Saturday, November 29, 2008

Beautiful Mess

Ah yah. I've got the downs. No real mystery here. It's two days after Thanksgiving, I haven't been off the property in four days and Christmas is coming up. People are murdering people from India to your local Walmart and Toys (backward) R Us and I want to go to Mexico.

Why Mexico?

Quien sabe, as they say down there, who knows.

Well, I know. But I've gone into that before and what the hell?

The man has offered to take me to Dog Island for Christmas and I suppose that will do although after my breakdown there last July, I'm not sure that going to a place I was more depressed in than I've ever been in my entire life in order to escape depression is the answer.

Quien sabe?

I gotta get engaged, I think. I gotta get out in the world and do shit.

Yeah, what?

I read a book yesterday as the rain came down and I moved from one prone perch to another. It's called The Legend of Colton H. Bryant and it's by Alexandra Fuller and if you haven't read her books, go find them right now. This book is about a Wyoming kid and his family and his friends and about the oil and gas companies and what they'll do for a buck. Sound heavy and depressing? Well, it is and it's not. Fuller's writing is the kind that makes you open your eyes wide and gasp out little sounds of amazement, makes you stop and reread, makes you want to fly through the book and then dip down, soar up and come back again for another flight.

Anyway, those people in Wyoming have a saying, which is Cowboy up, Cupcake, and I keep thinking about that but hell, I'm not a cowboy and I'm not a cupcake, I'm just a depressed middle-aged woman on the swift downside of life who'll never be able to write like that.

Depression is a weird thing and at least it's not anxiety. There's a blessing for you.

It did rain all day yesterday and I was glad. We need the rain and I wanted an excuse not to do anything. Mr. Moon went hunting in the rain and he doesn't mind that at all. An old friend dropped by on his way back home to Tennessee with a CD for me to listen to, especially one song. The CD is by a guy named Jason Mraz and the song is called Beautiful Mess. We sat there in my hallway and listened to it, the dogs all over us and I wept. I wept. My friend plays the violin on the CD and he can make your heart soar with his playing and he and his violin are in high demand for session work. But I know him from when he was a student at FSU, and I'd listen to him practice in a little house on Call Street that isn't there any more, an old slave shack, I guess, and his playing even then could bring me to tears.

We only see each other about once a year, if we're lucky, and we catch up and he's one of those friends that there's no awkward pauses, no speed bumps in the conversation, just get straight to it and cry if you want. His wife was at one of my births, I was at one of hers, and she couldn't make the trip this year because one of their daughters just gave birth to a four pound premature baby and she couldn't leave that precious, perfect child. Their fifth grandchild. A fertile family, indeed.

Anyway, there we were and then it was time for him to leave and he said, "Mary, suffer all you need to," and he didn't mean it in an ugly, you're-really-stupid sort of way but in a loving way, like this-is-how-you-are-and-it's-okay sort of way. Like maybe I'm a beautiful mess.

Like maybe it's all a beautiful mess, babies and depression and the music business and love and holidays and general life and trying to figure out who we are, even now, fifty-something years down the road, working on that one daily.

I don't know. I do not know.

But what are the choices? Fold your wings and give it up? Give up that gift of flight we all have, even if we've forgotten that we have it?

I guess not.

Suffer if we have to. Weep for the suffering of it, the beautiful boys working the rigs in Wyoming; the people driven to take guns to the streets of India for some reason, not clear, but it probably has to do with poverty and hopelessness and fear. Weep for the weirdness in our fellow humans that causes them to get out and stampede Walmarts at four a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving for electrical devices and toaster ovens.

Weep for the beauty of it, the words, the music, the way the wind tosses the orange Bradford pear leaves down to the ground. Weep for the whole damn beautiful mess it is. Weep for the joy and the hardships of the years behind us, maybe the ones in front of it.

I don't know. Quien sabe?

I do know that life is not a Mexican vacation with a musician playing at your table.

But sometimes it's a good book. It's an old friend. It's a song that makes you cry.

Tears are tears, whether they're sad ones or sweet ones, they're the overflow of the heart-juice.

Cowboy up, Cupcake. Get on with it. It's all just a beautiful mess.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Turkey's Not The Only Thing That's Cooked

Dear god. It's over.

I made myself stay out of bed until nine last night at which point I brushed my teeth, fell into the sheets, pulled up the covers and read until I realized I was asleep with my eyes open. It was ten. I turned out the light and didn't get up until ten and a half hours later.

Now I feel like someone beat me with a stick the entire ten and a half hours.

It was some Thanksgiving. At one point on Wednesday night there had to be at least twenty-five people crammed into my library. And four dogs. When they built this house back in 1859, they were into symmetry, I suppose, so every room in the house is the same size. The library has the least furniture in it and so there we were, the porch being too cold for the musicians.

And it was as awesome as I'd thought it would be.

No difference.

Then came yesterday and the oven fiasco and the 18.92 pound turkey (what the hell was I thinking?) and the forty-five casseroles and four desserts and the angel biscuits.

The kids did over half the work, not only of the cooking but of the clean-up and set-up, too.
And it's a good thing they did or else I'd be dead now instead of just really, really tired.

We had about fifteen for dinner and the highpoint (or low-point, depending on your particular point of view) was when the six-year old took off running across the back yard being chased by four dogs who had suddenly turned into a snarling wolf-pack trying to bring him down to get the turkey in his hand.

Mr. Moon loped off across the yard and saved the child who learned a whole lot of lessons in one twenty-second segment of time and who will probably hate both dogs and turkey his entire life, even if he can't remember why.

I sent everyone home with plates of food and dammit, my refrigerator is still crammed full of food. The sort of food I never eat. And a turkey carcass wrapped in foil and tied up in a plastic grocery bag.

Ah well. I'll just make soup.

And now I am hungry, believe it or not, so if I can find the soy milk in the back of the refrigerator, I am going to eat some cereal. And then I need to go take a walk, although I certainly feel like I could just get back in bed and sleep another ten or eleven hours.

That would be wrong, right?

I'd go into how amazing and wonderful and worthwhile it all was but fuck, I'm too damn tired.

And I'm seriously thinking that Mr. Moon and I might just skip out on Christmas entirely this year. I mentioned that to the kids and there were actually sort of excited about the prospect. Miss Maybelle volunteered her apartment for the gathering if we leave and they were all making plans when I went to bed on Wednesday night. Mr. Moon has no problems with the idea, so maybe....

Would the world still spin on its axis? Would the sun continue to rise and set on schedule?

You know, I think it would.

I'm considering it.

Meanwhile, I need to go find that soy milk. I sure ain't cooking breakfast and that is a fact.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Oven Is Working And The Turkey Came Home

I gave up and in despair asked my neighbors if I could use their oven. They're vegetarians, mostly, and weren't using their oven so they happily said we could.
But then our oven started working and I said, "Mr. Moon, bring that turkey home!"
And he did.

At Least The TV Is Working

Well, the oven isn't working and there's a nineteen pound turkey stuffed up the butt with cornbread dressing and about ten casseroles and angel biscuits to cook.

Now what?

We'll figure something out.

But the party?

Oh yes.

Some pictures follow.

Happy Thanksgiving and love from North Florida where the turkey may be done by this time tomorrow.

Old friends.

A girl and her daddy.

Billy and Downtown Guy.

Miss Maybelle and her brother, DTG.

Miss HoneyLuna and her sweetie.

Lily is not represented here because by the time she and Jason got off work, no one was working the camera. It was late.

