In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"


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Everyone loves a fascist


Lunch again. 1:30 pm martinis. For her. My work day doesn’t end until the last word typed before my eyes close. A bit dramatic, yet still, lavender double shot espresso blended iced latte for me. Yeah, I’m needing something lavender. From decay grows the lotus.
 
“My fantasies were filled with faceless men. No, actually the same man, I think. He never had a face, like any man of your fantasy fill-in. He was the kind of addictive cruel, one part sadist, one part devourer–obsessive and possessive. You know?”
 
“I know.”
 
“Any way, I always used him to start me off…like my go-to Playboy centerfold. A pre-pubescent boy’s wrinkled up centerfold he hides under his mattress to jerk off to when the folks are gone. I embarrassed myself with such a cliche fantasy: the cruel lover who made me do things. You know?”
 
I didn’t want to know. Not on an iced latte. I’d have to switch to martinis. I nodded.
 
“A writer should be able to masturbate to something less classic, more creative than a faceless fantasy fascist.”
 
“In your defense, you write feature stories not erotica.”
 
“Yeah, well…Johnny Depp, even as jackass pirate shows a little more imagination–and taste…
But then after a few years with Vincent, it hit me. The faceless fascist disappeared. And you know what an obsessive-possessive nut job he turned out to be.”
 
“So, you’re saying you manifested Vincent? What’s the moral of the story here? Was he really that demanding? Or commanding? Or I should say, commandant. Did he totally control your mind and body, violently, if necessary? Maybe just a little bdsm?”
 
“Yes, all of it. He wasn’t violent. I wouldn’t have stayed. He just…just…I don’t know…owned me. Subtlety. In inches. He crept up on me, and before I knew it, I was not going out with friends, and cutting down my hours at my job, and worrying if someone stopped by to visit and stayed too long, when Vincent would come home and wince at the sight of anyone ‘intruding.’ Well, you know. You called it my ‘leave of absence from myself.’ And it was. But he’s gone, and so are the faceless fascist fantasies. Now I slap a face on my imaginary friends. Like that checker at the food mart. He’s adorable.”
 
We laughed.
 
I reflected a second in between chuckles. Some fantasies are fantasies so long as there’s little possibility that they become real. In fact, the more far-fetched, the sexier, more enticing. But when fantasy becomes reality, the thrill is gone. At least I doubt women (or men) slapped faces of Stalin, Mussolini, or Hitler on their fantasy men. But I can’t be sure.

 
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Not an Extrovert? Here’s How to Eat Out

thinking-alone

“Are you mad?” Much to my confusion, someone would occasionally ask me that question out of the blue. Apparently, my face looks unhappy and my attention elsewhere. And though I was not unhappy when asked, I was probably preoccupied. Always…

(One of my articles: Read more here.)


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Sucking helium: Ten for Today

Unfazed, tuned-out people amaze and inspire me. I want to be them, wearing bullet and worry proof vests. Mind you, I don’t know who these people are, other than my great niece and nephew, 5 and 8, respectively, who seem to be very selectively tuned in. One knows all the Ducks and Lakers stats, and everything sports, really, and the other knows an incredible array of lyrics and lines from Disney’s Frozen. I’ve heard her sing every word of several songs. That’s what they know. Those comprise their obsessions. Awesome.
 
Me, on the other hand, I start each day trying out the Buddha disposition: be a sieve, let it all flow through. But by about an hour into the day, I fail miserably. Something of the world–outside and inside–disturbs me, disrupts my peace, unbalances promised equilibrium. My promise to myself to be dispassionate about things, all things. I try.
 
News flashes and bites remind me of Doritos Nacho flavored chips. They must be laced with heroin. Probably the only snack I can’t have. Because I can’t just eat one. It’s the bag or nothing. And it’s been that way since they hit the market dozens of years ago.
 
My news services and journal bundling apps, I’ve tailored now to filter out politics and current events–only showing arts, photography, philosophy, yoga, writing, books and music. Same thing with Facebook and Twitter (Not sure what I’m doing on Instagram). Yet something still manages to slip in, riling the perturbations, zinging my zen upside the head.
 
I may have to turn to something quicker and stronger than yoga and meditation, something kick ass to calm my ass. Maybe sucking helium balloons. 


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Love not Hate

Maybe it’s because I was born in 1960. Or maybe it’s because of the two daughters marching beside me. Or the feeling I’ve always had that I was born too late or too early, caught in this in-between generation that is marked by unearned, random prosperity for me and the rest of the privileged–but not for far too many, not for my daughters’ futures.
 
I cried ten steps into this morning’s march.
 
It overwhelmed me to see so many marchers. Far too often I feel isolated, my ear attuned to the horror more than the hope. I burrow in the belief that it’s me, just me. No one else truly aches knowing how much hate and fear destroy. That it’s horrifyingly dangerous to normalize unabashed, outright lies–a constant stream of provable lies. Fatal.
 
Even in post-apocalyptic dystopian Cormack McCarthy worlds of brutally savage survival, we must take care of one another, no matter what. And this should expose me as the fraud I am, touting pithy little graduate school cool catchphrase, club affiliations like the post-human age subscribers or the three-cheers-for-robots-taking-over-the-world meet-up. Truth is, I believe in the Renaissance and that the human capacity to create is greater than its capacity to destroy. If only we…


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In the beginning, there were words: Ten for Today

I’m tired of beginnings. They’re exhausting, and it’s awfully hard to get them right. There’s nothing worse than starting something with a “meh”. Like reading a listicle that starts with a question: Are you getting enough vitamin B in your diet? Well here are 7 sources of that … blah, blah, blah.

 
I’m guilty of that sort of thing. It’s trite and boring.
 
Opening lines, like handshakes, create an impression. In grand literature, they’re extraordinary, memorable, once in a life time handshake that keeps on gripping you. Even my little-read college students have heard the line, “It was the best of times…” But Dickens is not alone or even the top of the greatest hits of first liners.
 
I like intriguing first liners like Philip Roth’s one about awakening one day to find himself an enormous breast–“It began oddly.” Or short punchy ones, like “I am not a total idiot.” I actually don’t remember the author of that one, but the line has stuck with me. Maybe that’s just me, and what sticks is random.
 
It’s challenging to be unique, innovative, and first in language. After all, we have only 26 letters at our disposal. How different can we be? Haven’t all the possible letter combinations been tapped? Is there still some one-of-a-kind combination yet to be splayed linearly across a page? Maybe that’s why I’m so fond of making up words that seem intuitively and associatively clear.
 
Though I suspect you don’t have to go that far to pen something new. Memoirist Patricia Hampl claims describing what you see, what you know, from your eyes alone is unique enough. No one’s lived your life or sees things precisely the way you do. Perspective. Lens.
 
It may not be a new alphabet, but it’s vision–and all that we’ve got.