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The Great Divide

When John Edwards was running for President, he was wont to discuss his idea of two Americas*, which boiled down to the eternal dichotomy of the haves and the have-nots. While Rob’s family was in town, we decided that there are indeed two American nations, but these are not divided exactly along class lines or even political affiliation (although the preferences of each group are clear). Instead, we have:

Those who solve problems using reason vs. the primitive reactionaries.

Or:

Evolutionary Darwinists vs. social Darwinists.

Or:

The intellectually curious vs. the willfully ignorant.

Or:

Free thinkers who encourage spirited debate vs. followers who prefer fascist compliance or dogmatic submission.

Or:

Those who use their power for the common good vs. those who use their power to help only themselves.

Or:

Those who live and let live vs. those who impose their own choices on others.

In other words, we have:

America vs. Murrica.

Like Israel and Palestine, America and Murrica are different spirits inhabiting the same land. (Americans are aware, of course, that the land once belonged to others; Murricans are prone to defending their small patches of terrain with vast arsenals, and worse luck if the injuns want it back.) Unlike in the Middle East, there is no acceptable way to divide the two into distinct entities. Cities, neighborhoods, and even families would be rather roughly hewn.

There used to be no easy way to distinguish between Americans and Murricans at a glance, but the Murricans have decided that they would rather not be mistaken for freedom-loving, kind-hearted, or remotely civilized individuals and have taken steps to ensure this cannot possibly happen. Thus, on our drive from Baltimore to Manhattan on Sunday night, Rob, Barb, Rindy, Goblin, and I witnessed a shocking array of vindictive bumper stickers and confederate flags and were nearly forced off the road by a Humvee whose driver (by virtue of his own inflated sense of importance or the immense size of his vehicle) felt entitled to bypass a miles of slow traffic on the shoulder. Had we turned on the radio, we would have heard station after station of bellicose white male millionaires bleating about their eternal persecution and strategizing ways of converting every last creature on earth into slaves of their lusty but chaste Murrican hungers.

And indeed, these are never sated.

Americans, I think, are basically decent, and although we don’t always get everything right, there’s no denying that we mean well. Because we are the fruit of social evolution and revolution, we often feel invincible. But this is merely an illusion, because no matter what progress we make, the Murricans-our abominable alter egos-are always there, ready to drag us back into the primordial muck.

* This is not the obvious reference to the continents of North and South America; he was referring to the United States of America alone. It is, however, difficult to pluralize “United States” unless one resorts to “United Stateses.”

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Recovered Memories

Oh dear. Logistics and rather traumatic events have conspired to keep me from the rather inspired post I was going to write today. Instead, I shall steal this idea from my dear friend Crash, who posted it on his web log yesterday:

“Latest meme: Invent a memory of me and post it in the comments. It can be anything you want, so long as it’s something that’s never happened. The universe failed to cooperate in making it happen so you have to make it up instead.”

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Red Carpet

And we’re back.

Obviously, last night’s reading of Rob’s latest musical was a tour de force with its all-star cast and blogger-studded audience. Aside from myself, Crash was there, andFaustus, and Accidental New Yorker, and even Hipster Librarian. (Notable in his absence was MAK, who promised months ago to attend. He will be severely punished.) Rob’s mother and sister came from Wisconsin, my father and brother and brother’s fiancé came from Baltimore, and producers came from all over.

Phenomenal.

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IMPORTANT ALERT

Today, April 22, is my boyfriend Rob’s birthday. He is many years older than I am, but he looks many years younger.

I love him, but my skin is green with envy.

Or maybe it’s just green.

ALSO:

Please note that on this coming Monday, April 26, at eight o’clock, is a very special event. Rob’s play, “Vanishing Point” is having a staged reading starring Tony Award nominees Alison Fraser, Emily Skinner, and Barbara Walsh. This is an amazing show, and I would love to see each and every one of you there.

Performances will take place at the elegant Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre at Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street in Manhattan.

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A Week of Firsts

Last night, my father’s lawyer invited our family to be guests in his firm’s skybox at Oriole Park, so I attended my first baseball game in twenty years. I went along as a gesture of family harmony, not expecting to enjoy myself, but it turned out to be fabulous.

