Not that You Asked Me

Mr. Roboto–or I guess the Ghost of Mr. Roboto–points out today that All the Rage, the corporate alternative to our alternative corporate newspaper, now has an advice column. And, wow, does it stink.

Ladies, there probably could not be a shittier advice columnist than Terrance Dean and yet, there he is getting paid to give you advice. Well, let me give you a bit of free advice–whatever he says, don’t do it.

Let’s take this gem from yesterday. So, Normal in Nashville writes that her fiance dumped her because her vagina is too large. She writes specifically that “It takes me a long time to orgasm, but I do, especially when he touches me in the way that I ask.”

What does Dean tell her? That she should have worked harder to please him in bed. Yes, you read that right. His inability to give her an orgasm is some kind of punishment for her not using her psychic powers to discern that he needed more variety in their sex life.

Mr. Dean, let’s just talk frankly here, you and me. Look at that sentence that I quoted: it takes the woman a long time to orgasm, but she does “especially when he touches me in the way that I ask.”

You don’t have to be a genius to see what the problem is. Her fiance doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. All the skimpy negligees, all the lunchtime trysts, all the unpredictable stuff in the world isn’t going to solve the problem that her man sucks in bed and that, rather suck it up and do what it takes to bring her to orgasm, he blames her vagina for his problems. So, don’t be blaming her even more, like she just wasn’t trying hard enough.

She just fucking told you she has trouble coming to orgasm purely through vaginal intercourse and that, if her man touched her how she asked (i.e. played with her clit), she could come. Who’s at fault here? Her? Or her idiot fiance who couldn’t let go of his ego enough to do what made her happy, but instead blamed her anatomy for his poor performance.

Here’s the advice poor Normal in Nashville should have gotten:

1. Masturbate. Often and with various techniques. If you don’t know with great certainty what makes you orgasm, you’ll have a hard time communicating to your partners what you need them to do.

2. Talk to your partners about what you need during sex with a lot of positive reinforcement. Yes, yes, yes. More. Like that but lower. Whatever.

3. Check in with your doctor to make sure everything’s working how it should. She will probably recommend some Kegel exercises, even if everything else checks out okay.

4. You look that sorry-assed excuse for a coward–who would ask you to marry him and then not have the balls to go through with it because he can’t bring himself to pleasure you in bed–right in the face and say “It’s not that my vagina is too big. Clearly, your penis is too small.” Then call all your friends and tell them. Mention it to your hair dresser. Get a shirt made at Cafepress that says “My ex-fiance has the tiniest penis ever. ” And don’t feel bad about it for a second.

You’re better off without that fucktard.

Egad, Bill Bennett is a Moron. Obviously, We Need to Talk Seriously about Aborting Males

Maybe dining with the Libertarians has tainted me, but when I think about the fact that my hard-earned tax dollars paid this idiot’s salary under Reagan* and Bush I, it makes me want to punch someone.

All right, let’s take this slowly for the idiot ex-Secretary of Education.

You, Bill Bennett, said: “But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down” and then went on to say that such a suggestion was “an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.”

People got pissed off.

You defended yourself by saying, according to Yahoo, that your “comments had been mischaracterized and that [your] point was that the idea of supporting abortion to reduce crime was ‘morally reprehensible.'”

No, idiot Bill, people got pissed off because you suggested that aborting BLACK children would reduced crime, thus feeding into the widely-held belief that black people are all criminals and that most crime is committed by black people and that getting rid of black people–if that were possible–would reduce crime.

But, let’s go to the numbers, America. For instance, I’m looking at the DOJ’s 2002 statistics and the numbers tell a different, albeit interesting, story. Seventy percent of all federal arrests that year were of white people. Forty-four percent of the violent crime arrests were white people. Almost seventy percent of the federal arrests for drugs were of white people.

Should we encourage white women to have abortions to reduce crime? It would reduce crime as much if not more than suggesting, even satirically (As dear Krumm believes Bennett was being), that aborting black babies is a solution, albeit a far-out one, to our crime “problem.”

This would be a “solution,” but a more effective solution presents itself in this number: 86% of the people arrested by the Feds are men. FBI numbers on state law enforcement show a similar state: 70 percent of arrestees in 2003 were white, 60 percent of the violent crime arrests were white people, AND 76.8 percent of all arrests were of men–82.2 percent of the violent crime arrests.

