Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa Gets a Makeover

Santa is being rebranded, thanks to the very clever folks at Quietroom, a consulting firm in the UK. Here's the brand book that lays it out (look for the link after the jump). Worth the read. Seriously. Well, okay, not so serious. h/t to
Read the whole Santa Brand Book

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

one pink feather

It was all that remained from Friday's celebration: a small feather, shed from a long, pink boa. I watched the feather lift and lilt as people walked by.  It was there yesterday, too, in the same place, in the middle of the circle. I had forgotten to pick it up then, but I would remember today. The feather was important.

The boa had been part of a kitschy ensemble given to the birthday girl, along with a jeweled, silver plastic tiara and a pink battery-operated magic wand - the stuff of childhood pageantry. A friend had presented it to the celebrant, who wore it proudly throughout the meeting.  Every now and then, she would solemnly point the wand at someone in approval, and the wand would obediently blink and flash and make proper magical sounds.

The birthday girl: One year clean and sober, at last. It had taken much longer than a year, as it often does. I admired her grit but I confess I had wondered if she would pull it off. Fortunately she had her own higher power on which to rely, so my opinion was irrelevant. 

She was a star. No, that's not quite right. She was a Star, capitalized, and well-deserved, too. Bigger than life, brash and brilliant, with a quick wit and a delicious sense of humor. And although she had surrendered an illustrious, high-profile career to drugs and alcohol, she carried herself elegantly, dressed always in the extravagant designer clothes she hadn't yet had to sell in order to survive.

Some of us felt that she needed to dial it down. Way, way down. We told her she should stop wearing the fancy jewelry, and trade in the patent leather spike heels for sensible bus-riding shoes more suitable to her current social station.  She tried to conform, and then she didn't. 

Finally, she found a sponsor who understood what we hadn't: Yes, she needed to get humble. But true humility means making peace with every part of yourself, even the parts that are most glorious.  We had missed the point entirely: we thought she needed to learn that she wasn’t “all that.” Instead, she needed to learn that she's all that and more. And the lesson would come only after forgiving herself for all the missed opportunities. Once she could forgive, she would be able to tap the vast wealth of talent and experience that was still safe and sound within her, albeit a little roughed up.

The meeting discussion ended, and  I watched as the celebrant and her sponsor stood up. Beaming, he presented her with the one-year chip. As she sat down to wild applause, I thought of Marianne Williamson’s oft-quoted words:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure… We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. … We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
 We circled up to say the Serenity Prayer at the end of the meeting, and then we all broke into a lusty chorus of “Happy Birthday.” I sang, and I watched that single pink feather float to the floor.

Monday, November 29, 2010

On Domestic Violence

Thursday wasn’t just Thanksgiving. It also marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It’s fitting that the two should coincide, given the stress often associated with the holiday season. In many homes, this is the most dangerous time of the year.

The topic is hitting a little too close to home for me today: A close friend just confided that the man he has been dating for three months threatened his life and appears to be stalking him. Sadly, perhaps tragically, my friend doesn’t see the danger. The battered spouse syndrome is alive and well.

(An aside: I understand why the international community has focused its attention on women. But of course, domestic violence is perpetrated by, and against, both men and women). 

I used to wonder whether my partner was abusive. That, as it turns out, was a red flag in itself. Fortunately, good therapists helped me sort it out, and with their help I gathered up the courage to leave those destructive relationships.  Later, as an academic librarian, I periodically selected domestic abuse as my topic for the week’s website recommendations. Those sites were among the most popular I showcased.

So, let’s talk. Is your relationship abusive?  Thank goodness we don’t have to figure it out in isolation. Here are some of the resources that I found most useful:

Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships. Great information with lots of links about both physical and emotional abuse.

Personalized Safety Plan. How to protect yourself if you are in an abusive relationship.

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship. This book isn’t specifically about abuse, but it really helped me gain some clarity.

By looking at these resources, I discovered that I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t crazy. And for me, that was the first step in healing the hurt.

I wish the same for you.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Day, Everyone!

After a fit of loneliness, irritation, embarrassment and self-loathing, which led in turn to a tangible desire to drink and use food, after which I grudgingly got my ass to a meeting and shared, followed by a long conversation with a close friend in recovery and then two episodes of Pioneers of Television, I am happy to announce that I awoke this morning clean and sober, with no regrets.

