Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Maybe It's the "Pornosonic."

I have 2 papers to write that have to be submitted by Friday. If it was a warm summer day and I was working on the patio table outside, I could crank them out in a couple of hours. I smoke, I type, I look things up, I'm enriched with Vitamin D and am a happy clam. One might think the planes, trains and automobiles (literally) and living in a townhouse community would be distracting; instead, it's this weird phenomenon where I can zone, point and shoot for the win.

In my room, however, I'm HORRIBLY distracted. It's a rainy, dank late October night. My room's not all that interesting and my desk is strewn with the 5,687 things I need to attend to. Everything is laid out to write the first paper. Except my brain. It's like I get acute ADD attacks in here. And it doesn't help that this stupid mixed mood episode hasn't left. I'm manic inasmuch as I can write. I could also eat more gummy vitamin supplements. I could wipe the fingerprints off the screen of my cell phone again. I could laugh at more shit on Pinterest or send Guy a suggestively sarcastic someecard that he won't check in his email for a month, by which time I might not be mad at him anymore. I'm depressed inasmuch as I have zero motivation to actually work, malaise towards life in general and am in a kinda crappy mood and feel like downing like a whole bottle of Ambien (which I won't, just making a point).

What could possibly, however, be distracting me more is having the background music be "Pornosonic: Unreleased 70's Porno Music." It's absolutely incredible, one of those "love-at-first-listen" albums that is so fucking funkariffic that if I EVER actually HAD sex again, I'd put it on in the background and laugh hysterically with whatever Guy is fortunate enough to sleep with me, especially if he's over 50 and gets the irony of it . All this whacka-whacka-wuh-wuh guitar with hot bass licks and funky horn section action, OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!

But I digress.

While Dr. Monotone is an extremely nice man and a good professor, listening to his lectures for 3 hours DRAINS me. Animate yourself, for God's sake! Engage me! Engage any of us! My small group activity was a clusterfuck at the end of class when the 3 of us tried to reorganize about 90 tiny sheets of paper of personal characteristics into one pile again with 3 specific sheets on the top, after we'd mixed them all up. It was fantastic.

One paper is for Dr. Monotone, incorporating a career development theory into the diverse and completely confusing (to me) employment history of Meg, my study subject. She's worked at the same company since graduating college, but has done several different things, all of which are science-ey and befuddling and she's like super smart. I'm supposed to make recommendations to assist her in the future of her career process. All I can think of off the top of my head is "Your eye makeup is impeccable. Rock it, girl!"

The career counseling theories class is twisting me about. It's causing me to pause and wonder if being a psychologist is honest-to-Christ really what I want to do, when all these tests being administered to me churn out results that I should be an English professor or a paid-type-of-writer (the world is raft with jobs like that, right?). There's always the burgeoning world of online counseling, which my academic advisor was recently certified to provide. You have to be a licensed counselor, of course, but it's a big buck churner you can do WHILE you chain smoke on your patio or just Skype with clients. Like I said before, I would love to be a therapist, but I'd also love to teach writing. (So yeah, PS, fuck you--all of you who think I'm a shitty writer in the first place.)

This crossed my path today, and I completely want to put it on my therapy appointment cards in my practice:

Stop it!

The second paper is for Assessments and Appraisals and involves simultaneously the easiest and the most difficult case study subject imaginable: me. Using indices and personality inventory instruments to dissect a middle-aged woman with Bipolar II Disorder, mixed moods, rapid and ultradian cycling, generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD is kind of fucking hard, but he said we could write about ourselves if we didn't self-identify. So I'm writing about myself in the third person. Yay, I get to give MYSELF a pseudonym for a change! Maybe it'd be less pressure-cooking if I picked only one of my mental illnesses so's not to confuse the professor any more than I'll probably confuse myself.

I'm kind of deadline-driven. There's a reasonable chance that one paper will be written tomorrow night and the other Friday morning, seeing as it's already 9:11 pm and I have to be up at 6am to get ready for my research methods class, which is actually turning out to be super fun now that we're into qualitative research. Ah, crap. I'm supposed to have my research paper "question" nailed down by tomorrow morning. All I have now is a jumbled idea about why there isn't more enrichment opportunity and advanced, challenging work, or a resource assistant in more junior high schools for gifted children (like Luke). There seems to be plenty of extra help and attention for students who struggle, and I just think the scale's a bit unbalanced. Meh, I'll nail it down to a simpler thought on my morning commute (*unless I'm asleep*).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Poor, Poor, Pitiful She

Now, that's a hand-slap attributed to the insensitivity of The Offbeat Drummer and all her Blue Meanies. 

The definition of conjecture is "an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information."

After a conversation with an interested party last night, I've come to find out that Ms. Blog Stalker is not, in fact, as tough skinned and badass as the majority of the posse I know, and is going through "rough times." Rough times, Sister Sledge? I hold my head high (when I'm not suicidal, but I'm bipolar) and don't give a damn what people think of me.  I'm neither afraid nor give a damn about the criticism of the prose I compose on a regular basis, and who would think my blog is fictional to begin with? While I have a college degree in writing, I sucked at fiction writing. I think I got a C from the esteemed Robert Hellenga, best-selling author at Knox College. 

