Monday, April 30, 2007

slide down my cellar door

After lunch with my friend, we lingered in the Olive Garden parking lot, extending our conversation so as to soak up the sun and admire the flowering apple trees. After a quick and fruitless jaunt to Christmas Tree Shoppe (a first -- I have never left that store without buying something), I trekked back home on this, the most beautiful day the year so far. Windows down, hair up, music on. The air's movement was too eager to be called a breeze, but not so zealous as to be frightening. The construction delays that frustrated me on the way to lunch were gone now that the afternoon was growing late. It was a glorious half hour of driving.

As I neared the house, I longed not to go inside. I called Ted and asked him to come out and play. He eagerly agreed. I stopped at the house to gather him in my happy Boom Box (which was spiffy and shined after a nice car wash yesterday), and off we went. We stopped at the post office to drop a letter, then wandered around town looking for nothing in particular, figuring we'd know it when we found it.

We ended up at a park on Long Island Sound that we've never entered in the 7½ years living here. Large, twisty sculptures punctuated the walk along the water. A girls' lacrosse team practiced on a fraction of the immense field across the lot from the shore. The walking path still bore the signs of the recent Nor'easter which, when combined with increased high tide, flooded much of the area. Seashell shrapnel co-mingled with pebbles, seaweed, and old dead leaves. Moss-filled clams were vertically embedded in the mud.

We walked for a bit, then sat on a bench to watch the ripples on the water and the variety of birds. There were seagulls, of course, but also swans, mallards, a singular and seemingly baby sandpiper, a singular and very tall crane, and a few unidentifiable birds floating on both air and water. I took some pictures. The rock island where four, five, or six of them had taken up residence slowly disappeared below an incoming tide. Not that it dissuaded the birds from perching there.

Ted and I talked about our day, our projects, our plans for the future. Then we'd walk some more and stop at another bench to enjoy a different angle, look at the waterfront houses, watch two crew boats and their coach practicing on the windy-topped waves, and wander out onto the thick, crunchy sand of a boat launch.

This occupied three hours of our time. Only a chill slight enough to make fingers shiver convinced us to head back home. What a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Song: "Palo Santo" by Shearwater. Pretty music.
Other: Taking pictures with my fun-but-simplistic camera, on a day when every angle of life was picturesque, made me long for a better camera.

the end

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. I have failed at any imagined attempt of writing some poetry myself this month. But I've quite enjoyed reading the daily poems that arrived to my inbox. And despite my inaction, it has motivated me at least subconsciously. I like this one from the 27th better than today's, so I'll include it as the capstone for this celebratory month.

by Grace Schulman

Rain hazes a street cart's
green umbrella but not its apples, heaped in paper cartons,
dry under cling film. The apple man,

who shirrs his mouth as though eating tart fruit,
exhibits four like racehorses at auction:
Blacktwig, Holland, Crimson King, Salome.

I tried one and its cold grain jolted memory:
a hill where meager apples fell so bruised
that locals wondered why we scooped them up,

my friend and I, in matching navy blazers.
One bite and I heard her laughter toll,
free as school's out, her face flushed in late sun.

I asked the apple merchant for another,
jaunty as Cezanne's still-life reds and yellows,
having more life than stillness, telling us,

uncut, unpeeled, they are not for the feast
but for themselves, and building strength to fly
at any moment, leap from a skewed bowl,

whirl in the air, and roll off a tilted table.
Fruit-stand vendor, master of Northern Spies,
let a loose apple teach me how to spin

at random, burn in light and rave in shadows.
Bring me a Winesap like the one Eve tasted,
savored and shared, and asked for more.

No fool, she knew that beauty strikes just once,
hard, never in comfort. For that bitter fruit,
tasting of earth and song, I'd risk exile.

The air is bland here. I would forfeit mist
for hail, put on a robe of dandelions,
and run out, broken, to weep and curse — for joy.

"Apples" from The Broken String by Grace Schulman.
Copyright © 2007 by Grace Schulman.

