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The Headwind I’m Not Appreciating

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Department Of Future Aspirations

Yoga teacher giving instructions on how to perform Supported Bridge Pose:

* Place a yoga block by your side and lie supine on your mat, arms at your side.

*Bend your knees; rest your feet flat on the floor, hips width apart, toes and heels in a line, heels as close to your sit bones as possible.

* Exhale, press your feet into the floor. Inhale and gently lift your hips off your mat, just enough to slide the block underneath you.

* Position the block low against the back of the pelvis, so that your sacrum is supported on the block and your fleshy buttocks are just off the edge of the block….

In my next life I want to be a yoga teacher, if only to have a legitimate, professional reason to use phrases like,  fleshy buttocks.

*   *   *

Department Of Simple Pleasures That Have Me Humming Like An Idiot
For The Rest Of The Day

Last Friday, a few hours after last week’s blog was posted live, I was driving to yoga class, listening to The Local Radio Station With The Eclectic Playlist I’ve Mentioned Before ® (in the 2-24 post). I had to take time for a driveway moment  [1] when I got to my destination (or perhaps in that case, a parking lot moment?).

Whatever the name of the pause, I had to take it. Because, apropos of nothing, the station had begun playing the theme song to the cartoon series, Underdog.

Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve even thought of that show, or heard the theme song? [2]

 

 

 

underdog

♫… speed of lightning, roar of thunder/  fighting all who rob or plunder….♫

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Privilege Schmivelige – Appreciate The Reality Of Your Tailwinds

 

No, this is not an elaborate set up for a fart joke.

 

 

astonishedspock

I find your assurance quite unnecessary, given the fact that all known sentient species appreciate  fart jokes.

 

 

Ahem. I instead refer to the Freakonomics podcast I recently listened to (the March 15 episode). The episode has the provocative if whiny title , Why Is My life So Hard? . This podcast has, IMHO, performed a public service by giving us another metaphor with which to understand the much-debated concept of privilege.

It seems that some white men feel put upon when it comes to any discussion of the white male privilege thing. Or perhaps I should say, some “men who believe that they are white,” as author Ta-Nehisi Coates puts it, in his wonderful book, Between the World and Me.  Coates reminds us that DNA and genetic analysis show there is no such biological reality as ‘race;” rather, the invention of race (and thus, racism) come from the human need to construct a social hierarchy.

Once again, I digress.

It seems that many….

 

 

confusedspock

For example, the Tellarites consider flatulence humor a necessary overture to the establishment of successful diplomatic relations, as I discovered when the Tellarite ambassador mistook my greeting as an invitation to pull upon my outstretched digits in expectation that he would subsequently hear the sound of emissions of a gaseous nature passing through an unobserved part of my anatomy….

 

Yeah. 

I’ll start again.

It seems to moiself that there are white men who feel put upon by any mention of white male privilege. It also seems that most of the men I know personally – compassionate, empathetic and intelligent dudes that they are – do not feel that way.  [3]  For those who do, perhaps it might help to try to understand the reality of social privilege through the metaphor of headwinds and tailwinds.

The stated purpose of the particular podcast to which I refer was to try to understand why it’s so easy for many people to “…feel put upon, to feel resentful, to feel that life has made things harder for them than it has for other people.” The podcast features two psychologists, who study how people make judgments and decisions in their everyday and professional lives, discussing their recently published paper, The headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry: An availability bias in assessments of barriers and blessings.

 

 

 

angry spock

You needlessly complicate matters! Had you heeded my original admonition, you could be entertaining your patient yet bored readers with the “Lethal Atmosphere” video by now.

 

 

 

Thank you for your suggestion, Commander. I’ll keep that in mind.

AS I WAS SAYING….

Both competitive and recreational runners and cyclists know that when you have a headwind, it’s not very pleasant. You’re aware of it the whole time; it impedes your progress and you can’t wait until the course/road changes so that you can get the wind at your back. When you reach that 180 turn and have the wind “on your side,” you are relieved and exhilarated…but only for a little bit.

You remain conscious of a headwind the entire time you’re fighting against it, but you quickly stop appreciating the boost a tailwind gives you – you take it for granted, even to the point of forgetting that it exists.

“…you’re grateful for about a minute. And very quickly, you no longer notice the wind at your back that’s helping push you along. And what’s true when it comes to running or cycling is true of life generally.
We have to pay attention to the barriers in front of us because we have to get over them, or get through them in some way. We have to overcome them. We don’t have to pay attention to those things that are boosting us along. We can just be boosted along. And that fundamental asymmetry in attention is the headwinds/tailwind asymmetry.”
 (Tom Gilovich, Cornell University Professor of Psychology,
known for his research in heuristics and cognitive biases)

In our society, white males – even those born into poverty, as was my father – have had a tailwind for hundreds if not thousands of years. As marginalized groups begin to make gains in access and power, WMs may begin to believe that their advantages – which they probably don’t even think of as advantages, but merely as their “lot” in life or their circumstances – are diminishing. That belief is not entirely incorrect; their advantage is diminishing…just a smidge.  But it’s still there; it’s still an edge they have, over someone not born into their social potential and advantages.  [4]

“…What we’ve shown in the lab is directly applicable to some of the discussions going on in the country right now. There’s this term that “there’s a war on white males these days,” white Christian men, and channeled through the headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry, you could see why that group would think that. That is to say, the influence they’ve had has decreased, and of course that’s the focus of their attention. That decrease. At the same time, if you look at it from the outside, what you see is an enormous advantage that had existed for hundreds of years being reduced just a little bit. And from an outside perspective, it doesn’t look like at all like a war, it looks like just a little bit of rebalancing and we even need to rebalance some more.
(Tom Gilovich, from the Freakonomics interview, my emphases)

 

 

Here. Are you happy now, Spock?

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you appreciate the wind when it is at your back;
May you appreciate the headwinds with which others have to contend;
May you always root for the underdog;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] You are likely familiar with the concept if not the term: a driveway moment is when you just can’t leave your car after returning home, but turn off the engine and stay for a few minutes with the radio on, because you’re captivated by a story – say, something on NPR, or perhaps a Serial podcast – you’ve been listening to.

[2] And the masses respond, their voices raised in unison, Do you know how long it’s been since we’ve cared?

[3] Or at least they do not admit to feeling that way.

