Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I spackle better drunk.

But, I probably do not blog better drunk.

After all the gloom and doom and woe-is-America yikescetera from the last post, I thought I ought to toss something more lighthearted up in here, especially since I had a crummy day at work and there's no reason to post gloom and doom two days in a row. So here are some random recent pictures. Click on any of them for a larger view, or click the Flickr link at left, cuz that's where they're all hosted. If Flickr goes down, this post is going to look mighty stoopid...

Our big dog Steve is a beerhound. I can't remember if I've mentioned this before or not. Here he is schlurping the rest of my Leinenkugel. I know beer is not good for dogs, so he doesn't get a lot of beer. But he likes it so very much. He is so into beer that if you leave one sitting on the floor, he'll come over and knock it over so he can drink it out of the bottle. He's no dummy. He knows Leinenkugel Creamy Dark is some gooooood stuff.

Packaging is normally something I find quite ridiculous. I mean, do you really need to package each slice of American cheese in its own separate little plastic sheath? Do you need individually-wrapped toothpicks? It's a stupid waste. That said, the packaging on the sixth-season Simpsons DVD set is kind of amusing, as M. demonstrates.

This is my ring. M has one just like it. We got them at the Ohio Renaissance Festival, which is one of the best Ren-fests in the country. It has a permanent village and runs for almost two months in the fall. We dig the Celtic design. Would be kind of neater and more symbolic if it were two line structures wrapping over one another instead of a single looping line structure, but it's still cool as hell.

I meant to post this pic last night but instead I got all gloom and doom. We got almost four inches of rain in nine hours from the remnants of Katrina yesterday. I emptied the rain gauge before I left for work and by the time I got home, it was almost full.

This other pic on the right here is a flooded creek near my house at the end of yesterday. Normally this creek is just a trickle, especially at this time of year, but when I went to check it out yesterday, it was far higher than usual, as I expected. This image is a bit blurry because, to tell you the truth, I really had to take a leak while I was walking over to check this out, and seeing all that running water wasn't doing my bladder any favors... happily, there was a Port-O-Potty nearby.

Last but not least, here's a bathroom remodeling pic. Progress is going mighty slow in there. But, I did spend a number of hours spackling tonight. Spackle spackle spackle. Also I drank a lot of wine. While I was spackling. Which is why there is a glass of wine on the bathroom sink. And also probably why there is a bunch of spackle in the bathtub, and all over my leg, and all over my hands. I am a sloppy spackler. Especially when I get the hiccups while spackling.

I cannot type the word spackle without giggling. So lame.

Okay. Tomorrow, we have a company outing, during which we are supposed to play kickball. It's at a sculpture park that I went to like eight years ago for a poetry reading, and I'm pretty sure I read some bad poetry at this park at some point, so hopefully vestiges of shame will not haunt me as I play kickball with coworkers. Wish me luck. Happy...what the hell is it, Thursday already? Happy Thursday.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

How bad it can be

The images, words, stories, everything coming out of the area hit by the hurricane now are terrifying. I want to take a step back from it but I can't. It's not so much the scale of the devastation that scares me. It's the human aspect of it, the human reaction to it.

A couple days ago, before all this happened, I was thinking about our culture and how much we take its stability for granted. I take it for granted that the police and firefighters are going to be there to deal with the situation I wrote about in my previous post, about the tanker leaking styrene all over. There are people built into our society to handle incidents like that. I take it for granted that I won't suddenly be forced into a situation where I don't have access to food or drinking water; that if disaster struck, a tornado or something, I’d have some place to go, if I lived. This is basic. This is trusting the idea you hold by necessity in your head that America works. And yet over the course of one storm, a major U.S. city has turned into...into hell, from all accounts.

What scares me so much about what’s going on is that it shows me that we are not as infallible as we think we are. What scares me more than nature is chaos. Nature I can understand. The recent Photo Friday challenge was "chaos," meaning, display a picture that to you embodies the meaning of the word "chaos." Many people post pictures of nature for challenges like this—stormy skies, fields of tangled grass, pigeons fighting. I don't understand this. Nature is ordered. Even this hurricane--this is order. This is cause and effect. It didn't just come up out of nowhere, reasonless, a surprise. It's a result of water temperatures and barometric pressure and wind, and whatever else comprises the recipe for a hurricane. I understand this storm. This storm is not chaos, to me.

Chaos is what happens when you cram thousands and thousands of people who have lost everything, in some cases including people they love, into a sports arena that's overheated and filling with water and has no functioning toilets, near the sea in a city that sits below sea level, because there’s nowhere else for them to go. That is chaos. Unless you experience that, you are never, going, to understand it. You are never going to understand that exact combination of panic and terror and loss that every single person inside the Superdome is experiencing right now. I noticed that the flow of video and images from the Superdome stopped sometime early this morning. I don’t know that this is because of technical issues. My thoughts are that it’s because we don’t want to see what’s happening in there. It must be intense. It must be intense beyond belief.

And what’s happening inside the Superdome is just the smallest piece of what’s going on all along the coast.

I fear the unraveling of a society. I force myself to take in records of humanity at its worst because I have this unquenchable need to know how bad it can be, as if on some level, watching depictions of the Holocaust or the Rwandan genocide or the rape of Nanking can make me prepared for the possibility, however slight, that society as we know it could change. We take so much for granted. Human nature is something I believe most Americans have only limited ability to understand in depth because we haven’t been exposed to deprivation; most of us, while we may worry about paying the bills, have never had to know hunger. We take it for granted that a health care system exists, that if something horrible happens to us, even if we’re uninsured, we’re going to be able to get the care we need. We take it for granted that we’ll have access to potable water. That there is a network to catch us if we fall.

When those things go away, those safety nets, human nature changes. How would you react if you suddenly had to face the prospect that there might not be drinking water in your future, that you had no idea where your next meal would come from, that you might have to send your children to sleep hungry, in a flooding shelter that you are supposedly, at some point, going to be evacuated from, while you wonder if your extended family members, who decided to ride out the storm at home, are still alive? Even if you considered yourself a decent, peaceful person, you might find yourself going to extremes in order to do what you felt would ensure your own survival.

The way society is supposed to work is collapsing right now in part of our country. Fortunately, as bad as it is, it seems we have the resources necessary to pull people through this. But images of looting on CNN, pictures of boats pushing past dead bodies to get at people still clinging to their roofs above water full of debris and sewage, prisoners herded onto what’s left of a mostly-underwater highway ramp—I have to wonder how the structures we’ve built into society to take care of this sort of thing are going to hold up. I am afraid of this. I am afraid of the amount of pain and suffering I’m forcing myself to try to imagine. I’m afraid for the people who have to deal with this. I’m afraid of the effects it’s going to have on the rest of our society.

Last night I dreamed I was on an oil rig during the hurricane. I dreamed I was on one built into the ocean floor, watching one built to float. I watched it dip and sway in the water as the storm tore around it, around the metal I was holding on to. I watched it begin to fall toward me in slow motion as a huge wave crested beneath it, watched it right itself, felt my hold on the metal framework I was clutching start to slip. I woke up when I lost my grip and started falling toward the water, which separated beneath me somehow, as if I were repulsive to it, as if it didn’t want to catch me. I woke breathless and terrified to the sound of rain, to the fat drops of water hitting my roof, to what was left of the same storm I’d been dreaming of, now softer, now quieter, now spinning itself out in water, water, water, running down the roof and gutters of my house, collecting in puddles the thirsty earth around me sucks into itself.

This human reaction I had to such a simple thing—a dream, edging into nightmare—is intense enough for me. To the people who can’t wake up from those sensations of fear because they’re living them, awake—I only hope they’re able to find the resources within themselves to cope. I hope they can be helped. I hope that somehow, they are povided a net to fall into.


I know that's not a word, but it's been that kind of a day.

Glued to the news reports of hurricane damage and floating corpses while I watch my city get deluged by the remnants of Katrina...she swept up into the Ohio Valley and it's been pouring and windy here since about six this morning. Nothing like what happened in the South, but impressive nonetheless; lots of flooding and weather alerts and such going on, in the midst of...

...this. Yet again, Cincinnati has made the national news for something utterly and completely inept that could have been prevented. A train-car tanker full of styrene has been sitting on some railroad tracks near the Lunken airport (east side of town) for around nine months, apparently forgotten by the powers that be. But when you leave a tank of pressurized styrene sitting all by its lonesome for nine months, through one of the hottest summers on record, apparently some problems can develop, such as those chemicals rotting a hole in the top of the tanker and starting to spew forth. This in turn necessitates such precautions as the evacuation of hundreds of people from their homes in the area, the closing of local schools and businesses and a whole bunch of roads, and the fire department spraying cold water all over the damned leaking mess around the clock because there's a danger that it could explode, sending us all to high heaven and releasing a shitload of benzene into the air.