I hear that after I went to bed at one-thirty, Miss HL and Jason both discovered that they could indeed crawl through the dog door.

I only wish I had a picture of that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

HoneyLuna Is Practicing Her Dance Moves In Preparation For Tonight's Event

The highlight of last Thanksgiving was a spontaneous combustion of a throw-down party the night before which made the actual Thanksgiving Day feast a definitive study in anticimaticism.

Yeah. I don't think that's a word, either, Spellchecker.

And oh boy, here we go again.

I started getting calls last week. The ex called and wanted to know if we were going to be doing that night-before Thanksgiving thing. I said I had no idea but that he and the wife should come on over because all the kids would be here and to bring guitars.

Then yesterday his old best friend from childhood, the man whom I moved to Tallahassee because of (long story) called to ask if we were going to be doing it again.

Yes, I said. I guess we will be.

I hope he remembers his fiddle.

I called the Sauce Boss, and he and his wife are probably coming over and I'm sure he'll bring a guitar. Billy and Shayla and Billy's mama are coming and two of my brothers will be here and who knows who else will show up?

I don't.

It seems rather insane to throw a party the night before Thanksgiving, doesn't it?

I keep it low key. I boil some frozen tortellinis and throw those in a bowl with pasta sauce, heat up some bread and make a salad. There you go.

Hopefully, Mr. Moon will locate some oysters.

Surely there will be beer and perhaps a bottle of rum to warm up our insides because for some reason, everyone ends up on my skinny porch and it's cold, baby. Perhaps Mr. Moon will drag the fire pit a bit closer to the house. Nothing says Thanksgiving like a fire pit and some oyster shucking. And home made music. And people you only get to see once a year, most of whom you've known since we were younger than the "kids" are now. And seeing those kids playing music with the old ones, some of whom play music for a living but on this night are playing for the joy of it, just like in the old days, everyone singing and dancing, too. The joy in my heart when all this comes about, to look around and see faces and hear voices from my past, my present, my always. Bonds formed criss-cross and straight-across and catty-cornered and all pieced together until we're like some crazy quilt stitched long ago so tight and so strong that you just want to wrap yourself up in it and dream away all darkness.

As I start to stress out about all the work I have not yet done but which must be done before tonight, before tomorrow, I force myself to think about what the Beatles said, which is that all you need is love.


Oh hell yes.


I think so. I believe so.

And something else they said:

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Tonight I'll be reminded of how much love I've made, because if tonight's gathering is anything like last year's, I'll be taking in so much love that my heart will feel as if it's bursting.

And that, my babies, is worth more than a clean house.

And that, my loves, is worth more than anything.

Post Script: Any of you bloggers out there who might want to join us tonight, call me or e-mail me. There will be loaves and fishes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Red Means Stop and Green Means Go

Yes. That is me.
Me in the star's dressing room of the Monticello Opera House, preparing for my next role.
Don't you love me?
Don't you want to BE me?
I thought so.

Wait. Wait. I'm having a delusional moment here.
That's not really me. That's not the dressing room of the Monticello Opera House. Did you guess that already?
Yeah. I figured.

But really, I do have a role in the next production. I get to play:
Sally, Marion, Nancy, Esther, and Judith.
In a seventy-minute play.
Five very different women.

I haven't been this excited since I got to play Emily in Our Town in high school.

I am also feeling a bit nervous and fragile. It's two days before Thanksgiving and all I have done is the partial shopping. Oh yes. I made the cranberry relish.

And then I ate it all.

No, no. Again, I am telling a fib. I did not eat all the cranberry relish but I did think about it. It's so good, those tart cranberries and the orange and the apple and the pecan. And the cup and a half of sugar.

This is the time of year when it's so easy to let all the good things we do for ourselves fall by the wayside. The walking. The eating right. The being sensible, sane and sober. All of that tends to get left behind like the quietest child still in the bathroom when the family pulls away from the truck stop.

Where's Jamie? Oh my God. We left Jamie at the truck stop. ERRCCCKKKK! Dad does a U-ie on the interstate.

Where's my sanity? Where's my peace? Where's my thigh muscles? Where's my fat jeans?

The best thing to do, of course, is to take inventory before you leave the truck stop and pull out onto the crazy highway of Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years. Think about it all. Determine what is worth jettisoning and what is necessary for survival. It's so much easier to carry on with all passengers on board than it is to halt the breakneck speed of this particular interstate and try to turn around mid-race.

I fear I'm mixing my metaphors.


Okay. I'm checking the car. Everyone here? Speak up.

I am pulling slowly out onto the highway. I see landmarks ahead. Happy family, big feast, fun times at the Opera House. I am ignoring the wrecks on the side of the road. The house that isn't very clean. The chaos that is definitely going to happen.

I have both hands on the wheel. I am eating my cereal and soymilk. I am cleaning up the garbage that some animal got in last night. I am going for a walk. I am remembering what my daughter just told me which is One Thing At A Time and First Things First.

I am obeying the speed limit. I am watching out for the other traffic. I am remembering that it's all about the journey which means, take the time to enjoy it. Arrive safely with everything and everyone on board.

Lock the doors. Put on your seat belts.

Here we go. Turn up the radio.

Sing along. Dance in your seats. Enjoy the view.

We'll get there when we get there.

Meanwhile, here we are.

I'm Old But Not That Old

I just got back from the grocery store having spent approximately nine thousand dollars and that was just the preliminary Thanksgiving shopping.

This is how I do it:
On Monday before Thanksgiving I go without a list. I just browse the aisles and get a few things I know I'll need including sweet potatoes, oranges, cranberries, baking chocolate, crackers, cheese, olives, pickles, white potatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, pecans, brown sugar, the pasta I'll be cooking for the night-before-Thanksgiving celebration, apple cider, butter, marshmallows, etc.

Oh yes, also the turkey.

And Easy Off oven cleaner which is a fucking misnomer if I ever heard one.

I was sort of reeling and feeling like oh god, why do I have to do this again when I passed a little old lady with a green corduroy coat on who also had a shopping cart full of the ingredients for a real, home-made Thanksgiving dinner. She could barely see over her cart and was going at about a one-mile-a-day speed down the aisle and I immediately shut up the whining in my head.
Hell, if she can do it, I can do it.
I suddenly felt about twenty years younger and a whole lot stronger than I had before.

I was telling my daughter Lily about this as she was helping me load the car with my groceries (Lily is the beautiful smiling girl behind the counter at my local Publix) and she told me that she'd seen two people who were SO old and SO fragile that it had taken BOTH of them to lift the turkey into their cart. Together.

Can you imagine that? Can't you just see it? Doesn't that just make you want to cry?

What can I say but Bless Their Hearts and that I need to do what I told the Pope to do and shut the fuck up and go make make my cranberry relish.

And a real grocery list. Because you know I didn't get nearly everything I'll need before this feasting is over.

But honestly, I do hope that by the time I'm so old that it takes both me and Mr. Moon to hoist a turkey into the cart, Lily or one of the other kids will be cooking the Thanksgiving dinner and I can show up with a jello salad and a six pack, find a place to sit and wait for dinner to be served.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Well Now, That Just Makes Everything All Right

Audacious announcement from the Vatican announcing that John Lennon has now been forgiven for his remark about the Beatles being more popular than God.

First of all, I didn't know the Vatican really concerned itself with such matters.

Secondly, the remark was made 42 years ago while John himself ascended to the right hand of (my) god almost twenty-eight years ago.

