Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The House Is Officially Warm

Add to the short list of things I can cook competently: baked chicken.

I hosted a dinner party over the weekend and it was, if I may say so myself, fabulous. I got a no-brainer recipe for baked chicken, my mom brought mashed potatoes, and my sister made cous cous, greens, and baked beans. Fairly standard Hoosier fair ... but we are, after all, fairly standard Hoosiers. In attendance were mostly poet friends, the fam, an audio theatre friend (who gave me the recipe), and a couple of friends from my IU Press days. We all had a hardy har har when the house filled with smoke while I was manning the kitchen, but in all honestly nothing was truly burned; I simply have shitty aluminum all-stick pots and pans, and so “browning” anything means “blackening” the bottoms. I do, however, have two Calphalon baking sheets I scored when Dad took me shopping -- a spur-of-the-moment splurge at best, but they do indeed rock. In fact, these things can stop a bullet and lessen the impact of most U.S.-made RPGs, so I might just ship them to Iraq to cover the weak spots on a Bradley.

Anyway, the party switched over to the usual debauched wahootie fest around 9p when the drinkin’ commenced in earnest. Mom and Dad stayed late -- too late, frankly, as the Jell-O shots and snakebites really started to flow and they were just kind of sitting there in the living room looking a little lost. They had been a hit until then, really, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. Also, somebody brushed by me at one point and said, “Dude, your mom is on the back porch!” which was not-so-stealthy code for, “Dude, we’re all getting high out here and your mom is harshing my mellow!” When she came out, like, twenty minutes later (twenty minutes? wtf?) I tipsily asked her if she was causing trouble, and she laughed and said she was trying to. No harm, no foul.

Funny that what really sent them packing (what sent Mom packing anyway) was the arrival of my ex. I think Mom smartly decided she couldn’t deal and made a quick exit, dragging my tired Dad, the driver, with her. Unfortunately, they were blocked in, which prompted me to announce to the somewhat packed house, “My parents would love to leave, but your car might be blocking them in. Why don’t you all check on that!” After much scrambling, the driveway became passable, the ’rents were away ... and more revelers showed up. Actually someone called me on their cell while we were rearranging cars to tell me they couldn’t get in to park. Funny how when people arrived (one would assume sober, or relatively so) they parked like dufuses (dufii?) but once called to action, the driveway became as orderly as a roundabout.

I got totally trashed with my sister, which has never happened before. I got tanked with my other sister in New Orleans once. We gulped 32-oz. hurricanes you get (or used to be able to get) from those huge slushie machines lining Bourbon Street, and walked around in a warm haze. The other sister, however, has always tried to pass herself off as a teetotaler, or at least not a hardcore partier. Riiiiight. Didn’t you go to high school in the late seventies/early eighties?

Anyway, I started in the afternoon with wine while making dinner, then switched to beer, a couple of snakebites here, a couple of industrial-strength vodka Jell-O shots there, and I was feeling rather fine. Around midnight, Sis handed me a shot of Jagermeister, we toast, and gulp! JESUS CHRIST, I’M DRINKING COUGH SYRUP!!! That was one shot over the line for me and I switched up to water from then on. Sis, on the other hand, seemed to be just getting started. She was hammered. HAMMERED, I SAY! And her husband, a great guy, indulged a bit as well, which was very cool ... I guess. We, being fairly standard Hoosiers, tend not to let our hair down in front of one another, no matter what we’re like in broad daylight the rest of the time. It was great being loose with them, and Mom and Dad, too, actually, though to a lesser extent.

All in all, a great party; a great mix of friends, co-workers, poets, and family. Normally they are only jumbled in my head; it was odd seeing them all under one roof, talking and laughing with each other, but the results were pleasing to my mind. And I’ve decided that since I’m only in the new place for about six months, I’m going to continue to party like it’s 1992.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Concentric Poetry Circles of Bloomington

Last week I gave a reading (well, I was on the docket anyway) at On a Lark, this li’l emo used … everything store on town. The event was to celebrate a friend and fellow poet getting out of jail and hightailing it out of town. Good roads, Dennis!

