Monday, November 30, 2009

Miles away from Understanding


    "With unemployed New Yorkers topping 400,000 for the first time in at least 25 years and their average time out of work hitting seven months, extreme unemployment won't soon disappear. And it's a growing trend nationwide. An estimated 845,000 Americans have been jobless and looking for work for more than 18 months - more than double the number a year ago, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics."

    From today's New York Daily News. Isn't this great. Do you think I really want to be in the Vocational Program at WECARE, as if they're going to find me a job. So I can spend month after month sitting in their stupid classes, taking their never ending bullshit. Watching grass grow in concrete. I can't stand that shit. I really can't stand that shit, and that's what they at WECARE's Wellness Program is slanting me to. Back to the Vocational Program. Punishment for not being able to find a job.

    This entire program has outlived it's usefulness, especially in this recession. I feel like writing an editorial to the New York Times exposing these motherfuckers and their useless game. Still, it will not do shit, I believe. I don't know, its just that when I read the dismal news about the city and the job situation, I almost feel like giving up. I don't know if I'm going to continue with the Vocational Program when they stick me back in. I just might take them to fair hearing again and demand to go back to the Wellness Program. Still that will be short lived when they grow tired of me doing that every three months. But I know the deal now. If I reply faster than ten days, I don't have to go in at all. It pays to go all through the system, up and down the long ways, so that you can navigate the entire waters. Nothing catches you by surprise any longer.

    Awww fuck it. I sit in my little room at 1:00am typing away on everything and anything. I've bled my brain dry. I've blogged, wrote articles, edited my Novel, wrote poetry, Tankas, Haiku and emails. There's nothing else to write. I'm mind weary. I'm too tired to go on. I crawl into bed, and remember my conversation with my mother earlier. She wants to see me thinner the next time I come down to see them. Thinner. Wow. I think to myself. I pull off thirty stomach crunches until my stomach starts to burn. I'm exhausted and pass out, sleeping fitfully for seven hours, waking up at 11:30am.

    I get up and get behind the computer again, I got another email from the National Insurance Life company. They liked my resume and have a sales position for me. A sales position based on commission. I suck with sale for commission. I used to be a great salesman when I worked my own company, but I don't think I can call upon these same skills to selling life insurance to old people, under the rules of an organization and under the thumb of a head salesman breathing over my shoulder. I delete the second email from them. I'm not interested.

    It sky is overcast, darkening my already dark windows. I hear rain falling against the air conditioner's ass outside. I turn on the only light that I can stand in my room, the microwave light, and it goes out. Son of a bitch. Now I'm really in the dark, and tonight, I"ll be double so. Fuck. I dress and head downstairs to the office and find one of the office workers and ask for a work order form to fill out to fix my problem. The worker gets up and looks around, and around, and around for the forms, and finally finds one. As he fills it out, I leave to return to my room. I walk up the sixteen flights of stairs and I'm completely surprised as to how easy it was to do. I made it to the eighth floor with no problem, barely breathing hard, my legs tight but not actually burning. Wow.

    I slip home. That's my plan, not to work out, but to work out whenever the time is appro- priate. Increase the exercise in the day, not exercise all day. I think that I can do. I'm already into it. I might be able to keep it up. And I'm not going to be skipping meals which is another way to pack on the pounds if you can believe it. Not eating causes the body to behave more efficiently when it comes to burning calories, slowing down the metabolism even more.

    Lastly, and this may be received with mixed emotions, I've stopped taking my ABILIFY and WELL- BUTRIN, just to see what would happen. They say that many crazy people do this, and then go nuts without even knowing it. But these two are known weight gainers, and they are extremely obvious if something goes wrong. One is an antipsychotic, the other an antidepressant. Together I should be able to see if I need them anymore. If I start seeing people or getting amazingly depressed I'll know that there is a need. Dr. A. believes that I'm being over medicated by the Doctors at ICD and I'm beginning to think so too. It's time that I take ahold of my life now that I've stopped drinking. I think much of my mental imbalance came from unchecked alcoholism. My pink elephants were my psychotic episodes, my depression was based on lowered levels of alcohol in my bloodstream.

    Without alcohol in my system for a long as it's been, I think it's time to lose the crutches in dealing with life and my emotions. We'll see. Without these weight gainers, maybe I will be able to melt the pounds that have been impossible to assail before. I hope.

