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Name: Justine
Location: Annapolis, Maryland, United States

Justine, is a little bit more than you'd expect. This is where you are supposed to put your "elevator speech". What you'd say if you were in the elevator with somebody you wanted to connect with. I don't have an "elevator speech". If I ran smack-dab into one of my "heroes" I'd just have to smile and be polite and keep my yipper shut and that's probably for the best anyway!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Down the lost highway. . . . .
Tuesday morning. I want a champagne cocktail, a pack of Camel cigarettes, and a Tom Robbins novel. Have the house boy bring them out to me. I’ll be on a chaise by the pool. I need to work on my color and snag a little extra Vitamin D.

It beats sitting at a desk with a coffee mug of Pepsi One and a celery stalk that could be used in bridge construction. XM radio is rocking that ancient Foreigner classic “Dirty White Boy”.

Um yes, “Dirty White Boy” vintage 1980, raveled out cut off jeans shorts with the front pockets longer then the legs, body of a professional scuba diver, nicotine breath, Suzuki Nighthawk motorcycle, worn out work boots, sandy colored curly blond hair, and totally un-manscaped curly chest fur. Ask the house boy if we have any more in the cryogenic chamber in the basement. Yes it’s the one past the wine cellar and the walk-in humidor.

While we’re at it, let’s get the garage boy to break out that clapped out white 1972 Impala. I know we had it retro-fitted with a CD player. Have him stack up the changer with KC & the Sunshine Band, The Moody Blues, Lynrd Skynrd, Robert Palmer, and an Elton John of his choice. No Bee Gees, please.

I know this place in Pennsylvania that has a full scale pinball hall. We can cruise out, play for a couple of hours, and cruise back. We’ll drive right by the Waffle House. We can stop in and have come “smothered and covered” caloric ecstacy.

Yeah, sure you can wear your platform shoes and denim jogging shorts. It’s cool with me. Just bring a hat for your hair cause we’re going with the windows down. The Imp doesn’t have any climate control, the blower’s bustificated and I’m not paying EBay prices for parts.

While I’m thinking about it, have the pool boy pull those old Budweiser beer label beach towels out of the closet and put those on the seats. The Imp is vinyl at its hottest. Who needed to wax when you could have your hair singed off on hot avocado colored naugahyde?

No. I did not say tie James May up and throw him in the trunk. We can’t take James on this trip, we’ll get pulled for open container violations sure as hell if we take him along. Besides, it wouldn’t be neighborly to put him in the trunk. Nice initiative though.

Yes, most of my household staff do look like young versions of Antonio Banderas. Thanks for noticing. It’s the sommelier’s day off. He looks like Alton Brown, as does the cook. My master mechanic is named Rogn, he's only got one eye. He’s Norse and he’s scary and he has two pet wolves that patrol the garage at night. I stay out of his business and he keeps the cars running.

The car’s ready. Bring your can of TAB along. I’ve got an extra pair of Wayfarers if you need them. Let’s rip!
Monday, September 29, 2008
It's my blog and I'll Bugatti if I want to.
This afternoon there is the smell of something besides rat wee in the air. After this morning’s confab of huge vultures in the tree outside my office window, there is sunshine and the hint of something good coming my way.

I’ve received a strange missive requesting that I fill out an additional form for the job I interviewed for 7 weeks ago this Wednesday.

I phoned the sender and asked if I was going to be offered the job, they said that the paperwork would be sent to personnel and they would contact me. It was one of those forms you wouldn’t need from somebody who wasn’t going to get an offer.

At the very least, if paperwork is going over to personnel, I should hear something in the next two weeks. Perhaps this week.

It would be a relief.

I found out this morning that a chunk of the “perspective” company is going to Durham North Carolina. If I had known, I would have volunteered to go a long time ago. Say, before I bought my house. It would have been a great chance to move to a much better area.

For what I have invested in my current house, I could have purchased a small farm. I wouldn’t have, I’d have bought a Victorian house with an in-law apartment.

I suspect I would also be able to drive a regular car in Durham instead of having to brace up and drive a tank at NASCAR speeds every morning.

I’ve been eyeing up the cars in the corporate parking lot lately. Since I have the luxury of arriving at 10 a.m., I park behind the building in the overflow lot. This is also where the automotively enamored park their precious pets. We have very cherry Camaros, a new Dodge Charger, a Viper, a British racing green Range Rover, a 2000’s era Thunderbird, and my grey tank replete with manatee style door gashes. If I park next to the T-bird, the guy will come out and move his car. Then I’ll go out at lunch and come back and park next to him again. He’s a bald crinkly old guy with a five hair comb over. When he sees me in the parking lot he won’t speak or nod. I think he’s afraid I’m going to body slam him or something.

For all the big-wigs and wanna-bees we have in here, there are no Mercedes. This morning I spied one of the Mercedes CLK AMG’s on the road. I keep hoping somebody in this complex will have one so I can give it the up close eye. This complex seems to be BMW central. I know they are supposed to make women quake, fall over, and spread their legs but I seem to be immune. Aston Martins, Bugattis, and Ferraris do make me get collywobbles and drool. I don’t necessarily think that would automatically transfer over to my reaction about the owner though. I’ve dated guys who owned cool cars, the car was a bonus, but if the guy was a “tool” he had to go anyway.

Cousin Tuesday will vouch for my behavior. Cool car not necessary. Cool guy required.

It would be nice if I get another under-the-hood-tinkerer if he’d let me join in some of the fun. I’ll let him come in and mess in the art studio if I get some reciprocal garage time. I’m not advocating being joined at the hip, but a little bit of greasy satisfaction might be just right. Hmm, that doesn’t sound innocent does it?

If I don’t get some non-innocence soon I’m going to lose my everlovin’ mind. It’s all well and good to take care of my family, pay my taxes, and take up dance lessons but there are still some things a girl doesn’t want to have to do for herself. No matter what says.

I had a nice convo with a friend last night and was reminded that, in my first apartment, I didn't have a nightstand. I only had a painted, old end table. Is that a mark of "growing up", when you finally get a nightstand with a drawer to keep all your bedside paraphernalia in? Now I have a marble topped, antique wash stand with a drawer and a cabinet. I keep shoe polishing gear in the cupboard and the drawer holds the television remote and the current Jeremy Clarkson tome. It isn't even Jeremy Clarkson reviews the Kama Sutra for middle aged geezers either. I have that beautiful mahogany bed and no velvet cords to tie anybody to it with. My hospitality is certainly slipping as I age. (Sigh)

Since it's late afternoon and I don't want to get too frenetic, here's a pic of the inside of a Bugatti.

Collywobbles? Nah.
Vezza Chezza
The first time I fired a pistol I was alone.

Tucked in the grey carpeted booth with a pistol and a box of ammunition, I pushed open the cylinder and loaded the gun just like I knew what I was doing. Technically I did know what I was doing. I’d just topped off a lifetime’s respect for firearms with six hours of hands on classroom instruction. A compact and luxuriously built federal agent stood three feet behind me watching my protocols.

My first shot went just inside the orange center target dot.

The smell of gunpowder wisped around. The range air handlers were on full force, giving me the illusion of being in a sturdy breeze.

A little voice in the back of my mind screamed, “What the hell are you doing?”

Another little voice said, “What’s all the fuss about?”

I imagine I looked a bit dazed and green around the gills. My glasses have progressive lenses and trying to look down the gun sights made my view split apart. Half of the room looked literally four inches higher then the other half. When I pulled my glasses off, the target disappeared into the black space of the range. My only choice was to close one eye and target through the lens dead center. My shots consistently went right. It took me two boxes of ammunition to adapt and cluster my shots to the center.

At one point a piece of something hot in the blowback smacked me just below the eye. If I continue to target shoot, I’ll need to get single vision glasses with a larger lens. In my stash of old eyeglass frames I have a nice gold shooter/aviator style pair of frames.

This is the place where I should insert some description of my bravado or my sudden target skill. But, that would be a big stinky lie and the words would chunk onto the page like rabbit turds.

Like anyone else who had a family that had a business or a farm, I grew up around guns. I also grew up with a mom who worked in neurosurgery where they repaired people who had been shot in the head. Since none of my relatives ever thought to teach me how to use a gun, I left them alone. If you don’t touch a gun, it won’t go off. My demented dad used to keep a loaded Glock on top of the fridge. When I babysat my step siblings, I took the damn thing and hid it from them.

When I went out into the shooting range I wasn’t used to the smoke, the noise, or the thought of nine other gawky people with guns loading up and firing around me. My impeccable survival instinct threw me a jolt of adrenaline and prompted me to leave the building with all due haste. That resulted in a low key case of the shakes. When the first gun fired, I jumped. I wasn’t Barney Fife, but I wasn’t Dirty Harry either.

We worked through an hour of the forms for shooting standing and sitting. The second hour we were given a few boxes of ammunition and let loose to shoot in our preferred stance. I still had the shakes so I chose sitting. I loaded up the twenty two and practiced targeting in spite of my glasses.

During the second hour the women on either side of me took out the hand cannons they’d been given by their husbands for home defense. The girl on my left was having trouble with the action on her semi automatic. The dashing Federale’ adjusted the gun sights and bullseyed the target. When the newbie girl gave it a try, a spent cartridge bounced around the divider and smacked my arm. A few shots went wide of the targets.

I put down my gun and left the booth. The range owner loaned her another revolver to practice with. I went back and spent the rest of the hour sighting, holding my breath, squeezing the trigger, and working on using the pad of the finger and not the joint. I moved my target hits from wangling all over the page to a six by eight thirty shot cluster centered on the page and just below midway. To be proficient it’s going to take a lot more practice. It’s going to take a lot of being proficient before I’ll feel comfortable going up in caliber. After that it would take a lot more being proficient before I’d consider having a gun in the house.

Am I going to do it?

I’ll let you know.

Note: There isn’t a Top Gear reference in here but it’s a good segue for one. In this weeks column, James May solicits his readers for suggestions on taking one of his pub acquaintances out for his first time driving a car. In a column that makes me want to vigilantly keep May away from tweenage girls, James discusses the fine distinction of his male friend driving for the “very first time”. Seeing this as a unique scientific opportunity, May wants to make the most of capturing data of the moment his associate goes from “never having driven” to being “just one of us”. Click Here To Read It.
Friday, September 26, 2008
October & November Schedule Shaping Up

Ok this is a picture of a Veyron. That is not me. That is Richard Hammond from Top Gear.

This is my blog and I get to indulge myself with random posts and pictures of pretty things.

Today I scheduled my first meeting with a voice coach. We'll see if we like each other. We'll see if we can work with each other. Since I'm an adult student who doesn't plan on going on to perform anyplace but my house, it's low key and no stress.

There are 3 more weeks of dance classes left, afterwards there will be a break until after Christmas. I need to do some work on strengthening my ankles and feet before I go on with classes. (Sigh) I am having a rip raring great time in class but I've re-injured the foot I broke a few years back. I'll finish the next 3 weeks with my foot in an ace bandage mummy outfit.

November has been earmarked for NANO WRIMO. To hit the 50,000 work goal, you need to write 1666 words a day. If you think it's easy, try it. Remember you can not simply sit down and write "What the f*&^% am I supposed to write about?" over and over again. You don't have to write undying prose, but you have to write different words on the page and not the same word over and over again. When you hit your word count, you use a counter program that can tell if you've been using the "paste duplicate" function.

This year NANO has a set of "badges" like girlscout badges. I'm going to order a package and see how many I can "earn". There is one I know I will send to my friend "S" for her creativity. :)

I had a blast last year doing the "Write Ins" at the bookstore cafe in Columbia. I had a few online "writing buddies" and we would check in daily and keep each other going.

I've cooked up the title of this year's piece. Last year's never got an official title. I just used the 4 letter file name I used for the first installment of the story, "BAKE".

I haven't read a word of that manuscript since I finished it. I don't even think I read it while I was writing it. When I finished a day's work, I'd fix the typos and save it to the hard drive. When I got down to the last 3000 words I was so tight up against the deadline that I took a "mental health day" from work and did all 3000 in one day. Like a lot of others padding out word count, I set my protagonist's house on fire and set them up in a complementary suite in a Las Vegas casino hotel. They had a nice frolic in the swimming pool and hot tub. Then the proceeded back to their suite for sudsy hot monkey love in the posh marble bathroom. Since they squeaked to climax before the 3000 word count, they were awakened later on in the evening by a large dog on a window washing scaffold outside their bedroom window. They phoned security to get the dog and then proceeded to devastate the suite's living room with furniture flipping, fabric ripping, only-imaginary-characters-can-stand-up-to-the-strain carnal pleasures. They ground to a halt at 50055 words.

It was better than having space aliens abduct them.
London, Savannah, Veyron
King Harvest. Does the name even ring a bell with anybody anymore?

They recorded “Dancing In The Moonlight” in 1973. It’s one of those perky, cheerful songs that keeps circling around on the XM radio stations. Last year I went to find a copy on Rhapsody so I could stack it on the MP3 player. The King Harvest copy was out of circulation, I wound up with a cover by The Baha Men. In the last few weeks the King Harvest version has reappeared and it’s part of the cool down sequence for dance class.

