Loose Lips

kimya

It’s still October and thus, I’m still honoring my self-imposed ban on discussing certain topics here.  So for now, I’ll confine myself to quoting the wonderfully quirky Kimya Dawson saying the kinds of things I’d like to say and deem it perfectly permissible.  This is for all of you, my friends:

Loose lips might sink ships but loose kisses take trips to San Francisco, double Dutch disco, tech TV hottie, do it for Scotty.  Do it for the living and do it for the dead, do it for the monsters under your bed, do it for the teenagers and do it for your mom, broken hearts hurt but they make us strong and we won’t stop until somebody calls the cops and even then we’ll start again and just pretend that nothing ever happened.  We’re just dancing, we’re just hugging, singing, screaming, kissing, tugging on the sleeve of how it used to be.  How’s it gonna be?  I’ll drop kick Russell Stover, move into the starting over house and know Matt Rouse and Jest are watching me achieve my dreams, and we’ll pray all damn day, every day, that all this shit our president has got us in will go away while we strive to figure out a way we can survive these trying times without losing our minds.  So if you wanna burn yourself, REMEMBER THAT I LOVE YOU, and if you wanna cut yourself, REMEMBER THAT I LOVE YOU, and if you wanna kill yourself, REMEMBER THAT I LOVE YOU.  Call me up before you’re dead, we can make some plans instead.  Send me an IM, I’ll be your friend.  Shysters live from scheme to scheme but my fourth quarter pipe dreams are seeming more and more worth fighting for.  So I’ll curate some situations, make my job a big vacation and I’ll say fuck Bush and fuck this war.  My war paint is Sharpie ink and I’ll show you how much my shit stinks and ask you what you think because your thoughts and words are powerful.  They think we’re disposable, well both my thumbs opposable are spelled out on a double word and triple letter score.  We won’t stop until somebody calls the cops and even then we’ll start again and just pretend that nothing ever happened.  We’re just dancing, we’re just hugging, singing, screaming, kissing, tugging on the sleeve of how it used to be.

My Two Cents on #MeToo

I rarely write about anything that is trending in this great world of ours (is that sarcasm?) because I like to stay out of things as a general rule of thumb.

I don’t enjoy being controversial or putting in my two cents on subjects that other people seem to be total experts on. My creative writing teacher in high school told us kids that we should always write what we know. I’ve taken her advice ever since.

Unfortunately, I know a whole fucking bunch about sexual harassment and sexual assault.

You’ve probably heard about that slime ball Harvey Weinstein and his decades long enjoyment of taking sexual advantage of Hollywood actresses. They are coming out of the woodwork, especially Rose McGowan, who claims that Weinstein raped her.

I believe her. Why would she lie about something like that? What can she possibly gain by telling people via Twitter about such an atrocity? (The jab at Twitter has nothing to do with Rose, I just loathe Twitter with the passion of a thousand suns.)

I can relate to her story because I was date raped at the drive-in when I was 19.

I had gone out with the guy only once before, so I questioned myself afterward about it. If I told anyone about what had happened to me, would they wrinkle up their noses and say, “well, what did you expect? Alone in a car with some dude you barely know!”

I was asking for it, wasn’t I? Even the guy who raped me said that the entire time, over and over again.

I only told a couple of my close girlfriends at the time about it. I wanted to tell my mom, but I was afraid of her reaction. I was so ashamed. I thought that she would also be ashamed.

When I did tell her a couple of years later, she said that she was sorry I had experienced something so despicable and that was that. I got a hug. I know that she was uncomfortable, because her generation, for the most part, didn’t discuss such matters.

How did I cope with it? Well, I set myself on the path of completely blocking the emotions behind the rape. To this day, I can talk about it quite indifferently, so numbly that even my therapist is blown away at my detachment.

Sexual harassment has dotted my life, like so many other woman that I know.

If we go way back, I was teased by the boys because I was the first girl in the 3rd grade that needed to wear a bra. They called me Dolly Parton and would pretend that they were jiggling breasts on themselves, while they laughed and pointed at something that I had no control of.

I was asked by a 14-year-old altar boy friend if I wanted to have sex with him. I was 13 and terrified. After that day, I avoided him.

