Tuesday, December 23, 2008
1. As a Californian, you likely need to learn to appreciate the "zipper" in highway on-ramp merges. No time like the gridlock holidays to reflect on this before you get in your automobile again.
2. George Michael's "Last Christmas" should no longer be getting air play. I should not even have to say that.
3. I will slap your hand if you give money to that nice old lady ringing the Salvation Army bell. That organization is ferociously anti-gay.
4. Okay fine. That's about it. I guess the merriment is infecting my spirit.
But hey, I'm serious. Merging should not be bloodsport. Think about this and make my world a merrier place in the new year. Thank you and remember: every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not.
Now I'm going to go drink your cider and read A Christmas Carol. Bah humbug!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Everyone is busy during the holiday season, but I can't help thinking it's all the more appropriate during the holidays to make time when a community is left out in the cold. President-elect Obama has invited Rick Warren, a vocal opponent of gay and lesbian rights, to give the invocation at his inauguration.
President-elect Obama is sending the wrong message. He is validating an individual who supports the elimination of a minority's civil rights in this country. Plain and simple. So. You can remind your president-elect of this in at least two ways.
2. Attend a "Light Up the Night" gathering. After all, both Harvey Milk and Barack Obama ran on a platform of hope and hope is not just about dreams, but their fulfillment for everyone.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
My relationship with the San Francisco Chronicle is solid. I have subscribed to it, written for it, and most recently been mistaken for an Elizabeth A. Kennedy from the AP who has written for it. But familiarity does not equate to forgiveness. My dear Chronicle copydesk clerk, please note the below screenshot and revisit the word "glossary," if you would.
That's all. Thank you.
the original Elizabeth A. Kennedy
Monday, December 01, 2008
LEO (Jul 23 - Aug 22)
When he's in his prime, a male panda performs an average of eight handstands a day. There's no apparent evolutionary purpose in this stunt. He does it because it feels good. I suggest you make him your role model in the coming week, Leo. Identify three activities you can do not because they're "good for you" or because they'll advance some goal you're pursuing, but simply for the sheer fun of it. If you can't think of any play-time endeavors that fit this description, do the meditation and research necessary to find some. Whatever deeds you ultimately settle on, do them at least eight times a day. (P.S. Do you know how to do cartwheels?)
Have you too been granted permission to stand on your hands? Find out.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Because we're a 501(c)3, we may not be able to openly support political causes (though I can think of a church that managed to get around that), but at the very least, our founders have said they're open to the request for half-time pay for anyone who does volunteer work on December 10th, Day Without a Gay. While I have yet to get what I'd consider a firm commitment, I thought I'd post this letter for you in the event any of you want to take the prime moment to deliver a note to your own executive decision-maker. There could not be a better time to give them a worthy cause to deliberate over than when they're gathered in the warm circle of their recognized families--wives, husbands, kids, and all the loved ones.
Don't know about this important day for Marriage Equality or community action of any stripe? Well read below and the letter will fill you in. Like I said, borrow what you will to send this to your higher-ups. You never know until you ask.
As you know, Proposition 8 passed and as a result, a ban against same-sex marriage was written into our state constitution. I've been very involved in the campaign for Marriage Equality and want to inform you of an important event coming up. It's called Day Without a Gay, December 10th.
This "call-in-sick" day is a call to do local, community-based volunteering of any kind on December 10th, not just for Marriage Equality, but for anything--soup kitchens, hospice, animal shelters, whatever cause one wants to support. This call for community action therefore is not just for those who care about gay rights, but also those interested in making our local community a better, more peaceful place to live. This of course, along with the protection of civil rights for all Bay Area residents, is a matter of great importance to so many of our authors, as well as our staff and comrades out in the world.
I'm proposing that (our company), as a way to visibly take a stand and modestly support our non-profit goals, offer half-time pay for any employee who takes the day or part of it and shows proof of having done volunteer work that day in the community.
Thanks so much and I hope you are well on your way to a relaxing holiday with your family,
Saturday, November 22, 2008
and destuff unsuspecting fluffy toys. Bliss.
I cherish my parents in ways that are humbling.
And I admire how their lives exhibit their virtue and values.
I'm glad for my health, such as it is, breathtakingly free of guarantees.
I'm thankful for all the writing I've gotten to do these last years. I'm amazed by the way it's taught me discipline, bit by bit, so much so that a story collection now has a project plan. I'm thankful how much things just continue to look up and even in the spells when they don't, I've still got it pretty damn good if I just pay attention.
I appreciate all the dogs I've met through the volunteer work I do, how forgiving they've been after being beaten, fought, neglected, abused, and disregarded. I learn the most important lessons of my life from them.
I'm thankful to have a yard to share with my dog--15/16th of it hers, the rest of it mine for the garden. I'm so glad to be able to bring baby onions and chard to the table for our Thanksgiving dinner. Everything is looking hearty, despite the subterranean tunnels the jays seem intent on digging to get to the happy, fat worms. Carrots and potatoes are snoozing away underground, not a peep yet. Likewise shallots, garlic, radishes. Here's the cast of characters making a radiant appearance this season.
but they're finding their way.
that I nearly pulled it all, but I'm glad I let it go.