Oy. The mayor is pissed that the railroad company left this thing just sitting there. He said, and I quote, "Wal-mart can track a pair of socks, but you can't track a train car filled with dangerous chemicals." Also, our local terrorism unit is investigating. What are they going to find, terrorists? Ha! No. They're going to find ineptitudities.

Coming into work this morning, I walked through the wind and the rain coming at me sideways, rendering my umbrella useless, smelling the stink of this thing. Since the hurricane is pushing all the air around in funny ways, the wind is blowing east to west instead of the way it's supposed to, which means the stink of this crud is all over downtown now. Luckily this building has a good ventilation system, and if the tanker explodes like they're afraid it will, it's far enough away that it shouldn't hit us here.

Interesting days.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Hell of a hurricane.

Getting a bit worrisome down south there.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

High school foolishness, bowling, bugs

So, that Hurricane Katrina. That sure looks like it’s going to suck a whole lot for a whole lot of people.

Okay. The reunion.

The reunion was fun. For the first two or so hours of it, it was terribly awkward. I was there with my friend K, who was socializing with a whole bunch of people I didn’t really know that well. The constantly recurring question was, as I expected, “So, what do you do now?” closely followed by, “Do you still talk to so-and-so?” Uh, I’m a proofreader geek, and I haven’t talked to anyone from our class except K, dudes. I felt like the smile I glued onto my face to handle the evening was going to be stuck there forever; my cheeks were turning into plastic.

I resisted drinking, because I thought for $45 a head there would be an open bar, but it was a cash bar and they were charging outrageous amounts for shitty beer. Eventually, however, it became too awkward and weird and I felt like my eyes were going to bounce out of my skull and I just had to have something to drink. So I did. Then I loosened up and things were fun. We wound up sitting at a table with a bunch of people I knew, kids from the theatre crowd in high school, big geeks like me who only fit in theatre, nowhere else really. The girl sitting next to me felt pretty out of place too, so we commiserated in a superficial way. There was some dinner that wasn’t too bad, and then there was a slide show of the major events of the past ten years, and then there was some dancing. I drank, and then I danced, and that’s when the party started. These girls I wound up dancing with were all, Oh. My. God. Where did you learn to dance like that.

I guess I was a little more restrained in high school. Plus I didn’t drink at school functions in high school. Plus I hadn’t yet learned to shake my booty gay-club style.

I probably looked like an idiot, looking back on it, but it was fun. There was this one girl there who was quiet in high school, I hardly remember anything about her even though we went to elementary school together and she lived less than a block away from me, but she turned gorgeous. I kept looking at her. She exuded this irresistible-to-me confidence, this calmness. Some guy I don’t remember at all asked me if I was gay. I gave out my email address to a lot of people. We’ll see if anyone writes. There was a lot of stupid reminiscing—about that foreign exchange student from Russia, about the guy who was voted “most talkative,” about the time I got knocked out at a school dance, about theatre, about bad classes and people who weren’t there and former teachers.

After all that started to wind down, K and some other kids and I went bowling. It seemed like the thing to do, I don’t know. That was better than the reunion. The bowling alley is one of those ones they’ve tried to sex up by adding dance-floor lights and techno dance music on Friday and Saturday nights, which renders bowling all but impossible. I bowled something like…I don’t know, a 72 or something. But I was a little drunk, so I’m sure that wasn’t helping matters any. It’s hard to roll a fourteen-pound ball down an alley at a bunch of pins when there are strobe lights and disco ball reflections all over the joint. We closed the place down at one a.m. and all headed our separate ways to fall into drunken slumber.

All in all, what can I say about it. People looked better than I thought they would. The most common excuse it seems people gave for not coming was that they weren’t happy with where they were in life, were dissatisfied with their lack-of-job or their transientness or their weight. I thought there would be more people there; from our class of 500-ish, there were maybe…forty-five or so. I think I knew about ten of them. I did meet new people, as I’d hoped to, but I didn’t really connect with anyone. However, I do hope the small group I went bowling with can get together again; they were the people with whom I felt most comfortable. I could joke with them and it was okay when I bowled a gutterball and tripped on my shoelace and made a spectacle of myself trying to find an eight-pound pink bowling ball while drunk, which was about a disorganized-enough operation to bring down entire civilizations. I could see hanging out with them some more. But half of them live…in Virginia or someplace, I don’t know.I’m kind of sore today, in weird places. It’s been a while since I got my booty-shake on. Lame. I played it pretty low-key today, recovering. It seemed a lot to cram into my brain, last night. This is the uber-light take on it; my mind is still turning over small nuances of conversation, things I half-heard, things I don’t remember clearly. Trying to put the pieces of people I saw last night together with the pieces of them in my memory. I’m glad I went. I’m also glad this sort of thing only rolls around once a decade or so.

I took some pictures of bugs today. They’re up on Flickr with some other bug pics I’ve taken recently. Go check ‘em out. Taking pictures of bugs today felt right. You go to your class reunion, and then you take pictures of bugs. Yeah. That’s what you do.

Four words to describe my evening.

1. Thank
2. God
3. For
4. Alcohol

Little woozy right now (the room is spinnin...) so, more tomorrow. If I can see the monitor.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Decent pants

I called M yesterday from work to ask him how is day went and to see if he was feeling better (he's had stomach issues almost all week). He sounded amped up and said he'd had an interesting day. Why's that, I asked. He said he came within two pounds of trigger pull of killing a guy. He told me all about it while I sat at my desk with web designs and red pen in hand, half-heartedly pretending to work. Yesterday the jail accidentally released a guy on a large amount of cash bond that his family paid. The reason releasing him was an accident was because he was wanted on parole violation on his murder charge. Oops. I think it pays to find these things out about a person *before* you release them on high-cash bond...

Anyway, M and some other dude had to go out into the gnarsty parts of the city (see post from a couple days ago) with a list of addresses at which this guy has been arrested (and it was quite a long list) and track him down. Normally the city cops would handle tracking down criminals, but when somebody at jail, which is run by the sheriffs, fucks up, it falls to the sheriffs to un-fuck things up. When they found him, of course he had a gun on him, and was reaching for it when M and his partner told the guy in no uncertain terms (i.e., drew their guns and pointed them at the guy's chest) that making any further movements would result in his instant death. Lucky for the dude, he stopped moving and laid down on the ground like the nice officers told him to.

I can't really imagine the drama involved in this situation because I've never had a gun pointed at me. I've been scared and thought I was going to die before in various situations (a tornado, some near-misses on the highway, lung collapse/cancer scare, the usual), but the threat has never been directly from another person who obviously wanted me dead. I imagine that puts a different spin on things, as it seemed to for M, who was amped all evening. He was glad today to have an easier assignment (go to a nursing home that's currently housing an ill inmate and make sure the ill inmate doesn't do anything illin' to his fellow nursing-home patients--ah, our tax dollars at work).

Tonight is my tenth high school class reunion. Everyone I've told about it has been surprised that I'm going, saying I'm not the reunion type. I don't really know what that means. My high school class was freakin' huge, on the order of more than 500 students, and I'm sure I'll meet new people at the reunion, people with whom I have this giant thing in common but with whom I've never had a conversation. Also, I'm somewhat eager to see if the quote-unquote "popular" kids show up, because I feel fairly certain that most of them will be past their prime already, whereas I was a geek-o-saurus in high school and am finally now getting into my stride in life. (Although that's to be debated, because lately I just feel like a giant fuck-up headed for utter disaster, about which I'm refusing to blog.)

At any rate, I imagine tonight will be an amusing time, and lead me to make interesting (to me, at least) observations about the nature of twenty-somethings who survived their high school years at my school. My high school was something of a local anomaly, and is to this day. It has a large base to serve, about 2,000 kids, and it serves all kinds--those from affluent areas, kids whose parents buy them cars and pay for their education and who have trust funds, and it also serves kids from one of the poorest municipalities in greater Cincinnati. My graduating class was split almost evenly at 49% Black, 49% White, and 2% other. There was a lot of racial tension at my high school (and still is). When I was there, we had a full fleet of security guards, but now they have armed officers on the premises during all school hours and at every school function. I'm not sure what triggered the switch to armed officers; it could have been the incident where the one kid almost killed the other kid with a baseball bat outside the gym but instead just broke his leg and scattered his teeth in a bloody arc across the floor, or the time one of the music teachers walked into the cafeteria and got his face smashed and his cheekbones broken by a table full of kids from that poor area, or the gang incident where some kid got thrown through a plate-glass principal's office window, it could have been the race riots, or it could have been the fact that in one school year alone there were more than 3,400 "disciplinary incidents."