[4] Even my father, 4th of 6 children born to a pair of marginally educated, impoverished tenant farmers, had an advantage and potential:  over his sisters and other females, by being male, and over the other tenant farmer families, who were the descendants of African slaves. My father’s father was illiterate, to the point that his wife, who had all of a 5th grade education, had to read his farm contracts to him and then he would sign them with the proverbial X. Yet was made foreman over the other (black) tenant farmers, most of whom could read and write, because, as my father once told me, “You would have had a riot back then if you put a black man in charge of a white man.”

The Umbrella I’m Not Raising

1 Comment

 

 

Department Of Welcome To The Kakistocracy

Thanks to observant friend SCM, I was alerted to Monday’s regrettably appropriate word of the day (via the wordsmith folk):

kakistocracy

PRONUNCIATION: (kak-i-STOK-ruh-see, kah-ki-)

MEANING: noun: Government by the least qualified or worst persons.

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek kakistos (worst), superlative of kakos (bad) + -cracy (rule). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kakka-/kaka- (to defecate), which also gave us poppycock, cacophony, cacology, and cacography. Earliest documented use: 1829.

USAGE: “We must weigh our votes carefully. Else we are in danger of turning America’s time-tested democracy into a kakistocracy.”
Dan Warner; The Best Man for the Job Is Not as Easy as it Sounds; The News Press (Fort Myers, Florida); Jan 17, 2016.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’m No Bridge Expert…

…in fact, I’ve never played the game, not once. But I may take it up, because I’m pretty sure it includes moments when you get to yell, “NO TRUMP!”

 

 

camel

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Department Of Okay, So My Rising Above Needs Fine Tuning

I’ve read some amazing and touching exchanges friends have had with their children, about the election. These children are old enough to have heard the odious comments coming from trumpsters and young enough to be confused about how “the man who always yells mad” and “the bad bad guy” won.

One young mother I am privileged to know, who consistently – i.e., not just during election or other trying times –  models positive messages to her two sons, related the following dialog with the “elder” (~ age 3) boy, when he asked her why people voted for someone who “is not kind.”

Wise Loving Mother: “There are a lot of reasons, and I don’t really know all of them. I’m pretty confused too, and I’m a little bit scared and sad. I want you to know it’s okay to feel that way.”

Loving And Confused Son: “Okay.”

WLM: “I also want you to know that you might see a lot of people feeling scared and sad today, and it is your job today and every day to be kind, to be a helper, and to love people just the way they are.”

LACS: “Yeah mom I am a kind helper.”

WLM: “If you see somebody who looks or acts different than you, who has a different color skin, speaks a different language, and they are feeling scared, or somebody is hurting their feelings or bodies, what do you think you can do to help?”

LACS: “I can give them a hug, I can ask them what’s wrong. I can say STOP IT to a bad guy.”

WLM: “That’s right. That is so important for you to do. And know that me and Dad and all the people who love you will do the same thing, and that we will always help you and do what we can to keep you safe.”

LACS: “K mom. Because I love you and you love me.”

WLM: “That’s right. And we love the people around us.”

LACS: “Yeah, yep. We do that.”

 

 

rainbowsloth

 

 

 

I feel like hugging a rainbow baby sloth after reading that, and I hope you do, too.

That’s the kind of Wise And Responsible Counsel In The Face Of Adversity ® (most) parents strive for. It’s also the kind of advice that is more difficult to give, IMHO, the older your children get. Once your kids reach A Certain Age ©, you can’t sugarcoat reality with well-meaning messages about confused fearful people who do things from misplaced fear and anger. They can figure out for themselves the need to raise the shitstorm umbrella. Or, as we do in Oregon, don the shitstorm hat . [1]

 

rainhat

This.

umbrella

And not this.

 

Yet again, I digress.

My offspring are young adults of A Certain Age. Son K graduated college and lives and works not far from us; daughter Belle is a college junior. Both hold passionate and compassionate convictions; both are pro-science advocates, pro civil and feminist and LGBTQ rights, and enthusiastic supporters of Senator Sanders; both subsequently Did The Right Thing ® and voted for Clinton…. Thus, both are understandably distraught about and disgusted with last week’s election results.

MH and I try to offer them words of perspective and comfort, even as we deal with our own disappointments and fears. My efforts – well, I think they need a little work.

Message from daughter Belle last week, a day after the election:

Belle: ugh i hate seeing people wearing those stupid make America great again hats on campus. Why do they go to this school?

Moiself: oh dear…. Well, as Michelle Obama advised, when they go low, we go high. And if going high means we walk around silently but reverently hoping that the largest sea gull on record has a bout of herring-induced diarrhea while flying over someone wearing such a cap, well then, so be it.

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Department of Temporary Reprieve From The Stench of Politics

As (what would turn out to be) the heart-piercing election approached, I received brief respite from my worries via a story about another kind of piercing. Friend KW empathized with my recently shared opinions re body piercings, [2] which prompted me to share this memory with him:

I have two piercings in each ear, the first pair of holes acquired in college when one of my apartment-mates sputtered one November evening, “Could you please get your goddamned ears pierced so I’d know what to get you for Christmas?!”  She was frustrated by the fact that I wore no jewelry and wasn’t into accessories or clothing (I wasn’t a nudist, but you get the idea) so there were no inexpensive items that came to mind re getting me a present.

The second ear holes were also somewhat spontaneous: I accompanied a friend and her mother to a mall. Friend’s Mom, after years of wearing (but hating) clip-on earrings, wanted to get her ears pierced, but balked when we went to the jewelry shop. I assured her the procedure was almost pain-free; FM still balked…she sooo wanted to have it done and was embarrassed by her squeamishness. To prove that it was no big deal, I had mine done again, in front of her.

Here’s something I haven’t thought of in years. My mom said, in her later years, that she’d wished she’d had her ears pierced. She’d noticed that “all the interesting earrings” were for pierced ears; the earrings she’d acquired during her young adult years were all clip-on, all painful to wear. When she expressed her regret to me, I reminded her of something she’d said when I was in high school, about who wore what kind of jewelry. She’d said she hoped none of her girls would get their ears pierced, because she’d been told that having pierced ears was “primitive,” and something “only Catholics and Mexicans get done.”

 

 

earrings

Actually, I’m an atheist Swede with a Ph.D.