Today is grey and almost rainy. The temperature has dropped into long sleeves territory. The fall monsoon season will be upon us soon. Tomorrow morning I will need to be out in the murky chill and en route to the shooting range. It’s exciting. It’s something new. Odd as it seems, learning to shoot is stepping through another doorway out of what was into what is evolving.

Over the last few years all aspects of my life have coalesced from compartmentalized pieces into a unified spectrum infused with spirit.

It is such a relief to feel the pieces come together. It’s a “whew finally” feeling. It feels as though I’m finally getting the training wheels off of my life.

It’s hard to write about the existential side to surviving long term reoccurring trauma. The trauma didn’t kill me outright. I got up every morning and went on with life. I suffered but I kept breathing. I went to school, I pulled straight A’s, I built a career, I paid rent, I put food on the table, and I went on. But I was never all right. The current of life, my spirit, my soul, and my heart didn’t bounce back to their former selves. They stayed marked, damaged like a piece of velvet with water marks. It makes my blood run cold to think about all the years I fluttered along on a wing and a prayer.

It’s more difficult to write about the mending process, the healing processing. TV sitcoms make fun of the psych jargon of “doing the work”. It’s a lame term for a bone rattling process. Change doesn’t come unless you really want it to. You do have to work at it. Like swimming across an ocean where you can’t see the other shore. Like swimming towards a shore you’ve only heard rumors exists. You get a little glimpse at a patch of sea farther along and you make for it. The next time you pick another patch closer to shore.

I’ve been swimming this ocean for a few years now. I can see the shore, beach, the village, the tropical foliage, and smiling faces cheering me on. They can see someone swimming up to shore who is whole, un-maimed, and strong.

I’m back to where I was before the long nightmare happened. Life is a banquet and I’ve been starving for years. I’m excited. I’m ready to go. There’s joy again.

The old story no longer serves a purpose, time for a new life’s story. It would be nice if my mortgage would magically pay itself off. It would be even better if I found a hundred thousand dollars to take care of mom. The icing on the cake is Anam Cara L arriving on the scene. (Do you hear that? I know you are lurking someplace.) :)

Dancing lessons, shooting lessons, voice lessons, and driving school are all opening salvos in the race to make up for lost time. I’m finally getting a crack at my first childhood. This promises to be very fun.

James May is still having more fun than I do. But I’m in the process of catching him up!

My BFF “D” is moving to a new home in October. She says this will help her save more money so we can plan some travel. We’ve been thinking, Las Vegas, London, Edinburgh, Savannah, Tybee Island, and a few other places. We’ll have to see.

I still want to get a chance to drive a Bugatti Veyron. Today is one of those days when I feel like I will make it happen.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
NANO WRIMO is Coming!
We interupt our regular ramblings to repost the FAQ from the National Novel Writing Month website.

November is the month to go nuts and write a novel in 30 days. It's now a worldwide free-for-all where you are encouraged to write the worst and best crap of your life. It's fun and frenetic and there is no failure!

What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2007, we had over 100,000 participants. More than 15,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.

Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Still confused? Just visit the How NaNoWriMo Works page!

NANO WRIMO? Just Click Here!

Of course I'd be happy to see Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, or James May join the fun. They could join our "writing buddy" group any time.

Unlike driving in the UK you can smoke and drink while you write!
Hildegard & James
Hildegard Von Bingen. Abbess, anchorite, healer, composer, writer and visionary.

Her music has been brought out of obscurity and adopted by the “New Age” music movement and the XM Audio Visions music channel. I’ve had a few of Hildegard’s CD’s in my stash of favorites for years now.

For all her accomplishments, the thing that fascinates me about Hildegard is her presence and force in the religious community. She was a respected scholar and writer. Her visions were acknowledged by the Pope and he also encouraged her writings. It keeps me wondering what established Christian religion would be like if women had been kept more in the mix.

I used to be part of a local Methodist Church. I was until the Sunday the new woman minister rose to preach the sermon and a heard of fat, grumpy, old white men and women got up and walked out. Already unimpressed by my fellow church members, I was further disgusted when they phoned me up and suggested I could join the young married women in fellowship so I could get a view of what life was going to be like when I finally got settled down.

Now I’m an accidental Episcopalian. For almost twenty years I worked in a building a half a block from a 300 year old Episcopalian church. They had healing services every Tuesday from 12:15 p.m. until 12:50 p.m. They also had a woman officiating. Frequently I would go for communion and the laying on of hands. The church doors were open all day during the week, so many lunch hours I would go and sit in the sanctuary and have a lunch time chat with God. God firmly has hold of me.

My Quaker ancestors probably wouldn’t be too pleased to see me ponying up to something so close to Anglican. But it is a brave new world.

I’m sure the Quaker side of the family would fully understand my longing for genuine spiritual experience and communion with the divine. They would be especially understanding of my desire to avoid being thrashed on the conk with dogma.

There is a sizeable Quaker congregation in Annapolis, but I’ve always been too shy to attend. I did go as far as speaking with them via telephone at one point.

Now, before you try and imagine me shifting from race cars to horse drawn buggies, these are Quakers not Mennonites. Quakers look like everybody else and use electricity. The Mennonites and the Amish are the ones who reject a great deal of technology and dress differently. The Shakers are almost extinct. They made the fabulous furniture, invented the table saw, invented the washing machine, and didn’t have the sacrament of marriage. Shakers depended on converting members of the outside world to join their group. Since they didn’t have children, they’re almost gone. I believe there are less then 10 left in a colony in the Northeast.

My grandmother taught me to never argue the Bible with anybody. Arguing religion goes against my deepest instincts of right and wrong. I avoid it like trans fats. It’s fine for those that want to do it. I can’t stand the additional strife.

What I say here is strictly my thought and my view. No arguments are intended or invited.

Why did I write about this today? Because I heard a Hildegard Von Bingen song on the radio.

I owe “W” an email. I just don’t know what to say to not start a fight. If he reads this post, it might cheese him off again. It’s not meant to. It’s just me rattling on because I need to. I still love the guy. Always have. But, as I get older, I keep being presented with the lesson that “Amor Non Vincit Omnia” . It may transcend, but it does not always guarantee the outcome we desire.

Switching gears, J2 has assured me that he can teach me to drive in the UK. Since he’s used to crashing into things, he might be the one with the nerve to do it. He’s started asking me about my ill fated sports car. When it was running it was amazing. It was easy to drive it so that the turbo charger was spooled and ready when you needed it. During my late night rambles I abused a few straight stretches of road. I remember hurtling down a two lane at two in the morning and pegging the speedometer. That little car could kick up enough of a jolt to slam you back against the seat when you shoved your foot into the axminster. It had a voluptuous body with caressable shoulders and hips. It was a whore from hell on the express elevator. I called her Christine.

Cousin Tuesday what’s the news from the doc? Have you thought of going to PC equipment repair school to get into a shop and out of the van? Did you run off to OC and not tell me? Really, it’s only a two hour drive, I can be there in time for dinner.

Now, how do I work a James May reference into this? I will fall back to the position of wondering if Mr. May has any of Hildegard’s music in his collection.

Lame, but it ties the post up nicely in a bow.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
London Blues
XM is mellowing out this afternoon. They’re playing “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” from Elton John. Oddly enough the last time I heard that song was on the Botswana episode of “Top Gear”. Jeremy dialed it up on his MP3 player and piped it over the walkie-talkies as Richard H worked through the night on his flooded car. At one point Jezza and James serenaded Richard with the chorus.

That song came from the “Blue Moves” album. I remember it because it came out on vinyl with a beautiful threefold cover. It was the last time the original band was together. It was the last Elton John album I really loved. When it came out on CD it was chopped down to one disc and some of the original songs were deleted. Amazon now has it as an MP3 download with all the songs present. “The Wide Eyed and Laughing” and “Between Seventeen and Twenty” were my favorites.

The vinyl album is in a stack of records in my office at home. I have a noisy basic turntable on my system. The turntable rumble from it is enough to make you crazy. I still like the album covers for the artwork and photos though. Elton John’s stuff always had booklets wedged in it. The portrait photo of Bernie Taupin from “Don’t Shoot Me” has always been my favorite. It hung over my desk for years. Right now it’s tucked away waiting for a new frame.

My buddy is now under a physicians care and last night was quiet.

This weekend is the NRA course. That will be something radically different. I just hope I can get up and out of the house by 7:15 on Saturday morning. That is brutal for a Saturday.

Someone left me a comment asking what my blog is logging. It’s logging whatever I feel like writing about the day of the entry. A while back I made a challenge to myself to make a James May reference in every entry for a year. That turned out to be too restrictive, so I try and make a “Top Gear” reference in every entry. There are some entries where a “Top Gear” reference isn’t appropriate, so it gets left out.

Cousin Tuesday, what are you up to? You’ve been quiet.

J2 has been making progressively better offers of life in London. Of course, he knows that I can’t go now. I can’t relocate mom. Otherwise I’d be looking up the rules and regs on such behavior. However, if he keeps upping the ante, he’s liable to find me on the doorstep one bright morning. I don’t know whether I’d hate it or love it, but I’m ready for a major change.

On the up side:
I almost speak the language
Since Washington DC nicked their subway system maps from London, I can navigate.
J2 would be around to help me learn all the new swear words
I could change my first name and nobody would know
I might love it so much that I’d never come back

On the down side:
I’d have to learn to make change with 20P coins instead of Quarters
My social security contributions would get messed up
I’d get to pay taxes internationally
My mortgage specifies I can’t rent out my house
I might love it so much that I’d never come back
I'd be terrified to drive, especially on round-abouts.

Maybe I can get a trip to London in next fall. It depends on whether or not I go to Taos.

The budget has finally been approved at the place I interviewed for. I’m hoping this frees up the channels for somebody to tell me something. Today marks 6 weeks since the interview. I’ve found another job I’m a lead pipe cinch for but it’s taking a 10% pay cut and picking up 4 weeks vacation. It would be five miles from home so that would knock off 8 hours in the car and about 300 miles a week. I’d be back in my old pension plan. I’d probably be completely insane in record time. Word on the grapevine is that the location is about to be absorbed by another division and the job may or may not last more than a year. I’ve been gone from that corporation for a year and a half, but I’m still a node on the gossip network. When you’ve fought in the trenches, you keep your allies in case you need to come back in later. I’ve helped a few of them escape as well. It’s a small incestuous business we work in.

If you are surfing YouTube for something exotic, try looking for “Rachel Brice”. She is the founding woman of the American Tribal Fusion form of dance. Before she took up dance she was a yoga teacher so she’s agile. Her performances are amazing. I also find it interesting that she looks like Cleo De Merode, the famous dancer from the late 1800’s.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Who's in the boot?
Who edits this thing? A bunny rabbit with bifocals? A half mad Bavarian with a strudel in one hand and a roadmap in the other?

Nobody edits this thing. It sniggles out of my brain, hits the electrons, and bolts up to the website in the span of a few hours. I try and proof-read it, however I read it over when it’s still “warm’. Since it’s still bubbling hot in my memory, what I believe I see when I read it over is what I believe I wrote. As cousin Tuesday pointed out, sometimes entire chunks of sentences are missing and I don’t catch it.

Sometimes, I go back over things a few days later and wonder what on earth I was doing when I wrote it. Perhaps I was talking on the phone, paying bills, arguing on instant messaging, or waiting for the toaster to ding. Whatever the reason, sometimes you just have to interpret what I meant to say. Thank you for your patience.

After I’ve been devouring a tome by Hunter Thompson or Jeremy Clarkson and then review my own work it seems so pitifully pale. I have to remind myself that I’ve only had my pens back out since last July and those two have several decades of paid employ under their inky fingernails.

Last night was “Top Gear” night on BBC America. I wound up tuning in late and landed smack dab in the middle of a segment with James May driving a Bentley Continental Flying Spur on a desert road. On a closed off section of blacktop, May took the car to the peg while casually talking to the camera. When the speedometer passed 110, he straightened in the seat and put both hands firmly on the wheel. At the top peg he was squeaking with excitement. Pardon me for saying so, but it’s amazing to see him smile. His is one of those smiles that goes to the eyes. He lights up. It’s not the reality show tv host smile, May’s is genuine. So often the Top Gear Guys put James in a situation where he is the butt of the joke and he wears his “ha ha very funny” frozen expression. “D” and I sometimes worry that, in the middle of some horrible place, James will snap and come cruising home with Jeremy hogtied and gagged, and perhaps dispatched, in the boot.

This afternoon my buddy phoned in for professional help. I am greatly relieved.

While I’m in the midst of changing my story I’d like to resign from “suicide hotline” duty as well. My buddy last night is not the first one who has selected me as the one to talk them back in from the ledge. It must be some kind of reflection on the emotional scars I carry. I’m tired of looking like a mangled gazelle now. I want to look healthy. I want the predators to go away. Sigh.

In forty five minutes it’s back to dance class. My rib slides are still rusty, but the muscles are loosening up! It’s all about one stretch at a time; I just have to keep remembering that.
The desert is a big, tough, lonely place.
Last night at 10:30 my best girl buddy and I were chatting on the phone. She was going off to have a cup of sleepy-by tea and I was ambling to bed to watch my DVR’d episodes of Craig Fergusson.

