circle around the moon.

When night comes, foxes and bobcats and cougar and coyote and dogs and loping wolves come to break the necks of fool animals who let themselves in too close to you.   Animals with the expectation of of a next day will end their lives in diminishing gasps being carried off to secret places.  Now think of the stars reflected in their eyes or the moonless night. Make a circle around the moon and hold it in one place.

Wild is what cats stare at when you think there's nothing there.  Consider how their claws sheathe in a curl like their kin, who roam in the same ways and hunt in the same ways for blood and meat. They draw dark alongside your garage and stop-
The cat you feed is deliberate and swift making mysteries and unexplained disappearances, peace behind their eyes as they watch you fill the dish.
All cats from all families are one cat gone down ravines, complaining of their love up draws and drawing thin silver v's through the grasses toward the places where they bide. That's cats.

Listen.  This is about dogs. Moon dogs. Calling dogs. Silent dogs listening.  Roaming determined dogs wearing the nonchalance of freedom that look you in the eye with cool minds. These are your fellow citizens, neighbor.
Dogs flow with the wind on their own errands.
Think hard about what dogs mean, in words you won't listen to, the story of generations after generations of shunned dogs, abandoned dogs, lost dogs, tame, gone hungry and semi tame, raised less tame,  noticed by nobody yet walking, nosing, going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Everything is black when a cloud hides the moon.

You should look for where people you forget make homes.  Wise nimble-minded dogs full of luck and worn deep around their throats with old collars and with battered tags that clatter remember.  

 Mice will come. The same mice so dear, the same mice on the grass with broken spines with their small paws folded like praying.
Rats dart and snatch.  Rats are greed and breathe blood.  Their teeth curl downward toward bone.  Break open the roof of their caches and see!  Small gold stones.
Crows cut like scissors.
Ravens tear and sideslink heavily just out of reach.
Others arrive.
Cars drive over a bridge.

More. Listen.
Behind the smile of that dog, those are teeth, and they grab and snatch fast, you see, the wind of their going blowing from when outlier dog-wolves and slinking starved bitches in milk, wolves who ran to save their skins,  circled the dimness and swallowed and swallowed in anticipation.  Smelling, one eye cautious, skittish, maybe toward where a special animal warmth like a moon waits just past the edge of the safe.

We don't own the advantage:  the consensus, the democracy of pheromones.
What we have is height and the predators' face forward sight and the memory we want, of good dogs who lived in homes and obeyed a voice.
Not all memories tell you what you need.

Look at where you don't look. Black bears hide the day away beneath abandoned cars and holes torn jaggedly around the tangled roots of downed trees, half drowsing,  waiting for the night-damp to sharpen the smells of the heaps they prowl around and over and through, rooting and straining with bold black claws for caches of things that are spoiled and soft and fat with grease.  Black bears are stealthy walkers and sliders and whisperers through twigs and crackling frost kill and the grassed brush on the margins of trails meandering through your town, your suburb, your development, eating the food you waste and remembering the taste of your hands and mouth.

Up in the top of a tall tree bark colored owls tear strips from prey held fast in one fist, and their gaze turns to you.  Silence, one hook and eight knives, an owl.
Patient pale owls watching from empty rectangles in city buildings, generations raised in the rising frost of spent feathers and the pin bones of bats, in lath-fallen rooms and stairwells and high in blind tin architraves.  They fly down the narrow hallways white, out into the blizzards of moths and bats around the street lights. 

Did you know that the moon was shining when the imagos split and moths came out of the dirt to fly in confusions and clouds?

These things see.

Cats see, and the smart ones darken away fast, fast between the wheels of cars, fast in front of bicycles, only a fast line moving across a two lane road from one ditch to the next.  Cats see from trees and windows, smart covered corners where they are just another shade of grey on black, a pile of leaves, and they see, and they run fast, climb fast and go quiet.  They see where deer have walked and look over their shoulders, and run from darkness to darkness.

Let go of the moon.
Do nothing and don't wait.  The soil will open.
Do nothing and don't wait.  The three families of dogs circle you and circle you.
Do nothing and don't wait.  The cats will rouse from their cautious sleep and escape before their betters.
Do nothing and don't wait.  Larger presences are just outside the circle and they never learned to heed you.
Do nothing. Don't wait.  The moon goes dark for two days in twenty-nine.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Please Don't Hurt Me Lynda Barry I Will Never Talk Smack About You Again

My best, earliest memory that is longer than a couple of sentences, told with deliberately bad sentence structure because what I said about Lynda Barry totally applies to me as well.

