Le Nouveau Modiano!

Dress by L’Wren Scott

If one had reason to remain silent for some time, because of grief, or the sheer amount of work, or sex, or because of all of these (and more), then such silence will nevertheless need to be broken to break to the ignorant the news of one of this year’s major literary events, viz. the publishing of a new novel by Patrick Modiano (Chevreuse). Here’s the link: http://www.gallimard.fr/Catalogue/GALLIMARD/Blanche/Chevreuse?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=Le%20nouveau%20roman%20de%20Patrick%20Modiano&utm_term=Le%20nouveau%20roman%20de%20Patrick%20Modiano&utm_content=Le%20nouveau%20roman%20de%20Patrick%20Modiano.

In celebration of which I put on one of my favorite L’Wren Scott dresses (and, in resignation to the turn of the weather in the country of my exile, pantyhose).

The Directress

A door in the main hall opens into the spacious kitchen. The kitchen gives to the dining room. Sliding doors separating the kitchen from the dining room are in open position, giving the impression they permanently are. Another door in the hall opens into the middle room. A doorway connects the middle room to the dining room. At the other end of the middle room is an arched passage to the front room, open.

1.

“You wear pretty dresses”, he said.

The days being hot from mornings through late evenings it was true that on every day he had come she had been wearing a different summer dress. On none had she been wearing anything expensive, even if she possessed many expensive clothes. She was tall and slim, her waist markedly slimmer still than her slender hips. She was rather large-breasted. Any summer dress catching on those physical characteristics would flatter her, and each she wore on each of those five days did.

The first time he had called at her door after she had phoned him straight off a flyer he had distributed personally, months ago in fact (she must have kept it all this time), in her very upscale neighborhood, the flyer proffering any and all fixes around the house that residents can think of being in need of being done but for some reason or excuse never done or made to be done. She needed the rain gutters of her house and the detached garage cleared from debris that came from the many trees in her enormous and largely uncultivable garden, the grounds of which back of the house sloped steeply upward to protected dune forest. He easily identified other sores, and angled in $750 worth of work (his calculation, which she neither contested nor, even, discussed), which he performed, and got paid for, on that same day, that first day.

That day and the days following she had impressed him as pretty, meek, dependent, and, if only because of the enormous monumental brownstone she lived in, affluent. She spoke softly, she was generally acquiescent. Her many smiles were defensive and wrangled. He knew that, intellectually, she was beyond his reach. He didn’t think that anything that would interest him would interest her, and vice versa (the latter not words he would use, or even know). But from what she told him – and (this not being an analysis he was capable of consciously reasoning out) she clearly had a proclivity of pouring out her heart to someone, like him, whom she depended on to perform an odd job from time to time – he gathered that she had got beaten up by life, in years more recent rather than long past, and that her apparent wealth might be flotsam in a sea of trouble (a metaphor, with a whiff of Shakespeare, representing his gut feeling of her situation, but one which he would never think of).

In a matter of days, if not on that very first day, he had “fallen in love” with her, though, with acute erotic desire into which his gentler feelings towards the other sex inevitably devolved, and to graft off her never crossed his mind. By nature he wasn’t a grafter. Principle had nothing to do with it. He wasn’t a man of any principle, high or simple. He lived the best he could, in terms of foraging, not of ethics or estheticism, or of intellectual curiosity and advancement. He had a wife, children. He would grow old, die. His being was nature all over him. By a stroke of luck he wasn’t dishonest by nature. Nature inculcated his love for her, as it, as nature, would to him for any woman exhibiting her distressed prettiness. She fitted the type.

If he wasn’t dishonest by nature, neither by nature was he faithful. His marriage and his children were chattel he had gathered along the way.

2.

Yes, she was in trouble, and her wealth was a façade fronting the ruins that remained after a rapid collapse of her 20-year stab at being a wife, a mother, and a careerist.

But that is not something we must delve into. What is told here is about the interaction between him and her, with the application and the benefit of the Directress’s comprehensive perspective, which we have seen instances of already in this story. Vetted by the Directress’s omniscience we can consider her predicament a given, and that it had caused her to gradually withdraw, not from what we can reasonably (i.e. using reason) establish to be facts, not yet (she had not lowered the shades, flipped the slats, retreated to the immured world of her own mind, not yet), but from the struggle for the only kind of a life that she wanted to do life for: art and splendor, the vindication of her resistance to all religion and creeds, and of her stern morality.

It was because of this withdrawal from her aspirations that she impressed him as she did. The interaction between her and him was predicated on her withdrawal, and on how she impressed him because of this withdrawal, this loss of faith and drive.

Today (the day, as you will recall, when he complimented her on the dresses he’d see her in on every day he came to her house) she sank to her knees before him (this was in the kitchen), certain of his sexual desire, undeceived of her own. She could never have made out with him first, so much as have kissed him first, come close to his face and whispered words in his ear first, looked into his eyes and breathed his breath first. Nor would he have known how to deal with such things. If it were to be done, as their interaction over the past days suggested (the frequency of his visits, the sexual tension between them, the wondering, that they could almost sense in one another, if this wasn’t the situation when these things are expected to happen between a man and a woman who weren’t lovers, and never could be), then it could only be done raw and peremptory, blind. Penetrative and ejaculatory sex she saw as their only common ground, anywhere outside of which they would remain strangers to one another, probably find disgust of one another; which is why she would not look him in the eye, or talk, or kiss; which is why she would not allow intimacy a part in what they would do to each other.

So, on her knees, unspeaking, not looking up (or down; she would not add a display of humility to the act of self-humiliation implied in the sexual act itself: such erotic playing would bring them closer to one another than was her desire; than, she gauged, was his, too), she undid his button fly, and she made her hand grope for his penis in his underpants, and take it out – now it became huge and hard with a purposefulness of its own, taking control over him (the Directress’s perspective), and effacing him (her perspective) -, and she took it in her mouth and made him come, and she kept it in her mouth until it went limp and, silent, her eyes steady on his groin, made her hand take it out and away from her and snug it back into his underpants and, her other hand made to assist, button up his pants.

But now, on her knees, never looking up, she turned and positioned herself on all fours, waiting for him to grow hard again, as she knew he was bound to, unbutton himself, hike up the skirt of her dress, and penetrate her, and, spending himself, satisfy her. She did this for herself, because a woman’s sexual desire can be kindled (as was her motive) by what she had done to him before but not quenched as a result. In simply, from her kneeling position, turning around and huddling at a short distance from his feet, she had foreclosed the interlude she did not want, the intermission that lovers, which they were not, use to affirm their longing for closeness to the point where their bodies crave to join once more; on all fours before him she had merely waited for his sexual ability to be restored as she knew it was destined to be at the mere sight of her.

3.

Yet, when the unavoidable scene had played out and she had gotten up, she stroked his face, briefly, brushed it with her fingers, feeling kindly towards him. He went outside. He worked hard around the house for a time. He rang the doorbell. She opened the door. She wore her wrangled smile. He remained standing in the doorway. He said he’d call it a day. He said he’d return the next morning to finish what he had been doing.

She said: “Will you bill me?”

He said he would not. He said he would return the next day to finish the work.

That night, before she fell asleep, she imagined hiring him, keeping him on as a hired hand, and that she would pay him with sexual favors. But, she thought, imagining the situation, could not I be said to have been hired by him and his doing odd jobs to be my recompense? Would we not be trading services? I don’t want that, she thought. I pander to my needs. I’m rendering a service to myself. I will pay him money.

She dreamed that she had a house resembling a citadel, which, in her dream, she could only see the outside of; clad in what her brain, collecting her life’s icons, must have adopted as Brontë-novel period attire, she closely skirted its circumference, certain of her title, spreading out her arms, as she walked, towards the brindled walls of tightly laid slightly polished rocks, as if to demonstrate something – her isolation, her security, her wealth? – to a man standing nearby, whose face, in her dream, was indistinct, whose presence was passive and harbored no menace.

4.

He arrived early next morning, minutes after she had seen her daughter off to school. She let him in. She offered him coffee. He declined but he sat down at the table in the dining room where she had led him, for the first time. It was the airiest room, the lightest room. It was rectangular. A rectangular table with twelve chairs with straight backs was in its center. In one corner was a fire place. The walls were painted a caperat lichen green. The walls were exempt from furniture. On the walls were modern paintings (oils and watercolors) with food themes. It was the room which imposed its order on people in it.

She wore a dark green silk pleated skirt, which she gathered and smoothed emphatically as she moved to sit in the chair at the head of the table, the deliberate fastidiousness slowing her down. She asked him how long he would be, finishing the work. He said it would take another hour or two. He said that he thought the house should keep well for a while. He would move on after this. He had contracted a large assignment in a nearby town, a condo refurbishment. It should keep him busy through fall.

She felt lost. It seemed to him she looked for clues, directions. She was silent. She sensed his impatience, already, at her uselessness. He rose.

She said, preempting him: “Come, please, there’s something…”

She crossed the middle room, pointing at books, works of art, baubles, details, things. She entered the spacious front room, where she halted. He was on her heels. She stepped backward, quickly, and now the small of her back was against his groin. She arched her back, which made her buttocks rise against his groin. She pointed at the woman sitting on the large window bay sofa. She turned her head. He was slightly taller. Tilting her head she looked up at him, easily avoiding his eyes, which took no interest in hers.

She said: “She decides. Everything.”

Pardon My Finnish

High waisted flared Chloe retro jeans with woven waistband. I have a great ass picture in same attire. Can’t be posted here though. It’s not decent.

Since I have nothing better to do than visit my half dead father, clean my house and rewrite the governance of my company and the wholly owned subsidiary we recently opened in Taiwan, I’ll record here for history that Finland has a mature music scene. I’m surprised at how few people seem to know anything about it.

Here we go:

  1. One of the best songs ever written and performed, in any jurisdiction, any era: Salaa Tupakalle by Lasten Hautausmaa.
  2. By the same : Tuulipuut
  3. By the same: Tove (very unfortunately and most unnecessarily spoiled by a bland male voice chiming in like a high school music teacher backing up the wavering performance of a pupil at a school concert)
  4. By the same: Kirkkaasta hämärään (… remember, this is Finnish)
  5. A tad nastier, not for the faint-hearted: Saturaatio by Oranssi Pazuzu.
  6. For older folks (going on 35) the swampy and perky Onion Soup by 22-Pistepirkko
  7. Catchy metal: Pomo the Master by Ursus Factory
  8. Metal: the spectacular Ajan Takana by Mara Balls
  9. Punk: Kotibileet by Huora
  10. Jazz (not the old fogey stuff, but really nice modern jazz): Härmä by VIRTA

As I said, Salaa Tupakalle is just one of the best songs ever. Other songs need to be considered:

  1. No Rain by Blind Melon
  2. Across the Universe in Fiona Apple‘s interpretation
  3. The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill by Hüsker Dü
  4. Again And Again by Bob Mould
  5. Egøverride by the same

My son says there’s a great thing going on in electronic music as well in Finland. But I haven’t gotten to that yet.

Prose, Poetry, Rubbish

Skirt by Jil Sander

All prose needs motivation. Not necessarily a plan or a scheme. I lack all power of abstraction. I would never be able to write a novel or even a story off a preconceived scheme. I could not make the scheme. I don’t even try it. When I write prose, the story starts dictating itself. Or it doesn’t; then it fails. If it does, to say that “it writes itself”, that characters ”take over”, is hogwash (as is everything metaphysical, by definition). What happens is that every next line or part opens up one’s mind to possibilities, to a next line, the compulsive turn; and, yes, halfway through one’s creative mind, even a mind as poor in perception and abstraction as mine, one may suddenly see where the story will be heading, what its pattern is, what has been going on in one’s own mind (which we are often largely unaware of), what the story’s logical finale will be, and what steps are required to get the story there. This is how the minds works. There’s nothing outside of one’s mind, no God, no muse, no inspiration. One is necessarily one’s own inspiration. Categorically impossible that this is different for any other art.

