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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Change of Address and More

The lovely black cat, Virginia Woolf, and I do not live in the same place where we resided when I started the blog. We do, however, live in an area of the city with which we are both familiar. VW may like this community. I haven't asked her specifically. She does like to pussyfoot around outside my French doors along the tiled areas of the pool and hot tub. The wall surrounding the yard is so high that even a jungle cat could not escape, and VW now enjoys her first-ever forays into the outdoors. She likes the sun shining on her black fur. She does not like the little spray of water that disturbs her sense of all that's right as my head emerges from the water.

To my last post, esteemed blogger Erin O'Brien encouraged me to "do the 4-miler", meaning a fairly long walk, to snap a photo op. I'd spent years clocking miles and miles of walking each day of life. But I'd fallen away from it and felt very sad about that. I'm walking again. Not 10 miles, yet, on any given day, but I'm moving myself a little. There's a woman I see frequently who seems generally my age and about the same degree of fitness. I've toyed with the idea of asking her to meet up for a walk, but I haven't done so yet. I have befriended the man who passes my home every morning with two white dogs the size of lions. He is very pleasant. The dogs still make me retreat, pressing my backside into the nearest chainlink fence, which I could scale better than a block wall, should they decide to eat me. I passed a remotely familiar community one morning, its posted name ringing a bell from 33 years ago. Yes, it was the one and only section Stepfather built on the eastside all those years ago - homes a little larger and grander that ours in the far west of the city. I strode on streets named for Mom and myself, intersected with that Terrace named for Ex. A contractor could do that in those days. No streets had existed there before. It was just open desert.

I am surprised, intrigued and a little anxious about regaining my fitness. I'd been ill awhile. I'd stopped all fitness routines and my previously inspiring muscles left me so quickly and completely. I wear 2007 (smallest ever) clothes now, or - rather - they wear me, waistbands cinched up like the top of the paper bag around the neck of a wino's bottle. Last week, I went to a medical appointment where I had to be weighed and have my waist measured. I take a medication that can cause unwanted, very quick weight-gain. "Hmmm," said the nurse. "You've lost X pounds." I allowed as how that wasn't such a lot of weight, but he said, "It's about 10% of your body weight in 90 days."Oh.OK, I know what to do. I know to set a timer to remind me to eat, and I know what to eat. I am a fairly decent problem solver.

I mentioned in the last post that I might need a step ladder to do justice to any pictures I might take to show something I found remarkable and funny in my travels. On my first on-foot outing, I determined I was going to need a really big ladder. On my second visit, I realized I was going to need a cherry-picker and far more refined camera equipment than any I can access. But I am resourceful. Circling this curiosity, I spotted some words and thought maybe I could Google something. I also developed a prickly feeling that maybe some copyrights and trademarks might be at work. There were posted some signs and notices relating anger and dissent. At home, in front of the computer, I learned that this jaw-dropper place has already attracted much attention, many photographs, was once an attraction to which one paid admission, and now was the subject of numerous lawsuits and protests. What in the world made me think I was going to be the first to photograph and point to an unusual item? This is Las Vegas, for crying out loud! I'd asked a couple of photographers to make the 7-mile journey with me for years. All I wanted was a snap of the perfectly normal house on a perfectly normal street that had a full-scale roller coaster (with cars) protruding from an upstairs wall, presumably someone's bedroom. There were a few other interesting items, but the owner had not yet gone full amusement park. Should I have been more persuasive, or should the photographers have been more attentive to what I wanted to do those days when I asked for a little field trip? Not sure about that.

I have a decades-long routine for visiting the book store, carefully choreographed by me and explained to with whomever I am going into the store. This dance has been performed with Ex and Amber as my companions, girlfriends, colleagues with whom I am doing research for some presentation. We spill into the entrance of the store, scrambling like roaches spilled out of a jar. I furtively make my way to the section where are sold those kind of unsavory, unseemly, rather lowbrow books I love (I watch the same genre on TV) and fill my arms with as many as I can carry without attracting too much attention. After an agreed-upon amount of time, we meet at some common area of the store and proceed with our day. I'd just loaded up, finding a fresh pile of new offerings by two of my favorite authors. I backed up a little to make a final scan of the shelves and found I'd reversed a step too far - my rear end had pressed onto the shelves of poetry. Ha! Poetry placed cheek-by-jowl with my sneaky pleasure. I had some time before meeting up with my companion. I set down my books and my Starbucks and began to flip through some volumes. Yeah. Just as I thought: I don't care for poetry. Now, the reader should know I've suffered a little due to my lack of poetry prowess and appreciation. A woman friend asked me to tell her about my best loved poetry. Many, many favored bloggers both read and write poetry. And I'm a dud. It was not forced upon me at school and I never sought it out. This does not make me soulless or stupid, unromantic or unimaginative. Poetry is simply not what I do. So I told the girlfriend I have no best loved poems, as I also have no big cleavage or gray hairs. And I've sneaked around peeking at poetry ever since.

Who knows why the title nabbed me? It just did, and I took the volume from the shelf, flipping through the pages. Oooh. No Emily Dickinson here (although I can tolerate Emily). No. Grit here, sometimes, and deep emotion, and hard truths, accepted by the poet. This is not like me - I paid full retail for the slim volume. I have read from it and spilled coffee on it daily for awhile now. While it has not led me yet to other poets and their works, it has led me to another plane of my inner self. It reminded me, after many days, of a poem that did erupt from me once - oh, it's been a few years - that was actually good. I knew it was good. It was painful and bloody, wounded, nearly dying. But it was good and it perfectly reflected the way I felt about things at a place in time. I have begun a new poem of my own writing. It is not ready for presentation yet. I think it may be good. It may be sprung upon unsuspecting readers as it shakes out. We shall see. I'll need more muscles. I'll need more nutrition. I highly recommend "The Cinnamon Peeler" by Michael Ondaatje, probably best known as the author of "The English Patient". There, old girlfriend. I have some best-loved poems.