As it was a decidedly younger demographic than I am used to wowing, I figured I might as well mix things up a bit, so I read some Wallace Stevens (“The Snow Man”), a couple of my newest poems (one straight outta tha typewriter the night before), and closed with a piece I introduced as “one of my favorite things to read to people who have been drinking heavily”: the “Inflexible Authority” routine from Nova Express by Burroughs. NE is part of Burroughs’s cut-up trilogy (NE, The Ticket that Exploded, The Soft Machine), all of which are totally whacked, even by Bill’s standards. Just nutty, and the mere two or so pages I read that night include an interrogation by Board Syndicate agents, a searing indictment of the “art” of photo montage and of image culture/cult of personality, and, to top it off, an apomorphine-addicted death dwarf screaming, "My power's coming! My power's coming!" all penned circa mid-1950s. Crackling prose I can really sink my teeth into and read with some verve. Real theatrical-like, dig?

So I’m swilling PBRs (bleah) and doing my thing, and it ended up being a little sad but joyous event in a twentysomething, I’ll-miss-you-forev----hey-look-free-beer! way. I had a great time, though I really ought not drink cheap beer. Ever.

Contrast that with last night, wherein I was sitting in Jenny Kander’s living room, shoes off to protect her beige carpet, surrounded by the “old guard” of Bloomington poetry. She and her group invited me to be the special guest at their annual spring performance at the library in March and last night was the first rehearsal. I am thrilled and honored! Seriously, these are some fine, towering poets in the B-tizzle lit scene and just having an opportunity to read for them in a living room was a treat. I didn't have to drag them into some unholy basement or *gasp* coffeehouse to get them to sample my work. whew!

I can’t help thinking, though, that I’m carrying some kind of torch here. The youngsters actually think I add credence to their kegger/open mics, while the silverbacks I think are starting to consider me “the next generation” -- largely because I’m still here, sure, but it’s still an honor even being nominated.

Speaking of Jenny K., I’m reading with her and some other people tomorrow night at the Spoon at 7p.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Let me rephrase that

You know, I really should clarify/underscore/whatever how thrilled I am and my old flame wants to rekindle, and not let the bitterness of my unresolved financial horseshit put out that fire. She has been the best lover I've ever had and the fact that she was willing to wait until some dust has settled before making a move -- and that she is still interested in me at all -- gives me warm feelings ... of a different sort. My ex and I had been seeing her (ours was an open marriage) off and on for most of our ten years together, so when ex and I split, girlfriend broke up with us, too. We were a "package" deal to her, which I totally understood ... damn it.

I don't care or need to know if flame is hooking up with ex now, too. They are their own people and always have been -- we planned it that way. But it is nice to know I'm still wanted.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Go Back to Your Lives, Citizens

And the pendulum swings back to normal. Although "normal" often still tastes like "fucked up."

No, I'm not going bodhisattva and living la vida asthete in the Badlands. I'm staying right here where the grass is quite green, thanks.

I just received word yesterday that an old flame wants to rekindle, pretty much NSA, which is okay by me. So calloo, callay there.

Immediately upon receiving this e-mail, though, I get word that my ex not only is unable to refinance the house to get my name off the mortgage, she also most likely will not be able to do so until late summer ... even though the divorce decree states I am only financially obigated to pay her to pay the mortgage until May. She's also "hinting" at defaulting on the her car loan, on which I cosigned. This leaves me with a decidedly unanswerable WTF?

NSA snogging ... still strapped to a house I can't live in, and have been paying for and not living in since August. sigh. I'm not sure I'd call it a tradeoff, but I'll take it for now.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Stand by for pointless bitching.

Goddamn it! I'm going to sell everything I own and move to Wyoming!

Friday, January 20, 2006

This is a Good Sign!

My horoscope from Real Astrology:

"A psychologist in the U.K. believes that January 24 is the "most depressing day of the year," at least in the Northern Hemisphere. Cliff Arnall, whose specialty is seasonal disorders, says this day is typically a low point, when glum feelings generated by overcast weather, debt from the holidays, and broken New Year's resolutions reach a crescendo. While this might hold true for the other signs of the zodiac, Capricorn, it doesn't apply to you. The astrological omens reveal you're at the peak of your cycle, when you can triumph over challenges and accomplish breakthroughs that might normally be impossible. I suggest you proceed as if long-standing limitations have become irrelevant."

I kinda feel like I'm there -- and a few days early at that. BTW I'm Capricorny. In case you hadn't noticed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

You know you’re back in Bloomington when...

