Archive for February, 2011

Marriage masks?There a whole lotta blah, blah going on about marriage, its “holy bonds”, traditional roles, legal entanglements, etc., and I’ve done my share of blathering.

Yesterday’s post on infidelity, for example, was at least partially about pondering on the whole monogamy issue, the skirting around that happens to the tune of millions of bucks for modern-day cyber pimps and some offered thoughts that adultery dulls divorce tendencies.

Yes, marriage and partnerships of all sorts are a hot-button topic these days as many struggle to rearrange everything from expectations to laws. Although there is a strong tendency to hold to tradition, it’s harder to do that every year as society shifts radically.

Historically, it wasn’t all that long ago that ending a marriage by any method but death was almost unheard of. No matter the circumstances, marriage was a life sentence, and although that conveyed some stability the price was often higher than many wished they’d signed on for.

It wasn’t until 1979 that the USA shit-canned the last of the Head and Master laws, an appalling mandate based upon the “legal definition of marriage” that, “delegated the husband’s role as supporting the family and the wife’s as housekeeping, childrearing, and providing sex.”

“Head and Master” laws were a set of American property laws that permitted a husband to have final say regarding all household decisions and jointly owned property without his wife’s knowledge or consent, until 1979 when Louisiana became the final state to repeal them. Until then, the matter of who paid for property or whose name was on the deed had been irrelevant.

They meant the wife had no say over where or how a family lived, and a woman who refused to move at her husband’s demand could be sued for abandonment.

Some are still pissed off about the movement Betty Friedan started back in the ’60s with an article in “Good Housekeeping” shockingly titled Women are People, Too, blaming the women’s movement for the disintegration of the American family, but anyone with a firm grasp of the history … not just “Leave it to Beaver” episodes … in their head understands the costs at which families were held together before there were options.

The voices of tradition and the voices of Freudian sophistication tell us that we can desire no greater destiny than to glory in our role as women, in our own femininity. They tell us how to catch a man and keep him; how to breast-feed children and handle toilet training, sibling rivalry, adolescent rebellion; how to buy a dishwasher, cook Grandmother’s bread and gourmet snails, build a swimming pool with our own hands; how to dress, look, and act more feminine, and make marriage more exciting; how to keep our husbands from dying young and our sons from growing into delinquents.

They tell us — the psychologists and psychoanalysts and sociologists who keep tracing the neuroses of child and man back to mother — that all our frustrations were caused by education and emancipation, the striving for independence and equality with men, which made American women unfeminine. They tell us that the truly feminine woman turns her back on the careers, the higher education, the political rights, the opportunity to shape the major decisions of society for which the old-fashioned feminists fought.

Now a thousand expert voices pay tribute to our devotion from earliest girlhood to finding the husband and bearing the children who will give us happiness. They tell us to pity the “neurotic,” “unfeminine,” “unhappy” women who once wanted to be poets or physicists or Presidents, or whatever they had it in them to be. For a woman to have such aspirations, interests, goals of her own, the experts keep telling us, impairs not only her ability to love her husband and children but her ability to achieve her own sexual fulfillment.

That was written in 1963.

Of course, we still have many issues to deal with … domestic abuse, infidelity, unequal divisions of power and money, to name just a few … but the stranglehold of traditional values has loosed its grasp.

We don’t have to marry at all if we’d rather not, and not marrying no longer means a life of chaste spinsterhood. If we do marry, and marry badly, divorce is a viable option, much to the chagrin of those who see the option as the cause. (Often the same people who see sex education as the motivating factor in making teens horny … yeah … right … )

When we commit to a relationship we now have bargaining power, the result of which can be healthier, more productive partnerships.

Some will argue that children suffer under an opt-out system, but those who grew up in abusive and/or dysfunctional family units glued together by dictates outside the front door could present their suffering and scars for examination. Sure, a two-parent cohesive family is cool, but how many of those are there?

Laws have changed. Women have changed. Families have changed. Traditional roles have changed.


And while we’re on the topic of marriage, tradition, laws and change, same-sex marriage gets a mention, as well.

