Monday, December 28, 2009

billie, on a december afternoon

bended notes freely given
harbor me so long as i hear her voice
and i am willing to submit.
but outside the wind is cold and caustic,
eroding cynicism and bravado
until only rich loam remains,
fertile with sadness and also with something else,
something deeper, nameless, and dense:
equal parts memory, god, matter, and time;
chimerically tangible, comforting,
heartbreaking and true.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Eva Cassidy - Time After Time

It just doesn't get more beautiful than this. The incomparable Eva Cassidy, who could sing just about anything better than just about anybody . Cassidy died of cancer in 1996, at the ripe old age of 33. But as you can see, she's still very much here.

Hat tip to Echidne for this one.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"I have a problem with faggots."

Bilerico Project has a moving post today on the power of hate language. It's well worth the time.

Codependent No Mow.

Okay, I have this friend who has this gardener named Marshall, see?

All right, fine. Marshall is MY gardener. He mows the lawn because I don't own a lawnmower.

Anyway, he's very inexpensive and very good, but he's also kind of undependable. And, uh, he's sort of needy. Like, at all kinds of odd hours of the day and night.

Marshall never asks for handouts per se - except when he asks if I have any leftovers - but he is always asking me to give him cash in exchange for future discounts. If I can, I help, even though I think he's using the money for booze or some other substance. Sometimes the reasons he gives are pretty lame.

Anyway, he did some work I wasn't anticipating, and then asked me for a little extra money. Which I gave him. And then he asked me for money to buy leaf bags to clean up all the raked leaves, which I also gave him.

Alas, the piles of leaves are still sitting there, days later. And I feel bad knocking on his door to bug him, but I know I'm probably going to have to. And it's kinda blowing my karma a little.

I think I'll make Marshall a pie, or Peking duck or something, so I can give it to him when I ask him to get rid of the leaves. Yeah. That'll work.

Better yet, I suppose I could just clean up the leaves myself. Saves me all that time and effort of learning how to cook.

It is Christmastime, after all.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Engine trouble

Okay. My car is dead. Depending on what’s wrong, it’s probably going to stay dead for the next couple of pay periods at least. Terribly inconvenient.

Now, I don’t know much about cars, or any heavy machinery for that matter. In fact, I may know even less about cars than I do about sports. And that's saying a lot! But I’ve had some clunkers before, and I know how to add some fluids.

So when the oil light went on, I knew what to do. I stopped right away, and checked the oil. Barely registered on the dipstick. I just happened to have a quart of oil in the car (lucky break!), so I poured it in. Cranked her up, and the oil lamp went off. Yay!

Except then, the oil light went back on and the engine heated way, way up to the point where a huge steam cloud was about to blow the hood open.

Got to a Shell and bought four quarts of oil. Let it cool for a while. Checked the dipstick again. Funny… Doesn’t look like it needs much oil now. But since there was room for another quart, I added it. Got back on the road and headed home.

And then overheated. Damn!

But wait… Doesn't the oil light look like a little genie lamp? That’s not what lit up on my dash. Turns out it's the temperature light that keeps going on. Duh.

(Um, does anyone need some 10-30 motor oil? I’ve got plenty!).

Stopped and bought some coolant. Opened the hood. Couldn’t find where in hell to put the stuff. A nice lady came and showed me and then put the stuff in. And then asked for $10. All I had was a $20. Merry Christmas, lady.

Alas, the car is still overheating, and I see buses in my future.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Zombie Science. For Real.

The New York Times Magazine has come out with its ninth annual Year of Ideas. There’s some really intriguing stuff in here, like printable batteries and stilleto claws (you know, just in case those six-inch heels were a little too comfy for you). And some creepy stuff, too, like Ruppy the fluorescent dog. But this is my favorite:
Epidemiologists today worry a lot about swine flu. But earlier this year, Philip Munz got interested in a more devastating possibility: an outbreak of zombies. A graduate student at Carleton University in Ottawa, he was watching a lot of movies about the undead and realized that zombification could be regarded as a classic paradigm of infectious spread: people get bitten by zombies, after which they turn into zombies themselves and start biting others. So Munz decided to use the tools of epidemiology to answer a sobering public-health question: could humanity survive a zombie outbreak?

Working with a professor and two other graduate students, Munz built a mathematical model of a city of one million residents, in which an outbreak occurs when a single zombie arrives in town. He based the speed of zombie infection on the general rules you see in George Romero movies: after getting bitten, people turn into zombies in 24 hours and sometimes don't realize what's happening to them until they change.

So who prevails, the living or the undead? Well, let's just say you probably won't be using that time share in Provincetown after all.

Pleasant dreams, dearies!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Marketing 101 for Sapphires

I’ve often heard lesbians wonder why we don’t seem able to raise as much money for our causes as gay guys. So I thought I’d check it out for myself. And here’s what I found: Gay guys have waaay better writers. Consider the following:

In the early days of our political struggle, gay men had the Mattachine Society. Mattachine. Bold. Snappy. In your face. Even better, it was named after a French medieval form of festive courtly entertainment. I mean, how gay is that?

What did lesbians have? The Daughters of Bilitis. The Daughters of Bilitis?? Are you kidding? Isn’t that a disease of the digestive tract? I’m pretty sure there’s a pill for that now.

And then there’s the word “lesbian” itself. Lesbian. Lesbian. God, how I hated that word when I was coming out. Sounds like I have some kind of incurable skin condition. Couldn’t they have come up with something a little more, you know, pretty?

Yeah, yeah, I know that we’re called lesbians because Sappho, the Greek poet, was queer and she was from Lesbos. A fact, by the way, that has been a source of great consternation for current-day residents of that island. But geez. I mean, why not “sapphy” or “sapphron” or -- I've got it! -- “sapphire”!

“Hi, I’m Judy and I’m a sapphire. Shall we reserve a U-Haul?” Now, isn’t that nice? But no, they had to pick "lesbian." I still like “gay” much, much better.

I mean, the guys even have a better epithet:

Faggot [fag-uh t] n. A bundle of sticks, twigs, or branches bound together and used as fuel, a fascine, a torch, etc.

I saw Martha Stewart use one of those to add a special festive touch to her Christmas wrapping.

Our epithet, on the other hand:

Dyke [dahyk] n. A really large and intimidating immovable object.

Oh, all right, so I made that one up. But honestly, don’t you think it's time for a new and more appealing lexicon?

Hey. Just sayin'.

Saint Nick, Revisited

For your holiday viewing pleasure, here's lovely Anita Mann reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. The sound quality could be a little better, but it's funny and sweet and well worth the effort.. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

For the Pessimist Who Has Everything

Golly, readers! The news has been so interesting that I can’t possibly limit myself to just one topic today. So here’s a little collection. Stocking-stuffers, if you will.

First, from the successors of the folks who brought you mayhem and devastation on the Gulf Coast a few years back (I’m guessing it’s not the same place these days), I offer these really, um, interesting (but admittedly very practical) ideas for your holiday gift-giving. Perhaps they know something we don’t?

Second, if you’re a boss to any secretaries, administrative assistants, paralegals, office clerks, copy people, couriers, or, well, anybody, the best gift you can give them this year – along with a bonus – is to read and internalize this article from Assistant-at-Law.

Okay, this story is, like, a week old already but I don’t care. I love a weird, wacky tale about life in the OTP (that’s “outside the perimeter” for you non-Georgians). So… would you let this elf sit on your lap?

And finally: I’m guessing I’m the last one to know about this delight. Oh, how I could have used it when I was teaching legal writing! Hmm. I may just have to try this Twittering thing after all.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Missing Bobby

I hooked up my desktop today after a long period of dormancy. The thing about reuniting with an old computer is that you find stuff you forgot you had. In this case, I found something I wrote when my friend Bobby was dying from AIDS-related cancer. He passed just a few days after I wrote this, and I never opened the document again. So, I’m posting it now, with few changes:

Bobby and Brian

I confess that I am writing this while Bobby is still in hospice care, while we’re all waiting for him to die. I’m writing now because I’m not sure if I’ll be capable of writing later, when I hear that he’s gone. And of course, like Bobby, I have a flair for the dramatic.

