May 28, 2005

Okay then,

If you haven't heard these, which you'll find at Tom's, you MUST! Bring your dancin' shoes.
Here it comes right now right now, the last time I had one I decided I'd blog it right then and there--those thirty-second rushes that tell me there is no reason in the world I shouldn't be lighting up a cigarette right now, of course I should, what is the big deal it's only one, maybe I'll just have a puff, and/or just light one, in the garage, quiet, so many cobwebs to untangle with my eyes, and I step outside of my body and see myself inhale and it's georgous, and I don't care what you tell me, it is sweet to see me smoking and if you don't think so you don't know the uptake just a little bit burning, I am finally full, fill me up, fucking take away the empty space, crowd me with feeling, hold, hold, and exhale, out with the bad, baby, out with the bad, and in again, filling, feeling so relaxing because these are my moments, with me, with my head and no one else, me sucking myself inside to push down the crap I don't feel like letting go. That's where it is, that's why we do what we do.

So there.

And no, I didn't have one, but I might as well have.

3 Podcasts I Would Listen To

Wonderchicken - because he has a wicked cool voice and an insanely cool mind.

RageBoy - because he's the smartest, funniest dude on the net.

AKMA - I want AKMA to record his sermons either before, during, or after he actually gives them, and podcast them. I want to go to AKMA's church.

Good Book Good Grief

I'm reading Good Grief by Lolly Winston, and enjoying the hell out of it. It's about a 30-something woman whose husband dies of cancer, and the book follows her through the grieving process--not your neatly packed stages of grief mind you, but some real-people dysphoria kind of feel-it grieving, and it's funny too. Because, as RB and my phone-a-thons during The Darkest Hours attest to, if you can't be completely absurdly insanely hysterically funny, then you might as well take a benzo and go to bed.

Anyway, it's my pool book, I'm half way through it, and it's a good read. Believe me, or believe Publisher's Weekly:

"The grief is up already. It is an early riser, waiting with its gummy arms wrapped around my neck, its hot, sour breath in my ear."

Sophie Stanton feels far too young to be a widow, but after just three years of marriage, her wonderful husband, Ethan, succumbs to cancer. With the world rolling on, unaware of her pain, Sophie does the only sensible thing: she locks herself in her house and lives on what she can buy at the convenience store in furtive midnight shopping sprees. Everything hurts—the telemarketers asking to speak to Ethan, mail with his name on it, his shirts, which still smell like him. At first Sophie is a "good" widow, gracious and melancholy, but after she drives her car through the garage door, something snaps; she starts showing up at work in her bathrobe and hiding under displays in stores. Her boss suggests she take a break, so she sells her house and moves to Ashland, Ore., to live with her best friend, Ruth, and start over. Grief comes along, too—but with a troubled, pyromaniac teen assigned to her by a volunteer agency, a charming actor dogging her and a new job prepping desserts at a local restaurant, Sophie is forced to explore the misery that has consumed her. Throughout this heartbreaking, gorgeous look at loss, Winston imbues her heroine and her narrative with the kind of grace, bitter humor and rapier-sharp realness that will dig deep into a reader's heart and refuse to let go. Sophie is wounded terribly, but she's also funny, fresh and utterly believable. There's nary a moment of triteness in this outstanding debut.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

C-List? The C-List?!

Silly bastads--I ain't no c-lister.


May 27, 2005

Boundaries, Walls, and other Good Building Materials

My stepfather had surgery yesterday and will probably be in the hospital for a week. He had part of his colon removed and that's about all I know because I'm getting the news from my sister. Even though I live 3 miles away from him. Sounds odd, doesn't it.

The last time I spoke to my stepfather it was to try to convince him to come to a family therapy session, which he never did. He's an accomplished man. I would say that he raised me from the time my mom remarried when I was 12, but he didn't raise me. He financially supported the household. The toll that took on him -- leaving his semi-career as a very good artist and photographer for a "real" career at Xerox to support our household -- was obvious and devastating to him. I suppose I owe him a thank you, but there are extenuating circumstances.