I was harrassed on an almost daily basis by an older, disgusting man who worked at the gas station only 2 houses down from the house that I grew up in. He’d sit inside his little cashier box, watching me while I’d walk over to the pop machine to get a Mountain Dew.

“Hey there, sexy legs! Why don’t you come over and say hi?”

I was 17, maybe 18.

He gave me the creeps. If I needed a pack of smokes or a candy bar, he’d wink at me through the glass, saying inappropriate things the entire time. I’d just roll my eyes and force an annoyed smile, trying to hurry him up so that I could get back to my house.

My ex forced me to do sexual things with him that I did not want to do. That is something that I can’t really talk about.

I’ve had one of my friends husbands sexually proposition me, the last time on my wedding day. I’ve thankfully never had to see him again, on purpose.

On Monday, I saw that Alyssa Milano had started the Twitter hashtag #MeToo. Then I noticed many of my female Facebook friends putting it as their own statuses.

I didn’t even hesitate.

Me too.
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

metoo

This problem is lurking in every corner, every bar, every blog post (yep) and on every tree-lined suburban street. I’ve seen young girls walking along innocently, then witnessing a man honking their car horn at them.

I’ve seen it my entire life. I am a walking, talking, pissed the fuck off survivor. I’m tired of it and I will no longer “roll my eyes” or brush it off. Just because I may lightly flirt with men sometimes doesn’t mean that I want to have a sexual relationship with them.

I am not asking for it, nor do I know that I really want it.

I have a handful of guy friends, mostly online, who I feel 100% comfortable with, so this isn’t a “man hater” post. Please don’t bother to come at me in the comments with that happy horseshit, because it ain’t gonna fly.

And ladies…I invite you to type “Me Too” down below in the comments if you’ve ever been the victim of uninvited sexual advances. This blog is a safe place.

You don’t even need to use the hashtag if you don’t want to.

Sitcom Bait & Switch

kelly

Yesterday, I actually felt my brain experience two separate moments of cognitive disconnect. Humor is the result of unexpected words or events, the absurdity of which causes us to laugh. Cognitive disconnect, though not an official psychiatric term, will be defined here as the same basic thing sans the laughter-inducing qualities. In other words, that moment of suspended thought or blankness of mind that occurs when suddenly faced with something unexpected in place of what had been expected – taken for granted, even – particularly in the course of familiar activities. Think of flicking on a light switch and finding yourself still in the dark. It only takes a second or two to realize that the power is out or the bulb is dead, but that brief confused moment between the initial action of flicking the switch and the understanding of the problem is precisely the feeling I’m describing here.

I spent Sunday on the couch. Naturally, when I indulge in such an activity-free day, the television is essential in bringing my mind to a state that’s just entertained enough to avoid succumbing to boredom. Since the idea is to keep my mind as relaxed as my body, I don’t seek out educational programming, and news is out of the question, so I begin by scanning the TV Guide channel for any and all sitcom reruns, cartoons and children’s shows. I’m rarely disappointed.

But yesterday, MeTV, a channel dedicated to airing reruns of “classic” TV shows, fucked up my perfectly lazy afternoon not once, but twice in the course of two hours. It all started with The Brady Bunch. If anyone reading this is too young to remember Sherwood Schwartz’ brainless 70s sitcom (the one that didn’t take place on a desert island), kindly stop reading this post.  Now.  Shoo.  I’m serious.  Piss off.  Go find something to read that’s more age-appropriate, you little brat.

