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The Horses I’m Not Scaring

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…the passengers set sail that day
 For a three hour tour, A THREE HOUR TOUR….♫

2 Tots, a Sailboat and a Storm Over Parenting was the headline that caught my attention when I opened Tuesday’s New York Times. The article, about The Kaufmans, husband and wife “sailors,” [1] whose planned trans-Pacific sailboat trip with their two young children ended in “a complicated rescue effort orchestrated by the California Air National Guard and the United States Navy and Coast Guard” when the Kaufmans, faced with a stalled boat and a seriously ill child, called for help.

Mama Kaufman blogged about the (mis) adventure, including posting her pre-trip misgivings (“I think this may be the stupidest thing we have ever done”).  Her in-transit posts included such details as how the baby was “rolling around and unable to sleep because of the ship’s violent pitch,” and how poo-poo pee-pee diapers were being washed in the galley sink.

Reactions to the blog posts ranged from kudos from free-range-style sympathizers (the parents were doing the right thing by following their passion and involving their children) to outrage (report these irresponsible people to CPS and take away their kids!) from parents and others – including Papa Kaufman’s brother – who found the decision to take young children on such a trip ridiculous and asinine at best.

This is not the first time I’ve read about parents taking children on what they hope will be a Swiss Family Robinson-type adventure.  The adults’ excuses motivations typically include the premise that they will take their children on a trip “they’ll never forget.” However, considering anecdotal and neuroscientific research regarding the inability of humans to retrieve episodic memories before the age of four, [2] the Kaufmans might have considered the fact that they were taking their one and three year old children – yes, one and three years old – on a trip the kids would likely never remember.

Given the everyone-can-have-their-15-minutes-of-LOOK-AT-ME-I’M-FAMOUS world we live in, I can’t help but think that, among the many debatable impulses behind such an escapade, the possibility of a book and/or movie and/or reality TV show about their adventure-turned-ordeal somehow figured into the Kaufman’s motivations.

There are many debate-worthy aspects to this story, including prudence of the parental decisions, the value of risk-taking, the risks inherent in everyday life we choose to ignore, and who’s going to foot the bill for the Kaufman’s expensive rescue.  All I know is, adventure, schmenture – I don’t care if they’re my closest friends or beloved family, you will never find me voluntarily inhabiting a sailboat [3] with anyone for even two days, not to mention the months it would take to cross an ocean.

*   *   *

Knowing of my fondness for linguistic innovation, my lovely and talented friend LPH alerted me to a groovy neologism, this one from her own devious mind. I told her she should have it copyrighted:

Just read an article about our local mountain lions. I’m not writing about that though. At the end in the credits was the word “Republication“, immediately it struck me: a category of where Republicans vacation! Places like the Kansas Museum of Creation, or the Pro Life Carnival in Arkansas, and what about the Pluralist Poetry Competition in Utah (when you have so many to woo, you get good at plural prose). So many places, so little time….

I’m may rethink Belle’s and my summer plans. Why settle for a mere vacation when you can have a Republication? I suggest one more stop on the itinerary:  no Republication would be complete without a pilgrimage to the canned meat that won the war .

Spam-Museum

 *   *   *

 Let’s all think about sex

 Blog readers with first-rate short term memory skills – or brain damage; it can go either way, I reckon – may remember [4] Asshole of the Day Mike Huckabee‘s comments about how women use birth control because they cannot control their libido. [5]  ‘Twas a statement so WFT?-worthy, even in context, that even Rick Santorum said Huckabee’s comments were ill-advised.  (Yes, Rick Santorum).  Let’s revisit the sentiment and humor the Huckster,[6] if only for a moment.

BATSHITYes, I'm this much closer to bat guano territory.

Yes, I’m this much closer to bat guano territory.

Yo, Mikey what the Huck?

If what you said was even remotely close to the truth, wouldn’t you want out-of-control, libido-enslaved, lusty wenches to use birth control? Wouldn’t you even go so far as to offer them assistance in installing the contraceptive devices of their choice to prevent unwanted pregnancies, lest the world be glutted with their horn-dog spawned, promiscuously-produced progeny?

And now for something not completely different. A recent round of FB postings involving the ravings of People Who Think Other People – Gays,  And Those Lusty Single Women, Too –  Shouldn’t Be Having Sex ® got me to thinking about the amount of time Some People apparently spend thinking about Other People having sex.

IMHO, one of the biggest stumbling blocks to civil rights for LGBT folk is that being defined by your sexuality makes a good number of sex-negative folk think of you primarily in sexual terms.

I recall uncomfortable conversations with gay-squeamish (GS) family members, acquaintances or co-workers that reached those “aha” moments when the GS-ers, either forthrightly or obliquely, admitted that they cannot abide the idea (i.e., the pictures that come to their mind) of the way they think “those people” have sex.  And, apparently, that’s the first thing they think about, any time they hear or read the words gay or lesbian.

“Does it really matter what these affectionate people do,
so long as they don’t do it on the street and frighten the horses?”
(Beatrice “Mrs. Pat” Campbell, Victorian age British stage actress [7])

VIB

Of course, these GSers don’t have the same problem with me.  They don’t (to my knowledge) look at me and think, She’s a married woman; whoa, just imagine what she and her hubby are doing.  As a straight/married couple, MH and I get a pass on that. [8]

Speaking of passes, I’d like to pass on a bit of advice to GSers, and to all of us.  Stop looking at and/or thinking about other people in terms of (whatever you think might be) their sexual practices.  Stop it, right now.  Stop thinking about other people having sex.

There you go – you’re thinking about it again, aren’t you?!  Yeah, ick.

As I was saying…oh, goodness, gracious, great balls of fire – really, do you think about anything else?  Stop thinking about other people having sex!

I realize such advice is akin to Do Not, Whatever You Do, Form a Mental Picture of a Pink Elephant! [9] But really.  “Straight” sex, schmrait sex; gay sex, schmay sex.  Any sexual act – in any position or “performed” by any one, in a manner deemed “normal” or exotic – can be viewed as icky, or just plain silly or ludicrous, if you analyze the component, uh, components (you do what with WHAT?).

Like, what I’m thinking about right now, tee hee.

So, c’mon now, stop it.  The next time you’re in a discussion involving health care decisions and/or civil rights for someone whom you deem different from yourself, and you are distracted from the true heart of the matter by your mental images of those Someones bonking, take a deep breath and imagine yourself floating in a tank filled with chartreuse macaroni (cooked al dente, of course). Or, go for a walk, do some calisthenics, find another classic and even cliché way to redirect your misguided imagination. Stop what you’re doing and rearrange your closet – it’s probably a mess, right? Better yet, rearrange someone else’s closet, without their permission. Their reaction might should help you work off a lot of that excess, mind your own business mental energy.

Besides, just imagine what kind of kinky devices you might find in their closet.

ClosetJPG

*   *   *

 May our street behaviors keep the horses calm, and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

 

[1] Other/veteran mariners questioned the couple’s seaworthy credentials and experience; thus, the “s.

[2] The phenomena is called childhood amnesia.

[3] Or any “captive” quarters.

[4] From my January 24 post.

[5] “…or their reproductive system without the help of the government” – which is what Democrats want women to think, Huck awkwardly prefaced the comment.

[6] Sometimes a prudent strategy when faced with a bat shit crazy dude.

[7] Campbell uttered her oft-misquoted riposte in response to a younger actress’s insinuations re the homosexual flirting between two fellow actors.

[8] And if it’s otherwise, please folks, kindly keep those images to yourselves.

[9] Or, a pink elephant having sex. With a rainbow-colored rhinoceros.

