Archive for the ‘love’ Category

Toilets

Saturday, November 8th, 2014

front-porch rules!

If you’ve been following this story, you will be glad to hear that the Window Treatment issue has been sorted out.

We are getting blinds in fake wood that looks really real, ordered from a fantastic Persian lady who also showed me curtains with little Japanese guys in boats that would cost $2,000 for one room!  It was a huge relief to get the window decision behind us.

We disagreed about the couch placement in the living room and got people to come over and render judgements and help move stuff around. When I told my psychiatrist about the couch dispute, he shared that he and his wife had a couch dispute a few days earlier, with one of them using the phrase “over my dead body.”

I have not been moved to say “over my dead body” so far, but I did start writing a song called “I’ve got a bridge and I’m gonna jump off it.” We live a couple of short blocks from a park that overlooks the ocean, with a steep drop that I can’t look at without the thought of jumping.  If I jumped, it would have to be a sure-fire fatality. It would have to be several stories high and I would have to be more despondent that I am at this moment.

No one likes to hear me talk about death. Death is with me every single day, as a heartache and and a fantasy solution. My niece came to visit and was happy to talk about death, which was a delightful surprise.  She had given the subject plenty of thought. I confided that my husband once got angry when he told me he wanted a coffin burial and I asked what he wanted to wear for the occasion. She responded, “Probably because he has too many choices,” referring to his collection of 94 shirts.

In any case, I can’t die before I get the pink toilet I so richly deserve.

We walked into a plumbing shop after finding that the tile shop was closed. There, I asked if they had a pink toilet, and the girl told me Sorry, pink toilets are a thing of the past. Armed with my knew Toilet Knowledge, I said smugly, “No, Gerber still makes them.” She went to her office to look this up on her computer, and I heard her exclaim “Unbelievable!”

I felt wonderful, more informed about toilets that an actual toilet girl! She took me to a hallway decorated with toilet seats in every color ever manufactured. She was a genuine Toilet Enthusiast. She pointed out a color called ‘Merlot,’ a deep wine color, almost like Chanel Rouge Noir, and noted that it’s the hardest color to find. We discussed the wide variety of green hued toilet seats.

The Toilet Girl ordered a pink toilet for me. Did you know that the  seat comes in both wood and plastic?

I want to be best friends with the Toilet Girl and talk about toilets until the end of time, or until I get a Tile Guy to bond with.

Window Blinds: A Fight To The Death

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

new sign unpacked

We are moving box by box, until Monday when the moving truck comes to take the big stuff.  The new house is nice, and a neighbor from across the street gave us a bottle of wine and some cookies to welcome us. We bought huge rattan porch chairs from a guy on Craig’s list, and sitting on the porch enjoying a gentle sea breeze is genuinely idyllic.

But then there’s the window blinds.

I have never had one single thought about window blinds. They played no role in my existence. But that’s over. We’ve entered into a tense conflict over what kind of blinds to get. I want real wood. He wants faux wood, I guess made of vinyl. Wood is expensive and bla bla bla. But vinyl blinds seem creepy and not homey. Why wants vinyl anything?

I kept on promoting wood, and my husband kept on noting that he couldn’t tell the difference, so fake wood was fine. We got increasingly frustrated. It became one of those ‘just admit I’m right’ argument. I suggested that the one who cares most should trump the one who doesn’t fee emotional invested.

I went into another room feeling angry, wronged, resentful, and wounded. Who gives a shit about fucking blinds, I thought. Why give a shit about anything.

I wondered whether the fight was really about control, fear, loss, insecurity. For me, yep, all those things, plus grief, going through old schoolwork and mother’s day cards, art projects, stuffed animals, used hypodermic needles.  I have to keep all these things in my heart while letting go of them physically. At least some of them.

Meanwhile, the motherfucking blinds. I wish we could just get curtains instead. And I need to buy a pink toilet to match the bathtub. I don’t care what it costs because life owes me a pink toilet.

Charlotte’s Web

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Magnum Opus - Garth Williams

 

Recently, some words from ‘Charlotte’s Web‘ surfaced from my unconscious. (If you’ve never read Charlotte’s Web, I don’t know what you’re doing here. We are probably from different planets.)

When Wilbur sees Charlotte’s egg sac, he asks if it’s a plaything. Charlotte replies:

“It is my egg sac, my magnum opus.” “I don’t know what a magnum opus is,” said Wilbur. “That’s Latin,” explained Charlotte. “It means ‘great work.’ This egg sac is my great work – the finest thing I have ever made.”

This is how I feel about my children, how I imagine all mothers must feel about their children. They were my gift to the world. And they are gone, one from the world and one from the nest.

At least Charlotte got to go first. That is the natural order of things. There is no consolation for me, but there is art.

What a wonderful book! It is so full of wisdom. I always thought it was about friendship, but it is also about death. I guess it’s about everything. When I read it to my kids, I remember feeling upset by Wilbur’s panic when he thinks that Charlotte’s children are leaving him.  It triggers my fear of abandonment.

Wilbur was frantic. 'Come back, children!' he cried.

