MidMen.

Posted in WhatNot on May 12th, 2015 by Diva

I am reading an excellent treatise on midlife crisis, MidMen: The Modern Man’s Guide to Surviving Midlife Crisis by Steve Ochs.

Don’t let the title fool you; I’m learning just as much from it as any man would. It’s written with much humor, too, but don’t let that fool you, either; it’s chock full of “what are you doing and what does it mean” philosophy for anyone pre-, mid-, or post-crisis.

I’ll let you, dear reader, guess which end of the spectrum I’m on at this writing.

I’m reading it for various reasons (*ahem* my man the Maestro *cough*), but today I ran across a passage in which the author touches upon one of my peeves.

I don’t buy the ethereal universal balance theory, but if we observe the notion of karma in a very pragmatic, terrestrial way we start to see something logical. Here’s a really easy, basic example that comes up all the time. I will hold a door for some fucking dolt who will walk through, brain dead, without so much as a thank you glance. Okay, so now I have a choice. I can resent myself for having extended this courtesy to someone so undeserving, or I can accept that what I’m doing is making sure that I live in a world where somebody holds the fucking door for somebody by actually being the somebody who holds it [emphasis mine]

Ouch. I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy being irritated at people who don’t notice basic etiquette and don’t respond in kind when really, I shouldn’t care. I should do it to make this world a better place, one small action at a time, with or without anyone else’s approval or help.

Oh, the book also has at least one quiz that made me go, “Aw, shit,” quietly, reluctantly, and out loud.

I’ll let you, dear reader, once again figure which one out on your own.

Worth it.

There But For…

Posted in WhatNot on May 12th, 2015 by Diva

From the ages of 13 through 31 I alternately despised, abhorred, and hated my Dad.

As the oldest of four kids, I have the dubious honor of being the only one who recalls what he was like before the two tours in Vietnam. Back when he was present, when he was a loving, caring man who freely expressed how he felt about Mom and the two children in his life at the time.

As an adult, I know why he made the choices he did. Taking two voluntary (!) tours in Southeast Asia during the height of the conflict had amazing monetary perks. He must have known the bonus could be invested and would result in a little windfall later … but this was unknown to any of us until he died in 2008. Just trust me when I say hindsight isn’t just 20/20, it’s super clear, high-def, and worth a five digit inheritance nearly 40 years after-the-fact.

But that’s not the point of this post.

I was 6 when he returned from the second tour. Subsequently, I had a front-row seat as he deteriorated into the alcoholic asshole he’d become by the time I reached junior high, when he realized he had two young sons watching the two older, teenage daughters he couldn’t control.

What do I mean by “control?” Well, one of us (hint: NOT ME) tried to sneak out of her bedroom window regularly and (just as regularly) got caught (because she has always sucked at that finesse thing). At one point Dad even nailed a bedroom window shut (of course my sister’s) to prevent future escape (great thinking ahead, so glad there wasn’t a fire, Dad).

And he knew, just KNEW I was up to something, but he could never prove it. This is because I have always known how to get away with things. I won’t share my secrets here, as it will only give 16 year olds ideas – you’re welcome, parents – but manipulation is easy once you get the hang of it.

That’s kind of a lie. It was easy to get away with stuff because he and Mom were always drunk and passed out by 9pm.

One particularly awful evening, my sister had been grounded yet again, and I had permission to take the car out. As I backed out of the driveway, I saw her run out of the house with my Dad right on her tail. He tackled her on the front lawn and proceeded to pistol-whip her.

You read that right. The butt of a gun, aiming for her head. And you can say, “What was he thinking?!” just as I do, but I don’t believe he was thinking. He was hammered, as usual, and we all make the bestest decisions when we’re drunk, don’t we? To this day, I waver between “He was trying to scare her and it didn’t work” and “He had finally had it and was going to keep her at home even if it meant shooting her to do it.” I’ll never know, because I never asked him. Hell, I’ve never even asked her, though I think that would make for an interesting conversation over cocktails sometime.