For some reason, this just makes me so angry.

As if an offhand remark made by a twenty-something year-old rock star forty-two years ago requires an official forgiveness from a man who dresses in dresses and claims to know What God Thinks.

I suppose we can all sleep more peacefully now.

Thanks, Pope for setting it all straight.

And when I say "thanks" I mean, shut the fuck up. This reminds me of how the Mormons like to volunteer their time to go get baptized for every dead person in the world in absentia so that everyone can go to Mormon heaven, whatever that is.


It's not just content to screw around with the living.

Nah. They have to fuck around with the dead, too.

They're either raisin' 'em or baptizing 'em or forgivin' 'em.

I wonder what John would say. Probably something like, "Bite my ass, Pope."

Or maybe that's just what I'd say. But since John's not here anymore to say anything, I'll just say it for him.

Bite my ass, Pope.

And that's all I have so say about that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ask Ms. Moon (An Actual Letter!)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Moon, I would be thrilled if you responded to my Ask A Question..... I LOVE advice columns ... you should check out Ask Nicole Georges.

I have been unemployed for just over a month and a half now. I have been trying to get up early, see some sun, drink a coffee and shake it off. Write up some cover letters and such.

But I have to level with you. It is really tough waking up early and chasing fictional ponies out of my eyelids and getting right enough to write a letter..

What is your advice to help me wake up all bright eyes and bushy tails?

When I wake up before the sun is up I feel a lot of anxiety and fear ... I get lonely and scared waking up before anyone else is.

So how should I do this? I'm scared of getting up before dark and finicky with being awake around other folks.

i would love your input. xo xo.

Dear Anonymous,

It is interesting that you should ask me this question. Just last night Mr. Moon and I were driving home from Tallahassee where we'd had our supper and were in a neighborhood near where we lived some years ago. As we were coming home, we were driving down streets where I used to walk in the very early mornings when it was still dark, back when my children were so young that the only way I could exercise was to do it before they were awake and before my husband went to work.
I thought about that as we drove down the dark streets- how it had felt to be one of the only people up and out on the road, the way it felt to walk the sidewalks in front of the houses which were still mostly dark, the people inside of them still asleep in their beds.

I remembered walking past the daycare center for hospital employees and seeing women dropping off their babies in the pre-dawn hour and I remembered feeling so sorry for them- the mothers and the children who had to be up so early and I was so grateful that I was able to stay home with my children and that helped to remind me that even though I was "forced" to walk at such an ungodly hour, it was worth it and there was a good reason.

I remembered the endless miles that I walked, up and down those roads, around those blocks, across streets and down little alleys and how as I walked, the sky would begin to get lighter and the houses would start to come alive with lights coming on, with the smells of coffee and bacon coming from them. Birds would start to sing and yet, by the time I got home, everyone would still be asleep because I always left early enough to have a few minutes to myself when I got in to drink some coffee, to sit out on the back steps and cool down and watch the rest of the morning come on in before I had to start up with the babies and the children and the breakfasts and the lunch packing and the where's-my-homework?- I-need-you-to-sign-this chaos that was just about to start.

In some ways, that hour or so to myself before the sun came up was the best part of my day because it was mine.

It was not, of course, easy to get up and make myself dress silently and get out to walk. In fact, I had to force myself to do it, most mornings but the reason I did was because I realized the exercise was vitally important to my health, both physically and mentally, and the time alone was precious. I think the trick for me was not to even THINK about it when the alarm went off. Just to roll out of bed and put on the clothes that I had waiting, tie my shoes, and get out there and do it. If I had stopped to think, I could have found a thousand reasons not to go. Too cold. Might rain. My stomach doesn't feel good. Etc.

I don't know if you have children, Anonymous, but even if you don't, I am sure you're aware of how much life and all the people around us demand our time and attention. I think it is of utmost importance to have some time to ourselves and the only way to do that is to TAKE it. Like a vacation or a nap, no one will ever give that to us. We must take it ourselves.

If that time is important to you, you must take it. If that means going to bed a little earlier, then you should go to bed a little earlier because there is nothing worse than sleep deprivation.
You certainly don't want to make yourself ill while trying to do something nice for yourself.

Perhaps, before you start to try and do something as business-like as writing cover letters, you should drink your coffee and write for fifteen minutes. Just get a notebook and let your mind wander and don't pick your pen up off the paper for the straight fifteen minutes. If all you can think of to write is, "I am feeling anxious and fearful," then write that. Just keep writing. Drink your coffee. Let the ponies gather themselves from your eyelids and amble out to pasture. Before you know it, you will be feeling more awake, I promise, and also less anxious and fearful. Eat a yogurt or something to remind your body that you are taking care of it and to get your blood sugar up. It's not important to be fully aware and ready to solve the problems of the universe in the first few moments of awakening. Let yourself come awake slowly and gently and don't even wonder why you're up so early. Just be.

And before you know it, the sun will be up, you'll have had a head start on your day and will have given yourself a gift. The gift of taking time for you and you alone.

But you know, I have to say, that not everyone is a morning person. If all your efforts do not make you feel better or more productive, then perhaps it would be best to figure out another way to carve out time for yourself. Just because it worked for me to get up early to do what I wanted and needed to do, doesn't mean it will work for you.

Thank-you so much for writing. I hope I've given you at least a little bit to think about. I hope that you can learn to enjoy time alone in the morning and feel less anxious about it. What is it that makes you feel anxious, specifically? The being alone part?
If so, try to remember that when you are with yourself, you are never alone. You have yourself. You have your pen and your paper and your thoughts to set down.

And if it's the coffee- perhaps a mug of Earl Gray tea would be a more gentle way to get some caffeine in yourself.


I wish you the greatest success in finding new employment. When you do, I feel certain that your anxieties and fears will dissipate.

And perhaps someone else will have some even better insights and suggestions and will post them as comments. I have some very wise readers and friends here in the Blogosphere.

Yours truly....Ms. Moon

Friday, November 21, 2008

And The Mac, She Is Back

Deciding Which Doors To Go Through And Deciding How To Go Through Them

Did you see where Sarah Palin said in an interview that if God opens the door for her to run for president in 2012 that she'll plow right through it? Good choice of words, Sarah. Plow on through.

As you may be able to tell, I am in a mood today. It started last night when Mr. Moon was very late coming in from hunting and I ate my dinner all by myself. Now usually I wouldn't care so much and I'm not sure why I cared last night. I'm perfectly content to eat my black beans and watch The Office by myself, but I think maybe it had something to do with him taking our son-in-law hunting for the first time. Jason actually shot a deer- his first- and Mr. Moon shot one too, which necessitated the gutting and skinning of the animals and packing them in ice. Again, this doesn't usually bother me and as I have said, I'm happy to have the meat in the freezer. It's good, clean meat, humanely killed.

But there was just something about knowing that Jason had shot his first deer that sort of got to me on a lot of different levels. He's a meat cutter by trade, so he's not exactly unaware of how those pork chops in the package got there, but shooting an animal dead certainly takes the knowledge to a new plane of certainty. It felt as if he'd achieved some sort of milestone and I was proud of him, but it also made me sorrowful.

I'm not a vegetarian but I know that if I had to kill and gut and skin my own meat, I would be, which is hypocritical and stupid. In some ways, I'm ashamed of myself. I think that somewhere inside me, I feel it's wrong to kill animals to eat them, and yet, even though I don't personally go out there and kill them, I enjoy the results of others doing it.

