Even here in California, it feels like winter. Suddenly I really believe that it's only 3 weeks until Christmas. It must be, because my Christmas cactus is in glorious bloom.
Almost done Fall quarter at Pacifica Graduate Institute. In my second year!! How did that happen so quickly? Things are a little saner than they were for the last few weeks. Finished up the last on campus session for the quarter, including handing in many papers, including my thesis proposal. Now just a few papers and thesis outline to get in by the end of the month. I am doing my thesis on transgender issues, inquiring into the process of change as acts of individuation and soul making. If you have any transgender friends (or you) who would be willing to correspond with me, please let me know. I am not doing quantitative research, just gathering narratives. One of the options at Pacifica is a production thesis, for which you produce some form of art based on a theoretical framework and write about it. I am considering a novel.
I haven't been writing any fiction since I finished Shards last year, but recently I wrote a short story for the A Knight in the Silk Purse anthology, which is the sequel to Tales of the Emerald Serpent
. My character, Shay Gatewell, has quite a nice reappearance! It felt so good to slip into a fantasy world and wander around. I like academic writing, but there's nothing like fiction. Don't worry, I couldn't stop writing if I wanted to!
And look at that: only 16 days until the contest winner is announced!
By way of sending birthday greetings, I've built a cantilevered cake...perhaps slightly operatic in its ambitions. Here's wishing special good wishes to a couple of LJ friends located on opposite coasts but both celebrating their natal days today: albear_garni
- have a good one, guys!
Today is one of the Holy Days of Roman Catholicism. Since Sundays are already considered high holy days, the actual observance is put off until tomorrow. It is a Holy Day of Obligation, when all Catholics are obliged to attend Mass and to abstain from those works and affairs which hinder the oblation which must be rendered to God. However, since the actual event takes place today, when all Catholics are required to attend Mass anyway, the obligation to attend tomorrow is abrogated.
And you thought the Jewish calendar was tricky.
Today is the Feast of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
There’s a tale in the Hebrew Scriptures in which the Gileadites used the pronunciation of the word "shibboleth" to identify friend from foe (Judges 12:5-6), Catholics have their own little tricks to identify the unwashed heathen. My wife is sure that when the congregation prays the Lord's Prayer, they halt abruptly at "deliver us from evil" to reveal the black Protestant spies in their midst as they charge forward with "For thine is the kingdom..."
The Immaculate Conception is a shibboleth. Non-Catholics usually think it refers to Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and thus without sin. In fact, it refers to a relatively recent dogma that Jesus' mother, Mary, was herself conceived without the stain of Original Sin. After all, Jesus’ father was the Holy Spirit, but his mother was human. Jesus could have picked up cooties from her unless she, too, was free of sin. Mary’s parents, however, were just plain nasty like the rest of us.
According to the Papal Bull Ineffabilis Deus
, promulgated by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854, "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."
Don’t buy it? You’d better keep your big heretical mouth shut. The Bull continues:Hence, if anyone shall dare--which God forbid!--to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.
If you were raised Catholic, you learned all this stuff at your mother’s knee, which may have been the last time you thought about it. Protestants feel rather uncomfortable about the whole deal. It sounds suspiciously as though the Catholics have appointed Mary as the Fourth Person of the Holy Trinity. They don’t remember reading anything about this in their Bibles.
It’s in there, insist Catholic Mariologists. They point to Genesis 3:15, where the Serpent is cursed by God. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
They also point to Luke 1:28, where the angel greets Mary, And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women
. Finally, there’s a line in the Bible’s best erotic poem, the Song of Solomon 4:7, Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee
But that’s not important, they say when the Protestant raises his eyebrows at these strained examples of proof-texting. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception is part of tradition of the Church. We know it’s true because we’ve always known it was true. And even if people like Thomas Aquinas, Saint Bonaventure, and Bernard of Clairvaux said otherwise, we have the word of no less than the great 13th century theologian Duns Scotus, who argued that (a) God had the power to do it, (b) It was fitting that God should do it, so therefore (c) God did it. What more do you need?
