April 2009


Picture poem by Kenneth Patchenpatchen1

is going to sleep for a while. I don’t want to delete it and I don’t have the patience to go through every page and make the posts “pending review”… so I’ve done some of that for more recent posts and will let the old stuff hang around to haunt me….   I’m not sure if I want to disply my attempts at writing to random web surfers any longer…  not too many folks out there are regular readers so if I continue with this drivel, I might go password protected so the 3 of you can read from time to time (when you’re bored or curious as to what I’ve been up to….) Anyways. This has been an interesting endeavor. An exercise…  perhaps to continue or perhaps not….  feel free to delete me from your blogrolls , links, etc. and thanks to those few who have annointed me with the honor of appearing on said blogrolls….  now onto the work of Spring!!!

marty51

Damn you,  Dan Fogelberg….. that stupid grocery store/Christmas song made it impossible for me not to title this post as I have. Spilling her groceries and laughing till you cried.  Why would that be so funny? I never got that schmaltzy song at all.

This past week I ran into two old lovers. And let me say I detest the word “lover”…. totally grosses me out.  At any rate, these were friendly encounters. The first was indeed at the art museum. When we were together K. was 50 and I was 34. He was a fairly well known and respected artist. I was desperately looking to horn in on the Seattle art scene having just moved here from South Carolina (i.e. everyone assumed I was a dumb cracker, an entertaining oddity, or both) and was out to  find some validation in the hipster culture of  Belltown, one of the city’s enclaves of all that was artsy  and edgy. Having been somewhat adopted into a certain clique as the resident Southern whacko, I had already been through a cartoonist, a struggling actor, a few musicians, some poets, a few writers. Let’s just say I was starting to make a name for myself in Belltown but not for my artistic talents. K was a semi-regular in the tavern that I had adopted as my virtual living room. When he asked me to lunch I was floored. That turned out to be the longest lunch of my lifetime. We went to a Vietnamese restaurant and then back to his place where we drank tea and talked all afternoon, then moved on to dinner and sake and I ended up staying the night and then not leaving for the next 8 months or so. When K. actually fell in love with me I could never trust that he took me seriously or that he was not a little ashamed to be with me. I had a lot to learn. He took the picture above, a little blurry and worn after all these years. That’s my dog Sparky with me. Best dog ever in the history of the world.

K  lived in a huge loft in a decrepit old building in Pioneer Square, which was pretty much where one lived in the early 90’s if one was a serious artist. (Nearby Belltown was also acceptable, but had fewer lofts.)  It was not a legal living space but it did have a rustic full bath and he had made a cozy little kitchen in a corner where he concocted delicious Asian dinners on a tabletop gas stove. We’d walk to Uwajimaya, the Asian market,  and buy exotic ingredients for our meals, huge bottles of sake, Japanese tableware. He was very much into the Asian aesthetic and, in fact, was the lighting director for the city’s Asian art museum. At age 50, K. was in great shape but had a face that reflected a lot of living. A face with a view, to quote Mr. Byrne. Craggy yet handsome in that Willem Dafoe kind of way, with long gray hair worn in a ponytail. Usually in jeans or wide wale cords, shiny black cowboy boots and a black leather jacket. With his sparkling blue eyes and easy laugh, he was iconic to me. Still shaky and uncertain, finding my feet in this new world,  I couldn’t believe he loved me.

We spent most of our time in his loft cooking, eating, reading, doing the NY Times crossword puzzles, watching Kurosawa films and listening to music. This was heady stuff to a Southern girl who had yearned for Bohemia her whole life. We were rarely seen together in social settings. I think we went to dinner one time at his friends’ home. I was very conspicuously out of place. And I was very uncomfortable and paranoid.  The seeming secrecy of the relationship made me all the more certain that he harbored veiled shame for being with me. When I revealed our relationship to a woman who was a real player in the Belltown scene she laughed in disbelief. What the hell was he doing with me? It seemed absurd to her, almost unbelievable.  I was, after all, an anomaly. A hanger on, a mascot. Not a true member of the In Crowd.

