I considered sending this card to my dad in prison for Father’s Day. Christian said it would never pass inspection to reach him. “Way too pornographic,” he said. “Yes, it will,” I insisted. “There’s not even nipple!”
When Dad is released we will all definitely need therapy.
Dad loves the risqué vintage postcards I send him. They, umm, fill a void since he’s incarcerated and pornography is prohibited. I stopped sending them for a while when things got harried and overwhelming for me. In short, I built & opened QED, Mom came to live with us, I got sober from booze & sugar only to get cancer. I had a whole lifetime crammed into three years Who has time to send half-nude pinups to their jailed Deaf dad, ya know?
While I was trying to stay alive and keep QED afloat, Dad was sending long lists of questions, needs and wants in every letter. Finally, I begged him to lay off. “Give me some time and space! Life is really hard for me right now!”
He was sorry; he didn’t want to be a burden, but maybe I could send a quick pinup postcard? “I really like and miss those,” he said. I felt terrible for him, alone and lonely. You want some Sorority Sluts, Dad? You got some Sorority Sluts!
To offset the ickiness and make use of my time and the stamp, I wrote some serious business on the card. I need power of attorney so I can help him with his pension applications & look into getting him dentures now that the TDCJ is changing their policy. This card ensured me that he’d read my note!
While the TDCJ had no problem with Sorority Sluts, the Father’s Day pinup of the lady on the bearskin rug was indeed returned in an envelope stamped in red ink and capital letters, “DENIED.” Not for the content, but the lack thereof. I sent it blank w/the blank envelope it came with which makes it contraband and can be used as currency. Logical in hindsight. Dad desperately wanted to know what he missed and begged me to send it back. This time I had to write in it, so I chose to send him the biographical history of the artist behind the pinup.
Gil Elvgren was an American artists born in Minnesota and whose work was mostly in adverstising a Brown & Bigelow, a company founded in 1896 and still operating today. Many of his pinups were painted on the noses of military aircraft during World War II.
While digging around for Elvgren’s bio, I came across the original model photo as well as the work of Dutch artist Erwin Olaf. I remembered when Olaf debuted his “Mature” series in New York in 2001 which featured women between the ages of 61 and 89 reconstructing in the style of pinups by Elvgren, Alberto Vargas and others. It dominated the press here in NYC for a few days and sparked conversations about sexuality and aging. One of his recreations that I recalled from 2001 was a mature lady reenacting the “Bear Facts” pinup by Elvgren. It was only when seeing it again I put it all together. Funny how things go in circles.
This led me to read article: Aging, Performance, and Stardom: Doing Age on the Stage of Consumerist Culture. As I and my performer friends are now solidly in mid-life or older, it’s interesting to see how we adjust from the type of stories we tell, the audiences we cater to and how we spend our free time. Personally, I found Olaf’s photos pretty saucy and inspiring. But the big question is: will the TDCJ find the *real* photo of the mature lady’s “Bear Facts” contraband or not? Christmas is around the corner, so we’ll find out soon! ;-P
I was offline last week because I hiked the Grand Canyon again. It’s a pretty great place and I hope everyone gets to see it in real life. I was alone on the trails for long stretches so didn’t take many pics. But it was amazing. I took the South Kaibab Trail down and somehow managed to destroy the Bright Angel Trail on the way up finishing it in 6 hrs 8 mins. Really surprised myself with that one as I took many breaks, chatted with people I encountered along the way, meditated and cried and thanked the heavens many times.
If I do it again, I hope Christian will get to go with me. Now, though, our travel and vacations are separate thanks to QED and the dogs. It makes me sad, but it’s how it is (for now) and so we’ll enjoy the travel times with friends and family instead. Thanks to Christian and the QED crew for keeping the ship sailing, so I could go clear my mind and enjoy some dirt and rocks.
For my birthday, my lovely husband, Christian, got me a pass to the 2019 New York Musical Festival. We saw a matinee of “Illuminati Lizards from Outer Space” (Because with a silly title and premise, how could we not?) and a few hours later I saw “Ladyship” on my own, then we met up in Foley Square for the Lights for Liberty vigil.
