Miss J.

So, my darling Miss J. came to visit me last night. I stayed in bed, under my big peach blanket, and she sat at my bedside in a little green chair.

I was glad she came by, because it seems like a millions years since the last time I talked to her, just girl to girl.

We have these sprawling conversations that cover everything in a fine coat of discussion. The places where the discussion pools, she’s happy to linger there with you, to explore the underlying landscape, to help you see the shape of hidden things.

I’m more an more convinced that your best friends are the ones who can remind you of your best self, who love everything about you, but know your best parts and can tell them back to you when you’ve forgotten.

The Old Man says*:

You know, if you’ve a friend whom you really trust
and from whom you want nothing but good,
you should mix your soul with his and exchange gifts,
go and see him often.

“You should mix your soul with his.” God, you can tell that One’s a poet. That’s so nice. And isn’t it just exactly right? The best times are when you feel like you’re mixing some vital part of yourself with someone who trusts and likes you enough to do the same.

*Have I not convinced you yet to love the Havamal? If not, what’s wrong with you?



Happy Girl

Well, except that I’m sick and that I’ve only been gone a week and Sarcastro’s already found other destitute liberals to hang out with, it’s been a great trip.

Between the drugs and the usual travel stupor, I’m not really sure what day it is.

Sarcastro told me it’s Friday and so I’m coming home tomorrow. I don’t feel like I’ve really lost track of time, just that it’s gotten away from me in whole day increments. That could be the drugs.

I’m sad I’ve gotten to see none of DC. I was really hoping to at least figure out where to go to get my share of the Republican pork. But I’m too sick to do much of anything.

Happily, if one is going to be sick, better to be sick someplace where people will bring you food and clean up after you and where you can watch TV in between napping on your great big bed.

If I could breathe, or at the least, if someone were here to rub my head, it’d be a perfectly lovely afternoon.


Witches Everywhere

I’ve now been coming here long enough that I feel like I have a tiny circle of cool folks I can count on to show up and refresh me.

I’ve spent a delightful amount of time talking about magic. One person’s researching the ways women used magic as a recourse against powerful people when they had no other. Another told me how she keeps her boss’s name–written on a piece of brown paper bag–frozen in her freezer, to thwart his power over her*.

Last night Miss J. took me to dinner with a women who shares my same name and who reads old Norse. How jealous am I! But we sat in a Japanese restaurant wrestling with our chopsticks and talking about giants. We talked about the “What the Fuck?” factor in the Poetic Edda, that pretty much forces you to the original language and your own dictionary–Loki ties his testicles to a goat’s? What the fuck? Is that right? Oh, yes, yes, it is.

She’s reading Egil’s Saga in the original. I am envious.

I also talked to someone who is memorizing Eugene Onegin. I think it’s a known fact that if one is gong to memorize anything in Russian, you cannot go wrong with Sasha Pushkin. He’s like Byron, but with talent.

I’ve found that my trip to the strip club, with an armed libertarian, makes for a popular topic of discussion, though, oddly enough, people are more fascinated by the fact that I spent an evening with a conservative man carrying a gun than they were about the fact that we spent it in a strip club.

Which I think brings me nicely back to my breakfast discussion on Tuesday–that this is a large group of people with life experiences limited to and by their life choices (which, of course, is true of us all and I know I’m being a patronizing jackass but I’m a self-aware patronizing jackass so… well, so nothing… anyway) and they’re fascinated by folks whose life experiences are vastly different.

Hmm. Maybe I could make some money on the side by taking liberals on a bus tour past the Wayward Boyscout. He could stand outside, looking sufficiently libertarian, and they could point and stare, and then he could have dinner with them and I would take them back to their hotels and we could split the profits.

And, if he’s not game for such two-way exploitation, I’ll just dip his name in sugar until he feels compelled to change his mind. Or until I acquire an ant problem… whichever comes first.

*She also told me that if you want someone to improve his behavior towards you, you should encase his name in honey and he will have to become sweeter to you.


The Impostors

This morning I had breakfast with a woman who said that she sat in a classroom and had a teacher tell her she would never go to college. I threw back my head and laughed. I asked, “Do you ever feel like someday they’re going to find you out? Do you worry that someone will look at you and know you don’t belong?” “You mean, do I feel like an imposter? Of course.” “Oh, god, me, too!”

It’s funny, sometimes, to run into someone who can articulate what you’re feeling. I spend a lot of time with people who think they are so aware of and sensitive to differences between people and who make me feel like a freak. Obviously, not intentionally, but the gulf between me and them is so vast and they refuse to acknowledge that there’s any gap at all and it makes me feel bad.

It feels patronizing–this kind of liberalism that promotes diversity as some abstract goal without working to actually make room for people in here, so that the people in here who don’t belong still never find a way to fit in and yet the do-gooders never have to be aware of it.

I feel very lucky when I stumble across someone else who also feels like a big fake. No, I’m not “fake” in the way someone from the barrio is “fake.” I don’t have any idea what her life is like. But I know what it means to feel like the very way you inhabit yourself marks you as never being able to fit in. What we have in common is not anything more profound than not being like the rest of the folks here.

And yet, the delicious irony is that we are the very people they study, they very types of people they think they feel a kinship to and, not only don’t they know how to know us in particular, why certainly don’t know how to relate to the rest of our folks.

It’s funny to me to listen to conservatives bitch about some kind of liberal agenda in higher education. Because here I am at one of the largest meetings of “liberal” academics in the country and everyone is mostly white, mostly nerdy, mostly middle class, mostly just like they’ve always been, but with more women.

What I’m saying is that it’s hilarious that conservatives are made about what liberals are saying on college campuses because it’s only talk!!!

There’s nothing actually going on here that is that upsetting to the status quo. In fact, I’d argue, that this white, male dominated power structure is even more insidious and deeply rooted than most because it disguises itself behind a rhetoric of inclusion. It talks such a good game that most folks never have to be aware that it’s all talk–that these are just folks performing a type of “tolerance” and “diversity” that looks good and means very little.


The Psychic Doorman

My hotel is amazing!

My room is huge with a huge closet and a beveled light fixture. Everything is peach and green and the bathroom is so clean!

The first thing the doorman said to me was “Hello, Ms. B.” I about fell over and he laughed.

“Are you psychic?” I asked.

“No, Homeland Security.”

I gave him my patented “What the Fuck?” look and he laughed and said he saw it on my bags.