Anyone who managed to navigate all that and be successfully alive enough to come to a tenth-year reunion is bound to not be a boring person, in my opinion. And that's why I'm going. I only really kept in touch with one person from my graduating class, and she's the one I'm going with. She keeps talking about how she's worried none of "our people" (meaning the theater crowd, I think) will be there and that we won't know anyone, but that's what I'm hoping for. I don't want to know anyone.

I now have to get off the computer and go out into the commercial wilds and find myself some decent pants to wear tonight, since all my pants are not decent and the attire is "dressy casual." See what happens when you work at a company where you get to wear jeans and t-shirts and flip-flops every day? You wind up with nothing decent to wear to your tenth reunion. Speakin' of which, my lil' company has been nominated as one of the best places to work in the city. That's kinda cool. I imagine it's because they let us drink at work sometimes. And we can always wear flip-flops. And we have a kick-ass office design that won some awards. And all that crap.

Okay. Must away.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I disagree.

Today I saw:
  • A super-hot girl wearing a very short skirt and riding a Vespa lazily and happily through downtown. Maybe you'd see this sort of thing in a coastal city, or even Chicago. You do not see this sort of thing in Cincinnati. Ever.
  • A lot of sky. I don't know why I kept looking at the sky today. I took a bike ride tonight and was staring up at the cloud bank moving in and I hit a speed bump in a campground and very nearly spilled myself all over the road. That stupid speed bump never used to be there.
  • A yellow mountain bike with no seat chained to a parking meter.
  • Some dude in Burrito Joe's who kept staring at me like he knew me. I don't think I've ever seen him before.
  • A lot of boring technical shit about supply chains and distribution lines that I had to proof.
  • A three-car wreck on the highway, and a bunch of people standing on the side of the road next to their busted-ass cars, talking on cell phones.
  • A gnat, up reeeeeeeal close, when it drowned in my eye while I was out riding my bike.
  • A lot of laundry. Which I folded.
  • Sunlight through trees. Insects. Cracked pavement. Broken glass. A spiderweb.
  • M. taking both Pepto and Immodium. I don't think you're supposed to take both of those things. I'm thinking one or the other.
Today I heard:
  • Someone at work say, "I feel like stabbing myself in the eye right now."
  • A bunch of crud on NPR, which I'm addicted to.
  • That Eurythmics song "Sweet Dreams." What a damn fine song that is.
  • Some remixed Everything But the Girl stuff. Good.
  • The alarm clock. The dryer buzzer. The microwave's beep. The phone.
  • Crickets outside. My dogs barking.
  • The water cycling through the filter in the aquarium, in which the oscar and the cichlids are still getting along and not ramming each other to shreds.
  • My ears ringing constantly, because I think my iPod is making me deaf. I need new headphones. Those earbuds are dangerous business. I keep it turned down to less than half volume because I read two-thirds volume is enough to cause hearing damage. Even at half-volume my ears are ringing like mad. Not good.
Today I tasted:
  • Fried rice. For breakfast.
  • Burritoes.
  • Cereal.
  • Pretzels and whole-wheat crackers.
  • A stick of gum.
  • That taste you get in your mouth when you exert yourself mightily in pursuit of some goal, i.e. getting up a big hill on a bike.
Today I smelled:
  • Cigarettes, smoked by people at the bases of buildings all through the city.
  • The stinky lunch my boss was eating.
  • Sticky city street crud.
  • That musty smell my car has developed ever since I left the windows down during the deluge about a month ago.
  • Campfire smoke. In a campground. That I rode my bike through. And hit a speedbump in.
  • My dogs. They smell goooooood.
Today I felt:
  • The wind on my body as I rode through the street that goes through the woods on my bike.
  • The temperature of the air change from warm to cool when I rode out of the suburbs and into the woods.
  • The same headache I've had almost every day for the past three weeks.
  • Frustrated. Angry. Hungry. Tired. Glad. Scared. Amused. Out of breath. Hot.
  • My leg falling asleep because I jam it up under my butt while I'm proofing, because to sit in an Aeron chair the way one was meant to is boring.
I bet you have Sweet Dreams in your head now, don't you. Muahahahaha...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Yowie-kazowie, Batman!

Well, it's nothing all that dramatic, actually. I was mowing the lawn this evening and some flying stinging thing flew onto me and stung me on the back of the arm. Kinda feels like I've been punched now--tight skin, red, hot, itchy. But not too bad.

FYI, all y'all who commented: The bedding has been washed. C'mon, like you never slept with your pillow flipped over because one side of it had mind. At any rate, M was a dear and washed it all today, bless his heart. He also took the sander to the bathroom walls and repaired some damage. Next step: Spackle city.

I've been walking around all night saying "spackle" because it's an even funnier word than "spatula." I wonder if I put some spackle on this wasp/bee/flying jabberwocky sting thing if it would stop hurting. I bet it would feel nice and cool. At first.

Today was nice. Nothing bad happened. Nothing super-good happened, but nothing bad happened, and I suppose there are lots of people in the world who can't say that about their day today. The worst that happened was that I got stung. Big deal; it's not like I'm going into anaphylactic shock or anything, and if I do, well, we've got Epi-pens. Also I ran over some dog crap and a rotten plum with the lawn mower, but in the grand scheme of things, that's not so awful. I had a nice skate at lunch and got some pictures.

Here's one of them. It's not framed that well because I was skating and it was a bit breezy so I kept getting street grit in my eyes (suck!--I ought to get some goggles for city skating so I can look like a bigger dope than I already do) and it was difficult to see the viewfinder since it was all bright out and shit, and that's a lot of excuses for taking a bad picture and all, but anyway, there you go. This is up north of the downtown-ish part of the city, in the slummier areas. You go along this street and up this big hill and there's a great view of the city's skyline, looking so pristine and clean against the blue of the sky today (a true rarity in August), and yet in the foreground of the scene, you see nothing but tenement housing, projects, busted-out windows and darkness and gloom and crime and sadness. Scenes like that bring home the disparities that exist in this country, and remind me again not to take the things I have for granted. I like to spend time in bad neighborhoods. It puts things in better perspective.

While I was skating near Music Hall, which is across the street from one of the most dangerous public parks in the city, I looked down a sunlit alley and saw two bike patrol cops in their blue shirts standing over a man who was lying in the alley with stuff scattered all around, bags of things that looked to me like trash but might have been everything in the world the man possessed. I wanted to take a picture of the scene but in some ways I thought it should remain as it was, undocumented, because a photo couldn't capture the complexity of the moment: Here it is a stunningly beautiful day, sunny, clear, in the seventies, the sky September 11th blue, and yet this scene of utter degradation and sadness is playing out under the brightness of the sun. You can't take a picture of that. You can catch the light on the shoulders of the cops, how their blue shirts glow in the alley, you can catch the darkness of the clothing worn by the man lying in the alley, but you can't show the totality of the scene, the architecturally gorgeous Music Hall on the left, the drugs-and-rape-and-murder park on the right, buildings with broken windows ahead, the commerce of downtown behind...and anyway, in certain parts of town, you don't take your camera out. In certain parts of town, the streets are thronged with people in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday. They're not on their lunchbreak, because they don't have jobs. They're out on the street in their lawn chairs because as depressing as it may be among all the reeking trash and broken bottles and potholes and drug deals and prostitutes, it's a lot nicer out than in, where they live.

I wish more people who work downtown would bother to venture out of their Fountain-Square fast food comfort zone at lunch and go see what the city is really like, outside the ten-block by ten-block square of safeness. When I go to the bad neighborhoods, I never see office-building escapees. I see people who live in abject poverty and I see cops and I see people in cars driving by with the windows up and the doors locked. It makes me sad that people are so afraid to see what's so close to them, as if never looking at a thing makes it not so. I understand that fear is a big factor in it too, on a lot of levels--not just fear for your personal safety, but fear that such inequality exists, that America isn't this rosy, dreamy vision of utopia so many people assume it is. I have a lot of problems with the assumption that anyone can become anything they want in America. It's such a huge line of propagandist, elitist bullshit. When you start with nothing, it's a lot more difficult to become a white-shirted banker in shiny shoes and a suit, and you're taught not to want or respect that anyway.