By 12:30 I was dreaming of power slides in a Mercedes SL 55 AMG. “Everybody Wants Some” by Van Halen was rattling the car stereo. I was hand over handing the steering wheel and squeaking with orgasmic glee. The dashboard lights flashed on. Check Engine, Oil, Battery, Brakes, all red and orange. The gages pegged out and went dark. Warning buzzers blared. The steering wheel locked. The Merc and I glided off the asphalt, through a tire wall and towards a stand of trees. I screamed for God. Scrunching my eyes closed, I braced. The Merc and I slid to a stop in a lake of mud two feet short of the tree line.

The engine buzzer kept blasting. I opened my eyes.

I was home in bed. The phone was ringing.

My budd was on the line. She was crying so hard I couldn’t understand her. My first though was that her son, the truck driver, had been in an accident. Or maybe he’d been to her house and threatened her again. She was in a terror. The first words I could make out where “I want to die. I’m going to kill myself.”

My mind went freefall. Two thousand miles away, I’d never reach her in time. I struggled to reach my cell phone on the nightstand. I tried to figure out how to dial long distance 911 while keeping her busy on the other line. The cell wouldn’t pick up a signal.

We kept talking. We kept talking about one of my reoccurring themes here at the Tuxedo Inn, life is hard. She’d finally come to the buckling point.

I don’t know how she’s made it this far. She’s only 65 and she’s crippled with a form of arthritis that puts her in pain most of the time. The side effects of the pain and the medicine are that she has almost no energy and needs twelve hours a day of sleep. She drags through life and it takes every bit of energy she’s got. I’ve been there. Continuous low grade or mid grade pain causes its own insidious disease. She had one husband that beat her and her children. She had one husband who slept with every man and woman in the neighborhood and beat the kids. Her daughter was presumed dead after she disappeared from a pole dancing establishment. Before she went, the daughter divorced her husband and signed papers so that my friend was barred from seeing her grandchildren ever again. Last week my buddy’s son forbade her to ever see him or his children again because she wouldn’t give him cash to help him trick out his pickup truck. This same son is the one who is so dense that he doesn't realize his mother chooses between having pain medications and food every month. When he was a child she worked three jobs to keep him fed, he feels no need to return the favor. Between public housing, food subsidies, and what her friends can get her to accept, she stays fed on a minimum nutritional level. The disease and the poor nutrition don’t give her a good place to fight from. Her “family” is as supportive as a twenty year old bra. She’s alone and lonely.

What can I say to someone whose life has handed them that much heartache and horror?

I’ve had my nights when I lay on the floor sobbing and begging God to take me home. I can’t even imagine how hard her pain is to bear. To hear a friend I love scream for mercy. . . . As Hunter Thompson wrote so often, “ Res ipso loquitur”.

I did the only thing I could think to do. I listened. We prayed. I tried to give her belief that we could work things out to make her life better. I talked her through taking the right combination of pain medicines to get the fire in her muscles to ease up. Before we signed off for the night, she was tucked in and almost asleep. We had devised a list of things that we achievable and would make her life easier. She had her to-do list to give her a feeling of forward motion today. In a little while I’ll phone her and we’ll work through her list together.

It’s easier to hang on when you can see change in sight. If you know you need only cling on for a week or a month before some relief comes, it gives you strength.

The falacy is that if you buckle and break, then the pressure eases off and the universe accepts your cry of "uncle". That isn't true. When you buckle and break, you have to put yourself back together and get back up. Nothing and nobody else can do that for you.

I learned a handy lesson from Lawrence of Arabia and it stays in the back of my mind at all times. If you fall off the camel in the middle of the desert, you die.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Oh James, Oh Jeremy
“Of course, if you choose to make love with a horse, you must have an inkling that no good will come of it.” ~~ Jeremy Clarkson

Some ideas should not be acted upon!

Saturday night ended at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning with me at the computer reading Jeremy Clarkson’s column. Saturday ripped by with me performing my filial obligations and running errands. For a rip snorter I took mom to the diner and we brunched on Saturday instead of Sunday. We are rebels.

I spent close to two hours practicing for dance class. By the time I read Jeremy I was cranked up on endorphins, pain, and prescription strength painkillers.

But any column that works in the following paragraphs is enough to cut through any longing for an out of body experience and get my attention:

“We spend the first part of our lives imagining that we will not die at all, and the second part hoping that we will slip into the darkness of eternity, aged about 105, while fast asleep.

Undoubtedly, Kenneth Pinyan would have wanted this – but instead, in 2005, he received a spot of horse sex from his beloved stallion and, presumably a bit embarrassed by what had happened, chose not to seek medical help for the fatal injury that resulted. “

Clarkson's column isn't about breaking taboo and getting killed. It's about the pension crisis and how some would be pensioners met ignominious and unexpected ends.

I don’t’ want to quote the whole column here this time. That isn’t fair. But if you don’t click on this link and read Clarkson’s column you are missing a laugh-out-loud kick-in-the-head that’s worth the read.

Read Clarkson’s Column on “Live Before You Die”. Click. Here.

If you want a reminder on why James May has more fun than I do. Read his column by clicking here.
Snow White & The Seven Cans of Cat Food
Sunday morning I woke up thinking of friends from high school and college. I thought about all the ones who got married. I thought about one wedding where my friend’s mother told mine it was a relief it was to have her daughter “safely married”.

I also remember that seven years later that woman was raising her grandchildren from that “safe marriage”. My friend was in hiding in the Midwest. Her husband was in and out of jail on attempted homicide. The “relieved” grandmother was raising two boys by court order.

Makes me glad I decided not to be “safe”.

All of my “safely married” friends are now divorced. Some are on to husband number two or three. Their story book cottages never materialized. It all came to tears.

Now we are all lumbering around the mid-life point and all in the same boat. We’re single, taking care of our parents, and trying to keep a roof over our heads.

With one notable exception. Technically, I have less mileage. I don’t have a closet full of ex-husbands, step-children, siblings with a laundry list of different fathers, or restraining orders.

Sure it took me twenty years to finally be able to buy a house. Of course my retirement portfolio took a fall off a cliff last week. You bet your bippy that Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week in my day runner. However, I’m safely single. My house and my retirement are under my control. I support myself and my mother. I don’t have to get a troupe of lawyers to make an ex pay child support. I don’t have to wrangle college tuition for three kids. My car is even paid for and it’s got less than 80K miles on it. None of my former beaus is stalking me with a deer rifle.

For all the roads we ladies of the eighties have taken, we’ve all wound up smack in the same place. All roads lead to Rome as it were. None of us has had an easy time of it. Ours was the group bringing up the tail end of the baby boom. The girls ten years ahead of us enjoyed the summer of love and marriages to stellar young men in the plastics industry. We got left suckling on the empty Reganomics teat. As far as retirement goes, they’ve shut the watertight hull doors on us and left us to go down with the ship with the rest of the steerage passengers. Companies bailed out of retirement plans, the Fed raised the retirement age to 70, and the end of the American Century sucked the market value out of everything we own.

So ladies, we can all take estrogen replacement, dye our hair, and get breast lifts but we are going to thrash and hash until we die. The guys are in the same boat. I imagine I’ll probably wind up getting married at age 68 so I can pool my resources with some old geezer who's supping on cat food too.

Disney princesses my ass.
Friday, September 19, 2008
J2 Plays In My Treehouse
Friday. Thank God.

This morning I feel like I fell out of a tree.

Last night was dance practice. I worked at it for the better part of an hour. I quit when my ribs were too sore to stand it anymore. Ribcage slides from side to side are getting easier, but the ones on the diagonal are a booger bear.

There’s no room in my studio for a dance bar, however the pinball machine is the right height to hang onto during stretches. Pay attention, the word is “bar” not pole. I am not pole dancing! I get vertigo too easily for all that head snapping. Besides, if a guy’s so dense you have to smack him in the nose with it, he’s not worth the having. Remember this is all about changing the story, not dragging around like a goat tied to a tree.

YouTube has added a new dimension to dance class. My teacher sent us an email with links to dancers to watch. We’re studying variations in form. The clip that got me was a woman dancing in the “Tribal Fusion” style. Holy Moley! I’ll have to put the link in a later post because it’s something you have to see to understand. After I got through squeaking, “How does she do that?” I wound up squeaking, “Ah! I have to learn how to do that!”

Of course, as soon as the thought “I have to learn how to do that” popped into my head, the inner chorus of disparagement chimed in at max volume. The same old platitudes we all learn as kids started their endless loop in my head, barking things like. “Oh yea, that takes years of practice.”

Now is about re-writing the story. My answer to the barking hounds in my head was to reply, “So what?”. Practicing dance moves till your feet go numb beats the hell out of going to a “health club” and running on a treadmill like a hamster!

Besides, being able to move like that would come in handy in performance driving. The woman I watched could have slid into a car through the window and contorted into the safety harness with it still fastened.

There is method in my madness!

J2 has updated his offer. After reading my suppositions about what it would be like to be in his domestic employ he assures me there are additional benefits. I would be permitted to eat at table with him, would be allowed vacation time, and may use any theater/opera/symphony tickets he doesn’t want. Seriously, it’s all a girl could want.

J2 and I have been corresponding today on James Mays latest column. I was lamenting that he’s till having a helluva lot more fun than me. J2 reminds me that to fly to Italy from London is the equivalent of me going to Taos. He reminds me that I don’t have the easy opportunities to fly someplace truly exotic in a few hours.

Granted I’ve been to some pretty exotic locations in the U.S. but they weren’t the “good” kind of exotic.

J2 also mentions that he can conceivably drive to and around the Nuremberg Ring. I, on the other hand, can drive to Bengies. Unlike many Americans, I am only an hour and a half drive from the Atlantic Ocean. I’m planning on a beach vacation in December. As odd as that sounds, it’s wonderful. I stay in an ocean front suite at one of the, normally out of financial reach, luxury hotels. I get to enjoy indoor swimming and sauna and time on the quiet beach. December has been such a mild month the past few years that I have been able to leave the balcony door open in the room and sleep to the sound of the ocean thumping and thundering.

In December there are no speedboats bashing up and down the shoreline. James May makes a point in this weeks column of talking about the down side of speed boating. That would be getting beaten to pieces.

When I lived the life of a boardwalk lizard I would spend many days on the beach. This was the heyday of the smuggler’s lifestyle and the cigarette boat. I’d no sooner come out of the water and lay on my towel for a little sizzle and a cig boat would break the silence. Invariably the new owner or renter of the boat would come out of the bay inlet and jack the engines up to full throttle. The smack-thump noise would change cadence until the tell tale “raaaaaaaaaar crash” of the boat getting fully airborne and yanking the screws out of the water. Silence was immediate. The fool at the throttle would get catapulted out of the driver’s spot and the kill switch would kick in. Or the newbie captain would pull the throttle back as he soiled himself in shock.

A chorus of giggles would breeze across the beach. Every day was a new crop of would be Sonny Crocketts.

Yesterday my mailbox was graced with another packet from the Royal Mail service. Sensing my sulky mood, J2 sent me another Jeremy Clarkson tome. Perhaps for me Clarkson fills the empty spot the loss of Hunter Thompson left. J2 also sent me two mix CD’s. One disk is old familiars and the other is all new to me.

Patti Smith Groups’s “Because the Night” is one of my favorites and I’ve not had a copy of it until now. Thanks J2!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
As Rod Stewart Sang , "Every picture tells a story don't it?"
Well dear ones, it’s Thursday. I’m at the desk until 6:30 because I stumbled in at 10:30. Thank heavens we can start the day that late with our flex time.

There is nothing quite like the phenomenon of being “too tired to sleep”. This week I’ve been having a heaping helping of that love fest every night. This morning I showed up working the James May hairstyle and the Mario Batalli Crocs shoes.

My workgroup was so sure I was transferring that they took my name off of all the meetings and group emails. Today I have been blissfully unaware the poo smacking the fan.

I wonder if Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and The Stig all email each other and leave James of the “CC:” list? Probably. I know he has more fun than I do but I can tell you if my co-workers pulled some the pranks they’ve pulled on him, I’d have a big fat lawyer with three rows of teeth top and bottom. Of course James is in the enviable position of being absolutely rotten back to his antagonists. I would find it satisfyingly funny if we all found out he was the one who sabotaged the theft-protection gadget on Clarkson’s Ford GT!

Poor old Ford. Jaguar and Aston Martin perked up so much after they left Ford’s stable. If there was one place left for Ford to impress it was on Top Gear with Jezza’s car.

I applied to Ford Motor Cars Incorporated today. I volunteered to be relocated anywhere, even Michigan.

Still no word on the interview from hell.

I’ve started fanning out the job search. Definitely staying away from financial institutions! It’s time for a career change. When I consider my favorite writers I find that many of them trained to be something else. Alton Brown trained as a cinematographer. Anthony Bourdain trained to be a party boy. Jeremy Clarkson did train in journalism. James May majored in music.

I have a degree in Business Administration. Mind you, I started out as an English major. My family promised me broken bones and I switched over to business in my junior year. The smart thing would have been to go to school as far away as I could get and major in marrying money. My cousin married money. She’s lived the life of a spoiled dairy cow. She specialized in being on display at corporate functions and breeding on demand. He says “Do this.” And she moos out her response and ambles along to the task.