One argument against same-sex marriage arises from a rejection of the use of the word “marriage” as applied to same-sex couples, as well as objections about the legal and social status of marriage itself being applied to same-sex partners under any terminology. Other stated arguments include direct and indirect social consequences of same-sex marriages, parenting concerns, religious grounds, and tradition.

Sounds like the same load of shit that kept those “Head and Master Laws” in place for a ridiculously long time.

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Castro on cheating

Infidelity Castrate ... or something like that

Not that I’m proud of it … or pleased …but I’ve seen infidelity from just about every angle there is.

Cheating has been part of the family tradition for a couple of generations, so my exposure started early, and when I saw this story titled, “AshleyMadison’s CEO Thinks Affairs Help Keep Marriages Together–Do You?”, I simply had to click on the link, even though I’d never heard of Ashley Madison.

Do affairs lead to divorce? Noel Biderman, the CEO of AshleyMadison.com, the web’s premier site for wannabe adulterers, doesn’t think so. With 8.5 million users and paying customers in over 10 countries including the U.S., Canada, Australia, England, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, New Zealand and Sweden, Biderman (a former sports agent turned Internet mogul), believes that if people were more flexible in allowing sexual encounters outside of marriage, there would be fewer divorces.

It took only a fraction of a second to get over being surprised that such a site would exist, and so profitably, which was even less time than required to formulate my answer to the “Do they … ?” thing.

Yes. They do, and my own track record is proof: my first husband left me for someone else; my second husband left someone else for me; I left my second husband for my third who eventually left me for his bit on the side.

Sure, we could say that all these matches were doomed, but that would be missing a chance to deal with the cheating issue, and cheating most certainly was somewhere near the top on the “What’s wrong with this picture” list.

The fact that “wannabe adulterers” have gone online is handy for this Biderman dude, and I’m only slightly annoyed I didn’t think of this …

What he did invent–after learning that between 10 to 30 percent of people on traditional dating sites were married–is a company that is creating both controversy and cash, with $60 million in profits expected this year.

The article has references to movies I’ve not seen, people I’ve not heard of and such, but attempts at points for calling a spade a spade aren’t flying.

There’s a reason movies like Hall Pass or the marketing campaign of Las Vegas where “What Happens In Las Vegas Stays in Las Vegas” with bachelor parties and weekends away are popular. It’s out there in the culture that people want this and I would argue it’s been good for Las Vegas. Prohibition never works.

Good for Las Vegas? Okay … but that doesn’t equate to affairs saving marriages, which is the message Biderman is apparently handing out.

People have needs. Sex is only a part of marriage. You have children to raise and mortgages to pay and if you look at the data, children in dual parent households do better in school and have less problems with drugs and alcohol. Divorce affects your friends and extended family. So clearly walking out the door because of a severely bruised ego can also be looked at as a selfish act. It’s the easy way out. I think the harder choice is to have honest discussions about needs and ways to move forward in a relationship and reach compromises.

And there, for me, is the key … honest discussions … and I seriously doubt that’s a prerequisite for subscribing to the site.

It’s not the extracurricular sex that destroys relationships, it’s the lies that happen on the way to consummation that poison the consommé. Sex can be just sex, a biological release, a bit of slap and tickle, but when the road leading to it is paved in deception it morphs into something more potentially damaging.

The difference between a quick fuck and drawn out wooing online, by phone or in person is as wide a divide as from a burp to betrayal — one just happens, while the other builds into … well, a relationship. Even when built on nothing more substantial than lies and ego-feeding, a bond is created, and for one who is already bonded attaching lines to another is a duplicitous double-cross.

It takes balls to step up and accept responsibility for wants and negotiate honestly when unquenchable desires must be addressed, but if there’s respect, that can happen.

I was a sports agent and saw how the wives of athletes had this 50 mile rule. As long as it’s not at home, they didn’t ask questions. When the guys came home off-season they were with their wives and families and no questions asked.