Clearly, if we drastically reduce the number of men in America, we’ll make a much more effective dent in our crime rates than considering how “tricky” it would be to implement the “morally-reprehensible” option of aborting all black fetuses.

As happy as white male Bob Krumm is to defend white male Bill Bennett’s position–“Bennett is unfortunately correct that aborting every black child in America would reduce crime. Instead of being shocked that he said it, we should be shocked that it’s true.”–I eagerly await Krumm’s insight into what we can do to make men behave themselves and sharing a hearty laugh with him over the thought experiment of aborting all male fetuses in order to reduce crime.

I mean, really, why should we even consider forcing black women to abort their fetuses, when the obvious solution is to just ask all American women to sacrifice their male babies for the good of the nation?

*Okay, actually, I don’t think I had taxable income during the Reagan years, but let’s ignore that.

Things that I Didn’t Do at Dinner with the Libertarian Elite

So, I went to dinner with the Libertarian Elite. As usual, I was nervous as hell. Right here is why I could never get a small dog, because, though I appear all calm, cool, and collected, internally, I’m yapping and shaking and pissing on the floor. There can’t be two of us.

As you know, the chances of me doing something utterly stupid and off-putting are very high when I’m that nervous. Some of you even made suggestions for stupid and off-putting things I could do.

So, here are the top ten things I thought I might do or you thought I should do, which I did not.

1. I didn’t ask “Women Libertarians? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?” as the Butcher thought I should.
2. I didn’t ask “Are there Libertarians outside of Chicago?” as the Professor’s cute guy thought I should.
3. I didn’t get there thirty minutes early and sit in my car and read a book, so that I could both be sure I was there and not sit in the restaurant by myself.
4. I flashed no one–not even the waiter.
5. I showed no one my cute boob freckle. I know! I’m always whipping that puppy out when I get nervous like “Yeah, I’m a total nerdy dork, but look at this and love it. How bad can I be with a cute boob freckle like this?” (Though I did wear a shirt in which I could do that, if it came to that.)
6. I didn’t kick anyone’s ass.
7. I did not wait until the most unlikely moment to stand up at the table, throw down my napkin, and say “I can’t share a table with anyone who doesn’t like II better than Physical Graffiti.”
8. I did not let the Professor’s cute boy sit at a nearby table. Nor did I let him come over about halfway through, say something very suggestive, and escape with me.
9. I didn’t order the most spicy thing on the menu.
10. No Libertarian orgy… though I’m not sure how that would work anyway, since they’re all about everyone taking care of themselves first. Can Libertarians have orgies? Or does everyone just sit around and masturbate while contemplating all the people living off the Taxpayers’ Teat?

Anyway, I had a very nice time and I think they had a nice time and no one got mad and there weren’t any fights, since we had a lot of common ground, as their quiz suggested we might.

Back from Lunch Early

The guy down the hall took me to Ted’s for lunch. As always, I’m up for some large game animal in patty form. But we got back early and now the office seems to be channeling Peg.

Some folks are walking around barefoot. I’m trying to convince my boobs to be cuter–perkier, less excited about seeing what my knees are up to. Someone is singing and someone else is fighting with UPS. Now, the police are here*.

But the most important thing is that this marks the second opportunity today I’ve had to drive my car.

Oh, car, how I’ve missed you and that feeling of freedom you give me, even when you only have a quarter of a tank of gas.

*Apparently there’s some law about whipping out and lecturing your tits in public… No, I kid, the police are here on a totally benign mission. Though the whole thing reminds me of an important lesson I learned at the Tin Roof one evening right after it first opened: Just because there are two bachelorette parties getting drunk some place, that’s no guarantee that the man in a police uniform who comes up to one of their tables is a stripper and no matter how drunk you and your cousin are, the two of you should not try to unbutton his shirt.

Why the Butcher’s Getting Searched at the Airport

You know, I used to think I only needed two things to be happy–a car with a V-8 and a hound dog. Well, I’ve got 6 and a pitbull and I realize that the car and the dog are important, but what I really need to be happy is some gas money.

America, I was trying to take the Butcher to the airport, but I really just wanted to drive out and see what was going on in the rest of the state. Instead, I’m headed into the shower and back to work.

Anyway, here are the reasons why I bet the Butcher’s getting searched at the airport.

1. Single male traveling alone.
2. One way.
3. On a ticket purchased with a credit card not his.
4. No checked baggage.
5. Awesome, yet strange, moustache.
6. Wearing a lightweight straw pith helmet
7. And a blue leisure suit.