I love making up on-purpose run-on sentences. 

Anyway, the problems that led up to all that misery and mishugas are still here, and I still have no idea how to fix them. But I'm clean and sober, which gives me one more day to figure the damned thing out. Is the desire gone? Mostly, yes. Maybe a little bit no. But my plans include a meeting at our recovery club, a pot luck, an open house, and a movie-slash-sugar-free ice cream with my fabulous kid, so I am cautiously optimistic that I will get through the day still abstinent and sober.

So that's my good news.

Now for trivia.

1.  Can you name the cars in this picture?

2. Which of these Parker Posey movies takes place around Thanksgiving?
Broken English
Party Girl
The House of Yes

3. In Trains, Planes and Automobiles, Neal just wants to get home for Thanksgiving. On the bus to St. Louis, his traveling "companion" Del leads the other passengers in a sing-a-long of what TV show theme song?
The Addams Family
Green Acres
The Flintstones
The Brady Bunch

I suppose I should mention that I've never seen any of these movies and have no idea what the answers are. It's completely lifted from Buzz Trivia, where you'll find more questions and perhaps even some answers.

The turkey puzzle came from Ivan Katz at the Sports Car Examiner.

Here's to another year sober. And, I hope, to my first abstinent Thanksgiving in a long, long time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is Sarah Palin an Endangered Species?

You wouldn’t think so, after the grim election results of last week. But I hear that fundamentalists of all stripes have been known to eat their young.

Enter Bryan Fischer. Fisher is Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Policy at the American Family Association. He’s somewhere right of, uh… uh… Who’s the furthest-right person I can think of? Phyllis Schlafly? Sadie Fields? How about Fred Phelps? Anyway, Fischer is way, waaaaay on the right end of the spectrum.

Well, Fischer wants to get rid of grizzly bears. You know, the really big, fuzzy kind.  As in, “I did not steal that pick-a-nick basket, Mr. Ranger, sir!” Fischer is ready to do away with all grizzly bears because they have been known to attack people. Let’s get ‘em all, he says. Indeed, he sees something sinister in the attacks:  
God makes it clear in Scripture that deaths of people and livestock at the hands of savage beasts is a sign that the land is under a curse. The tragic thing here is that we are bringing this curse upon ourselves.
Well, yeah, we are. That’s what happens when you insist on building suburbs near grizzly habitats.  

Now, if Yogi makes a run for my kid, I’ll be the first in line to nuke him. Yogi, that is. Not the kid. Attacks from large omnivores lead to tragic results. I totally get that, and my heart goes out to the victims' families. I’m right there with Fischer when he says we should choose an individual human life above the individual life of another species when a choice is absolutely unavoidable. 

But contempt for an entire god-created species? Isn't that a little unchristian? 

Of course it is. But when you come right down to it, Fischer’s diatribe isn’t really about religion anyway. Fischer is really just pissed off that grizzlies are back on the endangered list. And while he's at it, he's pissed off at climate change activists and federal judges, too.

Whatever his motives, Sarah and her Mamma Grizzlies had better watch their Ps and Qs, or their honeypots, or something.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lazy-Ass Librarian: Everything New is Old, Eventually

If you're really ancient like me, you may remember some of this vintage computer stuff. Here's a fun collection of old computer ads, compliments of Uneasy Silence via Good.Is.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To the fucking assholes who broke into our house and stole a bunch of shit

Dear Fucking Assholes:
Thanks a whole bunch for stealing our stuff. And for breaking our window. We will certainly miss our televisions and computers. I know we were lucky to have them as long as we did. And it is just stuff, after all. And no animals were hurt.
I do wonder why you stripped the bed and took the sheets and mattress pad. Not to mention the sheet on the couch. It all needed to be washed anyway. Perhaps you're allergic to pet hair. I'd like to think so.
Anyway, I hope that you both got big~ass hernias from carrying the big tv and the desktop computers. Yeah. One of those really bad hernias. And I hope you dropped all our shit on your toes.
Oh, and by the way, you know my kid, whose art and college admission essays were on the computer you stole? And whose Nintendo you took? She hopes you both get crabs.
So anyway, thanks for just totally making our day, you stupid fucks.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kiddo!

Today is my kid's eighteenth birthday, and my thoughts are racing. What have I forgotten to teach her? What haven’t I said that I need to say?   
     It's like leaving for a year-long vacation and wondering if you left the coffee pot on. 
(Sigh… Okay, for you younger readers, there was a time when coffee pots didn't have an automatic shut-off) 
For the moment, the most important thing to say comes straight from the movies: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.  I saw this movie with my parents when they were still married. 
     No doubt you already know the theme – interracial marriage – and it was pretty darned controversial in 1967.
     At one point, Mr. Prentice (played by Roy Glenn) and his son John (Sidney Poitier) argue. Mr. Prentice, who is a mail carrier, angrily talks about his sacrifices for his son, but John sets him straight: 
MR. PRENTICE: … I worked my ass off to get the money to buy you all the chances you had! You know how far I carried that bag in (all those) years? 
JOHN PRENTICE: You tell me what rights I've got or haven't got, and what I owe to you for what you've done for me. Let me tell you something. I owe you nothing! If you carried that bag a million miles, you did what you're supposed to do! Because you brought me into this world. And from that day you owed me everything you could ever do for me like I will owe my son if I ever have another. But you don't own me! 
     My mother wasn't one to talk over movies, but at that point I clearly heard her say, “Amen!” 
I took it to heart, and I tried to raise my daughter accordingly (with some major fails, I'm afraid). Last week I remembered to pass the message on to her expressly. So I can mark that one off the list.
     But I'm still pretty sure I left the coffee pot on. And the iron. And did anybody get the cat out of the closet? God, I think I left the door unlocked ... Jesus, I need to make a list.
     Happy birthday, sweet pea. I am so very, very grateful to be your mom.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In Praise of HIV Negative Gay Men!

Mark King ( posted a lovely video giving kudos to gay men who have managed to stay HIV-negative. He wants people to share the video, and I'm happy to do so here. I would like to extend the praise to any sexually active person who has remained negative. 

Mark's timing is pretty much perfect, because it ties in nicely to something else I want to share: Graphic Intervention: 25 Years of International AIDS Awareness Posters.  It's a nice exhibit -- 153 posters, most with translation and commentary.

I Take One Everywhere I Take My Penis / USA 1993

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Arrrrgggghhhh!! No time to write!

... and people are starting to complain (talk about a high-quality problem!).

For the moment, I'll just have to serve up Maureen Dowd's latest column. She's one of my favorites, and today she's got a movie review along with scary politics.

Monday, October 04, 2010

It really, really does get better.

Following the tragic death of Tyler Clementi and too many others, I'm proud to plug the It Gets Better Project, a grass-roots effort to support GLBTQ kids victimized by bullying and bigotry. The videos produced as part of this project can reassure struggling teens that they really can survive high school and go on to have wonderful, amazing lives, if they'll just stick it out a while longer. These videos have been made by people just like you. I hope you'll consider making one of your own -- it's as easy as telling your story. Your unique voice may be just the one a kid needs to hear to make it through the day.

Here's a great example from Mark King and his brother Dick.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Lazy-Ass Librarian Friday: The Sinister and the Sublime

Today, I'm kinda torn between happy and evil. Or maybe children and machines. Or maybe old and new. Or maybe, oh, just whatever. Fact is, I love both of these and I'm posting them together even though they have nothing to do with one another. Compliments of the fabulous

First, the sinister, and you really have to watch a video or two to get the full effect: Seven Creepy Robots with Useful Applications

And now, the sublime:  The Nine Best Sesame Street Guest Appearances

Ah, the world is a splendid and remarkable place. Happy Friday, everyone!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Subversive Librarian's Rules of Civil Engagement

Gee whiz, people. The level of discourse on some blogs has gotten alarmingly low. It's mean, nasty, and very often devoid of logic or relevance.

But hooray, help has arrived! I present to you my four (so far) rules of civil engagement, complete with links to examples. You'll see that most examples are from Cynthia Tucker's blog at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Tucker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning  journalist who, for some reason, seems to bring out the worst in people. It's a goldmine if you're looking for obnoxious responses.

Here are my rules (so far): 

1. Making up names for people ("Obozo"), organizations ("Rethuglicans"), and philosophies ("Libtards") doesn't show that you're clever. On the contrary, it tells us your debate skills are severely limited, and name-calling is the best you could do. Exceptions: "The Bush" and "wingnut" are okay because, well, I happen to like them. And anyway, it's my blog. So there.

2. Sweeping generalizations, often accompanied by words such as "never" and "everybody knows," are a pretty good indication that the writer doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

3. If you are constantly accusing someone of race-baiting, chances are excellent that it's YOU.

4. Making judgments about a person's looks, or about someone's masculinity or femininity, doesn't make you smart. It just makes you an asshole. Even if you're making fun of Ann Coulter.

Got a rule of your own? Feel free to add it below. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lazy-Ass Librarian Thursday: Way Trippy Old Band-Aid Commercial (1959)


In which the Subversive Librarian inches toward armistice...

It's been a long one, this lonely, futile little war against my body. Fifty years, and then some.

I’ve been at odds with it since I was a baby. When I was two, and I sucked on my thumb, I would rub the top of my nose with my index finger until I bled; so in my toddler pictures I've got a bright-colored bandage stretched across my nose. One day it might be navy blue with white stars; the next, perhaps, a red one instead.

But that was just the opening skirmish. As I grew up and grew older, the battles got fiercer and the stakes got higher. I never allowed myself to contemplate surrender, not for a second. My body was my adversary, my tormentor. My body was, I thought, the perfect mirror image of my soul, advertising to the world everything I couldn’t bear to face in myself. It betrayed me again and again, revealing what I thought was my true essence: ugly and useless, fat and incompetent and hopelessly clumsy.

And truly, some of this is grounded in fact. I am unathletic in the extreme. No matter how long or how hard I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to do a single chin-up, or get on a horse by myself, or climb gracefully onto a stool, or look even marginally decent when I dance. No matter what my weight, nothing physical comes naturally to me.

Sometimes, when I watch a dancer lose himself in his art, or I see a skier traversing in the crisp sunshine, or I watch a kid run down a soccer field, I try to imagine what it must be like to be one with my body, to take joy in it, to just let it fly. That freedom has always eluded me, except in my imagination and the rare fleeting moment.

So I've spent more than half a century trying to figure out what to do with this foreign body. I've ignored it, neglected it, stuffed it, and starved it. I've binged on food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, spending, television, and most of all, an endless stream of self-loathing. I’ve denied it baths and clean clothes and routine hygiene. I’ve picked at my face like a crystal meth addict. Hell, I haven’t flossed since I left my kid’s father. At some level of my subconscious, it must seem a fitting punishment for breaking up our family.

The physical scars from these quiet campaigns are now permanent and disfiguring. The human body can take a lot, but there comes a time when it just can't bounce back any more. Skin stops unstretching, scars stop disappearing, and you realize – too late – that you probably should have taken better care of this creaky old vessel when you had the chance.

Now there are consequences. The kind of consequences you have to explain to new lovers. The kind that make you wonder if there's any point in trying to salvage this sorry-ass wreck.

"We have ceased fighting anything or anyone." Yes, yes, I know. Acceptance is the answer. It’s been drummed into me by my mother, my sponsors, my friends, even by a voice coach: I need to embrace my body, just as it is. Then, and only then, can we make progress together.

Well, okay. After all, we’re going to be roommates for a while longer, this alien and I. So it might behoove us to try to reach some sort of peace accord.

I suppose, then, a hat tip to my body is in order: My body may not be elegant, but generally speaking, it’s gotten me where I needed to go. When I’ve taken care of it, it’s taken pretty good care of me. It has responded to proper care. It helped me figure out that I’m gay. And most of all, it granted me my greatest, sweetest wish: to become a mother. It did that very well indeed, and because of it, I believe in miracles. These are not things to take for granted.

So I will begrudgingly act as if I am grateful for every one of my physical attributes. I will act as if I view my body not an adversary but as an important part of this experience called life.

Someday, maybe I’ll really believe that my body is of god, and I’ll be able to love it just as it is. I’m not there yet. But because I am flat-out exhausted from waging this loser of a war, it’s time for me to surrender.

So today, I will floss. Tomorrow, too. And perhaps the day after that, I will dance.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Where the Hell is my Country?

I am lost, and I am searching for my beloved United States of America. You know,
the one that believes in freedom of, and from, religion. The one where
traditional family values include compassion and charity. The one with the big
harbor, and Lady Liberty, and the inspirational words of Emma Lazarus.

We have lost our way as a people. That much seems clear. What is not at all
clear is whether we will find our way back to our core values without great
social upheaval or, perhaps, something much worse.

From history we know that silence in the face of bigotry and injustice equals
complicity. Therefore, I believe that as an American patriot it is my obligation
to speak out now. I realize I have only a few readers, but that doesn't diminish
my responsibility.

So, to anyone who may be listening (and I sincerely hope someone is), I make the
following declaration:

I, Lynne Rhys, for whatever it may be worth, condemn the planned burning of the
Koran. I would similarly condemn the burning of Christian Bibles, Torahs, or any
other sacred writings.

I support the construction of an Islamic community center two blocks from Ground
Zero, whether or not it includes accommodations for other faiths. I respect
Islam just as I try to respect other faiths, because I believe that there are
many paths to Truth.

I am proud to call Barack Hussein Obama my President. I believe him to be a good
Christian, but it would make no difference to me if he were a good Muslim. Or,
for that matter, an atheist.

I am Jewish, and I believe both Israelis and Palestinians have frequently
engaged in human rights violations. I support a two-state solution in the Middle

I condemn the use of violence for political ends, whether by (or against) Jews,
Muslims, Christians, Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, or Keebler elves.

I am not afraid of immigrants or foreigners. Although I believe we need to
secure our borders, I support compassionate treatment of people who are
currently in the U.S. illegally.

As a white American, I do not fear people of color. I am not frightened of the
prospect of being in the minority. Regardless of our demographic makeup, we will
still be people first, and Americans second.

I am not afraid of Republicans, Democrats, socialists, communists, Libertarians,
or Marxists per se. I am not afraid of gays, lesbians, or the transgendered. I
am not afraid of pagans or witches or Catholics or Southern Baptists.

In fact, about the only people I fear are those who believe there is an "us" and
a "them." Even they only have the power that we, as a society, give them.
Unfortunately, we have given them a great deal.

I hope people who agree with me will leave comments to that effect. I also hope
people will feel free to pass this post on to someone else.

But in any event, I stand by these words even if I must stand alone.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Lazy-Ass Librarian Thursday: I wish I'd written that.

Well, not so much lazy as frantically busy. At any rate, I wanted to share this very clever comment posted on Jim Galloway's Political Insider a few days back. Here's the link to it, but I can't resist posting it here as well. The comment, by the way, is a response to news that the population is no longer growing all that fast in our fair state.

August 26th, 2010
6:39 pm

No one wants to come here anymore because the agenda the republicans have put forth is incomplete. People will be flocking here once Republicans finish the job.

1. We have the microchip implant ban, but it does not go far enough. We need a strong bill that rids us of the Georgia Power Smart Meters that are secretly sending all our internet habits off to Washington. These Smart Meters are also transmitting our phone calls to Nancy Pelosi. Obamacare knows if you look up analwarts. These new meters must be banned.

2. Who would want to move here if you can’t bring a gun to church? Legislative action is needed now to bring this much needed security into our sanctuaries of worship.

3. Abortion Billboard Act must be enacted now. Any woman that wants an abortion should be forced to rent a billboard with a picture of the fetus prominently displayed on a major highway or freeway before being allowed to go through with the procedure.

4. We need to schedule anti gay votes for the next 10 years. Anti gay propaganda should not be limited to the Republican governor primary season every four years. This is a family values state.

5. Lets get rid of the Mexicans. And Muslims too. We’ll show our tolerance by letting the Catholics stay. (However, caution must be used with the Episcopalians.)

If we stay on track we will be welcoming thousands of new residents yearly. God Bless.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"This is our lives we're talking about..."

I think the emotion that surprised me the most tonight was anger, but it was just one of many I felt concurrently. Combined, all those feelings seemed seductively familiar, like climbing into bed under a deliciously warm electric blanket on a cold night. Why I find comfort in this weird mix of sadness, anger, and envy, I'm not sure. But comforting it is, even if I'm at a loss to understand it.

So. Just what is the "proper" mood, I wonder, when you hear about the death of an ex-sponsee from a drug overdose at the same meeting where you're celebrating a sponsee's one-year birthday?

The discussion leader and chairperson mentioned John's death. When I shared, I mentioned that I had once sponsored someone named John and I'd check after the meeting to see if it was him. But they told me then and there, during my share, that yes, it's the same guy. It made for an interesting moment, I suppose. I don't remember much about the rest of the meeting.

Afterwards, I had to leave right away to pick up my kid so I was unable to get the details. For all I know, John could have died today or five years ago. I hadn't seen him in years.

I was John's first sponsor, way back when, and he made it to nine months. Then, about the time I started to fuck up my life, he started slipping away from the rooms. John had an impressive resume and was eager to be somebody once again now that he had his shit together. I had no luck whatsoever convincing him to be "just John" for a while instead. Eventually he got another sponsor (by then I was in no shape to sponsor anyone). I saw him maybe three times after that. And then no more.

My kid and I called him "Sailor John" because of a shirt he wore when we all went to a movie one time. She still remembers him fondly, even though she was only about eight or nine years old when she saw him last. A politician and activist at one time, he was friendly and easy to talk to.

They say the program isn't for people who need it, it's for people who want it. But I've seen lots of people who want it desperately and still can't stay sober. John was one of them.

Recently I heard someone say that this program is not for people who need it or for people who want it. It's for people who do it.  That, it seems to me, is more accurate.

But this post isn't about John. It's about me, and those old familiar feelings. I felt the same thing when one of my students committed suicide. I felt it again when my sponsor went back out. Both times it lasted for weeks. Sadness. Anger. Envy. All combining into a morbidly alchemical desire to jump in there with them.

In other words, triggered. 

I recognize the trigger now, and hopefully that will lessen its power. In the meantime, though, my disease is "doing pushups" in the back room, and it's working on concocting a new trigger that I won't recognize.

The fact is, I haven't been doing the program lately. Plenty of service work, yes, but not a lot of recovery. I haven't been calling anybody. I've been too busy to get to enough meetings. I stayed safely in the middle of the bed for a long time, but lately I've been wandering over to the edge now and then to peek over.

So with news of John's death, I see that now it's time to make a choice: do I keep loitering near the edge of the bed?  Or do I scramble back into the middle where it's safe, where my sponsee and I can properly, joyously celebrate an entire year of continuous sobriety?

This is, after all, our lives we're talking about.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Way of Living, Meet the Wreckage of My Past.

They say the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. With that in mind, it was a completely rational, utterly sound decision. It was probably even compassionate. Surely it left everyone, even me, feeling some relief after the fact. Still, it was hard to hear the words: We don’t want you. Not now. Not later.

I am thriving in my new life, but that doesn’t make me any less possessive of the old one. I have kept it carefully wrapped in tissue paper and tucked away like I might keep a lacy blouse that no longer fits. I don’t want it back - not really. I keep it "just in case," so I'll have the illusion of control. Every once in a while, I’ll take it out of the drawer and try it on, as I did this week. And every time, it fits worse and itches more than the time before. Still, I ignore the obvious.

But it turns out that the wreckage of my past has a very long shelf life. So just about the time I think, “Gee, I’ve really left all that meshugas behind me; maybe I can get some of that old stuff back,” I’m reminded – rather abruptly -- that many people still only know me as a crazy, undependable mess with a graduate degree in self-sabotage. I can protest all I want that I'm not like that anymore, and most of the time I'm not, but here’s the real truth: Given the wrong set of circumstances, I’m still capable of being exactly like that. And it’s obvious even to me that this would have been the wrong set of circumstances. 

So here’s what I know, and I suppose I should give myself some credit: I prepared thoroughly. I did the footwork, and then some. I returned telephone calls. I was ready to show up, even though I knew this particular effort was probably doomed. I behaved with a modicum of grace. I prayed. In short, I acted like the person I strive to be. Only, it didn’t work out the way I wanted.

Today God did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.  Apparently there's a surprise in store.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Busy-Ass Librarian Thursday: Hooray for California!

Well, by now you've heard the good news: a federal district court in California ruled that Proposition 8, which prevented gay couples from marrying, was struck down yesterday.

I was going to give you a fabulously cogent layman's analysis of the decision itself, but the damn thing is 136 pages long and I just don't have the time to read it right now. So instead, here's a link to a good article that will provide you with the lay of the land, brought to you by Scott Graham at The Recorder, a California legal newspaper.And here's the court's website for the case, with links to the evidence, opinions, and a lot of other nifty stuff. And the Wikipedia article.

It appears that the judge went much further (farther?) than he needed to go, which is great news for the gay community. It looks like the judge made extensive findings of fact that will, if accepted by other courts (a big if), will help us a great deal as we move forward in pursuit of equal rights.

As you celebrate, though, keep in mind the following: First, although it is a federal opinion, it is not binding anywhere except in the Northern District of California. It does not mean you can now get married in a red state! 

Second, it's gonna be awhile. This case will surely be appealed, preliminary injunctions will be sought, blah blah blah. It's what lawyers do. Plus it's gotta wind its way through the court system: first, the flurry of motions, then on to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which may send it back down for some reason or another. And so on, and so on. It could well be years before the Supreme Court gets its hands on it.

So celebrate! And then, let's all get back to work.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

So, I'm an attention whore...

Today I am celebrating 29 years clean and sober. I've posted it on Facebook, I'm posting it here, and I'm gonna pick up chips at every meeting I go to this week. So there!

On the other hand, I'm also celebrating a whopping 19 DAYS of abstinence from destructive eating. Truth is, that's been just as hard. Actually, it's been harder.

I'm really glad I get to be a newcomer in one recovery program while I'm an old-timer in the other. It's a little harder (though by no means impossible) to be a "bleeding deacon" when I'm struggling hard just to get a 30-day chip - for the first time ever - in the other room.

(a few weeks ago, I was on the phone with a very nice but slightly condescending woman who was trying to teach me about the traditions. After I hung up, I found myself saying, out loud, "So how long have YOU been sober, you bitch?" Not exactly elder statesman material!)

My addiction to food - which has taken me pretty much all the way to the bottom - also reminds me of what awaits me if I decide that drinking or using is a good idea. and conversely, my sobriety gives me hope that long-term abstinence is possible.

The fact is, no matter what the addiction, I only get a daily reprieve at best. So what if yesterday I single-handedly saved 56 drunks and jumped over 103 treatment centers in a single bound? It's what I do today that will decide whether I'm still clean and sober when I wake up tomorrow morning.

The bottom line for me is this: Whether I'm working on 30 days abstinent or 30 years clean and sober, the prescription is the same: I must put my recovery first, not just when it's convenient, but all the time, every day. And I must also remember that in both cases, the odds are definitely against me, So I must never take for granted even small bits of relief I receive.

(This inspirational message is available on CD for use at churches, synagogues, mosques, wiccan rituals. and tupperware parties for the low low cost of $500 per use.. All rights reserved.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lazy-Ass Librarian Tuesday: For All You New Lawyers!

And you thought this day would never arrive!

Happy First-Day-of-the-Bar-Exam Day! In honor of your brand-new career, here's a video of what happens when practicing attorneys dine together. Be sure to watch it full screen. It's lots more fun that way.

Better you than me, Bub.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

AIDS2010 in Vienna, with Puppets and Everything!

I'm happy to link to Day Two coverage of the AIDS2010 international conference in Vienna, where my friend Mark King is a correspondent for In this video, Mark explores HIV/AIDS and youth programs. A particular delight is his interview with teenage activists from around the world. If these kids are any indication, our future is in very good hands.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Food. An Encore.

Waaaaaay back in October, I posted about where food addiction has taken me. It was a little on the graphic side, so I won't put you through it again. Suffice it to say that, for me, losing weight isn't just about trying to cross my legs gracefully, or finding a lower-fat recipe for bean dip. It's about full-blown, low-bottom, chronic-relapsing, life-threatening addiction in the most serious sense of the word.
I'm not trying to be terminally unique here; I'm stating a fact. At my heaviest I was five-feet-nothing and 245 pounds. So I'm not your average gosh-she-could-stand-to-lose-maybe-twenty-pounds kind of girl.

I'm 55 pounds down from that awful place, but I've been losing and gaining the same five pounds for months now, because I haven't been able to stop eating destructively.

I suppose super-sized addictions call for the big artillery (Wow. Talk about a mixed metaphor. Or simile. Or something). So here's what I'm doing:


I was just about to tell you about how now I'm willing to go to any lengths, and how I'm taking all this fabulous action, and how this time it's gonna be different, really it is!, and how the next time you see me you won't even recognize me because I'm never going to eat a trigger food ever, ever, ever again.

But let's face it: The chances of that are, oh, I don't know, some infinitessimally small number barely above zero, out of maybe a bazillion.

Personally, I'm sick of the whole stupid thing. And I'm fairly sure my inner circle is pretty sick of hearing about it too. As, perhaps, are you.

But considering the grim alternative, I'm gonna have to bank on those odds, deal with it one more time. and hope for deliverance. Just for today.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You and Your FUD: Ladies, Submit No More!

In the late 60's and early 70's, I thought feminists were a bunch of bra-burning nut jobs. Then I became one myself... Well, okay, except for the braless part.

(It's all my cousin Jeanne's fault. That godless heathen taught me that her sons were perfectly capable of making their own dinner. And then she told me that sex is fun. That's just the kind of subversive shit that still undermines American family values today.)

I've heard the usual theories about how Western culture got to be so patriarchal. You know, like, because women get pregnant, and we have less upper body strength so we're vulnerable to physical threats from men. And, well, you know, because God said so. Or so they say.

Well, those theories are all just a lot of crap. We live in a patriarchal society for one reason, and one reason alone: Men can pee standing up.

Think about it, gentlemen: you're so much more mobile. Whip it out, do your thing, shake it off a little, shove it back in, and you're good to go. You're out there skinning your second woolly mammoth while we're still pulling down our pantyhose.

I became particularly sensitive to this disadvantage when I was down on the farm, with nothing but mud for plumbing (that is, until we built a sawdust toilet out of a five-gallon paint can and a toilet seat, but that's a tale for another day).

Well, squatting in a field of mud at 3 a.m. in the middle of a thunderstorm gets really tiresome after a while. I began to get penis envy.

So one day I Googled "women" and "pee standing up." And what did I find? Just the end of patriarchy, that's all! Directions on how to pee standing up if you're of the female persuasion. And even a little gadget you can buy if you're not so good at following directions.

(That was also the summer I tried to learn how to juggle. I still can't do that, either.)

At any rate, for some unknown reason, I repeated the Google search today. And boy, have we come a long way, baby! Now there's a wiki article on how to pee standing up. And lots and lots of gizmos to try, if you're luckless au natural. There's even a name for them: FUDs, or Female Urination Devices. The minute I saw all those products I knew I had my blog post for the day. I'm pleased to present them to you now.

First, there's the P-Mate. This handy little thingamajig is covered with a four-leaf clover design because it's "good luck to have one with you when you are in need." For your convenience, they come in packs of five.

Next up is the GoGirl. Billed as "the way to stand up to crowded, disgusting, distant or non-existent bathrooms," the GoGirl is a little funnel made out of silicone. Please note: There is a right way and a wrong way to hold your GoGirl.

Then there's the Whizzy. I can't tell much from the picture. Fortunately, there is a section on "How to use your Whizzy." I bet their sales rep can't say that with a straight face.

Next, we have the Shewee. Cute, huh? Frankly, it looks a lot like the GoGirl to me. But it comes in different colors and there's all kinds of ways to accessorize. Note, however, that the Shewee hand model is holding it wrong!

But I think the prize (for size, if not for originality) has to go to the Shenis.


I can't even think of anything to say about the Shenis. Except to note that it also comes in black, and that one is even bigger. Ha ha ha.

To complete your ensemble they also sell She-Nutz. Perfect as a keychain. Or earrings. 

And I'm pretty sure my head just exploded.