Oh what a big word

And look – I just reduced my emotions

Here’s the personal

I do love.

I do live.

I put myself first.

Think of that

Imagine that.





A hunter is anyone who hunts. The Huntress is the greatest.

Tress is the greatest, the expert.

Let all people on stage be actors. Let the greatest be the actress. (Olivier and and Streep e.g.)

Let all people who edit be editors. Let Bob Silvers be the editress.

Let Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath both be poets and poetesses.

Ess -tress the best

Grace and Johanna on Pleasant Avenue

Grace and Johanna moved into the apartment on Pleasant Avenue in 1981.  They liked it because no one they knew knew of Pleasantville.  It was their escape.

Grace drank, and hated the local liquor stores.  Johanna drank, and loved the local bars.

They bought alcohol downtown.  They shopped downtown too, sometimes.  Sometimes they went to bodegas.(“Ludicrously expensive!” – Johanna – “How can the poor live?”)  Sometimes they went to local fish stores and butchers (“Huh.  Interesting cut of meat.”  – Grace.  No, they didn’t care if was kosher).  Once Johanna went to a live chicken place.  (“Just nope.  I’m not talking about it.”)

Clothing?  Well, stores on third avenue, or their usual: levis and shirts, available in the department stores.  (“Why don’t you ever go to the consignment stores Grace?”  “Because: 1 ” holding up her pointer finger – “I don’t wear dresses. 2 ” her middle finger now “I’m the wrong size, and finally I hate shopping.  You know that.”  “Nonsense,  you love shopping but only with me, because then you can pretend you’re doing it for me even though we both know / hate shopping except for food, but you love it.”  “Fine, we’ll go to consignment stores.”  Grace smiled.  Jo was right, she loved shopping.)

Shoes?  Well Shoes had always been an issue.  Neither Grace nor Jo wore heels.  Both claimed it was impossible to find the shoes that would fit.  Jo had big solid broad(ish) feet that went with her solid broad(ish) hands. Shoes weren’t hard to find, but some sales people were snarky.  Most weren’t.   Grace’s feet were impossibly narrow. (“How can you walk?”  “One foot in front of the other my dear, just like everyone else.”  “You know what I meant.”  “No, really?”  “Damn.”)

Stockings and pantyhose.  (“I’m only wearing tights.  If I have to wear dresses.”  “You don’t Grace, look at me.”  “Your ass looks better in pants than mine does.”  “Nonsense, you just like looking at my ass in pants.”  “True.  True.”)

They festooned the apartment with flowers.  They grew roses on the fire escape.  Bonsai pines and cherry trees peeped out beside the roses trailing over everything.

They planted marigolds, some years they had enough sunlight.  Other years even the petunias didn’t come up.

Basil always worked.  Tomatoes rarely.  That’s one reason they were part of the community garden.  Another was to be friendly with the neighbors.

The neighbors – well there had been a little trouble at the beginning.  Not because they were lesbians, actually it took a while for that to sink in.  Simply, because they were young women living away from their families.  This didn’t sit so well.  Some people thought they were whores.  Again, the garden helped.  So did finding out that Grace was a teacher.  

(“A math teacher.”  “Why don’t you get married?”  “I like living with Johanna and teaching.”  “You could teach if you got married.  Lots of teachers are married.”  “But I couldn’t live with Johanna”)

(What is Johanna?  Not a lawyer.  Maybe a seamstress?  Maybe a secretary?  Not a doctor.  An architect! )

(“Architect.  You make houses right?”  “I wish!  I design how pipes will work in skyscrapers.”  “Why don’t you marry?”  “I like my work, and I like living with Grace.”  “Wouldn’t your husband let you work?”  “I don’t know, but I don’t think he’d like me living with Grace.”)

After a few years, it was clear they wouldn’t marry.  The youngest Reynosa girl had gone to Grace’s school.  She raved about her as a teacher.

The youngest Reynosa girl also didn’t marry.  But she moved to Brooklyn, and lived with a friend there.