I fear this part of the city less than most people because M used to live in it when I first met him. He had a crudhole apartment on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine, and when Cincinnati had its race riots in 2001, he was in thick of it; he had a gun pushed in his face by a thirteen-year-old kid while he was walking to work one night during the riots. (He broke the kid's arm and took his gun.) That neighborhood...I still feel nostalgic when I go through it. It's not like it was so long ago, only a couple years, that he lived there, but a place like that can have a powerful hold over a person, can have such a feel to it that it stays with you all the time, and after you leave it and come back to it you see subtle changes in it that you can interpret in ways outsiders can't. Despite the violence, it had its good points--namely that nothing was ever dull there; the people's lives were an endlessly fascinating tableaux of drama and pain and anger and, now and then, happiness, and it was always played out right on the street. You got to know the people on the streets after a while and you feared them less. If they know you and your dog and you talk to them and don't walk by like you assume they're going to fuck you up in some way, you lose your fear that they're going to rob you or hurt you, you drop all that shit you're taught to think and see them as people, not as whatever stereotypes you categorize them as in your head because you're afraid.

Well, this turned into a lot bigger post than I meant it to. My intention for tonight was to get some writing done on the story I'm working on, but now I don't feel bad that I didn't. I'm glad I wrote about these things. These things matter to me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Everything is the same shade

I geeked out big time for a while tonight watching Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. I sometimes put my love for Motoko Kusanagi by the wayside, but when I see her in action it all comes flooding back. There's this part in the second box set when she's standing outside in a hospital parking lot at night and the sun is just about to set, and everything is flooded with this deep yellow-orange light and it's nearly overwhelming to me with its creation of a mood I can taste and smell and almost wrap my hands around. Lately I feel so tuned in to color. I think I mumbled something about that in an earlier post and didn't expound upon it; what I mean is, while I may not be fully synesthetic, sometimes I am so overwhelmed by color that it floods everything else, to the point where it's difficult to function, to hold my head up and breathe and be. I can't explain it well. But the color orange can turn me inside out sometimes. Maybe I'll write more about that in the future, maybe I won't, I don't know. I'm sort of drunk right now so tonight's not the night to expound on my effed up neural processes.

The weather continues to be amazing, wonderful, beautiful, all those adjectives you say when you really like a thing. I really like the weather. The humidity has dropped to around fifty percent, quite a change from the eight-five percent it was hovering at for three months and making life miserable. I took a walk today at lunch and didn't get out of breath once. When I got home this evening, I poked around in my picture-taking trance. Thanks to some kind people on Flickr, I've figured out how to get into super macro mode on my camera, and took some pictures of what interested me in my yard. New set on Flickr here. It's not very organized, but you can kind of see what I was doing. Hopefully those super macro skills will improve.

Okay, I believe I promised some of you pictures of my wretched bathroom. How geeky am I if I clean it before I take pictures of it? I did. I was too embarrassed. Here you can see a fine example of the gaping hole where the medicine chest goes, as well as the busted vent and the showerhead and the gnasty-as-hell walls with some of the paint stripped off but the rest still clinging on for dear life.

And here are the tools that are hopefully going to help us fix this mess that I've created. It's great having two brothers who work in construction. With any luck I can convince M to belt-sand the rest of the paint off the walls tomorrow; he's off work and I'm not. He was also supposed to wash the bedding today because of a little early-morning, erm, "indiscretion" that got the sheets sort of bodily-fluidy, as in right on my fucking pillow, but he didn't wash them so now I have to sleep in...

Ahem. Anyway. So that's the bathroom. It's a mess, and hopefully soon I'll be posting some "after" pics that are a whole lot less ugly.

I have to set some kind of rule for myself. I have a limited amount of time each day in which I can be creative. Lately, I have an unlimited supply of creativity. Which usually means that what I do with that creativity comes out in a big jumbled mess with no self-editing. It's all been poured into photography lately, but I want to channel some of it back into writing, because I have a story brewing that I want/need to put down but there simply haven't been enough hours in the day lately. I think I've got to force myself to put the camera down and remove myself from the room it's in if I'm going to get anything else done.

It's late. I'd better go to bed. Somebody tell me to put my damn camera down so I can get stuff done...

All the news that's pit to frint

I'd just like to take this moment to point out that my state's governor has the lowest approval rating in the country right now. Yep, fiftieth out of fifty. Can't sink any lower than that.

That Taft. What a numbnuts.

If you have any interest at all in learning why I never vote Republican, here's an example.

I had to work three hours' overtime yesterday because...I don't know, I think someone circumvented a process somewhere or something. Imagine that. Of course yesterday was the most gorgeous day since sometime in early June. I did get to take a walk at lunch that I enjoyed a whole lot. I felt good, and light, for the first time in a while. I had my iPod on shuffle and one of the songs that played was "Hold Me Now" from an 80s playlist I put together. I walked around downtown amidst the throngs of business people escaped from their cubicles to enjoy the weather, grinning like an idiot and getting funny looks. It almost made up for having to work overtime. When I got home (real late) I drank a couple beers and fell asleep. Very exciting evening, full of NOT working on the bathroom.

To answer a few recent comments: Jenelle, my posts show up at 11:59 because I write them in the middle of the night when all sane and rational people are asleep, and I manually set the time to 11:59 the previous day so they show up as being part of, say, Tuesday instead of Wednesday, because I consider 2 a.m. Wednesday to still be part of my Tuesday consciousness, my awareness of Tuesday as a concept. If that makes any sense. Which it probably doesn't. Ha.

E, and the others who asked: I'll post pics of the bathroom disaster tonight, I think, if I'm not too embarrassed. I mean I have really fucked it up in there. Ha ha. M, I have a facemask, but with the asthmatic lungs already working poorly, putting one of those on is like stuffing socks up my nose and I can't breathe. I kinda use it intermittently. Atpanda--maybe I should have gone the cut-the-hair route instead of the bathroom-remodeling route. I'll keep that in mind next time I am full of angst. Em--yes, it has for sure been asthma hell summer. I'm actually looking forward to fall for a change, which I never do, because it's the harbinger of winter and I always get depressed in winter. But at least I'm able to breathe then. Greg: I know about the gummy mouth. It is gross. Mr. H.K.: you're right, at least I have a wall to fuck up, instead of no wall. D.K.: yep, I said belt sander. God help me.

About the post titled "Speak"--the text over the hand is text from my novel (which I'm beginning to worry about, as that agent chick in New York has had it for about two months now and I've heard nothing, although I'm told it can be six months to a year before you hear back--still nerve wracking, I need word!). The novel deals primarily with the effects of touch, of humans touching one another, both positively and negatively, and so. There you go. Text on a hand. Also, Jenelle, I am planning to post more stories on Novel Thoughts, hopefully soon. I got a whole paragraph into one yesterday. I'm really crackin' now...

Okay. I guess I'll go pretend to work or something.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Glue for brains

I got the bright idea Friday night that I might start a major remodeling project, since I was feeling rotten. I believe I wrote briefly about yanking out the metal trim in the bathroom. Well, I got carried away in there. Saturday I went to Lowes and bought wallpaper-removing crud, and came home and attempted to remove the wallpaper. What did I discover? The bathroom wasn't wallpapered. It was just rotten old nasty paint that peeled back in enough places to make it look like it was painted-over wallpaper. When did I discover this? After I used the wallpaper scoring tool and had put wallpaper removal gunk all over the walls, getting high from the fumes and giving myself a headache in the process.

In case I have not made it clear by now, I am a genius.

My bathroom is a fucking jizzaster. I mean it is is really a mess. I am half-laughing as I write this because it is such a mess. It's like a gang of bipolar rats live in there.

I spent a lot of time yesterday peeling off nasty old paint. I've got this thing where, even if something is the wrong thing to do, once I get started on it I have a hard time stopping doing it. It might not be best to be peeling this paint back and exposing the wallboard, but it's all been scored with holes from the wallpaper scorer, so it's got to come off now. And so I obsessively pick and peel and chip at it. In some places, it comes off easily with maybe the first layer or two of cardboardy gunk that makes up the old wallboard, but in some places, apparently someone who owned this house before us had used some glue under the paint to put up some plastic paneling. (I have no idea how, or why, or the sequence of events that would cause there to be glue, then paint, but paneling...on top of the paint? Shit.) Needless to say, the old nasty paint doesn't want to come off the gluey parts.

This is coming out in a weird order. I have inhaled too much chemical and dust and crud in there this weekend. I'm coming to the conclusion that everyone who owned this house prior to us conspired against us to make our lives miserable.

Well, that might be a little dramatic and all, but still.

I don't know why I get myself into these things. I should have left well enough alone. But nooooo. I gotta go and be all -I'm miserable so I might as well rip out wallpaper- about it.