God, I love that boy. Blue leisure suit. He rules.

Google, Don’t be that way

Dear Google,

Liar, liar, pants on fire. I don’t blame you for lying. You’ve done something very stupid and you want to back out of it in a way that still lets you keep your brilliant idea.

Let us imagine what this might have looked like, had you gone about it the right way:

“Hello, Publishing World. I am Google, a vast search engine that makes all kinds of nifty things findable on the web. Imagine how awesome it would be if people could search the content of your books on Google. Imagine how awesome it would be someone typed in a phrase–say “Gertrude Stein criticism”–and relevant phrases from your book popped up in the search list. Now, the searcher won’t be able to see the whole book, but they’ll see enough to know if the book would be useful to them and we’ll give them ways to then buy the whole book.

“What? You think that’s a great idea? You’re sending me books right now? Well, thanks Publishing world.”

Now, let’s reminisce on how you really did it:

“Hey, Libraries, wouldn’t it be awesome if people could search every book in your collection through Google? Yeah, I know, it’d totally rock. So, why don’t you start sending me all the books you’ve got and I’ll totally start scanning them in? I mean, you own the books, right, so you can like totally do whatever you want with them, right?

“Aw, fuck, you know what, Libraries? I wonder if you actually own the right to make copies of all these books. I mean ‘copyright’ being, literally, ‘the right to make copies’ and all. Shit, I wonder if you can really give me permission to make these copies so that I can do what I want with them… Well, best not to think about it too hard. I’m sure once the Publishing World sees how awesome this is going to be, they totally won’t care.”

Well, surprise, the Publishing world like totally does care.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a brilliant idea. But the fact is that the premise of your brilliant idea was contingent on you and libraries agreeing to intellectual property theft. Excuse the Publishing World if they’re a little distrustful of you now, especially since you’ve never come out and said, “Shit, we have a great idea, but we totally went about it the wrong way. Sorry. Please let us try to do this right.”

And really, attacking people who distrust you after you’ve given them every reason to distrust them is really distasteful.

The Publishing World is ready to get on-board with your brilliant idea if you’ll just calm the fuck down, stop acting so defensive and say you’re sorry and have learned from your mistake.


Aunt B.

"This disgusting trade in human misery"

So, you can go to Chris Wilson’s website and look at naked women–wives and girlfriends of the men who post them–and dead Iraqis.

Apparently, the military is taking the matter seriously, because soldiers using Army equipment to take pictures of dead folks would violate the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

What the fuck ever.

Let’s get on to the more important fact: the website “offers access to online pornography in exchange for corpse photos.”

Wrap your head around this, America. On this site, a picture of a corpse will get you a picture of some fucktard’s naked woman. You can exchange a photo of a dead person for a photo of a naked woman.

Really, there could not be any more apt description of this than a “disgusting trade in human misery.” Do all of these women know that their images are being passed around the internet? Is that the fate they intended for those images when they sat before the camera?

As you all know, I like porn as much as the next person. Yes, I know all of the feminist reasons against it and I, in theory, agree with them, but you know, at the end of the day, if everyone is consenting and no one’s getting hurt, more power to you.

But one of the things that scares a lot of feminists, and me, is how violent some pornography is–how closely it links women who look scared and appear to be in pain with men’s pleasure.* Well, though this is not the same thing, shit, I don’t know how much more closely you can link pornography and violence than having a place where men can both look at pictures of naked women and corpses.

Which leads me to my next question. I can understand why you’d want to look at naked bodies. And, honestly, I can see why you’d want to look at photos of bodies in various states of deadness. But looking at them both together? Exchanging one for the other?

I’m not a man, so, at the end of the day, I don’t know how it works for y’all. But for me, thinking about sex and being turned on by images of people fucking sets off entirely different parts of my brain than looking at images of dead people. One gives me pleasure. One causes me great distress.

I would not want to look at both of them at the same time.

And I have really grave concerns about exactly what type of people would. Of course, the vast majority of folks are probably not looking at both at the same time. They upload their dead folks and download their porn or visa versa and the two things never quite link up in their minds.

But god, the thought of the few of them who look at both, together, who see all of those bodies as bodies made available to them without the owners’ consent–without the owners even being able to consent–and they see the sex and violent deaths all as part of one great big fucked up source of pleasure.

That makes me sick and really scares me.