Okay, sorry about that. Kids, right? So anyhow, as expected, the intro’s pacifying light blue backdrop began filling up with the faces of Mike and Carol and Greg and Peter and Bobby and Marcia and Jan and Cindy and Alice all in their own little boxes as the Brady kids sang the insufferable theme song in cheerful unison. Usually, I try to guess the episode within the first 5 seconds based on which of the Bradys is approaching the back door of the house, what they’re wearing and what their mood seems to be. I’m incredibly skilled at this, which is, of course, pathetic. But it’s just one of the myriad ways I entertain myself on days when I refuse to remove my ass from the sofa cushions, so don’t judge. The familiar strains of early episode incidental music were as they should have been, but something was amiss. Not only was I not seeing the somehow mowable Astroturf of the Brady backyard, I wasn’t at the Brady house at all! For some reason, I was staring at Ken Berry and some woman discussing the fact that they wanted to adopt two more boys – one black and one Asian – to keep their pre-existing adopted son company. I checked the Guide channel again — yep, it still indicated that I was indeed watching an episode of The Brady Bunch. And I was. You see, apparently, Sherwood Schwartz in his infinite wisdom decided to introduce an entirely different family into the Brady universe, but just for one episode. Was this an attempt at warming the Paramount studio heads to the idea of a multi-racial spin-off of their insipid cash cow? Probably. And it was a seriously shitty attempt, at that. Once or twice, these unfamiliar characters showed up at the Brady household for completely unnecessary reasons. I suppose Sherwood felt the need to pacify the viewers every once in a while with a glimpse of the terrible actors they had actually tuned in to watch only to find themselves staring at an unvetted cast of terrible actors they hadn’t tuned in to watch. But he was clearly trying to dip his toe into the pool of socially conscious comedy recently ushered in by Norman Lear. There was even a confusingly bigoted neighbor that showed up at the door of this non-Brady family to express her vague disapproval of their adoption choices. Sherwood Schwartz was no Norman Lear. And this episode sucked. 30 minutes of hackneyed dialogue from unfamiliar sub-par actors is no replacement for 30 minutes of hackneyed dialogue from America’s favorite sub-par actors. And Ken Berry’s no Robert Reed. Fuck you, Sherwood Schwartz and fuck you, MeTV for this disturbing sidetrack in my planned day of television-induced coma.

About an hour later, MeTV showed back-to-back episodes of The Facts of Life. This time, I was eased into the day’s next moment of cognitive disconnect a little more gently, but once it occurred, it was just as confounding. The opening scene had Mrs. Garrett answering a phone call for Jo on the pay phone that was inexplicably affixed to the wall of the posh Eastland girl school dormitory. Tootie and Blair and Natalie were milling about in the background. Nothing out of the ordinary. She then hands the phone off to Jo who loudly accepts an invitation to New Jersey to visit her uncle and cousins. Once again, I found myself transported into a world of shitty acting far removed from the Eastland campus. Apparently, Jo has an Uncle Sal and some other ridiculously ethnic Italian cousins despite the fact that her last name is Polniaczek. And once again, I was expected to give a shit about the budding love life of her 14 year old tomboy cousin even though I had tuned in with the expectation that I would be watching a proper episode of Facts of Life. Much like in the faux Brady episode, every once in a while the young cousin would knock on Jo’s door and ask for some advice, just to remind us what show we were ostensibly watching. This was even more unacceptable than the introduction of Blair’s palsied stand-up comedienne cousin Jerry in later episodes.

jerry

Do you recognize any of these people?

jo's family

Of course you don’t. Because the Facts of Life episode that attempted to endear viewers to them was arguably more awful than the similar Brady Bunch attempt at endearing us to their progressive adoption enthusiast neighbors.

Needless to say, my day of planned deep relaxation was ruined. I spent the next several hours fuming on the sofa and muttering obscenities under my breath. Life is nothing but a bleak and dreary march to an inevitable demise, and there’s not even anything worth watching in the meantime.  So suck it, MeTV.  You have betrayed my trust for the last time.

Girl Gets Chased by a Gorilla, Lives to Tell the Tale

I used to love to go to haunted houses. I had a boyfriend who also enjoyed getting the shit scared out of him, so we went to at least a dozen within a two month span.

I would hide behind him, pressing my face into the back of his jacket, screaming in terror while giggling at the same time. The ghosts and ghouls had a great time with me, because I was good for business. My petrified screeching carried far and wide, proving that these paid actors and actresses were doing a damn fine job.

One night, it was absolutely freezing outside. The line for this particular house of horrors was long and by the time that we got inside, my legs were numb from the bitter wind. (October in Cleveland is a crapshoot.) I always wore jeans back then and they didn’t have enough insulation to keep me very warm.

But, I was young and full of adrenaline. Frozen leg-pops were not going to keep me from seeing the Oogie Boogie man, no sir.

oogie_boogie

It was a really freaky haunted house and there was a tunnel. We had to get on our hands and knees in order to crawl through. No problem, I was a spry 20-year-old. My only concern was that my boyfriend might accidentally fart on me.

I had someone behind me as well, so I made sure to keep my sphincter muscles tight.