(If you require closure on that story: I gathered up all three of my siblings and drove directly to the police station, where the cops said there was absolutely nothing they could do. We sat in the waiting area for about 30 minutes until a nice officer came out and gently told us to go home. This is how much our society has changed between 1982 and now, kids: they take domestic violence and child abuse a tad more seriously.)

But that’s not really the point of this post, either.

I don’t share to gain pity points or a big “boo-hoo” from anyone, nor to explain my own grown up behaviors. I share because I had an epiphany while watching yet another “girl kills her father” story on ID.

Through all those turbulent, violent, terrible years, even after the one and only time my Dad got violent with me by holding my neck and shoving me into a wall at age 17, I never, not once, considered killing him. Not as a defense, not as a strategy, not as a solution. It simply never occurred to me.

None of the four of us kids has ever gotten a jail sentence, nor have we murdered anyone (to the best of my knowledge, anyway). Oh, I’ve considered it – paraphrasing comic Christopher Titus, if you’ve never seriously considered murder, you’ve never been divorced – but I’d never actually do it. So if my Dad didn’t manage to do everything else in the parenting realm quite right, there is at least that. Though I credit Mom a little more, as the woman had more integrity in her pinky finger than most people have in their entire bodies and a seemingly endless font of patience.

Still, the two of them, for all their faults and foibles, managed to do a great job with us. We are each successful and productive members of society and, if not genuinely happy, at least content in our choices. That’s all a parent wants, right?

Now I said at the beginning my negative feelings for my Dad ranged from age 13 to 31. Thirteen is easy to decipher: That’s the age a kid starts to strike out for more freedom and starts butting heads with the authority figures in her life. The 31, though … that’s when I finally saw him for the imperfect, broken, frail, insecure adult he was. It happens to all adult children, if you’re honest. It’s discomfiting, at first, to discover the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree not just physically, but mentally as well. We truly are our mother’s and father’s children.

And I can’t say I forgave him even then – that took quite a few more years and his first and only grandchild, my niece – but it was a start. He and I never really talked after Mom died and to be honest, I don’t miss him much, but damn if I’m still not having these epiphanies about myself based on my relationship with him.

Life continues to be full of surprises.

If all you have is a hammer …

Back Up.

Posted in SoForth on April 29th, 2015 by Diva

I finally found some time today to back up this site and update the software on which it runs. After 5 hours, I’m giving up.

I tried the original backup program I had, which I had no idea had been failing for months until I downloaded the “backup” and found it completely corrupted.

I then attempted four new and different WordPress backup plugins. Each one took a dump for one reason or another, including one which couldn’t ever authenticate my Dropbox … a phrase that, if you’d shared it with me ten years ago, I would have sworn was some kind of sexual innuendo.

I even reverted to the old school ftp download (!). Seriously, I’m that desperate. It didn’t work, so I logged on and discovered every page of my web host company’s FAQ for ftp settings links to nothing but 404 pages.

I don’t know how IT folks deal sometimes. This is bullshit.

Have you tried turning it off and back on?

Fun, Fun, Fun.

Posted in WhatNot on April 15th, 2015 by Diva

Just in case anyone out there thinks this self-employment thing is all fun and no real work, here’s an actual excerpt from a document I’m proofing and editing today:

Revisions to the manual should cover documentary changes which do not impact the showing of compliance with Part 21. All revisions to the manual or its referenced procedure should be provided to EASA for information only.

Picture that for 42 mostly single-spaced, font size 11 pages. *yawn* But on the bright side, our taxes are done.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, let me say a 35-40% self-employment tax rate is just too damned high. It means if a person makes $50K all by their lonesome at home, they owe the gubmint $17,500 to $20K for the year.

Doing the math, that leaves +/- $30K to live on which, IF I worked 40 hours a week, would be a decent $14.42 an hour wage. But anyone who works for themselves can tell you the work takes up much more time than that, especially when you’re on the road as much as we are for business.