Whatever "story" which was presented to to the interested/involved party was pure conjecture. The ludicrous idea was suggested by this person, who's in the blog frequently, that I revert the blog, which is my running, rambling autobiography, into a work of fictitious "short stories." I listened to his rationale, and he made his case, but I just kind of "Uh huh'd" and "Mmm Hmm'd" my way through that part of the conversation. If I even attempted to all of a sudden say "This is a short story based on my imagination or recent events," at this point, nobody would believe me, because the vast majority of my reader base knows I tell nothing but the God's honest truth, which can be brutal and vulnerable at times. Is it risky to *not* write under a nom-de-plume?  Yes. Those who ask for pseudonyms or nicknames, I honor. Others who are bold enough and have nothing to hide from the universe, like me, use their real first names.

I've been hinging on a PhD or EdD in Creative Writing versus a PsyD doctorate in psychology once my masters is completed. I honestly would like to provide therapy, for which I'd be licensed, but a side gig as a college writing professor would make me very, very happy. Said contributor said I should I get that PhD in creative writing because it's my God given talent, just as we're all blessed with certain talents.(Ms. Blog Stalker is good with numbers but atrocious with English and vocabulary or intellectualism). I haven't outed anyone's libelous last name or real name who've requested. Should Ms. Blog Stalker require armchair therapy, I suggest she broach that with her friends or a real doctor, not this unlicensed psychologist. Otherwise, she's welcome to seek out my solicited advice, but it'll cost her $150 under the table to listen to her bitch for an hour.

The medical practice, remember, is deemed "Balderdash and Verities," which I borrowed from the late Harry Chapin, which essentially means what's truth and what's a lie. And trust me, there are plenty of crocodile tears and hurt feelings among the staff still working there, lies and covering one another's asses. Put simply, balderdash is bullshit & verities are the epitome of what's truthful. 

My friend's suggestion that I revamp "Rhythms" into a work of Lifetime TV movies is, the more I ponder it, ridiculous. Who would believe I'm fictitiously making this stuff up? Truly, as the cliche goes, the truth is stranger than fiction. My merry band of friends and family are what spice up my blog. To imply that it *was* fictitious or out of  purely my imagination would be non-authentic to  myself and what I write about. Nobody would believe me, certainly not the faithful readers, if I fictionalizaled stories of what has happened in mine or their lives, or that it was *good* fiction writing. 

At any rate, I've casted the perfect actress to play Ms. Blog Stalker, minus about 90 lbs and actually pretty, the inimitable Susan Lucci:

I'm irked more and more as the night progresses because this particular co-worker of Ms. BS, I believe, only heard her version of the story, which evidently he heard third-hand, so he has a one sided, crocodile tears "Andrea's harassing me!!!" Wah. When, as I said, I have proof that the site was accessed from B&D and the invasive and annoying texts weren't my instigation at quarter to five in the morning. He did't seem to care. At all. He has lost his mind, because he suggested that MS. BS and I actually have lunch to iron things out, but at least leave the Henchwoman out. No dice. She accessed me twice through home before I blocked her IP and that of her Henchwoman, yet released the office. I have nothing left to say. I'm a very busy grad student. I have moved on. There is literally no reason for our lives to intersect at this or any other juncture. 

"Rough times." Yes, we all go through them. Trust me that my illness has caused the worst of them, but I manage it as best I can But the strongest of us have the capacity, no matter how desperate things seem in the moment, to carry on. We don't cower and beg for alms of pity, and myself and most of my friends (and family) have been through far heavier shit and survived. The tenure at B&D almost literally killed me. Why would I want to relive that past, aside from making one lifelong friend?  I have no idea. She needs to grow a pair. All of this will make me a terrific therapist, no? This is how I'll end up:

But no, I've decided after pondering, that I'm not prefacing my blog entries, as "imaginative" they might be, as being stories of fiction, because they're actually things which happened to me or the people I care about. Perhaps a lesson of prose vs fiction is in order. I don't know. The verity is that I (pats back) am a good writer, most of the time. The balderdash would be making shit up you can't make shit up about. Literally.

So no, I'm not "harassing" your office staff. Like my friend Very said, Dr. Interested Party. They have an awful more to lose than I do. If you would take the time to read the emails I DO send, you might grasp that, since our propinquity has been askew, and spending time with me doesn't fit into your extremely busy schedule. 

Suffice it to say, while I was thanked for my card and token of extreme Miklasz family legacy, I didn't get the warm reaction I anticipated. Though atheist BMF was thanked profusely for his mass card, which was very thoughtful of him, especially given he was overseas and is an atheist, I got a chilly but acknowledged response for my gesture.

Ok, so what do I say next? This whole blog is a work of fiction? People please. I wouldn't insult your intelligence in such a fashion. Verily, that. Stop.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's Reformation Day!