Both shows were on Theater Row at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre, a gorgeous, accessible space with a big open cafe/bar and lots of varied seating.
At Illuminati, a lovely woman named Doris was escorted to the single seat next to me. We quickly struck up a conversation as I helped her with her things. Doris is elderly and has trouble seeing, holds a PhD in communications and lives in Jackson Heights! So close to us! She hadn’t heard of QED but was delighted to hear all about it and asked for a card or brochure. Sadly, I didn’t have any as I packed light for my 12 hour day walking around the city, but I scribbled down my phone number since she doesn’t do email or the internet. 😍
Doris has macular degeneration and said it was all happening very quickly so she’ll be completely blind soon.“But I’m here!” She said. “Yes, you are! You showed up!” I read to her bits of the program –the premise of the show, some of the other programs at the festival, etc.– and then it was showtime!
Illuminati Lizards from Outer Space was silly and fun, funny and cringe-y, smart and dumb, good and bad in the way a new musical with that title should be. Conspiracy theories, lizard people living amongst us, the Illuminati…all sounds pretty dumb, huh? And yet…well, here we are! We laughed a lot, Doris was delighted by the show. “The best thing I’ve ever seen!” and we said our goodbyes. I don’t know if she’ll call me, but I’m glad to have shared a very brief moment in her long life.
Christian and I parted ways, I had a treat at Pinkberry between shows and then returned to see Ladyship about Irish sisters condemned to the Penal Colony of Australia during the 1780s and sent on a 10+ month journey across the ocean. Bleak, to put it mildly! Well acted with lovely costuming and staging.
After the show, I headed down to Foley Square for Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps to protest the inhumane conditions faced by migrants.
Christian joined me and a friend Valerie. It was lovely and we ran into our friend Eric whom we hadn’t seen in a while. But we wondered what good this vigil does, really? Trump and his followers are ramping up racism, rhetoric and hate and show no signs of stopping. I fear where we are headed. Will a vigil matter? I don’t know, but I don’t want to be a person that doesn’t speak up in the face of wrong.
As Martin Luther King has said:
— “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
— “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
–“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
So I spoke by showing up to the vigil. My new and short friendship with Doris taught me that showing up –being present– is the most important part. This might not change anything…
But I’m here! Yes, I am! I showed up!
Please enjoy this comic strip / thank you card my jailed Deaf dad made for his doctor. #prison #inmate #comics #art #comicstrip
- I’m going to Texas this weekend for a whirlwind trip to catch up with some folks! First up, Austin to see Brendan & Jenn Dodd McLoughlin and my dear old friends queso & tacos.Sunday I’ll drive to Huntsville to see Dad in prison. Our last visit in July 2013 was not a pleasant one, because Dad had an angry outburst with a female guard before he & I even had our first hug. “Premature evisitation,” I called it.Visiting Dad in jail is like riding Coney Island’s Cyclone. It should be fun but it beats me up & makes me angry I paid to ride it again. But I did leave with a souvenir photo!Since then I’ve limited our contact to letters. I’ve warned him to be on his best behavior. No souvenir photo this time. TDCJ only has photographers on the 1st weekend of the month. I’ll bring about 10 pounds of quarters for the vending machine and a wireless bra for myself.I hope to meet a fellow CODA & prison interpreter afterward and then will head toward Conroe for dinner with my 6th grade social studies teacher.I won’t have time for much else, but hope to be back in Montgomery in June for our 30 year high school reunion. Eep!
I sent some Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez swag from the campaign events we held at QED Astoria to my niece. My niece is a proud feminist & soon-to-be voter in Missouri who loves her “bright and shiny new object”. You wear that
#NY14 pride well, young woman. #ShowMe #AlexandriaOcasioCortez
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a few frustrating phone calls* with customer service for registering my cell phone with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Purple Video Relay Service. My last name is different from Christian’s who is the account holder of my AT&T cell phone account. Hoo boy, did the patriarchy take umbrage with that one. That meant we had to be in the same room to call in and register. Harder than it should be as we’re often together after business hours.
