Thursday, February 28, 2008

And Told To Hang

Mr. Wintle, ever the instigator:

The damn liberal left has no regard for people's health or safety.

Lately they're trying to put up these (noise) polluting windmills. Watch this video to see what happens when one fails. They say nuclear is dangerous. It's nothing compared to wind. Anyone within a 100 yard area could have been killed by this accident and it remained unsafe for minutes afterwards.

You have been warned!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

To Fall Down At Your Door

Pete and Drusy watch TV.

Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, asks an important question.
So I was at a museum in Jersey about fifteen years ago and I saw an exhibit by a guy who put together pieces of swirly formica tabletops from the fifties to create these huge flat pieces that were totally fabulous. I can't remember the artist's name. I can't remember the name of the museum. I can't remember shit any more. If I didn't have my Palm, I'd forget to put on my pants. Anyways, does any of that ring a bell? I've searched online, of course, but I can't come up with a thing.

I got bupkis. Any ideas?


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fever When You Hold Me Tight

Flu. I enjoy the dry heaves as much as the next gal, but this is ridiculous. Back as soon as I can sit up with eyes open.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

As Long As I Stay I'll Be Waiting

Yesterday, a post on dKos, which I don't generally read because I have two jobs, a handsome dude and sometimes require sleep, reminded us that though the blogosphere raised enough money for the trust to buy a house for the Pretty Bird Woman House shelter, other needs are coming to light. For example, many generous people have sent new and gently used sheets and towels, but that doesn't mean you can't. The shelter has set up a Target Wish List, which is completely awesome. I didn't realize the shelter would need alarm clocks, but of course, the shelter needs them, duh! I have one still in the box in my hall closet, and next time I send out a box of donated items, I'll drop in the alarm clock.

Needs will continue to make themselves known. This week, they discovered they had three blankets. A few days ago, it was -17 degrees in McLaughlin, South Dakota. Three twin or full size blankets doesn't cut it any way one looks at that situation. You don't have to go crazy, though. At your house, you probably have sheets, towels and blankets you don't use. Put 'em in a box and send them to:

Pretty Bird Woman House
302 Sale Barn Rd.
McLaughlin SD 57642

This week, I sent out three boxes full of Daria's bras and children's clothing, so I can tell you with certainty that UPS or FedEx will be cheaper than the Postal Service. As long as you're mailing stuff, keep in mind that when women leave a hospital after an assault exam they often leave their clothes behind as evidence. Sweats, bras and underwear don't seem all that important until you face leaving a hospital in nothing but a blanket, which has happened.

Finally, the shelter will need office supplies. Staples and Office Depot will ship gift cards for free. Come to think of it, so will most retailers. If you think of a need the shelter will encounter, I hope you will mention it in comments on this or the shelter's blog.

The other day, I was looking through the closet containing the life's work of the person we refer to as Me. It all stacks very neatly on a top shelf where I don't have to look at it. Thing is I didn't plan to stop being Me, so I have all kinds of office supplies. I debated sending them to the shelter but it would be prohibitively expensive. I've decided to call Elijah's Promise on Monday, and if they don't need folders and reams of paper, I'm sure Planned Parenthood does. These things are a weight on me now but they might lighten the load for someone else.


Friday, February 22, 2008

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Drusy demonstrates exceptional flatness.

Yesterday, I dragged my new maroon bicycle down a small flight of stairs, across what passes for a lawn and into the street. Then I rode to work at the family store, pretending I didn't look or feel like Angela Lansbury in the opening credits of Murder, She Wrote. No, no! I am far more rugged and burly! I am fierce! I am also smaller than I at first appear, so dragging the bicycle down a twisting flight of stairs inside the family store exhausted me completely. Anya, laughing hysterically, said, "Plainly the workout is when you get off the bike." No kidding. She would not have enjoyed watching me walk the bike through her store full of beautiful things after closing, which I will never ever describe to her and hope she never sees.

Man, I hope I got all the little pieces!


Last night, it started snowing. This morning, I looked out my front window and said, "No way, I'm risking my life for the unnamed university. This cowgirl's going back to bed." When I woke up twenty years later, I shaved and looked outside again. Oh, those kids with their rock music and snow plows! There's a path out of the cul-de-sac by the river and Pete reports the roads aren't so bad. Still, my laundry's washed. As it dries it humidifies my arid apartment.


I'm making a shopping list. Cat litter, coffee, unbleached filters, hand soap, special overpriced shampoo for my overpriced hair, body wash, NyQuil, eggs, vegetables. It's raining outside, turning the slippery layer of pressed snow into slush. I hate this step in the thaw but let's be realistic. Siobhan and I have a date with Suzette for martinis tonight, and I am loath to get my paws wet. Staying dry will require ingenuity. I'm considering building my own diving bell.