Once she asked me to consider having a “fabulous” life like hers. She asked me what the first thing I would do was. I responded that I’d take my hubby’s Amex and BMW to the gun shop and buy a gun. My second act would be to splatter my brains all over the roof of hubby’s BMW. For whatever my life is, I’m not under anyone’s thumb. (At least nobody but the mortgage company.)

When cousin’s husband got “antsy pantsy” a while back, she reminded him that if they split up he would get custody of all the children and she’d go live with her aging parents. The prospect of loosing half his stuff and having two tweenage boys cramping his swingle life style made him zip his pants and quiet down.

I might have considered a road debris induced problem with his BMW. Perhaps something that would send the poor hapless dear right on through that big nasty intersection at the bottom of the hill.

See what happens when you’re a 9 year old girl and your father runs out on the family? You turn into a little Medea in training. Tack on a few unfortunate relationships and you wind up a wary wolf. Like Linda Ronstadt used to sing “When will I be loved?” I’d follow that up with; "I’ll try and be good". Trust me, I spend a great deal of time and effort trying to reverse my “lack-o-trust”.

Right now I’m a bit too tired to think about much else for today. The natural end to this would be to speculate if James May is as wary and cagey as the rest of us mid-life un-married. There are a lot of us with long term companions and I suspect there’s a story behind every one of us.

Vampires need love too!

Yes, they all have more fun than I do.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Driving The Aston Martin Down The Drain
My mom is loosing her mind. I’m having muscle cramps in my ribs so severe I can hardly breathe. I’m resisting the urge to call my financial manager and asked him if mom and I are totally screwed. I know f***ed, even if I can’t see it, I can tell by the smell. The United States is starting to take on that musky, funky, whiff that says the party is over.

If I stop and think about it, my house has probably dropped a good 30K in market value since I bought it. I’ve tossed in about 12K in improvements. (Well not improvements, you do need to have a working toilet and HVAC for it to go on market.) My mortgage is underwritten by the state government. Thank God it’s a fixed rate.

My options now are “hold on and keep the mortgage paid” or “let go and live in the car”.

Mom’s options are worse. The insurance runs out in December and I have no clue what I’m going to do then. If mom has to move in with me, I’ll just have to cut the gas off to the cookstove and lock down the thermostat and hope she doesn’t set the place ablaze with the microwave while I’m at work. I’ll have to have her RFID chipped by a vet so that when she wanders off they can identify her and bring her home.

No word on the interview. I’ve phoned them three times now and no reply. That pretty much answers my question. I didn’t get the job that they’ve been promising me for six months. As my father would say “Them’s the breaks”. Of course he always had a ready smile and a snake oil salesman’s charm. He was always doing me over, abandoning me, and leaving me to survive by myself. Good training for this world I’d say.

There is a view that says that before we are born we agree to play certain roles in this life. We agree to be with and support the same group of souls time after time. We all cycle through the world together again and again. As best I can figure, in my last life I was a warrior king. For this life I took the tough job of “bringing up the rear”. I’m trailing along behind everyone I love and watching over them as they leave this life. Next time around I don’t think I’ll be so ambitious. I’m getting worn out.

My present boss has budgeted me into next year’s contract at my current job. God bless him! I suck at this job but I’ll claw and scratch and hang on, it’s what I’m good at.

Cousin Tuesday has been dreaming that I’m morphing into Jennifer Anniston. If I’d have been married to Brad Pitt and ole Lara Croft had snatched off with my hubby, I’d have rounded up Billy Bob Thornton. Together we could have had a “spousal sort out” party. Billy Bob is a better actor then Brad anyway.

“W” has taken the view that I’m calling his faith into question. I did not question his faith as a Christian, his commitment as a participant in the Cup of Christ, nor his love of God. Somehow we have yet again reached a total hash up of misunderstanding. There is no way I can say or write the appropriate thing to mend the issue so I will stop.

J2 asked me if I held any investments in gold as a hedge against the economic chaos. I told him my hedge against inflation was fifty pounds in U.K. currency I had left over from my last trip to London. He has offered to bring me over to London and let me live in his attic if I’ll be his housekeeper. I’d have full enjoyment of the house, Jasper the dog, and the Vauxhall on my day off. No mention if I’d have the services of the master of the house on my nights off.

It would be an odd turn of events. Some of my ancestors arrived in the United States as indentured servants; it would be a cruel fate for me to go back to the U.K. as one. Although I believe that J2 would be kind. He would allow me keep a small garden for my own use, let me have a hot water bath twice a week, and his clothing allowance would be more than fair. I’d probably even be allowed to use the automatic washing and drying machine instead of having to do the laundry in the wash tub. The master’s house has central heating so I wouldn’t have to worry about having the fires laid early before the master awakes. He takes his breakfast after his morning workout at the health club. In the mornings I need only have his lunch packed, the newspapers in his valise, his gym bag with a fresh change of clothes, and a cup of tea in his thermal mug ready at the door when he leaves the house. I’ll still have to brush his overcoat and suits though. He doesn’t have a valet. The shirts go to the cleaners so I’m off the hook for starching and ironing those. On cold mornings I will probably have to go out and get the Vauxhall started and defrosted. Since my cooking is liable to lay him low, I’ll have to find a “personal chef delivery” service that will bring meals in ready prepared. Between Mrs. Beaton’s and Betty Crocker 1951, I’ll thrive in my new home. With any luck I’ll be able to get my citizenship. I will be a very good girl and endeavor to never, ever go to any Top Gear events and meet the infamous James May.

The good point of the day is that Jeremy Clarkson is back on the job at the Times Online. Last Sunday he reviewed the Aston Martin Vanquish and the state of the world economy. The whole piece is such a succulent treat that I’m going to quote it here:

Aston Martin Review --- By Jeremy Clarkson

"Over the years, we’ve been told by solemn-faced experts that life as we know it is about to end. Strange to report, then, that we’ve managed to survive communism, particle accelerators, fascism, asteroids, Cuba, bird flu, global warming, terrorism, nuclear war, various tsunamis and Aids, and now we are going to be finished off by Fannie Mae.

I don’t even know what Fannie Mae is. Apparently, it’s not a bank and it’s not a building society, but it seems to have been buying mortgages and debts from various institutions. And then, one day, it appears to have woken up and thought: “Oops.” Quite how it was allowed to get in this mess, I’m not sure. Did nobody think it odd that a mysterious organisation was stomping around the world buying debt? Did nobody stop for a moment and wonder if perhaps Fannie Mae was a home for mentals? I mean, we’re talking here about an operation named after the human bottom. How did it sign its deals? With crayons?

Seriously, if I set up a business called Arse and went around buying outstanding loans on the nation’s never-never-land three-piece suites, I wouldn’t get very far before someone with a soothing voice and a corduroy jacket put me in a padded room for the rest of time.

Whatever. We have now arrived at a point where the world is going bankrupt. Politicians keep explaining that Britain is well placed to face the future, but we’re not. Not when the food in our fridge is worth more than the contents of our jewellery box and we’re scared witless that the Bradford & Bingley is about to go belly-up with all our life savings.

The net result is that half the country can’t afford to buy anything and the other half daren’t. This means companies can’t sell anything, which means they can’t employ anyone, which means everyone will fail to pay their mortgages, which will increase the likelihood of Bradford & Bingley going bust, which will accelerate the downward spiral to such an extent that it will be spinning faster than the atom-basher in Geneva. In short, we are all on the Titanic. It is holed. It is a mathematical certainty that it will sink. And all Gordon Brown can do is offer the ship’s most elderly passengers a few extra winter logs as they drown in a sea of disease, debt and destitution.

Needless to say, cars are an early casualty of the meltdown. Having seen orders plummet by 44% in July, Aston Martin sold just 19 cars in the whole of August, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, down from 58 in the same period last year. Porsche sales, meanwhile, were down by 58%, Land Rover also by 58% and Jaguar by 41%. Potential customers, then, are split into two groups: those who can buy but won’t, and those who want to buy but can’t. Because no loans are available.

It’s all such a shame. Not just for the 800,000 people who earn their living from cars in this country, but because for two hundred thousand years, human beings — with the notable exception of eco-activists who want to go backwards — have strived to improve the quality of their lives: to travel more quickly, to enjoy better health, to live longer and to be more comfortable. The labour-saving, fast-acting television remote control is a classic case in point. It is just so human: no dolphin would even begin to see the point.

And it’s the same story with cars. Just last night I left the Top Gear test track in the new Aston Martin Vantage, and, using just a couple of cubic feet of petrol, it brought me right to my door, 90 miles away, in just 95 minutes. That in itself is an achievement that any migrating wildebeest would kill for. And yet this snarling, sculptured machine is so much more than an auxiliary transport module. It’s also a feast for your eyes, an electrode for your heart and a song for your soul. And now, thanks to Fannie Mae, we may be about to kiss it goodbye. Pity, because for the first time since it came out three years ago, the Vantage can be classed as a genuine player, and not just a pretty-boy 911-substitute for cocks with a James Bond fantasy.

Oh, some of the old niggles remain. The dash, for instance, looks lovely, but like so many things that look lovely — loon pants, for example — it doesn’t work very well. Because there’s no central command unit, such as you find in a BMW or a Mercedes-Benz these days, the buttons are all over the place, and because there are thousands of them, they have to be small. Hitting the right one while on the move is like trying to stab mercury with a cocktail stick while standing on a power plate.

Then there are the seats, which are far too hard, and the manual gearbox, which is fine . . . except that to engage second and fourth you need to dislocate your elbow. And the iPod connection, which has never heard of an iPod. And the Volvo sat nav system, which, no matter what you tell it, simply picks a destination you’ve been to recently and sends you there instead. The other day I tried to go to a Top Gear shoot and ended up at my mother’s house, having phoned someone I hate on the way.

It sounds like I am not enamoured of Aston’s Vantage, but the simple fact of the matter is this. All of these problems existed in the old car, and that was hugely popular before Fannie Mae did a Bear Stearns and Northern Rocked its Freddie Mac.

Truth be told, I don’t really care about little faults like this. What I did care about on the old car was that its mouth kept writing cheques its engine couldn’t cash. You put your foot down and there was a huge bellow, but not much extra speed.

The problem was that Aston Martin and Jaguar were both playing for the blue oval. And politics meant the Aston couldn’t be as fast as Jaguar’s XKR. Now, though, Jaguar belongs to Mr Patel, and Aston is in the hands of some Kuwaitis, so the politics have gone. In their place stands a 4.7 litre version of Jag’s V8. The result is 420bhp instead of 380, and some proper get-up-and-go. Accelerate hard and the driver of a Porsche 911 Carrera S — it was R Hammond last night — is not going to see where you went. And not only because he can’t see over the steering wheel.

The amount of carbon dioxide produced by the new engine is less than before. Not that it’ll make any difference to your tax bill. Or the weather. More importantly, the suspension has been tweaked such that it’s still firm on a motorway but much softer at low speed. And while the body remains the same, the wheels are wider, so the car looks even better.

But the best thing about this car is that because it’s so brilliant at some things and so awkward at others, it has a human quality. Some cars you can like. Some you can use. And some you can respect. This one, though, you can love. I do. And that’s why I’d be so sad if Aston were to wither and die in the current economic climate.

However, while I am pessimistic, I suppose we should look more carefully at the perils we’ve faced these past 50 years. War. Asteroids. Jonathon Porritt. Russia. The IRA. And so on.

They’ve come. They’ve frightened us. And then, contrary to the teachings of the scaremongers, they’ve all just sort of fizzled out and gone away. "
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Third Star On The Right and Straight On To Morning.
“Third star on the right and straight on until morning.” – Peter Pan

Peter Pan’s directions to Neverland make satnav unnecessary. Good old Peter Pan, living forever outside the sphere of hormones. It’s when the boys whose voices have cracked start trying to play immortal imp that things end badly.

A former male boss of mine told me that because I was a “girl” it was my job to grow up and take care of a man. I told him I had taken care of “my man” so well that I’d made sure to top up the steel drum with concrete before I dropped it in the ocean. That’s one boss that never told me to go get him a cup of coffee and a sandwich again. I wasn’t an assistant or a secretary, I was a systems programmer and he started treating me like one. I had no intention of sewing his shadow back on when he dropped it. On the day Ferrari Sr. died, that boss made the comment that his retirement portfolio had just doubled in value. He had three Ferraris in cold storage for “investment” purposes. He could never understand my fascination with cars. “Girls” were supposed to be fascinated with cookware and babies.

The last time I flew home from the west coast, Neverland was the in flight movie. I skipped it and watched the sunset instead. Watching Johnny Depp usually puts rather pleasurable ignoble thoughts in my mind but I didn’t want to watch him struggle about as Sir James Barrie.

We girls have only Wendy and in her story she is a drudge before her bosoms have developed. Poor thing.

Last week I realized I was born twenty five years too early. When I was a public school kid girls weren’t allowed to wear slacks unless it snowed. The sixties and seventies were expanding the idea that maybe we could be race car drivers, mechanics, engineers, chemists, pilots, and such. It was a time when the trail blazers were hacking the path through for the rest of us gormless girls.