Pencil skirt by Yves Saint Laurent EDITION 24

But all prose needs motivation. On the arrival of motivation one needs to take distance from oneself. One needs to play one’s mind as one would play a puppet by pulling and relieving its strings, similar to an actress playing a part. A good actress is as much in control of the character she plays as the director is of the scene. An actor pouring his being into a character fails at the role. To be good, true or honest, to cause anything to have and retain value, to be worthwhile, an absolute withdrawal onto oneself is essential – it is essential to put oneself at an insurpassible distance from anyone and anything else, from the part one plays or sees performed, from the piece one writes or reads, from the song one sings or listens to, from the news one reports or consumes, from the people one loves, from being loved by them. A life that is worthy and that is worthy of the effort of others is a life of utter detachment.

Mixed leather and suede dress by The Row

A short story I once wrote is called The Directress. I’ll reprint it after this. It took me a while to understand it, but after all these years I do.

Motivation is found in lust, longing, pining, recollection, greed, madness, most certainly in beauty. This (not being beauty) is why I take pictures of myself and post them, mostly unrelated to any text. Motivation I find in an Alice Munro story, in a story by John Cheever, in a novel by Virginia Woolf, in Hunger (Sult) written by Knut Hamsun (pseudonym of Knud Pedersen), which I’ve read ten times (ballpark) in five languages (an exact number) just to get up my motivation; in The Benefactor by Susan Sontag; in so much else I’ve read (a family tree blog maintained by a certain Paul Chiddicks (chiddicksfamilytree.com) and posts and stories of others that posts in that blog provides links to (mymischlingfamily.com/2021/01/26/tante-liesel/), unaware, until I started following Paul Chiddick’s blog, that other people’s preoccupation with genealogy and family trees might have any attraction to me, who has no genealogy beyond her beloved father and mother, who failed her, and nothing to pass on to her children beyond her material wealth and the consequences of her own failure as a mother).

Skirt by Giambattista Valli

Motivation requires mental energy. Perhaps it is (nothing but a form of) mental energy. If one finds the energy lacking, the only writing remaining to turn one’s hand to is poetry. Poetry requires motivation, but the motivation may be shorter-lived, although it needs to be very intense. Almost all poetry that people write and that is not vetted by professional critics is bad poetry. Or let’s not call bad poetry poetry. Let’s call it rubbish. Professional critics may praise poetry not worthy of such praise, but poetry that has been rejected by professional reviewers is almost certainly rubbish. Poetry that has not been subjected to the critical eye of a professional reviewer, that is existing discreetly, may be good poetry, but, given that most people write rubbish, the working hypothesis should be that such poetry is not poetry but rubbish.

High-rise pants by Sophia Kokosalaki

What is good poetry? One knows it when one reads it. E.g. Amid Rising Tensions on the Korean Peninsula by Franny Choi. It’s easier to describe the principles of rubbish. A poem where one sees a next line coming is rubbish. A poem that one would understand if it had not been encrypted in words and turns that one immediately feels are a way of throwing away the key to something plain and simple and cheap is rubbish. Poetry that reveals emotion is rubbish. Poetry that evokes emotion (rather than a sense of the perfect, the complete) is rubbish (because all emotion is false, unworthy and petit, even the emotion at one’s beloved father dying, even the emotion at the death of one’s husband that one will always recall to be unrequited at the time). Pretty poetry is rubbish. Poetry that groups words (e.g. noun plus adjective) in ‘unexpected combinations’ is likely to be rubbish all the way, or such defect may be a glitch (“Your glassy wind breaks on a shoutless shore and stirs around//the rose” is the less fortunate opening line of a great poem (Nothing for it) by Anne Carson, marred a second time though (yet maintaining overall greatness) by the “gliding emptiness of the night”). Poetry that just goes on qualifying nouns by adjectives is almost certain to be rubbish. Classic Latin poetry and Shakespeare’s poems can pull it off, because language was purer then, not the blunt instrument of emotions that we know it for since, say, the Nineteen Forties.

Pant suit by Belgian designer Dries van Noten

If one is left with nothing but short-lived motivation, e.g. when one is tired, too busy, distracted or feeling dejected, then writing a short story is impossible, but one may just be able to write poetry. Such motivation then needs to be expensed all in one go in the vision, the concept, the draft, the finalized product. It will probably not be the greatest poetry, because great poetry requires thinking, reshaping and a willingness to fail. All these are beyond the sort-lived motivation’s arch. First time right may happen, but, let’s be realistic, it hardly ever does.

L’Wren Scott – A Long Overdue Obituary

With due prostration and heartfelt grief I dedicate the following to the memory of L’Wren Scott. And to those who hold that this is uncalled for, insulting even, I answer: yes, it is, and so I beg you, allow me, bear with a woman writing, struggling to make sense of the things that so inexplicably affect her. And fuck off. Scott never knew of my existence. I didn’t of hers, up to the moment, when, shortly before I started working on a series of stories, I read a news item, dated March 18, 2014 (a Monday), reporting her tragic death. If my ignorance of L’Wren Scott was such that I had not even been aware that an actual person went by this beautiful name, I knew everything a woman needs and ought to know – cut, fit, quality – about the L’Wren Scott fashion label, now defunct. I have a perfect body, and I own four of her dresses (and a skirt), and they (and the skirt) are among my wardrobe favorites, because they are cut for perfect bodies. When I consider the perfect dresses in my walkthrough closet they signal loneliness, a loneliness into which Scott’s expansion to the greedy eye of the world seems to have collapsed. It is just a sentiment I have, and I cannot quite explain it, or even vouch for its genuineness, which is dubious, as is true for all my emotions and most of my words. So often we want to mean so much to others, and we just cannot, cannot even come near, cannot even make our longing for nearness known. Don’t you feel that way, sometimes? 

For diversion I started an email conversation with my friend who owns the loft at Union Square. She had sent me a Mail Online link (https://www.dailymail.co.uk; readers are kindly dissuaded from visiting this website of the ruthlessly populist Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday) to a health item extolling the medicinal blessings of caffeine to migraine patients. At the time I suffered from frequent spells of migraine (timed, not prompted, except by long-distance travel), but – or rather: hence – it didn’t come as news to me that a moderate intake of coffee has some mitigating effect. As I explained to my friend, coffee doesn’t do anything once the migraine is full-blown (nothing does), nor is it (or anything else) suited to prevent it from reaching that stage. But once the attack is subsiding in accordance with its own pattern coffee does seem to speed up full recovery (as do, more likely than not, other substances). My friend didn’t comment on this – herself not being a migraine sufferer, why would she? – and our email conversation changed tracks to focus on the demise of L’Wren Scott, which I had found mentioned in the “Don’t Miss” sidebar of the Mail Online health article, furnished with links to further reports. 

New York 2017/11, dress by L’Wren Scott

Among my favorite wardrobe pieces I count two midi length dresses and a high-waisted midi length skirt by L’Wren Scott. They are quite fitted and very becoming to my tall and slim silhouette. Not given to following society news, the vicissitudes of famous people and fashion blogs (as opposed to buying expensive clothing, which I stock in enormous amounts), I had no idea that L’Wren Scott is a name an actual person went by (as was unveiled in the Mail Online report, she substituted L’Wren for her given name Luann). She was a former fashion model and the girlfriend of Mick Jagger, who (Mick) was in Aussie, about to rock it, at the time of her death. Scott died in suicide, a thing (suicide) I’ve been naturally, rationally and consistently relating to since my adolescence. She had strangled herself with a scarf tied to a doorknob. I cannot quite picture that MO (even if I have pictured, and carried out trial runs on, so many others). According to the Mail Online it was “revealed” [and I think the article said: on Facebook, which I avoid as I would the plague] that she was embarrassed about her failing business and owed more than $ 6 million to creditors.” $ 6 million isn’t a lot, one is tempted to think, not in L’Wren Scott’s business, not with her talent and the label’s reputation and its prospects in the luxury market. But from my own experience I know that there is a lot more depth and complexity to financial troubles, and the emotions they rouse, than meets the eye. And the trouble appeared to be more than just financial in nature. It was reported that Scott had “harmed herself” not long before and that she had had a history of depression.  

I experienced a feeling of guilt, which I could not, cannot, explain, and I immediately ordered a L’Wren Scott sleeveless purple silk-satin dress that sold on Net-A-Porter, the last one they had in an It 40 (a US 4), for just over $2,500. It’s in the picture that goes with this post. Oughtn’t I have expressed, however, somehow, perhaps even signed up to some form of the so-called social media to express, my intense admiration for L’Wren Scott’s couture, and, while at it, pointed out that Victoria Beckham’s body-consciously cut dresses (I proudly own two) owe every inch avoided in the waist and through the hips to her? Could I have made a difference?

Later that same day (March 18, 2014) I called my favorite salesperson at my favorite Dolce & Gabbana store and told him how upset I was and that I had paid tribute to L’Wren Scott by purchasing a $2,500 dress carrying her label. He commisserated over her death but thought it apposite to add that he wasn’t particularly partial to L’Wren Scott’s line of clothing.  

Well, fashion is a tough business, and, being part of it, in the competitor’s ranks, one has got to stand one’s ground, even if one’s part is that of a shop assistant. 

My Neighbor Friend

The woman living next-door is a friend. Our apartment building is a new build. It has apartments in various sizes. We both bought a two-storey apartment of the largest type. My apartment is bigger than hers. It has an extra room. But category-wise we are, well, in the same category, if on either end. Socially we’re in different stratospheres. She has a mini-Tesla, I drive Tesla. She has two children, boys, about 12 and 15 years old. I think I have two, a son and a daughter (mater certa est, but even a mother can’t be certain about numbers; not regardless of circumstance). Mine have moved out. They’ve finished school, they went to college. They have their own lives now. My friend is divorced. I’m a widow. I’m in love with my husband, as much as I was ten years ago, when he died. We would never have divorced. Given time we would have felt always to be owing that to ourselves and our children. I found out that my friend has a penchant for spiritualism. One day, when we came out of our apartments at the same moment, she told me that she was on her way to a necromancer class. She said it with an undertone of self-derision. Even if our acquaintance goes back just a few months and interaction has been intermittent since then, her instinct told her that I have no sympathy for that kind of nonsense. Sharing this information with me was unsolicited. But I was glad she had. During our brief encounters, and in online meetings of the Owners Association, my friend had struck me as a strong and independent character, a bold and decisive person, a leader; all of which I’m not. I felt awed by my friend. This information restored the balance. So I reacted forgivingly, saying something that included reference to adventure and inquisitiveness, and that I hoped she would enjoy class.

My neighbor friend is fat. She has a masculine paunch, which is the worst kind of fat on a woman. Her behind is verging on steatopygia. I’m not fat. I never was. I’m a 4. I’ve never been more than a 4. I’ve been less than a 4: a 2; a 0 in my twenties. A next time we met my friend said she had menstrual problems. This was in a convenience store, subprime, not the kind where one would typically run into someone of my social class. I happened to pass by it. It was warm. I thought a bottle of white wine would be nice when enjoying the evening sun on my balcony. And so I went in. I saw my friend browsing the vegetables section. It’s near the store’s entrance. For a moment I considered the option of pretending I had not seen her. But, aware that she must have noticed me (I stand out in the crowd), I thought this was risky. I didn’t know where the wine section was and searching for it we might suddenly find ourselves coming in from opposite directions in the same aisle. So, bravehearted (socially I’m a failure), I stepped up to my friend and asked her if she knew where I would find the wine. Wine, to me, is about the concept, not the actual product. In fact, I hate the taste of wine, and the alcohol contained in just half a glass knocks me flat out. I told her this. I said I don’t have a talent for addictions. I think I felt I should explain my entering a lower tier convenience store just to buy a bottle of wine. My friend smokes (but only outside of the house, and she keeps the stubs to throw them in a bin afterwards). She said Oh yes, you do, but you don’t know it. She said that lately, when having her period, she was bleeding hard and long. Her ob-gyn had suggested to have an IUS inserted to boost progesterone levels. But she had done her internet homework and concluded from her research that her estrogen levels must be too high. This made sense, she said, because these past months, due to stress (divorce, children, moving), she had been drinking too much. As her research bore out, this affected the liver’s capability of breaking down estrogen. She had immediately gone cold turkey on all alcohol. These doctors, she scoffed, they rather shoot up a woman with hormones than do some decent research and analysis. Yes, I concurred, they think a woman is a machine and hormones are its levers and switches. One has to be very careful with hormones, especially at our age, I added. I wasn’t serious about this. I’m very regular. I never have any trouble in this particular area, or in any other where physical health is concerned. I’m without age. She said that she was retaining fluid. I didn’t think it explained the potbelly, but, knowing that is exactly what she wanted to explain away, I said, yes it’s a thing, sometimes. I didn’t want to refer to menopause either. She might find that offensive.

