Thoughtful Introspection and BlogDay 2005

Today was a weird day. First, Roger Abramson called me “overwrought” and then the thread was overrun by the Nashville chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, so I was unable to properly fight with him, for all the idiots screaming.

Then Bill Hobbs came after me and by the end of the day, I was wondering if there was some way I could send S-townMike and Chris Wage cookies.

The truth is that there are maybe fifty of you who regularly read me. Probably thirty five of you that check in every day. I get used to spouting off and throwing things out for discussion and I feel like we have good, complex discussions, even the ones that feel like LE and W. are just fighting over who’s got the better reason for calling me an idiot. I like it and feel lucky and honored that I have such thoughtful and knowledgeable posters, even when we disagree.

But every once in a while something catches the attention of a much larger fish and I get thrown a little off-kilter by that. It’s just weird. I write for myself first, for the audience I have in mind second (you fifty or so), and don’t often consider what the lurkers and folks who just stop by once might think, how they might not get the spirit of things.

It’s okay. I’m not going to start considering them, since they are usually for all practical purposes imaginary, but I guess I shouldn’t forget that they’re there.

Frog at the awesome Frogblog is recommending me to her readers in honor of BlogDay. In honor of her, here’s five I’m recommending to you.

Shug–Shug is one of my dearest friends on the planet. She’s also the type of person that can do just about anything from changing the tire on your car to painting your kitchen to making delicate roses out of icing. She’s new at this whole blog thing, so go swarm her blog and offer her advice on how to come out to people too stupid to realize why she’s always got a pretty girl on her arm.

Chris–I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been reading Chris on Bloglines now for months and have never bothered to put him on the right. I will rectify that. He’s militantly compassionate and I really enjoy his blog and his comments on other blogs.

S-townMike–Last weekend, the Professor and I attempted to locate “Salemtown.” I’m not sure we found it. Again, another blog I read all the time but haven’t done right by on my own.

Ginger–She’s witty and concise. I will never, ever be able to say as much as she says in so few words. I blog machine gun style. She’s a sniper rifle.

Peg–Good god, she can cook. She’s funny as hell and she’s not afraid to tell you your shit stinks. Her Basta series is especially funny.

Enjoy!

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Hurry Up and Blame the Victims!

If you, like me, were slowly knitting your way through your first cardigan sweater and watching the coverage of the aftermath of Katrina, you might have been struck by how, at about eight o’clock the coverage shifted from the massive devastation and death along the Gulf Coast, the unbearable stories of death and the unbelievable stories of survival, to grilling public officials about “widespread” looting.

It was like someone flipped a switch and now the story was going to be about looters, not about victims, when of course, those are the same people. People who lost everything in the hurricane and the flood in New Orleans are the ones looting. There aren’t any outside bands of bad guys coming in to swarm down on Walmart and steal diapers and dry shoes and dry clothes and food. Those are people whose whole worlds are destroyed.

Why are we vilifying them?

Chris Wage at My Quiet Life has been on this from the beginning, pointing out how the media was already framing people staying in the city as them “opting” to remain, when really, if you don’t have a car or extra money or relatives who live elsewhere, what options do you have? Boing Boing spells it out even more clearly, talking about how the evacuation plan for the city seemed to be contingent on everyone being able to fund their own evacuations.

The people I saw on MSNBC and FoxNews looting were black. Partially, as Boing Boing points out, this is because most of the poor people in New Orleans are black. Partially, as Atrios points out, it’s because, according to the media (the AP in this case), black people “loot” and white people “find.”

But I think it has a great deal to do with the fact that there are a lot of bodies down there, floating around in the streets, crushed under buildings, or suffocating as you read this in their attics.

There is no sense to be made of it. The hurricane hit the Gulf coast because there are hurricanes and they hit the coast of the southeast United States and that’s just the way it works. It’s not that God hates the South. It’s not that a giant fetus is wrecking its revenge on abortion providers. It’s not that New Orleans is full of savages who were too stupid to leave the city.

It just happened. And there isn’t any reason for it. There’s nothing they could have done better or differently to avoid being hit by the hurricane, because the hurricane is not a sentient being that can be reasoned with. No one “deserved” this.

But framing it as if people who didn’t leave deserved to die serves two purposes. One, it lets the rest of us continue that comfortable lie that we would have handled things differently, if something like that happened to us. In the face of unfathomable tragedy, it’s sad human nature to take comfort in feeling a little smug superiority.