Anyway, I got word today that I am approved. I can receive video calls from My Jailed Deaf Dad. Great! Great? Grreeaaat. I don’t know. We’ll see if I immediately regret this. I can confidently say that I won’t have any problems with the rules, thankyouverymuch. Egads.
Grateful to have QED closed for Thanksgiving so Christian and I could enjoy a quiet holiday at the cabin. It was just the right balance of work and play as I banged through my inbox and reading list. We decorated our new tree, hung garland and wreaths, enjoyed a fire both in real life and on Netflix, and kitchen time for making turkey dinner, brownies, ice cream (recipe in the next post) and a perfect looking omelette. We also started the Haunting of Hill House which is great TV while at a cabin in the woods. Our country mouse time is over…back to the city we go!
For Thanksgiving, Christian & I drove upstate to our cabin to bury my sweet little budgie Dinah who passed while I was on vacation. She brought us a lot of joy, especially when she played with our dogs, Paquita (2001 – 2013), then Griswold and lately our silly Billy.
The playlist below my post has a few really short, but fun and cute videos of Dinah interacting with all three of them. It was always hard to capture just how funny and brave she was as getting the camera always caused a break in the action.
Dinah and Griswold were like Woodstock and Snoopy. She followed him everywhere, “fed” and groomed him and they both regularly teased each other and played together. She would dive bomb him or sneak up and peck him while he was sleeping. It always scared the bejeezus out of him but she was always too quick and flew away before his eyes were even fully opened. They would even play a “hide and seek” chase game around the coffee table.
Dinah was impulsively purchased around 2007 at a crappy pet store on Steinway Street for $14. Who knows how long she’d been there or how old she was, but she was never afraid of anything or anyone and was always free to fly about putting herself to bed at dusk and waking up with the sun. Her cage door was rarely, if ever closed.
My hope in bringing her home was that she could be a friend to my other budgie Larry who was getting up in age and not enjoying life. She opened up his whole world. He almost starved to death feeding her every bit he could, so I had to separate them until his love for her calmed down a bit. He went from never leaving his cage, to regularly joining her on adventures around the apartment, including playing with Paquita.
He passed in Spring 2010 and within the year Griswold joined the household. It was interspecies love at first sight. She loved his wiry, wild fur and his supreme laziness which meant he was unwilling to move even as she annoyed him. She traveled with us to and from the cabin where she loved the wide open floor plan, high ceilings and all the treasures she could find buried in the sheepskin rug.
Griswold grew less tolerant in the last few years as he gets grumpier with age. Chief Billy Bowlegs, however, is a young (maybe 3 years old now) pup we adopted in 2017 and isn’t aware of the option of simply walking away. This meant Dinah had some fresh meat to peck. Billy is a silly thing, always down to play. I’m certain that the two of them would have bonded, if only they’d had more time.
We hope to bury her next to Paquita, not far from a bird house and at the cabin they both so enjoyed. Right now the ground is too hard to dig, so she’s in an iPhone box in the freezer. And, as much as I loved her, we’re still planning to eat the turkey that sits in the same ice box.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever have another bird. She was so sweet and special to me. My live little fascinator who perched on my laptop, watching and sometimes helping me peck at keys. There is a budgie-shaped hole in my heart and home that can only be filled by her bright white light.
I will remember this day as a wonderful example of the things Life brings, good and bad.
I walked through the park and paid a visit to General Grant, an American hero and patriot who arguably did more for the advancement of civil rights than any other of his generation. Afterward, I saw the original Hoffman paintings of Jesus donated by John D. Rockefeller to the Riverside Church. They’re worth over 100 million dollars and are just there…not even shown or guarded. I asked Raymond in the gift shop if I could see them. He opened a couple of cabinets and voila! He said he gets asked about 15-20 times a week. Not that often! I told him I’d tell people.
It’s a beautiful and vibrant area with the park, Hudson River, Barnard and Columbia Universities, Grant’s Tomb and the Riverside Church where MLK Jr gave many sermons including his very famous anti-war speech not long before his assassination.
