How Do I Get There from Here?

In the olden days, I used to sleep until noon, stay up until two a.m., and in between find time to do all of my work, go to the gym, write in this blog and elsewhere, read several books a week, attend movies and plays, have coffee and drinks with friends, keep up with current events and politics, and walk Goblin three times a day around Central Park. Now I get up at about seven, start answering work emails, work on budgets, pay bills, plan and design advertising, maybe get some small amount of exercise in, go to work for several hours, then come home and collapse on the couch, where I will watch TiVo until bedtime.

It’s clear which lifestyle is the most rewarding. The TiVo, duh. What else would I rather do than watch ten episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in a row? The olden days suck; “Star Trek: The Next Generation” is all about the future. You know it’s the future because their pillows and blankets are made from gold lamé. It’s as if the future decided to forego comfort in the name of a little razzmatazz. Counselor Troi may not get cotton bedding with a high thread count, but by god she knows she’s in the FUTURE. In your face, olden days! Yeah, you, with your books and your fun and your hipster lifestyle. You’d give up natural fibers in a heartbeat if it meant you could walk up to a hole in the wall and order tea, Earl Grey, hot.


By Any Other Name, Part Infinity

What if I changed Goblin’s name to Digestive Enzyme McDougal, Disgraced Potato Chip Deliveryperson?


Goodbye, Darkness, My Old Friend

I’m still framing the political essay I am going to write, and my references are piling up to the point of dissertationhood. Soon, the entire project will collapse under its prodigious intellectual and moral weight, and I will be left writing about a game of Scrabble.

Last night, I played a game of Scrabble.

Actually, two games: one that lasted three hours and one that lasted about thirty minutes. In the first, I kept getting letters like T T T T L I Q. Indeed, I had that Q for the entire game without ever seeing a U or an opportunity to spell QAT or FAQIR, so I lost miserably; in the next game, I played different people and came in second. In both games, I broke a hundred points, which is significant. I have the largest written vocabulary of anyone I know (save one), but my Scrabble skills are so abysmal that I years ago developed a phobia of keeping score. I also can’t do crossword puzzles or speak a coherent sentence out loud.

My brain is wired wrong. Often I can think a sentence, or write it, but I can’t say it. Or sometimes I can’t think of a simple word except for the letter it starts with, and I’ll go to type the word but for some reason start typing with one of the other letters in the word and not the first letter. Or I’ll think of one word and start saying or typing another, completely unrelated word. I’ve actually typed entire phrases while actively intending to type completely different phrases.

I’m used to all of this, so it doesn’t bother me much anymore. More disturbing is that, for several days this past week, I had the same weighted, sinking feeling I used to live with on a continual basis before I started taking a certain medication a few years ago (and stopped taking it, in a twitchy fit of serotonin withdrawal, in November of 2004). It was actually just the lightest touch of that hopeless feeling-the dull tugging on the center-left part of my brain, down my neck, connected to invisible lead blocks on my hands and feet that made every thought and movement a colossal effort. It’s a sensation I had at once both forgotten entirely and recognized instantly with a terror unlike any I have felt in recent times.
I don’t think those dark days have returned. Indeed, I feel fine now (apart from a searing frustration that ttttliq isn’t a word). But it’s a humbling reminder that there are some things you can get past but never truly escape.

What turned that frown upside-down was a movie I saw on Friday night, called Transamerica, which I feared would be the boy-to-girl-tranny Boys Don’t Cry, starring an actress whose most renowned character drives me barking mad, but instead was largely sweet and oddly amusing. Expecting to be inconsolable afterward, I actually emerged onto the chilly streets of a world where people’s minds and bodies can betray them, often spectacularly, but where the confrontation and even celebration of these issues can lead to an unexpected, and unexpectedly satisfying, wholeness.


What the Dooce?

I started writing about something very serious and political, and you won’t like it. I’m still going to write it, and you’re still going to read it. But before I do, I have a question.

I just found out that this site gets an average of almost six thousand hits a day.

Who the bleedin’ hell are you people?

I mean, I thought only my mother, my husband, and five or six other cashews in the peanut gallery were reading this thing . . . and I wasn’t even very sure about my mother or my husband.

My best guess is that the neighborhood squirrels are using my writing to track Goblin’s location. If I had thought that six thousand actual people are clicking here daily (sometimes seven or eight thousand), I would have started a pyramid scheme ages ago.

Now everyone send me five dollars.


Oh Happy Day

I’m thinking about becoming a brain in a vat, or a monk. Something reclusive. A hermit might be nice, the kind who lives in a shack in the forest and not the kind who lives in a shack at the beach. Perhaps I will cover all of the bases and become a brain in a vat in a shack in the forest. The brain would have eyes and one tentacle and a tonsure and a wireless Internet connection. Of course, all it would take is one hungry zombie and that’s all she wrote, but maybe the zombie could be Matt Damon. But maybe, instead of consumption, Zombie Matt Damon would want to pal around with the brain and every so often have slightly awkward sex.