A world without Bobby is still unfathomable to me. Maybe always will be. I’ve never been so good at accepting the unacceptable.

Bobby was my best friend here in Atlanta, although I don’t believe he felt the same way about me. In fact, I don’t believe I was in his “inner circle” at all, although I sure wanted to be. That’s what happens when you make friends with someone so funny, so kind, and so clever. You have to stand in line. And I was happy for the privilege, just to get to know him better. I mean, who else knows the entire screenplay of
Mommie Dearest by heart, can rattle off the name of every member of British Royal Family, and is willing to screen your ex-husband’s voicemails, like a protective big brother, to shield you from all that rage?

Bobby was an incredibly important part of my sobriety. He was leading the discussion at the first gay meeting I shared in, when I was beginning the coming-out process. I raised my hand and said I thought I was bisexual and since the club's literature didn’t mention bisexuals I wasn’t sure if I belonged here or not.

I have no idea what Bobby said, but I remember very clearly the message he conveyed: I belonged. That simple response changed my life forever.

A few years later he changed me again with this email, which he sent as he watched me sinking into the quicksand of mental illness:
I have been keeping my distance because, quite frankly, there is an air of chaos and distress around you that is hard for me to be around. God knows, I have my problems, but it seems that your life has gotten progressively more and more out of control over the past 2 or 3 years. You've repeatedly made promise after promise to do something about it, but you don't follow through and it just gets worse.

Quite frankly, you're living the life of an active alcoholic without the liquor, and I think it's time you did something about it before it swallows you up completely.

This is not easy stuff to write. I'm not comfortable doing it because I'm definitely taking your inventory, but dammit, Lynne, I do love you and you've got to stop this downward spiral! You are smart enough to learn to manage your life, and it's time for school to begin.
He was right, of course, and I loved him for his honesty. I kept spiraling for three more years after that, but his words eventually took root somewhere deep down and gave me the strength to start climbing out of that massive crevasse.

One of the gravest inequities of life is this: that when someone like Bobby dies, the earth continues to turn, the sun rises and sets just like always, and people continue to go about their business, completely oblivious to the fact that the world has just diminished to nothing.

But then again, if the world looked the way I think it should right now, it would be too dark to ever find my way back into the light again.

I don’t believe for a minute that God caused Bobby’s death or made him suffer out of some grand element of design. A virus caused Bobby’s death. But I do believe that God – whatever he/she/it is – can help us through.

Not too long before he got sick, Bobby and I got interested in a film called
What the Bleep?! It’s basically a semi-documentary film about physics, and about how the material world isn’t nearly as real as we’ve been taught to believe. Instead, perception and spirit and thoughts and ideas are the real substance of the universe. Bobby was a closet intellectual (whereas I’m more of an intellectual wannabe) and I loved talking to him about stuff like this.

If the film was correct, and I believe in essence that it was, then Bobby has not been diminished at all. Maybe that’s why the world doesn’t look any different. Bobby is just as much here as he ever was, not just symbolically in our hearts and memories, but really and truly
here. I like that idea and it’s pretty much the only way I can continue to function.

Wherever Bobby is, he knows how it all turns out. It’s damned inconvenient that he can’t tell us. And I plan to tell him that when I see him again. Until then, God’s got his hands full.

I miss you, Bobby.

(Brian, thanks for the picture. I love you too.)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pam's House Blend:: Register For ENDA In Jeopardy: Emergency Conference Call Tues

Wow. Sort of an emergency town hall via phone. I don't know enough about this event to make (or withhold) a recommendation, but it's certainly intriguing. I'll be eavesdropping during my lunch hour. Hat tip to Pam's House Blend.

Pam's House Blend:: Register For ENDA In Jeopardy: Emergency Conference Call Tues

Oh, and I hope you had a wonderful, healing Thanksgiving holiday. Welcome back to reality.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from your Lazy Ass Librarian

Okay, so I woke up at 4:00 a.m. this morning with an inspiration for today's post: I'd make up silly Thanksgiving trivia-type facts. Like, maybe ten of them.

Three hours later, when I was still trying to think of one, I realized I really had no interest in thinking.

Fuck it, people. It's Thanksgiving, I've got the day off, and I'm going back to bed where I belong.

But just so you don't feel slighted, I'm re-posting one of my very very oldest posts about How My Blog Got Its Name. Well, that's sort of what it's about.

Whatever. Got your popcorn? Your tissues? Your unabridged dictionary? Here goes:

“The subversive librarian.” Now, that's an oxymoron . . . . or is it?

The archetype librarian is about as subversive as, well, spinster Donna Reed in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” We all know the stereotype, and there’s no point in flogging it to death here.

Librarians take great pains to prove that we’re really nothing like our stereotype. In fact, listen in on a library listserv and sooner or later, someone will start a thread about how utterly cool we really are. First, there will be a picture of a librarian on water skis. A flurry of comments and photos will quickly follow. Before it’s all over, somebody will post a picture of a half-naked librarian sporting his huge Marilyn Manson tattoo and multiple tongue piercings. Ok, I concede. There are some cool librarians.

Unfortunately, none of that silliness undermines (or subverts, if you will) the one stereotype about librarians that has spawned all the rest: Librarians love their rules – at least when it comes to books.

This rule thing has nothing to do with coolness. I don’t care if your librarian did get arrested in Juarez last May for peeing in the fountain at Plaza de Armas. He’s still not going to let you check out more than two books with the same call number. Why? Because it’s The Rule. And that’s why the words “subversive” and “librarian” just don’t seem to go together.

I’m not here to defend your librarian’s peculiarities. I’ve been to library conventions and frankly, some librarians are just plain weird. Especially law librarians.

But (and isn’t this predictable?) I do want to tell you why I think librarians are cool. Our coolness lies not in our hobbies, or what we look like, but in the profession’s fundamental subversiveness. And yes, I do mean that as a compliment.

What does it mean to be subversive? Well, according to my Brand X dictionary, to “subvert” is to destroy completely; to undermine character, morals, or allegiance; or to overthrow completely. I checked a couple other dictionaries and they said basically the same thing.

But that’s not what subversion means to me. The word “subvert” comes from the Latin sub, meaning below, and vertere, to turn. To me, that doesn’t say destroy. To me, it says dig, explore, and turn the soil if you need to. Even – especially – if someone says you’re not supposed to. And isn’t that just what librarians do?

I’m not the only one that thinks librarians are subversive. Author Michael Moore thinks so, too. We revealed our true nature after a publisher threatened to drop his book because it contained comments criticizing the President:
I didn't know who any of these people were. They -- this one librarian found out about it, and she got in a, I don't know, library chat room. Or she sent a letter out to a list of librarians, and they sent it out to a bunch of people, and the thing kind of mushroomed from there. . . . I really didn't realize the librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group. . . . They are subversive. You think they're just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They're like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn't mess with them.
Now is that cool, or what?

Of course, some people are afraid of subversives, but that just means they think we’re powerful. A few years back, the American Library Association came out opposing mandatory Internet filters on library computers. Dr. Laura Schlessinger accused the ALA of “boldly, brashly contributing to sexualizing our children. . . . [a]nd . . . mak[ing] sure your children have easy access to pornography, under the guise of free speech." We did all that? Of course not. But I figure if we got that kind of reaction from Dr. Laura, we must be doing something right. By the way, whatever happened to her?

At any rate, that makes at least three people – Michael Moore, Dr. Laura, and me – who know just how subversive and powerful we librarians are. And while I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, I sort of like being feared for my unbridled power.

My job as a librarian is to help you dig and explore so you can turn the soil if you think it needs turning. It’s really none of my business whether you want to start a new chapter of the Communist party or just find a recipe for cabbage au gratin. Do I make judgments about you? Well, yeah! But do I tell you what I think, or discourage you from digging, or censor what I give you? Nope. I just give you a wise and mysterious look – kind of like the Mona Lisa – and wonder why on earth you would eat cabbage if your mother isn’t making you.