Skirt by Antonio Marras

A package was delivered to me. It was a small cardboard box, completely weightless. It was for my neighbor friend. She hadn’t answered the doorbell. I accepted it on her behalf. She called at my door a couple of hours later. I gave her the box, which I had dropped in a chair without giving it another thought. I said that there could hardly be anything in it. Panties, she said. I could only get them online in my size. I order vibrators online, I said, unsure why I volunteered that information. The exquisite Lelo Ina Wave, the third vibrator I had purchased online over the past weeks, had been delivered the other day. Did I expect her to share similar intimate information? Did I feel that panties ordered online are a very intimate thing already, perhaps not less intimate than a vibrator, and that I should respond in kind? My friend stared at me dubiously. This may be a misinterpretation. She may have been silently confirming to be part of the women’s guild of vibrator users. We turned inside. I spent tons of money on interior design. But the inside of my house is a desert, a very cold desert. I don’t have the eye. I can’t make a home for myself. I’ve moved seven times in the past twelve years. Mere months after I’ve moved I feel that I’ve been put behind bars, that I must break out. I have been inside my friend’s house. It’s clean, warm and decorated with great taste. I saw a photo of my friend when she was younger. She was very pretty. Her name is the same as my daughter’s. A remarkable coincidence. I wondered if this is just the country of my exile.

As I’m making these notes I see my friend pass by my house. She walks with some difficulty. She is obese. She is a much better person than me. She is in control of herself and the lives that depend on her. I love her. She will be dead when I’ll be continuing my ageless life. That aside, I would donate my lungs and my liver to save her.

One’s Predecessor-Selves

They say skinny jeans are on the way out. Well, they’re not. Not as long as there are women with the legs to wear them. Skinny jeans by J. Brand.

Looking back on my life, I don’t see a pattern. I don’t see a line. I see a chronological sequence of lives of different persons. Not the life of a single person, developing or changing in character, talent, feelings, convictions, predilections, thinking, physique, intellect or culture, but discrete persons, who lived, suffered, then died, passing on no more than the images of their sufferings and how their lives came to an end. Looking back, all I find is this accrual of unconnected images passed down by my mostly misbegotten predecessor-selves. This throws me. Not the unhappy images throw me, but the stunning fact that one’s life can accumulate so many antecedent lives which one’s present life has no attachment to.

A life I remember is that of a child who was sent away to a boarding school of catholic denomination. So was her brother nearest in years to her. The child never knew why exactly, but I think among the passed down recollections of the child is that the parents thought that this was the best solution seeing that they both had full-time jobs, that the child’s oldest sister was in junior high and difficult to handle, let alone that she could be trusted with the care of two of her siblings. I think the child must have suspected that there was more, but, if there was, it was never revealed to her during her short life. The child was the victim of abuse, physical abuse, many times, and sexual, at times only (let’s not make this sound worse than it is). That she would be abused is obvious. In a catholic boarding school there are no circuit breakers for moral depravity. Religion doesn’t offer any, because religion is not a thing that exists by itself but that people invented. People who believe have lost the connection between their existential being and the stories that their contemporaries, their forebears, they themselves have invented. I see parts of the Christian bible (memories of what is written in various versions of it have been passed down to me) as a truly magnificent and surprisingly advanced repertorium of morality. But I also observe how people have been unable throughout the ages to harness this morality and its metaphors (in Christianity: god, paradise, original sin, incarnation, redemption, resurrection, etc.) to their existential being. They have lost the ability to distinguish between who and what they are and the stories they have invented. This is typical for a dissociative disorder. Religion is a collective dissociative disorder. And just as such disorder in a person can result in violence and unboundedness (hence the violence and abuse the child was subjected to), so all religions and creeds have spawned killing fields, ruthless terrorism and hate throughout history right through to the present day.

But the child died long before she could think of such things. At the time of her death she was a strong and fearful believer.

My Brother, My Keeper

Skinny leather jeans by Theory, Blouse by Moda International (a Victoria’s Secret imprint). Thong and bra by Victoria’s Secret. Hair colored by my youngest daughter using L’Oréal Préférence. Hair clip from a convenience store. About 15 hairpins, ditto. When I find a hairpin on the floor or on the table, I just stick it in my hair for storage.

In the evening of the day before yesterday I received a call from the care home where my Dad resides. They informed me that he had had a stroke. A CVA, they said, as if somebody who is never sick of anything and is not interested in anything medical should know what a CVA is. I looked it up. It means a cerebrovascular accident, i.e. a stroke. Over the phone it sounded like my Dad’s final hour had arrived. With a heavy heart and tears in my eyes I drove to the care home, but not until after I had checked my hairdo and my outfit. I was wearing skinny leather pants (brown) and a striped blouse (blue). The care home is in the town where I live in the country of my exile. My father used to live in a different part (in the southwest) of this humongous country. A little over one year ago I had him transferred to a home near me to be able to be with him a couple of hours every Saturday and Sunday. I have an older sister. She lives in the town where my Dad’s former care home is. But they don’t go along well. I don’t trust them with each other.

Missioni capsule cruise outfit. With matching floppy wide-brimmed hat, not shown here.

When I arrived, my Dad was asleep in a freshly made bed. Even without his dentures he looked young and happy. His features had smoothed out. The room was clean. Nursing staff said he wouldn’t wake up. They said there was nothing one could do but wait till next morning. His bed had been turned 180 degrees. He always sleeps on his right side (unable to turn over anyway). Because the bed was turned he would always be facing a nurse who would check in on him during the night. They said he had resisted the turning of the bed before dropping off into his Sleeping Beauty sleep. There wasn’t much of a fight though, they said. What with the condition they had found him in. There was little I found I could do. His dentures were in the nightstand drawer. They had been retrieved from under the bed. I cleaned them, not knowing if he would ever need them again. I stroked the old man’s head. I have my mother’s everlasting hair. My father, a very, very handsome man in his younger years, started to go bald at an early age (which did nothing to his beauty), but the process stopped halfway. Even at 96 he has a nice enough head of slightly wiry hair to rake a woman’s hand through. My elder brother has my father’s hair, except that he doesn’t seem to lose it. It’s not thick or densely planted but it is all over his head in requisite quantities. This brother of mine is a piece of work. But he is good to the bone and endowed with significant moral intelligence. I’ve always considered him a beacon to go by on anything ethical. I’m the more socially and economically successful though, by far. He has done well for himself, but I’m wealthy. I wear Missioni. He thinks he has a girlfriend, but I have children. He drives Chrysler. I drive Tesla. My father loves him. But my father loves me best. Our genealogy is one of underperformance through the ages on both sides of the ancestral lines of descent. If my brother may be called an exception, I’m the exception that may occur only once in a millennium of generations. This includes my madness. My Dad has always managed to ignore my madness by focusing on my success. I’ve managed to remain successful (with certain intervals that my father at no time was privy to) by maintaining a healthy work-madness balance. My Dad is a snob.

Midi skirt by Max Mara. Blouse by Dolce & Gabbana

I went home after two hours. I called the care home first thing next morning. They said that he lived, but that he was still sleeping. No change. I went to the office. They called me in the early afternoon. They said my father was awake, and that he had asked for me. He was unresponsive otherwise. I wasn’t nervous though. My Dad isn’t the kind of man given to gathering his children around his deathbed. He would be checking out without drama. I packed my stuff and raced from the office to the care home. I was wearing a boss outfit. A conservative skirt, a blouse, heels, hair in a bun. He was still in bed. A young, pretty nurse had accompanied me into the room. She is a favorite of my father. My father is a favorite patient of hers. She had told me that my father had not suffered a stroke, but a TIA. He had TIAs before. So I already knew what the letters stand for: transient ischaemic attack, a passing (transient) “interruption of blood supply to a part of the brain” (Google). The interruption is too short for brain tissue to start breaking down. A patient will typically recover from the aftermath of a TIA. When I had entered the room my father’s face lit up. The nurse couldn’t believe what she saw. My Dad began to speak. He asked how things were at work (his favorite topic to start a conversation with). The nurse beamed. I felt strangely happy for her, and proud of myself to lighten the hearts of two people at the same time. I told him to wear his dentures. I helped him put them in. There’s a handsome buck!, I said. He smiled with the hesitant smile of a child mildly being poked fun at by his mother in a company of grown-ups. The nurse went out and returned with a bowl of porridge. She spoon-fed him. Don’t swallow the spoon!, I warned him, emulating one of his feeble jokes when we were children. He smiled again. When he had finished, the nurse asked him if he would like to have some more. That I cannot deny, he said. Well, well, I said. Look who’s being smart! The nurse left in high spirits to get an extra bowl of porridge. I took it upon me to feed him this time. He finished the second bowl. What’s with the piece missing from the bowl? I asked, as if dismayed. My Dad looked at me, nonplussed for a second. Then he grinned. I told him I had to do a video conference at 4. He had no idea what I was talking about, but he knew it was about work. You should go, he said. I did, promising to be back on Saturday.

My brother was with me both that night and the next day. He does not live near my father. To visit our father requires something of a journey from him. I had told my brother that night about the CVA (which it was not). And I had informed him the next day that our father had the nursing home ask me to come and see him. I said: It’s not af if he’s dying. He would not ask for me if he were. He would just do it. My brother is a good man. He may strike one as a bit of a sociopath. But he isn’t. He’s a hero. He’s the anti-narcissist. I’ve always been a handful to him. I sometimes think that the only life I haven’t ruined is that of my Dad’s, whose snobbery has blinded him to the blackness of the youngest sheep in his flock. Oh, I know, my brother said.

Ten Years After Revisited

In this blog is a post with the title Ten Years After. I regularly check my stats page. WordPress seems to think this is beyond important if one wants to make money off one’s WordPress site. I don’t, and I think that even if I did, I’d never make as much money off it as WordPress does off selling subscriptions by browbeating people into believing they can become millionaires overnight just by dumping their shit on WordPress. I’m a millionaire already by the way, if a smallish one (plateauing at around 3.5 million in investments and liquidities). The reason I check my stats is that I want to keep track of how widespread my blog is in terms of followers and viewers in the world’s various regions.

Let’s return to the subject though, the post Ten Years After. Even if I know that my blog is immensely popular across the world, I was a little surprised to find that said post had 831,127 (eight hundred thirty one thousand one hundred twenty seven) viewers in the past month.

Pristine collector’s item Eighties two-piece by Louis Féraud, which I’m very proud to be wearing to this day and age.

Pondering over this late last night, I had a hard time falling asleep, thinking I was finally coming into fame, even outside of the dark web community. I turned on the radio, just as the show I dropped in on played the opening bars of a song that immediately caught my attention. As the song faded towards its end, the lead-out mentioned the song’s title, I’d Love to Change the World, and that it was from a band named Ten Years After, which reached the pinnacle of its fame with the 1970 album Cricklewood Green, i.e. long before I was born (which was at the end of the 1980s if I remember correctly, but I may be off on the century).

I downloaded that album in my Spotify app. The song I’d heard on the radio is not on it. But it has some very crafty, swampy, other songs. I mention here 50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain, As the Sun Still Burns Away, Year 3,000 Blues, and the opening track Sugar The Road.