Song: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Patti Smith. I've only heard one other cover of this Nirvana song (by the Bad Plus), and both do it justice in their own unique ways. I really admire Ms. Smith's take on it, adding a "Deliverance"-reminiscent banjo and with a whole new section in the middle where she rants about everything that's wrong with the world.
Other: Busily piling through stuff...

some spring

Before I get too deep into (shudder) working, here's one of my photos. I love flowers, especially on trees. Yay, Spring!

podington bear

Extremely cool electronic music, performed by a mysterious bear, with new songs available free three times a week, through iTunes podcasts, and in low-cost collections. NPR (National Public Radio) introduced me to this artist, and I am instantly hooked. Go and listen for yourself. It's free, so what have you got to lose?

I have a busy day ahead of me. It's nearly a new month, and my calendar of projects is full to the brim with things to do. Plus, today I'm meeting a friend for lunch. So much to do, so little time.

Song: "Sunset Stroll into the Wood" by Podington Bear (natch)
Reading Material: Rafts of miscellaneous paper scooped from my desk to be organized.
Other: I'm too old to be operating on fewer than five hours' sleep.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

no day feels like any day anymore

It took four weeks post-employment for life to start to blur. I thought it might happen sooner. After all, Ted works a non-traditional week, removing the structure of a standard weekend that might theoretically reinforce the calendar. Add to that the TiVo revolution (in which, no television show is actually watched on the day it aired), which might further widen the fuzziness.

In any event, it's Sunday, and to me, it's felt like Thursday all day. Ted's at work. I'm working on my home projects. Today, it's the start of a complete overhaul of our entire office, from paper clips and overstuffed bookcases to photographs and the new LaserJet printer. Actually, I started yesterday (it's going to take a while). I'm taking the trash out to the Dumpster on the way to pick up the mail. I have pasta primavera planned for dinner.

I've also begun scheduling all the other projects on a large paper calendar -- the kind that hangs on the wall with big empty boxes to write stuff onto each day. Alas, after a 4-week vacation, it's time to buckle down and accomplish a few things. So, enough pointless blogging for now. I have stuff to do!

UPDATE: Two things. First, I neglected to mention that I'd read the Sunday New York Times this morning. You know, an obvious sign that today is Sunday, not Thursday. Second, after this whole spiel, I still wrote in this blog that I was going outside to get the mail. And when I went to the mailbox, um, well... the mail isn't delivered on Sundays.

Song: "Heartbreaker" by Michael Jackson. OK, why do I feel defensive listening to Jacko? Scandals aside, I enjoy most of his music. This song is good, and an obvious inspiration to folks like Justin Timberlake.
Book: Um, I'm not reading a book at the moment. I bought two gossip rags at Costco the other day (People and Us). I haven't read them yet, either.
Other: Flowers and trees are blooming all over the place. I've taken some pictures, and will be taking more in the next week. Watch future posts for the inclusion of my exciting Spring photos.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

forehead slap

Now I've gone and done it. Go to bed early, and what do I get? Awake before the freakin' crack of dawn. Even though daylight is starting to filter in now, it was nowhere to be found at 5:15am when, bleary-eyed, I bid 'good day' to my husband as he headed to work. I could have gone back to bed. I mean, really, I didn't actually go to bed until about 11:00pm last night, so allowing myself to sleep until 7:00am wouldn't have been unreasonable. But no.

So, now I'm awake and needing to start on projects. Here's a partial list:
  • Closets/bureaus
  • Kitchen cabinets/drawers
  • China cabinets
  • Bookcases
  • CD racks
  • DVD/VHS racks
  • Art/photographs
  • Desks/filing cabinets
  • Games
  • Shoe racks
  • Old computer equipment
  • Rolling storage carts
  • Laundry room
  • Garage storage racks
Those shows on TV, you know the ones where they remove every item from a room, redecorate the room, get rid of all the unnecessary clutter, and then end up with a beautiful new, organized and pretty room? It takes them a crew of 15 people two long days to do that.

I'm just one person, who will occasionally recruit one more (Ted). Although I'm not going to redecorate (paint, buy new furniture, etc.), I am going to put things together for Goodwill, eBay, Freecycle, a yard sale, and -- big, important one -- packing things for our eventual move. This is going to take a long time!

That means I'd best get started now. I'll blog later. Maybe it'll be another day like I used to have where I blog to rest between projects and end up with four or five or six posts in one day. Maybe you won't hear from me again until May. Anything is possible. I'm flaky. And I like it.