To make a long, boring story short, my brother has graciously assented to let us borrow his belt sander, and I'm going to attempt to fix the mess at some point this week. God. I'm just laughing when I think about it. What a mess. There are gooey bits of wet, peeled paint with wallboard stuck to it flaked all over the floor, plus all the fuzzies we've been sanding off the wall by hand where we've gotten large chunks of paint off. We have one and a half bathrooms, and of course this is the one with the shower in it, and the shower curtain is on the floor in the spare room at the mo, so when I got fed up with being funky this afternoon and took a desperation shower, it compounded the mess. The thing is, I am just not in the frame of mind to deal with this right now. I am a little off and have been for about three or four days. I need to get back on so I can deal with this.

I thought this morning when I got up that I'd go for a skate to clear my head. It rained some more yesterday and the air is cooler today, only in the mid-eighties, so I drove out to Miami Whitewater. When I got there I realized I'd forgotten to use the Advair this morning, probably because it wasn't in its usual place in the bathroom since the medicine cabinet is now leaning against the bed in the spare room. I had my Albuterol though so I figured I'd be fine, could just use that if I had an asthma attack. Of course I had an asthma attack about four miles in, and the Albuterol didn't really cut it. I didn't realize how much that Advair was helping until today, when I honestly thought I was going to pass out on the trail. It scared me; my knees were not under my control and I thought they were just gonna plop out. I had to lean over under a tree for a long time. Thought I was gonna puke too. That sucked. Also, I brought my camera out there with me thinking I'd take some pics since it's so beautiful out there but when I got out on the trail and turned the camera on it said "no memory card."

That's what my brain feels like. No memory card.

Photo Friday: One

It would be mighty strange to look up there and see two of them all of sudden...


Friday, August 19, 2005


Thunder woke me at about 6:30 this morning, when it was still dark. It's been so long since there's been any real rain to speak of; the trees are dropping crackly, dry yellow leaves and it's not even September yet. For two or three minutes I laid there with my eyes open in the darkness, running my hand over the head of whichever dog was lying on my right side, listening to the rain and feeling good about it. And then I realized M was still in bed with me and that it was an hour later than he usually gets up, and I woke him and thus began the day. He was not thrilled. He was late for work. He said some words that made my ears burn and then he left and it was me and dogs and the thunderstorm and the silence again.

I dreamed in color. I guess I always dream in color, but last night, I dreamed in color accents. My camera has a color accent feature that lets you select which colors in the camera's field of vision you want to show up, and the rest of the shot is in black and white. You can see examples of it on my latest photostream on Flickr, linked here and also in the sidebar if you scroll down a bit. It's easier to see than to explain. This is how my dream was.

In my dream, a person at work who I don't like was getting fired. I was at his house with a number of other people from work and the dream was in black and white except for his floor, which was a beautiful cherry hardwood, shining deep brown and orange and red. When I left his house with the group of people from work, the light outside was bright and glowing, but only the trees were in color, their green a beacon calling me to keep moving forward because behind me was...I don't remember. Something threatening. And the colors wanted to suck me in. I feel that I'm coming back around to color again; sometimes I let it go and stop looking at it because it's easier to live my life, but sometimes it starts looking at me, and that synesthetic connection starts happening in my brain and I have no control over the emotions that flood me when I see an expanse of purple with a hint of orange in it, or pale September-sky blue, things start stirring, memories of things I know I've never done, faint echoes of thoughts and emotions someone else lived playing out in my brain chemistry...

Being a human alive in the world seemed okay for the first few hours of the day. The air was clearer than it's been in a long time; there were actual rainclouds in the sky, although they scudded off as the morning went on and were replaced by patches of clear blue that you usually only see in spring and fall. And then Nathan started emailing me about his moonlight hike on Mt. Hood he's got planned for this weekend, asking me to fly out there, offering to pay for my ticket...

I don't know why, but this triggered a release of problem in my head. I want to be the kind of person who is spontaneous enough to do this sort of thing, but I'm not. I began to think about the way I think about things, about why I have a hard time relaxing and enjoying myself almost always, how my normal state of being is to feel tense and tight and like something's not quite right. How when I go on vacation there's maybe two hours of it when I'm unwound enough to simply be rather than always thinking about the next thing or the previous thing. I'd like my being to play like music, but it's always focused on what just was or what might be.

When these thoughts come into my head, they tend to settle deep in my brain core, as though they have physical substance and aren't of the ether, unrecordable and unmeasurable unless I choose to write them down. I could feel them weighing into my lungs. As I proofed copy about keeping your gums healthy and relaxing on your lunch break and eating colorful vegetables, I turned over in my head my approach to dealing with what my senses record, to how I react to being this person in this time in this place. And I felt worse and worse. I don't know why. I know why, but I can't enunciate it. Things continued on as usual around me, witty banter flying around my head at work and making me laugh, but I had to be careful not to laugh too hard, because it felt like something was going to leak out of my mouth. Something that wasn't laughter.

This feeling of darkness dissipated some as the day went on, but it didn't go away entirely. I am unable to be still today. My inner teen-angst turmoil tells me to keep moving. After I ate dinner I wanted to sit down and unwind from a busy day. But I couldn't. I went into the bathroom and started yanking out the metal trim a foot down from the ceiling where the previous owners of the house put a drop ceiling in. I've been intending to do a major remodel of the bathroom for a while and this seemed as good a time as any to do it. I took all the trim down, yanked the nails out of the twisted metal and pulled down the god-awful ceiling-trim wallpaper. The bathroom looks like hell now. They painted over wallpaper. It's going to be a much bigger job than I initially thought.

I don't want to question what I'm doing too hard. The way I've chosen to live my life. I know it doesn't fit me as well as I want it to fit me. And I know if I went to the opposite extreme, that that wouldn't fit me perfectly either. I know this reads cryptically, but it makes sense to me and all I want to do is get it down so I can look at it later, more objectively, and decide that I'm only thinking this way because I'm in a mood, not because it's real. I don't want to crack the surface of this. I don't know if I want to break this tension. I don't know if I can handle it. I can't write any more about this.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Raw chickens. Slimy water. Money.

Work was kind of a bear today. I'm not going to write much about it, because it's long and involved and I ain't exactly in the mood. Basically what it comes down to is that I may or may not be getting tapped to do some gruntwork for a dude I can't stand. Hopefully that's not the case, but we'll see. I really love my job and have a great interest in preserving its current ideal status quo, but such things are not always feasible.

So, instead of kvetching about this dude and how irritating it is to watch him time and again circumvent and sabotage our established process and make us look like idiots because he's preventing us from doing our jobs by being one-to-whom-the-rules-do-not-apply, I thought I'd write some crap about our small department and how much fun it is to work in it because of the sheer ridiculousness of one of its members' sense of humor.

My boss has this thing about trying to find our price for stuff. I think he lays in bed at night and dreams this up. It cracks me up and often provides much-needed relief from the tedium that can be involved in proofreading technical or medical jargon. Some of the things he has asked:
  • How much money would it take for you to ride an office chair down four flights of stairs?
We have Aerons. I don't think HR would approve of our destroying them in an attempt to ride them down flights of stairs. Stipulations of this flight-of-stairs shenanigans: no protective gear, and if you fall, you have to go back and start from the place where you fell. I told him I wouldn't do it for any amount of money. One of the copywriters said he'd do it for fifty bucks. That wouldn't even cover his medical bills.
  • How much money would it take to get you to eat this entire raw chicken?
We were proofing some newsletter with a picture of a raw chicken in it. (It was something about eating healthy, if I remember right.) The chicken was shiny. It glistened. The chick who sits next to me said she'd do it for twenty grand, if she had twenty-four hours in which to do it. I again said no amount of money would convince me; first, I'm a vegetarian, and second, I don't think risking my life or at least surely a gnarsty bout of salmonella would be worth dollars. This led to a protracted discussion about my doing it for a billion dollars, which I could then donate to anti-factory farming efforts. I didn't have an answer. Would I do that? Could I eat the flesh of something with a central nervous system? It's like asking if you could prevent the Holocaust by going back in time to kill Hitler. You know what you could be stopping, but could you really kill another human being? Could you find that in you? I digress...
  • How much money would it take for you to plaster your car with republican propaganda and not explain it to anyone?
My car currently has the following bumper stickers: a three-foot-long, 1" thick wavy rainbow on the back windshield, a "Got Rights?" sticker, one that says "Ban Stupid People, Not Dogs" and has a pit bull on it, and one that says "D.A.R.E. to keep your kids off television!" I told him I'd do it for no less than a million, which I'd donate to grassroots organizations that promote the things I believe strongly in. Shit, who votes republican because they saw it on a bumper sticker?
  • How much money would it take for you to jam a baseball-sized wad of powdered calcium in your mouth and keep it there until it dissolved and you swallowed it all?
I just looked at him like he had three heads for asking that one. The chick who sits next to me said she'd do it for thirty bucks.
  • How much money would it take for you to go into the lunchroom and just start eating people's lunches out of the fridge without explaining what you were doing?
Oh dude now, come on. Could you ever show your face in your workplace again if you did this? I mean really. It's one thing to be sneaky and steal someone's lunch out of there (I've never done it, but others have). It's another thing entirely to blatantly snag someone's Lean Pocket and heat it up and snarf it right there in the lunchroom. I asked if I could explain the next day and like split the profits with the person whose lunch I'd stolen, and he said negative, you could never explain it. So yet again I had to turn him down for any amount of dollars. Sometimes it stinks having morals. Look at all the money I could be making.
  • I got twenty bucks right here that's yours if you drink this cruddy, slimy green water that my bamboo plant has been living in for the past two years.
There was like, maybe an eighth of a cup of this water. It was truly disgusting. It was slimy. It was cruddy. It was green. It was only twenty bucks. I turned him down. For fifty, I might have considered it.