Still, what’s so subversive about that, and what’s so cool about being a librarian? I mean, aside from the fact that last year I got to go to a seminar on mold prevention (as if that weren’t enough!).

There will always be someone who doesn’t want you to know something. In some cultures, women are prevented from reading – supposedly for their own good. The entity that’s trying to keep information out of your hands claims to have good reasons too. But being sincere doesn’t make it right.

Librarians get to right the wrong. We get to put the decision-making process back in your hands, where it belongs. We get to provide the digging equipment, let you find what you find, and let you decide what to do with it. And sometimes we get to watch your garden grow, knowing that we helped plant the seeds.

And if it’s bad? Well, then, soon enough, another of you will come looking for a way to fix it, and we get to help plant those seeds as well. In fact, every once in a while, librarians are the only ones willing to help you start digging. And if the government will let us (and for some librarians, even if it won’t), we even get to keep your secrets.

Quietly subversive. Just powerful enough. And very cool.

KEYWORDS for FBI file on Lynne Rhys: Subversive. Librarian. Communist. Cabbage.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Goodbye, Old Friend

Southern Voice is no more. That’s old news now, but I can’t let this solemn occasion pass without a short eulogy.

When I started the coming-out process, I was around 42. At the time, I was living in an outer suburb of Atlanta with my husband of 22 years and my seven-year-old kid. If there were gay people out in Powder Springs, I sure didn’t know where to find them. I wasn’t willing to cheat on my husband, so learning-by-doing wasn’t an option. With so few outlets, Southern Voice, Atlanta’s gay newspaper, was just about my only link to, well, gay stuff. I was starving for information, and SoVo provided my weekly ration. SoVo was my primer in How to be Gay. Coincidentally, for a while, I worked in the same building as SoVo's office - and felt even closer to the newspaper, as silly as that might seem.

Last week, Southern Voice shut down suddenly and without warning.

It’s been ten years since I read my first issue of SoVo. I’m out now to pretty much everybody. I can actually say the word “lesbian” without blanching. I am actively involved in the gay community of my city. In short, I’m pretty comfortable with the whole gay thing now. You wouldn’t think I would still need the comfort of a weekly gay newspaper.

And yet, when I saw that barren newsstand last Friday, I felt disconnected, lost in Powder Springs once again. I felt that old hunger. And then, I felt emptiness.

Adieu, Southern Voice.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Gift of Making Amends

I got to make an important amend yesterday to my daughter. At least, I thought it was just for her but it turned out to be an amend to myself as well. I took a friend (or more accurately, he took me) to pick up some important stuff I had left behind at my ex’s; mostly I wanted to get my kid’s stuff. Since it was a bit of a drive, my friend and I made a day of it, complete with long, leisurely conversations. After I came back, my kid and I had a wonderful, important conversation of our own.

No need to go into it any further, except to say that I have gained a new respect for the power of the ninth step.

Yeah. It was really good.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

AAAAAHHHHHHH!!! (Mommy Needs Some Terra Firma Now, Dear)

If I ran the world, children would not be allowed to drive or date until after their parents are dead.

What was I thinking, letting my kid get a learner’s permit? Somehow it didn’t really occur to me that she was going to want to, you know, drive.

But then three things happened. First, she started asking if she could drive. The nerve! Second, someone (you know who you are!) pointed out that when she’s 18 she won’t need my permission to drive and it might be good for her to get lots and lots of practice before then.

And third, her father lets her drive. Dad is great, but he drives aggressively. Frankly, I’d rather she doesn’t pick up his bad habits.

So, I let her get behind the wheel yesterday. And not just in our quiet little neighborhood, either. From home to Little Five Points to Phipps Plaza on a busy Saturday afternoon. And all the way home again after dark.

My kid will actually be a good driver. Considering it was only her third time on the road (as opposed to bank parking lots on a Sunday afternoon), she did really, really well.

As for me, though… Well, I had a death grip on the seat pretty much the whole time. But I met the nicest paramedics later, when they they pried me out of the car with the Jaws of Life.

It really was quality mother-daughter time, though (and I’m serious about that; it really was). We even developed some new special, secret mother-daughter lingo. Let me share it with you now.

ME: “stopstopstopstopSTOPSTOP!!!!!!!!!!!”
Translation: “Sweetie, could you please brake a little earlier?”

ME: “DRIFT!!!!!”
Translation: “Darling, you’re drifting to the right again and I’m afraid you’re going to rip the passenger door off of the car and then I’ll be impaled on that tree.”

MY KID: “Isn’t it nice that you don’t have to drive anymore?”
Translation: “If you don’t let me drive, I’m going to have Dad teach me.”

MY KID: “I am sooo driving us to Phipps.”
Translation: “If you don’t let me drive, I’m going to have Dad teach me.”

MY KID: “Dad was calmer than you.”
Translation: “I mean it, Mom! Dad’s gonna teach me!”

ME: “You did really, really well today. I’m proud of you.”
Translation: “You did really, really well today. I feel pride, sadness, happiness, fear, guilt, gratitude and wonder watching my incredible kid become an incredible, independent adult. And now, Sweet Pea, I'm going to go get my affairs in order. You know, just in case.”


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good Ole Miss

Let me be very clear about one thing: I loathe team sports. I don’t care if I am a lesbian, I just hate them. I don’t care if it’s college or pro or football or hockey or baseball or volleyball or whatever. It’s all just so much bullshit to me.

Don’t get me wrong. I know from sports. Football is the one with innings and basketball is the one with the tight ends, right? Oh, of course I know that’s wrong. I’m just playing with you. Even I know that baseball is the one with the tight ends. (What the hell is a tight end, anyway?)

Okay, so I wasn’t a jock. Is that so bad? I admit, maybe I have some painful memories of gym class. And maybe I do resent – just slightly – every past president of the United States of America for that goddamned President’s Physical Fitness Test they made us do every year.

And I suppose I’m still not too fond of the teacher’s aide who felt it was her sworn duty, at said fitness test, to call out my weight loud enough for it to echo off Camelback Mountain and back again, just to make sure that everyone in Phoenix and Scottsdale knew that I was Officially Obese. Every single fucking year.

And perhaps I have just a teeny little resentment against every gym teacher I have ever had (except Mrs. Gans, who was perpetually pregnant and gave me a “B” for trying hard, to which my dad said, “Wow. How did you manage to get a B in gym?").

And okay, so maybe I’ve thought some unkind things about that big brute of a fourth-grade gym teacher who made me run around the field even when I told him I couldn’t, and I got my one-and-only-ever asthma attack and they had to call my mother. I told you so, asshole.

And maybe I do think that dodgeball is the funnest game since “Let’s Pull Everyone’s Teeth Out Without an Anesthetic and See Who Bleeds the Most.” I read somewhere that Bluto invented dodgeball just for Popeye and Olive Oyl, and then Benito Mussolini took it from there. Yeah. I’m pretty sure that’s true.

And all right, so the first time I ever had to undress in front of anybody was in the showers for gym class in a brand new town at my brand new middle school, and all the girls kept calling me a lesbian and since I didn’t know they were right it didn’t occur to me to just say “thank you.”

And by the way, I think history will show that the squat thrust was invented by some sick, perverted pedophile.

Umm, where was I?

Oh, yeah. Ole Miss. They’re not going to let the band play “From Dixie With Love” anymore at football games, because the crowd keeps yelling “the South shall rise again!” before and after. Good for Ole Miss.

What, you were expecting some insightful sports analysis? Please.

P.S. A great big thank you to the group of girls in the fourth grade who lifted me up while the teacher wasn’t looking so I could say that I had done one chin-up. I adore you all.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Oh. My. God.

I'm home sick today. And I fear it's very, very serious, because I posted a recipe on here this morning. A recipe, for God's sake! Is there a doctor in the house?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Book Review! A Place Like This: A Memoir, by Mark S. King

I tend to avoid memoirs, especially Hollywood memoirs, because they can be so pretentious and tedious. Some people, though, have stories worth telling. HIV/AIDS activist and writer Mark S. King is one of them.