Taking a break from the dissing. It's my son's Holy Confirmation Day and Lutheranism's Reformation Day. So go out there, indulge and lynch some Catholics or something. Luther wouldve wanted it that way. If you're in the area, stop by for What Surely Will Be Too Many Sandwiches Ordered at Camp Miklasz. TWO trays of deviled eggs, Ma? Was that really necessary? And slightly ironic?

Guard the kids; there's beer and wine in the house!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Because People Are Pigs, Larry.

Craig to Luke: "You are your mother's son."

There had to be spare punk in the umbilicus which transferred directly from myself to Luke. He had to write a book report on an ALA award-winning book. He did the assignment, as instructed, but felt compelled to add this as an aside: 

"As an aspiring author, I have certain objections to the Newberry Award system and the ALA in general; literature, just like any other fine art, is relative to each individual. If somebody hates Moby Dick, for example, that doesn't mean that everyone does. Having a committee gathered around a corporate boardroom setting discussing how good or bad these books are according to a predetermined set of criteria is completely menial, in my opinion, because it accomplishes little in making the book better than any other book that's ever been produced. But for the sake of this report's format, I will judge the book based on the Newberry Award criteria in the next paragraph."

...which is exactly like something I would've said in 8th grade....


I  seem to have contracted another cold. I fastidiously hand-wash, but it's valid to point out that I spend 6 hours a week commuting on the oxygen-less cesspool that is Chicago public transportation to and from school. It was surreal on my commute home after class to be so freezing in my new heavy coat in a heated "L" train car and sweating at the same time, continuously pulling tissues out of my briefcase. Apart from that, I also took half a Valium because I was so over-caffeinated and under-slept that I could barely blink my burning eyes. Don't tell me I'm not Craig's Very-Best-Used-To-Be. He came to pick up Luke after I got home from school around 1pm, as I begged him to, and I asked Craig to errand to Walgreens to pick up Cold-Eeze and orange juice for me. He called me from the store and, looking at packaging, asked me if I was taking sedatives or tranquilizers. Please. I'm Andrea Miklasz. Of COURSE I'm taking tranquilizers. He decided on the daytime/nighttime dual-pack of (really shitty tasting) fast melts (not fast enough for me) and remembered that I only drink pulp-free orange juice. I diss Craig a lot, but I'll say for sure there's one vow we've never broken, divorce or no divorce--that we'd always have each other's backs. That made me happy and a little tear-jerked about the whole thing, but that could've been from my fever. 

I spent an hour doing field research yesterday morning in Argo Tea, gauging wardrobe habits of douchebags wearing North Face apparel. Downtown Chicago is THE PLACE to be seen in North Face. It's expensive, popular, and screams of mainstream high socioeconomic status. The puffy down fill in their winter line of jackets and coats also makes you look fat, but if your pockets are that full of cash, you probably don't care. 

My friend, Sree, helped me understand statistics last year by coming up with a statistical bell curve index of North Face donners he encountered on the suburban Metra train commutes downtown every day. I.e., depending on the % of people wearing North Face, an index between 1-5 would be assigned quantatively to that population. THAT much I could understand.

But today was qualitative research. I won't bore you with all of my research questions, but essentially, I sat in Argo Tea for an hour asking North Facers buying tea, coffee and vegan muffins why they were dressed like such total douchebags. While I was polite and explained that I was from the psychology school down the street, approximately half of my subjects refused to even turn to look at me while I was asking them questions. All of the subjects were Caucasian  and age-ranged between their mid 20's and mid 30's. Sitting at my table with my laptop, in between interviews, literally every 3rd person who walked by was wearing North Face. So some of the stats, I fictionalized. Because I'm a great researcher, er, writer.

I was busy analyzing data, stop, on my blog tracker. I was explaining my rationale to Very how and why some IP's were blocked and some were released, and laughing heartily at the complete, utter ridiculousness and humor of the Ms. Blog Stalker situation. Stop. Hey, whomever is in Tampa and visits dozens of times a day, look, send me a plane ticket and some beachside accommodations, because it's getting cold up here in Chicago. Ms. Blog Stalker was awfully quiet yesterday, as was traffic from the IP's through which they were accessing me. Stop. Maybe that whole Big Boss having Proof That You're Dicking Around At Work stat is scaring them off a little. That's a shame, because this was getting more and more fun every day, wasn't it, Very? Stop!

So I was on this packed train car this morning and this total businessman douchedad boards with his preschooler, who we soon found out was named and worse, CALLED Lawrence. Douchedad and Lawrence sat together across from me and eventually, while I couldn't see them because of the standing passengers (I always try to get a seat by the door for a quick escape route since I have panic disorder), Lawrence asked his dad the following question: "Why is there garbage on the train, Daddy?" While I'm COMPLETELY for not talking down to your children, as I never have with Luke (see above), I had to snicker at Douchedad's answer: "Because people don't make wise decisions, Lawrence."

"Wise decisions?" I don't think the jag bag who left his Flaming Hot Funyuns empty bag on the floor of the L train was pragmatically considering the implications of littering. 

