Mistress Helga

WOMEN SEEKING MEN- 30 (Casual Encounters Section)

The Advert:

Seeking to Discipline

Strong, professional woman, 30, PhD, independent and self-actualized seeks SWM who needs a little “discipline”. BBW, 6’7”, confident, and 2 months pregnant.  I choose this for myself and have no need for someone to be a stand-in for a Baby Daddy. The hormones are kicking in, however, and I need someone to fill me up. I am a dominant searching for a submissive- you must earn your way into the Promised Land. Your pic gets mine. No penis photos.

RESPONSE #1:

Not even 5 minutes after posting, I get my first response, the subject line reading

HOT HUNG ITALIAN SUB

Which is awesome, as it only needs four letters removed to sound like a Jimmy John’s Sandwich Special. He’s been kind enough to not directly show me his goods, but close e-goddam-nough. But, hey, I’m a lady, I get to bide my time and choose- I don’t need to reply just yet.

RESPONSES #2-8

All within 10 minutes of posting, one guy from his iPhone. Jesus, who the fuck trolls craigslist ads from their phone? Are men really like this? I’m not going to waste your time with their responses- booooring.

Clearly, I’m going to have weed out a few of my suitors out of the dating pool, pull the plug on their sprinklers, so to speak. I’m also worried that they might make me if I don’t change my email. So time to set up a new address. I’m going with the tag

Mistresshelga67. I think it’s cute.

RESPONSES #9-  87 Kajillion

There really are too many. Still, though, this dominatrix thing is great- I had no idea-  every response, while completely perverted, retains a gentlemanly ambiance. If I were a 6’7” BBW PhD, I’d definitely consider my dominatrix options. There are quite a lot of requests for face-sitting, plus, every 5th guy or so complements me on my pregnancy. A few choice quotes:

“I want you to sit on my face and dominate me, use me as your sex slave like the filthy man-whore I am.  Make lick your asshole around and around, tease me with you breast and pump my cock with your hand. Let me know.Sorry for the long email, I sort of got carried away:)”

“Make lick”? Sorry, dude, points off for bad grammar.

“Your(sic) 6 ft 7inches?  Thats(sic) hot.”

Don’t I know it, sweetie. Mistress Helga needs you to use your apostrophes.

“Young guy ready to serve your every need. Big foot fetish and would 

love to have you facesit on me. No strings attached you Dom me sub action”

-Sent from my iPhone

You shouldn’t be able to do that. Drunk-dialing is a scary enough prospect.

“I won’t bore you with stories of my sexual prowess or the enormity of my cock – although I have been told both are impressive.”

Eh. You just did.

“I would be happy to fulfill your needs during your time of your pregnancy.(btw – congtrats!).  I don’t know the details but would love to chat.  I’m sane, d&d free, considerate.  However, I’m nowhere near 6-7, hope that’s not a problem.”

Hey, dude, you win points for the ‘congrats’, although check your spelling. Don’t get hung up on the height thing- Mistress Helga knows she Kicks Ass.

“Pls know that i am not a CL faker or BS artist. Not a hustler or a game player.”

Yea, yea, No one is if you ask them. Shit, watch this- “I am not a CL faker.” See how easy that was, and yet, how untrue?

“…want you to sit on my face and dominate me….”

Always with the face-sitting. Do these people understand I’m 6’7”? I could hurt somebody.

“…limits are scat, underage and permanent marks.”

Uggh. As least we share limits. Isn’t ‘scat’ used for other species? Does this mean human feces are OK?

“serving as a maid?”

Did I SAY maid? Do your homework.

“Good afternoon, hope you are well.  Would you be up for someone to worship your feet?  Are you really 6’7″ or is that a typo?”

See, at least he read the ad. Did I mention at least 1/3 of these fellas are into the foot fetish? Why is that? Feet mostly just stink.

“Hi there, my name is J*** and I am 25 and live downtown in the financial district.  I am 5’10’’ in good shape and am exceedingly well endowed.  I have long maintained a fascination with slightly more mature women – and find that they make the best lovers.”

‘Slightly more mature?’ I’m only 30, for fuck’s sake. Thumbs down.

“Dr. Mistress I saw your advertisement I am a foot shorter than you and 

require your pregnant discipline.”

I’m pregnant. The discipline is not. Where did these people learn to write?

I am highly experienced with most areas of bondage, dominance and submission. As a male Dom, I have enjoyed giving corporal punishment, such as spankings and floggings and general torture since 1980.”

An Established Mom and Pop Spanking. Thank goodness.

You would think the most disturbing thing about this experiment would be how easily I found myself slipping into the role of the Dominatrix, and it was sort of spooky. We all should be able to vote for who we want to be reincarnated as, ‘cause I definitely found my calling. Still, though, this is difficult. Is this what women go through all the time? I feel like I’m rummaging through a pile of half-assed resumes, written with crayon and smattered with coffee-stain rings, such is the quality and care of the responses. Are all men this clumsy? Am I?

 

Published in: on October 18, 2016 at 9:00 PM  Leave a Comment  

Hotel, Hostel, & Hammock: My Midlife Crisis on Highway 1.

Descending down from that first monstrous hill- the one from the top of Daly City, down into Pacifica, CA, if we are being specific- felt like being God. The sun started breaking through the monotonous coastal fog. A few very industrious  beams of sunlight chose to bless a park bench at the bottom of the hill, and -just like a moth, without choice- I gravitated to it. I found a bouquet of flowers resting there, ostensibly purchased for someone else, but I knew the Cosmos meant them for me. This was a good omen.

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Look- people ride down the Pacific coast. All the time. It’s a done thing. Some ride for charity reasons, some to celebrate milestones, some hoping to find some sort of meaning in their complicated lives. I’m riding to see if I still can.

I’m past 40, blessed with child, and recently diagnosed with Type II diabetes. I’m also an avid bike camper- there’s no vacation like a bike vacation, with a tent, a road, and no real plan.

But I’ve fallen out of what anyone could reasonably call ‘shape’, and watched idly and fearfully by as my body has begun to fall apart, and I’m worried that this phase of my life might be over. But I’m not ready to let it go just yet.

The muse came after reading a young fellow’s blog about a quick trip on Highway 1, basically the bicyclists’ Appalachian Trail. There is no shortage of reading about this sort of thing- googling ‘Bike Highway 1” yields 6.7 million hits, I imagine written by those with copious spare time and miniature fountains of youth gushing from every pore on their perfect skin. Most of these kids don’t have kids , and do have abdominal muscles that can grip tennis balls.

I have an abdomen that could stop a basketball cold. Still, I am bike tourist. I’ve done it for years. I looove getting out on the bike, even if (mostly) I’m not fit enough to do it. I can usually deal, huff and puff up hills, bitch and kvetch, knowing that if I wasn’t quite in proper shape to start the trip, I would be by the end.  I’m going to have a hard enough time finding fresh salads with sugar-free dressing along the highway. And yes, I realize that I already sound like the curmudgeonly old-codger archetype, prone to grousing and gross exaggeration. But I’m also going to have to tow along my 350 lb sleep apnea machine.

As it turns out, without mechanical help, I stop breathing about once every 2 minutes when I’m asleep, and- I’m sorry to say- that is not an exaggeration. I need my machine. It’s heavy enough on its own, and I’m going to need to tug along an array of batteries, cords, possibly solar panels, in order to use it in the woods- there are no places to plug your head into the wall when there are no walls. Do I still get to have bike adventures? I’m going find out in the only way I know how.

It will be a slow descent- I’m allowing myself a few practice nights- first a hotel, then a hostel, before I finally try a hammock in the woods (as I have no room to carry a tent).  It’s like a ‘touring gear’ article, just specialized for the old and lame.

Day 1: HOTEL: From SF to Half Moon Bay via the Old San Pedro ( Planet of the Apes) Road.

Can you actually make it over the mountain on the Planet of the Apes road on a road bike? When you are middle aged? With your sleep- apnea machine in tow?

