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Posts Tagged ‘*insert flailing egotistical victory dance here*’

 
|| July 14, 2014 || 8:46 pm || Comments (4) ||

Today I found out that my car is kaput. Even though I have plenty of jokes about this situation, I am vexed about it, I’m not gonna lie.

Still, though: A minute ago I caught sight of the date. It was a decade and a half ago this week that I started publishing dumb shit I think about –and things that beg my attentions and important stuff I dream for and links to good music or writing– to these here internets.

When I connected the date to its occasion, it made me think about all the ground I’ve covered (and the letters I’ve scattered across it in my wake!) between there and here. There have been some really, really bad days. I’ve had so many good ones, though, that it feels silly to spotlight the aggravation or upset. I’ve always survived, and at some point I always woke up to a different day that managed to be better than the one that sucked in a royal way.

Those days weren’t always concurrent, by the way. Still: Gratitude powers, activate.

Overall I’d have to say that this is an adequate summation of where my head’s at right now:

drop the t sm

Eye of the tiger, y’all.

I will not conform to this world.

I will not let my experiences define me. I will, however, allow them to inform how I view others and how I make decisions. Being hemmed in builds a propensity toward risk. Risk is invigorating, even when you are pissing yourself.

I will not be defeated. I may experience defeat, I may feel it from time to time in every fiber I cart around on these bones. Character and empathy spring from life grinding away at you a little.

I just ate a good meal, and I’m sitting in a comfortable house. Neither the meal nor the home were guaranteed when I hit this world squalling. They’re still not. I need to learn to embrace this truth, and not panic when I am reminded of it.

The reality of happiness is this: You have your eyes open, you breathe, you look around and you are satisfied.
The reality of sadness is this: You have your eyes open, you breathe, you expect and you are disappointed.
The reality of creativity is this: You have your eyes open, you breathe, your brain itches and you scratch that itch with the movement of your pencil, your pliers, your legs, your imagination.
The reality of stagnancy is this: You have your eyes open, you breathe.

I will be happy, I will be sad, I will be creative; I will not be stagnant.

Destruction is the prelude to creation, everything is impermanent, and all things are possible, even the impossible. I’ve been doing the impossible my whole fucking life. Sometimes I am silly and forget.

 
|| June 16, 2012 || 11:10 pm || Comments (5) ||

A few years back, my life was in a state that could best be described as ‘high and dry’.

As I started regaining myself, I met a man who was drunk and kind and whose smile had this ridiculous mix of boyishness and let-me-show-you-what-can-happen. We waved hello and goodbye at parties, we played cards at crowded tables heavy with cigarette smoke and laughing drawls. It did not occur to me to date him until one night he said to me, “The next time I see you I’ll be taking you home with me.”

There was a lot of whiskey involved. When I told him of this later –the third or fourth time we slept together, maybe– he sheeted crimson and I shook my head, holding my amusement in check. A smile leaked past my lips but what I really wanted to do was laugh so hard that it shook one of us out of that bed.

We dated for a good while. He had a fair amount of change in his bank account, but we did simple things: We went shooting, we made runs into Georgia for scratch-offs and forties and just for the simple satisfaction of riding some back roads, listening to some good music.

There came a day when he turned to me and said, “Babedoll,

(yes he said babedoll in a way that no fancy movie cowboy will ever, ever be able to nail)

“you like to shoot pool?”

Well do I ever, sir: I owned a pool cue when I was just about chest-high to a table and I wish my dad would have taken me and my sister to a pool hall and hustled the shit out of the patrons with two little toothless ruthless billiard-rounding towheads. Alas, he did not, and we had to satisfy our  competitive natures sharking the neighborhood boys who hadn’t got the memo yet (it was forthcoming; this was the late seventies in rural middle America) that Sisters Are Fucking Doing It For Themselves.

“I do indeed enjoy a game or two on the now and again.”

People, I had been such a billiards dork between the ages of seven and twelve that I watched televised matches whenever one was aired.

