Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In Memoriam

Betty Speer Burke

Her grace, wisdom, courage and beauty will always be an inspiration.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hmph. More obviousness

Pretty Lady is not certain how she ended up on the mailing list for this ballet company; she is quite certain she has never attended a performance. But these things have a way of finding her.

To be clear, she does not think that the juxtaposition of ballet and heavy metal is at all shocking; her cage is not rattled. She has pretty much Been There and Done That, on her own, in her adolescence, without starting a company and blathering on MTV about it. But it makes an amusing 5-minute clip.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Vicious rumours

It has reached Pretty Lady's pretty little ears that there are some ugly rumours going around the Internet. To wit, Pretty Lady has been accused of being a pretty little fraud.

Pretty Lady has to admit that it's true. She pays a monkey six dollars an hour to do her typing for her. Not only is this sub-minimum wage, but the truly dastardly thing is, when the monkey types in the comments from her detractors, she lets him make them up.

Really, darlings. Pretty Lady likes to think that everyone is smarter than that.

For what ought to be staggeringly obvious is that Pretty Lady is exactly what she claims to be--words on a screen. Words on a screen, darlings. Everything else is up to the imagination of the reader.

Readers being what they are, responses to Pretty Lady are bound to vary widely; what she would like to point out is that, since she is nonexistent in corporeal form, there is literally nothing there that could possibly be 'fraudulent.' What is perceived by the reader is, therefore, undoubtedly a projection of the reader's own mind.

Thus, Pretty Lady's author has discovered that Pretty Lady, as a postulate, is an invaluable tool for uncovering the inner, hidden character of her readers. You see that Pretty Lady, as a postulate, as a noncorporeal entity, declares to her readers, "I love you, darling." She means it, of course. As a postulate, she can be made to mean anything that Pretty Lady's author wants her to mean.

What, then, is a person's response, when presented with this postulation? Hmmm. Noncorporeal. Love. Darling.

Pretty Lady is heartened to notice that the vast majority of souls, when presented with this postulate, jump up and down and say, "I love you TOO, Pretty Lady!" Or variants thereon. This makes Pretty Lady most certain that her initial postulation was not erroneous; she really DOES mean it. Her author too. And Pretty Lady's author's author smiles, she thinks, and says, "Told you so."

It saddens both Pretty Lady and her author, however, when the projections of certain other souls, for whatever tragic reason, regard this postulate with hostility and suspicion. In a further experiment, Pretty Lady cheerfully and habitually agrees to whatever identity these brothers and sisters would like to clothe her in. Pretty Lady is a harlot? Certainly, darling. Pretty Lady is a bitch? Why, of course! How perceptive of you, dear! Pretty Lady is a fraud? See above. Pretty Lady has never claimed to be anything else.

In tedious psychological jargon, this technique is called mirroring. People, in Pretty Lady's experience, generally see what they are looking for. If it is not there, they will still be certain to find it. Pretty Lady simply makes it easy for them. What they see in Pretty Lady, then, after a time, is a more or less accurate view of how they see themselves, their souls, those places they thought were hidden.

Which is why these people make Pretty Lady so sad. She is not sad for herself; as she has taken great pains to indicate, there is no Pretty Lady there to be sad. She is sad for them. She is sad that they are out there, stumbling around, projecting their distorted visions into the world, and then lashing out at those visions as if they were real.

For, to paraphrase Pretty Lady's dear friend, Ken Wilber, 'What if you dreamed you were walking on a tightrope, above an abyss full of snarling monsters, and on the tightrope next to you were everyone you knew? Then, what if you realized it was all a dream, and you could make it come out however you wanted? What would you do?

Well, you'd start doing tricks on the tightrope, of course. You'd bounce up and down, doing back flips, knowing that nothing could hurt you.

The only thing that would make you sad, however, is if your friends in the dream still believed it was real. You would want to assure them that it was okay. That would be your only true concern.'

My, my, my

It is always thrilling when one is spending a late evening in the studio, and suddenly a number of fire trucks pull up in front of one's building, sirens wailing, and hordes of firemen come pouring into the street, and storming onto one's roof.

It is even more thrilling when a series of loud thumps and scrapings herald the arrival of a handsome young fireman, and a great deal of mysterious fire-fighting gear, through the skylight and down the ladder into one's very own stairwell, which, contrary to NYC fire codes, is stacked floor to ceiling with one's very own artwork. Plus miscellaneous packing cases, flower pots and bodywork table.

It is somewhat less thrilling to contemplate the possible long-term consequences of this intrusion, extending to fire-hazard citations, awkward conversations with one's landlord, and serious punitive damages, ranging from the cost of storage-space rental to the cost of eviction. An actual fire would be somewhat of a relief in comparison.

The lovely young fireman declared, casually, "Really nice artwork."

Pretty Lady thanked him, and apologized tremulously for the narrowness of the hallway thereof.

"Oh, it's New York City. Space is at a premium. I understand," said this adorable fireman, and departed, bearing his fifty pounds of thankfully unnecessary gear.

Let us now say a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving for firepersons everywhere, unflinching and fearless and oh-so-kind and generous in their line of duty.

Friday, January 26, 2007

On rigidity

This video, courtesy of Edward Winkleman, blew Pretty Lady's socks off.

Pretty Lady encourages you to watch the entire thing, before perusing her more standard, but still quirky, communicative screed.

What Pretty Lady noticed first, was that the first part of the video made some sort of sense to her. It seemed to access a portion of her brain which she is careful to keep under wraps, except when joking around in bed, or with babies, or in her studio. It was calming, in an odd sort of way.

The second part of the video nearly caused her to burst into tears. But then, Pretty Lady has always been a sensitive soul. Not nearly as sensitive as autistic persons, however.

What this sensitive lady points out, in all her devastating eloquence, is that the vast majority of assumptions and judgments we bring to the world and to other people are solipsistic, narrow-minded, and so rigid as to be asphyxiating. These assumptions can be literally murderous.

Pretty Lady has often pointed out that when we assess, when we judge, we are judging ourselves. Rather, we are judging other people as though they were ourselves--not in a larger, mystical, transpersonal sense, but as though their narrow window of perception upon the world were identical to our own. How very dull and pointless this would be, if it were so! And how very unintelligent and slothful, not to mention potentially abusive, of us to act as if it were.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How to Be Safe from Demons

Pretty Lady never ceases to be shocked at the amount of ignorance, superstition and misinformation she finds, surrounding the subject of Demonic Possession. In this day and age! For shame! She cannot understand why there seems to be such a popular dearth of basic, practical information on how to cope with your standard negative entity, whether it be a full-fledged demon, a pissed-off Displaced Soul, a random thought-form, the slimy, tentaculate extrusions of a Possessive Roommate, or Satan himself.

Moreover, the amount of fearful disinformation being spread on this crucial issue is nearly as harmful as the entities themselves. Imagine, that some persons actually shy away from the demon-banishing practice of Yoga, under the mistaken delusion that this wholly benign and helpful exercise actually summons demons! Or, worse, that demons themselves are a fictive superstition, not worthy of even so much consideration or precaution as one would take to guard one's home from, say, mice, or cockroaches.