It's the happiest plant in the garden.
Recommended gardening playlist:
The Littlest Birds, The Be Good Tanyas
Look At Miss Ohio, Gillian Welch
As Is, Ani DiFranco
Cold Water, Damien Rice
Driving North, Chris Pureka
Day is Done, nick drake
Everything Has Changed, William Fitzsimmons
My First Lover, Gillian Welch
Life within a life, Jesca Hoop
Because We Do, The Ditty Bops
Timbindy, Ali Farka Toure
Cello Song, Nick Drake
At My Window Sad And Lonely, Billy Bragg & Wilco
Amie, Damien Rice
Wrecking Ball, Gillian Welch
Welcome to My Life, Melissa Ferrick
Time Has Told Me, Nick Drake
Little Plastic Castle, Ani DiFranco
Beautiful Man, Lori McKenna
Elvis Presly Blues, Gillian Welch
California Stars, Billy Bragg & Wilco
Which Will, Nick Drake
Silo Song, Chris Pureka
And of course, I thank you for reading.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Speaking of doughnuts, I just finished a story about athletic boot camps yesterday and I managed to work doughnuts into a central thematic role. The story's coming out around New Year's and I may give you a sneak peek if you (a) are nice to me and (b) smile like Barack and (c) give me doughnuts.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I marched in San Francisco on Friday, October 7th. And then I drove a whole contingent up to Sacramento that Sunday. Both rallies were peaceful, moving events that did much to foment the effort to end discrimination against the gay community. Both had significance. But this weekend, the number of people who came out just blew those events into the dust. Hundreds of American cities saw demonstrations on the steps of their city halls, the likes of which our country has not seen since the '60s. It fills me with hope for our future.
Folks showed up in Honolulu at 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday to be a part of it. People gathered in Laramie, Mobile, and Montgomery, along with those who organized solidarity gatherings in the Netherlands, Canada, and a number of other countries. What's phenomenal is that this was a relatively spontaneous national event (international, actually) and it was not sponsored by organizations--this was grassroots organization on the part of committed and resourceful individuals. People are showing up in numbers that can't be ignored, and it's generally being lauded as the tipping point we've waited and worked for. The local showing was strong in San Francisco, especially considering we also had a noteworthy presence in Oakland, Berkeley, and plenty of other Bay Area cities. Word is that San Diego had upward of 20,000 folks. Nice. The estimates stream in here.
And as I stood at San Francisco City Hall in the blazing sun to hear the Marriage Equality gals speak again, along with Tom Ammiano, the Reverend Dr. Dorsey Blake, the compassionate representatives of Mormons for Marriage, the Reverend Penny Nixon, and several more, I took heart that the tone has already begun to change. Every march increases visibility, each speaker has a little more history on her side when she steps to the podium, and all this just brings us closer to the realization of gay rights.
My conclusions after the rally: I'm less useful attacking those who fear and discriminate against their fellow citizens. I'm not going to petition to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Mormon church. I'm not going to assault communities of color for the aggregate poll results. I forgive their mistakes and move forward to make it better.
It's time just to keep up the sometimes exhausting work of fighting for fundamental civil rights for the gay constituency, day in day out. And it's my role to keep this issue out in front of my comrades for whom the demands and distractions of daily life may make this matter easy to ignore. This is not just about gay rights. The minority is not being protected from the majority and that is a failure of representation on the part of our government.
When we bandy about the word "tradition," let's remember what it is we are talking about. The American tradition is one of citizens taking our inalienable rights into our own hands, of disparate communities like Glide Memorial or The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples ministers, politicians, teachers, technicians, CS reps, dog trainers, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, everyone and anyone who is concerned with justice gathering peacefully and powerfully to protect what it is we believe in.
The turnout at these events, the way it is widening and deepening, the increase in sensitive and accurate coverage that it is receiving, and not the shaming but the exposure of hate for the remediable social malady that it is--these are all encouraging reasons that now more than ever we are responsible to keep up the campaign. I believe this burgeoning tone of optimism bodes well for our country's future; but we cannot rest and sit back, believing that after November 4th we have elected public officials to federal office who will make the right decisions on our behalf. Citizens do best when we act as watchdogs and representatives ourselves, working to uphold liberty and justice--meaning freedom, equal protection, and basic human rights--for all.
So please take note and remember that your role in this matters. You are either one more or one less. Next up is Day without a Gay (December 10th). Of course you don't have to be gay to participate; you just have to care abt civil rights.
You can read about it here: http://daywithoutagay.org/
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
"At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won’t be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black."