During the nineteenth century, Europe was undergoing a major transition away from rural farm-based living to big industrial cities. Steam power, metal tools, capitalism, an economic explosion: the Industrial Revolution was the most important event in the history of the world since humanity invented agriculture and domesticated animals. The authority of the parish priest was greatly reduced as young people abandoned the ways of their parents and headed for the cities to work in the mills.
Was the dusty old Roman Catholic Church still relevant in the brave new world of steam and steel? Were people still praying, paying, and obeying their priests and the Pope? The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was Rome’s response to that question. The Pope declared it, you must believe it, or you are not One Of Us. The Church is open to all, but membership must have a cost or it’s just another social club. Being a member doesn’t mean just going to church on Sunday like your parents did, it means personally committing to the doctrines and dogmas of the Church, even if they seem ridiculous. Obedience is a cardinal virtue - just ask the Cardinal.
Less than twenty years later Rome would announce another dogma, equally binding upon the faithful, that the Pope was infallible when making solemn teachings like, well, the Immaculate Conception. As the Bull publicizing that later doctrine said, So then, should anyone, which God forbid, have the temerity to reject this definition of ours: let him be anathema.
In other words, the Catholic who denies these doctrines is a heretic, “Heresy is the obstinate denial or doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith,” explained Pope John Paul II. The penalty for heresy is automatic excommunication.
Any questions? There had better not be.
OMG please talk World Cup draw with me!!!
Germany will make it to quarters, I'm pretty sure. Group G isn't an easy group by any means (looking at you, France and Belgium), but we are the clear favourites and I can't see us not getting at least #2, and whomever we play in R16 we should be able to beat.
England...well, that's a lovely group. XD haha, I kind of wish I were still living there so I could see all the media hysteria! XD (I'm guessing all the Scots are laughing their arses off, aren't they. XD)
USA and Australia...I feel sorry for them, to be placed in such strong groups. XD
Ugggh, I can't believe it's next summer!!! I can't wait O____O
But first plz defend our CL trophy Bayern!!!
Twilight Over Walmart
Let’s get the confession out right up front. I have spent more time in Walmarts this last month than I have in my entire life. I have been to every Walmart in Tucson multiple times, and in fact I know them so well that I could rank them in terms skankiness.
I used to think the First and Wetmore stores was the wors. In fact, I refer to it as Skanky Walmart, with its sickening suffocating Bad Nacho Smell, the torn-up floor tiles on which something hideous and sticky is always spilled (and I always step in).
Then I recently had an opportunity to visit the Walmart on Speedway and Kolb. While the physical appearance of the store may be a notch above the Skanky Walmart, the Extreme Tweaker Clientele makes the Kolb Walmart the Most Hardcore. Wetmore is full of well-meaning poor people out to load their carts with everything pink and plastic for their brood of children. Kolb is where tweakers buy guns on impulse.
Why am I always finding myself in Walmarts? I can answer that question in two words. My kid. She is hooked on jumping on these little cardio workout trampolines that they only sell at Walmart. Not only that, but she jumps on them to their literal death, going through one about every three weeks. I have a whole buy and return thing going which has now been integrated into my weekly life. First I have to scour the entire town for Walmarts that stock the trampolines, and then I have to perform a systematic rotation analysis to determine which stores are next in line for me to drag the dead ones in for return/exchange.
Maybe I should feel bad about going to Walmart, but I don’t. Ultimately I use Walmart as a kind of “trampoline loaner resource.” Bean has probably gone through HUNDREDS (not exaggerating) of trampolines in the past few years. I have paid for maybe 6-10 of them through my Return/Exchange Walmart Rotation System. So what? Walmart can suck it up. Besides, the trampolines should last more than three weeks.
This does not mean I like going to Walmart. I hate it. I hate the smell, feel, and look of Walmart. I hate that I feel dirty and as if I’ve been run over by a thousand shopping carts stuffed with a thousand pounds of useless crap when I leave the store. I actually have to do a purging jumping up and down gross out dance in the parking lot every time I leave one. Though Walmart stores must comprise at least four square miles in size, they are utterly claustrophobic with their towers of toilet paper and holiday candy tins toppling at ever end cap of the overly stuffed aisles.