I look at opportunities open to young women that just hadn’t appeared when I was a school kid. I wonder what those opportunities and some support would have done for the way my life turned out.

All that aside. Those opportunities exist now. I’m alive now. I want to try it all before I croak.

Tonight is the next dance lesson. Two weeks away is the pistol course. I’m looking for a voice teacher to take up the slack in October. 2009 is driving school. Late 2009 or 2010 is “flying school”.

Flight School could either mean aircraft or stage flying. If you’ve seen a Circ De Soliel performance then you’ve seen some form of stage flying. If you’ve seen a Sarah Brightman concert, you’ve seen her fly. If you’ve seen the movie “Tomb Raider” you’ve seen Lara Croft flying in the living room of her stately home.

Today I started looking for local places to learn stage flying. It looks like too much fun not to try. I’ll need to develop considerably more upper body strength and that is coming along nicely.

I’ve considered getting my pilot’s license. I have several friends who have gone through and earned theirs. The jury is still out on that decision though. Driving school first.

I've almost managed to stumble through another post without a good James May reference. This would be a good place to add that my acellerated run towards fun picked up about the time Top Gear showed up on my television. Something about men in their forties having the time of their lives in fast cars gave me hope. Yes James May still does have more fun than I do, but I'm working on catching him up.
Your vision quest begins the moment you decide to go.
“Why would anybody put chains on me?
I’ve paid my dues to make it.”

The Commodores are groovin’ out “Easy” this morning on the XM radio . That line about “chains” always clanks me in the ear when I hear that song.

The same goes for the The Pussycat Dolls “When I Grow Up” song line that says “Be careful what you wish for ‘cause you just might get it.”

I used to take that phrase like it was a curse. Now I take it as a promise.

If I remembered half the business school crap I parroted back in college, I’d write about paradigm shift. If I had read “The Secret” I could couch it in terms for vibrational shift. If I was a die-hard Sting fan, I’d say it was a “brand new day”. But since when do days come with brand labels on them? If Wednesday showed up with a “sucks rocks” brand label on it, would you close the front door and hide until Thursday showed up?

The world is the same as it was in June. My bones are the same. My hair is a little longer, a little more flyaway. I don’t look very much different. Nothing and everything has changed and I will never be the same.

I have been granted transcendence. It didn’t come like a bolt from the blue. It didn’t arrive on a thunderstorm. It didn’t come flying out of the mirror in a fiery look of the eye. It’s been trickling in, like grains of sand. Each small turning, each small discovery, and each small course correction tipped the balance.

It is beyond me to communicate this. I am dizzy with the waking up.

Mirriam-Webster lists one definition of “Transcend” as “to triumph over negative or restrictive aspects”.

Hunter Thompson said “The only one’s who know where the edge is are those who have gone over it.”

Today I am giddy and an uncertain correspondent. I will post my picture of the “Road To Taos” and sign off.

This is a picture of the sacred Taos Mountains taken on the main road into town from Sante Fe.

Snaps from the vision quest.

***When I first arrived in Taos I had never heard of Top Gear or James May. It's been a long strange trip.
Monday, September 15, 2008
The Weighing of the Heart
My heart, my mother; my heart, my mother!

My heart whereby I came into being!

May nought stand up to oppose me at [my] judgment, may there be no opposition to me in the presence of the Chiefs ; may there be no parting of thee from me in the presence of him that keepeth the Balance! Thou art my KA, which dwelleth in my body; the God who knitteth together and strengtheneth my limbs. Mayest thou come forth into the place of happiness whither we go. May the officials, who make the conditions of the lives of men, not cause my name to stink, and may no lies be spoken against me in the presence of the God. [Let it be satisfactory unto us, and let the Listener God be favourable unto us, and let there be joy of heart (to us) at the weighing of words. Let not that which is false be uttered against me before the Great God. Verily, how great shalt thou be when thou risest in triumph.]

***No this is not some speech James May leaves on your answering machine when he's drunk.
I'll take some Cougar Fingers please.
Marvelous Monday. I had scheduled time off from work this morning. As usual, things didn’t go exactly to plan. From what I can remember I was still awake at almost four a.m. so I took a second sleeping pill. (The prescription allows for a second pill after four hours.)

The second pill worked the charm. I slept soundly through two hours of the alarm ringing two feet away from my head. When I came to, I was having a nightmare about someone swapping my Ford for my dad’s 1967 Plymouth Fury III. In my dream I was trying to get the ancient engine to crank over when I got the idea to use my cell phone to call the garage. I flipped the cell phone open and woke up.

Sleeping pill hangovers are a brand all their own. Instead of the thumping nausea left behind by alcohol, sleeping pills leave a surreal confusion. I have to keep centering myself, reminding myself what it was I set out to do. On days off the effect is annoying. On work days it is a bit scary.

This is what I get for staying up most of the night Saturday night. My sleep clock is rotating around to its natural position. Even when I’m in practice, sleeping from midnight to seven is a tough trick.

Cousin Tuesday asked me if I sometimes drink when I write. He mentioned my occasional ungraceful absence of conjunctions, prepositions, and pronouns. To answer the question, I usually sign off the computer before I partake of a sleeping draft. Sometimes I do write in the morning when the evil side effects are banging my logic bell.

No worries cousin, I’m not Bogarting the “good stuff”.

Bon Jovi is howling away on the XM radio, singing “Bad Medicine”. Last night Cousin Tuesday and I had some serious words about that kind of bad medicine. I’ve been the one prone to getting a hankering for something entirely too detrimental to be sustainable. “Evil Michael” is the prime example. My nearest and dearest have orders to euthanize me if I take a corkscrew to another bottle of alcoholic sociopath. Hmm, the way I’ve been cheesing off the nearest and dearest lately, they’ll probably all be fixing me up with potential vintners of the brew. Cousin Tuesday, it’s up to you, if I go gaga for another five star alcoholic rocking the Machiavelli and De Sade vibes, take me for a ride to the middle of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Just remember to tell me you love me before you chuck me over the side. When we connect again on our next trip around the wheel of life, I will owe you a lifetime of faithfulness.

Now for a 180 change of subject, Craig Fergusson has been deciding whether or not to wear his earring on air. Craig Fergusson is a late night talk show host whose name is an anagram for “Cougar Fingers”. He’s the funniest comic to hit network television since Carlin did guest spots. Click here to go to his show’s homepage.

Craig was my pick to head up the upcoming “Top Gear America” show. Instead they tapped Adam Carolla. He’s about as funny as a third degree burn. He’s gross without being amusing. The whole lineup for the US cast is enough to make me barf. Fergusson has an insight and wit on par with Jeremy Clarkson. He can play to the risqué and gross, but he manages to be funny even to a woman’s sense of humor. Carolla has never done anything that I’ve seen that wasn’t gross in a men’s room farting contest way.

Craig Fergusson has managed to pull off one of my lifetime goals. He’s played drums for the “Rock Bottom Remainders”. Fergusson’s novel “Between the Bridge and the Water” is on my stack of “to be read”. Despite the prose being well formed and “yummy”, I had to put it back in the stack for the time being. It’s a heavy duty story about disappointment and the choice to “go over the bridge railing on your own”.

Now you can see what I mean about the sleeping pill hangover effect! I started out trying to explain that I’ve found my diamond earrings and wound up talking about suicide. Ahem, I will now make another 180 to get back on track!

Craig Fergusson is debating on getting an earring stuck back into his head. It made me realize that I haven’t put earrings on for almost two years. When I packed to move, all the jewelry was boxed up and I hadn’t seen any of my everyday earrings since then. I found the pair of onyx earrings that my grandmother wore on her death bed, but I’m not much on wearing those myself right now.

I excavated the small boxes that wound up unpacked and wedged under the shoe shelf in my closet, I found my jewelry. There are earrings in dire need of cleaning. There is also a diamond bracelet that reminds me of long ago and far away. It reminds me of a bright eyed guy who gave me a gold cuff bracelet with a loop and a diamond on it. I remember giving it back. Even with the knife throwing, bridge burning, cynical wiseass I’ve become, I remember why. Like all fields of warfare or play, there are rules. I don’t shoot at the non-combatants. For all the scars, scabs, and armor I endeavor to be open and kind. I still hide a tiny spark of hope in my ribcage. It’s another of the things that marks me as a woman out of time and place. I’m just another stegosaur on the dance floor.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Dame of Swords, Knife Throwing, Pointy Things In General
Cousin Tuesday gave me a call this evening. We gabbed for two hours and I enjoyed it very much.

He gave me a drubbing for Ms. FuFu’s ferocity. Being family on the lookout for my best interests, he asked what the deal with “W” is. I think he already understands better than I do, but I appreciate him asking. It’s a combination of love, bad timing, impossibilities, and how the more everything changes the more it stays the same.

I expressed my concern for Cousin T’s health and he reminded me that he has the Scorpio temperament and will hang on to the last. Like I said, I should have married Cousin T. Incest is a lot better than a lot of things. Besides we are once or twice cousins removed or some such. Since we are done with our baby having foolishness we wouldn’t be diving in the shallow end of the gene pool anyway.

Cousin Tuesday read this morning’s blog and misunderstood that I am mad for cars and not Jeremy Clarkson. No offense to Mr. Clarkson.

My beloved cousin also gave me a talk on my Ms. FuFu personality being such a knife thrower. He speculated that perhaps when the “tide turns” I may be a bit less fervent in my attitude. Tides and phases of the moon have little to do with my current mood, and none’s the pity. It is a time of life and not of the calendar that has made me so nasty so very close to home.

Two months ago “T” stopped talking to me, or should I say I stopped calling to invite him to all our alumni group activities. He gets the emails the same as everyone else and I’m tired of chasing him around. If he can’t be bothered to pick up the phone or send out an email, well he’ll just have to play Mr. Hard to Get and not get got!

This month I seem to have made “W” mad enough to scrunch out our 25 year relationship. I don’t want to go back to being long-distance-Lucy and second-fiddle-Fiona. Best to wear my armor and carry my sword and go marching with amazons.

Even Cousin Tuesday and I are in an endless loop. Any time we speak on the phone or correspond online his wife assumes we are engaged in passionate animal sex. While this is a technical impossibility, it presents the woman anxiety anyway. I have no desire to make her freak out and chuck crockery at my cousin. In all our years we’ve never crossed the boundaries into intimacy, so why would we start now? Who knows? Cousin and I don’t get together for lunch and we don’t go out to the movies like we used to. No sense in wreaking havoc.

This evening was practice for dance class. I’ve been blasting Sarah Brightman to cover up the sound of my joints creaking. The neighbors will think I’ve taken up opera. But they won’t know true agony until I get the drumming circle together for a session!

Sword wielding, apparently it’s what I do.

I love the smell of burning bridges in the morning!

Cousin Tuesday asked me what the heck was a "James May"? Below is labeled pick of the hosts of Top Gear. I snitched the image from

Yes, they all have more fun than I do.
Sunday Joy
Beautiful Sunday. I enjoyed the glorious luxury of sleeping late and going out for a Belgian Waffle brunch.

Last night was dancing in the moonlight. I had the fantastic luxury of ambling to bed at three a.m. Given my way, I’d never sleep before dawn or rise before noon.

Before bed, I sat down and read the London Times Online. Jeremy Clarkson is back from vacation, all is right with the world again.

I spent this morning watching Jeremy Clarkson wrench a Koenigsegg around chicanes and down straightaways. He was accompanied by the damp inducing rumble and growl of the engine. As he switched from the Koenigsegg to an Aston Martin to a Ferrari, fine drool spun from the corners of my mouth and a warm flush filled my face. A feral excitement dazed me with trembling and longing.

The surround sound pelted me with the panting of turbo chargers spooling up. Exhaust notes rumbled my ribcage. I pushed the Bose system to its limits of fidelity.

In a state of transcendent ecstasy I opened the weekly mail, warmed up my Piloti shoes, and counted the months until driving school.

This afternoon I am sated with waffles and bacon. Ever the dutiful adult, I’m running the laundry and paying bills. The grocery shopping is done and put away. I’ve done a chunk of Christmas shopping. I am even trying out my new contact lenses.

I am still in “W”s bad graces. ACL is absent from the domestic bliss still and yet. Cousin Tuesday is most likely lying low from the swampy heat outside today. J2 is amazed at how slowly I’m doling out the treats he’s sent along. This morning was my first crack at the Clarkson DVD.

Balancing the checkbook and an afternoon nap are in the immediate future.

Give Jeremy Clarkson’s column a read. It is indescribable. Click Here to Read Clarkson

Today James May could very well be having more fun than I am. Today I wouldn’t trade.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Nothing Odd
There is nothing odd about this Friday morning. It’s grey outside. We’re expecting rain this afternoon. I’ve still heard nothing about the interview a month ago. My current work unit is assuming I’ll be transferred over and they’re pulling all my work away.

It’s casual Friday. We were supposed to wear colored shirts to show our “diversity support” for our “work team”. I picked a peach colored T today because it doesn’t support any “team”. When asked why I did this I answered “Diversity means you notice people for who they are and not what group they belong to.”

I refrained from saying “Ra-Ra crap made me barf in high school. Why would I participate in it now?” As Tom Petty said, you can’t be subversive and obvious at the same time it defeats the purpose of being subversive.

