Window Shopping through the Past (Apologies to John Prine)

I am very, very bad at doing any kind of meditating, relaxation exercise, guided imagery– all of that.  I mostly close my eyes (redacted:  I look at my lap, because I don’t really like to close my eyes) and drift for the required period.

While doing– er, not doing– guided imagery this week, I realized what might help (more than guided imagery) was writing something.  Guided imagery tends to freak me out, but I really don’t have a problem with acting like an idiot on the internet.  Happy sailors dancing on a sinking ship, indeed– but I’m just recording the laughs here.

I have a couple half-baked posts in draft about past stuff, but most are shelved, because I thought they were corny.  Instead, here in review, are various poor* role models I have chosen/idolized/fixated on at one time or another:

*Please interpret “poor” loosely/ironically; some have good qualities that I’m going to neglect to mention.

The feature image is the mouse that lives in a corner of my kitchen, Doctor De Soto (see the children’s book).  I suspect that most children who loved this one also grew up to be vegetarian, animal-loving, bleeding-heart liberals, but I don’t know if that’s been studied.  At any rate, he’s pictured as an example of an acceptable role model.

Another reason I’ve thought of this some lately:  LinkedIn has some section (that I’ve never used) where you can list inspirational figures or something like that.  Because I’m me, I keep thinking how much fun I could have with that section:  why, yes, I do think that Emma Goldman is quite inspirational, thank you for asking!  Oh, the door is that way?  I’ll wait for your call!

Moving on.


She was an early one, and I here claim extraordinary sketchy source material:  a very gossipy and old book about the kings and queens of England that I’d found at home yea, a long time ago.  The book (long since out of print) is written chronologically backward:  it begins with the current queen and works its way backward, and, as I later realized, got sketchier in the veracity department as it worked it way back.  However, what it lacked in fact, it more than made up for in salacious detail, which is probably why I liked Boadicea for the butt-kicking warrior she was (and, according to the book, buried in what is now King’s Cross station).  Women leading uprisings:  good stuff!  The book must have glossed over the whole defeat bit.

Carson McCullers Characters, Inclusive

Behold, the original text!

Behold, the original text!

Sometime– I guess in early junior high?– I read The Ballad of the Sad Café for the first time.  I remember rushing outside to tell my mother that Carson McCullers was definitely the only person in the world who really got me.  I was not institutionalized, sent to therapy, or told to go soak my head/get some fresh air.  I’m grateful for that:  free-range reading parenting.  Pre-Netflix, this lead to Carson McCullers binge reading.  That might explain a lot . . .

From that book, just because it’s seasonal (also:  true/apt):  “There is no stillness like the quiet of the first cold nights in the fall.”

Glass Family, Inclusive

Now might be a good time to mention, re:  reading everything in the house I could hoover up, that my mother has later said that maybe she should have shelved by height:  put some books up high enough so that I couldn’t reach them until I had passed certain formative years.  Pretty sure she’d want me to mention that (it comes up a lot with Hardy and Dostoevsky).

Of course I wasn’t just obsessed with Salinger’s Glass family; I wanted to be one of them.  Look at how brilliant!  How special!  How sensitive!  How unique!  Yes, there was some missing-of-the-point happening.

I miss MTV cartoons.  Does MTV still have cartoons?

I miss MTV cartoons. Does MTV still have cartoons?  Oh, add her to the list.

I can’t remember for certain which book this is in, but, in one of them, it’s mentioned how Seymour put a wooden board behind a door that they covered with (brilliant, etc.) quotations from books.  I may or may not have become fixated enough with that one to replicate the effect with index cards blu-tacked behind my bedroom door.

A Certain Hillbilly Deluxe

This one is probably still current.  And I did appear on local news when he came to town:  a reporter went down the line of people waiting (outside the chainlink fence of the dirt lot) to get into the concert to assess our relative excitement to see Dwight Yoakam.  I really, really hope my family is still proud.

This heart of stone / Sure is missing you . . .

Present day:  my original Gone CD from 1995, which I listened to almost 200 times in the first five days I had it.  That’s another story.  I can be a little obsessive about proper treatment of CDs.

The X-Files

This is either A) a quirky picture or B) a general representation of me being too lazy to brush my hair and put on something other than a tank top.  In other words, you're welcome.

This is either A) a quirky picture or B) a general representation of me being too lazy to brush my hair and put on something other than a tank top and the “don’t go outside” skirt. In other words, you’re welcome.

I’ve been saying for, um, a long time that I like to hold an hour-long silent vigil at 9 PM on Fridays and on Sundays.