Some explanation is needed here.

You see, I found this ‘road’ on a ‘bike-with-gps’ website. Now, being rather old, I’m a bit slow to pick up on this new-fangled gizmo stuff. I do realize that  bike computers exist, but I always figured they were for people who simply liked data and spreadsheets outside of work hours, and therefore enjoyed monitoring and graphing their heart rate and elevation. And if you are one of them, more power to you. You are probably healthier than I am.  I’m rather afraid to see my heart rate. If my actual heart doesn’t explode as I ride over the next hill, I am content.

But I did find this website, and this kid’s blog about the road, and decided I might be up for the challenge.

The Old San Pablo Road- when it was constructed-  was basically Route 1 in California, one of the first attempts to make travel along the coast accessible to cars. It was a huge undertaking and a massive failure. It was dredged in 1909, paved in 1911 and basically left to rot two years later, as it was entirely too dangerous to drive on with with those old whitewall-tired, open air Model T’s. Motoring magazine wrote, in 1913 Pedro Mountain Road is in such poor condition that anyone going this way is simply inviting disaster.”

So it was left to moulder. Which is a shame- it must have been quite the engineering feat to sling a thin strip of road around an entire mountain, then give it up in half a decade, but that’s what governments are for, right?

That leaves what it is today- a peek into what the apocalypic future might hold for all of us who intend to light out on bicycles when the sh*t hits the wall. It’s been sitting for well over a century in an earthquake prone area. Years from now, when we get into a Mad Max scenario, will you still be able to ride your 26 year old peugot ten-speed to the safety compound in Half Moon bay? I was out to see.

The route starts in Linda Mar, California, not so far from the “Starbowl!” bowling alley, or whatever it’s called. It’s close enough to SF for us aging hipster parents  to have visited for a birthday party, mostly because it’s far enough from the city to appear “quaint”.

I would define it as “redneck”, but I get to,  as I grew up in Northville, MI ( south of Southfield, west of Westland) and am attuned to these types of places. Fitting, then, that I got the first right of passage on any bike trip over quickly, just down the street from bowling alley.

“You’re in the middle of the road, you IDIOT!” Yelled the guy in the red pick-up.

I thought this was unfair, as I was probably only one-third of the way into the outer lane of a two lane highway, staring at my phone. Maybe halfway, tops.

“Yea?!? And your a dumb bowling redneck with a shitty pick-up truck stuck in Pacifica! At least I can get out of the road!” I failed to yell back. I’m all about passive/aggressive mental commentary.

Instead, I gunned him the bird, as soon as he was around the bend and couldn’t see me do it. Pays to be safe.

The entrance to the Old San Pedro Road was a bit foreboding. It’s a fence, delineating the end of car land, the begining of …well, I wasn’t sure yet. But it boasts a beat up sign, a gate, and an etheral, shaded forest coming in at all sides. the sign reads ” Beware, you could DIE DIE DIE- shit is unsafe here! Cliffs! Death! Pirates!” Or something like that. I couldn’t read the  sign that well, and just filled in the subtext with my overactive imagination. Sometimes brains suck.  Screen Shot 2016-10-07 at 8.30.28 PM.png

GOING UP:

I won’t lie, I was a bit worried, for a couple of reasons. The first is that I looked at my “ride GPS” map on my phone, and it looked really twisty. That meant hills. That meant steep hills. That meant apocalyptic steep barely functional hills on the edges of cliffs, filled with scree and other geologic obscure terms that could send you careening down a cliff. I was a bit freaked out.

I won’t lie again. Despite my terror, I was kinda hoping to see some evidence of the cars from days of yore- the ones that apparently went over said cliffs- somewhere in the bottoms of the ravines. Frankly, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the rusty hulk of an old Model T,  buried three quarters in the dirt with the polished skull of the unfortunate driver gleaming in a rare beam of sunlight, his century-old monocle casting a faint rainbow on his now exposed bones of his upper forearm and digits, with just a little hint of rusted metal from the monocle-chain coloring the topsoil.

So I’ve got good news and bad news. First the bad- yea, no, I wouldn’t have seen that anyway, duh. Too long gone ( although I trust it is still in there somewhere.)

The good news is the reason why. If you are like me, vertigo freaks you out. The Old San Pablo road- which IS riding along a thin strip of non-road ON A CLIFF- it is that it does not at all feel like that.

The reason is this: it has been around for such a long time that the encroaching vegetation (on both sides, but mostly the ‘falling’ side) is so thick that you mostly can’t even see how close you are to immanent death. in fact, I might propose that you are actually physically protected by the vegetation- I ( because, yea, I go there) imagined what would actually happen if I drove my bike directly into said vegetation, trying to kill myself by gravity and elevation. GOOD NEWS. You *probably* would get tangled up in the thick vegetation ( and hurt a little bit) before you fell down the cliff and joined Teddy Roosevelt look-alikes in permanent slumber.

But is it ridable? As far as I could tell, the answer is yes, even for an old codger like me. It’s mostly paved, albeit thinly at points, and the nice thing is that since it was made for clunky old model T’s, the grade isn’t too dear. It’s  a steady uphill, for sure, but it was made for vehicles that didn’t have the wherewithall to go up too quick, too steep . That meant that I, with my old legs, could just just plunder on, steady pace, without too much effort. I was totally enamored at this point, kinda loving all the microclimates, sweeping views of the ocean ( whoops, a little too Yelp there) generally all the good stuff. Until I got to the top.

GOING DOWN.

There were other people on the trail. One pair, an old white guy biking behind a young Fiilipino kid doing the running, obviously supporting him in training, was saying things like ” I dunno, I kinda support Trump on his immigration policy- well, I just avoided them. Another guy, a whiz–bang super-fit mountain biker, whizzed past me on the way up. I didn’t see him again until I reached the top. He appeared to *not*be  going down the other side, at least not quite yet. I just thought he was just resting, and so carried on, onto what appeared to me to be “down”. But the path seemed to …..go away.  I turned right back around and asked super whiz- bang mountain bike guy,

“”Hey- are we at the top?”

“”Oh no”, he said, “ it goes down for a bit, but then it goes up again.And it’s unpaved…ummm….. “, he said, eyeing my road bike quizzically……” It gets steep… i’m not sure….”

I got the message. My bike wasn’t gonna cut it. But I couldn’t go back . I figured I would just plunder on, hoping to make it, somehow.

“Turn left at the fork”, he said.

He was right. The road disappeared rather immediately, and this was no territory for a road bike, let alone a road bike ridden by a faltering old man with a 350 lb sleep apnea machine strapped to his rack. I was seriously worried that I would break the delicate machinery with all the shaking, and even  more worried that I would actually get lost trying to get off the mountain.

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When I came to the intersection, I just about turned left. Thank God I didn’t. Cheap people who buy GPS apps for their phone, rather than professional bike computers can’t see maps when there is no cell phone service. Thank another God (well, my family is Hindu)  there was a hiker.

He looked just like Bill Bryson, or at least as I imagine him to look like, and so I felt safe asking him questions, as I have had many imaginary conversations with all my favourite authors in my mind. He wasn’t as charismatic as I had hoped, but he did give me friendly and practical advice- go down- and I made it back to the real highway, and eventually my hotel.

Tomorrow, Highway 1. For real.

Day 2: Hostels and Canadian magical bicycle mages.

It’s a solid grey morning, the standard fog overhang,  and I am milking the expensive hotel for all its worth. I am shoveling down the free breakfast, which, for a “Free Continental Breakfast!’ deal is pretty ok, and even better if you are a diabetic. Sausages! Little cheese omelettes! Protein, not chunky, dense bagels with a side of pancakes and super saturated sugar solution (maple syrup, for those of you that still can.) I am inhaling sausages whole, shoving peanut butter packets, cream cheese containers, and fruit in my pockets ( note: if you grabbing what you can and packing your bags tight, soft fruit like bananas are a terrible idea, particularly if your bags are black and soak up heat, as I learned a few hours later. Suffice to say, I don’t want to talk about it) when I notice the Sign.