But, more importantly, two, it distracts us from questioning why, after the initial event no one could do anything about, is the water in New Orleans still rising? Why is there still chaos in the city? Why isn’t there an enormous army of National Guard troops down there with helicopters and field kitchens and medics and the training to go into desolate urban areas and search for people? (In all fairness, the National Guard is responding to the crisis, but I want more of them.)

But of course, the water is still rising because there are breeches in the levees that they haven’t figured out how to repair. Why are there breeches in the levees? Because Bush cut the budget for shoring up the edges of Lake Pontchartrain and cut the budget for doing research into preparations for a category 4 or 5 hurricane hit on New Orleans.

We could be talking about how wise it is to divert resources obviously sorely needed by the states to the “war on terror,” but that’s a hard and nuanced discussion.

Heaven forbid we have a hard and nuanced discussion. It’s much easier to just make sure everyone understands that the only people who are suffering are people who deserve it.

Rest easy, America.

You Clean; I’ll Fix the Toilet

Fritz has offered to father my children. I’ve agreed. Due to the fact that we share an appreciation for a handsome penis, we will not be getting married.

Also, I’ve just succeeded in stopping my toilet from running and am feeling all rugged and manly. I’m not sure if those two things–having a total stranger offer to make cantankerous babies with me and minor plumbing successes–are related, but I thought I’d share anyway.

Josh Tinley has a thoughtful post on a terrible passage in Judges. I don’t know how to make anything positive out of it either, but I look forward to seeing folks wrestle with it.

Also, when I got home, all the dirty dishes that were in the living room were in the dish washer.

And I finally got my own Tiny Cat Pants t-shirt and it’s cute as hell. I am tickled. I’m going to wear it while I walk the dog.

Warning, Cheap Shot

Ah, Kansas, working hard to make sure its child brides get themselves a good edumacation.

Obviously, if God hadn’t wanted twelve year old girls to be able to marry, He wouldn’t have designed it so they could have babies.

Nebraska’s Attorney General must be some kind of godless communist heathen for prosecuting a twenty-two year old man for the rape of his fourteen year old wife. Clearly, it’s not child molestation if Kansas will let him marry her.

Really, it’s brilliant. I’m going to go to the grocery store right after work and just start grazing through the produce section, because, by God, food is made for eating and girls are made for fucking, laws be damned.

Shit, I have half a mind to drive to Kansas and marry me a 12 year old boy. Too bad gas is so damn expensive.

This Morning

This morning I couldn’t walk the dog because of the rain and I can already tell that it’s going to put me out of sorts for the rest of the day.

This morning I heard from my one friend in New Orleans. He’s safe in Missouri, but he and his partner are pretty sure they’ll have nothing to go back to. I want to say something about the ways towns along the Mississippi put themselves back together after devastating floods, about the ways in which you’ll still see the lines on the houses and buildings that survived that let you know how high the muddy water went, but you’ll also begin to see new buildings and new houses, but shit like that, though true, sounds pretty trite when it’s your house that’s gone.

This morning I read for the first time Marge Piercy’s “The Grand Coolie Damn” and I’m sitting here with my brain blown wide open. This says so much about why I hate the Democratic party–the “progressive” party–and I’m floored that it was written thirty five years ago. How can this shit still be so true? But it is.

So I feel like I should clarify my rhetorical stand on abortion, even though I’m pretty sure it’s clear to most of you. When it comes to her own body, a woman should have an assortment of tools available to her to keep things working–access to healthy foods, comprehensive health care, a good job, education, self-knowledge, and contraception. But most of all, a woman must have bodily autonomy. Period.

She–not her husband, not her boyfriends, not her girlfriends, not her parents, not her god, not her church, not her government–must be in control of her body and its functions.

And the most significant factor in being able to have a healthy life and a good job and an education and a family is being able to plan pregnancies and to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It’s as simple as that.

I don’t believe abortion should be the first and only tool a woman uses to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I think women should have thorough knowledge of how their bodies work and easy access to birth control. I don’t think one’s use of birth control, no matter one’s age, should be thought of as a moral issue. When you show us the movie about menstruation in sixth grade, show us how to put a condom on a dildo at the same time. Make it matter of fact.

Women who want to go on the Pill should be given the Pill without any lecturing from their doctors about its immorality (which still happens, as I know, because it happened to me). If women want access to Plan B, they should be able to go to their drugstore and get it, no moral questions asked. And, if a woman wants an abortion, even if we find it morally reprehensible, she ought to be able to get it.

