November 08, 2003

california raisin some questions here...

Shelley thought I raised some good questions in my second comment to her post about the California Tax Board using content written in her weblog as part of the criteria considered when determining how much she might or might not be able to pay them.

That crosses the line in a lot of ways, as did Bill Kearny's uninspired comment in the same thread, which I also reference in mine. So I said this. Food for thought I think:

-------------

...If I see one more blogger using the "oh stop your whining" cliche I'm going to puke. It's a technique for silencing and a substitute for thoughtful prose. In other words, it's LAZY.

Just to clarify something: We're not talking about a public journal being read by the public in this instance. We're talking about what you've written in public within your weblog, which, HELLO, could be fact or could be fiction, being used by the government in their financial assessment of you and what you may or may not owe them.

Not sure about you or Shelley, but I'm just thrilled to know that the IRS is a valued reader of this blog, just as I'll be thrilled to have a chat with the HMO folks over the phone one day, indicating that they've read every sentence I've written about my daughter's asthma, and would like to deal with me financially based on the pixel trail I left behind.

And what if I told you it's all a lie? What if I told you I made it up? What if I confessed she's never wheezed in her life? What if I say, that was all an experiment to guage the interest of my readers on specific topics, or, if I declare that I was doing research? Or, that it was ENTERTAINMENT, not necessarily fact?

If Shelley turned her blog into a novel, the IRS wouldn't be discussing the theme or content with her. They would be interested ONLY in the INCOME she derived from the novel. As far as I know, shelley hasn't made her first million off this blog yet.

Therefore, I believe our blog content is NOT fair game for the IRS research minions. ONLY blog income is.

I'll happily report my latest $11.00.

Hello? Anyone still have a pre-Bush bone in their bodies?

Again, let me say it with feeling this time, when it comes to the CONTENT and CONTEXT of our blogs, there's something SMELLY about being held financially accountable based on what we say (or perhaps eventually what we DON'T say) in our individual post or sentences. Get it?

----------

Good.

November 07, 2003

The Shelley Powers Institute of Technology

This is an awesome essay penned by Shelley on all manner of things regarding comment spamming, what to do or not do about it, virtual wars and attacks that take down blogs, what to expect, what to fear, putrid bottom feeders, angry algae, and how not to take this shit lying down.

I feel like I just went to a really cool class where I learned about something I didn't know was happening. You know, that all-a-buzz feeling.

elaine's coming back

Sowly but surely, Elaine rides again on a new computer.

It's good to see you, Elaine!

oooooh!

you smell like butt
congratulations. you are the "you smell like
butt" bunny. you're brutally honest and
always say what's on your mind.


which happy bunny are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks, RB!

backward

this is the park where I used to ride my horse when I was a teenager. It looks just the same. I'm misty.

November 06, 2003

leastman lane

In the late summer, she'd sit on the rocky bank and watch the clay dry under her fingernails. The thick clay beneath the water was the best thing about the creek in mid-August, those tiny tadpoles making freckles and lines, darting in and out of what looked more like chocolate pudding than dirt.

On the hottest days she looked forward to finishing chores, to sinking into the softness of the creek, then stretching out on the bottom, gouging fistfulls of clay as she half floated, in cutoffs and a t-shirt, soaking head to toe in crystal water.

This was the only way to cool off after a ride, after the stalls were clean. The horse flies never followed her down to the water's edge. Neither did her nightmares.

we're talking about assholes over on gonzo engaged.

Don't Miss It!

net times

George: "I'm trying to think of what they call that illness--it gets you really sick. I can't remember. It's right here (knocking his head), I've almost got it. I just have to think..."

Me: "You don't have to think anymore. There's Google."

um, holy shit?

shelley.

shhhh.

Denise, could you conjure us little guys--well, me--up a lil ole disclaimer for this here blog indicating, kind of like they say at the end of a (usually accurate and truthful) movie, that what you read here is a mixture of fiction and fact that even I haven't sorted out yet? you know, nothing here represents anything real or if it does it's coincidental and toss something in about the fact that we're WRITERS and this is a CREATIVE space and leave us the fuck alone?

I mean, if you're not busy buying diaper genies and stuff.

I'm floored. I always thought the insurance companies would be first.

Two Years and Two Days Old

EEEKS! I missed my own birthday! Allied turned two November 4th. Seems like 22.

member this?