I found myself being escorted into the local pool hall, which –despite its existence smack dab in the middle of the main street in town– I hadn’t known was there. It was, ah….stealthy and low-key on the outside, but inside was the magic of wide industrial windows facing an alley at the back and high, high tin ceilings. This place had always been a gathering spot and never wanted to be anything else; you could tell.

So we lined up healthy stacks of quarters and played and played; I was the only woman in the place and I was treated well, with respect and deference. At one point we noticed the group of men that had been occupying the other tables were loosely gathered around a television in one corner of the room. We made our way toward them; the televison was older, with rabbit ears and flip dials. It rested on a metal teevee tray, but nobody seemed to be worried that it would tip its perch and explode upon impact with the concrete floor. A flat metal stool that stood nearby held a cup and an ashtray.

The fellas were watching ‘Jeopardy’, flipping quarters into the cup between questions. Trebek would read the answer, and the first person to roll out the correct question won the pot. They were playing with two cups, so that each time a quarter-heavy one was pulled, an empty was put back onto the stool. The game had a rhythm, a frankness, a confidence that was exciting. The cowboy and I hung back at the edge of the group, taking in the scene. Thing about him, well…he was a gambler. He was so good that he likely could have made a living at it.

As we watched, I shot out questions under my breath, knowing ninety percent of them and beating everyone in the room. I was wearing the cowboy’s leather coat, the cuffs of it skimming down around my knuckles. I tapped the tips of my fingers against them when I issued a correct question; I can still feel them rat-tat-tatting, the index and ring fingers of each hand, but mostly my overexcited right. The cowboy began to move his eyes from the television to me and back again, quietly running the numbers in his head.

A week later we went back; in his jacket were two pocketfuls of quarters and Jeopardy started at six on the money.  We steered to our previous position; my job was to roll out responses and his job was to pull the cup. Over and over, glory hallelujah, he pulled that cup as I calmly navigated the rounds. My voice was clear and measured where the week before it had been tucked into my chest. I’d had most all the questions. I just hadn’t been speaking them loudly enough to be a competitor.

At the end of the episode, I was given a civil nod from the other players and we found an old Folger’s can to hold what our pockets wouldn’t. We sat later at the kitchen table, rolling and counting. When we were done, he pushed the winnings toward me.

“My God, woman, that was one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed. That was one fuck of a lotta fun.” I bit my lip, because my mouth was threatening to melt off with all the smiling, all the smiling.

I feel something happening. Don’t ask me to go into details, because hell if I know that bit.

It occurs to me, though, that I’ve known a fair share of what I’ve needed to all along, and I have been speaking it low and to myself, getting a feel for the rhythm of the game. I’m pretty sure that I’m about to start speaking up and out, pulling quarters and having a fine time.

I feel real, real good about that business.

 
|| January 29, 2012 || 1:57 am || Comments (10) ||

So I worked at this plant where I was a supervisor on night shift. As a completely unrelated (and maybe worthless, I’ll leave that to you to decide) aside, I’d like to tell you that –despite aggressive insomnia that started taking over my sleep when I was in the neighborhood of eight or nine– ten months of working the night shift aged me ten years. At least, that’s what it felt like when I slung my safety gear over my shoulder and walked out of that joint for the last time.

Clock in at eleven, clock out at seven. There were three-hundred and fifty personnel on that shift, busted up into different sections, each section with a supervisor. A couple of the more sizable sections had three to four line supervisors, with crews of anywhere from seven to fifteen people for whom they were responsible. Out of those three-fifty, there were approximately eight women. Only one was a section super. Another was a line super. The latter was me.

The plant floor was always loud. It wasn’t only loud; it was dangerous, too, because we were working with caustic chemicals and we climbed things like monkeys and we teetered on the edges of slick, sharp inclines manhandling equipment that was half our bodyweights or more, high up in the air over solid concrete floors. There was machinery everywhere to bounce off of on your way down, if the thought of cracking your melon on some ‘crete wasn’t enough to keep you cautious.