Let me state another confession while I’m at it. I went to Walmarts (yes plural) FOUR times on Thanksgiving Day. Where the hell else am I supposed to go to get the things I forgot to get? God strike me dead as a type this. Sometimes I just don’t have a choice, okay?
There used to be an old skanky Fry’s supermarket down the street from my house. Walmart bought it to build a “community market.” Right. Got to laugh at that nomenclature. Part of the deal was that they were supposed to renovate the White Trash Plaza. All they did was through some stucco on the surface and paint the place adobe orange. It’s still a White Trash Plaza that now has a Walmart, auto supply store, and pizza joint. Fancy.
I used to like going to that Fry’s. It was always really hardcore, and liked that about it. People with sagging skin and bulging red noses bought gallons of booze, cartons of cigarettes, and lottery tickets. I always engaged in snarly banter about rock music with the check-out clerks. But the Fry’s went under and the heavy metal clerks went with it when Walmart bought it out.
At first I said I’d never go to the Walmart, but it’s like right down the street from my house. It didn’t take me long to cave. When I’m desperate for something quick, I go to the Walmart Community Market. Say, for example, it’s 10 pm, and my kiddo has a fever and a cold. Am I going to spend 30 minutes driving to Safeway for medicine or five minutes getting to and from Walmart, where I have masterly mastered the Self Checkout IN SPANISH. Add that one to my list of Walmart Sins – SELF CHECKOUT!
I do often talk to the workers at Walmart, and one thing I have learned is this. They universally hate their jobs while also taking their jobs way too seriously. From what I have observed by the very hardcore employees at my local Walmarts, Walmart hires people who can’t get jobs anywhere else. They’re old, tattooed, recently paroled, or otherwise undesirable employees. They hate their jobs, but Walmart has made them fear losing their jobs, so they take their jobs way too seriously while hating every minute they take it seriously.
For example, take last weekend when I brought a trampoline back to the Fancy Walmart in Horror Valley. (That’s the Walmart depicted in these photos.) The whole time the Customer Service guy talked about how much he hates his job, but then he was also somehow committed to folding the trampoline and shoving it back in the box. He fought with it for like ten minutes. I kept saying, “I don’t recommend doing that, you’re going to cut off your finger.” Finally I said, “Look do you really think you’re getting paid enough to lose your thumb?” At that point he said “No” and tossed the trampoline against the wall, processed my refund, and issued my Get Out of Jail Free Card. Phucking Phew.
Walmart is hideous, odious, despicable, and awful. That is for sure. But I also recently had an opportunity to visit the Not So Super Target down Oracle Road where I was looking for a little white artificial tree for Bean’s Xmas Village. Because I have been spending so much time observing the interior of Walmarts, I was able to notice on close inspection that Target sells all the same shit. They just slap that cute red target logo on their crap, decorate the store with shiny things dangling from the ceiling, and people think it’s better than Walmart. , Target has a team of Marketing Experts whose sole job is to convince people that shopping at Target is somehow better than shopping at Walmart. And people buy it.
I got news for you. It isn’t. Dayton Hudson Corporation (which owns Target) is every bit as evil and insidious as Walmart. They are notoriously anti-Gay and anti-choice. They funnel their profits to feed the Right Wing agenda. But, they also market Target to hipsters and gays, the very people who would not step foot inside a Walmart and the very people who they lobby against in Washington. When Target opened in New York City, there was a big brouhaha. Gays and hipsters couldn’t wait to go to the new Target to decorate their cool Lofts and buy the fashions they see advertised in New York Times Magazine. Certainly, Walmart isn’t having fashion spreads in New York Times Magazine! People had no qualms dropping their paychecks in Target because the Evil Empire of Dayton Hudson hides invisibly behind that goddamned red logo.
It is ludicrous to think it’s okay to shop at Target and not at Walmart. I will give you this about Walmart. It doesn’t mask what it’s doing. It is what it is, and there is no denying it. The name of the family that owns the store is in its title, not hidden behind the front of a corporate designed logo of deception. Frankly, you’re pretty hard pressed to find any decent retail employer. Speaking of the New York Times, this recent article Shop First, and Eat Later
describes how most retail employees cannot afford to buy the goods they sell (in other words, the failure of the Fordist model of capitalism).