So I’m up stupid early this morning to shovel snow. Up early ’cuz that’s how I roll. Shoveling because, well, it snowed last night. It occurred to me that my road must be an ideal shortcut to some Redneck Workplace, as it is work truck central in the early morning. Not just li’l S-10s like mine either. We’re talking duallies and jacked-up, three-quarter-ton diesel clatter boxes passing by every couple of minutes. Again, another simple yet familiar reminder of home -- or at least the fact that B-ton can act highfalutin all it wants to, this is still a small rural community. But I digress.

I’m shoveling away, totally into the Zen of it, and I’m nearly done, just a few feet from the street, when this guy passes by. On a bicycle. It’s quite windy and about twenty degrees out, still blowing flurries a little, but this guy is wearing track pants and a sweatshirt and a ball cap, and that’s it! He’s got a paper grocery bag balanced on the handlebars and he’s bitching a blue streak about the snow. Goddamn it! Fucking snow! Sonofabitch! Fucking January weather! Goddamn it!

I figure he must be coming home with carryout beer after an overnighter at some watering hole in Ellettsville. A DUI conviction took his driver’s license away, and maybe he threw a bearing in his Vespa. You can spot DUI convicts a mile away. Actually you can hear them coming up the block on their little scooters, which do not require a license. Watch: next time you hear a scooter in town proper, it’s probably a college student. But on the fringes of “civilization” the only people on scooters are old codgers who can’t pass a driving test anymore and forty-something alkies putt-putting from work to bar to home.

Generally they stay off the main roads, though, if you see them outside of residential areas at all. I found it highly amusing that traffic this early morn consisted of truck, Truck, BIG TRUCK, bicycle, TRUCK, School bus, truck....

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Nearing Completion

I’m finalizing my book manuscript, The Great American Scapegoat. It’s poetry (naturally) and I’m extremely pleased with it. While the quality of individual pieces varies, the overall theme works, and in context I think everything in it rocks. I’ve been “working” on it for about fifteen years -- meaning the oldest poems are from around 1990 and I’ve included at least one that will be published in a journal later this year. So it is pretty sprawling and yet I managed to organize it so that there is a “through line,” as I like to call it. Not necessarily a narrative flow from point A to point B, but sequentially (and temporally) it feels like you start here and end up there and you understand what happens in between and why. It’s not just a collection of random poems. That will be my next book probably, which I am already tossing around in my brain salad and which will most likely be called Hot Type/Cold Read. Probably shorter, punchier, more abstract “art” pieces.

Anyway, the cover art for TGAS is shaping up nicely, too. I have this photo from when I was five and the family was vacationing in Cody, Wyoming, over the Fourth of July holiday. This was in 1976, the U.S. bicentennial, so it was a big deal. One of the poems is about that photo, and there are a few poems about family and photos and family photos, etc., so it made sense. For the back cover, I had a friend/co-worker/illustrator draw a logo: The Seal of the Great American Scapegoat. It’s a parody of the presidential seal and it requires a little more tweaking but it’s pretty good. I wanted something humorous and sly to offset the somewhat serious and realistic tone of the front -- also to add some “adult irony” to the cover, lest casual browsers think it’s just a book of poems about me and my family. Yawn.

One poem is giving me fits and I think I’m just going to cut it. Everything else is in great shape -- just a few little shoves here and there toward clarity; no major surgery involved. And a few things have been previously pubbed, so I already “know” they are “good.” Also, my poetry cohorts Joe and Teri looked over the ms. and were very helpful with reordering some sections and with suggesting some edits and cuts. But there is a poem about 9/11 and it just feels ... weird. It’s not great. In fact, it reads about like any other poetry you’ve read about 9/11, i.e., well intentioned but woefully trite and incapable. Therefore, it seems less personal, and this is a very personal and specific collection.

True, yes, I’m my own harshest critic. And yes, of course, the same crit could (and perhaps should) be leveled at other poems in the book. And yes, all right already, a poem about 9/11 does fit nicely in the collection. But I just don’t feel like it’s up to snuff. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and not in a good way. It’s overtly political -- and despite the title, this is not an overtly political collection.

So that’s where I’m at with the book currently. Joe and I are going to do a tour in support of his book (Dead Stars Have No Graves, Pathwise Press) and mine this spring -- about a dozen readings in the Midwest and out toward the East Coast. We’re hoping to make it to NYC for a reading at the Nuyorican CafĂ©, but I know we definitely can secure readings in Erie and Philly. Should be a hoot. I’m planning to have books by end of February and will have a release reading in Bloomington sometime in April I think.