And though I firmly believe that, if women had real knowledge of how their bodies worked and easy access to contraception–minus the moral lecturing–the number of abortions would dwindle, I refuse to talk about reducing the number of abortions. I refuse to couch my beliefs as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion” because “pro-choice” seems like the softer, less political, less offensive term. And I refuse to support the Democratic party when the use abortion and their willingness to concede ground on the issue as fast as possible in order to try to win (but obviously continue to lose) elections.

Because all that talk reinforces the bullshit belief that women’s private behavior is up for public judgment and that control of our behavior is an appropriate political negotiating point. And, fuck me, but at least anti-abortion forces are up front about it–they want to tell all women that they must always do the same thing, regardless of their circumstances (carry any and all pregnancies to term).

But to see the Democratic party also just accept that as true–that society has the right to control what women do with their own bodies–and to pander to voters by promising that they can control women in ways pleasing to the anti-abortion people makes me sick.

So, I’m pro-abortion not because I believe every woman should have bunches of abortions, but because I believe that any political movement that promises to control the behavior of women specifically and promises to curtail their medical options is so offensive that the only appropriate response to it is to meet it with something equally offensive to it.

"If it’s a whirling beat, she’ll dance to it"

She picked up the drum to play
and tore it to pieces,
She danced under the Odan tree
and tore that to pieces.

I’ve been thinking all day of Bob Dylan’s song “High Water (for Charley Patton).” I don’t think it’s a song you can so much write about as map. You’d have to put the lyrics down on a big sheet of paper and with colored pens and lines for the direct borrowings, dashes for the associations, and dots for the things that just remind you of something else, draw out the universe in which that song both functions as the center–because it brings all those things together–and the outside edge–since it seems constantly to beckon you to look past it into a rich dark water of American history.

There are the bluesmen–Charley Patton and Joe Turner by name, Robert Johnson by lyrical borrowing. With the water rising, you think back to Memphis Minnie’s “When the Levee Breaks” and Bessie Smith’s “Backwater Blues.” There’s poor Bertha Mason–the madwoman in the attic who inspired Gilbert and Gubar and, as Rhys reminds us, traveled over the wide Sargasso sea so that two Brits could fall in love.

There’s cheating (Bertha’s plight and the arrival of the cuckoo) and religion and nursery rhymes. The song is less a narrative, less a song, than a way to listen to American history, knowing and dreading something dangerous coming up from the South (first Vicksburg, then Clarksdale) flooding the landscape and drowning us all.

There’s the banjo, that African instrument now so intimately linked with incestuous, violent rednecks (Deliverance). And the drums, the incessant drumming*, that calls to mind the drums of the voodoo rituals of New Orleans.

What woman could be so in love with the drums? So angry at dear Bob that she’d flood all of Mississippi? Whose coffins? Who would throw her panties overboard? Who would have compassion for poor Bertha? Who knows the usefulness of converting to Christianity?

Ah, Bob and his inadvertent love song to Oya, the hurricane herself.

We’re hunkering down in Nashville for our dance with Oya, who has not quite spent herself, if the email I got at work is to be believed–“The Nashville area may be subject to severe weather over the next 36 hours as Hurricane Katrina makes its way inland.”

In Africa, this is a song they sing her:

Insatiable vagina
Wizard’s medicine
Child who carries the corpse
fighting Oya will come into her own
fighting Oya will come into her own.

Sunrise hits the sky, pa pa
Broom that handles reluctantly
May she sweep in money!

Frowning canopy of huge trees
beholds the strong wind
Purifying stream of air
fought the lagoon
beat upon the mountain

Honest person who inhabits the sky
Honest person of the sky
cleaned out the swamp
leaped over the mountain
stripped off somebody’s head.

Oya, don’t take offense.
Eeepa! Oya, please go
easy!

Please go easy.

———

*This is from this site, which is the most awesome thing I’ve found on the internet since Rex L. Camino showed me free blues.

Context for the Rest of You

When I lived in the Midwest, I really had no good idea of how large hurricanes were. So, for those of you trying to understand the monstrousness of Katrina, here’s some observations.

Nashville is about eight hours from the Gulf. Lots of people from this area go down there on vacation, hence its nickname, The Redneck Riviera. We’re also about ten hours by car from New Orleans.

If you look at a weather map, you’ll see that the outer clouds associated with Katrina have already reached us and the eye is not yet on land. It will be a tropical storm by the time it reaches us on Tuesday, but still, here we are, eight hours inland and we’re being warned about sustained winds of 30-49 miles an hour with gusts up to 64.