So there was all of that ambivalence on top of the fact that I had started cooking the beans around ten-thirty in the morning and here it was eight-thirty at night and the men were outside, gutting and skinning and I was too hungry to wait for them.

But it was more than that. It was the contrast between what makes a man a man and what makes a woman a woman and it seems to me that traditionally, it's the creating of life that makes a female a woman while it's the taking of life that makes a male a man. I've thought about this for years, especially as applies to war, and it makes me sorrowful for men. I know that killing something or someone isn't actually what it takes to make a man. Far from it, but somehow, for some reason, we tend to think it is.

And let's face it- in our caveman days, we basically had two tasks:

Stay alive and make more people.

Staying alive required hunting for food and staying safe from predators, both the animal and fellow human ones, while making more people required giving birth. And thus we evolved. Men hunted and protected and women gave birth. And also learned to grow things, which is another way of creating life.

Okay. Of course it's all a lot more complicated than that, but do not tell me that this is not still a part of how our brains are wired.

And so I hugged Jason and told him I was proud of him and then I said, "You've really got something to think about now."

He tried to shrug it off in a oh, it was nothing sort of way, but he knew what I was talking about. When he left, I gave him a piece of buttered bread just out of the oven to eat on his way home and somehow, that seemed very symbolic too. Like maybe, here- you've done the man thing and brought home game, now partake of the woman thing, which is the ability to take grains and yeast and salt and create bread.

I loved him even more for going out there in the cold woods and bringing home meat but it made me sad, too, because that requires a death. And it also made me sad, in a way, because Jason's father died when he was very young and so he never got to learn the manly skills from his own father, the way Mr. Moon did. I'm grateful that Jason wants to learn from my husband. It's a sort of grace they share. But still, it's a reminder of the profound loss Jason had when he was so young.

Oh. I over think-things and I let things mean more than they should. I know that.

I wish I didn't. I wish I could just let things be what they are. The cigar is sometimes just a damn cigar. Get over yourself and smoke it.


But that's not who I am. I am an over-thinker. I am an over-analyzer.

And I can't help it.

And now, it's my job to help my daughter Lily learn to cook deer meat. I was thinking about that in yoga this morning. She needs a crockpot. She needs her mother.

And this thought sort of settled me. A man doesn't just pick up a rifle and go into the woods and shoot game. He goes with someone who knows what they're doing, who can pass that knowledge on. Jason did that with Mr. Moon who learned from his own daddy.

And Lily will learn to cook the meat from me.

Knowledge is passed on, passed down. That, too, is why the human race is still alive.

I will teach my daughter what I know about cooking the meat that her husband has learned to kill from my husband. This is the way of life, even here in 2008. We're not cavemen and women, but we still need to eat. And there's something very primal and very satisfying about eating meat that was killed in the woods, just as there is something very primal and fitting about eating greens from the garden, even though there's a Publix on every corner.

Primal and satisfying like teaching the younger ones the passed-down knowledge of the older ones.

Doors don't just fly open. Someone usually holds them open for us and we can choose whether or not to go through them and we can also choose whether or not to plow through them or to take our time, waiting patiently for the right moment like a hunter in the woods, waiting to take his shot, like a cook in the kitchen, waiting for the bread to rise.

Mr. Moon held the door open for Jason last night and he stepped through it.


I have no ambivalence about that. None at all. And I hope Jason doesn't, either.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ha! I'm Back, I'm Black, I Can't Figure Out How To Post Pictures.

I'm writing this on Mr. Moon's Gateway computer which feels wrong, wrong, wrong.

Sort of like if I were a Voodoo Priestess from a tropical island and the only church I could find to slaughter a chicken in to study its entrails was a Catholic church in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.

Or something like that.

Maybe it's the way the screen says Microsoft Corp. when you start this black beast up. When I start up my MacBook (which I rarely do- I just leave it in sleep mode most of the time) a friendly little apple pops up in the middle of the screen. That Microsoft Corp. thing makes me feel like I should be rolling up my sleeves to post some data, not settling back to let my mind go where it will, my fingers following.

Maybe it's because this is a black beast. It's quite literally black while the MacBook is white and I feel certain I do not need to point out the symbolism there. As I have said before, men seem to like the black background for their blogs, women tend to go for the lighter colored backgrounds. And when you're perusing the shelves at your local Blockbuster, all the Man Movies are in the dark-colored cases whereas the more chick-flicky movies are not.

This reminds me of a joke that Miss Maybelle tells concerning black roosters and white kittens but I shall not post it here. I'm not sure why; it's not like my youngest child, Miss HoneyLuna doesn't know the joke. But still.

I think I'll get the MacBook back from the shop before the week is over. I sincerely hope so. When I took it in, I set it on the counter, cradled it in my arms, laid my body gently over it and said, "Joseph, this is my life."
Joseph, who has been dealing with me and my Macs for well over a decade said, "You'd be surprised how many times a day I hear that."
"Yes," I replied, "But I mean it more than anyone else does."

I doubt he believes me but I don't doubt that Mac owners are different somehow than PC owners. I have a theory that people who have driven Volkswagens at some point in their lives are more apt to use Macs. We like a machine with personality. Apple knows this and capitalizes on it. They don't come right out and say it, but if you watch their commercials, you can see that they know their customer base really likes to think of themselves as special and cooler than the rest of the computer-using world. We like to think of ourselves as the artists, the musicians, the writers, the poets.

I'm not sure I could write a poem on this computer with it's clickity-clack keys, it's scary blue lights.

I love the way, when a Mac goes to sleep, the little indicator light doesn't just glow steadily, it breathes. It ebbs and flows softly, like the waves, like a heartbeat, like the ebbing and flowing of day into night and back again.

All right. This is crazy. I sound like a teenaged girl, yearning for her far-away lover, talking about the way he smells, the way he kisses, the way his hands look when he's chopping garlic for soup.

I'll stop now.

It's cold. My yard is a mess of plants turned to mush and I should begin the process of cutting back and hauling off what I cut. I should go take a walk. I should eat my oatmeal. I should make the bed, do some laundry, put the beans on to soak. I should go cure cancer, comfort the dying, ease the pain of the birthing, help the lame walk and perhaps see if Obama needs me for the transition team.

Or maybe ask Wanda Sykes if she needs a personal assistant.

Do you have her number?

Anyway, I've been thinking that I enjoyed my Ask Ms. Moon post so much that it might be fun to answer some real questions, should I get them. So if you have any questions please post them to or, just leave them as a comment here and I will do my best to answer them. Any and all subjects considered. As we all know, I certainly have at least an opinion on almost everything, even without the factual information to back that opinion up.

And if I don't get any questions, I'll just make up some more.

Hopefully I'll be doing that on a MacBook made of purest white material, its corners rounded and its surface cool to the touch, it's keyboard silent and swift, its shortcuts known to me and as familiar as a lover's touch, it's oh-so-sensitive and elegant little mousie which I can run two fingers down, causing the page to move effortlessly.

Oh. Sorry. I went off there for a second to another place.
The place of all things Apple. The place of poetry and wonder.

Stay warm. Be cool. Even on a Gateway.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Joy, My Life. My MacBook.

It must be done.

I must take the MacBook into the shop.


But there are problems and I have less than a month left on Apple Care and it really just has to be done.

I think the main problem is that I am completely and utterly addicted to all the sweetness that my MacBook offers me. This blog. The short story I'm working on that is just about done and that I really like. I think. The news. Everyone else's blogs.
My e-mail.
Oh. My e-mail.