I had some initial qualms about self-publishing my first book. But I get a sweet deal through work (a vanity press), and I now have the connections and networking skills to make a self-pubbed book work for me, instead of just selling a few copies to friends and never hearing about it again. I know poets and booksellers and ’zine publishers who are quite eager to help push my book, and that’s really all you need. Well, there are also my adoring audiences at readings, but that goes without saying. Everything else is what traditional publishers provide, so I don’t feel like I’m compromising anything (including artistic integrity) by self-publishing. Some might say, “Yeah, but that’s not really publishing. You didn’t get picked,” to which I would reply, “Okay ... whatever you say.” I still want to “get published” traditionally and I have placed a few individual poems lately. Honestly, though, I don’t think this collection would get selected by a traditional acquisitions editor. It’s all about me, for me, and since I’m largely unpublished I’m nobody. You can see the vicious cycle at work here.

I also want to “liberate” these poems, and myself. Once TGAS is done, I think I can put some of the themes therein to rest and move on. To what, I’m not sure. I guess that’s what Hot Type/Cold Read will address.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Scoping Chicks with My Dad

As usual I managed to stretch my birthday out for about four days, which became quite a bender. This entailed martinis at Scholar’s Inn Thursday with foxy folklore grad students, belly dancers, and assorted LARP geeks. Not my usual crowd of miscreants and ne’er-do-wells, but after a Cable Car, a Drunken Monkey, an All-Nighter, and a Femme Fatale, by God we can all get along.

I returned to Scholar’s Friday night for a fabulous dinner and more martinis (they’re half price all January) with old, close friends -- including the friend of honor, whose birthday was on the thirteenth and who just turned forty. Lordy, lordy. Dinner was fabulous, and sitting across from my ex was not nearly as awkward as it could have been -- and in any other circle of friends probably would have been. We’re so adult ... and it helped that our therapist (a friend of friends) was also at the table. Well, it helped me. I’m still going to him.

Anyway, I have been sucked into the cult of the new Battlestar Galactica, which is how I ended Friday night, getting even drunker and plopped in front of my friends’ ginormous TV. Seriously, that appliance is of Bradburian proportions, so anything on it is good and BG is actually quite great.

Saturday was tutoring with Paul, then my dad came down and took me shopping. Dad and I don’t bond one-on-one very much, but now that I am precisely half his age it’s about damn time. I had a huge list of things I wanted for the house ... but when I learned of my impending move in August I pared it down to the essentials. And yes, a DVD/CD player combo with 800 watts of 5.1 Surround Sound goodness is, in my book, essential. Watching Dad pay cash all day for stuff was pretty astonishing, but that’s how he rolls: no credit or bank cards for him.

My dad is awesome and we’ve both mellowed a bit in the father/son dept. lately. I’m much less bitter about his lack of emotional involvement in my life from age twelve to about, uh, thirty-five, and he is, well ... he is significantly more emotionally engaged, with everything it seems. We laughed a lot and became very similar, which is as it should be. I got all hick-like and folksy and he dropped some deep, fatherly pearls of wisdom. For example: When he retired he thought he’d be able to do all the things he’d put off in order to work a job and have a family. Things like get back into farming and “manual labor,” as he put it. I think he wanted to own/run a salvage yard or a garage ... but Mom was always resistant to that.

Anyway, heart surgery in 1988 (my senior year) laid him low for about a decade, and while he’s for the most part physically and emotionally recovered, he had a heart attack (caused I think by diabetes) a few years back that further weakened him, and so he just can’t do much physically anymore. There’s other health stuff I won’t go into, but essentially he told me: “Don’t wait.” So yeah, I won’t. Makes me glad I took a chance on the polyamory thing, although I’m pretty sure that’s not what he meant.

We were at Better Buy comparing DVD systems, and he kept making these flirty little comments to the emo sales chick who was trying really hard not to laugh at this old guy and his son fumbling around for electronics. She was quite cute and I had fun eye contact with her, too. What can I say? The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I think that’s just how older people shop, though. Every store is the corner hardware store to them. You talk to the salespeople, you joke with them, you -- gasp! -- treat them like people, as you would like to be treated. You don’t just sullenly queue up and slide a card through. At Target, he was signing up for a Target card (to get 10 percent off) and the manager person had to take his driver’s license away to check it out or whatever. I joked with him that they were turning him in to Homeland Security, and when she came back with it I told her she’s lucky his application went through: he’s been using the same fake ID sense the ’50s.

