Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#1 of Fleur's 10 Best

From 10 to 1 so much has been reviewed, and _so_ much left out. Where, you might ask, is the evidence of last year's infamously non-committal epic romance? And what, you might wonder ever became of trophy-wife syndrome? Why didn't "Can you really get your Jackie O. on" make the cut? Impossible to touch each and every hand we've held here in this abridged collection, so please stay tuned to see what the new decade brings!

In the meantime, remember way back when, when we decided the appropriate closing to a formal letter one wanted to end in vitriol (but for legal reasons determined it was prudent to not) was "Best Regards"? Quickly taking its place in common parlance from office emails to briefly dashed off notes to one's child's over-priced pre-school, "Best Regards" spread a certain secret sunshine in the hearts of all who employed it until one day when texting to twitter Fleur declared "cool--thanx" is the new "Best Regards." While not in any sense declaring this is the all-time best thing Fleur has ever overwrought, this next post takes our #1 spot primarily for its hint of what's to come: the metaphysics of passion, the secret lives of the hyper-organized, and your personal decadence, to name but a few! ;)

Dear Fleur, I’m not sure how to rehab my “cool--thanx” image which in recent weeks has been sacrificed on the altar of desperately trying to attract the attention of someone who I’ve now concurred is obviously ‘just not that into me,’ to coin a phrase. Please help! ~Sugar

Dear Sugar,
Obviously, you need to gain an understanding of the difference between the dominant Newtonian thought model and the delightfully jumbled systems thinking model that is called for in most every situation beyond seventh grade science: single cause with predictable effect is so old school. Flow, change direction, pounce on and over freely and you will be embracing the orgiastic thinking of true creativity. Stop pouring over the details of what happened between Austin and Newark. Don’t stop, however, wearing those nude heels with everything. You know the ones. They are the little dot on the exclamation point of your independence.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

#2 of Fleur's 10 Best

Dear Fleur,
My downstairs neighbor is listening to "Prairie Home Companion" so loudly that I am entertaining the strong inclination to tear my life apart, to cut off all ties, to escape by greyhound in the middle of the night. Am I justified? ~On the Verge

Dear Verge,
The first time I ever wore a gown was to a small town beauty contest. Reader, I came in dead last. My placement was not so much of a disappointment as was the ensuing rejection of the boy for whom I had crushed myself into the gown. (It wasn't that the gown was too small, it was my spirit I crushed knowing inherently, at fourteen, that I was not meant to be Miss. Dairy Queen Montour Falls.) That night, I hitched a ride home with a half-drunk janitor from school who let me ride in the open bed of his pickup truck where I stood gripping the cab and crying into the wind the way only teenage girls can when the want they want has swollen until they don't have a single other thought in even one of their unrequited cells. Long since changed out of the gown, I was nevertheless clenching it as I kept a precarious balance while Hank, feeling obliged to impress me, gunned the truck around the dark curves of the dirt road up, when suddenly the warm Miller I'd had and the couple of Marlboros and the strain of Mozart that was bursting in my head inspired me to fly that long cheap contest-losing gown by the shoulder pads. I flipped it up in the wind like a sail and I thought about the wild long hair of the boy I loved and the gown whipped pink shimmies and the pickup truck made its ripped-out muffler thunder and I just thought oh please about what my mother had said that all little girls want the bad boy and it gets them nothing but third degree burns and I screamed the way you do when you're fourteen and everything is new and old at the same time because you love a boy who thinks you are nothing but eggshells and lips the color of the tractor gas can, a curdling, grieving scream mixed with an unswerving conviction of immortality and I let the gown go. I watched it fly off like a shiny ghost, getting just as far as the suck of the truck rushing away could take it before it wilted and sagged and knelt in the weeds and the muddy water of the ditch. Goodbye dumb gown.

So yes, to answer your question, yes, you are justified. But no, no you can't do it. You've already let one gown go.

Monday, December 21, 2009

#3 of Fleur's 10 Best

3 from 2007!

