Monday, October 31, 2005


Not doing anything big for the holiday. I'm not expecting many trick or treaters either, but I have some candy just in case. My big plans include getting take out Thai, watching the rest of the movies tonight while eating more halloween candy than is good for anyone, and possibly working on a draft of my much overdue manuscript. Wow. That last one is scary at least.

The weather is amazing. Last night I stood out on the balcony and enjoyed the feeling of the season. Beautiful. It sounds more picturesque than it is. The "balcony" of which I speak is more like a walkway around the second floor of the "historic" building my apartment is in. From outside the door to my friend A's apartment (which is where I was standing), the view to the north includes the courtyard and the woods behind the building and the view to the west is dominated by the liquor store's parking lot. I tend to look north. It's prettier.

Tomorrow's the new moon, so it's a good night for separating from outdated habits and abandoned paths and looking towards new beginnings. I think a midnight stroll by the dam might be in order this evening.

Here's a jack o'lantern my friend A and I made a couple of days ago. This one's from a pattern. Those little bitty branches were a bitch! Plus, it turns out that A and I are both a little OCD when it comes to certain things like cooking, powerpoint, and, it seems, pumpkin carving. But the result was quite satisfactory.

Happy Halloween

Friday, October 28, 2005

Halloween Movie Night

The cold I've caught means I probably won't be dressing up and going out dancing this halloween weekend (although that remains a possibility and I've got my cowgirl get up out just in case). Seems like this year it will be a stay at home halloween weekend. Me, my sister, and a couple of friends whose other exciting options include apple bobbing with physics PhD students will be here carving pumpkins, playing cards, and watching movies. There may even be punch and pie. Oh yeah. Good times...

(ooh just saw the news that Dick Cheney's chief of staff - "Scooter"- was indicted! Oh please let this be the beginning of an official reckoning. Damn, now I feel like partying, cold or no.)

Here's this weekend's movie list. I may add to it, although I think 6 movies are plenty for one night.
House on Haunted Hill (BW 1959) Starring Vincent Price and a spooky scary skeleton.
"First Film With the Amazing New Wonder EMERGO: The Thrills Fly Right Into The Audience!"

Plan 9 from Outer Space (BW 1959) Ed Wood directs this B- movie classic. Bella Lugosi and Vampira.
"Aliens Resurrecting The Dead! Flying Saucers Over Hollywood!"

Halloween (1978) John Carpenter directs classic teen horror movie. Jamie Lee Curtis in some kick ass 70s outfits.
"HE came home for HALLOWEEN."

Shaun of the Dead (2004) British comedy/horror. Not one I'm dying to see, but the guys tell me it's funny.
"A romantic comedy. With zombies."

Dracula (1992) Francis Ford Coppola directs. Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, and the incomparable Keanu Reeves bring Bram Stoker's sexually repressed victorian characters to life in this classic vampire story.
Anachronisms: When Dracula bites Mina, her 20th century bikini briefs can be seen beneath her sheer 19th century night gown.

Dracula, Dead and Loving It (1995) Mel Brooks directs spoof of FFC's Dracula. Stars Leslie Neilson.
Jonathan Harker: She's alive?
Van Helsing: She's Nosferatu.
Jonathan Harker: She's Italian?

Stuck at home

I'm staying home sick today so I'm reading the news. Lots of it.

- National 1
I read about the federal budget provisions proposed in the House - Big cuts to the federal student aid program (aka "only rich kids should go to college"), cuts to child support enforcement programs ("we care about life from the moment of conception to the moment of birth"),reductions in spending on food stamps programs ("fuck the poor, and really fuck the working poor").

I read about the federal budget provisions proposed in the Senate - $10 billion cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that may result in, among other things, limited access to generic prescriptions for Medicaid patients.

I read about how these cuts are necessary in order to pay for hurricane relief. And here I thought the cuts were necessary to help to pay for that huge corporate tax cut package that was passed in October of 2004.

Last Fall, the Washington Post reported that when Bush took office in January 2001, the government was forecasting a $5.6 trillion budget surplus by 2011. A surplus! So why is the economic outlook so bad that congress is considering these horrible cuts now? The republicans are correct to some degree. It is in no small part because we've been overspending. We overspent fighting a war that was predicated on lies. Meanwhile, we went and cut off our access to tax revenues. Where was the outrage when republican and democrat lawmakers joined together last year to squander our country's long term economic outlook on rewards to corporations who don't even have to promise to invest in creating domestic jobs? I'm also quite disappointed that the issue of the loss of tax revenue has not entered into discussion of the current federal deficit/budget. It seems like it at least warrants mentioning.

- National 2
One ambiguously nice item in the national news today: Bush is pulling his support for Supreme Court nominee and Bush Co. croney Harriet Miers. I'm not super psyched about this one because I think Bush will just look for someone who is as bad or worse.

