Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Discovering Rilke

I have been exploring poetry lately, mostly on PoemHunter.com. This week's poet is Rainer Maria Rilke. I thought this was especially poignant in light of Memorial Day.

Again And Again

Again and again, however we know the landscape of love

and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees, lie down again and again
among the flowers, face to face with the sky.

(Translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Rainer Maria Rilke


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Anniversary Gift

I was halfway through May 16th, and suddenly it hit me. Yesterday would have been my 19th wedding anniversary. Nineteen years ago, I did something amazingly brave and courageous, or apocolytically stupid and ill-advised (depending upon your vantage point) and married a man I'd known less than a year. And by "less than a year," I mean half a year less than a year.

I was 27 at the time, and I wish I could tell you that I didn't know better. But I did. I knew it wasn't a good idea. I knew it would be difficult. I knew we didn't know each other well enough. But I was certain that what I thought was love would be enough to carry us through.

It wasn't.

It is the height of youthful arrogance to think that you have the resilience to withstand a knowingly bad relationship choice for the rest of your life, without it damaging you in psychological and emotional ways. No one does. No one gets out of an ill-conceived relationship without being scarred for life.

I was talking to my friend, Deirdre, just today, in fact, about the 80's. Deirdre isn't a big fan of the 80s. She's on location in... uhh... New Dehli... (yeah, that's the ticket), and she and I have taken to IMing between the time she gets back to her hotel and the time she goes to sleep. Television in... uhh... New Dehli... leaves a bit to be desired, especially at night, so she was subjected to having to watch Pretty in Pink while we were chatting on AIM. Between Molly Ringwald (one of my LEAST favorite parts of the 80s) and Jon "Ducky" Cryer's Flock of Seagulls haircut, Deirdre was puzzled when I told her I loved the 80s.

"What's to love?" she asked.

"I loved everything about the 80s. Torn t-shirts. Dancing welders. My stomach was flat. My ass was small. I loved the music. Then, I got married. And that pretty much sucked the joy out of everything."

(It bears noting -- not to out Deirdre or anything -- that she was in a fairly lackluster marriage herself during most of the 80s, which could explain her aversion to the entire decade. I have no direct clinical proof. My theory is based solely on anecdotal data.)

My marriage, which, like all marriages do, began on such a happy, hopeful note, quickly deteriorated into one person trying to recreate his birth family, and another trying to resist this with all of her might. What began as a sweet, optimistic, ambitious experiment to start a fresh, new family ended with two angry people who never really knew each other trying to find a way to part without damaging their toddler beyond repair.

Sad, really. I just wanted to start a family -- not replay someone else's. He just wanted to be the head of the house that he grew up in.

I was so sure we'd straightened it all out. I was so sure I knew what he wanted and what would make him happy. He was probably just as sure that if I could only succumb and let him build the family unit he wanted, I'd be happy, too. Of course, we were both wrong. I didn't realize that it wasn't my job to make him happy, and he didn't realize that trying to recreate his family was a futile (though common) effort.

Cross purposes....

So, I live alone, and he is remarried to someone who better suits his idea of family (though he is, at present, not speaking to his parents). Its better this way. Truly.

But I do wonder if I have it in me to make something different. Something better. Maybe the key is choosing a man who, like myself, has no discernible family model (single mother, disinterested absentee father). Or maybe I need to find someone who is mature enough to realize that every relationship wipes the slate clean. The only thing you should be bringing from the past into the present are lessons that make you kinder, more compassionate, a better listener, a better partner, a better lover. Anything from past relationships about the other person -- whether they abused you, lied to you, cheated on you, stole from you or snorted cocaine off your grandma's heirloom marble-top dresser -- is useless in this relationship and should be jettisoned at once.

So it wasn't a total loss, my marriage. It gave me some insights. It gave me my daughter. And it gave me the appreciation for holding fast to who I am as a person and not allowing myself to get lost in someone else's vision.

So, Happy UnWedding Anniversary to me. May I live to have 50 more....


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Math and Art (Again!)

Somebody's been playing in the 3D again!

Where Math and Art Collide


Sometimes, Things Just Go Right

This week, somebody got a new computer at work, and a new coffee mug from WaiterRant (and two nifty free WaiterRant ballpoint pens to boot).

Who could that be, I wonder? Who could the lucky person be who got all those wonderful things?

Oh yeah.


(Life is good. Very good.)


Friday, May 12, 2006

When a Door Closes...

... a negotiation opens...

It seems that there could be a bigger future for Chris Daughtry than winning American Idol could ever have afforded him. Apparently, since lead singer Brett Scallion left the band, Fuel, the boys have been looking for his replacement. Daughtry's rendition of "Hemorrhage" didn't go unnoticed among the band's remaining members. They tested the waters back then to see if Daughtry might be interested in taking Scallions' place.

Now that Daughtry has left Idol, the offer was made, publicly and in earnest, when Fuel bandmates Jeff Abercrombie and Carl Bell appeared on "Extra" and made Daughtry another pitch to join the band.

Daughtry has also expressed interest in launching a solo career, and his wife, Deanna has said she's not even sure which road Daughtry will pursue. Let's face it -- the guy's exhausted. The schedule for performing in the last legs of the American Idol competition are grueling, and no one can expect Daughtry to make career decisions that affect the rest of his life -- at least, not until Sunday.

If I had a say in the decision (and frankly, I'm stunned that he hasn't called me to ask), I'd tell him to take the Fuel gig and wipe the stain of American Idol off his little bald rocker head. Then, he can launch a solo career after the band falls apart (because, don't they always?).

Well, now that that's settled.... We can all get on with our lives.

(Psst... Chris... call me before you sign anything!!!)


Thursday, May 11, 2006

America Voted And...