“W” is still pissed at me. I have a twinge of sorrow at that. I am also still committed to my choice of not repeating the “waiting story”. I have traveled a good many miles in the desert to arrive at who I am today. I am not the girl I was twenty years ago.

Cousin Tuesday is fondly remembering Strohs and the rose’ wines of the 1970s. It’s amazing we lived through them isn’t it?

J2 is cheering Ms. Fu Fu on from across the ocean and suggesting that perhaps when the Russians have set up their military strong hold in Venezuela then I can come and be his “flat mate” in London.

If I have trouble on U.S. roads what on earth would happen to me in the U.K.?

Last night my Piloti shoes arrived. The driving sneaks are the reddest shoes I’ve ever seen in my life! I danced around the house in them and giggled all the way!

Our Red Driving Sneaks

The driving “shoes” are black with peach colored trim and lining. They are suede and super lovely. ( I have a suede brush in the box with my dancing shoes, so I’m prepared.)

I may need to swap them for the next half size up, but I love them that’s for sure!

Ms. Fu Fu is living up to my expectations. She’s lining up the sights and mapping out the campaign. She’s the red and orange energy of fire in the belly. To her the muscle isolation of dance class is something instinctual. She reminds me that it is just something I’ve temporarily forgotten.

Tom Petty is on the XM radio singing “I Won’t Back Down”. It’s Ms. Fu Fu’s theme song. She also likes “Don’t Have To Live Like A Refugee”. Someplace in her CD collection she’s got a techno version of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”, I heard her cranking it last night sometime after midnight.

Like I said there’s nothing odd about today. I got run into the curb by somebody taking their half out of the middle of the road. Luckily for me the traction control killed the power to that wheel when it hit the curb. I was able to turn back onto the roadway instead of jumping the curb. No visible dent in the rim. The tire is still holding up. The car still drives ok. I’ll have to take it next weekend and get it serviced. I just had the front end done and bought new tires in August.

I’ll be glad to go home tonight. I’m Friday tired.

It’s been a tough week holding down the home front with my buddies.

My best buddy “D” was threatened by one of her grown kids this week. It’s been trauma drama to the max. “D” is retired on disability. She’s got a horrible form of arthritis that puts her into out of this world pain from head to foot. Her meds manage the pain so she can stand it and have some little joy in life. But she’s on disability. After working for fifty years she’s living below the poverty level. Her son wrecked his pickup truck and didn’t report it to the insurance company. He also didn’t get the front end aligned so he’s chewed off the tires. When “D” didn’t have the money to give him for tires, he had a fit. He actually drove to her house and started pounding on the front door, screaming, and frothing at the mouth about how she’s never done anything for him. She only worked two and three jobs and did without food herself to keep him fed when he was a kid. That’s not much, do you think?

She phoned her daughter for help and her son in law stepped in to keep “D” from getting her bell rung.

Hurt feelings, knee jerk reactions, and Romper Room behavior ensued on all sides. Now “D” has been “forbidden” to see her grandchildren. She’s also been told she’s been exiled from the family Thanksgiving and Christmas festivities.

Those kids don’t know how lucky they are. If I’d have raved up on my mom, she’d have cracked my skull with a cast iron skillet. Even now she may be 82 and have Alzheimer’s but she’d conk my head with a lamp if I tried that foolishness on her.

Besides, everybody knows that if you strike your mother in anything but self-defense you go straight to hell. You just get sucked right through the ground, like a reverse “assumption”. Snap! You are instantly on a spit in hell between Hitler and Sherman.

I told “D” to just pack her suitcase and come to stay with me for the holidays. We’ll party down at my house. I have a “check your drama at the door” rule, so anybody that wants to start a fracas goes outside and gets a steel door slammed on their nose.

Just because somebody is family doesn’t mean you have to let them abuse you. Sometimes it’s much better to love someone from far away. That is one of the hardest lessons in life.

ACL where are you? When will you be arriving at my house? I’ll have my red shoes on. Wear a carnation in your lapel so I’ll know it’s you.
There’s nothing odd about this Friday morning. Tonight I’ll go home and enjoy the cool rainy evening. There’s a set of Top Gear episodes on the DVR. I’ll pour myself a glass of something cool and comforting and watch Jezza stomp James’s feelings. I’ll also admit that, after Ms. Fu Fu’s comments, I might pay more attention to Mr. Hammond. But I’ll hold fast that I’ll always put my money on the wiry fighter, the compact guy has had to scrap and fight all his life. They have a spark of life, energy, and determination that makes them interesting. Of course I am still keenly aware that James May is still having more fun then I am and Jeremy Clarkson still says things the rest of us secretly would like to.

Nope, like I’ve said there’s nothing odd about this Friday morning except that everything feels different from last week.

What a relief.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Yes James May Still Has More Fun Then I Do
Ms. Fu Fu has decided she needs to stick around and take things in hand.

She took a few moments last evening to cast an eye around the household and at my schedule. We had an interesting chat. We agreed that she’s going to play a bigger role for a while. It’s an issue of self-preservation. It’s an issue of breaking the story line of “standing on the shore waiting”.

More than overturning the pattern of being second choice, second priority, last on the list with friends and family, this is about no longer being last on my own list.

“W” is deeply wounded that I didn’t appear to value what was important to him. The cheap shot would be to say “Funny, that’s what I just said about you.” I regret if I’ve hurt his feelings, but moreover I regret that he doesn’t see that I feel the same about him. It is the fundamental misunderstanding we repeat over and over.

Wayne has brilliant flashes of empathy and understanding. He thinks of things most male minds don’t. That is his most endearing quality. He also would rather argue then breathe. In the mortal words of the Rolling Stones, “All this too-ing and fro-ing is hurting my guts.”

I’m not cut out to be a theologian and argue translations. That sphere holds the school that says I’m a second class human because I was born with female reproductive organs. Spirit has tapped my shoulder in another way. If Wayne wants to sit up all night and write arguments about the Protestant Reformation then “Have a good time.”

My position is that I take umbrage at being told that ten minutes a day or every other day is asking too much. Is that position sensitive, juvenile, needy, or a personality quirk? Perhaps. For me though, it is a foothold in breaking the cycle, refusing the live the story again. Does this mean that I don’t love “W”? No. Does it mean that we don’t have a long history and know each other well? No. Does it mean we still have the same misunderstandings and places where we don’t connect? Yes. Does it mean we have the same circular story repeating itself? Yes. Does it mean I have any idea how to break the cycle? No.

Cousin Tuesday dropped me a line to compliment Ms. Fu Fu on her “knife throwing” skills. She is vehement. She sees her arrival on the scene as the definitive arrival of the cavalry. I need heavy duty help and she has answered the call. Now that she’s arrived, she’s going to see to it that things change and old cycles are broken. Resolution will be achieved and she’s ordered two pairs of driving shoes to show she means business.

Yesterday afternoon we ordered two pairs of Piloti’s from Enless.Com. On order is a red pair of driving sneakers and a black pair of driving shoes. Winter is coming and I’m going to have to wear something besides Crocs on the commute. (Like many women, I keep my dress shoes at work.)

The other night I spied the box with my red and black python Beatle Boots in them. They’re out of style at this moment, but I have my hopes they’ll make another sweep through being en vogue. When combined with a slacks suit, they lend an air of Ms. Fu Fu-ness.

A month ago I embarked on a “trial balloon” for a project that I haven’t written about here. It went well so the project is on for the next five months with a possibility of an extension. My nearest and dearest, if they are still reading, will have their guesses at what I’m up to. I won’t write about it. It’s too personal to shine a big light on.

I’ve just completed my monthly request for a job transfer. No dice yet again. This afternoon I will need to cook up a training plan for myself to fill in the next few weeks until the next round of projects begins.

Four more dance lessons left. Two weeks until the group trip to the pistol range. I cancelled the manuscript class. There’s a colored pencil techniques class coming up that looks interesting. I use the copyright free images from Dover in my projects; new pencil techniques would be useful.

Top Gear is still on the horizon around the house. Ms. Fu Fu likes Jezza’s attitude. She’s made some rather interesting comments about Mr. Hammond's response to having someone try and shove a dog harness on him in the polar adventure. Her opinion is still out on Capt. Slow.

I asked her if she thought James May has more fun than I do. Her response was “Damn straight he does. But you’ve got better hair and your bristols are bigger!” I should hope so.

The shoes arrive tonight. There will be dancing.

Cousin Tuesday you are invited. Feel free to bring your own CDs. Bring a six of that New Schlitz in bottles will you please?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
After yesterday’s guest appearance, Ms. FuFu has made herself at home at the Tuxedo Inn. I believe she’s taken up residence in the guest room. I can hear her in there hammering up posters of the Silverstone track and Johnny Depp. She’s wound up all the music boxes in the dolls and they’re all playing at the same time. There’s a faint smell of cigarette smoke coming from under the door. Last night I could have sworn I heard the clink-clank of beer bottles piling up in the rubbish can. This morning she came in and rummaged my closet for a pair of red shoes. Lucky for her, I have three pair. Sometime during the night she loaded my MP3 player up with Alice Cooper tunes.

I’d forgotten just how good an album “Billion Dollar Babies” was. “I Want To Be Elected” is particularly appropriate. Ms. FuFu’s favorite is “Hello Hooray”.

Dance class last night was a good first plunge into hedonism. It’s a reconnection with the body. Think about how much you live up in your head, especially if you work a desk job.

Remember the childhood days when you could look at any point on your body and make the muscles move without thinking hard about it? Remember twitching single toes, swiveling your belly button around in circles, twitching your nose, or wiggling your ears?

Try it now, you sober sided grown up.

Can you contract your upper abs without pulling in your lowers? How about contracting one side of your tush without the other? Think about selecting whether you will move your hip with your hamstrings, your knees, or your core muscles.

Dance class was about isolating muscle groups and figuring out how to move them independently again. There were only five students in my class time. The other four had all taken the class before and sailed through twitching and isolating with flair. I kept asking the teacher for direction. After the class the teacher came up and asked me how I thought I did. I made my “Good God what have I done?” face. She told me that if I didn’t come to the next class she was coming out to my house and making me dance like a chicken. I told her I was going to come to all the classes if it killed me.

Killing the ego self is critical in spiritual practice. I think this class is going to be a double dipper. I’ll bash up my ego and figure out how to shake my right butt cheek all at once!

Next week, we’ll go through the motions again. In the meantime I phoned my dance teacher friend and she’s giving me remedial instruction on isolating muscle groups. Luckily for me she taught five and six year olds so she has a flair for explaining things to a "head dweller".

Last night wasn’t a total loss though. I had the hip shimmy down pat! I’ve got hips honey and I know how to use them.

Wickedly Yours,
Ms. FuFu

Ms. FuFu's Little Red Driving Shoe
Ms. FuFu's Little Red Driving Shoes

P.S. Yes FuFu stands for “F.U. Twice”.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Standing On The Shore Waiting
September is making itself well and truly known. The rains have returned. The sun has that deep amber glow in the afternoons. Although the sky is still a shocking Maryland blue, there is less haze as it bumps across the trees on the horizon.

From the pace the candles in my office are burning down I can well see that the light is fading earlier.

The darkness has arrived again. Halloween decorations cover the catalogs flooding the mail box. Tonight I’ll take a peek in the storage room and draw a bead on where the glass cat shaped luminaries for the front window are stored.

It’s time to pull out the haunted village and set it up on the breakfast bar. Only last Saturday I bought a new set of tombstones and gargoyles for the graveyard.

Halloween is a gentle holiday to start the darkness of the year. We are plump and happy with harvests of apples and chocolates. We take our skeletons out of the attics and out of our closets and we laugh at them. We meet them eye to eye before we dance with them through the winter months.

Autumn is when I sweep the hearth clean. I declutter the house and my life like sweeping away dead leaves and cutting back dead branches. This is the time of year when I make my sweeping changes, buying a house, leaving a lover, or turning my attention to a new career. This year the changes look smaller but underneath they are larger. Tonight I set foot in a dance studio for the first time in two decades. I had thought my dancing days were over; this fall I have decided they are not. Last Saturday I set foot in a shooting range for the first time in my life. I’ve been told that learning how to use a fire arm is very liberating. This fall I am about liberating.

This fall I am about refusing to accept my story. I am refusing to let it repeat again and again. I have chosen to make it different. I find it hard to explain here, this bit about “my story”. My friends know that I believe that a “story” has a power beyond the words and the plot. I believe it has a cohesive message that radiates into “knowing” deeper then catchphrases or dogma. Story is communication on a deeper human level. We live our story as we twine out our days. Sometimes our stories repeat themselves over and over as our lives unfurl. My story has been one of standing alone on the shore staring across a wide ocean and waiting. As it has repeated itself time and again the alone-ness and the waiting have bent me under their pressure.

I have been the one who waits and watches for the right time to act. I have been the one who patiently listens to those who needed to been seen and heard. I’ve been the witness, the hand to hold, the one who notices. I’ve been happy watching my friends find love. I’ve shared their joy. But when the darkness comes and the world falls to sleep, I am alone and still waiting. The Lord bears me up in all things but I am human. My need for love, comfort, solace, and joy from others often goes unanswered.

I am still and yet, standing on the shore waiting.