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Department Of Sorry But It’s Back To the Festering Turdbucket of Politics
Kudos For Susan Sarandon, Who Somehow Managed To Not Vote With Her Vagina

Part 1: The Dilemma

“Not everyone that voted for trump is a sexist or a racist,. How many times does the vote not have to go our way before we realize that our argument isn’t won by hurling labels and insults?”
(“Jonathan Pie,” aka British actor/comic Tom Walker)

I apologize to actor Susan Sarandon, for suggesting last week that she perform a physiological impossibility. I should have used my inside words to express my frustration with Sarandon et al, who threw away used their votes to express their frustration with both major party candidates.

Excuse me while I take a moment to allay the gonad-rattling astonishment that comes from doing something I never, in my wildest nightmares, would have believed I’d be doing: referring to donald trump as a major party candidate. [3]

 

catbarf

 

 

 

BTW: The non-capitalization of the surname is intentional. As writer Bryan Vale [4]  put it, in his spot-on  The Writers Rules for resisting trump, “Never capitalize his name. trump has shown no respect to others, so he deserves none for himself. He lost his proper-noun privileges.”

Okay; soldiering on.

I understand Sarandon’s ardent support for Bernie Sanders, and share (most of) her opinions about the DNC. I also understand many of the reasons why she voted the way she did: she did not like Hillary Rodham Clinton’s policies, did not find HRC progressive enough (or at all)…. Thus, for her, voting for HRC would have involved doing so primarily because HRC is a woman. As Sarandon so memorably put it, “I don’t vote with my vagina.”

Ironically, those who felt the same have helped put in power a party that would like nothing better than to control Sarandon’s – and all women’s – va-jay-jays.

At the beginning of the campaign Sarandon, along with moiself and many Sanders supporters, feared that HRC, despite her many years of championing and working for admirable causes, was too conservative, too much business as usual, too baggage-laden, to be an effective candidate. Once Bernie was out, who/what was left to offer a radical change  – or even just the shock to the system that so many voters on both/all sides of the debates seemed to be looking for?

Ms. Sarandon was right, about many things. She was wrong, about other things. As were we all.

I still think Sarandon made the mistake of not holding her nose and voting for the one who had the best chance of defeating That Other One.  [5]  Turns out too many of us didn’t think HRC even needed a “the best chance” – we thought it was a sure thing. We were too complacent, too clueless, to get why all of the polls, why all of our “common sense,” could be misplaced. We were taken by surprise, because the question we kept asking – How could Anyone vote for such an obvious demagogue/racist/misogynist/xenophobe/scientific, political and cultural ignoramus/ nationalist bully !? received no truthful answers because Anyone didn’t trust us to listen.

I’m serious here: one of the more right-on explanations of the USA’s election debacle can be found in the antic, epic rant of a British comedian (Tom Walker, via his satirical leftwing, potty-mouthed persona, “Jonathan Pie”). To wit: Trump’s victory is rightly attributed to the “…penchant of leftwing social justice warriors to hurl insults at their opponents, stifle political debate, and label anyone who disagrees with them as sexist and racist.”

A partial transcript (my emphases):

The left is responsible…because the left have now decided that any other opinion, any other way of looking at the world is unacceptable. We don’t debate anymore because the left won the cultural wars. So if you’re on the right, you’re a freak. You’re evil. You’re racist. You’re stupid. You are a basket of deplorables. How do you think people are going to vote if you talk to them like that? When has anyone ever been persuaded by being insulted or labeled?

So now if you are on the right or even against the prevailing view, you are attacked for raising your opinion. That’s why people wait until they’re in the voting booth…there’s no blame or shame or anything, and you can finally say what you really think, and that is a powerful thing.

And all the polls were wrong….when asked, people can’t admit what they think….They’re not allowed to!…We’ve made people unable to articulate their position for fear of being shut down. Every time someone on the left says, “You mustn’t say that,” they contribute to this culture.

It time to stop ignoring your opponents, or worse, trying to silence them. It’s time to stop banning people from speaking in universities. It’s time to stop thinking that reposting an article on Facebook is political engagement…. that reading The Guardian doesn’t make you a liberal…(and that)….re-tweeting Green Peace doesn’t lower your carbon footprint.

And if my mansplaining is triggering you, you can either fuck off to your safe space or you can engage and debate me and tell me what I’m getting wrong. Because Trump just won the White House. Being offended doesn’t work anymore. Throwing insults doesn’t work anymore. The only thing that works is fucking bothering, doing something, and all you have to do is engage in the debate. Talk to people who think differently to you and persuade them of your argument. It’s so easy, and the left have lost the art. Stop thinking that everyone who disagrees with you is evil or racist or sexist or stupid, and talk to them, persuade them otherwise because if you don’t. I’ll tell you what you get – you get President Donald Trump.

You should watch the video, if you haven’t already. You might not like it; it might make you uncomfortable. It should.

 

 

 

The tape reminded of conversations MH and I had early on, [6] about the possible presidential candidates (neither of us wanted to go back to the Clinton-Bush era…remember when Jeb Bush was considered the likely GOP nominee?), then later, about the fact that neither of us knew the “real reasons” why anyone would support trump and why do trump supporters say they like him but then don’t articulate their reasons why…and why were the polls wrong – because people lied, and why did they do that? In part, because they didn’t want to be labeled a racist misogynist or….

Make no mistake, I have Absolutely. No.  Doubt. that a significant number (if not a majority) of trump supporters hold racist, misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, alt-right religious feelings and opinions. But not all of them. trump supporters who do not (or claim not to) share those opinions took the pollsters by surprise – they wanted to vote against what they saw as a corrupt system more than they wanted to support trump himself, whom, they felt, offered the only option to give “a thunderous repudiation of the status quo.” [7]

“The Left” and Progressives lost this election. In so many ways, the proverbial ball was dropped. For example, we’ve known for years that the Electoral College system is a disenfranchising institution – a antiquated, dangerous relic of the slave era…and have done piddly-piss-squat to repeal or reform it.  [8] After the election debacle of 2000, Senator-elect Hillary Clinton pledged to help abolish the Electoral College…then did nothing. She failed to act on that pledge, a failure that must haunt her now, as her lead in the popular vote count exceeds 700,000 votes.  [9]

Ultimately, even accounting for the sexism she faced – from both supporters and detractors [10]  – Hillary Clinton was not a good candidate. [11]  Given the alternative, I was a (less than enthusiastic) supporter…as indicated by these bumper stickers I found for our cars.