I then went on to look for a Ten Years After Spotify artist playlist. This I found. It has only 5 tracks in it, including I’d Love to Change The World. The other four tracks are old-fogey blues and bluegrass songs, not interesting at all to spring chickens like me. What I did find interesting though was the number of “monthly listeners” of this playlist mentioned in the app: 831,127 (eight hundred thirty one thousand one hundred twenty seven), i.e. the exact same number as the number of viewers of my post “Ten Years After“.

Volume I of Milan Kundera’s Collected Works in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade by Éditions Gallimard

Unless an unearthly coincidence is at play, I must have had a daunting number of over eight hundred thousand (800,000!) disappointed viewers of the post Ten Years After. After all, that post is not about the band, but, to cite the title of the great 1980s novel by Milan Kundera, about L’Insoutenable Légèreté De L’Être (The Unbearable Lightness Of Being).

Over 800,000… That’s a lot of people to have disappointed…

To validate my theory I have used the words Ten Years After again in the title of this post, as a fisherman would cast a bait. Let’s see how many fish bite this time around…

The Letter From The Provost of Fife

Today, a wee day after my previous post, I was served with a letter carrying the official embossed seal of Fife County. Here follows its text. 

Dear Mrs. Potter,
This is in regard to a post on your internet blog Opening One’s Eyes, same post titled Oh, Those Incorrigible Romantic Minds of Women. I write this letter at the behest and on behalf of the Council and the People of Fife, as I do, with no lesser mandate and motivation, to give words to my own sentiments with respect to said post in my capacity as Provost of Fife as well as in private capacity as a concerned individual and a Scot.
With greatest dismay we read your disparaging account of a purported visit in the summer of 2018 by you and your daughter, then aged 17, to the town of Inverkeithing in Fife County.
It is our opinion that you have given an iniquitous and injurious image of Inverkeithing based on nothing but an alleged visit, following alighting at Inverkeithing train station, of a residential area at the town’s outer limits. From your description we think we have been able to identify that area as the area marked as Outer Visual Gateway, north of the area marked as Town Centre, in the diagram inserted below.    
Diagram taken from Inverkeithing Town Centre Framework, 04-02-16 
In your post you admit that for no cause but attributable to yourself (we respectfully refer to the “many issues” that you seem to concede you are struggling with) you failed to reach Inverkeithing’s historic town centre, featuring many listed items including the Friary, the Town House and the Mercat Cross, all of which stand to be restored to their former glory under the Inverkeithing Heritage Regeneration (2019 – 2024) scheme. Instead, you found yourself bogged down in aforementioned residential area north of Inverkeithing Town Centre (which may not present the prettiest of introductions to Inverkeithing, but definitely has a supermarket), and this, combined with weather conditions that more often than not serve to define the widely acclaimed mystic beauty of Scotland, is the basis of your damming report on Inverkeithing.
As you are doubtlessly aware, your internet blog is eagerly read in all parts of the world, Fife County not excepted. Not just the inhabitants of said residential area, referred to in your post as a “suburban hell” (no less), take issue with your defamatory post, but so do all citizens of Inverkeithing and, indeed, of Fife County, including, to disabuse you of any hope of allegiance or sympathy, North Queensferry, that you extoll as “that charming old hamlet at the foot of Forth Bridge“. Said citizens’ immediate and deep discontent resulted in a petition, carried by many thousands of signatories, within hours following publication of your post, to the Chief Executive of Fife Council, the Mayor of Inverkeithing and myself as Provost of Fife.
Pursuant to the petition, which said Chief Executive, the Mayor and I are in full agreement with, the Chief Executive will propose to the Council of Fife at its next meeting in full session that it shall approve the following actions to be taken against you (but not your daughter, who was only 17 and thus not of age at the time), should you ever consider to set foot in Fife County again (if only, for the avoidance of doubt, to have a hot cocoa over some pastry at Rankin’s Café in North Queensferry), and Inverkeithing in particular:
  • First             Should you wish to visit Inverkeithing a next time, which by no means, whether of a statutory, written, oral, physical or any other nature, you shall be prevented from doing, you shall give advance notice thereof at inverkeithingcommunitycouncil@hotmail.co.uk. In order that such email can be acted upon immediately in accordance with following items, your next visit to Inverkeithing shall take place during Inverkeithing Customer Service Centre opening hours, which can be found at https://www.fife.gov.uk/facilities/customer-service-centres/inverkeithing-customer-service-centre. Kindly note for your convenience, that said opening hours reflect a deep-rooted resistance – that we, Scots, are proud of – to a 24-hour economy, nay, a 40-hour working week.  
  • Second        Alighting at Inverkeithing railway station, you shall order a taxi to take you to Inverkeithing Town House directly, thereby avoiding to set foot in any residential area separating Inverkeithing railway station from Inverkeithing Town Centre. An up-to-date list of taxi services shall be provided to you by email forthwith upon notice in accordance with item the First.
  • Third           Starting at Inverkeithing Town House you shall be allowed to freely explore Inverkeithing Town Centre, and moreover be invited (and strongly suggested) to make use of a bespoke guided tour, compliments of Inverkeithing.
  • Fourth         At the end of your visit you shall partake in a dinner offered in your honour by the Council of Fife, the Inverkeithing Community Council and the Mayor of Inverkeithing. Even if such goes against the nature and believes of the Scottish people, said dinner shall respect any vegetarian or vegan dietary requirements that you may notify us of in the notice in accordance with item the First.
  • Fifth           During dinner as referred in item the Fourth you shall be neither required nor even expected to make any apologies for the contested post. However, aforementioned Authorities shall be concluding said dinner in the aspiration of a favourable review on your internet blog, titled Opening One’s Eyes, of the beauty of Inverkeithing’s town centre and  (notwithstanding item the Seventh hereafter) the kindness and forgivingness of the people of Fife.
  • Sixth          Following dinner as referred in items the Fourth and the Fifth you shall accept to be taken back to Inverkeithing train station by car (compliments of the Provost of Fife), so as to avoid the risk of any physical encounters with inhabitants of any residential area separating Inverkeithing Town Centre from Inverkeithing railway station.
  • Seventh       Observance of any of the foregoing failing (with the exception of item the Fifth, as it does not impose any obligation or prohibition on you), you shall be publicly executed at the Mercat Cross (following completion of the restoration thereof per aforementioned Inverkeithing Heritage Regeneration (2019 – 2024) scheme) by as many strokes of a Lochaber axe as may be required to occasion indisputable death.          

In observance of the Freedom of Information Act and policies thereunder as pursued by Scottish authorities at all levels, aimed at active disclosure of documents, to the extent they do not contain privileged information, that are of immediate concern to the Scottish people, this letter will be published at https://www.fife.gov.uk/news.

Yours Sincerely,

.[etc…]

The Provost of Fife’s letter strikes me as largely fair and generous. Also, I admire the people of Fife for their capability of putting together a collective action resulting in a petition with thousands of signatures offered to the Provost of Fife, the Chief Executive of Fife Council and the Mayor of Inverkeithing within hours of the publication of my post, which occurred yesterday, a Saturday, as much as I admire the Provost of Fife for having succeeded in having the letter cited above served to me today, Sunday.

Clearly not being the injured party, though, and seeing that the Mercat Cross, dying at the foot of which in the way described in the Provost of Fife’s letter appeals to me erotically, is on a restoration scheme that will almost certainly be delayed for many years beyond 2024, I expect my response to the Provost of Fife to be forthcoming at a somewhat slower pace. But I promise that it shall be published in this blog in due time.  

       

Oh, Those Incorrigible Romantic Minds Of Women!

Rental apartment at Learmonth Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland

My oldest daughter, then aged 17, and I had rented an apartment in Edinburgh. This was two and a half years ago. The apartment was at Learmonth Gardens, which is a 30 to 40-minute walk from Edinburgh town center, and another 25 minutes from the Castle. I had considered the use of a rental car to get us around during our stay. But, people in Scotland driving on the left side of the road, I thought better of it. In the country of my exile we drive in the middle of the road, and I no longer felt confident at navigating traffic rules based on the principle that motor cars shall press to a particular side of the road, be that left or right. My daughter and I, we share a disgust of cabs and public transport (the latter mostly too complex for our lazy and feeble minds), and so we ended up walking long distances every day.

Pant suit, Hugo Boss at House of Fraser 145 Princes Street, Edinburgh. Fitted tee with print flowers and sequins, which I have also in gray and black, by Love Moschino.

We made an exception for the train to North Queensferry across the spectacular cantilever Forth Bridge. That is a trip we did twice, both times losing more than an hour over matching the slew of ticket, payment and platform options, offered at Edinburgh Waverley railway station (1.5 mi. from Learmonth Gardens), with our humble objective to get to North Queensferry Railway Station. The train takes one across and away from the touristic hassle of Edinburgh town. My daughter and I have a penchant for the quiet and the indigenous in foreign nations that we visit, notwithstanding our equally strong penchant for flagstore shopping, non-alcoholic drinks on terraces of bars, and diners at upscale restaurants or other eating places that are interesting enough to separate us from the crowd.

During our second visit to North Queensferry, as we sat recovering at the charming tiny (“wee”) Rankin’s Café from a half-hearted attempt to walk out as far as we dared over a footpath along the Firth of Forth (at a certain point asking ourselves at every next 10 yards or so whether we had progressed as far as humanly possible if we were to make it back to North Queensferry Train Station without being at the risk of starvation or fatal exhaustion), we decided that a next time we would hike the trail all the way to a far-away town that we could see from a certain vantage point near the Forth Bridge’s base and seemed to consist of very light-colored, almost white buildings, which struck us as irresistibly romantic and fairytale-like.

But we never did. Back in our apartment at Learmonth Gardens we consulted various maps on the internet and decided that the town that we had seen from afar, as we were standing near Forth Bridge’s base at North Queensferry, must be Inverkeithing. In view of what follows and to protect my daughter and me from the wrath of the Inverkeithingers, I should stress that both my daughter and I are extremely poor map readers, and that I have a bad memory for names of places and people alike, as well as train stations. So even though, as I checked just now, there’s little to be found on the map between North Queensferry and Inverkeithing, and even if Inverkeithing isn’t the kind of name that is likely to come to one’s mind by coincidence, in the recount that follows I may be confusing names, dates and places.

A few days after our second visit to North Queensferry we took the train across the Firth of Forth a third time, but to Inverkeithing this time, which was just one stop up from North Queensferry. We found the area around the train station, located well outside of the town’s borders, singularly drab and depressing. The overcast skies and temperatures struggling not to drop to the low 50s did little to improve our sentiment. But we thought this would change when we would be sallying into the town itself. We had left our apartment early to walk to Edinburgh Waverley and by the time we had arrived at Inverkeithing Train Station our first thoughts were very much with finding a place to have hot chocolate over some pastry.

We started out crossing empty roads and roundabouts towards what looked like Inverkeithing’s outskirts. We arrived at a residential area consisting of featureless sludge-colored homes on gray asphalt streets. We explored this neighborhood for about two hours for food and drinks. But whichever direction we took there wasn’t a café, bar, supermarket, convenience or grocery store or shop of any other kind to be seen. Having spent all this time out in the cold weather looking just for a place to sit down, use the bathroom and get our bearings – one of my many issues being that I’m incapable of timing the moment when to cut off a hopeless campaign – our lust for romance and adventure had deflated to a point where we no longer felt a desire even to find our way out of this suburban hell towards an “old town” with cobbled streets, pubs, diners and, well, just any kind of life. Instead, we made our way back to the train station. We did not stoop so low as to head back to Waverley by train straight from Inverkeithing though. Following directions on my daughter’s smartphone we descended to Inverkeithing’s end of the footpath along Firth of Forth that we had explored some of the way from North Queensferry and that should take us to that charming old hamlet at the foot of Forth Bridge with its restored “light tower” (i.e. lighthouse), where we would have our hot cocoa after all, at the wee Rankin’s Café, and take the train back to Edinburgh. This we accomplished.

We had found that the descent from Inverkeithing Train Station to the beginning of the trail back to North Queensbury and the hike along the Firth of Forth over that trail were beautiful and gratifying to our non-linear minds. Those beautiful, romantic minds, that could be so easily duped at any time by the lure of a thing shimmering in the distance, arguably named “Inverkeithing”.