The Prom Dress I’m (still) Not Wearing

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Last Saturday Belle requested that I go prom-dress shopping with her. For those of y’all who know me, feel free to take five until the laughter subsides

LAUGH

As per a recommendation from her friend AX, Belle made an appointment at a formal dress shop in Portland that specializes in prom/bridesmaids/quinceañera dresses.  The appointment was as per shop policy (no walk-ins), as was the requirement that The Mother be present if the dress the DS (Dress Seeker) is seeking is a prom dress. [1] Thus, Belle’s friend AX and I were Belle’s ladies in waiting.  Belle swore she’d asked me because she really wanted me there, and not just because the shop required my presence (and Belle desired my credit card). [2]

To anyone in the know, having me consult on selecting a prom dress would be akin to asking Donald Trump to recommend a hair stylist.  Not only did I not attend any of my high school’s proms or formal dances, I was one of the founders/ chief organizers of the LNGTTPP (Let’s Not Go To The Prom Party). [3]

The closest I’ve come to wearing prom-like attire were the four times in my twenties when I was somebody’s BridesMaid.  The choices for BM (ahem) attire were, of course, made for the BMs. I gulped, repeated my calm-down-and-don’t-run-away-screaming mantra (“grin and bear it…you are supporting a friend/your sister…this too shall pass”).  Four times I swallowed my pride and donned the BM’s monkey suit, managing, each time, to refrain from compromising my dignity (too much) by lying therough my teeth repeating the Bridesmaids’ Little White Lie. All together now, ladies:

No, really, it’s quite nice/yes, I’m sure I can wear it again, with a few alterations….

Yet again, I digress.  The Little Shop of Horrors formal dress shop was in Portland’s SW warehouse district, an appropriate locale, seeing as how the shop was in fact a warehouse. A warehouse filled with Foo-Foo Dresses. FFD Warehouse had rules: DS had to make the afore-mentioned appointment, show up for said appointment “freshly showered” and sans makeup and wearing regular “full-sized” underpants (the shop had a strict NO THONGS policy, for which I was later to thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster.).

Upon arrival, each DS, along with her guest and The Mother, were escorted from the front/check in room to the backstage/warehouse area. Each DS was assigned her own Valet Girl, [4] who helped the shopper peruse the racks and racks and racks and racks of gowns, make a variety of appropriate size/color/style selections, take DS to a backstage area and help her don the gowns.

No no no, it's Valet Girl

No no no, it’s Valet Girl

Meanwhile, shopper’s guest and The Mother took seats, along with other guests and mothers, in a semi-circle of chairs arranged in front of the entrance to the dressing area and adjacent to a three-way mirror.  This audience had the opportunity to whisper snide comments helpful observations as other DSs emerged from the dressing roomed to check out how they looked in their respective dresses (there was no mirror in the dressing area).

This year's Prom theme: Piñata Power

This year’s Prom theme: Piñata Power

I settled into my preferred mode for fish-out-of-water situations:  I am an anthropologist, here to observe the habits of this strange culture.  As such, I was able to

(1) marvel at some truly and irritatingly beautiful young women [5] being persuaded to try on some truly unflattering styles (really, does anyone look stylin’ in a dress that looks as if it survived an explosion at the meringue factory?);

(2) savor the petty joy of noting that the gorgeous, blonde cheerleader-type trying on the green mermaid dress has grotesquely long, prehensile, downright ugly toes;

(3) admire the bravery of the hefty gal who had the unfortunate timing to emerge from the dressing room alongside a slinky, preening, would-look-ravishing-in-a-laundry-sack, I’m-too-sexy-for-my-school supermodel wannabe.

Competent (if fake) social scientist that I was, I paid special attention to what I considered my initiation into the hitherto secret world of Female Costume Terminology.  Translation:  I lost track of the number of times I heard, from either the Valets or mothers or friends – sometimes, all three – as they commented on the fit of some young woman’s dress:  “She’s going to need boob tape/nipple shields with that one.”

breast

Yet another cogent observation:  Due to, I imagine, the fact that the DSs emerged from the dressing rooms more or less scantily clad, with their undergarments often visible (thus my afore-mentioned thanking of the FSM for the no thong rule), no menfolk were allowed in the back room…except for the two OFFBs (Obviously Flaming Fashion Boys) who worked at the shop.  And, as both Belle and AX remarked, the OFFB really just seemed like two of the girls, what with their evident fashion sense and helpful, supportive commentary (“Oh, honey, she really rocks that dress!”).

Yes and well then.  I survived the experience, and really, truthfully, admired Belle’s choice: a stunning, sophisticated, deep blue dress that should require a minimal amount, if any, of…don’t make me type it.  (Boob tape.)

*   *   *

Gay Croissants and cupcakes, good; Gay wedding cakes, bad

GAY CAKE

My feminist-allergic reaction to the prom dress shopping experience was countered several days later by Belle’s request to help her with some statistical research for an upcoming debate in her People and Politics class, the topic of which will be the efforts of Some People In America to restrict abortion access for Everyone Else in America.  Which brought to my mind related issues currently in the news – related as in, a certain kind of relative, say, the cousin who was dropped on his head….

Here’s where you cut me some slack and envision a more graceful segue.

“It would be an America in which access to birth control
would be controlled by people who never use it.”
- Georgetown U Law student Sandra Fluke, re the (allegedly) celibate Catholic bishops who opposed the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

Yes, I'll be fitting your IUD, ma'am.

Yes, I’ll be fitting your IUD, ma’am.

Imagine America in which community blood drives are organized by Jehovah’s Witnesses, the 1964 Civil Rights Act is revised by the White Citizens Council, the USDA beef inspection monitors are trained by vegans….

Or, consider the recent efforts in several states, in the form of lawsuits and attempted legislation, [6] to allow businesses to discriminate under the guise of exercising religious freedom, whether it be a bakery that cancelled an order for a wedding cake [7] when the owners found out the cake was for a wedding of a lesbian couple, or a pharmacist who refuses to fill a prescription that somehow offends the pharmacist’s notions of sexual/reproductive propriety.

 What these issues have in common is the yapping of the Religious Right, who apparently and almost totally miss the effing point when it comes to the “rights” and responsibilities inherent in the concept of “freedom of religion” (hint: it means you can decide religious stuff for yourself, not for everyone else. And BTW, freedom of religion also includes freedom from religion).

WORD

A tricky business, it is, arguing the “right” of a business to refuse service, to anyone, on any grounds.  It can be made to sound reasonable on the surface.  Of course, it wasn’t that long ago in this country that it was deemed reasonable, even deity-ordained, for business owners to have the right to refuse service to “coloreds,” to make black citizens sit in certain sections of the luncheonette or bus, to designate separate washrooms for “colored” and “white” patrons….

As Rob Boston [8] writes in the current issue of The Humanist, some people question the point in compelling shop owners to serve people they don’t want to serve, but the point is that discrimination, especially on the basis of things people cannot change, is an injustice our society has been working hard to eradicate.

“Legally, businesses are ‘public accommodations,’ which means they must serve the public. If you don’t want to serve all of the public, don’t open a business.”

I remember the brouhaha several years back when a Target pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for a customer’s “Plan-B” script.  I was livid, and boycotted the store for years, [9] even after the store tried to reassure customers that steps would be taken to ensure there would always be one pharmacist on duty who was willing to actually do his or her job (no, this is not how Target’s PR minions phrased it).  However, I seem to recall that the second-largest discount retailer in the U.S. also made some kind of accommodation for pharmacists who had a “moral objection” to filling certain kinds of prescriptions.

A “moral objection” to filling a prescription.  It still boggles my mind.

facepalm

Yo, Target pharmacist:  your job, as a pharmacist, is to dispense orders for patients. These orders are prescribed by patients’ physicians; you have neither the training nor the authority to diagnose, treat, or prescribe (repeat after me: “Not my job.”). Perhaps you have a moral objection to filling medication for someone with Type 2 diabetes, or any of the myriad of diseases and conditions caused or exacerbated by obesity and sedentary habits, because you think such ailments are due to immoderate lifestyles and should be treated with modifications of such. Or, perhaps you do not want to fill a prescription for emergency contraception, because you think the prescription taker’s need for Plan B might have been brought about by carelessness…or, well, even if it was due to rape/abuse/coercion, you frankly don’t care because you just don’t like the thought of anyone having sex, consensual or otherwise, or…

What do you think, when you presume to make such judgments?