 

 

hillary

 

 

So.  I am going to give a collegial if somewhat cynical nod to the safety pin you wear on your shirt [12] even as I question the efficacy if not the sincerity of what I consider to be non-action “actions” of solidarity. Translation: “checking in” on Facebook at Standing Rock doesn’t mean you are actually putting your body on the line with the Standing Rock protesters. Clicking like on your friend’s FB post about not defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t worth a warm pitcher of spit if you don’t put your money where your thumbs up is – if you do not follow your likes with consistent financial support and political action that thumbs up might as well be up your own ass.

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Tune in next week, suckers for punishment, sports fans,  for Part 2: the Solutions.  Yes, as an alternative to continued kvetching, moiself will try to provide some answers. Or failing that, something more entertaining than politic-talk (elephant seal fart jokes, anyone?).

 

 

*   *   *

May you rise above as best you can;
May your actions speak louder than your clicks;
May you don the necessary shitstorm protection garments of your choice;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Umbrellas are for wimps and tourists.

[2] Which I shared in a recent post…for which I was roundly, soundly and articulately chastised.

[3] For any elected office, much less POTUS.

[4] Full disclosure: my nephew, who just happens to be a talented writer in his own right.

[5] A friend of mine, too disgusted to utter his name, refers to him as PuJu, for “Putin Junior.”

[6] Minus (most of the) Adult Language ® .

[7] The Financial Times.

[8] Whining about it is not meaningful.

[9] This makes her the fifth candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election (Al Gore in 2000; Andrew Jackson in 1824; Samuel Tilden in 1876; Grover Cleveland in 1888).

[10] Male candidates are not obsessed over re their “likeability,’ ad nauseum.

[11] “…cozying up to the banks and dry-humping corporations for years…” (Jonathan Pie)

[12] Ostensibly to show support for those frightened by Trump’s election and to declare themselves as allies to immigrants and minorities and LGBTQ and against racism, sexism and xenophobia….

The Questions I’m Not Answering

Comments Off on The Questions I’m Not Answering

҉     The Opening Rant   ҉    

I recently received the following correspondence, which caused me to invoke the smiting powers of the FSM before I got to the email’s second sentence.   Forthwith and in all due haste I forwarded the misbegotten missive to SCM, a fellow writer and kindred snarky misanthrope keen-eyed observer of the human condition, with whom often I commiserate about The State of Publishing.

darkstormynightjpg

Oh, yeah, the email:

 (name redacted)

Subject: author questions

 hi, my name is (name not capitalized), I recently became an author and found your name under a list of oregon  authors and i wanted to get in contact with someone to see if they could answer some questions of mine  I  completely understand if your  too busy, but if you could take a little time and possibly answer some questions that would be great.

 How  did you get published? Im  currently using createspace to publish my books.

 How  did you market your book? Did  you have a marketing team or did you self market and what did you do if you did?

 do    you have any tips you could give me for helping my book along.  currently  im  going to faires   and trying to sell them there, but im    open to pretty much anything to help my book along. its  already on amazon, and the createspace marketplace, but I  would love some help as to how to get it moving better into peoples  hands.

compshock

 

Oh, oh, oh, (name not capitalized). Where do I begin?

For one thing, take the time to learn the difference between your and you’re and plurals and possessive plurals – as well as what and when to capitalize (name not capitalized, you are no e e cummings) and how to spell and punctuate – before you plan on soliciting time and advice from a “fellow” author.

If such frank advice (which you solicited, remember) makes you confused or surprised or hurts your feelings in any way, not to worry.  After all, you have it together enough to have learned to use the apps from Amazon and createspace that allow you to claim, “I recently became an author.”

And yes, I am too busy to help you, although I do appreciate the email as a worthy addition to my Exhibit A collection illustrating why I do not want to mentor anyone who intends to self-publish….

*   *   *

Deep, cleansing breath, y’all. I did not say any of those things to (name not capitalized). I did not reply to the email. I could not do so and respect myself without being honest, and really, I’m not that cruel (read: helpful).

If for some reason (name not capitalized) stumbles across this blog posting, I will leave this one piece of advice: one of the most important things a person should to do to “become an author” [1] is to develop a thick yet permeable skin; that is, a hide that can stand up to and appreciate honest criticism and that is porous enough to let seep through a realistic assessment of your innate talents and willingness to learn a craft.

As devoted (or at least sober)  readers of this blog know, I have ooooooooooooooooooodels of complaints about the traditional publishing model and industry.  And yet.  Past and especially recent experience reinforces the need for gatekeepers.  Thanks to the rise of self-publishing services, not only are the barbarians at the gates, they are scaling the fences and crossing the moats, using copies of their young-adult-fantasy-steampunk-speculative-Fifty-Shades of Vampire-murder-mysteries as makeshift ladders and rafts.

Without gatekeepers the entire literary marketplace becomes one big slushpile, deluged by a monsoon of unaudited, unedited work .  Today, someone like (name not capitalized) can “become an author” and “publish” via a few strokes of a keyboard and an EFT to a publishing app vendor.

yourbookhere

 

I don’t care if I rarely showed up to practice, didn’t bother to learn the fundamentals of the game and sucked at defense – I was on the soccer team, my name is on the roster, and dadgummit, I’m going to get a trophy for participating.

When anyone who wants to do so can be a “published author,” where is the merit in being published?  If any (name redacted) can “publish” as long as (name redacted) has the funds to produce a paperback or e-book, having a book published isn’t any more noteworthy than downloading your story and illustrations to a thumb drive and having Office Depot’s Document Printing Services department  run off and bind some copies.

badauthor

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҉   The Middle Section’s Short but Heartwarming Family Anecdote    ҉   

 The Upside of the Empty Chateau

What with K and Belle gone to college, MH and I get to feed Andy (ball python) and T’Pol (corn snake).  No grocery list is complete without a reminder to stop by the pet supplies store and stock up on small and medium-sized frozen feeder mice.

T'Pol relaxes at the day spa.

T’Pol relaxes at the day spa.

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҉   The Brief Contemplation of a Contemporary Phenomenon    ҉   

 Both Sides Now [2]

sunnycloud

To be described as having your head in the clouds is, by and large, not a flattering assessment of one’s character. The phrase’s various idiomatic meanings include being out of touch, unrealistic, naive, impractical and inattentive. Thus, it strikes me as odd – and, okay, just a teense ominous – that we [3] have adopted The Cloud as an umbrella term to refer to Internet software and services, and that we increasingly entrust our documents and applications to this ethereal location.