Dear Fleur,

Please help. This woman is adrift on a sea of useless and misbegotten flotsam. How can she navigate her way back to a life of stylish simplicity, enjoyment, and above all truth to oneself? ~Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Your question wears the words "navigate" and "misbegotten" the way long black hair wears a red rose. Kudos for raising the mean of popular vocabulary. Still, I am saddened by "this woman" whom you consider adrift and I wonder whether she has any idea of your opinions. Much as I understand your inclination to help, I can't participate in your judgment of "this woman," unless of course, "this woman" is me-- In which case I heartily agree with your assessment! I don't however, believe that being "adrift on a sea of useless...flotsam" necessarily conflicts with "stylish simplicity, enjoyment, and above all truth," as you suggest. Consider the NYC artist de la vega (and others of the graffiti ilk) splashing vibrant and profound images and messages on trains and rubbled buildings. Think of completely unsullied newborn babies alighted on this great, complicated planet. And remember a startling memoir by Holocaust survivor Jorge Semprun wherein he discusses his young manhood in a camp as the most poignant and ecstatic time of his life- because it was HIS young manhood, his own experience adrift on the sea of useless, misbegotten, and horrific flotsam.

Perhaps, regarding "this woman," it might be better to take a different tack: instead of stylish simplicity, why not evaluate her capacity for convulsive beauty? As Andre Breton says, "Convulsive beauty will be veiled-erotic, fixed-explosive, magic-circumstantial, or it will not be." That will certainly give you plenty to do, and in the meantime along with raising the mean of popular vocabulary, you can assist in the adjustment of the all-pervasive, one dimensional attitudes on style, which will certainly help us all to enjoy the "truth."

Dear Fleur,
There is a photograph posted at near the bottom of the page titled "on the street...Right Bank, Paris," dated Saturday, March 3, 2007, 3:48p.m. Is there any way I can get inside that picture and feel what that couple apparently feels? ~Longing

Dear Longing,
When I looked at this photograph to better understand the question, I immediately found myself also longing to be there to the point that I became uncertain whether it was I who asked this question in the first place... The photograph of a couple dressed for chilly spring cares about the two bare hands, one his, one hers, clasped between them as they go or stand, it's not clear. It's about the hands and the faces that look sort of away while simultaneously holding onto one another, almost the way a Frida Kahlo self portrait carries Diego's face in her forehead, a river over bone structure. His top hat is something poetic, an eccentric touch that leaves me certain he has a crumpled letter in his coat pocket. Her clean face eats apples yesterday and has no guilt today. To be absorbed by this photograph would be to have the corners softened by a short glass of port wine and then to go towards home in safe company to a rumpled bed with hair that smells like cold wind, knowing there are delicate joints in the branches of every tree that no finger has ever touched. Best of luck in your quest.

Dear Fleur,
If beauty is pain, and the runway models are all suffering from tight dresses and little nibbles at lunch time, then why do I, knowing this, swoon? ~Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Because they are like statues, misted with a light oil

or because they look so alone and you crave solitude

or because you're tired of eating meat and would prefer, for a change, some "little nibbles at lunch time"

or because when a face is truly carved in pain, as was, say, the poet Cesar Vallejo's face, then the beauty is the kind that hurts the one who sees it because it is the physical embodiment of an engaged soul, challenging you to be as engaged


this runway model sort of beauty bears very little witness and therefore it is a nice, fluffy, preternatural exhileration (kind of like doing a whippit)

or because, to paraphrase Jean Genet, you wonder what your reflection thinks of you when your back is turned

or perhaps you are the sort who swoons easily (see my last post: "insomnia is an adorable little pastime" for more on that topic)

I don't however, think it has anything to do with the common belief that we are all just ignorant moles completely under the sway of dominant cultural paradigms intended to keep us enslaved to unrealistic and damaging ideals and addicted to monstrous consumerism at the peril of our own fragile and intimate beings. Certainly not that!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

#4 of Fleur's 10 Best

Dear Fleur,
I never, never, never WILL get implants, but- just for the record- why are some people so violently opposed to it? ~Boobs Cross My Mind