The web fridge project.

Now THAT was blogging.

I just future posted this to December 31, 2004--here's a copy for today. Consider this a beta test. ;-)

I just figured out that with blogger's future post, theoretically, we can post wahayyyy into the future. Say, December 31, 2004, which, since I'm writing this on November 4, 2003, is quite a few months from now.

It's playing with my head. This wondering will I still be here then (and I don't just mean "here" on this blog)? My goodness. How much will change between now and then, and do I really want to post THAT far into the future?

And so, I guess if I can say one thing into this black hole of blogging made possible by some funky new future posting functionality, it's don't forget love.

Don't forget heart.

That's what we came here for.

Peace.

And happy 2005 everyone.

November 05, 2003

I like mine fried.

Our samsung TV recently bit the dust. We'd been fans of Samsung in the past, having had a microwave that lasted like 18 years, and some other gadget that lasted about 394 years. But this TV died way before it's time. Like after two years.

We often still turn it on, just to listen to the clickclickclickclick of it not actually turning on at all. It gives us hope. Or something. Used to be if we let it chatter away with its clicking for two to three hours, and it'd come on. Then we started never turning it off, knowing that actually getting it to come back on would be a tricky and lengthy process. Then, as you may remember, the kind folks at the local power company shut us off for a day (something about them wanting money for electricity). Now we wait 24 hours, 48 hours: nothing.

Which is to say, if they can't make a good TV, why would I want them boiling my underwear? In fact, why do I want to boil my underwear at all? In fact, who does boil their underwear? And why precisely?

Hmmmmmmm.

This is deep.

Thanks to the jer zone in advance for giving me some interesting dreams.

The trails

Let me tell you a story of a young girl who rides horses. She is strong, with tight thighs that like riding bareback best, the tickle of chestnut hair, matted, hot against her skin, holding on for dear life, a best friend who loves to gallop ahead, to race her thoroughbred through the woods, always in the lead, choosing the toughest trails, the steepest hills.

She goes for it every time. Part of their friendship is in her following. Every time they start slow, then build speed, branches snap and reach for her cheeks, the trees throwing razor sharp twigs like confetti, this is a celebration of the trails. With each coming branch, she lowers her chin to his mane, squeezes tighter with her calves.

She never expects to stay on all the way there and back again, she is ready in an instant to let go, to throw herself into the brush, take pine needles in exchange for flying. Even as her senses urge her to slow him down, she knows that it's too late. It's always too late. There's no way to pull back once you pass the concrete walk that cuts through the trail by the pond.

Four legs galloping flat out, she sees his nose stretch forward, jerking the reins loose, nostrils puffing, grabbing the bit, it's not her ride anymore.

There is a point during a gallop where you stop stopping, stop hoping to ever stop, with no choice but to go on, you submit to fear, riding on the edge, too fast to feel your own breath, you become motion. The wind no longer fights you for your breath because you are the wind.

What you do is give in and ride.

What you do is ride.

the solution really is poetry

"You know when I was young, a child even, it was like it was singing to me all the time," she recalled. "I mean it was like everything was in metaphor, everything was in lines, everything was in phrases, and it would just go through my head continuously. I thought the supply was endless. It was, for many years."

-Ruth Stone

from Wood s lot.

debt

The economy's getting stronger, they say, they've said for a week now, and yet I have to wonder, how do we dig out? How do any of us with lost jobs, lousy or non-existent severences, newly-aquired COBRA paymenets, and tax bills waiting to jump out and suck any bit of progress from our veins in a matter of weeks--how to we catch up? How? How do we recover from an entertainment industry bashed to nothing by 9/11? How do we eeek just that little bit more out of who knows where to get ahead?

We give them $100 here, $500 here, $1000 there. Making progress. Phone calls getting friendlier, a little bit anyway, every now and then a human creditior says: "Thanks for trying, you're making progress."

It doesn't matter. It's not possible. Is it possible? What can you do go earn a chunk of change big enough to make a difference, to make a dent, to stop the lein they've put in motion? What does it take to do more than get by, or is that the point?

Maybe that's the point.

Relax, get by. You're okay. You've always been okay. Don't use your energy fighting it, let it wash over you and away. Today's all we have. Blessed to have a roof, no leaks, warmth, medicine, food, wheels, a yard, green grass, crazy autumn leaves, the piano, warm blankets for Jenna, toys, books, a mailbox where sometimes good news comes.