I’ve tried what most people try. I’ve been fixed up. I’ve joined social groups. I’ve even tried an internet service. You don’t find an Anam Cara with a punch list of questions. Everyone is more complex then a one minute “elevator speech”. What all this is about is more then a one night hook up or a disposable actor in a six month drama.

I’m different. Just like everybody else.

That’s the best way I can express it right now.

Last night “W” reconfirmed all the decisions I’d ever made in our relationship. It was a true gift from providence and put me at rest. No regrets.

Sometimes the best you can do is to have no regrets.

“W” is wrapped up in his online chat group. He spends hours pouring over concordances and translations. He puts me in mind of a medieval holy man trying to define the spiritual world by the words on a piece of paper instead of the knowledge of his spirit. He is still entrenched in arguments and “being right” and appearing wise.

I needed an Anam Cara to minister to my disheartened spirit. (A few moments of something besides dogma.) He was quick to let me know that even though I’m “important” I rank behind checking for fishing lures on Ebay and arguing Galatians with a chat group. Spending ten minutes a day paying attention to what I have to say would put a dent in his “ministry and calling” and that simply can't happen. It's the basic misunderstanding we have always had, at least for the last twenty five years or so. Perhaps it is the struggle of people who are long in propinquity. Perhaps it is my story repeating itself over and over again. My very existence was inconvenient with my family, my stepfather, my fiancé’. I have been an inconvenience in the plans of so many. When a marriage splits up, the kids are a bothersome left over after all. When an engaged man finds a woman who the office grapevine says can “suck chrome off a trailer hitch”, a fiancé is a nuisance.

By virtue of who and what I am, I have been “in the way” most of my life.

Well my darling friends and family, fuck you all.

As the darkness comes this year I am shedding you and all your demands. Between now and spring tide I am going to be the most selfish, self-centered, hedonistic bitch you have ever seen.

I am going dancing, racing, shooting, traveling, and painting at the beach. Anything you had lined up for me to do will have to go wanting.

If you don’t like it, I suggest you go stand outside and stare at the stars and see if I come back.

Hasta La Bye Bye

Cousin Tuesday: You are exempt. I will be around this afternoon to pick you up. Bring a change of clothes and cash.
Monday, September 08, 2008
September Play List Click Here to Play :
1. Long Ago And Far Away - Jo Stafford
2. No One Like You - Sarah Brightman
3. My Immortal - Evanescence
4. O Mio Babbino Caro - Sarah Brightman
5. 18th Variation from Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini - The 5 Browns
6. Alleluia - Sarah Brightman
7. Somewhere In Time (From 'Somewhere In Time') - Ron Merritt
8. Only An Ocean Away - Sarah Brightman
9. Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper
10. Polonaise in A-Flat, Op. 53 'Heroic' - Frederic Chopin

Click on the title to play the playlist on Rhapsody as my guest.

This month's playlist does have a theme. You get a peppermint pattie if you figure it out. (No it is not Richard Hammond either!)
I Wear The Red Shoes
I’m the woman who wears the red shoes.

Even if you don’t see them on my feet, they are in my soul.

I wear my red shoes and I dance when I chose.

No cursed hokum “should” makes my feet move without my volition.

I wear the shoes.

The shoes don’t wear me.

I’ve got the stockings too. My seams are straight.

I do as I please. I earned the right.

I earn my own way, I built my own home, I keep my own counsel.

In my house there is God and there is Peace.

In my bones is the work of the Lord.

I dance when the moon is bright.

I dance in the dark of night.

I sing the song of life God whispers in my ear.

We are happy we three, God, my red shoes, and me.

Red Shoes!

Do you ever wonder if the Top Gear boys have red shoes? Last week Jeremy Clarkson had a pair of red Nike's on for his drive in Iceland. Do you suppose James May has a pair of red boots? Hmm. Not something I want to think about really.

It's been a "feeling punk" few days. Divine discontent has me roiling. Dance lessons start tomorrow and I'm ready to be on the way!

I spent three hours on the phone last night with "W". I got the rundown on Bruno the Beta, Mikey the Cat, and the after market modifications on the motor bike.

"True Blood" started on HBO last night and I just happened to luck out and have a free trial HBO weekend. "True Blood" is based on the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. I love the books and have them pre-ordered so they drop onto my doorstep on release day. I usually sit up half the night reading when they arrive.

The HBO series won't be enough to get me to buy HBO. The clowns at HBO threw in as close to hard core porn shots as they could. The first twenty minutes of the one hour show was bouncing boobies, wobbling willies, and naked people romping around. None of it had anything to do with the story, but I guess HBO wanted ratings. Of course the parts where they hit key points in the development of the main characters, HBO spent about thirty seconds, cut out dialog, and threw in a lot of boob views. HBO ensured I'll stay on budget because I sure won't be paying the extra twenty two bucks a month for that mess. If I want to watch a porno, I'll rent a porno on pay-per-view. If I want Sookie Stackhouse stories I'll re-read the books. I sure don't want that momicked up mess that HBO created.

Slightly out of time, wearing my red shoes, packing my bag for dance class, Justine.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Patience Is Knowing It Will Happen & Giving It Time To
“Lose hope and know it will happen.”

What kind of whack job philosophy is that?

It’s what is written on the first picture I pulled up in the gallery of new work on Rodney White’s website.

I’ve been oogling a print of his work in the framed art section of the Target store for three weeks now. Somehow I can’t get myself to pay seventy bucks for a print on a plasti-canvas, no matter how much I like it.

Yesterday’s mail had a catalog form ART.COM in it with Rodney White prints in it. The prints are still price prohibitive when I look at framing things their size. This isn’t the old days when every piece of art on my walls was hung up with a thumb tack or a poster holder.

I do regret that I don’t have enough wall space in my office for a push pin and white board wall. My magnificent three by five foot corkboard and two by three foot white board are both in my storage room languishing.

In July when D and I went to hang up pictures, I realized I had sent a good portion of my framed artwork to auction. I had forgotten about it. My collection of Maxfield Parish is gone. Good. That stuff made me maudlin.

Right now I’m looking for something to put over the fireplace in my office. An interesting picture of Billy Bob isn’t going to do it either.

The bedroom walls are in need of a new picture as well. I have enough framed needlework to cover the wall and make the room look magazine perfect. But, I don’t want all the emotional baggage that comes with all the stitch work. Perhaps a black and white photograph of Paris or London. I’ll know it when I see I guess. I could just go nuts and hang a flat screen TV on the wall instead. I’d still have to have a shelf added for the cable box and the DVD player.

The ceiling fan put the kibosh on my plans to install the canopy for the bed.
I’m feeling no great rush on getting more artwork though. Right now I’m the project on the table.

This morning I spent some mellow time reading Hunter Thompson’s “Kingdom of Fear”. I love the way he writes, there are pops and clicks that resonate to the core. I’m at the section of the book where he is manager of an all night sex theater.

It makes me feel like a fossil of another time. I’m definitely the product of another era. I grew up in the seventies and eighties but I must have missed the bus. “Casual Sex” never it made it into my repertoire. Sometimes it would be easier on me if it had. I read about the antics people get up to and I wonder how they live with themselves. (Very well probably.)

All that frolic wouldn’t do for me. I’m one of those serial monogamy dinosaurs. That doesn’t mean I don’t notice the sumptuous creature from the art store who dresses like a pirate. It doesn’t mean I don’t notice that Mike Rowe is built like a brick house. It only means that I endeavor not to treat men like walking dildos.

“W” used to give me hell for my prudish attitude. At one point he told me “Well maybe people just do it because it feels good!” Now “W” is on the Holy Roller bandwagon, how he reconciles himself is his business.

If I did what felt good, I’d have run my formerly affianced over with my Thunderbird. Then I would have reversed in order to enjoy another satisfying crunch and squish.

After all, mother assures me that men do have feelings even though I’ve never noticed any. (J2 will flame me over this statement later on .) It’s best karma wise to treat them with some respect.

If Jeremy Clarkson drove his tank by my house and he missed flattening my mailbox, I’d smile and wave like a good neighbor. When he loaded the gun up and took out the yowling alley cat daughter of my neighbor and her boyfriend fornicating in the street at midnight, I’d give Jeremy another wave and a smile. I’d probably even pass the hat so we could get him some more ammunition.

Anyway, before Jeremy shells the neighbors, I’m still debating ordering a print of the Rodney White painting that says “Patience Is Knowing It Will Happen and Giving It Time To”.

I’m sure there’s some kind of deep seated lesson in there for me to pay attention to. It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the sky is Maryland Blue. I’m going to go out for a drive. Why? Because it feels good!

Below: A pic I found today of the only one in this life that loved me exactly as I was.

My beloved.
It's Always Midnight In London
It’s always midnight in London. At least that’s the way it seems with J2 and me.

His emails to me are time stamped at midnight. I’m always answering his emails last thing in the day. When we try and connect on Messenger things are always out of whack.

By my calculations, as I write this it’s 4:30 a.m. in London. J2 is most likely sound asleep. Even if he did go out for a wild night on the town!

I started to write that it’s amazing that we have almost instant communication since we’re on opposite sides of the Atlantic. But when I think about it, London is closer to me then Denver. My friend “D” in Denver and I yap on the phone for hours at a time and never think about it.

Top Gear and James May goodies that J2 posts to me from London arrive in my mailbox days before anything that’s sent from Denver.

It’s still pretty amazing that I can now watch and entire network of first run shows from the U.K. When I was in college with my trusty black and white television, there was only a choice of three stations. Two were network affiliates and the other was Public Television. Public TV was the only one on after 1:30 a.m.

Television fare consisted of soap operas, network night time line ups, and Public Television's mostly recycled BBC programs. The big highlight of the week was PBS “Live From the Met”.

It’s hard to believe that I fell in love with Princess Turandot and Puccini through a twelve inch black and white screen and a three inch mono speaker. Somehow I did.

PBS kept me alive more or less. While the network channels hammered me with the farm report and Dynasty, PBS had Opera, Symphony, Ballet, and Classics. PBS even had Doctor Who. I know it was a kid’s show in the beginning, but anybody talking about anything that didn’t involve tractors, fishing, or hunting was a relief.

When I worked my summer job to pay for school, the older women would always say they didn’t know what I wanted to go to college for because I was just going to get married anyway. Those ladies tried to tell me about the finer points of getting a “man’s meal” on the table on time and keeping shirts mended.

I decided that I would rather try and swim to England then marry a “good old boy” and become a domestic slave. Late at night PBS streamed in like radio waves from another planet.

This morning when I woke up and wandered out to the kitchen for some tea, it finally hit me. This is my house. At last I have a home. Mine. I’m not living here by anybody else’s largess. No boyfriend, fiancé, or long term companion to answer to. At last I’m safe. The stepfather who beat me almost to extinction is in his grave. I'm not living in the middle of a heaven forsaken soybean field.

I can play the stereo all night long. I can turn the surround sound up and watch vampire movies at 3 a.m. I finally have my single family place surrounded by a nice yard that keeps the neighbors at bay.

This morning I think I gave a sigh of relief from the tips of my toes to the top of my head.

This afternoon’s Saturday afternoon nap was the most luxurious ever.

Outside the remnants of Hurricane Hannah watered the flowers and flipped the damper on the chimney. I turned on the television and went sound to sleep.

This evening as I pried open the mail, I listened to Jimmy Buffet sing the same songs he sang when I was in college.

Jimmy is still a one man party but I’m no longer a surf rat living out of her Toyota. After years at sea I’ve finally found a home.
Friday, September 05, 2008
Friday. I’m bright eyed with anticipation of a nice relaxing evening.

My current project is laid out on the table in my studio, waiting for me to amble home and commence play. The last several nights I’ve been able to steal a few moments and fire up the graphics editor on my computer and print out part of the narration for the project.

Some people handwrite, some use rubber stamps, but I prefer to use a clear computer font on a nice background. I’ve even scanned in some of my favorite background papers and combined them into multi-layered images.

This week’s trip to the art supply store yielded a metal camel pendant, succulent red glass beads, and a new set of gothic letters. I also went a bit overboard and tossed in a skull and cross bones paper punch.

The blank books I use for skeletons in these projects come from the one dollar bin at the Daedalus Books outlet. I pick hard backed books based on size. If a book is too thin the spine will fall apart when inclusions are added. If a book is too thick you wind up cutting chunks out and then the spine falls off. If the one dollar bin holds multiple copies of a good size, I stock up. Sometimes I don’t pay attention to the titles until I get to the check out counter. On my last trip I bought four copies of “At Home with the Marquis De Sade” and three copies of “Ungentlemanly Conduct: Incest in the U.S. Army”. The clerk gave me a raised eyebrow but took the cash silently.

“At Home” was a fun book to use. The chapter headings lent them selves to the design. Even more fun was the way risqué paragraphs or indelicate words stuck out from around ephemera stuck on the page. I want to scan my “Winged Things” book into Flickr and share it . I just don’t know if the Flickr censors will let it through.