As it happens, baseball is an intriguing and graceful sport played by eighteen handsome men in tight pants. The stadium authorities, however, appear to be of the opinion that there is something inherently dull about it. Every five seconds, the scoreboards would flash something the audience was supposed to yell, or canned music would instigate shouts and rapid foot stomping, or an enormous bird would dance by and promulgate various hijinks, or everyone in the stadium would stand up and sit down in a carefully orchestrated pattern called, I believe, a “wave.” They seemed to be taking their cues from the Chimperor’s Repugnant Administration: use all of the flash and glitz at your disposal to make the population chant in unison and distract them from what’s really going on.

The Orioles won, nine to one.

Today, I went to settlement on my first house. It was a Byzantine, three-hour entanglement made worse when the other side, a relocation company, forgot to show up. They now insist that I sign a document that my lawyer has forbidden me to sign, so I feel a bit as if I am in lodging limbo, but in the end, I don’t care because I got the keys. Goblin bravely weathered the ordeal from her carrying bag in the corner, and after the last i was dotted, she and I drove over to our new home and wandered around it in a daze. Then we sped up I-95 to New York, where we intend to spend less than a day. Ah, bi-location.

Our real estate agent bought us a gift: a squirrel feeder for the back yard. Goblin strikes again!

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Creeping

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time . . .

We all know that Shakespeare was really referring to settlement on Glamis Castle. But your good wishes paid off: I have just received news that my own closing will occur on perhaps the penultimate syllable of recorded time, otherwise known as lunchtime tomorrow.

After which, I will not have time to enjoy my house. Either I will have to make a mad dash up to New York, or the world will end.

Anyone care to lay odds?

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Fog

When, oh when will I close on my house? I don’t know. Rob doesn’t know. The realtors don’t know. The lawyers don’t know. The sellers don’t know. The title company doesn’t know. This last is most important because they are the ones holding up the deal. I don’t even know what a title company is, but there is one standing between me and my own home. All of this is because Mercury is in retrograde, I just know it.

This morning, as I twirled around in residential limbo, I went to court with my friend Viki, who received a citation months ago for disturbing the peace. Actually, she committed the unspeakable crime of using a megaphone at a rally protesting cuts in public transportation, eight minutes after the permit to demonstrate expired. (Apparently, one must petition the government to protest against the actions of the government these days. As a primer for all of the “brown-skinned” people in the world whom Ann Coulter and the Chimperor feel are not quite capable of democracy, this is called free speech.) But I was a little late because I had to stop for gas, and in the short duration of the fill-up, the charges were dropped.

So we went to the mall.

And Ikea.

And then back to the mall.

And then I came home.

Now, if you will pardon me, I must go and eat an ice cream bar. Uh, I mean, wallow in dreary uncertainty.

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Briefs

One. I am not yet a homeowner. Our settlement was postponed for murky and inexplicable reasons. Although I appreciate everyone’s good wishes, it is clear that those wishes were not good enough. Please try again . . . and see if you can make it happen by Wednesday. I don’t have all the time in the world, people.

Two. Instead of sleeping in our own house, Rob and I have extended our stay at my parents’. As I have mentioned a few times, they are in the process of a major renovation, the latest project of which has been to install a skylight directly over the toilet in the once-dank upstairs bathroom. Now, during the day, a squatter is bathed in a celestial glow; at night, one may contemplate the infinity of the cosmos. Either way, a transcendent experience.

Three. It having occurred to me that it would be nearly impossible for me to exist in Baltimore without a car, I went out and bought one. I am now officially in debt for a billion dollars, a fact I might once have felt squeamish about before I was shown the light by a Republican administration that does not feel “deficit spending” is such a big deal.* The car salesman’s name was “Big” Andy. Those words are written on his card (penciled in, actually). “Big” Andy had a book on his desk, half hidden behind the telephone: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Clearly, this tome does not cover all of the bases in an automobile transaction, or perhaps he didn’t read far enough yet. “Big” Andy didn’t bat an eye when Viki said I was a male prostitute, or when I offered to trade in Viki for an upgrade on wheel rims. It also did not phase him when I told him I don’t have a job, was between addresses, and forgot my driver’s license at home. But his jaw hit the table when I revealed I had not already purchased insurance for a car I had until that point been only considering buying.

Anyway, he must have been too flustered to put two and two together: being a male prostitute is a job.