It's where I keep my pictures, my many unfinished novels, my poems, both the good ones and the shitty ones. It's the magic portal to all my cyber friends. It's my communication device, my source of information, my way to reach out to the world.

I will feel bereft without it, this magic box. This little white plastic and who-knows-what-toxic-materials box with its friendly Mac personality, its superfast response, it's forgiving nature and its patient napping when I am otherwise engaged.

I'm about to take it and place it in the hands of another. Listen- as much as I love my children, if one of them asks to use my MacBook, I shudder. After 32 years of motherhood and sharing my time, my space, my clothes, my make-up, my very life with my four children, this little machine is mine. All mine. And yet, I am about to (oh my god) leave it with a technician. Whom I trust. Whom I like.

But still.

And I am not handling this well. And I'm not a person who gets attached to inanimate objects. I've never named a car. Okay, I named the voice in one. That voice who would say, "Passenger door is ajar." I think I named her Elenor. Or something.

But my MacBook isn't an inanimate object. It's not a car. It's not a fancy blender. It's not even a piece of heirloom jewelry.

It's an extension of my very soul.

And yes, thanks for asking, I AM mentally ill.

But I must gird my loins. I must take it in. So my voice may be silent for a few days. Please forgive me if I don't comment on your blog. I will as soon as I am able.

And in the meantime, pray for me now and in the hour of my need. Which will be about fifteen minutes after I leave the parking lot of Mac Business Systems, sobbing into the handkerchief clutched in my damp fingers and which will last until they call to tell me to come pick up my baby.

Good-bye for now. Good-bye.

My god, I'm going to miss you.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Wanda Sykes is gay?

Oh man. She just made it to the top of my possible-girlfriends-if-Mr. Moon-ever-leaves-me list.

I feel certain she'll barely be able to contain her joy when she hears this news.

At Home

Yesterday, Mr. Moon and I went out for a walk and headed down to the creek to see what the past few days' rain had brought. The last time we'd been out there, a week ago, the water was running low in the banks and we'd had a wonderful time, following the lazy moving water through the woods and down to Highway 59.

This week we didn't have the time we'd had the week before so we didn't spend too much time following the creek, but it's impossible not to wend your way beside it for a little distance, at least. There are cypress trees and the high white sand banks, the oak and pine in the woods around it, the deep hollows which I suppose were sink holes, and such sweet silence except for the birds and the sound the water makes as it rushes over fallen logs.

"We're lost again!" I always tragically announce as we walk, but of course we never are although it feels as if we might be, but in an enchanted, fairy-tale way, not a real, actual way.

The whole experience feels enchanted with the silence and the trees and the slow-moving water. It's so beautiful and I love it.

As we walked home I told Mr. Moon that we should get us a little piece of that land and build a hut on it. "It wouldn't even need electricity," I said, "Just a tiny little place where we could sleep and build a fire."
"And what would you do there? Spend the weekend?"
"With you, I'd hope," I said and he laughed at me.

But I think it would be great to have such a place. I love my house tremendously but there's something so compelling about the idea of a small, snug place to lay my head, to cook a simple meal.

I've lived in so many places. I've lived in a ten by fifty foot trailer and it made a fine and cozy place to live with two children and a husband although I did constantly dream that I found new rooms I'd never known about and was always a bit sad when I'd wake up to discover that no, there were no unexplored places in the trailer. I've lived in a very old shack which had no running water and it was cold in the winter and like an oven in the summer but I loved its wooden walls, its tilting floors. I've lived in a big, solid, brick Colonial house with a pool, too, and I never felt at home there, never could sleep there, although I appreciated it for everything it was.

Of course the place I live now is my dream home and I still pinch myself sometimes to think that yes, this is my bed in this house, this is my kitchen, these are my floors and walls and porches. At least for now.

My son is longing for a house of his own. He lives in a funky, red brick apartment on Monroe street and he likes his apartment fine, but he recently found a house for sale that he is lusting after. It's small, but far larger than his apartment and was built in 1938 by the man who lived there until now and it's got some great built-in cabinets and a breakfast nook with a mosaic-tiled table and the original woodstove is still in the kitchen.

I understand why he'd want that house, as small and in need of fixing up as it is.

We all want our own hut, our own snug and cozy place to come home to at night, to keep our stuff in, to lay our heads down in, to cook our meals in.

Mr. Moon's cousin, whom he hasn't seen in about a million years, is staying in Tallahassee for a few days in her RV. She's spent two and a half years now, traveling solo around the USA in her "rig" as she calls it, and I have to give the woman her props. She's older than I am and brave enough to drive and park that thing, which is almost as big as the trailer I lived in with three other people. Sometimes she stays at RV campgrounds and sometimes she stays in Walmart parking lots and she seems sincerely happy to be living that sort of life. There's a romance to it, but it doesn't appeal to me. Thankfully, Mr. Moon is too tall to stand up in an RV, much less live in one, so he'll never drag me around the country in a metal and plastic box I'm expected to cook in, for which I am grateful.

I do love a nice motel or hotel room, though, and remember many that I have stayed in fondly, from the the very humble "tourist cabin" in Key West with the rattling AC in the window and the skittering lizards in the overgrown hibiscus and bougainvillea outside the door to the marble-floored two rooms and a balcony overlooking the Caribbean in Cozumel where we stayed several times. I always, always cried when we had to leave that place. It's a damn timeshare thing now so we'll never stay there again, but Lord, do I cherish the memories. Then again, I cherish the memories of another place on the island we stayed called La Pepita, with its paper-thin small green towels and the most uncomfortable toilet seat I ever had occasion to sit on. But there were singing cardinals in a cage in the courtyard there and the maids chattered to each other as they washed the sheets and towels by hand in that same courtyard and there were books to borrow in the small office where the keys were kept.
There was charm there, too, and I look back on it and it seems like enchanted days and nights.

There is joy in having your very own place where you live that you love, and there is joy in living (and maybe loving) for a few days and nights in a place you'll never see again, whether in a big city or on the side of a mountain, or beside a harbor where boats are docked. A place where no one knows you and where every view is a new one, every street or path takes you to a place you've never been before but where you can walk back down to your room and find your toothbrush and the book you're reading, the bed where you'll be sleeping, the ubiquitous TV and remote- a home away from home, the place to lay the head.

Dogs make dens and so do turtles and meerkats. Crabs have holes in the sand where they scuttle to when they feel threatened. Birds make nests and so do chimps, bending down the branches of tall trees to sleep in at night. Termites build mounds and ants do too, great cities of cooperation and industry where they live and work and feed their queens.

Humans live in huts and cabins and caves and houses made of everything from animal dung and dirt to marble to metal to buffalo hides. It is the nature of beasts everywhere to want a place to feel safe and protected from the elements and outside world. Our homes are our castles, whether they are made of stone or stick, and when we enter them, we can shed our watches, our shoes, our bras and our stress.

We are at home.

Some people have a lot of homes and I don't think I'd like that. I wouldn't want to be Oprah and have houses everywhere. That's way too much trouble and way too much work. Does she take her pillow with her whenever she changes domiciles? And how does she decide where to stay and when? I couldn't be bothered with all of that.

But a hut on the creek? Now that would be fine for a weekend here and there. I could pack my pillow (I do take it everywhere I stay) and a can of hash and a few eggs and some water and walk there, hopefully with Mr. Moon by my side. It would be a sweet little other-home if he were with me because the bottom line is, home is where the heart is, and where he is, there's my heart. And I guess that's what it all boils down to for me.