King has managed to survive numerous lifetimes of adventure and misfortune in his relatively few years on the planet. He weathered several of those lifetimes in the 1980s, the decade that is the subject of his book, A Place Like This: A Memoir.

A Place Like This covers a lot of territory: Mark King himself; his family and friends; a deadly disease; a movement; and an era. The narrative begins in 1981 with 20-year-old King moving to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting; it ends a little over a decade later when he moves to Atlanta to head the AIDS Survival Project. In between, the universe is utterly transmogrified, and King follows suit with relative grace, all things considered.

I note here that King has been public about his battle with substance abuse. While drugs are a part of this story, King wisely focuses instead on the transformative nature of the AIDS epidemic.

King’s portrayal is honest and unvarnished. That, of course, can be said of any good memoir. A Place Like This, though, goes much further: King not only lets us observe his seamy youth, but also lets us see who he is today because of it. And then, as a bonus, he shines the light outward, inviting the reader to recognize himself as well. Thus, unlike most memoirs, which only feign intimacy, this book truly is intimate. It’s the distinction between a good memoir and a great one.

Consider this passage, where King, in describing his successful foray into the gay phone-sex industry, talks about one of his female customers:
It would be easy to reduce her actions to something comical but I can’t, I won’t. It was a meaningful and well deserved Calgon moment for her, and when her calls suddenly stopped soon after she mentioned a possible suitor in her life, I was truly glad that her life might become less lonely and I missed hearing from her. I hope she’s happy.
Through most of the book, King skillfully balances pathos, sly wit, and bawdy humor. This balance changes once he begins to address the AIDS epidemic. Then, there is just enough humor and hope to keep the reader afloat, but no more; otherwise, the pain is unrelenting, just as it is in real life and just as it should be in the narrative. It is almost too much; but King resists indulging in maudlin self pity, thus shielding the reader from the final precipice. (For an excellent supplement to this book, I recommend HIV in the U.S. Epidemic's Darkest Hour: An Interview With Mark S. King; this interview provides a strong historical and cultural backdrop to the story.)

King is the best kind of writer of all: the kind you don’t notice. His style is conversational and seamless, allowing the story, instead of the writing, to take center stage. This is quite a feat considering his liberal use of flashbacks and flash-forwards. In less capable hands, the story would have been nearly incomprehensible. But King, remarkably, switches between time periods so gently that with very few exceptions, I didn’t even notice. I just knew.

I can only find two faults with A Place Like This, and I had to look hard for both of them. First, photographs would have been awfully nice. King has presented a family portrait full of interesting people about whom I came to care. As wonderful as it was to hear “Uncle Mark” tell all the family stories, I wanted to see the picture album, too. What’s more, King’s persona as an actor is a separate character in this book, and it needs a face. The cover graphics hint at it, but only just. And unless you’ve actually seen how impossibly good-looking King was (and, in fact, is), it’s hard to understand how the hell he got away with as much as he did.

The other minor fault is an occasional and slightly distracting change of voice. Once in a great while, a sentence popped out at me that sounded a lot like writing. Don’t get me wrong: they were perfectly good sentences. But they removed me, just for a second, from the action. Fortunately, within a sentence or two King always recovered and put me back in the passenger seat so I could continue to ride with him, instead of just watching him fly by. In any event, I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book that didn’t skip a beat here and there.

Mark King is the rare person who has a lot to say, says it exceedingly well, and then both gives and gains strength through his words. Perfection is merely theoretical; it does not exist in reality. But A Place Like This comes about as close as it gets.

(Updated to link King's book and to change the first sentence, which was driving me nuts)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

No Turning Back Now.

Well, I postponed it as long as I could. As I write, my child is taking the test to get a learner's permit. Along with a small army of other tiny children.

When did 16 get to be so freaking young? Shouldn't they have to be on solid food first?

Seriously. These little rugrats will be operating thousand-pound projectile weapons systems in less than an hour. It boggles the mind.

Oh, she's done! Gotta go see if she passed. Can you say "ambivalence"?

Friday, October 30, 2009

My name should be ... WTF??

Here's a fun, fast thing to do when you've had enough of, well, whatever you've had enough of. It's the Betty Brown Name Generator. See, if you've got a name that's ... you know, foreign ... and no one can pronounce it, this will give you a real American name.

And you know, now that I've done it, I do feel just like a real American. Quick! Get me my Kate Smith CD! Oh, gosh, I think I just might cry.

My Betty Brown Approved Name is LaVerne "Cracker Barrel" Brown.
Take Betty Brown Name Generator today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

Hat tip to Ramona Creel, who has a truly amazing website.

And by the way, I really do have a Kate Smith CD. You wanna make something of it?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How do you do this parenting thing again?

So, I'm just wondering... purely hypothetically, of course... Where, exactly, is the line between "strict-but-fair mom" and "overbearing-and-codependent bitch"?

And no, she hasn't called me either one.

I have a feeling that parenting a teenager is a lot like parenting a toddler: by the time you figure out what works, it doesn't work anymore.


Monday, October 26, 2009

What We Were Like: The Food Edition

I am one very lucky alcoholic. No relapses (yet). No DUIs, no loss of family (at least, not due to drinking), no jail, no institutions… I mean, I have really been blessed so far. And it's not because I've worked an amazing program, because I haven't.

Food, on the other hand… Well, I haven’t been so fortunate there. In recovery lingo, I’m a chronic relapser. At 5’0”, my adult weight has ranged from under 100 pounds (for about 30 seconds) to a very spherical 245. I may be a high-bottom drunk, but I’m a skid row food addict.

Lately, I’ve been able to manage the addiction with some success. I lost 55 pounds from my high of 245. But in just the past month, I’ve regained almost 8 pounds. Left to my own devices, I will gain it all back and then some.

There’s a lot I don’t know about dealing with food addiction – I mean, it’s not like alcohol, where you can just quit. But I do know one thing: I need to remember just what full-blown binging will do to me, just like I need to remember my last drunk.

So that’s what this post is about: what my life was like at my highest weight, which is where I lived until about two years ago.

I’ve discovered that being overweight has a lot in common with quantum physics. Let me explain. You know how physical matter starts to behave weirdly as the temperature approaches absolute zero? Fine, so maybe you didn’t. Take my word for it: strange quantum-mechanic stuff happens at super-low temperatures.

Well, weight gain is like that. Up to a certain point, being fat is mostly about tight clothes, some shortness of breath, and not being able to cross your legs. But at a certain threshold weight, the rules change, and it becomes something completely different in scope and effect.

I’m not sure what my threshold weight is, but I was above it at 245 and I'm below it now.

At 245, my weight affected every aspect of my life. A trip to the grocery store required a careful calculation: How far away could I park and still make it all the way to the back of the store without having to sit down?

My feet and ankles were permanently swollen, and the skin felt so tight I sometimes worried that it would split right open. I had constant pain in my feet and my back. I wore a size 3X when I could find it. I stopped buying shoes with laces, because I couldn’t reach to tie them. I fell more easily and more often, and getting up was difficult and humiliating. I snored. All the time. Really, really loudly.

I discovered that stepstools and ladders and chairs had weight limits, so I had to start reading labels to make sure stuff wouldn’t collapse under me. At recovery meetings, I had to be careful when I stood up, to make sure the plastic armchair didn’t come up with me. I could just barely fit into a standard restaurant booth; anything even slightly smaller and I found myself smashed in – that is, if I could get in at all. Getting in the car was a challenge, too. Oh, and riding on airplanes was fun; did you know they have seatbelt extensions for fat people? That was embarrassing enough, but it was even worse knowing I was crowding the other people on my row.

I couldn’t get life insurance. I couldn’t get a job. Dating – once I became single again – was out of the question.

One of the worst quantum weight effects had to do with personal hygiene. To put it bluntly, I couldn’t reach my own ass. So I had to use a long back-brush when I showered. There was no way to wipe after going to the bathroom, so I just hoped for the best. That worked, sort of (well, not really), while I was reasonably healthy. But when I wasn't so healthy, I had to ask my soon-to-be ex-wife for help whenever I went to the bathroom. Talk about your good times!