In time, like all things, the relationship went sour. Turned out  K. had bad mommy issues and was  extremely jealous.  Mommy was a bit of a tramp when he was young, dad was shot and killed in a bar fight. Living with a somewhat loose single mom in the 50’s had taken its toll on him. Women were suspect… secret sluts. I certainly fit that mold. There was also the fact that he had a vasectomy, I wanted children and he did not. I was still young enough and wild enough that I liked to spend time in the bars with my friends from time to time.  On one occasion, K. stormed into the bar and tried to drag me out, cursing and accusing me of hooking up with another guy there, who was actually his friend and who would never mess with me. He ended up punching a telephone pole in his frustration and anger, cutting his hand badly.  I was amazed at the intensity of his jealousy.  Things came to a halt shortly thereafter but I pined away for him for quite a while. These were the days when answering machines had cassette tapes in them and you could record your message forever if you wanted. So I did. I would end up at midnight, lonely and drunk and wishing him back in my life, playing some beautifully depressing song on my stereo. I’d dial his number and just leave the receiver by the speaker so he would hear the music.  I don’t remember how long I kept at this ritual but it was definitely longer than necessary. Naturally, he never responded to any of that drama.

Eventually I found someone else and K. faded into the past. We had a few random encounters over the next years. I tried to revive the relationship at one point even after I was (unhappily) married and had my baby but he was fairly strident in his refusal to engage me on any level.  Last week I was at the downtown art museum with my daughter, now age 13, and there he was…now working as the lighting director….. que impresivo!!!  Approaching 70, he looked a little worse for the wear but not that much different.  I was surprised to see him walking his very recognizable confident walk  through the gallery where I was searching for the kid and he seemed equally surprised to see me.  Apparently  he thought I hadn’t  lived in Seattle since I left over 10 years ago for library school. Although I had spied him walking down the street from time to time over the years since I’d returned, his luck had finally run out. Here we were face to face.  I wanted to introduce him to my daughter but she was nowhere to be found.  I asked if he had ever married and no, he hadn’t. We chatted briefly and that was that.  Then I set out to find the kid, bemused and nostalgic as I wandered through the museum.

Later in the week, another ex came into the library with his wife and two adorable daughters.  I’ve run into him there several times over the past year. We were never very serious.  H. wasn’t much of a talker and I was a nervous chatterbox in his presence. Our relationship consisted of pretty much nothing other than fucking. After seeing way too many David Lynch films, I asked him to take me to the seediest hotel we could find out on Aurora Avenue (famous for street hookers) and fuck me. He willingly obliged. It was not very exciting in the end, as I was fairly distracted by the nasty condition of the room and the screaming and fighting that was going on behind the paper thin walls that surrounded us. It was definitely NOT hot.

But today, seeing him with his wife and kids, our conversations are easy. I’m not that nervous little chatterbox anymore and age has loosened him up a bit. He is still gorgeous to look at, which is what drew me to him in the first place.  I like him now. I don’t think I really did back in the day.

I could go on and on about old lovers, (again..that word…);  their numbers are legion.  Most were forgettable, some still haunt me.  And this brings me to my greatest fear. I fear I will end up strapped to a very uncomfortable mattress in some random, shabby nursing home. A babbling old lady shouting out obscenities and detailed descriptions of the sexual exploits of my youth as the orderlies change the rubber sheets on my bed.  I am resolved not to let this happen. Guns, gas, razor blades, pills and booze. They’re all there for a reason.

NEWSFLASH:  Just as I was finishing up this post, I received a notice on Facebook that another old flame, J, had sent a message and had friended me.  I haven’t seen or heard from him in at least 13 years. We lived together for several years in Charleston, SC  when I was in my late 20’s. The whole thing resulted in a visit to the loony bin for me. A rough one. Too long a story to go into at this point.

Irony is alive and well. I think it’s my middle name.

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Actually, there is no God. Otherwise I would not be suffering this day at the library, the horror, the sorrow and the pity. Things did not start out well to begin with. After continuously hitting the snooze button on my alarm, I was awakened at 10 a.m. by a phone call from a co-worker asking where the hell I was. I threw my clothes on, made a quick coffee and sped to work, arriving within 30 minutes of the call, but still and hour late. This one will probably earn me an official write-up with the boss man. Sigh.