Four. The other night, I attended a grand opening party for the store in Georgetown I designed. It was filled to the brim with skinny young women trying on clothes, and one hateful woman who looked like a young Linda Tripp. Nobody paid any attention to me, but I was proud of my work.

Five. Recently, in Starbucks, a disheveled older man in a half-tucked tee-shirt advertising bail bonds entered, put his cooler jug on a table, sat down, looked around, then stood up and began meticulously adjusting all of the empty chairs in the room until their backs were perfectly parallel with the tables.

Thank god he did it. They had been wearing on my patience the whole time.

Six. An enormous thanks to Matthew for his delightful guest post a couple of days ago. Don’t let him mislead you, though: he does put out. Heh heh.

* They, of course, are doing it in order to fund their bloody agenda, heap further wealth upon their rich supporters, and bankrupt the public safety net; my own motives are more self-involved.

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Just Dropped By To Say Hello

By Matt:

Good afternoon. Matthew here, from ‘Til The Cows Come Home. David sent a frantic S.O.S., asking a few guests to fill in for him during his absence. Despite the fact that David never wants to see me in person anymore (“Oh, I thought that e-mail invitation to drinks was spam, so I deleted it” or “We could get together, but what’s the point if you don’t put out?” or “I’m so busy looking for a house in Baltimore, blah blah blah”), he has done a wonderful job of guest blogging for me in the past. I’m all too happy to return the favor.

David’s imminent move inspired me to write about my relocation to New York City, nearly five years ago to the day. A fresh-faced young actor from Ohio, I had planned on subletting from a college friend for the first few months. I shall call her Ivy. She was the star of our musical theater program during her time at school, and moved to the city two years before me to pursue the life of a star.

Ivy had a basement apartment in Astoria with a spare bedroom. Little did I know at the time that the move to New York traumatized her and she developed umpteen social phobias. Apparently, she rarely left her apartment except to go to work (and by “work” I mean dressing up as a cowgirl, standing in front of a Broadway theater and distributing leaflets for the revival of an Irving Berlin classic, all the while stalking its star) and to church.

On her way to and from work, Ivy would stop at Blockbuster, rent a stack of Harrison Ford or Audrey Hepburn movies, pick up some Doritos, and rush back to her apartment to lock herself in. Once in a while she would treat herself and re-enact Ally McBeal episodes in her bedroom. I only wish I were joking. Unfortunately, being new to the city and very poor, I usually ended up being locked in with her. Newspapers were forbidden in her home, as were television news broadcasts. “The world is full of evil and sad news,” Ivy would say. “I just can’t face it. I pray very hard for peace and joy for everybody.”

One of our other college classmates, whom I shall call Helena Bonham Carter, lived nearby and would often spend time with us (mostly so that I wouldn’t have to be alone with Ivy). One fateful evening, we managed to actually drag Ivy out to the Village to see a cabaret performance at the Duplex. Afterwards, we sat at the bar and had a few drinks while listening to performers sing during the open mike session. The next thing we knew, Ivy was up at the piano, cocktail in one hand and microphone in the other, crooning out “My Heart Will Go On” in a performance that fluctuated between Alanis Morissette and one of those recordings that subliminally coaches you to stop smoking.

Inexplicably, Ivy’s drunken crooning appealed to one of the three and a half straight men in the joint, and he tried to get Ivy to go on a date with him. Somehow Ivy snapped back from her vodka-induced daze, decided that the end of the world was, in fact, upon us, and ran out of the bar. Helena Bonham Carter and I raced after her, where we witnessed Ivy fall to the ground in the middle of Seventh Avenue, sobbing, and crying out “Why, God, why?” And after that night, we didn’t get Ivy to leave her apartment again, and I moved out of her place as quickly as possible.

For a while, Helena Bonham Carter and I tried to be supportive friends and find ways to help Ivy out of her internal prison. We didn’t understand how she had transformed from outgoing and fun-loving undergrad to psycho city girl. After our initial attempts failed, however, we soon lost patience…and interest. We did devise one final plan to get Ivy out of her apartment. Project Armageddon Drill involved setting off cherry bombs and strobe lights outside of Ivy’s only window, and using the microphone from the action figure set of He-Man’s Snake Mountain to imitate the voice of God. The goal was to see if Ivy would try to make a run for the door or kneel down and accept her fate. Much to our dismay, Ivy packed up and moved to Idaho before we had a chance to implement the plan.