Also, beer and ribs at Smokey Bones with Dad was excellent. I sense a deep respect from him, and I hope he feels the same way.

Saturday night was an impromptu gathering of friends for tequila and the DVD game “Scene It?” Good times.

Sunday (my actual day of nascence) I sobered up and spent the day reading, writing, and recovering, and setting up and tweaking my speakers. It is here that I had a birthday bummer: the TV I got in the divorce settlement is a piece of shit. I’m going to keep working with it but it has no brightness control. Anything that’s not a night or indoor scene is practically white. I’ll keep working with it but I should have suspected it was of dubious quality when I learned it was a Jim the Fiend castoff. Fellowship of the Ring (my benchmark for video quality; Zappa was the audio test) looked like Fargo. Oh well, live and learn. TVs are cheap.

BIRD ALERT: I also on Sunday watched my feeder for about an hour. Word of beak has finally gotten out about the smorgasbord in my backyard, and I had all manner of visitors. Still no male cardinals or jays, but there were a few olive-drab female cardinals as well as some nuthatches and ... a red-headed woodpecker! He delighted in jumping back and forth between feeder and tree, trying to scare everyone away and pecking away at the maple. Really he just made it easier for the guys in the black hats to eat: they picked up off the ground the seed he shook out of the feeder. I’ll try to post some pictures at some point ... and I may have to ration these guys a little. They’re going to go through six pounds of seed in no time. As I was watching birds, three deer strolled across the yard, just behind the feeder. This is a good sign.

Friday, January 13, 2006

This Post Is for the Birds

Those bird brains finally found my feeder. Actually they probably watched me install it and have been waiting to make sure it’s not a trap. I got a huge bird feeder for x-mas -- it holds six freaking pounds of seed! So it might seem a little daunting, too.

I am particularly fond of black-capped chickadees, or the guys in the black hats, as I like to call them. I’ll probably also get some cardinals and jays, maybe some phoebes and juncos (the latter are pretty much a feeder staple in Indiana). So far there’s been only a little timid munching; this feeder is a restaurant and can support about twenty birds at a time, so I’m hoping business picks up.

Initially I put the feeder close to the house so I could watch from both the kitchen and dining room windows. But I thought maybe it was too close for anyone to feel safe coming to, and so moved it about thirty yards from the kitchen window, under a trio of youngish maples and near a stack of firewood. Seemed a bit more appropriate, though I may move the feeder closer now that they know it’s kosher.

I’ve become a fan of birds as far as the animal kingdom goes -- I don’t study them or anything and I’m not into parrots or cockatiels or other indoor, caged birds. But I love my locals and know their songs and a bit about their behavior, which I mostly picked up from watching and listening. “Chickadee-dee-dee-dee” (obvious); “Pretty bird-pretty bird-pretty bird” (cardinal); etc. When I was in Owen Co. I saw many woodpeckers and wrens and all manner of bird activity at two VERY BUSY feeders. I miss that. They are like fish in a tank to me: very relaxing, and it is reassuring to me to have birds around me again. Feels like home.

I'm also glad my close proximity to the 46 bypass has not kept the bird brains away completely. Nature bats last, and all. I would love to see a winter wren. They are adorable, tiny, and LOUD. They're a little scarce, and I'll definitely have to move the feeder closer to the house to get a look.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

See, this is why I hate renting...

I’m not even unpacked yet and I got a notice in the mail yesterday that the landlady will not renew my lease -- she wants to move back in in August. So I’m only going to be here for eight months. Actually seven, as my lease expires August 4 (though I’m going to get a firm move-out date that hopefully will be closer to the middle of the month).

Goddamn it! Okay, serenity now....

I guess what this means is that I need to continue my trend of paring down and reducing my material possessions. Not that I was ready to start stockpiling or rat packing or anything, but I figured I’d be in one place for at least a year, possibly long enough to move from this rental into a new mortgage/my own house. But as I am still making payments on the house the ex got in the settlement and will be doing so until May (long story but I’m actually not only okay with this, I sort of preferred it), I doubt I will be ready to buy by, say, June so I could move in in August. Gah!