It really is that simple

Penelope Trunk annoys me.  I understand the appeal.  She makes it clear that she writes and advises from her perspective.  Even when she pronounces things as absolute truths with citations (often not very good ones, but there, we all cherry pick our sources to correspond to our prejudices), it is still clear that she’s writing from her lived experience.  That is the appeal: that her advice, her pronouncements, her webinars, whatever – they all come from her experience, and are expressed as close to transparently as possible.

It’s that “as possible” that I’d like to play with now.

She edits (of course).  She has an editor (of course).  So her posts aren’t really scream of consciousness.  I suspect her “classes” aren’t completely unscripted either.

That isn’t important to me, but it is important to her (or rather to the Penelope Trunk persona – what the inner woman thinks or feels is something I can’t determine, and I don’t need to determine).  She has stated that complete openness is important to her because of the secrets of her childhood.  She states that openness is her defense (that may be my inference, rather than her direct statement).

I have no reason to doubt her – except –

There’s all this niggling annoying stuff going on.  She’s anti-feminist (I suspect she’d say post).  She’s picked an apparently liberal open (that word again!) voice in which she espouses horrendous ingrained misogyny.

– Marry by twenty five
– Have kids by thirty
– Don’t rock the boat about harassment in the workplace
– Have plastic surgery
– Be empowered by ownership of your actions even if you’re accepting blame for actions against you

And the topper.
The scary one.
The sad one.

– Stay with your man if you have kids.  Even if he hits you.  Even if he hits you in front of the kids.
– Women are to blame for the abusive actions of others

Her mother was at fault when her father hit her.  Because her mother was oh so dreadful and provocative.
She is at fault when her husband beats her.  Because she is provocative.  She does things he hates.

I’ve left the room when adults threw tantrums.  I doubt if I’m the only one.

Please understand, it’s not wrong to respond to horrible behavior of other people.  You have to respond somehow.  (Even saying nothing and bowing your head is a response.  It isn’t even a submissive response if you’re bowing your head to cover up your smirk or rage or, more to the point, when your actions are driven by your own thoughts and meaning, and not by those of the louse making a song and dance.)

It’s right to call out horrible behavior (when you can do so safely).  It’s wrong to indulge in further and more horrible behavior because “she started it!” (That, effectively, is what Penelope says her father did, and her husband does.)

Grownups, at least people I think of as grownups, respond to other adults misbehaving by calling it out and not rewarding it.

For example:

If someone raises their voice, you say “Please don’t raise your voice,” and then you ignore them until they’re acting more sensibly, and with a normal tone of voice.  Or you say: “I’m not going to respond to you until you apologize for your tone, and moderate it.  I’m leaving the room now.”

Or if someone insults you, you say “Wow. That was rude.”  And you ignore them.

If someone threatens you – well.  Do you enjoy that sort of thing?  I don’t.  I don’t enjoy anger at all.  I don’t enjoy other people’s malice and rage directed at me (or at anyone really.)  Nor do I enjoy my own anger.

So anger – I walk away.
Threats, I may or may not call out, but I don’t respond to at all well.

Why do others?

Penelope Trunk (or please, please, please her husband) enjoys the intensity of anger and of a clear attentive response.  That is, I think, what’s happening.  He doesn’t attend, and she needs that, and she knows he can explode.  But she thinks she controls the explosions, and I think she does not.  Those explosions are because of internal events in Matthew.  Her actions trigger responses only because he has given himself permission to (for example) throw her against furniture sometimes.

Because all of this is really in his head, not hers, when she polices her own actions, she still can’t guarantee her safety.

That she “causes” his explosions of rage is a fiction they’ve both bought into.  It’s a fiction none the less.

And that’s what I wanted to say!

I’m glad for her that, if she needs to feel that she controls something, and believing that her actions can control the explosions and abuse gives her some control, that she thus believes herself to have control.  But it’s not real. It’s an illusion of control.

He beats her because he believes there are justifications for it.

It really is that simple.

First deaths

Yet another day.

Ok.  About Juan-Carlos, Manda, and Maybelle.

They had always lived together.  At one point Juan-Carlos moved his boyfriend in.  At another point, Maybelle moved hers in too.

Manda hadn’t really cared much about people.  She’d had birds. and she’d had plants.  And she’d noted that the boyfriends didn’t last.