Let it also be noted that smaller does not necessarily mean better. Many independent businesses completely exploit their employees, providing no healthcare and no overtime compensation. When I’m giving four bucks to Starbucks, I know the employee is getting healthcare, education assistance, and retirement options. Can’t say that for every independent café.
If you’re going to “target” Walmart, then you need to start making your list A LOT LONGER. Very few businesses are fair employers. Stores like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters actually infuriate me more than Walmart because they mask themselves as “liberal chic” when they are both Right Wing business ventures. Fuck them. At least a T-shirt at Walmart (not that I would buy one) costs ten bucks and is likely made in the USA while shirts at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters cost $50 and are made in China.
Nothing about 21st Capitalism is so clear and black and white as we would like it to be. We do the best we can with our options. For me, sometimes that means I step inside a Walmart.
Speaking of that little white Christmas tree that Bean wanted? After searching SEVEN stores, guess where I finally found one on Thanksgiving Day? That’s right. WALFUCKINGMART! Like I said, I’m digging myself deeper into the layers of hell.
But we are all hypocrites and complicit. It’s impossible not to be. Amazon.com has egregious labor practices. You may think that you’re not participating in the evil capitalist regime just because you can safely hide behind your computer screen and click to order. But somewhere in a freezing cold warehouse, laborers are loading boxes without heat to get your shit delivered to your door. Remember that.
I live in Tucson, Arizona, a town that may have the highest number of Walmarts per capita! I have a kid. I work a job to take care of her. I don’t always have a choice about where I get what she needs. Is dumping a shitload of cash at the Evil Whole Foods for a fucking overpriced jar of peanut butter any better? I actually feel more dirty shopping at Whole Foods than I do at Walmart. There is no hypocrisy in Walmart. It is what it is. I don’t like it. But at least I know exactly where I am when I step inside one.
Speaking of stepping inside one, I was in the Swank Walmart in Horror Valley last night getting more Xmas lights to string on our trees so I decided to take these photos at Twilight. In order to get the vantage point I wanted, I had to drive my Subaru over the curb on Tangerine Road, drive across the pedestrian walk, then park my vehicle halfway down the hillside. Luckily the Fascist Horror Valley Police didn't stop me and haul my anarcho Walmart shopping ass into jail, so I was able to take these photos and write this confession to go with them. Enjoy!
For another take on Walmart, I encourage you to read Mark’s excellent essay Fighting the Symptoms here
I have to run. My kiddo needs some Nilla Wafers before I head out for the day. You know where I need to go for those . . .
RUTH: She actually said that. Joan of Arc actually said that. She called the Church the counsel of the devil. (pause) That sure cooked her goose.
LEN: I guess it would.
RUTH: But the thing is, it hasn't changed. In six hundred years! They were just hiding behind dogma and power and they still do. Refusing to hear or see anything other than their blind...What's different?
Okay peoples. Today is the FIRST DAY IN MONTHS that I actually feel like my old feisty firey self. I am ON. I feel ALIVE. My pistons aren’t missing. I’m laughing. I’m smiling. I’m joking around.
Let the odds be ever in my favor!
Speaking of the HUNGER GAMES, I am going to follow my friend Steven Rubio’s model, and start doing movie catch up writing by just writing a paragraph each on the movies I see each week. Well, for now the movies I’ve seen lately.
I’m not going to push myself too hard, but I am ready to rock and roll. I have a deadline for paper issue of CounterPunch coming up. I’m doing an article on the early trilogy of James Gray – Little Odessa, The Yards, and We Own the Night.
The good thing is that my brain is back. My humor is back. My smile is back. Now I just need some time. Been focusing intensely on helping my kiddo and being the best mom I can for her while getting back on my feet at the day job, but I also believe it is time for me to start WRITING again. That also includes more Love Stories from the Economic Apocalypse.