When I was 4 years old my parents dressed me up and took me over to my cousins' house for an important party.  My girl cousin Theresa was turning 'Sweet Sixteen' and her parents were throwing her a big hullabaloo.  Being good Catholic parents, of course, it was teeners in the basement with their jungle music and every guests' parents present,  the daylight basement windows and floor vents open and the basement door ajar.

So there I was at a grown up party, dressed up like a toilet paper dolly, and I was 4.
I was the only person there who was 4.
The closest person to 4 there was my cousin Theresa, and she wanted to put up with me like cats want to put up with dogs. Aunt Lillian said I could go downstairs to the party.  My cousin Theresa right there in front of me actually started crying and begged her mom please don't let her come downstairs and Ruin Her Party.

(Future me:  bad move, ya dumb cow.)

The husbands were outside barbecuing and smoking the cigars Uncle Sonny passed out and drinking Canadian Club.  My boy cousins were in the back playing hula-golf .  The wives were inside, drinking Canadian Club on the rocks with Grenadine and smoking and pretending to eat my aunt Lillians terrible canapes (I've written about this womans' horrifying table elsewhere) and talking about boring things.  I was three feet shorter than the shortest person in the joint.  Everyone was either half-lit or doing the Frug in the for all intents and purposes,

 I was completely unsupervised.

 I went downstairs and it looked exactly like this:

One of the boys was really nice and came over and actually pretended to dance with me!  He was tall and had a blonde crew cut.  I instantly fell in love with him.

Since it was a record party, everyone had brought their collection of 45's and got to take turns picking songs. Some dumb butt put a stupid slow record on.  It was stupid square Little Surf Girl by the stupid square Beach Boys - which immediately alerted the parents to the possibility of Slow Dancing and Kissing.  From upstairs the moms started hollering threats down the floor vents that there better not be any funny business going on.  Little Surf Girl plus moms yelling "You better not be up to anything down there ELIZABETH AND GREGG I MEAN YOU!" equals Total Uncoolness Party.
  I had standards.  I went back upstairs.

Immediately my mother sprang on me and made me take a shitty canape and say 'Thank you' for it to Aunt Lilian.  It was a pimento olive slice on top of a hot dog slice on top of peanut butter on top of a Ritz cracker with a toothpick stuck in it. Can you imagine the horror?  Luckily I was close to the floor.  Here's why.

Before I had even had a chance to begin snivelling, my Aunt and Uncles' black Lab Tommy, slobberingly overexcited, panting and everywhere at once, ran through the room and grabbed it out of my hand, and his enormous red dog ween was totally showing out.

This was not the kind of party guest any good Catholic mother wants to see.

Aunt Lillian freaked. All the moms went into 'rat in the henhouse' mode and more than a few of them were snickering into their wrists even though what they'd just had seared onto their eyeballs was Not Nice.  The cigarette ashes were falling and canapes by the double handful were sneaked into the trash!  Aunt Lilian, bubble do, cat glasses, dirndle and all took out after Tommy the dog at a sprint.  I followed her because I wanted to see what she'd do.  My mom followed me with another shitty canape to make sure I actually ate one, but I caught sight of her and suddenly jinked left and ran behind the house into the evergreen hedge and hid.

Even though it was very poky, being inside the evergreen hedge was cool to the max.  You could actually stand up in it and not touch (almost.)  It was a perfect hiding place in every way.  It made an arched tunnel all the way around the house.  It was also full of play balls of every description, thanks to Tommy, because he'd go around the neighborhood and steal them from everyone and the secret tunnel inside the hedge was his stashing place.

Tommy and I were both in refugee mode, so he found his way into the hedge and soon thereafter found me.

At 4 I did not like any dogs.  Either they were taller than me and knocked me down, or smaller than me and bitey.  And here Tommy was all up in my grill, needy and overexcited, slobbering and panting and smacking the side of the house with a tail like a baseball bat, wanting me to play fetch.  He kept picking up every ball and bringing it to me like if he found the right one I'd play.  Totally no way Jose, dog. Tommy was gross.  He always had long blops of foamy slobber hanging out of the two flubby parts of the side of his mouth, which also stuck out and flubbered and looked like something washed up on the beach.  Now here he was all a-wag, with his slobber full of hemlock crud stuck in it hanging from his flubby dog lips wabbling and swinging all over the place, and the ball he proffered was all covered with dried slobber that was mixed with wet slobber and ball fragments and Christ knew what,   so I took the ball and threw it as hard as I could out into the street and a car almost ran over him.
Almost.  Sooo close.
I did not like that dog.