Although Pretty Lady herself is by no means an expert exorcist, or a regular traveler in the Occult, she sees clearly that it falls upon her shoulders to rectify this abominable cultural oversight, until such time as practical techniques of psychic self-defense are taught in kindergarten, alongside the alphabet.

Now, Pretty Lady confesses that she has stumbled upon many of her theories by experiential anecdote, which, indeed, given the psychically ignorant society in which she was raised, was nearly her only means of acquiring such information. Thus, a great many of her points are ad hoc and observational. If any of her dear readers have advice to the contrary, please do not be shy about calling her out.

At any rate, these are the primary principles one must take under consideration:

1) Remain within one's own body at all times.

To some individuals of 'scientific' persuasion, this may appear to be a tautology. It is not. If you take the trouble to observe the persons around you, you will quickly notice that many of them have a tendency to absent their souls from their physical manifestations, whether it be to avoid guilt, pain, trauma, social interaction, or mathematics examinations. These persons may have a 'blank' look in their eyes; they may make inappropriate, disconnected comments; they may continue casually chatting about fashion design while their four-year-old is making mud pies on their neighbor's brand-new grand piano. They may go hiking on treacherous terrain without appropriate footgear. One notices that these individuals appear to float above the earth, rather than walking upon it.

It is crucial, then, for any person who wishes to avoid an unwelcome demonic intrusion into their corporeal space, to occupy this space at all times. The primary technique for occupying one's own body is called grounding.

To ground:

Feel the earth under your feet. Feel that this earth is holding you up. It will not allow you to fall. Allow your weight to rest entirely upon floor, upon soil, upon bedrock, upon molten magma extending a thousand thousand fathoms deep. Feel that there is a line connecting your core to the core of the earth; feel that this line is made of light. Feel that the fire in the core of the earth connects to the fire at your core; feel that these two fires are one. Allow yourself to be supported.

This is not a joke; this is not a load of horse droppings. One of the ladies whom Pretty Lady knew personally, who was most distressingly possessed by the displaced soul in Pretty Lady's house in Mexico, was unable to do this. Her body, when Pretty Lady went to do a healing, was a mass of hysterical knots which only tangentially resembled the human anatomy; Pretty Lady told her, gently, "Sophia, the earth is holding you up."

Sophia replied, incredulously, "Really??!!" She genuinely did not believe it so.

2) Avoid extreme drugs.

Methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, morphine, angel dust, acid, and enormous doses of marijuana are Right Out. All of these substances are toxic, negative, and leave the aura wide open for evil influences to enter. Large amounts of hard liquor are ill-advised, as well. Pretty Lady is sorry to say that her own personal habit of downing straight tequila and listening to American Music Club, in times of great emotional duress, is an extremely risky one. But being an exceptionally grounded soul, Pretty Lady occasionally walks that line. She survived the house in Mexico with soul intact, when many lesser persons fled, at any rate.

3) Visualize a tough eggshell of white light around your entire body, extending into the ground.

When one sees this eggshell in one's mind, one must really see it. One must be grounded, first; otherwise, one's energy system is inadequate to mount an effective barrier. When you are good and grounded, visualize the eggshell. It allows good things in, but mean, nasty, spiky or slimy things bounce right off of it. Get your eggshell very firmly established; examine it for holes or thin places. If you cannot get this solid in your mind, it is not protecting you. If you have breaks, blocks, patches, or weak places, you will be able to sense them.

Pretty Lady has used this simple defense to great effect upon innumerable occasions, most notably when her roommate was psycho, and her antiquarian co-worker was irrationally obsessed with her. It is your basic all-purpose psychic shield, and is effective on all forms of negative energies, whether they emanate from the living, the dead, or the in-between.

A very strongly grounded individual may be able to place a shield of this nature around family, home, child, or car, as well as self. This can be very useful in avoiding parking tickets.

4) Yoga, prayer, and martial arts help immeasurably with this sort of thing.

Grounding and defending should be Step 1, in any decent yoga or martial arts instruction. Any good Christian who avoids these disciplines out of provincial religious squeamishness is an effete yahoo, who more than deserves the burden of those negative entities who will undoubtedly attach themselves, taking advantage of both the physical disconnectedness and psychological evasion that such notions encourage.

5) Chanting and vegetarianism, however, not so much.

Pretty Lady is All For meditative and purifying practices--in moderation, and under the supervision of an adept. However, she has noticed that the vast number of friends of hers who have ended up passing out or screaming obscenities in the streets, under the influence of greater or lesser demonic entities, have nearly all been ungrounded vegetarians who chanted to excess and smoked recreational marijuana.

Pretty Lady rather suspects that she survived her two-year stint in her House with Ghost unscathed, largely upon the strength of her cooking. Steak quesadillas, pea soup with chorizo, goat cheese sandwiches with grilled veggies, and huevos mexicanos were all mainstays. She hiked, she jogged, she swam in muddy dams, she biked round the panoramica, she performed aggressive dance aerobics; this, and her basically phlegmatic temperament, all seemed to keep her resident surly Inquisition ghost more or less quiescent, except for the time he set fire to her altar.

When the vegetarians moved in, however, all Hell broke loose, quite literally. Eventually the local clairvoyant got rid of him, but it was not an easy battle. Much simpler to keep that barbecue grilling, and the stereo cranked.

6) Sea salt, baking soda, sage, and ethanol--all good.

Pretty Lady once exorcised a Cursed Apartment with four bowls full of rock salt burning in ethanol, four candles, and Arvo Pärt at full volume. She re-painted the apartment after the exorcism, to make it habitable, but she is certain that she would not have even been able to remain in that place long enough to rinse her rollers, if it hadn't been for the initial cleansing.

Sea salt baths for one's person, and sage smudges for one's surroundings, can never go amiss. If one's house happens to be inhabited by an exceptionally stubborn Inquisition victim, the sage will not get rid of him, but for clearing space of residual toxicity born of grief, arguments, poverty and drug abuse by prior tenants, it is a tool of standard efficacy, obtainable at your local spook shop.

7) Toxic emotions and attitudes attract their own kind.

If you are addicted to rage, misery, paranoia, blame, suspicion, ill-will, aggression, narcissism, manipulation, parasitism, passivity, and egotism, and you wish to keep your personal space clear of negative entities--well, good luck with that.

8) If you suspect you or a friend may be possessed, seek expert assistance.

Catholic priests and gypsy psychics, in general, will only make matters worse. The priests will officially deny you have a problem, while unofficially quavering in their vestments; the psychics will try to charge you a large sum of money for passive-aggressive assistance. What you want, ideally, is an adept with the practical skills of a midwife and the aura of a linebacker, who has no personal axe to grind. Make discreet inquiries round your local community; if a prospective exorcist gives you hives, run away. Trust your intuition, and not glib rhetoric or psychic perspicacity. Remember, 'psychic' does NOT equal 'benevolent.' Character is All.

