Angela Bocage

Hot, muggy, alive!

Love this weather! The puppies and their women at the dog park (today we magically got there at an all-dyke, almost-all-smaller-dogs moment!); my sweet lovely-mannered gentleman dog; the Single Carrot Theatre in Baltimore and their razor-sharp play, Crumble: or, Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake; and lots of things in Baltimore, like my new studio, the community garden, the mutually helpful neighborhood spirit, and my old-school feminist pal Carolyn, and all the awesome people at the Creative Alliance’s Charm City Kitty Club, where I got to see one of my favorite performers, Bitch! I love her violin playing, her gutsy, no-compromise-with-bullshit songs and stories, and the fact that she was wearing awesome glittery eyeliner and so was I totally made me happy! hee hee!


Seconds like these; Mosquito girl; and dogs like Merle

What a fantastic week. Full of energy, with my Berekiah dog feeling good and eating well, I’ve been drawing and writing and talking to fantastic people who feed my brain and heart, and reading great books. Some who know me will understand my pleasant surprise and delight at a new level of ability to quiet the over-thinking, anxious, horrid-scenario-pumping-out, noisome chatter of my monkey mind. Meditation, yoga, music, dogs, exercise, fresh vegan food? Or–or could my Official First Mosquito Bite of the Summer earlier this week have been……..radioactive?!

[Comicbook fantasies duly cued—Watch out, hatahz: it’s Mosquito Girl! Capable of annoying the hell out of any one person, even the Dalai Lama! Or  a whole roomful! Like the Kolot Chayeinu congregation on a Day of Awe!  She can fly (erratically, but yeah, guess you’d have to call it that)! On broadcast media she can annoy the hell out of millions at a time! Not only by her essence-sucking curiosity, but even at a distance, via Mosquito-humming with the exact opposite of perfect pitch… Ahem. Anyway. Silly’s part of it, honesty’s part of it, but the key might conceivable be mitigating the merciless self-loathing a tad; it’s so distracting…]

Am increasingly thankful for my awesome housemate and the loving, smart, sneaky funny dogs who share our lives. We do our best to listen to them and learn from them, but she can seriously read their minds, I’d swear to that in court, so she was demonstrating her considerable kind wisdom by lending me Merle’s Door, by Ted Kerasote, and thinking I’d like it. An account of a man’s adoption of a young stray and their subsequent life together, this book blew me away—super-nutrition for the mind of any dog lover, trainer, or anyone who works or lives with canines.

I am a right snot about dog books, and do not apologize. What we know about, do with, and teach our dogs is literally a matter of life and death for them. If you never read another word of dog lit, flip through Ian Dunbar’s gentle, witty masterpiece, How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks just to read his brief snapshot-like selections from the brief biography of a badly socialized, haphazardly trained dog. And note how normal it sounds. And then, if you like, check the statistics regarding how many “pet” dogs are euthanized before their second birthday.

For over a decade, I’ve been studying with APDT-member trainers (the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, one of whose founders is Dr. Ian Dunbar), formally observing classes taught by CPDTs (Certified Professional Dog Trainer is the APDT certificate of expertise as measured through broad knowledge, substantial practice, and requiring continuing education), assistant teaching now and then, and taking both my canine friend and several foster kids through CPDT-taught puppy, “teen,” pre-agility and obedience classes. My first teacher, the awe-inspiringly quick, intuitive, dog-observant Deb Manheim, could see the fascination thus inspired, and introduced me to the APDT, the Dogwise book site, and the required reading list for CPDTs. Vast, eternal gratitude, Deb! The balanced, thorough, and scientifically current approach taken by this training organization and the breadth and quality of the literature they recommend opened my eyes to the minds, behavior, and whole world of dogs in ways I could never have foreseen.

When I began Merle’s Door, I admit to some trepidation that this would be another example of poetic wankage (see, e.g.,  Jeffrey Moussaieff [ck splg)…full of testimony to the author’s being a sensitive dude and an excellent writer, but far lighter on real insight into the canine mind.