I'm sure we'll see even more compassionate, sensible celebs like the Divine Cloon joining the rank and file at one of the nationwide rallies in support of Marriage Equality this weekend. Want to know where you can go with your clever signs and changemaking ferocity? Check the general event blog or go directly to the location listing to find a peaceful gathering near you. It's time to show up or shut up, my friends. You want rights? Speak for yourself. Better yet, speak up for your neighbor. Who knows what may come of it ... maybe you'll even meet George out on the rally vanguard. Bonus.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
The first thing you may notice is the Castro/Lagerfield/Robert Palmer bassist juxtaposition of Posh Beckham's outfit. But me? I noticed the Krispy Kreme crowns on the left-hand side over there.
Speaking of, you get one of their glazed doughnuts-from-heaven free if you scamper over to a KK near you and show off your nifty I Voted sticker. You're welcome.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Thank you for doing your part to protect parts of speech as God intended them to be.
However, a large part of living near the bohemian love-peace-acceptance dreamzone of Berkeley, California, has also been the appeal of what many of us conversationally refer to as "the bubble." It's edifying to live in a place evolved enough that gay folks, much like persecuted interracial couples in our country's history, can show affection without fear of hostility and hate crimes, and for the most part, can live in a society that esteems equitability and respect in policy and practice.
But as the real estate market and global economic crisis have shown, bubbles obviously pop. And as I drove past a throng of cheering teenagers waving "Yes on 8" banners with the same innocent, young enthusiasm for which they probably advertise their bake sales, I felt disconsolate, just devastated. So I suppose it's time to see about mending some patches in my local bubble wall, if you will.
I am putting my money where my mouth is for once and venturing out onto the streets, the phones, wherever I'm told to go and whatever I'm told to do by the good folks behind the "No on Proposition 8" campaign working hard to defeat a proposition that would eliminate same-sex couples' established right to marry in California.
I hope, particularly for all of you--and I know many of my friends say this--who have historically said they "don't like to get political," that you'll do something, whether it is donate, volunteer, or vote, to defeat Proposition 8. It would mean a lot to me. It's not so much getting political (though I don't see that as a bad thing) as it is being just plain civil to your neighbor.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Living in the community I do forces me to decide hypothetically every day when I walk my dog to what extent I'd commit acts of aggression to protect those I love. And I then begin to ask the obvious, more abstract (to me, anyway) questions: what lines might I draw when it comes to police or military intervention in response to local battery, abuse, or endangerment, and on larger scales, civil strife and genocide. These are the most difficult questions for me to answer.
What should, by contrast, be easy to answer, is blood sport. It seems like just so much wanton violence and sadism for the glory of the ego, right? And it's silly to pay money to watch people beat on each other. But as my three-times-a-week jog got more frequent and longer and the sports more varied and taxing, I ceased to see the bright line between pleasure and pain; I'd done a number of endurance events and part of the pleasure was definitely in the power of my mind over my body, the fact that I could continue through mile 24, 25, 26 simply because I had decided that I would.
And let's face it, ring sports bring with them the floodlit spectacle of competition. When I back a competitor, I participate viscerally. And this is where we leave the hypothetical violence behind. I just bought a ticket to watch my first boxing match. Muay thai, to be specific. And it's women doing the fighting, not men. Considering one of my favorite movies--it's true; I can't help it--is Rocky, I suppose I should be less surprised just how excited I am to attend this event.
In fact, it marks a real departure from the frame of my consciousness just a few years ago--forgive what seems the non sequitur here for just a sec--when reality TV made its debut with Survivor, I dismissed it disparagingly as a new incarnation of the Roman Coliseum.
And now I find myself poised to sit in the coliseum bleachers, up for the cheering and jeering. Clearly something has changed. I could say I am attending Female Fury simply because someone I hold very dear fights with Pacific Ring Sports, one of the participating gyms. And I am supporting her passion, just like she has when I've signed on for various races. But if honesty is a virtue and we're on this hike to find our way back to that hollowed ground of virtue and grace, then I confess there is extraordinary appeal to orchestrated violence, the prospect of a thrown punch, the visceral thrill of a good kick to the head, the anticipation of the physical maneuvers that I will commit to memory and replay.
My grandfather was a boxer. He believed in a good fight. But he also believed in a good war. And a good country. All unapologetically. The hitch is, of course, by extension, he also believed in real-life heroes, villains, nations of good people, and well, those nations that the good people fought. Me, I've never enjoyed the clarity he did. I dwell in ambiguity and I think I'm pretty glad about that.
All I know is I am looking forward to this and though the sweetest, gentlest voices in my head are shrieking in dismay, I'm afraid I can't hear them over the drumbeats right now.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
In popular culture, by contrast, I'm not without appreciation for the good linguistic skillet across the face. I back shock by ostentation 100 percent. And the best example of late is Little Prince Harry, who got bored with military service and set out with his brother on an African adventure (and 80 other apparently irrelevant riders), and in his obligatory pullquote for whatever his promotional charity might be, he actually said this will not just be any old bimble.