Two days ago, Daria returned from Virginia with another carload of stuff that used to be Dad's. This time, more jars for jarring spring fruits and vegetables. In a few weeks, we'll stage a final garage sale, then our stepmother Darla will pack up and go back to Canada with her cats. I regard these new items with some nervousness. A time is coming when Dad's death and all events rippling through our lives for the last year will smooth out into the flatness of History. I am not sure how I feel about that and I can tell Daria isn't either. In the meantime, my grandmother's, then Dad's convection oven has a new home with me.

I do not know how to use it but I will learn that, too.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

We'd Like To Feel You're Respectable

Yesterday's WikiHow article title caught my eye. How to Not Be Annoying does not just fracture syntax in five words. No, the article goes for broke.
Most of the time, an annoying person doesn't realize how his or her behavior is perceived by others. If you suspect that you're annoying others - or you've been told you're annoying and think they might be right, here's how to avoid the little things that often get on people's nerves.


1. Think first. Think about what you are going to say before blurting it out.

Oh, come now. If I'm busy thinking, I'm not blurting. And then where will we be?
4. Respect boundaries. Everybody has boundaries - you need to learn what they are and try to avoid crossing them. Boundaries vary widely from culture to culture and even from individual to individual.

* Do not go around poking people constantly. In fact, don't touch them at all if they don't like it. Of course if they grant permission, then by all means have fun, but otherwise cut it out before you start.
* Mind your own business. Avoid butting into a conversation by (for example) saying, "What are you talking about?" If you hear someone talking about something with another person, and you only catch the last sentence, leave it be.

I take offense at the suggestion I quit playing my favorite game: I've Never Heard Those Words Before. For instance, sometimes people talk and talk and finally I hear something exciting - "Children's shoes appeal to my pancreas," say - well, you can bet your sweet patootie I'm going to blurt out, "WHAT are you TALKING about?" But let's go back to Step 2.
2. Build self confidence. Being insecure can lead to annoying traits. Until you have built your self confidence up don't try too hard.

3. Break counterproductive habits. If you laugh loudly at everyone's jokes, even if they're not all that funny, read up on how to avoid laughing at inappropriate times. Try a different approach - be genuine and be yourself. If people find you annoying when you're being true to yourself, then you need to find new, more accepting people to be around.

Last week, I annoyed a Quaker. He almost said a dirty word. They don't, you know.
5. Be humble. Just because you're confident doesn't mean you have to act like you're better than anyone else. Don't do or say things that might let you appear to be arrogant, like bragging about your wealth or success.

* Don't correct bad grammar/spelling or inaccuracies of others because most people don't like being corrected.
* Don't excessively tell people that their beliefs are wrong; gently and nicely mention that you disagree.
* Don't complain all the time. Remember the world does not revolve around you. If you complain too much, others will find you depressing and avoid you. Read up on how to be optimistic.

The world does revolve around me. Not me, but Me. Certainly. What are you talking about? And by the way, is there a Ronco Confidence Meter, like those insulin testing kits, so I can measure whether a new outfit makes me radioactively overconfident?
8. Be conscious of your surroundings. Be aware if you are standing in doorways while having a conversation, driving 20MPH in a 40MPH zone, or if your children are being obnoxious in a public place. Consider how your actions are likely to affect the people around you, and you will gain their respect.

In this article, the word respect is a hotlink. I am not clicking that. Since meaning there is up for grabs, I fear a Blues Brothers-style dance number will break out in my office. Cue Aretha in three, two, one...
9. Be polite and hygienic. Don't peek down people's shirts for instance, don't pass gas, don’t talk about looking down people’s shirts or passing gas. Take care to brush and/or floss after meals so as not inflict your breath on others or allow strings of food to flap back and fourth when you speak, and don’t talk about specific instances of impolite or unhygienic actions that offended you in the past.

Fantastic. You've just described C-SPAN in Smell-O-Vision.
9. Learn to read facial reactions and body movements. Pay attention to the facial expressions and body language of those around you and work to immediately identify and stop whatever you're doing that is annoying others.
10. Think of others. For some it is easy, but for others, it is not. Try to put yourself in others' shoes and treat others the way you would like to be treated.

I'm so altruistic I never stop thinking of others. I worry and wonder and hope and dream and just know they're thinking of Me! Because, frankly, who would not? I'm Me! And who can help but think about that!

* It is easy to be annoying if you talk too much. Think about what you say before you say it. Remember the famous quotation, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt." Not talking at all is no fun for anyone, so you should try to strike a balance in conversation.
* Don't know if you are annoying? Ask a person that you would find likely to give you an honest and constructive answer. Be prepared for criticism and be willing to accept it gracefully. The person may not be ready to give it all immediately, so give him/her time by explaining your situation, thoughts, and feelings to make it clear you can handle helpful criticism. Don't take this to an extreme, either, as it will probably be quite annoying, itself.

I suppose those tips might be helpful if they weren't But this is my favorite:

* If you are unable to stop being annoying, be wary that some people will not be able to stand you anymore. They may physically assault you causing serious injury or even death.