- Local
I switched from the national to the more local. Very local in fact, college again. The news ripped from the campus paper headlines today is similar in type and scale to any of the state or national querulous neo-con based fiascos reported in the big press. Yes, I know "fiasco" is an overused term but it seems appropriate here. Any event involving Ann Coulter, prominent harbinger of hackneyed controversy, automatically deserves the title "fiasco". If it involves college students at a public university paying Ann Coulter over $16 thousand to grace the campus with her divisive, petulant, hate mongering, simple minded punditry* I think the event is elevated to Goat Screw.
* (thanks A! good word)

The announcement that our undergrad student government approved funding for the goat screw was given as a sort of after thought in the campus paper. Here's how it reads (late on page two): "In other business, the senate approved funding of $16,035 to the College Republicans... The funding approved will help to bring Republican Ann Coulter to U___."

$16,000 is 60% more than is given to any other group on campus for a speaker. If I were an undergrad and funds from my mandatory fee were being spent on this shit, I'd be fucking pissed, especially when we consider this expenditure in the proper context. That is, when we consider that the college republicans are making a habit of asking for student funding of outrageous punditainment which they justify as attempts to engender thought provoking discussions and debates. An excellent example of such a thought provoking event was ex-professional wrestler turned conservative speaker Warrior who the student republican club brought in last April.

It was billed as an "interactive discussion" but when it became interactive, Warrior was unhappy. His statements like "Queerin don't make the world go 'round" were not received as the insightful commentary they apparently had sounded like in the ex-pro wrestler's head. In the aftermath of the Warrior clusterfuck, students were angry their money had gone to fund this. The justifcation for using student fees to fund the Warrior event was that the college republicans had "...Wanted to host a thought-provoking discussion from an individual who, given his celebrity status, would appeal to a broad range of students." In the days just following the event, members of the college republicans said they were disappointed with Warrior's behavior because they had hoped his presence would "bring another view to add to respectful debates".

Having students pay to be insulted en masse by an inflammatory peckerhead is "thought provoking" the way throwing a drink in someone's face is "engaging". Inviting a vitriol spewing loser, paying him with money that is meant to provide non-exclusionary enrichment and social activities for the undergrad body as a diverse whole, and expecting the event to result in "respectful debate" is either simple minded or obnoxiously underhanded. I think it is the latter but you never know...

Today's report regarding the approval to pay Miss Coulter $16 thousand to have an argument went on: "According to Funding Board Chair Sen. Mike McKiernan, security has been accounted for, to prevent physical attacks. College Republicans hired a private security force for the event..."

I feel a bit uneasy about "a private security force". It could be the college republicans have some reason to believe they may not get the service they'd like from the university police. After having to defend the Warrior against the inevitable rabble his ignorant insults had succeeded in rousing, one of the campus police officers was quoted saying "How do you think I feel I have to protect him," April 5, 2005

And Ann Coulter promises to be about as intellectually engaging, thought provoking, and given to "respectful debate" as the Warrior.
Here's how the Editorial review at describes Coulter: "Ever combative, Coulter is unafraid to court controversy..." Publisher's Weekly says: "Never mind this book’s title (How to Talk to a Liberal - If you must); from the writings collected here, it sounds like Coulter has never talked calmly with anyone, much less "liberals." In her view, "liberals" aren’t even "sentient creatures.""

I can see how hard the college republicans are trying to add to respectful debates with this line up of speakers.

So does Ann Coulter need security to speak at our university?
One student senator cautioned that "In the last university event Coulter attended, students ran to the stage and threw pies at her..."
Oh dear.

I think we should have a bake sale outside and donate the money to organizations like Planned Parenthood, the AFL-CIO's Hurricane Katrina relief fund, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The Coulter event is planned for the first week in December, which is the holiday season. So many nice things to bake. Pumpkin pie, mincemeat pie, pecan pie (ouch!), coconut cream pie, and of course some cookies.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What type of villain are you?

What Type of Villain are You?

Oooh, the image even matches my blog color scheme.
It's as if the creator of the villain quiz had me in mind...

Well, I didn't go to evil medical school, but I am enrolled in evil grad school right now. That's why I'm so secretive and don't use names or say what department I'm in when I post in this blog. If I were to divulge these things, I would be asked to leave my evil PhD program with just a mildly delinquent terminal master's degree, which would very likely limit my evil career options to being "number 2" instead of a tenured Evil Professor with dental coverage and a 401K.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bobbing for Nasty

I just got back to my soggy apartment from a grad student senate meeting. Yep, I do the student government thing. My life is small and sad...I know. Ooh - the lights are flickering here. Guess I'll bust out the candles, which could be fun if I had company other than my cat and a book.

Which I don't.

Most of what we do on the senate is approve how to spend the graduate student activity fee. We could do more, but then we could also unionize. Both would require a graduate student/assistant body that isn't so abysmally taken in by the higher education version of the "american dream" myth. That's a rant for another day.

So occasionally the grad senate gets to do something to make life better for grads on campus; sometimes we get to sit on various committees and be board shitless just like faculty and other "real" employees; but mostly we just keep the books and mind the till. You want cash for your nerd party on my campus? You come to us. Since it's Halloween season, we are currently seeing a lot of requests for halloween parties from various departmental grad organizations. Tonight's big expense was the Physics department grad student halloween party. On the list of expenses were black plastic cauldrons for bobbing for apples.