I had a crew of twelve men. There used to be one woman on it, a woman who had been there for years and never been promoted because, well, she wasn’t. She was diminutive and appalling, because she was yippy like a chihuahua and always aggressively demanding respect out of one side of her mouth but then giving blowjobs in the parking lot out of the other. The kind of girl who, for instance, wanted to wrestle like a man but when pinned would intone in babyvoice, “Let me up, don’t hurt me, ’cause I’m just leeeedle!” Females of the world who are like this: Just give us all one big fucking break, would you? Everybody –male and female alike– pretty much wants you to fall in a ditch and stay there.

(I mean, I don’t give a shit if your aim is to have every dick within ten feet of you in your mouth at one time or the other, but don’t go acting like you’re surprised when none of the males those penises are attached to come to you for your philosophical take on matters. There is slut-shaming and there is poor judgment and we’re all adults here and can tell the difference, right?)

So Yippy was on my crew and her first order of business was to be passive-aggressive with me and Give Me Ten Kinds of Shit because I had all my teeth and two brain cells to rub together and oh yeah, tits. Good-looking tits. So HEY, I must be COMPETITION rather than her BOSS, right? It didn’t help that she was madly in love with my buddy Polack Dave and was convinced surely to all of high holy heaven that I was going to fuck Dave the very minute that Yippy (who yes, had been Dave’s mistress at one point) and DAVE’S WIFE turned their backs.

See? See what I was dealing with? I played poker with Polack Dave and Polack Dave’s wife and they fed me at least twice a week. Polack Dave and I high-fived one another on the way in the door every night and flipped one another the bird going out of it every morning. Why on Earth would I want to mess that up?

However, Yippy was inconsolable. Yippy did a good job, but Yippy was lippy and disrespectful and I did all the requisite you-try-to-fuck-my-crew-up-I’ma-fuck-your-day-up dancing and write-ups and finally I said, “You know what, Yippy? I AM HAVING YOU TRANSFERRED TO POLACK DAVE’S SUPERVISOR,” and so I did. She was (prematurely) gleeful.  Said super promptly hid her in a broom closet in the nether reaches of the plant and everybody was pretty gahdang happy for a time.

Then there was the night that a very large fellow named Howard stepped to me.

See, I think that maybe some people made the mistake of thinking that I had Yippy transferred because she was a female. Not so. I had Yippy transferred because she was a gigantic asspain and I just wanted to do my fucking job and get the fuck out of there in a timely manner each day. When I eventually got my crew hipped to my way of doing things, we were done with our line by four-thirty and could catch two hours of nap in the breakroom so that we’d be rested up and ready to find beers at one of the only two bars in town open for breakfasty patrons. If you work the night shift, then eight in the morning is your six at night and so by ten ay emm you’re good and shitfaced if that’s your aim. Sure, it’s in a scummy dive of a bar, but who is there to judge you? Nobody, that’s who, because they’re either the folks carpooling miles away from said establishments or the guy at the end of the bar with his asscheeks imprinted into the stool that he hardly ever leaves. He sees four of you and all four iterations have a different name, get it?

Holy cow, I digress. Anyway:  In order for me to do my job and get out in a timely manner, there has to be a cohesive team working toward the same aim and doing so at least quasi-jovially. Whistle while you work, bitches, and you will ride the clock for almost three hours for free and nobody is going to yell at you for doing so because you! are Union! and you! have done a bang-up job! that exceeds the specifications laid out for you in the super-big and ridiculously detailed company manual! This is because my aim is never to do just enough to get by; my aim is to have some stracked-out results whose worth cannot be contested. Selah! Amen! Nap! Then beers and billiards after!

