Archive for the ‘The Absurd World View’ Category

(Excerpt from: LIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Roberta Morgan)

Ernie

It is very hard for me to write this now.

He became my son, and I always told him he was my real little boy, that I had given birth to him, that I always dreamed of having a little boy with red hair named Justin, but it turned out to be Ernest Scott, named after Hemingway and Fitzgerald.  I figured it couldn’t hurt my own skills to have such a handsome prince with those names at my feet.

I was at The Key West Theatre Festival.  Without going into too much tour guide shit, Key West is a totally different place than Miami; you get to it via one straight road which at one point is only road over water.  Takes about four hours.  Key West boasted several thousand people before Miami was even settled and stood with the North during the Civil War. A hang-out for artists in general, both Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams owned houses there.

Most people drink way too much, but it would be a blast to be alive and kickin’ in Key West.

The Key West Theater Fest is ten days long and features plays from groups all up and down the other Keys, like Islamorada, Key Largo, etc.   That year they were almost all, down to the last act of the last play, bad.

But some local society had decided to give me an award for critical writing in poor Mr. Hemingway’s name and some other mixed-up person believed a polydactyl came with it, though that was in debate.

Hemingway had 68 or so polydactyls there, but in reality they were not kept in Key West; I believe he kept them in Cuba, and they only changed the myth to spark Key West tourism and of course, any mention of Castro’s Kingdom was forbidden.

Polydactyls are cats with more than the usual number of toes on each paw.  Some can actually hold pens and scribble.  I was in a room with a bunch of them, but had no intention of bringing a pet (which Brian would never like) four hours home in the pouring rain.

I’ve told this story a million times and now my eyes tear up.

Just as I was about to offer my apologies and I think they were about to withdraw the offer, from behind the couch comes an orange tabby, highly alert, a bit bigger than the other kittens.

He looks right at me and with that telepathy we had for 20 years, says, “Mom! I thought you’d never come.”

Oh, he’s from the street, one of the women says.  He doesn’t have extra toes.  A stray that climbed the wall.  Going to the pound tomorrow.

And I thought.  Where he’ll be put to death.

The cat, who I’ve already named Ernie, grabs my ankle, looks up at me and mind melds: “Did you hear that shit?”

He never complained.  For the whole drive.  I didn’t know to give him water.  I got litter and box, food dish, water bowl, Iams. Guy at the Pet Shop told me. Basic kitty kit. When we got home, he drank and drank and peed, then took a shit.  He clawed the wall to cover it, as if somehow the litter was in the sky.  What did he know? He had been raised an outdoor cat.  And he never learned.  We never cared.

He walked around our fantastic apartment, with a view over the Intercoastal spotted with small Islands all the way to Miami. He covered every room, every corner.  When he was done, he came up to me and rubbed against my legs.  He approved.  That night, he slept under my armpit, and my insomnia went away.

The next day Brian called and I told him the news.  He said we didn’t need a cat.  After all he’d put me through, I had enough.  Besides, I’d found a new love.

“It’s you or the cat for me,” I said.  “So don’t come home if you won’t love him.”

“Well, I won’t love him, certainly.”

The irony of the things we say in life.  Although when they first met, it wasn’t love at first sight.  Ernie and I had been living as husband and wife for ten days.  Then this lunk appears and ignores him with a bad attitude to boot.  Ernie scratched his suitcase.  Brian yelled at him two days later for bending one of his precious medical textbooks.

I don’t know when the change occurred.  But felines rule in a subtle way, and eventually they steal your heart.

Ernie held the page open for my mother’s prayers when my father died.  Ernie needed a pride to rule so we ended up with six cats.  Ernie had a book written about him, and several portraits done of him.  He was smart and feisty, and no cat challenged him.  He cleared the walkway of our complex in California when we took him out.  Ernie ruled by virtue of his confidence and intellect.  He never lost either; well, maybe the former, when he was trying any kind of food to stay with us just one more day.

His only problem was that he was an outdoor cat, and that was not convenient or safe, so in Miami he was confined indoors and made himself quite vocal about it.  In Los Angeles, we had a little garden, so we could take some of them out and watch they didn’t climb the wall.  He did escape one or two times, but we always managed to find him, hearts pounding with true fear.

In this house where I write, Horror House I call it, he finally had his own garden with a pool and he loved it.  He wasn’t allowed out on his own, because it was coyote country, but he got a good hour or two playing, exercising, taking toys out and having fun until he chose to go inside and nap.