(I'm sorry. I know that's really disgusting. But it's part of what waits for me if I go too far off the beam.)

Even all of that – as truly awful as it was – wasn’t as bad as what it did to my soul. Quantum weight obliterated it. I don't suppose someone so heavy can be described as a "shell," but whatever was on the outside was impenetrable armor for, well, less and less. What was left of me emotionally was distorted beyond all recognition. It was like a flashlight with an old battery; I could get a little light out of it every now and then, but each time I tried, the light grew dimmer. I really don't know how much longer that light would have come on at all. And I was fully aware that this was happening -- that it was only a matter of time before I drank or killed myself or had a heart attack; and so every morning brought more hopelessness and more destructive eating. I became increasingly isolated as the shame became more unrelenting. That was one reason (read: excuse) I didn’t want to go to meetings anymore.

Quantum weight took a toll on my daughter, too. We both realized that I might well have a stroke or heart attack before she finished growing up. But even for her, I couldn’t seem to stop.

So that’s what life was like at 245. Incomprehensible demoralization. In a word, hellish.

And that life is still out there waiting for me. Statistically speaking, that’s what my future holds – and then some. The question is, how do I beat the odds?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Brief Sojourn into Sarah Palin’s Swampland

I’m brave. I’m very, very brave, and adventurous, too, and I’m not afraid to get dirty in the Quest For Truth. You see, I just ventured onto Sarah Palin’s Facebook page to confirm a quote. And now my hiking boots are covered with slimy, icky goo.

I know, I know. I’m being mean and snarky. But at least I’m not playing that idiotic word game that’s so popular these days, where I call her Sarah Pablum or say she’s a member of the Repubozo party. That stupid trick is an instant credibility-killer.

Anyway… Here’s the quote I was after – you can read it while I hose off my boots:
[Some guy she’s endorsing for Congress] stands for the principles that all Republicans should share: smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, and a commitment to individual liberty.
The guy she’s endorsing – one Doug Hoffman – happens to be a member of the Conservative Party. As in, he’s not a Republican. But all that is irrelevant to this post. As a matter of fact, I really don’t give a crap who he is.

No, the part that interests me is Palin’s representation of Republican core values. Especially that thing about individual liberty. I mean, just whose liberty is she talking about? Certainly not mine. If Palin had her way, I couldn’t get married anywhere on the planet. I probably couldn’t adopt, teach, or work near children, either -- nor could most of my friends. Of course, abortion would be out of the question. And no learning about safe sex; just abstinence. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Individual liberty? Sure! For everyone who thinks, looks, and believes exactly like Palin. And that's an exclusive group that probably doesn't even include her own children.

Oh, my. I’m getting all icky again just thinking about it. Bring me back the hose!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good News At Last!

I am delighted to report that the Senate and House have passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, which expands the federal hate crime laws to cover violence based on disability, sexual orientation, and (hallelujah!) gender identity. Now it just awaits the President's signature, and all indications are that he will sign. Now THAT'S change we can believe in!

Here's the link:;jsessionid=7957B8747B6A517D0EA38031B64D0D97.live7ib

Regrets 'R' Us

My, I’m full of angsty goodness today. My wonderful kid just turned seventeen. Seventeen! Let me say it a few more times so I can get used to it: Seventeen. Seventeen. Seh… ven… teen. One-Seven. Seven-freaking-teen. Seventeen-seventeen-seventeen-seventeen.

Nope. Soooo not feeling it.

I want it on record that I expressly forbade her from doing it. Even threatened to ground her for the rest of her life. But that headstrong kid of mine completely ignored me and turned seventeen anyway.

So…about my kid. She’s a shining, ancient soul; visionary and full of talent, which she doesn’t like for me to notice. And while her vision is a great gift, I think it is sometimes a heavy burden as well. Being seventeen doesn’t make that any easier. As a result, sometimes she suffers. And I suffer for her, alternately blaming God and myself (well, mostly myself) for her dysphoria.

As we approach the day when she leaves home (she wants to move to the West coast the second she’s done with high school), I find myself increasingly frustrated by the many mistakes – some very serious – that I made as a parent.

Yet I know that regretting the past – and dreading the future, with its bleak empty-nestedness – accomplishes only one thing: it pulls me away from my amazing kid, who is still at home and who resides only in the here and now.

Seventeen. Maybe there’s some parallel universe where I got it right. Where she got to be her age every single day and lived in a reasonably clean house. Where she didn’t have to compete for attention with a chaotic mélange of animals and filth and cold water. Where I only made promises I could keep. Where I baked pies and cakes, and cooked real meals in a real oven.

As I sit in this place full of regrets, though, it’s only fair that I credit myself for three things I’ve done right, at least most of the time: I’ve loved her, I’ve let her be who she is, and I’ve enjoyed her. Those were the three things I set out to do when I became a mother. I still think those things are important.

And one more thing that probably matters: My kid has never seen me drunk. Whatever else I screwed up, I got that much right. I’m hoping that counts for something in the grand scheme of things.

Still… Sometimes wish I could go back and do it right.

Oh, all right. Seventeen… Seventeen. I’ll get used to it, eventually. Yeah… Probably about the time she turns eighteen.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I've been had! Hats off to the Yes Men.

As part of my regular job, I report on current newsy developments. For example, I've been following the corporate fallout resulting from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's opposition to a climate bill. Specifically, Nike and other companies are bailing out of the US COC in protest of its position. As well they should.

So you can imagine how pleased I was to see a story today about the US COC's reversal of its position.. Titled "A Survival Strategy for Free Enterprise Over the Long Term," the article contained this language:
Climatologists tell us that if we don't enact dramatic reductions in carbon emissions today, within 5 years we could begin facing the propagating feedback loops of runaway climate change. That would mean a disruption of food and water supplies worldwide, with the result of mass migrations, famines, and death on a scale never witnessed before.

Needless to say, that would be bad for business.
Yeah. I guess it would.

Sadly, the Chamber has not come to its senses after all.

Nope. It was a hoax, brought to you by the Yes Men. And who are they, you may ask. These are folks who impersonate representatives of bad-guy corporations. The idea is to bring public attention to bad policy through a twisted approach that combines Candid Camera, Truth or Consequences (I'm really dating myself here) and good old-fashioned civil disobedience.

I like it and I'm gonna keep my eyes on these guys. But I wish I'd thought of it first.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Your bathroom too? My goodness, you ARE progressive!

Anybody who thinks racism is a thing of the past isn’t paying attention. Or maybe I’m just in a time warp and it’s not really 2009. (It is 2009, isn’t it?)

Meet Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell from Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. He kinda has an itty bitty little problem with marrying interracial couples. Just doesn’t do it. He has turned down four couples in the last three years. This time, it looks like Mr. Bardwell said no to the wrong couple. They’re going to the Justice Department, and I’m looking forward to a happy ending.

But back to Judge Bardwell. He swears he’s not a racist. No, really. He’s not! Here, let him explain: “’I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way,’ Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. ‘I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.’”

Oh, okay, I get it now. If you let them use the same bathroom, it’s not racism. Well, thank you for clearing that up. I guess it’s just never been explained to me that way before.


Then, a few days ago, I came across this other charming little item about a restaurant in Paulding County, Georgia. On its website, this place bills itself as the “original Klan, klam, and oyster bar.” No, I’m not kidding. And by the way, I’m not posting this guy’s website link because I don’t want to give him any more traffic that he’s already getting. If you want it, you’ll have to find it yourself. But I already looked, and trust me: it’s as bad as it sounds. Maybe even worse.

You know, I’ve seen more of this stuff in the past few weeks than I think I’ve seen in the past five years. Earlier this week, Hatewatch posted another one – this one about “filthy Jews,” brought to you by everybody’s favorite civil rights promoter, the Westboro Baptist Church.