    I'm working on my blog, typing away and then before I know it, something is on my forehead. Small, evenly spaced things that are pressing against my skull like hard fingertips. I blink. It's my keyboard. My head had dipped downwards. I was falling asleep. I sat up and started typing until it happened again. This time my forehead and face went into the keyboard before I had awakened. What the fuck? Wasn't it too late in the day for a Second Morning? I crawl into bed, and before I know it, I am out like a blown candle.

    HobobobSource URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/11/
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Home sweet home

Swedish island wedding

    Speaking of weddings, Once Wed just featured the simplest and sweetest wedding I've ever seen...
    Johan and MeeSook tied the knot on a Swedish island overlooking a lighthouse and the sea.
    They exchanged rings and a kiss. MeeSook's absolutely beautiful dress is from Saja Bridal. Don't you love how it flows in the breeze?
    Next, confetti and Champagne!
    The guests also looked amazing, including the bride's sister in a dyed silk dress and a baby in a flower cap.
    Then the couple waved goodbye to everyone...
    And lived happily ever after. xo

    (Photos by Mikael Olsson. Via OnceWed)Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/11/
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Fantastic Mr. Fox

    You can take the live action out of a Wes Anderson movie but you can't take the Wes Anderson out of a Wes Anderson movie. I mean that as a compliment. Based on Road Dahl's book, Wes Anderson has crafted a stop motion animated film that is beautiful to watch, a treat to listen to, and packed to the brim with his trademark Ludicrous Poignancy.

    Anderson's films have always contained gorgeous visuals and a distinct storybook quality and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is no exception. The attention to detail in the film's art direction is staggering and may take multiple viewings to properly digest. Relish in the shot of the Fox home doubling as a tree with a vast harvest moon hovering in the upper frame or take special note when the story finds itself in the midst of an old school showdown on main street and the camera is careful to pick up a travel agency complete with posters for destinations such as Hawaii and St. Moritz in the window. A late sequence involving our hero and a wolf in the distance is as bizarre, moving and funny as the Jaguar Shark encounter in "The Life Aquatic".

    The one thing that has, at times, lagged in Anderson's work has been the storytelling. Not that he tells uninteresting stories but his scripts meander and dabble in odds and ends that catch his fancy, sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much, but in "Fantastic Mr. Fox", working with the great Noah Baumbach as co-writer, the narrative is lickety-split. Its pace is fast and the film benefits greatly.

    The fox of the title is a charming rogue (voiced by the most charming rogue of 'em all - George Clooney) who began as an expert chicken thief and then, at the prodding of his wife (voiced by Meryl Streep), went into a life of journalism wherein he writes a column for the local paper he fears no one reads. But, of course, he can't do straight time. Tired of living in a hole, he buys a voluptuous tree, directly across from three fearsome chicken farms: Boggis, Bunce and Bean. Fox secretly enlists the aid of an opossum and together they carry out successive raids on each farm until Bean (Michael Gambon's always slimy voice doing its thing) makes war, leading Fox and family and the other local wildlife to go underground, the stakes increasing incrementally.

    Of course what would a Wes Anderson film be without the theme of fathers & sons emerging? Perhaps one day we will know but not today. Fox's son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) is withdrawn, feeling he has failed to live up to his father's crafty reputation, a belief which only expands when his cousin Kristofferson (Eric Anderson), the opposite of Ash in every way, turns up. Kristofferson gets a bandit hat. Ash doesn't. Ash will spend the film trying to earn it. And Fox will spend the film trying to re-earn the trust and affection of his wife as well as the fellow animals, a colorful and motley lot, he has endangered, not that the Cary Grant of foxes would ever worry about foregone outcomes.

    The film's conclusion does not necessarily weave together its thread so that every question is answered and instead doles out a sequence that seems to summarize the feeling of not only the characters but the audience and the filmmakers too. Family life and career paths, whether for fox or human, are never easy, endlessly tricky, tunnels leading to more tunnels, but there is joy, there is a light, and sometimes you just gotta cut loose and bust a move.