Just thinkin.’

stormcloud

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҉   The pun-not-intended Pet Peeve    ҉   

I use Nordic trekking poles during my morning walks, for a variety of reasons, and have discovered that, along with increasing the workout and simply giving your arms something to do, they have the unanticipated benefit of protection.  On more than one occasion I have used the poles to fend off an aggressively postured dog.

Yep, a 120 lb canine, ears laid close to head, eyes narrowed and challengingly fixed on mine, lips open and drawn back to expose teeth bared in a snarl, hackles raised and tail fluffed and extended straight out from body, approaches – and is off leash, of course – as its owner calls out to me, “It’s okay, he’s real friendly – DON’T MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOVES!”

You, of course, are not now and never will be this dog owner. [4]

*   *   *

      ҉   The Department of Apropos of Nothing    ҉   

Due to a precipitating incident I cannot now specifically recall, longtime friend JRC once gave me a year’s subscription to National Review .  This was during our sophomore or junior year in college, when JRC was attending UCLA and I, UC Davis.  During one of our periodic phone calls, wherein we chewed the fat about everything in general and nothing in particular and The Big Issues of Life, JRC, an intelligent, witty, creative guy [5]who held inexplicable/WTF [6] conservative political opinions, said he thought I needed to expand my news sources.  At the time I worked in UC Davis’ Periodicals room and regularly read a variety of news journals – certainly more than JRC, I taunted him – including the Wall Street Journal.  But that wasn’t enough for JRC, who said he thought I’d appreciate William F. Buckley’s wit and way with language. I retaliated repaid JRC’s generosity by gifting him with a subscription to Mother Jones Magazine.

As far as I know, JRC received a year’s worth of Mother Jones issues.  I read each National Review that came to me, and although it would have cost me nothing to continue to receive them, I cancelled the subscription after six or seven months.  I tried, I really tried….

It wasn’t the magazine’s conservative slant that bothered me – for crying out loud in a Ronald Reagan film festival, I was born and raised in Orange County – it was the overt, obnoxious, patronizing, dripping with disdain, East Coast chauvinism.  The magazine’s writers oozed a snide, barely disguised contempt when addressing anything having to do with the West Coast.  I felt complicit even reading it.

 

"I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe that scientists have discovered culture west of Boston."

“I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe that scientists have discovered culture west of Boston.”

I am still in touch with JRC, who holds the dubious distinction being the person, other than my siblings, with whom I’ve had the longest peer-type association.  From grade two through high school we shared at least one class.  Imagine all the embarrassing things we might be able to recall about one another, were we not now so decrepit we can only remember the good stuff…right? [7]

*   *   *

      ҉   The Amusing Send-off    ҉  

Friend JWW presented me with a gift when she came to Sunday dinner. Mere words cannot descript my utter bewilderment joy when I beheld the…object; this, pictures will have to do.

JWW said that this gift was to help me with that pesky Empty Nest thing.  I thanked her for the addition to my Rubber Chicken crew. She said it wasn’t just another rubber chicken, and told me to squeeze it.  So, I did, and the chicken laid an egg…sort of.

Yes, I took a video of a rubber chicken’s hinterland. Before you judge me too harshly, remember that you just voluntarily watched a video of a rubber chicken’s hinterland.

*  *  *

On the subject of judging someone, harshly or otherwise, let us all remember the timeworn admonition, an aphorism that uses Shiny Happy treacle to mask a morsel of inadvertently wiseass advice:

Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

Go ahead, put on the shoes, and then pass judgment.  If the man gets pissed off, well, you’re a mile away and you’ve got his shoes.

angrybarefoot

*   *   *

 

May your footwear of choice give you comfort over the miles to come, and may the judgment-free hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] That is, assuming the magical snap of a finger “There, you’re an author!” is intended to last for more than one book fair weekend.

[2] Three cheers and a big yellow taxi ride for those who get the Joni Mitchell reference.

[3] “we’ as in They, and perhaps you, but not me.

[4] And if you were I’d slap you upside the head with my trekking poles.

[5] And awesome blues guitarist.

[6] IMHO, considering JRC’s family’s impoverished circumstances and resultant need for the much-decried-by-conservatives, social welfare services.

[7] BTW, JRC, I never told your mother that you lied to her about how you broke your leg after you fell while swinging from a tree (which she’d forbidden you to do), although I think you ‘fessed up to her yourself after she didn’t fall for your story about tripping over a bbq grill cover .

The Mile-in-your-shoes I’m Not Walking

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Friday Follies: The Footnotes Edition

But first, random notes.

I never used to encounter people named Quinn, but since the publication of The Mighty Quinn I’ve come across several children with that incredibly awesome name.

Just sayin.’

*   *   *

Happy birthday to my younger sister.

BIRTHDAY

It was many years ago, Ruie, but I’m still sorry for the incident wherein my cat “presented” your hamster to us at the dinner table.

*   *   *

Because all the Best Book Names are Already Taken

I know nothing about the author, but how did he get into my mind and steal the title for my (as of yet unwritten) memoir?

This is the best book I’ve ever written, and it still sucks

*   *   *

 Because all the Classy Names For Publishers Are Already Taken

Children’s Brains Are Yummy (CBAY) Books is a legitimate, niche/genre (fantasy & sci fi for middle grand & YA readers) publisher located in Austin Texas. Their website defends their name choice as having nothing to do with cannibalism; rather, it is a tribute to the “delightful, extraordinary” minds of children:

“We think kids have yummy brains the same way
the stars of Sex and the City wore yummy shoes.”

 

Because nothing says yummy and sexually alluring like hammertoe cleavage.

Because nothing says yummy and sexually alluring like hammertoe cleavage.

CBAY’s comparison-as-defense is lost on mere mortals such as moiself, who think Sex and the City [1] style  torture devices shoes are yummy in the same way foot binding [2] is yummy.

"♫I'm sexy and I know it♫... but I can't stand up.

“♫ I’m sexy and I know it ♫…
but I can’t stand up.

*   *   *

I smell a theme rising.  Pass the odoreaters?

 If the shoe fits, quote it.

* You know you’re old when someone compliments you on your alligator shoes, and you’re barefoot.  (Phyllis Diller)

* These are my new shoes. They’re good shoes. They won’t make you rich like me, they won’t make you rebound like me, they definitely won’t make you handsome like me. They’ll only make you have shoes like me. That’s it.  (Charles Barkley)

* We women continue to swallow this line that it’s unladylike or even proof of being a lesbian if you wear flat shoes like Doc Martens. I’m prepared to put up with that accusation, because at least my feet aren’t killing me and I don’t look like a bandy ostrich. (Jo Brand)

Not Jo Brand's feet.