Doll

I visited my father yesterday, Saturday, in the care home where he’s living his letztes Kapitel. I took him for a walk in the same park that I mentioned in earlier posts. I repeated both of these things today, Sunday. You see, I visit my Dad every Saturday and every Sunday. But this is about yesterday, Saturday, even if I might write the exact same thing about today’s visit, since exactness of facts, including time, is completely irrelevant to anything going on in relation to my father these days. He is suddenly showing the unmistakable signs of dementia. I’m talking here of a period of mere weeks separating the “before” and the “after”. Well, he’s 96 years old. Why would dementia not catch up with this stubborn man eventually, even if it might have done so less abruptly? Save that the more logical connection is with the various forward falls from his wheelchair smack on his head before he was assigned the reclining wheelchair, now three weeks ago.

In the park we took a couple of different turns than the usual. On Saturdays people in this country, rather than visit their old folks and take them for a stroll in a park, tend to amass in the narrow streets of city centers to spend as much money as possible in the shortest time possible on stuff that they look at dejectedly and helplessly once it has been taken inside the confines of their jaded homes. Sundays, especially the empty time between late afternoon, when people have completed their second round of weekend shopping, and early evening, when the TV sport broadcasts start, are for non-fun things, such as paying attention to people who have been craving for it at every other hour of the week. Except when such Sunday is a hot Sunday in summer. Then people in this country tend to gather on the beaches, like walrus, or clog the roads stuffed in their cars all day long in a desperate attempt to get near to one, aggression growing to a point where they would kill a person for feeling sorry for them. Then they will never visit their folks even once during the weekend, thinking they have nowhere to go anyway and can easily be held out on another week.

But this was a Saturday, and, people busying themselves aimlessly in the city streets, the park was quiet in spite of the brilliant weather, warm, not hot, a sun which we anticipated back more eagerly each time it was prettily obfuscated by the fluffiest of clouds. My Dad was enjoying himself tremendously, repeating every other minute or so how agreeable the weather was, and actively looking left and right (as much as the stiffness in his neck would allow him) to take in all of nature’s plant, tree and animal wonders around us. He even commented on the ice-age boulders bordering the entrance to a restaurant that we ignored as we had no business going there. I felt happy and proud to procure such bliss in my father.

Old but still perfectly perfect night dress by Victoria’s Secrets

We arrived at a patch of green where a group of young women and a young man, students I gauged, dressed in what looked to me like white karate or judo outfits, were practicing various rolls and breakfall techniques under the supervision of a teacher or trainer. They were at quite a distance from where we were. I thought I recognized my son in the young man. Particularly the impressive head of curly hair (something he has his mother to thank for; if I wash, towel-dry and brush my hair in the afternoon, which I do once every two weeks, I find it still damp on the back of my head on the morning of the next day) and the awkwardness of his rather unathletic movements reminded me of him. I love my children so much, it almost makes me physically sick. I choke on the love of my children.

I stopped pushing the wheelchair and started to peer at the group in their white martial arts fatigues, as if riveted by some extraordinary public performance. It was impossible to make out the face of the young man though. I turned the wheelchair and I pointed in the direction of the group. My Dad didn’t look. He said “You hear the tits?” It took me a few moments to realize he was referring to a species of birds. Then he said, calling me by the pet name he had used for my Mom, who passed away two years ago, still not looking where I was pointing: “No, Doll, that is not our son.”

Little Girl, I Need You To Step Back Right Now!

The commercial block of national radio currently runs an item about an institution offering fast-track private education to parents of children who have dropped out from the regular school system. A pretend-parent (a mother) admits that she’s a little uncomfortable to enroll her son, because, well, that it had to come to this isn’t the thing one is most proud of as a parent, is it? But then this parent, this mother, in a sudden, miraculous reversal of her negative thinking, says: “But parents always want what’s best for their children.

Well, not this parent, not this mother of three. Already as a young girl I was frightened to death by families, by the way they raise walls around themselves, fortify themselves and lock out other people, like me. I was not just frightened, I was angered by families. They made me feel like I was a hostile, an alien, an intruder. Families made me feel a blemish and a stink. I remember a time when I was in Paris, in a museum, when I was no longer a young girl, but a mother of three. In that museum was a group of American children, I think early-grade middleschool, hunkered down in a circle, with a teacher, a woman, in the middle. I was alone. I walked right up to the group because I wanted to have a closer look at an exhibit they were assembled close to. The woman teacher shouted at me: “Madam, I need you to step back and keep your distance!” I felt humiliated beyond words. I was extremely angry at the same time. I was not just angry because of this woman claiming territory which clearly wasn’t hers to claim, but because of how dirty she made me feel to myself, and because of how she had unwarrantedly created a moral highground from where she felt she was allowed to shout down potential criminals and lepers like me.

We do not need to want what’s best for our children. We need to want what’s best for our fellow human beings. Children need protection because they’re vulnerable, irresponsible and unable to think straight, not because there’s any enheightened morality involved in taking care of them. Children need protection from adults locking them out, because they’re liable to be wounded for life by the murderous intent with which they are chased off their neighbor’s turf.

The Photo On The Upright.

On the pitch-black upright piano is a photo of my mother. It is a portrait. It was taken in the 1950s. It is in black and white. She is in a houndstooth jacket and a blouse. Her hairdo is characteristic for the era. My mother looks very pretty in the picture. There’s a beautiful light in her face and in her hair, coming in from the right. I’d very much like to include a copy of the photo in this post. My mother looks like a 1950s movie star. But you know I can’t publish a copy of the photo. The photographer was an established artist at the time. His work grew to even greater fame in later years. He’s now celebrated as one of the nation’s greatest photographers. The photo must have been composed and shot when he was still an accessible person for less than famous people, such as my mother. My mother died two years ago. She was 89. I was in New York when it happened. I flew out the next day. My mother was buried, not cremated. I can’t stop thinking of what putting a dead person in the ground does to that person’s organic remains. Not a week has passed since my mother’s decease when I have not asked myself what the corpse would be looking like, what the rotting of it has turned the body into. My husband died ten years ago. He was cremated. I don’t have a magnificently staged picture of him like the one of my mother’s. I have nothing of him that I could exhibit on the upright. But neither am I visited by a recurring image of the putrifying remains of my husband. I prefer cremation. Not for myself though. It’s not relevant for me. Death doesn’t happen to one. It only happens to others.

Creation, Destruction, Self-Destruction

So much is built, engineered, made, created, refined, dug, excavated, explored, won, cultivated, grown, reaped, harvested, stored, stacked, inundated, drained, reclaimed, mined, transported, manufactured, constructed, operated, maintained, pruned, pared, arranged, organized, decommissioned, dismantled, calculated, computed, considered, reconsidered, tendered, retendered, procured, purchased, stocked, tested, retested, financed, refinanced, agreed on, amended, novated, interpreted, knit, sewn, stitched, appliquéd, cooked, baked, broiled, decorated, welded, glued, amalgamated, synthesized, healed, devised, taught, second-guessed, falsified, peer-reviewed, second-opinioned, theorized, debated, criticized, boasted, learned, written, remembered, repeated, translated, painted, sculpted, shot, staged, played, rehearsed, performed, recited, recorded, posted, couriered, emailed, express-mailed, published, registered, enacted, laid down, heavy-lifted, improved, produced, fitted, repaired, renovated, refurbished, pushed, pulled, nailed, protected, fixed, refitted, composed.

I can’t wrap my head around so much creation. We must be organized like colonies of ants without knowing it. If one considers the bulk and complexity of a single apartment building on a Parisian boulevard it is impossible not to suspect that the human species is organized by an overarching instinct. We think it’s talent and creativity and expertise at the top, and workmanship and skill somewhere in the middle, and hard slog and following orders at the bottom. But no one would have thought of organizing themselves in that way. It must be animal instinct from which such organizational structures have gradually emerged and evolved and continue to be honed to enable us to accomplish ever greater things.

Destruction is very different. It is uncomplicated. In fact, destruction is extremely simple. Destruction is not instinct. Destruction is always calculated. It is calculated as collateral loss, as permitted indifference, or as an instrument of hate, bigotry, greed, aggressiveness, intemperance, or egotism. There has never been any act of destruction, no matter the context, no matter how seemingly contained its impact, no matter if I committed it, that I respected or condoned or that I was able to shrug off as insignificant.

Self-destruction, on the contrary, is very complicated. If it is easy destroy someone, to destroy oneself is almost impossible. To destroy oneself is harder than to build a city. Self-destruction shall not be thought lightly of.

Interview With The Blog’s Author At the Occasion Of Her 40th Post

Interviewer Mrs. Potter, you have been running a blog now for little over a month. You have published 40 posts to date. Congratulations!

Interviewee

Interviewer Do you like what you’ve been doing so far?

Interviewee Yes.

Interviewer Could you elaborate a little?

Interviewee I could.

Interviewer But you won’t?

Interviewee You nailed it.

Interviewer

Interviewee (yawns)

Interviewer What has the response to your blog been so far?

Interviewee The medical team is still discussing what type of a disorder it is. They are agreed it’s on the autistic-narcissistic spectrum, but there’s a debate as to where exactly. Asperger is being tossed up a lot. As long as I keep paying the bills, the debate is guaranteed to go on for a while still.

Interviewer Some might think you’re homophobic.

Interviewee You’re one of them? I’m not. Once, on a hot afternoon in Fosdinovo, when most sensible Italians were inside their cool, thick-walled houses, I saw two girls walking hand in hand, clearly very much in love with each other. I saw that as a sign of civilization in a country still dominated by catholic clergy. I envied those girls. In fact, I found it liberating.

Interviewer Gay men?

Interviewee Among my best friends, definitely.

Interviewer Cross-dressing?

Interviewee Don’t.

Interviewer Gay pride?

Interviewee Get a life.

Interviewer You mentioned Catholicism. You seem to have a strong opinion on religion. People say they take offense at the way you write about religion.

Interviewee I don’t write about religion. It’s a non-issue. It’s completely empty and meaningless. It doesn’t refer to anything. How could I write about something that isn’t about anything?

Interviewer But wouldn’t you think it is exactly this aggressive stance on what is sacred to a large part of humanity that many of your readers are put off by.

Interviewee Sacred?

Interviewer Yes, sacred to a lot of people.

Interviewee I’m sorry. I’m afraid I don’t understand the concept of “sacred”. Anyway, the people you’re referring to may consider praying for this blog to stop. If it doesn’t work, they still have the consoling certainty that, once dead, I will be in a hell or end up in some other horrendous after-life situation, as applicable. You see, the thing about religion is, it’s always true if you care to believe in your belief. A prayer doesn’t do the trick? Never mind, that’s because your god has something up his sleeve which is far more damning for the perpetrator: she’s going to be denied paradise. See, no matter what you believe, it is true, because, damn, you put it in there yourself first! Ah, you lucky bastards, who are dumb enough to be able to pull this Munchhausen stunt on yourselves!

Interviewer … point made, not taken though. Many readers are intrigued by your hints at a terrible accident that you suggest has left you with a scarred and disfigured face. Will you be revealing what happened in a future post?

Interviewee Don’t hold your breath over it.

Interviewer And your face?

Interviewee Never.

Interviewer In a post called Living The Lies you claim absolute freedom to lie and deceive. A similar disregard for truthfulness can be found in the recount of a boating trip, which you recently blogged about in a post called Boat Ride. Would you describe yourself as immoral, amoral perhaps?

Interviewee My ethics are of the highest standard. I just don’t think that truthfulness is an ethical imperative, or even that morality has anything to do with being truthful. If deception might per se be harmful to suckers for truth, I have found that I must nevertheless lie and deceive constantly in order that no greater harm will to come to me. However, I will never, by deceiving, harm someone else…

Interviewer But if that someone is offended, morally harmed, by being lied to?

Interviewee That’s not my problem. And, let’s face it, truth is just another bubble. Wait…

Interviewer ?