Upon arrival I realized it was the day for a program which was to be presented by one of the most annoying old geezers I’ve ever met.  To maintain anonymity, I can’t reveal the actual name of the program but it was along the lines of  “yowza… let me show you how funny I am.”. Mr. A  is an 80-something cheeseball who considers himself extremely witty and extremely special. He wants to share his love of laughter (it’s medicinal!!!) and slapstick comedy with the world. In the fucking library. Let’s make this clear up front: NOT funny.

So here comes Mister Show with his boxes full of stuffed animals, assorted gag props and next thing I know, he’s wearing giant orange  plastic duck feet, plopping around the library with his short-ass self, grinning maniacally, holding up a huge pair of jeans, in an effort to drum up an audience. I’m on the phone with a reference question and he’s standing in the library yelling out “did you lose your pants?” I am dying. I want to die. But first I want to pummel the old fart. Patrons are fleeing the building. He continues to circle the library looking for takers. There are none. He struts jauntily back  to the conference room, where he is supposed to be presenting this side-splitting humor.  He commences to sing Old MacDonald complete with neighing, whinnying and all the other animal sounds. He sings loudly. He is alone in the conference room. He’s laughing.  Loudly. At nothing. He comes back into the library, giant duck feet slapping the floor, with a stuffed lamb on his shoulder, waving at the few remaining patrons who have not fled but who are desperately trying to ignore him. This spectacle continues  on for about a half an hour. One of my most beloved patrons approaches me at the reference desk and tells me the one thing she learned growing up in New York City: never make eye contact with the crazies.

I’m having an IM conversation with my pal and co-worker Mike, who is safe at home today:

11:49amMartha
here he comes

11:49amMike
flirt

11:49amMartha
he’s got the side door open
and it’s freezing

11:49amMike
WTH – you can’t let him do that

11:49amMartha
he’s rounding the building in his duck feet

i’m not doing anything

i’m staying away from him

11:49amMike
cereal. you’ve got to stop him

11:49amMartha
no.

i can’t deal with him

11:50amMike
Rob will be pissed [note: Rob = manager]


11:50amMartha
i’m telling Rob and Rob is going to kick his ass

11:50amMike
his duck ass

11:50amMartha
I think he’s giving up
no takers
an hour of desperation
is almost up

ahhhhhhhhh… relief. He packs his boxes, takes off the duck feet. It’s over.  The day continues as sunshine fills the library through endless floor to ceiling windows. The Cherry Blossoms are in bloom. I hear the flutter of hummingbird wings.

elyse-and-teenie-weenie

Seems to me that if I’m not lamenting something or ranting about something in life, my posts are not that catchy or interesting. Does happiness put a dent in creativity? Not for that godawful guy who paints those schmeeezy paintings…. lovely ponds with stone bridges over them and  a snug little house in the distance behind all the flowering trees and butterflies….what the hell is his name? Something or other Kincaid.

Anyway…. I think it’s an adjustment. That’s all. Why worry about it anyway? I am not compelled. It’s not a calling. It’s merely some form of  expression, perhaps therapeutic  at times, but if the blog sucks, it sucks.  Sporadic. Frequent. Rarely. It doesn’t matter.

Now. Let’s talk about those puppy mills. The picture above is of my daughter cradling the tiniest little Pomeranian I’ve ever seen (about 4 lbs at approx. age 2). This poor little dog was taken in by my friend Barbara for fostering although I believe she has bonded now to the point that Barb will just keep her. This dog was most likely a “breeder”, meaning she was never let out of her small cage and, consequently, has severly bowed back legs. Barb said that when they first got her, she didn’t seem to understand the concept of walking. She could stand but didn’t really know how to walk. She has bounced back amazingly well and now runs around the house barking and interacting with Barb’s other two dogs.

Here’s a LINK to what the Humane Society of the US has on its page about Washington’s regulations on puppy mills.

State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, and Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, have introduced legislation to limit the number of breeding dogs a person can possess as well as establish some basic care standards for dogs. These would include providing clean food and water and allowing dogs to leave their cages for at least an hour of exercise each day. Since this is a nationwide problem, and considering that Washington state is one of the more liberal, I am guessing that other states don’t have much in the way of laws agains puppy mills either. I am researching.

Since I originally wrote this post, Barb has indeed adopted the little dog. Also, I have discovered that the Amish are among the most prolific puppy mill breeders. The Amish? Go figure.