Each other.

competition in the blog world

It's something I didn't really think would follow us here as quickly as it did. Or should I say, follow me here, personally. Which it has. To a greater or lesser degree, depending on the day, I feel competitive with some of my blog classmates.

Will you admit the same?

You do, don't you.

Precisely why? Why do I spend a single ounce of incredibly valuable mental energy letting such unproductive thoughts reverberate between my newly-pierced earlobes?

It rises and falls in me.

One week I'm all about community and having fun and not giving a shit and playing like we used to play. The next week, I'm all about, damn--how come I still have a 6/10 google ranking when so many others have jumped to 7/10. What's their secret? Are they better writers than I am? (That's rhetorical--don't answer it.) Are they writing about more interesting topics? Is it that they focus? Do they link to more important people than I do (that's easy to do--no offense, I mean, I LOVE you all)?

Is it because they meet bloggers in the flesh--at conferences, meet ups, in academia, etc? I think that may be part of it, just as it has been with bloggers first moving to the telephone to deepen relationships. With more bloggers meeting bloggers, and with more sanctioned blog-focused events, there is a core circle of bloggers who are further deepening their relationships. I think this helps nudge the boundaries of their communities further outward. Bigger community, more links, more links, more credibility.

Sucks, don't it?

The truth is, I don't go to conferences. I don't have the money or the free get-away time, at least not now, to do so. And I don't have a focus here. I'm an excellent writer, though I don't always demonstrate that here. The point is, whatever the secret ingredients are to blog ranking success, I just don't have em.

Most days I'm glad about it. I've confined my voice in the corporate world in order to focus, to provide exactly what was expected. And I keep reminding myself that here, I don't have to do that. Here, I don't have to do anything, and I can do everything. I also have to remind myself that the freedom to write everything and nothing at all is worth more than a bump in google page ranks.

Although, if and when I do bump to 7/10, we're having a fucking PARTY over here--do you HEAR me? I'm not going to pretend I didn't notice it happen, like some folks. HELL NO! It's partay-down time. Get your grass skirts, wake the kids and phone the neighbors, BYOB (bring your own blog), and we will party our behinds off.

Yah.

Uh-huh.

You better believe it.

Reciprocal Linking Day

TODAY ONLY! That's right. Today only, you link to me, I link to you. And why the hell not?

First of all, my blogroll's a mess. I haven't used blogrolling.com because I've always had this idealistic notion that it's cheating. That you should tend to and prune and nurture your blogroll by hand, because it's the most selfless part of the blog. The posts are all about self. The template is all about dazzle and functionality. But the blogroll is about people. So, like a doofus, I've added and added and added, and forgotten to ever update links to those who've moved blogs. For some really crazy reason, I actually ENJOY taking the long way past their old home to get to their new blog. What is that? It's really not the best use of time, but stopping by Mike Golby's old place and stopping by Michael O'Connor Clarke's old place -- for crying out loud, pick a blogger off my blogroll and you'll probably stop by their old blog too -- gives me this warm feeling. A kind of "oh! I remember when we hung out there--that was a great place" as I click any variety of "I've moved!" links to get to the blog's new location.

Anyway, where am I going with this? I'm so excited actually. I have TWO FREE HOURS and my brain about me, which means its blogoramabama time! Anyway...

All of this is to say, my blogroll is unweildly, and my neighborhood relationships need some serious tending to. SO, if you want me to link to you, link to me and leave a comment with your blog's URL, and I'll add you to this blogroll-in-progress that lives on the left side of the page. Somewhere. Don't ask me where you'll end up. But somewhere over there.

Oh yes, I almost forgot! Secondly, I'm looking for some new blogs to read.

Thirdly, ta-ta!

It's Hot.

What is this weather in Atlanta? It's been a week of heat that has nothing to do with fall. What is it this grey drisley morning, 75 degrees? A couple of days ago, with the sun beating the pavement, it had to be 80, no? What, did I flip too many pages on my calendar? What, is this global scalding? Global sweating? The wasps are mad with the warmth--they've risen with a vengence from wherever it is they go when it gets cold. The leaves are jumping back onto the trees, unraking themselves and hurling their crisp little bodies skyward. And I read that the groundhog saw his entire ass--which means no fall, no winter, no spring. It's right back to summer for us.

