March 2009

I am reading two books right now and have a stack of others to read. Dennis Perrin’s “Savage Mules” and “Her Last Death”, a memoir by Susanna Sonnenberg. I’m a sucker for dysfunctional family memoirs… working on my own, in fact. But I really don’t read like I used to since this internet thing started taking over my life. Normally, I would have read these books in a matter of days but now it’s taking weeks to slog through them. When Myspace appeared on the horizon I felt compelled, as a Teen Services Librarian, to see what it was all about. Before I knew it, all the librarians were on, many friends were on and I was obsessed. I met a couple of people via Myspace who I would consider cyberfriends. One, a single mom in England with a teenage son. A writer of sorts herself, we supported each other through some boyfriend dramas, kid dramas, even made plans for her to visit me in Seattle.  She has since become involved happily with a man and thus, the travel plans and our communications have trailed off a bit. Which reminds me I need to drop her a line.

I also became a fan of Haley Bonar, an incredible musician from Minnesota via Myspace music and when she came touring in Seattle and played the Tractor, she knew me from our online connection… I felt the warm fuzzies that only the intertoobs can provide… Look! Our world is indeed a better place for all of this technology. I befriended another musician in Ohio. For a while I only knew his name by checking out  the roster on his band’s page. Nonetheless, we were pretty tight for a summer there….. his music inspired me and he turned me on to some other great musicians. His mom is a librarian so he naturally took me into his circle of friends… sorta.  We still touch base from time to time. He’s a real person and a good person to boot, married to a smart documentary filmmaker, doing good in the world. I also met a young, extremely bright and politically minded young woman living in Lebanon. She won’t show her face on the internet which leads me to believe she is also alarmingly beautiful. She blogs on Myspace still….. I have tried to convince her to expand but I don’t think she has gone beyond that platform. She blogs about Palestine and the atrocities the Israelis commit daily and the encroachment into Lebanon. Powerful stuff. I’m proud to know her.

On WordPress, I met and befriended a young woman blogger who is  in her mid 20’s and who blogged mostly about her sexploits and depression related to her eating disorder, drinking and man woes. We became fairly close, e-mailing, occasionally calling each other. Again, there were plans for her to visit Seattle and hang out with the old lady trapped in the adolescent’s body. And The Boy was also really into that idea, considering she is totally hot in that blonde big boobs kind of way. But she’s also really smart and her writing could blow any of us out of the water hands down. An incredible writer, if a little misguided on the life path. Now she’s pregnant and married and I wish the best for her, although her blogging has taken a decidedly different (non-existent) path, deservedly so. If you’re reading this post E. I would still welcome you to Seattle with your baby and husband…. you are incredible!! E. also introduced me to some other women bloggers who write naughty but well thought out and executed posts- smart women who enjoy sex and who think about life a little more deeply than most.  And now there’s Facebook.  Where I spend hours examining other people’s “status”, comments, photos, videos, lives.  Mining for curiosities.

Then there’s the male blogger I have become acquainted with over the past few years. A dark soul with an incredible mind  and posts that blow me away. All kinds of writing. Dark, funny, sexy. He’s challenged me to do more and better writing, and he also helped me through that really rough breakup with The Boy. Who knows what will become of that one….  it’s a wild card. My first true cybercrush!!! Perfect for the Teen librarian who can’t stop being a teen, despite the fact that she is mother to a teen.

All of these folks are real people. When I tell my friends who are not into the blogs, social networking, etc., they are a little suspicious about these activities. They question if these people are really who they say they are and not the proverbial dirty old men, sitting in dark, dank basements pretending to be blond blue eyed girls and boys. Get over it people. And join the 21st century.

But back to my original point. I am not reading like I used to read. Books, I mean. There’s a whole school of information professionals who will argue that reading is reading, whether it’s a phone text or the internet , other media or in book form. Still, I like the feel of a book in my hands, of being cozy in bed getting lost in a world conjured by type set on paper. I want to get back to that world. It’s another thing on my list of things to reclaim. That and my ice skating dream. But that’s another story altogether.

It was a large oil painting that hung over the piano in our living room. The house was a typical Southern 60’s brick rambler, 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, in one of the wealthier neighborhoods of the time. It sat on a half acre lot which backed up on a fascinating white clay and mud swamp filled with snakes, frogs, rabbits, cicadas, you name it. There was a small forest of pines on one side of the yard, the infamous Keenan family on the other. Their house was much more opulent than ours, as they were the Keenans of Keenan Oil, and the Mrs. Keenan was known for spending days in bed in elegant peignoirs while her little girls ran wild through the neighborhood. Susan and Julia Keenan were the girls who took a stick and drew body parts in the dirt of their driveway, explaining to little 7 year old me what sex was, what parts went where when my mom and dad “did it”. I was horrified and cried myself to sleep that night after telling my mom what they had said. She sat on my bed and told me that it was true that men and women did that, but it was a beautiful thing, an act of love. I was still heartbroken to think of my parents putting their private parts together in such a way.