Oh, wait, that’s right – there’s nothing in a prescription form that acknowledges the relevance of your thoughts regarding the prescription.

So, pharmacist, you have a moral objection to filling a prescription for ___________?  Tough titties.  None of your beeswax.  Fill the Rx, or find another line of work.

beeswax

May your all of your garments be boob tape-free, may prying noses be kept out of your beeswax, may your bees wax to their hearts’ content, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Yep, even though Belle is 18, she had to bring her mommy.

[2] Belle had leftover money from holiday gifts; MH and I agreed to a minimal financial contribution, and anything above that, she paid for.

[3] The most memorable LNGTTPP was during my junior year, when we snuck into the prom venue’s parking lot and tied tin cans, shoes and “Just Married” banners to the bumpers of select cars…and almost got caught, when several of the car’s (male) drivers – prom attending friends of ours – came out into the parking lot to drink the beers they’d stashed and take a leak behind their car’s rear wheels.

[4] I didn’t catch the official title.

[5] With bodies that make even us middle-agers who have kept ourselves in shape think we are doomed to eat nothing but packing peanut salads for the rest of our lives.

[6] Arizona, go bitch-slap yourself.

[7] The bakery owners admitted they’d filled pastry orders for gay clients, including the lesbian couple, prior to the wedding cake brouhaha.

[8] Boston, a member of the American Humanist Association, is also Director of Communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State

[9] An action that didn’t exactly have Target accountants quaking in their boots, as I shopped at Target only when there was no other alternative.

The Book I’m Not Stealing

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“The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.”
Abbie Hoffman, Steal This Book

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away….

Okay, it was 1971.  American anti-war activist Abbie Hoffman wrote and published Steal This Book.  As intrigued as I was at the time – by the “counter culture” and social activism of the late 60-s – mid 70′s in general, and by Hoffman’s cheeky chutzpah in particular – I declined to pilfer Hoffman’s prose.  Stealing anything was not something I was inclined to do.  I also did not buy his book, because how in good conscience could I lawfully purchase a book that was, essentially if puckishly, advising me not to do so?

Thirty-three years later I find myself wondering:  who, if anyone, bought that book?

STEAL

*   *   *

Spam question of the week: Why is “Nicholas Cage” sending me these emails: Your nasty herpes gone forever – the cure released. 

Nic, it’s over. Thanks for releasing the cure; now, please release yourself from this obsession.  I’ve moved on.

SAD NIC

*   *   *

The evil illness infecting me (mentioned in last week’s thrilling post) has moved on to MH and Belle. I find myself reflecting upon the classic advice to the rhinovirus [1]-afflicted.

afflicted with a rhinovirus

afflicted with a rhinovirus

affectionate with a rhinoceros

affectionate with a rhinoceros

GET PLENTY OF REST AND DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS

Not possible, in my experience.  Rest or fluids; you must pick one to plentify.  If you drink plenty of fluids your plenty of rest will be interrupted by plenty of pee trips.

TPHEAD

*   *   *

The Cerebral Discourse Continues

UPS delivered a sturdy, large, thick, cardboard shipping box from a pet supply company. Printed in bold, black, TAKE ME SERIOUSLY letters on the outside of the shipping box is this instruction/warning:

DO NOT OPEN WITH A SHARP OBJECT.

The box is heavy, massive, and contains cases of canned cat food –nothing even remotely possible of being considered fragile. I don’t think my dullest butter knife is going to do the trick. What non-sharp object do those-who-printed-such-inane-advice think will open the shipping box – a spatula?  A shoehorn? A banana peel?

BOX

*   *   *

Belle leaned against the doorway to my office, respectfully but insistently reminding me that I’d agreed to donate copies of two of my books (my short fiction collection This Here and Now and The Mighty Quinn) to her friend A’s senior project…and…uh…A needs those books, now.  Up in the attic, searching for a box for the books, I remembered I had copies of another book of mine – “mine” in the sense that my writing was in it, even if my name wasn’t on the cover – to donate.

FEMPARENT

Feminist Parenting: Struggles, Triumphs and Comic Interludes (The Crossing Press, 1994) – has it really been twenty years since its publication?  My contribution to the anthology was an essay [2] wherein I juxtaposed the naming of my soon-to-be firstborn, K, with how I chose names for my fictional characters.  I was honored to have my contribution included along with a variety of essays, stories, and poems – selections from literary luminaries like Robin Morgan and Anna Quindlen [3] and literary ordinaries like…well, like me.

The publisher-arranged publicity for the book consisted of readings by the anthology’s contributing writers, held at select locations throughout the country.  There were enough contributors from the Pacific Northwest to do a reading in Oregon, which took place one stormy January evening in Eugene, at the erstwhile vanguard of independent feminist bookstores, Mother Kali’s. [4]

May I recommend some light reading-perhaps a political satire or a wacky historical romance?

May I recommend some light reading-perhaps a political satire or a wacky historical romance?

MH, sitting in the in audience with our son K on his lap, later noted that I was the only one of the speakers F-parenting in what (used to be) the normative child producing/rearing relationship:  I was a woman married to a man with whom I was raising our child.  There were four of the anthology’s contributors present: One lesbian mom, two divorced/single moms, and moiself mom.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

*   *   *

Related to my previous musings re Abbie Hoffman’s book: In my ongoing if intermittent effort to understand and contextualize the zeitgeist [5] of my formative years, for the past few months I assembled and viewed my own film festival, of sorts.

Selections ranged from the absorbing, insightful, thought-provoking 2002 Academy Award-winning feature documentary, The Weather Underground [6] to the pedantic and flat out boring docu-interview-athon, Underground; from historical, archival footage-enhanced documentary (Berkeley in the Sixties); to a fictionalized political thriller (The Company You Keep) and a mildly amusing but ultimately inconsequential “home movie” of the times (F.T.A.) … and a few things in-between, including

* The Times of Harvey Milk
* All the President’s Men
* Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst
* The U.S. vs. John Lennon
* Wounded Knee

 The Weather Underground came from my own collection; the rest were courtesy of Netflix and PBS.  My incisive, four-part review of the festival:

(1) everyone should watch The Weather Underground (I think it should be required viewing for high school civics/government/US History classes)
(2) no one with a pulse should watch Underground [7]
(3) fans of The Grateful Dead and/or Lawrence Welk might enjoy F.T.A.
(4) you think I’m kidding re (3)? Get a load of Lawrence and the gang groovin’ in all their yellow sunshine [8] sartorial splendor:

  

*   *   *

May your pastel polyester pantsuits be bad-trip-free, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Fancy-pants word for the most common viral infective agents that cause, in humans, the common cold.

[2] “What’s in a Name?  Ask My Pal, Barry.”

[3]  I particularly enjoyed Quindlen’s essay, “What About the Boys?”

[4] I know, I know.  The bookstore was named in the 70′s, okay?

[5] A German term, attributed to the philosopher Hegel, for the historical horseshit  intellectual, cultural climate l influencing the popular culture of a particular period in time.

[6] About, wait for it, The Weather Underground.

[7] Save for hopeless insomniacs, who might find it a side-effects-free substitute for Ambien.

[8] A certain type of strong LSD.

The Virus I’m Not Defeating

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I do not do well with fevers. My own, that is (I have no problem with yours). This may be your brain on drugs, but it’s mine when my temperature rises above 100.º

BRAIN

 I woke up Tuesday morning and promptly wished I hadn’t.  Fever, congestion, cough-sneezing and sore throat.  I’d felt something coming on Monday, uttered those famous last words (it’ll go away) to myself, and tried to rest most of the day, in order to fulfill my March 5 World Read Aloud Day commitment.  I was scheduled to read excerpts from The Mighty Quinn to two classrooms: Tuesday eve at 9 p Pacific Time (which translates to 10 am March 5, Pakistan time) to a classroom in Karachi via a Skype call, then on Wednesday to a classroom in Seattle.