I'd even travel the country in an RV if that's what he really wanted to do. I guess.

Meanwhile, here we are, in this place, this dream home, and my heart is happy and it's almost as good thinking about that dream cabin in the woods as it would be to have it. I can see us sitting outside, drowsy in the sun, listening to the birds and the water and being quiet enough that a deer might amble by.

Perhaps in a parallel universe we are there right now and perhaps, it is nap time.

Sweet dreams. Sweet little dreams.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How To Get A Foot Like Jennifer Lopez's Ass

Be a Foley artist.

Have a whole lot of adrenalin going because the performance has just begun and the audience- uh, IS there an audience? Definitely needs waking up.

Stand there, waiting for your cue to make the sound of a car hitting a metal garbage can. When the cue comes, hit the garbage can as you're supposed to with the iron rod you're holding. Then, as practiced successfully many times, kick the can to make the sound of the car knocking the garbage can down the sidewalk.

However, to get the desired Jennifer Lopez ass effect on your foot, kick the can improperly, which is done by getting your stupid high-heeled foot UNDER the bottom of the can and then, with all the adrenalin in your body, kick.

Realize within nanoseconds that you have just REALLY FUCKED UP YOUR FOOT.

Try not to hobble across the stage to retrieve the garbage can to put it in place for its next use (the breaking of china over it).

Note with pleasure that indeed, the audience is now awake.

Spend the rest of the performance, surreptitiously checking your foot (the tights are torn, making viewing easier) for damage.


We must all, I suppose, suffer for our art.

It doesn't really hurt so I doubt I've broken anything, but I can feel the fluid moving in it when I walk, which is a bit disconcerting.

Other than that, the play was fun. And tonight? I'll not be kicking the can in an improper way.

And let me explain the title of this post. The google search which brings the most people to my blog is How To Get An Ass Like Jennifer Lopez's and the second most googled search to bring people over to my place is Update on the Jennifer Lopez Ass.
So really, I'm just trying to get more traffic but let's face it- anyone who googles foot and Jennifer Lopez's ass is going to be sadly disappointed by the lack of kinkiness which is blessourhearts.

So if you got to this post by that sort of googling- I apologize. I got you here under false pretenses.

I also apologize to every one for the state of my toenails and animal-like hooves, although really, would you honestly think that Ms. Moon's feet would look even THAT good?

I didn't think so.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Not A Poser

I was in yoga class this morning in child's pose, which is one of my favorite poses because it's a resting pose and damn, who doesn't love a resting pose?

I was sleeveless today as it's gotten quite warm here again and I was enjoying the way everything in yoga felt, as if all my body parts were crying out, Yes, Yes, Yes! Thank you for paying us some attention here. Thank you for stretching, thank you for reaching, thank you for breathing! and I was happy. The rain was pouring down outside and we could hear it and see it from the cozy room we were in and we've been so dry here lately and it all just felt like a blessing, being there, doing what my body wanted, listening to the rain.

And then I made the mistake of turning my head in child's pose and catching a glimpse of my arm.

Oh my god. Oh dear. Oh shit. What the fuck???!!

The inside part of my upper arm was, well, I don't really know how to describe this. And let me insert right here that I do have muscles in my arms. They're not completely flabby or wing-like. But. Oh dear. But.
The flesh, how shall I say this? Was hanging in wrinkles and the meat of my arm was in something like blobs within that hanging, wrinkly flesh.

Now let me tell you that if I had seen this vision of body-aging just five years ago, or perhaps even five months ago, I would have shot up from child's pose into adult's horror pose and started screaming.

As it was, and as it is, I did nothing except to take note of the further degeneration of the flesh and continue on with what I was doing. I am not exactly inured to such horrifying (and seemingly sudden) changes in my body, but I am no longer as shocked as I used to be.

I feel certain that I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: When I was young(er), I would look at older women and the way that gravity had fought and won with their flesh and I would think Thank God that will never happen to me. Now why I thought that, I have no idea. Did I really believe that I, and I alone, would escape the ravages of aging? Or did I think I would be one of those who died young and left a gorgeous corpse?

I don't know. But either way, it was faulty thinking.

But here's the kicker: Inside, in my mind, and even in my body, I feel hardly different than I did twenty years ago back when my flesh was firm and unwrinkled. I am more flexible now than I was then and in some ways, stronger. I eat better, I exercise more, I am leaner. And so it's easy to forget (especially if I only look at my face in the mirror with my glasses off) that I am indeed aging and looking like it too.

So when I catch the flesh doing something decidedly old-womanly or I see a picture of myself wherein my neck is doing that thing, that wrinkly thing, I am kicked rudely out of denial and must face the facts.

The facts being that it's only going to get worse.


Well, they always say you're only as old as you feel, which in my case is about thirty-four. Until, that is, I am given a visual reminder of the truth. And then I feel like Nora Ephron who wrote that book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, because I do. I almost feel as if I must apologize.

Sorry, y'all. I meant to wear my real face and body but for some reason, I can't locate them. I've looked everywhere! Please forgive me. I'm sure I'll find them soon.

But I won't. I will never find them because they are not here any more. They are gone and gone forever. I can no more aspire to be this:

Than I can to be this:

But I can aspire to be this:

Which is not that bad. In fact, it's pretty wonderful.

And I do. I aspire to be that.

That strong, that beautiful, and apologizing to no one.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Toys Of Our Trade

Okay, okay. I am the world's worst photographer and I admit it.

What I wanted to capture was a little bit of the craziness that my friend Kathleen and I have put together for the radio plays we're the Foley artists for at the Monticello Opera House, being performed this weekend.

The plays are old, actual radio play scripts from the forties and fifties, ranging from the ridiculous to the absurd and the actors stand in front of the microphones and read the scripts and drop them where they are, just as they did back in a real radio studio back in the day.
The day which, I feel I must point out, when people were obviously far more entertained by far less than they are now.

We're doing a Fibber McGee and Molly, an Our Miss Brooks, a sci-fi thing called Plan X, a bit of a news broadcast from WW II Germany (I think), a sort-of horror piece called Strange (which wouldn't scare a high-strung six year-old), and a long, melodramatic piece called Dark Journey, which we have all taken to calling Dark Endless Journey.

For these pieces, Kathleen and I get to do the sound effects. We're supposed to do them all using technology they would have had in the forties and fifties and we mostly do although we cheat a little bit here and there with prerecorded sounds for a rocket, a ray gun, a car crash.

Things like that.

But it's amazing what you can come up with without the technology. You see that fan? With that fan and a piece of paper, Kathleen can make the most convincing sound of a fighter plane you've ever heard. We've got a miniature door to open and close, an old telephone to pick up and slam down, a garbage can to kick (and boy, is that satisfying!) china to break (same there), an unidentified piece of farm equipment and a sash weight to create the sound of a safe closing, train whistles, Jello to pour for the sound of a Martian drink I can't remember the name of, wax paper to rattle, a toy piano to play, an entire cabinet built to load up with crazy, crazy stuff to open for Fibber McGee's closet, a turkey call, toy ray guns and noise-makers, frog clickers, jewelry and small brass bells to create the sound of an oriental marketplace, and a slide whistle.

I'm sure I've forgotten something.