It’s sitting on every table and It reads something like ” Please, only take what you will actually consume, in order to environment, blah blah blah.” Now, I am not having a problem consuming things, but I clearly have a plan to pilfer a bunch of food for later. I realize that they have written this into their budget- I might make off with 67 cents worth of produce for a $165 a night room, and that will not break their bank. Still, I gotta find thrills where I can get them, in a very Middle Aged sort of way, and so I surreptitiously slip fruit into my rather telling slim biking shorts, each pocket now screaming either “purloined banana!” Or “purloined Apple, red delicious by the shape of it!”  or the obvious joke. I ponder how to slip by the person at the front desk- probably a minimum wage teenager who could give zero fucks about old men stealing apples- because at my age, I need to manufacture intrigue and rebellion. As I do this, I realize I am half listening to the news, which is telling me – surprise!- California is on fire during “California is on Fire” season. I’m not really paying attention, but I do absorb the fact that at least one of them is ” 60% contained” which sounds good, but how are they not just guessing? Still, that comes in handy later.

I light off- at 10:53, 7 minutes shy of my check out time, with my purloined fruit, a few tubes of designer miniature shampoo/conditioner ( ne avec drederique, pour les cheveax) in tow, and hit highway 1, in full.

I was kinda scared of highway 1, to be honest. I’d driven down it a few times, contemplating what it might be like to ride your bike on it from my comfy Toyota with, air conditioning and witty podcast in the background. I thought ” Oh hell no” – the shoulder looked to thin ( or not existent) at points, the hills looked too hilly- basically I pre-freaked out and decided  No. Not for me.”

I’m not sure why, now that I am here, next to the ocean. It wasn’t too tough, save a few logging trucks whizzing by. I feel good about this.

I head up one massive, “no shoulder” hill. It is miles long. I’ve got my GPS tracker on this morning, just to test it out and feel self-congratulatory when it confirms with math and expensive phone data that I did what I just did. The hill- it’s hella big, as the California youth say. It is the only passage for huge semi-trucks (lorries, for you Brexits), SUV’s and rent-a-truck recreational vehicles that cater to Europeans who forget which side of the road we drive on. As far as I know, none of these cars are looking out for bicyclists, as I’ve seen none whatsoever so far,  and I’m feeling a bit alone on the big highway, with the exception of my trusty Cpap machine.

After a couple of miles up the hill ( ok, 0.7 according to my gps) I get tired, and so I have to take a whiz. I pull over in the “Pull over, you prick, you are driving too slow! ” pullout lane , just to have a rest, a pee, and a look around. From afar, I see another bicyclist, way off in the distance. I sense that there must be some ethical code, a brotherhood of touring bicyclist etiquette that requires me to wait up for him, and so I do.

He turns out to be from Canada, on his way to Arizona, and he looks as if he’s been riding since 1989. Solid. No breaks. He certainly hasn’t had time to drop by the dentist’s office. We chat gear, big ass hills, whatever passes for normal conversation among God’s chosen few bike tourists, and awkwardly bump fists. I return to my bike after he lights off, and fire up my GPS. It has granted me an extra 8 miles in the time it took me to take a whiz. I prefer not to think of this as a flaw of the app. I figure it’s like Dungeons and Dragons- I just gained 8 Experience Miles for fist-bumping a 37th-level Canadian Bicycle Wizard.

I do see him again, some miles down the highway (“I’ll claim on the record that you made it here first” he says). He’s a little worried- he wants to ride through Big Sur tomorrow, and it is on fire, as it is “ California is on Fire” season. I remember what I heard on the TeeVee (the telly, for the Brexits) while I was stealing fruit. It’s odd, this exchange of information- I had a useful tidbit of info, and he wouldn’t have heard it if we hadn’t talked earlier, had some sort of social contact. It almost feels a little bit like normal human communication, as it was conveyed, at least at one point, through flapping lips, and not from a touch-screen connected to the World Wide Web. I’m beginning to remember why I love doing this.

I make it to the hostel. I am a little ambivalent- hostels are for young people, with no kids, still in that very free-fall stage of life, where you are making enough money and have enough spare time to drop whatever you are doing and travel for months on end. I don’t want to compare myself to them, mostly because I don’t want to be jealous of their health, their disposable income, their sexiness and their youth.

There is one couple I see early in the evening that must be my age. They are a fit pair, slim, greying at the temples, meticulously dicing their kale greens and organic elephant garlic. They are poring over every cooking detail, which tells me they don’t have kids, as they haven’t shifted into the manic ‘just put some shit on the table’, and  “I don’t care if you don’t like it, it’s bedtime, fine, just have some rice crispies, I’ll finish the rest if you don’t eat it” style of cuisine so popular amongst families. Still, I am heartened by at least someone my own age being here, even if they are clearly much healthier than I am. But shortly thereafter, some more young, healthy internationals come in through the door, with clean teeth and relaxed attitudes. I hide at the beach, as I don’t want to meet them.

Fortunately, my old codger friend, also over 40 and ‘with child’ as they say, is professoring in Santa Cruz that day, just a handful of miles south. He’s got his oldest kid with him, they are on the way back to SF. He drops by, cracks a beer ( only one, which he shares with me- gotta get the kid home safe, after all) and shoots the shit with me on the beach for an hour. I don’t feel so old. Ok, I do, just validated.

I do mention that I am heading up into the mountains, and his usual laid back demeanor darkens.

“You be careful up there. Someone died just this last weekend.”

Some motorcyclist dug too deep into a turn, swiped a tourist, something awful like that. I’m trying to let the ocean fill my ears, as this is exactly what I’m afraid of. Thin roads, with no shoulder. Blind curves. The Unnecessarily Wealthy with Lamborghinis using public highways as private racetracks.

“You know it’s just a bunch of CEOs with Lamborghini’s using highway 84 as their private racetracks, right?” says my buddy, as he comes back into focus.

I sigh. ” Yea. I’ll be careful”

I go to bed early.

………

I wake up early in the men’s dorm, earlier than everyone else – 6:00 AM, you sonsabitches, I have a kid and therefore a permanent internal alarm clock! I also  don’t want to know how young and pretty everyone is.

Surprisingly, when people do start to mill about, they aren’t all that young. There are parents with their adult children, hopping down the coast with bikes in tow, riding them when they can.  There is an older nurse, on vacation, grousing about her L5 ( which I know stands for lumbar vertebrae, 5th one down, as I also have an aging spine.) She is chatting up another middle aged woman with her college-aged kid, unfortunately in town because there was a death in the family, now vacationing on the coast, because, hey, when are we all gonna see each other next? There are a few young and pretty European jet-set kids, and more power to them, because really, us old folks bitching about arthritis and when music was last decent might just make up the majority here. I still feel old, and l still feel validated. Maybe I will be OK. Heartened, I pack up all my gear, with great hopes that I might actually make it to the redwoods and sleep through a night with my precious apnea machine.

Before I hit the road, one of the adult children takes note of my bike and my gear. She is clearly a bicyclist herself.

“Hey, is that a Bluetooth speaker? Does it kick?”

I imagine she wants to kick some Beyoncé or whatever the kids are listening to these days, and I’m a little recalcitrant to admit that as a middle aged, semi-white guy liberal, I need my NPR.

” Oh, yeah it …..does the job”

“Wow, cause you are packing really light for a self-sufficient ride!”

She doesn’t even know I’m packing a 350 lb sleep apnea machine! Ok, sure, I’m also packing light cause I did a crappy job of planning this trip, hence no tent and a half baked “hammock” plan and am “self-sufficient” to the tune of stealing toilet paper and continental breakfasts from pricey hotels, but she just made my day.

Day 3: into the woods

The road up into the Santa Cruz mountains is very nice.

The problem is that it it is dangerous.

