Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Previous Oral Fixation

We used to go to the mall and buy huge soft pretzels, with little cups of American cheese to dunk the pieces in. Lori, stick straight stick slender, proud of her tanned kneecaps. Karen with her round freckled moon face, Gwen with the overbite she could stick her thumb behind with her teeth clamped. She could have modeled for Matt Groening.

Spring break, summer break, winter afternoons lumpy with clouds. The mall with its “cobblestone” floors and fake lampposts to add character. Sweltering in the heat under layers of clothes—none of us drove, so we walked or took the bus. Shivering and sunburned in halter tops and cutoffs rolled up our thighs.

The pretzels were expensive, hard on our pocketbooks. And they went so fast in their hot salty cheesy chewiness. But one would do for a light lunch or heavy snack. We’d sit on the low walls of the greenery islands, licking salt and cheese from our fingers as we consumed them, struggling with our timing. Fast enough to enjoy them while they were hot, but slow enough to make them last a little longer.

Sometimes I think everything would be all right if I could just have a pretzel like that again. But they taste different now. And the mall has lost its infinite realm of possibilities.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Orthodontia From Hell

So, Spike--where ya been lately? Haevn't heard from you in over a week.

You're usually good for a couple posts a week about the minutia that make up a life examined. But you've not commented about this year's crop of kittens ("meeps" in these y'ere parts) hiding from the oncoming storms in the grass that badly needs cutting; nor told the old jokes about the relationship between a circus and a sorority and the girls you work with (a circus is a cunning array of stunts . . .); or even griped about how summer is great for yoga, but miserable for the paper arts you enjoy (it's finally hot enough to get a good stretch going--but now it's too hot to work in the garage!).

So glad you asked. I've been leading the merry crew in building the mouth from Hell.

Or rather, the mouth TO Hell.

A dear pal turns forty this year. Yes indeedy, he is officially OLD. (We won't say how very very soon I'll be officially old.) So we're throwing him a big party.

Or rather, a Big Honkin' Party. We throw big parties a couple times a year, with 200 through the gates in an evening's time, but this time we wannado a Big Honkin' Party for the old guy so when it comes our turns, we can say, "Oh, la, that's been done already--I think I'll just put in a reservation for a paired tasting. In Vegas. For five." (Crazy like a fox, indeed.)

So there's three families in the old dude's neighborhood who all know each other from way back when. (Actually, there's more. The gang is taking that square mile over.) The three homes though, all back onto a park, so you can open house A's back gate, walk through a greenbelt for a few yards, then tap on house B's back gate. This means three houses to throw a Big Honkin' Party in, and no one will call the cops.

Rather than doing a "you're OLD now, ha ha ha" theme, we decided to go with the afterlife, and do Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. A LARP grew up around this theme (yah, we're a bunch of unreconstructed geeks) and then we started thinking food (barbecue in Hell, alcoholic milkshakes in Heaven, a nice cheese and veggie tray for Purgatory?) and decorations. We'd need to have icons at the gates and doors so you could tell where you were, right?

So Vincenza volunteered to build the Hellmaw. An eight foot tall mouth sculpture. Yeah. Gonna be great. And then she realized she didn't know how.

So then I opened my eight-foot mouth and suggested we build it out of paper mache. Use chiken wire for the basic sculpture, then coat it in strips, then coat that with a nice layer of pulp, and Bob's your uncle.

Oy. Next time, someone just shoot me, 'k?

I forget between one time and the next how HARD it is to communicate vision, and explain sculpting, and work as a team with people who are creative but inexperienced at the medium. I'm banging away on the monster's three-lobed eyes, dipping and rolling to make the sockets more . . . sockety, with hard rims around the edges where the eyes peer out, thinking it's obvious that the first layer (or three) suck because edges stick up and curl as they dry, but that it gets better as you go, and that you have to sculpt and pull and push and manipulate to get the form you want at each stage--it doesn't magically all come together at the addition of one tiny strip. And then behind me, I hear the sounds of a team falling apart because the arch isn't PERFECT.

I do well on my own--but please, someone explain to me that I can't teach what I know. I don't have the patience to explain it three times--and then go in and put my hands on the person's hands to show what to do and how to do it. I tend to take it over, and that's not what I want.

But hey, it's coming together, and will be just fine for its function.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Sometimes Words Are a Writing Exercise

Sometimes words are the blood around bamboo splinters under my fingernails. Sometimes words are bourbon from a square glass bottle. Sometimes words are frosting gliding onto a hot cake. Sometimes words are a shy cat creeping around the door into my room. Sometimes words are menstrual blood hitting the floor in clots. Sometimes words are syrup drooling onto Sunday morning waffles. Sometimes words are toilet paper spilling into ruffled folds next to the wastepaper basket. Sometimes words are a blanket tumbling off the bed. Sometimes words are water breaking out of a dam.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Ongoing Soap Opera

So--finally feeling like I've come back to myself after the stress and angst (und Sturm und Drang) of the last month. Perhaps starting a new month has something to do with that.