I tested my Skype connection, practiced (whispering, to save my increasingly hoarse voice) my excerpts and set my phone alarm for the evening, so I wouldn’t sleep through the call from Pakistan.  I assumed the fact that I looked like something the cat dragged in – and we have four cats, so that’s a lot of dragging – would be attributed to the computer connection.

oh, poor widdle yuppie model, pretending to be sick - dude, never have I looked this good, even at 98.6º and even when...not a dude.

oh, poor widdle yuppie model, pretending to be sick – dude, never have I looked this good, even at 98.6º and even when…not a dude.

The call from Pakistan never came.  My attempts at connection were for naught, as the teacher remained offline.  Then, the next day, when my fever rose, I had to cancel the WRAD session with Seattle, when I realized that being conscious (not to mention vertical) for 30 minutes was not an option.

Wednesday eve I told pathetically whined calmly articulated to MH how in the last couple of days, the most exercise I’d gotten was putting my socks on when I got chilled and then taking them off five minutes later when I was feverish and overheated.  With all due spousal support and sympathy, MH told me I seemed to be taking a Karate Kid approach to my convalescence.  Socks on; socks off….

wax on...wax off....

wax on…wax off….

 *   *   *

While cleaning my office last week I found a CD I’d purchased in December, buried under a stack of scratch papers.  So, this means that, for more than 8 weeks, I have been unmindful of the thereabouts of my “Mindfulness: An eight week plan for finding peace in a frantic world” guided meditation CD.  Does this mean I’m ahead of, or behind, the plan?

DOGOM

Wednesday eve my son sent me a link to a draft of his undergraduate research grant proposal, with the request that I give it a “proof.”  I’d warned him about my fever brain, and said I’d try to get to it…whenever.

Thursday morning my temp dipped to under 100º – yay!  (and then slowly rose as the day went by – boo.).  I took a copy of my son’s paper and my Red Pen of Proof ©   upstairs, figuring I could take a crack at it every fifteen minutes or so, between sleeping through whatever horrendous shows were on the Overheated Brain Pacification Device (TV).  Scratch that – my convalescent viewing was to alternate bouts of consciousness while playing my recently acquired, used-but good condition DVDs of the first season of Once and Again).

But I digress. The research paper. Working title: Investigation of the activities of MalA, a maltase from the predatory bacterium Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus.

Imagine my surprise, to find that sentences such as

GH13 enzymes are known to display a wide variety of hydrolase activities such as α-1,4-glucosidases, as well as isomerase and glucanotransferase activities. GH 13 enzymes specifically act on molecules containing α-glucoside linkages. GH13 enzymes employ the retaining mechanism, meaning that their product’s anomeric carbon will have the same configuration as their substrate’s anomeric carbon

 are somehow less intimidating to me when I have fever-brain. Instead of, WTF? my reaction is, wow, man…this is so true.

Oh, and to my amazing son, K:  Honey badger may not care if it’s your birthday tomorrow, but I do. Happy 21st to my guy!

Oh, and K – your sister has the best present for you, in the making.  Like all true works of art it won’t be done overnight, and I’m hoping she (and you) will let me post a picture of it here, when it’s finished.

*   *   *

 ҉    Let us pause for a moment to consider another one of life’s mysteries     ҉    

Nasty for any reason:  a paper cut.
But worth it:  when said cut is procured while opening a box of Lindt 85% cocoa Extra Dark chocolate.

Can you tell I minored in Philosophy? [1]

PIX:CHOC caption: just what the doctor ordered

 *   *   *

May your all fevers be fleeting, all your thermometers be oral, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] That’s a lie. Further proof of illness: only one footnote?

The History-Changing Act I’m Not Following

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Happy Birthday to my dear, sweet, kind, clever, sensitive, creative, intelligent, hard-working, beautiful, perceptive, kick-ass, Belle.  My daughter turned eighteen yesterday.  Yee haw and Yikes, indeed.

*   *   *

♫ It was twenty years ago today/Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play ♫

BEATLESs

Actually, it was fifty years ago, February 9, when the Beatles made the first of their culture-expanding appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Anyone remember their opening number, without having to cheat (put down that smart phone, right now)? [1]

BEATLESONSULLIVAN

The Beatles’ first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show is one of my two strongest watching-TV-with-my-parents memories.  The other happened a couple months earlier, on a night in late November, 1963.  My older sister NLP and I sat stone-faced on the carpet in front of the TV, watching the coverage of President Kennedy’s assassination.  N and I, respectively in grades three and one, did not fully comprehend the significance of what was on the screen before us.  We only knew that our parents seemed really, really sad.

A mere eleven weeks later our family, along with a record number of the TV-viewing public, was once again mesmerized by what was transpiring on our black and white RCA.

TV

We watched the Ed Sullivan show every Sunday, as did most television owning families in the U.S.  And we watched the show in full.  There were no recording devices; there was no taping the show and forwarding through the aftershave commercials or plate-spinning acts.

PLATESPINNING

If you wanted to see the good stuff (for kids, the rare rock ‘n roll act; for their parents, Steve and Eydie ) you had to sit through Frank Gorshin’s political impressions, opera selections, puppet shows – a hodgepodge of vaudevillian-type acts, all introduced by the eponymous host.

Ed Sullivan, with his bloodhound baggy-eyes, peculiar enunciations [2] and leaden body language, looked like a cross between the Adam’s family’s Lurch and Richard Nixon,

Anyone seem my evil twin?

Y’all seen my evil twin?

Here I am!

Here I am!

and was rumored to be the first survivor of a charisma-ectomy.

"We have a really, really big shoe for you tonight"

“We have a really, really big shoe for you tonight”

The Beatles’ first two songs [3] were mid-tempo numbers featuring somewhat “pretty” vocals, including their cover of a song from The Music Man .[4]  Then they lit into “She Loves You,” and the audience – in Sullivan’s theatre and in our living room– went berserk.

I remember our parents trading remarks of astonishment (“Look at their hair!”) while N and I….  Well, my older sister and I rocked out, without even knowing we were rocking out and that our musical tastes were about to dramatically expand.  The Beatles returned later in the show for a second set: “I Saw Her Standing There[5] and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

If you have the slightest bit of interest in history and/or popular culture, I urge you to beg, borrow or steal somehow latch onto any tapes or DVDs of the Beatle’s appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.  Here’s the important part: watch at least one of the entire shows, not just the Beatles’ performances.  From the other entertainment acts to the commercials, TESS will give you a unique time capsule experience, and an appreciation of how much has changed and how mind-bogglingly, effervescently and energetically different the Beatles were at that time.

Oh, and can you imagine being Fred Kaps, the magician who had to follow the Beatles’ first set?

*   *   *

I had several other items in mind for this blog, but, like Fred Kaps, I’m finding it hard to follow the Beatles with…anything but more Beatles.  So I suggest you push the furniture to the side of the room, do a few stretching exercises if you need to, turn up the volume and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] It was “All My Lovin’ “

[2] Ed’s recurrent boast, that he was putting on a “really big show tonight,” often sounded as if he were promising viewers a “really big shoe.”

[4] A tactic which was setting up the old folks, N and I figured.

[5] One of my favorite Beatles songs– you gotta dig McCartney’s one two three fah! opening count.

The Netherlands I’m Not Grooming

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Dateline: Wednesday, 12:07 pm, text from daughter Belle:

Conversation overheard in the bathroom:
“OMG do we have the same pants?”
“Wow, maybe!  Lemme feel your ass.  Nike yoga pants, shut the f up we do have the same ones!”
*lots of squealing*
“Hi I’m Tiffany, what’s your name?”

REALLY

I’m surprised Tiffany and her new BFF didn’t whip out their phones and take selfies of their, like, totally awesome like-trousered asses…or whatever such vapid creatures do these days.

Yikes, that makes me sound old.

*   *   *

Speaking of things that make me feel old:

2014:  The Year of Californians Wedding Frequently

Two nieces and one nephew from my side of the family are getting married this year.  One in April, two in October, and all three weddings will take place somewhere in SoCal. We’d love for all four of us to be able to go to all three marital hitchings.  K doesn’t know if his midterm schedule will allow for a weekend away in April; K and Belle will be in college, facing midterms, for the October weddings, K in his senior year and Belle in her freshman year…blah blah blah.  Of course, there are complicated logistical/travel and financial considerations for getting all four of us to one wedding, let alone three.  But hey, there are three California weddings.  Yikes and Yee haw!

