Saturday, February 25, 2012

You Can't Make This Shit Up

I’m so fortunate to have a huge circle of pals that I can laugh with, sob with, bounce ideas off of, turn the radio volume up high with…
My friends and I spend endless afternoons, nights and occasional weekends pondering answers to life’s questions and more importantly, validating the shit out of each other.
We listen hard and laugh even harder.
There’s a whole damn group of us who raise hell every chance we get.
The Bad Girls Book Club started out meeting at the park a few years ago. The trailer park seemed like the perfect setting because right next to the Astroturf area was the hot tub.  Basically my peeps would come over, we’d pour the wine, laugh like fools often do, discuss the assigned book for less than 5 minutes, suit up and jump in the hot tub only to laugh some more.  This is how we roll.


DJ

DJ and I have been friends for nine years.
Our friendship started with a little walk around a neighborhood in which she told me of her Catholic upbringing, her 5 siblings, her childhood memories of telling the nuns where they could shove it…
And me, divulging my redneck roots, my rebel-rousing days, my fetish for sappy love songs. 
Neighborhood walks turned into lengthy pit stops at the local brewery.  Eventually, my big fat closet door busted open, in which she calmly informed me
to "get over it" b/c she had a gay bro.   Since those early days, we’ve travelled to Mexico, Palm Springs and the High Sierras together.  She used her all of 5’2” muscles to move me to the trailer park and told me some bullshit story when I got the manager position; that I was “totally cut out for the job.” She, like my other pals, is one of those “lifers” that, if I were to commit the heinous act of murder, she would tell others, “She must have had a good reason.”  We’ve fought off toothless dragons in honky-tonks, run out of water in the sweltering heat of the Yucat√°n; her with her head full of shampoo, answered personal ads on wine-induced evenings.
We’ve danced under the stars as if this time here on the planet were not a dress rehearsal.
DJ and I have more commonalities than differences; for example, we both have our priorities as to what “staples” are always in the house.  Neither of our essentials ever get crossed off the shopping list.  

LS

LS should be invited to every party.  She’s hella fun. Last night some of us gathered for our weekly TGIT which many of us have been doing every Thursday, more or less, since 1997.
We usually all talk at the same time and none of us can hear a word that anyone’s saying, but we still validate each other anyway; nod and bob in agreement and continue drinking.  LS is a character and I should emphasize Char-ac-ter with a capital “C.”
She’s witty, charming and petite but whoa can she carry a punch!   Her hubby makes the best marinara sauce; like the kind you’d lick the plate spotless and proudly tout your saucy red mustache above your upper lip.
So last night, when the chatter subsided to a rare low, LS told us that while at home the other day, there was a knock at her front door.  When she answered it she was surprised to see a neighbor, an acquaintance of sort, who rarely visits.
Did I mention LS to be charming? Well, in her perfectly charming way, she greeted the neighbor…
Would you care to come inside?” 
Oh, no.” the neighbor thanked her.  “I’m just stopping by to tell you that I have a friend who had a “calling” from our Lord the other night.  In his vision, the Lord told him that your home 
was destined to be his.” 
I’m certain my pal held a friendly smile on her face.
“The Lord came to him in a dream and told him that you and your husband needed to sell your home to him as soon as possible, as your home was the place that he absolutely needed to purchase.”
She went on.

Smiling, (I would have been totally creeped out) LS asked, 
“How did he know it was our home?”

The neighbor pointed up to the stained-glass window next to my friend’s front door.
This very window, and the dove at its center, was clearly on the front door of the house in his dream.”
“I see.” my friend replied as she politely brought her down easy and let her know that her house 
was not for sale.

I absolutely dig those “you can’t make this shit up” situations. 
Like the time space 20 decided to host a birthday party for his two-year old son. 
Cars started piling in around 10:00 am.  (I’m always shocked at how huge a two-year old’s birthday party can be with Mexican-American families) Folks of all ages, carrying pots filled with steaming hot entrees, pans of enchiladas, balloons, beautifully wrapped gifts, a cake the size of my living room, 
ice chests of Modelo, Mariachi’s, …And everybody was dressed like it was a wedding.  I managed to direct all the vehicles to appropriate and legal parking spaces, but the unforeseen clincher was when I got a call that there was something being blown-up in the middle of our narrow street and it was blocking the road.  I walked back down to 20, only to find one of those inflatable fun houses BOLTED into the asphalt in four places. 


