The Sheltered Life?

I don’t consider myself an insulated person. Unless I deliberately avoid the details for reasons of preserving mental health, I usually know exactly what is going on in the world. I know how a lot of different people live and am in general curious about the circumstances of people who are not myself. I do not shy away from controversial issues or dangerous neighborhoods. But at the same time, there are entire segments of experience I am completely and happily ignorant of. Windows PCs for example: I haven’t touched one since 1993. I have absolutely no idea of how they work, except they look complicated and unintuitive and ugly, and everyone I know who has one is forever having problems with it. Between my home and work, there are eleven Macs and two iPhones. This is an ecosystem I have no desire to spoil.

Another thing I have very little direct experience with is overt homophobia. I’d like to believe I have more to do with this than I probably do. My family, for example, is fairly conservative—my father, especially, is a Rush Limbo-loving papist—and yet I have refused to accept any sort of substandard treatment of me or my husband. And indeed, no one has tried to impose it against my will, or at least, no one has tried more than once. Likewise among the other people in my life: sexuality is not an issue, or if it is, no one has told me. To some extent, I am in control of this in that I can control who surrounds me, and I am smart and resourceful enough to bully my way through potentially problematic situations until I get what I want. But I’m also lucky to have been born where and when I was, as opposed to a time or a geographic area or a social strata in which it would be more difficult to establish my preferences.

As may be inferred from above, I have slightly more experience with Republicans, however I don’t know any beyond those I am forced to through genetic ties. I don’t understand their philosophy or why anyone would choose to entertain it for a moment in the face of evidence of its devastating failure when applied outside of action movies.

So I suppose there is a certain willful ignorance on my part in some areas. I am surrounded by Windows PCs and homophobia and Republicans, but they have so little bearing on my life that I could easily pretend they didn’t exist were I not engaged in active campaigns to stamp them out.
But there are also things I used to be immersed in that completely perplex me today. Pop music, for the most part, has become unbearable, and video games have become so complicated as to be unplayable. Likewise, television is becoming a mystery to me. I pick two or three shows to follow but long ago gave up on keeping track of what else exists. I do not understand references to the latest dating program or dancing program or fat-man-thin-wife program, and I don’t understand why anyone would make references to such cultural horrors.

It occurs to me that I am not insulated as much as an intellectual snob, but given the things I eschew are demonstrably bad and the things I like are demonstrably good, I say bring on the intellectual lorgnette and let’s get this party started.


Have a Nice Day

It’s Friday, and I’m chupacabraless, a tragedy of epic proportions. I guess I’m just a bit worn out. I’ve been working these days first thing in the morning until last thing at night, and this week has been a horror of family and business drama. On the one hand, I’m proud to sound like J.R. Ewing while threatening my brothers and various real estate tycoons with dire consequences for crossing me, but on the other, it’s maddening. In the past few days, I’ve gone through a bottle of Irish whiskey and most of a bottle of something that looked like alcohol but I’m not quite sure what it was. Even if it was really furniture polish, it did the trick.

Speaking of consumption, I think I’m up to about forty or fifty pills a day: vitamins, herbs, and various prescriptions. Even for me, this is a lot, but except for my adventures in the previous paragraph, I do feel rather balanced. Perhaps I have stumbled upon the magic combination of things that will cure all of my problems. Or almost all, but that’s the beauty part. If I can just find the right capsule to add to this concoction, POOF, there will go the real estate tycoon. I have a voodoo doll in reserve, but that may not be as satisfying as death by Vitamin C. My favorite supplement bottle right now is the probiotic, which features a crude line drawing of a colon filled with little smiley faces. That is one happy colon. Once the furniture polish is out of my system, mine may feel the same way.


Victims We Know So Well

Rob and I have been watching “Dexter,” which is a television show about a cop who happens to be a serial killer who only kills other serial killers. I have never been the victim of a serial killer (knock on bamboo), but I used to want to be a criminal profiler for the FBI. That was a short-lived dream, however, and I can’t remember my timeline of desires well enough to know whether it was replaced by “air traffic controller” or “inner-city school teacher.” Because my ambitions are never anything that doesn’t involve enough pressure to make diamonds.