Song: "Nowhere Warm" by Kate Havnevik
Reading Material: Who has time to read with a project list like this?
Other: It's only been eight hours since I last blogged, and I spent six of that sleeping. Nothing "other" to report right now.

Friday, April 20, 2007

time clock of the heart

Although I got to bed at 3:00am last night (um, this morning) after a few too many hours of reading and ranting blog-style, I was wide awake for another 30 minutes -- desperately attempting to prevent my very persistent cat, Milo, from jumping on Ted's sleeping head. See what sleep deprivation can do to a person? That first sentence is a mess!

Anyway, he was determined to pounce, and I had to distract him until he gave up and either went to sleep or left the room. It was about 3:30pm when he curled up on my pillow in resignation.

I dragged my sorry butt up to feed the cats at about 8:00am, with Schmoo noisily (but still sweetly) reminding me that I was a couple hours late at the crunchy dish. I dragged my sorry butt back to bed, and didn't emerge again until noon.

Two very late nights and one extremely late morning (um, afternoon), and I've decided this is a habit I best not develop. It's just past 10:00pm now. Ted's going to bed because he has to get up at the freakin' crack of dawn for work, and so I'm going with him. Good night.

Song: "Lay Your Head Down" by Keren Ann
Reading Material: Still only reading stuff online
Other: Strawberry shortcake rocks, even if the whipped cream is fat-free and sugar-free.

shut up, kelly

Enough of my griping. Blogger Lauren introduced me to this Rob Paravonian skit, and it made me forget all my recent turmoil and discombobulation. Watch it. I dare you not to laugh.

Then, when you're done, check out Lauren's blog. She writes well, has a fascinating combination of life experiences, and takes the most beautiful photographs.

Song: "Diamond Ring" by Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts
Reading Material: Haven't read anything on paper today
Other: It's 70 degrees outside! The windows are open! Yay, Spring!

danger! danger!

Kelly's on a tear (so much so, that she's talking about herself in the third person).

For some reason, I've been staying up late the last couple nights, reading internet news sites and the occasional blog. Tonight, MSNBC offered up an article by Harriet Baskas on the challenge of flying when required to sit next to, in her words, a "seatmate of size." Actually, she was writing a follow-up to an original article, highlighting the particular harshness of comments it received from readers.

I started to read the comments from this article, and by the beginning of the fourth page (of 48 pages, as of now), I was drowning in invective. Because it's late and I'm feeling particularly punchy, I dashed off a too-long response, which I'll include in its entirety below. But before you have the chance to read my rant, you must first see some of the comments that drove me to type angry (which is probably not any better than typing drunk).

Hold on. Here goes.

Rpf5 writes, in part (over the course of three postings),

“… Short of those with medical conditions, I'm getting rather tired of hearing excuses for blatantly obese people. Put down the fork, get your duff off the couch and start moving. … Get over it and get over YOURSELF. Short of medical issues, the rest is just an excuse. … Why do we insist on making allowances and excuses for those with the ‘problem?’ America is becoming dumber AND fatter, because we've allowed it to happen. We've absolved ourselves of all personal responsibility and expect the rest of society to put up with it.”
Kelly's response: Don't be shy, Rpf5. Tell us how you really feel. By the way, are you not tired of the excuses for subtly obese people? Oh, and is America dumber because it's fatter? That must be the case, eh?

Notafan writes,

“… I have noticed over the last 10 years that America just keeps getting fatter and fatter. I have zero sympathy for obese travelers who spill into my seat. I eat healthy, work out regularly and fit easily into a coach airplane seat. … The same thing goes for movies, concerts, sporting events or shows. If you are too fat to fit in one seat then buy two. I paid for my seat. I work hard at staying in shape so that I can fit into my seat. If you chose not to stay fit, and allow yourself to9 [sic] become obese, shame on you. It should not be my problem.”
Kelly's response: You're an observant one, Notafan: I'm sure nobody else has paid attention to the daily news stories that scream about the ever-increasing girth of American asses. Oh, and thanks for thinking that the arbitrary size of any given public seat should dictate whether or not a person can enjoy any sort of entertainment, cultural experiences, or travel. Why didn't I think of that before I decided to live my life like a regular person? Oh, and congratulations on living a life above reproach -- man, that must feel good.