Oh, yea, and then there was the time space 10’s cousin was running for local office, so he took it upon himself to plaster election posters of the candidate on every fence post, light pole, electrical box in the goddamn park.  He used Instant Krazy Glue.  

I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried. 

FLASHBACK




INTERVIEWS FOR PART-TIME MAINTANCE WORKER
12-15 HOURS PER WEEK   MINIMUM WAGE

9:00 AM
Sitting in the “club house” which consists of a picnic table, 3 chairs, a small bookcase of paperbacks and a closet with cleaning supplies, I await my first applicant.
He shows up 10 minutes late with a face as red as Bing cherries and breath that would blow you over if your chair wasn’t firmly planted on the linoleum.

9:15AM
The next applicant is punctual, arriving early in a three-piece suit and carrying a box of Winchell’s Donuts.  He’s as happy as a used car salesman.

9:30 AM
No show.

9:45 AM
No show.

10:00 AM
I see a cowboy pull up in a beat-up Chevy pickup with tons of crap in the back.  He gets out and as he heads toward me, his body odor burns a hole in my nostrils.
He’s polite and apologetic about his appearance as he’s “been haulin shit ever since the sun came up.”  
He takes a seat and proceeds to tell me how much he loves driving his Chevy; how horrible Toyotas and Fords are, “They’re so ugly you have to toss a steak in the bed just to get your dog to take a ride.”

(I especially love # 37)

10:20 AM
I encourage this cowboy to wrap it up.

10:30 AM
A twenty-something, who lives 30 minutes away and really needs work, comes in. 
He’s clean, intelligent and sober.
I hire him on the spot.

All my friends kept me sane during the nearly 8 years I managed the trailer park. 
Yesiree, and I‘m forever in their debt.  And if you’re reading this right now,
I’m certainly talking about you!
~tpg     