Slap my face and call me Susan: Kerasote’s the real-ass thing, citing real anthropology, real science, even tracing the twists and turns the science has taken in our own adult lifetimes. A few examples: he cites the Belyaev study, Raymond and Lorna Coppinger, Patricia McConnell, and Dr. Dunbar, reviews the recent archeological thinking on the human-facing-canine burial finds, and manages to tell a good story in which he seemed to, hallelujah, actually listen to what his dog was teaching him! Highly recommended.

A beautiful blog to which I subscribe

I miss Mary Daly sometimes, but I know she’s always with me. I love to read her books aloud. I will be more accurate, more truthful, more observant, more aware, for the rest of my life because of her. Today I saw a blog by a woman of far greater expressive and analytical powers than i possess, and am subscribing to it. She writes so brilliantly on how the world has changed. I sometimes talk with a friend in Boston about this, about how the world has changed, but the author of Radical Feminism in Otherland fleshes out and fully paints that vision I grope to even put into the simplest words. Here is an example of her good sense and the beauty of her writing:
“Ideals of self-empowerment mystify the reality that patriarchy and capitalism in their neo-liberal formations remain structural and systemic, despite appearances (spectacles) everywhere of gender-neutrality and the neutrality of the ever ‘free’ market.”
My Boston friend and i are imagining theater about what this blogger calls the “One-Dimensional Feminism” of these Orwellian days. May Radical Feminism in Otherland inspire us and help us to be as honest and measured and aware and passionate as we can be!

Music crushes…one’s already fulfilled…

For sooo long I haz had a crush on my friend The Musical Instrument Cat Lady’s lovely warmly golden varnished wood lap steel guitar. Even unamplified, its sounds have entranced my ADD brain as I held it lovingly on lap and stroked its strings…and now that my friend has a really gorgeous new shiny black one with better features ‘n’ all, my just-the-perfect-lil-awesome-crush-object-instrument came home with me, late Monday night! I had never taken the Chinatown bus to NY, we were going to see music at Jalopy Sunday night, but by the time I got there we were pretty late. Thank goodness we decided to go anyhow! I wanted to live there. All the performances we saw were cool, first a dobro-harmonica duo whose name I am sorry I could not hear, then deadpan-atavistic vocalist Elizabeth Butters with sis Emily singing harmony and a kickass banjo player, and a group called George [couldn’t hear it] and the Phantoms that blew me away. The lead singer/hollow-body guitar player had contract-with-the-devil pipes that could do it all, the piano player was magic; Hank Williams would’ve smiled at the way his lovesick blues were accompanied and sung. I love love love the venue. Lots of old musical instruments on the wall, including examples of my current unattainable lust, the BANJO. The banjo player from the Butters’ band was even kind enough to start telling me some things I ought to consider once I am able to banjo-shop seriously, but my three comrades were leaving and the other two were kind enough to give TMICL and I a ride back to Manhattan, so I had to apologizerealfast and run…but the musicky goodness just never ended: later we listened to Sonatas for Viola da Gamba by J.S. Bach, an astringently pretty CD of mostly-solo oud, some cumbias, and the Ghanaian koura record Yasimika. When a cool new friend shared some gorgeous images of Palo Duro Canyon, juxtaposed with Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting of crows in the same landscape, the memory of  Yasimika’s ecstatic voices and Bach’s ethereal pipe organ accompanying the violas da gamba poured back into my mind. TMICL is going to burn those for me to share right back with her, which seems fitting.

My music-theory-for-bassists book quoted the saying “Music is humanity’s defense against the arbitrary…” It’s the first time in my experience an aphorism’s mutated into an earworm! My earworm panacaea’s Some Other Time, from X’s Wild Gift, better listen asap!  I’m so thankful to live in a world with music like this. And unlike it, too: Kirtani, klezmer and gamelan! But also a world in which “painting” could be substituted for music in that phrase, where there are Giorgio Morandi, Diebenkorn, O’Keeffe, deserts, rivers, skies that turn blue from grey, and the beautiful brains of my friends.

Spring is here; will I manage to become diurnal?