I didn’t know this immediately, but the signs clued me in. “Beware: Log trucks.” Really? Log trucks? I had seen these trucks- no, experienced these trucks- whizzing down highway 1, a pile of telephone poles stacked in a pyramid threatening to break the slim belt buckle and topple them over my head, braining me like an extra on an Indiana Jones flick set.

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That wasn’t the only problem. The other problem were the CEO’s. They are real.

I didn’t encounter them at first. It was an almost storybook ride up to the campground, only 8 easy miles through an idyllic, winding ascent, as the microclimates gently changed from coast to farm to Redwoods. Problem was, they had no food. No problem, it was only 8 miles back to the nearest town, and I could dump all my junk- including my 350 lb apnea machine- at the campsite and roll back down. And back up, no problem, it was pretty right? I survived all the way up without a Log Truck or a CEO, so why worry? I got back down to the General Store no problem, which sold sausages and bags of lettuce ( yay, diabetes!) no problem, and headed back up.

Then they came. It was a problem.

They were like bass-heavy thrumming exact-o-razors on wheels, cars that are measured off the ground in inches, rather than feet, all ready to flick me off the road and turn me into reluctant human  compost. They came in sequence- in two sets of three- and they were identical, save the color of the paint. They were also identical in the cockpit- 50+ super-agitated white guys, competing with each other. This is what money does on weekends.

The nice thing is that you could hear them from far away- enough time for me to get off the roadway and let them have their midlife crisis without spoiling mine ( read: kill me) and I appreciated that. The bad part was that it was on me to preserve myself- I don’t think I’d register more than an extra large moth on their windshields, should they have hit me, and I’m quite sure they have the lawyers to smooth that over, should it happen. I think it probably does, once in awhile.

They frighten me, these cars, these log trucks, these roads. But maybe it’s because I’m in a frightened state of mind.

The thing I’m actually frightened of is ridiculous. Being sheared off the road is a much more reasonable fear. I could also choose to  be existentially frightened- maybe my apnea machine battery won’t last through the night, maybe I’m too old to be doing this, maybe I’ll have to give this up, this thing I love……but no. That’s not what I’m frightened of.

I’m frightened of raccoons touching my butt.

I shouldn’t be frightened of this. Raccoons have little interest in touching my butt. I also- like anyone else in North America- dealt with raccoons growing up, but hey, they freak me out. There, I said it.

I think I worry because they represent largish mammals, and here, in the mountains, there are other, more dangerous largish mammals. Mountain Lions. Maybe Bears. Anything large enough to wander around my campsite and scrub around in my food, and they WILL- I’ve been camping, I know. In the past, I’ve had the airy few feet between the tent wall and my internal organs to imagine if they took a slash at me, they might just miss and get a handful semi-waterproof nylon in their claws. Now, though, I’m packaged like low- hanging meat-fruit, easy pickings for the more industrious carnivore.

I don’t know why my mind goes to these places. Maybe because I’ve never slept in the woods in just a hammock, maybe because I’m worried that the humming of my apnea machine will attract them, maybe just because if my machine craps out and I don’t get enough sleep, I’ll give myself a heart attack tomorrow trying to ride up and over the rest of the mountains. I’m at the age where I need to worry about that shit. i just wish I wasn’t so good at it.

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Night 3: The details

I slept, kinda badly, as I slept next to worry and my apnea machine, which gave out around 3 in the morning. But I did sleep, at points, and I realize- sure it sounds kinda trite- that the act of trying to even do this meant I succeeded. I slept in the damn woods with my damn apnea machine.

After (non) sleeping in the woods- no raccoons touched my butt, after all, I got up ,found that I had no coffee and no food, as I had eaten it all, save leftovers from my bag of salad -diabetes!- so I ate it, and gamely tried to head up to the mountains. I went up four miles, thought “can I do this?” and reconsidered.  I had never even driven up this particular road, so I had no idea when I would even find food, let alone being sliced off the roadway by a an overprivileged CEO . I thought about everything waiting for me back at the coast- a warm breakfast, coffee, fog, a now- familiar Highway 1, and said “Fuck it”. After all, I already did what is set out to do- camp with my sleep apnea machine in a hammock in the woods, so  “whatevs” as the kids used to “abbrev” in their “txts’ some days not too long ago. I headed back. I could make it back home today if I pushed myself.

I won’t bore you with details.

Ok fine, I will bore you with one: it was 70 miles back up Highway 1, and there was a nasty stretch, around the mountain that I avoided via Old San Pedro road, that sucked. It was a thin road, slung around a mountain, cut into a side of granite, and I walked my damn bike on the white line, feet in the gutter, for a few miles, until I could gravity my way down the rest of the hill.

Despite this being the only way around the mountain, and despite there being signs posted with bicycle icons every 1500 yards saying ” Share the Road!” some fucker in a Prius ( cause liberal Eco-tarians can be the biggest pricks) decides to honk at me as he goes by. And what the hell did you think that would do? Startling me would only lead to me veering one way- into traffic. I don’t have any room. I realize it’s an uncomfortable situation for all of us, bicyclists crammed with cars with no margin for error, but come on.

In other countries, people use their car horns copiously, but more like sonar- here I am, feel my proximity through sound and air. In the States, it pretty much means one thing- you have inconvenienced me somehow, I must show you my anonymous displeasure. Situations like these make me wonder if a little extra weight in my bicycling gear would be worth it, to have a set of half-bricks, ready to hurl through their back windows, with my f**cking initials carved on them, just to make it personal.

All that said, I make it home. Intact. My apnea machine still works, my wife and child still apparently love me, my muscles are tired, but strong, and I sleep well, knowing I can do this again if I need to. And I will.

Published in: on October 7, 2016 at 7:36 PM  Leave a Comment  

That’s My Moon.

Language is a tricky beast. Think about it. I’m typing characters, which are converted to document code, which are then converted to binary on/off switches, which are then uploaded- seemingly through air- to another machine. This machine has its own set of languages that it uses to interpret those on/off switches, switches it to another code, and that code plasters it – the words, the images, the amateur food porn instagrams- all over a ‘wall’ of my digitally created Social Media platform. Still then, that ‘wall’ is selective about what it shows- there are separate algorithms that decides who gets to see it and when, largely influenced by the application of large sums of digital money, another set of 1’s and 0’s that we won’t get into here. And that’s just the technical side of it. Let’s not even go into whether or not I bought the amateur food at Safeway.

The other problem is language itself,  and this comes from a person who last week- completely enamored with a spot of free time, spent it at the library, and considered updating his “status”  to “Fucking lucky librarians! This is AWESOME!” on his wall- I clearly love books, writing, and all the best things in life.

All that said, all language is just an iteration of a former language ( and that’s an extremely clumsy statement, but hence the problem) – it’s both a specific and precise set of tools used to mirror an image of a very intricate network of information processing (normally called ‘feelings in your brains’) and something that is subject to  malleability. Meanings change, memes gain traction, the world turns, and we must keep up. At the same time, clichés are clichés for a reason- some things are always true, and no one has found a better way to distill the truth. Necessity might be the mother of invention, but if the shoe fucking fits, why waste another cottin’ pickin’ minute re-inventing the wheel? A penny saved might be a quaint sologigliasmish,  but the point still stands.

All that said, it’s a wonderfully weird thing to watch this language thing from the ground up.

I have a 3-year old. In the beginning, I just felt like a sperm donor. She shat, slept, cried, and we plugged along through job problems, diaper decisions, and the usual. Not much input from her for the first 15 months. Then….speech.

Watching the process of a new brain make language connections has been ….educational. And by ‘educational’ , I mean both fascinating and terrifying in equal measures.

Take the moon- she loves it. On evenings where it sets over the house across the street, about every-ahem- once in a blue moon,  we watch it in our pyjamas, at least until the fascination wears off ( about 45 seconds ) and then commence deliberations about how many insipid episodes of animated hamsters we are allowed to watch this evening. Still, it has always been an object of fascination for her, and I’m watching the language she uses to describe it change- and it’s a steady variable. Watch.