Well heavens, no, old chap. Pukka, pukka, old lad, no bimble by far. Your motorcross will be a right lovely jubbly to be sure--so let's don't pass this off as an advert for any ordinary bimble, boys. Mercy, no, and God save the Queen.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
No, your Lasik is not doing you a disservice of pixel distortion. That's "Ex Day," as in an opportunity to ill-advisedly revisit the emotional killing fields of your failed intimacies. The way I look at it, the developer of this marketing concept deserves a raise for big-picture strategy. Think about this. Seen in the long view, the folks at 800 Flowers are losing out when 50 percent of the population is NOT getting divorced. I'm sure someone discovered that gays are getting divorced at the same rate as everyone else and just panicked. "God damn it! Something must be done. Because 50 percent marital success, well that's just too much by half!" So they had to find some way to wreck the unions. It's a massive loss of market share if half your customer base is too inured to a comfortable life with the significant other to do the little things, like buying flowers.
So why not get Margerita thinking about Burt, how lovingly he used to wax her Karmann Ghia on the weekends. Maybe just a little bouquet of stargazer lilies. What's the harm? And before you know it, Margerita will be hot on Madonna's heels toward divorce, making way for the ARods of the world to once again rejoin the ranks of puppy-loved-up flower buyers. Because it can safely be said that more divorce means more relationships and more new relationships mean more flowers. Hence the raise advocacy. Not that I condone it, but you gotta hand it to them, this corporate creation is a wiley yenta maneuver of tremendous magnitude.
You, married and partnered friends, can sabotage this. First off, we all know the return to the ex is just a mad notion. So forget that. Now. Your significant other would probably like flowers, sure. But better yet, why not forgo the flowers (take that, MBA) and instead make her dinner, like a homemade pizza? (Mmm, I love pizza.) Keep the TV off, light a room full of candles, and read something to her, for god's sake. Don't be the statistic 800 Flowers wants you to be. Be radical. Stay married. We'll admire you for it.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
We were a perfectly perfect set, when as I lie on the couch, I spied with my little eye one junior chocotankgirl named Stelladog staring at me. Not pawing, not whining, not fidgeting, not fussing, not shoving, just silently, patiently, and stolidly stare stare staring. Well I couldn't ignore that.
But I was not about to stop reading. We reached something of an impasse in our relationship right there, didn't we, dear reader? And I immediately thought of you because you are always so instrumental in helping me sort out my fascinating personal dilemmas. (You're such a good listener!)
After all, I am not one to neglect. Stella had had her walk, her training, her playtime with the two neighbor dogs Patch and Preston, who are both enamored with her, of course--who isn't? She'd been lavished with love, in other words. Heck, she'd even had a bath. I'd given her a toy. Fresh water. Peanut butter goodies. I was Mom of the Year, and Mom of the Year was going to read her book, dag blast it.
But the mutt-minded among you know that patient pup behavior needs to be rewarded if it is to continue (lest dogs get it in their heads to move onto obnoxious pawing or insipid whining tactics), so I just decided to read aloud to her. And she stood there. And eventually, she snuggled down at my feet. She was listening. I was reading. Two-for-one, my friends. I was as happy as an Angelina with her global baker's dozen. In fact, happier. With this kind of arrangement, I wondered, who even needs children?
But that "who needs children?" smuggery got me thinking. Maybe this marks the official crossing of the line, that moment that my childless friends and I recognize so well among the now-parental friends. It divides along one line: kid-free on the sane side, the now-parentals on the unthinkably generous side of selflessness. You know this trend. I venture you've seen it yourself.
It starts when the bliss-glossed parents begin to get that sleepless, cracked-out look to them, like they're half here and half-jacked on a lucid dream they've roped you into. They show up at the office or worse your house and carry around the wee alien, subtly prompting you for useless comments--my best is usually something like "Oh, look at his feet! They're so small!" This befuddled commentary is the gamey effort among the kidless to congratulate disinterestedly, to grin and bear the crying bundle until we can revert to previous discourse, perhaps discussing the effing awesomeness of our PS3 victories or the effing awfulness of the trillion dollar liability we now call our federal government, all the while intersplicing the talks with our archival knowledge of this "amazing" Oregon Shiraz being shared in unquantifiable excesses of enablement.
Parents, bless them one and all, then move into the era of narrative exposition, only fomented by technologies like Twitter or Myspace or Facebook, through which they can exclaim things like, "Marcie can't believe she drives a minivan!" or "Blake is psyched that little Merv has learned to wield baby's first nine-iron!" And so it goes that our Plimptons become Spocks, that the once-convivial raconteurs become babygated themselves, able only to expound on Junior's "hilarious" exposure of his privates on the school playground, the "adorable" kitten sounds he makes when the neighborhood stray walks by, or that "promising" profundity he dropped on you when you were talking about lightbulbs and energy conservation.
Alas, I trace back through the blogs of friends who've had kids and note with regret the changed tide--that deep, dark, and moon-dragged current of love that somehow sucks every single parent from the boat of cultural currency into the deep, narcotic abandon of parental rapture. I don't condemn it. It's charming. And understandable. And selfless. And admirable. And sure, parts of me (small, crushable, impetuous, fleeting psychological parts) envy the sense of purpose it must instill.