Fine, as long as that ‘no question’ thing goes both ways. That’s not often the case, however, and too many are so crap at judging distance that the corner bar … or the next room … can be misjudged as 50 miles, but some have no more control than a dog … which is why neutering is a good idea … for dogs …

Whatevahhh …

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Ancient Mexican Bert. Ernie may have been looted ...

Although there is much happening in life and the world I would like to vent thoughts about, I’m under deadline on a book at the mo and employing mental and finger skills there, so the blog suffers.

Squeezing the work in between one big job and another bigger one means I have only weeks to go from zero to done and I’m feeling the pinch. Add to that the fact that the weather is stunning and the beach beckons big time and composing blog posts jumps to the bottom of the to-do list.

There is, however, time this lovely morning for a bit of H&H (Harvest and Harangue), so let’s get to it, shall we?

Starting with this … the usual limp dick of the UN attempting to insert itself:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the body’s Security Council to take “decisive action” over the Libya crisis.

That’ll do it, heh? Sure … form a committee.

My fav line in the story, though, is from Gaddafi Junior, the colonel’s son, Saif:

Visitors to Tripoli would not hear gunfire but might hear fireworks, Mr Gaddafi said.


A look at Saif’s former impersonation of reasonable is interesting as well. From just two years ago:

Having just donated £1.5m to the university to fund its Global Governance Unit, he was introduced in glowing terms by the university’s Professor David Held, who said:

“I’ve come to know Saif as someone who looks to democracy, civil society and deep liberal values for the core of his inspiration.”

Funny what £1.5 mil and a load of crap will get you …

One the “Hey, that’s kinda cool” front, a new theory on gravity has some pull this morning.

A controversial theory that challenges the existence of dark matter has been buoyed by studies of gas-rich galaxies.

Instead of invoking dark matter, the Modified Newtonian Dynamics theory says that the effects of gravity change in places where its pull is very low.

And if you think you’ve got issues getting your head around this stuff, check out the take of a scientist involved in the work:

“Sometimes I wish I didn’t work on this,” Professor McGaugh said. “If your own data don’t get in your face about this, it’s easy to say ‘so-and-so screwed up’.”

No kidding, Dude.

Having experienced the wonders of Mexico’s rich history, this story on looting of historic sites there is disturbing.

Mexico signed an international treaty in 1972 that prohibits the extraction and trade in archaeological artefacts, with punishment of up to 12 years in jail for such a crime.

But, almost four decades on, experts say the demand from abroad for pre-Hispanic pieces, especially the US, shows no signs of abating.

Not surprising since selling heritage has been a going concern all over the world, but still a regrettable loss … just ask the Greeks.

I was recently introduced to the wonders of incognito British graffiti artist, Banksy, so was drawn to this program on him “leaving his social commentary” in L.A.. Very cool stuff.

And speaking of things British, I can’t end this post without a mention of the Covent Garden restaurant now serving up breast milk ice cream.

The dessert, called Baby Gaga, is churned with donations from London mother Victoria Hiley, and served with a rusk and an optional shot of Calpol or Bonjela.

At £14 ($22.50) a serving, Baby Gaga must be udderly delicious …

And that’s it for today. Thanks for dropping by …

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Falling in love is so hard on the knees.

Given the rocky road all my romantic relationship paths have morphed into, often ending up in a screaming careening off a cliff into the abyss and crashing upon crags of whatthefuckhappenedthistime, this article titled, “Relationship Advice: Want a Sustainable Romance? Here’s the First Step”, got a read out of me this morning and assigns a bit of homework.

This post is about a frequently overlooked first step towards a sustainable relationship with your current or future partner. Couples I’ve worked with find it helpful because it builds the self-reflection and self-awareness you need for growing and evolving yourself in your relationship capacities. I call this first step doing a “Relationship Inventory.” With it, you can review, understand and learn from your past relationships. Then you can face forward with greater clarity and capacity for creating and sustaining emotional and sexual intimacy in the present and future.

Begin by making a list of all your significant romantic relationships. For each, reflect on and write down what attracted you to that person and why, at that particular time of your life.

Ack! This might take a while, but since I do still hold out hope for a “sustainable relationship” somewhere in my future it seems worth the time and effort, but I’ll keep my list of “significant romantic relationships” to myself, thankyouverymuch.