This bothered me. I said I wasn't a's times like this when the virgo in me comes blaring through. And I sat there thinking OH GOOD LORD THAT IS DISGUSTING!

People still do this? Grown up people bob for apples? People with colds, people with halitosis, people with herpes, people who know about other people having those things? I'm all for some degree of swapping of bodily fluids with screened partners. Smooching is a wonderful thing indeed. But I can't imagine lining up with 20 complete strangers to plunge my my face into a bucket (no, cauldron) of spitty water to try to grip a slobbery apple in my teeth! Ugh! What are these nerds thinking? They have got to get out more often if this really sounds like fun to them.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

When you're talking in your sleep

I woke up late today on my friend A's couch. He is in San Diego and I was alone in his apartment. I'm still not used to sleeping alone, and I'm even less used to sleeping on A's sofa. I woke up disoriented and with the words "I love you" on my lips. I didn't know why. I thought about it over coffee and I couldn't remember any dreams. But I realized how long it has been since I've said "I love you" to someone and meant it unreservedly.

I thought about it more on campus this evening and I realized that it is October 23rd. October twenty something seems to be when I think a lot about relationships, where they are going or where they went. I have a habit of ending long term relationships around October twenty something. It has never been easy, even when I am sure it is the right thing for me to do.

It being October twenty week might explain why I can't seem to get my ex s.o. off my mind this week. I thought it was just PMS. It was at the point where I almost called him twice today. I even got as far as dialing the first digit of his phone number then realized that I didn't really know what I intended to say and that I didn't think either of us would feel any better for my having said it when I figured it out.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Holy moly

It's raining again and although my landlord (why do they always have horrible hairpieces?) came out and "fixed' the roof on Thursday, guess what?

My ceiling is still leaking.

God only knows how many more weeks before I have a whole and sound apartment again. I am seriously wondering if I should call the attorney general to ask if there is anything else I can do to get my ceiling fixed. The guy at the health department seemed generally unconcerned about the fact that I have a big hole in the ceiling, although I explained it makes heating my place an expensive proposition. He said - in a somewhat chipper voice, like I should be happy about this or something - "It's really no worse than living in an old house with drafty windows and doors!" Little does he know I have those too. It's amazing how unfulfilled I feel despite the bracing drafts from the windows, door, and hole in the ceiling. What is wrong with me anyhow?

Public health guy told me a hole in my ceiling was generally not something the state's public health department was concerned about. Structural issues would be more building code related, he said. The health department guy said this is really more a matter of energy efficiency. "As long as the apartment can be heated to 65 degrees" apparently holes in the ceiling are a-ok with them. It doesn't matter if heating it to 65 degrees means I may as well just empty my savings account onto the floor and light it on fire...

So even though on the health department website it says "The Health District enforces the Landlord Tenant Act as it relates to rental housing," residents seeking remedy through this resource should understand that the "fuck the poor" exclusion means the health department doesn't need to enforce all of the law - like the parts about the landlord having to fix shit (including holes in the ceiling) or the tenant not needing to live in a place that is damaged.


I did get the public health guy to say "critter" during our phone call. He said something like "Our only concern with a hole such as that one would be the possibility of an entry point for wildlife...or...animals...rodents..." "Critters might get in?" I offered helpfully. "Yes, we would be concerned that, er, uh, critters might gain entry to the unit..."
He sounded confused when he said it. Like he didn't mean to say it but just couldn't help himself. I enjoyed the sense of having accomplished a wee bit of Jedi mind trick-like lexical priming immensely. But it was short lived amusement.

I can't believe that I have no options but to choose between freezing and paying to heat my now rather more "inefficient" apartment. Not to mention the aggravation of the continuing water coming in, tarps and buckets in two rooms, mold, and the general nastiness that falls down from the hole in the living room ceiling. But from what I'm being told, no one can tell my landlord he has to get this all fixed, fixed right, and fixed soon. This is why I'm contemplating the AG. He's Mr. Public Interest here in CT. Maybe his office would be able to point me toward a resource that is actually HELPFUL to the general public, not just rich folks like my landlord.

This kind of shit makes me feel all sorts of unhappy.

I'm freezing my ass off. Back to my friend's apartment where there is no computer or cable, but at least it's warmable and my cat is there. I got the new Neil Gaiman book yesterday and read most of it last night. I'll finish it in about a half hour I expect. Then what? Buffy re-runs and painting until I fall asleep annoyed and uncomfortable on my friend's sofa. When I am rich, I am going to do strange philanthropic shit like set up awards for people who want to sue their landlords for being lazy cheap dickheads. I'm also going to fund a scholarship for women who don't take shit and a grant for the development of middle school cirriculum which focuses on discussion and development of moral reasoning skills and critical thinking.

For now, it's off to the sofa with me.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dinner with Brownie

If this is true, then let's all join in wishing the following for Mr. Brown - that he choke on whatever crosses his lips whether it's the food going in or the lies coming out.

(selections from)
FEMA Official Says Boss Ignored Warnings

Associated Press Writer
6:48 AM

WASHINGTON - In the midst of the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina, a Federal Emergency Management Agency official in New Orleans sent a dire e-mail to Director Michael Brown saying victims had no food and were dying. No response came from Brown.