I was walking around outside today with tiny dogfriend, thinking about taking pictures whenever I saw new bulb-sourced plant-blades vibrating with green like just-plucked cello strings. I didn’t want to take disappointingly imprecise telephone pictures of such beautiful tender things. Such newly-minted sunlight, such a blue blue sky today. I remember desiring spring with a clawing greed, but apparently I had recently become resigned to winter. I know that it’s likely to be this warm for at least three more days; that doesn’t mean I take it for granted. It was the first warm day. Therefore it was the first day my friend and I had walked outside together in weeks. I didn’t want to hurry him. I wanted him to get a chance to sniff the world. We had gotten almost to the big street to cross to get to the green grass of Lemon Hill before I fully realized I had no coat on! My clothes were naked!

Despite the pants of my outfit being raggedy and filthy, my clothes weren’t ashamed of that, no way, my clothes have been borderline proud lately, because of the way I’ve been inhabiting them. I don’t mean just wearing them til they’re filthy and crusty, though I’ve done that some, but more that since I moved to Philadelphia it’s been winter and I haven’t gone outside unless I had to, so inside, clothing’s been chosen for cozy warmth: no bra would clutch my flesh for days at a time, if I were inside, even outside if I could manage a baggy enough, hidden enough look. Outside clothing’s been judiciously chosen to say “I am not trying to look nice for you,” and “leave me alone,” and “F off I am none of your business!” except when I’m going to see a girl I like or a friend I trust. Sometimes it’s been the same clothes to see my local friends, but the same clothes with with a very different attitude: hey, y’all know I’m a train wreck right now, so you’ll see me in this faded hoodie/baggy sweater, these pants of my tall ex’s hacked off to no semiotically intelligible length just above muddy salt-damaged black combat boots, and go, “yep, she’s a train wreck,” and that’s cool. I thought it best to just let myself be a train wreck for awhile, because damn it seven years, that’s longer than lots of marriages.

I didn’t catch any pix of the crocuses today, but I might tomorrow, because I have a beautiful little digital camera that’s new. I haven’t fully figured out my new camera or put it in communication with my laptop yet, I almost forgot I had a camera, because I got the camera as a gift from my ex mere days before I moved out, it’s bright red and beautiful and fantastic and I have no idea how or why she gave it to me for Christmas (while with her I eventually gave up on celebrating Chanukah though this was in no way her fault; she got me a pretty chanukiah and candles the first year, and the second or third, a light-up plastic 1/4 size miniature donkey we called Zev the Chanukah Donkey). I mean, I know we got it at an indistinguishable suburban Wal-Mart, we were making a lot of late-night trips to indistinguishable suburban Wal-Marts (“Bourses des Murs”) in the last couple weeks before I moved out, for things like more plastic bins and duct tape, but I hope I didn’t somehow get her to give me the camera by being manipulative. Why I was so afraid of being manipulative I don’t know, as clearly she was not changing her mind about taking away my partner/life/home/marriage/cats/car/garden/lover, which mind-change was the one thing I would have wanted to gain from successful manipulation if at all possible.

I was so horrified and devastated that she’d broken up with me (that was back in September, or maybe October, I can’t remember how it fell with respect to what would have been our seventh anniversary). I flatly insisted there was no way I could possibly move before December first because of all the organizing and packing and judicious, intelligent paring down of my clothes and art supplies (two categories equalling most of my earthly treasure) that’d have to be done for a sensible, rational move. But, then I just cried all day for weeks, couldn’t sleep at night, and didn’t really do much of that clever stuff at all. With makeup, however, I did an excellent job of organizing. I have tons of it, mostly good, because I had, when life was whole and normal back long ago and far away, done makeup for performers and wanted to get a license and join whatever union necessary and do it for a living. Also my clothing, to a great extent, was carefully organized; except any clothing I hadn’t worn recently was bagged and I got rid of it without even opening the bags. That might sound like a pretty insane move, and perhaps it was, but the only item about which I’ve had the least twinge of regret is a black suede 70s vintage miniskirt with metal buttons, and I’ve been losing so much weight by being vegan again (also forgetting to eat at times) it would be falling off of me now.