Not Jo Brand’s feet.

* Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?  (George Gobel)

* Women’s fashion is a subtle form of bondage. It’s men’s way of binding them. We put them in these tight, high-heeled shoes, we make them wear these tight clothes and we say they look sexy. But they’re actually tied up.  (David Duchovny [3])

* They went into my closets looking for skeletons, but thank God, all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes.  (Imelda Marcos)

The prestigious Jean Luc-Picard Face Palm of Distinction award goes to movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, for his words of wisdom:

* I never put on a pair of shoes until I’ve worn them at least five years.

facepalm

Wishing you a week of comfortable shoes for your twinkle toes, and may the Happy Feet hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] How is in that a reference to Sex in the City is on my blog? This is wrong, so very wrong. I can’t tag it.

[2]  A centuries-long (and now outlawed) Chinese “beauty practice” involved beating and breaking girls’ feet and binding them to produce a gnarled, misshapen podiatric mess mass – and crippled walk and dependency – that upper-class (as in wealthy and powerful, not classy( Chinese men found erotic. Pictures of the practice are graphic and far from yummy.

[3] Apparently,  Fox Mulder’s porn-addicted portrayer is quite familiar with less subtle forms of bondage.

The Heart Cockles I’m Not Warming

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What’s Better Than A Three Dog Night?

A three hawk day, of course.  Red tailed hawks:  yesterday I saw, three within a five minute span, perched on posts or power poles near fields bordering the countryside roads and Highway 26, near North Plains.  One adult, then one juvenile (as in the picture), and then another adult.

When I see an RTH on a post or other perch, with its distinctive, striking plumage, locking its piercing hunting gaze on a field below, I am overwhelmed by a feeling of serenity.  Even knowing what is to come (some snake/rodent is about to get grasped and eviscerated), I feel that all is as it should be – if only for a moment – in the world.

Hawk_Red-Tailed_adult14

And now for all (excuse the hyperbole; make that, a smidgen)
of what is not as it should be:

Express Scripts/Medco Makes Me Sick

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As readers of this blog are aware, I have no qualms using Strong Language, ® but in this case initials must suffice as I don’t want to type the same word over and over.

I FFFFFF hate hate hate hate FFFF Express Scripts/Medco.  Are they our only option for an Rx plan? I whined to MH.  I don’t want ANY more of our money, any more of our business, going to them.  I have spent too much time on their “help” line (does this sound familiar?) trying to get through to a real person, cursing on line as the perky robotic voice recording dares to say, “to continue to provide you with the best service possible…” Having to listen to that hornswaggling balderdash (see the last post item), after they have provided absolutely the worst service possible, is enough to give me a stroke…which may be their intent, and then that’s one less Shiny Happy Customer for them to deal with.

The idea of such incompetency and penny-pinching bureaucracy having the power to get between a doctor and her patient…..  You’re an overpaid passel of pill dispensers; do your job. Diagnosis and treatment are between doctor and patient.  The doctor writes the prescription, based on her examination of the patient and the minutia of said patient’s history, to which you, Express Scripts/Medco, are not privy.  Fill the fucking prescription – same one you have been filling for Over. Two Years. and now decide to dispute?)

"No soup for you...just because"

“No soup for you…just because”

 *   *   *

And then, there was this.

Because my day wasn’t stressful enough, what with dealing with the medical bureaucracy shit, one of my cats (I have my suspicions as to the perp’s identity) decided to carry on with the theme by leaving me an odiferous fecal deposit, with accompanying skidmark, on my office carpet, by my desk.  Apparently, she felt it had been too long since I had awarded anyone the prestigious Golden Turd Trophy. Nova, this turd’s for you.

turd trophy

*   *   *

Mark your Calendars and Head for the Indies

Vintage Books in Vancouver (WA) will be celebrating Indies First, on Saturday November 30.  Indies First is the brain child of author Sherman Alexie, who urged all “book nerds” (authors) to be booksellers for a day and help support independent book stores.  You can see the full text of Alexie’s delightful letter here.  I’ll be at Vintage, sharing shifts with other authors, (hopefully) selling and signing copies of The Mighty Quinn and recommending other favorite reads.  My shift is from 12 – 1 pm.  Be there or be…you know.

SQUARE

*   *   *

Huh?

From the masthead of Oregon Coast magazine, in a section that lists bio notes for the current issue’s authors and photographers:

“____ is a travel and adventure writer based out of Portland.  When she is not writing she is fishing, looking for whales, life-coaching, helping businesses succeed online, making sculptures, teaching yoga, and being a professional Viking.”

Okay.  How do you get such a résumé? And am I to believe that she gets paid to be a Viking…of some sort?

viAking

I could do that.  Kinda sorta:  Robyn Parnell is a travel and adventure-deprived writer based out of Hillsboro.  When she is not writing she is looking for fish [1] (but not whales), pestering life-coaching (her daughter), and she, too, helps businesses succeed online. [2]

Or, maybe not.  There was another one that caught my attention:

“_____ explores Oregon from her home in North Bend.  An Oregonian since 1982, she writes for a living, and spends the rest of her time biking, canoeing, making things, and playing Irish music.”

Reading these things, I’m both inspired and befuddled.  And maybe just a teense bit jealous.  I want a jazzier résumé.

Robyn Parnell explores Oregon from her home in Manzanita (well, in her dreams).  An Oregonian since 1991, she writes for a mere pittance, and spends the rest of her time (thinking she should do more) biking, kayaking, making dinner, and playing Dropkick Murphys holiday videos.

*   *   *

Something to Celebrate 

The World Wildlife Fund in cahoots with Vietnamese government’s Forest Protection Department has discovered evidence that should warm the cockles of your heart.  An animal scientists thought might be extinct, one of the rarest and most threatened mammals on Earth, [3] is still alive.  A camera trap placed in a remote area of the Central Annamite mountains of Vietnam captured the images of a Saola, or “Asian unicorn.”  The WWF’s pictures are grainy/paparazzi quality; here is one from many years ago, when a Saola had time for a stylist consultation before the photo shoot.

SAOLA 

*   *   *

Speaking of cockle warming:
Let us now praise the Idiosyncratic Origin of Inane but Interesting Idioms

In another life I might have happily been a linguist, specializing in the etymology of whimsical words and expressions.[4] 

Warm the cockles of your heart.  Why is the image of a bivalve mollusk used to invoke feelings of inspiration or nostalgia?