I never saw him draw after he married my mother. His pen-and-inks were astounding, but he couldn't, I guess, divide himself into the corporate man and the artist. He bought a professional drawing table, which was relegated to the basement, but he never used it. He packed his camera equipment away after they married. At first he would bring it out at family events, but as family events became more trouble than they were worth, he packed up that artistic outlet and put it in mothballs as well.

When I first met him, I liked him. I was 10. I showed him my artwork, my poetry. He was really interested. He showed me his pen and inks, his black-and-white photography. Even then I knew he was very, very good.

By the time they married, he had already traded in his leather hat for a leather briefcase, a suit and tie, and I hated him. I hated him for the bait and switch, I hated him for the meaningless drivel about "the office" that they would discuss over drinks each night. I hated him until I moved away from home.

I found once I was away from him, I had compassion for him. I respected him for his business sense. He taught us a lot about business and how to apply talent for money. He could be a bastard in business. I needed to learn how that was done.

The last time he was in the hospital, I was there directing doctors and demanding quality care. I was his advocate. Not because I ever loved him, but because I am good at that. Because I owed it to him, to them.

This time, I am not involved because I have extricated myself from the truly unhealthy spiral that is that household. I think about him, in his cotton hospital gown, remember how unlike the corporate hero he looked the last time I saw him in one of those. No briefcase. No tie. He might as well be naked.

If I were to visit him this day, I would bring him his bottle of ink and his pen and a grand canvas. I would tell him I was sorry for the life he suffered through before he ever met this family, and after, that I was sorry he was compelled to give up his art to be the savior of our family. And I wouldn't leave until he started to draw.

But it doesn't work that way.

No matter intention, it cannot work that way. You see? If it could work that way, nothing would have been the way it was in the first place. This is the tragedy of wounded people pretendng.

Pretending and pretending until we can't pretend anymore, until our breath is gone.

This is my family.

May 26, 2005


AKMA and I were emailing earlier today about our daughters and their amazingness, starting with me telling him how I'd been sniffing through Flickr lately and--as I always do--marveling at Pippa's artwork and creativity. He promised he'd be posting some more today, and it's just great. Pippa is brilliant, with the highest sensibilities and what she creates is the coolest mix of radiance and humor. It's like Georgia O'Keefe meets R. Crumb.

I already have Jenna signed up to be her business manager (more on that sometime), so the rest of you just siddown.

Early Bea
Originally uploaded by AKMA.

The Smoking Thing Flip Flop

Don, Dean, Frank--my steadfast "don't do it, girl" heroes, got me through another self-questioning period this week where I have really really really wanted to smoke. As I get closer to the one-year anniversary, the disappointing thing to me is how badly I sometimes still want one. How easily those 10 months disappear before my very eyes and it feels like I lit up ten minutes ago, so what's the big deal.

We have a new baby sitter for Jenna on Wednesdays. A nice lady, in her 50s, grown children, she comes from the agency we use for baby sitting. We all like her.

Jenna said to me the other day, "Miss Mary smokes."

I was surprised that my reaction was near panic. "She what?"

"She smokes, but not around me."

"Well then how do you know."

"After we went to the Dollar Store she stood outside the car and smoked, like you used to do."


"Do you smell it--has she ever smoked in the car or near the house?"

"No mommy. She made sure. I didn't smell it at all--I was in the car. She was right next to the car."

I thought a lot of things about this. Probably about 102 things if you add them up. My first thought was rage: How could this woman leave my child in a car and pay her no attention while she had a cigarette. Then, I remembered how it's done. Because I did it for seven years. You simply turn on the radio, make sure the child has something to do, you stand right next to the door so no carjacker can come and grab them, and you make happy faces through the window while you shoot up--I mean have a cigarette.

So, how do I feel? I still don't know. It was, for sure, the fist time I was repulsed by a smoker in my midst. I started thinking of her as an addict--how much attention can she pay if she's jonsing to step outside. Again, I know this because I WAS THAT. And yet, they have a ball. The woman is smart, accomplished, fun, energetic--lots of the things I used to be.

George smokes--maybe three a day. Never in the house. Never in the car. Never around Jenna. How many conversations did we get to have with us standing outside the car and her in the backseat playing with polly pockets when we'd run our errands? Those were the times we had a chance to talk without a seven-year-old, insistent, only child in our faces. We don't get those car-side conversatins anymore.