First things first, and that will be defining “significant”. I suppose I could set a minimum time commitment, but that would include some whose impact was negligible even with a bit of longevity and ignore a few who made a huge difference in a short time. Most miserable subsequent heartache could be a qualifier, as well as most joyful moments, although those could go hand-in-hand. Prompters of life changes make the list, of course, as well as those who set me off to thinking in different directions, and men who pop into mind a lot go higher than those whose names I struggle to recall.

Okay …

First for pondering is: What was the pull?

What qualities of that person attracted you to him or her? Why did those qualities attract you in the first place? Be honest, regardless of how you might feel about those traits today. Consider what role your life circumstances played in the attraction were at the time, including your emotional state and needs. Describe your level of emotional development and awareness at the time of each of those relationships.


Considering the fact that the first romantic relationship I had involved being handed a ring at the age of seven, there’s bound to be some differences in my level of emotional development and awareness.

Since I still have the ring and remember the boy’s name, he has to head the list, and the pull is still obvious to me: he was cute, thought I was wonderful, and he owned a horse.

Over the years my parameters have shifted, and I’ll have to give a lot of thought to why I invested myself in men who weren’t so cute, were not so convinced of my wonderfulness and didn’t even own a bloody car.

Also, reflect on how your parents’ relationship impacted you, in terms of the model they exposed you to of how couples relate.

The model my parents exposed? OMG! No wonder I’ve been doomed to infidelities, narcissists and multiple divorces. I don’t think I even want to go there, actually, but I suppose I must if I’m to learn about myself through this pop quiz. Fine.

Next step: Then what happened?

Write a paragraph or two describing what you think happened during the course of the relationship that led to its ending. Of course, you’re looking back from today’s vantage point, but try to portray an unvarnished story of what happened, and why. Describe, without assigning blame.

Easy enough in some cases; not so in others. And I’m not just talking the not assigning blame thing. I’m more than willing to shoulder my part of any breakup and admit where I’ve fallen from the path.

Some relationships exploded, some imploded, some simply fizzled out. Some I outgrew, some were jettisoned for damned good reasons, some I hung on to by my bloody fingernails until there was nothing left to grasp. Some ended suddenly and completely, some lingered for years; some resulted in deep friendship, a very few in a lasting rage. Some I was happy to see the back of, some I miss to this day.

There were relationships begun with the writing large on the wall spelling out clearly: This won’t last! Others started in a climate of hopeful anticipation of happy-ever-after. Some could have been perfect … if only one or two things had been just a bit different.

I am not an easy woman in the get-along-with-for-a-long-time sense of the word. I can be demanding, expecting the best of those in my life and pushing for excellence. I know this can be wearying. I am also moody, stubborn, opinionated, insecure, needy and I don’t cook, so no picnic for anyone on a long-term basis. I have very little tolerance for soothing male egos out of some traditional mandate to do so and figure a guy should be able to take a bit of constructive criticism without feeling the need to run out and find some bolstering from peripheral women to make up for it. I take commitment seriously and brook no betrayal and am far too honest to take kindly to lies.

All this, I know, does not add up to a pleasant package for some, and the fact that I’ll walk away rather than stick with something that feels slimy has put the kibosh on more than one partnership.

So, moving right along to: What did you learn?

Next, write down what you think you learned about yourself from each of those relationships that ended. Include what you think you recognized at the time as your blind spots, your own behavior or unexpressed feelings that might have contributed to the failure or to prolonging the relationship when it would have been healthier to end it sooner. Did you apply what you learned in your next relationship, or did you repeat the same things, despite what you thought you learned?

See above … but it’s double-barreled when it comes to that failure vs/ prolonging thing. The difference between dragging a dead relationship and working through issues is not always clear, a distinction made more difficult when the horse continues to be flogged on a regular basis. As I’ve written before, hope flings infernos, and sometimes I apparently like the heat.

As for blind spots … well, I really like men and that seems to fuck with impartiality in a big way. My taste also tends toward confident men, and it’s often not until some time has passed that the confidence proves itself to be a mask for insecurity and a compensatory illusion, more flash than substance and a defense that can eventually prove offensive.