    Is this is a movie for kids? I have no idea. Adults were in abundance at the matinee I attended. To each parent his or her own. I, on the other hand, have written before of my seemingly unavoidable aversion to animated films, even the animated films which people attempt to persuade me were made with adults in mind. It never mattered. They always bored me. Not "Fantastic Mr. Fox". I loved it. Every inch of every frame, every voice, every word, every delicate detail, and especially a death scene involving a devious rat that affords him droll dignity. It's the animated film I have waited for all my life. It might just be Wes Anderson's masterpiece.Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/11/
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tradition! Tradition!

    by Jo Robertson

    Yesterday we attended a triple baptism. Two of our grandchildren and one of their cousins was being baptized and combined their ceremonies. The entire affair got me thinking about traditions and the things we do as families, communities, or friends to bind us together – the ties that bind, so to speak.

    This, of course, was a religious ceremony, but our traditions don’t have to revolve around religion. Many traditions are tied to family. I've always considered my family my Higher Power. Around sixty people attended the baptism, all but a few of
    them family members, and although it was quite chaotic, it was also a lot of fun.

    One little boy tried to stick his hands in the baptismal font. Babies cried throughout, except for our Emma of course, who behaved perfectly. The piano was notoriously louder than the singers. And all the food at the reception was gone by the time the adults got there! Must’ve been the “other families'” grandchildren.

    My son-in-law’s family goes bowling every Thanksgiving Day and they use this opportunity to take an annual family picture since Mark’s sister is a professional photographer and they’re all together. Many of my friends hassle the nightmare that is Black Friday.



    You’ve noticed that here in the Lair, we’ve begun to have our own traditions. We celebrate our anniversaries quite uproariously with Sven, the Roman boys, and the Golden Rooster all playing prominent parts. We have a Christmas countdown. Even our invitation to guesting authors is a tradition we enjoy and hope our readers do too.

    In The Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye says “And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: TRADITION!"

    What do you readers do to “keep your balance," especially during the hectic holidays? Do you have rituals, ceremonies or traditions that keep you centered during the year?

    Or do you have a favorite holiday recipe you’d like to share with us? Below is one of my favorites for using the left-over turkey and dressing (if you have any!). Thanks to my sis who passed it on to me. Enjoy!

    TURKEY DRESSING CASSEROLE

    3 cups cooked turkey (or chicken)
    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 can cream of celery soup
    1 cup sour cream

    Layer diced turkey in 9x13 pan. Mix soups and sour cream. Spread over turkey. Sprinkle 1 package herb-seasoned stuffing mix over and pour 2 cups chicken broth as needed over dressing. Bake at 350 degrees covered for 30 minutes and 5 minutes more uncovered.
    Source URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/11/
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In the Department Store...

Borrowing for Favors Alike


    "There are times I don't feel like going,"

    I remember OBSIDIAN saying about the SHOUT OUT. I get up this morning and that's exactly how I feel. I want to crawl back into bed and call it a month. I'm not interested in moving, I sleep on, and get up at 11:30. That's alright, I stayed up until 4:00 the night before, not good for getting up early in the morning. I get online, answer emails and write my blog.

    I drink strong coffee until 2:00pm and then hop into the shower, letting the water screw my head on right. Paula is home, playing her television at an obnoxious volume. I can hear it clearly through her door as I walk past, although once I get through my solid door I hear it no more. I dress quickly, get back online and write more before it's time to pack up and leave. I leave at 3:00PM on the nose and head for the Way. Soon, I'm at First Avenue, with a half hour to go. It's not the greatest day in the world so I stay in the subway, reading a book, waiting until 4:00 before going to Otto's.

    Once there, I turn up the stage, set up the mikes, and make ready to start. I cop a beer from Cyndi Lauper and it's on. I start the show, which as my personality dictates, no matter how hard I try, stays pretty sedate. The audience is large, and the feature does an excellent job. Still, I can't get a rise out of the audience. One of the more boisterous poets tries also, and finds them to be a limp noodle today. I'm not feeling bad now. At the closing I read a dirty limerick:

    There once was a man from Spire
    with his dick he could put out a fire
    When the firemen came
    they would sing out his name
    and now he's a firetruck for hire


    This went over well, the audience laughed heartily and applauded, and I used this rousing chorus to close the show, thank the audience and thank the Feature. Everyone cheered. It was the end of the show and everyone claimed that they had a great time. I was just grateful to get a rise out of everyone before the end. I only wish that I could keep up that level of intensity through the entire SHOUT OUT. Maybe I should read a naughty limerick before and after each show. I usually read one of my poems before, why not just throw in a limerick.