Word on the streets is that Ivy has moved from the hills of Idaho (does Idaho even have hills?) to Los Angeles, where her fear of being in seen in public and being mistaken for Bette Midler must have let up enough to allow her to live a semi-normal life. Rumor has it that she was involved in a local production of Godspell where she tried to trip the actor playing Jesus so that she could go on in his place. But we may never really know the truth.

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On Model Behavior

When I was young, my family got into the habit of driving around on Sundays and looking at model homes. We did this frequently and (some might argue) futilely, as we had no plans to move. I have banished most of the nineteen seventies and eighties from my fragile memory, but perhaps it was a common pastime of that era.

The only remaining impression I have from those excursions is the way my four brothers and I would fight over the model bedrooms. We would each seize the one we believed should be ours and then defend our imaginary territory with the ferocity of rabid raccoons.

Of course, we all wanted the biggest bedroom. I, being the oldest, was so shocked and dismayed by my brothers’ imperial claims that I made extensive lists as to why I deserved the most space, one of which I actually presented to my parents with the air of an aggrieved ambassador seeking restitution from the United Nations. They were naturally bewildered by this since, again, we were not actually moving into a new house, and I already had the biggest bedroom in our old one.*

Tomorrow, I am going to Baltimore for a series of events that will culminate in Rob’s and my closing on the new house. On Friday, it will be ours. We will share the biggest bedroom, and I gave Rob the second-biggest for his office and music room.

Somehow, home ownership has inspired in me a generosity previously untapped.

* And when we did move, years later, I got the largest room then, too.

Note: I am not going to write here for a few days, but I will see if I can scare up anyone to keep you entertained while I am gone. Wish me luck.

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Something’s Fishy

Tuna Girl, who is one of my favorite web loggers, wrote a touching message yesterday about the death of her daughter’s pet fish.

It all came rushing back.

I was about ten when, for some insane reason, my parents allowed me to add to the menagerie of creatures that already inhabited our house and adopt five goldfish, which I immediately named after Star Wars characters. Never having owned fish before, I was both inexperienced in their care and unprepared for their intense reaction to the slightest change in conditions. No sooner did Luke Skywalker emerge from his plastic bag than he began floating on his side, wagging his listless fins.

Devastated, I followed fish protocol and separated him from the rest of the school, lest he prove contagious. My mother put him on a pot on the stove along with (for some reason) an aspirin, and my father forced me to go to my catechism class when I wanted nothing more than to sit by Luke Skywalker’s sickbed (sickpot?) and restore his health through constant watchfulness and sheer force of will. That, I reasoned, is what Jesus would have wanted. But apparently, Jesus’s affinity for fishes extended only as far as loaves, because by the next morning, the first Jedi fish had gone to that big Ocean in the Sky.*

An unwatched pot never cures an ailing fish.

I buried Luke with much fanfare in an aspirin bottle and secretly planted a tulip bulb in his grave with the idea that its blooming would be viewed as miraculous testament to his aquatically sainted nature.

But by the time it sprouted, I had forgotten all about him, and as Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and the rest went belly up, they got flushed down the toilet.

This was the story of one fish and how he did not do much to hinder the loss of innocence of the boy who loved him.

* Incidentally, I realize now how adorably ignorant I was: goldfish are fresh-water fish and cannot tolerate the salinity of an ocean, heavenly or otherwise. But at least we can hope it found a bigger tank and all the flakes it could eat.

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The City that Reads

It did not escape Rob’s or my attention that we are moving from a clean, tranquil, and perfectly safe city to a hotbed of crime, grime, and rubbish. That is to say, we are moving from Manhattan to Baltimore. And while we will certainly do our best to cope with the lower standard of living, there is another factor that may introduce a monkey wrench into the works.

I often say that the chief difference between New York City and Baltimore is that that in New York everyone is crazy and knows it, and in Baltimore everyone is crazy and thinks he or she is perfectly normal. In theory, this may seem like the slimmest distinction, but in practice, it is night and day.

In New York, all but the most raving of lunatics leave you alone (and you can see the most raving of lunatics coming, so in the event of a conflict, you have no one to blame but yourself). This is because everyone knows that, in this city, each person is crazier than the last, and the one who looks innocuous may actually be an axe murderer. Why chance it?