Next: What didn’t you learn?

Reflect on what you now realize you didn’t learn about yourself in each relationship that would have been helpful to your growth and to your next relationship. Or, what you could have learned from the relationship that ended that would have helped you grow your relationship capacity if you had been more self-aware at the time?

Much omphaloskepsis happens with this step, an ongoing process throughout life. Since even the stuff I have learned has yet to be completely integrated … things like dealing with the fact that I don’t like being alone, my needs for touch and comfort and sex and someone to care for … self-awareness doesn’t always seem the issue.

My “next relationships” have been sometimes based on finding someone who is sans the specific issues of the last relationships, so while my list of what I don’t want gets longer, I may not be paying enough attention to what I DO want.

I also suspect I’ll again give my heart too freely, and I really should have learned that lesson by now.

And finally: What happens now?

How can you use what you’ve discovered from the Relationship Inventory in your present life, as you go forward in your current — or next — relationship? For example, can you describe the kind of personality, emotional qualities, life vision, values or “vibes” that mesh well with your own; that promote connection and positive energy between the two of you?

I can, yes. What I can’t yet do … and perhaps I’ll spend more time with this inventory … is alter the idea that it will still come down to passion, chemistry, connection, fire, and that may mean I’m doomed.

There’s a lesson in that, though, and one I may have to accept. Since I have so few regrets when it comes to past relationships … they were what there were, for better and for worse … it’s hard for me to imagine turning down many had I been armed with this inventory.

I’m thinking back to my first husband, a man I married when I was 17 … he was 19 … and wonder what my life would have been like if we’d managed to stick that one out. We would have celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary a few weeks back and there would be years of history shared, kids, life intertwined. We’d be growing old together, companions, and he is still very cute.

That, however, was not a path I was given to walk, and although I’m rather tired of ending up at Lover’s Leap and DO hope to get it right one of these days, I’m not convinced I’ve learned enough yet on love and life and men and myself to pull that off yet.

Is it unreasonable at my age to still find myself wanting a knight in shining armor I can baby?

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Apparently, it’s an easy thing to tell if writing comes from a man or a woman, or at least that the conclusion a couple of guys came up with.

According to this article in the NYT, what’s written will “immediately reveal which sex is doing the writing” even when all references to gender are removed from the text.

… what the gender-identifying algorithm picks up on is that women are apparently far more likely than men to use personal pronouns — ”I,” ”you” and ”she” especially. Men, on the other hand, prefer so-called determiners — ”a,” ”the,” ”that,” ”these” — along with numbers and quantifiers like ”more” and ”some.” What this suggests, according to Moshe Koppel, an author of the Israeli project, is that women are more comfortable talking or thinking about people and relationships, while men prefer to contemplate things.

They’ve come up with a test that can be used to pin the penis on the pen … or whatever …

Take any piece of fiction and do the following:

1. Count the number of words in the document.
2. For each appearance in the document of the following words ADD the number of points indicated:
‘the’ (17)
‘a’ (6)
‘some’ (6)
any number, written in digits or in words (5)
‘it’ (2)

3. For each appearance in the document of the following words SUBTRACT the number of points indicated:
‘with’ (14)
possessives, ending in ‘s’ (5)
possessive pronouns, such as ‘mine’, ‘yours’, ‘his’, ‘hers’, (3)
‘for’ (4)
‘not’ or any word ending with ‘n’t’ (4)

4. If the total score (after adding and subtracting as indicated) is greater than the total number of words in the document, then the author of the document is probably a male. Otherwise, the author is probably a female.

No thanks. That just sounds tedious and I am crap with numbers. Thankfully, however, there’s now a “Gender Genie” online that does the math for you.

Or, as in this case, for me.

I not only write for myself, I also write for others and often AS others, some of whom are men. Because I do this for the sole … and crass … purpose of making money, I’m bound to do a good job of it. That often means shedding my own skin and crawling inside that of peeps paying me to write them, even when it’s hairy and sports bits I can usually only appreciate as a recipient, not a wielder-of.