Someone said to skedaddle when they are quickly fleeing something.  If you want to quickly distance yourself from an aimless scribble, do you skedoodle?

Why does ragamuffin refer to a disheveled person, and not a Hindu musical quick bread?

And then, there is cattywampus.  Yes, there is.  But, why?  Sometimes it’s more fun to speculate than to know for certain.  I could google their origins, but that would take all the mystery out of life.

May the warmth of your heart-cockles never fall below room temperature, [5]
and may cattywampus-worthy hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] At the market.

[2] If you count her e-shopping purchases. Which she does.

[3] Aside from Freethinking Republicans, or people who correctly use the contraction/possessive forms of it’s/its.

[4] A career with salary prospects that would, no doubt, compare to those of literary fiction authors.

[5] It’s just not right, a blog post with less than five footnotes.

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.

The Problem I’m Not Talking About

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A woman clad in body-hugging, long-sleeve Nike shirt, Adidas leggings and New Balance shoes, [1] is running toward me.  She is pushing one of those baby jogger strollers. You know how a rhythmic, rocking motion can calm and soothe many a fussy infant?  Hers is not that kind of baby.

A lone seagull crouches in the grass, extends its necks and emits staccato, croaking calls, as if doing a series of vocal exercises to warm up for the squawking to come.  A man who looks to be in his mid 30’s places a duffle bag beneath the canopy of a large cedar tree and begins some kind of martial arts exercises. I hear a wheezing noise coming from behind me; I’m on “alert status,” as one must be when walking in unfamiliar territory, and stop at a fork in the path and turn around.  An elderly gentleman is about 20 feet behind me on the path.  He’s rail thin, looks as if a strong breeze could knock him over,.  He has a thick mass of shock white hair atop his deeply furrowed head, and he’s wearing a bright neon safety vest.  He pumps his arms as he strides past me, flashing a beatific smile and greeting me with a cheery, “Good moooooooorning!” I take the fork to the right, and soon I hear the familiar, shuffle shuffle crunch snuffle snuffle that heralds the approach of a biped and its dog, respectively walking and inspecting the twig-strewn gravel path.  Ahead of me to the south, a sleek black lab, let off its leash by its human, intensely and hopefully [2] streaks toward two seagulls resting on the grass by the duck pond.  The birds watch the rapidly approaching canine, waiting until the last moment before nonchalantly spreading their wigs and rising helicopter-like over the dog, which rockets beneath them.  The dog slows down for a nanosecond, glances back at its human, resumes its speed and slightly changes direction – reminding me of how a cat, when it somehow fails, begins to casually groom itself as if to say, Oh yeah, I meant to do that.

The simple sights and sounds of a city awakening to the assurance of a beautiful day.

wright park

MH, Belle and I are staying in an olde apartment building (ca 1912) across the street from the perfect venue for a morning – or afternoon or evening – walk.  Wright Park is a 27 acre arboretum with a series of gravel loop trails, a duck pond, a lawn bowling/bocce ball court, a botanical conservancy, several themed works of bronze statuary and one seemingly random memorial.  As my après-walk internet search later confirms, I’m not the only person to have wondered why, in the middle of a Tacoma park, is there a monument to Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen? [3]

We are in Tacoma[4] for three reasons.
1. to return K to college (UPS).
2. Belle is interested in UPS,[5] and is doing campus tours and other activities UPS offers to prospective students. On our way back to Oregon we will stop at Evergreen College in Olympia, for similar check-out-the-school exploring.
3. there is no third reason.

K came home for his spring break last week.  At the end of the week we made a two day trip to Manzanita and then drove the scenic route [6] to take K back to UPS.  It seems as though all of Tacoma was out when we arrived on Saturday afternoon.  There is something about Tacoma on a sunny day that reminds me of San Francisco.  Perhaps it’s the city’s many hills, and the view you have atop them, to the north, east and west, of the bay (Puget Sound’s Commencement Bay, in Tacoma’s case).  In cities like Tacoma and San Francisco, which are known for their often overcast/inclement weather, a clear, bright sunny day seems to bring out the best in residents and visitors alike.

Just in case you were wondering, after reading that last comparison, I neither smoke nor inhale.  Apologies to San Fransiscoites: the afore-mentioned weather rumination is the only Tacoma characteristic that reminds me of The City.  Your beloved Baghdad by The Bay’s charm remains intact, and unique.

Saturday night, after dropping off K at his dorm, Belle, MH & I had dinner at Pomodoro, in Tacoma’s Procter district.   Not long after we were seated Belle removed her sketch pad and pencils from her purse. She and MH were seated across from me, and Belle looked in my direction as she began to sketch. I turned around to see if perhaps a cute waiter or bus boy was lurking behind me.  Nope.  This put me into a rather mild existential panic.  I tried my best not to sound like a bad Robert DeNiro imitation as I asked, “Are you sketching me?”

“Yes,” Belle replied.  “Hold still.”

I didn’t hold still.  None of us held still.  We were doing restaurant-things: eating, drinking, lifting napkins to our mouths, answering questions from our server, as well as allegedly conversing with one another.  Belle said nothing more, but from her heavy sighs and eyebrow gymnastics it was apparent that she was disappointed with my lack of stillness, and other attributes that render me unfit for sketching.

I do not translate well to photos.  I am not a still life, and loathe having my picture taken in any form and for any cause. The reasons for this are not particularly complicated or interesting; they are known to those supposedly closest to me, and in a kind and just world (calling Mr. Rogers) would be respected, even if not “understood.”  This is rarely the case.

From the POV of a fotografizophobic, [7] when people gaze at you intently and allegedly dispassionately, judging the contours (read: inadequacies) of your bone structure and other facial features, hearing them say, “Hold still so I can sketch you/take your picture” is the emotional equivalent of hearing, Hold still so that I may throw acid in your face.

Unsolicited, adult-to-adult advice: when any sentient being declines to have their picture taken by you, respect their wishes and move on.  Do not whine and wheedle, do not attempt any form of emotional blackmail (“The family reunion shot will be ruined if you’re not in it, and who knows if Uncle Anus will live long enough to attend the next one!”).  Unless I am renewing my driver’s license and you are the DMV camera dude, or you are the hospital’s medical photographer sent to document my Mayo Clinic-worthy bulbous axillary tumor, back off.  It’s that simple.

*   *   *
We interrupt this family travelogue to bring you a political rant.
Your regular programming will return shortly.