Perhaps a new job creeping into being has something to do with that also, but I'm reluctant to call the gods' jealous attention to something good coming that has not reached fruition, so -- more on that later.

Tying up some loose ends that were interrupted (Blog, Interrupted?) by the necessary finale of seem and the aftermath thereafter, this will be a series of written gesture poses about posts that I alluded to wishing I could write; but that weren't there then. (And if you followed that last sentence, you probably didn't need an explanation for what follows. If I lost you, sorry. Come back in a week or two; I'm still getting my head back together.)

Right before Grandfather died--or rather, right after I got the sad news, but before I left to go to the funeral--Mischief, Vincenza and I went to the opening day of an exhibition dedicated to Surrealist Art. Vincenza asked, when we met for breakfast that morning and she noted I was a little distant, if I was still up for a museum crawl. We had made plans Saturday evening, the night before, and then I got the news at o'dark forty-five Sunday morning (one of the pitfalls of answering machines. Evil news hangs on the tape like a poison fog, waiting to blow into your ears without so much as a warning ring.) I told her that life was for the living, and that there was no way I was going to miss this.

It's a lesson I learned some time ago, and I'm glad I got it young enough to do some good. Appreciate the strawberries when there's nothing you can do about the tigers and the cliff.

It was a great time, even though most of the art was flat. I don't like paintings because I always want to turn the frame over and see the back side. You'll find me off to the side, craning and peering at one that really catches me, because I'm trying to see the SIDE view. I know, it doesn't work. Perhaps I should write a short story about what happens when it does. Hmmm.

But they had enough sculpture to be fun. A shame they didn't have Dali's winged snail--that's one of my favorites. And perhaps it's my wimpy little ego (and my logophilia), but I find it rewarding when I find the name of a technique I use when I play ATC's used in "real" art--the kind of art that gets lumped into a movement, and then displayed in museums.

It was fun to meander and look at stuff that you weren't being sold, and thus didn't feel like you ought to covet it. That's the part I don't like about artisan markets/craft shows--the mere fact that there are price tags on the stuff means that someone thought you ought to want it enough to pay for it; and most of the time, I don't. I just want to look, and find inspiration where I can--ooooh, shiny!

For the first time in 600 years, the full moon fell on the summer solstice. And Lynchpin and I sat down to hash things out.

I wish I could say that this was all planned, that we had chosen the date and to meet outside under the stars knowing that this was an occasion of special magnitude. But actually, it was Mischief's doing. And we all just happened to have that day free.

As you may know, Lynchpin and I have not been friendly. Frankly, I've been staying away--as far away as I can. I have real issues when it comes to fixing people--I've walked away from relationships where it was clear that "he'd be perfect if only." Honey, he ain't perfect. Deal with it, or walk--but fixing is not an option. If he wanted to be fixed, there are plenty of women who have already told him about his pending imperfection, and the fact that he's chosen not to fix it means that he ain't gonna.

And besides, that opens up the whole can of worms where the Other says to you--"You're great, but you know . . . If only . . ."

So Mischief has been the middlewoman in this mess, really enjoying both of us, but walking on eggshells for fear of pissing one of us off by mentioning the other. And here's the thing--I don't and have never hated Lynchpin, just found her behavior hard to be around because so many of the aspects I dislike are ones that I've rooted out of my own self.

It's like finally getting off the needle, and then, as a condition of parole, being required to minister and witness--in a shooting gallery. All around you, you smell the matches and heating opium, the rubber of the tubing; you see the match flames and the junkies on the nod, and while you try very hard to listen to the angel on the one shoulder and remember the climb out of suffering and the work you did to retrain yourself to new choices . . . well . . . just a little taste . . . urg. I have choices, so for a long time, I chose not to be around that kind of energy. I work forty hours a week in a pissing contest; I don't want to spend my free time in hip waders.

Ah, but Mischief was getting the role of the frosting in this Oreo, and not happy about it. So she set up a meeting and offered to mediate (probably because she knew Lynchpin and I are both sufficiently avoiders to duck out of actually sitting down face to face without someone to lose face in front of). I was braced for an hour of yuckitude, cos I'm like a guy when it comes to "working on a relationship." Lay out your position, why you feel that way, tell me without dramatics where you're coming from, and I'll do my best to understand your world. "This is obviously true for you; so what kind of world is this true in?" But please, please, please don't give me this soft squishy querying "I don't know, but . . ." (Honey, if you don't know, who does? And why aren't they here?)

And instead . . . well, we figured out what we saw in each other all those years ago when we first met, and when we began becoming friends. In about fifteen minutes.

And then we spent the next four hours hanging out and drinking lattes. Under the full moon, with the year slowly tipping into winter. (And yes, come December 22, the year will tip back into summer again. Time is ponderous, viscous, and elastic. The seasons catch up slowly.)

This Friday, for the first time in almost a year, we'll be joining our friends again. I think I'm looking forward to it.