WEDDING

*   *   *

It seems I have mis-titled the previous section.  It should read,

2014: The Year of Californians Wedding Frequently During the Year of the Horse

Gung Hay Fat Choy, or Happy New Year, to my Chinese-American SIL, “Joey,” and to all who celebrate the lunar new year.

Look out world, it's my year.

Look out world, it’s my year.

My favorite lunar New Year activity, one that might confound my sweet sister-in-law as much as it has embarrassed my offspring, [1] involves roaming the aisles of the Asian supermarket Uwajimaya.  If you’re looking for Japanese linens and dishes and sake serving sets or Chinese teapots and greeting cards, or Hello Kitty men’s boxer shorts [2] ; if your recipe calls for lotus root or bitter melon or tatsoi or other hard-to-find Asian vegetables,  or Cambodian fermented fish paste or 75 varieties of dried black mushrooms or fermented tofu or spot prawns or uni for your sushi bar or fish you didn’t even know swam in our oceans, you can find it at Uwajimaya.

I make several pilgrimages a year to Uwajimaya, but  it’s not the fact that I shop there that causes consternation to my offspring.  Rather, it’s the fact that when I push my cart up and down the aisles I am overcome by the irresistible urge to chant my Uwajimaya mantra: I say the store’s name, over and over, mumbling in my pathetic imitation of a fervent samurai, changing the enunciation with each recitation.

SAMURAIpng

 

U-WA-ji-may-a!

U-wa-ji-MAY-a!

U-wa-JI-may-a!

UUUUU-wa-ji-may-a!

Go ahead.  You know you want to.

Warning:  the recitation is both calming and addictive.  Say it once, say it twice, and one day you may find that the CRAMAWL [3] roaming the aisles is you.

*   *   *

One Thumb Up (but up  in my nostril) for Blue Jasmine

In my yearly quest to see all films that have garnered the “major” Oscar nominations [4] – a quest I have never, ever completed, and will not complete this year, as I loathe the Golden Pumpkin Headed Boy [5] and will not see the much- nominated film in which he stars – I rented Blue Jasmine, which has two nominations for acting (lead and supporting female) and one for Original Screenplay.

OSCAR

Many years ago I was a fan of WA’s films, but his characters’ neurotic New Yorker schmeil shtick, and ever more evident, disturbing and self-serving ethics, began wearing thin long before his real-life  incestuous-bordering-on-pedophilia relationship with his longtime partner’s daughter sealed the ICK deal for moiself.  I’ve mostly boycotted his films since then (1992) ; [6] thus, MH was surprised to see just what it was I’d popped into the DVD player.  I assured MH that Blue Jasmine, like most Woody Allen movies of the past ten years, does not feature Woody Allen acting in it – which is one of the major objections MH has to Woody Allen movies.

Once again, I digress.

May I have the envelope, please? Acting:  Cate Blanchett was indeed terrific in the lead role, a formerly wealthy but naive, clueless, pill-and-booze addled, mentally unstable, down on her luck, hard to like, rather pitiable character.  The supporting role, that of her sister?  Meh.  Original screenplay?  Hardly original, for Mr. Allen – a familiar tale of lower and upper class stereotypes, most of them with heavy New York accents and/or attitudes, all of them whining.  About those accents and attitudes….

What really frosted my butt about the film was that it was ostensibly set in San Francisco (present day scenes, with flashbacks set in New York).  If it weren’t for a couple of outdoor shots of SF’s iconic hilly streets and the Golden Gate Bridge, you’d think you were watching a typical Woody Allen set-in-New-York movie.  I could not suspend disbelief and pretend, not even for a minute, that Blue Jasmine’s characters lived…well, anywhere on the West Coast, but especially in The City.  How could Allen think anyone who had ever spent more than ten minutes in San Francisco would buy that his characters were from, or lived in, San Francisco?  From physical appearance to wardrobe to dialog, the cast embodied Allen’s hackneyed, New York/Brooklyn staple characters. Did Allen lose a bet, or was he trying to disprove the notion that he can only film in New York?  And why would anyone want to film in San Francisco, one of the most scenic and distinctive cities on the planet, without incorporating or depicting the sights and sounds and social and cultural diversity and distinctiveness that is The City By The Bay?

*   *   *

Friday’s Fun Food Fact

Frozen cauliflower, as it thaws on a plate by the sink, will slowly but inexorably  fill your house with the odor of what your house would smell like it if twenty-five Marines, whose rations for the past six months had consisted of nothing but cauliflower and beer, decided to celebrate going on military leave by having a flatula-thon in your kitchen.

SOLDIER FART

Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

*   *   *

I read the news today, oh boy.

All New York Times newspaper days are equal, but some days are more equal than others. And for moiself, some days are easier to ready than others, in that there are the once-a-week sections of the paper I highly anticipate and usually enjoy in their entirety (the Science section on Tuesdays and the Dining section on Wednesdays), or the ones I forthwith relegated to the bottom of the pile (Sports Mondays). Thursday is an “easy” read day, in that there are two sections in the Thursday NY Times that require little of my attention before they are relegated to the recycling bin.  These sections are Home and ThursdayStyles.

The Home section is an ratcheted up version of your typical newspaper home & garden section, and features stories about People Who Are Much More Adventurous (and richer) Than You, Doing Cool Things You Can Only Dream About.  This week’s Home section features an archetypal story about some folks who decide to build a home on a remote Scottish island.

The Lure of the Hebrides,Drawn by the beaches and ethereal light,
a family builds an offbeat [7] island home.

Such stories can be entertaining, in that drive-by accident-gawking kind of way, and so I usually give the Home section a look-see.  ThursdayStyles is almost always a five-second-at-most, flip-through-giggle-then-toss-it exercise for moiself, and the seconds fly by as I wonder aloud how anything involving style and fashion can be considered print-worthy.  I know, I know, it’s a bug bucks portion of certain economies and thus can have a financial excuse for being deemed” news.” New York City may be the fashion hub of the world, but fashion hub of the world is one step up from motorized ear hair clipper hub of the world, in terms of its relevance to my world.

But, don’t ya know it, this week’s flip-through of ThursdayStyles had a gotcha! for me. My curiosity was momentarily piqued, and I had to at least skim whatever story could follow a headline like this.

Below the Bikini Line, a Growing Trend.
“Women are increasingly going with the natural look
when it comes to their nether regions.

Peter Pan, Wendy?  Looks like we’re not in Neverland anymore.

SKIRT

Welcome to Nether-land, with miniature headshots of four Celebri-ons [8] who “…have all expressed a preference for a fuller look in their most private areas.”

Silly me, for thinking the phrases “expressed a preference” and “private areas” would be mutually exclusive.

Yo, Famous Ladies whose names rhyme with Mady Tata, Grinneth Malcrow and Shameron Peeass:  are y’all so feminist consciousness-retarded that you think your nether regions needs to be “groomed,” or needs a “look” other than what is naturally there?  I know it’s been said that no publicity is bad publicity, but are y’all really so whorisly PR-desperate that you think the world welcomes knowing how you groom your lady bits?

No, please – don’t answer that.

On second thought, enquiring minds – or at least those belonging to Tiffany and her new bathroom yoga pants buddy – want to know.

*   *   *

No fashion for you, Gilda.

No fashion for you, Gilda.

I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch. (Gilda Radner)

May you be fashionably late, may you feel free to scratch where it itches, and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Well, Belle has sometimes seem embarrassed, but K…I suspect he is amused, perhaps even proud.  I’ll make an aisle-mutterer of him yet.

[2] And who isn’t, these days?

[3] Crazy-ass middle-aged white lady.

[4] Screenplay, acting, directing, best picture.

[5] Stage name Leonardo DiCaprio.