Instead, less than three hours later, an aide to Brown sent an e-mail saying her boss wanted to go on a television program that night — after needing at least an hour to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge, La., restaurant.

The e-mails were made public Thursday at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing featuring Marty Bahamonde, the first agency official to arrive in New Orleans in advance of the Aug. 29 storm.
Brown had sent Bahamonde, FEMA's regional director in New England, to New Orleans to help coordinate the agency's response. Bahamonde arrived on Aug. 27 and was the only FEMA official at the scene until FEMA disaster teams arrived on Aug. 30.
On Aug. 31, Bahamonde e-mailed Brown to tell him that thousands of evacuees were gathering in the streets with no food or water and that "estimates are many will die within hours." "Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical," Bahamonde wrote. "The sooner we can get the medical patients out, the sooner we can get them out."

A short time later, Brown's press secretary, Sharon Worthy, wrote colleagues to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant that evening. "He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes," Worthy wrote. "Restaurants are getting busy," she said. "We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."

And now, for some truly remarkable responses from Mr. Bahamonde. These are genuine, I didn't make 'em up. The e-mails the following AP excerpts are from are available as part of exhibits presented in the senate homeland security committee hearing. You can find the e-mails in the exhibit PDF, towards the end of the document.

Excerpts From FEMA Officials' E-Mails
Oct 20, 1:50 PM
- Bahamonde to Taylor and Michael Widomski, public affairs, Aug. 31, 2:44 p.m.
"OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! No won't go any further, too easy of a target. Just tell her that I just ate an MRE and crapped in the hallway of the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern about busy restaurants. Maybe tonight I will have time to move my pebbles on the parking garage floor so they don't stab me in the back while I try to sleep."

-Bahamonde to Taylor, Sept. 3, 1:06 a.m.
"The leadership from top down in our agency is unprepared and out of touch. ... But while I am horrified at some of the cluelessness and self concern that persists, I try to focus on those that have put their lives on hold to help people that they have never met and never will. And while I sometimes think that I can't work in this arena, I can't get out of my head the visions of children and babies I saw sitting there, helpless, looking at me and hoping I could make a difference and so I will and you must to."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

You can run...

...but you can't hide.

By the end of last week, I found myself checking the weather for not just my rain soaked region but for Ruth's as well. There was talk of flooding, with a news report about how they were preparing for water evacuations in her state. Yikes.

I think everyone I know came through the downpours ok, and I am thankful for that. And here at Chez Dump, I am still waiting for my ceiling to be fixed.

After the clouds lifted this weekend, one of my brother's friends sent this to me with the subject line of "safety first":

Where To Hide From Mother Nature
Wyoming? Nope. West Virginia? Think again.
By Brendan I. Koerner
Posted Thursday, Sept. 15, 2005

Early on in the article (which is at, Mr. Koerner tells us that some "worryworts" out there might be wondering where in the US they can live that is not in some way disaster prone."Worryworts"? I guess he doesn't think any of the folks displaced by the gulf hurricane season might read Slate. Or anyone who ever lost a part of their lives to a natural disaster. I'm sure he didn't mean to casually invalidate the fully justified fear of living in a disaster prone area that some disaster surivors might have. I mean, there's probably a lot of those folks out there what with all the severe hurricanes we've had in the past ten years or so, and do terrorist attacks count? I think they should, FEMA counts them.

Oh wait, I think I know why he can get away with this tone. I'll bet the folks most likely to be left behind and/or forgotten and/or severely and persistently impacted by a disaster or even a whim of the elements (e.g. a week of torrential rain, ice storms, heat waves, a cold snap when heating prices are too high and the prez just cut funding) are more likely to be poor (and possibly old, not white, non native speakers of English, etc). Seems like a pretty sound deduction, doesn't it?
BTW, If anyone's got some numbers to back it up or shoot it down, let me know. I like that sort of thing.

If that seemingly reasonable deduction is true, then presumably the author might just assume that "those people" don't read Slate.

As a matter of fact, I don't usually read Slate.

Early on in my use of the internet (back when I had my old hotmail account) I realized that I find Slate annoying, assuming, and usually insulting. I mean, come on, the "story" referenced here appears on Slate under "The Gist - A cheat sheet for the news."
Wow that bothers me. It bothers me in so many ways.

Anyhow, in this amusing outsider's view of safety (outside because we all scoff at the idea of living without at least a belief of security - amusing because we're just like the author and therefore see how silly it is to be afraid of hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, etc. Those happen to other people!).... ahem, as I was saying, the author begins an "analysis" of the safest place to live in the US with the (presumably tongue in cheek) proclamation that "...some corners are safer than others."

He narrows down the "finalists" to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut for safest states. Apparently southern coastal New England is safer than many places, who knew? And here I thought all that violence and nastiness about bussing and stuff like that was, well, bad. Again, safe from the elements if you have the money or the pedigree to have not just a roof over your head but the right roof over your head.

Then the author concludes that Connecticut was the safest of the three. And (drumroll) the safest place to live according to Slate is "...the area in and around St0rrs, Conn."
Why? "It's a safe 50 miles from the sound and not close to any rivers. It also has relatively easy access to a major city (Hartford) in the event an evacuation or hospitalization becomes necessary."