We are not in a time warp. It really is 2009. But don't kid yourself: Jimmy Carter is absolutely right.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dancing with the President

Our new President has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – much to the surprise of, well, pretty much everybody. And Fidel Castro, bless his heart, told us how happy he is about it.

(Note to Castro: Thanks, big fella, really! But, um, please stop helping us. Seriously. We’re having enough trouble convincing people that Obama isn’t a communist.)

Anyway, I’m glad the President won. It’s a good indication of how quickly the world’s perception of the United States has changed since he took office. Pretty amazing, considering that our last administration pretty much trashed the global economy and turned us into barbaric conquistadores (among many, many other dastardly deeds).

But, I digress.

What I really want to talk about is President Obama’s speech Friday night at the Human Rights Campaign dinner. I watched it after the fact, with mixed feelings.

Obama gave a great speech, as usual. In fact, it was his usual speech.

Many in the LGBT community are frustrated that he’s not doing more, faster. I have to admit, I’m frustrated myself. How hard can it be for the Commander in Chief to order the military to stop prosecuting DADT cases?

Still, I am not ready to oppose an administration that is doing more for the LGBT community – and doing it publicly – than any previous administration.

So how, then, should we react to Obama’s support? Should we be pissed off and protest that he’s not doing more? Or should we lay off for a while so the man can do his job?

The answer is an unequivocal “yes.” We should let the man do his job. And we should continue to protest, because we’re unsatisfied with the progress we’re making.

And wouldn’t you know, that’s exactly what Obama is telling us to do:

[I]t's so important that you continue to speak out, that you continue to set an example, that you continue to pressure leaders -- including me -- and to make the case all across America.

See, here’s the thing. Some people think Obama wants us to tap dance for him, showering him with continued support and praise even as he does nothing.

But I think Obama is asking us to dance with him, not for him: He is not asking us to be satisfied. He’s pretending to ask that we be satisfied, with the understanding (wink, wink, nod, nod) that we will refuse to wait. That allows our struggle to stay in the spotlight while Obama tries to save the world. (thanks a lot, Dubbya)

Let me say that again: Obama is pretending to ask that we be satisfied. He is asking us to dance with him, not for him. And he is asking us to lead.

Obama’s speech demonstrated that he gets our issues. He is with us. I absolutely believe that. But he’s one guy trying to reconstruct a badly damaged nation in the face of unprecedented political, economic, and physical challenges. Make no mistake about it: there really is a “vast rightwing conspiracy,” and the other side is perfectly content using every tool at his disposal -- including racism and homophobia. The vitriol against this administration is unlike any I have ever seen before.

So under the circumstances, what would we have Obama do? Well, what would you do, if you believed in LGBT equality but also believed – with good reason – that taking action now would trigger a powerful backlash and actually delay equality while undermining work on other important issues?

I’d do exactly what Obama is doing. I would pledge my support publicly; I would do my best to lay the groundwork, building public support while working behind the scenes. And I would trust the community to keep the issue alive and up front.

That’s not nothing. Consider his language:

…it's not for me to tell you to be patient, any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African Americans petitioning for equal rights half a century ago…You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman.

Now, even if you believe that this is just so much empty rhetoric, one thing is undeniably true: no U.S. president has ever before expressed such clear support for LGBT rights.

Don’t ever doubt the power of the spoken word, especially when it’s repeated over and over again. Few things are more powerful. Just look at Anita Bryant’s success in the 1970s. There, words worked against us. But words can work for us, too.

I mean, come on: every time Obama talks about gay rights, I can hear angry, fragile little wingnut brains exploding all around me. Pop! Pop-pop! Pop! Squeeeeeeeeee! What fun!

Remember, too, the important lessons of Brown v. Board of Education. In that case, the Supreme Court struck down Plessy v. Ferguson, finding that the concept of “separate but equal” is unconstitutional, thus outlawing segregation. Brown came about because the NAACP Legal Defense Fund developed and implemented a methodical, long-term strategy. They brought carefully selected cases before the courts, adding one small handful of precedential sand at a time. By the time Thurgood Marshall argued Brown before the Supreme Court, the NAACP had made it next to impossible for the Court to rule any other way – hence, its unanimous decision.

So, we will continue fighting for equal rights. We will protest. We will be loud and we won’t take no for an answer. Public opinion will continue to turn in our favor, unless we do something stupid.

In other words, we will continue to dance with the President. We will lead, and he will follow and support us. It is, after all, our fight.

That said...

Mr. President, I’ve looked at the statute and I believe you can reverse DADT without authorization from Congress. Right now, today. I can show you how, but then I’m sure you already know.

Please issue an executive order immediately. And I’m not winking.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Who cares about the Nobel Peace Prize when there's Craigslist?

It's the beginning of a three-day weekend and I don't feel like thinking too hard. So, I'll punt to Best-of-Craigslist. At least I might be punting. To be honest, I don't know what punting is. Sports term = eyes glazing over.

Anyway.... I hereby punt-or-something to Best-of-Craigslist. Lots of fun stuff. Here's a sampling:

26 Feb 2009 - wdc - You worthless bag of filth. Okay, I'm filled with self-loathing (ask anybody!), but even I don't hate me this much. This just might be my favorite Craigslist ad EVER.

25 May 2009 - den - Free couch, if you can bend time and/or space

11 Jul 2009 - srq - How NOT to annoy your tourist area store employee

There's lots more where that came from. Enjoy.

Oh, wait, I almost forgot: Congrats, Mr. Prez!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Mr. SponsorPants versus Dr. Seuss

Ya know, I've been surfing the web for hours (really, hours!)trying to find something to write about that (a) pisses me off enough to write about it, but (b) doesn't piss me off so much it makes my head explode, and (c) can be adequately addressed within about five minutes to accommodate my very short attention span.

No luck, I'm afraid. So instead, enjoy a simple little poetry slam from Mr. SponsorPants.

I would have enjoyed his post even he didn't have the best blog name ever.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

For Peter and James on their Wedding Day …

Tomorrow, James and Peter are getting married. Legally. In Massachusetts. Congratulations!!

I love weddings. I’ve been a bride four times with two different partners. In 1977, I married my (male) high school sweetheart. We renewed our vows 10 years later in a small church ceremony. Eventually – sadly – we went our separate ways.

Then, at the beginning of the new millennium my partner M and I were joined in a lovely church wedding. A few months later, we went to Vermont to make it legal – well, at least as legal as it could be for lesbians back then: we had a civil union ceremony before a Vermont justice of the peace.

I have lots of wonderful memories of all four ceremonies: Having long conversations full of imagination and promise. Picking out the music. Choosing the wedding party. Selecting the guests. Registering for gifts. Ordering the food and the flowers. Worrying about the outcome. As each ceremony grew closer, we watched time speed up exponentially as we realized how much was left to do. And then, on the big day, we finally relaxed and enjoyed ourselves; we knew we had done all we could.

But of all these cherished experiences, none is more important to me than our Vermont ceremony. I will never forget the chill I got when our judge said, “By the power vested in me by the state of Vermont…” As our little party stood in the drawing room of that old bed and breakfast – just the judge, my aunt and uncle, and my partner and I – the authority and weightiness of that phrase – “the power vested in me by the state of Vermont” – was palpable.

At the time, we were considered pioneers for getting joined in a civil union. Not many people had gone to Vermont. I was surprised and touched by the interest others took in our ceremony. (You were one of them, James.)

Now I understand better why our friends felt so invested in what we did. With every civil union, the LGBT community became just a little bit more equal; and at the same time, Americans became just a little less afraid. The smallest incremental steps taken by individual couples, when added together, became the journey of an entire community.

Fast forward to 2009. Gay marriage is now legal in Vermont, Massachusetts, and a few other states. Public opinion has shifted significantly. Even some conservatives are willing to consider civil unions. But we are no longer satisfied with second best. Many of us now see civil unions as a quaint “separate but equal” artifact whose time has passed.

So now, James and Peter, you are getting married. Now, you are the pioneers. We know that our tomorrows will improve just a little bit the minute you say “I do.” You are clearing a path ahead for the rest of us, and for that we are all indebted to you.