But I'm not here to riff on the outward appeal of family, however dangerously I skate that rink. No, no. Or am I? For you see, as megalomaniacal as I am, and I'm nothing if not that, I do have glinting moments of self-awareness, sudden recognitions of the screechy err of my own egotastic idiocy. And so here we have it. I think I owe an apology for my own analog to this cocktail-party offspring-adulation habit.
Because let's be honest. It's okay. You can tell me. You don't really care about my dog, do you? You don't really think she's all that cute. Nice coat, sure. Funny eyes. Impressive proof of motherhood on her part. And ooh, look at her little dog feet! They're so small! Yes, yes. A good dog. With much promise and a sweet-as-pineapple soul. Fine downstay. Wow, she can high-five. Awww, she listened to you read a book. Again, with feeling: wow!
But really, your praise is as obligatory as mine. You are, for example, not nearly as beguiled as I am by this "Bark Obama" photo taken by a friend on a message board I visit daily. It is tribal. I am on one side of a line, you the other. I understand.
Likewise, you do not delight in the prospect of my teaching my dog to do handstands just like BAD RAP's about-to-be-adopted Neuman Marcus.
I offer you a deep, heaving, moon-dragged sigh. What use should I make of this startling revelation? How dare you not admire the way the sun shines in my dog's eyes!
Will I post less about my dog? Maybe. Will I write more about what I said I would--books and film, food, exploits? Yes, cross my heart. But it also says dingoes up there. And if I'm going to read stories to dogs, I don't see why I can't write stories about dogs. There will always be more--and less--interesting stories to be told. And I'm realizing at a certain point, the audience will either love it or leave it and dag blast it, before I'm dead, I'ma tell the stories I want to tell.
Monday, October 13, 2008
*However,* I do try to share the good ripostes as they roll in. And this one was in response to my "Donuts and Bacon '08" post a few days back. Man, it stopped me cold, apt seeing as it would also stop blood flowing cold too with artery-blocking cholesteroid nodules. I think I have finally met a doughnut I could not love. Oy, tough even to look at them.
However, last night, we sat watching a movie. The window was open. And I smelled a fire from someone else's house. Someone had lit a fire! I stood on the couch. (Okay, I didn't, but I like the story better that way.) And I shouted (said--actually, thought), "Well if someone else is doing it, this is justification by proximity. They're cold. I am too. Let's make like Al Green and light a fire!"
Met with roll of eyes and adjustment of movie volume (up, up, up).
Just as well that I did not get my fiery wish, as it turns out the air here has had to absorb more than its share of woodsmoke these last twelve hours. This was no rosy, cozy chimney smoke, but an entire body of land ablaze a few miles away. Poring over the photos of Angel Island's massive fire this morning, I cannot help but feel that, however destructive it is to this local uninhabited state park, the conflagration is beautiful.
You are wise to the world, though, and so this is no news to you, is it? Destruction is gorgeous. Behold, my doomed brethren, the glory of Megiddo.
Donoghue, says Cokal, at her most fun is "cozily lurid." Ah yes, well who doesn't love these qualities combined? No wonder I open the sealed letter with verve!
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
I believe in you, Donuts and Bacon maker. And clearly--clearly!--you believe in me too. It is so reassuring to see that my dearest interests are in fact represented. Thanks so much for stepping up the game and giving us a little unhealthy competition outside the two-party system. Taste we can believe in!
Saturday, October 04, 2008
They are at costumestudio.com.
It's a partnership among a number of groups, including InvisibleChildren, which does work akin to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, and GoodSociety, a crew of trendy, sulky model types who actually do important work, including big intervention in the sex traffic market.
All that just from buying Bruno a bumble bee costume. Nice.
Spoiler alert for the masses who care: I am considering the cute pet costume below for Stella. Maybe we will go as the birds and the bees. Hilarious, I know. It was Stella's idea. (A breathable mesh bee! C'mon ... who could resist?)
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
However. There is always a however. I want you to appreciate that I have waited all my little life to see a woman vie--with a realistic chance--for White House digs. And while I did not vote for Clinton and sure as hell am not voting for McCain/Palin, I still believe given the gender ratios that this should have been an American era lit by at least a few heraldic moments of women inspiring women. Alas, my sisters of perpetual dismay, we do not appear to be in for such oratorial treats.
Instead, we relive the--I'm sorry to say it--total asshattery that has become the American political parade since Bush got out his fiddle and tinderbox. The bar of our discourse has dropped so low even the most spineless opportunists could not limbo below it as they recite jumbled soundbites. I'm sorry. But really. Can we no longer even name our newspapers, let alone determine whether we agree with what's in them? This is shameful. I feel I am having capsaicin rubbed into my eyes every time Palin gets on what she justifies my calling the boob tube, as if I've got stabbing ghost pains in what was once my hopeful heart. I am not entertained. I am not laughing.