There were too many people on the train for me to impart my own parental wisdom on this young sprite, but if I was Douchedad, I would've said, "Because people are pigs, Larry." Call him Larry for the sake of fuck, you prick!

People wonder why I don't get sick from my Curious George stuffed animal that nuzzles me every night, seeing as I never wash him. If I washed him, he wouldn't smell like me. He'd smell foreign (not like doesn't-wear-deodorant-foreign, more like fabric-softener-foreign) and not be as uniformly cuddly. I'm sure George is infected or harboring cholera, typhoid, MRSA or malaria, but to his germs, I'm immune, because he's the only object of any intimacy I've consistently had for most of my life. I have a bad cold, midterm papers to write, band this weekend and my son's Holy Confirmation on Sunday, with 26 people cramping into our little townhouse. I really need to feel better SOON. I went to bed at 9:30pm and now it's 5am, so I got a lot of sleep (for me, anyway), but I think I'll crawl back in with George, who no doubt is getting chilly without me, the window slightly open for ventilation.

One more smoke, then headed back to the lonely, single sack.

I wish Ms. BS would stir up more trouble, stop! Very and I were having so much fun, stop! Well, Very hypothesized that Ms. BS has a thing for Guy, and always has, but I sort of doubt it. She's all up his ass working his shiz, but she's not his type. I, on the other hand....... 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Being Bloodied with a Bat in a Dark Alley Would Be Quicker and Less Painful Than Deciphering Your Texts humor is piqued enough betwixt my inner circle where I feel compelled to share the conversation between Ms. Blog Stalker (heretofore "Ms. BS,"...go back to other blogs, you all know who she is, my former supervisor) and myself, which came in as a surprise whilst I napped yesterday afternoon. Slander has to be recorded and false. Libel has to be written and false, neither of which are valid in this case, so my ass is covered and my phone fully charged. Mind you, I'm typing this out VERBATIM, grammatical, syntactical and typographical errors left intact, just the way they came across the phone:

Monday, 3:26 pm......

Ms. BS: Hey (insert name of scary, giant, mean African-American henchwoman/best pal) and I would like to have lunch w you one day .what day us good for u?

6 Hours later, after I'd awoken and consulted with colleagues.....

ME: That's surprising. What did you want to discuss? I'm extremely busy with graduate school.

Ms. BS: u know

Ms. BS: I also busy with jobs but I need to talk to u

ME: I really have nothing to talk to you about.

Ms. BS: U sure have a lot to say people tell me I never anything to u and I'm tired of hearing from others of what u say      if you have something to say tell me to my face

ME: I have zero interest in meeting with you or (henchwoman). Take care.

Ms. BS: Then I better not here (editor's note: sic) anymore shit u r talking about me    I don't bother u    don't bother me

ME: Fine.

[Just when you think scene cuts, I'm rudely awakened at 4:45 am Tuesday morning]

Ms. BS: ,this goes for your friends also I heard it didn't stop

[Can we cut scene NOW, please?]


Clearly, I must have her blocked from accessing Blogger; otherwise, she wouldn't be telling me all of this juicy information in a third-party format. "I heard that..." etc. (Unless she suffers from multiple personality disorder or hears voices.)

If anyone's muff-diving, it's the Henchwoman and Ms. BS. I spend so much time investing in my friendship with Meg that when she's stumbly and I hold her hand to walk to the car, people probably thing we're rug munching too (which we're both extremely too man-obsessed to do). Frankly, I don't care, if that's their thing, go for it. Live! I'm just baffled beyond belief that anyone would think I'd be stupid or naive enough to actually meet them "for lunch.." They'd tag-team scream at me! At that point, I'd whip out my latest tracking report of visits from the office during the work day, when they violated the company rules again, to which they're apparently immune. I didn't even find out that the Henchwoman, who had moved to Texas, had returned to her job at Balderdash & Veritities, from Guy. Who told me? A grocery checker at Domnick's. I'll hand it to the Henchwoman. She gives painless shots and can find a vein in Gollum. It's totally immaterial that she's unlicensed.

The last time Ms. BS and the Henchwoman argued with me via text, which was over a year or more ago, or more, before my hysterectomy in 2012, they threatened to go to Lady GuyGuy and expose what Guy and I are up to (read: honestly? Pretty much nothing). My feeling was like, "Go ahead! It's all published anyway!" I care about Guy and his situation, but I don't care what Lady GuyGuy thinks of me, or Ms. BS or the Henchwoman or anyone else left dangling at Balderdash & Verities. Their vapidity is astonishing; their banality unparalleled. Their morbid curiosity, however, is cranked up to 11 on the amp.

They'd left me alone for the greater part of a year, but checked in right quickly for my reaction to Madame Guy's death. Unless I'm wrong and they've been proxy accessing, but keep in mind, these are not intelligent people.

It's just irritating.