So yes, as a matter of fact, I agree with this article I ran across this morning: The greatest trick the rich ever pulled was making us believe they pay all the taxes. The taxes collected this time of year to support our country don’t come from Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, or Mitt Romney; they come from you and me, kids.

And I’d like to join some sort of fight against this financial tyranny, but right now I’ve got to finalize travel arrangements, update accounts payable and receivable, finish reading over this stupid boring document, and come up with ways to make my quarterly tax payments without depleting my personal savings or retirement funds any further.

Don’t know how people with kids do it.

They Come in Threes.

Posted in WhatNot on April 10th, 2015 by Diva

I had one of those “we need a lot of temps for a week” jobs back in the 90s and, during the course of normal conversation, I casually mentioned I had three ex-husbands.

A coworker gasped loudly and said, “Three husbands! Where are they?!”

Another coworker responded in a hushed tone, very conspiratorially:

“They’re in her basement. You wanna buy one?”

That guy remains my friend to this day.

Fellow blogger Rubber Shoes in Hell jogged this memory recently, specifically her posts 33 Things I Learned From Being Married 3 Times and today’s follow-up, 13 More Things I Learned From Being Married 3 Times.

Go read the rest of her stuff. It’s great. She’s right on about a lot of life.

Shuttlecock IS a fun word.

Back to Greendale.

Posted in WhatNot on April 3rd, 2015 by Diva

Season six of Community is quite possibly their best yet. What’s not to love with dialogue like this?

I’m not psychic… That’s an illusion caused by extreme preparedness.

Are you crying? You cry when I tell you to cry, so reabsorb that disgusting droplet of salt and bad choices back into your doughy body. Then call your mom and ask if you can be reabsorbed into her doughy body. If you don’t, I swear to God I will take that tear and I will freeze it and stab you in the eye with it you waste of a soul-shaped hole forgotten by God!

But my personal favorite from these last few episodes occurs when someone is asked about hope.

Oh, God, no, I never hope. Hope is pouting in advance. Hope is faith’s richer, bitchier sister. Hope is the deformed addict bound incest monster offspring of entitlement and fear. My life results tripled the year I gave up hope… and every game on my phone that had anything to do with farming. What’s true will be true… Our job is to deal with that truth.

If you care to catch up, Hulu has seasons 1-5 and Yahoo Screen has the latest. I’ve loved the series since the beginning, but if you’re not a fan of parody, self-reference, and a fair bit of surrealism – there are episodes and/or segments done as dystopian landscapes, an 8-bit video game, claymation, and anime – you probably won’t dig it. Which is why it was moved around the schedule a lot, nearly cancelled twice, and eventually let go by NBC.

It’s not a typical sitcom, but that’s exactly why I adore it. Well, that and the snappy, hilarious dialogue.

Alcohol makes people sad. It’s the Lifetime movie of beverages.

Lullabye-bye.

Posted in WhatNot on April 1st, 2015 by Diva

Just about all of us know the first verse of Rock-a-bye Baby, yes?

Rock a bye baby, on the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

There’s more to it, of course, but most of us only know that bit. And it’s kind of creepy, isn’t it? I mean, only when you’re old enough to discern what the lyrics actually mean do you realize how dark a little ditty this is. Seriously, who sings about their baby being knocked out of a tree, much less with the cradle falling on them after?

This comes up because I was at a cafe yesterday and heard one of my favorite tunes from the O’Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack on the sound system. See if you can gauge why it reminded me of the above.

Everybody’s gone in the cotton and the corn,
Didn’t leave nobody but the baby.

Okay, so this one’s about abandonment? “The fields gotta get worked, kiddo, so go to sleep.” But then there’s a final bit about “come lay your bones on the alabaster stones” which brings to mind cemetery imagery and …

Holy crap I think the baby dies in this one, too.

Pondering this connection, I vaguely remembered a lullaby I heard years-upon-years ago. It’s not one my parents or grandparents sang to me, I don’t think. I may have heard it on some TV show or something, maybe Hee-Haw or one of those Grand Ole Opry telecasts from the 70s. I could only recall the tune, which happens a lot more as I age; I get a snippet of the melody but not the words, or vice versa, then drive myself nuts with trying to jog my memory for a day or so.

