Monday, December 31, 2007

dopey new year

I'm chock full o'hyoscyamine which means I'll ring in the new year sleepy, oh so sleepy. I've been meaning to post my resolution before now but didn't get around to it. Right now A____'s out visiting a friend, to return in a while with chinese food (which means more drugs for me but mmmm....beef on a stick!) so this seems like as good a time as any for a new year's post, scattered and doped as I may be.

As I mentioned last year, I am keeping my resolutions very simple these days. Cut and dry. No grand "going to change my luck" or emotionally grow shit. No, because things go bad - they invariably do (that's not cynicism, things invariably go right too but we notice the bad so much more) - and then I get all superstitious about having brought the bad on myself. Then I feel stupid for feeling superstitious like that. Then I feel neurotic. Then I go and blog about it and it's like neurotic at 11.

So my resolution this year is to drink more water. Or, well, fluid which doesn't dehydrate me.

The resolution is in fact related to how I will spend this new year's eve since while most of the meds I take on any given day have a dehydrating effect, the hyoscyamine is right up there as the worst culprit of the bunch. I can't just blame the drugs though. Even since my much younger adulthood, I've always been one of those people who doesn't drink enough water. I have historically drank far too much coffee - a friend and I could go through two pots of dark roast, then have double espresso drinks in the evening and end the night over bottomless cups at the Fleetwood Diner. Although I have stopped that, these days I drink what is probably a somewhat rather unhealthy volume of coffee tempered with the occasional ginger ale - a concession to realizing I don't feel well anymore when I'm on a continuous caffeine drip regimen. Talking over cigarettes and drinking coffee might seem to be the perfect setting for the counter culture existence, but it loses its romance when you find that some post 30 body shut down means coffee past 3 PM makes you super cranky, tweaked, and not even remotely conversational.

Trying to find out how much fluid one should get a day, however, has not turned out to be as simple as I thought it should be. It seems there's more than one approach to determining an ideal fluid intake. Moreover, the entire issue of fluid intake recommendations apparently is a contested issue. What's a medication dehydrated, intestinally malabsorbing, coffee swilling woman to do? Ask my doctor I suppose. No appointments in the near future, but when I see her next I'll certainly ask. In the meantime, I think I'll go with the conservative "replacement approach" to my resolution.

As for getting something other than just a high hydration level at the cost of rock bottom sodium levels (yes, I know my sodium level...chalk it up under "neurotic" if you just can't imagine haltingly walking a few yards in my orthopedic gimp-girl shoes) I suppose there's always gatorade ("It's got electrolytes!"). I started typing it as "gagorade", which sums up my sentiments on the beverage nicely. Nah. I just can't do it. More water is about the best I'm going to get until there is a tastier option. I'll leave the electrolytes to bananas oh and the tons of salt I now feel free to dump on my food.

Ok well that's it for tonight. I'm pooped. Gonna go lie on the couch and read.

Happy New Year!

7 AM Monday

I'm awake and honestly, no one's more surprised than me. Ok, maybe my intestine is slightly more surprised but I'm not sure parts count.

Sitting here while the car thaws out, drinking coffee and water, checking the weather to see if the promised overnight snow was a washout or if it's merely delayed.

What do people normally do when they're up this early? Aside from drink coffee. Eat I suppose. Er, maybe not. When I'm up this early, my gut tends to feel like I tried to swallow a cast iron pan whole around 4 PM yesterday. This morning it feels like cast iron pan washed down with a bit of dirty oven mitt.

The reason for today's way too early rising is that Max has an 8:30 appointment to have his sutures removed. Although I don't believe I've made any suspicious moves such as prepping the cat carrier, I think he's come to associate my getting up before 9 with him going to the vet since at the moment, he's hiding under and behind the christmas tree. Trying to blend in? Or just making it very hard to extract him? I think the latter.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


From Wikipedia:
A very remarkable planetary/galactic configuration occurs on December 23rd and 24th 2007. The configuration on December 23 — Mars, Earth, Sun, Mercury, Jupiter, Galactic Centre — is shown in the graphic simulation linked below (here); it becomes even more remarkable in that it will be accompanied by the Full Moon (conjunct Mars) at about 2 a.m. on December 24 when a simultaneous Venus square Neptune occurs. It is even more remarkable in that the Pluto/Sun conjunction appears exactly on the Winter Solstice, just past conjunction with the Galactic Centre.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Where the boys are

We have boys. They moved in quickly, as boys often do on account of their usually having little in the way of furniture, dishes, or pots and pans. Why spend money on glasses when you can buy packages of keg cups every month on your mom and dad's Sam's Club card? Why own a baking dish when you can't cook ramen in it? Why own more than the one orange plastic plate you stole from the dining hall last year when a hot pocket's flavor is in some magical way enhanced by its being eaten off a swath of paper towel, a smoothed out grocery bag, or the surface of your hardened mac and cheese specked orange plastic plate?

Thus, because they pretty much aggregated here rather than moved in per se, it's hard to know when the boys officially arrived. I can tell you by when they were here. I believe it was last week, before the storms, that I first heard cars screeching in and out of the parking lot and later (after the storms) tires fiercely spinning on the snow and ice. These are the telltale noises of someone who doesn't understand that not all acceleration need be full to be fully effective. I know they were here last week when the sounds of heavy feet - made heavier by attitude than gravity - shook my apartment, when male hoots and grunts and hollars punctuated loud late night conversations in the hall and on the porch, and when I could hear the giggles and 1:00 AM playful stairwell protests of one or two young women behaving in a way which apparently counts as "coy" and therefore desirable in our post-Larry Flint-iconized culture. This "coy" sounds a lot like what we in my time called "skanky" but I'm more sympathetic to the girls.

Not with boys. I have a BOYS intolerance. I believe there should be a place were I can buy product to get rid of them. A boy spray or powder. Perhaps a boy-bomb (à la flea bomb folks, I'm not talking Ted Kaczynski shit here).

A____ told me this morning "I just worry about you." I said I don't know what that means. It's not specific. He said he worries that sometimes my reactions to things, e.g. the boys on the stairs at 2:00 last night, will make those things worse.

That's not worried about me. That's worried about the ramifications, implications, and overall fall out from my typical reaction to things like BOYS in my personal space, which reaction is admittedly intense at any time of the day and it highly amplified if it starts after I've turned off the lights and settled down to try to go to sleep.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Boo-boo kitty

Max is recovering well. His biopsy results are back and it's all good. (Huge sighs of relief!)
He's stuck with his lovely blue poncho for a while, at least until the sutures come out next week.

Although I know he dislikes being shaved, his wrist shave makes it look like he's wearing a mitten, or maybe one Ug boot. And that's kinda cute.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What's cooking?

Fire Controlled at White House Compound
By Associated Press
December 19, 2007

WASHINGTON - Thick black smoke billowed from a fire Wednesday on the White House compound in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

The blaze appeared to be located in Vice President Dick Cheney's suite of ceremonial offices on the second floor of the building. Cheney and President Bush were across the street in the West Wing of the White House when the blaze broke out. It appeared to be under control within an hour.

I'm instantly imagining the many foul things Icky Dick Cheney might have been up to in there.

Tuesday Poetry - better late than never...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

art and cats

My cat's only dalliance with art (of any human sort) was the time he decorated himself with my green watercolor paint. When I paint, I like at least some of the paints to be quite viscous. This results in my often having somewhat heavy, sticky glops of paint on whatever is passing for a palette. Max found a slightly old palette and stepped into one such blob which had nearly dried through but retained a soft sticky center. He had tracked green paint around my office for a while, leaving little dark green partial toe prints here and there, before I realized what had happened.

Since he seemed fine with my attempts to wipe the paint off his paw, I got ambitious and dunked his paw in water to dilute the blob. That was decidedly not ok.