Dw839839 writes (in whole),

“I'm sorry, but if you are too oversized to fit in the seat that you purchased, purchase a larger seat in business class or first class, or find alternate transportation (Amtrtak [sic] has wider seats). I think we make far too many excuses for those who are overweight.”
Kelly's response: That's right, dw939839. All us fat folks can afford to pay 5 - 10 times as much for a first class seat, or can take 15 - 20 times as long to go somewhere (seriously? the train versus a plane?). And when you have the chance, please give me a list of all those excuses that are being made for me. To date, I've only ever heard three (I eat too much, I am inactive, and/or I have a medical condition that causes me to get fat but even then I should figure out how to control it).

Cmpizz writes,

“Being overweight, for 99% of people is a choice they made. Why should the airlines make seats bigger? Then all of us, including those of us who stay fit (and staying fit is not easy either), must pay more to fly. This really doesn't seem fair. … Also, why all the euphamisms [sic]? Seat mate of size? Please. Maybe it will help motivate people to stay in shape if we call it what it is. Fat."

Kelly's response: Cmpizz, you're right! I actively made a decision to be openly mocked and ridiculed for my entire life! Obviously, all fat people are bad and apparently incapable of making a simple, smart choice. And shaming us (a tactic that has never been used before) will surely set us all on a course to thinness. You're right and smart and our savior. All hail Cmpizz!

Vkt7 spits, er, writes (in whole),

“I am so tired of bearing the burdeon [sic] of obese people. Not only are our airline seats taken over by ripples of pudge, but our tax dollars are going to be spent on the healthcare and programs for people that can't just put down the butterfinger. I am outraged that obese people would have the audacity to even allow themselves to "fall" into our seats, but they also seem to hog store aisles in thier [sic] Rascals that they use because they are too big to walk through Target or other stores and I am outraged at an article that I read regarding how airline ticket costs have gone up more because of passenger weight in the last several years. A study was done that said that because of obesity in America, airlines now use more fuel to get to the same destination than they did 15 years ago. (Things such as luggage weight and the increase cost of fuel were taken into consideration in this study.) Guess who gets screwed with fat people being on a pocket book. Lose some weight! Put the Butterfinger down and go for a walk. I just don't understand the lack of pride and then the audacity to make someone else uncomfortable because of your love for Hostess and Taco Bell."
Kelly's response: Wow, Vkt7, which advertising firm do you work for, and how much did you get paid to drop all those names? Well, whatever the case is, you're right. All I eat is Butterfingers, Hostess, and Taco Bell. I don't walk at all. Anyone who uses a scooter does so simply out of laziness (not possibly out of mobility problems and/or pain). By the way, you haven't borne any of MY burden. So, does that mean I can give you some? How about having to listen to misinformed, bigoted cry babies bitch and moan incessantly?

That was just a sampling from the first page and a half. These people are seriously mad at us fat folks. Well, you know what? After a while, this fat woman (that'd be me) gets seriously mad at being stereotyped and falsely accused. Hence, my slightly ineloquent and particularly rambling response:

Holy crap, people. I could only make it through four pages of comments when I stopped. I couldn't take any more of the unbridled venom against fat people.

I'd like to point out a few truths that you might not realize are, in fact, true.

1. It is possible to be simultaneously fat AND healthy. The diet industry doesn't want you to know that because they wouldn't make $50 billion per year (in the U.S. alone) if you did.

2. It's quite possible that you aren't able to accept that fact because it would remove the convenient excuse you have to feel justified in making fun of people (which, coincidentally, is a great way to make yourself feel better).

3. You are not the only person who pays taxes into the system that covers medical issues (we fat people pay in, too).

4. Thin people can be (and many are) unhealthy, too. Just because someone is thin doesn't mean they eat well and exercise. Some of the sickest people I know are thin. The difference is that you think they didn't CAUSE their illness, where any time any fat person gets sick at all, it is his/her FAULT.