Here's my reply to my brother and his friend who forwarded this article to me.

Aside from the whole economic disparity in what is safe vs unsafe, the major problem with judging St0rrs to be "safest" is that they don't take into account things having to do with the "rural character" of this place - a character which everyone from the townies to the state officials seem to want to preserve at all costs. What does this "rural character" do that is so bad, other than provide a breeding ground for Martha Stewart inspired Country Duck rusticana style lawn and house decorations?

I'll tell ya what it does.
If there were fire in your house in, oh say Ashford (which is in what we like to refer to as "the greater St0rrs area") your house would burn to the ground and anyone trapped inside would die long before the volunteer firefighters ever even got to one of a handful of underfunded fire stations. The ambulance companies, firemen, and in some cases police departments are funded or supplemented by community "donations", which are extorted out of the residents using mob-like tactics.

Connecticut is owned by the insurance companies and if you live here the only thing saving you from having universal protocols that read "take two (insert generic drug of choice here) and don't call back" is that we have a marvelously crusading state attorney general. Even still, a state whose legislative and executive branches are all but owned by insurance companies has resulted in some quite horrible medical facilities. The hospitals in this area are just plain horrible, or evil, or both. Sane doctors who like to practice medicine and not be raped on their malpractice insurance do not come here. So we are left (mostly) with quacks who practice medicine with the equivalent of beads and rattles more often than with MRIs and lab values.

Most of our towns do not have a local police force. They share a small set of state troopers. Combined, all 24 police officers whose jurisdiction is made up of the greater St0rrs area are usually busy arresting drunk undergrads or ticketing out of state speeders. Hence, they can't be bothered to take the time to respond fully to the numerous domestic violence complaints in the area (we seem to have a rather high number of domestic homicides for some strange reason).

Oh and how could I foget that the university in St0rrs was voted the 12th most homophobic campus in the country in 2000? ( See link1 and link2)

So, "safe", as usual, should be considered a relative term.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

20 random facts about me

Since I was called names (well one at least) for not posting my 20 random facts, I'm digging this out of "drafts" and posting it. I still don't have 5 bloggers to tag but, whatever...

I've been tagged by Ruth at cjblue. Below are 20 (largely) random facts about me. Now I just have to think of 5 other bloggers to tag....Hm.

1. I am very bad about returning things I’ve borrowed from people.

2. I sometimes think I should have gone to law school instead of grad school.

3. I loved dairy products so much as a child that I once ate an entire stick of butter.

4. I was diagnosed as being lactose intolerant at 14.

5. I become very attached to the places where I live but the city I grew up in always feels like home.

6. I do not plan to ever have children.

7. I was married to a doctor for 5 years.

8. I hate doctors.

9. The worst and best job I ever had was working at a florist in a mall at Christmas time.

10. I was a radio DJ at my campus station last year.

11. When I am out at dinner, I can’t help listening to other people’s conversations - even when I’d rather not.

12. I once had sex in a storage closet.

13. I get cold easily but I hate the humid heat of New England summers.

14. When I was 31, I caught Lyme Disease and it wouldn’t go away.

15. I spend most of my time at conference and colloquia talks drawing amusing (to me) cartoons of the people I dislike in the room.

16. Sometimes I can’t stop laughing at what I’ve drawn, even if I hide the picture so I can’t see it.

17. When I was a kid, I used to take articles of my parents clothes, like socks and shirts, and turn them into stuffed animals that I would then give to my parents as presents.

18. I was a National Latin Scholar in high school.

19. My mother was adopted.

20. I used to think I wanted to be an anthropologist. Because I was sure I would travel to exotic places, in order to “train” for the strange and unfamiliar diets I might need to adopt in the field, I would sometimes force myself to eat things I didn’t want to eat…like broccoli.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Hm. I've been tagged by Ruth. I'm supposed to post 20 random facts about me and then tag 5 other bloggers. But I don't really know 5 other bloggers. I managed to scrounge up about 4 that I could tag without them wondering "wtf?" but after that...well, I'm fresh out of contacts with blogs. There are a few blogs I read somewhat regularly, not counting Ruth's which I read very regularly, but they have been tagged already. So what to do? Get a friend to start a blog so I can tag him/her? There's a friend of mine at school, but so far I've not really made my blog public at school. It's too hard for me not to post about the personal, and although I'm not exactly a closed book in the department, I'm not wide open either. So....I think I'll wait on posting my 20 random facts about me until I have at least one more person I can legitimately tag.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

No hasting

Monday night's dinner:
Snow pea chicken
hot and sour
fried rice
and politics.
Here's my fortune,
too good not to share.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Jackie Treehorn Presents

National Porn Sunday was recently held in churches across the country. Darn it. First I miss "talk like a pirate" day and now I missed porn sunday. I guess I'll just have to go celebrate porn on my own time.

Monday morning, while I waited in line for coffee from my friendly coffee goddesses (aunt and grandma to an amazing girl), I happened to look over a campus paper that someone had left on one of the tables. According to the front page story the local St. Paul's church had brought National Porn Sunday to my campus.