[6] Worthy of a post, but not today, are the ruminations re separating the artistic worth of a work from the moral achievements or shortcomings of the artist.

[7] Offbeat = $$$$.

[8] The mutant offspring of celebrities and morons…would that be a creature of redundancy?

The Christians I’m Not Mingling

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Yet another reason Roger Ebert died too soon

He never got the chance to give a thumbs up or down to Sharknado .

SHARK

I am, in truth, recommending that you watch the movie.  Yes, all of you.  And, yes, there must have been something in the eggnog over the holidays.

*   *   *

Thursday morning I awoke to this emergency e-plea from my intrepid if reptilian- podiatrically afflicted friend, SCM:

Are you interested in a semi-spontaneous lunch/pedicure outing tomorrow? My feet are crocodilian and something must be done.

I tried to reassure my friend that, as an appreciator of science, she must realize her crocodilian tootsies are worthy of photographic submission to Scientific American (that, or Ripley’s Believe It or Not), and not a scourge to be alleviated.

Her email caught me in the midst of my semi-annual submissions cleanup [1], a task slightly less pleasurable than trimming my nose hairs with a weed whacker.  You’ll never guess what ensued.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And SCM’s feet?  Not the least bit crocodilian-looking before the pedicure (IMHO) and certainly not afterwards.  Even if she did opt for the BOLB [2] polish.

*   *   *

To celebrate my toes in all their purpleness I made a chickpea, roasted carrot, preserved lemon and chard stew for dinner that evening.  While at the market rounding up the ingredients I chanced upon a biodynamic wine from California, whatever that is [3].  Some marketing doofus genius had decided to call the wine GroundSwell, which, of course, my mind immediately translated as GroundSwill…and so I had to get a bottle, just to see if it resembled swill of any kind.  For $5.99, how swillish could it be?

OHNO

Department of Really?

While reading an article on slate.com, my attention was diverted [4] by a sidebar headline:

Why is no one enraged about the New York Times redesign? 

I copied the link for this post but had no interest in reading about the tragedy of the redesign. Moiself, the idea of being “enraged” about a change in a newspapers’ web design is annoying, petty, butt-crack-pickin’ stupefying – it is all these things, and more.  However, I am not enraged about the perspective-free trivialization of an adjective that should be reserved for situations and actions that are truly infuriating.

The Darfur genocide; global indifference to global warming, Islamic morality police flogging girls who dare to go to school; Texas politicians forcing a dead woman to be an incubator against her family’s wishes – get your rage on, y’all!  Having an aesthetic snit-fit over changes in a web site?  Get your something-else-to-think-about hat on.

They changed the home page menu drop shadow?  Nyoooooooo!

They changed the home page menu drop shadow? Abomination!

*   *   *

We Interrupt Today’s Blog Post To Bring You One of My Favorite Basketball Quotes [5]

“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect.
I wish they’d make up their minds.” 
Wilt Chamberlain

*   *   *

Dateline: recent past, out with family, having dinner at a local sports grill.  We were [6]surrounded by wall-mounted big screen TVs tuned into various basketball games.  On the screen nearest our table the play of a group of hyperthyroid-afflicted individuals lobbing a spherical object through a toroidal object [7] was interrupted by a commercial for a Christianmingle.com.

Belle, eyes a-twinkle, diverted her brother’s attention to the screen: “Hey, K, that’s the service for you!”

Indeed, someone seemed to think so, K replied, as his spam filter had recently been inundated with Christian hookup/booty call for Christ dating service ads. I said something about how I found that odd: considering the plethora of spam I’d been receiving, with a noticeable increase over the holidays, you think I’d get at least one religious match-making come on.  Nope and nada.

Later that evening I checked my own spam filter.  And there arose a great wail and gnashing of teeth as I discovered not one but four messages from Christianmingle.com .

Khhhhhhaaaaaan!

Khhhhhhaaaaaan!

I accused My Dear Son © of somehow steering Jehovah’s Yentas ® my way.  Not only did K deny having anything to do with it, he suggested my own reputation might be to blame.

“Well, Mom, I guess they figured you’re the kind of person who likes to “Do unto others…”

Ahem.

And may y’all ensue unto the hijinks what the hijinks ensue unto you.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] As in cataloging and opening and closing of manuscript submissions to editors, agents and publishers…and shame on you and the S & M horse you rode in on for thinking otherwise.

[2] Boring Old Lady Beige.

[3] The biodynamic part, I mean.  I know what wine is and I know what California is.

[4] Hey! Those things work!

[5] Didn’t know I had favorite basketball quotes, did you?  I am a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma…and surrounded by cat hair.

[6] The CDC has determined that reading footnotes is as effective as homeopathic remedies when it comes to preventing the transmission of influenza viruses.

[7] Thank you, author John Green, for his contribution to the ultimate distillation of the game of basketball.

The Catastrophe I’m Not Having

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The Fallout From Ten Years of Watching Grey’s Anatomy:

After escorting a friend to a PT appointment I boarded the hospital elevator, as did a Handsome Young Doctor ® .  One man, one woman, in one hospital elevator….?  For a moment, even as I noticed the really, really serious expression on HYD’s face – a look that made me realize he probably would not get the joke/reference – I considered flashing him a perky smile and saying, “So, aren’t we supposed to be having sex?”

*   *   *

Still more reasons to go on living…and quit writing? 

The first time I ever heard the word “content” used in its current context, I understood that all my artist friends and I — henceforth, “content providers” — were essentially extinct.  This contemptuous coinage is predicated on the assumption that it’s the delivery system that matters, relegating what used to be called “art” — writing, music, film, photography, illustration — to the status of filler, stuff to stick between banner ads.” 

“I’ve been trying to understand the mentality that leads people who wouldn’t ask a stranger to give them a keychain or a Twizzler to ask me to write them a thousand words for nothing.”
(Tim Kreider, “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!” NY Times op-ed)

 Like Kreider and many other writers, I’ve had “opportunities” presented to me, from media and other publishing outlets, wherein I could write articles, guest blog posts, even a regular op-ed/feature column.  Opportunities to work, without pay.  Sometimes these offers were presented via fellow writers, who should know better…and perhaps do… and perhaps inwardly cringed when they offered their bosses’ party line, which was, essentially, that being published in ____ (The Oregonian, The NY Times Review of Books, The Furrowed Eyebrow Literary Review) is an honor, and that such “exposure” is equivalent to compensation.

Such offers almost always begin with the Those Offering the Guest-Permanent Writing Gig telling you, the writer, how much they admire your work.  Although not enough, evidently, to pay one red cent for it.

FACEP

Like Kreider, I can’t help but marvel at the fact that people who would never ask their barber to give them a haircut for free or expect their market to provide them with a bag of groceries at no cost (“I’ll tell everyone these organic brown eggs are from New Seasons – it’ll be great exposure for your store!”) will, with a straight face and a clear conscience, ask authors and artists to write an essay/illustrate a brochure for them, for nothing.

(In his essay Krieder briefly and drolly compares his situation to that of his sister, a pulmonologist:  “as far as I know nobody ever asks her to perform a quick lobectomy — doesn’t have to be anything fancy, maybe just in her spare time, whatever she can do would be great — because it’ll help get her name out there.”)

And then there is Patricia J. Williams’ so-good-it’s depressing article, “Writing as Women’s Work” (The Nation).  Williams uses the case of zoologist and Scientific American blogger Dr. Danielle Lee, a busy scientist who politely declined an offer to do a guest blog gig for no remuneration, [1] to illuminate the situation of those of us who labor in disciplines that have been deprofessionalized and undervalued in the digital economy.  Although I shouldn’t be surprised by the phenomenon, until reading William’s article I didn’t know that writing is also falling victim to outsourcing (“…companies like Journatic, which supplies supposedly ‘local’ news coverage, have outsourced stories to nonlocal freelancers across the U.S., as well as in the Philippines, where writers are given ‘American-sounding bylines’ and asked to commit to 250 pieces/week minimum at 35 to 40 cents a piece.”).