During the struggle that followed, Max ended up with green paint streaks all across his snowy white chest and neck. Then he took off out of the house and stayed out so late I went looking for him. As I scanned under cars and peeked into back yards around the neighborhood, I couldn't help imagining the "lost cat" flier I'd have to post if Max didn't come home that night: "Lost - Enormous Orange and White and Green Cat"

Thanks to A____ for the link below.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Now I'm going to have to drive by this cheery holiday display and see what all the fuss is about.

Atheist Protests Location Of Tree
By David Owens
Courant Staff Writer
December 14, 2007
VERNON — The leader of the atheist organization that placed a display in Central Park in Rockville has asked town officials to move a Christmas tree placed in the park by town employees that partially obscures the atheist display.

Dennis P. Himes of Vernon, who is state director of American Atheists Inc., wrote a letter to Town Administrator Christopher Clark and sent copies to Mayor Jason L. McCoy and the press.

In the letter, Himes said he expected McCoy to order the tree be moved away from the atheists' display. He also asked that the workers who installed the tree be admonished.
The Connecticut Valley Atheists placed a three-sided display in Central Park on Dec. 1, after first applying to the town for a permit. Permits also were issued for placement of a creche and a menorah. Until this week, the atheists' display was the only one in the park. It is a three-sided structure that on two sides features an image of the twin towers of the World Trade Center and is framed by the words "Imagine No Religion."

The sign was a topic at Tuesday's town council meeting, where some speakers expressed anger that it was in the park.

Justin Schwarz of Brooklyn Street said the sign is offensive and told the council he plans to speak with a lawyer about trying to get it removed. Schwarz on Thursday said he views the sign as "hate speech."

"I find the 'Imagine No Religion' offensive, as a Christian and as a human being," Schwarz said Thursday. Schwarz said a friend who is an atheist apologized to him for the sign.

"This group, they're out to force their will upon other people at the wrong time of the year," he said.

The Rev. Raymond Grezel, pastor of the Rockville Church of the Nazarene, asked the town council Tuesday whether the atheists' display is "appropriate." He urged the council to examine the town's policy and consider the ramifications of allowing any group to display its views.

He raised the issue of a white supremacist organization placing a display in the park on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. McCoy said Thursday such a display would likely not pass muster.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Loathing examined

I was re-reading this post and thinking it's this kind of negative attitude that makes it hard to fit in at the various support lists and communities.

I remember I was once on a Lyme Disease list. Some good info on there, some bad, and people at all stages of dealing with the acute illness or its sometimes long lasting effects. There were many of the latter, I think because they would be most likely to be looking for explanations and answers and advocacy tools - thus they'd be likely to find such lists and groups.

I did not fit in. I did not sign my emails with e-hugs and angel kisses. I didn't offer prayers or express my belief in a higher power. I did connect with some people though, usually over the difficulty of dealing with the healthy people around you who don't understand what this disease can do and how long it can do it for. In one such an exchange, my sarcastic humor so angered one of the angel-fluffybunny-ehuggers that she flamed the shit out of me both off and on list. Definitely an authority issue at heart, but played out in the arena of my "negativity".

I was just trying to make some other poor guy smile and nothing I had suggested was that off color. Just, er, some light comic aggressive steam blowing.

Then there's the issue of my family history. I was thinking that probably this blog is not readily identified as a survivor's blog, I mean not if you aren't into reading and such. (oh hell, more fucking negativity). But I don't have buttons and banners and sexual and physical abuse survivor blogrolls, links to Tory Amos pictures, inspirational finger paintings by abused children, sometimes cryptic water color images of hearts, teddy bears, angels, and hands. This is the type of thing I've seen which immediately mark a blog as being in the hinterlands of survivorhood*.

But I do freely disclose this aspect of my history. Sometimes it's important for someone I'm close to or becoming close to to know about. Sometimes it's political. Sometimes I've just had it with someone's ignorant idiot rambling on the subjects and I need to weigh in with some expertise behind the words to give it that extra punch I want. Ah, more negativity. Sometimes I truly think "Aha, a chance to inform and educate" although that one has fallen a bit into disuse after I realized it can be traumatic for me to open my experiences up to someone who is uninformed. They don't usually mean anything bad, but they do sometimes not understand that when, where, and how I talk about things (as well as which things) is entirely and necessarily at my discretion. E.g., my friend who continued a conversation about a topic involving my mom into a stairwell at school. It had started quietly in a room, just him, me, and another close friend. Then we went to get lunch. I recall trying to put it off when we were in the hall. Once we had gotten into the stair well though, he yelled some very detailed comment, not lacking a bit of judgment, which bounced and echoed off the bare concrete.

So what is my problem? What's with all the loathing? I guess I'd wonder more specifically what's with all the stigma against it? And what is with it coming from the survivors themselves even? My sister had some experience with that in a group.

On the general topic of stigma about survivor anger, I think it's fair to say what happened in my family is FUCKED up. And I think that a normal reaction to something that fucked up is to have negative feelings about it. I'm not a perpetrator, my attitudes and outbursts are not of that nature at all. When I do pick fights with people, it's usually someone I think is picking on someone else (or me) or has violated some kind of very important trust. Often a person in a position of some authority and who is using it either maliciously or so selfishly and for such limited ego gratification goals that they are exploiting others or putting them at risk of emotional harm or even more overt, socially acceptable damage.

Ibid on the health stuff. I do wonder if that will fade somewhat in time. I think some of it has already, although it's difficult in the context of academia, where pain and fatigue are practices to be engaged in for social and sometimes professional reward, always done and interpreted with the implicit understanding that the level of energy is more or less renewable. It isn't for me. It can mean I will not be able to get up the next day. It can mean a fever for weeks, a leg that hurts so much I can't sleep (adding to the exhaustion).

I'm watching another student who was diagnosed with a growth on his pituitary gland a few years back go through this shit too. He was sick. He's still not well, but he's better than he was. His dad had endocrine problems too which resulted in a line of troubling related health issues which this kid grew up watching. Being diagnosed with something like what Dad had was scary. And now this kid is being told he's progressing too slowly. The worst part about it is that the telling is usually not direct, and so he attributes his feelings of guilt, low self efficacy, and low self worth to himself. "It's not like anyone is saying it" he told me a week ago. I told him that in my experience, that sinking feeling that you're going to be judged as insufficient due to medical problems is not all "in your head" and is based on some signals you are picking up from the people around you.

Again, more of my negativity. Spreading the loathing, it would seem. If you're a fluffybunny-ehugger at least.

* There's a request not to copy or link to a site I found recently for incest survivors, so I can't give you a full description of the steps that particular site gave for the survivor recovery process. I found them bothersome in a way which touches on some of what I've mentioned above. If you're curious and you look up incest + survivors you'll probably find some of what I'm talking about. You'll also find some which isn't pro-anger denial, I did. But I've learned my lesson to stay away from any support communities or group since I know my "negativity" can always be waved about as a reason to invalidate what I feel, think, or say. And I could do without that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm sure he had a point...

Man nearly dies downing vodka at airport
Wed Dec 12
Associate Press
BERLIN - A man nearly died from alcohol poisoning after quaffing two pints of vodka at an airport security check instead of handing it over to comply with new rules about carrying liquids aboard a plane, police said Wednesday.
New airport rules prohibit passengers from carrying larger quantities of liquid onto planes, and he was told at a security check he would have to either throw out the bottle of vodka or pay a fee to have his carry-on bag checked.

Instead, he chugged the vodka — and was quickly unable to stand or otherwise function, police said.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday Poetry

Why We Play Basketball by Sherman Alexie
(from the YouTube note: animated by the Native Lens youth in May 2005)

Cover of Bowie's God Knows I'm Good (lyrics here)

The loathing

It has begun. I have the loathing. It came upon me yesterday evening when I wasn't looking at a clock. It had been dark for hours but this time of year my body's apparent blithering optimism fails me and my internal clock. "Too early" is about all I get out when I consider the light and the hours between 3:30 and 10:00 PM. So I tend not to consider them.