I had at one time considered, in a fit of fuck-you fury, just cutting my losses and getting the hell out of this town. After all, in many ways I feel like I’ve worn out my welcome, and this turn of events definitely pushes me in that direction. I even have applied for a job in North Carolina. But my general calm demeanor and patience is prevailing and I still think I want to stay here, at least for the time being. Getting laid and having ample dating options has helped assuage my move/stay anxiety. Most every other aspect of life is cruising along just fine, too. I just have a lot going for me here: stable job, many good friends, my choice of creative outlets, etc. Plus I’m a goddamn pillar of my community, and I would hate to see it collapse just ’cuz I have to move again in a few months.

I truly think this is the universe’s way of saying, “Stay light on your feet, T-Dawg. Cling not to material possessions. Be transient; walk the earth like motherfuckin’ Cane from Kung Fu.”

Yeah, right. Basically it means ditch at least half my books and most of my CDs (which are legion) and DVDs (which are few). I already cleaned out my closet before ex and I even separated, and since I had been essentially living out of a suitcase for four months, I know what essential clothing I need to get through the summer/fall. Now once I learn what I need to get through winter/spring -- purge!

I still plan to have a housewarming party; just don’t get me anything. I don’t need it. Said party will magically morph into a birthday party for all my Capricorn/early Aquarius friends. If you’re reading this and don’t know me but would like to attend, I’m sure you’ll figure out how to contact me. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Illness on the Edge of Town

So I’m battling illness. I’m not really sick (I tell myself), just on the verge of bleah. Nearly everyone I know is sick right now, including my sister in the UK. These damn pandemics suck ass. I have ups and downs, good moments and moments of near unconsciousness. Eh, it’s not that bad. I felt great after a much-needed chiropractic adjustment yesterday, but I feel am indeed drifting into the arena of the unwell.

Get this: Chiro says, after I complained about some nagging lower-back pain that has stuck with me through two adjustments six weeks apart now, “Are you sleeping okay? Have you switched beds or anything?”

Ha! Switched beds? I’m now sleeping on a bed for the first time in months! So I bet that is the problem. Or part of it. When ex and I first separated, I was staying rent free in a friend’s rental cottage. Very spare but I liked it; it was all Walden Pond-y, good for my cluttered mind/soul, and I had nothing but the essentials with me, which is how I like to roll. That includes a mere pallet to sleep on -- meaning a hideaway bed mattress on the floor. Not exactly supportive, that.

As separation dragged on and divorce loomed, I was gifted with a futon and frame after a good friend was shocked to learn I was more or less sleeping on the floor. So it was an upgrade, but I still had to stay pretty fetal on it. (I’m six one; not exactly “tall” in my book, but I have many friends [male and female] over six feet tall, so I got no short people really to compare myself to.)

Finally, after divorce and decrees and much e-mailing and dividing of stuff and assorted attendant shuttling of my things back and forth hither and yon, I was finally just before New Year’s able to sleep in my queen-size bed again! Yea me! In fact, that first night in the new place after I set up the bed and lay down, pillow between knees for extra support, I felt my spine literally decompress and pop and crack as I had only ever heard it do so in the chiro’s office. Ahhhhh....

So yeah, I’m sure “changing beds” will require a couple more adjustments before I’m back to normal, i.e., not in pain all the time; maybe an eighth of the time, and then only when I lift something improperly or go climbing trees or something.

I also am aging. Straight up. So those little aches and pains in the morning are not likely to go away entirely. But I’m not bitter! It’s just a fact of life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

When It Rains It Pours

I have never considered myself a player or man-whore or whatever -- in truth, I don’t think I am, really -- but I have my moments, and sweet baby Jesus, what a weekend! I had a date Friday night -- okay, it was with a co-worker. But a girl co-worker! I’m not so much into dating co-workers, though, and I’m almost definitely not going to pursue. I have dated co-workers in the past and it ended badly; then I tried it again and it ended even more badlier. I do NOT need a three-peat of that hell ... no matter how sweet, cute, and intellectually stimulating MANY of my co-workers are. Apparently they are not afraid to ask me out either. *le sigh*

Saturday night, though -- yee haw! I went to an annual sex party a couple I know have been hosting for about ten years now. Great, great time was had by all ... well, most. There were some extremely rude comments flung by one guy that ruined and cut short the night for another couple. Really uncalled for, especially in such an otherwise positive environment. Also, my ex-wife was there, but as expected she arrived late and didn’t interact with the group too much. She usually comes with her own agenda, which even when we were together didn’t include me, so all was well. Plus, there were so many people there that we didn’t even bump into each other all night. Potential for awkwardness was high --we have not spoken face to face since September when she filed the morning after leaving our last joint counseling session in a huff after fifteen minutes ... two days before our first anniversary.