    OR maybe even a dirty poem. Well, my poems are not dirty, they're rude. I don't think rude goes over as well as dirty. They are similar, but different in delivery and intent. I talk to a few people, break down the stage and say my goodnight, rushing headlong to Kennedy's Fried chicken and getting 15 chicken wings. This is not for one night but hopefully for three meals. I hop the trains back uptown and stuff and pack into trains and crowded corridors, expecially at 96th street, where the construction gentlemen feel that the people are best served traversing through tighter and narrower passageways.

    I make it home, set up my computer, take my clothes off, make a plate of chicken covered with hot sauce and watered down kool-aid. Just in case you are wondering, the reason why I drink watered down kool-aid, and let me explain this too. The kool-aid is straight from the packet WITHOUT sugar. So many of you may think that Kool-aid is packed with sugar, you could not be farther from the truth. Straight from the little packet there is no sugar, so it's as bitter as brine. To counteract the bitterness of the taste, I put it in a quart container, even though it's designed only to flavor half that, thus diluting the Kool-aid and removing much, but not all, of it's bitterness. The reason why I drink watered down Kool-aid? I hate the taste of plain water after awhile. And I'm always drinking water because I'm a borderline diabetic. So why not drink water that has a little flavor to it.

    It's not that I'm too poor for sugar, or sugar kool-aid, although with sugar we're talking about three times than the cost of the little packets which are at best three for a dollar. Not bad when you drink as much water as I. So I eat and drink and retire to my computer. I fall asleep early, around midnight and wake up at 3:00AM. I get the Sunday New York Times, which has an interesting article in it.

    "MARTINSVILLE, Ohio — With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.

    It has grown so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs. Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare."

    Well finally someone has the guts to admit it.

    "With most of his co-workers laid off, Greg Dawson, a third-generation electrician in rural Martinsville, considers himself lucky to still have a job. He works the night shift for a contracting firm, installing freezer lights in a chain of grocery stores. But when his overtime income vanished and his expenses went up, Mr. Dawson started skimping on meals to feed his wife and five children. He tried to fill up on cereal and eggs. He ate a lot of SPAM. Then he went to work with a grumbling stomach to shine lights on food he could not afford. When an outreach worker appeared at his son’s Head Start program, Mr. Dawson gave in."
    I see others have resorted to SPAM for survival. Not a bad turn if you ask me. It kept the soldiers in WWII going, so why not families in the great recession of 2009?
    "Unemployment insurance, despite rapid growth, reaches about only half the jobless (and replaces about half their income), making food stamps the only aid many people can get — the safety net’s safety net."
    I just wanted to share that. It's just putting in print what I could have reported my damn self. Social Services is the lowest rung on the ladder, and those rising from the gutter will reach up for it first, and those falling down the ladder, it's the last rung before the streets. Here is our transition place. Here is where we cross paths. I just hope I'm rising out of this, finally going up this damn ladder and not down.

    I've been below the last rung. I'm tired of that shit.

    HobobobSource URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/11/
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Stick a Finger Up Your Ass


    Another day.

    There has to be something said about watching the march of days go by. The days that make up my 47th year on this planet have been placid, still, lifeless. As if I'm just burning down a year just for the fuck of it. A year of my life, spent wasting away in a room, doing nothing but surf the web.

    It's an investment year as I see it. It's an investment in myself. How many people get the opportunity to write their novel, to write period, with the free time that they can muster in their busy lives. And as for me, I didn't sit with all ten fingers poked up my asshole either during my 47th year. I was prolific. I got work done. I've finished a novel that I'm quite proud of. Hopefully I can parley this into a job, getting published and becoming self supporting. Leaving this SRO for an apartment, branching out, meeting new people, doing new things, and having the money to do them. That is the big thing, having money.

    Without money, you are severely con- strained. There is very little that you can do. It's sad but it's true. You are locked in a financial prison, separated from the rest of the world. A pariah. What can I say? I'm not crying, I have to live with myself. It's not easy, but I do.

    My guru doesn't think much of my SPAM diet, "[s]pam again? i hesitate to think what that s---t is doing to your body. whoops, i forget, it's YOUR body." I've got a refrigerator full of SPAM singles and bagels. I have enough SPAM sandwiches to last me for the end of the week. Which is why I shopped like that for. SPAM goes a long way, and it's easy on the wallet. Once again, financial prison. This is the food that you can afford to eat in financial prison. I've lived for 47 years to eat like this. To live like this. All of my life has been lived to reach this point. This time. This means. I am not saddened. I am not stumbled. I am strong and determined to free myself of this prison, of busting out through the use of words. Through writing. Through white hot determination. I refuse to be stopped, I refuse to give up. I'm climbing out of this hole, and just because this is a stretch of darkness before the dawn, I face it gladly.