So I'm caught between envy and repulsion as I weigh whether or not it matters to me that this woman smokes. Even though she doesn't do it in my house or in her car or in Jenna's breathing space, and I've never smelled it on her (I sure used to smell it on me!), I've changed how I think about her.

Because now I see her as an addict. And at the same time, I'd like to join her for one of those car-side talks.

Postin' about that Back.

So your girlfriend throws a Honda
Playin' workout tapes by Fonda
But Fonda ain't got motor in the back of her Honda
My anaconda don't want none unless you've got buns hon
You can do side bends or sit-ups, but please don't lose that butt
Some brothers wanna play that hard role
And tell you that the butt ain't gold
So they toss it and leave it
And I pull up quick to retrieve it.

So Cosmo says you're fat
Well I ain't down with that
Cuz your waste is small and your curves are kickin'
And I'm thinkin' 'bout stickin'
To the beanpole dames in the magazines
You ain't it Miss Thing
Give me a sista - I can't resist her
Red beans and rice didn't miss her
Some knucklehead tried to dis
Cuz his girls were on my list
He had game but he chose to hit 'em
And pulled up quick to get with 'em
So ladies if the butt is round
And you wanna triple X throw down
Dial 1-900-Mixalot and kick them nasty thoughts
Baby got back.

--Sir Mix-a-Lot

May 25, 2005

Deconstructing Burning Man

Chris Clark pointed to an old post that descrbes, sorta, what burning man is and isn't, and what it gets and misses.
How self-absorbed do you need to be not to notice a mountain range? I understand that having all those folks walking around wearing only paint and strips of tinfoil can be a little distracting. But not noticing a mountain range for a whole week? Or even worse: noticing it, but finding it unremarkable?

I'll bet early burning man was a lot like early blogging. And I bet not figuring treasures into our writing in favor of strips of tin foil makes blogging now a lot like burning man now.

Since I doubt I'll find myself at burning man in this lifetime, I enjoyed Chris's post. Found all this over at Rox's digs.

Any way the wind blows

Driving home from group tonight, listening to Bohemian Rhapsody, I realize suddenly that it has been 14 years since Freddie Mercury's death. Time has to stop moving this way. So fast. Away from me. Away from what we're leavng behind. The sounds, the textures I want to wrap my arms around, put in a pack for safe keeping, to remember not to forget.

So I crank the volume as high as it goes without distorting, and I shut up and listen.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide, No escape from reality
Open your eyes, Look up to the skies and see,
I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy
Because I'm easy come, easy go, Little high, little low
Any way the wind blows doesn't really matter to me, to me

Mama, just killed a man, Put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger, now he's dead
Mama, life had just begun
But now I've gone and thrown it all away
Mama, ooh, Didn't mean to make you cry
If I'm not back again this time tomorrow
carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters

Too late, my time has come
Sends shivers down my spine, body's aching all the time
Goodbye, ev'rybody, I've got to go
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth
Mama, ooh, I don't want to die
I sometimes wish I'd never been born at all

I see a little silhouetto of a man
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very fright'ning me
(Galileo.) Galileo. (Galileo.) Galileo, Galileo figaro
Magnifico. I'm just a poor boy and nobody loves me
He's just a poor boy from a poor family
Spare him his life from this monstrosity
Easy come, easy go, will you let me go
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go
(Let him go!) Bismillah! We will not let you go
(Let me go.) Will not let you go
(Let me go.) Will not let you go. (Let me go.) Ah
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
(Oh mama mia, mama mia.) Mama mia, let me go
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me

So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye
So you think you can love me and leave me to die
Oh, baby, can't do this to me, baby
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here

Nothing really matters, Anyone can see
Nothing really matters
Nothing really matters to me

Any way the wind blows.

You Should Never Breed Anything With A Great Dane

We made the mistake once of getting a dog that was a great dane / doberman mix. The problem was, instead of being a great dane in the body of a doberman, he turned out to be a doberman in the body of a great dane.

The difference is not subtle.