The first time she described the moon- and there must have been many ‘first times’ as she glommed onto words, descriptions, ways to make your tongue and mouth say ‘moon’,  but I hadn’t had much sleep at the time, so I don’t remember- she was in the swing at the playground. We were doing the obvious thing, and I was 20-40% mentally occupied with the notion that all the moms were casting disparaging glances at me for swinging my kid too high, too young which says a lot about the Y chromosome. Still, she was up, the moon was up, and she saw it.

“Daddy!”

“Yes, sweetie?”

“What’s that cookie?”

The moon was full that afternoon, and since we had a routine- I would always put her in the swing with her precious face-skin away from the setting sun- the view was always the same.

“That’s the moon!” I explained.

“Is that my moon?” she asked.

“Yes, sweetie, it’s your moon.” I replied. Insert whatever “wrapped around her tiny little finger” joke you need to about me, ‘cause it’s fucking true.

Now, every dad goes through phases. Pre-kid, it’s “What?!? You’re pregnant?!?” It’s the first, simplest one, and  rather stupid- you did stick it in after all. What were you expecting? Still, the kid is born, words come, bonds form, relationships begin to gel, the specifics of which aren’t always noticed by dads- Y chromosome- until they take their kids out onto the playground, often and repeatedly. You get into habits. You hit the swings. Every 29.5 days, the moon repeats itself, and the kid sees it.

But the moon goes through phases.

“Daddy, that’s my Moon!” she exulted.

We were on the swings, me feeling confident and masculine about shoving her and rubberized safety gravity harness into the pre-school stratosphere, probably a bit more forcefully than I should have, but I wanted to impress. Whom, I’m not sure, but probably borne of a need to progress.

“Where, sweetie?”

“There!” She pointed.

“Yes, that’s your moon!”

In my mind and memory, I saw her brow furrow. If I apply physics, it would tell me that I probably couldn’t actually see  her thought processes on an oscillating swing, but fuck that noise, I know my kid. She was puzzled, and I saw what was coming.

“Daddy….my moon is broken!”

To her, half of it was gone- to me, I felt the earth tremble over code and language she didn’t have yet- ‘waxing and waning’ weren’t options. The she plucked that impossible heart string.

“Daddy, can you fix it?”

……..

…Should I say “In about 2 weeks?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on July 22, 2013 at 9:27 PM  Comments (1)  

At the Zoo.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about humans, and how weird we are. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how much effort it takes for all of us to to have to swallow our tongues when presented with absolutely ABSURD ideas, and how much that taxes out brains. Example: Sarah Palin for President. My grey matter lacks the associated muscles to twist it into those kind of pretzels.

We are asked- A LOT- to ignore the obvious, and I can’t help but wonder if it takes it’s toll.

We were at the Zoo, fresh from the Grizzly Bear feeding. They throw salmon and apples in the Bear pond, and let ’em rip into it, ‘catching’ their own prey while we watch from the viewing window. It is very difficult to get a good seat.

All we saw was a Bear dejectedly eating an apple as a consolation prize (ripped off!). Fortunately, by the ‘Big Cats’ Exhibit afterwards, a male lion started to bellow. And I mean BELLOW. He was making an almost alien sound, a loud gutterel throng, an uvula slapping around in the back of his throat in a way that live meat hasn’t since the last whale childbirth, and we ran forth.

Think of this. How many thousands of years of evolutionary programming must we have overridden to think-

“Loud, Powerful Predator Cat? GOTTA SEE THAT! Oh, my precious, helpless charge can’t SEE? I’ll fight to get you a GOOD SPOT to make EYE CONTACT WITH HIM! I want to make sure HE KNOWS YOU ARE THERE!

More on this later.

Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 3:58 PM  Comments (5)  

The Daily Slog

I am now in the phase of unemployment where I need to prove I’m looking for jobs. I kinda find this offensive- I’VE BEEN LOOKING- and there is a certain malaise that sets in after awhile. The vast majority of employers don’t even send you a generic email acknowledging that you sent application materials, which is frustrating when they ask for a cover letter, personal statement, resume, photo, writing sample, 12 hours of volunteer work, chilled sperm sample, letter of rec for their brother-in-law and a four hour commitment to take the SAT for their sister’s ‘cognitively challenged’ teenager.

I do apply for real jobs, but I’ve also started to apply for jobs that I could care less if I get. It breaks up the monotony and the low expectations. As evidence, I offer my most recent cover letter:

Numushkar ( Bengali for Namaste)  to you:

 I understand you are looking for a Friday AM yoga instructor. I am a certified Yoga Alliance 200hr yoga teacher. I’ve taught here and there.

You’ve asked for ‘presence’ on the Web. The only Yoga presence on the web that I have is an old Yoga blog, dedicated mostly to my ambivalence about Yoga. Obviously, this was before I did teacher training, and clearly an angrier man. You can find the blog here.

While I appreciate that my take on Yoga is ‘unique’, I do believe there is room for a class entitled “Yoga for the Unenlightened”, or perhaps “Yoga for the Chakra-Skeptical” or even “It’s F*cking Yoga!” I do understand that this might offend many with a more serious take on the matter, but it I still think the idea has merit. I won’t be at all offended if you choose to ignore my application- it’s a rather controversial take, I realize- but if the notion appeals to you at all, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Chini,

Shumit DasGupta.

P.S. My resume has little or nothing to do with ‘Yoga’ employment, as I have no real desire to earn my living teaching it X amount of hours a week. I simply would like to see a class like this exist.”

Whacha think my chances are? Pretty good, yes?

.

Published in: on September 14, 2011 at 1:45 PM  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,

My friend, JC, inspires a rerun.

A conversation today with the big JC * inspired me to re-post my former foibles with online dating. Funny how the world works, eh?

I feel I should precede this project with a poem. I’ve only ever written one that I like, and, outside of high school English classes, I’ve only ever written two poems.

The first one was when I was 15. This was about the age where I started sneaking out to drink beers with friends, and one late night, about 1 in the morning, I stealthily unlocked the front door of my parents’ house and plopped my fanny on the couch to drunkenly watch MTV. The late night programming was ‘alternative’ and after a few gothic videos, I was feeling forlorn enough to put my feelings down on paper. Reading what I had written with the clarity of sobriety the next morning, I could only say I felt good about recognizing my complete lack of prosaic talent early in life. It was all typical teenage angst, full of ‘How Black my Soul is Painted, like Mystical Tar, I will always be Alone’ type of nonsense, and I decided right then that poetry, like the accordion, is only for those that can.

My second poem, years later, has a straightforward quality that the first lacked, and is unencumbered by the very concept of prose, which is probably why I like it. It is based on real-life experience, entitled ‘Ex-Girlfriend’. It goes thusly:

Ex-Girlfriend

 

I saw my ex-girlfriend the other day.

You know, the Crazy One?

And if it weren’t for that giant stone pillar

She would have seen me, too.

I am thirty-one and lonely, and so I’ve decided to start dating. Not ‘going on dates’, I  have technically done that before, but dating, actual intentional dating. I’m not entirely sure what this means, but I think it has something to do with a larger, more informed picture of the dating world, a more mature outlook, and a cool, clearheaded practical approach to finding someone with the same values that would be willing and happy to share them with me. It sounds terribly boring, but- as I’m getting older, and terribly boring seems to be what my peers strive for- I feel compelled to follow suit.

“Terribly boring” is an inaccurate way of summarizing my dating experience. “Terribly boring” reduces my dating experience to seemingly little or no experience, and that is false. It’s just that at my age, anybody with similar experience knows that there are certain types of “Exciting” that you must avoid. These types of “Exciting” seem to attach themselves with certain types of experience as well. Like my friend who dropped a jar of mayonnaise at age six in the grocery store and subsequently got cussed out by a passing elementary teacher and henceforth can no longer eat mayonnaise, I can no longer have certain types of sex, listen to certain types of music while having sex, or even watch certain movies which led to certain types of sex that I am reminded of every time I have to see them. I have become peculiar. It’s almost like an anti-fetish; I’m up for anything, except what’s on this list of no-no’s, here it is, please call me if you fit all of my anti-qualifications.