And the knitting? That's mine. I knit on stage when I'm not producing sound effects. Kathleen usually crochets. We drink something out of coffee cups (water in our case) and pass a flask when the going gets tough. That's part of our little schtick. Really, Kathleen and I get to have the most fun because we not only get to break china and do slide whistles, we also get to do all of this with the straightest faces you can imagine, just two working women wearing hats from the forties, doing the prosaic job of creating footsteps and ray gun sounds on the radio. We come wearing our gloves, we put then away, we sit in our stools, we settle down to business.

We try very hard not to trip in our pans of cat litter which we walk in to make the sounds of trudging through the Martian sands.

I'm going to be really sad when this is all over on Saturday night. Oh, I won't mind eating dinner with my husband at a reasonable hour and I won't miss the dark drives to and from Monticello, but damn! I AM going to miss playing with my friends, cracking each other up, the different personalities, the joy of seeing it all come together, the hilariousness when it doesn't.

Which is why I'll have to try and get involved with the next production. I wouldn't mind being an "actor" again, and I'm sure I will be some day. But until then, I'm happy to be anything they'll let me be. It's addicting, this stage thing. Not so much the performances for me anyway; it's the people I get to play with. It's the fun we get to have. It's the feeling I get when I drive up to the Opera House and get out of my car and lug all my gear up the beautiful old steps to the theater and am greeted by people I've come to know and really care about. It's looking out and seeing all those seats and it's thinking about all the people who have been on both sides of that stage in the last hundred years and knowing I am, in my own little way, being part of it.

And we get applause too!

Shit. Am I lucky or what?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Real Good Dancers

See that picture there? That's a picture of two very handsome men in the front seat of the driver's Model A Ford. Or it could be a Model T. Maybe a Model C? I have no real idea.

But I know who the men are.

The one on the left is Paw-Paw. The one on the right is Mr. Moon.

Paw-Paw is Billy's grandfather and Billy is bringing him and Maw-Maw (whom, as you might assume, is Billy's grandmother) out to the house this morning. Then we're going to Monticello to the Mexican goods place where I'll covet the tin merry-go-round again and we might even go to lunch.

I'm excited.

I've never met a more gracious and loving couple than Paw-Paw and Maw-Maw who have welcomed Mr. Moon and me into their home down in Tate's Hell more than once. They've fed us and liquored us up and let us enjoy the beauty of where they live. One Sunday afternoon, Paw-Paw took us on a boat ride up Doyle's Creek, a little ribbon of water that twists and turns through North Florida jungle that I doubt anyone's truly tread since the Ancients.

Besides being gracious and loving and welcoming, Paw-Paw and Maw-Maw are just a gorgeous couple. Every time I see Paw-Paw I get a little extra volume out of my heart-beat. He's that handsome. And Maw-Maw is just as beautiful as he is but she carries a gun in her purse so I'm always sure not to flirt too obviously with her man because she's a woman that not only has a gun, but would not hesitate to use it to defend her love.

Mind your manners around Maw-Maw!

But really, it's not the thought of the gun that makes me mind my manners around Billy's grandparents. It's the way they hug you and make you feel so special and loved. If you're a friend of Billy and Shayla's, you're their friend too.

Come on in. I've fried up some sausage and made a pot of gumbo and over there's the beer and have you seen my hummingbirds? Now y'all can sleep down here in this room and we'll be doing some oysters later so just make yourselves at home. Here, come sit by me. We're so glad you're here.

That's the sort of people they are.

And every time I'm around them, I'm reminded of how damn good people can be.

I'm reminded of how lucky I am to know them.

And I sort of feel like celebrities are coming to my house today.

Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw.

I'd rather spend time with them than with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who, if they're really, really lucky, will be together as long as Billy's grandparents, who are going through life together as gracefully and romantically as a matched set of ospreys flying through the world, and especially down by the Creek, making everyone they meet fall in love with them, making everyone they meet feel lucky, feel loved, feel cherished.

And having fun.

Y'all want some cane syrup on those biscuits? Jessie, get out your mandolin. Play us a tune.

It's always a dance with Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw.

I better go put on my dancing slippers. They'll be here soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ask Ms. Moon

Dear Ms. Moon,
I thought you were going to be out of blogging commission while your MacBook was in the shop. What's the deal?

Dear Wondering,
I'm too freaked out at the thought of being without it for days on end and so am just using it plugged in all the time. I may require therapy for this problem. Not for the MacBook, but for myself.
Thanks for paying attention,
Ms. Moon

Dear Ms. Moon,
Speaking of therapy, how is yours going?

Dear Curious,
I believe I am about to terminate by phone. Although I am sure that my therapist is fine and effective, I am having a hard time relating to her. She dresses too well and her beauty freaks me out. Plus, she's always mentioning her girlfriends and I am jealous beyond belief that I am not one of them.
I hope that answers your question.
Ms. Moon


Dear Ms. Moon,
What does all that pink, plastic crap they sell have to do with breast cancer?

Dear Confused,
I think all that pink, plastic crap they sell causes breast cancer.
Ms. Moon


Dear Ms. Moon,
What are you reading right now?
Your sister in literature,

Dear Bookaphile,
At the moment I am reading a Francine Prose novel called Primitive People, and listening to that old classic by Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land on tape.
Not at the exact same moment, I assure you.
Ms. Moon


Dear Ms. Moon,
Haven't you read SIASL before?

Dear Bookaphile,
Many times. I have always said there were two kinds of hippies: Lord of The Ring hippies and Stranger In A Strange Land hippies. I was one of the latter.
Ms. Moon


Dear Ms. Moon,
Doesn't the sexism in Stranger In A Strange Land disturb you?

Dear Bookaphile,
Not as much as the fact that the first ten times I read it I didn't even realize it WAS sexist.
Ms. Moon


Dear Ms. Moon,
Then why are you taking the time to listen to it in its entirety?

Dear BP,
All the hot, hot, hot Martian/Terran sex, of course!
Ms. Moon


Dear Ms. Moon,
My boyfriend keeps telling me that he's not good enough for me. What does this really mean?
In Love

Dear In Love,
It means he's not good enough for you.
Ms. Moon


Dear Ms. Moon,
Why are you so passionate about gay rights and the legalization of gay marriage?

Dear Unsure,
Let me assure you that my passion stems from nothing more than selfishness. Were Mr. Moon ever to leave me, I might decide to give up men forever and I do know some mighty swell women. I'm a gal that likes to keep her options open.
See what I'm saying here?
Ms. Moon


Dear Ms. Moon,
Does this mean you believe people can choose to be gay or not?

Dear Indignant,
Not at all. I am saying we should all be able to legally marry the person we love, no matter what sex that person happens to be.
Ms. Moon


Dear Ms. Moon,
What's the deal with religion?

Dear Searching,
Fuck if I know. I can completely understand the human need to seek answers to life's greatest questions such as, "Where do we come from?" and "Where do we go when we die?" and "Why do babies' necks smell so damn good?"
Religion, as I see it, is an attempt at answering these and similar questions. However, my problem with religion arises when they start making rules saying things such as a male child's foreskin must be cut off when he is eight days old or he can't go to heaven. Or, you must wear sacred underwear to enjoy eternal life. Or, god frowns on dancing and stylish hairdos and they are forbidden.
And so forth.
And it's not so much that I don't understand why these rules were made up in the first place. I can just hear the priests of old sitting around, chewing the fat, drinking some wine, smoking some weed and saying things like,
"Hey! Let's tell them that if they have sex with their wives when they're on the rag, it's an abomination!"
"Cool! What's an abomination?"
"I'm not sure, but I think it's really, really bad."