Let’s be accurate.  She pointed out to Juan-Carlos that Ray wasn’t around when he said he would be.  That he was out later, and left earlier.  That he didn’t do his share of the cleanup.  (Juan-Carlos ignored that, so she shifted tactics.)

Examples follow:
Ray wasn’t around much was he?
Ray was a trifle, oh, sharp with other people when it wasn’t necessary.
Ray didn’t really seem to realize that he wasn’t very kind, oh not to /me/, but why does he keep commenting on your age and height?
Ray eats rather a lot, but comments on you constantly. (The references to appearance didn’t work so well either)

This was her most magnificent plan (that’s how she would have described it to you if you’d asked and if she liked you – but she wouldn’t like you) it took a few examples to get under Juan-Carlos’s skin, but eventually these stories worked very well.  Ray was gone within three months.

Dear, dear. Ray is getting a little near sighted.  No really, I saw him the other day and he didn’t see me. He was with friends.  I don’t know who, but they must have been friends because their conversation was so animated.

Oh, Juan-Carlos I didn’t expect to see you home!  I just ran into Ray downtown.

Coming home late one evening Manda went into a wonderful dithery rant de la rant:
Where was I tonight?  Oh on 52nd Street, coming out of one of those clubs.  I don’t know which one. Didn’t I say?  No I suppose I didn’t.  I was just so startled when Ray and his friend snubbed me. A very nice looking young man.  So it surprised me no end.  I must have told you all about it Juan-Carlos, but all I know is that I waved and he didn’t see it, so I called out to him and he didn’t hear it.   Well!  Imagine my surprise when he didn’t respond!  That’s how I knew he must be aging.  And hiding it! So obviously he’s getting near sighted and perhaps deaf.

You and Ray know such lovely people!  I saw him with the sweetest boy last afternoon. The boy?  Oh I don’t know.  About twenty-five I think.  Dark.  I told you, very good looking.

If Juan-Carlos had other lovers, neither Manda nor Maybelle ever met them.

For two years, Manda had a suitor.  He may or may not have loved her, but it was clear that she enjoyed having him around.  She told him what to do.  She berated him.  She ignored him.  

In anyone else this would have read as nastiness, or a humiliation based relationship.  With Manda however – it was forgetfulness.  She liked the man briefly.  She was sexually intimate with him (that’s how she described it to Maybelle.)  She had enormous contempt for him for not being herself, Maybelle, or Juan-Carlos.  She told him to go away and not come back.  He left.

Weeks later, if they’d cared, they might have read a series in the post about a rash of suicides.  Manda’s man was one of them.  (Or was he?)

Maybelle had a genuine boyfriend.  That’s how he referred to himself.  “I’m your genuine boyfriend.”  She didn’t argue the point.  For six months when she was in her teens she’d gone to movies and clubs.  For a year of her twenties she’d allowed men to buy her drinks.  In her thirties she’d had dinner dates and occasional flings (Manda’s term).  But once, in her thirties, the “genuine boyfriend” called and called again.  He must have loved and respected her – he told her each time they met up: “Maybelle, no one else will love you or respect you.  But I do.  I’m your genuine boyfriend.”

Maybelle doubted his genuineness, his love, his respect.

“That’s easy to test.” said Manda.  “Have him come by tonight.”

He did.  Maybelle, Manda, and Juan-Carlos were waiting.

“Maybelle’s money is in a trust.  I administer the trust.  Juan-Carlos is allowed a very small allowance in return for signing at my discretion.”

“You know I love and respect Maybelle.”

“Maybelle tells me so.  Juan-Carlos says he will offer you 2000 dollars per year to leave her alone.  Maybelle is entitled to 1000 dollars without my signature.”

“I won’t be bought.”

“What if Juan-Carlos offered you one hundred thousand dollars, just to leave us alone?”

Maybelle’s man was venal enough to look interested.

“So, Maybelle, Juan-Carlos.  Who does it?”

Juan-Carlos threw a chair at Wayne.  It startled him just enough for Manda move in and to cut his throat.

The three of them wrapped the body in a rug which they carried to the esplanade and dropped into the river.

He was found eventually.  No one thought of them.