All right, that's enough of that. One parting note. At lunch today, I met a friend at the downtown mall's food court (ugh)--I didn't eat anything there, just, because yech, but I took some pictures. The thing about taking pictures in a place as crowded as the downtown mall food court at noon is that everyone thinks you're taking pictures of them. You can't point your camera anywhere without pointing it at people. And so today I was trying to take a picture of some purple light reflecting on a white column, but there were these dudes in the foreground. I didn't even see them until I came home tonight and put the memory card in the cardreader and looked at the pictures. Look at these dudes. I just crack up every time I see them. (I edited out the purple light bit so y'all can see the dudes better.)
Thank you, and goodnight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Needles and ink and flesh, oh my

My gift to M for his birthday back in July was that I'd pay for him to get a tattoo. I was surprised at how far ahead the studio was booked; his appointment was today, which is almost three weeks after his birthday. But the boy got himself a tattoo, and he is walking around grinning like a monkey with six bananas. I'm glad he's happy. It's a good feeling to give someone a gift that they are not pretending to like, that they obviously and genuinely are thrilled to death with.

So here it is, all fresh and gooey. I'll take more pictures of it once it isn't so fresh and gooey and shiny and kinda yech. He said it hurt less than he thought it would. The tail will stick out the sleeve of his sheriff uniform in the summer when they wear the short-sleeved shirts. I imagine it will be uncomfortable for the next few days; those shirts are made of the shittiest polyester on earth. When I got my ball-of-the-arm tattoo, I wore sleeveless shirts until it scabbed over, and when I got the two on my neck, I just wanted to walk around naked all the time because it hurt to touch them.

I feel less la-la today, but more like my mind is closer to the ground. My mind is supposed to be at my height, but yesterday it was in the clouds and today it's hovering somewhere around my knees. My body feels heavy and tired. I don't know why. It's not really bad, necessarily, just kinda...weird. I took a whole bunch of pictures tonight and that made me feel better. I'll have to organize them and get them up on Flickr at some point but not tonight.

The moon is large--almost full. I love to look at the moon. I've taken pictures of it every day this week, which means I've wound up with a folder full of moon pics on my desktop and I can make a little animation of its phases if I want to. This camera is incredible. You can see the moon's belly button with it.

God, what would I do if I couldn't take pictures? I shudder to think. It's becoming an obsession.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Out of whack. More whack is on order.

For the past few days, I've been in la-la land. I took a brief hiatus from la-la land yesterday for about two hours during which I did nothing but sit at my desk at work and read blogs (slow day, but the rest of the week is making up for it), but then I went back to la-la land. I'm beginning to wonder if I live here permanently.

Stupid shit I have done in the past three days:
  • Dropped a steak knife on M's foot while attempting to transfer it (the knife, not the foot) from the sink to the dishwasher. Major catastrophe and that big vein on the top of the foot were somehow avoided. I have no idea how I didn't accidentally impale his foot to the kitchen floor with that thing. Miraculously, it only nicked his ankle.
  • Nearly ran over a handicapped woman driving a wheelchair grocery cart through Kroger with a baby in her lap. I was following her down an aisle and she stopped suddenly and I had a lot of crud in my cart and I didn't stop very quickly. I missed her by about a centimeter.
  • Dropped a carton of eggs on the floor on the same grocery trip. Right in front of some dude loading broccoli onto the cooler shelves. Needless to say, it made a big mess and I felt real stupid. And also bad that the eggs were wasted. I am not a waster of things. I feel guilt when things are wasted.
  • Did the whole "accidentally left some stuff on the roof of the car and then drove off and wondered what all that noise was" thing.
  • Forgot to set the parking brake and nearly got killed when I was getting out of the car and it started to roll backward/forward. *Three times.*
  • Dropped a plastic leftovers bowl right into the pot of spaghetti and then dropped the spoonful of spaghetti I was going to put into the bowl on top of the inverted bowl. Yeah, that was a mess to try to fish out of there.
Uh, I'm sure there is more, but my brain is not working. Today I was proofing some crud and about sixty times, I read the same paragraph over and over and still had no idea what it said. With proofing, you can't glaze over it and sorta do it half-assed; you have to apply brain to words in this rather strenuous way, if you're going to do it right and not miss something that someone will inevitably point out to you later and say, why didn't you catch that. Also, I listened to both traffic reports on my way to work--which I do every day with great focus because what they say on the radio determines my route to work--and then as soon as the traffic report was over, I instantly forgot everything that was in it. It is like my brain is water, and everything I try to stick it to has an oily coating on it. My brain rolls and gloops off of it and falls to the floor. And lays there looking up at me like, what are you looking at, fool.

BUT. At least I did not do what this truck driver did. Which I read about online when I got to work, since I failed twice to hear about it on the radio traffic report. This truck driver is driving on the highway, right, and he somehow manages to flip his truck over and lose control of the hunk of giant steel coils of doom that are on the back of his semi. And the truck flips, and the hunk of giant steel coils of doom, well, they say to the highway, prepare to meet thy doom, highway, and then the highway meets its doom. In the form of a giant gaping hole. This is of course on a bridge part of the highway that goes over an exit ramp leading into downtown, and chunks of concrete actually fell through the hole this made and onto the road below. Somehow, no one was hurt in all this mess. Except for the road.

I mean, look at it. Poor road. Innocently minding its business, and then the giant steel cables of doom bash it all up and make it unsightly.

Still and all, it's an impressive hole to behole-d.

That wasn't funny at all. I'd better go to bed.

A kick in the ass

I don't normally write about topics in the news, for various reasons--namely, a) everyone has an opinion and who wants to read another one, b) I'm so plugged into the news that I wouldn't even know where to begin writing about the things I learn most of the time, and c) it always takes me forever to analyze and digest something enough to make a coherent statement about my thoughts on the matter, and by then there are fifty thousand and three other news stories grabbing attention. In short, I've got an RSS feeder that keeps me plugged in whenever I'm at a computer, and during the workday, that's every minute except lunch--and half the time, I eat at my desk. So I'm all, you know, up on the news and shit.

This morning on NPR, Steve Inskeep interviewed by phone a woman being evacuated from the Gaza Strip. I'd link you to it so you could hear it, but it's not up yet, but if you go to it should be up by 10 a.m. or so, if you're interested. What struck me about this story was Steve Inskeep's manner. He was asking the woman on the phone about her moving process, and she broke down and cried about halfway through the interview. She's lived in her digs in the Gaza Strip for 25 years, and is now being told to leave by the Israeli government because...well, that's complicated, and her tears and anger are a testament to just how complicated the situation is. What rather disturbed me was that Steve Inskeep started asking her questions in a rather blunt way. He told her she knew this was inevitable, that she was going to have to leave, and asked her if she understood that. He also asked her if she felt she owed it to her government to go without protest.

I don't know how much of his bluntness was due to that crap a while ago (which is still going on, but not as much in the spotlight) about NPR being biased toward Palestinians, but I thought as I listened to this, Christ, Inskeep, you're talking to a woman who has lived where she has for twenty-five years. Of course she doesn't want to leave, regardless of whether she should or shouldn't have been there in the first place (and that topic is such a mess I wonder if anyone will ever be able to sort it out). She's crying because she has to leave her home. She just told you how much she loved her home. And you're asking her if she thinks she owes it to her government to leave, when she just said that the only way they found out they were being evacuated was from the news, not from any official statement from her government; they didn't come themselves, just let the media let these people know they had to leave their homes. Do you know what this woman said to Steve Inskeep? It cracked me up. She said, "I owe my government a kick in the ass."

I couldn't help laughing. Sure, I could understand that she felt pain and anger and fear, and I can also understand that the Palestinians have pain and anger and fear, and I have a great appreciation for how tangled up ordinary people have become in this huge political wasp's nest mess that is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. But that statement right there summed everything up. She owes her government a kick in the ass. For so many reasons.