5. My size is not my fault. Nor is it the "fault" of some medical issue (I have none, thank you very much). I am just a very large person. A dead ringer for my great grandmother (who lived to the ripe old age of 94, by the way). Just because I'm fat doesn't mean that something is wrong with me.

6. For those of you who think that we fat people are being coddled and catered to, wake up and listen to yourselves. We are subjected to blatant bigotry and discrimination -- not to mention outright rudeness -- on a daily basis. Those of us who are happy and successful (and trust me, there are more of us than you could possibly imagine) have had to learn to ignore the slings and arrows, and persevere when the world is telling us how terrible we are. Trust me, nobody has EVER proactively accommodated me on the basis of my size. And I'd appreciate it if you would stop suggesting that more impediments be put in place to eliminate any possibility of accommodation.

7. This list could go on for ages, but it's all pretty pointless. My miniature rant on a little chat board can't begin to make a dent of any noticeable impact when the diet industry has literally spent trillions of dollars in my lifetime brainwashing people to believe that [A] fat is unhealthy, [B] fat is always wrong, [C] fat must always be fixed, [D] fat people are doing it to themselves, [E] genetic or medical causes of fat are rare, and most importantly [F] fat people can't possibly be happy with themselves, healthy, successful, and unconcerned with the lunatic ravings of people who know nothing about them.

So after all that, maybe it's time to start thinking about SOLUTIONS to the public seating issue, instead of just pointing fingers at fat people and screaming that we should lose weight. Bench seating with movable armrests, anyone? If it were so easy to lose weight, trust me, there'd be very few of us fat folks around. We don't like being the object of your loathing any more than you like sitting next to us on a plane.

I learned in my Statistics class that, in any given group, those who are "normal" or "average" make up approximately 65% of the total (below normal is about 20% and above normal is about 15%). As the media so gleefully reminds us every day, two of every three Americans are either overweight or obese. That's 66% of the population. Get used to it, people -- fat is the new normal.
That's all she wrote. This time. Oh, but one bright spot in the comments, on Page 48 just before my tirade. HANG THEM wrote,
"Funny the airlines over the years have made the seats smaller and smaller each 'refiting' [sic] and now encourage others to blame each other for the tight spaces. And like idiots we comply with their blantant attempt of extorting more money out of all of us instead of demanding they service their customers."

Kelly's response: Funny, indeed.

I'm sure there'll be more in the never-ending fight to simply live my life. Good @#(*$& night.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

keyword search

The majority of visitors who have viewed my blog today arrived by way of a search for some variation of these words:

* Blake
* wipes / dries
* LaKisha's
* tears

Ted thought I was silly when I noticed, but clearly I wasn't the only one. I even found a picture. So, for those who are looking for juicy details, you won't find any here. Just the picture.


Here are some things that I've thought about in the past few days, any of which I could write up in detail were I capable of allowing it to stand apart from the pack. Alas, they all mix together in a confusing and perplexing manner.

1. Virginia Tech massacre. There is nothing I can say about this without merely repeating all the sentiments of horror and disbelief being broadcast by every medium in America. The high school where two of my nephews and one of my nieces attend was locked down yesterday because of a bomb threat. Scary, scary. And so very sad.

2. Everest: Beyond the Limit. I just spent three days watching this series, which we TiVo'd last year, and have been dreaming about it every night. I came to two conclusions about these climbers: [1] They are all insane, and [2] If they survive any portion of the attempt, whether or not they summit, they are among the toughest people on earth. Still insane, but tough.

3. Planet Earth. Another riveting series (no, I don't just watch TV).

4. Hygiene, etc... . I no longer use any post-shampoo product (conditioner, mousse, hairspray) and do not blow dry my hair. I only apply make-up if I'm meeting someone I know. If I do not need to go out of the house for the day, I also save showering (but only for one day, never for two). I will not get my hair cut or colored until it's time to start interviewing. I am also only wearing my casual clothes (see next point), so as not to increase any wear and tear on my "professional" wardrobe. This may be mildly useless, as I hope to procure a new wardrobe before I re-enter the work force.