He became so affectionate in his older age, and strangely enough, adoring of Brian.  The feeling was mutual.  They’d cuddle up and nudge each other.  He would sleep next to Brian, with his head on the same pillow.

That last week, when Ernie weighed nothing and it hurt to look at him, Brian said to me: “I don’t want to leave for work, because I’m afraid I’ll never see my dear little chap again.”

Well, he didn’t, but I know one thing.  Whenever I regret leaving New York, I realize that if we hadn’t gone to Miami, I would never have had a son named Ernest Scott Morgan.

Are you out there?

Can you hear me?

Can you see me in the dark?

Second Bill of Rights

Second Bill of Rights (Photo credit: Workers4America)

Amazon vs iCal

Amazon vs iCal (Photo credit: Zach “Pie” Inglis)

BrewDog Hello, My name is Ingrid

BrewDog Hello, My name is Ingrid (Photo credit: Bernt Rostad)

facebook

facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

BARAK OBAMA AT WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY RALLY 2...

BARAK OBAMA AT WRIGHT STATE UNIVERSITY RALLY 2 25 08 SMALL VERTICLE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anti-ACLU-2

Anti-ACLU-2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Driving under the influence (of something) . . .

Driving under the influence (of something) . . . (Photo credit: gogoloopie)

Civil liberties 2006

Civil liberties 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ImageI seem to remember that George Bush suspended many civil rights following 9/11.   Which explains a host of strange things that have happened to myself and my friends. Like the odd circumstances surrounding my DUI. In celebration of the fact that today, my last AB541 AA mandatory CA government class was endured, I was filled with some major insights!  First, I must digress. The class was its usual post-punk no I am not upwardly mobile 30’s pissheads who refuse to acknowledge my hippie existence and my willingness to engage.

The fact that they are mostly alcoholics in deep denial is too much of a challenge to my ego nature, who frankly wants to tell them that I find them and their nihilistic behavior incredibily boring at best and at worst, SO Californian and old.  But, they would no doubt have some inane, bitter retort, and I would again feel better that at 35, they did not feel joy.

Enough.  What has been strange about AB 541 is the news that comes at the end of the 2 1/2 show. Although the opening act for the last two weeks, the film, was Bergmanesque, as well. It traced the aimless, hopeless path of a homeless drunk in our system, as he deteriorated physically and mentally over a ten-year period, with a social worker/cop/director (?) carefully videotaping and interviewing him,both of them noting his decline. We get to watch his teeth fall out, his toes rot, etc.  I doubt many of these people in my room are destined for such a future. The other films, concerning tragic car accidents, suit them to a tee. This clip obviously was thrown in by the LAPD as water torture.

Ah, that brings me back to my point.  Every week, we are advised of NEW RULES.  You can be arrested even if you blow beneath the legal limit if the police man doesn’t like how you’re driving.  You get a second DUI even if you’re sober but sit next to anyone in the car who had a drink. The breath-tester, or IID, is now attached to the cars of narcotics offenders, even though it does not measure anything but alcohol. It does however register orange juice.  Since you must blow into it to start the car and then 5 minutes later, it could cause you to have an accident.

Since it had done that, the government in 20 states in now trying out an ankle bracelet for first time offenders, which is that huge, bulky thing, you must sleep, bathe and go out in public with, leading everyone to believe you are a child rapist. Oh, and you can’t drink, alcohol, cough syrup or orange juice.

What is wrong with this picture? Driving home with my friend Jonathan, from Israel, not at all like my Facebook friends, an independent thinker who does not believe Barak Obama walks with God,asked a question that had been most puzzling. In his effort to raise money for the state of California, Governor Aryan Nation Brown has enacted such things as these DUI laws, unchecked. How? Well, because Bush took away The Bill of Rights–okay, suspended some of our civil liberties–when no one noticed that they made America America.

But what is more interesting is the question of why Barak Obama, super-good-guy of the masses, never PUT THEM BACK? Surely, he does not believe in the insane rhetoric of the “war on terror,” like “the war on drugs,” a mythic equivalent to Zeus and his chariot, or contesting the theory of evolution?  BTW, I would like to contest the theory of gravity next, and watch my glass fall UP.

One more thing, and then I’m off to shaping up my book, LIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE, the 11th and one that I can promise you will not be a galley slave nor a victim of awful ID publishers. I do love Amazon deeply, however, and expect a long association with them.   You see, the obvious eluded me. I bitched that NYU, in my journalism degree, did not prepare me for a job; it taught me how to be a publisher. I bitched when younger people said I should get more than my usual 10% and find a self-publisher (to me, a Vanity Press.)  Now, it seems, it is just as hard to get noticed with a traditionally published book as it is with a self-published book.