This afternoon, I am moderating a discussion group during some good talk to take place while the Super Bowl drones in other places. If you think me unAmerican because I detest everything about football, OK. I'll bear the shame. If you choose to participate in my tar-and-feathering, OK, but the line is long and they're getting unruly in the back there. The point is, I'm moderating this discussion and I'm a little dicey about it. For you see, I am new to the group and I don't really know all that much about the topic of discussion. I haven't made my bones there. I was selected to moderate because I speak well and I manage groups of people well. That's all. Things that both come naturally to me and which I was trained to do - kind of a no-brainer. I feel a bit fraudulent. Talking the talk before I've walked the walk. I don't want to be "Still Skating After All These Years". And I intend to say as much once I've completed my assignment.

In my ears right now: Well, not my ears, but my head, I guess. Michael Ondaatje ~

Having to put forward candidates for God,
I nominate Henri Rousseau and . . . . .


  1. pleased you are getting your 'muscles'back .. have missed your stories..I do like all sorts of poetry the old romantic kind and the modern gritty too...i did write one once when I first met jim but I was embarrassed to show him then ...I have since lost it..ah well !!...looking forward to following your progress....take care ...xxx

  2. @ Artymess ~ It is good to see you here, Lorna. I'm trying to figure out what time it must be there, but I'm drawing a blank, so I'll just say thanks this afternoon, evening or morning. For me, anyway, writing is like anything else we try that contains strands of our deepest personal makeup. "Will this be good enough?" "Will I look foolish?" "Will someone say,'Hey, good stuff!'?" Making connections (however we do it) is risky business. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm getting little muscle bumps, kind of like Olive Oyl vs. Popeye.

  3. I didn't know Michael Ondaatje also wrote poetry--I will have to take a look. His prose is divine. I'm glad you and VW have settled into a new home. I have a fondness for black cats--my Kiki lived to be 17. I'll have a cat again someday, but not just yet.

  4. @ Doozy ~ Hey, pajama girl, good afternoon! I think you'll enjoy Ondaatje's poetry if you enjoy the prose (who wouldn't?). Having read both your blog and your e-mail today, I'd say it's not time for you to roll a cat into your life right now. There will be plenty of them needing good homes when the time is right. Keep me informed. I figure if I just live your life vicariously right now, it will be almost as good as my having one of my own! ;~}

  5. The nose cone of a space ship? Roller coaster ride? I can see why your interest was peaked.

    So glad to see you back to your old descriptive self.

    Look forward to the poem.

    WV = reallocy. The reallocy of Les's situation made her want fantasy back.

  6. @ Kassie ~ I'd like a small order of fantasy falafel, with a light sprinkling of fairy dust. Please add a dinner-sized plate of whimsy on the side, no realoccy. Dessert? Oh, yes - a descriptive split, I think.

  7. I noticed in the upper right-hand corner, underneath the followers, you have "A quote That Just Grabbed Me", in this case, one by W.S. Merwin. Are you aware that Merwin is not only a poet, but the current Poet Laureate for the United States?

  8. You are a total star! I love that you read The Cinnamon Peeler! Been tied up to my hippo camp with poetry for months now! Can't stop writing it, or reading it - Simon Armitage for the last month or so - if I were the Queen of Northern (UK) poetry, he'd be my choice of king! I'm reading Kid this week but you might like to listen this:


    Also, the bloke who introduces him is from the next village to my home town - that's my accent! (Of course I don't speak like that now; I'm proper posh!)

    I think I fall in love with poets, or if not love, I definitely have intense affairs with them, take them to bed, spill my heart into their greedy soul cases and then they leave (usually after I've got a hefty library fine) and we remain the best of friends. Unless they're crap. x

  9. AND!!!!Rocket in your yard! What's that all about?

    Woman, where I grew up, there was something amiss if you had more than two rubbish bins in your yard!

  10. @ Kirk ~ I knew that about Merwin. The author of a book I recently read is clearly Merwin-influenced. Her book had enough quotes from his poetry to make me want to go take a look.

  11. @ Rachel ~ Hey, I always wanted to be a star, thank you! And if you are to be the Queen of Northern UK, may I be your lady-in-waiting? I will look into Simon Armitage. I know the announcer's accent well - it says "Yorkshire" to me. I loved your description of a love affair with a poet. Kass and I were blog-yacking once and I wrote of Mr. Insomnia stealing into my bed unannounced and then throwing me aside like trash just when I thought he'd make me insane.

    The neighbors of the man with the rocket and roller coaster don't care for his eccentricity at all. The man has now bought about four lots and his "stuff" is spread out rather like the Neon Boneyard - all manner of Las Vegas-y stuff. He'd been giving tours, apparently, and I imagine it was the zoning department that closed him down. That and the neighbors with no imagine. They want to run away. I wanted to run right in.

  12. "They want to run away. I wanted to run right in." Just so. Me too! Ah, I don't do heirarchy (purposeful mispelling! For once!) - so you can be joint queen! Then again, that makes you sound like queen of leafy smoke..ahem..balls to the queenly aspiration..we'll be kings and he can be in our waiting...I think he's quite lovely...he wouldn't mind waiting..it would be inspiring..he's probably get a good poem or two out of the experience!

  13. @ Rachel ~ I LOVE that you are so egalitarian! me, too. It's in my nature. So, I'm with you, Honey - "balls to the queenly aspiration". Hmm, leafy smoke. It's been awhile. I think you're right. He wouldn't mind waiting for a pair such as we.