In Baltimore, however, all bets are off: I have had the most bizarre encounters of anyplace I have been in the world in that city. It is there that, walking down the street with my friend Viki, a woman approached, introduced herself, and said to Viki, “Would you go home and change your dress? It’s very indecent, and you’re showing too much skin.” (It would have been even wackier if she had said that to me, but the one thing I can never be accused of, even by the most deranged of people, is showing too much skin.)

Viki and I were also together when we were cornered by an ancient man named Sal, who spent thirty minutes explaining that the surest way to a woman’s heart is to lick a cinder out of her eye.

It is also there that I was followed home one time by a male prostitute on his night off, a young African-American guy who claimed that I was the most handsome man he had ever seen and would give up his licentious career if only I would become his boyfriend. (I told you Baltimoreans were crazy.) I graciously, but persistently, refused, but he would not let me go inside without giving him a parting kiss, which I did, much to the horror of the church group that was letting out across the street (but they were Episcopalians, so it didn’t matter). That same young gentleman would escort me safely home whenever we encountered each other after dark, but he always respected my decision and would have to be satisfied with the memory of our single moment of passion.

And then there was the time I was carjacked by a man without a weapon, who only wanted a ride to buy drugs in the next neighborhood over. When we reached the prescribed corner, he got out of the car and made me to promise to wait for him, a promise I kept for all of two seconds before I zipped away with a squeal of tires and a puff of smoke. (Now I feel guilty for being so untrustworthy, but I am working it out in therapy.)

Ah, Baltimore.

I can’t wait.

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Sacrilege!

Today, I had lunch with my friend Mark and went to visit my friend Lauri for the first time since her daughter, Ruby, was born a few weeks ago. Ruby is an adorable child with an intelligent gaze, who nevertheless burst into tears when presented with the gift Rob and I had picked out for her: a fashion-forward cow doll dressed in a pillbox hat and faux fur coat. (Let us hope that her agitation stemmed from her inexperienced eye for discerning fake fur from the real thing, and that her displeasure was merely an aversion to the implication of animal cruelty.)

Later, walking home, I became distracted from my route by the song from the new Revlon advertising campaign. I was not hearing it at that exact moment; I was attempting to determine how I might obtain a copy because it is quite lovely.* And I was distracted from that by an elderly woman walking a foxy-looking little dog, who kept saying to it, “No, you behave yourself,” as if the foxy-looking little dog had just suggested that the elderly woman behave herself. And I was distracted from that because I suddenly found myself surrounded by a procession of priests and laypeople bearing crosses and a large, realistic statue of a bloody corpse.

This crowd, two or three hundred strong and chanting, appeared out of nowhere and surged around me. They were accompanied on the street by several police cars, lights flashing, and for a moment I felt as if I had materialized in a lynch mob before I realized that they were re-enacting the Stations of the Cross on Amsterdam Avenue.

To escape this horrifying mania, I ducked into the Door Store, the furniture shop at which Rob and I bought two chairs last week for our new house. The lovely woman who helped us before was there again, and before I knew it, she succeeded in selling me a feng shui fountain to accompany the order. (Apparently, anyone can offer to sell me anything, and I will jump at the chance, but it was a very handsome fountain-and quite a bargain!-so I did not feel too bad.)

Back on the street, several blocks away, I whipped out my cell phone to return a call to my friend Viki, when from around a corner came . . . the procession! Clearly, they had ducked behind some parked cars while I bought my fountain and were following me home for god-knows-what nefarious purposes. This time, they were singing “Amazing Grace,” so I am afraid my phone message to Viki was comprised entirely of that hymn. While running for my life, I was struck again by the statue of the bloody corpse they held aloft over them. What is it about Christians and their reverence for violent masochism? I thought the point of this particular corpse was that it came back to life: in which case, should they not be walking around with some sort of realistic animatronic robot?

Probably not, because if it had any sense, it would tell them to go home and stop holding up traffic and overwhelming the pedestrians. “And by the way,” it would say, “why don’t you mind your own business and stop bothering gay people who want to get married?”

They should probably keep it away from water, though, in case it gets any perambulatory ideas. I hear that is hell on the circuits.