Once out of the tunnel, there were a plethora of bloody maniacs and devils around every corner. I shrieked, I yelped, I hung onto my boyfriend’s coat for dear life. I was so gleefully scared, in fact, that I forgot to notice how fucking cold I still was. My legs hadn’t thawed out one iota.

This is an important detail, so remember it. Mer’s legs were still numb from the cold.

When we finally made it to the end, the last room had one of those strobe lights going. I was instantly disoriented as my peripheral vision caught sight of a gorilla in a cage.

He made a lunge for me but I didn’t react. Perhaps the extreme cold had finally entered my brain and turned it as numb as the rest of my body.

So, instead of screaming like I usually did, I laughed at him (human in a gorilla suit.)

This would prove to be a mistake.

When we exited the haunted house, all seemed well. I was thinking about finding me some hot cocoa and a place to sit down when all of a sudden I heard someone call out from behind me.

“Watch out, he’s right behind you!!”

gorilla-costume
 

Don’t you laugh at me, bitch.  I be scary! Wah!

 

I started running from him when my legs finally gave out on me. I fell hard, smack dab on my ass.

When I looked up, I could see his eyes through the mask. They were full of triumph.

The people around us were laughing, because free entertainment, but my boyfriend was really pissed off.

After making sure that I was basically unharmed, the gorilla dude turned around and went back to his cage, while my boyfriend helped me up from the hard concrete. He was ready to sue the place, but I calmed him down.

I think whoever was in that gorilla costume took his job way too seriously. But, it didn’t stop me from going to more haunted houses.

However, it sure made me not like monkeys all that fucking much.

The Royal Garden

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Fyodor had ruled his tiny eastern kingdom for 50 years. At the age of 70, he abdicated the throne to his eldest son and retired to a sprawling villa in the countryside overlooking the Carpathian Mountains. He had been stern but fair to his subjects, he thought, and had wielded his power to facilitate a prosperity hitherto unmatched in the history of the isolated land. Sometimes, for the good of the dominion, he had no choice but to make examples of those who resisted his sweeping decrees. To Fyodor, the crime of thwarting progress was most egregious and the collectivist-minded landowners who had refused to sell off their fertile acreage to trade-oriented government concerns got what they deserved.

But Fyodor had never directly overseen their fates, only issuing orders to his Imperial Guard to dispense punishments appropriate to their crimes. He had never even set foot inside the ominous slate-grey Justice Fortress that rose menacingly from the forest bordering the capital. Though he had told himself that his faith in the judgment of his dedicated Guard made his presence at the Fortress unnecessary, a part of him knew that if he had ever directly witnessed the treatment of criminals by his overzealous officers, he might have been horrified at what he saw. Once, when taking a late evening ride on his trusty steed through the outskirts of the forest, he had heard inhuman wails and blood-curdling screams emanating from the pitch black oubliette portal at the base of the structure. He dug his spurs into his horse’s flanks and returned to his castle at a brisk gait. Nothing was more distasteful to Fyodor than the prospect of guilt arising from personal responsibility.

But all of this was behind him now and Fyodor had decided to start a garden to occupy his time. He had cleared a large plot at the rear of the villa and planted roses, asters, chrysanthemums, geraniums and foxglove in perfectly symmetrical rows. According to this year’s almanac, the colorful floral array he had lovingly tilled was due to bloom any day now.

Fyodor had had a fitful sleep last night. His reveries had been haunted by strange visions of gnarled plant-bodied creatures with human faces distorted in agony. Not one to invoke superstition, he told himself that the unpleasant night had been caused by nothing more than a bad case of indigestion.

When he awoke, he ate a light breakfast and stepped out back into the cool air of the garden. From a distance, Fyodor could see that there had been visible growth overnight. He got closer to inspect the young plants and let out a gasp of surprise. All of the stems that had broken ground were black and hard to the touch. Rather than rising from the soil in straight vertical trajectories, they were twisted and plagued with ugly knotted tumors. Fyodor picked one from the row of chrysanthemums and took it inside for a closer inspection.

He laid the diseased young plant on the table in the drawing room and went back out for his morning walk.

When he returned to the villa at noon, he was shocked to find that the uprooted plant had flowered in his absence. But rather than displaying the pleasant violet florets typical of the bloom, an anguished human face stared back at him from atop the diseased black stem. Fyodor stumbled back a few feet in shock at what he was seeing. Composing himself, he snatched the disturbing plant from the table and hurled it into the dustbin.

That night, while he slept, the garden erupted in thousands of pain-wracked faces, each a frozen testament to unspeakable horrors suffered years ago by the filial-minded villagers who had been found guilty of treason by Fyodor’s notoriously stern Court of Requital. They shivered in the light evening breeze as their roots broached the surface of the soil and pushed themselves up and out of the ground.

A light tickling on his arm roused Fyodor from his slumber. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light of early morning, he saw countless narrow black threads wrapping themselves around his extremities. Slowly, the tendrils crept across his body and contracted, constricting his movement and his breathing. Terrified, Fyodor bellowed for help but his attendants were fast asleep in the outbuildings that formed a ring around the main house. Unable to move his arms which were now pinned to his sides, he began to roll back and forth on his bed. His violent movements caused him to tumble to the marble floor where more of the sinister roots arose from hairline cracks and finished the complete mummification of his body.

Suddenly, Fyodor found himself strapped to an oaken Catherine Wheel in a windowless dungeon. He was no longer beset by the living black root system, but an audience of peasants was watching with rapt attention as a black-hooded beast of a man brandished a spiked club inches from his face. No one spoke, but Fyodor knew that the spectators were those who had suffered similar fates at the hands of the Imperial Guard while he had lounged in his castle with nary a thought about how justice was being dispensed in his name.

A horrifying realization suddenly came to his mind. At the top of his lungs, he shouted a desperate warning to his son that was stopped short by a vicious blow from his torturer’s mace.

The flowers now stand in colorful rows, a perennial testament to the late king who planted them. Though the villa is uninhabited and no one tends the garden, they appear each year in a verdant spontaneous rebirth, patiently awaiting the next regal retiree.

Friday The 13th Funhouse

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Welcome back to the Funhouse! Whether you’re a fan of fun or of houses, you’re in the right place. Except that this isn’t really a place. It’s certainly not a house. Whether or not it’s fun is entirely subjective. But it’s Friday the 13th and apparently, today’s date is considered a bad omen to some and a long-winded shark-jumping movie franchise to others. It means nothing to me, truth be told, but it did provide me with a convenient excuse to write this pointless opening paragraph.

Shit, now I’ve started another paragraph and I have even less to say because I blathered on about Friday the 13th about as much as I could in the first paragraph. Why am I so devoid of introductory topics to lead into the obligatory Friday video, you ask? Because on the first of October, I promised all of you that I would refrain from discussing anything of a political nature for the entire month. I understand that this is my web page and as such, I can renege on that pledge if I so choose but it was also a challenge to myself so I’m sticking to it. Expect one hell of a catharsis on the first of November but in the meantime, let’s see what else there is to talk about.

I just hopped over to CNN’s Entertainment section in the hopes that I would find some ridiculous piece of trivial celebrity news about which to wax insignificant, but every headline seems to be related to the fat pig movie mogul. Of course, I could find plenty to say about that if I wanted, but it’s not really Funhouse fodder, is it?

So…

How about those Knicks?

Alright, fuck it, let’s just get on with it. Here’s David Letterman stealing the show in a scene from Chris Elliott’s cinematic masterpiece, Cabin Boy:

Fragments of Perception

If anyone is unfamiliar with the brilliant writing of Caroline at OrchidsLantern, I highly recommend purchasing her first book, “Fragments of Perception”. I was honored to be a beta-reader of the final draft and I was blown away by the unrelenting genius on every page.

Orchid's Lantern

I have some exciting news to share with you! My first book, Fragments of Perception and Other Stories, is due to be published on 4th November 2017: that’s just over 3 weeks from now! The cover has been designed by the fantastic Natasha Snow and I’m so pleased with it because I think it really captures the mood of the book. You guys are the first to see it:

Author C.R. Dudley Publisher Orchid's Lantern LtdIt will be available from Amazon worldwide, Kobo, iBooks and my own website which will be going live in the next week or so. It is also listed on Goodreads already, so if you have an account please do look it up!

My Genre

I’m also pleased to say I have finally found the genre I fit into: Metaphysical and Visionary. It is a small niche, but a perfect match for my writing style. It is described as:

“A literary form…

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