Now I'm not saying a leader has to have nursed political ambition at her mother's breast, nor spied political destiny through the crib bars. Her political trajectory ought not trace back to age six when she first won a Merrick medal precociously debating the South African trade deficit in the Wee Model UN and tasted glory, later winning landslide support for the coveted Junior Statesmen Debate Director gavel.
No! What the hay, friends? Let's do things a little differently this time around. Let's go to the other extreme and elect a liberal-arts dabbler who has no idea what she's doing. That sounds fun--someone with a colorful background, with street creds, sure, and lots of different experiences--a little more attorney, governor, grassroots organizer, senator, or something-something-committee chair woulda been nice mixed in there somewhere, but hey, I'm easy--just assure me she's woven it into a singular vision, much of which we can feel represents our values and hopes and needs.
But even then, some things cannot be woven. Like bathing suits. And what I cannot brook--permit me redundancy for emphasis--what I will not abide, is a vice president who has strutted across the stage in heels and a red bathing suit. This is my limit.
I do not want to be watching a debate, all the while recalling another view of the candidate and considering how very different she looks from that fembot strut she did in the beauty pageant, the spitting (and sipping and smoking) image of Aunt Sandy on the Carnival Freedom cruise to Cabo, you know, with the flirtatious prance around the cabana boy on the lido deck and the downed martinis on karaoke night. Oh yes, you know the one.
Now bring me a sack to put over my head tomorrow, god damn it. I simply cannot stand much more of this.
Monday, September 22, 2008
While the almost biospherically diverse roster rocked it by and large--Maceo Parker's Brownian funk, the charismatic Jamie Cullum jumping around on (and I do mean literally jumping around on) his poor piano like a (cute) drug-fueled monkey, the somehow mezozoic charge of Herbie Hancock's odd electronics, hot-stuff local Ledisi--I admit I had my share of tunes I'd just as soon have skipped. Per esempio, I know I exhibit a lack of sophistication for even saying it, but the Wayne Shorter posse came out and performed what I can only call a hyperextended rendition of what a band might sound like if it were stepped on by Godzilla for an uninterrupted twenty minutes, this sadistic honk-and-screech riffing set during the coldest snap of the foggiest night of my sleepiest spell. Wayne and I lack a future together.
Several of the other performers, however--Ledisi, the Maria Schneider Orchestra in particular--are already imported into my iTunes. And I'm thankful for that. But all that said, as much of an ingrate as it may make me in your eyes, I think my favorite part of all that jazz (you cannot begrudge me that phrase; the sentence longed for it!) was the walk to and from the festival with my father. We hardly talked at all. He's quiet and I'm something of a space cadet when presented with so much auditory stimulus. So we'd walk the long avenue under the street lights, veteran concert-goers hustling past us with their absurd brand-emblazoned stadium cushions tucked under their arms and backpacks full of god-knows-what jammed full for the day's every possibility, and hands-free and cells-off, we just breathed in the night air and moved.
Some treasures from that stroll:
Sap is the new soap. Well done, bathroom vandals!
If only everyone had this sense of humor about being so evidently sideswiped.
Taken out of context, this sign fills me with glee. The apparently beautiful directors who sponsored this segment of the fence have many, many friends looking out for them in heaven.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I remember reading a statement he made once that very few of his close friends were actually in the writing circuit. And having touched that wire of literary industry--through haughty New York scenesters and grad school luminaries--I adored him for this from a distance. His life was like mine. He was not surrounded by dull, cutthroat name-droppers, but salt-of-the-earth comrades who'd earned his allegiance over time. Or so I assumed. I just unearthed this from a speech he gave:
The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.The disappointment that this care is not enough to keep someone as infinitely talented as Wallace alive is a cracking blow. Humans are, at the core of things, solitary beings. And each private universe harbors deep and lethal darkness. And that is a stunning, if unsurprising and familiar, revelation.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Well woohoo and yeehaw, compadres! Thanks to everyone. You guys made this SO SO fun. I really had a blast (I can say that now that it's done). Onward to post-race kick-back. Fall never looked so good, my friends. Where's my cider?!
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Hey, EK here, reporting back from training for the Team Pibble triathlon, a fundraiser Mway and I doing for BAD RAP. I'll tell you: I had no idea what I was getting into. As it turns out, my experience riding my bike to BiRite and playing tag and doing handstands in the shallow end of the pool isn't really any predictive measure of how I'll fare in a triathlon—biking 34 miles and running 10 after swimming a mile at top speed with hundreds of other athletes trying to outswim you. Noted. In the last few months, I’ve been kicked in the face in the pool, gotten a flat, wrecked on a hill, ridden with a busted derailer, and wanted to quit so many times I have simply lost count of the discouraging thoughts.
During this time, I also adopted my best girl, Stella, the stout little fireplug of a pit bull who came to BAD RAP from
With all that she’s afraid of, though, she continues to show a mindblowing faith in me, in the good folks I’ve been bringing over to meet her, and in the routines I’m setting up for her. She’s adapting to her new neighborhood, bravely joining me on walks, softening to the tall friends who previously scared the wits out of her. She will walk past the broom now and has even eaten treats in its company. Stella has proven so forgiving.