But I digress. The oil painting was given to us by a friend, Proctor Davis. Proctor was a hair stylist and married to a beautiful platinum blonde named Martha. Proctor was obviously very gay but in the 60’s this was not to be discussed. He and his wife were part of the horse show world my dad and older sister inhabited. She rode English style and they were always gone, touring the southeast winning beautiful blue, red, green, purple, and gold satin ribbons that covered her bedroom wall, trophies that lined her bookcase and desktop. My sister and dad existed in their own world, apart from the rest of us who did not ride. Sometimes I would go along, dreaming of the day when I would have my own horse and compete in the circuit myself. In fact, it was assumed that I would be groomed to be the next in line for the equestrian daughter’s role, but that day never came as time took its toll and bankruptcies, both moral and financial, ensued.

Back to the painting. It was of a beautiful black mare and her colt trapped in a burning forest, running to escape, but no escape appeared in the painting. The terrified colt trailed behind its mother, vibrant red flames and fallen burning and charred trees surrounded them. I was fascinated and saddened by it at the same time. In retrospect, it was poorly executed, obviously the work of an amateur – but I would gladly pay a million dollars for it today if I had a million dollars and if it still existed. God knows where it ended up after our family started the Great Unraveling. Most likely in a landfill somewhere with hundreds of other childhood treasures lost over the decades. Probably covered by suburban sprawl and air conditioned double garage houses designed for genteel Bubbas in pink Izod shirts and khakis.

The painting….. right. Looking back it seems odd that such a thing would hang in a living room fashioned in the standard Southern traditional design with its boring love-seats, Audubon bird prints, Civil War and World War II book collection and Colonial style furniture. It just didn’t fit in with the rest of the place. But there it was prominently hanging over the piano where my mother would play her overly animated boogie-woogie (god, that term rankles me to this day) tunes and hold court with my sisters’ friends on weekends. She was always so lively, so talkative, so charming and funny (sometimes embarrassing) with the teenage boys and girls that came to visit, sitting around the piano and playing and singing. I asked my sisters why mom seemed so different at night… she was a totally foreign person to me at those times. They told me she was just “happy”. Now I know that her happiness was the result of her escape from the world via vodka and rum. But that did not become apparent to me until much later.

The red painting. The mare and colt trapped in the flames. No escape. The drama of it all. The pain and the beauty. One of the more powerful memories of that time for me.


It’s been 15 days since I last consumed alcohol. I find myself aternating between mania and narcolepsy.  But I’d have to say I feel pretty good.  There’s certainly the boredom that I face nightly between the hours of 5.-10 pm when I would normally be swilling wine and telephoning friends, blogging madly, or going out to look for some form of excitement. Now I find my moribund entertainment  in actually cooking dinner and eating it, watching tv shows and remembering them and god forbid, actually thinking about my future (which is not really entertaining).

Where is it that I want to be in 5 years? Just laboring part-time in the library only to pay down my ridiculously high consumer debt? Let’s not even think about the grad. school loans.

There are ways to break this shit down.  My friend Mike is working on a Master Plan for my life but for some reason I’m not sure he’s the one to do it,  as the first thing on his agenda is that we take ballroom dance lessons together.  Considering he is partially crippled and gay, this could be the thing to do … perhaps it will crack open another little chip in my facade and let the rainbows come spilling out from deep within me where I am sure they must be hiding.  He also insists that I get my piano back from the ex, which is something I really need to do. And then there are those divorce papers I have to file, or find, or at least look at. I might have mentioned that the ex is somewhat impaired in the brains department so the burden falls upon me to get those wheels in motion.  It’s only been 2.5 years since we separated. Let’s not rush into anything okay? Besides, I’ve been impaired myself for quite some time.

On the good news front, spring is slowly coming to Seattle although today it is snowing lightly. We are all anticipating more daylight hours as our vitamin D deficiencies are taking us to new depths of despair. I have to answer a questionnaire for a “profile” feature on the library’s teen blog and the questions are impossible to answer. “Why Teen Services?” Truthfully? I think I was hired by mistake. There was a rush to hire a stable of Teen librarians back in 1999 and somehow my resume got thrown into the bunch. I was looking for a Children’s Librarian job, but then got a call that I was in – just like that – for the job that I currently inhabit.  I never even wanted to be a Teen Librarian. But I have to come up with something a little more positive I guess. Something cheerful and chirpy. “Teens are awesome! Especially the boys between 17 – 18… hot!!!”  Then there’s the “What’s the best thing about living in Seattle?”  Even harder to answer. It’s where there’s a job and I’m kind of stuck here. I don’t like the weather, I don’t like the beaches (cold, rocky, uninviting) I don’t like the way the city has extorted money from taxpayers for projects that never pan out (monorail…… how much money did we throw down the drain on that one? – sports stadiums we voted down but still they built them). The best thing I can say about Seattle is there are no giant flying cockroaches here like there were in the South.  I’m not into hiking, snow sports or kayaking so,  really, what can I say?  I like sailing and there’s a million sailboats out here but the water is so fucking cold you would never want to go in it… even in the deepest summer month that we get.  I said “month”.  Also,  I have to provide a photo of me “then” (as a teen) and “now” (as the Mary Kay Letourneau of the library).   I’ll scan in my first high school dance photo. Oh the sheer innocence!!! The hope!!! The hideous date!! With a name like J.T. Bigalke, yes he was a football player, how can you go wrong??? The 70’s!!!!  I’ll update here later with a link.  Sorry J.T., wherever you are today. I’ve got the entire other story to write about you. Later…..  “Mamie and I Race to Lose Our Virginity”…..