An event whose progressive steps looked something like this, so as to save us some paragraphs and get us to the action right quick,

1) “Howard, man, I don’t like that. Can you do it the other way, please?”
2) “Hey Howard, could you do your job x way because your fancy new y way is slowing the flow and is less efficient overall and since my part of the line depends on your part of the line, you are slowing me down, as well.”
3) “Howard, I don’t know why you are looking me dead in the eye and purposely slowing both our jobs down but that’s not cool and I need you to cut it out.”
4) “Howard. Cut the shit, man.”

occurred over the course of about an hour and a half. By the time I got to “HOWARD. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH,” Howard had decided he’d had enough, too, and closed the twenty or so feet between us with a haste that, had it been shown earlier, would have saved us all the ensuing trouble and dramatics.

Howard got all the fuck up in my face. He had six inches on my five-ten and Lord knows how many pounds on my one-sixty. We were in full hazmat gear, but our helmets were magically, manically gone, flipped from our heads simultaneously and he was breathing down on me, enraged, bearing in, face literally two inches from mine. Howard began yelling in earnest and the whole ‘I’ll be damned if I’ma let this fool back me down’ aspect of my personality rose up in all its glory. I was on my tiptoes, meeting him where he was at and pushing back emotionally every bit as hard as he was shoving me and suddenly there was Polack Dave jumping lines to get to us, there were three members of my crew begging us to stop and more on the way. Everyone was afraid to touch us, everything so electric and precarious. They were attempting to shout sense over the clanging and banging of machinery but the fog of rage –not to mention our mutual shouting– engulfing us obscured them.

Howard got one warning from me to back up, then one more warning from me to back up then he told me to fuck off bitch and I gave over to fury. I raised the high pressure hot-hose that had been dangling limp in my hand (hastily shut off during Howard’s approach), put the metal key to it that dangled from a loop in my coveralls and kicked the hose on as I took a step back. A high-pressure stream of scalding water surged forward from that industrial hose and I nailed that fucker square in the chest with it. There was less than a foot between us. Howard went down.

I got reamed for this. Never once, though, not one single day of my life, have I ever been sorry for that moment. Sometimes your crazy is the only thing that you can rely on. Hatred is shameful. Fury is gorgeous. The two should never marry. If it is devoid of hate, sometimes your fury is a righteous and perfect thing with inexact but fitting results.

 
|| April 14, 2011 || 11:25 pm || Comments (17) ||

I can’t figure Schmutzie out. My daughter’s best friend is named Pooks (iunno. don’t even ask.) and I generally like his take on things, so I asked him what I should say about someone that I admire like crazy but can’t seem to get a solid bead on, who is very witty and well-written and has stellar taste in shoes. Pooks said to me, sage thing that he is, “You’re making this way too hard. Just tell her you think she’s boss as fuck.”  I wanted to say, “Pooks, you are a wise motherfucker,” but –as hard as it is to believe– even I have a (shakily-drawn, shallow) line, so I said, “Thank you for your insight, Pooks. Are you staying for dinner?”

Pee ess….Schmutzie is boss as fuck, you got that?

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Look, sometimes you ask for things, not knowing what you’ll really get. But you’re bold and you ask and no matter what turns up, at least you’re guaranteed a surprise, at least you you showed the temerity to open your mouth and speak.

That’s kind of what I did with this birthday carnival for myself. I asked people to compose something. It was awkward, so awkward, because e-mail after e-mail had all these lovely things about me when I was expecting a story or poem or song about who-knows-what. Some of them were so kind that I cringed when I posted them, sure that someone out there was rolling their eyes, going all, “WHAT A VAIN, VAIIIIIN JACKASS.” But I did it anyway, because they were so generous as to honor my request, and because one of my personal philosophies says to honor what is written. And then it struck me that I’m willing to hear bad things about myself, so I should be willing to hear good, as well. I’ve been robbing myself of that for a long time.

If you’re new around here, I’d like to say this to you:

Hello. I’m Jett. My life is a lot of things; it is overwhelming, fulfilling, stuffed to the seams, comfortable, colorful, taxing….but above and beyond any of those things, it’s fun. It’s a grand parade shot through with mournful alleys. I’ll try to sing so that the best of all of it manages to bounce off the clouds and rain delight onto your head.