Most of our weather comes in from the west or the southwest, so it’s always weird when Mrs. Wigglebottom and I are out walking to watch the clouds roll in from the southeast, as they’re doing today. It’s just a visual warning that things in the atmosphere are not normal.

And, of course, things continue to go from bad to worse all along the gulf coast, from New Orleans east and it’s going to be very bad for folks down there for a long time.

I wish I had something witty to say about the whole situation, but there’s really nothing to be said about it at all, except that it doesn’t seem like there’s any way this isn’t going to be an unimaginable nightmare and I’m glued to the coverage, like a gaper at a car wreck.

Some Folks are Born Made to Wave the Flag

Looking at Bush’s 36% approval rating, thinking about the war in Iraq, and watching two episodes of Bill Maher back to back has me wondering about the Dixie Chicks.

It’s still common Music Row wisdom that the Dixie Chicks’ career is pretty much over, that coming out against the President was too big a sin for Nashville to ever forgive.

One thing you’ve got to understand about rural people is that, in general, we don’t believe we can have any effect on the world. You can’t do anything and if you try to do something that makes you stand out, you will be shot down or banished from the area.

Now, it’s true that when you get older, if you have the courage or desperation necessary to flee to the city, this can change. But most people don’t want to move to the city, where it’s scary and dangerous. They want to live in their small communities and that means perpetuating the kind of insular world of that small community.

Part of perpetuating the community means that you can never publicly say there is something wrong with the community. Sure, you can talk about it privately and it might seem like everyone agrees with you, but to bring it out in the open in public most often doesn’t invite change, it invites your ridicule.

The only times I’ve seen the community, then, successfully rally against something is when the threat to the status quo comes from outside. And even then, as often as not, it’s the people agitating for change that are seen as strange.

Shoot, I’ve lived places where you got a notice every six months warning you to still not drink the tap water and no one got angry at the nuclear power plants or the coal companies. They just didn’t drink the water. And I’ve lived places where you could see green sludge dumping into the creeks that flowed through neighborhoods and children in those neighborhoods all getting cancer and no one bothered to stop the green sludge dumping.

Bad shit just happens to you and you have to just suck it up and not make waves.

Again, we’re back to this unspoken seemingly-self-perpetuating understanding we have in our country, that only a select few are allowed to actually do anything and if any of the rest of us presumes to try, if we aren’t utterly perfect, our imperfections are the perfect excuse for ignoring or dismissing us.

I’m beginning to suspect that some of Bush’s appeal goes back to the fact, not that he, himself, really was a “common” guy, but that he understood intrinsically how to tap into this desire a lot of us have to live in an insular community where everything seems fine. One only has to look at the enemies in his base’s culture wars–Hollywood, homosexuals, heathens, hedonists, and women who don’t know their place–to recognize these as exactly the same enemies that threaten the status quo of rural communities.

Those of us who have only ever lived in urban areas, where it’s impossible for everyone in your community to be in your business, don’t understand the appeal in believing that, if only we could get rid of the troublemakers, everything would be all right. We especially don’t understand the small-town paranoia that says “If only we could get rid of the troublemakers, everything would be all right” at the same time the speakers seem almost cognizant that anyone at any moment could become a troublemaker.

That’s the real energy in Bush’s base–the desire to purge the troublemakers coupled with the real possibility of being discovered as a troublemaker yourself, the fact that you must rely on the compassion of a community–because, of course, we can’t help but be troublemakers–that you know can’t be compassionate towards agitators, because you can’t be compassionate towards them, or the small insular community you’re so lovingly familiar with can’t sustain itself the way it is.

See, it’s not at all what the Dixie Chicks said; it’s that they said it in public. They made trouble at a time when most of the country was clinging to a belief in a safe, insular America we could get back to, if only we got rid of troublemakers.

So, 36%. What’s changed?

I think, for one, high gas prices hit rural people very hard. We don’t make very much money and we absolutely have to drive to work, because we don’t have public transportation (duh).

And this is a war fought by poor people–poor minorities and poor rural whites. According to CNN, as of August 6th, 1,340 of the service people killed in Iraq were white from places like Plumb City, Wisconsin, Seymour, Tennessee, Centreville, Michigan, Gypsum, Colorado, Fairfield, Ohio, Parkston, South Dakota, and a lot of other places you’ve never heard of.