* If you know, please drop me a line, but do not drop me a line** only to suggest that I look on the Revlon web site for a clue, because I did already, and there was nary a clue to be found.

** What is a line, anyway?

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Revenge of the Physic

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the Starbucks on Broadway and Ninety-eighth with Faustus. While I ordered a yummy-looking piece of pound cake, a plumber was behind the counter wrestling with a broken dishwasher. He finally succeeded in pulling it away from the wall, at which point a dozen cockroaches burst out from underneath of it and skittered in all directions.

The cake was as yummy as it appeared.

Later, on my way home, a woman handing out pamphlets singled me out of a crowd of pedestrians and offered me a psychic reading.

“Oh, how sweet,” I said. “But I really must go.”

She gave me a look that indicated she knew all about my “Physic Shop” anecdote from the other day and was not amused. “You let me give you a free sample,” she said in accented English, “and if it’s good, you come inside with me and get a card reading.”

“Uh, OK,” I said.

She stared at me. “Your career is about to change,” she predicted.

“Yup,” I said, looking distractedly down the street.*

“Your financial situation is about to change,” she said.

“Yup,” I said, looking distractedly down the street.*

“You are about to move,” she said.

“Yup,” I said, looking distractedly down the street.*

“Your lover has unfaithful thoughts,” she said.

“Let’s go inside and look at those cards,” I said.

We went into her one-room apartment, which had almost no furniture but was crammed with people, including several rowdy toddlers and one of the most stunning men I have seen in my life (except for Rob, of course). The psychic set up two flimsy folding chairs behind a bookcase and dragged over a third to lay her cards on.

From what I could comprehend of it, the rest of my reading was equally dramatic. Apparently, an old flame wants to get back together with me, one of my friends is very jealous of me and is sending me negative energy, and I have erected a barrier around myself that has thus far deflected any hope of material success. The former two of these prophecies are standard fortuneteller fare, as they are apparently all addicted to soap operas. The last is something I have heard from every psychic I ever visited, and it happens to be quite true, but I was distracted from following up on either this or my lover’s unfaithful thoughts** by the chaos on the other side of the bookcase and some decidedly anomalous noises from the adjacent bathroom.

So instead of finding out how I could once and for all change my life for the better, I went home and ate an ice cream bar.

* It was Eighty-sixth Street, near Amsterdam.

** He claims he does not have unfaithful thoughts. Which of them should I believe?

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Dum Dum Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum

Last night, I received an email with the tantalizing subject line “EARTH SHATTERING COINCIDENCE.” And while the planet appears largely intact,* I must admit that the email went on to detail a spellbinding twist of fate.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Rob’s and my search for a house in Baltimore, mentioning that we had found one (a former funeral parlor in Little Italy) that we loved but were subsequently outbid.

The earth-shattering email was from the people who outbid us. They had stumbled across my web log entry and wrote to apologize (although I suspect their regrets extend only so far, as they got a gorgeous home out of the deal).

I had written before about the omens I received from on high that our bid would not be successful: two black cats and a swooping seagull with menacing eyes. My correspondent wrote that his omens were more encouraging: “‘fat cat on windowsill purring contentedly and licking one paw’ and ‘white dove carrying sprig of mistletoe’ (well it might have been a particularly clean seagull with a weed, but the effect was there).”

If nothing else, it is clear that this structure is a vortex of supernatural forces, a battleground of good and evil seagulls.

But the coinkydinks do not end there, oh no indeed. The outbidding letter-writer’s name is David. His email address begins with Faustus. His romantic partner’s name is Natalie.

As the super-sleuths among you know, my name is also David! Further, the online name of one of my dearest friends is Faustus! Further, Natalie was the name of my favorite character on “The Facts of Life”!

The spooky organ music should begin shortly.
* Although my boyfriend claims there is evidence of large holes in the polar regions, these are most likely unrelated.

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Can They Contact Einstein?

I am in a terrible rush today, so I only have enough time to post the following brief statement:

In Laurel, Maryland, along Route 1, there is a store that from its otherworldly aura appears to be offering psychic services. Except the bold lettering on the sign reads, counterintuitively, “THE PHYSIC SHOP.”

Discuss.