And Pretty Lady is very sorry to tell you that garlic and crucifixes, in her experience, have no anti-demonic efficacy whatsoever.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pretty Lady Draws the Line

Icky-poo. Pretty Lady just attended one of her signature literary readings, on a spur-of-the-moment invitation, and now she feels like she has been slimed.

Pretty Lady sometimes feels as though she has spent her entire adult life defending against charges of being a Victorian Prude. At times, she has even pre-empted this label, by humorously applying it to herself. In many circles, Pretty Lady has been known as, more or less, the token naïf; her freshman-year college friends, for example, ceremoniously presented her with a portrait of Alice in Wonderland, as her signature totem.

As she grew older, naturally her store of experience and sophistication expanded itself. At the same time, her inherent qualities of Mercy, Understanding and Unwillingness to Judge flowered like lilies in the sun. In her time, Pretty Lady has been the close confidante of strippers, sex-workers, wannabe sex-workers, frisky homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, sex addicts, polyamorous swingers, professional dominatrixes and highly unprofessional bondage freaks. She has welcomed all of these wild and wonderful persons with an open heart and an earnest desire to understand, if not necessarily share, their points of view.

Furthermore, Pretty Lady considers that prostitution is not an inherently dishonorable profession. It serves an undeniable need, and it is certainly not an easy living. Many persons, moreover, find themselve in economic circumstances which exigently force the issue. Pretty Lady cannot find it in her heart to judge or condemn these individuals in any way.

HOWEVER. Let it be known henceforth:

• When a person is a member of the middle-class, with a good education, living in a first world country:

• When a person has talent, brains, humor and creativity:

• When a person has an editor who suggests that performing twisted sexual acts with random strangers, then writing about the experience afterward, might be a good way to raise one's literary profile:

• When a person takes one's editor up on this proposition, for the sole purposes of acquiring extra income and literary notoriety:

Then, that person is truly cheap. Cheap and trashy.

Thus spake the Lady.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The soundtrack

Some songs, you listen to. Others, you live in. Or at least, Pretty Lady lives in this one.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Such hoopla

Pretty Lady might as well confess up-front that she is extremely bigoted, regarding transgendered individuals. She has lived for an extended length of time in the Bay Area; she has been emotionally close to a large number of Persons on the Fringe. She has, personally, known and worked with an individual who posed for a hermaphroditic version of the Maja Nuda. She has attended Underground Readings. She has purchased the published works of the readers.

And Pretty Lady's considered, experiential, overtly biassed opinion is this: that transgendered persons are abnormally literarily gifted. It is simply Not Fair, and should be stopped.

For how else, darlings, could Kate Bornstein have moved her to tears, laughter, and a standing ovation, at Project Artaud of all places, known for its tiresomely ponderous, unresolved, sloppy and self-righteous presentations? Why else would she have considered bestowing a copy of Charlie Anders' novel, 'Choir Boy,' upon her Anglican chorista mother, despite the fact that the contents of said novel might, in a strictly narrative sense, not have been deemed appropriate for intergenerational conversation?

And why else would Little Light now be on the receiving end of hysterical, unfounded, ignorant claims of plagiarism, for a mere blog post, if said blog post were not so abnormally powerful in its rhetoric, so far-reaching in its influence, that it aroused the demons of vicious envy in less-gifted feminine bosoms?

Hmph. And they say that patriarchy is oppressive. Pretty Lady has now decided that she by far prefers the crude, blundering oppression of relatively straightforward male minds, to the many-tentacled, histrionic, irrational destructiveness of the envious female contingent. But perhaps she is merely feeling miffed that her comment did not pass through the filter over at Harpy Central. Pretty Lady, sadly, is not immune to acerbic personal pot-shots, particularly when she's PMSing.

Pretty Lady's further opinions on the whole overblown transgender thing can be summed up in a comment she had with a Registered Nurse, long ago in San Francisco. That wise and experienced lady remarked, laconically, "Well, it must be very compelling."

Ah. Indeed. Obvious, when you think about it.

For Pretty Lady recalls, as a young girl, being exquisitely, deeply pleased and contented with her Girl nature. She veritably revelled in it. She was not enormously repulsed by boy nature, naturally, but she regarded the boys with gentle pity, as having ended up with by far the short end of the stick, physical nature-wise.

Pretty Lady still feels this way. She would not change genders for anything. She is thrilled to be a Lady, and joyfully shoulders all the perceived burdens attendant thereof.

Thus, her psychological nature being At One with her physical nature, Pretty Lady considers herself inordinately blessed. She cannot imagine the state of being mentally at war with one's own corpus; this situation strikes her as being a recipe for extreme distress of all kinds. Not to mention the added burden of being the natural target of jealous harpies.

So perhaps the mind-bogglingly huge literary gifts attendant upon this situation is merely God's way of compensation. More, she is not qualified to say.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bedtime Beverages

'Crystal tumbler of absinthe'! 'Crystal tumbler of absinthe'! Finally, somebody understands Pretty Lady. Although her beverage of choice this evening is an Art Nouveau pint glass full of Midas Touch, which, she likes to think, was probably provided by the cartload at Cleopatra's shindigs. It is disgracefully expensive at Pretty Lady's corner store in Brooklyn, however--so much so that she's considering buying a case of it, next time she pops out of The City, to a place where local grocery stores do not have both a captive market and exorbitant overhead.

Somebody offered Pretty Lady some actual absinthe, once, back in the days when it was still decidedly illegal. (Is it still illegal? Pretty Lady read a long article in The New Yorker about a modern-day absinthe-distiller, but Wikipedia doesn't say anything about the bans having been lifted in the modern-day proto-Puritan police state that used to be our beloved U.S. of A.) The absinthe story is part of a long, long story about Pretty Lady's naive youth, which she refuses to tell in public until a certain party has actually passed on, which event looks, possibly, to be imminent.

Pretty Lady has no remarks on that.

The moral of the long story that Pretty Lady is unable to tell, however, is that Pretty Lady Cannot Save Your Soul. And if you try to get her to try, this is Bad for Everyone. She realizes that most of you already knew that. And without the long story, this moral is bald, it is bare, it is boring. Pretty Lady is sorry about this, but not sorry enough to tell that story. It's on a Xeroxed chapbook in the bottom drawer of her filing cabinet, and there it will stay.

No, darlings, as Pretty Lady's old friend Raphael used to say (before she permanently alienated him, in the very week before she left town forever, by telling him that her Best Friend was Out Of His League--it was TRUE! Blast these fellows and their fragile egos!), once you've reached Enlightenment, all there is is Hanging Out.

There are no Needs, no Desires, no Commitments, no Divorces, no Plans, no Agendas, no Goals. There are no Contracts, no Exchanges, no Battles, no Support, no Derision. There are no Separations at all. All of us has everything, and thus have no need to get it.

Pretty Lady has been meditating, lately, upon Funding for the Arts. (This is relevant.) She recently received an email questionaire from a local arts organization of which she is a desultory member. One of the questions was, "How has being a member of X Organization helped your career?"