And, of course, this is a volunteer war, recruiting numbers are down, and no one named Bush–not Jenna, not Barbara, not George P., not Jeb Jr., not Noelle, not Lauren, etc.–has felt so compelled by our “need” to take the war to the terrorists that they’ve enlisted.

Why is this a big deal? So what if they don’t enlist?

Because, to go back to the theme I’ve been harping on, some people do things and the rest of us just sit back and take it. We perpetuate this nonsense in order to maintain an illusion of unchanging safety. But this war, at this point, represents a fundamental breakdown in our tacit agreement–the people who do things, aren’t doing anything themselves when it comes to the war and the people who don’t do anything are the ones having to do everything, bear all the devastating cost.

And that, my friends, is why I think we’re at 36%. It’s not that George Bush lied to us about why we should go to war. It’s that he’s violated the social contract that got him elected in the first place–he’s asked the people who do nothing to make all the sacrifices while those that do everything do nothing.

Hermaphrodite Porn

So, it was all very mysterious, the way that one of the Professor’s 57 lovers was like “I know how to get my hands on some footage of two hermaphrodites having sex.” and how he said he would burn it on a CD for her and how he came to her place and she ran down and he handed her the disk and she slipped it in her pocket and he drove away and she gathered her stuff together and came over here in the dark and rainy night.

It was even a little titillating, to have to figure out how to get the CD to play on the computer, and it felt like we might see something shocking and scandalous. But when that shit started up, it was very apparent that some woman in the porn industry is making a living through having some slightly greenish fake penis with the fakest of fake public hair stuck to the front of her.

Clearly, the intended audience for that porn and I are very different, because I spent the whole time contemplating the “special effects” line in the budget and wondering how she was keeping that thing secured in place–I’m betting toupee glue–rather than getting turned on.

I also then wondered why more porn isn’t like Annie Sprinkle’s, kind of funny and happy and everyone seems to be having a good time? Why, in all the porn I see, is everyone working so hard and yet seems so bored?

The Shill is Smarter than Me

Here are two pieces of wisdom the Shill imparted to me over a decade ago. They are as true now as they were then.

1. If you want to tell if it’s ridiculous for you to be dating someone, take the older person’s age, divide it by 2 and add seven. If the younger person’s age is older than that number, you’re fine. If not, you look like an idiot.

Hmm. I guess I need to start considering any hot 24 year olds that come my way…

2. Some people, when they meet a person, basically give that person 100 points and take them away as that person disappoints them. Other people, when they meet a person, start that person out at zero and add points as the person impresses them. Those people are not going to have a lot of people they think very highly of.

What can dog nuts tell us about human gender issues?

In two of my dad’s churches, the front of the churches were set up so that there was a raised area surrounded by the communion rail. The podiums were towards the front of the raised area. Then there was some open space and towards the back, there was a table where the offering plates, Bible, candles, and cross were arranged.

Behind the table was a large velvet curtain on the wall. At one church it was red and at the other it was blue. Even as a minister’s kid who ran willy-nilly all over the church, I never went behind that table. So, for a long time, I imagined that there was something behind that curtain, maybe another room or a poster of Jesus or something that only the minister was allowed to know.

Finally, when I was in high school, I looked behind the curtain and found there was just an unfinished board.

I was thinking about this in terms of that porn that’s like “let’s stick a camera right inside your vagina” and you look at it and wonder who the hell gets off at looking at something that’s so devoid of context that it appears to be just a bunch of shiny soft pink billows and folds.

It’s like the opposite of the curtain at church. The curtain at church pretends to cover something mysterious, but really just hangs there as a backdrop. But the vagina is inscrutable. No matter how long you look at it or how close up you get, you’re never going to see that place where the boundary between here and there–the ordinary and the eternal–is always permeable.

And yet, there it is–bringing forth life when you want it and sometimes when you don’t or remaining silent and unmoved when you beg it to stir something up, making up unviable monsters and viable babies, dumping out blood and tissue and sometimes small humans.

The Legal Eagle once said, “Until you can impregnate yourself, men have a role in this thing” when he was arguing that men ought to have a say in abortion. It’s a little like the flour saying to the whole kitchen, “You can’t have cake without me.”

Fair enough, but you can’t have cake without the oven and the eggs and the bowls for mixing, either. Why does the person who supplies the flour have as much of a say as the person who supplies everything else? The flour is crucial to the production of the cake, but it’s not an equal contribution to all the rest of the ingredients and whatever else is in the kitchen combined.