I am good at this, I know, but wanted to see if the Gender Genie could spot the me in the men I write for … Would that be a GG spotting? … so I submitted a couple of segments of work for analysis.

The first was a few paragraphs from a short story I wrote as myself for myself (Featured in “Papaya … and other seeds”, available for purchase here on this very blog). Not surprisingly, this was the result:

Next, I bunged in a section of a ghost writing gig for a phantom man who had a great story but wouldn’t have been able to write it if the life of all subsequent generations depended upon him getting it down. This is how that one scored:

So, although that Mars/Venus thing happens, it appears when it comes to writing I’m multiplanitary. (I like that more than hermaphrowrite, since I’m girlie beyond redemption …)


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The assault on CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan in Egypt stunned the news community, but it also drew attention to a growing problem: the world is becoming a far more dangerous place for reporters.


The quote is from the BBC and one of the more simplistic bits of “news” I’ve read in a while … and that’s saying something.

Yes, folks in Britain and America might be forgiven for thinking covering the news is all about straight, white teeth and proper enunciation, since, after all, that is pretty much what it IS about since Fox and Sky took over the world, but the point needs to be made that there is a difference between the infotainment served up tidily by pretty peeps and NEWS.

There’s so little journalism happening these days that consumers have taken to preferring the predigested pap they’re being fed daily. Tasty little tidbits served up by the attractive and well-dressed are so much easier to swallow than the rough grit of real-world happenings that require thorough chewing.

Given the popularity of reality TV, is it any wonder viewers have trouble spotting the difference between Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise and mass rapes along the Congo? With that being the case, it makes perfect sense that pretty girls with microphones should be sent into unpredictable masses of angry, armed people with the expectation they deliver the story through perfectly glossed lips.

Much of the rest of the world understands the dangers of reporting news, a comprehension that tends to garner respect for those who actually do that … who put their asses on the line to gather information, distribute it, and get the word out so those not in-the-know know something.

It’s not simply a case of Anderson Cooper being punched up, either, as made clear by Reporters Without Borders on a regular basis. For example, according to that organization (and reliable it is), so far this year … and we’re not even done with February yet … there have been five journalists killed, one media assistant killed, 152 journalists imprisoned along with 9 media assistants and 116 netzens.

This list of journalists killed in Russia since the 1990s gives a taste of how dangerous reporting the news can be in that country.

Those in power know the power of the press … they always have:

I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets.

The Middle East is no New Orleans Square these days, and although the pretty blonde is getting a lot of coverage by those shocked at her treatment, not so much has been said about the dead journalist in Iraq, but it should be a very hot topic.

Iraq ranked first on CPJ’s [Committee to Protect Journalists] 2010 Impunity Index, which lists countries where journalists are murdered on a recurring basis and governments are unable or unwilling to prosecute the killers. Not a single journalist murder since 2003 has been seriously investigated by authorities, and not a single perpetrator has been brought to justice, CPJ research shows.

But back to Lara Logan for a mo …

For all I know, she may be the toughest news hound since Margaret Bourke-White, in which case she knew the risks and went for the story regardless. Maybe she even studied at Columbia under a Ms Matloff, who teaches a war reporting course at Columbia University’s prestigious school of journalism who gives this list of “precautions to minimise the risk and gravity of sexual assault in danger zones”:

* Wear a sturdy belt
* Don’t wear a ponytail or necklace that can be grabbed
* Buy a door alarm for use in hotels
* Don’t take hotel rooms with balconies or easily accessible windows
* Keep a can of deodorant by the bed
* Move furniture in front of hotel room doors
* Don’t drink alcohol alone with men, particularly in the Middle East
* Carry a rape whistle
* Take male colleagues with you in volatile situations
* Tell an assailant that you are pregnant, HIV positive or menstruating
* Urinate, vomit or defecate on yourself

Sounds like good advice for someone exiting Main Street after dark and parked all the way out in Goofy, but the world isn’t Disneyland. Really. It isn’t.