Thank you for your bravery and determination. May you live happily ever after!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Scary Political Jihadism

Today in the LA Times, Neal Gabler provides a thoughtful - and grim - prognosis for American political discourse. It's worth your time. Don't forget to read the comments, which illustrate Gabler's thesis with disturbing eloquence. Here's the link:,0,7817347.story

Bill Moyers does it again

Thanks to Church of the Bad News (and youtube, of course) for this excellent commentary by Bill Moyers on health care.

Church of the Bad News

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

25 things about me... as if I'm not already self-absorbed enough...

1. I used to slice head cheese for a guy tied to the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.

2. I've been told that I do a reasonably good Marlene Dietrich impression.

3. During the Cold War, my fifth-grade teacher picked my essay to read for the school assembly on patriotism. But the principal wouldn't let me go on. My subject: Communism is just another form of government, so everybody should relax already.

4. I used to be a Camp Fire Girl. And I spent one glorious week at Camp Wamatochik.

5. I was the Virgin Mary in the kindergarten Christmas play.

6. I had ... Uh, nope. Not telling you that one.

7. Hmmm... Not that one either.

8. I like to read the dictionary.

9. According to my ex-husband, I'm "a bottomless pit of need." And I often worry that he's right.

11. It took me 11 years to get pregnant and it was so worth the wait!

12. Eventually, after an aggressive desensitization regimen imposed by my young daughter, I grew to like Barney the purple dinosaur.

13. I like my coffee strong enough for the spoon to stand up by itself.

14. I don't like sweet tea, okra, greens, or any veggies that taste like bacon grease. But I do like black-eyed peas.

15. I'm occasionally mistaken for Latina or Native American, but I'm really half Greek, a quarter Welsh, and a quarter who-knows-what.

16. I'm pretty good in a crisis as long as it's somebody else's.

17. Before I go see a movie I want to know if it's a happy ending or not. And if a main character is gonna die I want to know who.

18. I like snakes. I'm not afraid of them at all unless they're poisonous or big enough to kill me. In fact, I really like holding them.

19. I can't kill anything that crunches when you squish it. Which is fine, because I don't like to kill stuff anyway.

21. As far as I know, I've never had any of the usual childhood illnesses, and I've never broken any bones. But I did staple myself once.

22. I brake for turtles.

23. I had a knife held to my throat when I was about 10, after I pissed off the wrong person.

24. I love long, exhausting, dirty, sticky-floored, multi-day, around-the-clock trips via Greyhound, where the only time you get off the bus is for meal stops and when they need to clean the bus at three in the morning. It's my version of camping. My longest stretch: six days up the west coast and across southern Canada. Although...

25. A nun had to rescue me from a creepy guy who was trying to follow me on said Greyhound bus.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Here comes the war on Christmas again... from, uh, who?

It's that time of year -- you know, mid-September -- when the holiday shopping season begins. And with it comes the inevitable war on Christmas (read "war on Christians"). Here's a great example of anti-Christmas sentiment:
Santa Claus Will Take You to Hell

... Don't leave your kids with this red fright
Just like the priests, he'll rape 'em at night
Oh, Santa Claus will take you to hell....

Well. Isn't that cheery! Even I have to admit that somebody has definitely declared war here. But who is writing this stuff? Jews? Atheists? The Dalai Lama?

No, no, you silly thing. It's the Westboro Baptist Church. You know, God-Hates-Fags-dot-com. Self-proclaimed Christians are waging war on Christmas.

These days, it's hard to see WBC as anything but pathetic. Or at least, it would be if they weren't working so hard at hurting people and being generally obnoxious. You know, protesting at funerals of American soldiers killed in action. And protesting "fag-infested" theaters that put on The Laramie Project. Yeah. Thank goodness somebody has these depravities covered!

Ever taken a look around the WBC site? Scary stuff. And it's not just us LGBTQ folks they hate, either. They're not too crazy about Catholics and Jews, either. Especially Jews.

Even without the Santa poem, these guys are waging full-on war against Christianity.

You know, at times like this it kinda sucks that I don't believe in hell.


When I lived in Chicago, long long long ago, two of my favorite acoustic performers were Steve Goodman and John Prine. They were fast friends and often performed together. Here's one of Prine's best songs, Souvenirs. Following that is another song performed by Goodman.

Sadly, Steve Goodman died in 1984 from leukemia. What I didn't know is that he was diagnosed in 1969 -- which means that he was aware of the diagnosis even as he was building a (very successful) career.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just a little rain...

In case there's anyone out there who thinks we Georgians are silly for closing schools on account of rain, here's a site that might explain things for you:

Oh, my Lord... Did I just say "we Georgians?" I was born in New Jersey, for God's sake!

Anyway, I'm glad better weather has arrived. And my prayers go out to the victims.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rain, rain...

For a while it was interesting and perhaps a little fun. So what's the big deal about a little water?

But now, not so much. Six dead. Up to 20 inches of rain in the last three days. 12,000 people without power. Nearly all schools closed. Now, we're all just weary.

I'm one of the fortunate ones: no roof leaks, no flooding, just a lot of rain. But along with giving thanks for that happy coincidence, I must also acknowledge that I have done nothing to deserve my good luck.

Here's to sunshine. Soon.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Well, this is kind of cool. I can now post a blog entry via SMS or email. This will make it much, much easier since I don't have much computer access for personal use.
Hmmmm. Let's see if it goes through without a picture...

testing, testing again

Damn. I can post by sending an email!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Deranged Wingnuts v. U.S.

Thank you, thank you, Judge Land. Reason and sanity have prevailed! For the whole opinion (well worth the read!) click here.

"Plaintiff, a Captain in the United States Army, seeks a
temporary restraining order to prevent the Army from deploying her to
Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Plaintiff alleges that
her deployment orders are unconstitutional and unenforceable because
President Barack Obama is not constitutionally eligible to act as
Commander in Chief of the United States armed forces. After
conducting a hearing on Plaintiff’s motion, the Court finds that
Plaintiff’s claims are frivolous. Accordingly, her application for
a temporary restraining order is denied, and her Complaint
is dismissed in its entirety. Furthermore, Plaintiff’s counsel is
hereby notified that the filing of any future actions in this Court,
which are similarly frivolous, shall subject counsel to sanctions.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)."

Boy. And they say gay people have an agenda!

It's not quite over, though. DWs (see the title of this entry) have filed for a rehearing. I wonder if they'll get sanctioned for that...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Harassment at the Eagle?

A local gay leather club, the Eagle, was raided Thursday night by Atlanta police. No need to rehash the details, which you can find here and here and here. The raid was allegedly prompted by one or more neighborhood complaints of criminal activity.

Comparisons to Stonewall are plentiful and, unfortunately, probably justified. During the raid, patrons and employees were forced to lie on the ground while being frisked and questioned (and in many cases handcuffed). Some witnesses have reported anti-gay and racist slurs by police. As a result of the raid, eight employees were arrested for minor licensing violations. No drugs were found. To get the other side of the story, you can read the APD’s press statement here – but it probably won’t make you feel much better.

A community protest rally will be held Sunday from 5 to 8 pm at the Eagle. Here’s to a big turnout.

Friday, September 11, 2009

There are other things I must never forget.

Today on Facebook, many of my friends wrote: “Never forget.” They were, of course, referring to the devastating attacks we all experienced eight years ago. Flags flew at half mast today. Memorial candles burned in churches, office lobbies, and even hotels. Lists of the victims’ names -- so many of them! – re-revealed the tragedy’s scope not only through statistics (3,000+ deaths and 6,200+ injuries), but by reminding us of each individual light that was extinguished on that day.

Once again, we are in mourning. That is just as it should be.

However, along with these gentle and somber reminders, I have also received more than the usual amount of anti-Muslim propaganda: an expose of how Muslim law treats women… the old (and false) story about how Budweiser refused to sell to a convenience store after the owner cheered the victory of Al-Qaeda. The emails I have received tend to color all Muslims in the same shade of hatred, as if this diverse group is significantly more homogenous than Christians or Jews or Buddhists or women or homosexuals or African Americans.