Anyway, I’m sure most of you saw this story in the Village Voice this week, about the man who tortures pitbulls (Important quote from story: “Ed Boks, the director of New York City Animal Care & Control, says the blame for pit bulls’ negative image is shared equally by the press–which is fascinated by pit bull attacks–and breeders who take advantage of the dogs. ‘Pit bulls are actually a rather stable breed,’ says Boks. ‘The thing about pit bulls is that they are stuck with this bad reputation. They are extraordinarily loyal and loving animals and they will fight to the death just to please you.'”) in order to make them monsters.

Here’s the relevant passage to our discussion:

“The men always say, ‘You’re taking my manhood away.’ We get that every week. They say that they can’t walk the dog in their neighborhood anymore because people will see that his testicles are gone. They are adamant about it,” Clemmons says.

They’re talking about this over at Pandagon, too, and it’s the comments that have me thinking. One commenter in particular says, in response to someone talking about dog vasectomies, “That’s the solution for me. I’m sorry, I’m not going to be responsible for some other dude, whether human or canine, getting his balls cut off.”

Isn’t this interesting? It’s got me wondering if this is an opposite impulse to the “I must make sure those slutty women are punished with babies” or if it’s really the same impulse.

We could see it as an opposite impulse–some men saying “not my body, not my place to demand its modification to suit me.” But I worry that’s it’s evidence of the same impulse, one that understands the man as being defined by his manhood, which is represented by his ability to control the animals and humans beneath him. Their fecundity is evidence of his manliness.

The behavior of others–what a fragile and stupid thing to hang your own self-worth on.

My New Reader & Other Stuff

1. Today when the Butcher came to pick me up from work, he said, “Two dollar beers.” To which I said, “Are you going to come?” To which he said, “Can I sign autographs?” To which I said, “If people ask for them.”

And then I said, “Wait, how did you know?”

And he said, “I was reading Tiny Cat Pants today to find out if you were really pissed at me and just not telling me.”

2. I’ve added some fine monotheistic bloggers to the right–Josh Tinley, who is smart and Methodist; Katherine, who I think would probably kick my ass if we ever met in person, but I find her very thought-provoking; and Shaun Groves, who, damn it, I made fun of, but then ended up really digging on his blog. Let us pray that they don’t pray for my heathen soul.

3. It’s not really my goal to become the chick who rehashes Egalia, but America, how can you look at these girls and not love them?

4. Fisk University is getting a lot of awesome national coverage lately.

5. Every time the Butcher cooks, I eat without issue. Every time I cook, I have to have antacid tablets before bed. I don’t think I’m a bad cook, but I might be overdoing it on the garlic.

Why Blog?

You should blog because you just never know. Here we are, one of the most literate societies to ever exist. Almost all of us can read and write. In five hundred years, when historians wonder what that was like, for so many people to be so in touch with each other all the time, they’ll turn to forensic computer engineers or techno-archaeologists, and they’ll in turn uncover these little shards of zeros and ones, flashes of lights they can replay, and though our English will seem as stilted and strange as Shakespeare’s or Chaucer’s seems to us, they’ll delight in our electronic detritus.

You should blog because you’ll get arrested if you take a can of spraypaint to the wall by your office. Here’s your chance to leave your mark where any stranger might see it and say “What the fuck?” or “Me, too” or “I never considered that.”

You should blog because these are such strange and shitty times and all we have are each other, lone voices shouting into a vast virtual canyon, listening for the voice that is not an echo, the voice that says, “I am here, too.”

You should blog because there’s no money in books. At least here, you have an audience that has paid $1,000 for a portal to get to you and $30 a month for continued access.

You should blog because it pisses the alternative newspapers off. For so long, they were the snarky wit of the community, and now, the best and funniest voices work for free, available for free, undermining the free papers’ anti-establishment authority.

You should blog because there are more people like you than you think.

You should blog because your voice is unique.

You should blog because it’s fun.

You should blog because writing shows you the contours of your own soul.

Write because it’s the only real magic most of us have, this ability to squash together lines and curves and dots and create worlds, recreate worlds. Write because no one with power wants you to. They don’t want to hear from you and they don’t want others to hear from you. And this, this weblogged thing, no one in power has learned how to control yet.

Write here, write now. Because no one can stop you.

Even if they find you out, drop your name, pick up another one. Come back in. Even if they tell you they don’t want to hear it, they read it already, come back in. This is not for them. Not only, anyway.