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Hope Is a Four-Letter Word

Running on about three hours’ sleep, I showed up at the train station early Saturday morning in a bemused stupor. The only concrete fact I could establish was that my train was on time; confident of that, I stood under the departure sign with my eyes rolled up into my skull until an older man approached and asked me where to find the New Jersey Transit counter.

We were standing a mere ten feet a way from the New Jersey Transit counter, but since I somehow interpreted his question as a search for the Long Island Railroad counter, I sent him on a wild goose chase to the other side of Penn Station. When I realized this, I was so horrified that I went and hid behind a crowd of people on the other side of the waiting area. Which is why I was not at the front of the line to get on the unreserved train, which is why I did not get a seat and had to stand between cars.

I blame all of this on New Jersey, but at least I now know that, like a flamingo, I can balance on my feet while sleeping.

The return trip the next day was more comfortable. I took the seat next to a wide-eyed young man who sat primly with his perfectly manicured hands folded in his lap. I took note of this because my own fingertips look as if they have been devoured by weasels (in fact, they have been). He did not move or even blink the entire time, but that was fine because I was thinking about something else.

On that fateful train ride, I came to the conclusion that there is hope for humanity after all. It was touch and go for a while, and certainly there is no end of problems that we cause for ourselves and each other, but all of that is habitual, and we can change habits. This is illustrated twice a year, when Daylight Savings Time begins and ends: on those occasions, our entire society* does something different. Can you imagine? Maybe a day will come when we all decide to stop voting for Republicans. I might even stop letting the weasels chew on my fingertips.
It could happen.

* I know there are a few holdout backwaters that do not acknowledge Daylight Savings Time. Perhaps if we ignore them, they’ll go away.

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The Poop on Democracy

Some people wonder why democracy is failing in the United States, but I do not. Democracy, built upon the premise that individual voices may make a difference when employed collectively, assumes that these individuals will speak out for the common good. The fundamental flaw is that “common good” is more often interpreted as “my own best interests imposed upon everyone else.”

Here, readers familiar with my routine will expect me to evoke the Republican Party, the de facto motto of which is “the best interests of one percent of the population camouflaged by the narrow-minded agenda of a demographic too ignorant to know any better.” What, after all, could be worse for democracy than the Republican manifesto?
(That was a rhetorical question, but forced to speculate, I think the answer must be on the level of “collision with planet-killing meteor.”)

No, you sillies. Today, I am more interested in poop.

The neighborhood to which Rob and I are moving has an active online bulletin board where one might post questions, comments, or suggestions. Naturally, we both bookmarked the site instantly upon discovering it and check it obsessively throughout the day for new postings. (There is, after all, a reason why we are boyfriends: complimentary obsessions.)

For the past few days, the main topic of conversation on the bulletin board has been the closing of a favorite neighborhood park to dogs because a few vocal citizens decided there was a surplus of dog poop on the grounds. They justified this maneuver partly because dog poop creates an “unsafe” environment for children. This generated dozens of postings, my favorite of which called for banning of children from the park instead. Meanwhile, discussions regarding rapists and burglars in the area went virtually ignored.

And so we have people who are concerned about their rights as parents of human children squaring off against the people who are concerned about their rights as parents of dogs, each side doing its best to legislate its own worldview. Finding nothing whatsoever appealing about children in general, I myself come down on the side of the dogs, but in the larger scheme of things, I embrace the idea that a person whose habits cause an inconvenience, disruption, or hazard for another person is the one who should curtail those habits. This is why dog owners should pick up after their dogs, smokers should not light up when in an enclosed area with nonsmokers, and religious evangelists should be imprisoned until they have seen the error of their ways.

But let’s once and for all put an end to the idea that people who have children are somehow immune from this or somehow have more rights because they have gotten more use out of their reproductive organs than everyone else. They may be producing a new generation of voters, but that is still undemocratic.

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A Funny Post . . . April Fool!

It is rarely a delight when something that has been an abstract concept suddenly looms imminent. Terrorism, for example, or turning thirty (or so I have heard).

Yesterday, it occurred to me and Rob that we are moving in a few weeks and have not lifted so much as a pinky toe in preparation. We spent the afternoon darting to every furniture store on the Upper West Side (and eating pastries). We spent the evening pondering elaborate systems for disposing of Goblin’s poop in our new neighborhood (and eating ice-cream bars).

Really, when the time comes, the movers are going to have to carry us down the stairs.