*Some anti-porn folks claim this is always an undercurrent in pornography, the implicit power the viewer has to see a bunch of women who otherwise would not consent to show him their bodies naked. I’ll acknowledge that I suspect there’s something to that, but I’m not comfortable completely linking implicit power with inherent violence.

Yes, I am a broken record

Shaun Groves writes this morning about Ashley Smith. Apparently, in her book, she admits that she supplied Brian Nichols with crystal meth.

Shit, I was wondering how she got him to listen to her read that sappy, drivel, The Purpose Driven Life. But that explains it: he was on drugs.

Anyway, back to my point: so what? So she’s a drug-addled whack job.

Does that mean her faith is somehow invalid? That she was wrong about being used by her god?

Does the Christian god ever wait around for perfect people?

No, on this point, he and I are in agreement. The superheroes aren’t coming. He’s not sitting back and waiting for you to get your shit together in order to put you to work. He’s got adulterers leading kingdoms, drunks building ships, unmarried pregnant teens giving birth to gods–he’s not waiting for people to deserve whatever he’s got in mind.

Christians, your god chooses the most unlikely people to do the most important things.

He can certainly use a meth user to talk down a killer.

A blog like any other

Sorry, America, I have this long involved rant about S&M scenes and what they can teach us about how we deal with each other and reciprocity with the divine, but I’m frazzled from being back in the office and just can’t put my thoughts together in any meaningful way.

Let’s just say, as usual, I’m interesting and absolutely right.

Meanwhile, I’m going to do what everyone else does and send you elsewhere.

Check this shit out:

The Rug Designer seems to have somehow given birth to a member of my family. Note the way her son failed to realize he’d graduated. Who else but someone related to me could manage that? I’ll see you at family reunions, Rug Designer!

A.C. Kleinheider is interesting and not just because he proved the cutie rule in reverse, but also because he asks the obvious question about the Kitten Killer. How the hell is Frist going to salvage a political career out of this mess? The man kills kittens; diagnoses people from hundreds of miles away… excuse me, wrongly diagnoses people from hundreds of miles away; says one thing, gets chastised by the White House, comes back tail between his legs and says another; and now supposedly miraculously sells his stock in his family’s business before it goes down the toilet. The republicans have made him their dog, and, to make a broad generalization, if there’s one thing conservatives won’t forgive, it’s any sign of weakness, so I don’t see him getting much support there, and he lacks the charisma and charm that appeals to independents.

Being the President is out, though he should run. That would be good fun. But Kleinheider thinks he may try to stay in the Senate and I have to agree that it’s probably his only option, if he wants to stay in Washington.

Fritz has a lovely photo of another favorite White House whipping boy (Yes, I did bring this post full-circle, back to the S&M stuff. No need to applaud; it’s just a gift I have.). Some day there will be an explanation as to why a male prostitute had such access to the White House. I, for one, hope that explanation includes the words “Karl Rove” and “passionate romance.”

All right, I’m off to scrounge up some dinner and stir up some trouble.

Vinny Testaverde

I’m delighted to see Vinny Testaverde back in the news. God, I love him. Not because he’s a great quarterback. I have no idea if he is or not. I don’t give a shit about football. No, I love him because, inevitably, a football question will come up in Trivial Pursuit and at least a third of the time, “Vinny Testaverde” is the answer.

I always answer “Vinny Testaverde” to football questions I don’t know. One out of three times, I look like a genius, like I have some obscure knowledge of the New York Jets, or the Browns, or the Buccaneers, or even the Cowboys.

Plus, Vinny Testaverde does not look like Sloth, from The Goonies, unlike some old Cowboys quarterbacks I could name.

What’s not to love?

Halloween Attire

I just want to point out that Flea has the greatest shirts ever–yes, even greater than Tiny Cat Pants shirts–available at her website.

Yes, she sells sex toys and awesome t-shirts. Could there be any more perfect confluents of stuff I need to spend my money on? I don’t think so.

Anyway, look for me around town in my National Organization of Witches t-shirt. I’ll be the girl with the wiggly dog.

The Neighborhood

So, the rooster is still there. As much as I’d be pissed off if I had to live next door to it, I have to tell you that it delights me when I’m just walking by.