Write because we need to hear from you.

Write because you need to hear from you.

But keep writing.

Doing My Part for John McCain

“McCain told the Star that, like Bush, he believes ‘all points of view’ should be available to students studying the origins of mankind.”–The Arizona Daily Star

Here’s one for the kids.

The world started like this: there was a wide gaping nothing for a long time and then at one end of the nothing, it grew very, very cold and at the other end of the nothing, it became hotter and hotter. When the ice from the cold end met the fire from the hot end, the energy that encounter gave off started up the universe and recognizable things began to emerge–the world tree and the forces of chaos and out of chaos, the forces of order.

As things became more ordered, earth emerged and water and mountains and trees and the sky and wind and clouds and animals and people.

Still, because nothing had any relationship to anything else, there was no history, and without history, there was no life as we recognize it.

People were like trees–we grew; we reproduced; we died. We had no way of remembering it.

But, as is the way of the universe–order emerges out of chaos before descending back into it again–and as we were ordered, we developed life as we know it, with wit and emotions, and senses and speech–that “vital spark” if you will.

*******

Woo-hoo. It was hard to strip any mention of the gods out of it, but I think I did without masking my point. Now all I have to do is whoop up some quasi-scientific language to couch it in and I can get science teachers everywhere to further my own religious agenda!

Thanks, Senator McCain!

"I’m Alive!"

Most days, when Mrs. Wigglebottom and I walk by the run down house two in from the corner, there’s a loud knock at the window and a hand waves furiously.

I wave back.

The other day, there was no knock, but after we’d gotten a house away, an old man came running out, “Hey, pretty lady, good morning.”

“Hey,” I said, “Isn’t it beautiful out? How are you doing?”

He stretched his hands out and looked up at the sky.

“I’m alive.” He said happily.

Now, for two days, all I can think about is the ghosts of the Civil War who stole my fucking can opener. I mean, what if one of them was to start hanging out in the yard of one of my neighbors, waving at Mrs. Wigglebottom and I every time we walked by?

I’d never have any reason to suspect he was a ghost.

“I’m alive,” the old man in the run down house said happily. But is he?

Deals You Make in Your Head–The Remix

“I can’t be accountable for deals that never really existed.”

I keep thinking of Abigail Adams, writing her husband, begging for our rights–“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. “–while he basically told her not to worry, that not giving women full status as citizens wasn’t really a problem; the men would take care of them.

This weekend on Meet the Press, Reuel Marc Gerecht said “In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we’d all be thrilled. I mean, women’s social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy.”

This makes me so angry that I just can’t stand it, this idea that there can be democracy without the participation of women. But tons of bloggers, like Egalia, have already hashed over this part.

What I want to consider is the second utterly tone-deaf sentence: “If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we’d all be thrilled.” Because there’s more in that sentence than just “Oh, you know, it’s too much fucking trouble to keep the broads happy.”

America in the early 1900s was not some utopia of pleasantness, except for the bitchy women. It was a mess of shitty things. Chinese people couldn’t be citizens. Black people were being denied the right to vote in all kinds of clever, evil ways. Native Americans couldn’t be U.S. citizens. Asian people born in the U.S. found themselves unable to reenter the country. White U.S. women who married non-citizens (even the ones born in this country) were stripped of their citizenship.

Most of this shit didn’t get straightened out until the 1950s.

And this, this is what our government thinks is an okay version of democracy to export?

But I’ve been thinking about Dean Dad’s words, letting them rattle around in my head, and I have to say that, again, this is a pretty brilliant move on the part of the administration. To say that we’re going to export “democracy” to the Middle East and to let everyone–both supporters and opposers of this venture–assume they meant U.S. democracy as it’s currently practiced, when really, they just meant “some” democracy, even that threadbare, xenophobic, nasty shit we practiced back in the early 1900s.

It’s enough to make a girl throw back her head and howl with laughter and tears.

Deals You Make in Your Head

Dean Dad has a brilliant post–or at least I’m assuming it’s brilliant, because it’s about money and budgeting and I think we’re all clear on how little that shit makes sense to me. So, this post seems clear and smart, therefore I want to call it brilliant, but I feel I must warn y’all to consider the fact that it’s me who’s telling you that something about money is brilliant and to prepare yourself that it might, in fact, be very stupid and I am just not smart enough to know.

Anyway…

Dean Dad has this brilliant post about how professors often get upset with him because they feel, when he has to communicate unpleasant budgetary realities to them, like he’s violating some unspoken but understood agreement between the university and the faculty.

