Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Show Pride In Your Double Wide

I got carded at World Market the other day, for a $7.99 bottle of Cab that had
a rooster on the label and a screw-off top.
It shan’t surprise you that I was thrilled beyond words!
I practically leaped over the counter to kiss the cashier.
I asked her if it was store policy to card everyone that looks under 100
and caught a quick glimpse of her facial expression as she resisted answering
my stupid question.
I gladly handed her my license. She looked at my picture on it and I could see it caught her attention. “What does your tee shirt say?” trying to read the caption
on my shirt. DMV photographers don’t win awards for their portraits, as you know, and I was relieved she wasn’t chuckling about the photo itself.
It says, “You Mess With Me, You Mess With The Whole Trailer Park.”
I respond proudly.
Her friendliness took a turn; she took a step back and bagged my wine.
“Have a nice day.” Her tone turned slightly judgmental.

What is about trailer parks that creeps people out? I didn’t always
dig the park life, but I never entered a frightened, creeped out state of being. People are scared as hell when you mention you live in a trailer park.
I tried saying “modular home community” for several years to soften the blow,
but finally I just gave in to the unavoidable fact:
I’m trailer trash!
I'm a "trailer" like Jacob Simmons from South Carolina who found an image of Jesus Christ on his Walmart receipt this week. Now that’s what I’m talking about!
Take a look at this short little ditty of Simmons and his fiancée, Gentry Lee.
Be sure to push the pause button to take a closer look at Gentry’s crucifix earrings.
The Lord himself is calling these two. Right after they left an inspiring sermon at their church and headed for Walmart for God only knows what, and he probably does, the couple were honored with the message.
Damn, I always wish for a direct line to above, but it always happens
to other folks.
“It was both shocking and breathtaking.” Jacob was reported as saying.
Hey, breathtaking for me is an orange sunset, but the ink on this receipt looks a lot like the smudged face of Charles Manson.

It’ll take some research on my part, but I’m betting money Jacob and Gentry
live in a “modular home community” on the outskirts of some town in South Carolina.
I’m pretty certain of that and if they don’t, they eventually will.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if they’re 2nd or 3rd cousins as this is a common occurrence in parks I have lived in. There’s no judgment within the park community and I do like that.
You gotta have a sense of pride: pride in your double-wide, pride in who you are and where you came from, pride in the bargains you get each and every day.

Misfits end up in trailer parks; different folks who stand out in a crowd of fancy people. Folks who travel the world believing in guts, gun control and macaroni and cheese from a box. Folks who would never in a million years buy their grandchild a breast-feeding baby doll that makes sucking sounds when the doll's mouth gets close to a child's shirt. Folks like you and me.

Have a day to remember!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

xoxoxoxo All You Need Is Love xoxoxoxoxo

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast” ~Ernest Hemingway

Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen’s latest “moveable feast” is uniquely delightful
and appealing, not only art and history buffs, but any and all who dare to enter
the magical world of pretend. Set in Paris in the early ‘20’s; a time of artistic
free-for-all and mayhem sprinkled with magic, Allen serves up a platter of wonderful situations and causes us to ask ourselves, “Why are we never content
in the now; but rather have either an acute craving for the past or an unquenchable curiosity for the future?”

Perhaps the moment is much too boring, lengthy or busy that savoring it seems
an impossibility. And is the future an exciting mystery yet to be explored?
Finally, where the hell did “the good old days” go?

I almost opened a vintage shop in the ‘80’s because of my obsession with old metal lunchboxes adorned with the super heroes of my childhood.
I dreamed of selling Nancy Sinatra knee-high boots, Fiesta ware dishes and
my grandmother’s jewelry. The shop would be filled with kitsch items from the ‘50’s, and ‘60’s; the time when everything was “happening’ clothing wise, music wise, quality wise. The good old days. Nostalgia takes you right out of your current shit, doesn’t it? So does some futuristic quest for undiscovered mysteries.

Woody’s time traveler is Gil who proves to us all, at least for 90 minutes,
the grass is in fact greener on the other side. I wouldn’t say this film is of magnitude depth, but it’s charming and clever, and at times wickedly astute
and hopeful.
Hope. That ever-alluring, on-again-off-again muse that teases us every once and awhile and keeps us from taking a serrated blade to our throats when things get heavy like plaster. Hope.
Obama won his entire presidential campaign on it, unlike me who, in 7th grade, won the seat of Girl’s Vice President by having an ample supply of Tootsie Pops before, during, and after the election. Hope.
It’s what America was built on, what dreams are made of, why women stay with their dirt bag husbands and certainly why Oprah is the highest rated show on primetime. When I dig into a bag of roasted pistachios, I have hope that I won’t get that one bad one that tastes like burnt charcoal.
(I have no self-control when pistachios are involved.)