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My early blessings ... Jenn and Jaren

Spending time, as I have lately, chasing the past, I can’t help but fall into that familiar spiral of circular thinking that is: “What if?”.

Regrets? Yes, I have a few, and more than I want to mention, partly because there’s not a fucking thing I can do to change much now, and also because My Way never felt anywhere within my power or control. Sure, I took the road seemingly less traveled more than once, but in retrospect I see how often the path was laid at my feet even when I thought I was striking out in untested directions. In truth, I’ve just been along for the ride.

If I had it to do over again, what would I do differently? Hm.

Some of the most significant events in my life were considered doom-and-gloom negatives, but avoiding them was not only not an option at the time but would not be on any list of steer clears in a retrospectively-influenced re-do.

Getting pregnant at seventeen was not looked upon as any sort of gift when it happened; in fact my swelling belly was thought quite the harbinger of the end of things. Birth control was illegal for anyone under 18 even though the Summer of Love had just happened, my parents were outraged, my boyfriend, chagrined, and all my plans that were to lead to successful ease-of-life faded faster than cells reproduced in my womb. Having two kids by age nineteen boded ill for the future, as did being married and divorced by twenty-three.

Would I rearrange any of that now? No way, at least not any of the bits I could influence. Jenn is an amazing woman … smart, funny, successful, loving, talented, the best daughter in the world and a wonderful mother. Jaren was incredible in ways no one else will ever be, and although losing him has been the hardest misery I’ve ever faced, I wouldn’t have missed even that.

Leaving my family behind in the US and moving half way around the world only to be left high and dry some years later sounds like a stupid fucking move, especially when it meant losing all those years with Jenn and Jaren and ending up hardly knowing my fabulous granddaughter, but would I spin the globe in reverse and take all that back?

How could I? Not with Sam and Cj in my life.

I could no more skip the misery of Mark than I can regret the years of him. Shit. I can’t even lament wasting some of the last of my cute on Ernesto … after all, he gave good moment and there’s music left over and I’m not sorry about that … but I do wish we’d been in Mexico that Christmas. I should have gone. (And last night’s phone-in hug from a Mexican jungle for Jaren’s birthday garnered him another ‘good moment point’ since hugs can be eternal in many comforting ways.)

Now that I think about it, most of my regrets involve things I didn’t do rather than anything I actually did. There’s a lesson in there somewhere …

If there had ever been money enough I would have spent more time flying back and forth and bringing Jenn and Addie and Jaren to me often … very often … but there never was. Would I change that? You bet! But those aren’t cards I’ve been dealt, so wasn’t able to play that hand. Would I get on a plane tomorrow and spend time with my mother while there’s still a chance she’ll know me? Yep. But until I sell this place that is not an option.

Life is what it is when it is, though, and for this moment I’m here chasing my past and thinking how to stumble into the future. If I had any advice to share from the bottom of this spiral it would have to be not to don’t do anything you think might be important, and not to think you have endless time for doing it later. Seems to me it’s easier to apologize for … and recover from … stuff you did than to regret what you never got around to doing.

I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
~Carl Sandburg

Even when it’s ashes of roses …

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Jaren Eli Combes 17 Feb. 1971 - 2 June 2009

February 17, 1971
7:41 am
6 pounds 13 ounces of blue-eyed joy bouncing baby boy
Jaren Eli Combes

He should be 40 today, but he didn’t get enough time … not nearly enough.

Click here for a story about Jaren’s birth … and here for a bit about his death.

The only gift I can still give him I share with you now. The music was a Christmas gift to me a few years ago, a beautiful song I had played at Jaren’s funeral that seemed a fitting background then, and for these images of my beautiful son. It is actually called “Eternal Hug”, although I call it “Maternal Hug”, an apt summation of a mother’s love …

And some of his words that bang a gong loudly …

Out of Mind
© Jaren Eli Combes 2002

What if I cared, felt gravity
or had clever opinions?
What if I was close,
or easily reached?
Kill this separation.
I know you couldn’t know
you’d wake and tear me up
Never let it go — thought
you’d all had enough
And if there was a way
I’d fuck it up somehow
Dropped off all your screens
Don’t have to see me now

Got you to ignore
not worth it for me
seems it was contagious
Don’t try anymore
Best I believe
I got here on purpose
I know you couldn’t know
You’d wake and tear me up
Never let it go
thought you all had enough
If you gave me time to change
You’d have given up by now
And shallow as I am
Somehow I still drown.