Now my ex and I send each other funny emails. We wish each other to get well soon if sick. We have friendly conversations. She calls me “darlin” during these friendly conversations, as she used to do her just-friends-friends in my hearing, which I now realize shot jealousy-adrenalin through my body. I know she was right, I repeat to myself, she was right to break up with me, I wouldn’t go back, I wouldn’t go back for so many layers and dimensions and concentric quantum shells of reasons. Knowing that, I still let myself cry or sleep whenever I need to, because that has got to be the way to get any last vestiges of grief sickness out of my system faster. Well, healthy diet, hydration, exercise, vitamins, flossing, brushing, rinsing, canine communion, maintaining friendships and activities whenever possible. All this means I am SOOO determined to survive, survive and succeed in living my own life, not a satellite existence, trading all autonomy and free choice for the feeling of trust/protectedness/safety I had with my ex. Besides the obvious point that all of those nice feelings were delusional—i.e., the person I thought was providing that protection was in fact going to dump my caressable shapely ass—safety itself is a joke, when a car or an aneurysm could hit any given day.

So I am often up until four or five in the morning. Diurnality may reorient itself as I get better and better, more and more clear and happy and strong, or maybe nocturnality will prove a more personally workable schedule. After all, this way I get to enjoy the beauty of both sunset and sunrise. One of the most helpful things to remember after any personal setback: never compare the roller-coaster careen of one’s own life to anyone else’s, so often what seems devastating was in hindsight salvific.

Spring IS gonna come.

I’ll simply have to insist! A couple days in the last week when the snow had melted and I could walk along actual damp SIDEWALK…and then this last couple days’ vaunted blizzard being a “Feh, THAT you call a blizzard?!” sort of event for the now-ever-so-much-more hardy citizens who’ve been digging out from several feet, and I’m convinced. Yup. Spring! Maybe not THIS week, but…it’ll get here.

This spring at the Willliam Way center in Philadelphia my friend Pearlette Toussant is presenting a supremely cool event—which she’s already blackmailed me into attending because now that I’m dating again, girl has way too much inculpatory evidence which, while formally inadmissible as hearsay, could prejudice my case.*

On Tuesday, March 25 at 6:00, jumping off from the lobby of the center, to “Whet Your Appetite for Spring:” a walking tour of Philly’s Gayborhood to pick out all manner of places and things creatively includable in romantic spring date plans—but ahead of time so we’re not all frantic! Whee! This is also just a cool way for newcomers or visitors to Philadelphia to learn their way around and discover some amusing, healthy, fun and fascinating LGBTQ destinations, for Philadelphians of all tenures to meet nice people, and for everybody to enjoy.

*Anyone who knows me knows what a big lie that is; if I were a language I wouldn’t have a word for “overshare,” or “TMI”!** I love information! It’s all about the information…which reminds me to recommend, as well, Lisa Lutz’ shriekingly funny, like when you can’t help but yelp like a sea lion with laughter,  Curse of the Spellmans! A lot more than funny, too, in its unsparing but ultimately nonjudgmental portrayal of a most non-traditional family. (“Uh, I request Mal Blum’s ‘For Making Art’ song plizz, goin’ out to Lisa Lutz…”) I hope the first one, The Spellman Files, is as good, since I’ve accidentally ended up reading them out of order, but I’ll let you know when I read it, which WILL be as soon as possible!

(**In terms of MY life I’m like that proverbial open book, that is. Secrets told to me, I keep to the grave. Serious as an aneurysm about that.)

Practicing for a sailboat?

Moved to my new place in the beautiful Brewerytown/Art Museum neighborhood of Philadelphia in December and love it. I have a bedroom that sticks out from the house and reminds me of the prow of a ship. If I think of the ship as a graceful old sailing vessel, I would be the studly pirate captain’s lover; while leadership, swordfighting, and brilliant strategies would be among her top skill sets, mine would involve careful and innovative means of navigation, accurate documentation of the flora and fauna we encounter in colorful detailed drawings, and short-blade infighting if and when necessary. On the sunny islands where we live between raids, I’d lead yoga classes for the crew as well as critical study groups. We’d be the most flexible and literate of predators…

As will be abundantly clear from the above, I really should start dating, and I am, tentatively…Also want to find a very progressive, lesbian-friendly Jewish chavurah or congregation, and a small-canine-friendly doggie playgroup! My sweet Japanese Chin companion is definitely dealing with some limitations now occasioned by his enlarged and congested ticker, but he takes his medicines and enjoys life a lot, having adjusted to living with our housemate’s big beautiful girl dog with his typical Zen elan.