In looking at this morning’s paper, I saw glimmers of hope:
Now that one struck me right in my heart-chord.
I would love to be remembered for knowing how to love.
Any of us would, because to know how to love, in all its depth, honesty and conviction, is perhaps the boldest and richest endeavor one can pursue on the planet, wouldn’t you say? Perhaps it’s the nostalgia thing again, but I have
this sudden urge to quote a man of my childhood.
Dr. Seuss once said about love, "When you are in love you can't fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams."
Ahhh…”in love.” Yes that too, but I am speaking of the purest form of love
and that would be love of life itself:
The morning sunrise, the appreciation of every feather on the heron, which are detailed like a painting, putting a pal first, or the family of sow bugs living under the watering can.
Indeed, I said, “the family of sow bugs.” My partner almost committed me to the psychiatric ward last weekend because I had a small emotional meltdown when she started removing the weeds and lumber scraps by the potting table.
Her actions killed a few creepy crawlies and totally disrupted a large community of sow bugs.
I lost it.
You see, my love for life, every form of it, exceeds my love for Ben and Jerry’s
Chunky Monkey. Truly. When I taught school, the first thing I taught my lads was “Every life has a life to live.” And then we’d take plastic cups and thin cardboard, trap the spiders on the walls, and set them free out
in the grassy soccer field.
Now that’s love.
I’m hoping that those students, now adults, transferred their love of spiders to protesting the NRA and leading anti-hunting rallies in their hometowns!
Save the deer and all that stuff.

Love, like Paris, stays with you.

~tpg xoxo

Friday, July 8, 2011

Coming Out of a Fog

I walk down the same streets in my neighborhood most every morning, crossing Hartnell and heading down Carl’s Alley. My daily walk takes me through
what is now known as Old Towne Monterey and a portion of my trek
is part of the Path of History, which is both tranquil and tragic as life itself
seems to be.

On this particular morning, it was a gray walk and it had been a gray week,
but out from the fog I passed a homeless woman on the corner of Calle Principal and Pacific and I heard her say to her friend,
“I could stay right here until I die as long as I have my guitar.”
Now that’s some kind of pride-n-joy, isn’t it? The same kind of pride
you felt as a kid when you were the first in your neighborhood to get
that cherry-red bike with the banana seat and the same kind of joy
as the first bite of your grandmother’s cinnamon bread pudding
warm out of the oven.
She struck a chord in me, so I asked her name and I stayed awhile.
It suited us both well, actually, exchanging small talk.
When there was a lull in the conversation, I gave her 5 bucks for the song
and told her I’d see her around, secretly hoping that the next time
there’d be more trust and we’d connect on a heart level.
That’s what it’s about for me, you know, whether it’s a friend of 30 years,
an acquaintance of 3 or a stranger on the street who plays the guitar for a few coins and the love of a song; nothing more and nothing less.
Her name is Kate and her guitar is a 1981 Gurian.
I walked on with thoughts of seeing her again in the not so distant future.

This kind of shit is important to me and I don’t understand those of a different skin; those that fill their ever-waking hours with themselves and fail to notice the finer beauty of others; those who spend every waking hour masturbating about all of their accomplishments, their knowledge, their personal greatness…
Hell, aren’t we all going to end up in a wooden box in the ground
or in a tin can of ashes, anyways? And who really gives a crap if you wrote a book or painted a masterpiece because when it’s over, baby, it’s over and you can’t spend it where you're going!
Kate is just like me and I am just like her.
Frankly, I’m beginning to realize I have very little time for those bastards that
are self-righteous, self-absorbed and just blatantly selfish!

A park life is many things, but one thing’s for sure: the people aren’t preoccupied with their own achievements, interests and situations. If anything, they’re preoccupied with everyone else’s!
I feel comfortable around real people, whether they live in the park, on the street, or in a pristine mansion in Malibu provided they be authentic and have a streak of selfLESSness. End of story.

New tangent.
There’s a reason why I lasted 6.5 years at the trailer park and a mere 8 weeks
at The Hotel. That reason lies somewhere between my genealogical roots;
coming from a long line of trailer trash, and my personal preference for
madness of the low-life kind.

The Hotel, in all it’s juiciness, is a living hell for a kid like me
who wears simple cotton tees from The Goodwill and can make 3 full meals out of
leftover cabbage and rice.

Granted, I liked when Ms. Francesca Frontin made her reservation every
few weeks to stay in room 710. I liked the fact that she spent boo-coo bucks
at The Spa, The Restaurant, The Hair Salon all located on The Hotel’s property.
I even found a quiet joy in the fact that she insisted that maintenance tape off
all the windows in 710 on the morning of her arrival to ensure the allergens from outside couldn’t penetrate her room. I liked that she directed housekeeping to use only a particular kind of cleaning product. I liked that her meals were to be prepared gluten-free. I liked what an uproar and escalation of bitching she caused throughout all departments at The Hotel. And as they obliged her every wish,
I liked the fact that she tipped with 20’s. Yea, I will miss the tipping.
But I will not miss having to answer the phone each and every time, within 3 rings using “The Magic Formula” which has “12 Ingredients to a Signature of Success.” And I will not miss being “shop-called” on a regular basis and then having to listen to my recorded call, self-critique and then call New York for practice and coaching on how to improve my sales and phone presence in order to be the best I can be.
Oh, and I will not miss the understaffed insanity of getting slammed with
check-outs, check-ins, taking reservations, phones ringing off the hook,
including “in-house” calls like the one from Ms. Bass in 807 who demanded a room change, while using profanity and insisting the room was occupied and dirty upon her arrival because the bed was turned back, the table light left on, and there was a chocolate on the pillow.