November 04, 2003

Rock me gently

It wasn't that I never liked rocking chairs; it was more like I couldn't see how they would be particularly useful.

Growing up, into my teens, 20s, 30s, I'd sit in a rocking chair at my sister's house once in a while, rock back and forth a few times, wish I could get what was supposed to be so special, so relaxing, about it.

The truth is, at best sitting in a rocking chair made me feel a little queasy, a little anxious, like I should just get up already. I mean, if I'm expending all this energy to stretch my legs back and forth, I might as well be doing something, right?

I love the way they look, don't get me wrong, and I always have. I have my grandmother's antique green rocker, which I've moved around with me since I had my first apartment 20 years ago. For most of those years, I didn't sit in it much. I enjoyed having it, not using it.

I love wooden rockers the best, even the naked variety you can get at the unfinished furniture store. Too look at, I've always found them mysteriously beautiful. To sit in them, well, I never quite could relax.

Then Jenna came along, and into her little baby room went a rocking chair for mommy, eventually a nice big rocker with a tall back, and a soft pastel cushion. Little did I know that this sturdy wooden rocker and I would become long-time companions.

Children change everything. Nursing changes everything. Yes, even how you feel about furniture.

For more than a year, I sat in that chair every night, at first nursing that sweet and never-tired bundle to sleep, and when bottle came along, it was the same place, same routine, back and forth we'd rock, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, letting down and drinking in each other's eyes, daughter to mother to daughter: you are so wonderful.

When it wasn't me rocking, it was George, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Reading and humming until she would finally give in to sleep.

It wasn't until I re-arranged Jenna's room a few months back that I finally moved the rocker out to give her more room for her toys and books. The rocking chair had become more a chair for a dozen stuffed animals, for half-dirty-but-still-wearable clothes, for pens and pencils, for stubbing our toes on, than a rocking chair. So I lugged it down to George's studio where it holds a bundle of cords and equipment that aren't quite meant for a rocking chair either.

I hadn't missed the chair, nor the rocking, hadn't even thought about it until tonight when I was laying at the foot of Jenna's bed, trying to coax her to rest on this night when she was having a particularly difficult time falling asleep. Without thinking, I took my leg, half off the bed already, and pushed my foot against her dresser, and started to gently rock the bed, slowly and gently, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. For a long time. And I thought back to how the room once looked, the corner where the chair had once sat. How different the world had become in just six years.

Back and forth, back and forth, thoughts subsided, followed by that opiate rush. mmmmmmmmmm.

It wasn't long before she was asleep, and it wasn't long before I realized that once you've rocked your baby to sleep, you never experience rocking quite the same way again.

I don't think it matters if you don't rock again until your 60 or 70 or 100--when you start rocking, the mystery tells its tale backwards to you. It all comes back: the let down, the blessing of that hormonal opiate, nature's way of removing the fear and the awkwardness, and the magnitude of new motherhood. Rocking brings with it the magic of forgetting that you haven't slept in days, weeks, months. With baby rocking, the way everything is fades so far away.

Fade away, fade away, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Six years now past my days of rocking and feeding baby, tonight's bedtime rocking session was a treat for me. It was a treat remembering the softness, the comfort, the awe, the certainty, the unknowing, the pleasure of it all.

And, I heartily admit, a treat to know I don't have to do the same thing again in 3 hours.

The beauty of the back and forth moves within the memories that come back--and forth, and back, and forth--when you rock. The sweetness in having rocked is that you can always rock.

ray sings

Ray captures the essence of God v. Allah in this old time ditty.

A product of the segregated north

I've been following the story of the mayor's race in philly, where katz v street is big news. What I find most interesting about this story may not be what the rest of America finds interesting. What interests me in this race, this "race" race, with its thick dividing lines between very angry voters on both sides, is that I don't think this same situation could occur in the south.

The reason is that segregation is inherent within the cultural fabric of the northeast united states.

The reason is that the south is further along on the path of trauma recovery from slavery than the north.

The reason is that the south's denial broke a long time ago.

The reason is, the north is still in denial, and the institutional machinery and economics of the northeast rely on its remaining in denial.