As far as work, I am sketching comics but not committed to anything at length yet, working on two plays, rewriting one screenplay (the horror-comedy I did with the nicest het boy ever as co-writer: he’s single, Jewish, employed, and works out, all you nice straight girls!) working on a novel more sporadically than I would like, and fairly obsessed with a very strange piece whose final form hasn’t revealed itself yet, but which is already both funny and scary, two of my very favorite things to write.

If you would like to read more, or be a yenta either about potential shuls or potential dates, or have extra Mal Blum/Melissa Ferrick tickets, I’m on Facebook &…

Insanely busy yet updating possibly prior to being away for a bit

As this blog is mostly for my children and friends and y’all have been in touch with me in lots of other different ways lately, and since I am doing some major changes, starting new things, etc., may be on here a lot less for a bit. Will do my best to keep up with Facebook but not at all committed to any particular site other than as much F2F as possible. XOXO 🙂

Another arachnophobic reflection

Drove into town today, partly to help a gardener friend schlep dirt, mostly because I’d missed the train. Emerging from the parking garage after work, I saw a large, dark-charcoal-colored spider, covered with lighter grey hairs, perambulating across my windshield. There was no WAY I was not pulling over and leaping out–in a split second I could see it was probably on the outside, but “probably” was thoroughly insufficient. With the car stopped I could see it DEFINITELY outside. It started to rain. The spider sort of rappelled down off the windshield but I couldn’t see where it had gone. I started the wipers with great trepidation–I don’t want to harm or kill beings. But I am so terrified of spiders.

I have really started wondering why. Why is a spider literally worse than death? Perhaps it is that they can appear so suddenly. We ADDers have embarrassingly powerful startle-reflexes (my kids had lots of fun with that one when they were itty bitties! LOL). There’s the dropping down on you on a little thread thing. But is it mostly the fact that something that can touch you so softly can then stab you with venomous burning pain? That may be the closest to reasonable the definition of what is admittedly a phobia can come.

A randomish day in May…oh yeah, concussion!

Sooo floaty today…on Monday super clonked my skull on this tree that fell–the one I wrote about, that fell where I had just been but magically didn’t kill me or any of my roses 🙂 but since on Monday I was concentrating on using the string trimmer on all the parts of the yard unreachable by Agnes Mowerhead, kind of forgot just how low the arch made by the fallen tree really was. CLONK! Still experiencing quite the wonderful floatiness and serenity yet tired, but the nausea went away in maybe 24 hours, which was good. And my odd-colored graceling (see book of same name, it is fabulous)  eyes, one blue one green, my partner says, look more different than ever. VERY proud of Robin Black, amazing brilliant compassionate thinking questioning son, for finishing his 4th book of poetry! The first poem, Backstory, blew me away. It may be available from Able & Baker press, but they do fly offa the shelves so I can promise nothing. In other news, the gardening obsession has taken hold pretty good, I am poring over rose cultivars to replace the very few that couldn’t handle winter–though I’m pretty sure it was the big clumsy puppy running over or chewing on some of them that did them in, not so much winter. So many choices regarding mulch, and what do about the old compost and the recent, and what will be the best way to define the borders of beds and paths. That is a connection to the daily world. But in so many ways so distant from…everything. Like looking at earth and everything through a window, not a negative sensation, just a rather misted one. As a young teenager, before my vision was properly corrected and I couldn’t recognize anyone until they were around five feet away, I just had to accept that; called it “fogworld,” LOL. Probably something to do with living  in a very foggy suburb of SF! High school was in Pacifica, a hellish little place that deserved to have a mommy van named after it, where if one day in twenty the sun actually broke through…I’d overwhelmed with panicky guilt or guilty panic, wondering, “what could I possibly do to celebrate this rarity and beauty adequately?” Hee hee, now I would have a snarky answer, but however vitriolic the trappings, the concept would be pretty much just exist, learn, be nice to people and critters–as the old prophet declaimed, just doing “what is good: to act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with thy [deity/ies].” But now it’s summer in this astonishing place called Philadelphia, where I never planned to end up, but which is endlessly fascinating, and the rainy days are often almost as beautiful as the sunny ones and I have so many wonderful people and places and pursuits and puppies to be thankful for…when escaping f’in Pacifica woulda been “dayeinu!”

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