I was on the carpet in the living room and it was dark outside. The cat in his blue soft e-collar, which looks like a cardinal's cape (except blue not red) was alternately snuggling and biting. I thought of the invitation I had gotten to a grad student potluck end of the semester weeeee thing going on this Friday. This Friday my cat is not having surgery because we pushed it to Monday. This Friday our grades are due. And somewhere in there I suppose I ought to buy a tree...but when? Before any frivolous extras like tree decorating, I should probably clean. And what if things don't work out well for Max? Will I really want to come home to a half decorated christmas tree next Monday?

I think it was the last bit, the nod to "things to do" which are at least in principle enjoyable. It was that last bit which heralded in the loathing. Not that the thought of a tree irritates or even upsets me. I like lying under christmas trees and looking up the lights. I like turning off the lamps and letting christmas tree glow, a light which certainly has it's own peculiar - dare I say magical quality, illuminate the room. What got the loathing going was, I think, the somewhat well worn but still unexpected path running from things cat and health related, things school related, and The Rest - which lead me into an accounting of what The Rest is and can be for me. The answer tends to come out as not a whole lot. And then my automatic questioning begins(why? am I ok with that? if not what needs to be different? how can I make it different?), turning me back to what will necessarily be a closer and more pointed examination (or at least consideration) of things health related and things school/profession related and the interactions between the two.

And once that circuit is complete, we have loathing.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Hello collar?

Max is a very unhappy kitty right now. The vet shaved Max' tail and butt and cleaned the wound Max has fussed at so much that it is now about 1.5 times as big as it originally was. Max has surgery scheduled for next week. They're going to remove the growth, as well as another one that's closer to the base of his tail (fortunately it's more dorsal than the open one). And Max got a shot of antibiotic. He's one pissed off cat. I'm sure he's in pain and to make it all worse I won't let him lick and bite at his tail.

We tried the elizabethan collar. Wow did that not work. So now we're on to the "soft collar", or we will be in a few hours after we get it from the vet. Man I'm really hoping that's better. One of Bubblewench's kitty's had a tail injury recently, maybe she can weigh in with some advice on how to keep the cat away from an injured tail.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

sick kitty

My cat Max is sick. He's been biting at his tail. Actually, he's been biting at a lump on his tail which the vet saw once a while ago (pre-biting) and said it didn't look too bad. But now, oh boy does it look bad. He's got an appointment for late this week to see the vet, but tonight I discovered his tail was bleeding. No details since I know my constitution for ick is higher than some, but the short story is it's looking ugly and he won't leave it alone.

A___ awesomely came up with a good bandage from a nonstick pad, a bandaid, and a small section of elastic bandage, and of all things duct tape (no tape is actually stuck TO my cat, just around the bandage to hold it together). So far Max hasn't fussed at it too much, but he's clearly cranky (ok, crankier), which means he's in pain.

I feel like a bad pet mom for not getting him in sooner.

I'm also worried about leaving this bandage on - it's snug but I don't think it's too tight and we cleaned the wound before we dressed it. But I know it's not good to leave bandages on long (for sure > 24 hours is a big fat no-no). I'd love to change it tonight...ok well "love" is perhaps the worng word. I'd feel better if I could change it tonight but A____'s out of town for the evening and there's no way I can wrestle nearly 20 pounds of cranky, pained furry fury into acquiescence long enough to do the dressing change alone.

It's going to be a long night I think.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

power and privilege

There's a fine line between "dictator" and chief executive. Apparently it's a matter of party affiliation when interpreting whether the head of the executive branch of government is engaging in constitutional "evisceration" or merely evoking "executive privilege", "executive power", and "inherent powers" of the executive branch.

GOP health-care suit called Scrooge-like
By David Mendell, Tribune staff reporter
December 7, 2007

Gov. Rod Blagojevich forcefully defended his legal ability to broadly expand state health care coverage Thursday, excoriating those who are suing to halt the expansion as "Scrooge-like" in the holiday season.

A business group led by prominent Republicans has sued the Blagojevich administration to block the governor's health-care expansion. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Ron Gidwitz, a GOP candidate for governor last year whose family built and then sold Helene Curtis, the maker of Finesse and Suave shampoos.

"I find it almost Dickens-like," Blagojevich said of the suit. "It is mind-boggling to me that the heir of a shampoo fortune would actually go out of his way to take away health care through the courts from the very people who made that shampoo for his dad and allowed him to inherit all that money. Yeah, it is Scrooge-like in many ways."

The group sued after Blagojevich unilaterally increased the number of Illinoisans who could receive state-subsidized health care by 147,000. The governor's action came after a legislative rulemaking body turned down the expansion. Lawmakers were worried about a lack of money to pay for the program, among other issues. Gidwitz responded that by expanding the program without the consent of lawmakers, the governor is "not just running roughshod over the constitution, he is eviscerating it." Blagojevich is acting "more like Hugo Chavez" than a democratically elected governor, Gidwitz said, referring to the socialist leader of Venezuela.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"TAing doth murder sleep"

Let me tell ya, when sleep has come the last week, it does feel like "the death of each day's life". I feel this most each next morning when I wake, still hopeful at that moment of rising consciousness that it will not hurt. What am I doing each day which would account for such a descent each night and subsequent exhuming each morning? Why, I'm "wrapping up the semester". Sounds so cheery, doesn't it? Sounds like it should have yellow gingham curtains tied back with little light blue eyelet lace ribbons. Sounds neat and homey, like something I'd find in a jar with a hand drawn label promising the sweet reward for good honest hard work.

Instead, it's a pack a day, caffeine embalmed, tendon twisting grind which leaves me wanting to write things like 'Ok now I KNOW you're just filling up space" in the comment sections of certain student papers. It's the emergency brake left on. It's the smell of what you forgot you were cooking and were reminded of by the smoke alarm telling you and your neighbors that tonight's dinner is way past done.

On that note, I'm off to stumble into bed. Gute nacht, apparently.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesday poetry

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Monday, December 03, 2007

there ought to be a law...

What kind of adult intentionally deceives a kid into believing that the adult is a peer so that the adult can coax the kid to let down his or her guard, share secrets, and form attachments with the persona the adult has created? One answer which springs to mind readily is "the creepy kind who has to register with police."

So why is it that the case of Lori Drew participating in the creation of an online identity for exactly the purpose of deceiving 13 year old Megan Meier into believing this identity belonged to a same aged peer isn't being discussed in that light?

Over and above, or perhaps under and throughout, the more widely discussed themes of internet bullying, there is the characterization of Drew's behavior as a deliberate pattern of kid stalking.

While internet bullying is troubling (absence of certain channels in the interaction leads to a reduced immediate accountability load), I can't help feeling there's something about the term which implies some level of equality among the players and which, moreover, seems to invite a sort of "kids will be kids/people can be cruel but is it right to try to legislate good manners?" argument. Perhaps for those reasons I bristle at the treatment Drew's behavior has gotten, the bullying "issues" it has apparently raised, again.

This was more than bullying. Lori Drew engaged in a deliberate process of intentionally deceiving a minor into believing she was communicating with a peer, a peer the minor clearly had romantic interest in. It's not like Drew created a profile and Megan stumbled upon it, or Drew was pretending to be a kid for some reason independent of luring in a minor, or Drew created a female profile. No. Drew put out bait for Megan. Drew used the profile of a cute boy who said nice things to an insecure 13 year old presumably (because face it, big main stream presumptions of het until proven otherwise) straight girl. Lori Drew carried on this behavior, communicating with Megan, pretending to be a 13 year old the whole time. Lori Drew was part of making the Megan bait profile available and letting others use it to communicate with Megan. She pretty much pimped the profile.

Such deliberate deception of a minor, with such striking predatory overtones seems like it is something law enforcement should consider illegal or at least suspicious behavior. What I've seen in the news reports on Lori Drew's victimizing of Megan Meier is that there are no laws which apply here.

Should there be a law?