Mrs. Wigglebottom is awesome. No, really. This morning a big dog barked and lunged at her and she turned and gave him a look like “I’d totally take you out, motherfucker, but I’m on a walk. I can’t be bothered.” (I’m going to run around all day practicing that look: “I could kill you dead, but I’m busy.”) Yes, the girl who just two weeks ago was still acting like a guest on Jerry Springer every time we saw another dog has somehow decided that collected and bad-ass is a more appropriate posture for walking. Hurray!

Also, the strange quasi-medieval apartments are almost done and yesterday the landscaping started to take form. They will be trimmed in pipe-cleaner shaped evergreens. No word yet on whether the bus stop sign will continue to be obscured by rogue morning glories as a part of the greenscape or if someone will eventually weed whack that mess.

Also, there seemed to be thousands of cats out this morning. Many of them were looking back over their shoulders at us, so we appeared to be scrutinized by a series of very angry, furry s-es. (If you are familiar with cats, I trust you know how they appear to twist themselves into various letters of the alphabet.)

When I was visiting JR and Elias, we figured out that Mrs. Wigglebottom is not merely months older than the littlest nephew, as I’ve been thinking, but actually almost two years older than him. The recalcitrant brother got the dog in the spring before my parents moved. She was already five or six months old. They moved in June. That next winter, the littlest nephew was conceived and born in the late fall. The dog moved in with us in December, probably just having turned two.

Therefore, since the littlest nephew is about to turn four, the dog is about to turn six.

Yes, six. Just now at six, she’s starting to behave herself on walks.

Ah, well.

In Defense of Kate Moss

Well, I hate to see that Kate Moss’s only defender seems to be Naomi Campbell. I mean, really. Kate Moss uses drugs. Big surprise. Why is everyone acting so shocked?

Of course Moss uses drugs. Supermodels don’t just spring forth from the earth that thin. You get that thin by not eating. You stomach self-imposed starvation by doing drugs. If you are a company that wants to show off your products by placing them on tall, skinny women with gaunt spacy looks, it only makes sense to hire drugged out models. That’s the easiest way to get skinny, gaunt, and spacy.

We all know slim women who are slim because they eat well and exercise. They don’t look vapid and scare-crow-esqe and they are not supermodels.

So, what’s interesting about this whole incident is not Moss’s drug use, which is hardly surprising, but the rapid response of the companies she was working for, who fired her, not because she was using drugs, which clearly, they had to know, but because she got caught using drugs.

I really wonder how much of this is punishment–not for the drug use directly–but for letting the illusion slip. In order for advertising to work, it must create in us a need and then provide us with the means to fill that need. Burberry, for instance, wants us to buy their clothing, so their advertisements show glamorous women and men wearing their clothing. We’re supposed to look at those images, wish we had lives like that, and think to ourselves “maybe if I owned that coat, I could have a life like that girl, at least a little bit. I, too, could be thin and pretty and stylish and have a jaunty boyfriend with a dog.”

But there’s Moss, making it obvious that, if you want to be like that girl, it’s going to take more than the coat; it’s going to take a wicked coke habit.

So, she’s kicked to the curb, not for her drug use, exactly, but because her drug use reveals the many ways in which the stuff she advertises can’t even give her the kind of life the advertisements promise.

Renewed Sense of Optimism

As you probably noticed, before I went away, I was feeling a little burnt out on having public opinions. I mean, really, what was left to say about Katrina or our misguided idiocy in Iraq or our failure to find Osama bin Laden or whatever that hadn’t already been said?

The thing I like about Blogistan–that everyone shares their opinions on the exact same things–is also the thing I hate about it.

And sometimes it feels very much like you’re just shouting into the wind.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about hope. I’ve been trying to formulate some ideas about hope, but I haven’t really come up with anything coherent.

Hope is, on its surface, an utterly stupid thing. It only thrives in uncertainty and most people hate uncertainty.

Let me try to get at this another way. I’ve also been thinking about life versus not-life and how many of us focus all of our attention on not-life, on denying or vilifying the very accoutrements of life. Think of how much our culture trains us to turn our backs on life.

Just think for a minute how often you hear that the things you enjoy are “bad” for you. Too much TV, too much food, too much sex, too much sitting on the couch. If you walk, you should be jogging. If you jog, you’re hurting your knees. Your own self is not good enough; hack it open, break it apart, expand this part, reduce that part.

But over all, don’t trust your own experiences. If you aren’t suffering, you aren’t doing it right. If you aren’t sufficiently suffering, you don’t deserve help.

We reward suffering and punish enjoying life.