    I am not in fear of the future, just in fear of going backwards. Of falling backwards by some error on my part. That is my only fear, returning to the streets. I don't think I can fit there any longer. I don't think that my psyche can deal with another stint in the streets, in the men's shelter, in the system ever again. Now that I'm in the Transitional Housing system, I am glad. Next step...the fuck out of Dodge baby. Yeah, that's right, some form of self sufficiency. On my own and doing my own thing. I hope to be able to support myself.

    Those are all of the dreams in my head on this post Thanks- giving day, where it finds me once again in my room. I had left late last night to go food shopping for condiments. Its funny how you can buy so much food, but it all isn't worth shit without condiments. Salt, pepper, hot sauce, Mayo, honey, salt free saltine crackers. The stuff of staple food. Oh...and SPAM.

    What's the hang up about SPAM? Oh, I don't know, but many people just don't like the shit. Many just think that its so processed that its radioactive. That my dick will wither and fall off if I keep eating it. I don't know. I think that it could be considered just as healthy as mad cow burgers, e-coli chicken, mercury tainted fish. Everything today is dangerous. We fed it to our soldiers at WWII, and they were still jumping in front of bullets and throwing hand grenades, so I don't see it as harming me much. I have to slow down on it, maybe that's the case, because I do have some every single day, and I don't want to get sick of it, but it's a good, filling meal.

    And, like I said, it's easy on the wallet. Now when I go to the grocery store, I feel so over- whelmed by the choices. Shelves and shelves of food of different types and brands. I feel like a Russian taken shopping for the first time. Completely stunned by the level of choices. There are just too many of them. I like having a simple diet. By tweaking it here and there I may be able to adjust the calories of my diet to lose weight. Maybe. Weight loss is a bitch.

    I would like to have a dietitian, join a gym, swim laps, jog in the mornings (like I used to), fuck a model silly, and I do mean fucking silly, drive a nice car, live in a house with bay windows, have a cleaning lady that dresses like a Swedish Maid, have a series of novels, they don't have to be bestsellers, just novels that allow me to fuck models and have a Swedish Maid. Dreams, well yeah, dreams are supposed to be just that, outrageous and detached from real life. How would you like to fall asleep, waking up and doing the same thing you were doing before falling asleep and then waking up, only to be waking up doing the same thing you were doing before going to sleep. That shit would fuck with your mind after awhile.

    Maybe my life now is just that, a dream and I'm actually living like the above. This is the dream-state, and my dreams in my real-state. Kinda like a reverse Matrix, where I'm plugged into the matrix while on the NEBUCHADNEZZAR, but when I'm unplugged, I have a good job as a programmer in a big time software agency. Or better, I have a pool where I can do laps, so on and so forth (and don't forget fucking the model, just in case there is a higher power reading this). I would like to live the life. Others do, why can't I?

    I believe in paying your dues. I don't like lucky people who hit the lottery just picking a ticket from a corner store. That bothers me. That makes the game stilted. I like it when top forty singers began as back up singers for bullshit musicians; when academy award winners started off as walk on parts; when pornstars started as fluffers in gangbang movies. I think I'm doing just that. I'm paying my dues. I've had a hardscrabble life all the way up to here, and I've paid my dues, I believe that there's more up the hill, that there is a little further to go. Maybe just the modest house, a beautiful red headed significant other, a two car garage, a nice neighborhood and books that are selling on the market. Simple life. Simply done.

    Well, I have a simple task ahead of me, the SHOUT OUT. Easily said than done. I have to gather up all of my resolve, wrap it in a tight package, shake it well, and then explode it out on the stage tomorrow or I'll have one vapid show. OBSIDIAN will not be there tomorrow so I have got to make it in. NO matter what. It'll prove to be a good show. I just have got to get there.

    Or maybe I'll just stay home, stick my fingers up my ass and have a SPAM sandwich.

    HobobobSource URL: http://afrenchkitchengardenweekend.blogspot.com/2009/11/
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