Watching the last season of ‘The Wire’ the other night, I wondered if Templeton, the unscrupulous reporter, was an homage to E.B. White’s Templeton, a rat. Maybe all roads lead to Charlotte’s web.

Here is an excerpt from Eudora Welty‘s review of Charlotte’s Web, written in 1952 (which I found here)

What the book is about is friendship on earth, affection and protection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and treachery, pleasure and pain, and the passing of time. As a piece of work it is just about perfect, and just about magical in the way it is done. What it all proves–in the words of the minister in the story which he hands down to his congregation after Charlotte writes “Some Pig” in her web–is “that human beings must always be on the watch for the coming of wonders.” Dr. Dorian says in another place, “Oh, no, I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.” The author will only say, “Charlotte was in a class by herself.”

~

*illustrations by Garth Williams

Triggers and Tarzana

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

vintage sheet music

 

Once you are traumatized, you are vulnerable to triggers. And triggers are everywhere.

Jane Birkin’s daughter, Kate Barry, jumped from her fourth story window last week. I couldn’t stop thinking about her despair, and how fame and talent don’t protect families from depression or suicide.

Then, on Homeland, they executed the poor hero, making us watch as the life drained out of his face.

When I’m triggered enough, my mind reverts to familiar paths that lead nowhere. Often, it settles on Tarzana Treatment Center, a lucrative rehab business whose $45 million budget is largely funded via contracts with Los Angeles County.

I took my son to TTC when he relapsed during a period of hard-earned sobriety. They made a big fuss about payment and made a copy of my credit card. They refused to let the family inside the building. After a few days, I started receiving calls from a guy named Del, in the financial department. He said they needed more money, even though they were a Blue Cross provider and had accepted our son’s insurance.

Del’s harassing phone-calls brought me to tears but he persisted. He threatened to kick Max out instead of keeping him for the agreed 30 days. I came up with $1,000 and then another $1,100. Del kept calling and demanding money. He said the rehab cost $500 a day. Meanwhile, Max called me, sounding panicky; he shared his room with a bunch of convicts who played cards all night, depriving him of sleep. He was cold but I wan’t allowed to bring him a blanket.

After around 12 days, a woman called me and said she was a therapist at TTC. She told me that my son was being discharged for lack of sufficient funds, but that she had convinced them to let him stay until morning.

In the morning, Max’s dad picked him up from TTC. He was still in withdrawal from klonopin. At dawn the next morning, he jumped off a cliff.

So I think about Del. I sometimes call his extension at TTC but I always get his recorded message. A couple of days ago, I called and he answered.

I told him who I was, and told him what happened after he kicked out my son. He stammered that he was sorry for my loss but quickly regrouped. He denied calling me to demand money and I laughed maniacally. WHAT?!, I said, Are you serious? You called me a million times! You made me cry!

No, he said firmly, this never happened and couldn’t have happened. They never discharge anyone for lack of money. Never. He has worked there for 18 years and it has never happened. Furthermore, it wasn’t his call. It was someone else’s.

I asked whose call it was and after some arguing, he gave me a fake name with a fake extension number.

Now, if  you are still reading this, you can understand my distress. I’m going to call it distress because rage doesn’t cover it. Why didn’t that cunt just apologize and say it was a terrible unforeseen consequence, one that he regretted?

I don’t want to hear “Just let it go.” I want to hear useful ideas about how to proceed.

My Favorite Iggy

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

 

Iggy_Pop

 

I don’t like Iggy Pop, even though I’m aware of his importance to punk music. Doesn’t he sing the Passenger song? Whatever. He needs to put his shirt on but seems committed to showing off his stringy malnourished physique. Honestly, the man is an eyesore, take him away.

Whereas Australian rap artist Iggy Azalea is a goddess and my latest obsession.

iggy good

 

I could look at her forever. The first time I saw her video ‘Work,‘ I was unsettled by its raunchiness and her snarling nasal rapping. But I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Six feet tall with a blond swath of mermaid hair and a huge booty, the sight of Iggy Azalea in skintight white pants on the David Letterman show was mesmerizing.

Would Dave be able to handle a greeting? Would her camel-toe become even more pronounced? Would she give me a shout-out by name? For some reason my husband is immune to her effect, and I’ve stopped trying to make him look at her videos.  That’s cool. He can have Iggy Pop if he wants.

Let’s look at more Iggy Azalea:

Iggy-Azalea swimsuit-goddess

 

iggy red carpet small

 

People have accused Iggy of having butt implants but I believe this butt is god-given, the better to twerk (part of her stage-act for years, she has pointed out defensively.)

I wish we could be girlfriends and talk lipstick.  Meanwhile, I will worship her from afar. And don’t argue with me until you’ve heard her rap.

 

An Artist to Love

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Matjames art

 

Matjames Metson is a self-taught artist whose work needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

Each piece is complicated but deliberate, and full of hidden delights. His art is personal but resonates with wonder and mystery.

I met him at his studio and fell in love with him, as did my companions. Matjames is fucking adorable. He told us about his experience of Hurricane Katrina, and showed us the graphic novel he is working on. Each page is a mini-masterpiece of emotion, beautifully crafted with a black Sharpie. He told us about the Sharpies he acquired in the chaos of Katina, when he walked through a looted store where everything was gone but the school supplies.