This is all to say HI. I’m sorry I’ve been so touch and go these past months, but this has been one hell of a fucked up year. So glad to start a new one in a few weeks, and to make the holidays as spectacularly awesome as possible for my kiddo.
Greetings. See you soon. And all that. HELLO FEIST!
When I first moved to the desert, a friend asked me, “Girlfriend, what the hell are you going to do out there?” I said, “Lick my wounds.”
I had a hell of a lot of wounds to lick, but holy shit, I had no idea what this place would be like. Arriving on Labor Day Weekend, I had a head on collision with a wall of heat so thick I wanted to flip a U-Turn and go back to the ocean. I wanted to flip that U-turn for years.
I said Fuck This Place with its sun baked slow talkers. Fuck this place where Border Patrol and old people plague the highways.
I tried to embrace it. One summer I got up at 4 a.m. every morning and ran at sunrise. I said, “So this is how I survive this place.” But I was ready to fall on my face by 3 in the afternoon. And I had a job to keep. A small child to raise.
I was numb with heat and culture shock. I wasn’t getting much wound licking done, but I sure in the fuck felt wounded. Like the day I fell into a prickly pear cactus and had to remove a thousand needles from my leg with Elmer’s glue. Cactus needles, spider bites, scorpions in the night.
I became a vicious killer. The poisoner of pack rats when they ate $2,000 worth of rubber parts off my car. No more shoeing the fly out of the house shit. It was do or die. I made my choice.
The morning thing didn’t last long. I always hated the sun, and the minute its blaring head rose over the mountain, I howled, “FUCK THIS PLACE!”
It wasn’t until I started roaming the streets at night that I truly fell in love with this strange landscape, this dark and mysterious world where plants grow that grow nowhere else on the planet. I can’t name them for you because for me they are only silhouettes that make me feel like my planet has become a different planet. And I guess that’s what I really needed. A new planet. Don’t we all.
I may not have licked my wounds, but I picked the scabs off a bunch of them. Let the dirt of the desert grind into them so deep, they oozed gravel and blood. I made myself feel things I never let myself feel. Yes it hurt like a motherfucker. When they healed, my skin grew back a new color. The color I was before I was black and blue and red all over. New.
Sure, I found renewal in this place, but it’s not the kind I’m gonna find in some New Age bookstore full of a bunch of drum banging mumbo jumbo. No. I have run my way to renewal. I have shot my way to renewal. Legs. Feet. Guns. Cameras. Fingers. Hands. Hearts. I have loved my way to renewal with all these things.
The sky tears wide open in this place where streetlights are outlawed and the Milky Way is painted thick as ice cream across the night sky. I have eaten millions of stars. Look into my eyes and see them sparkle.
This desert, this empty wasteland, this place of barren mountains and things that bite and sting and puncture has given me a place to breathe. Space.
Sure, there are no sidewalks, but I’ve had my share of sidewalks. Glad to be free of them.
Sure the yards are made of dirt, but I don’t want no garden party.
No, I did not lick my wounds. I opened them with a Swiss Army knife and let them bleed a trail of history behind me as I run the streets at night. Watch assholes in pickup trucks skid on my trail when they hit it . The ones who get kicks out of running over snakes and shining their brights in my eyes. I have years of vengeance to pay. But really, I just want them to turn the corner and leave me in the dark and leave the snakes alone.
One cactus needle is wedged so deep in my foot it will never come out. A remnant of a nightmare. The night I cried so hard I almost choked up a lung. Barreling through the wasteland in bare legs, the needle punctured my shoe and embedded itself in my foot. Something to keep forever. To remind me of where I’ve come from. The places my feet have walked. Hard skin grew over it. I own that needle forever. A talisman of things that no longer are. Death and years wiped them out. A reminder of what is important. Life. Now. Love. Now.
There are some things I will never forget no matter how high the temperature rises. 115 degrees ain’t going to bake them out of me. But I can let them go. Blow them to bits in burning orange sunsets. Shoot them into star perforated skies. Send them flying on box cars cutting across miles of scrub. Dump them in a pile of garbage in the middle of the desert, light a match, and watch them go up in flames.