And so I’ve joined a dating service. An internet dating service.

The idea sprung from a discussion with friends over brunch, in the most innocuous way. A friend was talking with a friend, and she offhandedly asked,

“So, what do you do when you aren’t responding to emails?”

It occurred to me right then that this was the perfect webspeak equivalent of a bad pick-up line, something you might say to someone you might meet face-to-face when you are more accustomed to socializing on Facebook. I decided it was time. It was a perverse notion, I’ll admit, but so be it-  I would catch up with the rest of humanity and online date.

Before I begin here, I should let you know I chose the most generic of the generic dating services. It’s not Facebook, it isn’t Match.com, it ain’t even Friendster.  I’m a schoolteacher, after all, and the potential for bedlam- should students find my profile -is too horrific to even consider. I elected an old fashioned website.

I hear there are sites on-line that are strictly for casual sex. No pretence, no one looking for a ‘relationship’ allowed. We meet here, we get super-freaky, and we go home without even learning each other’s first names. I am intrigued, I want to learn more, I want to have super non-committal sex. I could handle it; I’ve done it before, and sex without strings can be wonderful. I think. It sure seems like it could be, and It worked once before, right? That one time in college?

The problem with hook-ups is that they are really exiting the first time. Hugely exiting, and you think they will be as exiting, or close, forever. That’s the part about getting old, and seeing things for second, third, umpteen times. They become tired, lose a little glory, and, perhaps, with a little hindsight, they may not have been the brilliant idea you thought they were in the first place. Despite these early mistakes, you hope that someone else made them as well, a kindred damaged spirit, and perhaps they use personals as well. If folks can use the internet for a specific purpose like “Tired of pathetic husband, looking to find 3 well-hung black males to show me a good time” or “ My sex crazed wife wants piles of  *** from a *****, which I will  then ****off, while you tie me up and call me a d*****”, surely I can find someone with the odd aversion to raw tomatoes and a penchant for watching CSI, right?

Strike One:

I put up a personal ad on (Unnamed) Personals. I have a hard time being too serious about this, not so much that I’m afraid it won’t work, but rather what to do if it does. I envision the next 100 dinner parties, and the inevitable “So how did you guys meet?” and the accompanying uncomfortable pause that follows the conversation killer “on-line”. So to actually sabotage this effort early, I put up a goofy photo with a goofy written profile so I don’t have to feel terrible when no one replies. I fill out the questionnaire, and press the scary-no-going-back-anybody-can-look-at-this ‘send’ button. I haven’t even started, and I’m already having commitment issues.

After about a week, I check my Inbox and, surprise, I have no new messages. I feel I should take some action, so I start flipping through my ‘Matches”. There is one girl whose profile starts of saying ‘Ok first off I’m fat, so if you don’t like big girls, don’t even bother.” The rest of her schpeal is similarly blunt, and I am amused. For her photo, she stuck her face right in the camera and smiled. It should be noted that she had slipped in a pair of ‘Billy-Bob’ plastic hillbilly teeth, the kind you find in supermarket toy machines. I scope through her other pictures and find that despite the self-deprecating humor, she is actually quite attractive, and so I decide to contact her. Granted, she’s and inch taller than me, and about 8 years younger, which may make me look like a pedophile, but, too late, I’ve decided. I soon find out that while you are allowed to post an ad for free, you actually have to pay to use the service. This is not unreasonable, as it is a service after all, but I’m a little put off by the idea, as it seems like paying for love. It’s not, but the microscopic and completely invalid parallel that could be drawn to prostitution makes me feel uneasy and desperate. I can, I find out, send what is known as an ‘Ice-BreakerÓ’, a list of one line greetings, pre-written. I select the one that says, “You have a beautiful smile. Let’s talk.” I’m hoping she gets the joke.

Predictably- predictable because who the fuck would think a canned greeting would be so cleverly selected to match up with the teeth- she doesn’t get it, and I suspect I might be living in my own head too much, which also means that while I may consider myself ‘clever’, I’m actually a bit obtuse.  I get no reply.

Strike Two:

The next time I open up my Inbox, I am surprised to find not one, but three new hits. The first and third are ‘Ice-BreakersÓ’. Number one boasts the headline “Loves to work with children.” I don’t remember putting down on the questionnaire that I was a teacher, but I figure that must have done it for her, as we have little else in common. She is also looking for someone taller than me, like most. I’m beginning to receive confirmation of what I had long suspected was true: women dig tall men. This does not bode well for me. She also doesn’t include a picture, something I am suspect of. I don’t think, or at least I like to think that I don’t think that looks are a reasonable basis for selecting someone to hang out with. We are all a little ugly in one way or another, and those of us that aren’t tend to have personalities similar to celery. Unfortunately, it’s the anti-fetish. You don’t have to be beautiful to turn me on, but the lack of picture encourages a lack of faith. No one can be that ugly. Or can they? I don’t reply.

Strike Three (First Out):

The second is an actual email with an actual email address to reply to, and I am excited. Someone thought my profile was interesting enough to send a real message, and I open it with small hope and anticipation. I probably shouldn’t do this, but considering the circumstances, here is the message:

<>Hello my new friend!!!

<>I to find your profile on http://www.personals.yahoo.com and I have decided to

<>write to you this letter. I very much would like to get acquainted with you

<>closer. I have decided to write to you because you to me most of all another

<>loved. I would search such for the person who might understand and love me.

<>I want to find mine the satellite in life for the one whom I might expect at

<>the most difficult and difficult moments. I want to get acquainted with you

<>closer. I to search such for the person with that whom I my future life might

<>incorporate. I the first time get acquainted thus, and very much I want it,

Blah blah blah.

Someone used the online translation service and didn’t pay for the $29.95 version.

Strike One,(1 out)

The third message in my Inbox bears the headline “Love to Ride my Bike”. I’m intrigued, as I am an avid cyclist. She’s pretty in a sorority sort of way, the kind I can recognize as a generic American sort of pretty, but not the sort that I am attracted to. She also gets a lot of thumbs-down for anti-fetish; If ‘sports-nut’ were listed under hobbies, I could take it, but it doesn’t fly well under ‘television preferences’. Also in that category is “Reality TV Freak”, and although I’m not fond of TV but watch it anyway, I really have a problem with reality TV. If reality TV were real in America, it would be a close up shot of people watching TV. Fuck it, though, I guess I’ll send her an ‘Ice-BreakerÓ’ back. They don’t seem to matter anyway. She chose “Hey, how are you doing?” In reply I chose “I bet you say that to everyone.” No reply.

Strike Two, (1 out.)

It’s clearly necessary that I have to buy into the membership if this is going to go anywhere, which it ain’t. And that’s OK. Rooting around through profiles, I find one that actually sounds kind of interesting. She’s an attractive lady, either Indian or ABCD (standing for “American-Born-Confused-Desi”- an acronym used by the sons and daughters of Indian immigrants, ‘desi’ being the Hindi word for ‘Indian’) . I decide to take the plunge, to become an active member, to actually pay for the services rendered, so that I can send her the email. This now feels a little weird, like I am officially socially inept enough to need a dating service. It shouldn’t. People spend more money and time than I have at the bar on a Friday trying to hook it up, while I get the use of this service, and it is a service, for an entire month. It’s just that before I could beg off, say that this whole thing was a lark, a bit of fun, but now that I’ve shelled out actual dough, I am officially involved. At any rate, I sign up, write a brief, noncommittal email, asking a question or two and being generally ‘clever’, or so I think. I wait two weeks. No reply.