I read "National Porn Sunday was started by Mike Foster and Craig Gross, founders of, a web site to promote awareness of pornography."
Huh? I think students' awareness of porn is probably rather high.

The article continued
"Their main goal is to expose the truth in the porn industry and demonstrate how it affects families, children and marriages."

I didn't follow how the mere existence of porn is so threatening. I did a little more research this evening and discovered the National Porn Sunday guys are about promoting awareness of porn addiction. That is a little bit different then, isn't it? You just gotta love the campus newspapers for their in depth coverage though. In fairness, some campus papers are not as bad as ours.

I sipped my coffee and continued reading. I was hoping that the writer would have asked one of the folks who sponsored this program on our campus or the founders themselves (Foster and Gross) what they defined as porn but alas, no. What I did find were some amusing student opinions. Here's one that nearly made me spray my coffee:
"The students...were also asked about how God feels about pornography. As one student pointed out, he didn't think God watched porn..."

Now this just is plain funny. The presupposition is of course that there is a god and not just any god but God, which is a quite specific and culturally loaded concept. It's a he, and he's got a certain character and personality. He is also said to be endowed with certain powers, in fact those exact powers are what makes him God and not just some culture hero. Those would be things like omnipotence (which he doesn't exercise much these days or which he uses in mysterious ways, at least so go the common lines of reasoning) and omniscience. That means God knows everything and has been said on more than one occasion to "see" everything. I'd say the whole omniscience - all seeing thing means you can't really choose not to see something otherwise the omnisicience stops being a guarantee.

Which means that God DOES watch porn. In fact, God has seen every bit of porn ever made. I pointed this out to A as we hustled from the coffee shop to our building. A added that God has in fact seen every bit of porn that will be made, ever. We concluded that in addition, God has even seen porn that might have been made but wasn't or won't be.

So God watches porn or God is not omniscient. If God is not omniscient, then God lacks a defining feature of being God and should be demoted to either god or dismissed entirely. Therefore, if God doesn't watch porn, God, as such, does not exist.

I wonder if this occured to the boy, even after the fact. And what the fuck was his point anyhow? "God doesn't watch porn"? When I was 8 or so, a reporter from a local paper came to my elementary school. I think it might have been the Globe or possibly the more local Patriot Ledger. The students were interviewed about our opinions on the (then current) Iran Hostage Crisis. It was yellow ribbon and gas line time. We were in 4th grade I think. Why were they asking us? I really can't even remember what they asked, but I know they did. And I know I said something parallel on silliness to "God doesn't watch porn" and it was quoted in the paper. Being a fanciful child and also unbelievably devoted to my pets, I said something foolish like "My cat hopes they all come back safe". Yep. 4th grade reasoning and relevance. And this is what I think of when I read that God doesn't watch porn. It's something you'd expect from a little kid. Not a college student.

I don't believe necessarily that this apparent lack of adult reasoning or critical thinking in this current generation of college students means that the quality of adult intellect is in some kind of evolutionary decline. I think they are not adult yet. I think that we have as a society promoted a prolonged adolescence (or late childhood) and quotes like this (not to mention some lovely examples of analytical writing from the courses they take) reflect that high variability in expressive intellect that is one of the hallmarks of adolsecence.

At least I hope that is what's going on.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The good, the bad, and the ugly (not necessarily in that order)

On Thursday, I woke up to my landlord calling me to tell me the water would be turned off RIGHT NOW. He said if I ran out right now, I could catch the water guy to ask him to delay the shut off so I could get washed up first. I ran out. No guy. I looked around. Nope. I waited outside on main street in my morning best - bedheaded in a hole riddled t-shirt over a pair of large men's sweatshorts with a stain on the ass. No water guy.

The landlord called back while I was outside to say "oops". Turns out the guy wasn't coming for an hour. I tried to look on the bright side and took an extra long shower.

Despite my rude awakening, I managed to do all my errands in a very timely manner. I was on my way home to pack so I could leave for Boston as soon as A got back from teaching when I stopped to get some lunch. At the cafe, I used the bathroom, where, in my haste to get going, I caught my pants on my sleeve. I didn't even think about my phone as I pulled my arm free, but that simple action caused my cell phone to jerk free from the clip and straight into the toilet.

I stared at it down there for what seemed like forever. I recently re-enacted it for my friend A and I decided it was probably more like 6 seconds. 6 very long seconds. Then I rolled up my sleeve and went dunking for the phone, threw it in the sink, realized that was stupid, took it out and wrapped it in paper towels, then scrubbed my hands and arms up to the elbow. In the car, I wiped the phone down with some of that hand sanitizer goop and marveled that the phone still looked like it was ok. It had been on when I dropped it. I turned it off and took out the battery. I rode with it hanging out the window to try to dry it off. At home, I tried turning it on. BIG MISTAKE. It made some noises and looked like it was starting up, then went to a negative image of the display. I tried turning it off and it turned purple. Then it began ringing randomly, vibrating all the while. I took out the battery and stuck it in my purse. I left for Boston assuming it was dead.