I have been the victim of a stalker, though. It was my second year back in Baltimore when I lived in the basement of that mansion on Charles Street. That was the era in which I was going through two or three Internet dates a day–and that doesn’t even include the sex, I was just meeting all of those guys for coffee at the City Café to see if I wanted to go to bed with them at a later time (which I often did). The baristas who worked there were on to me and would have my favorite drinks waiting when I walked in.

Once I met this guy, I forget his name, but we will call him John because many crazy people are named John. I don’t forget what he looked like: about my height, probably fifteen years older than I was, military haircut, and mustache. Very well-defined body but terrible fashion sense. He had the persona of a somewhat intellectual redneck, which I found appealing but challenging as many of his self-taught notions were more conservative than I would have liked. All in all, not boyfriend material but I anticipated good sex. Except before we got around to sex, John revealed that he was in a long-term relationship. I’m not sure I had anything against that per se as long as it was going to be just physical, but he had already begun calling me a great deal. When I answered the phone, he would entrap me in desperate discussions about how he wanted to spend time with me; when I stopped answering the phone, he confided those desires to my answering machine in intricate monologues that filled up the tape.

These were warning signs, but it was flattering on one level. I was young, alone, and insecure, and here was this guy who was seemingly crazy about every aspect of me. Yes, he was also seemingly crazy in general, but I thought all I had to do was ignore him for a while and he would go away, at which point I could take my boosted ego on to the next set of men the Internet expectorated.

Then I found out that he was an alcoholic who attended nightly AA meetings around the corner from my apartment. Or maybe I knew that part already and had been open-minded about it, but the situation was driven home when he would come by my basement apartment before and after those gatherings and ring my doorbell and knock on my windows, which were luckily barred. I could see his silhouette through the curtains and often glimpsed him through the windows I hadn’t bothered to cover. After a while, I conjured up some assertiveness and told him he had to leave me alone, but he was suddenly everywhere. At that time, I lived, worked, went to grad school, dated, and had sex with virtual strangers all within the same neighborhood—Baltimore’s gay ghetto—and he seemed to have figured out my routine. He had stopped speaking to me at my request, although his stare was long, piercing, and desperate. I often saw him lingering outside my apartment and in the café, although he always managed to seem just innocent enough to have plausible deniability if confronted.

Finally, I figured out that the ex-boyfriend of one of my friends was in the same AA group. I confided the whole story to him and asked him to intervene, which he must have, because suddenly, out of the blue, the whole situation just ended. I saw John from afar a few times, and although we both seemed keenly aware of each other’s presence, he pointedly ignored me and I pointedly ignored him. Perhaps if I had actually been an FBI criminal profiler, I would have been able to figure everything out sooner and dispassionately cut him off at the pass, but at that point I had already decided to be a writer and graphic designer who was going to school full time, formed a business partnership with a friend and worked more than full time, and also seemed to be on a full-time rampage in search of love and good sex.

I guess I’m not really one to make things easy for myself.


Ugly and Pretty Things

I want to write something, and since writing my book requires that I delve into some biographies I don’t quite feel like delving into at this exact moment, you are the lucky duckies who get to read my words.

Read my words!!!!

I’m trying to figure out some very important things right now, like which super powers I would choose if someone came along distributing them. Thanks to Wonder Woman, I always liked the idea of spinning around and becoming someone else in a flash of light, but perhaps what I crave is not a star-spangled bikini but just a secret identity. I think my actual super power would be controlling people’s minds to make them buy my furniture. Not that they should need controlling, since my furniture is better than other people’s furniture, but one likes to ensure a steady income.

Speaking of secret identities and my store, I have devised an alias for when I work behind the café counter and someone comes in and says, “Are you new? I haven’t seen YOU before!” My alias is Adam, the new barista. Now I just need to get those plugs that put big holes in my earlobes like all the other baristas, but Rob thinks they are ugly and I don’t want him to think I’m ugly even though MY BODY = MY CHOICE. I choose not to be ugly to my husband even though I want big holes in my earlobes.

But, see, if I could control people’s minds, I’d make him like them, and I’d also make him buy me an Aeron® chair.