Strike Three (2 outs)

While I am fiddling around with someone or other’s profile on a random Wednesday evening, my housemate strolls in and pokes her nose in my business. I tell her what I’m doing, and she immediately commandeers my laptop and starts sorting through various profiles and sending them ‘Ice-BreakersÓ’ on my behalf. I think she sends out three, although truthfully I bail from the room and let her do her thing, because if I don’t, I am liable to become finicky and (truthfully) embarrassed. Only one ever replies, with an ‘Ice-BreakerÓ’ that says ‘Sorry, but I’ve met someone else…”. Oh well, at least she had the decency to inform me. As I had nothing to do with these particular selections on the jukebox, I’m only counting this as one collective strike.

Foul Ball (2 outs)

( a few weeks later…)

I’m returning from a bike trip, and I’m hoping a thing or two happened with the ole personals. Sure enough, I got two hits. Upon examining the profiles, however, I am unimpressed. Both have written fairly generic statements about themselves, of course they are seeking a man who is into honesty and not a game-player, and I’m very sure you are a sincere likeable human being who enjoys theatre, long walks and candle-lit dinners. Who doesn’t? I don’t reply.

Do you have to shackle up with someone for life, find your Soulmate, in order to become blissfully fulfilled? Is it OK to mess around a bit without becoming officially committed? Other people don’t, my Aunt whom I love and respect included. Maybe this mating business isn’t for everyone, and, despite the current paradigm, it may actually be possible to be happy and fulfilled on your own. Truthfully, I had suspected this for a while, as some of my most fulfilling spiritual moments were spent with me and my brain, working things out in a way that made sense to me and me only. In a small way, I feel less than a true manly-man, that perhaps if I had secretly elucidated the secrets of the universe, that I should’ve created a family to share this inner wisdom with. Things don’t really work like that, though. I teach teenagers in public school, so I am painfully aware of the disillusionment of the parents of adolescents. Do I even want kids, a domestic lifestyle, a minivan, a mortgage and a sullen kid around the house? Do I just want sex from time to time? I’m not so sure, now, but, like a parent, I started something I need to finish.

COMING SOON: On Sex and the Single Teacher-The Sequel.

*Jennifer Cogley. Who’d ya think I meant?

Published in: on August 26, 2011 at 8:45 PM  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

A moment of frustration, documented.

Dorcas: Hello. Thank you for choosing Bank of America and our Online Banking Text Chat service. I’m here to assist you with  your Online access. My name is Dorcas. To begin, may I know your full name and zip code as it appears on your account?

You: S****  *****************

Dorcas: Hi S****, how may I assist you with your Online access today?

You: Where does the name Dorcas hail from?

You: Besides that, I need access to online banking

You: It would appear I don’t know both my username or password

Dorcas: I understand that you forgot Online ID and passcode to access your accounts.

Dorcas: Dorcas is the name from Bible.

Dorcas: Please allow me a moment while I access your profile.

Dorcas: Thank you for waiting.

Dorcas: May I please have last four digits of the account you are trying to access?

You: ****

Dorcas: Thank you for your information.

You: Are you full of good works and charitable deeds?

Dorcas: I do not see any account ending with **** listed under your profile.

Dorcas: Please confirm me the complete account number.

You: Sorry, I’m not feeling to secure on chat. Can I call a person on the phone? A real person? I still don’t have confirmation that you are full of good works and charitable deeds.

You: *too

Dorcas: Please do not ask sorry.

Dorcas: We truly appreciate and understand your concerns related to Online chat security.

Dorcas: Be assured that this chat is encrypted using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology. You can verify this by the little yellow lock icon in the chat window and at the right hand bottom of the screen.

You: “do not ask sorry?”

Dorcas: However, I am not supposed to disclose any personal details

You: It’s not a personal detail, per se, it’s just the description of Dorcas in the Bible

Dorcas: If you do not feel comfortable with Live Chat you can contact us directly at 1.800.792.0808. Our associates will be happy to assist you over the phone.

Dorcas: We  are available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Pacific Time.

You: I called that number and got a computer.

Dorcas: Once you call the number, the system would ask you to verify your account number. Post verification, please press 1 for problems signing in to Online Banking. Next, please press 1 for assistance regarding passcode, 2 for assistance regarding the “SiteKey’ or 3 for assistance regarding Online ID.

Dorcas: I udnerstand; I wish I could share that with you.

Dorcas: However, I cannot share the information as it is a professional chat.

You: There is still a computer talking to me

Dorcas: Please use the above IVR options.

Dorcas: Are you still with me? Please respond so I can leave this chat window open to answer any questions for you.

You: im still talking to a F*cking computer

Dorcas: Please note that Bank of America does not allow me to chat with someone in this way. Please refrain from using such language or I will be forced to end this chat.

You: i used a G*ddam asterisk

Dorcas: Okay. Please do not use such language via chat. If you have problems with sign in I will be glad to help you.

You: I got hung up on by a computer. How undignified.

Dorcas: I do not have access to phone; I am an Online Banking specialist to assist via Live chat.

You: Yes, I get that, and I’m not swe*ring at you, per se, just your g*ddam organization.

You: Sorry, G*sh D*rn

You: Weeelll, looks like I’m changing banks. Have a nice day Dorcas. You seem nice. Fuck Bank of America, though.

Last text message received Dorcas: S*****, we understand situations like the one you are experiencing can cause a great deal of frustration.

Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 7:57 PM  Leave a Comment  

An Ode to Bob Part 2: The new apartment

Bob and I ended up on a block next to Wicker Park. You’ve probably heard of it. Every big city has a Wicker Park. In NYC, it’s Greenwich Village. In San Francisco, it’s the Mission. It basically amounts to any neighborhood that started as a ghetto, before artists and bohemians moved in, followed by hipsters, and the final wave of metrosexuals, wine connasouers, and general gentrification. Before I ever thought I could ever be an agent of gentrification- when I was still a twenty-something who shopped at thrift stores for ironic  T-shirts and not because I needed to save money for diapers, here’s what I wrote:

 

I was on my way to the fish store the other day, being as I had to pick up some snails for a classroom project (or rather a snail: they’re hermaphroditic, and need only a single individual to spark a population of thousands. I really only needed to buy one and just wait) It turns out that snail reproduction is actually a big orgy, where they all pile up on each other and, well, do it. Gender is defined by where you are in the pile: bottom/middle, female, top/outside, male. It occurs to me that while we consider invertebrates ‘simple’ animals, they probably have a more extensive knowledge of sexual politics than we do.

 

Ahem. Anyway, perched next to the fish store was a dog salon with perfectly rounded corner windows that extended almost half the circumference around the store, offering a panoramic view into the life and times of a pet grooming business. It reminded me of the new yuppies on the block that I had recently moved into (the block, not the yuppies), the local champions of gentrification.[1] Unlike the Latino population that lives in the area, the folks with hordes of roaming children and porch parties every Sunday, these people do not live on the street. At least not in the same literal way that their neighbors do. As a replacement though, they have allowed the neighborhood the privilege of viewing them as they live inside their new condos and townhouses. I’m not sure which architect thought of this, but all the new buildings on the street are almost entirely glass windows in front, both first, second, and third floors. We can watch them prepare dinner, yell at the kids, do the newest tai-bo-yoga-wholefoods-holististic-herbal-naturaopathic-aromatherapy exercise routine, and generally perform all the mundane activities of everyday living in the limelight of their track-lighting illumination systems by IKEA. I don’t know why they thought anyone would be interested, but apparently they figured they would exchange the intensity of their 15 minutes of fame in order to spread it out over several decades. If I’m watching them watch a virtual reality program on TV, and the virtual reality people are watching TV as well, what degree of separation is that?

            This was all roaming through my head as I was dawdling on the sidewalk. Perhaps the fact that the dog that was receiving a blow-dry from a complicated apparatus on the left wing of the grooming salon- in full view- inspired this soliloquy. I just can’t imagine how this became a reasonable way of making a living, and the fact that there is probably a yellow pages category devoted entirely to dog grooming and pet manicures.