Interviewee Ah, here it is: Non-fiction is boring, it’s limiting and reductionist. It is untruthful. Non-fiction is fake fiction. Males find satisfaction in non-fiction: what is on the outside stays on the outside. Fiction is expansive, it blends and blurs, it digresses, it is limitless, and it is meaningful. Fiction is nothing but the truth. This is from an early post, called Curtains Open.

Interviewer What does it say?

Interviewee It says there is no reference for what people call “truth”, or non-fiction. If you would lie down on your bed on a sunny afternoon and allow your mind to wander off, you will see what I mean. It’s like tripping on LSD.

Interviewer Do you do drugs?

Interviewee I don’t. They make me throw up. Nor do I smoke. Smoking is particularly harmful to women. They shrivel up and they start to stink from the pores of their skin. A smoking man starts to rot and wither between 50 and 55, a smoking woman from the age of 30. Never mind the cancer.

Interviewer There’s a lot of references to sex in your posts. Yet you condemn male-to-female cross-dressing as the committing of a sexual act in public, which you say you have a right not to be confronted with. What is the difference with the very explicit references to sex in your posts?

Interviewee The difference is that one can choose to read or ignore my blog. Another difference is that I write about sex, clearly in a stylized fashion, I’m not doing it. Well, of course I do it, but not in my blog. A cross-dresser on a TV show, in the streets or in a club is actually, physically engaged in a public sexual act. I would object as strongly to public sexual acts between men, between women and between a man and a woman. The thing is, gay lib, which for a reason unknown to me seems to cultivate cross-dressing as a staple of emancipation of gay people, is being confused with the liberty to confront people with sexual acts in public. This is not just about transvestites, it’s about men decked out in leather, strings, SM paraphernalia, etc. I don’t like to be confronted with prostitutes either. I guess I just don’t want sex to be out in the streets. The act itself, in whatever form or guise, is, I think, I hope, appalling to everyone but the people involved in it.

Interviewer Let’s turn to the blog’s style, the way it’s written…

Interviewee Do let’s!

Interviewer Eh, yes, so the blog, would you call it literature?

Interviewee Of course. Wouldn’t you?

Interviewer Eh, no. Do you think many people agree with you?

Interviewee No, but not many people are well-read. As a blog it’s as literary as they get. It’s full of linguistic jokes, references. Posts get reworked days after they were first published. Not all posts have the pretense of literature of course. But most posts are very funny.

Interviewer Depending on your sense of humor?

Interviewee Correct, depending on my sense of humor.

Interviewer Okay, in your archaic use of the indefinite pronoun: depending on one’s sense of humor?

Interviewee First, the use of the indefinite pronoun is not a deliberate archaism. It’s my way of getting closer to the writings of Virginia Woolf. My sense of humor is the only one relevant, if only because I have no way of knowing what another person finds funny. If my humor doesn’t appeal to my readers, they are at liberty not to smile, or to stop reading altogether.

Interviewer You mention “your readers”. Who do you think is your public?

Interviewee As a percentage of world population? My phone’s calculator returns an error. I don’t care about my public. What I care about is that everyone shall find at least one reason to be offended by what I write. If I have one fan, it’s time to up my game.

Interviewer Your blog is called Opening One’s Eyes, and the catchphrase is How to get the deadness out of one’s eyes. Have your eyes opened? Have you found a way to get the deadness out of your eyes?

Interviewee Hard no to both questions. Applies to your eyes, too.

Interviewer Eh, right. Well, Dingenom, thank you so much for doing this interview with us. Let me finish by congratulating you again on having published your 40th post. Happy blogging!

Interviewee ?

Joseph

Pants and top by Joseph (Paris, France)

I bought this ensemble by Joseph three years ago in Saint Germain, Paris, France. It’s made of rayon, which, in the right quality, is an extremely nice fabric, cool, with the softness of silk but with sturdier structure, very gratifying to the female body in fit and feel. With the top tugged in, the two-piece looks like a jumpsuit. I think this is the very first time (i.e., for the record, Sunday, June 20, 2021) I’m wearing the complete outfit. The top has a rather intricate mechanism to gather the fabric in various ways (cf. picture). I am extremely clumsy. As my friend with the loft at Union Square can testify I’m incapable of tying a belt of a trench coat in the appropriate womanly way. It’s spatial mathematics of the highest degree to me. I leave the folds as they are and tug the top into the pants’ waistband. When one’s gams are as long and shapely as mine, one can do that.

The Joseph store at Saint Germain, Paris, is a favorite of mine. I’ve been back many times over the past decade. A very nice impression is found in a post at a retail design blog website http://www.retaildesignblog. net: https://retaildesignblog.net/2013/12/08/joseph-st-germain-store-by-raed-abillama-architects-paris-france/. The post dates back to 2013, but the way it depicts front and interior is how I found the store throughout the years.

Stats say the blog has had 56 visitors so far. Not bad, out of 7,000,000,000 people who could be interested. Views stand at 188. Surprisingly, a tiny country in northern Europe, called “Netherlands” on the stats page, which I had to look up on the Internet, registers by far the most views: 130. USA is running up, yet lagging far behind; the 25 views from the USA represent about the number of inner-circle woman friends I have in that nation of nations. Ecuador is in third place with 15 views. I must go there some time, but they’ll have to round up the giant spiders first and relocate them temporarily to giant-spider friendly spider camps. And improve on number of views. I score 9 views in China. They’re in fourth place. Save for the way they are said to be treating the Uyghurs, I’d very much like to call China another favorite nation of mine. However, they’ll have to do better, not just on the Uyghurs, but on drivers for the MSCI China Clean Technology Index ETF, where a small part of my investments is at and which is plateauing for some time now at minus 18 (!) percent.

My apologies for this flimsy post on fashion, stats, the world and money. Next post will be controversial, politically incorrect, abrasive, brutish, mean, blunt, certain to give offense, and/or brimming with self-pity again. Or dish out more of my cheap philosophies.

Living One’s Lies

What with the disheveled look! Well:
I dreamt a dream, my dear ladyè,
Such dreams are effing good.
I dreamt my fridge was filled with white first,
and my bed with Modiano.
Having spent the night with Patrick Modiano

Patrick Modiano (France, 1945) won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature. Shortly after the news broke, I went to my local bookstore and bought his perhaps most famous, but for that not his best, novel Dora Bruder. After I had finished Dora Bruder I read in a mere two weeks every other novel that Modiano had written until then. I travel to Paris about twice a year, mostly on a steamer or a sailing yacht, sometimes in the luxury carriage of an overnight train. When in Paris I always walk one or more of the routes that I think I can reconstruct from a Modiano novel. And I always hope that I will run into Patrick Modiano doing his daily shopping, or that he is looking down at me from an apartment in one of the classical apartment buildings symmetrically arranged at either side of a street in a quiet neighborhood.

I have never met Modiano. But I do spend nights with him. It happens in my dreams, and the encounters are none the worse for that. When I dream I’m with Patrick Modiano, we have great sex. This is what happened last night, and I rose rosy cheeked, warm and whole. And I thought (not for the first time) if I can do the remainder of life dreaming, fantasizing, fabricating, fibbing and lying my way through it, not caring, not harming either (and that includes the environment), then what am I complaining about? Then what has anyone to complain about me?

My friends have asked me numerous times to stop lying. I won’t. I will lie if I need to, if I want to. So they cannot take my word for anything. So what? They can trust me to be good to them, that I will not harm them, that I would sooner kill myself than cause suffering to anyone. But I’m under no obligation to be truthful, just as no one else has a right to truthfulness. To live one’s life fictitiously, to turn one’s life into a complete and comprehensive lie, is one’s personal fundamental human right.

Front Slit Mocks Hemline

Ref. previous post, not just my friend on Union Square, practically all my friends complained to me: “What’s with all the ‘we’s? Speak for yourself, LADY!” Yeah…they were really aggressive about it. Revisiting the post, I think I understand their feelings about it (as I would those of compulsive cross-dressers, although no such person has yet sent me any hate mail).

Anyway, enough with the Maoist self-criticism, which, dear friends, I assure you was very painful to inflict on myself and has set me straight for many years to come.

Front slit skirt (by Michael Kors)

In an early post I mentioned a couple of Netflix series that are in need of a new season. One of those was the Canadian franchise Working Moms. In a later post I described how the Womanizer Premium and the Foxy made their way into my home (and, subsequently, certain parts of my body). Now here’s the coincidence. The fifth season of Working Moms was recently launched in the country of my exile. And guess what? In the 7th episode Kate gifts the Womanizer Premium (called the SatisfyHer in the episode) to Anne! Well, if the joke about the ear thermometer comes up in any next episode, I will have a little more background on at least one of the three viewers of my blog that the stats say are from Canada.

The picture with this post is of me in a (size 2) skirt by Michael Kors (not the lower tier Michael by Michael Kors line). I was wearing this skirt today. Although one cannot see this in the photo, the front slit is cut so deep that when I sit down I have to keep my legs crossed tight, right up at thigh-level, to prevent my crotch from being exposed to the outside world. The slit is in an almost comical contrast to the skirt’s demure hemline. The slit takes the piss out of the classic silhouette. This is what I call couture. It is one of my favorite skirts.

The Constant Itch

Old VS Sequined Dress

Today’s temperature has reached tropical levels. I have a dress which I bought online at Victoria’s Secret more than ten years ago. Even these days I’m being complimented for the way it flatters my curves. The thing is, the dress doesn’t show how flattering it is when it’s on its hanger in the walk-through closet. It rather looks like a sequined sack. This is why modeling, if just for local magazines (as I have engaged in many years ago), has grown to be the big business it is for many decades now. A magazine model causes women to buy clothes they’d never even look at otherwise. Because, let’s face it, the worst piece of shit clothing looks good on a young, happy-looking and well-proportioned woman.

I don’t have just one dress, by the way, I have countless quantities of dresses and every other wardrobe item that one could possibly think of. Why is that? you may ask, or rather a man may ask, since most women don’t care to ask a question that they already know the unflattering answer to. It’s because deep down we are no better than (if not cutting a figure as deplorable as that of) male-to-female transvestites. We don’t see the clothes. We see the picture perfect person who rents out her body to promote them, and by buying what’s she’s wearing we enact her (or anyone like her). Every next time, we want to be enacting the model flaunting her perfect body. So we keep buying. A transvestite, by enacting a woman, will always be working towards a sexual climax. It’s a well known fact that women climax happier. They put on the dress… and bam!

Ten Years After

This is still yesterday.

Back home, after my visit to my Dad, I went down to the lakeside beach, which is at walking distance from my house. I was wearing the short leather Pringle of Scotland skirt that I’m wearing on the photo in the previous post. It’s short but it was way too warm and tight for a hot early-summer’s day. It’s the kind of skirt that is best worn with pantyhose on colder days in the office. I honestly hadn’t realized this. I was unwillingly sexy and extremely uncomfortable.

I never know why I’m doing these kinds of walks. It seems to myself I’m looking for adventure, exposure, admiration, affirmation, opportunity… But nothing ever happens. Nothing has been happening since the time, ten years ago to the day, when death happened to my only love. Ah well. I’ve moved five times since that time. Since that time my children have gone to college and moved out. The dog has died, I nearly did. I nearly did a second time… My Mom has. The cats have been growing old and loveable. I resigned from a 15-year partnership. I gave up a well-paid consultant’s position at another firm… I wound up being a receptionist, a stewardess and promoting products in various supermarkets wearing a full-length bib apron, juggling all of those every single week, including weekends… As a receptionist I secretly drafted large commercial contracts for big corporate clients I led to believe I was still a fulltime lawyer with adequate professional liability insurance… I began investing in equity, fund shares, bonds and raw materials… I was hunted by a headhunter… I got hired by a tech company… I got appointed in its board.

This is where I’m now. This is where one sees me parading aimlessly along a lakeside beach, uncomfortably in a short leather skirt, way too warm for a hot early-summer’s day in June, alone, clueless and frightened, facing away from the people I pass. This is pretty much what happened, this is where I’m at, since that time when death happened to my loved one. After all, it’s nothing that can’t be fitted into a few lines of a post in a blog hosted by WordPress.