Pretty Lady has been PMS-ing, just lately, which may be why her reaction to this particular question was so extreme. "No, and WHAT CAREER?!!!" was an approximate summary of her response. Upon further consideration, tallying up her relationships and histories with arts organizations in general, she realized the truth: that the more she has relied upon external entities to provide her with a Career, with Support, with Opportunity, Funding and Exposure, the more the aggregate result has been a gigantic sucking sound, as Pretty Lady's creative energy disappears down a bureaucratic vortex.

Yes, Pretty Lady could tell you more sordid stories than you have the time or inclination to read, about those dear friends who said, with a straight face, "All you have to do is get these six organizations to fill out ten identical forms and sign them, agreeing to match funds, in-kind if necessary, write up a proposal, send in your application, and you have a fifty-percent chance of getting the smallest available grant to work with the most troubled children in the worst school in the city! For a really short time! Isn't that sexy?" Or the cultural organization representative who declared, "This is a wonderful idea. You'll need about forty thousand dollars, and we don't provide grants, but we can provide the hoops for you to jump through so that you can qualify to ask someone else for the money..." Or the sweet, friendly, warm and cuddly art dealer, who, after being friendly and cuddly for a year and a half, said "No, it's a waste of time," when Pretty Lady offered to display her portfolio.

And these were the projects that Pretty Lady initiated, out of her own creative ingenuity, after spending a decade or so filling out the more conventional reams of paperwork for approved artistic Career Trajectories, and figuring out on her own that it was merely a huge pyramid scam. Degrees, residencies, grants and competitions--pah! These are Nothing! They are Not Art! They are Pretension, they are Agenda, they are Precious and Foolish and False!

That is what Pretty Lady now thinks about all that. She now wishes only to communicate, to all those hungry artists out there, in whose eyes she sees that selfsame desperation lurking--let go. You have what you need. Your absinthe tumbler runneth over. You have your hands, your mind, and almost certainly a computer; use them! Care not what the Public thinks! De-schmooze those Curators, those Directors, those Lord High Dispensers of Wholly Inadequate and Downright Insulting Grants!

Because the best investments Pretty Lady ever made in her art career have been 1) family; 2) friends; and 3) vocational school. Love and Support and Somewhat of an Income, in other words. She wishes she had realized sooner that she needed nothing more.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pretty Lady Gets This Sort of Thing a LOT

Dear Pretty Lady,

One can also consider not collapsing inwards just because the outwards doesn't live up, for we are inexplicably in some sort of ongoing sweaty tango that pushes and pulls with the beats of our individuality.

And following that, there is also always the very best efforts of tantra, so-called, to turn to, or listen to, as human, of course, as it still is, that involve the incredible miracle of the form before the former (as you have said, is that not enough for one willing initiation?), thus no need for fantasy or whips, plus as you have said, "are they not already there?" (well, you din't actually say that).

And then perhaps include a deep yet whimsical and ongoing rhythmic meditation, contemplation, exaltation on what we may and may not be, as you so delightfully suggested in the fantasmically perfect response you gave to the Sam Harris/Dennis Prager debate, about lovley Sammy's boobsession with being soul-y the body, which had me laughing out loud and—in the way of the cosmos, and the interface of silly screens and screams—led me here to your wit.

And for the record, be that record vinyl or god knows what, the actual dance of not collapsing fully inwards or outwards is perhaps a reflection of that universal tantra, so-called, ongoing, unstoppable, spinning a beautiful rock around a giant ball of fire to who knows where...?

But back to the original synapse firing, when the tension deflates or inflates too far, for example from too much messiness (as you describe it), people perhaps then start desperately tying other people up to bring that miraculous tension of the body/soul life-force journey back to a workable passion.

Then again, who knows?

I have no idea what I just wrote and I know I should read it over, but I'm not going to becuase I am haphazard and crazy today, and I blame it on your exquisite song of words that activates such an unavoidable stream of unconscious consciousness, and reminds us poor souls to play, you flea-bitten varmits, play!

Having said that, I do wonder if Sam Harris and Dennis Prager secretly love each other. I think they'd have a decent tension, if they practiced retaining, but perhaps that is too specific for your dear readers.

I ask that because I love them, and I love you too, as you dastardly (is that word?) keep your very own interdependent sacred tantra-tension alive by refusing to abandon the amazing truth and wonder of your sat, chit and ananda to the utter madness, joy, absurdity, decay, pain, rotting, dreaming, loving, giving, hoping surrending, helplessness of it all.


Dear Pete,

Pretty Lady has this strange sort of feeling that she's met you somewhere before. Was it by the keg at, did you send her that twelve-page email that almost got, it was the eighteen postcards from, the Buddhist monas...the professional poker...the graduate composer who had the nervous...never mind.

Seriously, never mind.

Ever since Pretty Lady first started noodling around with the primitive e-mail system at her work-study job, back in the Dark Ages, she has, seemingly, inspired the copious and many-authored composition of poetic, unrestrained, undisciplined missives such as this one. In latter years, she has been wondering if she ought to specialize. To wit:

Are you Brilliant?

Are you Misunderstood?

Are you in the Throes of a Spiritual Emergency???

(If you are unfamiliar with the term 'Spiritual Emergency,' this does not mean you are not suffering from one. See above letter for points of reference; if you find yourself on the point of composing such a thing, if it makes some sense to you, if it seems to articulate some inchoate and undefined sensation, niggling at the corners of your brain, you may qualify.)

Well! Then you may sign up for a Correspondence Course with Pretty Lady, your stringent but gentle guide through the treacherous shoals of Consciousness Expansion, without the unfortunate Slitting of Wrists or Torching of Valuable Relationships!

Merely fill out this form, including height, weight, age, education, IQ, exercise program, physical illnesses, mental illnesses, family history, financial assets, intellectual assets, vehicular assets, skills, talents, talents you wish you had but don't, sexual fantasies, astrological chart, and elementary school report card.

Once you have passed Pretty Lady's security check and almost-sanity test, the cost of this course is a low-low-low $59.95 a week, plus taxes, to include at least three specific, pointed, practical admonishings, written in a sprightly and engaging style, geared to your own particular charming but undisciplined needs. Phone calls extra; in-person visits are absolutely verboten.

Once you are enrolled, you are not permitted to quit until Pretty Lady fires you. Which--do not panic--she is certain to do, sooner or later.

What do you think, darlings? Is this a workable business plan?

Oh, and Pete, dear, I love you too.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Boot Lace Saga

What kind of lady is Pretty Lady, you may ask?

Pretty Lady is the kind of lady who buys a pair of charming German boots because they resemble those of a medieval woodcutter, in a fit of optimistic madness when her business is going well, and then ties knots in the laces as they progressively disintegrate during three years of financial uncertainty and poor receipts. That is the kind of lady she is.

What kind of friends does Pretty Lady have?

Well, she has the kind of friends who notice the knots in her laces, and it drives them crazy, and they secretly plot to get her some new German bootlaces as a surprise Christmas present.

But, the boots being German, the saga ensues.