Department of I’m glad he didn’t live/I wish he’d lived to see this

My father had an inexplicable, embarrassing (to me) fascination with Richard Milhous Nixon.  He’d been to Nixon’s “Western White House” home in San Clemente on official (IRS) business and had met the then Prevaricator Commander-in-Chief.  To a man of my dad’s generation who began life as a dirt-poor country boy in a southern family of share croppers, meeting The President must have been seen as a pinnacle of the American dream.  Thus, I tell myself my father’s interest was a case of celebrity worship, or that all-too-human fascination with any personal brush with power, and not that he actually admired the lying, venal, foul-mouthed, paranoid, commie-baiting, racist contender for worst president ever.

 I thought no new revelations about Nixon could ever surprise me, even though I knew there were more tapes and documents yet to be declassified.  Still, it was chilling to read the revelations contained in the LBJ tapes about just how low RMN would go to obtain power.  In 1968, fearing that the Paris Peace Talks would end the Vietnam War and thus his election chances, Nixon secretly intervened to sabotage the negotiations.  He sent his envoy to get the South Vietnamese to pull out of the talks, promising them “a better deal” if he were elected.  LBJ, informed of Nixon’s treachery by the FBI, felt Nixon was committing treason, but feared going public with the information for several reasons, including national security concerns and having to reveal that the FBI and the NSA were bugging the South Vietnamese ambassador’s phone and intercepting his communications.  Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey, informed of the situation by LBJ a few days before the election, decided it would be too disruptive to the country to accuse the Republicans of treason, especially if the Dems were going to win anyway (they were ahead in the polls).

What is that old saying, something about how all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing?

The peace talks collapsed, Nixon ended his campaign by promising an alternative to the inept Democratic strategy – look at them, they couldn’t even get the South Vietnamese to the negotiating table! – and won the election with less than 1% of the popular vote.  His “better deal” led to the war dragging on until 1975…which caused the additional deaths of Twenty. Two. Thousand. American soldiers. [8]

Despite – or perhaps because of – being a fiction writer I’m a huge fan of reality.  A part of me wishes my father could have read the transcripts, and that he and I could’ve discuss the revelations, and that he would have been able to understand at least a part of my vitriol for RMN, which is best expressed by Hunter S. Thompson’s He Was A Crook.  Another part [9] wimps out on reality, and tries to embrace the idea that an old man went in peace, holding on to whatever fantasies he had, the Nixon one (oh….ick) included.

nixon

Richard Nixon…He was the real thing — a political monster straight out of Grendel and a very dangerous enemy. He could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time. He lied to his friends and betrayed the trust of his family. Not even Gerald Ford, the unhappy ex-president who pardoned Nixon and kept him out of prison, was immune to the evil fallout. Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told more than one of his celebrity golf partners that “I know I will go to hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.”
(Hunter S. Thompson, writing in The Atlantic, May 1, 1994)

*   *   *

More freethinker troublemaking:

“Leave No Stone Unturned” An Easter Challenge for Christians

Jesuseasterbunny

*   *   *

“It’s the problem…that no one likes to talk about. No wonder they call it Silent But Deadly.”

How’s that for a commercial lead-in? But really, ladies and germs,[10] The same type of fabric used by the military to protect against chemical weapons can be yours, with the purchase of the intriguingly named Better Marriage Blanket.  Unfortunately, it’s not what you’re thinking.  Or, maybe it is.  Oh, who cares – any product with the selling point “offending molecules are absorbed before anyone knows they’re there” is worth a moment of your attention, right?  Not only that, it’s given me the idea of how to solve the North Korea situation.  Get our Navy Seals to wrap Kim Jong-un in a Better Marriage Blanket, and it’ll be like he’s not even there.

Speaking of other problems no one likes to talk about, there are those family road trips that do not end in all sweetness and light and witty anecdotes.  Unsolicited adult-to-adult advice, revisited (the photography-free version): do not endure treatment from family members that you would find intolerable coming from anyone else.

angry rubber chickenpng

Smarter people than us said this:

* Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
Alexander Pope

* There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.
– Martin Luther King Jr

* Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.
– George Carlin

*   *   *

Joy, Interrupted: An Anthology on Motherhood and Loss.  Hmm, not the feel-good title of the year, you say?  The collection contains some beautiful, intriguing, moving essays, poems and fiction on the subject of loss in the context of motherhood, including, in the last category, a story of mine.  Two years ago I read the editor’s call for submissions and submitted my story “Maddie is Dead.” [11] It was one of those made-me-shiver incidents when the editor contacted me to say that she loved the story and wanted to include it in the collection, and by the way, is the story indeed fiction (it is), and by-the-by-the-way, did I know that her deceased daughter was named Maddie?

joy

The anthology should be in book stores later this year and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

*   *   *

One last gasp at the road trip story.  It was our first night in Tacoma, in the afore-mentioned apartment with Belle & Mark, and Belle was cranky due to a nasty, lingering cold and (gasp) no TV on site. She turned down any suggestion I had for playing cards, games, etc.  I passed the time doing an online search for…hmmm, parameters, hmmm. What would be a spirit-lifting image to see? How about sloths wearing onsies?

Best. Search. In. A. Long. Time.

sloth

An adorable Bradypodidae, dressed in baby clothes.  Hijinks are bound to ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] The Clash of the Titans?

[2] Warning: anthropomorphizing zone ahead.

[3] A Norwegian-American artist sculpted a bust of Ibsen, his mentor and friend. Three bronze busts cast from the original ended up in places with large populations of Norski immigrants: St. Paul, MN, Wahpeton, N.D., and Tacoma.  Just because.

[4] The Tacoma narrative was written earlier this week, on Sunday and Monday.

[5] to her brother’s genuine if mild apprehension.

[6] Up the Oregon coast, crossing the Clumbia River at Astoria, following the Willapa Bay, cutting over to Olympia at the small town of Raymond. Which led us to wonder if there was a man in the town named Raymond, and if so, do all of the townspeople like him?

[7] Fotografizophobia is the fear of having your picture taken.

[8] .and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians soldiers and civilians.

[9] The part spelled “protective daughter,” no doubt.

[10] A lame popularized by Milton Berle in the 1950’s: “Good evening, ladies and germs.  I mean ladies and gentlemen. I call you ladies and gentlemen, but you know what you really are.”  It was funnier then.  Supposedly.

[11] Previously published in The Externalist, issue 4, October 7.