But I’ll tell you what…I fucking miss the trailer park life. It’s in my blood, I suppose from way back, and a girl can’t just shake what’s in her blood.

January 9, 2007

Space 3 complains the weeds and brush are too high across the drive where she takes her over-weight dachshunds to “take a dump.” She just wanted to inform us that she isn’t going pick up the turds now because she can’t see them in the overgrown brush, but will resume following the “dog poop rule” when the weeds are whacked.
Space 3 is whacked but God love her.

September 23, 2008

Space 25 complains that when her next-door neighbor empties his bathtub,
water bubbles up in her toilet. She is also pissed at space 26 because they want
to plant shrubs and she feels the sap from their choice of shrub will
get on and damage her car.

It’ feels like a fog is lifting and I am accepting the comfortableness of my own skin; a re-emergence of appreciation of life’s many sweet treasures.
I write not because I’m the best writer or have to be published,
but because I have to write.
I give not because there is a prize for the biggest giver,
but because I have to give.
I surround myself with down-to-earth people not because
they are simple-minded and I am obliged to,
but rather because I am down-to-earth as well…
People, like Kate, who would be content to die on the street as long as
they could die playing their music, not for large sums of money or fame,
but for the pure passion of the song…I’ll take them any day over the rest.
Those folks were and are in the park, the park where I come from.
The park where a cockroach is a roach and a cockerel is a rooster because
park-folk can't bring themselves to say cock.
I like that.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Born in the USA

I know as I’m writing this, Space 7 is cruising around the park on his pink trike which is decorated to the hilt with red, white, and blue streamers and glitter stars. He’s stopping in front of every unit that has kids and taking the rugrats on free rides in honor of the fourth. Pinky’s a cool cat.

It’s been decades since I enjoyed a Fourth of July. I remember as a kid loving
the annual outing to the Ventura County Fairgrounds, spreading our blanket, squishing in between the masses of Venturians who, with tilted heads and ostrich necks would stare open-mouthed at the blackened sky as it lit up with splashes of yellows and greens, with streaks of reds, whites and blues.


Fireworks are everything to a kid and quite frankly there are not too many things, even to this day, that bring me to those “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” with quite the same momentous intensity. (Well, actually, I can think of a ‘handful’ of other things…)
But comrades, the Independence Day celebration, the patriotic reason to eat pounds of nitrates stuffed in buns, buy 12-packs at blockbuster prices, and watch hundreds of women strut around in embroidered flag sweatsuits with matching earrings just doesn’t float my canoe any more and I’ll tell you why…

Because I know the truth.
I started thinking too much about it in the early 80’s. When I wasn’t cutting class, or drinking Slow-Gin Fizzes, I was starting to read and listen and hang out with some WikiLeak types. I became a Gator at San Francisco State University and had my eyes pried open to all the missing events and factual accounts of our history, religion and politics that had been intentionally deleted from our textbooks. Holla!

It's easier to not think about it too much, not speak about it too much,
and just buy a 3.99 lawn chair at Walgreens where, with your purchase, they’ll give you a 10-inch American flag on a stick to wave.
It’s much easier to just, unfold your chair, laugh at all the ridiculous jokes around you, eat a hot dog or two, pound a beer, sing a couple bars of The Star Spangled Banner and watch the damn fireworks!
But if you read too much or ask too many questions, if you’re one of those weirdoes like me that is curious about what’s between the lines, you begin to see a very sick and demented pattern:
a pattern that extends across every border and is the true history of every single nation on the planet. Every nation that exists today declares its current independence on the backs of another whom they have destroyed, controlled or stolen from. And if you think otherwise, you probably also enjoy watching Teletubbies on Saturday mornings.
There is not a nation that exists today that has ever gained its independence through compassionate decision-making, compromise and negotiation, and certainly this is true of the USA. Just ask a Cherokee or other indigenous people if you can find any.

There are numerous songs and anthems paying tribute to our nation’s collective history but none say it quite like Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA.
It reminds us, though war is futile and meaningless, those who give their lives to fight it are not.
But rather than escort you down that bleak, dark, pungent septic hole, I’ve decided to offer up a few gifts by a few greats; with the hope of making something beautiful out of something quite ugly…

Happy Fourth my chums!

If crime fighters fight crime, and firefighters fight fire, then what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that to us, do they? ~George Carlin

You have to love a nation that celebrates its Independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.

~Erma Bombeck

Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.

~George Bernard Shaw

He gave me a copy of The Declaration of Independence, then he got a tattoo that says Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death. I think my boyfriend wants his freedom. 
~The Better Half cartoon by Randy Glasbergen