On 12/22/06, C.R. wrote:
Since you're answering e-mail, tell me -- and it pains me to have to ask this, but it seems there's no way around it -- how long are the laces on those boots of yours?

On 12/22/06, PL wrote:
Really long. And skinny. Longer than you'd think. I can't measure, because I didn't bring them
with me, but they're Trippen boots, and they lace up till well above the ankle. I'd guess about
28 inches, but I could be wrong.

On 12/30/06, CR wrote:
Now that you're back in lovely New York, would you be so kind as to forward me the model,
color, and size of those boots of yours?

This is so darned difficult, surprising people.
On 12/31/06, PL wrote:
Okay, I just measured the boot laces, and shortened with knots they're about 42 inches long. Which means I suppose that I need something around 44-46 inches, really skinny, like spaghetti. They're Trippen, color which I suppose could be called 'oxblood,' sort of brownish red or reddish brown, size 41. Don't know the name of the model, since it's not written on the boot anywhere I can find.
On 1/15/07, CR wrote:
I started by asking the Trippen people, in poor German, what length the laces are on the boot.
This confused poor Anke, who asked me to try English. Then she suggested I order the laces
from Trippen directly, for the low price of about 5.50 euros. Which is around ten American
bucks. As you can see below, the amount of information required to order these laces
kept escalating.

---------- Forwarded message --------
On Wed, 3 Jan 2007, Trippen direkt wrote:

The easiest way to get a pair of replacement laces is to order them directly from us -
I guess you will not get such a pair of laces in any shoe store anyway.

To order a pair of laces please let me have the name of the model, the exact colour of
the shoes as well as size, full address and credit card details - Mastercard or Visa - by
mail of fax - 0049-30-28049359. Alternatively you can also call us from Mo-Fr,
12.00 - 18.00 at 0049-30-53213056 to let us have all necessary data.

The price for a pair of laces is 3 Euro plus 2,50 Euro freight.

Thank you. I can't find the exact color: The boots are an older model, probably of the
Band. Your site lists black and espresso as colors, but these boots are reddish brown,
maybe what your site calls wine or berry. We'd call the color oxblood. They're size 41.

If you can determine the exact color and model from this, I'd appreciate it. Then I
can order the laces.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2007 15:02:40 +0100
From: Trippen direkt <>
To: CR
Subject: Re: Band Schuhen

To send you a pair of laces in the exact colour please either let me
know where you bought them or send me a photo! I guess it is wine
wax/berry sft.



(PL receives pair of perfectly wonderful, 45-inch, wine-colored,
non-Trippen bootlaces in mail, and is surprised and overjoyed.)

So now you can communicate with Anke directly and get her photos, location
of purchase, phase of the moon during purchase, zodiac signs of your pets,
maternal grandmother's maiden name, and whatever else
they seem to need.

Good luck. Sorry I couldn't surprise you with the right laces. Next time
mention flowers or plants or a car -- you know, something easy,

Sunday, January 14, 2007


This years' contribution from a cheerful young French artist whom Pretty Lady has never actually met in person:

Oh, dear. I imagine that if you click on it, it will become intelligible.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Feline stoicism

Let it be known that in the last two weeks, the Alpha Cat has passed at least four large kidney stones, by Pretty Lady's reckoning.

We have it down to a routine. The Alpha Cat makes his distress known, through both vocalization and gesture; Pretty Lady provides succour and discipline in equal measure. With much regretful sympathy, the Alpha Cat is quarantined in the bathroom, along with the Cat Hospital Basket and a towel.

The Alpha Cat retires dutifully to the basket until he passes a blood clot into the towel. Then he is released from quarantine, has lunch, and sleeps off the agony on the couch, while Pretty Lady mops the bathroom.

Let it be known that throughout these deeply distressing experiences, the Alpha Cat's manners, dignity and sweetness of character proceed unwavering. Once his plight has been acknowledged, he does not whine; he expresses appreciation and affection for services rendered, even in the extremis of bleeding through the urethra.

More than one of Pretty Lady's hypochondriacal ex-boyfriends could learn a thing or two, from such a shining example of stoicism and grace.

Splendid news!

Smalls Jazz Club is open again!

Pretty Lady considered it an unequivocal tragedy when she heard that Smalls, allegedly, was no more--pushed out of existence by changing (ahem) real estate prices. She spent one of her birthdays at Smalls, at the round table by the piano, slowly consuming the bottle of Bookers that the Pundit so thoughtfully provided, and entering an otherworldly trance state which lasted until the very small hours of the morning.

Now, as a caveat, she notes that the new Smalls apparently has been renovated and has a Full Bar, which is not necessarily such good news. One of the major virtues of the old Smalls is that one could bring one's own bottle of Bookers, or Jim Beam if one does not happen to have generous friends with Good Jobs. The old Smalls provided some desultory Free Mixers, ice and small plastic cups, but the booze was BYOB. Pretty Lady is deeply afraid that the cost of the renovation will be shunted into traditional Manhattan $12 drinks, but since she has not actually checked, this remains to be seen.

The furnishings, likewise, were nothing to write home about. They were, to put it bluntly, mis-matched and seedy. But this merely added to the Old Jazz aura, along with the narrow basement stairs, and the $10 all-night cover charge, a major bargain in a city where venues which shall remain nameless (JOES PUB
) charge a new cover every 45 minutes, along with a two-drink minimum per table. Hmph.

So. Pretty Lady foresees that an Outing to Smalls is in her near future. Who would like to join her?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Call for Participants. This is serious.

Saturday, January 13
Sixth Annual No Pants! Subway Ride

Requirements for Participation: 1) Willing to take pants off on
subway; 2) Able to keep a straight face about it. This is a
participatory event. Do not show up unless you plan to take your
pants off. This includes news media.

Bring: A backpack and a metro card. Do not bring: A camera (don't
worry we are taking pictures) Wear: Normal winter clothes (hat,
gloves, etc).

How it works: We will assemble in Foley Square at 3p. Please be on
time. Feel free to be early. When we're organized, we will all head
down to the Brooklyn Bridge 6 Train stop together. Do not talk to
others once you enter the subway system. No one knows each other. We
will wait for a train to arrive on the uptown side of the tracks and
all board our assigned cars (follow your team leader). A man with a
megaphone will confirm that it is time to board the train. We may let
one train go before entering to make sure everyone is ready.

Sit in the car as you normally would. Read a magazine or whatever you
would normally do. Your team leader will have already divided you
into smaller groups, assigning your group a specific stop where you
will depants. Sit near your group.

As soon as the doors shut at the stop before yours, stand up and take
your pants off and put them in your backpack. If you'd like to use a
briefcase, purse, grocery bag, or whatever instead of a backpack
that's fine too. You are responsible for your own pants and they
should be with you at all times. If anyone asks you why you've
removed your pants, tell them that they were "getting
uncomfortable" (or something along those lines.)

Exit the train at your assigned stop and stand on the platform,
pantless. This is a new change for No Pants 2k7. You will wait on the
platform for the next 6 train to arrive. Stay in the exact same place
on the platform so you enter the next train in the same car as you
exited the last train.