Arguably in many situations there is an assumed right to engage in pretense, online and in general. All of us engage in some level of it, to greater and lesser degrees and for better or worse reasons. And yes, some people will want to pretend to be younger than they are and while I personally think that sort of thing is deceptive and, well, lame, it doesn't take a degrees in legal ethics or criminal law to see that a 50 year old woman fudging facts by 5 or so years on her (adult) singles dating profile is a universe away from a 30-something year old woman pretending to be a minor for the purposes of initiating contact and carrying on a damaging relationship with a minor.

Is it just me or doesn't it seem like that sort of intentional, deliberate deception of a child should be, if not illegal, then at least cause for the FBI to seize your shit and comb through it looking for kiddie porn and the like. To me, it's the equivalent of hanging around the edge of the school yard luring kids over with candy and the like.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

More grading...

Not exactly "grading" in that I'm not assigning grades at the moment. I'm "reviewing", where my linguistic training and the knowledge endowment from English teacher parents makes it impossible for me to leave a dangling participle...well, dangling.

Hence, more toys. These allow me to stay at the computer and not get sucked into something truly rewarding while providing enough distraction to keep what's left of my sanity somewhat intact.
(this applet is so cool it's now permanently on the footer of the blog)

Created by Anu Garg.

I feel like I should dedicate this post to my sister, for whom spirograph was a beautiful childhood obsession.

Friday, November 30, 2007

word of the day

Sausage Fest - n. - from "sausage festival". (humorous) Coined to describe situations where there are disproportionately more males than females, or where male presence and/or contribution is over-represented. This forum is a god damned sausage fest!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Here's something that I recently discovered I have strong feelings about. It's the use of the word "entitle" to mean "title" or "name". It bugs the bejeezus out of me. Although it pains me nearly physically to do so, let me give some examples of the use of which I speak:
- "Entitle a single appendix APPENDIX, typed in all caps; multiple appendices should be titled and ordered alphabetically: APPENDIX A, APPENDIX B, etc."
MBA Style Guide)
- "Dr. Thompson's talk was entitled Fire in the Mind."
(Colorado State Science Fair)
- "Readers' Responses to the Webcast Video Editorial Entitled 'A Healthcare System That Works'"
(MedScape General Medicine (MedGenMed))

(bold lettering and italics above are not mine)

I've spent some time thinking about this tonight. What is it about this use that I find so problematic? I'm not a prescriptivist. I'm a grammatical and linguistic pragmatist, for the most part. It's not that I believe "entitle" is ungrammatical (it's not). Even if it were, grammaticality alone is not grounds for me to dislike a use so intensely. There's some nuance here which is eating at me. And no, it's not the similarity to the other, more common meaning of "entitled".

While I can't fully see the details of what bugs me, here's the gist. If "entitle" means to give a name to, or more simply to name, then it should be synonymous with "title", right? Then why use the prefix form? Maybe in a diachronic view, "en" + "title" could be considered the correct form, or the more correct form. It's certainly plausible that somewhere along the line someone felt it was more proper to use a Latin/Frenchy form to express the event of titling rather than rely on some good old fashioned conversion. But this isn't Latin or French. It's English. And the usually quite linguistically myopic native speakers of modern English are more than happy to noun our verbs and verb our nouns quicker than you can say "zero derivation". It would seem that "entitle(d)" ranks up there with "enthrone" and "besmirch(ed)" (which, like "entitle(d)", seems to appear more often in the passive voice) for screwy archaic forms. Except "enthrone" and "besmirch" don't have easily found and high frequency synonyms while "entitle" sure as hell does.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

weather, or not

It's almost December. In the past week, it has snowed, it has rained, it has frosted and frozen onto my car. I think it's even freezing rained.

Yesterday between periods of cold rain, all the tree between here and campus released their remaining leaves all at once, as if winter had come upon them - shivering and rolling its eyes - brandishing a gun and screaming "Ok everybody, drop the leaves! I SAID DROP THEM! DROP THEM RIGHT NOW GOD DAMN IT!!!!"

And today's high is 57.

Me and my joints, not to mention the trees, are getting mighty sick of this shit.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Off by about three months

Yep, that sounds right. Except the preppy (and put together) part.

You Should Be A Capricorn

What's good about you: hard working and ambitious, you're practically a guaranteed success

What's bad about you: you can be unforgiving toward people who fail you

In love: you're very picky, but extremely devoted to the one you choose

In friendship, you're: likely to be a good friend but expect a lot in return

Your ideal job: rock climber, sculptor, or practitioner of black magic

Your sense of fashion: preppy and put together

You like to pig out on: meat and potatoes

Saturday, November 24, 2007

am I 5?

I just ate a whole shit load of peanut M&Ms and now my stomach hurts, and I have a sugar rush so I'm blogging about it because A___ is grading and I am sitting here for once with nothing to do (I am done!!!....for now).

And I can't help wondering, am I like 5 years old or something? What 36 year old woman actually eats so many M&Ms that she gives herself a tummy ache?

Me. I do.

Well we all have our faults. I just happen to have ALL of mine plus a few I borrowed from a kindergartener as well.

On the plus side, I discovered that diaper pails make good kitty litter-leavings disposal receptacles. The diaper genie, in particular, works pretty darned well. Max (my cat) has had some digestive issues for a while now which got worse again about a month ago. This meant, among other things, I found myself needing to scoop his box more frequently. Like four to five times a day.

I can't flush it on account of the plumbing in the old house my apartment's in, so I scoop into grocery store plastic bags (damn stop and shop bags, there's a hole in every 2 out of 3). During Max's period of increased box use, I found myself trying to conserve bags by double scooping in one bag. This was disgusting for many reasons I don't think I need to go into. Then I remembered my friend cjblue telling me about this diaper thing which wraps up each individual diaper and then drops it down into the pail so you can toss another one in on top, wrap it, drop it, and keep going. It's great because it keeps the smell mostly shut in the container and I'm pretty sure I'm going through less plastic per scoop, which is good. Aside from few minor drawbacks involving the first one or two disposals in the pail (it apparently needs a bit of ballast to work properly) and a slightly less efficient but a hell of a lot more effective need to first scoop into a brown paper bag (lunch bags...ew), this thing is excellent.

I was feeling all smart and proud of myself for having found a good solution to the cat box scenario until I went on autopilot tonight after finishing my grading and ate all those fucking M&Ms while watching The Office webisodes.

Oh Shit. Sugar crash time.


No, this isn't about the cost of gas, utilities, housing, or dairy products. It's about grades at university. I'm thinking about it as I finish my round of grading the most recent assignment from my students. I'm teaching a writing intensive section, which means by university policy that if a student doesn't pass the writing component, that student fails the course.

This ups the ante in what is already the high stakes, high pressure grading scenario at the college level. Each semester, I find myself engaging in a process of lowering my standards in what I consider not only A work but passing work. So both ends of my scale fluctuate in a way which widens the range of passable and good work such that it encompasses products which I do honestly feel are substandard.

Why do I waffle so? One reason is that I suspect my standards are not commensurate with the level of work students at my university typically produce. All the talk about how we have a larger number of high quality students simply doesn't add up when I take informal stock of the overall level of work my students produce. This spans semesters and years and different courses I've taught. This holds true across my colleagues and peers too. Because I am by nature a relativist, I tend to adjust my scale to accommodate what seems to be the norm here. That is, what to me is B or C level work apparently at my university warrants at least a full letter grade higher in the final accounting.