I think I owe my government a kick in the ass too, but at least I'm not being forced by armed men to leave my home.

Okay. Time to work.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The meme monster

...has finally arrived. E, I would give you a noogie if I could.

Many thanks for the comments on my previous post; it wasn't the easiest to write, and I still don't feel that I did our relationship justice--probably no words could--but it's nice to know that others know about it now, even if I don't know any of you in real life. I don't really talk about that relationship with anyone, because I just butcher it when I try to, and it hurts to say words because there are so many memories that I know I could never draw an accurate picture of in anyone else's mind.

A few random updates: I went to Spring Grove Cemetery yesterday, which is (I think) Cincinnati's biggest one, where all the rich and famous and rich and rich people are buried. I've been there so many times, and every time, I find new things--as in, about 90% of my visit is seeing new things. It's that big. I've never taken photos of the same statues on two different visits. Yesterday, it was ninety-seven degrees and I knew it probably wasn't the wisest choice to go, but after the past two weeks working on the project of doom, I needed to get out and flex some creative muscle. I have a backlog of creativity that I need to do something with. I walked around for about an hour and a half, until I thought I was going to get sick or fall over from the heat. I had to stop and go sit in my car with the air conditioning on a couple times but even that didn't help much. BUT, I took some pictures I'm pleased with. You can see them on Flickr; that link will take you directly to the photostream that has yesterday's pictures. I am now Flickr Pro. Go me. I spent dollars so I could organize virtual sets.

One other thing before I meme. If you haven't seen Hotel Rwanda, I'd suggest you do. I watched it last night. I can't emphasize enough how lucky I feel to live where I do, and even how guilty that I am complicit in my inaction.

Moving along. I've been tagged. E, at My Life in Retrospect, has asked me to do this, and so here she goes.

These are not true introductions; they're from my blogroll, and you've visited them, so I'm just going to tell you why I like them.

First, pick 5 neighbors to introduce me to who will then introduce us all to 5 other neighbors:

These are not true introductions; they're from my blogroll, and you've visited them, so I'm just going to tell you why I like them, in no particular order.

1) The Examining Room of Dr. Charles. I like this one a lot because of the writing. It's strong, it's clear, you can immediately understand what he's telling you.

2) Permanent Daylight. It's good to get a scoop that's more "inside" than any I'll have. I like the perspective.

3) Mystic Housewife. Quirky sense of humor.

4) Converse and Pop Rocks. This one isn't on my roll, but it ought to be. I don't know why I like it. I think it's because you don't see that kind of humor that much from a kid that age. If you read her subtext, you'll see as you go that she has a lot more interesting things going on in her life than it first appears--the posts about her mother's boyfriend are out there.

5) Agog and Aghast. First, she's got a picture from the Cincinnati Art Museum on there, which is just cool. Second, she's funny. Third, she's got a kick-ass site design.

(To other readers--don't be sad I'm not including you! Y'all are on my blogroll because I love your blogs. The directions were to introduce the tagger to ones I think she'll like, and that's these five.)

Here's the link to Tongue Tyed so she can see her meme spreading far and wide.

The rest of this thing:

When did you move to the neighborhood?

I came to Blogger from in May. Like it much better here. My first entries were in April of this year.

What region of the neighborhood are you from?

I live in Springdale, a suburb of Cincinnati. It's a dirty city with a lot of interesting things in it.

What is your favorite part of our neighborhood?

Uh...I like dirty secrets. Please tell me them.

What is your favorite place to visit around these parts?

I hate pickin' favorites. Everyone is on my blogroll because I'm junkies of their blog. Blog junkie. Yaar.

Since I just moved into a new house, I might want to take a short trip to a local place or area. Where would you suggest in your region?

Spring Grove Cemetery, because it's beautiful and big. Khrone Conservatory, because they have a bunch of confiscated orchids people have tried to smuggle into the U.S. The Dock, because until you've grooved and sweated with a bunch of shirtless gay men deep into the night, you haven't lived. (They don't call Cincinnati the Queen City for nothin'.) The top of the Carew Tower, because it's high in the sky.

Jenelle, forgive me for tagging you next.

Oy. Memes. Sheesh.

Anyway, E., I do appreciate all the nice things you said about me. :) And I like to YM you too. Buzz. Word. More wine. More talk of secrets.

I have spent three hours at the computer today. I believe this officially makes me a geek.

Photo Friday: Violet

They're not violets, but they're violet...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

What the marine said about deja-vu

Some time ago, I used to date this marine.

Date is a word that doesn't really apply, actually.

He was the first person with whom I had a significant relationship. And it went horribly awry, as fifteen-year-old kid relationships tend to do when exposed to hormones. It was mostly my fault. I still feel bad about it.

Time passed. We didn't talk, then we did, then we didn't, then we did.

A few times, we got back together, briefly, to see how it felt. And how it felt was this: He wanted to be with me, and I didn't want to be with him. I love him dearly. I always will. But I didn't want to be in a relationship with him. And this fucked him all up. Because for some reason, for a long time--ten years is a conservative estimate here, and I'm not that old--he believed that I was the one person, the only person on this earth for him. I don't want to go into why. I don't want to go into how fucked up things got once I realized how deep the extent of his need for me to be with him was. I don't know if he still feels this way. He won't talk to me anymore. More on that in a moment.

Some of the best times in my life were spent with him. Some of my most vivid, amazing memories are memories I share with him. It's intoxicating to be around someone who cares *that much* about you. He told me so many times that he'd die for me without thinking twice. That was a lot more weight than I was comfortable carrying in our strange relationship. And so we would go through phases when I'd back off from him and he'd back off from me, because I scared him, because he scared me.

The connection I have with him is inexplicable to me. Outside my immediate family and M, he is probably the only person I would say I love like that, with the unbidden, unconditional, -you can't do anything to fuck this up and make me stop loving you- love. Not in a relationship sense, not in a brother sense. Something else. Some sort of split-cell, animal biological level. He is in that small circle of people who could ask me anything, if they needed the answer, and I would move heaven and earth to get that answer.

These words are not doing justice to this. To his intensity. But an example might.

Seven years ago, when things in his life were going very badly, he decided that joining the marines would pull him out of his path-to-suicide rut. And he joined the marines as a reservist. For six years, he had a half-assed relationship with the marines. Part of him loved it, part of him hated it. He couldn't have long hair and piercings any more, but he could find surrogate father figures because he felt he would never, ever be able to please the father he grew up with. He was adopted. Several years ago, he tracked down his adoptive parents, after years of trying to. Years of wanting to know them. His real father was dead, and his mother was crazy. And he changed, after getting that knowledge. He became more decisive.

And his decisiveness played out in this way. He and I had veered apart again, after a summer of strange intensity in which we spent too much time together, too much intensity entering into the laughter. We didn't talk for some time. I dated some other people. I met M. It worked with M in a way it hadn't worked with anyone ever before. And so I decided that M and I were going to be together. And that was that.

And then, the marine wrote to me. He wrote to me and said,

-I need to know this. Is there ever a chance that you and I will be together? Because if there's not, if you answer no, if you say to me, we will never be together, then I'm going to enlist full time in the Marines. I can't live here like this anymore. I can't live like this anymore. You have to tell me.-

I knew the answer was no. And I knew it was going to be about the hardest thing I'd done in an age to tell him that. But I couldn't leave him thinking that there was a possibility when there wasn't. Our relationship to one another has been terminally unfair to him. And I am to blame. And I know that. This ultimatum forced me to stop the terminal unfairness.

I told him no. And he signed up full time. And about two minutes later, the U.S. declared war against Iraq, and he flew to Baghdad, while I sat and watched the news in my living room with M., completely unable to enunciate why I was so wordless at this turn of events.

He is in Iraq because I told him I wouldn't be with him. He is a marine, in Iraq, and he is watching people get killed. I know this because an uncle of mine is in the same unit he is in, and they talk, and my uncle reports back to me how he is doing, because he knows we are "friends." He was in Fallujah during the big offensive last fall. He's been shot at. He's seen people blown up. Seen them die.

He came home, just before Christmas. I was terrified. I wrote him a letter, telling him I couldn't believe how things had turned out, telling him how much I cared about him and how sorry I was for hurting him, ever. And that I felt guilty for more or less sending him into war. And how I felt angry that he'd tried to put that decision on me, and given me an ultimatum like that. And how I wished he'd talk to me, because every attempt I'd made to communicate with him since he joined the Marines full time had been met with silence.