5. My recent housewife-ish day. I met a friend for lunch, then went to the grocery store, Costco, the post office, gas station, and Trader Joe's. I did household chores, cooked dinner, cleaned up afterwards, and spent a lovely evening with my husband. I was a marvel of domesticity. I went out in public wearing a sun dress and keds, but the chilly air required more so I threw on my suede jacket. I thought it was a weird combination, until I saw a woman at Stop & Shop wearing lounge pants and a fur coat.

6. Food fight. It's hard finding anything with less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving. Go ahead, try it. Look at every box, bag, or can in your pantry, fridge, and freezer, and tell me how many you find. And I'm not even talking bout "bad" food. Try finding spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese, deli meat, or soup. "Reduced sodium" in Campbell's world means 660 mg. per serving (because regular soup has 900 mg.).

7. Christmas gifts. I have procured my first eight Christmas gifts and approximately 20 stocking stuffers. Only 251 days 'til Christmas.

8. House dreams. There is a house for sale I can't stop thinking about, even though its asbestos roof needs to be replaced, along with every single drafty, 80-year old window (about 42 of them, if I'm counting correctly). I want to live in this house. Oh yeah, and we both need new jobs as this house is approximately 200 miles from our current location. Minor detail.

9. Sanjaya was finally voted off last night. It was just wrong that LaKisha and Blake were in the bottom three. Interestingly, they seemed to be very close -- first holding hands while center stage awaiting the ejection, which didn't seem out of the ordinary (other than the fact that LaKisha was not also holding Sanjaya's hand), until we saw Blake wiping away LaKisha's tears while Sanjaya sang his goodbye. Isn't it interesting how a quick camera shot here or there can create an impression all its own, even if it's not the right one?

10. Our cats are incredibly cute. Recent evidence includes Woodle's routine of snuggling up against my bed pillows mid-morning and staying there all day long, the tuxedos performing simultaneous head baths, and Sadie randomly waking from her naps to chirp a request to be petted.

11. It's way too late for me to be up and rambling about the juxtapositions in life. Good night.

Song: "Seven Days" by Sting
Reading Material: "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama
Other: See above list

Monday, April 16, 2007

the truth

Harvey Fierstein offers a sharply written op-ed piece for the New York Times. It is full of brilliant insight that should really just be common sense for everyone, but isn't.

In the midst of the whole Don Imus situation, I've found myself in a wide range of conversations with a variety of people. And I have to say, some of the points trotted out were enough to make me shake my head in amazement.

Mr. Imus seemed to rest happily on his "it was meant to be funny" apology. But it wasn't funny. What was funny about it? All it was was three powerful insults packed into three little words. I'll let Harvey take it from here.

April 13, 2007

AMERICA is watching Don Imus’s self-immolation in a state of shock and awe. And I’m watching America with wry amusement.

Since I’m a second-class citizen — a gay man — my seats for the ballgame of American discourse are way back in the bleachers. I don’t have to wait long for a shock jock or stand-up comedian to slip up with hateful epithets aimed at me and mine. Hate speak against homosexuals is as commonplace as spam. It’s daily traffic for those who profess themselves to be regular Joes, men of God, public servants who live off my tax dollars, as well as any number of celebrities.

In fact, I get a good chuckle whenever someone refers to “the media” as an agent of “the gay agenda.” There are entire channels, like Spike TV, that couldn’t fill an hour of programming if required to remove their sexist and homophobic content. We’ve got a president and a large part of Congress willing to change the Constitution so they can deprive of us our rights because they feel we are not “normal.”

So I’m used to catching foul balls up here in the cheap seats. What I am really enjoying is watching the rest of you act as if you had no idea that prejudice was alive and well in your hearts and minds.

For the past two decades political correctness has been derided as a surrender to thin-skinned, humorless, uptight oversensitive sissies. Well, you anti-politically correct people have won the battle, and we’re all now feasting on the spoils of your victory. During the last few months alone we’ve had a few comedians spout racism, a basketball coach put forth anti-Semitism and several high-profile spoutings of anti-gay epithets.

What surprises me, I guess, is how choosy the anti-P.C. crowd is about which hate speech it will not tolerate. Sure, there were voices of protest when the TV actor Isaiah Washington called a gay colleague a “faggot.” But corporate America didn’t pull its advertising from “Grey’s Anatomy,” as it did with Mr. Imus, did it? And when Ann Coulter likewise tagged a presidential candidate last month, she paid no real price.