If Bees Had Knees, They Would Be Fleas

I am writing this to avoid entering the Eames® Aluminum Group onto my website. This is not the fault of the poor Eames® Aluminum Group, which is breathtaking evidence that humankind has the potential for greatness. When one daily sees breathtaking evidence to the contrary in the form of our “elected” government officials, this is a breath of fresh air. No, I’m just burning out on entering stuff onto my website, no matter how lovely it may be. The stuff, that is, not the website. The website is the product of a hideous and restrictive template, which I’m working on redesigning during all of this spare time I have.

Here’s a question for you: should I buy a beachfront condo in Costa Rica? My gut instinct is “no,” but the beachfront condo people say “yes.” I suppose it would be a good investment, if I had a plug nickel to invest in anything, and it would be a nice place to get away to, if I had any time to go anywhere. Also, I hate the beach, and I have had particularly bad experiences at Costa Rican beaches, and the ocean level is rising anyway so it will probably be an underwater condo within a year. I think what I long for most is a place to escape to. When Rob was still going to New York all the time, I once formulated a plan that I would work every day for three weeks a month and spend the fourth week with him in Manhattan. I have not yet come to the point where this is viable because I work every day for four weeks a month. This is fine, really; it sort of gives my life its shape, defines the parameters. But I am not made of Teflon, which is good because Teflon is a terrible poison. I mean, I can enjoy what I’m doing but still burn out on it. I can think the Eames® Aluminum Group is the bees’ knees and still want to die before I type one more word about it into my hideous website template.

One day they are going to make a movie about me.



Hoo boy, have I been busy. Is it really 2008? I feel no connection with that number. Two thousand seven seemed real to me. Two thousand eight is a smear of colors and dreams and activities. Two thousand nine will be the year our national nightmare ends, although I get the sense that it will get darker before the dawn.

Goblin is recovering nicely from her (it is to be hoped) last surgery. Her staples were removed yesterday and all is well except that she thinks she is being punished by not being allowed to go up and down the stairs or jump on things or go for walks. To ensure her relative motionlessness, we’ve had her closed in my home office when we go out for the day. Except the first time, when we came home, we found her waiting for us down by the front door. “Huh wha huh?” The office has a swinging door, and she finally discovered that this is an illusory barrier. The next day, I put a doorstop against the door so it couldn’t be pushed open from the inside, except it could; we came home to find the doorstop three feet away from where I had left it but Goblin was still in the room. She had figured out how to leave my office and how and when to go back in to make it look as if she hadn’t left. Rob has started calling her “Foodini.”

That is all.


We Could Possibly Overcome

As often as I do it, I don’t really like talking about politics. If it were just a matter of policy wonkery, I think I could handle it, but dealing with people’s visceral reactions, and my own, to different politicians is exhausting.

Still, I don’t feel I can let this historic week go by without commentary. Barack Obama as the first black presidential nominee from a major political party is a huge accomplishment, unimaginable just a few years ago. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy was also historic for reasons of her sex and because it will probably go down in history as one of the worst-run Democratic campaigns of all time. I don’t believe those two factors are connected, and yet they stand out in my mind.

During the last election cycle, I was passionate about Howard Dean, who had a great early showing and then fizzled out after his Iowa scream was elevated to iconic proportions by a cynical and self-important press corps. Then we ended up with Tin Ear Kerry, who could argue circles around the sitting president but could not respond effectively to his opponents’ evil tactics.
This time around, Edwards was my early favorite. I felt he had his finger on the pulse of what it would take to pragmatically address our ongoing domestic crises. It is notable that I loathed Obama for several reasons:

1) His lofty rhetoric, so often praised by those who heard it live, did not make much sense when read in transcript, thus contributing to the mistaken notion that he was an “empty suit.”

2) That same lofty rhetoric about uniting the nation sounded to me as if he did not intend to prosecute the very serious war crimes of the current administration, which is the mistake that Ford made while pardoning Nixon so the nation could “heal,” a decision that led directly to Dick Cheny and his cadre of monsters taking over the government and destroying the constitution thirty years later.