I vacillated a bit about whether to go or not actually, as ex and I had not talked about ... the potentialities of this event, how we might impact the other partygoers, etc., and others had expressed some concern in this area to me. But I was unfazed, for the most part. She and I have attended other “normal” parties/social gatherings without incident, and the hosts encouraged me to go -- they really like the positive energy I put forth at their flings. Even if I am just observing or just playing a little and not necessarily gettin’ it on, I have a great time and am able to transmit that good feeling to others. Really now, simply being invited to and attending a sex party is reason to smile, I think.

And so I didn’t let any of the above baggage ruin the glow I was, uh, sporting. I interacted with several sexy mofos through this great card game one of the hosts created and which we partygoers have been play-testing for a decade. It’s fun and provides more direction than your usual spin-the-bottle stuff. I did hook up later that night, with a lovely dancer I have seen around for some time. My my! I wasn’t expecting it -- it’s better to go into these things with as few expectations as possible; that way you are guaranteed a good time, regardless of the outcome. She was yummy, and I think found me so as well! *glow*

Actually I was introduced to her years ago at, of all things, a poetry reading where she was performing. Then just recently I met her again while doing an audio-engineering gig. I’m sure she didn’t remember me Saturday night; I am much less remarkable, I think, in my everyday environment. Plus I have cut my hair since she last saw me and I was wearing my contacts Sat night, so I probably looked very different -- or different enough for her to take the plunge. Whee!

I realize there are a number of unintentional puns in the above paragraphs but it couldn’t be helped.

And as if that weren’t enough, I read at an open mic competition at a tutto bene Sunday night, and though I didn’t win the competition I feel like I won in my own way. The crowd was adoring, many of my friends were in attendance ... and this cutie with whom I was sitting on a couch in the performers’ section and chatting and sharing glances with, later gave me her phone number! Wow! That has never happened, ever, and it made me all tingly -- okay, that could have been the wine. But I really got a good feeling from the exchange. I’ll call her in a day or so. I have been trying not to do the “wait an appropriate time before calling” thing -- as I have no idea how long that might be. But I didn’t want to call her, like, the next day and now my week is booked solid. I’m even stealing time away from a particularly odious project at work just to type up this post. But call I shall! I’ve already googled here (I’m such a geek) and know a little bit about “who she is” in B-tizzle. As far as I know, she only knows me as the suave performance poet who cupped the crowd in his firm, soft hand.

Okay, down boy. I’ll call her up and we’ll do coffee. Or lunch. Or whatever it is people do in situations such as these. I have no idea myself but I’m a great improviser. So far, 2006 is shaping up to be an interesting year. And my birthday is coming up this Sunday, too.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

ABC -- easy as 1 2 3

Just finished my weekly session with Paul. He is a seventy-five-year-old man whom I've been tutoring in adult literacy for a little over a year now. He's great. His family were the first blacks to settle in Owen Co. in around 1850, so he has deep roots here. But an eighth-grade education from a rural, segregated school (circa 1930, no less) didn't do much for his sight reading. He had been caring for his aunt for about thirty years until she died; then his relatives hooked him up with the Owen Co. Learning Network (and ultimately me as a teacher), mostly to fill his days but also to give him a goal to shoot for: general literacy and at some point, a GED.

I think he's still a year at least away from being ready for the GED exam, but that's because he's just not so much into the organized testing thing. He has always been able to read -- but street signs and McDonald's menus are pretty limiting. Everyone, even "illiterates," can read a little and everyone has a sight vocabulary. I've really just worked to expand his and it has been truly rewarding. He hardly stumbles over anything anymore and can pick his way through most new words as well. How thrilling to have him read a book to me or a story from the newspaper!

He reminds me of my dad in a lot of the ways -- sharp as a tack, hard as nails, but a real salt-of-the-earth type. Working class. Used to farm. I think I get as much out of working with him as he does from me. I hope he is someday able to take the test and get his GED. I honestly don't think he's too concerned about that. I have helped him write a couple of letters to his brother in Colorado, and I think that's just as important as a piece of paper. Anyway, a great start to my weekend.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Washed His Face in a Frying Pan

My water was shut off yesterday. I get home last night slightly buzzed from beer at a monthly poker game and commence to shoving some stuff around, unpacking a couple of boxes, detailing some furniture -- still moving in, you know. Around 11p I go to wash my hands and phsshhh -- nothing from the tap!