Which was why I broached with Guy if it was wise if I came to the wake in the first place. But he wanted me to come. I was glad I went. It was nice to see (most of ) his family and all the old pictures from the family. It was good to support him. I had something special I wanted to give him. In case it isn't already apparently obvious, though I might have been nervous such that I requested the escort of Meg, that was more for the sake of trying to commiserate with Lady GuyGuy, not the staff at Balderdash & Verities. Turned out I had no time to even offer my condolences to Lady GuyGuy, for she was in the surely sympathetic arms of Ms. Blog Stalker, among other throngs. Who left Guy standing by himself in his own little area?

Lunch. Meet us for lunch. Hi, you get a 45 minute lunch (if you choose to abide by any of the rules set out by Balderdash & Verities). I suppose that's enough time to beat me to a bloody pulp, but a) you'd both lose your jobs and end up in the county clink and b) thanks, but my hair stylist already noticed the 1.5" half-moon shaped gash on the top of my head as a result of falling, stumbling back into my house in the middle of the night tanked on Ambien. Hair grew IN it! She thought it was astounding I didn't have a concussion. I probably did, but just ignored it & went back to my meatballs. Heads bleed. A lot. Off-topic, I understand.

This'd be me and Arlene, except I would have the intellectual posse backing me up to kick her ass. I'd be Billy Batts, winding up in the trunk:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Wake Me Up Before I Go-Go

Wow, Meg and I got out of Madame Guy's wake JUST IN TIME.

No, I didn't sign the guest registry as "The Offbeat Drummer." But I thought about it. Like doing that pages and pages later, after the other throng of mourners had signed the registry.

Meg and I were sitting in her car decompressing before we went in, and who should wander in but the doctor who supported my firing from Balderdash & Verities for allegedly illegally obtaining 15 anti-diarrhea pills that have such a tiny amount of narotic in them, it's moot. It just helps you stay off the toilet every 10 minutes. I didn't want to talk to him, but if I did, I planned to tell him that booting me out was the best thing that could've happened to me; otherwise, I wouldn't be in my second year of graduate school. We went in and soon thereafter, the doctor who'd retired before I was fired arrived with his wife, and THAT guy.....OMGolly, he'd tried to get me fired for like a year before I actually got the boot because I was too intelligent for him to handle. He thought me a dipshit, when I was actually (to stoke my own fire) the smartest one of the bunch.

There was some priest doing something when we got to the funeral chapel, and we didn't want to slither in, so we waited in the lobby watching this clusterfuck of people who didn't give me the time of day wandered in and signed in. When the time was right, we went in and paid our respects to Madame Guy in the Catholic manner Kate advised. I only met the  6th out 7 kids, a sister, who was greeting at the casket. She was very nice. I explained that Guy and I used to work together but were still friends. There were lots of pictures around, and I'd only seen some of them, but Guy bears a striking resemblance to his mum. Same facial bone structure. I didn't get to see the baby brother Guy always shies me away from, who's close to my age, who I perpetually tease asking if he's cuter than Guy. He can't be. I saw the pictures of Guy from little Guy until now, and he's just, to me, incredibly cute.

Meg and I waited for our turn to talk to Guy, who was standing alone. I'd placed the mass card and sympathy card in the proper receptacles, but gave Guy his special envelope, a big hug and  kiss on the cheek, not giving a damn who saw us. A daughter ran by, whom I recognized, and Guy put the card in his pocket. (Meg and I joked later on as to how many cards in his pocket are from mistresses...NONE, goofs, what kind of scuz do you think he is?)

Guy, Meg and I commiserated briefly, and I checked on him, and got the scoop on who's doing what/when, but we thought it best we make a swift exit, because there had to be what seemed like hundreds of people filtering in, and I didn't want to monopolize Guy, though I felt like staying with him all night. What humored me were the landmines Meg and I kept dodging in terms of *not* running into people I didn't want to talk to, guess who at the top of that list?

Clue: They were hugging at the opposite door when Meg and I left. Lady GuyGuy and my #1 All-Time Blog Stalker/former supervisor. (She looks like hell, by the way. Lady GuyGuy just looks boring and milquetoast, as per,whereas I'd just gotten a new spike cut.) Lady GuyGuy and I were on opposite ends of the chapel the whole time, luckily. I joked with Meg this morning that I was going to address a sympathy card to Lady GuyGuy from my parakeet who's name she hates, and just sign it "Tweet, tweet, Sympathies, Nitwit." I should've. But I didn't want to overtake Guy's sorrow with sarcasm.

I got to see pictures of Lord Guy, his dad. He was this enormous creature who looked nothing like Guy, except he also had a mustache. (Come to think of it, I think Guy's had a mustache since he was like 12.) He looked like the average big Irish fella. Now it's got me wondering why the hulking creature didn't just stomp his feet on my father's chest and try to revive him when he went into arrest. Jesus, he was a big guy. He died a few years before I met Guy, and I sense they weren't the closest of people, but that's just my intuition. Guy was a mama's boy, FO SHO.

God bless Meg for being kind enough to give me a ride there and be my support system through the wake. I was trembling the whole time anyway, though felt a sense of calm once I was with Guy, like we were in our own little bubble, but I understand he had to be careful how friendly he was should eyes or ears wander.