My Dad

Today was a warm and sunny day. I mounted my Van Moof X2 to visit my father, who is in a care home (cf. previous posts). I was wearing a Vivienne Westwood (Red Label) skirt. The skirt is an old favorite of mine. It’s tight through the thighs, but manageably narrow further down. It’s just as constrictive a skirt as one can ride the X2 with (cf. one of the earliest posts in this blog ).

Skirt by Vivienne Westwood Red Label. Facial disfigurement conveniently concealed behind phone.

Riding the bike like a madman, and as dangerously, it took me 25 minutes to arrive at the care home. I kicked the rear wheel in its electronic lock and chained up the bike. I went inside, registered, dutifully put on the facemask handed to me at the reception desk and ran up three flights of stairs to arrive at the open ward where my Dad has his room.

Since last week my father is in a new wheelchair. He was no longer able to keep himself erect in the one he had before (cf. a previous post). The new wheelchair can be titled infinitely. It had taken two forward falls of the 96-year old, as many stitched-up headwounds and contusions all over his face, for the former wheelchair to be replaced. He never even complained. There is one nurse in particular who is kindly disposed to him, and someone in housekeeping. His youngest daughter (that’s me) looks him up every weekend, mostly both on Saturday and on Sunday. If one is 96 going on 97, unable to piss, shit, go to or get out of bed by oneself, or to keep one’s saliva’s in one’s mouth when eating, and hardly capable of making understandable speech because of a muscular disorder, that is nowhere near bad.

wp-1623595889470369712878510427412.jpg
Facemask gifted by my daughter. Leather skirt by Pringle of Scotland

I decided to take my Dad out for a stroll in a nearby park. We rode down in the elevator. I was facing the backwall. The upper part of my body was reflected in a full-length mirror. The lower half was behind the wheelchair. I was wearing the facemask. The facemask concealed the scarred and molten part of my face. I’ve resolved to explore possibilities to wear one permanently, or revisit the option of wearing a niqāb.

I bought vanilla flavored ice-cream for my Dad and myself at a pop-up kiosk. The girl at the counter told me her granddad, 93, who could still walk, if with some difficulty, lived just across from the park. He didn’t want to be taken for a walk in the park with her, or anyone. He had never been inside the park. He had been living at a stone’s throw of it practically all his life, but he had never set foot on its grounds. I asked her if she knew of a specific reason for his refusal to visit the park. She said she didn’t. Perhaps something having to do with the War, she offered. Everything here, in this country of my exile, seemed to have something to do with the War, I thought. I told her my father wasn’t even from these parts. I told her I had my father moved up to this town to be able to look after him after my Mom had died. My Mom died two years ago, when I was in NYC for business, pleasure and catching up with my friend on Union Square. My Mom died right after the business part; I didn’t get to enjoy the rest.

Afraid the ice-cream would melt I said goodbye and joined my father, who was in a shadowy spot. Very old people have a tendency to eat greedily, as if death might put a sudden end to it all, oblivious to the fact that one is still eating. It’s just the lack of coordination though, the effort one has to put in to get the spoon in the cup and then, charged with the food, to the mouth, and then chew (as applicable) and swallow, and repeat the motions while keeping track where one is at in the previous cycle. It’s the concentration required to pull it off that may strike one as greediness. As a matter of fact, I finished the cup twice as fast as my father. I’m not greedy or intemperate. I’m just impatient and incapable of looking at food as being more than something to be downed and done with. I’m easily bored by food. I said we were going back. He said he had to piss. He used a nicer word, a word that he taught us when we were kids. I told him that it would have to wait.

I rolled him all the way back to the care home. The wheelchair was about twice as heavy to push as the previous one. I exaggerated the effort though to exercise my gluteal muscles. We got back in time for my Dad to discharge. I helped him with the urinal. My Dad is so old, I can stuff his cock in the urinal’s opening as if it was just minced meat in a condom. I’m unable to gauge what its size might have been in times and on occasions it would have been prouder of.

Boat Ride

Yesterday by close of play, as I was trying to make sense of bits and pieces of information even at that time of day still being thrown at me in an MS Teams meeting with seven other participants, one of my smartphones signaled receipt of a text message in what looked like a group chat. “You guys wanna go for a boat ride ? Boards back of Hilton!” Although I had no idea whose group chat I had been included in, intentionally or by mistake, or which of the three or so Hilton hotels that I knew of was being referenced in the text, I immediately lost all interest in the MS Teams meeting and thumbed on the smartphone in question “Sure, what time?” No sooner had I pressed the send button, then another text came in, apparently having crossed mine in virtual space: “Hey guys, don’t you think it’d be nice to ask Ding to tag along?” Before anyone could respond “Not the tightwad with the screwed up face!!! [Three puke face emoticons]”, or something equally embarrassing, I texted: “Just got the invite. Happy to.” Departure was in less than an hour from that point in time. I broke off the Teams meeting saying one of the cats had spasms, then, reading the faces on the screen, that both cats had spasms, probably cat food poisoning, went to the bathroom to do up my hair and make the best of my damaged face, changed from blouse and pencil skirt, that I wore for no reason but to feel corporate even in virtual meetings, into a breezy yet body-con summer dress, asked in the chat for an address my satnav would be able to work with, and raced off to the venue.

The boat was a nicely refurbished diesel-fueled wide-beam barge, perfect for navigating the canals of a certain town in the country of my exile. My arrival completed a company of five men and a woman. Three of the men and the woman were partners of a small corporate litigation boutique. The two other men were bigshots at a corporate client of the boutique. One of them owned the boat and was at the helm. He also commanded the music system from his smartphone. I had meanwhile recollected that some three months ago I had offered legal expert services to the boutique in support of litigation they were in the process of preparing on behalf of the client. This had occasioned the invite. Due to a certain pandemic we had thus far never met in real life and I had all but forgotten about the services I had offered. Providing expert legal advice to law firms is the kind of work that I do as a sidekick to my work for the tech company whose board I’m in. It’s not allowed of course (even less so in this particular instance because the litigation is against a client of the company). But if I smell an opportunity to make some extra cash, you bet I’m on it. The terms of my engagement with the boutique, apart from containing a nicely staggered earn-out structure that I’m very proud to have devised and successfully negotiated, stipulate that my involvement will at all times be behind-the-scenes and strictly on a no-names basis. I consider that adequate protection. No one’s reading this blog anyway.

The boat ride was extremely enjoyable. The evening was warm. The atmosphere all around was calm, set, the music mellow. We had wine, which we drank from plastic cups. And although I don’t like wine, the idea of having it on a boat appealed to me and I downed four cups one shortly after the other. I was light-headed for a while but soon recuperated. Many other boats were out on the water. We moored at a restaurant on the waterfront, locally known as The Gilbert, where we were served preordered sushi on deck and were able to restock on wine. The helmsman then took us back in the direction of the Hilton, but, following general acclaim of his suggestion to the effect, we detoured to navigate the inner canals of the city. We commented on the houses and apartments we chugged by and which at least one of us knew the architect or the value or the owner of, or that its interior had been recently redone, or that it had seen a tragic death such as a suicide, that it would be on the market soon, etc. The day had darkened and unobtrusive lights mounted on the brick structures of the low bridges that we passed underneath had turned on. The skipper had notched up the music to an ambient techno beat and we started swaying slowly and soundlessly, like ghosts, in the vein of dancing. We moored at another Gilbert (debating in our woozy condition whether, if there were two Gilberts, there might not also be a George around the bend), where we took in our final two bottles of wine. The men had started talking about a thing they knew nothing about, as men are wont to. Although I knew everything about the particular issue, I declined to join the conversation because I wasn’t attracted to any of the men and the issue was extremely boring anyway. I sat down with the only other woman on board instead. She’s an acclaimed litigator and a professor at law. We talked about our lives and our children. In subdued voices we exchanged very personal information, but I made sure that I got the better part (lying discretionarily and without restraint about my own life). She told me she was divorced two years ago and that she had completely given up on her oldest son who, following the divorce, had dropped out of high school, did drugs, drank too much and, at the age of twenty, had been convicted of felonies in a court-of-law on several occasions already. She was quite short, her body was shapeless. She looked prematurely aged. I hadn’t noticed these things during the video call where we had discussed the case and my services.

Streets of London by Ralph McTell was playing on the music system as we approached the jetty where we had boarded. We alighted. We parted. The helmsman steered the barge back to open water in the direction of where I supposed it would be docked. The woman was still on it. She hadn’t told me she would be. It was completely dark now. There was no music. She sat erect and motionless.

The Henry James Reader

Overwhelmed and defeated by feelings of insignificance and intellectual inferiority each time I read a novel by Henry James, I once wrote a piece in bogus essayistic style, reprinted below. Yesterday, I came across a very nice WordPress site devoted to short essays on literature, run by the extremely prolific blogger and writer Dave Astor: https://daveastoronliterature.com/. In a recent post https://daveastoronliterature.com/2021/05/30/long-remembered-books-released-within-a-short-time/ Astor extolls as James’ “perhaps most impressive feat” the writing, “in three consecutive later-career years“, of The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903), and The Golden Bowl (1904). Astor calls them “All highly ambitious (some might say overwritten) novels.” The mildly derogatory epithet “overwritten” is exactly what my my piece was about. It is about the complicating prolixity that characterizes some of James’ novels. I am rather convinced that ‘overwriting’ was deliberate methodology…

The Portrait of a Lady

So here is that snippet on Henry James from a few years back.

The Henry James Reader

I am very partial to the works of Henry James, the American/English 19th (and turn-of-the-) century novelist. I understand the mechanics of his art. I do not always understand what he writes. These facts (about what I understand and what I do not always understand) are related. What James strives at in the composition of his novels, or the best of them, is to keep filling up the space until his words have built and sealed off the context in which all that the novel is about, physical, philosophical, moral and psychological, is captured and interconnected.

James’ work allows interpretation, requires it. Any word, necessarily a projection, requires interpretation. But when one is dealing with the work of Henry James, interpretation must confine itself to the words that are there, at hand, in print, the words that one is actually reading. No interpretation may assume, or result in the conclusion that, anything has been left unsaid. If an interpretation adds a ‘layer’ to the words James wrote – philosophical, psychological or otherwise – or relies on a reading ‘between the lines’, then that is proof, eo ipso, that the interpretation is false. It is precisely the consistent effort of James to leave no space between the lines, or the words in a sentence or the sentences in a paragraph, which makes his work sometimes so difficult to access. In James’ work the key to unlock a sentence or a body of text is always to be found in the entirety of the written words, never in a psychological or philosophical idea beyond the words. The words one reads are everything, and everything is in the words.

I have come to be convinced that if James, in writing a single sentence, would find that not everything he intended to say in that sentence was in it, he would supplement the sentence, or add more sentences, until words had been given to what he had set out to say but was still not contained in the words he had put on paper at that point. I found that if I didn’t ‘get’ a sentence or a paragraph the thing to do was to back up and very meticulously close-read the preceding text, often on the very same page. The key to a passage I couldn’t get my head around was always, without fail, in the preceding text not read attentively enough the first time. This is what makes some of James’ works so extremely exacting on the reader. To interpret a text by relating it to an underlying philosophical or psychological concept may seem to involve the greater intellectual effort, but this is in fact not the case; it involves education. James requires his readership to bring to bear the full force of its linguistic capabilities.

I’m not saying that James’ art is unrelated to a context – metaphysical, moral or aesthetic – outside the ringfence of a novel. No doubt his art is inspired by and has adopted ideas from external context (just as it has added to it). But this is irrelevant to the interpretation of his texts. It may be relevant to enjoying them. To get the most out of James’ art, one needs to be thoroughly culturally educated as well as an extremely skilled reader. Incidentally, I’m neither.

I don’t sleep well. I am worried sick all the time about everything, and extremely unhappy and desperate. I fall asleep quickly, but I invariably wake up around 2.00 am, 3.00 if I’m lucky, 1.00 at the worst of times, my mind boiling and seething out of control. Then I read Henry James, hardly able to construe what I read, but soon to be soothed by the universe I submerge into, knowing it to be pure and truthful, complete. Then I go back to sleep. If there’s no happiness for me now, which seems to be getting more likely with the lapse of every next day, and no paradise, or anything short of it, hereafter, which sadly is a scientific fact, then at least there is the undecipherable art of Henry James.