I regret to say this one came back to me this morning.

No euphemisms here. No sugar-coating. No beating about the bush. Two children are abandoned in the woods where they cried (and they cried) until they died. The only thing that’s implied is the starvation. You know how long that takes, by the way?

I do.

*shiver*

I don’t even like babies, but that is some sick, sick shit. Supposedly, the song is based on a centuries-old story of an uncle who got custody of two kids when their parents died. What age and combination of nephew/niece I don’t know, but instead of raising them, he laid the helpless children out in the forest.

Nope – doesn’t make it better. Just proves there have always been sociopathic child-killers out there.

Here’s a classic version with lyrics from the Missouri State Max Hunter Folk Song Collection, which I now want to browse to find out just how many traditional “lullabies” involve infant mortality. I’ll bet there are a LOT, since most children died by age 5 just 100 or so years ago. I could submit a finished article to Death and the Maiden, I guess.

Meh. Maybe it’s best I just leave it alone.

Didn’t leave nobody but the baby.

Amusement.

Posted in SoForth on March 26th, 2015 by Diva

I met a unicorn a couple of nights ago.

I knew when I saw him. I always know. I can’t explain it.

Don’t think I want to – the wonder might be lost.

After that initial moment comes the maneuvering. It’s second nature.

Some who’ve seen me do it have been impressed.

“Watch: I’m going to make this go-go dancer jump off his box for me.”

He jumps. We dance.

When the moment is over, the poor boy looks confused.

Why would he, a gay man in a gay club, do what he did?

The watcher thinks, “Could she do that to me?”

Haven’t I already, darling? (Would you even know?)

Some have been more wary. “Where do I fit in your game, Diva?”

“You don’t. You objectively see the game as it happens.”

I didn’t tell her she was a muse. Too much responsibility, that.

My strengths lie elsewhere.

Drinks. Open body language. Flirt.

Ask a question. Join the conversation. Smiles.

An invitation to more.

As slowly as the hand is played, some still turn tail and run.

But this one … so curious and open and free.

Priceless.

No reservation. No judgement.

Let me in.

Focus. Relax.

I’ll do the digging. It’s what I do.

You work toward fruition. Live up to the ideal.

Only virgins are supposed to attract unicorns.

Sacred whores are better at it.

Make a wish.

Black Sabbath.

Posted in WhatNot on March 21st, 2015 by Diva

Not the band. A movie.

Actually, three horror stories pieced together into one cinematic travesty. A horrible, wretched, terrible movie from the early 1960s with Boris Karloff as narrator, story presenter, and Eastern European vampire in the final piece. A film that’s definitely worth a Rifftrax or Cinematic Titanic re-do.

I highly recommend it, especially if you have friends who love to make fun of awful movies, or if you’re really high. Or both.

What? It’s legal here in Colorado.

Smoke it if you got it.

It’s Tammy!

Posted in Celebrity Encounters, WhatNot on March 20th, 2015 by Diva

About a decade ago, a good friend of mine in L.A. introduced me to a fantastic California-based spa chain. I’ve pretty much booked some time at one of their locations every visit to SoCal since.

At the end of that first visit, though, my friend and I were at the front counter to settle up our bill when I realized I recognized the gent standing at the other side of the desk.

It was Bruce McCulloch. I think the comedy nerd in me peed a little.

As with many encounters with various celebs over the years, I did not approach; I didn’t even make eye contact. Most famous folk don’t appreciate the scrutiny, but more so, who wants to be bothered by a fangirl after a relaxing time at the spa?

I was quiet, but my stomach was not. I’ve been a fan of Kids in the Hall since it’s premiere way back when and those flip-flops in my gut were proof the man and his work held a certain sway over me. Still does, because I just finished purchasing tickets for the upcoming Kids reunion tour show here in June and my stomach is doing the exact same jig.

Some things never change.

Tammy!