Dear Boobs,
Yesterday I came across an author's photo on the jacket of a newly published smart little book and I was astounded by the size of the breasts beneath her t shirt, given that her bare arms were obviously so slender. Throughout the day I kept checking the photo in wonder. This morning on my way to work with the windows down, a breeze of rain and sunlight mixed together gushed in with the freshest of ideas: Why not breast implants?! It was as if I'd suddenly stepped far away from all the cliches and stereotypes that "liberal" minded people such as I cling to so dearly to re-enforce our desperate need to be intelligent and somehow superior to the class we consider to be ruled by glam and chance. And yet, neither did I feel I'd soon be lolling poolside surrounded by shopping bags in zip code 90210. Miraculously, driving up the hill as the moody sky parted its cloudy lips and glistened, I balanced deliciously between What-I've-Always-Suspected and What-Everyone-Says. "Out beyond our ideas of right and wrong," Rumi wrote, "there is a field. I'll meet you there."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

#5 of Fleur's 10 Best

Thank you so much for reading Fleur Consultancy! I'm thrilled to have received nearly 10,000 visits. Whether you're a faithful devotee, or you are here for the first time, I truly appreciate your attention. Please take a moment to let me know what you're thinking by commenting at the end of your favorite post. Or send me an email with a question you'd like answered:

We're currently in the midway of Fleur's 10 best countdown before all fresh content will be showcased here to enliven your passions. Soon, in addition to this home, Fleur Consultancy will be featured in a brand new venue~ more details to come!

For tonight, please enjoy this reprised post on Fleur's favorite topic: Love~

Dear Fleur,
Sometimes I feel like I am from Mars because I still believe in the equal rights amendment. Did you know that Illinois is one of 15 states that have still not ratified it? Only three more are needed...But that's not the point. The problem is that while I'm so passionate about this old unresolved quandary of whether women deserve to be legally recognized as equal, I simultaneously long to be on a beach somewhere flipping my top up for every random stranger and -hopefully- captured on film in the act!!! Please advise.

My Dear,
One year ago I was led into Tiffany's on the arm of a true gentleman. The experience was sublime, not only because I was madly in love with him, but because I was in a place recognized as one of the quintessential American archetypes of romance. The air there is the result of a thousand different women's perfumes in floral notes dancing with each other like lithe fairies while a hundred men's colognes sing the bass note of open wallets below. At Tiffany's, the age-old ritual of high idolatry sexism shines on and it polished me to a glossy complicity beyond critique. The snowflake silvers and the clean trademark aqua coupled in such a way as to utterly convince me of the perpetuity and glamor of marriage, as once... I was convinced utopia could be achieved. The high ceilings in the grand space filled with dazzling jewels kindled a reverse vertigo to the point that I felt I was floating and the only thing keeping my feet on the ground was the -forgive me- ginormous sparkle on my third left hand finger.
I said yes the next day when my gentleman knelt in the dust beside a Central Park Zoo bench and proposed. And we celebrated -I must tell you although it is wholely irrelevant- at a French Bistro. If you have not lived as solitarily as have I, then it may be difficult for you to imagine how for me to become engaged was as if the moon had just been landed upon for the first time. The ring reminded me of when as a child I used to try to watch one bit of water in the waterfall as it fell the whole way. Now that glistening chip was captured and attached to me. And I was overcome by a feeling of belonging to a club from which I'd always previously been excluded: the wives club. Or the pre-wives club, to be specific which reminds me of pre-war apartments, but that is another story. The weight of the ring lent me a legitamcy I'd never felt before: when I washed my hands and saw it, I felt responsible enough to consider what I would make for dinner, as my mother always had. When I saw the ring on my hand holding my purse, the shine reflected in the patent leather mirrored a certainty that I was spoken for, the deal was sealed, the long soul searches were over and the questions were answered and I could march like a good little girl into my castle of Disney dreams.
Slipping it off then happened almost by accident, almost as a funny little dare. I had told myself that I would never take it off. In the few short weeks I'd worn it, somehow a groove had already been worn and I'd become accustomed to thinking of myself as a bride. But then I started thinking the ring should go back to Tiffany's before the end of the thirty day guarantee because the cost of the ring in proportion to my annual income was obscene. Let that not stand as a warning to any future suitors for I do not discourage luxury! But who does not feel some hesitancy in the presence of one's moral standards struggling to subdue one's primal desire?
It came off like a sweater, a shoe, a post-coital condom, as it turned out. Easily, I mean, and with a certain fatigue as if it too was ready for some alone time.
My fiance who I still loved was away on business the night I put the ring back in its little box on the shelf in the closet. Even with the door closed, I could hear its heart beating, its breath misting the polyester lining of the box. Once it was gone, I realized how plain and bony my own ring finger minus the ring is.