The people in the car screeched to a halt and got out and ran into the driveway!  My Uncle Sonny, tall, bald and built like a fullback came hustling out of the garage with his shiny head glistening in the sun to meet them and they all had a screaming argument!   When the people told Uncle Sonny that the dog had been chasing a ball I froze.  I was quiet and waited, but nobody came looking for me because Uncle Sonny immediately blamed it on the boys.  The people finally drove away while my uncle Sonny was still yelling at the boys for throwing balls into the street.  I was safe!  So I hauled down my skivvies and peed and got it all over my little lacy ankle socks.

When you are 4 and a girl, you are way down in the weeds when you squat to pee so it goes everywhere.  And never pee in a hemlock hedge because it will poke the crap out of you and you could hoist ass and get pee on your socks.

Nothing daunted, I crept my way around the foundation of the house, using the natural tunnel the plantings had created, the rock-n-roll music coming from the basement through the open daylight windows, feeling very secret-ey and tuff. There were some good go go music playing and I wanted to dance too.  I got thinking about my mean stupid cousin Theresa and her me only you have to go away party.  Oh yeah, Theresa? Oh yeah?

  I went back to the first open window to the basement, collected as many tore up play balls as I could carry, and threw them into the basement through the window.  Every window I passed I'd grab a few balls off the ground from the hundreds there and throw them into the basement as I went.  It was so great and fun because it made everyone start screaming and the records skip.  Happy Sweet Sixteen, Cousin Turd-resa!

Once I was on the opposite side of the house, in the back yard, I figured I was as safe as I was going to get.  I ran out and WHAMMO  a bummerball (a used golf ball with a red ring of paint around it's equator) smacked into the side of the house right next to me. (It wasn't on purpose.)  While I was marvelling at that, I got caught by my boy cousins and their buddies who thought it was puss to dance with girls and were the ones out in the back yard playing hula golf.  OK.  They said I had to go run around the whole back yard and find all their stupid golf balls or they'd tell on me that I wasn't in the house. Looking back I can't remember there being anything said about me needing to stay in the house.  It worked, though.

My oldest boy cousin Raymond  was 17 and he looked exactly like the oldest boy in the T.V. show My Three Sons and he was sooo handsome.  Mostly he ignored me.  My next older boy cousin was 15 and puggy and snotnosed and mean and looked like a dumb stupid butt and was named Richie.   I was wearing a little polkadot dress that looked like this:

So ok man, geeze, be cool.  I ran around the edge of their huge back yard and I filled my skirt with stupid bummerballs.  When I couldn't fit any more into the skirt of my little dress I ran over to my cousin Ritchie, the one who looked like a dumb stupid butt and who was dog poop also.  I acted like hey here's your golf balls but instead I flipped my skirt out at him and all the golf balls hit him and rolled everywhere and all the other boys laughed and I ran into the garage where my dad was.

My dad picked me up just because I was there.  My dad smelled good, like gasoline, tobacco, outdoors and booze.  I was so safe.  Cousin Ritchie came in all bluster faced and waa waa waa'd she hit me with golf balls to Uncle Sonny about me. All the dads made fun of Ritchie and Uncle Sonny grabbed him by the arm and kicked him out of the garage and out he went, crying and with snot hanging down.  Which, HA on you, Ritchie.  He never changed either.  He was the exact same when he was older and married.  Ew.

My dad held me for a long time. He was standing in a semicircle around the engine of the car with some of the other dads, smoking a cigar.  It was nice.  I was way up high to where you could look down and see right through parts around the engine to the floor of the garage!  But the cigar smoke was bothering me, and I was getting squirmy and bored, so my dad put me down.

I had an amazing idea!

I crawled under the car so I could surprise them!  And I did!  Lying in a puddle engine oil and metal shavings and dirt I shouted "HI!!!"  Boy, were they surprised!   Suddenly I had a bunch of arms trying to grab me.   I was laughing and scrabbling around on the floor under the car trying to escape.  Someone grabbed my shoe, which looked like this:

Too slow, gotta go!  One shoe on and one shoe off I ran back into the house and down the stairs into my girl cousins Sweet Sixteen party again.

The boy I was in love with danced with me again and I asked him to be my boyfriend and he said yes.  Then he danced with another girl and I cried.  My cousin Theresa told me to bug out of her party and get lost, but another girl told Theresa she was mean so I got to stay.  I got to take turns dancing with all the boys.  Someone put on 'Do The Twist' and everybody showed me how to do the Twist!  I climbed up onto the ping-pong table and I did the twist like a go-go girl!

When the record was over I tried to climb down but one side of the ping pong table collapsed.
I slid down, clanged off the snack table and  dumped over the punch bowl which was almost empty anyway.  Wow!  Humungous Freak-O-Rama!!!!!  With my enraged cousin Theresa close behind, I shot upstairs and scuffed my knee on the stairway (and got a case of gross ringworm later on in the same spot), cousin Theresa with murder in her eyes, in tears, disheveled, trying to catch me and probably eat me.  But she was too slow because she was wearing heel shoes.