Ah, my adept teacher would say. Read the hints on the wall. At 20, wasted education, taught publishing. 30 years in publishing. editor, author, website founder and editor, blogger ten years. publisher, publisher.

The Penny drop and Slams into My Cortex.

WELCOME TO THE ISIS GROUP. We’ll be publishing you soon, in a whole new way.

 

Los Angeles, Present Days

AB541 Three Month Program of Classes begins the round of stupidity.  You get the list of what classes you have to do, then hunt for one on the internet that isn’t in Arizona.  The 541 classes and the

12 NA classes are for?  I don’t know.  The court.  But you end up with three sheets of thin paper which crunches in your handbag because on your first day in AB541, where you pay $760, they tell you to add another six classes.  Why? New rule.

I find my first AB541 class on Hollywood Blvd and Cahuenga, which should take me ten minutes, but like all things in the last five years, I’m so nervous I get there an hour before.  Although they’re gentrifying Hollywood, this ain’t the bit. And if I hadn’t spoken to the girl on the phone, it would have been hidden.  Over a massage place on Hollywood, on the side.  It was a souvenir shop, and in the back, on the second floor.

Parking up the road costs ten bucks, but everyone else seems to know where to park that’s free.  I know I’m in the right place because about a dozen hunched over men and three girls are smoking, trying to drag something out of the filter.  They don’t seem to see me there.  Average age of the group: 22.  They talk about cars, speeding, beer parties, pools.

Gradually, a big guy, still a decade or so younger, comes out and they all greet him.  He lights up and shakes my hand, knows my name.  Brings me up to sign some paperwork.  A schedule of dates.  This gig is a one hour “movie” and a one and a half hour meeting, nothing like NA or AA, just like a requisite…something.

We all trudge into a room, after signing our names, paying our money.  I am still invisible and that does not really change much.  When I speak it is school again, last kid on the team, almost two years younger than everyone else except this time the other way around.  Ma, or grandma, dressing too cool, hair too long, but hot body.

The guy, Dan the counsellor turns off the lights. Cheap TV, he turns on the tape.  A female doctor is at the podium discussing Prescription Drugs: A Menace on The Road.  Found that out lady.  Her monotone does me in.  I nod off at least twenty times.  People turn around and stare.  This will be a recurring problem, and could be dangerous, as well.  Did I just shoot up before attending? Will they demand a drug test and cart me off again?

Suddenly, the lights come up and I rouse.  This first time no one catches that I missed three-quarters of the film.  Small mercies.  We get a 15 minute smoke break.  Better than prisoners.  Awkward,’cause I’m still like a lawn chair, even when I smile and try to ask a question.

A few speak Armenian, a few Russian.  One girl is rich but thinks she is a prostitute and all the men hope she is.  Also thinks she can drive her father’s car with no problem.  I suppose girls with sixteen different shades of highlights do not belong to Mensa, but then, neither do I for different reasons, like they’re boring snobs.

Head guy Dan comes out for a smoke and here I see his bitterness with the system, or just his act.  Sure, to do his job you need a long checkered past of jail, drugs, alcohol, lord knows what else. Then you have to go to school.  The school part I’d like.  I was always reporting on, reading about, and fascinated by criminals.  But this is petty shit in my eyes.

Too bad the state doesn’t see it that way.

We got up to the meeting, go around the room. I’m already in panic.  It’s the wrong place, though the girls at the desk and Dan waves it off, although I’ll learn in the future that even when you don’t make a mistake, they make it a mistake.  Wrong form, right typeface.  Right type, wrong form.  Go straight to jail.

Everyone in the room has “blown” a something or other. A .17 or the saddest one, a poor Mexican fellow with a .09; the legal limit being .08.  Nice cop for busting him and taking away all his hard saved funds for a family home.  They come around to me.  Only thing I’ve blown lately is Brian.

“I’m not a drinker,” I say, and eyes narrow, as though I’m a spy. “I was busted for drugs.”  Now they look at me like a dirtbag in an alley.

“Man, oh man,” one guy says.  “Those NA meetings are so depressing.”  And these are?

I see most of these people are almost done.  No one tells you what to do.  What do people with no money and not a stinking clue get through this? They go to jail, and then lay tar on roads for 100 hours.  For a first offense.