Think of how many churches teach you to turn your back on life and put all your faith in being rewarded in the afterlife. Of course, the afterlife and not-life walk hand in hand.

“Choose life,” the anti-abortionists say. But how many actually have? How many have not placed their hope in some place they believe to be better than this? Some place not life?

I think of this, too, with the abstinence-only crowd, how anti-life that world-view is. How it denies pleasure, denies connection, denies life itself.

It’s this twisted world-view that sees pleasure as inherently evil and children as the proper punishment for sex.

But clearly, the default is pleasure and happiness. The default is pregnancy and children and fucking, fucking, fucking.

None of these things is evil. And yet, of course, those things are not always desired. And so we take active steps to prevent them. We stop the pregnancies; we use birth control; we are careful about when we have sex and with whom; we wait until we are married; we don’t have sex at all.

But that–abstinence–is not the default. It’s the most extreme choice we can make.

Self-discipline we call it, this learning to deny ourselves pleasure and happiness, learning to deny ourselves life.

The certainty of the not-life crowd has no use for hope. Everything is already known.

On the other hand, life and hope are intimately entwined. If one chooses life, then one always has hope. This time, things might be better. And why not? Nothing is certain. There are always exceptions.

The scariest way most people choose not-life is to say “If I might have to sometimes say ‘no,’ I refuse to ever say yes.”

I think that’s my problem with operating on a metaphor of economy.

Is it “worth” it to invest money in public education, for example? Is it “worth” it to make college education as widely available as possible?

In a purely economic sense, no. Most people don’t make the most of their opportunities, so continuing to supply them with opportunities is a “waste.”

And yet, clearly, that’s not sound social policy.

Life versus not-life. Whether you’re going to invest in the present or whether you’re hording your resources for the future.

The problem with the future is that it’s such a slippery thing. The present is, instead, always with us.

Hope, I think, straddles those two places in ways that make both those of us who live in the present and those of us who live for the future uncomfortable because hope lives both places.

Hope says, “I can make a choice now that will change things, and in ways I can’t know.”

Operating from a position of hope is hard, then, because hope requires uncertainty. It exists only because most of the time it is dashed.

And yet, those times when hope triumphs are magnificent enough to make hope very worth-while.

Anyway, obviously, this is going someplace. I don’t know where, yet, but it’s churning around in my brain. So, we’ll be back to it, I sure.

The Cutie Rule and Other Things

1. Hurray for the park! I’ve missed the park and it’s filled with beautiful and fragrant wildflowers at the moment. I’ve also missed walking Mrs. Wigglebottom, but she was acting like a giant doofus, so for most of the walk we played “Who’s in charge here?” which was not as much fun as our usual walks. Still, a happy dog rolling in the grass… as the song says, if there’s anything better in the world, who cares?

2. I forgot to tell y’all that crazy folks ride their bikes all over Colorado–on the top of the national parks, on the interstates, through the streets, etc. Listen, if you have a desire to take your bike up on the highest road you can fine, with nothing between you and a giant cliff on one side and cars on the other but a slim stretch of gravel, you are a nut. In case you were wondering.

3. Elias and the Legal Eagle both have names that have the letters i and e in the first syllable. For as long as I’ve known either of them, it’s been impossible for me to remember which order the e and i came in. The sound is “ee” and both of them have names that start with letters that regularly make an “ee” sound when followed by an e–like “he” or “we”–and so, the confusion.

But, here’s the important and brilliant question Elias asked me–“How do you spell cutie?” Voila! Using the cutie rule, I can now remember with ease how to spell their last names.

4. Baking soda all over the affected carpet has had an immediate and positive effect on the musty smell in our house.

5. Get this! The Butcher–who is not, unlike the recalcitrant brother, a plumber by trade–is actually the one who fixed our leak. He climbed into the ground and turned the main water thingy off himself and repaired the pipe himself and got everything turned on and working again himself. Seriously, that man could not be any more awesome, unless he’d actually washed the towels he used for mopping.

America, I ask you for very little

But today, I really do need your help.

1. Is it better, if the weather it hot and humid, to dry out the carpet by opening up the house and running fans or shutting up the house and turning on the air and running fans?

I’m of the opinion that it’s better to run the air because air conditioned placed tend not to be humid and so air conditioners must help with stuffiness, right?

2. The smell. Please. It smells musty and unfortunate. Will anything help? Will it ever go away?

Please advise, America.