Once we were in Boston, we found the hospital with only a few delays. We still managed to make it in before visiting hours ended. My parents were there, subdued and pissy but reasonably well behaved. My brother was responding well to the IV antibiotic. We brought up his Buffy season 4 DVD set and got him all hooked up to A's laptop to watch. It was nice to see him laughing.

A and I stayed at a nasty Days Inn in Brighton Thursday night, which was next to a nastier International House of Pancakes. The IHOP just wasn't as good as I remembered it being when I was at Brandeis and used to go there for late night hash browns, coffee, and cigarette fests. Of course, I was usually rather high back then and I was entirely straight and sober this time so possibly that would account for the change in perception.

We spent most of today visiting my brother. Watched Buffy, ate pizza, called my sister, put her on speaker phone. She even sang us a song. She told me about her amazingly dense animal print blue kerchief on a stick. Our brother agreed that his baggage would be a pacer full of cardboard boxes, hangers, sticky CDs, and random mismatched shoes and socks. A and I stayed until my brother was looking sleepy. He should be discharged tomorrow or Sunday. If he stays longer than that, I might go back up again with a DVD player for his room.

Then A and I left and made our way home through the traffic of disappointed and drunk redsox fans. It sprinkled on and off down the Mass pike. In CT, it was raining hard and foggy. Of course it was. CT sucks. But it was good to be home. Home with my cat. Home in my cozy apartment. Home to my left over fried rice. And home to the leaking ceiling in the living room which almost exactly one hour after I got here just gave up. A piece of ceiling about as big as two of my fists came crashing and splattering down. It was the entire thickness of the ceiling, all the way through. A and I inspected it cautiously with a flashlight. It seems I may now have a sky light. I'll find out tomorrow. The worst part was the slimey moldy drywall stuff that splattered all over the place when it caved in. Ah.....just what I wanted to do at 11:30 at night - clean mold and plaster off my walls and out of my carpet.

I decided to move the cat's stuff into the bedroom so we can both sleep in here with the door shut. The hole is really ugly. I kept thinking about it and wondering: What if something comes in through the hole? A bat, a squirrel, a bird, bugs, whatever. I don't want to wake up to it in here with me or out there with the cat. While I was moving the cat's food and gianormous litter box into my bedroom, I ran across my cell phone. On a whim and to show my friend A what had happened to it, I put the battery back in and turned it on. I fully expected that it would be completely dead by now.

It started up fine. It had a full charge and found a signal. I called my house phone on it. A picked it up and said "I can hear you. Can you hear me?" and I could.

I am just amazed.

When I started this blog it was because life was fucking with me and I needed a place to get it out (among other things). I think I mentioned that when things went bad in my life lately they transcended bad and went straight into absurd. This week has been a testament to that characterization. The cell phone actually working after spending any amount of time completely submerged in water is, I believe, the result of the absurdity. Of course it worked. I shouldn't have been surprised, because if it hadn't worked, that would have made sense and sense is not in high supply in my life these days.

Someday, I'll look back on all this and laugh. Right? What I hope is that I won't look back on this and think "ah the good old days, when life was comparatively carefree". Seriously, that is one of my deepest fears.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

HIV is a lot easier to say...

...than AIDS. And AIDS is a lot easier to say when the person isn't actively sick. You'd think, or maybe you wouldn't but I did, that when someone has AIDS they are by definition sick. It's not true, not with everyone. My brother tells me that everyone has their own baseline T cell level that reflects "normal" immune function for them. So if I understand this correctly, the decline in T cell level that is an index of actual symptomatic AIDS is unique depending on the person's baseline. Thus even though my brother's T cell count is about 450, his immune system is not working at all well.

I could say "my brother has AIDS" last week and sound ok. I was worried about him last week, but last week he hadn't done meth, hadn't gotten an infection in his arm that went all the way down to bone, and hadn't mentioned that he's had a gastrointestinal problem that's resulted in a 25 lb weight loss in just a few weeks' time.

I hadn't heard from him since that night he called me last week. I had been calling him nearly every day. Yesterday, I called twice. This morning, he called back to tell me he had spent the night in the ER getting an IV antibiotic for the infection on his arm, that he got oral antibiotics to take for it, but that he probably will be in the hospital by the end of the week for more IV because his GI situation probably won't tolerate oral antibiotics.

It sounds like I'll be making a trip to Boston tomorrow. I started this post this morning but now it's about 6:00 PM and I just got a message that my brother's arm infection looks like drug resistant staph. He's back at the hospital and anticipating being admitted. I'm about to leave campus. I feel like I am going home to prepare for battle. With my parents (I don't want them in my life but my brother lives with them)? Not specifically, but with all the feelings dealing with them bring up. I will not lay that shit on my brother. Not now. So tonight I will do whatever it is that you do to prepare....shine the armor and sharpen the spears? Count my blessings and fortify myself for what will come. I have my chinese food, a funny movie, a talkative and extremely personable orange cat, and some good friends - all of which will be indespensible tonight I think.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Here's what my emotional baggage would look like if it were to take physical form. A lovely faux alligator set. This is only SOME of it of course. I think the trunk got held up in customs, and I am quite sure I packed a garmet bag that I don't see.