In the year since I’ve started this blog I’ve no doubt  bellyached mentioned several times the fact that every week (and some weeks, every day), I consider the business end of writing fiction [2] and ask myself why I do what I do. And I come across these two wonderfully written – and likely poorly paid for [3]–  articles, and I feel…I don’t know how to describe how I feel.  Like the lyrics of that immortal C & W song: I don’t know whether to kill myself or go bowling.

The business end of writing

The business end of writing

********************

Public Service Announcement #1
And now, we pause for a moment to piss off the faithful
before returning to our regular programming.

Theology in a nutshell [4]

THEOLOGY

Public Service Announcement #2, aka
Law and Order, WPD [5]

 

A small but fervent request:  let’s all do our part to halt the creeping catastrophization of our language.  You can be upset about something, you can have your feelings genuinely and even painfully hurt, without being “destroyed” or “devastated.”

Definition of DEVASTATE

1 :  to bring to ruin or desolation by violent action
2:  to reduce to chaos, disorder, or helplessness

(The flood devastated the town; The disease has devastated the area’s oak tree population; The hurricane left the island completely devastated.)

You didn’t get the promotion, you flunked the [6] admissions test, you were snubbed by the in-crowd at the school or office cafeteria, maybe you even received an alarming medical diagnosis.  But were/are you devastated, or destroyed:

1.  Ruined completely; spoiled.
2.  Torn down or broken up; demolished.
3.  Done away with; ended.
4.  Killed.
5.  Subdued or defeated completely; crushed.
6.  Rendered useless or ineffective.

If I make an upsetting or dismissive remark to you, I may be acting rude, but you have not been bullied.  Your child’s exclusion from the neighborhood kid’s birthday party is hurtful, and the memory of being left out may affect him/her for some time, [7] and you, as a parent, were disappointed on behalf of your child, and maybe more than a little pissed off.  But really, was your child – were you – demolished or destroyed?

WOW

Stop the hyperbole, and reserve such catastrophic classifications for situations (The Rwandan Genocide, The Space Shuttle disasters, the LA Dodgers trading Pedro Martinez for Delino Shields)  that can truly and accurately be described in no other way.

*   *   *

I hope these PSAs have not annihilated your sense of your place in the cosmos, and that your hijinks will still ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] And was subsequently smeared by the blog editor (“Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?”)

[2] And increasingly, nonfiction, as these cited articles illustrate.

[3] Kreider contributes to some of the most prestigious online publications in the English-speaking world, for which he is paid “the same amount as, if not less than, I was paid by my local alternative weekly when I sold my first piece of writing for print in 1989.”

[4] A fitting container.

[5] Word Police Division.

[6] No reason for this footnote. Move along folks, nothing here to see.

[7] Including, eventually/hopefully, in a positive way, as a catalyst to develop empathy for the socially excluded.

The Ring I’m Not Wearing

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When in doubt, blame the weather

This article in The Oregonian blamed last weekend’s amazing weather for the fact that Portland’s annual Wordstock literary festival was “as quiet as a library.” Several attending authors were mumbling similar sentiments: who wouldn’t rather be outside in such a gorgeous weekend, likely the last such weekend of the year?

From my vantage point at the Oregon chapter of the SCBWI table, I wouldn’t have suspected the downturn in attendance had I not heard others commenting about it.  It was my first Wordstock; I was pleased that this year it had been scheduled on a weekend when I was not out of town/laden with previous engagements.  Sure, “traffic” seemed a little slow, but my tablemates and I performed our volunteer duties – touting the benefits of SCBWI membership to inquiring writers and illustrators – while, of course, looking for opportunities to show our own works.  I sold a whopping one copy of The Mighty Quinn (which I considered to be gravy, as the primary mission of those volunteering at the SCBWI table was to promote SCBWI)…and at least I didn’t end up with a negative inventory. [1] Also, I enjoyed meeting and chatting with other SCBWI members, including illustrator Carolyn Conahan (whose works include the delightfully illustrated and titled Bubble Homes and Fish Farts). Carolyn and I shared a Saturday afternoon shift and, it turned out, a mutual loathing of the terms platform and industry.

FISHFARTS

*   *   *

I never wore an engagement ring, for a variety of reasons, including this one.  I just didn’t get the point of it – excuse the senior moment.  Yeah, right.  Make that, I damn well got the point of it, and what I got about it made me ill.

Would you wear an engagement ring? I asked MH, a long long time ago in a dating world far, far away, when we were discussing Our Future ®.  If a woman and a man are both engaged to be married, what’s the point – other than that point which is analogous to dog pissing around a certain spot to mark its territory [2] – for the woman and not the man to wear such a signifier?

engagementring

MH, knowing me well, [3] didn’t bother with The Ring when he proposed marriage. We later chose simple gold wedding bands with a double weave design (and had the date of our wedding engraved on the inside of the band, for those pesky moments when you need a memory prompt.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As of this writing, neither MH nor I are wearing our wedding rings. A couple of weeks ago MH said he wanted to tell me, in case I’d noticed and had wondered [4] his ring was “missing,” that he’d been experiencing painful arthritis-like symptoms in his finger joints and had removed the ring in order to massage the joint. He feared he would be unable to remove the ring later if his joints continued to swell.

The next day I took off my wedding ring.  Since then, I’ve discovered (after looking and asking) that quite a few married couples do not wear wedding rings, usually for medical or similar reasons. [5] My motivation for ring-doffing was similar to my not-wanting-an-engagement-ring reason.  There was no spite or snit fit involved; just pure and practical (to me) relationship logic: I’m not going to wear my ring if MH isn’t wearing his.

I notice my ring’s absence several times a day, when instinctively performing what has become my après-hand washing ritual for the past twenty-five years (twisting the ring and blowing on my ring finger to dry underneath the ring).  I’m aware that it’s not there, but I don’t exactly miss wearing it. I was never a ring-bling person, and other than the two months in high school when I wore the class ring my parents insisted I purchase, [6] I’d never worn a ring prior to getting married (not counting the groovy Man From U.N.C.L.E. spy ring I got in a box of Cracker Jacks).

man_from_uncle

If you want us to wear wedding rings, I said to MH, perhaps we could have new ones designed, with some kind of custom feature (a latch of sorts, that would not pinch the skin) to make removal easy and allow for future, uh, joint expansion.  Belle seems rather pleased with the solution she proposed for our ring dilemma: finally, a legitimate excuse reason to urge her parents to get “tatted.”

RING TATS

*   *   *

Happy Trails to you, Aunt Bug.

Vesta Lucile Parnell Parker died on Sunday, the day after her 85th birthday.  My Aunt Lucile never went by her first name.  She was nicknamed “Bug” in childhood, and was always “Aunt Bug” (pronounced in her Tennessean lilt as Aint Bug) to her nieces and nephews.  Lucile was the youngest of the my father’s five siblings, and although you’re not supposed to play favorites when it comes to family, it was obvious to me that Bug was Chet’s favorite.  She married at 18, had five children, and remained in her home state of Tennessee.  Her brother (later my father) Chet, made his life in California after his gig in the army during WWII.

Aunt Bug was a musician, favoring country/gospel/bluegrass tunes (and even composed a few).  She played guitar and mandolin and a host of other instruments, and I love the fact that her obituary mentions the name of the bluegrass group she and other local musicians formed and played in for years, The Lizard Lick Old Timey String Band.

A college friend and I stayed with Lucile in Tennessee during the return loop of our post-graduation, cross-country road trip. One evening, after fixing us a tasty if a-bit-too-monochromatic-for-me [7] supper, Bug played guitar while she told a story, about how she’d recently had a lovely time with “a local feller who lives up the road a piece,” who’d heard she did some pickin’ and had stopped by to play guitar with her.  “Carl is the sweetest man, and he sure can carry a tune…”  Upon further elicitation of details, it became evident that she was referring to Carl Perkins !!!!  Down-to-earth Lucile couldn’t figure out why my friend and I were so drop-jaw impressed;, why, Carl was just another country boy, and really, a sight more respectable than that one-time buddy of his, Elvis, “…who was into the drugs and the women but some folks ’round here talk about that Elvis Presley like he was the second coming of Jesus just because he loved his momma….”