I can’t wait for his book to be published. Meanwhile, his art is available for sale right now, and will be on exhibit next year at the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles.

Here is a video where you can see Matjames in his studio. Here is an album of his work on Facebook. Here is his website.

If you collect art or know someone who does, a piece by Matjames Metson will be something to treasure. I really believe that art elevates the soul. My soul was enriched by the radiant sweetness of this talented artist and yours can be too!

avoidance small

 

(c) Matjames Metson

The Crash Reel

Monday, July 29th, 2013

hbo

 

Once in a while, I see a film that is so transformative, I wish I could make everyone watch it. The Crash Reel is exactly that. It is a fucking gem in every way and I want you to make every effort to see it.

The Crash Reel is a documentary about a fearless young snowboarder, Kevin Pearce, who has a terrible wipe-out just before the winter Olympics in 2010. The accident leaves Kevin with a traumatic brain injury and limitations that he refuses to accept, but ultimately lead him to advocate for people with brain injuries and other disabilities.

It’s a riveting, emotional and thought-provoking film, beautiful to watch, and filled with heart-wrenching moments that compel you to think about your own family and your own reactions to adversity.

I watched The Crash Reel twice: alone the first time, and then with my husband. The first time, I was overwhelmed by all the emotion but uplifted by all the palpable love on display. The next time, I found too many parallels in my own situation as the mother of both a dare-devil and a child with special needs. I wished that my own story was more positive. I wished that our love could have triumphed over everything.

But still, seeing that there is satisfaction in helping others is inspiring. Seeing a family pull together like this one is beautiful beyond words.

Finally, apart from all its artistry, this documentary is an effective discourse on head injuries. Be careful, and #loveyourbrain!

infographic

 

Amanda To The Rescue

Monday, July 15th, 2013

It has been a heartbreaking weekend. God bless Amanda Palmer for cheering us up.

** If you don’t see a picture, go here.

Human Kindness Overflowing

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Nandini Valli Muthiah small

 

Last night, I stayed up until dawn after taking in too much suffering. I am trying to learn tonglen, a method of breathing in suffering and breathing out compassion, but I forgot. I forgot, and found myself dwelling on my own misery.

Earlier in the day, I wrote a letter to someone whose partner killed himself. Later in the day, I answered an email from a man whose depressed wife has taken to her bed, leaving him with two jobs and the care of their children. Then I read about the mother who killed her 14 year old autistic son, incurring the understandable wrath of the disability community and beyond.

So many problems and so many tragic circumstances with no easy solutions. It’s overwhelming. You have to do something, though, right?

I have a bunch of Facebook “friends” who I don’t know in real life. I acquire them for the usual reasons. One of them, Jon, had an accident a few weeks ago that left him paralyzed in a wheelchair and unable to keep his apartment. His story triggered memories of Max’s despair over his injuries.

I was determined to help Jon. I noticed that he had more than 1,000 Facebook friends. He is a political activist and provokes lively discussion on his Facebook page. So I posted my idea on his page: I exhorted Jon’s friends to each make a $5 donation to his Paypal account. What a great idea, I thought proudly! I felt deeply satisfied by my plan to rescue this person in need.

Jon received four donations, including mine.

He was okay with it, but I was horrified. I couldn’t get over it. Five dollars?? Wouldn’t anybody give five dollars to a human being in such difficult circumstances? What the fuck is wrong with people?

I’m upset by indifference, even though I’m guilty of it all the time. I would like to see more compassion. Coincidentally, I just came across this study in how compassion and kindness can be taught and developed, literally changing the brain in the process.

More kindness would be great. The messages I’ve received from strangers who read my blog have often brought me to tears, just because kindness seems like such a meaningful gift. When we breathe in each other’s suffering and breathe out compassion, we are all that much closer to healing the unbearable pain of being human.

in out

 

*photo (c) Nandini Valli Muthiah

Family: Part III

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Little Sis

 

My youngest sister is an anomaly in our family: she is a blond bombshell.  I didn’t meet her until she was 16. One night, she asked me to help with her geometry homework. I was excited to get the chance to act like a real big sister! But the geometry problems seemed to be written in Chinese. I was horrified that anyone was expected to understand that shit. I tried finding a tutorial online but it was way beyond my limited Girlie Brain.

When our dad’s health declined, I slept at his house and got to know my sister better. I already knew that our dad had won custody of her after  years of neglect and abuse by her mother. Being raised by a father in his 80’s must have been hard for her.

She told me abut the time her older sister, who I will call “Tennis,” read her diary when she was 14 and snitched to our dad. This caused a huge commotion, after which Tennis convinced our dad to put his daughter in a foster home.

Eventually, our dad changed his mind and let my little sister come home. When he was dying, she tenderly manicured his nails. He had always liked a good manicure, even a hundred years ago when I was a kid.

Now that our dad is gone, my little sister is on her own. Tennis and their brother, the Weightlifter, keep their distance from her. They don’t like responsibility.

I’m glad I had a chance to briefly bond with her. I think she’s a “survivor,” like I am apparently, often to my dismay. I hope so.