He has to go out of town soon to settle a daughter into a new place, so I don't know when I'll see him again, but I hope we can at least have a coffee or a pass by on the way home from work before he leaves town. I don't like being a distant friend. It'd be nice to have a sanity day where we could go down to the Art Institute, but maybe that'll have to wait until winter break. Hopefully, he's not going to Germany again this Christmas. That'd break my heart.

But for now yes, it's Guy's heart that's broken, and my hope is that it mends quickly. So much estate bullshit to sort through. I don't envy the upper class in that respect.

Love and blessings to Guy, despite my cattiness:

The Offbeat Drummer

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Open the Window

Kate lost her mom yesterday morning after a years-long battle with severe illness including emphysema and COPD, among other serious complications. Kate's been caretaking her mother for close to 3 years in Massachusetts. How she's done it, I'm not sure, but geez, if we were talking about the Guy family being full of tough broads, Kate and her mom were spitfires of epic proportions.

Being EXTREMELY Irish, Kate told me of a profound yet beautiful custom in which the true Irish participate when a loved one dies. They open a window. Why? To let the soul free to go to God. I thought that was pretty amazing, and she did it.

Kate's been great this week helping me reel in my emotions regarding the loss of Guy's mother and having to go to that wake tomorrow (too much Irish Catholic death this week), reassuring me of my belonging at the wake (and Meg is indeed going with me) and helping me figure out Catholic wake protocol and easing my impetus not to scratch out the eyes of Lady GuyGuy (or vice versa). Everybody--me, BMF and, uh, WC, got the mass card things straightened out as to what the heck they are and what to do with them.

Thelma Carroll was a force to be reckoned with. I never met her, as I never met Madame Guy, but I talked to her on the phone in MA several times, and you'd have to scream into the phone "IS KATHLEEN THERE?" or I'd try and chit-chat with Thelma when I could before she got too sick. She had a fierce temper, as I understand it, but tried not to take it out on Kate. Other douchebag relatives were fair game, but that's a whole other Newcomb Place book to write.

Kate is the youngest of 3 children, far younger than her brother and sister, and also far more fragile and chronically ill, yet is the smartest and the strongest of the bunch of them.

She admires my strength, but a lot of it, I garner from her and her own fortitude. I have been friends with Kate since we met in the Knox laundry room in 1992, me shooting her a deadly glance should she mess with my hanging-to-dry Eric Clapton t-shirt. She was my dorm supervisor, along with her husband, my Russian professor. I knew she was a painter. No, like a REAL PAINTER. We formed an instant connection which has stood the test of time for almost 22 years based on mutual respect, a dedication to intellectualism and to one another's souls. Plus, we both love Yoko Ono.

What's so rare about Kate, and she honed this trait from her father, which I'm sure made her mother ask for her specifically to take care of her her, is her empathy. Buddhist philosopher and monk Thich Nhat Hanh calls it "noumenon," or "neumona," an object(s) that can be intuited only by direct knowledge (intuition) and not perceived of the senses, or an object independent of intellectual intuition of it or of sensuous perception of it. Also called thing-in-itself. Conversely, in the spirit of Kant, "an object, such as the soul, that cannot be known, through perception, although its existence can be demonstrated." (Living Buddha, Living Christ, 214). Kate and I may not have been in one another physical presence for over 20 years, but she feels things in and about me and I about her that are naturally mystical. Had it not been for her, I'd have given up on Guy, or shunned BMF years ago, but she was right about them. She's always right about them.

When Kate moved back from her home on Long Island (where her Harvard-trained husband teaches at SUNY Stonybrook) to take care of her mother in Massachusetts, I had trepidation. She was so frail and weak herself, with so many chronic, serious conditions. But put to task, for someone you love, someone who's asking for your presence, she soldiered on and did a wonderful job. Yes, there were many, many rough patches and challenges, but Kate forged what she was meant to do, and observed the peace of her mother's passing.

Kate has said she's felt a strong connection to Guy this whole week, and I can sense why. Guy was gallant, sympathetic and kind in conveying to me yesterday the fact that he'd keep Kate and her mom in his prayers. (I've been trying to give him space this week, which is hard, but we all have to make sacrifices.)

Kate has a unique gift of relieving suffering. That's another reason why I believe she was destined to care for her mother towards the end of Thelma's life. Shifting back to Thich Nhat Hanh's "Living Buddha, Living Christ (20)," he says, " When your beloved is suffering, you need to recognize her suffering, anxiety, and worries, and just by doing that, you already offer some relief. Mindfulness relieves suffering because it is filled with understanding and compassion." Those times when Kate was separated from her mother were torturous for Thelma. She needed Kate. I thank God that they were united at the end. Yes, I know, Kate's too pretty to describe.