A boy can dream.

Yesterday was a bad day, and by “bad day,” I mean a BAD DAY. The most bizarre thing that happened was that I got asked out on a date by a crazy person. It was a male crazy person who wanted to take me to a lesbian movie. Here’s how it went down:

Male Crazy Person: What are you doing on Wednesday?

Me: Wednesday?

Male Crazy Person: Are you busy?

Me: I think so, yes. Yes, I am.

Male Crazy Person: I have this extra movie ticket and I can’t give it away.

Me: Oh, what a shame.

Male Crazy Person: What are you doing on Wednesday? Do you have to work?

Me (after sixteen hellish hours of a BAD DAY and not thinking clearly): No.

Male Crazy Person: Oh, so what are you doing?

Me: I don’t remember. I think I have an event.

Male Crazy Person: An event? What kind of event?

Me: I don’t remember.

Male Crazy Person: Could you check?

Me: Um, OK. (Consults blank calendar page.) Oh, look, I have to work after all.

Male Crazy Person: Oh, that’s too bad.

Me: Yes.

Male Crazy Person: If you didn’t have to work, would you go?

Me: To a lesbian movie?

Male Crazy Person: Yes.

Me: Good lord, even lesbians don’t like to go to lesbian movies.*

Male Crazy Person: Oh. OK then.

Me: Have a lovely time.

Of course, as with everything else yesterday, I handled that badly. When I was younger and got asked out on a very regular basis, I had no problem at all saying, “No,” and if pressed, “Because I don’t want to.” Even last night, I could have flashed my wedding ring and that would have been that. (Not because he would have picked upon the hint, but because a beam of highly focused energy would have flashed out of it and incinerated him where he stood. Don’t you hate it when you forget you can incinerate people?)

Brains in vats never have these problems. They are content to sit around the shack in the forest, combing their tonsures with one tentacle while they surf the Internet and wonder idly why Zombie Matt Damon never calls anymore.


* I might be wrong about this.



Sometimes I wish I were a giant brain in a vat that communicates with the world via Instant Message. The brain should have eyes on it, though, so it can keep up to date on current events and “Project Runway.”



If you have never ridden first class on Amtrak’s Acela, you aren’t missing much. Before I went to New York, Rob gave me a free upgrade coupon, which I redeemed on my return trip only because I was hungry and they serve lunch in first class. It is otherwise a dismal experience, from the grimy clubroom at Penn Station to the business-suited zombies that populate the seating.

What is it about privilege that evaporates people’s minds? As we boarded, a man who had already been told that the first-class car was on the front of the train made a big deal out of asking everyone what direction the train was traveling because he just couldn’t bear to ride backwards. Charitable soul that I am, I told him; the next time he captured my attention was when his cell phone rang a half hour later, and I glanced over to see him chatting merrily away-riding in a backwards-facing seat. Perhaps it was just his jacket that couldn’t bear to ride backwards, as it alone occupied the forward-facing one. By this time, the two elderly society women across the aisle from me had begun an intricate conversation on the topic of whether a particular man had killed his family and fled the country. “He had to have done it!” said one about five hundred times, to which the other consistently replied in Miss Marpleish tones, “Its too obvious!” Had we been in a stadium, the topic of investigation might have been whether “it tastes great” or is “less filling,” but there is something not a little ghastly about two well-dressed people cheerfully debating the details and motivation of murder over white wine spritzers.

It is odd being served in luxury* on a train as it darts past housing projects, seedy industry, trailer parks, and maximum-security prisons. There is no physical insulation from the world as one would get on an airplane, so a passenger must maintain distance by escaping inward (and lacking anything of note there, must then fuss to the porter about the ingredients of one’s Caesar salad). After lunch, I spent most of the trip staring out the window, wondering why anyone would choose to pay six times the normal train fare for a dry turkey sandwich, but it seems as if First Class infiltrated my soul anyway. Walking home from the train station, I was approached by an homeless man who asked me if he could have a moment of my time.

“No,” I snapped.

“Two cents! That’s all I need, two cents to get something to eat!”

I stepped curtly around him, my wheeled suitcase practically knocking him into the street. Two cents indeed! Today it’s two cents, tomorrow it’s a dollar. Soon I’ll be paying your cable bill and the late fees on your Netflix account while you kick your feet up. Why don’t you go out and get a JOB!


Anyway, don’t ride first class.


* Amtrak’s idea of luxury includes a little cup of trail mix but, oddly, no chocolate-chip cookies.