From a neighborhood perspective, from a community perspective, the geographic boundaries in the northeast ARE the demographic boundaries. The level of segregation I have noticed--hell, experienced--in the northeast is astounding in the year 2003. You have city, black. You have suburbs, white. You have media personalities (anchor people) White Men (maybe a black or Asian woman thrown in the mix for boldness), and you have counterculture personalities (black, Hispanic). And it's not easy to move among those dividing lines.

The mayor's race in Philly, and the breakdown of voters geographically, and the us versus them mindset, is so typical of the segregated northeast that I wonder if it really surprises me at all. The whining over bullying and injustice from the Katz people won't surprise me if he loses, the outrage and explosive rage from the Street people won't surprise me if he loses.

This is coming from someone who lived in the northeast most of her life, followed by time in Iowa, Illinois, Virginia, and now Atlanta. I know, as a mom and wife in an extra-ethnic family the last many years, the difference between living in the north and the south. I know the mindsets. I know the innuendos. I know the covert. I know the barely seen and the unseen.

I've traveled through the south over the last decade. You want a test subject in race relations, send a black man, a white woman, and a mixed child trouncing across this country.

The difference is that in the south, integration has become inherent. Travel the country roads of Alabama, where you feel the hair prickle on the back of your neck as you look at some of those old, old, crooked branch trees, flashes like whiplash of men hanging dot the spaces behind your eyes. Shiver. Chill.

You walk into a backroad convenience store. You glance at the white clerk, old and wrinkled, you wonder about his history, his daddy's history. You get your bottled water and bag of chips. You walk to the register where your husband's waiting. You see that they're talking now. The old clerk's drawing him a map of some fishing spots, and suddenly they have something in common. An old man of color with a flannel shirt walks in, nods, off looking for a tie-down for his truck. Before long someone points to an article in the paper and a loud discussion starts about the government and know nothings and know it alls, and smiles, and "oh, go on!" hand waving, and nods and, when everyone's had their say, it's: "Ya'll take care now." And you're on your way.

It doesn't matter where you go, country or city, most of what you find in the south is people. People who talk. People who like to tell stories to people. People who like to hear stories. The northeast is to the southeast what institution is to blogging.

In Atlanta, in the larger more prosperous cities of the south, the color that determines power is green. And green is NOT synonymous with White.

People live where people live. Money lives well. No money lives shitty. Colors are blended on both sides of the have and have-not divide.

Once dubbed (and proudly so) "the city too busy to hate," atlanta's success as a diverse city works because ain't no color not focused on that green color.

In some ways that makes this city an anomolie in the south. In other ways, it's just the rest of the south on steroids.

I need to write more about this, because I have something brewing on this topic, which relates to the idea of trauma and race and this country. Which relates to what communities that have begun working through that trauma look like. Which relates to where we are as a people. Which relates to just about everything.

But first I must get to work.

peace, philly.

For more on race and politics and folk, read Shelley's Dixieland post.

November 03, 2003

george sez monkeys wanna piece of the pie--err banana--too.

mad monkeys want their nuts.

my head hertz

My head is killing me tonight. never was one to suffer from headaches until I turned 40 or started blogging--haven't pinpointed the pivotal event actually. Anyway, frigging OUCH!

Taking some Advil is probably a good plan. Instead I searched up "exploding head" on google, thinking that, if I could put into words what this headache feels like, it would be that my head's about to explode.

Good ole google.

You now have proof that you should NEVER EVER think too hard. Print this out and take it in to your boss in the morning. It ought to buy you six or seven extra coffee breaks during the day.

...the doctor urges people to take it easy and not think too hard for long periods of time. "Take frequent relaxation breaks when you're doing things that take lots of mental focus," he recommends.

Stop with all of those overly serious posts, while you're at it. We could be killing one another out here.

No, but seriously, a further search of google tells me that the exploding head story of 1999 was another urban legend.

Damn. I really wanted to have this one.

tearscape

running tide if waves had feet
shoes slip quickly, skim the crests
bounce one to the next in time
reggae bass beat
wraps the sea
in meaning
or is it the other way
around?

shredded
heart through the skimmer
who can cobble together
a filter
for pain?
run me through it
catch the jagged edges
pieces of heart and womb
in the trap,
send joy back through
back into wet waiting,
refresh, recreate, reincarnate
send me back
as water.

Is there anything else?

November 02, 2003