Damnit that I have midterms and school and a kid about to be confirmed and all these local commitments, because I'd be on a plane to Boston right now if I could be. Still, as was discussed in some previous recent blogs, Kate knows my soul is attune to hers, and our families.  Sometimes,though, you just want to give your buddy a hug. I hope Kate knows how (though either Luke or I would break her fragile bones) much we'd hug her and hold her hand and reassure her that peace and joy outweigh grief and sorrow.

Blessings and congratulations to Thelma M. Carroll for the joy of eternal rest and peace with our Lord Jesus Christ.

This was one of Mrs. Carroll's favorite songs, so I'm posting it here.How progressive of her!!!!:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In Memoriam: Madame Guy

Guy's mother died this morning. I feel like crying, mostly because I wish it was I who had the opportunity to truly comfort Guy, when I heard the news on the speakerphone in the car.

Let's take a break from dissing him for a while.

From "How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjli":

"But luckily for us, energy is like a muscle; it grows stronger through being used. This is a very simple and obvious, yet perpetually amazing, truth. Every creative artist knows those days of apparently blank stupidity and lack of inspiration on which he has to force himself to work. And suddenly, after hours of toiling, the effort is rewarded; ideas and enthusiasm begin to flow into him. In all our undertakings, the little daily effort is all-important. The muscles of our energy must be continually exercised. Thus, gradually, we gain momentum and purpose."

I never met her, but I heard her of a matter of legend. She raised, I believe, 7 children, with a largely absent doctor husband.She had to be one tough broad.  Guy tirelessly tended to her as the only sibling living in Chicago. He was rather matter-of-fact on the phone tonight, not surprised, but I could sense the hurt in his voice. I've said before: it doesn't matter if you're 11 or 57, when you lose a parent, it's a traumatic, life-altering event.

I heard the details of the siblings flying in from all over the country, and I broached the subject of coming to to the wake. I didn't feel welcome there as sort-of-special-friend. But Guy said the wake was for family, and I was family. Alrighty then. I'm terrified to go alone, so I asked Meg, but she might be late. I asked Pastor Dave, but he hasn't gotten back to me yet. His kids will be there. His brothers and sisters will be there. Lady GuyGuy will be there, and we all know how well she and I get along. I'm going, don't get me wrong, even if I have to brave face it and go solo. I'd do for Guy anything.

Yes, George, "all things must pass away," but even amid lengthy illness and turmoil, we're never quite ready for that moment of goodbye. I certainly wasn't when my father passed away suddenly. I think Guy said he was at work when the news came in...then back to work after he'd just heard that his mother passed away. His strength is admirable.

I'll check on him tomorrow, but texted him the 2nd half of the last verse of "All Things Must Pass."

I haven't a clue how to handle an Irish Catholic wake. Mass cards and all that hoohah. I think the last Catholic funeral I've been to was my Nana's in 1994. Swear to God. I won't go to the funeral--that's more for the family anyway.

In his loss, I wish I was the one who could wrap my arms around him and hold him closely if he felt the need to cry. I wish I could ease his suffering. I wish I could make things better. Alas, nonesuch. I'll stand on the peripheral as a general mourner, with Guy in his heart knowing that he has all of my love and support. It's as much as I can do.

For all the saints, who from their labors rest, Madame Guy. You raised a fine man whom I love very much, who saves lives every day and still (occasionally) finds time for tots and a beer. For you, Madame Guy, we should not pity. We should congratulate, for you are in paradise.

God bless you all, far and wide, for safe journeys to and fro.

Much love.

The Butterfly

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Offbeat Drummer: Surprisingly On-Topic to Drumming

You can teach an old dog new tricks, but you need not to force the dog to do the trick the first time expecting it to be done well.

I've got a big stick bag. Lots and lots of sticks in it. Various weights, compounds, tips, and mallets, brushes, Hot Rods, all kinds of crazy drummer stuff. Put simply, I have a wide breadth of long objects to shove down the throat of our new contemporary band director. Last night was his first night. He can play lots of lots of instruments: the drums aren't one of them. That said, I didn't appreciate his 360 degree direction of changes to songs I've known by heart how to play since I joined my band 8 years ago. I wasn't the only sourpuss in the gang. We all sort of stormed out after practice, saying nothing but a "Yeah, we'll see you tomorrow." Pastor hung back in the back of the sanctuary most of practice just looking sort of downtrodden and every once in a while, I'd shoot him a "THIS IS COMPLETELY NOT WORKING!" eyeroll.

I know songs by heart, but I still keep a referral sheet (usually the guitarist's chord sheet) with notations and scribbles, whatnot, that only I understand on a music stand to refer to if I need while I play. I'm not a professional. My brother is 20 times the drummer I am, and I found myself irritatingly texting him last night during practice with essentially an "I just can't work this way" vibration. He was encouraging ("You can do it, kiddo!"), but I think he'd even be frustrated by practice last night.

I'm self-taught. I play by ear. I don't know what any of the school-taught technical theory terms mean, nor do I frankly give a crap. In flies this director hired without our vote or opinion as the new leader of the band. In my opinion, he should've sat there for a few weeks and listened to us do our thing---take note of our strengths and weaknesses, and worked around them to, well, strengthen us. Hang back for a while.