No. What I don't understand is why humans would not only believe this shit, but go to war to defend it and try to make others believe it too.
Thanks for asking.
Ms. Moon


Dear Ms. Moon,
What's the secret to a happy marriage?

Dear Bride-To-Be,
And sometimes beer.
Oh wait. That's the secret to MY happy marriage.
As to anyone else's, I have no clue.
Ms. Moon

Dear Ms. Moon,
Didn't you just make up all these questions yourself?

Dear Skeptical,
Yes. But only because no one else had the decency to ask them.

Love...Ms. Moon

Monday, November 10, 2008

What Color Are The Lens Of Our Glasses?

I've been thinking a lot about the filters we have in our minds that affect the way we think about things. These filters may have been put in place by the religions we were raised in or the life experiences we've had. They are probably what affect us most when we make decisions or opinions and we probably don't even think about them and the way they affect our thought, but I believe we all have them.

When I was very young, I lived in a world where there were very few opportunities to know any African-Americans and if I did, it was in the capacity of people (usually women) who worked for other people as maids. Thus, one of the first filters was placed in my mind:
Black people were the people who cleaned up after white people.
And believe me, this was not an untrue stereotype.

The first real opportunity I had to meet a black kid my own age was when the preacher of the little Community Church my family attended decided in the early sixties that it was time to do his part to integrate and he invited a black church to join our church one Sunday. He lost a lot of members that week, as I recall.

But one of the members of the other church brought his son with him and because our church was so small we didn't usually have Sunday school for the kids and for one reason or another, the kids were all excused to go and just play, which we did, by the banks of the Sebastian River where the church sat. I remember that boy and how amazed I was at the fact that although his skin was dark, his palms were as pink as mine and he showed me how to put the fingers of my left hand together and hold them with the fingers of my right hand and whistle between the thumbs- a talent I still possess.

The early sixties were a hard, hard time in this country. Signs like the one above were everywhere in the South and as a child, I didn't understand them. My family was not overtly prejudiced and were staunch Democrats and I recall when LBJ was running for president, being called a nigger lover because I supported him in the way that a child will support whoever her family is voting for.

I wondered about that. Was I a nigger lover? What did that mean? That boy who taught me to whistle with my fingers was awfully nice and he was the only black person I really had ever met, so maybe I was. I certainly had no reason to hate him.

Another filter had been put in place in my mind.

Or perhaps two- the one black person I'd met had been sweet and he'd taught me something, and the white kids I went to school with hated black people but there seemed to be no reason why, as far as I could tell. I don't think they knew any more black people than I did. I learned that hate did not have to have a basis in any true knowledge or experience. That it could just bloom wherever it was planted.

And then on the television I saw Martin Luther King and I heard his ringing voice of truth and grace. I saw African Americans sitting peacefully at lunch counters, trying to get a meal and being arrested. I saw little black children whom the National Guard had to protect in order to attend school while white people shouted oaths, the hatred and ignorance dripping from their faces, making them ugly.

These images gave me more filters through which to judge races, especially my own race.

And then came images like this:

And like this:

in magazines and on the news.

And yet another filter was put into place:
White people were cruel to black people. Black people were treated not just unfairly, but horribly.

And I was white.

Although I had never once in my life threatened a black person in any way, I felt guilty by the mere fact that my skin, like the skin of the hateful, cruel people, was white. And all my life I have wondered if black people hated me for this skin, the same way that many whites hate blacks simply for the color of their skin.

I have to tell you that I have never been treated hatefully by a black person. I have lived in black communities, I have been one of the few white faces in a sea of dark faces in bars or at concerts or once in a church. And I was never treated with anything but respect.

Which somehow made me feel more guilty and it made me wonder if that respect wasn't merely a culture thing- that African Americans have been raised (especially the older ones) to show respect to whites when no respect had been earned.

I've been called "Ma'am" by black men more than thirty years older than me, which always makes me want to scream. Instead, I have nodded and smiled, keeping my screams inside me.

I've tried so hard to be a representative of the white race which is not prejudiced, which is not hateful, which doesn't judge on skin color. But of course, I always have. I see a black person and all the filters put into my brain click in and I try my fucking hardest to be open, to be kind, to not show any sort of race-based bullshit superiority.

We can't help it- the way black folks generally treat whites and white folks generally treat blacks, has been affected so deeply by the fact of our history together here, starting with the fact that the black ones were enslaved by the white ones, which is such a hideous and basic truth that it has seemed that nothing, NOTHING could chip those filters from our brains.

I heard an interview on NPR yesterday (of course- where else?) with a black Southern Baptist minister who is also old enough to remember the whites only signs. To remember the way white law arrested, beat up, and brutalized blacks. To remember the spewings of hate from people like George Wallace. To remember when "separate but equal" was the law although "equal" meant nothing. To remember those pretty little children, being walked to school, their eyes shining with fear, their steps far more steady than anyone could imagine a child's being in that situation.

And this minister was saying that Obama's election gave him "cautious optimism" that things will now finally change the way white people think about black people in this country.

I completely understood.

And I wondered if it will also change the way black people perceive white people in this country, which isn't something that's being discussed as often.

I think it will. I think that finally, and at last, African Americans may have cautious reason to believe that all white people do not hate all black people for their skin color. That the powers that be did not somehow prevent a man of color making his way to the highest office in the land and one of the most powerful in the world.

This election has, I hope, given us an entirely new filter to view each other through. One that said not only "Yes we can," but also, "Yes YOU can," which may sound racist and may sound patronizing but dammit, it's true. NO- of course one race of people should never have had the ability and power and will to stop another race of people from doing ANYTHING because of the color of their skin but in this country, it's been the sickening norm and if you doubt that, you have not been paying attention.

The election of Barack Obama has not put an end to racism. Anyone who believes that is a pipe-dreaming fool. But we've put in place a powerful filter in the minds of us all.

Someone stole my Obama sign again this morning. I'm not sure why I've still had it up, almost a week after the election. Perhaps to bask in the glory of finally voting for a candidate who won. Perhaps to show my pride in him, in our country for doing the right thing, the unbelievable thing, the thing I never thought would happen.

But someone was pissed, I guess, and took that sign and I'm pissed because I wanted to save it for posterity.

But the election wasn't stolen. And that's what's important.

And the new filter in all our minds will be there forever and we will all of us, of all different races, see each other in new ways.

And maybe I can start feeling a little less guilty. Maybe, if another older African American gentleman calls me "Ma'am," I can say, "Thank you for that term of respect, but I am younger than you and I have not earned it."

Who knows?

I am cautiously optimistic and I am thrilled beyond belief.

And I have to tell you that this post was very difficult to write. I am trying to be honest and I am trying to say things that are hard, despite the filters I have in my own brain and I feel close to tears, having said them.

Change is hard and it can bring up deep emotions, especially changes having to do with such a long, long history of such profound hate and ignorance and guilt and power and enslavement and inequality and the deaths of countless people, both black and white, who fought to end these things.

One more story:
I was working at McDonald's in Winter Haven, Florida back in the seventies and a man I served left a card that said, "You have just been patronized by the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan."
I read those words and felt shot through with electricity, as if I had been touched by something deadly.

And I had. I had been touched by hate, which is the deadliest thing there is.

I am cautiously optimistic that there is less hate now than there was in the early seventies. I am cautiously optimistic that we are growing up. But I am sure that we are nowhere near done with the process we're going through to get to that place.

But at least we're on the path.

At least.

At last.