Another reason is that even in the cases where there is no reasonable basis for awarding the higher grade, I have had students complain, insist, wheedle, flame, contest, and confront about the grade they earned. One such student brought her belief that she had received an unfairly low grade all the way to the head of undergraduate studies for my department last spring. The course had ended four months prior. She missed the final, she turned in a fragmented final essay, she had missed a good deal of class at the end, and had missed a writing assignment mid way through (which despite my giving her the entire rest of the semester to make up on account of me being a really nice person she never did make up). The grade I gave her, a low B, was charitable. Her basis for contesting her grade was that she thought I hadn't taken all her work into account when I awarded her final grade. This was nonsense, but is one of the few legitimate bases for contesting a grade. The head of undergrad studies was sympathetic to my situation as an instructor, but suggested that I look over her work and my records anyhow to see if I had missed anything. I managed to give her a slight boost, to a full B, after bumping up her participation grade (which had been moderate, a reflection of her missing so many class meetings at the end of the semester) and allowing her to make up the final (she did poorly on it, not a surprise since it had been four months since the class ended). Again, that was charitable and not at all the grade her work had earned, but at that point I just wanted her off my case.

She was disappointed, but thankfully she did not proceed further with the grade contesting request.

I was truly appalled that the undergrad studies director had not been more strict with her from the get go. He sends out emails once a semester reminding grad student instructors of the policy on grades and grade contesting. Belief that the grade was miscalculated or that the instructor missed or didn't count significant work on the part of the student are the only legitimate reasons to change a grade after it's been submitted, and yet here he was encouraging me to go on a fishing expedition to find some way to elevate a grade which was already somewhat inflated.

I know I am not the only one (cf. "A's for Everyone!"). I know that this happens with other instructors at other universities. Still, although I don't want to be part of this trend, it is incredibly difficult to work against that aspect of the system.

How are instructors ever to feel confident assigning the grade student work has earned when even the instructors' own departments seem to falter in support of stated grade policies? I know I feel a hell of a lot less confident now.

And so here I am, nearly done reviewing these papers. I saved what I figured would be the most tricky ones for last so I could at least grade them with the lowest possible standards (that is, standards relative to what was most likely to be the best or typical work of their peers on this assignment, which I had started with). I'm looking them over and thinking "Ok, on a non-relative scale this thing deserves a C, tops..." but I know for at least some of these students, the amount of effort they have put into the assignment is what they expect to be graded on. And I know for my more tricky students, that is, the ones who I've already identified as having problems with the topic or the manner of writing about it, there has been a reasonably high level of effort involved in getting the assignment done. I am wondering not just do I inflate but by how much? How much can I justify before I feel like an academic whore, pimped by the university and my department, here simply to at least minimally gratify the majority of my students?

Friday, November 23, 2007

PFG needs (2)

My god some of these are frighteningly accurate...

PFG needs a generic re-post action
(ok not that one)

PFG needs a girlfriend
(not my thing, strictly speaking, but in a more general sense, couldn't we all use more love and understanding?)

PFG needs the volume throughput to maintain the economies of scale

PFG needs some psychological help

PFG needs to change her name
(Petite Flower Goddess Who Is Kind and Sweet and Fair but Who Does Have a Somewhat Short Temper?)

PFG needs another expensive pleco

PFG needs broadband
(No, I need broaderband)

PFG needs a good shot in the arm
PFG needs to constantly adapt in order to stay ahead
(so true)


One holiday down, one to go. It was great to see my brother and sister. So great I managed to only blow up and act like a douchebag one time. Aside from that, it was great. The food was good, company was nice, and Skeletor was a big hit, as was this little number.

The end of my Fall Break means it's time to go back to work, and I approach work with a toxic mixture of trepidation and irritation these days. It's the close of a semester, always a crazy time. This one will be especially complicatedly crazy. I go back to an ambiguous relationship with my advisor, who has probably forgotten again that we have twice had the difficult but open and useful discussion in which I tell her where I think the faculty can stick their lip service to making medical accommodations and this PhD (nicely of course). Also waiting for me are some truly unpleasant discussions with various mid level administrators in my program as part of my effort to at least leave gracefully. And in the meantime there is grading and tonight there is an inbox stuffed with emails from a particularly annoying student, Princess.

I'm having a hard time feeling enthusiastic about work right now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I'm listening to my fella chip the ice off our cars. I just sat back down after a big fat cleaning fit. The place looks good, except for the kitchen which will soon be the site of pie making and food prep so I figured why bother with the heavy cleaning in advance? I've graded all but four papers from my students, alternately horrified and delighted by their writing. And now it's time to relax for a bit, clean myself up, eat, and then go pick up the siblings from the train station an hour up the interstate.

I know it's late November, but still it was something of a shock to wake up to find white stuff dusting the ground, the bushes, and the mostly bare tree branches. Oh and the cars. I looked at the weather... "Ice Pellets" is on the menu for today. That and black ice, freezing drizzle, and fog. Yeah, I guess it's winter.

I fell asleep in pain and woke up in pain, so this was a lot of work to get done on top of that and despite the fact that I pulled some muscle or something in my shoulder vacuuming, I feel like I got a hell of a lot accomplished. I'm still not used to the fact that my body and my mind are not exactly on the best of terms. When I can manage to get a lot of shit done in one day, it makes me happy. I'm looking forward to resting this evening, watching movies, and eating. We still have the drive up in not great weather but we'll take it slow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

turn out

Hate crimes rose 8 percent in 2006
By Michael J. Sniffen, AP Writer
WASHINGTON - Hate crime incidents rose nearly 8 percent last year, the FBI reported Monday, as civil rights advocates increasingly take to the streets to protest what they call official indifference to intimidation and attacks against blacks and other minorities.

Police across the nation reported 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability. That was up 7.8 percent from 7,163 incidents reported in 2005.

I read this and I am satisfied that there is visible outrage. There damned well should be. But I also immediately wonder where the outrage is over the numbers 358,220 and 38.5.

The first is the number the US Department of Justice 2005 personal crimes report gives for women who were victims of rape* or sexual assault** in 2005. The second, again, from the US Department of Justice, is the percent of women who reported an incident or threat of rape, sexual assault to the police.

Yes, there are Take Back the Night Rallies every spring - often on campuses or in university-heavy cities. But that's a bunch of feminists, right? And feminism is considered a political stance, not an attitude encompassing basic human rights. Where's the basic outrage and anger over the victimization of women? Seriously. Where the fuck is it?

For the data/methods interested folks out there, here's the methods for the 2005 survey

And from that document, we get the following definitions:
* Rape = Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means vaginal, anal or oral penetration by the offender(s). This category also includes incidents where the penetration is from a foreign object such as a bottle. Includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims and both heterosexual and homosexual rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.

**Sexual assault = A wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape. These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender. Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling. Sexual assault also includes verbal threats.


The studios have defined the streaming of films and TV shows as promotion, not programming. (LA Times Patrick Goldstein)

It kind of makes you wonder if streamed content constitutes "promotion" (rather than "show"), what is it that's being promoted? Shows? The network? Whatever product is being pimped 5 or 6 times a "promotion" (have you had your "white moment"? I am asked repeatedly by a totally surreal and fucked up ad which provides regular bathroom breaks in my viewing of an online "promotion" I watch regularly).

I haven't had cable or receivable TV in years, god something like 8 now. Then I discovered that some decent shows are on DVD. I rented them. Then they appeared on iTunes. I tried out a few, and the ones I liked I subscribed to. Now many of these shows are available as streams at network sites. ABC's player is better than NBC's btw. So now I watch 3 shows from NBC, 2 ABC shows, and one Fox show routinely, all online.

Although what is shown in the streaming version is identical to the show I would get were I to watch on TV, the networks would like us to consider this media "promotional", which appellation they believe absolves them of needing to compensate the writers for the work.

What a load of shit.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I'm so supposed to be grading....