3) Obama’s association with Joe Lieberman, one of the most loathsome political figures of modern times, served to reinforce the impression that national unity meant a continuation of the status quo of Democrats being punching bags for the Republican’s schoolyard thuggery.
When it came down to Obama and Clinton, I had some serious thinking to do. On the one hand, while I loathed her established tactics of triangulation against the liberal wing of her party, corporatism, war-mongering, and sneak attack politics . . . and I was starting to loathe her campaign operation based around same . . . I did sort of admire her on a personal level, and I did feel that having a no-nonsense woman as America’s face to the world would do a great deal to heal our current ills. Her healthcare policy, from what I could understand of it, was also moderately better than Obama’s.

On the other hand, as Clinton’s campaign worsened, and I got to learn more about Obama, such has his refusal to take lobbyist money (a huge corrupting force in politics) and that his mentorship under Joe Lieberman was assigned rather than of his own choosing, I started reconsidering him as a viable candidate. Indeed, the less fair Clinton and the media seemed to be toward him, the more I found myself reflexively defending him to myself. That’s when I knew I had made my choice.

Since then, I have become even more impressed with Obama’s abilities. His active and timely defense against the predictable attacks of his opponents is refreshing and dignified. There is no nonsense about him, he simply tells it like it is, uses his opponents’ words against them, and moves on. Since he became head of the DNC and has forbidden lobbyist donations from that organization, as well, he has earned my true and committed respect. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I do think that there is much more “there” than I had allowed myself to hope. If he allows, encourages, or spearheads investigations and prosecutions into the crimes of the past eight years, making “never again” his slogan . . . if he works to revive the constitution from the tattered corpse it has been left by this criminal administration, reversing the clear violations of our rights, dismantling the culture of fear, and divesting himself of the illegally amassed “executive power,” he will be near perfect in my eyes.

Most importantly, a tough but approachable Obama would help accomplish what most people and institutions have despaired of: the beginnings of the healing of the racial divide in the United States. Every black person in this country will be aware, even if just on the periphery of his or her consciousness, that his or her options are no longer as limited as they were just months ago. Every white person will have to revaluate their preconceptions of “the other.” A true dialogue on race and reconciliation, overdue for over a hundred years, is almost inevitable in an Obama administration.

At this point, running against a corrupt, old lunatic with no moral center or fresh ideas, I find it difficult to believe that Obama will not win the coming general election. I see a repeat of Bill Clinton vs. Bob Dole in 1996. While McCain tries desperately to distance himself from his entire political career in order to appear fresh and relevant, his fundraising is as dried up as his soul and nobody from any section of his party is enthusiastic about him. Meanwhile, Obama is poised to set the terms of the debate. He is young, handsome, enthusiastic, has some great (if slightly too moderate for my tastes) policy ideas, and the power of history on his side. He could lose, certainly, as the corporate media aligns against him and the subtle and not-so-subtle racist attacks flood the airwaves. He could lose if the morons in Kentucky and elsewhere decide that his skin color is more important than the fact that he is the person who is actually trying to raise them up, whereas McCain, like all Republicans, banks on their continued ignorance and complicity.

But I hope he wins.

As an atheist, America is the only thing I have to believe in. The constitution that supposedly makes us all equal and free is like my bible. Watching the America of my ideals devolve into a corporatist police state over the past thirty years (but especially the past eight) has ripped out my heart. Watching our potential greatness and moral authority give way to petty internal squabbling and worldwide revulsion against us has sliced my poor heart into little pieces and flushed them down the toilet.

Now, like so many people, I place my faith in Barack Obama to make things right again. If he betrays that faith, it will die, and America will die, and the world as we know it will end.



Today is a day I always make a big fuss about. I don’t know why. I can’t decide if I don’t care if you’re reading this or if I merely shouldn’t; my relationship with writing itself is tumultuous enough without an audience. My ego is proud that I’ve been keeping up this weblog for six years to the day, which if you think about it is longer than I’ve kept up any single activity except for my relationship with Rob and taking care of Goblin Foo. I could go through a list of my life’s “inconstants,” but if you’ve been visiting me here for the past six years or any small fraction thereof, you probably know them by heart.

So, anyway, last year I wondered publicly if I should bother to go from five to six. My life had changed so much since I first put fingers to keyboard in 2002 and in my opinion had grown a great deal less interesting to read about. But six to seven doesn’t seem as momentous for some reason. I can keep doing this, sporadically and perhaps even mind-numbingly dully. If you want to keep reading, that would be nice, too.