Aunt B.

I’m Back

I’m home.

The house smells and is a mess. There are towels draped all over furniture in the back yard and someone, I think, is trying to mow the lawn, but I’m too tired to face my landlord and I haven’t yet talked to the Butcher and I want to present a unified front. So, I’m hiding here at the computer.

Will it smell like this forever?

God, I hope not.

The Chopsticks Stop Working

Last night, I was picking up sushi with ease and suddenly my perfectly formed California roll was in pieces on my plate.

“Yeah,” JR said, “You always reach a point where the chopsticks just stop working for you.”

That, my friends, is the point at which I am. I got lost on my way to my morning appointment–very lost–for no good reason. I’ve been navigating my way around new places all week with no problem.

Here, in a city I now have a feel for, I’m utterly disoriented.

I want to be home. I want to sleep in my own bed with Mrs. Wigglebottom curled up under my butt. I want to eat cereal for breakfast and I’m about done trying to figure out how to stay hydrated. I want to see the Butcher and watch his face as he tells me about the flood.

I want to tell him about the mountains.

And how I finally found my morning appointment, and I was early, so I sat in a rocking chair in the sun and realized I was done being gone.


Last night I had a weird dream that I was drowned in a few inches of water and then took Mrs. Wigglebottom to the beach, where she behaved pretty well until the last second, when some jackass wouldn’t put his dog on a leash and Mrs. Wigglebottom had to warn that dog away.

This morning, I got out of the shower and the phone was wringing. It was the Butcher, calling to tell me that the downstairs was flooded.

I don’t think the dream was a premonition. I think it just seared itself into my conscious mind because of that phone call.

After he called, I called the Professor and asked her to go over and help him.

I hope he doesn’t mind.

I’m frazzled and wishing I could be at home at the same time I’m glad it’s not my problem to figure out where the shop vac is coming from.

One thing that always strikes me when I travel–overhearing people who handle uncertainty even worse than I do–is that we’re all fucked up. Deeply fucked up. We cling too tightly to things that don’t matter and don’t pay enough attention to the things that do.

And yet…

And yet, I’m struck by how profoundly generous people can be and how brave and open.

Again, as I say all the time, there are no perfect people, no superheros who get to act while the rest of us just sit on the sidelines and watch.

There’s just you and me–the boy who shuts off the water; the girl who watches the dog and hopes for better things; the kids going to college for the first time in the family…

My favorite stories are about rag-tag bands of misfits who set off on adventures.

And it occurs to me, over and over again, that we are all those misfits, banding together, and this is our adventure.

Unbeknownst to Them, the Libertarian Elite about Kills Me

America, as you may recall, the Libertarian Elite were patronizing the hell out of me for not knowing what Pad Thai was, among other things.

Well, the Progressives could not let the insult stand, so tonight we went out for Thai.

Elias ordered.

Later, his face appeared to be melting off. I couldn’t be sure, though, because I was crying.

Three times the proprietors of the restaurant came to check on us.

“Very spicy,” they said, snickering and pouring more water.

The soup we had was so hot that I thought it would kill me. And yet, so tasty that I kept eating it.

Now, I’m laying here wondering if I’ll start to hallucinate, because the only other time I’ve ever felt this way–hot, unfocused, hyper-alert–was after dropping acid. Err, allegedly dropping acid. Many years ago. In the 70s, when I toured with Led Zeppelin…

Speaking of which, 2 out of 2 people who had an opinion about it at dinner totally agree that II is a much better album than Physical Graffiti.

Me & me

Every place I go, things are open and sun-lit. As you can imagine, I’ve had some problems with the stairs, the many different ways they seem designed to defy gravity–concrete slabs suspended in open cages of metal. I can’t go near them. I spend a little time every place asking about the elevators.

Elias asked me what it’s like to be so irrationally afraid of something. At the time, I couldn’t answer him because I had my eyes shut tight and was occupied with holding onto the car for dear life as we drove across the top of the national park.

But today as I stood near the open staircase in the parking garage, getting my pass for the day, and I realized I both could not reach the buttons and could not will myself to move closer, I realized what it means to me.

To me, it’s a regular and yet unexpected reminder that I’m not always a unified whole, that there is both the rational mind and the animal brain and body.

Almost always, we never have to be aware of this, because the mind is in control of conscious thought and the brain just chugs away in the background keeping the heart beating and the lungs inflating and the temperature regulated.