How about you? What style is your emotional baggage?

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Today I unpacked my last box. I am officially unpacked.

It was much harder than I thought. If you were to ask me, I'd have said in July and August that I was not unpacking that last box because I didn't have space for what might come out of it. Then, when I had made space, I didn't unpack it because I just didn't have time to sort through what might be in there. I unquestioningly believed the - "anxiety" is a strong word - the trepidation I felt about that box was because it was just a hassle. I didn't even suspect it was because I knew it would make me sad.

Golly sometimes we're really good and hiding things from ourselves. I chose to hide mine in a large cardboard box I've been moving around my tiny apartment, as if stepping, leaning, and climbing over it nearly every day was less of a physical nuisance than unpacking it.

So what was in the box?

I opened it to three teddy bears (mine) on top. That was ok. Those have some melancholy sentimental effect, but they are from a much earlier time in my life. I've cried over them already. I quickly found a spot for them. Then boots! My big black boots that I had been looking for just the other day!

I eagerly dumped the rest of the box out on my bed. Now I was at winter gloves, hats, and scarves. As I sorted through the pile, I thought that some might belong to my ex boyfriend, T. I considered them carefully. Nope, none of T's scarves. I remembered finding his winter stuff mixed in with mine while packing this June. I remembered thinking "I'd better put these in his box because, well, he'll want them when it's cold. And god only knows if we'll be talking by then".

Seeing what a thorough job I had done of separating out all his gloves and scarves made me remember how painfully practical I had forced myself to be while I was packing.

Almost done with the box. There wasn't too much stuff in there, not really.

At this point it was starting to dawn on me that my reasons for avoiding this box might not have been entirely about the physical hassle of dealing with the contents.

All that was left were two tote bags, one soft briefcase, and an old army surplus backpack. I started to go through them, wanting to throw out any trash in them before I tucked them away for future use.

Some time ago, I realized that I could date my last use of a bag or purse by the forgotten scraps of contents that were left in it. Since living with T (who was diabetic), I had another date marker to use - the type of candy or candy wrappers I found.

The last time I carried the breifcase was when my friend A and I went to Boston for my brother's surgery this winter. I found maps of the hospital area and throat lozenges (but no candy).

One of the totes was from when I was acutely sick with Lyme. There were large individually wrapped mint Lifesavers candies. It also had a plastic biohazard bag which contained two unused vacutainers and a paper lab requisition.

The other tote and the army backpack were from earlier, before the Lyme. In the second tote, were wrappers from ginger candies and sand from the last time I went to the beach with T and his family. In July 2004, T had gone down to Rhode Island with the fam for the better part of a week. We had planned for me to come on his last night since I refused to put myself and T through a whole week's worth of my rapidly decreasing tolerance for his family's shit. On T's last day there it was cold with rain and fog which the forecasts predicted for the rest of the week. T's father, who stated his disappointment at missing a beach day, started acting petulant while breakfast plans were being made. Everyone seemed in a foul mood.

I felt a panicky moment where I deeply believed my lack of enthusiasm for E___ family fun was covertly to blame for everyone's rotten mood, but then I chastized myself for being paranoid and self centered. Whatever was going on with them wasn't about me. It was about them. Remnants of guilt caused me to cancel plans T and I had for going out for breakfast ourselves and agree to eat with his family.

Rather than stick around while the remaining family members argued about breakfast, T and I went for a walk promising to be back in time for whatever was decided. We walked over a mile before returning to his family's nearly done breakfast. There was clear evidence of some kind of catastrophe that I was immensely glad to have avoided: grandma had made a literal tower of toast; on the stove T's mother stared into a large pan swamped with barely cooking eggs while T's father yelled from the other room that she was burning them; T's sister in law and brother (the favorite son) were locked in a silent but obvious fight as they made their way out the door; and someone had turned on the TV so the living room was filled with the sounds of George Bush giving a speech on the economy.

T and my prebreakfast walk was the longest one I had taken since I had been sick with the Lyme. My knees started to feel screamingly sore about half way in, but it was good to just walk and walk and walk as if we never had to come back to the house.

I shook the sand and wrappers from my bag into the trash and wondered what T does when he finds debris like this.

The backpack was from years ago. I found a pen that I immediately recognized as one T had used when we were first dating. It had settled deep into one of the backpack pockets. There was a half used tube of mellon flavored lip balm I bought for T the Easter we lived in W___. We dyed eggs that year. T made strange and random colors that looked like blood or sunsets. The lip balm was mixed in with the pastel foil wrappers from chocolate eggs. I almost opened the balm but decided it would be too much for me to smell how his lips had tasted when we still loved one another.

I threw it all out and I am going to wash the bags later this weekend.
I remind myself that I am mourning the loss of myself happy with him as much if not more than I am mourning the loss of him.

My lab-mate called to invite me out for pizza tonight. I'm going, which is good because I think otherwise I'd sit here wallowing. It's too pretty today to wallow. I'll have plenty of time to wallow in December.

Now, for an amusing diversion: Go check this out. It is truly amazingly funny as hell.
Don't read it on a full bladder or while you are eating.