This morning as Stella snoozed away before the sun rose, Emmingway came over with all her triathlon gear. We loaded up our bikes, suits, and shoes, and after we walked Miss Stella and settled her back in her crate, we headed out in our Team Pibble shirts to complete a test-run for the triathlon—an Olympic-distance swim, bike, and run, along with all the transitions among the three. For those of you following the Olympics, we did the same thing these qualifiers from the Vancouver World Championships did at the same distance they'll do tomorrow morning in Beijing. Only they’re a little faster.
Thinking of those women and their superhuman abilities, I was out at the water this morning. It was deadly still and as I set out my transitions station, I was seized with this crazy fear. This was the first time we were actually doing a full practice race from beginning to end. We’d only done drills or different parts of it—swim to bike, bike to run. This was the full deal. The fear was kind of mind frying. It was that rib tightening, hands shaking, electrical current through the whole body kind of fear. I was pacing pacing pacing in my wetsuit when this ridiculously obvious connection just came to me. This is exactly the kind of leap of faith I ask Stella to make every single day. Do the thing you think you cannot do.
Dogs have come into our lives for all sorts of reasons. Maybe your dogs aren't here to teach you to go do stupid things over really far distances in uncomfortably constrictive spandex. But chances are you learn something from them. And that it took work, patience, support, stamina, and—let’s get right to it—resources for you to get them where they are.
So as I drop into the last few days before the race, I'm reminding you to please donate today at www.teampibble.com to help us put more good-hearted Stellas into the world.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008
But for all that and countless other reasons, today is the day I adopt my Stella Nansal. A dog--The Dog--to remind me of everything sweet and enjoyable, to teach me the way back to kid happiness, to put a little swerve in this, my driven momentum. I am up for a lesson about loving everyone around me more. It's time. And really, once I met her, going on without Stella would be like that bumper sticker that my dear, jaded compadre Cdubs abhors: a day without fairies is like a day without sunshine. He hated this sticker so much, in fact, he packed up and moved from the city in which he saw it. Immediately.
Me? I'll say it, sure. A day without Stellagirl is like a day without air. I'ma gonna go ahead and give in to the schmaltz. I'ma learn to appreciate what's around me for a while. I mean, what's so wrong with sentimental, anyway?
Congratulations to us. May we be together a long time and chase lots of squirrels and eat lots of cookies and biscuits.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
However, I've asked the Coast Guard to give me my phone back promptly on Monday and they've agreed. So we will resume chatting then. In the meantime, back to boxes, bikes, and books. Bai bai!
Monday, July 21, 2008
I have one more story and one more review on tap and then, gloria in excelsis deo, I am taking the ENTIRE FALL off from freelance writing. No triathlons, no marathons, no fundraising, no freelance work, no moving. I will have a normal life of 40-hour work weeks and of making apple cider and pluot preserves and apricot pies and molten chocolate cakes and savory tarts and herby good stews. I will go out collecting leaves and planning to press them and then not doing that and watching them curl up and then throwing them back out into the backyard with a big flurry, out to where they belonged in the first place.
I will make fires in my perfect wood-burning stove, cook foods using cardamom and cinnamon, have my family out from Jersey for a big Thanksgiving feast, and I will start right away planning my Hannukmas tree and your present and all the COOKIES I will make. I will send them to you in a box with old-timey ribbons and you will eat too many. We will all fall in love with each other, forget our Israeli-Palestinian, American-Iraqi conflicts and just toss dreidels and sing from our hymnals and eat cookies and watch every single LOST episode without once going outside.
And then we WILL go outside, run through the yard with the dogs, marvel at the luxury of free time, and maybe think about taking on another project ... or ten. I love the fall. It's my favorite!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Sunday, July 06, 2008
One of those principles is objectivity--in part, the will to resist identifying too closely with the subjects of one's stories. Well Dad, skip this post. Because I have fallen for pit bulls. Most of you who follow this blog read my recent story on the dogs rescued from the Michael Vick compound. My analysis of their story ended up fortifying what had been a growing dismay regarding the reputations these dogs have endured as a class of dogs, an entire breed of canines maligned for the errs of a menacing minority.
It's in that spirit, then, that I've gone from "objective journalist," a term my father and I have long debated, to an engaged advocate for change. I'm so committed, in fact, that I'm doing a triathlon to raise money for a program I think will be especially effective in transforming some down-on-their-luck and slim-on-manners hopefuls into model dogs. In this way, I like to imagine I'll be all the more active in bringing about the kind of change I hoped to foment with the news story. Someone needs to retell the story of these brave, goofy dogs and well since I can, I will.
I'll be sending out a mail, but in the meantime, have a look at the site we've put together for the Team Pibble fundraiser. We had a good time building it. We're having a good time training for it. Hope you'll think about pitching in. A movement only spreads when people get big and brave enough to help out. My parents taught me that too.