Readers with a fondness for dobermans, good for you then. Something about mixing the brain cavity of the great dane with the brain size of the doberman is not advisable. Lots of jostling can take place. As a result, the animal develops the brain power and decision making abilities of a baby hamster.

I remember the day Basie snapped at George's face, in the kitchen, nearly missing his nose, at eye level (because all humans were eye level to this dog when slightly hunched over). I was pregnant. I had already tossed vegetarianism and dropped my PETA membership. In short, I chose life.

After that day, the dog went to live with George's mother, a fitting match, and I won't tell you who won. Hint: not him.

Imagine my surprise to see the living incarnation of Basie in the backyard of our formerly-pig-owning neighbors. Yes, the ones I called the EPA and Code Enforcement on after a year of manure toleration.

Everything about him is our old dog. His blind eagerness to run in all directions at once out of fear/bewilderment/terror/instinct all at the same time. As I watch him trot around their yard continuously with distinct but unknown purpose, I am reminded of Basie today.

I am reminded of his fear of water--including anything dripping within ten miles of him; his inability to function for more than ten minutes at a time without shivering in terror despite his four-foot long frame. I am reminded of his brain's inability to keep up with his instincts, none of which in his best interest in the first place.

In our old pig-owning neighbor's back yard is the kind of high-strung, purposeless animal you know is destined to die by its own hand. I realize this moment may be sooner than later, as I see that they have tied him now, to keep hiim from running up and down the three stories of decks, which he does every minute of every hour of every day.

And I see him get tangled in a small tree, which he manages to break free of by pulling it down with him. At which point he is so glad to be free that he jumps at the next tree, obviously remembering that split second of freedom more than he remembers the danger of being tangled.

The bottom line is, don't breed a dog like this on purpose.

And don't ever bring one home.

I miss the pig.

"Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss"

Now THIS is what I've been trying to say.
Jeebus, it's amazing to see how fast the populism and digital democracy and such devolves into this sort of "MY ball" sentiment in the presence of dissent. Even Jarvis did a version of this 2-step recently, where he told us all that he was 'Mr. Transparency" (if only) but he was only obliged to fearlessly crusade against back-room, off the record deals that didn't involve him. Why? Because it's bidness. And that's different somehow. Then they're "conversations." And nobody blogs all their conversations, right? Hoo boy. Interesting take. Transparent as mud. But wholly necessary if you're going to milk this blog thing to resuscitate your career. All of a sudden, "our new media world that we're all creating as citizens but only I'm profiting from" has borders.

Thanks, Snappy, for coining the term "MSB".

Playing Games and Olden Days

Shelley has a very nice post about the state of blogging then and now.
Yet the same sun that shines now, shined back then, forming the same shadows. Scratch the veneer of most of these “home towns” and you’ll find much of the same ugliness as exists today; except back then, people kept things quiet. When the wife with the bruised face and sore arm told people she fell down stairs, no one believed it–but no one would challenge it, either. The little girl of six who fell suddenly silent after a weekend being baby-sat by the 16 year old neighbor boy is just going through growing pains. The middle aged guy who drinks too much is treated with humor, or even affection.

Read it.

I'd ask you to comment, 'cept I'm too shy.


Lungs burning for a smoke

I have been seriously considering reupping on the nicotine this week. It will be a year in july since a whisp of smoke has passed these lips. Since then I've had to go on hormones, had surgery, developed high blood pressure, gained untold pounds, have worse sinus problems than ever, requiring a month on antibiotics, and more.

This week, I've wanted one every day. I believe it will help bring me back into whatever balance I sometimes approach. You can tell me all the reasons why that's a stupid opinion. I miss it every day. Still. I wasn't prepared for a year later and a longing this big.

I swear, when I'm gone and they come out with the report that says a certain amount of cigarette smoking is actually homeopathic in treating allergies and asthma, YOU SUE THOSE MEDICAL DOCS AND DEMOCRATS FOR TRICKING ME INTO QUITTING.

May 24, 2005

I need some dental insurance

at least on my kid. Damn--why didn't I keep my Ketchum dental cobra? I could have kept that. Relatively speaking it was CHEAP and WHAT was I thinking? Maybe figuring $20 a month for dental added on to $1400 a month for COBRA for health insurance (and no job at the time) would break the bank? What bank? I don't HAVE a bank that gives a hoot.