Killers

Don’t read this if you’re on Twitter

I’m no fan of transvestism (‘drag’) in public. My friends know that. They berate me for what they see as annoying narrow-mindedness. The thing is, transvestism is blatant sexual behavior, or in men it is (it’s mostly just fun for women). I don’t like to be confronted with sexual behavior in public, other than court-making (even fiercely). Nor do I see why I would have to put up with it.

I’m tolerant towards transsexuals, nowadays more commonly referred to as transgenders. Gender dysphoria is a medical condition. I’m not tolerant towards people who consider it an ideology. One doesn’t mutilate one’s body for an ideology. Gender dysphoria is a neurological disorder. Logically – and my friends are even more annoyed with me for saying this – if the medical disorder could be remedied by neurosurgery to align the cerebral gender identity with the physiological reality, then that should be the preferred option. But that does not seem to be the case. It is very unlikely that femininity and masculinity are a matter of traceable wiring, that could simply be ‘set straight’. Taking myself as an example, a woman in the genetic (XX) sense, feeling myself a woman is all over the place inside of me. I have no reason to believe that this is different for transgender women. So yes, they have no choice but to go through the entire procedure to align their physical appearance with what the dumb brain makes them feel they are most comfortable with.

I had a transgender woman friend. She hated that she was considered a complex homosexual, that she was grouped against her will with the so-called ‘LGBTQ community’, not just by this ‘community’, which she could stay away from and ignore, but the media, which she had no means of shutting out. You see, she could not make it with homosexual men, as much as it is impossible for any straight woman to make it with a homosexual man (and vice versa). But even the friends of this friend of mine were immune to her implorations, and they kept alluding to, if not simply disclose, her condition in the circles we were in, as if they felt they were under a moral obligation to. After everything my friend had gone through she still wasn’t allowed to simply be the woman that she was.

This friend of mine, a brilliant person, a thoroughly sweet, cultivated, well-read and upstanding woman, has killed herself. Because of that. I’ll always hate the people who occasioned her death.

Widerhall Meister

A friend, whom I shall call N., not a female friend this time, but, to his credit, a homosexual (i.e. we’re not erotically invested in our relationship), and black, poor and a Christian (all of which, being white, entitled, inveterately heterosexual, and a fanatical hater of religion, creeds and, generally, anything that isn’t proven fact or cannot be falsified, I merely mention to show off my humanity), this person, N., who I’ve let in on this blog, asked me yesterday, point blank: “Ding, can’t you write a single story which has a beginning and an end to overarch a plot?

N.,” I said, “most assuredly I canI’m a writer. A writer can do such things. But bear with me. First, I’m going to republish a short story. It is called Widerhall Meister. It’s the first that I got published. You may find it boring. You’re a man.”


Widerhall Meister

I wrote this because, at the time, you asked me to, rather imperatively as I’m sure you will remember. I think you meant it as therapy, although I knew even then you didn’t think I had a mind to deliberately ski into a ravine. I’m not much of a skier. Aiming for a ravine I might miss it. I started too late in life to allow for hope of becoming anywhere near accomplished.

___

I broke off less than halfway through the day yesterday, feeling cold and miserable. I returned to the hotel. I wrote, I read, I slept. I woke up feeling hungry. I went out. I’m in a little town, at a one and a half hour drive from the capital. I ordered a coffee and pastry in a bakery.  A section was fitted out as a café. A man walked into the shop. Our eyes locked. He walked up to my table. We had been travelling up the slopes in the same cable car this morning. I had been struck with the beauty of his face. His hair, I had noticed, was not thick. It would be very easy to comb through. But it was planted densely in places men are most worried about. It had occurred to me that he would probably not start losing his hair at the age most men do, if ever.
– I saw you in the cable car this morning.
A foreigner looks it. The signs may be subtle, but they are always multiple and unmistakable. Of course he would address me in English.
– Ich Sie auch. He smiled. He extended his hand. I shook it, careful not to press. Widerhall Meister, he said. The strangest of names.
– Dingenom Potter. Playfulness on my father’s part, the family name a given.
Sie waren mit einer Frau. Ihr Weib?
– Freundin, he said. Your German is good.
– I get by. You speak English well.
– I use it in my work often. Where did you pick up German?
– What work do you do?, I asked him, not allowing the moment for the obvious question to pass unused.
– Balls, he said.
– Balls?
– I dance at balls.
– You dance at balls?
– Professionally. I’m a professional ballroom dancer. I get paid to dance at balls, in the capital mainly.
– Who do you dance with?
– Women, obviously, ladies.”
– Women pay you to dance with them at balls?
– No, the organizer of a ball pays me. I appear as a guest. I invite ladies for a dance… ladies who look like they need a dancing partner… In fact, I am often the one to kick-start a ball, or prevent it from collapsing halfway, or to resurrect it. There have been instances when I was hurried into a car and taken to a ball at high speed, like an emergency doctor, to revive it. I dance in shows, too, sometimes. But they’re not my main line of business. I thought this over for a while. If I didn’t suspect him of engaging in anything unseemly I cannot deny I was rather disappointed.
– That is interesting. How does it involve you speaking English a lot? Even if he danced with English speaking ladies mostly, he surely would not dance with them every night, even during the ballroom season?
– Contracts and contacts are usually in English. I’m managed by an agency. They’re British. And, then, somehow, it’s mostly women visiting from abroad who find themselves stranded at balls they thought would be interesting to attend… as a tourist attraction… Balls are that in our capital, you know? Plus, I travel a lot. Would that be enough for an explanation? He smiled again.
– It seems I should have praised you for still having command of your native tongue.
– You just did. Thank you. So, your German? Where did you learn it, or how?
– Oh, nothing bohemian, I’m afraid. Junior high, books, visits, and love of language.
– Language? The language, German? Or languages? I had deliberately left out the article and yet not used the plural. If I was already impressed with the fluency of his English, I was quite surprised that this had not escaped his attention and that he had rightly surmised that I must have had a reason to express myself the way I had.
– No, not German in particular, or languages in general. I love language, not any particular tongue. Because I love language so much I want to make the most of what I have learned of a language, too.
– By extending and deepening what you’ve been taught of a language? I nodded. I was much too impatient to allow a question I could not have thrown in earlier to be brought at the risk of being interfered with by a further exchange on the topic.
– Widerhall Meister… is that your artist’s name?
– I’m not an artist… No, my parents gave me Widerhall as a first name. I don’t know why, or whose idea it was. It’s hardly likely they thought of it both at the same time. A smile had passed over his face again. It doesn’t run in my family; as a matter of fact, it’s not a first name that a research I carried out has established to have been given to anyone else, ever. I would have been much surprised if a result to the contrary should have turned up.
– But it must have occurred to you, surely, that the reason that name was given to you is because of its absolute beauty in combination with your family name? Absolute, I mean, as opposed to in relation to a meaning, motive or reason?
– You’re very kind. But the person growing up with a name is the last to whom the beauty of it might occur.
I liked his unimposing brightness. He would not easily allow mere words to force a conversation off the mooring of its substance.
– I am a tourist, you know?
– I do, now… I guessed as much before… Do you dance?
– Only if I would be stranded at a ball that sees you produced as a guest by your agency. Is there a ball you would recommend my getting stranded at?
My words having facetiously abstracted some of the information which our conversation had yielded, this could, to the embarrassment of neither of us, still pass off as a joke if he chose to blind-eye the obvious flirtation. I didn’t really care which direction my words would take me to. In my situation, I would resign to either.
– Don’t you agree that it would be very impolite of me to make a suggestion to you?
– For a ball?
– Oh, I would be honored to suggest a ball to you! I would just hate to advise you getting stranded at even the best.
– But if you would show up and save me from that predicament?
– I’m here now. I would rather prevent the predicament from occurring. He produced a pen, then took a coaster from the table, tore it to pieces and scribbled something on one of them. He handed it to me.
– For tomorrow night. An address and a time. If you wish. Don’t say. I will be there anyway.
My hand resting in the hand he had extended, his fingers folded over it, we said goodbye. He walked up to the counter, bought something and left. That night I danced with him. During our second dance I clasped my arm around his waist a little harder. Then I allowed my head to rest itself against his chest.

Widerhall Meister. Liebe Freundin, ich war sprachlos.

Eyes Not Open

I stopped using make-up three years ago. First, I stopped using facial creams, foundation and compact powder. No matter how reticently applied, they resulted in my face to start looking like a death mask as the day progressed. Then I stopped using eye make-up. The eye make-up began to accentuate the deadness of my eyes even as my eyes’ deadness increased. Then I stopped looking at myself in the mirror so as to avoid being incredulous and losing all hope. Then I stopped looking at other people so as to avoid seeing the shock of disgust in their eyes. Then I stopped seeing people, making friends, and speaking more than the situation strictly requires. I had stopped exposing myself to the risk of being taken pictures of quite some time before all that. I’m flaunting my body silently from a distance these days.

Wendy Sutter

On Sundays a decent woman buys fresh flowers, arranges the same in a vase she keeps for such things, and plays Wendy Sutter performing Philip Glass, Songs and Poems for Solo Cello, on her soundlink system.

After that, anything may happen. She (i) may mark up the direct agreement and guarantees sent for review, and then prepare Monday’s board meeting, and hate to have to be doing the one and the other. Or (ii) she may (if she hadn’t been overdoing it somewhat on Saturday and her clit were not all raw and sore), sneak up to her room and procure the Womanizer and Foxy to perform their team effort on herself. Or (iii) she may do the sensible thing, stretch out on the freshly made bed, start reading from any of the three novels sitting on her nightstand, doze off within 5 minutes, wake up healthy and invigorated 30 minutes later, and double back to option (ii).

American Made

Now for a very good film: American Made, featuring Tom Cruise. The film is based on a sequence of “real events”, reacquainting us in an incredibly funny fashion with hoodlums and douchebags such as Manuel Noriega, Pablo Escobar, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush (“George W.”) and Oliver (“Ollie”) North, to name the best known crooks and numbskulls brought back to life. I hate films based on real life. I mentioned this in an earlier post. I stand by the position. But this is one of the exceptions. To except the film is warranted, because it is better than the historical events it takes for an excuse. History is re-scripted and re-sequenced, and, most of all, re-centered towards the main character, Barry Seal, played by Tom Cruise, who in fact never plays anyone but himself.

image-6
5′ 10.8″

Tom Cruise is a very good actor. I stand 5.9 ft. Tom is therefore obviously too short for me (or I’m too tall for Tom’s perfect build; fine) to want to have sex with him (for the avoidance of doubt, Tom has never asked me to). But in movies his height doesn’t show, just that he is very handsome, very sexy, very, very funny and a very good actor. Tom Cruise is the kind of actor that makes even the action movies he stars in palatable, because he cannot but play tongue-in-cheek.

Do watch and sit out the closing credits of American Made. They’re among the best you are ever going to see.

Joaquin Phoenix

Ref. previous post, and earlier posts for this introductory para. I started with the Womanizer. I finished with the Foxy. Ladies are encouraged to emulate the sequence. I orgasmed like seldom before. At roughly USD 300 in machine investment, the orgasm was well worth the expenditure.

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Dress by Alberta Ferretti

I watched a movie, Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. I had never heard of him. He is very good. The film is not good. It’s very good in a superficial kind of way. There’s very good acting across the cast, which includes Robert de Niro as a supporting actor. But the film is over-the-top. The darkness of the general atmosphere is over-the-top. The eschatological theme is over-the-top. So is the narrative. But not the acting. Despite the intensity of the character played by Phoenix, there is no overacting. There are no takeaways from the film. Joker is a very intense bullshit movie, with a very good cast.

I searched for another movie with Phoenix. I came across You Were Never Really Here.

??

??

But I like Joaquin Phoenix a lot.