The fact is, hate and bigotry can be found on the fringes of every religion, ethnicity, and cultural identity. Orthodox Jewish services separate men from women. Fundamentalist Christians believe non-Christians (as they define that term) are doomed to suffer an eternity in hell. If you think that Muslims have a monopoly on radicalism and hatred, you might want to check out the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate group site. Or, if you have a really strong stomach, you can look here or here or here. I could go on, but you get the idea.

That’s why I, too, will never forget. Not just about the plane crashes and the burning Twin Towers. Those images aren’t going anywhere. They’ll be with me forever.

But there are other things – very important things – I’m all too likely to forget when I wrap myself in the comforting cloak of our collective grief and anger. These are the things I must fight to remember:

I must never forget that in our fear and anger, we allowed our President and Vice President to highjack our national principles, freedoms, and rights.

I must never forget that our leaders took the unprecedented step of invading a foreign country that was not an immediate threat.

I must never forget that our creation of an immoral war has led to the deaths of over 4,300 American soldiers and more than 100,000 civilians so far (with credible estimates well in excess of 655,000 as of 2006), as well as scores of people from other nations.

I must never forget that 9/11 led to the remarkable conclusion, at the highest levels of government, that torture is a valid investigative strategy.

Finally, I must never forget that we have lived this nightmare before, in a thousand different forms both large and small: in the near-complete genocide of indigenous peoples around the world; in the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II; in the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge; in the Holocaust; in attempts to “cure” homosexuals; in our ostracizing people with HIV/AIDS… I must never forget that our species has an almost pathological need to destroy those who frighten or anger us.

Most importantly, I must never forget that I am just as prone to this pathology as everyone else on the planet. For that reason, I must be forever vigilant, and I must be willing to protect our principles even when my own judgment lapses. In short, I must remain teachable.

Please, God, let me never forget. Please, let me remain teachable.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday: In which the Subversive Librarian attempts to face her writer's block head-on.

So. Can a fourth-rate hack writer with serious creative blockage find happiness and fulfillment typing furiously with only her thumbnails on a tiny cellphone keyboard (I mean, I'm hauling ass at 7 wpm) while watching traffic from her 23rd-floor office window and wasting what little is left of her lunch hour? Well, who the fuck knows. But I've got to do something with all this pissy angst.

Uh, let's see... Depending on how you define "swearing," I got somewhere between one and three swear words into that paragraph. And yes, that did make me feel a little better. Except "pissy" doesn't quite work there, and my use of "fuck" is a transparently cheap attempt to shock the reader, and...

Oh, shit. Lunch is over.

This is soooo not going to work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Good news and bad news

Well, the good news is that I have real Internet now, which will make regular posting a whole lot easier. The bad news is that I can't think of anything clever to say. So, I'll work on that.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Waiting for Bubba.

My new sponsor. At the Caribou. Time to be open and honest. Blah.

It has occurred to me that the cure for loneliness is reaching out. That's true in blogging and in sobriety, so I'm doing it on both fronts. I'm slowly making the rounds of my old blogging pals, who (if they've given me any thought at all) must have written me off at least a year ago. But I'm like creepy bad guys in slasher movies. Just when you think I'm finally dead for real... something grabs your ankle while violent violin music slices through your brain (think Psycho).

Okay. I admit it. I have nothing to say right now so I'm making stuff up. Footwork and all.

Carry on, old pals. If I haven't yet gotten to you, I will. Bwahahahahaha.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

End of the session. Whew!

So, I'm getting more rest than I anticipated after the really amazing ride at the capitol last week, but I'm sincerely hoping that the governor will call a special legislative session and I'll get a chance to make up for it. Much excitement and many disappointments.

In the meantime, I know I said I wouldn't talk about issues here, but screw it. Hooray for Iowa and Vermont!

Personally, I think we ought to start a counter-counter movement to promote gay marriage. Here's the plan: we openly marry gay people of the opposite sex just to get the benefits. And we make sure everybody knows that's exactly what we're doing. Then let's see if the far right is still so attached to their precious and exclusive institution. Nothing illegal about it, as far as I know. But then, I'm too lazy to check.

Now, I need to pick up my fabulous daughter from a fabulous Passover seder. Good Pesach, everyone, and good night!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What the hell was I thinking...

...starting up a blog during the last week of a legislative session?????


Here are some observations about the political process:

1.Conservatives say “brouhaha.” Progressives say “kerfuffle.”

2.The legislature is a strange combination of kubuki theater and WWE wrestling. Thanks, John, for the kubuki part.

3.Most politicians will do the right thing if it doesn't hurt their self-interests.

4.A few politicians will do the right thing even if it does.

5.There are heroes on capitol hill. See number 4 above.

6.There are other heroes on capitol hill: the folks who lobby for free just because they're passionate about their cause. Many of them are there every day, and some have to take the bus to get there. They are the bright lights of democracy.

7.The rotunda on a busy day is a medieval fair complete with jugglers.

8.Legislators are incredibly inefficient, which may be why they think government can't do anything right.

9.Having a committee chairperson know you by your first name is sort of seductive.

10.The press is sometimes as confused as I am.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Subversive Librarian is back: Older, a bit more ragged, and hopefully a little wiser.

I failed. I was supposed to be a writer. I was just as tortured as Hemingway, but instead of writing a novel, I wrote 1,500 resumes. And then I completely self-destructed. All without ever taking a drink or a drug. Crash. Burn. Boom.

No, not boom. It was much quieter, like that sound-absorbing silence in the aftermath of Mount St. Helens. My soul was just . . . gone. And let me tell you, that is not a fun place to be. It got really, really bad.

The details are dreary. Suffice it to say that I lost everything – material and spiritual. I was unemployable. I lost my car, my health, my kid, my music, and my friends. I even lost little luxuries like indoor plumbing. The only thing I gained was weight. 120 pounds of it, to be exact.

It was either die, drink, or start getting my act together. My preference was to die or drink (not necessarily in that order), but somehow I started getting my act together just a little. I recommitted myself to sobriety and, at long last, I started putting it first. I made 90 meetings in 90 days. I started losing weight. I left my relationship and got my kid back. I was lucky enough to get a “getting sober” job (read “barista”). Realizing that this was probably my last chance to redeem myself, I worked my ass off. And somehow, not too long after that, I was invited to interview for this great government position.

In my new life, I work for a state government agency as a policy analyst and legislative liaison. I'm not going to tell you where, exactly, and I'm not going to talk specifics when it comes to my job. Why? For one thing, I like my job. I'd like to keep it. For another, I think my agency does really important work and I don't want to do anything that could compromise it.

So... I'm afraid I can't tell you which Important Person reminds me of an uncircumcised penis. (oh, I am sooooo not going to tell you that!).

As a public employee, I have to stay away from controversy, so I can't talk much about specific political issues either. What I will talk about sometimes is the process of lawmaking, which is really very strange. And I'll talk about the cast of characters, which is probably the same everywhere. 'Cause let me tell you, they are, um, interesting.

I also think it would be fun to do some interviews. With oh, I don't know, somebody. That's where you come in. Got an idea?

I'm not proud. I'll interview anybody. Tire salesmen. Vegans. A random postal carrier. Your Aunt Betsy's bikini waxer. If someone's feeling a need for 15 minutes of fame, or has an interesting event coming up, lemme at 'em. Hey, it's exposure for these people. One day I had seven readers. In a single day! Man, you can't buy that kind of publicity.

You know who I really want to interview? The Sham-Wow guy. Talk about fabulously creepy carnival barker-ness! I bet he's got a British accent in real life.

If you know the Sham-Wow guy, I want to be your friend. I mean that.

But even if I can't get him, I'm serious about the interviews. Everybody's got a story. Let me tell yours. And then I'll add in whatever the hell I feel like, because I can. An essay on personal responsibility and why it wasn't my fault. Morning agricultural reports. Weiner-dog haiku. Mr. T.

All right, people. Lets get to work.