It was all an illusion anyway. So now I have a much crappier health plan for $800 a month, feel like that's a deal when I still have a $500 deductible and hefty co-pays for docs and prescriptions--read: a grand or so for my recent surgery. And I wish I would have grabbed the dental COBRA and the vsion COBRA, the cheapest of the Really Good Offerings, for the extra 18 months, which would now be ending, but still. Think how clean, crowned, and cavity free our teeth would be.

And Jenna chipped her front permanent tooth a couple of weeks ago. It's small. But every time I look at it I'm reminded that we don't have dental insurance.

And you can get on my ass about the hamsters and the $140 spent to get homes for the babies, and yah, there's her dental appointment, but they're her hamsters and she loves them and takes care of them and is learning more than a tiny chip of a tooth can tell her, so fucking come and be my financial planner if you're going to start that senior advisor crap.

For those of you SEPARATING from your places of employ, don't just check out the health insurance COBRA, check and see if you can COBRA your other benefits too--especially that ever-more-expensive dental, which can actually be more affordable than you think. If you have glasses or need them, check to see if you can COBRA your vision benefits, and don't forget disability.


Then adopt me and my family.

Thank you.

I would like to write a book...

...about writing a book about blogging. wouldn't that be meta fun? i could interview, like, rebecca and scoble and david and hugh and everybody about what it was like to write a book about blogging. And then I could put it in a book. And maybe even BLOG the book--so that would be a blog about a book about writing a book about blogging.

Meta W00t!!!

You know, cool stuff would be finding out: did they use a laptop or a PC? How many IE windows did they have open at once? Did they Yahoo? Google? or Technorati? Were there lunch and bathroom breaks? Did they have to sneak into other folks' Bloglines subscription list to find out the real stories? Was there any Clintonian funny business?

Coming in 06 from Harlequin Business Press: Meta or Way-Meta: Where Do You Fit? Sequel to Who Moved My Sleeze?

Introspective Blogger's Open Letter to No One

People, look, it's very hard to be the kind of blogger who writes personal stuff and then people here comment about it. That's very hard. Sometimes I feel like Joi, with all his notariety. And then I remember, I'm not Joi. Whether YOU are Joi or not, it's hard to be a blogger. It gets boring. It gets hard. And when it's not boring, it is way too exciting.

Sometimes people yell at each other.
Sometimes they fall in love.
Sometimes they would like to cut one another with big long blades.
Sometimes they think about screwing behind the birch tree.
Sometimes they make funny jokes and readers might laugh.

It is hard to be a blogger. I'm afraid I might write something that others enjoy reading. And then what? Jesus you might tell me so. AND YOU MIGHT COME BACK AGAIN! AND AGAIN! Creating UNENDING expectations. You have no idea the pressure bloggers are under. And what if you don't come back? Then, do I really, you know, exist online? What about offline?

A am too shy to ask you to comment. I am certainly too, you know, to actually yell at you for not commenting. That's just not me, because I think we should be kind. Because blogging is hard enough work. It's almost like getting paid, except different.

So really, that puts me in a bind. It is very hard to be a blogger. I want you to tell me things. But Not Everything. Only Certain Things. You obviously should read my Policy and Guidelines so that you can understand that. I don't want to know all the things you think. It's too overwhelming. Start your own blog. Just tell me here what I think. Over there say what you think. And then can we link to each other?

Blogging has rules now. I can't believe you didn't know that.

You should not break the rules. Because blogging is hard. It is very hard to write down words every day into a box, and maybe someone might see it.

As a blogger, I don't want to be noticed. I am here for me. Not you. It is very hard to be a blogger. You people who comment here, you have it easy. Who do you think you are having it so easy? I, me, I'm not even sure I like any of you!


Today I toyed with not having comments. And then I went to the bathroom. And then I toyed with having comments back. So in the mean time all I did was wipe and flush. I wish you knew how hard that is. In the old days, we did not flush. Wipe yes. Flush no.

That's what I mean. It's so hard being a blogger.

Really hard. Day in. Day out.