Of course she went straight to Aunt Lillian waa waa waa and tattle-babied on me that I was ruining her party.  She got in HUGE trouble!  Aunt Lillian grabbed her by the arm and actually SPANKED HER at her own first grown-up party in the middle of all the moms and my mom started yelling at me and tried to grab ME by the arm but I ran upstairs and sat on the top step and and refused to come down for a really long time and everyone forgot about me.  My cousin Theresas' cheerleading megaphone was on the top step.  I sang 'I Love You Yeah Yeah Yeah' into it, not loud enough for anyone to hear but me.  It sounded pretty good like my voice was coming from a record.  I sang all the Beatles songs I knew, then I got bored and came back downstairs.

It was a very agitated group of women downstairs there in Aunt Lillians front room.  In the wake of the upset, all the moms were cranked into high gear, ice cubes crackling as drinks were freshened,  lighters sparking as they lit up,  and cigarettes sizzling as they were stubbed out angrily into the half-eaten canapes on Aunt Lillians' good saucers.  The smell of Ronson, cheap Maybelline lipstick and tobacco smoke filled the air.  They were all complaining really loudly about their terrible kids and how horrible they were,  and they were comparing punishment techniques (they'd been hitting the Canadian Club pretty hard.)  It was like they turned into monsters!  I just stood in the middle of it all with a little paper cup full of Aunt Lillians crappy diet Koolaid someone had given me and was kind of appalled, as much as a 4 year old kid can get appalled anyway.  And in the middle of all that my mom just swiftly took me outside and then we all got in the car and snuck home.

It wasn't a very long drive.  I got out and my mom finally got a good look at me.  There I was! I had on one shoe and my white tights were tore out on both knees and I was covered in dirt and dog slobber, my socks were wet and I smelled like pee and I had hemlock crud in my hair, my braids were all coming undone, AND I had grease and red koolaid ON MY NEW CHURCH DRESS (Total lie. It was a hand me down from my cousin Theresa.) Plus I had engine oil and grease on my face because it had got on my hands and I kept smelling it because it smelled good.

I could see her cranking herself up into an end of the world as we know it fit, but my dad saved me.  He saved me because when he came around the side of the car it was obvious that he'd been driving Three Sheets To The Wind, as my mom always put it.  So the fit that was meant for me turned into she got angry at him for driving Three Sheets To The Wind and she blew up and it was like an atomic bomb.

I got totally forgotten about AGAIN.  So HA on everybody!  I rule everything!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

I deliberately ate glitter one time, but it didn't turn out how you'd think it would.

Told in the style of Lynda Barry and I hope she sees it too.

This has been bugging me and bugging me for 100 YEARS ever since I saw the 'Poodle With a Mohawk' poster plastered all over Hells' half acre in Seattle Washington.  OK well it first started bugging me after seeing her strip in The Stranger, but it changed with the poodle thing ANYWAY.

This is what's been bugging me:


But she's completely screwing herself, and here's why.
She's so good at drawing fake shitty that every now and then she slips and draws something, just a little corner of something, really well and it TOTALLY gives her away.  She could be drawing so many things acceptably but she's deliberately drawing badly.

Plus!   Her people in the comics have really really bad grammer from the 1960's. But even then!  Every now and then she can't help it maybe but I think she totally is doing it deliberately - she writes a really good passage, and while she thinks 'Whoo, deal with that flash of incredible brilliance!' it's actually so obviously like "See, I have superfucking mad skills when I want to but I just don't want to because you couldn't handle it" but AHA ya mothercluckerbucker, because see, that really, really means "I freak out when I think of actually doing things well all the time because then I'd be held to that standard and no way in blazing hell am I going to be able to bring it 100% of the time so I'll just dole it out in dribs and drabs and people will think Man, this is such an incredible work of urban primitive art/literature".

Also in her mind she's thinking "Everyone can draw a table lamp and make it look like a table lamp, and a few people can draw a table lamp and make it look like a photograph, but nobody cares because it's a table lamp when everythings' said and done.  But when I deliberately shittify a drawing of a table lamp it's because that's my shtick...the shtick I lean on so I don't have to worry about being judged by my artwork because see it's already bad so ha on you.

This having been said, Lynda Barry, you are one of my top 3 favorite writers of all time forever.  But you should quit being all plastic and phony and draw right for a change so people can tell what the fuck they're looking at.  And you should start using regular drawing things like a pencil or a pen instead of a tree branch.  OK.