In fact, when Bill Maher discussed Ms. Coulter’s remarks on his HBO show, he repeated the slur no fewer than four times himself; each mention, I must note, solicited a laugh from his audience. No one called for any sort of apology from him. (Well, actually, I did, so the following week he only used it once.)

Face it, if a Pentagon general, his salary paid with my tax dollars, can label homosexual acts as “immoral” without a call for his dismissal, who are the moral high and mighty kidding?

Our nation, historically bursting with generosity toward strangers, remains remarkably unkind toward its own. Just under our gleaming patina of inclusiveness, we harbor corroding guts. America, I tell you that it doesn’t matter how many times you brush your teeth. If your insides are rotting your breath will stink. So, how do you people choose which hate to embrace, which to forgive with a wink and a week in rehab, and which to protest? Where’s my copy of that rule book?

Let me cite a non-volatile example of how prejudice can cohabit unchecked with good intentions. I am a huge fan of David Letterman’s. I watch the opening of his show a couple of times a week and have done so for decades. Without fail, in his opening monologue or skit Mr. Letterman makes a joke about someone being fat. I kid you not. Will that destroy our nation? Should he be fired or lose his sponsors? Obviously not.

But I think that there is something deeper going on at the Letterman studio than coincidence. And, as I’ve said, I cite this example simply to illustrate that all kinds of prejudice exist in the human heart. Some are harmless. Some not so harmless. But we need to understand who we are if we wish to change. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess to not only being a gay American, but also a fat one. Yes, I’m a double winner.)

I urge you to look around, or better yet, listen around and become aware of the prejudice in everyday life. We are so surrounded by expressions of intolerance that I am in shock and awe that anyone noticed all these recent high-profile instances. Still, I’m gladdened because our no longer being deaf to them may signal their eventual eradication.

The real point is that you cannot harbor malice toward others and then cry foul when someone displays intolerance against you. Prejudice tolerated is intolerance encouraged. Rise up in righteousness when you witness the words and deeds of hate, but only if you are willing to rise up against them all, including your own. Otherwise suffer the slings and arrows of disrespect silently.
Song: "Always Got Tonight" by Chris Issak
Reading Material: May issue of "Reader's Digest" and April 23rd issue of "Time" (still working on the book, too)
Other: Hosted a friend overnight whose building was flooded by the Nor'easter. She had a long night of our cats jumping on her, standing on her pillow and staring at her face, and even pulling curtains down which landed next to her head. I'm betting she never stays here again.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

poles converging

The 80s were my "formative" years. I entered high school in 1980 and graduated from college in 1988. The vast majority of vinyl in my record collection was released during this decade. I had conservatively 843 hair styles during that time, though contrary to the faulty recollection of my family and friends, I never dyed it pink (well, not intentionally).

Although I had an appreciation for the punk aesthetic and its music, my claim was always that I was "new wave, not punk." This difference was most evident in the genre of music (British alternative pop), fashion accessorization (multiple piercings but only in the ears), and the rebellion factor (the closest I came was "Rebel Yell").

One of my favorite artists of the decade was a singer/songwriter/musician named Nik Kershaw. Catchy songs and clever lyrics -- a great combination. He enjoyed a little success in the States with the song "Wouldn't It Be Good," but was a massive success in England for much of the decade.

During the 80s, it was relatively easy for me to get his albums on vinyl. But toward the end of the decade when I started building my CD collection, it became much more difficult to procure their digital counterparts. I eventually found an independent record store in Yarmouth, Maine where a sympathetic owner (and fellow Kershaw fan) sought out the hard-to-find discs for me.

Like many artists, Nik slowed down after a period of high exposure, shifting his focus to writing hits for other artists (including Elton John!) and recording his own albums on a much more elongated schedule. I've managed to stay relatively on top of their releases and usually found a way to procure them since then.

Yesterday, I woke up from a dream where Gwen Stefani was performing a concert in my living room with Billy Idol and Nik Kershaw singing backup for her. (There was more to this dream, but isn't that enough detail?) I headed into the office with the distinct goal of filtering my iTunes library and listening to nothing but Nik Kershaw for the day.