If you’re old around here, I’d like to say this to you:

Hi there. You are so dear to me. I hope I’ve soaked your head in delight more times than you are able to count.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

The carnival’s over, kids. Grab hands and walk home together. I hope you won a prize. Give a word of greeting before you go.

Hi there, Precious Muffinassedly Ones.

Look. I always suffer sleep deprivation, we all know that.  Insomnia always dances around my periphery, making nyah-nyah faces and crowing about its power over me. My typical M.O. is to cheerily flip it the bird and go along my merry way. Everybody’s got their thing, you know? Insomnia is mine, no big deal. I’d rather do this than have to deal with a shit-ton of other things I can name. So I wake up earlier (or more) or stay up later or lie in bed telling God a litany of things I have no right or business to worry about, which is my version of counting sheep….I tick off  the world’s troubles and ask God to take them away. So what?

But oh man, right now I’m the midst of one of the most vicious cycles I have had in a while. It started just before the Japan mess (two days, I think?) and has been feverishly groping me like a slovenly old pervert. INSOMNIA DOES NOT GROPE SEXILY, MUFFINASSES. It has clumsy fingers and smells bad, pleh.

Tonight I was on Twitter and it was atypically bitchy and edgy and angry and I was all ‘I hate this‘ and then I started being obstreperous to make myself feel better (sometimes I behave badly just to feel a little alive, you know?).  But then I remembered that I get super-stoked about giving presents and so now here we are.

Leave me a comment about anything, tell me about your day, give me a story or a link; complain about something or be sad about something or make up a dirty limerick. That’s your entry for a drawring I will do in a couple days for a magical thing called a TACKY PACK™ that I used to give away on the regular back before I moved the old voyeurnal over here. The TACKY PACK™ is essentially a melange of great goodness and übercool radness. I don’t have to suck any corporate dick to bring it to you, and there is no ulterior motive save for the fact that I’m getting my jollies by giving a (many-partsed, multi-faceted) gift to somebody. There used to be a page devoted to telling you how great the TACKY PACK™ is in all its random iterations, but it’s long gone. You’re just gonna have to take my word for it and know that present-giving is one of my strengths. I think it’s the one meant to balance my propensity toward addictive behaviors, but I can’t say that with complete surety. What I can say with a great degree of confidence is this: Tweeting about this to your followers won’t get you an extra entry, but it would be a cool thing to do.

UPDATE, 11:10 p, CST: Post amended to add this video, which delights me.

 
|| March 24, 2011 || 6:51 am || Comments (5) ||

The conversation that predicated my sitting down to type this went like:
“I’m unfamiliar with ugly birthdays. What do they look and sound like?”

“Slouching towards the barcalounger, they stumble with uneven steps.  This one calls itself ‘45′.”

“Forty is ambling toward me. It’s a couple weeks away, and I’m smiling at it.
“I don’t even have to get my birthdays drunk anymore, that’s how terrific they are.”

“Forty was actually rather anti-climatic for me.  It just was.  I don’t feel whatever I think it should feel like. ”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

When I was six and standing near the merry-go-round

(don’t get me started on merry-go-rounds and the criminal lack of them in the modern child’s world. Holy God, modern children are such pussies, Muffinasses. When you treat your children like intensely breakable things, you will wind up with intensely broken adults….you heard it here first)

a little girl named Perry approached me. She was one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen; even at six years old I knew that her slightly-vulnerable gorgeousness would beat people senseless before they even realized they’d been struck at all.

“I cain’t come to your party, Jett.”

“How come?”

“Momma says we cain’t buy you a present, so I cain’t come.”

“It’s okay,” the obliviously shitheaded six-year-old me said with an easy shrug, “you don’t have to get me a present. You can just give me money.”