When you enter , act as you normally would. You do not know any of
the other pantless riders. If questioned, tell folks that you "forgot
to wear pants" and yes you are "a little cold." Insist that it is a
coincidence that others also forgot their pants. Be nice and friendly
and normal.

We will exit the train at 125th street. Pay attention so you don't
miss this stop. We will then repeat the mission back down to Brooklyn

You can wear fun underwear if you like, but nothing that screams out
"I wore this because I'm doing a silly stunt." Wear two pairs of
underwear if it makes you feel more comfortable. Avoid wearing a
thong or anything else that might offend people. Our aim is to make
people laugh, not piss them off. If you haven't already, please take
a moment to read the previous mission reports for the last five No
Pants rides.

Meetup at Foley Square at the black sculpture/fountain
Between Centre and Lafayette, just north of Duane, Manhattan
3p sharp, over by 5:30p; $free

The Art of the Duel

Ah, the reparteé...

Doom said: So Romantic! There were those times, long since past, where such things were the norm. Though, it was only in comparatively more recent times when fisticuffs became an accepted gentemanly endeavor while full dress was in order. The elegance, the splendor, the duels... sigh You were born too late, Pretty Lady. For myself, I feel very dated. Even suits were better than what passes for fashion these days. I think the world has changed from a place where people tried to move up in the world to one where people decidedly work toward the lower rungs. sigh... again...

Still, you make my heart sing with your dreams! Perhaps all is not lost!

Chris Rywalt said...

You're right, Doom. The world was a better place when two well-dressed gentlemen could take a nice walk followed by hurling lead balls at each other at a thousand feet per second. There's simply nothing to compare with having your liver blown out through your spine and then spending three agonizing days before expiring.

Although having a long piece of steel slid through your entrails followed by a few days of sepsis and then death, that's a close second.

Once upon a time, there were Guys, their Girlfriends, and Pretty Lady.

Pretty Lady read an interview with Madonna once, wherein this quintessential anti-lady mused, "I had a reputation as a slut, even while I was still technically a virgin." At the time, she was inclined to believe that a similar thing had happened to her. Even in this modern day and age, a woman who does not fit any obvious stereotypes will still be slotted into the nearest General Category, no matter how inaccurate the definition.

However, with time and distance, Pretty Lady now thinks otherwise. The fact is, Pretty Lady is one of those rare ladies who simply Likes Men, as a separate characteristic from having Indiscriminate Sex with Men, and even at an early age, this general affinity came across loud and clear. While the other girls largely kept to the side of their Chosen Male, clinging to his knee and murmuring in low tones, or gathered in groups to natter about Girl Things, Pretty Lady swanned around in solitary insouciance and made Outrageous Comments on Matters Philosophical. For the thing she so likes about men is that they like to talk about such stuff, and not just about clothes and gossip and menstrual cramps.

At times the boys appreciated this fact, at other times they were irritated and perplexed by it, particularly when Pretty Lady unwisely attempted to horn in on Guy Time. There were Dramas, there were Tiffs, there were wounded feelings all round, but by and large, in those days, a good time was had by all.

These good times were enabled and abetted by the time-honored academic tradition of the Open Keg Party, of which there were at least two or three on any given weekend. These parties quickly, that is within twenty-four hours, assumed the stuff of legend. Who said what to who, who broke up, hooked up, had a dramatic meltdown and drove off in a dangerous state of drunkenness despite the equally drunken remonstrances of his friends, were the subject of endless conversation during the following week (in between semi-learned discourse on Foucault and Burroughs and Nietszche, of course). Pretty Lady, she blushes to admit, swam through these parties as though they were her natural habitat.

Upon one memorable occasion, it was discovered far too late in the evening that Pretty Lady's last chance for a ride home had departed long since. The remaining occupants of the scene were in far too advanced a state of inebriation to even attempt the classic Texas 'I drive better when I'm drunk, because I'm SO CAREFUL' maneuver, and walking home alone at 3 AM in a neighborhood where lurked the notorious Hyde Park Rapist was out of the question.

Fortunately, this party was hosted by a True Gentleman friend of Pretty Lady's, who generously offered her the private use of his bedroom, while he would eventually (around 6) pass out upon the sofa, his flute still reclining across his chest. (Dear Octavio. What a sweetheart. Pretty Lady devoutly hopes he eventually overcame the demons of social alcoholism and went on to live a productive life; she rather suspects, due to the wonders of Google, that he did.)

Unfortunately, Octavio's roommate was an Irish individual of no gentlemanly character at all. As soon as Pretty Lady had retired, the Irishman retired with her, and proceeded to optimistically try to talk her into having sex with him.

The grounds for his optimism were that "you flirted with me!"

"I flirt with everybody," Pretty Lady replied, sleepily. "Flirting is a social activity, not a sexual one. I'm sorry you misunderstood."

"Come on, give me a chance," persisted the Irishman.

"You have not got a prayer," said Pretty Lady, in stern exasperation.

"I have prayers, I have hopes, I have dreams..." retorted the Irishman, in a state of maudlin melodrama which deceived no-one.

At this juncture, Pretty Lady was reminded of that line in Pride and Prejudice: "that if he persisted in considering her repeated refusals as flattering encouragement, to apply to her father, whose negative must be uttered in such a manner as must be decisive, and whose behavior at least could not be mistaken for the affectation and coquetry of an elegant female."

Forthwith, she departed to the living room, and requested of the True Gentleman: "Tell your roommate to stop making moves on me so I can go to sleep."

This did the trick, not because the True Gentleman's word was actually required, but because her departure from the bedroom effectively convinced the Irishman that further remonstrance was futile.

Of course, this amusing tale made the rounds of Academic Society the next week, particularly as Pretty Lady had left a charmingly urbane little thank-you note before her early-morning departure, which was passed around and exclaimed upon. In the course of all the chatter, it was discovered that this was neither the first nor the second time that the Irishman had tried such a thing. In fact, the man had a veritable habit of entering ladies' bedrooms uninvited, late at night, and showering them with suggestive blarney until they thumped desperately upon the wall, or threatened legal action if he did not desist.

So what did Pretty Lady's gentleman friends do? Did they challenge the man to a duel? Did they take him out by the dumpsters and work him over? Did they even put some Strong Words of Warning in his ear?

They did not. They waited until he was safely back in Ireland, and then they satirized him.

Indeed, posted anonymously upon the wall at another late keg party, there appeared "The Tale of R. G." It tracked the movements of the dastardly Irishman across the continent, leaving a string of rape-crisis centers in his wake. It dwelt upon his methodology, his apparent preference for ladies half-awake, his excess of florid blather. It was rather well-done; Pretty Lady wishes she had a copy today.

At the time, Pretty Lady rather wished her gentleman friends were more decisive, direct and forthright, rather than wittily passive-aggressive. Some part of her reptile brain genuinely would have liked an indignant swain to punch the fellow in the jaw, and warn him away from Decent Ladies.