I should have seen this coming. The previous renters still had a balance on their account, which had to be paid (I was told) before I could get the account changed to my name. Okay. So PR calls E-ville Water Co., says they're overnighting a check, and then water co. shuts off the water anyway! Apparently it wasn't just a balance: it was a past-due, we're-gonna-shut-off-yer-water balance. Great! At no time when I spoke to the water co. a couple of days ago did they mention impending waterlessness, nor did they mention it to PR, although they were certainly snarkier to PR than to me -- but then I did not have a past-due balance.

So I go to have it out with water co. this morning, and by smiling a lot and turning on the old Brewer Charm (which I'm sure thrilled the dickens out of the old ladies at the town hall in E-ville), I manage to get them to give me an account and turn my water back on so I'm not high and dry all weekend. Thanks, ladies! Of course, if the "check in the mail" doesn't show up on Monday, they're going to shut it off again -- but I'll burn that bridge when I come to it. I'm sure it won't be a problem.

In the meantime, this morning I also had an Owen Co. (my previous digs) flashback of being out of water, which happened a couple of times a year when the well pump freaked out. Fortunately, I keep a store of bottled tap water for just such emergencies (and I shall continue to do so after this li'l scenario!). I heated up water on the stove, shaved, then had a loverly whore's bath by pouring a pitcher of more heated water over me while standing in the shower. You can't tell the difference! I cut my hair recently (I had tresses to my waist) and the new 'do looks better the less I wash my hair, so a rinse is as good as it gets anyway.

I have not dealt with utility companies in a decade. Ex-wife handled all that stuff -- I just paid the bills -- so this all is an exciting new adventure for me. Dealing with Cinergy, Vectren, and Cingular was easy. Seems like the older the utility co., the more "human element" there is to cope with. Of course, I cannot flash a smile and use my latent Hoosier accent to curry favor with faceless corps. who only take online payments, so it's a trade off.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

With a name like Tony, you'd think I'd be a better cook

But I'm not. Actually I know how to cook -- it's not a foreign concept to me -- and what I make does not (usually) taste like ass (to me anyway, but I have a strong stomach). Still, I'm not very adventurous yet, as I never had to cook until recently. I was and am a cleaner. I tend to make kitchen messes go away. Creating them has never been my strong suit.

However, I make a pretty good low-rent no-frills chili, which I made for dinner the other night and had for lunch today. It's just yer basic, off-the-back-of-a-Brooks-Beans-can recipe -- not even all that hot without adding hot sauce, which is a shame, since I can take it. But I'll get the hang of it. I also make a mean omlette and love baked fish, which is stupid-simple. So I'm not complaining (too much). I just lack the fire to get all worked up over making food for myself. And there are always ample opportunities to be fed by others or even just go out to eat. I do so like it when others feed me. Change is in the air, however, which has been my goddamn mantra these past few months. You'll be drooling over ... whatever the hell it is I'll figure out I'm uniquely good at making, soon enough!

Country Come to Town

I'm pretty much moved into my new place in Bloomington. Living in "the city" again after ten years in the woods. Man, talk about culture shock. It seems much noisier than it really is, and brighter, but I'm adjusting quickly. I feel a bit more focused these days and less lazy and, uh, unfocused -- less meandering and more purposeful. All good things. I'm still not much of a cook, but I intend to be more than adequate here right quick.

My mom is in the hospital with diverticulitis. Pretty nasty stuff, and it's what ultimately took my grandma, so Mom is a little freaked out by that. But she's doing okay now. She went in on New Year's Eve -- got hooked to an IV just as the ball was dropping in Times Square. Dad is floundering a bit without her at home, but he's a trooper. Jesus, when did my parents get so old?

In other news, I am on the air on WFHB in B-tizzle tomorrow morning. I recorded some poems for Jenny Kander's program The Linen of Words. I'm also competing in an open mic competition on Sunday at a chichi wine bar in town. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Well, I'm back.

I'm about to leave work (and my Innerweb connection) but I think I want to restart this blog and include more, uh, bloggy things. Like a real-live online journal, unlike my LJ, which is more of a networking tool (for me anyway).

So look for updates more regularly here, and in general a little more attention paid to The Beatnik Blog.