I am quite horrified when I remember that moment. I had no grasp of the notion of poverty, having known only good things and no want in my life at that point. I didn’t know any better, but still: I blame that six-year-old, I judge her harshly.

When I went home and told my mother, she wasn’t angry at or caustic with me. In fact, she was very patient, though matter-of-fact. “You can’t say things like that, Jett. It’s not polite. What Perry meant was that they didn’t have enough money for a gift, and her mother thinks it would be impolite or embarrassing to send her over without one, so she is keeping Perry home.”

I just wanted my beautiful friend there. I had ruined it. I could have just said, “Come be by me on my day; that will make me happy.”

I didn’t know any better, but it doesn’t feel like that excuse fits the hole it is trying to fill.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I was the kid with the gigantic parties: My parents buying two fistfuls of wristbands for the amusement park, my parents  building a gigantic bonfire and pulling horses out of the paddock for rides, my parents renting a whole skating rink in Tulsa.

Somehow, it was never obnoxious, though. I think this was because –while I thought they were great and all– I never staked these events for bragging rights. It wasn’t, after all, my money that had made this terrific thing happen, it was my folks’. They weren’t doing it to be ostentatious or showy, either. My parents were doing it because they both loved a good party and were both born with a top-fueled hosting gene and they loved me beyond the scope of anything I could fathom. The parties were fun, but ultimately not what I cared about, I don’t know why. I was grateful to have them, but I don’t remember being garrotted when they wafted away in the mist that was my parents’ marriage.

Imagine my slight shrug as I say this to you: They just weren’t that important to me overall, I don’t know why.

Over the years, I’ve always been happy and delighted to receive birthday calls, cards, thoughts but I have never placed much emphasis on my birthday save for a couple that I viewed as milestones. Twenty-five, thirty: Those were  both important to me somehow. The ones before and after? Not especially so. We all know that guy who heralds his coming birthday for the six weeks leading up to the thing. I am usually the exact inverse of that.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

I was born, shouting and holding my own head up, on the first of April, nineteen seventy-one. Hospital staff, in keeping with the spirit of the date, told Henry I was a boy. For the first twenty or so minutes of my life, my father had a son. Later that day my extended family gathered around the nursery window, most all of them, clogging up the hallway with their exuberance and their staggering numbers. My first birthday party happened as I stretched and retracted in a hospital bassinet; I was surrounded with unbelievable amounts of love from my first day on the planet.

In truth, I think that’s why I didn’t need a day of acknowledgment or adulation fixed solely on me over the years.  I was told I was special in a myriad of ways every waking day of my life.

Oh my God, what a treasure, you know?

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

This year I am forty and I am doing it differently: I’m throwing myself a party. Forty is a big damn deal, and worthy of celebrating. I’m not having some existential crisis. I’m not wailing at the death rattle of my youth. I am reveling in a life that has been and continues to be a gift. I’ve got it good, I’m excited about that, what’s not to celebrate?

So I’ve asked some friends to surround me and help me do so. Just as if I’d throw a party in facespace and everyone would laugh and enjoy one another and swap stories, so it will be out here in Cyberia. I’ve asked the aforementioned friends to show up to the party. This is how I charged them:  The theme is: write a love letter to me. My definition of ‘love letter’ is pretty broad and kinda loosey-goosey. It goes something like this: When I hear Emmylou Harris sing ‘Red Dirt Girl’ I think she’s written a love letter to me. When I get mail in the mailbox –even junky, tree-killing shit– I think the postal service has written a love letter to me. When I can sleep through a night, my body has written me a love letter. When a picture, a word, a song, a gesture dings a nerve or delights me, it’s a love letter.

I am blessed to have a host of people in my life that will say ‘yes’ when I ask something like this of them, so starting tomorrow, wander over here for a few minutes of every day over the course of the next two weeks. There’ll  be something new in this space each day from stellar people I love. I am very(!) excited(!) at this prospect. “We’ll live like KINGS! Damn hell ass KINGS!”

It takes a fortnight to celebrate good and proper, after all.