Now, obviously, I could give two shits about the problems of faculty, except for how it affects the dear Professor. But reading Dean Dad’s post got me thinking about how often I get pissed at the dog for not behaving or, worse yet, pissed at the Butcher for not living up to his end of our bargain, when, in fact, we have no bargain.

The other day the Butcher was bitching at me about the mail on the floor. I said, “I don’t bring the mail in.” And he said, “Yeah, I do and then you go through it and toss the junk in the trash and do something with the rest.”

Now, folks, there are literally four enormous piles of mail around our living room and one smallish one on the floor. Where he got the idea in his head that I was taking care of the mail, I just don’t know.

So, I said that very thing, “Where did you get the idea in your head that I was taking care of the mail?”

And he thought about it a second and said, “Well, that was the arrangement I made with you in my head.”

I had nothing to say to him in return, except to laugh, but I wish I’d had Dean Dad’s line: “I’m unimpressed; I can’t be accountable for deals that never really existed.”

The Moon

When I worked at Dairy Queen, I used to drive home across the backroads between the town I worked in and the town I lived in. When there was a full moon, I could turn off my lights and drive with the road a silvery ribbon draped through the corn fields.

We used to go on hay rides at least once a year as well, and we’d all pile onto the hay rack and snuggle in close together and someone’s dad would pull us through the empty fields. The clouds would be racing across the cold October sky and the moon would glow fiercely and then the whole landscape would go dark when the clouds briefly covered it.

They keep saying that there’s no evidence that the full moon has any effect on people, keep saying it even as nurses and emergency room doctors and police and suicide prevention hotline attendants say otherwise.

It’s hard not to feel there’s something, as you stand out in the dark, waiting for the dog to decide if she’s just going to sniff or if she’ll shit, and you see the moon high over the old ash tree. You want to take everything off and set it aside and put one foot in front of the other. One hand outstretched and then the other. A twist of hip and flip of shoulder. My rhythm in tune with the moon’s.

I spend too much time inside, sitting around at my house or standing around at other people’s. I want to get out and be in the dark and the moon.

Unhappy Compromise

I’m outraged by the comment spam, but don’t want to turn anonymous comments off, so the compromise is that you have to type in the word you see on the comments.

Let me know if you think this is stupid or if you have any trouble with it, but shit, people I just had to delete six spam comments from the last post and it pisses me off.

8:45

Yes, America, my head hit the pillow at 8:45 last night and I didn’t wake up until 6:15.

It was marvelous.

I love sleeping.

Mrs. Wigglebottom, however, did not sleep very well because she’s very unhappy about the bicycle in the kitchen. She spent much of last evening growling and eyeing it suspiciously and this morning she barked at it until I moved it a sufficient distance away from her food.

I talked to the Butcher about maybe putting it up in his room, but he claims he’s going to ride it around this evening.

It’s times like this when I think of my Australian readers, of which there are, I think, two. So, I think of the two of you and wonder: does this shit seem bizarre to you? And I hope you aren’t taking the anecdotes of our stupid behavior as some kind of metaphor for how U.S. foreign policy works. Although, now that I think about it, maybe you should.

Parental Idiocy

Unfortunately my cousin’s wedding is becoming the biggest source of drama in my life after the Butcher’s vehicle woes.

For some reason, the wedding festivities are now stretched out over three days and I’ve had to enter into tense negotiations with my father about what to do with the dog. My dad wants me to leave the dog with the Professor, who, as you may recall, he and my mother had been telling people was my life partner until I discovered it and we had a big fight about it when they were down here last.

Considering how homophobic my parents are, I was shocked and surprised that they would be as okay as they were with the idea that the Professor and I were a couple, but now I see that it was just a manifestation of their dream to have one more woman in the world who could take care of the people in our family.

Yes, apparently selfishness trumps hate, at least in my family.

I wonder if this might be the basis for a successful public service campaign from PFLAG or some such group.

Imagine a television spot where a cranky old guy struggles with some boxes. His son says, “Dad, let Dan and I help.” The cranky old homophobe scowls, but looks at Dan, sees that he has two arms and a sturdy back, and acquiesces.

Then there could be some slogan at the end like “If you’re nice to your gay children, they might make their lovers do stuff for you.”

The Cats



Well, what the hell? I can just do what everyone else does when they’re out of inspiration: post pet pictures. Here’s the tiny cat and the orange cat, for those of you who are curious.