I hang my wounds from a naked tree. Pluck them off branches one by one with my .22 Remington. Until they’re nothing but pieces of nothing blowing across the field in a dirt devil.
Licking wounds is a dead end street. It’s much better to tear them open, let them bleed, and then step into a new night with an open heart and a head full of stars. Scars and all.
This is your lot.
graphite and cheap ass ballpoint pen in moleskine
Another quick "post-therapy" download in my Moleskine of Love. It's important that I have something to use to transition from "therapy" to the "real world" and quick drawings provide just this place. (Beats the hell out of drinking a six pack!) My therapist is so supportive of all my creative expression -- my writing, art, poetry, etc -- and how I have used it for tools for survival and how clearly happy it makes me. Whenever she talks to me about my art or writing, my entire "affect" changes, and she smiles huge. Making art and writing (especially the short fiction that I want to revive) has an enormous positive effect on my entire psycho-biological pathology. I could write a very long piece about art/writing and recovery. I wonder if I should . . . .
I was talking to her today about the "resentment" that I have been bombarded with over the years because of my creative expression and achievements (for what they're worth). She said, "Kim, no one should resent you. We should celebrate you." That made me cry.
I talked to her at length about the postive effect writing fiction has on me and why. Remind me to tell you sometime about why I want to keep up with the fiction and why it's good for me. In fact, I have a NEW short story up my sleeve as soon as I have time to sit down and write it!
Anyway, regardless of how "dark" my drawings seem on the outside, making them brings me light inside.
Right now I have to go pick up my kiddo from school. LOVE HER MORE THAN THE WORLD!!!!
Autumn is the somber time – and yes, we’re still in autumn, though some of us have already experienced a bit of snow. Sure, we all like those crisp sunny days with all the pretty fall colors, but that never seems to last long enough. For the most part, I think of fall as a period of decline, which I suppose is why summer is my favorite season. Yeah, I know, I happen to reside in the upper Midwest where we have distinct seasons. But then, I like having seasons. I recall that, as a freshman tooling around the UCLA campus on my bicycle (can you imagine - that was a period when bicycles were considered slightly déclassé …the really cool kids had cars) and I’d look up at the California sky and feel a longing for seasons. I’d gone to grade school in Lancaster, PA …. Dogwoods and daffs, then everything green plus fireflies, then diving into smoke-scented piles of autumn leaves, followed by ‘snow angels’ and sliding down snowbanks on round saucer sleds. Junior high and most of high school was spent in Dallas where, believe it or not they did have seasons you could recognize, if not as distinctly as in the northeast.
Though it’s rather dreary out today, we’re having a good deal of fog lingering about. It’s like seeing the world through a scrim, which somehow mitigates the general dreariness, transforming the bare trees into these ghostly sculptures, all delicate and wirey. Of course I couldn’t resist grabbing the camera. First, a look out my main window … (incidentally, none of these pictures have been edited, enhanced or retouched)
Drawing closer to the glass, there’s only trees and a trace of snow which, as it evaporates, feeds the fog continually.
Looking across the street towards the west, the little section of woods seems like a lacey host of arboreal wraiths.
Putting my camera on ‘panorama’ mode, here’s the view panning from west to east.
Finally, here’s a couple shots looking north and east. I think the patterns of branches and twigs make a pretty picture, even in the quiet atmosphere overcast with fog.
BEAN MADE THIS!!!!
We’re getting back on our feet here. Bean went to school today and was HAPPY. The best decision I made was cutting her off all pharmaceuticals. My kid is back. Woo hoo.
She finished her Zendala for art class, so I scanned it to share with you. Look at how amazing it is! There are so many mysterious clues and symbols!
My writing is going to be coming back. I'm feeling inspired and alive! I have movies to write about. Short stories to churn out. POETRY. Walmart confessions. Lots of stuff. But, I’m also following my gut which says TAKE IT EASY today.
So off I go to bed to watch James Gray films in preparation for my next article in CounterPunch magazine.
Right now, however, I just want to revel in my Marvelous Bean. That’s good enough for me today. Very much good enough.