So, here it is, that old familiar feeling of terror. It settles in and ruins everything.

I’m actually shocked to find myself sitting here feeling like I might throw up, because, I have been and remain excited about my trip.

I’m envious of people who feel like unified wholes. I mean, I guess I feel like a unified whole most of the time, but occasionally, things happen and I am reminded that I am not as in charge of things in here as I would like to be.

So, intellectually, I’m excited. That part of me is scared shitless. I spent half my lunch hour staring at but not reading blogs. Usually, I read what folks are up to and I feel connected with a large, spread-out group of people. Today, I felt lonely and irrelevant.

There’s no reason, except that I’m leaving and some part of me doesn’t want to go.

I keep thinking about the man who lives on my morning walk. He lives in a little brick house near the corner, to which he just added on a room and a small back porch. On his door is a wreath and a banner that says “elcome”–the “W” obscured by the wreath.

Every day, he teeters down his side stairs in his brown suit and an old fedora. I think the suit is expensive; it fits him exquisitely. And the hat suggests that he once was irresistible to folks and knew it.

Anyway, we frequently see him come out, all dressed for public consumption, at 6:15 in the morning, and he gets in his car and he drives 30 feet to the end of his driveway and gets out and picks up his paper.

I don’t know if he gets in his car and drives back down the driveway or if he drives off to read the paper and have coffee. It could be either one. I haven’t ever seen him at that moment after he gets the paper.

Does his effort matter to anyone but him? Is it really so tragic if it doesn’t? If he doesn’t get farther than the end of his driveway, does anyone notice? If he does and never comes back, will anyone care?

Slowly, Slowly, These Gun Nuts Work Their Way With Me

This morning, I awoke to find an anonymous commenter had left me a long, drawn-out anonymous comment about my stance on abortion. Well, actually, she left it complaining about Egalia’s stance on abortion, but minor details–such as the fact that Tiny Cat Pants is not Tennessee Guerilla Women–never dissuade the angry, passive-aggressive cowards.

However, in going through her comment, attempting to make sense of it, I was reminded of the guys over at Say Uncle. We’ll come back to this.

Conservatives often complain about the “nanny state,” how liberals tend to get behind all these social programs that are basically enacted to make it more difficult for us to enjoy ourselves. But in reading anonymous’s comments, I was struck hard by the consistency of her position–that people’s private behavior that doesn’t affect her is open to her censure.

Holy shit. This isn’t just a “nanny state;” this is a “busy-body state.”

So, I’ve been thinking all morning about what it might mean to think about the busy-body state. I hate to use the word “reframing,” but I think it fits. What if I reframe the way I think about judging appropriate government intervention as the difference between encouraging a busy-body state and not?

Which brings us back to the gun nuts, in the first place. I’m interested in hearing their take on this, because I think this has been their big complaint and I just didn’t get it. See, I’ve been thinking about the whole gun issue as a broad, panicked public safety issue–guns are dangerous, therefore we must get guns off the streets–and haven’t been too concerned with the implications of that.

But today I read over at Say Uncle about the Democratic candidate for governor pushing the assault rifle ban by referring to the DC snipers, even though the guns the snipers used wouldn’t have been affected by the ban and about efforts to ban colored guns, and I’m starting to wrap my head around the idea that there’s a lot of busy-body-ing that is involved with gun control–that the gun-control crowd, in their efforts to make life difficult for the few gun owners who can’t control themselves, want to enact sweeping legislation to make all gun owners’ lives difficult, even though most gun owners have a legitimate Constitutionally protected right to own guns and their gun ownership will never adversely affect the anti-gun people.

Isn’t this almost the exact same situation with abortion? Here you have a moral issue that has been turned into a legislative issue by people who believe that women cannot control themselves and that sweeping legislation must be enacted to make all women’s lives difficult, even though women have many legitimate reasons for needing abortions and what those women do almost never adversely affects the anti-abortion people.

Even as I write this, I know that there are some pro-gun people out there who are going to be upset with me linking them up with the likes of pro-abortion me. I’m not saying that everyone needs to accept that they are moral equivalents–clearly I’m not saying that at all.

But what I’m saying is that, in both cases, I start to get a sense of the shape and form of the busy-body state, in which grown folks who are presumably capable of making their own decisions, would have to prove to the state that they deserve to be able to make those decisions.

The funny thing about the busy-body state is that liberals and conservatives both love it–to different ends, but everyone wants to stick his nose in and get some say in the private behavior of his neighbor, even if that behavior doesn’t affect him. And so, I suspect that we’ll have to look for interesting alliances on the left and the right to oppose it.

Why The Butcher Rules

So, I’m driving down to pick the Butcher up at work and I’m blaring some sub-par Muddy Waters cover. It isn’t great, but I’m wiggling anyway, because a sub-par Muddy Waters cover is still better than most things on the radio.

And I get to the grocery store and I’m waiting and finally he comes out and gets in the car and I say “I could have kicked your ass today” and I launch into the whole story about the knee and the cat piss and the door and how I wanted to pout and watch TV, but no luck and the Butcher looks over at me and starts to laugh.

I mean a laugh like rain on a hot day, a laugh that echoes in you before you even realize it.

“I don’t see how any of that is my fault.”

“Well, the door. You said you’d fix the door.”

“I said I’d make you a fountain for your birthday, too. I just didn’t say when.”

“Time has no meaning for you, I take it.”

“That’s right. I’m not going to be oppressed by time.”

“So, it’s no use getting mad at you.”

“I’ll get all that stuff done before I die. If I die and it’s not done, then you can be pissed at me. Unless I’m murdered–then you have to be pissed at my murderer. You can make him clean the litter box then.”

“You are hilarious. You should totally guest blog at Tiny Cat Pants while I’m gone.”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“No, seriously. Everyone would love it. Plus, I need someone to moderate the comments.”

“I can’t post as often as you do. I have shit to do.”

“Very funny. Will you do it?”