I recently heard some NYPD stories.  About people being sobered up in the station if they had no priors.  Of cops sharing boozy war stories.  In New York, we know what crime is, and how to treat which ones accordingly.  Back in the day, Grace and I were smoking a joint semi-secretly down 15th street, too young to know how we smelled.  A cop came from behind us and we jumped.

He whispered, “Got another joint? Smells like great stuff.”

That was MY city.  All of a sudden, I’m in Singapore, getting 1000 lashes.

15 more weeks of this.  Bullet through head.  Don’t have a gun, so there’s no choice.

One funny story: a morose girl tells of her field test when arrested in which you have to do various acrobatic tricks with your eyes closed.  I’ve asked friends, even trainers, and not one could do them.  She tell us she was ordered to stand on one leg with her eyes closed for five minutes. She tells the cop:

“Shit! I couldn’t do that if I was sober.”

@@@@@@@@@

David taught me all about the teachings of Ernest Holmes and The Science of Mind.  Basic metaphysics, but too much Jesus for me.  Down the block is Spirit Works, based on his teachings.  Wow!  The signs.  These are the NA meetings.  My good friend, who’s been through it all via AA, warns me.

“Don’t volunteer to share.  Just do the time. And for God’s sake, don’t say you’re a writer.  These people are terrified.”

The Anonymous part is read, read, and read again.  It has no legal binding, but it is an ethical one.  So I will be general, although I’ll mention that I nod off here, too and everyone looks at me.  They’re much older for the most part, many who make me feel young, so they think I’m still “using.”  Which I am, because only a skillful psychiatrist can wean me off these cocktails in a year or more.

I am fresh meat; everyone wants to be my sponsor.  It’s supposed to be same gender, but there’s one gay guy who makes this his life’s work and cures everyone.  I may take him yet but so many of these people appear to be Stanford Clean.  Don’t like therapists.  Are accused of being a crutch or a cult.  A cult, I can see, but whatever works.

They have rituals, like a church.  Celebrating months, years sober.  Birthdays.  announcements.  Then reading from cards.  The infamous Twelve-Step Program.  Won’t buy the book, it’s all boiled down on the Net.

People cry a whole lot here, for there are sad stories to tell.  My friend explains that booze does damage more slowly, while drugs do you in quick.  Shows you how much he knows, being an ex-alkie.  I took Xanax for 30 years, two milligrams a night.  Smoked marijuana just to get to sleep since college.  No more photographic memory, but a lot of good shit published.

I didn’t know at which meeting, but I admit to having taken a Xanax the night before. (I had to share, I am a performer, and if I don’t, I nod off.)

A woman shuts me up, tells me I can’t share because that’s the rule.  You must have at least 48 hours clean.  I start to cry and cry and don’t stop. Look at the floor with hatred.  She tries to apologize; others touch my shoulder.  Only later do I realize how selfish I am, how like an addict.

Like an addict?  I am one.

I have made people who already are miserable feel even worse.

Like instant karma, I trudge back home, and there is a thick envelope my lawyer said would never come.  From the bowels of Hell itself, the DMV.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@

David would be beating me with a metaphorical stick.  A magician has power, he is never overwhelmed.  He has courage, he walks through adversity.  And all these memories.  How have I not forgiven, let alone forgot?  Tonight I sit with another bureaucratic mistake, another debacle to handle which may or may not work out and I feel like Job in the Bible.

How?  Because I’m getting better at what I do. These last few years have humbled me, sweetened me, and left me prone to forgive weakness.  I thought I knew it all, that I was chosen.  Fact is, if you think that, you probably have a lot of learning to do.  That’s why most of the Holy in the East are beggars.

So one day I will forgive. Until then, I’ll try.

(I will say that I have always been a sucker for those old fortune-telling structures, the kind with the wax dummy that moves its hand over a deck of cards at fairs and amusement parks—and Las Vegas, where I found one.  The card was happy enough for my 50 cents, but it said watch out for my “karma.”  Just one word. MOTHER.)

When I walked out of the NA meeting crying, I had a breakthrough with my old here again, gone again Brian.  Up and down Brian.  Just stop taking drugs Brian.  He saw the state I was in.

“You mask your pain with all your rituals and sleep and OCD,” I said, finally, after 40 years.  “I mask mine with drugs.”

He held me, shaking and crying in the parking lot, for a good half hour.  Next week he was back to the same warm again/cold again Brian.

@@@@@@@@@@