Monday, February 13, 2012

Our Buddha Brains

While most people prefer the exquisite beauty of a full moon, I prefer a half moon; perfectly sliced right smack down the center and just as powerful in its ability to light up a night sky.  I'm up before the crow flies this morning and she, la luna media, is staring down at my sleepy-ass eyes.  Been trying to just "go with it" when I wake early; not only embrace the wee hours of the morning when only vampires and me are awake; but more than that, make a Zen-like, transcendental, cosmic, goddess effort to begin each new day with a head filled with only positive thoughts.  I’m talking thoughts of love, happiness, wisdom and pretty little yellow daisies sprinkled in fairy dust.
Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, Dalai Lama and other great teachers were born with a brain built essentially like this: happy. Then they used their minds in ways that changed history, didn't they?
An acquaintance just loaned me a book by neurologist Richard Mendius, M.D. called Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom.  It’s well-referenced and grounded in science, so of course, I skimmed that shit because all that is much too much for a girl from a trailer park.  But with all it’s heady scientific mumbo jumbo, the book is also full of practical tools and skills that we can use in daily life to rewire our brain over time, in order to feel as if we’re in that field of fairy-dusted daisies 24/7.  Mendius seems to join modern science with ancient teachings to show you how to have greater emotional balance in turbulent times, as well as healthier relationships, more effective actions, and greater peace of mind.
Sounds like a bunch of Kum Ba Yah and ceremonial sweat lodge crap, I know, but Mendius refers to our brains as being like Velcro when it comes to negative biases, but Teflon when it comes to positive ones.  One stat I do recall when skimming the book was this, “It takes 5 positive thoughts to erase one negative thought and reconnect a brain “circuit.”  Wow!  Five!  Shit, those can add up.       I mean if you watch the news, go on Facebook, talk to the grumpy dude next door, cross a street in front of a road–rager, read a newspaper, wait in line at the DMV, or just step out your front door into the world, negative thoughts loom.  Some originate out of a need for pure survival, while others breed like the families I worked with in the hills of Bangor, CA but nonetheless, use your math brain; replacing every single one of those negative thoughts with five positive ones could be quite exhausting, not to mention, for me, take 25 hours in a day.  Like, for instance, this comment made by Chanel fashion designer, Karl Largerfeld, last week about Adele:
“She has a beautiful face and a divine voice, but she’s a little too fat.”
http://news.pinkpaper.com/NewsStory/6894/8/02/2012/karl-largerfeld-claims-british-chart-topper-adele-is-too-fat.aspx
His stupid, selfish comment stinks like his fragrances and sticks to my brain's Velcro like flies on shit.  It’ll take way more than 5 positive thoughts to re-wire my brain with this one.  I’ll have to work overtime to replace all my negative thoughts about Karl, and all the other men just like Karl, that think women should starve themselves for a dude’s pleasure.  As if a woman is really only beautiful if a man gives his approval or if she looks like a model in one of Karl's Chanel ad. 
This is real for me.  
I actually live  it every day, and so do millions of women. Young girls too. And so I guess I better fucking open Buddha’s Brain again and read not skim, or I think I could kill Karl and all the dudes like Karl.  The Chanel mastermind also said, “Nobody wants to see curvy women.”  Well, that’s bullshit too, Karl.  You don’t think Adele has to deal with this bullshit every day of her life like so many of us?  Except, she's in the limelight and so her photo is constantly being taken and then airbrushed before it hits the cover page of any magazine.  And what do you think that does to her soul. Karl? 
I'm actually hoping that the next time I want a cookie or a second helping of rice; the next time I look in a mirror with self-doubt or suck in my stomach (Automatic. programmed in at a very young age)  I'm hoping that your words, Karl, will help me replace those nasty habits and all those damaging thoughts of guilt with joyful and uninhibited pleasure-thoughts and positive self-esteem will reign victorious!  I just pray I can bring in 5 of those kind of thoughts for each negative one I have of you.  (Shit, I'll probably need about 500 replacement thoughts.)
In Margaret Cho’s blog last week entitled Shut Up Karl, which I think you should read if this rant of mine hits home at all, says it best… When you say we are fat, you murder our grace, and we’ve already lost so much to begin with. We’ve already lost everything, except weight. That we gain steadily, along with self-hatred, and all you are doing is adding to our burden, pressing down on the scale with the long toe of your fine, elegantly tasseled loafer.”

But I can’t go there no more; at least not in this blog because this blog is about replacing those festering, rageful, negative thoughts, that are harmful to us humans, with positive, happy thoughts that skip along pearly white sidewalks.  And Adele showed him last night, didn’t she?  Looking gorgeous. (and not just her face) A perfect goddess as she cradled her 6 (Count ‘em Karl, SIX!) Grammys.

I’m wondering what, in simple, trailer park girl terms, are the key ingredients for maintaining a good mood, a happy and positive attitude, a closet free of weapons? (to be used against the mean people of the world, the haters, and the Karl Largerfelds…)
TPG's Simple Ingredients :

1.Turn off television.
2.Turn off the computer. (Except to read my weekly blog)
3.Stop all newspaper subscriptions and recycle all past issues.
4.Dance more.
5.Replace all weapons in your closets with bottles of gin.
6.Wake up before those crows fly, step outside to a shadowed patio, and breathe-in that half moon on a regular basis.
Perhaps the line in The Indigo Girls’ lyrical masterpiece, Closer to Fine, gives us a “heads-up” to what we need to focus on,  listen for, overcome;  the filling and refilling of our heads with lightness rather than darkness.  But, damn, it’s often times, hard.
~tpg
“Well, darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable.  And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Malcom Did It First