I did just that, and spent a little time reading email and the New York Times while listening to gems like "Wide Boy" and "Billy" (how appropriate, given Mr. Idol's appearance in my dream). Then, at some point, I looked at iTunes and realized that the mini iTunes store at the bottom of the screen was suggesting I consider a couple other selections from Mr. Kershaw. One of them was an album I did not have! Released in 2006!

How did I miss this?!

Needless to say, I purchased it on the spot, and have been listening to it ever since. I am very pleased with it, and just have to forgive myself for letting five months pass before realizing it existed. (In my defense, I've had a lot going on in the last five months.)

Fast forward to last night. It was 11:00pm, Ted was asleep, and my second wind kicked in. I flipped channels looking for something interesting to watch on TV when I found the Henry Rollins Show on IFC. I watched it with interest, as I find Mr. Rollins eminently compelling. And while I was enjoying the conversation, it slowly occurred to me how much Henry Rollins now looks like Nik Kershaw. To wit:

Nik Kershaw 2007

Henry Rollins 2007

Now, to the uninformed, this might not seem such a big deal unless you have an appreciation for how very different they are from each other. Here are two additional comparisons to drive the point home. First, photos of each from long ago.

Nik Kershaw 1983
Henry Rollins 1983
Now, for musical differences. Take a few minutes to watch these videos.

Nik Kershaw 1984

Henry Rollins 1984

And there you have it. Today's "whoa, how did that happen" moment. Well, I guess it was actually yesterday's moment, and I'm just now getting around to blogging it. I feel compelled to once again observe how infrequently I'm blogging when, theoretically, I have more time to do it now than ever before.

I have also ditched writing about American Idol all together. This is partially due to my waning tolerance of it, and partially due to Ted's new Tuesday-Wednesday weekend which keeps us busy and even traveling. Oh well!

Now, I must review my "To Do" list, head to Costco, and get productive.

Song: "All About You" by Nik Kershaw (of course)
Book: "Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness" by Marc Ian Barasch
Other: Won $330.40, mostly playing roulette, but also at the nickel slots

Friday, April 06, 2007

unexpected absence

I thought I would have been blogging more, this first week of unemployment. But alas, I spent much of the first three days of this week fixing my internet access. First the cable modem died. Then the router. It was Wednesday afternoon before everything was functioning correctly again. And I just haven't bothered to write anything since then.

Until now, that is.

And what am I going to write? I don't really know. I am inclined to include today's "Poem-A-Day" from (did you know that April is National Poetry Month?). I actually started writing a poem on the 1st, thinking I might try to write one every day. It's been a long time since I've written any poetry, and so the stasis has slowed my attempt. That, and a bunch of errands and chores that have commandeered the week.

Here's what I'll do for now. Include today's poem and dust off an old favorite. I'll find some sort of graphic to include in this entry. And then I'll call it a post for now. Maybe I'll work some more on my own poem during the day and come back later to share the results.

Poem-A-Day for April 6, 2007

Bent Orbit
by Elaine Equi

I wind my way across a black donut hole
and space that clunks.
Once I saw on a stage,
as if at the bottom of a mineshaft,
the precise footwork
of some mechanical ballet.
It was like looking into the brain
of a cuckoo clock and it carried
some part of me away forever.
No one knows when they first see a thing,
how long its after image will last.
Proust could stare at the symptom of a face
for years, while Frank O'Hara, like anyone with a job,
was always looking at his watch.
My favorite way of remembering is to forget.
Please start the record of the sea over again.
Call up a shadow below the pendulum of a gull's wing.
In a city of eight million sundials, nobody has any idea
how long a minute really is.

And now, to dig into the archives.

A Supermarket in California
by Allen Ginsberg

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.

In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!

What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes! -- and you, Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.

I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?

I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you, and followed in my imagination by the store detective.

We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?

(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and feel absurd.)

Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.

Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?

Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of Lethe?

I'm also changing up my typical post ending. In addition to the song currently playing, I will now include the book I'm reading, and maybe something else unique to my work-free life.

Song: "Faith" by Elmer Bernstein
Book: "Doing Nothing" by Tom Lutz
Other: Played "Promenade" and "Gnomus" from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" on the piano