My sister was asking me whether my university has the StanfordPrisonExpDocumentary (as opposed to this potential movie on the topic). They do and I am now wondering why we don't make a point of showing this footage to our students.
I'm not sure if the clip below is from the movie.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pumpkin soup

I just made pumpkin soup and holy crap it's yummy. And pretty damned easy too. It's an adaptation of the recipes I found by googling "pumpkin soup recipe".
One small to medium onion
1/2 stick of celery
One peeled carrot
One potato
1/2 inch of peeled fresh ginger root*
2 cans of chicken broth (low sodium is better b/c the non-low Na has like a whole salt lick in it)
1 can pureed pumpkin (the pie stuff is fine providing it's not seasoned already)
1 crushed clove of garlic
A dash of ground cayenne pepper
Black pepper
A dash of nutmeg
1 bay leaf
A very tiny amount of ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp butter
~ 1 cup of light cream

Melt butter in a large saucepan/pot. Add diced veggies, garlic, and seasoning and sautee until slightly tender. Pour in about 3 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and puree in a blender or food processor (we used an immersion blender right in the pot, worked just fine but wear an oven mitt because that broth gets hot). Stir in pumpkin, cover, bring to a boil then let it simmer for about 10 minutes on a very low heat, stirring occasionally (again, the oven mitt is necessary). Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add cream and heat through on low heat.

I added a splash of cider too since (a) I had it and (b) my fella salted it up a lot and I figured the sweetness of the cider would help cut that somewhat.

* You can probably use dried ground ginger instead, although I'm not sure what the fresh to dried equivalent would be.

long week

It's saturday after a long week, before a long week. Extra long in fact since next week is thanksgiving. I need groceries, for the short and long term, but I don't even want to drive past the supermarket. Once when I was younger, married and living in Michigan, I went grocery shopping the weekend before thanksgiving. Standing in a line which moved slightly faster than grass grows, I vowed never ever to make that exact same mistake again. I didn't. Instead, I ended up going grocery shopping the wednesday before thanksgiving some years back.

This year, I am going mid-morning monday. I am hopeful that the swarms of holiday food shoppers who adopt the manners of petulant sharks will all still be at work.

However, it's saturday after a long week and I am already nearly out of coffee.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday poetry

Tom Waits sings Tom Waits and K.D. Lang sings Leonard Cohen

Monday, November 12, 2007

When a Bear Isn't

Let's try an experiment. Take a moment to imagine a big white bear. Got it? Ok, now that you've got it, I need to ask that while you are reading the following post, you try not to think of the white bear. Any time you do think about it, you should tap your left index finger.

Where to start. My weekend was not good. My fella's family doing an early thanksgiving because fella's sister and brother in law and new their new baby were in town. It's the first time I've met this sister and her husband, who are very important to my fella. I wanted to meet them. I wanted to like them. I wanted them to like me.

Maybe I should start with the The Card Game Which Wouldn't End on Friday night. That was most of the family, minus more local brother and his wife. Father was drinking. He gets a little competitive when playing games. He has made the now wife of my fella's brother cry. Me? He pissed me off. And I don't have a poker face, voice, brain, or mouth.

Saturday brought something like an apology from him. "Will you forgive me for being belligerent?" my fella's dad said to me with a pouty face and in what I was a little aghast to realize was slightly baby-voiced speech. I wanted to say "If you're apologizing for acting like a child, it'd help me feel a whole lot better about it if you said it like an adult." But while this was honest, it felt shitty. Instead I hemmed and hawed a bit and finally I settled on "I just thought you were drunk," which in retrospect was probably not exactly polite but I respected the guy too much to try to hand him some insincere bullshit. The apology came in front of several other family members so I couldn't have the open discussion with him which I'd like to have had. The one which would have started with me saying "Yeah that was a little weird..." and which would have hopefully ended with us agreeing amicably just not to play cards again so no one's style has be to seriously crimped. Or to have a safety word or something.

Fella's father went to bed early that night.

And then came Sunday.

Sunday I had what I am recognizing as a "pfg's greatest hits" fight. I've had it now with at least one social group at each stage of my life. This fight has happened with my family, friends, lovers, friends of lovers, and family of friends. It's the "I don't want to watch Freddy Krueger/Hannibal Lecter/most of the Quentin Tarantino collection" fight. Why a fight? Fuck if I know. It always starts out simply and I'd guess innocently enough. Someone suggests, shows up with, or goes out and rents a movie for a group which includes me. Since it's meant to be for group viewing, and making my usual assumptions that group members have a say about what the group's going to do during group decision time, I say something like "I really can't watch movies with over the top violence..." I often say it with some degree of self recrimination or chagrin, a tone of apology because I know that people don't like to have their video recommendations dissed.

Aside from the largely unavoidable tone, I have tried different ways of saying it. I've tried different word choices in expressing this. The repeat nature of the arguments my sentiment provokes has taught me what apparently doesn't work. I'm still looking for what does.
Here's what doesn't:
"No no, it's me. I mean, I don't think that (insert title of movie, e.g. Pulp Fiction) is a bad movie. I know it got good reviews, and if it's not death, dismemberment, rape, torture, and the like from start to finish and if you've seen it and can let me know when not to watch, I'm ok with watching it because I have heard it's good"
"Does anyone get a finger cut off?"
"A lot?"
"Does anyone eat a body part?"
"A lot?"
"Hey I'm not saying you guys can't watch it."
"If it's open for discussion, I mean, if it has to be something we'll all watch, can I just vote we not get it, at least not tonight?"
"Look, can we just not make a big deal about this?"
" Can we not have a fight over this? If you really want to see that tonight, I can do something else for a while..."

When dealing with this topic, I've even gone so far as to explain (to people I have some established reason to believe I am close to and who therefore should give a shit) what watching such movies does to me. As a matter of fact, I had had this conversation with my fella's dad on Wednesday night (we were over there a lot this week on account of the family thing). The topic happened to come up totally out of the blue and I thought "Aha, this is a good time to let him know I can't watch that sort of thing". I see it as like letting someone know you're allergic to peanuts. You might not tell them right away, but if the topic of peanuts or food or allergies comes up at some point and if you happen to have this allergy, you'd be stupid to not mention it then.

I do sometimes find people who don't take deep personal offense when I express my desire not to expose myself to this stuff. Being agreeable about it is different from "taking my side" - which in fact I find I genuinely don't like. "Taking my side" only perpetuates any possible (and likely) contention the whole issue is causing. My statement and the "side takers" who chimed in after created a terrible fight at a friend's place many years ago. That episode ended by me giving in because I wrongly accepted responsibility for making a scene, harshing a scene, or otherwise fucking up everyone's plans. I think I felt that continuing to try to negotiate a reasonable activity which did not include this movie would have necessarily meant continuing the extremely unpleasant argument about banning all things nasty and violent, ever, for everyone. I'm older now and I make a point of not letting that happen anymore. That is, I try to own my shit but not anyone else's. And I'd rather leave and create a social tear than stay and fill my head up with that fucked up shit which will bother me for YEARS.

This weekend the topic of one of Tarantino's latest projects came up - as raised by my fella's brother and brother in law, who had come back to the 'rents' house with the movie Saturday night. I was not quiet or demure about my feelings and intentions for MYSELF on the movie that evening. I was clear and upfront about it. And I thought "hey I talked to my fella's dad about it and he seemed to get it", which gave me some reassurance that I could at least assume he wouldn't get on my (or someone else's) case about it.

The movie was not watched Saturday night, rather, when my fella and I got to the 'rents' house Sunday afternoon, father, brother, and brother in law told us they had watched it that morning. Then began the retellings. My not watching this shit ban (for me, personally) extends to not wanting to hear retellings. If I am going to go through all that social fuckery to AVOID seeing this shit, why the hell would I want to hear about it second hand? If I could deal, I'd just watch the damned thing and not risk what is seen as a totally unacceptable fuss in expressing my desire not to see it in the first place.

I have come to totally dread this discussion. It touches on issues of my own abuse implicitly, whether or not I choose to explicitly involve them. Needless to say, I find it extremely difficult to navigate a tricky social interaction when a good chunk of my brain is trying very hard to suppress some quite unpleasant thoughts.

So the retellings..."It was totally disgusting," fella's dad declared. Ok. I'm with ya. Totally disgusting. Sure. I had just taken off my shoes in the other room, put down my purse, hung up my coat. Brother chimed in with "No way, it was awesome!" he went on saying something unintelligible or possibly just unmemorable because around that same time, just after brother in law also started talking about the movie, I turned to my fella and said "I really don't want to hear this, I'm going outside," and started putting my shoes back on.