My earliest memory of the Super Bowl, or The First AFL-NFL World Championship Game as it was called back then, was 1967; it’s first year. 
I was 9 years old and living in Southern California.  My mom, who was a football shark and expert of the game, was in the kitchen, a lit Kent cigarette smoldering in the ashtray on the counter next to her. 
I can still see her stuffing celery with cream cheese and peanut butter, opening cans of Vienna Sausages and taking intermittent drags on her cigarette while my dad was outside on the patio dousing the charcoals with lighter fluid and yelling at my brother and I to “settle down.” 
(It never sunk in for either of us.)
I’m certain my mom’s team was the Green Packers. I’m sure of this because their coach 
at that time was the legendary Vince Lombardi who was one of my mom’s heroes. 
Their quarterback was the renowned and celebrated, Bart Starr, whom she also idolized
Football to our family was like Sunday mass to a Catholic family and the Super Bowl was the Resurrection itself.  During football season, we ate on TV trays in the living room where we could only speak during commercials. No joke. Mom was in several ‘pools’ with the men at her work and with the dudes that dad hung out with at the local bar.  For decades, football was king in our household and, like it is for millions of Americans today, the Super Bowl was what we lived for.

Fast forward to last Sunday.  For sure, all 34 units at the park were tuned in. Tommy and Kimmie most likely had a full-on BBQ with all the fixins: wieners, burgers, tater salad, jello mixed with fruit cocktail and ice chests filled with Keystone.  They probably invited the “triple wide”, their buddies in unit 2, and the animal breeder in unit 5.  19 without a doubt, wearing camouflage, pulled up in his jacked-up hydraulic pickup.  I’m certain they didn’t invite units 3 or 10, although 10 probably made an uninvited appearance, half-lit.
23, who painted his trailer red and gold the week he and his family moved in, didn’t give a shit about the ‘Big Game’ yesterday.  His San Francisco 49er flag, which waved proudly in the breeze from the flagpole in his front patch of dirt, was a clear sign of what he thought of Sunday’s  event.

I didn’t give a shit either.  Well, actually I didn’t give a shit until I heard Madonna would be performing at halftime. Madonna was a huge part of my dance groove "in the day" much like Michael Jackson and PrinceWe all thought she was cool, talented, artistic, strong and gorgeous.  And when she teased us; dangled her ‘Like a Virgin carrot’ in front of our noses with rumors that she might have slept with a girl or two, then I, like a drooling bunny, became her biggest fan regardless if it was true or not.   
Yea, Madonna is incredible, right?  Actually, perhaps only semi-incredible.
When I Googled her bio lots and lots of blogs came up; “Madonna-Free Zone” 
 "The Anti-Madonna Discussion Board” and “Madonna Blows Chunks” to name a few.  Then, after further investigation, I found case after case of lawsuits against the Material Girl for musical plagiarism.  Many have won their suits.
Perhaps I’m behind the times in my research due to living in a bubble these past years where the streets are lined in purty pre-fabs, pink flamingos and lots of denial cookies, but I really didn’t know the skinny, my darlings.
Madonna’s multi-million dollar hit, Vogue, which she originally released in 1990, and which probably had Tommie (and me) buckling at the knees, was actually first released a year earlier, in 1989, by Malcom McLeran.

McLaren provided an uncomplicated insight into underground culture as he created, maintained and expressed the raw identity of the Vogue.   Some say he actually taught Madonna how to vogue!  When Madonna came out with her hit Vogue Americans, including myself, went nutso.  But why was it so well received and why was Malcom forgotten?  
Well, for starters, she’s Madonna. Secondly, she took a very specifically queer (unpopular), transgender(off-the-charts unpopular), Latino and African-American(really, really unpopular) phenomenon and totally erased that context and replaced them with her own (safe) lyrics; “It makes no difference if you’re black or white, if you’re a boy or girl.”  Madonna was taking in tons of money, while the Queen, as Malcom was known, sat in clubs, strung out, depressed and broke.  
Check out his original work and judge for yourselves.