The brain has a level of consciousness, I think, but devoted to the primal things–try to fuck that; no, that feels bad; yes, that feels good; oh, scary; ooo, fun; go pee, etc.–and since most of the time the rational mind and the animal brain work in concert to keep you up and moving around, you can convince yourself quite thoroughly that there’s just some singular “I.”

But say the animal you are is terrified of something the rational mind is only afraid of–in my case, heights. It’s not unreasonable to be a little afraid of heights. You could fall. That’s true. But the overwhelming likelihood is that you won’t.

So, rationally, you approach an edge or an open staircase and you say “Okay, be a little more aware” and that’s the end of it.

And, internally, I do the same thing.

But the other part of my brain is not having it. “No, oh god, no!” it screams as if we are already falling and as much as I’m like “Get a grip, B., you are fucking fine,” the rest of me does not get the message, can’t hear it over the beating of my heart and the dizziness and the sweating.

And I think that’s what really terrifies me–not just what’s going on externally, but internally. I don’t, in those moments, trust myself. I don’t know what I might do, because the body isn’t taking orders from the part of me I recognize as me.

The View

I remember when I started Tiny Cat Pants, the joke was that my hobby was driving around looking at things.

Here, I don’t feel like that’s such a joke. I could spend a lot of time driving around looking at things and be very happy about it.

Yesterday, I went north, and the mountains sat far off to the west, like they marked the edge of the world. Up in Fort Collins, the locals give directions using the mountains in the west as an unchanging point of reference. “Go east three blocks,” they say, “then turn south.”

Always, with the mountains visible, you know what direction you’re going.

My drive today was even more beautiful. Heading south out of Denver, the mountains sit just to the right, like an enormous wall protecting the towns beneath them.

Right now, I’m sitting outside in the shade, jotting this all on a yellow steno pad, intending to type it in either tonight when I get back to Denver or tomorrow, if, at some point, I get tired of reading by the pool.

Out in front of me, somewhere, must be Pike’s Peak. I don’t know which one it is, though I feel like I should–just to show some solidarity with the sweet girl who crossed the wild prairie with her lover, Ike.

I may ask someone today if I can see it from here, and, if so, which peak it is.

From where I’m sitting, the mountains look like interlocking pyramids, giant ones along the spine of the ridge, then a series of smaller ones stretching like big-knuckled fingers towards the valley full of sparkly windows and cars below.

The mountains are mostly green, with some craggly rock faces, except for the one most to my right, with the obvious tree line.

Do you remember those fake fur covered plastic bunny banks? You know how, after a while, the fur on the outermost parts wears away, exposing the plastic beneath? That’s what this mountain looks like, as if the trees have been worn away from the high spots.

The Tundra

We were over two miles up–Elias, JR, and I–above the tree line, up where there was still some patches of snow. Tiny rugged scrubby plants live up there and not much else.

I’ll admit, to get that high, I had to close my eyes. The road was too narrow and the drop-off too sharp for me–your chicken-shit host–to stand it. Below the tree line, I was fine. I just kept looking up.

But eventually, there was no more up to look. Just me and the sky and the cold wind and, far below us, some evergreens and aspens just starting to golden.

Everything in the world looked up from beneath us. I was dizzy and sun-burned and I had to sit down. I half-heartedly suggested they just leave me there to die, but JR and Elias bundled me back in the car and slowly twisted and turned the vehicle back down to earth.

Then, to make up for scaring the shit out of me, they took me to Bear Lake and I saw a glacier.

It’s so beautiful here I don’t even know how to tell you about it, and so varied. In the span of a day, we went from flat land to mountains, aspen groves to tundra, clear placid lakes to rocky streams. The mountains vary too. I saw charcoal grays and blacks and greens and reds, depending on what the sun was up to.

It’s really incredible.

The Stanley Hotel

When we pulled up to the front of the white wooden hotel with the distinctive red roof, there was a wedding reception in one of the outbuildings. It’s a beautiful hotel under an ominous mountain. Still, most people would probably choose a different place to start a marriage than where Stephen King wrote The Shining.

I’ll admit, while I sat in the wicker rocker watching the late afternoon sun move across that mountain and pondered how many layers of white paint you could put on a hotel built in 1909, I kind of thought it might be cool.

And when Elias walked me up the recently-vacated aisle doing our best to step like Outkast in the “So Fresh, So Clean” video, it seemed a perfectly lovely place to start something.