My fella spoke to them while I was putting on my shoes. I heard him say something like "She really doesn't like those movies guys...can you not talk about it?" and then heard him say "Ok well we're going outside, you can talk about it while we're out." When we came back in, we played a game of cards with one of fella's sisters. The other men watched various football games in the living room. Topics like Hustler and Ann Coulter came up. I mention this I suppose because I think the lack of disagreement as a result of these topics demonstrates that I wasn't just looking for a fight. I just wanted to get through family time, enjoy what was enjoyable and not get ruffled or ruffle anyone over the rest.

Then Pulp Fiction came up. "Lollipop. That's what Bruce Willis' character called his girlfriend in Pulp Fiction" my fella's sister said. We were playing cards at the dining room table while father and brother sat swallowed up by sofas in the living room when she said it to the group as a whole. Fella's brother in law was sitting at the end of the dining room table where sister, fella and I were playing cards. Brother in law was dividing his attention between looking up scores for other football games on a laptop and watching the TV which brother and father of fella had begun switching between several games.

At the Pulp Fiction reference, I shifted a bit. Shit. More Tarantino movies, I thought with some concern. I didn't say anything then though because sometimes it doesn't go there and why preemptively go there anyhow? I wanted to avoid coming across as unreasonable.
"I didn't see it..." I offered conversationally.
"Yeah, I took my mom to see it" sister said, most of her attention still on the card game.
"You took your mom?" we heard father's voice chuckling from the sofa (her mom is his first wife)
"I've never seen it because I didn't want to see it." I said.
"She didn't like it" sister said and went on a bit about what her mother couldn't watch. Now details of the movie were starting to come out. And now the details of the conversation for me become less specific*.

Brother or father or brother in law said something about "...that scene where they inject the...into the heart...."
And I said "You know guys, I didn't see it for a reason."
The conversation continued, but without graphic details for a few turns.
Then sister said "She got up and left after..."
"Hey, guys. If I'd wanted to know about it, I'd have seen the movie" I said, slightly louder.
Father and sister had some conversation about the first wife's reaction. Everyone's attention was divided, except mine. I had my cards in front of me but they were little better than polite props.
And then someone said something about "the rape scene"
It may have been brother in law. Or it may have been someone else and then brother in law was expanding on that. Regardless, it was soon after "rape scene" and to the brother in law that I said, loudly "I say for a THIRD TIME, IF I HAD WANTED TO KNOW I'D HAVE WATCHED IT."

Brother in law looked up, searching my face for the sarcasm cue my tone hadn't held. I felt hot and I know I was flushed. I have some idea what I look like when I'm feeling that pissed off. In turn, he looked the way someone would look if the refrigerator suddenly started doing The Chicken Polka, just totally caught off guard. I felt bad for that.

Then father said "So I can't talk about movies in my own house?"
Shit. Maybe I needed an analogy I thought. "No, but it's like, how about if I came into your house and lit up a cigarette**? You wouldn't like it, right?"
"Right, so if I'm in YOUR house, I won't talk about this."

A moment later I was putting on my shoes. I was thinking maybe I'd go outside for a smoke, walk it off...but I was also thinking "this just isn't getting any better. This is bullshit. I don't need this. Not again." and I was thinking "This is worse than the booze fueled Card Game Which Wouldn't End but now, unlike then, it's still light out. I can get in that car and drive home.."
And the keys were in my hand as I walked out the door. Brother called after me "Are you going out?"
"No, how about I'm just going?" I said.
And I left.

For which I now suck the most of anyone ever in my fella's family. Which really is nothing compared to how I feel about myself for so many things.

* There are actual terms for this shit. "Intrusive thoughts" being a good one if you want to look it up on Google Scholar or some such.
** Since it was lost on most of my fella's family, I feel the need to expand on the analogy. My smoking is to his house as his descriptions of violent imagery is to my head.

How's that not thinking of the bear thing going for you? Did you forget about it? If you're like most people, you didn't (unless my story of family drama was that compelling). Try going back and re-read the post, but this time know that it's ok if the white bear prowls through your head while you're reading. No biggie. Just a bear. It's not like a graphic rape scene.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Drink, drank....

I don't like the holiday drunks. I do not find them cheerful or jolly. More often, I find them irritating, sometimes amusing in a "Laughing at you not with you" way, but never ever endearing.

Why bring this up now? Because my fella's family is doing an early Thanksgiving this weekend. This means drinking, and drinking apparently means drunk.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Got A.P.?

What the hell are they doing in AP English these days anyhow? One of the worst writing examples I got so far this semester is from a student who told me "...I took AP English". Was it a confession? An abdication of responsibility? An unexpected but welcome acknowledgment of the hypocrisy of western education? An excuse? An incantation?

Maybe it was a reassurance, for the student that is. As in "I know I'm not a bad writer, I took AP English, after all."

As I look over another draft, my is head pounding from lack of sleep after meeting with this student's group for two hours last night. After the group meeting was over, I met with him for about an hour in one of those unplanned meetings. I found myself wanting to write sarcastically to these students who do such things....No, please don't respond to my emails about this. Wait several days to see me in person, then hit me up just when I think I might finally get to add to the total 10 hour food intake of two chocolate chip minimuffins. I will be sure to be in an excellent mood and I will happily reexplain everything to you, tell you which emails you should have read, and give you extra days to do (or redo) the assignment because I am that awesome.

Hey guess what? I'm not. You're not supposed to stress this issue with your students, even though dealing with other people's limitations is a good thing to learn (so why not teach it to them?). I've found students think it's a threat if I say something like "Pestering about your grade puts me in a cranky mood, and I am grading papers today, so you don't want to put me in a cranky mood."

And so I didn't want to say anything like "hey man, I haven't eaten in many hours, I'm tired, and I'm super annoyed that you didn't reply to my emails but you're stopping me now. Given that, I'm going to be inclined to be uncharitable, and charity is what you're asking for" to the boy who sprung his last minute "can we talk about this" request on me after the two hour group meeting last night.
And so I let myself be sucked into the excruciating hour of going over the exact same issues I went over with him exactly one week ago (yes, a great way to spend time on Halloween evening).

During last night's impromptu discussion, I discovered that in addition to everything I have already obliquely ranted about above, the boy has not gone to the university's writing assistance center as I asked at our last meeting (nor has he even set up an appointment). My fella said "Of course not. The writing center is for stupid people."

I sit here looking over the boy's latest draft over this morning's minimuffins, trying to determine what feedback I can give which will better explain why reasoning of the type "X because X" is not ok even if it is stated in perfectly grammatical and stylistically impressive sentences* and the phrase "I took AP English" plays in my head, like a skipping track so I start talking back to it. "I took AP English!" it says. I reply "Yeah, you took AP English and you repeatedly use words 'additionally' and 'furthermore' to connect what are otherwise disparate concepts rather than do the work of relating them to one another..."

Lack of sleep, looming holidays, and some more hip problems over the last few weeks means re-reviewing a draft I spent a whole shit load of time going over in person only to see it still sucking in the very same ways it sucked before conspire to make me cranky. Additionally, (heh) there's something about the AP English statement which simply incites me in the context of a student who I can tell doesn't even read basic directions for assignments.

* It's so not. However, the sentences are sometimes grammatically impressive and stylistically correct. Unfortunately for my students, I find grammatically impressive sentences to be annoying.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back to Beowulf?

The man who brought us Back to the Future and Forrest Gump directed Beowulf. Oh dear, I thought. I am truly done with the babyboomer aesthetic (if you don't know what I'm talking about, watch AI. Gorgeous and evocative but the evidence of this style, this sensibility, is smeared across parts of it like a hummus flecked thumb print).