When I went to deliver the letter to him where he was staying at his parents' house, it was night time. He answered the door. He just stood there looking at me. I could read every nuance of his expression in the light falling on his face from the hallway bulb. He was bemused. He was older. He was thinner. He was things that I'm not going to share here. I handed him the letter. I pet his little dog Betsy, and then I went home and got in bed because I didn't know what else to do. He was in the states for two weeks. I left him every conceivable way to contact me in the letter--phone, email, work phone, work email, etc.

He never contacted me. Two weeks later, he was back in Iraq.

In the end, as badly as I wanted to talk to him, to have a conversation with him, to hear the sound of his voice and see his eyebrows move in their characteristically expressive way over his dark eyes as he spoke, I had to respect his desire to not see me. He broke himself on me. And then he went to war.


All of this makes our relationship sound very heavy and angsty and full of drama. But at its base level, when we were just two people spending time together because we very much enjoyed the pleasure of one another's company, I laughed more with him than I have with almost anyone. Everything was funny to us. Washington's expression on a dollar bill could send us into paroxysms of teary, gut-clenching hysterics. The groundhog meandering out onto the driving range was too fucking funny for words and we nearly pissed ourselves at his bort-bort ambling walk. Daring each other to run butt nekkid across Route 42 at 2 a.m. outside a sports bar was comedy gold. We had fun together.

And we had conversations. We talked about everything. We talked about art and what compels a person to create it. We talked about why he could never make his father happy. We talked about body language. Everything.

One day, we were lying on his couch together. I had my head at one end of the couch, he had his head at the other end. We were so comfortable. Our legs draped over one another. We were throwing small balls of wadded-up paper at the ceiling fan, trying to see how far we could shoot them with the spinning blades. And we began to talk about deja-vu, because I suddenly had an experience of it when my hand fell up on his foot and I touched the laces of his boot. (Yes, it was the kind of couch you could put your boots on.)

He explained deja-vu to me this way. When you are born, you are greeted with a finite number of possible paths your life can take. You can switch between these paths, depending on your decisions. You have the free will to move between these possible pathways, to determine your own future, to the greatest extent possible. But as you live, these other pathways of possibility, of things you might have done, continue to exist. You move into them, you move out of them. As you get older, the number of possible pathways lessens, and paths you didn't take start to fade away.

Deja vu is the sensation you get when you're doing an action, such as lying on a couch with someone you consider your best friend and touching his foot, that had a strong probability of happening on many paths of possibility at once. For instance, had you been in a different class your sophomore year and not met this person, enough contingencies exist in the universe that you would have met them some other way, and come to this place, this couch, with this touch of the boot laces. You'd be here regardless of whether you'd turned right or left at the stoplight three weeks ago. You'd be here if you'd met this person at school or on the sidewalk or at church. The possible paths you could have taken share this probability, that you'll be here, doing this.

That sounded pretty good to me. It sounded more plausible than any explanation I had managed to come up with. Occam's razor being what it is and the simplest explanation being the most likely one, this explanation isn't very likely at all. It's too complicated. But I didn't see that at the time. At the time, I understood it as a very real possibility.

And despite my pragmatic nature, maybe I still do. Maybe I still think that sometime in the future, the possibility exists that he'll want to talk to me again. And all I have to do is navigate the paths of likelihood to make that moment in time more probable. I wonder if, then, I'll have the sensation of deja-vu, if I'll feel like I've lived it before, as though it is a scripted moment my body and mind are playing out on their own--

Or if I'll break free from that, and be able to tell him without fear of hurting him that I care about him as much as I do and wish for his happiness. I wonder if he'll be able to hear that for what it is, and feel glad about it, and not want anything more.

I wonder how he is. I look for him on the news, in the squinting faces of soldiers, in the creases of dust at the corners of their eyes. I wonder if he's back home.

I wonder if he'll be happy.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Blindness, Anarchy, Macadamia-Nut Cookies

I will now impart some words of wisdom:

Zoop. Fizz. Neener. Blerp. Wazzaaaah.

In a meeting today, my boss challenged me to spell onomatopoeia. I failed miserably. Not only did I fail miserably, I failed miserably and publicly. Because the programmer dude running the meeting had his wifi-snazzy laptop rigged up to the conference room's projector, and bossman asked him to show on the projector and type my spelling into it. Oh, the humiliation. My inability to spell was spelled out in twelve feet of illumination against the white wall for programming, QA and proofing to see and LAFF AT.

Woot. At least I entertained somebody today.

So, this has been the week from hell. That project? Yeah, it's still not done. The deadline has been extended one further day each day. My ex has pointed out things I've done wrong on the index each of those days, and then my evenings have been spent in tortured, agonized, frustrated rage fixing the stupid problems she should have pointed out last week before this shit was due back at the press if she had that big a problem with it. You know that scene in Wedding Singer when Adam Sandler's girlfriend shows up the next day after dumping him at the altar and is all, "I guess I just wanted to marry the Robby who was a rock star" and Adam Sandler with his glorious raging 80s mullet of doom looks at her and goes, "Information that would have proved useful to me YESTERDAY!"

Well, that's how I feel. I am trying to make light of this situation, but in reality, it has been the shittiest week I have had in at least several years. I honestly can't remember a worse one than this. I'm being strung along and tortured and made to feel stupid and, well, I hate it. It's like poison. She called tonight and left a message on the answering machine before I got home from work (which didn't happen until 8, since in addition to this nonsense, I'm flooded with work at work), telling me there was another list of problems she had that needed to be fixed. She called again later. I didn't answer. I didn't call her back. If that means I'm going to hell, I guess I'm going to hell.

Moving right along.

The earth is one fucked-up place to live. Have a look at this. This, right here, is about where my sense of humor is today. Right in the guttery gutter. With all the guttery crud that goes into the sewage system. Start at the bottom and read up. That is some creativity right there.

I will delve into the comments from the deja vu post this weekend, hopefully. Thanks to all of you for providing input. I shall attempt to sort and make sense. And I will explain what the marine said.

And to Dr. Charles, who asked if I did that drawing, yah. I did. Here is another drawing I did, which fits the mood of the day. It's a little hard to tell that she's pointing a gun at the viewer since the photo of the drawing wasn't that great and I had to church it up a bit with Picasa to get the contrast right, but that's what she's doing.

Over n' out; another day of jizzasters awaits. Note to self: tomorrow, leave the windows of the car *rolled up* so that when I trudge out of work late, my car will not be full of stank-ass acid rainwater from the sudden thunderstorm like it was today...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Naked deja-vu

I've got nothing today. I'm used up, and a temporary mess, but some sleep ought to provide at least ten percent cure. The other ninety percent I have to slog through somehow.

I want to know, though.

What do you think deja-vu is? What are you experiencing when you experience deja-vu? The most compelling explanation for this phenomenon I've ever heard was from a marine with whom I have a very unusual relationship. I want to know what more people think.

So tell me. Are you experiencing a change in the matrix? Are you catching a glimpse of what used to be? Are you having abnormal brain function? Why do we all know what it is, and yet none of us can really explain it well?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Word. Drunken words.

To feel better about shit:

-It helps to have a very, very good friend who lives far away, with whom you can talk about anything. Specifically, how long it would take to drink yourself to death in Montana in January. It also helps if this person has experience with this sort of thing and can provide useful guidance.

-Do some landscaping. If you have a sharp bush or landscaping tool upon which you can cause yourself some pain, or if you have a wooden swing upon which you can bang your knuckles as you attempt to scoop up the dog crap under it, that helps too. Mow the lawn. Sweat.

-Drink some vodka. Make some sort of sour, icy concoction in the blender, which is referred to in your household as the busted-ass blender; like all physical objects you own, something is busted on it. In this case, the nozzle whatsit that you are supposed to use to pour your vodka concoction out with is broken, and is now covered with duct tape, the lid from the soy sauce bottle, a paper towel, and a Ziploc bag. Putting all these small items to use to stop your vodka concoction from leaking out of your busted-ass blender onto your unattractive 70s-style kitchen counter gives you at least a momentary sense of purpose in your life. You are creating a versatile solution for modern living by coming up with a solution to the busted-ass blender problem.

-Put on some bug spray and sit outside on your busted-ass concrete patio while you do the work you should have been doing instead of mowing the lawn. If you drank your vodka concoction like you ought to have, it will suddenly be very funny that the shit you spent the last week cracking your brain on has been rejected by your ex and "needs significant rework."

-Have some kinky sex, after which it is *mandatory* that you take a shower.

-Drink some more of that vodka concoction, and be sure to follow the "more water than liquor" rule so that you don't have a wretched hangover in the morning.

-Read blogs. Avoid doing work. Drink more water. Download Skype.

-Realize it's quater to one in the morning. Oops, too late to do any more work.