How do we do it?

Onto More Important Matters; Hamster Eye

I can't solve the problems or disagreements of the blogosphere. "Detach with Love." "Stinkin Thinkin" -- HEY It PAYS to learn not to be co-dependent.

Now what really matters is that my little hamsters appear to be sick--some eye infecton or cold(??) working its way through the mama's cage (two babies left in there with her) AND the two gave to my friend. SO now I'm a bit worried. How good are your little hamsters' dispositions when you can hold it and wipe it's little pin-head eyeball with warm water and it just looks at you like it loves you because you hand it baby carrots every day.

{did i mention they make wonderful pets--worth the drive, parents on site, all that?}

Anyway, I first noticed it at my friend's house yesterday. She has two of them--she was like, look at their eyes, and I was all like, WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY BABIES, BITCH! And then I remembered she's my friend and she took two of the little things, so she didn't DO anything to them.

Nonetheless, we're fighting hamster ebola over here or something.

I'm going to look online now--PetSmart told us saline wash over the phone, unless its tail-rot or wet-tail or something, which I don't understand because they don't have tails really, but if it's that we need antibiotics, at which point I say to myself, I hope dog antibiotics will work fine because $140 is pretty much all I've got for the money-sucking demons....I mean, little sweeties.

Veterinary advice welcome--homeopathic please.

Trying to leave a comment

I think you have to be a "team" member to leave a comment on Halley's blog right now, because it told me I wasn't part of the team when I tried to leave one, so I'll just post what was going to post in a comment over here:
If you have comments, you encourage discussion, not a back-patting party. Often, we can learn more from dissent than from agreement.

For bloggers who have problems with that, well, they don't need to have comments. That's everyone's right. That's the trend I see among the pundit/political bloggers, especially on the right. Many don't risk having comments because they can't risk intelligent challenge. Their tenor is: "I'm right and you don't matter." Not a pretty picture that way either.

Personally, I think the default should be to have comments or risk becoming just another bully pulpit and a less powerful medium overall. . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. But that's just my opinon.

Jesus but we've become a self-important bunch in the last year. Sometimes we make me sick.

May 23, 2005

The Southern Gentleman

The older men of the south -- especially those over 70 -- are unlike men from anywhere else. They are a special breed, their qualities coming from standing on the red earth and feeling the sun at the precise longitude and lattitude they do -- as it races -- from Georga across Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and west. Who these men would become was long ago determined, ripples across generations. Their preferred speed of the life is the pace they enjoyed during the years before air conditioning.

And when I say the older men of the south, realize that race doesn't matter in how stories take form--the old men of the south tell stories in one color: Slowly, deliberately, begging no interruptions, from the middle to the beginning then back to the middle and finally to the end.

It can be agony to follow along.

They will not be hurried.

The are unlike anything I grew up with. For someone like me, where closeness among my siblings and cousins was demonstrated by how fast we finished one another's sentences, my intial sit-downs with the elder men of the south have not gone so well.

I find myself stepping all over their sentences with my Northeast cadence, with my clumsy words and impatient questions. This wouldn't be so bad, except that I really do want to hear their stories. But I also find it difficult to sit still and listen to them. I find myself wanting to get up, take a walk, have a smoke. Anything but endure the details and the wholeness of their stories.

The more I try to chime in and relate to what they are saying, the more evident it becomes that this is not a conversation, it's a monologue. Questions will be entertained at the end.

For all of the complexities, sitting and chatting with an elder southern man has proved to be worth the training I've had to go through to understand my role as active listener, passive mouth.

It's also come in handy in learning to listen in general--to hear my husband, to not rush through business conversations, to listen to Jenna's 14th story of the day.

I'm getting there. I'm getting there.

Email that smells like a brewery

I'm thinking of drydrunk@. Maybe BigBelch@? And you?

May 22, 2005

What, you think I'm kidding about the hamsters?

I post what are probably the most adorable pictures of the most adorable creatures outside of Shelley's cat, and you are not moved? Nothing special comes up for you when you see a furry needy face staring you down? Those little newborns have not moved you to tears? You are not at my doorstep begging to own one at no cost to you?

What is WRONG with you people.