Why, you may ask, why had I forsaken the sparkly promise? There's a runaway part of me, I admit, a heart-is-a-lonely-hunter part. My finger wanted a little more alone time. Just to be loose from the platinum orbit. Just to tiptoe like a skinny little girl finger into the dark wet grass in a nightgown and howl at the moon.

Continue your good work thinking about the E.R.A., child. Don't deny inside you are free. Refrain from giving free tit shows, as much as you possibly can. Best, Fleur

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

#6 of Fleur's 10 Best

Ever feel like you're being forced to practice a set of standards not of your choosing? Whether at work or at home, do you think differently than management? And do you, by chance, feel conflicted about expressing that difference? Don't fret just voodoo yourself into it.

According to Wikipedia, Haitian Voodoo "is based upon a merging of the beliefs and practices of West African peoples, with Roman Catholic Christianity, which was brought about as African slaves were brought to Haiti in the 16th century and forced to convert to the religion of their owners, whilst they largely still followed their traditional African beliefs."

While your performance and presentation may necessarily have to satisfy the going rate, your subtext is your own to keep and I for one hope there will still be some bloody-throated chickens offered in passionate obeisance to your ultimate truth, metaphorically speaking of course...

#7 of Fleur's 10 Best

Dear Fleur,
When I was in college I knew two women who referred to Vogue" and Elle as "books." They were a mother-daughter pair, summer people on the Vineyard, who made sure to buy a couple thick "books" before the Friday commute from Boston, to flip through in case of traffic jams or if they'd just missed the ferry. Since reading in the car makes me nauseous, once upon the boat I'd draw from my bag my own thick "book," such as Daniel Deronda or Ulysses, in paperback and well weathered, foraged in a basement shop in Harvard Square. Long ago I was intensely committed to black garments and serious thinking. I was vehemently opposed to any waste of time, and my every endeavour had to have an enriching purpose. Now, I like nothing more than to lie on the couch with the smooth, thin pages of the latest issue in my hands. An image of pink roses alongside one of bare toes set next to a precise block of black type delights me. I adore the promises of instant slimness, wrinkle decreasement, and perfect sex and sometimes believe in them, briefly. Gone are the porous, heavy duty pages margined with insightful comments by this engaged reader. And replacing those long lost volumes, are these bright, shiny "books." Has the seasoning of time left me shallow as a compact? Or is it that I've evolved a Zen ability to find wisdom anywhere? Please advise. ~Subscribed

Dear S., The best thing about those days on the Vineyard was the observance of sunset and the question one obviously asked another when meeting in the street, "Are you going to sunset?" as if it was a performance. Certainly you're familiar with the Edna St. Vincent Millay epigram:

"My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light."

Similarly, I'm wondering whether you remember how that little blond boy's hair, the one you were caring for that summer, lifted in the late afternoon light when he stood at the ferry railing, and somehow looked like a halo? And how, at the same time you noticed this, you looked back at the town of Woods Hole as the boat lumbered away, and remembered Craig shouting Keats into the January wind, high on port wine and hunger? And layered on top of that you thought tenderly of your parents' honeymoon in the cumbersome hotel there and how your mother appears in all the black and white photographs wearing enormous Jackie O. sunglasses so that, as a child, looking at those pictures you believed she was some sort of movie star?

Listen, I can't quote the whole song for you, but I think John Lennon answered your question a long time ago, when he said, "I just believe in me."