But by and large, she now approves the behavior of her gentleman friends. Their point was made, her reputation was intact, and nobody went to jail. Thus a happy ending.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Turning around

Pardon the light postings lately, darlings; Pretty Lady has been in a Highly Visual mode lately, and her ordinarily silver tongue tends to stick to the roof of her mouth in these phases. She thinks she has something to say, but then it gets garbled halfway through, and trails off into nothingness.

However, pursuing Salon magazine this bright sunny morning, she was Struck by what seemed to her to be a certain Irony, involving the stereotypical notion of Males, and their notorious unwillingness to backtrack or ask directions, when lost in an Unfamiliar Wilderness. Much as Pretty Lady tries to avoid Political Discourse in any mode, she could not help but notice a certain parallel theme, in matters Macro and Micro, in today's news.

Just after Thanksgiving of 2006, a young family of four from San Francisco went missing in the rugged mountains of southwestern Oregon. James Kim, his wife, Kati, and their two daughters took a risky journey into the wilderness, and only three of them made it out alive....

The Kims had violated a number of rules that would have been familiar to locals or to experienced backwoodsmen, but perhaps not to them. They had left too late at night, they had left the main road, and they hadn't turned around or tried to back up once it began to snow and their gas tank edged toward empty. More than once they had forged ahead when they should've backtracked to the known world and safety.

...Technology, whether in the form of GPS, cellphones or even helicopters, can't save everyone. In the end it comes down to whether people are prepared for the wilderness, whether they respect it or even believe that such a thing still exists. There is no balm for human error in legislation, or in criticizing the people who worked doggedly for days to save James Kim's life.

Then again:

Barack Obama told Rice that the Bush administration "took a gamble" in Iraq, staking "American prestige and our national security on the premise that it could go in, overthrow Saddam Hussein and rebuild a functioning democracy. And so far . . . it appears to have failed. And essentially, the administration has repeatedly said, 'We're doubling down, we're going to keep on going. Maybe we lost that bet, but we're going to put a little more money in.'"

Like John Kerry and Norm Coleman before him, Obama tried, unsuccessfully, to get Rice to describe what would happen if the Maliki government doesn't live up to its promises this time around: "Are there any circumstances that the president or you are willing to share in which we would say to the Iraqis, 'We are no longer maintaining American combat troops in Iraq?' Are they any circumstances you can articulate in which you would say to the Maliki government, 'Enough is enough?'"

Pretty Lady was going somewhere with this, but unfortunately she finds herself unable to articulate her views, due to the fact that today appears to be a Mostly Visual Day. She will thus leave it up to her wise and astute readers to draw their own conclusions.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Scientific Discovery

It is, in fact, possible for Kalamata olives to go moldy in the refrigerator. They grow a fine layer of smooth green fuzz where the pits used to be. It is a good thing that Pretty Lady chops her olives before adding them to the pesto, and that her vision has not yet failed completely.

In Praise of Fantasy

Crom makes an excellent point:

Indiscriminate sex sounds like fun in concept, but the reality of it is quite different. Most encounters of this type when viewed over the shoulder take on a different hue, one of where you are glad that nothing bad came of the event, rather than exulting that it happened.
Pretty Lady never ceases to be shocked by The Larger Populace of seemingly No Imagination. Being a lady who, through no fault of her own, has found herself living a life that, in the words of one stranger long ago, 'most of us can only dream of,' she knows that the events which are most melodramatic in the telling are generally the most tedious and banal in the experiencing. Or at least, that the devil is in the details, quite literally.

Now, Pretty Lady has never had indiscriminate sex in elevators, or anywhere else, because Pretty Lady has quite an excellent imagination. Her imagination extends to all sorts of troublesome logistics, which make it clear to her that sex in elevators, as a practical investment, is best relegated to the realm of Artistic Fantasy, and not Messy Actuality.

In fact, she has never understood why so many men of her acquaintance are so dense about this obvious fact. Well she recalls, while wearily engaged in securing yet another belt, rope, collar or wrist restraint to an uncooperative bed or wall, asking her then-whatever-he-was--"Can't you just imagine that you're tied up?"

In Pretty Lady's mind, not only does this come to more or less the same thing, but imagined scenarios are much more efficient, in a practical sense, than painstakingly enacted real ones. Gentlemen of her acquaintance repeatedly inform her that "men are more visual, when it comes to sex." They also seem to be more literal in their erotic requirements, as well as messier and more inconvenient.

Which is why, in the absence of her yet-unmanifested One And Only, she vastly prefers to hang out with a Georgette Heyer novel of an evening, rather than skulking around in elevators.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Back of the Closet

Pretty Lady does not quite believe in Global Warming, normally, for the very good reason that Daddy the Brilliant Scientist has done an extensive study on the issue, in his spare time, and has told her that Global Warming is Not So. Mostly. But when we are getting San Francisco spring weather at the beginning of January in New York City, she begins to wonder.

Since she cannot do much about Global Warming at the moment, however, Pretty Lady took advantage of the balmy temperatures to rummage around in the closet and pull out some items that haven't seen much use since she moved to a city with Seasons. Foremost among the nifty stuff in there was this, a Labyrinth jacket made entirely out of hemp, and once owned by an Asian fire-eating stripper. 'Miss Jade' is her name. Perhaps you have heard of her?

At times, despite her worldly experience, Pretty Lady can be exceptionally naive. When she browses through designer clothing boutiques, largely for artistic reasons, she can't help noticing that the price tags on nearly all of the items are consummately prohibitive, given that the target demographic--nubile young females--does not tend, generally, to be in the High Income bracket. Moreover, the styles have a tendency to be flashy to the point of near-indecency. "These look likc clothes for high-end female escorts," Pretty Lady has been known to speculate.

Come to find out, that's exactly what they are. Which is why Pretty Lady considers it a badge, not only of canny, pragmatic thrift, but of actual straightforward Virtue of Character, that she buys all of her bizarre high-fashion novelty items either secondhand, barter, sample sale, or factory second. These clothes have the added virtue that they occasionally come accompanied by interesting stories, having been both produced and owned by personalities as colorful as Pretty Lady's own.

This particular jacket was quite a score--Pretty Lady had been wandering hopelessly into the Labyrinth store in the Lower Haight for a year or more, trying on fantastically medieval, sculptural creations and mentally staking them out, just in case she happened to get married or something. (There was one thing, a two-layer Asian-influence construction that incorporated bright orange swooshy pants, burgundy tunic, gold and orange floral overskirt, and bright red bodice, in a startling manner that both worked as an ensemble and set off Pretty Lady's short burgundy haircut at the time, that she earmarked as either a wedding dress, or what to wear for one's own opening at the Museum of Modern Art. Sadly, neither of these events has yet to come to pass, and the Labyrinth label appears to have passed on to more pragmatic enterprises.)

In any case, when she fetched up against this jacket in the local consignment shop, with a tag well within her means, she could scarcely believe her luck. It was mere icing on the cake when the salesgirl informed her, "Miss Jade brought that jacket in. She was cleaning out her closets, and hadn't worn it in over a year."