... proved once again that the same people who voted to make George W. Bush their president -- not once, but twice, mind you -- can't even be trusted with a simple phone-in vote for American Idol.

Idiots. I'm surrounded by idiots!

The producers have voted, and Taylor Hicks is your next American Idol (though you deserve no better than that damp washcloth, Elliot Yamin, you mealy-mouthed, lilly-livered Americans!) Just when I thought I was being too harsh on my own countrymen for wanting to go and live in England after the 2004 elections, this happens and reinforces my desire to expatriate. I'm ashamed to be seen with you, you descendants of English and German religious exiles, you! You shallow cretins who have let yourselves become so steeped in mediocrity that you don't know talent when you see it! You sorry examples of cultural bereftment!*

Go home, Chris. Get some sleep. Play with your kids. Make love to your wife. Then go cut a CD. I'll be the first one in line.


*Okay, I'll grant you -- that one may be a little like the pot calling the kettle black, since I'm admitting that I actually watch American Idol. Or, more accurately, "watched," since the show has officially been permanently banned from my house for all eternity. You think I'm kidding. You don't know me. Never. Ever. Again. Ever.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What God Hath Wrought

Today is the 18th anniversary of the day when I stopped worshipping at the Altar of the Self. It's been a bumpy road, but more than worth it. I wrote about it (complete with Pictures!) on The Chron.

Happy Birthday, kid....


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Some Folks Just Don't Understand the Meaning of "No Vacancies"

For an apartment building that's about to be torn down in a few months, my apartment building is a pretty popular place. My on-site manager actually rented the last three apartments with the full disclosure that there would be no lease, and that the plans were already in the works to tear the building down and build condos or other apartments, probably by the end of the summer. They rented anyway. So the sign outside our apartment building says, quite clearly and unambiguously, "No Vacancies."

For the last two weeks though, we've had a couple of new tenants who've decided that signs in big red letters just don't apply to them. It's not the first time that we've gotten a duck coming to roost in our heart-shaped swimming pool. Five years ago, a mother (possibly this sexy thing) roosted for nearly two weeks at the end of April with her three ducklings. Last year, another duck (again, the same femme fatale?) showed up with not one, but two drakes in tow, vying for her favors.

And this year -- our last here in the complex, sadly -- we are treated to this couple who come and go every few days, perhaps to escape the crowded filthy nearby Lake Balboa. Perhaps they've just decided that, since the management company has seen fit to lock down the pool until we're all cast out on the street, somebody should be using the fabulous heart-shaped pool. Perhaps they're on their honeymoon, and snapping pictures of them is in really poor taste.

Whatever brings them here, seeing them floating leisurely along the blue surface makes me happy. When you think of all the things I could walk out of my front door to see (I refer you to Mary-Mia's post on Do They Have Salsa in China? regarding the wildlife that landed in her backyard not so very long ago), seeing a couple of pretty ducks, cruising along the top of the water, enjoying each other's company is kind of a treat.

Ah, Spring....


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Kitten Mommy Report: Small Victories

Here we are, Day 12 into Life as Kitten Mommy....

Big Cat has decided that Kitten was not brought here to eat him. He will now tolerate her presence in his immediate vicinity without growling and hissing. I have allowed Kitten to hang outside the bathroom during the day when I'm at work, but I suspect that they each go into a bedroom and sleep most of the day, because life doesn't seem to start until Kitten Mommy returns home and wants some peace and quiet. Then, all manner of feline feels the need to bounce hysterically off the walls and hang from the proverbial rafters.

I can report progress in a two areas. First, as you can see at the picture on the right, I have managed to get them eating in the same general area. This is a considerable "win" -- while Big Cat thought Kitten might eat him, he wouldn't put his head down to eat. Hunger eventually won out, and I suppose that, faced with the prospect of being eaten by Kitten or starving to death, it became necessary to take some risks.

The other area where we have achieved a small victory is in the "play" department. Kitten has her work cut out for her. I'm told that when he was adopted as a baby, Big Cat (then not nearly so big as now) was beset upon by his sister, who was adopted with him, and attacked by her nearly daily. Is it any wonder that the sight of another very small cat-like being with an enormous head and poor fine motor movement might raise an alarm in him? It all becomes clearer. Big Cat put his guard up very early in his young life, and it's stayed there ever since. He has forgotten the fine art of "play."

Kitten's task at hand is to reteach Big Cat how to play. Then she will have a playmate all day at her disposal (did I mention the world is her oyster? right... ), even when I'm at work. She seems to understand this, because she pursues Big Cat relentlessly, batting at his tail, stalking him, peaking and poking at him from under the dust ruffle of my bed. She runs at him, and leaps up in a posture of attack, then falls to the ground on her back in a thoroughly submissive posture... "I've got you... No... Now, you've got me! Oh, clever you!!" Of course, Big Cat just sits motionless, like a basque cat statue, watching her as if she is a total idiot. (Which she kind of would be, if she weren't so pickin' cute!!!)

But every once in a while, he will reach out at her, almost as if her spell is more than he can conquer, and bat at her gently, then realize what he's doing, and stop himself. Two days ago, Kitten and I were in the bathroom (she helps me blow dry my hair every morning -- an activity which both concerns and perplexes her, yet fascinates her as well), and when I came out, I caught Big Cat red-handed playing a rousing game of mylar crunchie ball soccer on the kitchen floor by himself. He's batted at things before, but he's never actually indulged in a raucous, slide-across-the-kitchen-floor, risk-looking-like-a-fool free-for-all.

Kitten is having the effect I'd hoped she'd have on Big Cat. She's reteaching him to play. She's awakening his inner-Kitten. Soon, I hope, they will be playing together like two kittens in a litter, and Big Cat will get another crack at a happy childhood. I think everyone deserves that, no matter how old they are.