I was ready to blow Beowulf off and seeing that Zemeckis is the director did very little to challenge my prejudice fueled decision. However, a couple of aspects caught my eye and now I'm interested again. Namely, Neil Gaiman shares screenplay credit. Anthony Hopkins is playing the king (the one whose all night parties pissed Grendel off, and pardon my detour but can you blame Grendel, really? If some fuck opened an all night meade hall just a stone's throw from your house, I'll bet there'd be nights when you'd be tempted to go in there and drag off thirty thanemen to prove a point...). Crispin Glover is Grendel, which is perfect. And in what seems to me a most unlikely but amusing casting choice, Angelina Jolie is Grendel's mother.

Ok, they definitely have my attention. Let's hope it's not a set up for a big disappointment.

1:00 AM poetry

Someone set the thermostat on my building's oil burner to 80 degrees. My apartment, being directly and immediately over the furnace, is mighty warm.

Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
-Robert Frost

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yeah baby, lick it!

Found on (and thanks to my fella for sending me the quote).
I provided some of the article for context.

Giuliani Is Asked His Conservative Views
By Sara Kugler
October 23, 2007 9:20 PM ET

Republican Rudy Giuliani declined Tuesday to tell a voter where he agrees and disagrees with conservative members of his party, saying it's about more than "just an ideology."

The former New York City mayor, who has made conservative Republicans nervous with some of his more liberal views - his support of abortion rights and gun control, for example - was asked pointedly at a town-hall-style meeting to outline where his views align with conservatives.
Giuliani ticked off his accomplishments as mayor, including his administration's 1995 zoning law that effectively closed adult entertainment shops or pushed them to the edges of many neighborhoods.

It is a part of his resume that he has been noting more frequently lately, and on Tuesday he suggested he alone cleaned up New York City's smutty reputation.

"I took a city that was known for pornography, and licked it, to a large extent," he said.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Snow miser

My little brother's doing better. He was down here this past weekend and I fed him so much he put on 5 pounds in 4 days. Excellent.

Life goes on. So do we.

I'm noticing searches for costume + Cold miser (or more properly known as "Snow Miser") have gotten this blog several hits in the past month or so.

I was the Snow Miser one year for halloween and apparently I mentioned that here. I feel bad for the people who come here looking...somewhere I have pictures. I've said this more than once, haven't I? And then I don't deliver. I have good intentions but bad follow through on that. This is (largely) because since I've lived in a series of apartments for the last 7 years and storage space is thus at a premium, my un-albumed prints tend to be packed away under or on top of things which would require strength and agility to negotiate. I admit to also finding myself thinking on at least one occasion while contemplating the pile of things which require strength and agility "Is this little bit of extra self absorption really worth possibly pulling a muscle, crushing a finger, dropping things on my head, or worse?"

It seems a big fat "NO" is a reasonable conclusion given the circumstances. And so the pictures stay un-posted. But I am ambitious and some would say an optimist (no really, a faculty member recently called me a regular god damned pollyanna...). So I'll at least consider trying to dig out some old halloween pictures to post. No promises though.

In the meantime or possibly instead, I've provided a YouTube Snow Miser/Heat Miser video clip from the movie, and below that is a (detailed) description of my snow miser costume in case you were considering a Heat Miser/Snow Miser costume (or set) this year yourself. It's pretty quick and not that expensive. Certainly no more than the bags o'costume you can pick up at those Halloween stores which spring up seasonally in the barely inhabited corners of strip malls everywhere. Or everywhere around here at least.

Truly, these "cartoons" are kind of creepy. Especially the little mini-snow miser chorus guys. Extra creepy. I went as the snow miser because the then-guy wanted to go as the heat miser and it just lent itself so easily to a couple costume. Oh the things we do for love...

Still, it was a fun costume and pretty quickly recognizable, especially if you go as a set. The costume below is clearly adaptable to a Heat Miser costume by substituting red, yellow/gold, and orange for the blue, white, and silver. This goes for makeup as well as for clothing. You should be able to pick up blue/white or red/orange/yellow cream makeup or face paint at most places which sell costume supplies (local drug stores out here have it seasonally on the halloween aisles). Obviously, if you're going to turn the costume below into a Heat Miser, don't go for the icicles and probably you should skip the boa and just plan to really go high and poky with your hair (with lots of cream makeup/hair-paint and that nasty, fumy colored hairspray they only sell at halloween).

What you'll need:
A long-ish long sleeved blue jersey (solid is best)
Blue gloves (borrowed or bought if you don't have any yet for winter)
Blue scarf (same)
White leggings, tights (if you want some kinda coochie grazing hoochie mamma Snow Miser get up), or sweats. I think I just wore black leggings. Not very accurate but boy was I comfy
Boots (whatever color, white if you want to match but any boot would long as you can trick or treat or dance in them)
White cream face make up
Light concealer cream or base make up
Baby powder
Big powder puffy brush (at least, and possibly a slightly smaller one for eyes but if you're skilled, you can get away with sacrificing just one brush/puff)
Clear/white or silver glitter gel make up
Frosty blue eyeshadow or frosty blue powder makeup (cream will do in a pinch but I liked the powder over cream)
Enough white craft/marabou boa to fit around your head
At least 2 largish (>3" long) clear icicle ornaments

I didn't go for the straw hat...I suppose if you really want one you can probably get your hands on one at your local GOP elections headquarters.

Clothing: Cut a zig-zag pattern along the edge of the hem, sleeves, and neck of the jersey. If you cut too low on the neck, you can wear a t-shirt or tank top under it. Too high on the hem is why I wore leggings. Try not to go too high or you'll end up with a snow miser baby tee. You can avoid all that by trying it on and marking with some pins or chalk (inside out if you're going to do the chalk thing) but this takes all the fun guessing out of it.
The other clothing items are self explanatory I hope.

Makeup: Mix some white face makeup into the very light liquid concealer or very light cream base/foundation makeup. You can go with straight white face but I think it makes me look like a clown, which is not the effect we're going for here. We want pale and cold. Plan to whiten up a bit with the powder too, so your base doesn't need to be alabaster-like. Using powder rather than just cream white face make up helps avoid that nasty wrinkle enhancing property of white face (a concern if you're my age). Apply your very very light almost white base as you would regular base. For those of you who don't normally wear it, try dotting it along your face then lightly smearing down and over to blend it. Don't rub up or you'll be driving it into your pores and don't it in. Ick.

You can smear it right into your hair, adding in some pure white cream into the hair itself. Let it set a bit, then lightly puff on baby powder with a powder brush.

Use your make up brush (puff one, the thing you'd use for powder) to apply a bunch of blue frosty eyeshadow to your eyes and then around hair line, then more gently under your cheek bones (like rouge). You can put it all along the outline of your face really if you want to go for the very damned cold look. Using your finger, dot some glitter gel around - eyes, eyebrows, and hair line are good places, but wherever else is fine. Make sure to work some into your hair too. If you don't want your eyes to look totally dead, I recommend a dark blue eyeliner and mascara as well. You can mix blue eyeshadow or liner with lip gloss to do a blue mouth, set with a puff of blue eyeshadow and add a bit of glitter if you want.

Hair: By now it should be relatively well whited and glittered. If not, rub some on your hands with some hair gel or other sculpting product and work it at least through the ends of your hair with your fingers. You don't need color at the root, although it's pretty stiff when it dries and so it will help hold your hair up into the proper "cold miser" pokey looking 'do. Use a comb or brush to tease and rat up your hair a bit. If you have lots of hair, teasing it up is easier to do upright rather than with your head upside down. (a common misconception about pokey or otherwise "big hair" is that you need to flip your hair upside down to achieve it. I've found that while this may help in the blow drying phase, by the time it's dry and you're trying to get it up, keeping your head upright and just pulling up and ratting sections at a time (and fixing with spray if you're into the whole spray thing) is the best way to get it up and keep it up. Finish with glitter and tie the white boa around your head like a headband, covering your ears unless you want to rub a bunch of white makeup and powder onto them....

I think that's it. If I remember more, I'll add it later.