Monday, June 23, 2008
We'd seen it coming. It was obvious from the moment the store was sold, really. The shop had been something off a mess since Pat Cody sold it off a few years back when we all stood as if at a eulogy and the Telegraph store, the only full local bookstore where I was able to find any literary journal I wanted, closed first. Then San Francisco.
Somehow, even as I watched inventory dwindle down to the remaindered, the blockbuster, and the preposterous ones that somehow made it through, I had confidence that the Fourth Street shop would survive; it's such a spendy little strip, fine foot traffic. But rent on spendy little strips where the likes of Z Gallerie and Restoration Hardware move in apparently gets prohibitive. And when that spot's rent tripled on Fourth Street, that branch closed too. I worked right there and went to Cody's nearly every day and it was like watching an elderly relative fade and go pale.
But then came Shattuck. They moved, and so did I. My offices were right around the corner from the new branch. I can't even say how long they were there. It's one of the things I've always liked about local bookshops: time evaporates in them in the very best of ways. But this one, it seems, evaporated before it had even really opened.
Oy. I'm going back to bed with a book, one I bought from Cody's.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Well lucky for you, I have just the book. If you want something fun, a book that doesn't really ask a lot, pick up Missy by Chris Hannan. You can read my review first, if ya like.
But hey, once you get up off the ground, don't forget to tell me if you liked Missy. Personally I think she's a hell of a gal.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
The movie takes on the subject of undocumented immigrants and the ways their situations changed after September 11th. It's gut-wrenching and well paced, sensitive and serious. I think it's from the same fellow who directed The Station Agent, a sweet but more vanilla movie. So I suppose this represents a maturation.
I was really moved by it. Lovely performances all around and a good deal of restraint in rendering the ways Middle Eastern folks are taken from their families in the United States and lost in an anonymous international shuffle of deportation. Particularly effective is a tragic scene when the protagonist Walter takes his anger out on an agent working the desk at the detention center. It's hard to tell who—Walter or the agent—appears more powerless in the machine.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Well that happened today. It was notification that E. and A. and the other insane 2,498 riders participating in this year's multimillion-dollar fundraising AIDS Lifecycle had ridden 185 miles so far. Uhm, that's ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY-FIVE MILES, people. And it was just day three of seven. They're not through yet.
So let's return with photos from Sunday when Emmingway and I cheered them into Santa Cruz from their South San Francisco departure point.
Emming with E.
They ride 100+ miles every day and then haul their stuff from the trucks and set up their tents. Every night. See me here? I'm overwhelmed just bearing witness to their stamina.
(Incidentally, just before we came down to cheer them on—while they were out on their bikes, we were in Berkeley deep-frying hush puppies and taste-testing chicken wings. So many ways to spend a Sunday, some healthier than others.)
With a belly full of chicken wings, I'm proud of them. We're ALL proud of them. I mean, who is NOT proud of them? Aren't you proud of them? Your mission: go tell a changemaker you're proud of her today!
If you're disinclined, how about some perspective. While you sat around tonight and watched the strange cement boy episode of Gray's Anatomy again and ate too many tortilla chips with that dodgy salsa because you were too cheap to order a pizza and too lazy to make that one garlic pasta dish you know how to make (okay that was me—whatever!), they were out on their bikes for hundreds of miles in the relentless California sun after raising, all by their sweet selves, thousands of dollars to try to bring an end to AIDS.
Makes you want to update the to-do list, doesn't it? Well no time like the present, my friends. No time will ever be like the present.Here, for the girls, I leave you with my very best imitation of a QVC model showing off party fixins on the sidelines of the race.
GO GET 'EM, RADIGAL RIDERS! GO, GO, GO!!!!!!!!!
Monday, June 02, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Boot camp athletics. Have you not heard of this? Oh, your innocence. Tens of thousands of people are doing it: paying a sculpted, gorgeous superhuman to push us around using an agenda based on a kind of excessive knowledge of fancy stuff like kinesthetics, neuromuscular programming, and why god-awful oatmeal and bananas are the real breakfast of champions, not Wheaties after all. The goal can be simply to get in shape, or it can be training toward a set event--like the 2008 Santa Barbara Long Course Triathlon, for example.
What better way for me to conduct research for this article, inquires my workout support network (WSN, also incidentally the same characters who make up my doughnut-eating association, the DEA), than for me to participate in one? Okay then.
Enter personal trainer Rachel (kind of scary in a good way) Rodriguez. For two months (starting oh so soon), I will bow to Rachel's directives, climbing on a bicycle, diving into frigid waters, dropping for push-ups, reaching for pull-ups, essentially behaving like an obedient extra on the Ben Hur set. I'm totally psyched. Let's do this.
Watch for news of training. The triathlon is August 23rd. My father will be visiting and so he will have the misfortune of missing a morning of jazz performances to sit on the sidelines in utter bewilderment as the daughter he thought he raised to be sensible runs around, inexplicably cycling, swimming, and running as if my life depended on it. Note: Doughnuts and coffee to follow.
Behold Rachel, USAT Level II coach and my superhuman of choice: