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.