 

“So what are you doing this weekend, Chuck?”

 

“Well, I was thinking of taking the dog and a pair of clippers and shaving off his fur in such a way that he looked like a complete twit.”

 

“No Kidding! You ever done something like that before?”

 

“Can’t say I have.”

 

“You should look into the place where the wife takes our dog. The last time I tried to sheer the poodle, well, he looked kinda dumb, but he didn’t have that red-hot-face-flushing kind of embarrassing hair-doo like only a professional can provide, you know what I’m saying? Took him to this upscale little place, and I won’t say I wasn’t skeptical. It’s true, it’s a little pricey, but I have to say the dog looked like a total asshole.”

 

“You don’t say? I’ll have to give it a try.”

 

So. This was our new neighborhood. Sort of.

 

The ‘Sort of’ ends up being much more significant than I imagined, and the reason is this: Yes, the neighborhood was undergoing gentrification, but it wasn’t at all gentrified. When we signed the lease on our tiny apartment on our tiny block, the landlord glanced across the street, shifted nervously on the balls of his feet, and said:

 

“You should avoid those guys. They’re trouble.”

 

‘What kind of trouble’ I thought. I must have said it out loud.

 

“They deal arms. And drugs. I distrust them.”

 

Distrust? Arms? Like Reaganomics? What the fuck was going on here?


[1] Although, I should note I have a steady paycheck, and while teachers –REASONABLY- like to complain about the salary, we really aren’t all that bad off. I will probably soon be one of the local champions of gentrification.

 

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 9:26 PM  Comments (1)  

An Ode to Bob Part 1: The Co-op

I’ve never felt like a proper Californian, and I don’t know that I ever will. I moved here in my early 30’s, a bit too late in life to shake my upbringing. I do have some credentials now- our daughter was born on up at Parnassus, overlooking the Golden Gate, both park and bridge, but the fact of the matter is, I’m a born and bred Midwesterner.

 

I should note that I’m the only one in my family able to stake a claim on this, although the privilege is dubious. My parents are immigrants, on both sides of the British Raj, dad from Calcutta, and mom from the Cotswold’s in England. Even my brother was born in London. Me though, I’m Midwest from the get go, and I’m having trouble adapting to these West coast ways, particularly the whole ‘find a job’ ‘pay the rent’ and ‘raise a child’ ones.

 

I grew up in Michigan, but most recently was living in Chicago. It’s on Lake Michigan, and only a few miles from the MI boarder, and the weather is equally as foul, so it’s all the same to me. I suppose it feels like home because it is where my adult life was born- my first real job as a teacher, two long-term girlfriends that I believed would end in marriage- and didn’t- and all the other merit badges of adulthood. It was during my first year of teaching, when I met Bob.

 

Now, Bob is hands-down one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. He’s of Nigerian descent- his parents are also immigrants- but he, like me, grew up in Midwest suburbia. He, like me, doesn’t look the part- he has very long fingers, and not an ounce of body fat. He has a physique like a marathon runner, and if you look closely, you’d see that he is covered head-to-toe in tattoos, although his skin is so dark it is not immediately obvious. He has his nose pierced and had, throughout the time that I’ve known him, dreadlocks, a shorn-to- skin scalp, and a Mohawk. He manages to look both polished and thuggish at the same time. He also has cadence to his speech that is animated, enthusiastic, and decidedly un-urban. He has a Masters degree in psychology, believes it is possible that extra-terrestrial reptilian overlords have infiltrated the government, spent some time drinking his own urine for ‘therapeutic effects’ and has worked restraining behaviorally disruptive kids, counseled Vietnam veterans, and moonlighted as an uncertified massage therapist. He is, in short, a hodge-podge of contradictions. He was also my roommate for most of the time I lived in Chicago.

 

We met at a housing co-op in Hyde Park, a tony part of town boasting of a world class University, the mansion of Louis Farrakhan and the parks that hosted the 1893 Worlds Fair; where Cracker Jack, the Tesla Coil, the Ferris Wheel and the tune from ‘there’s a place in France, where the naked ladies dance” were all introduced to the world. It is also bordered on three sides by some of the poorest ghettos on Chicago’s south side. It is an island of academic and cultural idealism, and the riff raff regularly infiltrates its borders to remind the residents what ‘multiculturalism’ really means.

 

The co-op consisted of two apartment blocks side by side. We all had ‘units’- apartments really- but we still acted as a functioning cooperative with all-house meetings, shared meals and chores, and common space. The co-op didn’t last. It, as an entity, was trying to expand the amount of space and the number of residents by planning to convert each unit’s living room into an extra bedroom.

 

“How will (we) pay for this?” we asked.

 

“Well, (we) thought we’d use security deposits for the initial funding-“

 

“WAIT, what?!? Who decided this? And where will (we) live while construction was being done?”

 

 

The treasurer was an authentic flower child named Star who was dodging student loans from the 70’s. Whether or not this had anything to do with the budget being slim and unaccounted shortfalls- who can say for sure. All (we) knew was that (we) were pissed, and the most vocal opponent was Bob.

 

“Goddam it!” he shouted off our back stairwell. “ I’m having an anti-commune party! Who’s with me?”

 

Chicago buildings are blockish deals, crammed together like rows of dominos. The need for recreational space was solved- no doubt by savvy urban planners- by adding wooden stairwells and covered porches on the outsides of buildings. Since all units in a building need access to the porches ‘o’ fun, each level is connected by a zigzag staircase, the result being that in most residences, you can creep up and down the stairs and watch your neighbors have sex, cook dinner, clean the cat box, whatever, as long as you are discreet and the stairs don’t creek. During daylight hours, it also lends to a sense of community among residents- you all have to use the same stairs threading through your patios, and so you are forced to socialize.

 

In the housing co-op, the effect was multiplied. We all knew each other anyway, and had no reserves about just shouting to each other from whatever level we were at. It became an unofficial ‘relax’ zone, a place where you could say whatever you wanted without worrying about ‘group dynamics’ or ‘consensus’ or ‘meeting protocol’.

 

“Who wants a fucking beer?” Bob shouted to both sets of stairwells. “They’re free, here at the anti-fucking-commune party!”

 

I should note that Bob doesn’t drink all that much- the line between super-fun tipsy guy and puking in the gutter is very thin for him- but when he does, it’s always great fun.

 

“Yessir, beers are free here at the anti- commune!” He gathered a crowd of 20+ dissidents, no short order for a commune of 50.

 

(We) had our evening, bitched and moaned, and called it an evening after a pleasant skinny-dip in Lake Michigan. Still, the next morning, someone still had our security deposit, and things weren’t looking good. It was time to start the apartment search.

Published in: on July 22, 2011 at 9:59 PM  Leave a Comment  

A Beacon of Daddy-hood

A note before we start here: this is a cross-pollination experiment. I’m going to post another man’s post, and say what you will about cuckolding and whiptail lizards, because we don’t care. We have children.

Seriously, though, I love the opening line of this post, and I love it for this reason: when my baby was born, I expected the magic gene of Dadhood to turn on. I would, somehow, have a biochemical reaction to the birth of my baby girl, and it would open up an untapped gland in my brain, the one that would flood my bloodstream with Deepness hormones. The first night I was at home from the hospital-mom and baby were still there- I checked my skin for signs. It didn’t feel different. I looked in the mirror for new Wiseness- nothing. I was stuck with both ME and a giant task ahead.

Basically, like every new parent, I had to swallow the fact that while I had passed the practical exam, so to speak,  I had no fucking idea about the theory. I was still the same unprepared asshole, and all my treasured opinions about how the world should be run were about to explode in a mess of kid. I was still madly concerned about the “I” part of it, something that just has to get beat out of you. We no longer resist our destiny.

I think this introduction might have gone on longer than the actual post I was trying to plug. No matter, fuck it, whateva. Find it Here.

 

Published in: on June 9, 2011 at 7:16 PM  Comments (2)