The problem, though, was that the show gave you too many choices:  good or evil?  FBI agent?  Lone Gun(person)?  (<– probably really my choice)  Double agent?

This show was nine seasons of a lot of what I’m talking about here:  a reality release valve.  Plotlines that allow you to inject yourself in them are a good place to huddle when you need a hobbit hole.

Incidentally, and I hope I’m working this plug in as smoothly as possible, there is an excellent new novel about real reality colliding with imaginary reality (that was the most horrible summary ever; you’re welcome, and now read it so you can do better, but it’s after 2 AM, so sue me):  Weird Girl and What’s His Name.

Dorothy Parker

I knew her quips and poetry first, then her stories, then, finally, I read a biography.  If you do it in that order, it gets pretty progressively depressing.  If you just know about the Algonquin Round Table time period, though, it sounds like a pretty ideal life.  Again, the teenage interpretation of this was that she pretty much made a living by being a smartass– clearly, I’d missed the real bite of the poems.  That seemed like good work if you could get it.

I took the biography on a vacation (to the beach– I believe I’ve mentioned I’m not good at vacations?).  I clearly remember that illusion getting shattered; this was probably sometime near the end of junior high or beginning of high school.

Reality is just plain one big disillusionment after another.  It never stops happening, either, unless you’re wearing blinders.


Yep.  And add her to the list of role models.

Quentin, Pig, Seymour, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Phil Ochs, & I Imagine You Can Keep Going with This

I was gloomy and, amazingly, the first!  ever!  teenager to discover that I was most definitely alienated, disaffected, and misunderstood.  It had to happen to somebody, sometime, right?

I take medication now.

And I bet if I showed anyone this blog, that dose would go right on up.

Please do not report me to the psychiatric fuzz ™.  <—- I’m trademarking that, okay?

Taylor Swift


Sorry.  The devil made me do it.

Conversation with my brother:

Me:  (Explaining how, until a few weeks ago, I thought the album was called 1984— in homage to Orwell– not 1989— and, yes, I am being serious)

Him:  “Sorry, when you said ‘Taylor Swift,’ I stopped listening.”

Yes, I’m making fun of us.

Various and Sundry Existentialists

Gonna have to plead the fifth.

Sadly, not my own work.

Sadly, not my own work.

Now I’m Going to Talk about My Cat

I could keep going.  Probably the best role model I could choose would be Alice.  When most people mention living like a cat, they mean getting their way, pushing people around, being aloof, all that.  Alice, probably because she doesn’t think she’s a cat, isn’t like that:  she gets upset when I’m upset.  She tries to cheer me up.  If she is upset about something, she’s over it and back to her usual sunny self in about two minutes, tops (she hasn’t forgotten; she’s just moved on).  She likes to play with people, but she can also entertain herself.  She seems to understand the concept of moderation (cough) just fine.

Also, she’s cute.  With a face like this, you can get a free pass on a lot, anyway:

Recent inbox arrival:  she normally doesn't perch here, but she's protesting the invasion of people doing various household repairs.

Recent inbox arrival: she normally doesn’t perch here, but she’s protesting the invasion of people doing various household repairs.

~Tidy Conclusion~

I doubt having questionable role models really hurt me in the long run.  And I’ve been using the phrase “role models” loosely all along, as you may have noticed:  these people/characters were variously fixations, people I admired for one reason or another, or simply people I liked for no really explicable reason.  Again, no one told me to get a grip, and I just moved along– see, for instance, being fascinated enough with Dorothy Parker’s writing that I tracked down a biography and filled in the rest of the story.

And yes, I realize I’m no poster child for mental stability.  However, anyone who claims that they are is probably (definitely) lying.  I’m just throwing open the door on some various mental skeletons here.  In other words:  “Sure, I made it, but you know it was a hell of a trip.”

I still may add some of these to LinkedIn.  Depends on what degree of insomnia I reach, probably.

I feel like I’m trailing off here, so I’m just going to post the new LP single, which is really not at all relevant to anything.  But it’s good.  In my really super-informed opinion and all that.

6 thoughts on “Window Shopping through the Past (Apologies to John Prine)

  1. You Know Who I Am says:

    That is quite a list of role models/inspirations/mentors.•
    Have you ever thought that you might have multiple personalities?

    •And I agree that Alice is the healthiest among the group. More people should model themselves after her.


    • We object to the suggestion that we have multiple personalities.

      But seriously, demonic possession seems more likely. You have to have heard/been subjected to my various Exorcist impersonations. Hmm, speaking of which, Halloween is coming. Time to get seasonal!


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