As of today I am registered at the shooting range for the Basic NRA Pistol course later this month. The class went on the schedule this morning and as of two o’clock most of the slots were filled. A group of us from work are going together and one of them went in and signed us up. I have to drop by tomorrow and fill out the liability paperwork. In these litigious times, I suppose a call to my own insurance agent wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I’m still on a Top Gear moratorium. I cheated a bit this morning and read James May’s column. He’s written about “ugly people” this week. Apparently there is an “ugly peoples modeling agency” in the UK and he has been on projects that have employed their clients. May himself says that he is no “oil painting” unless he is one of Pieter Breughel the Elder’s peasants. I looked up Breughel and I have to disagree with Mr. May. He is one of Rembrandt’s people. He has Rembrandt’s nose and wild fuzz of hair.

I hadn’t noticed until May said something, but he’s rockin’ the Rembrandt self-portrait vibe.

I say this because I am a hard core Rembrandt Freak. The guards in the Dutch Galleries of the National Gallery recognize me. I’ve spent many a happy hour on the settee in the Rembrandt room with my notebook and pen fervently scratching away and staring into the painted eyes of a man who had been dead over three hundred years when I was born. Those eyes are as bright and full of soul as if the were alive still. I remember the morning I met those eyes. Doing research on Pre-Raphaelites I had struck out with the gallery’s collection. It was still before eleven a.m. and there was no sense in wasting the commute so I went down to ogle the Da Vinci and the Rubens. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a pair of green eyes staring at me from Gallery 51. I was captured.

If all the beneficiaries of my will predecease me I have stipulated I want the residue of my estate to go to the National Gallery for the maintenance of its Rembrandt collection. My worldly wealth should be able to finance the cleaning of a half a square inch of canvas.

Of the few things on earth I would truly love to own for sheer pride of possession, I want one of the prints of Rembrandt’s etching “Self-portrait Open Mouthed”. There’s a life to it apart from the ink and the paper.

It would be something to see a copy of a spectral Rembrandt’s “James May with Aston Martin” hanging at the National between his portraits of “Lucretia” and “Portrait of a Gentleman with Tall Hat and Gloves”. Can you imagine what Rembrandt could do with chiaroscuro on a car interior scene? What couldn’t he do with reflections in the mirrors?

What do you want to make those eyes at me for?
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Put the blame on Mame boys!
Put the blame on Mame boys!

Put The Blame On Mame (Allan Roberts / Doris Fisher)

When Mrs. O'Leary's cow
Kicked the lantern in Chicago town
They say that started the fire
That burned Chicago down
That's the story that went around
But here's the real low-down
Put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame
Mame kissed a buyer from out of town
That kiss burned Chicago down
So you can put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame

Remember the blizzard, back in Manhattan
In eighteen-eighty-six
They say that traffic was tied up
And folks were in a fix
That's the story that went around
But here's the real low-down
Put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame
Mame gave a chump such an ice-cold "No"
For seven days they shovelled snow
So you can put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame

When they had the earthquake in San Francisco
Back in nineteen-six
They said that Mother Nature
Was up to her old tricks
That's the story that went around
But here's the real low-down
Put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame
One night she started to shim and shake
That brought on the Frisco quake
So you can put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame

They once had a shootin' up in the Klondike
When they got Dan McGrew
Folks were putting the blame on
The lady known as Lou
That's the story that went around
But here's the real low-down
Put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame
Mame did a dance called the hoochy-coo
That's the thing that slew McGrew
So you can put the blame on Mame, boys
Put the blame on Mame

Hi there little boy!

Ever pet a cougar little boy?

Well you certainly wouldn't blame James May would you?

(Thought I was going to skip the reference didn't you!?)
Hey! You! Get off of my cloud!
It was another growler and smokes morning.

Since I don’t smoke and I seldom drink, it’s odd to want a brew and a ciggie for breakfast. Perhaps it’s a leftover memory of going to work in the summers in my beach front home town long ago. Even though I didn't have to turn up for work until ten a.m. for my job in the fabulous foodservice industry, the bars I walked past on the way to work were always already open. There would be some diehards ingesting a “hair of the dog” or perhaps rounding out a nightshift with a drink.

I used to walk by one fifteen foot wide hole in the wall named the “Dutch Bar”. Every morning when I went by the doors to the boardwalk would be open, letting the morning ocean air meet with the previous night’s cigarette and beer funk. Most mornings the juke box would be cranking out Robert Palmer’s “Bad Case of Loving You”.

Some mornings I rode my ten speed to work and some mornings I walked. When I rode my bike I'd get a wolf whistle from the Dutch Bar bartender.

Last night I hunkered down with my graphics program and started putting some of my crafty crap on Flickr. There’s a link on the left hand side of my blog page. It’s my "Morocco Journey" altered book that I started. Most of the pages were created with a graphics editing program, printed out and then embellished in place with rubber stamps, ink, paint, and ephemera. I used lots of stock images from the web. It was a good exercise in learning how to work my graphics software.

My sketchbook will be the next thing to be added to the Flickr pages. It’s later work and has more mixed media in it.

If I get slick enough with the new digital camera, I’ll start a photo gallery of the books I’ve created in book binding classes.

Last night I started another altered book. I’m putting it onto the carcass of an old DB2 computer book. That behemoth is four inches thick and hardbound. There’s plenty of room for inclusions and pockets.

Yesterday marked 3 weeks since my interview. At the time they said it would be a month before I heard anything. I’ve been playing inside the rotten peach long enough to know that patience is ignoring the wait and finding something else to do.

What is the “rotten peach”? That would be anything pertaining to government contracts.

Last night I was reading Kingdom of Fear. Hunter Thompson was remembering his run for Sheriff in Aspen in 1970. In his running commentary on the Freak Power party working through regular electoral processes, he expresses his despair at the demise of the American democracy and the American dream. He found out all the same things I have, except instead of a full frontal voting booth assault; I’ve learned my lessons creeping through the hallways of the monster itself.

In this area our industry is government. Federal, state, country, city, foreign, real or imaginary, everything in this area survives at the pleasure of the government.

Anybody who hasn’t worked for government thinks the jobs are all “peaches”. ( sweet, fuzzy, and soft) In reality it’s more like the old Guns and Roses ditty “Welcome to the Jungle”. Everything runs on its own set of rules, laws, guidelines, auditing committees, and budgets. Your ability to prosper lies in your ability to swing through the infrastructure like a monkey in a tree.

As with any jungle, if you are a small primate you will not survive long on the ground.

I am writing to you from my perch under the leaves of a low branch. I’m being very quiet. I have a bag lunch of grapes, pineapple, and lunch ham. I’ll share, if you don’t tell them where I am.

I have wound to the bottom of today’s post with nary a mention of Top Gear, Richard Hammond, The Stig, James May, or Jeremy Clarkson. I didn’t even watch this week’s Top Gear night on BBC America. I’m sort of on a Top Gear Moratorium. As much joy as I’ve had watching the team trounce cars, I’m exhausted from having James May's face populate my nightmares. I’m up for trying anything that will get me a good night’s sleep. Any James May writing or video is forbidden in my household through at least next week. Secretly I'm hoping Jeremy Clarkson's column will be back in the Times Online this week. I'm jonesing for a hit of snark.

I will add that this week Jeremy Clarkson found a vehicle that is exempt from London’s congestion charge. Yes, those wacky folks in London want to tax you out of your morning commute. Unlike the folks in the Baltimore/Washington area that want you to suffer so much during your commute that you give up your job and move out of state.

Clarkson acquired a vehicle that run on alternative fuel. It will burn alcohol, bio diesel, mixed gasoline and diesel, and even cooking oil. Alternative fuel vehicles are exempt from the congestion charge, but he still might have a hard time finding a parking space. Clarkson went through London in a tank. It was part of the Top Gear gang promoting a World Tour.

On a side note, today I started exploring working for America’s First Television Automotive Magazine – Motorweek. Their production company is headquartered about twenty miles from here.

The basic NRA Handgun course opens registration tomorrow and several of us from work are going together.

Dance lessons start in 6 more days.

Maybe some fun is the antidote for all this maudlin dreaming.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
The moment I heard my first story I started looking for you . . .
Today I am a Rumi poem.

I am a tumbling block of words of love and longing. I am the longing, the searching, and the missing themselves. I am transparent, a spirit overwhelming the body.

I still have blond hair and green eyes. Today they are not important. They are not part of the longing. Spirit is moving through me, even my bones are being re-written.

My soul wants to let go and fall into spirit, take part in the ecstasy of transcendence.

I ask myself what this means. No meaning comes. It is all spindrift.

Like a sleepy child on a car ride home, I want to watch the towns go by; but I am too tired to stay awake.

I intersect my job, my car, my home, only momentarily then I am gone again.

I am ignoring the fear, the disappointment of the past.

I am the signal fire.

Summoning you home with shattered pieces of longing.

Spitfire in Flight
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Marriage and Mayhem
The issue of marriage has come up quite a few times in the last week or so. With all this examination of the past I guess it was bound to be mentioned.

Cousin Tuesday ruined his life with marriage but he sticks to it doggedly. He keeps his promises to the end.

Unfortunately for me I didn’t marry my cousin.

I have been engaged. I’ve looked at wedding dresses. I’ve even bought dress patterns. But I haven’t made it down the aisle or to the courthouse yet.

Tragedy and betrayal have dogged me. (I’m really getting tired of both of those nifty little items being part of my story.)

Everyone thought “W” and I would get married. When I took my first job 127 miles away from where we had both lived, everyone assumed he’d pop the question and I’d stay where I was. He didn’t ask. I didn’t stay.

I was madly love and engaged my senior year of college. I was young and silly. I took umbrage to my fiancé’s other girlfriend. The relationship ended badly.

There was J1 at the beginning of college. He asked me to marry him every day for an entire summer. Still I was young and silly and had the wild idea that I wanted to finish college and get out on my own before I took the plunge.

J2 has taken me to task for the state of my love life. Mind you, he hasn’t volunteered to be a husband, fiancé, or beau. He backpedaled over himself with the logic that since he lives in London and I live outside of DC it would be too long a distance. Of course I’d pack my bags and try London for a while without a second thought. The heart of the issue is we aren’t interested in each other that way.

I wonder if I have attained “confirmed bachelorette” status. Remember the old romantic comedies from the 1950’s and early 1960’s? Cary Grant or someone fabulous would play the “confirmed bachelor” and “love at last” would ensue?

That idea is so much more gentle than saying I’m a spinster. Besides, I do not spin nor weave. I might do bookbinding but I am not a spinster!

It’s not so much the wedding, or the rings, or the husband that’s the issue. It’s being alone, without a lover. I’ve gone so long without someone. So much of my life has been without the basic human need of companionship and love.

There was a point where I would do anything to hold a relationship together. I would crawl over broken glass just to not be alone. I would put up with any abuse. Worse I believed I deserved it because I just wasn’t good enough. In my mind I believed I was too weird, too unusual, to bold, too whatever to deserve respect and affection.

I was stuck trying to be better, faster, smarter, prettier, more adventurous . . .

It’s not my unique experience. More's the pity.

I’m a train wreck. It’s very hard for me to adjust to the idea of trusting someone enough to pool resources and live in the same house. My ability to survive has been my ability to pull up stumps and disappear.

My confidant "S" tells me that I don't have to completely change my curmudgeonly ways all at once. She assures me that if I can be open enough to give someone a chance, I will be surprised with good fortune.

In James May’s column this week I read that he has become engaged. I wish him luck.

In his columns he refers to his girlfriend as “Woman”.

That makes my skin crawl.

I’ve been called “Woman” in the past and it’s usually two seconds before a fist has crashed into my face. When it hasn’t been a fist, it’s been a pair of hands throwing me across the room. Either way it’s made me very leery of the whole relationship business.

Perhaps now I’ll stop having nightmares about James May in WWII uniform. Yes, he has a part in my recent spate of night terrors. It was his face on the pilot I've talked to in my reoccurring dreams. Night after night I’ve warned him that there was something wrong with his plane. He always says not to fly would be desertion. Every night I see the plane hit the water without every having been fired upon. It sounds like the plot from the back glass of a pinball machine, I know. The dream keeps coming again and again in Technicolor, surround sound, and 3D clarity.

It’s driven me to such distraction that I finally went online and looked up the RAF 41 Squadron from the dream. They have a website with information about the pilots from 1939 to 1946. (Click Here To Visit the RAF 41 Squadron Page) I found the description of two pilots lost in an accident on their way to Malta.

I’ve had the dream two more times since I found the website.

J2 has helped me with some info on aircraft. But he’s also teased me mercilessly. He was even kind enough to scan in a magazine article about Mr. May and send it to me. Apparently James May flies a 1940’s era plane. I deleted the article from my email without reading it. I don’t know why I keep having these nightmares but I don’t want to encourage them.

My mother and father were both is the U.S. Airforce during the Korean War. My dad was a navigator on a bomber. My mom was a head nurse in a unit that received the wounded as they were evacuated from the MASH units. If I was going to have dreams about flyboys and planes, why not those I know about?

Last night was another set of strange dreams, in full color of course, that involved a toddler named "Robin", a stone church, a black canvas tote bag full of sheet music and a brown jeepie-trucky vehicle.

I don't know what any of this means, if anything. It's my understanding that my part in this is to be open to possibilities, tune in, and receive what I'm sent. God is running the scene, my test is to let go and have faith.

Wonder what J2 will say to that?