Pretty Lady wore it, and still does; something about the hemp, the heft, the solidity of its construction makes her feel both protected and powerful, in some esoteric way. It confirms the notion she has that if she had been born in some medieval era, she would probably have been burned as a witch.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pure pleasure

Dear EN has sent Pretty Lady this glorious video. Now she is updating her Amazon wish list. Glorious.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pretty Lady Gets Controversial

Friends, Pretty Lady is feeling so cheerful today, what with the unwonted sunshine, the Hildegarde of Bingen CD generously provided by Paul and Rebecca, and a progressively de-cluttered apartment, that she has decided to Plunge into a Sea of Controversy, and discuss Rape Politics. She confidently expects there to ensue a sobering Hue and Cry, but then, her life has been remarkably trouble-free lately.

As a jumping-off point, Pretty Lady provides the following Comment, taken at random from Rape Politics Central:

My office is prepping for the big electronics show in Las Vegas, which always coincides with the Adult Entertainment “Oscars”. I overheard one of the other women saying how much she hated working the later shift at the booth because she gets “creeped out” coming back from the convention center by herself. Her main “creepy” experience was the “sleazy” cab driver chatting her up about the adult entertainment expo; “why is this stranger discussing porn with me? This is scary!” Listening to her other examples of “creepy” experiences, I was suddenly strucked by the idea that they all boiled down to “I’m afraid I’ll get raped.”

She was annoyed at the person who wrote up the booth schedule, the sales men who had to leave early and couldn’t escort her back to the hotel, the AE industry for scheduling their convention the same time as the electronics show, etc. etc. She was fighting against the circumstances that evoked the fear of rape; never once did she–or anyone else in the conversation–consider how unfair it was for women to have their freedom so curtailed by the constant, subconscious fear of rape. It was just…normal. Obvious. Just the way life is.

Now, before anyone accuses Pretty Lady of being a sheltered little lamb, one of the ignorantly favored Pets of the Patriarchy, let it be known that Pretty Lady has, in fact, been the 'victim' of at least one attempt at violent rape. At least, that is what she figured out some time later. At the time, she vaguely wondered why the large gang of strangers was taking all that trouble to pound her head against the ground, without even checking to see if she was carrying any money; they didn't even seem interested in her watch, which was, in fact, quite a nice one, and which she was mildly pleased not to have lost in the fracas.

No, even at the time, it did not occur to Pretty Lady to be afraid of rape. She was concerned, of course; concerned that she might die and upset her family, concerned that her dear friend who was also getting head-banged might meet a similar fate, concerned about getting upright and getting away from this unfriendly crowd of persons. These seemed to Pretty Lady to be the primary issues, requiring her immediate attention; 'fear of rape' was such a distant irrelevancy that it did not surface upon her radar.

Thus, it was that Pretty Lady came out of her experience of violent victimization by the Patriarchy, relatively unscathed. In fact, she did not even dare to inform her dear brother of the event until some time had passed, for fear that he would rush out to her neighborhood, vigilante-style, and perform some regrettable acts of retaliation, thus jeapordizing his own inner peace and well-being.

Pretty Lady understands that this incident does not quite establish her bad-ass credentials. In order to write upon the subject with True Authority, she realizes that she ought to have been repeatedly molested by her father, her brother, her cousins, and a handful of random strangers, every week since the age of two or three. She knows that there are many women who can, indeed, say that this is true; she defers completely to these individuals, in matters concerning the Subjective Experience. Pretty Lady's further views are that such individuals require the utmost love, compassion and protection from all of us, and she will not countenance any dissenting opinion on the matter.

However, Pretty Lady wishes to let all potential and future rape victims in upon a little secret: fearing rape does not prevent rape. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the opposite is true. What we dwell upon, we attract. A person who flinches whenever addressed, no matter how gentle the tone of the addressing, sooner or later is likely to get swatted.

This is because, as humans, we are relational creatures. We do not act and react within a vacuum; we pick up on cues, social gestalts, scripts, and Subtle Drifts. Each of us is wandering around in a sea of conflicting or assenting projections, glomming on to whichever of these fit our preconceived notions.

Thus, any interaction between two persons, no matter how skewed in matters of physical or psychological power, requires that both persons be reading from the same script. Fear is a powerful projection, and thus writes a most compelling script. Evil and violent persons feed upon the fear of others; this is why it is so vitally important not to cultivate fear in oneself.

For, when you consider the matter, there are an infinite number of things to fear, at all times, and in all places, none of which it is possible to fully control. One may fear earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, atom bombs, global warming, unemployment, economic collapse, illegal immigration, drive-by shootings, break-ins, train wrecks, car crashes, plane crashes, pit-bull attacks, thunderstorms, hotel fires, floods, cancer, old age, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and spiders. All this, and sleazy cab drivers too? How exhausting. It is a wonder that any of us ever get anything done at all.

Given the infinite possibilities for crippling fear, then, Pretty Lady prefers to say 'no' to all of them, as much as possible. Rape in particular seems to be a very poor investment, fear-wise; either the gentleman coming toward her on the street is an Evil, Violent Rapist, or he isn't. Pretty Lady prefers to assume he isn't, and treat him with the friendly courtesy attendant thereupon. In all likelihood, he will plug in to her 'friendly courtesy' script, nod, and walk on.

Monday, January 01, 2007

First anniversary

Darlings, do you realize what today is? It is Pretty Lady's one-year anniversary!

She wishes she had some Wise Words to commemorate this momentous occasion, but unfortunately she is too sleepy. She was not precisely carousing until the wee hours; indeed, the Venezuelan party turned out to be rather top-heavy with homosexual gentlemen, much to Pretty Lady's mild disgruntlement. Rather, they were rude gentlemen who simply happened to be homosexual. There is a profound distinction.

For in fact, back in the days when Pretty Lady objected to being dragged to small, crowded gay nightclubs by her then-whatchamacallit, the source of her disgruntled objections was not that 'nobody wanted to sleep with her,' despite the whatchamacallit's opinion to the contrary. It was, simply, that she was taking up space that otherwise could have been occupied by a human body with which the other people in the nightclub had an interest in interacting. Pretty Lady felt instead like an unwieldy and useless piece of furniture, which the nightclub occupants were continually barking their shins thereon, and it was not a comfortable sensation.

So Pretty Lady is not sleepy because she had a wildly excellent time, last night. In fact, she rather longed to escape to last years' French bar, but since her charming host had prepared an extensive feast for his guests, she decided to hover discreetly in the kitchen and obtain his recipes, so as not to counter rudeness with rudeness. Shortly after consuming twelve grapes at midnight, in the Venezuelan tradition, the party broke up, and Pretty Lady's friend walked her home, with dog.

No, Pretty Lady rather suspects she's sleepy because she has been making extensive Resolutions, and cleaning house, and the combined physical, mental and spiritual challenges inherent therein have made her a bit stupid. Her home looks lovely, however.

So Pretty Lady merely wishes a very Happy New Year to all of you darlings, and she looks forward to sharing many more with you.