Geography (and budgets) being what they were, Lucile’s visits with our family and ours with hers were few but memorable. When visiting Santa Ana she always gave in to the demands of her nieces to get out our dad’s Martin guitar and entertain us with her rendition of the just-naughty-enough-for-primetime song, “That Old Rooster.”

Chet Parnell’s children knew Aunt Bug as friendly and amusing, quick with a smile and a hug and a joke, although we later discovered she struggled with bouts of staggering depression from the accumulation of tragedies that befell her family. [8]

My favorite memory of Aunt Bug comes from one of her visits to California, one night when we were all gathered in the living room and she startled us with a spontaneous demonstration of what she described as an endangered vocal skill. The woman could yodel!  Prior to that I had no idea that our cat could rise up on her back legs and hop about in abject terror.

Aunt Bug’s version (both lyrics and melody) was better, but this is an approximation of what she always called the “That Old Rooster” song:

Lucile was the last of the elder Parnell siblings to pass.  My father’s generation is no more; my mother’s three sisters are gone, and she, a frail 85 years old, is the last of hers.  I’ve no grandparents and now no aunts or uncles left.  It’s a poignant observation, not a lament. I’m not sure if my siblings and I are ready to assume the Oldest Generation mantle, but such is life.  It isn’t as if you are asked if you are ready, or have to qualify in any way for the title (other than by not dying young).

I do, however, possess the secret to eternal youth: cultivate an appreciation for immature humor and juvenile pranks life-affirming exuberance, and keep a ready supply of  _____ ____ on hand.  (hint:  rhymes with  oopie pushins)

And, of course, always let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] In two past book fair/author events, I had people walk away with (as in, steal) copies of my first book – which were clearly marked for sale, not for free, when I was distracted.

[2] I’m a hardcore romantic, what can I say?

[3] And yet still wanting to marry me, imagine that.

[4]  I hadn’t noticed, and therfore hadn’t wondered.

[5] Typically weight gain, or joint swelling during pregnancy or as a side effect of medications, etc.

[6] They didn’t want me to miss having that classic high school insignia…which I lost while bodysurfing at Newport Beach.

[7] In true southern style, everything –I mean EVERYTHING, including beautiful, fresh from the garden, ruby red beefsteak tomatoes – ended up yellow (i.e., breaded and fried).

[8] Three of Lucile’s  five children – all of her boys – died young and tragically: two in separate, freak accidents when they were preteens, and her oldest boy, Kirt, committed suicide in his early 20′s. Lucile’s husband, our “Uncle Junior,” took up flying not long after Kirt’s death.  “When he’s up in the air he can just be above all of his worldly cares,” was how Aunt Bug explained the comfort her beloved husband Junior found in piloting his Cessna.  Junior died ~ 20 years ago, when he crashed his plane into a culvert after being unable to pull out of a stall maneuver.

The Anonymous Note I’m Not Writing

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I don’t do this — two posts on the same day.  But, you know, global warming and all….

*   *   *

You’ve seen the posts, you’ve followed the links, to a story about where some No Goodnik gets a good scolding.  I followed one such link today on Facebook, thinking I was in for a surefire, feel-good moment (what the heck; my tea needed more steeping).

Instead, my gasted was flabbered. Or however that works.[1]

The post I refer to is being cited on FB and other social media sites as an example of a heroic or “gotcha” response to a cowardly anonymous note.  It is by Suzanne Perryman, identified as a blogger at SpecialNeedsMom.com. Read it before reading further:  To The Author of the Anonymous Note Left on My Car Window  .

To The Author
of the Over the Top Response
to an Anonymous Note Left on Her Car Window:

I sense years of slights and misunderstandings, bitterness and resentment, erupting in your retort to the anonymous Note Writer.  And, although you and I have never met, I know all about you – I know why you do and say the things you do.  Because I am a mother. Because I am…

Oh, no, wait.  I’m not going to second guess your motivations.  That in turn would be condescending, judgmental, patronizing – that would be just what you gave back tenfold to the Anonymous Note Writer.

Anonymous  Note Writer was mistaken.  Although you, in fact, are not disabled (ANW was correct in that observation [2]), your two special needs children were with you, and perhaps ANW did not see them, nor notice your handicapped placard.

It happens.  ANW was in the wrong. Shame on them, right back at them. Crumple the note and recycle it.

Instead, you compose a seven paragraph screed “inspired” by an eight word note.

Really.  Re-read what you wrote, to a person you’ve never met:
“I think I recognize you… I do. Before becoming a Mom, I used to live in your world of black and white, with everything in order, in its place. I had a plan, a schedule, a list of finished projects to check off, checklist and all. How wonderful for you that your life is so structured, so dependable and predictable that you cling to that line dividing right and wrong, black and white, and that you feel compelled to comment when you think someone is coloring outside the lines….

“I recognize where you are from. I used to live there, too. I used to have checked-off lists, awards touting my accomplishments, perfect hair, great skin, sparkly eyes, a quick wit, a clean car, a social life, a large social network, an organized calendar, vacation plans set in stone and no overdue library books. But then I became a mom. And unexpectedly, a mom of a special needs child.”

Sorry about your hair and skin (hint: diminished perkiness of bodily accessories happens to us all. It’s a byproduct of aging, and Life with a capital L).  But, the patronizing:  “Before becoming a Mom….  And then I became a mom.”  A stand alone sentence; a justification for it all?

???????

And the heavens opened and there was a cry from Valhalla, “This woman has given birth!”
And Odin bestowed upon her the gift of self-righteous vengeance and inerrant motivational discernment….”

Two special needs children.  No doubt about it, you have a tough row to hoe.  Yet and still, your being a mother, of any kind of child with any kind of need, does not give you clairvoyant powers, nor a special window into the life circumstances and motivations of other people.

“I think I recognize you… I do (emphasis mine).  I recognize where you are from.”

No, you don’t. You recognize little but your own sense of indignation.

You  know  Not. One. Thing. about the person who left you that note, except that s/he thought you were taking a handicapped space to which you were not entitled.

That’s it.

You do not know that Note Writer’s life is “…so structured, so dependable and predictable that you cling to that line dividing right and wrong, black and white….”.

You do not know Note Writer’s health or parenting status, or life circumstances.  You do not know that Note Writer might be handicapped, or have a handicapped child or parent, and thus had a personal, visceral reaction to seeing what they mistakenly thought was a scofflaw in action.  You do not know that NW may have had a flashback, to the time when they had to assist their shaky, walker-pushing, oxygen-tank using elderly father in navigating across a pothole-ridden parking lot because the one handicapped parking spot by the pharmacy was occupied by a non-disabled person who “just wanted to leave the kids in the car and dash in and pick up a refill.”[3] [4]

Anonymous Note Writer was mistaken. You had the chance to play your Righteous Indignation card.  Bully for you – in every sense of the word.

*   *   *

Full disclosure: I have left an anonymous note on a car windshield.  I wrote it to a Porsche-driving dickhead who parked his pathetic penis substitute in a way that took up four (!) parking spaces in a crowded lot.  The note consisted of a brief yet colorful critique of his consideration-challenged parking strategy.

Correction – it wasn’t exactly an anonymous note.  I signed it: “From all of Humanity.”

 

Ah, but it’s still Friday.  Let the hijinks continue to ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Flabbergast: to overwhelm with shock, surprise, or wonder. (Webster’s)

[2] But could have been mistaken, as many disabilities do not “present themselves” with obvious or outward physical manifestations.

[3] I witnessed such a scenario at Hillsboro’s (now defunct) Hi School Pharmacy parking lot.

[4] Or to the time when they witnessed an able-bodied person use their disabled mother’s placard to get a better parking space, even when that person was not running errands with wheelchair-bound mom in the car.  I have seen people do this, and have heard people admit – sometimes gleefully, and sometimes guiltily – to doing this.

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