Afterward, I enjoyed a slice of apple pie and vanilla ice cream at Tom’s (famous for Seinfeld but really just a great, fast diner) where I & two other diners shouted at the TV incredulous at the Brett Kavanaugh inquiry. I hit up the Morningside Heights Library where I knew they wouldn’t have TV and recharged batteries, answered emails and wrote in my journal.
Finally, I meandered to Times Square where I took in “Come From Away,” a musical based on true events that occurred on and after 9/11 when 7k passengers were rerouted and stranded in Newfoundland. It was good. I got a rush ticket for only $30.
I got rained on a little bit as I walked to meet Christian for nachos. While telling him about my day, a live mariachi band played “Happy Birthday” three times in a row and then other songs I didn’t know.
At home, we played with the dogs and watched the news. I cried and got wound up about it all so then watched “Fargo” and now it’s time for bed.
What a day.
“Change is good for the soul,” Mom texted me a few days ago. She was talking about table runners, but she’s right. Change is good, except for pennies. Seriously, why do they still even make those?
In the spirit of change being good, I pitched myself for a makeover for First For Women (think Cosmo for the menopausal). I actually quite like my beachy shoulder-length waves but I’ve been rocking that look for a couple of years now. Opening QED nearly killed me, and I’m finally back to feeling like myself and fitting comfortably into all my old clothes. It’s time for a new look and the pictures that come with it.
The good people at First For Women are kind and efficient and graciously gave my pitch the nod. Today was the day and I had to set an alarm and commute to lower Manhattan during rush hour. I do not miss that one iota.
The editors chose this pic of Cate Blanchett as the inspiration for my makeover. I haven’t had my hair this short since that brat Laura gave me lice in 2nd grade and my inspiration was Dorothy Hamill. Even when 1/3 of my head was shaved to remove skin cancer, I managed to keep it shoulder length.
I emerged with a super short, chic haircut by Sho (a “ninja” as his co-workers call him, thanks to his deft scissoring skills) at James Corbett Studio. I scream, “I’M RICH, BIATCH!” Like a cross between Ruth Madoff and a Fox News anchor but not, you know, an asshole. Cate Blanchett better watch out or else I’ll, umm, be her stand in?
It makes me look and feel younger which is what that whole makeover thing is supposed to do. The cut was followed by a little boost of color to my naturally dirty blonde hair and makeup by Berta Camal. She’s a lovely talent who loves animals and gardening. As if all that weren’t enough, I got to play in front of Eric McNatt’s camera. The pics he let me preview were a knockout. I hope they pick one I love and that I can keep some to use.
I’m ever grateful they said yes to my pitch. What a great day. Now I’m going to wrap my hair in silk and sleep sitting up like those weirdos on planes using these things that look like elephant skin, so I can save this beautiful blowout till tomorrow when people I know will actually *see* me!
Keep your eyes peeled for the September 7th issue of First For Women next to the batteries, candy and horoscope scrolls at your local grocery checkout line!
We had a lovely visit with Christian’s old high school pal who is working across the street from our apartment at Jim Henson’s Studios while her daughter is at a two-week intensive at the American Ballet. The studios aren’t open to the public so it was a nice little coincidence that she was working so close to our apartment making it easy for us to horn our way into a private tour. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of any of the creatures beyond the entryway (see my photos below) because they’re all disembodied and/or hanging on curtain rods as they’re built or repaired. Gotta keep up the illusion that they’re alive, ya know?
This I learned: Big Bird’s feathers are all individually hand-stitched along the stem (?) to reinforce them and help slow down the decay and prevent breakage. Each and every individual feather. THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS. He’s huge!
It’s not a big warehouse or studio and actually is a quiet little creative space tucked behind an unassuming door on a generic floor of the Standard Motors Building. Everyone is relaxed and happy because, DUH, they work making Sesame Street, Muppets and Fraggle Rock characters among other things, but also because there are no computers. They don’t need them. They’re making stuff with their hands. So nice.