Instead, he came in blasting masters degree guns (in "singing and literature....opera, really...", which I wanted to say "That's really fuckin' useful!") with notated sheet music in accordance to how HE wanted us to "perform" the songs this weekend. Number one: We don't "perform." We lead worship. Number two: We already know how the songs bloody go.

Some of the intros he wanted to change on songs I lead sound downright craptastic. "Do a 3/4 stick click & start on the ride on 'Hallelujah.'" My guitarist kindly leaned over and simply said, "She doesn't understand what you're saying." He said to her, "Watch your tone with me." HELLO??  EXCUSE ME!? Can't you just tell me to tap the sticks 3 times and hit the ride? Not only that, but an intro like that? Without a fill to start it out with? Sounds like shit. A "stick click" isn't an intro. A count-in on the hi-hat is a better intro and that's not even a really good intro. Forgive me. Sorry. It gives the singers no sense of timing and throws the guitarist's own intro off completely.

I don't care if you've studied music in school since you were a goddamn baby. If you don't feel it naturally and play it naturally, and sing it naturally, it's going to sound like phony shit, which is what it sounded like. He was pleased. Of course he was. We gave in to how he wanted things done.

We are our own little family. We speak our own language. HE needs to learn OUR language, not fucking teach us Esperanto and expect to follow along seamlessly. My musicians understand if I say, "I'm going to go tick-tick-bump-a-bump-a-bum-bum, then come in." There's no theory---there's no logic behind it. It's what I hear in my head. And that's what they're accustomed to. And we need to have a meeting with this dude and explain that.

Ask any unorthodox drummer (professional or amateur) to instantaneously play formally and unlearn everything he/she has learned and you're going to get backlash at the very least; at the worse, a stick, again, down your throat.

Pastor says everyone's got to start somewhere. True. He should've started out sitting there quietly assessing our skills, not changing everything around, particularly for the musicians. Now I have to have dinner with the guy after church tonight and I just feel like cowering in a corner, nibbling my pizza, going home, valiuming out and going back to sleep. (Maybe I should bring Valium to pass around to the whole band tonight.) I have midterms to study for. I don't need this stress.

Drozd'd be far less of pain in the butt by which to be conducted or led, for his ego is tiny in comparison. Jesus, why didn't they just hire Steve Albini while they were at it? Or fucking Billy Corgan?

I'm not remotely as good as the drummer below. But I do have my own unique style, and I'm not altering my style to please this director. I can't roll from left to right, but I can from right to left. What I am claiming is that I play in a similar mindset as the drummer below. I can't repeat fills once I've done them. I play backwards, lefty on a righty kit. I play by emotion. Guess who else does that?

Whatever virus that has infected my body either hasn't made its way out, or I'm in a serious mixed-mood episode (my skin hurt yesterday and I slept 90% of the day but was up most of the night and got up at 9am today). I'm in a HORRIBLE mood.  After last week's utter suicidiality, I had a couple of up days, chiefly because I wore boots that always make me feel like conquering the world, appropriately enough. Maybe I'll wear them tonight. They'd hurt smack dab in the balls, that's for sure. While I normally don't like to swear in church (it's not that I don't like to, I just try not to), I got so aggravated at the director, that at one point, I told him, "You're fucking me up."

Anniearchy in the USA. Expect a revolt. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

"....But Our Hovercraft Is Full Of Eels!"

Oh, Rob.  My Isle of Wight buddy told me last week that his partner had to start taking the Hovercraft to the mainland to work because they'd raised the car ferry fare by double, and she didn't want to pay that. So naturally, I throw in the Python line of, "My Hovercraft is full of eels."

Which is only the funniest skit ever.

Yes, I STILL have the goddamn flu. I'm STILL running temperatures. I'm STILL sleeping most of the day, in spurts of 3-4 hours apiece. I leave music playing on my laptop whenever I go to sleep (force of habit). Sometimes the songs, if I'm semi-conscious, will intertwine their way into the dreams I'm having at the time. Sure as shit, when I woke up, Curtis Mayfield's "Pusherman" was playing on the computer.

I just woke up from elementary school teacher Richard Roundtree, as "Shaft," gun-wielding all of us kiddies onto a Hovercraft to go downtown and see Barack Obama perform in a musical. "Y'ALL GET YOUR MOTHERFUCKIN' ASSES GOING!" (Yes, I realize "Pusherman" is from "Superfly," but same genre.)

I have homework I should be doing and no Luke this weekend, and my mom is coming back from Canada today. What's worse? She wanted me to clean the bathroom today before her arrival home. Dude, it hurts to even walk up and down the stairs. I keep nodding off. If I don't have the strength and focus to go to school, how am I supposed to clean the bathroom? Can't we negotiate for something more reasonable, like Sunday? I just don't want to get smacked again, 'cause I'll whoop ass, aches or no aches. 

"Yes, Mr. Shaft. We're boarding as quickly as possible. Please don't shoot us."

You're damn right.