But Madonna’s not the only one plagued by plagiarism lawsuits in their career:
George Harrison and John Lennon were both sued separately by Chuck Berry.  Ray Parker sued Huey Lewis.  The Black Eyed Peas were successfully sued by an Ohio disc jockey. Led Zeppelin was sued numerous times by numerous individuals and companies.  The list goes on and on and on.  And so I’m left with these thoughts, “Isn’t anyone fucking original?”
This all may sound silly, I know, what comes to mind are the poems I have loved, the lyrics I have danced to, the paintings I have appreciated, the works of fiction I have read and have their honored places on my bookshelves… Have the writers, the artists, the creators, past and present, plagiarized?
And most frightening, have I?
The answer is the color of gray.
An individual, band, company, group of individuals sign their names to a finished piece, project, mission statement, novel, screenplay.  Yet, like murky gray fog, we, the recipient, cannot see the pieces or foundations that were gathered and used to finish the work. And how do we measure inspiration?  True, there are strands of clarity, patches of originality without question.   Indeed.  But there’s also a dismal overcast that leaves us blanketed in mystery.
The truth of its ingenuity lies somewhere in between.

The Super Bowl is over now.
Tommie and Kimmie’s friends have all gone home.  Unit 10 has returned to his position as Security Guard at the Food Maxx Shopping Center.
Malcom McLeran is dead.  And I sit here before you.  And like, no matter how hard I try…
no matter how much truth my sleuth-side uncovers…no matter how many folks say “She’s getting up there and just can’t move it anymore”…
I still can’t get “Like a Prayer” out of my head this morning.  I know you’re humming it too, Tommie.
~tpg

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wishin...and Hopin...and Okay, Beggin

Pals,
I'm pretty much on my knees right here, right now. Scraping the laminate as I type.
In 2011, our local free rag, The Monterey County Weekly, added a new category to their annual
"Best Of" contest...and that would be Best Blog!  Last year's winner was none other than
Mark C. Anderson who is a top editor and blogger at The Weekly!  He writes a weekly food blog called Edible.  I've met Mark and although he's a creative writer, in all humbleness and adding a blue-eyed wink,
he doesn't hold a candle to me in the personality department! He also has zero knowledge about trailer parks.
Also, I thought it strange or semi-unfair that he won.  HELLO! Conflict of Interest! I mean it would be like a screenplay winning 1st place and the writer being the contest's executive director or board member or a department store hosting a drawing and miraculously the name drawn for the brand new Corvette is the owner of that very department store...Regardless, I didn't complain.  Hell, Mark knows food and he has a following of local hungry peeps. More power to him.  But, I was thinking this year, maybe I could win this small, local,coveted acknowledgement and maybe, just maybe, I have a following that could help me do so.
Now here's how it works and there are some sticky rules you must follow; one of which includes pushing the envelope between soft embellishing and lying. Well, you have to know places, businesses, etc in Monterey County a bit or be a detective.
www.mcweekly.com/bestof2012

RULES:
               1. YOU MUST CREATE AN ACCOUNT TO VOTE. (PLEEZE! IT'S NOT HARD AUNT DOLLY! IT'S EASY AND TAKES ONLY SECONDS Y'ALL!)
               2.VOTE ONLY ONCE
               3.YOU HAVE TO VOTE IN AT LEAST 25 CATEGORIES (NOT JUST BEST BLOG)     THAT'S 25 MINIMUM.  (IT KEEPS COUNT FOR U IN BOTTOM RIGHT CORNER)
               4.YOU MUST WRITE IN MY BLOG SITE WHEN GET TO BEST BLOG CATEGORY.
               http://trailerparkgirl-vfern.blogspot.com/
               5. YOU MUST CLICK DONE ON LAST PAGE WHEN YOU ARE DONE.
Okay, seems too complicated? Come on babies! Do it for the team! Team Trailer Park Girl!  The only peeps that will find it hard are those who don't live in Monterey County.  So take time to look up a handful of places on line..talk to someone who DOES live in Monterey County (moi at your service) or think back to when you visited.
(All of the above was typed in a whining, begging voice btw)
So do it today!Actually you have until February 15.
Oh, and thank you mucho!  I'll remember you all in my will and in the credits and acknowledgments of my future-world-famous-soon-to-be-published-hold-onto-your-hats-it'll-be-the-bomb book.

Again, go to www.mcweekly.com/bestof2012

Best Blog type in  http://trailerparkgirl-vfern.blogspot.com/
Yours, Truly,
~tpg
Oh! Type in Cha-ya for Best Gift Store..now you have 2 and ya just need 23 more!