And some of his music …

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.
~Edna St Vincent Millay

Yes … I miss you like hell, my boy. I miss you like hell …

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Scott and me

This is a week that makes it far too clear that time is not linear as my present drowns in past and future is put off for some days while I wallow.

February 16th in 1985 was a wedding day … my second, and the first as an adult and that didn’t come with a shotgun. It was a lovely, warm Sacramento Saturday, almost too warm for my gray suede wedding getup, and our living room was done up nicely for the event.

It was Scott I was marrying, and after five years of cohabitation it seemed a good idea at the time. My mother, thinking that formalizing the relationship was daft, asked me what the hell I was doing, and my son, a teen at the time, walked me down the stairs that served as aisle and “gave me away”.

The marriage carried on for nine interesting years before Scott and I went our separate ways with no animosity and continuing contact across the globe. We had been through so much together, traveled the world, expanded our horizons both personally and professionally, shared families and occasions and experiences and histories, laughed and cried and fought and loved and lived in each others’ skin as much as those together for so long can.

The well of memories including him is deep, and there’s no little of him left in my corners. I can still easily conjure his smile, the goofy way he danced, his hands on the steering wheel as he drove the “pink” Porsche way too fast, his attempts at false bravado when intimidated. I can see him in an overcoat in the snow in Hyde Park, shooting photos in a temple in Borneo, with a beer in his hand on a boat down the Sacramento River, greeting EVERYONE at Al the Wop’s and Harlow’s and slamming back oyster shooters on our way to Gleason’s Beach.

I also remember him on this day in ’85 looking gorgeous in a new tux as he promised all that stuff one promises when marrying, listening politely when his mother decided to sing along with the harpist, handing around the new video camera for my brothers to record the event (And how I wish that VHS tape hadn’t crumbled in this heat and humidity.). It was a great and hopeful day.

On the 30th of January 2008, Scott killed himself, and although we had talked often on what we’d shared I never properly thanked him for that February the 16th. I’ll do that now: Thank you, Scott.

I am a miser of my memories of you
And will not spend them.
~Witter Bynner

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Although I attend well to social networking when it comes to others, I admit to falling off shamefully when it comes to my MySpace page. Today is an attempt to make up for that a bit.

While I do manage to fairly well keep up both my personal and professional facebook pages, MySpace gets shoved to the back burner, mainly because the work I do from there is species specific … it’s almost exclusively about musicians and I’ve rather gone off them lately due to a nasty taste in my mouth, the residual of scummy duplicity.

A couple of vids crossing my radar today bring slight guilt pangs of neglect, however, so it’s “contribute to MySpace day” … unofficially, of course.

I’m a strong supporter of independence in the music industry and well pleased that technology has made it easier for artists to share and spread their talent, keeping the monster that has been the record industry from dictating every who, what and where as had been the case for too long. There’s a lot of truly great stuff about, and finding and following those making it can now happen even when the band you’re presently into is on the other side of the planet and relatively unknown.

Although all strive for superstardom … and, btw, I do onesheets, bios, liner notes, etc. for those musically gifted, but literarily challenged … digital distribution offers the option of importing music without the filter of mega-companies deciding what’s available for your personal consumption. Through YouTube vids, MySpace and facebook shares bands can go viral, and thousands may be brought into the fan fold, well pleasing not only those who saw fame coming, but also the artists who start making the big bucks.

As a service to my MySpace musician clients and buddies, I’m offering up a couple of videos that could prove helpful as the illusive fame thing happens. The fact that they make me laugh … having had the sort of experiences via musicians these address … is bonus.

Oh! The groupie … and talk about that nasty taste in the mouth!

Here’s a musician’s perspective:

Here’s a hilarious take on the online version …

And for a giggle …

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