This just gets better and better. Threats before breakfast! Also: though I didn't read this article very closely, I corrected egregious punctuation problems. The writer will either thank me later or quit respecting my boundaries. I'm learning so much!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Good Babysitter Is Hard To Find

This is Frederick by Leo Lionni, the first book I picked for myself. I was in kindergarten, I believe, which would be either 1968 or 1969. Frederick has a specific lesson for children about how art is as important in life as bread, but there's a secondary consideration I took away: if we pool our talents our lives are immeasurably better. Curiously, this book is the story of my life, however one interprets those things. I expect Mickey Rooney to show up any time with a barn and a plan for a show, though my mom is not making costumes.

My sisters own a toy store with a fantastic selection of imaginative children's books. I try not to open them because I can't close them and put them back. My tantrums are setting a bad example for the kids. Anyway, I mention this because yesterday was Mr. Rogers' 40th anniversary. I appreciate the peaceful gentleman more as time passes, as I play with finger puppets in department meetings, as I eye hollow trees for Lady Elaine Fairchild infestations. Maybe Pete can build me trolley tracks!


Monday, February 18, 2008

And Dedicate Them All To Me

Re: Your Terrible Commercials

To Whom It Concerns:

We've had a long relationship, what with it being impossible anymore to watch TV via a signal that travels though the air. In that time, you've promised me the NASA Channel and BBC America, both of which you failed to deliver. Remember that? Ah, good times! Lately, every few minutes my picture goes all pixilated, which is mildly annoying, and every time I try to get the channel guide the screen goes to the iO logo because somehow the signal gets cut off for at least a few minutes every day, which is also annoying. But that's not why I'm writing. Nope: about half your commercials sound like they were written by drunken, 22-year-old county college communications majors, and not the smart ones.

See, the thing is these commercials were written by people who don't understand the phrases they're using. I know, I know. People misuse English all the time, but it takes special talent to get that blatant, craptastic phrasing through a room full of proofreaders and - curiously - grownups. This talent is usually reserved for really cute girls or that frat boy who by virtue of his size intimidates anyone who's ever cracked a dictionary. Fortunately for you, I don't scare easy.

Example Number 1: Last year's jarring mistake was the tagline "Who says the world isn't flat?" That one's easy. Sailors, pilots, astronauts, astronomers, meteorologists, geologists, and every mapmaker in the world know the world isn't flat. Little children know the world is not flat. It is an obloid spheroid. Your copywriter was making ham-fisted reference to Thomas L. Friedman's recent book, which in itself was a ham-fisted attempt to be clever.

When your narrator intones "Who says the world isn't flat?" smart people say, "Huh, maybe I'll go read Profiles In Courage."

Example Number 2: More recently, two commercials use the words "Here's something else too good to be true," and recommend your service. The problem is these words mean the exact opposite of what your commercial suggests. Here's the breakdown.

If something is too good to be true, that means it's a lie, it's a falsehood, it's a swindle.
If something is almost too good to be true, it's a dream, it's Heavenly, it's a great offer.

In other words, your commercial, as it's written, suggests your service is worthless.

Let's not even discuss the iO international commercial set on a beach with a throbbing beat and amateurish choreography. In its way, that ad must be effective because I recite the phone number in my sleep, but it is grating beyond endurance. I keep hoping that guy in the lobster suit goes all full-metal Godzilla on the beachgoers, but the commercial ends the same way every time. Alas!

There's no need for iO to transgress against the English language. Any experienced copyrighter should be able to untie the half-assed linguistic rigging, provided you let him or her push overboard the person or committee who committed these word crimes. If all this was the work of your brother-in-law, I'm sorry. It's time for him to pursue other career opportunities.



Sunday, February 17, 2008

Peter Pan, Frankenstein Or Superman

Pete's a cyclist. He's sitting on the living room floor now, greasing a chain, and I'm not even talking dirty. Months ago, he tried out a friend's folding bike and for me it was like watching a fish get back into water. With the end of winter, he feels confined indoors, as do I. Some time ago, he decided that for my birthday we'd pick out a bicycle for me. We studied catalogs and the net. Today, we drove all over Central New Jersey, looked at a handful of bicycles and rode a few, too. I'd ride a bike, then he'd ride it. If it was comfortable for me it looked like a circus tricycle under him. Finally, we found one in Princeton for a price we liked and the bike lacked a mysteriously femmy paint job found on most of the women's trail bikes. The bike guy at the bike shop liked Pete's talk about cycling across Utah and when it turned out they'd had the same bikes growing up I declared them separated at birth.

The bike guy will build my bike and it'll be ready tomorrow. I'm so thrilled to pieces with the promise of getting outdoors I let them talk me into a helmet.

Pete: Go pick out a helmet.
Tata: I cannot deny my high-hair heritage. I can't wear a helmet!
Bike Guy: This one is less than $100 and won't obscure the hair.
Tata: I feel glamorous. Note my extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeme beauty!
Bike Guy: It looks great.
Tata: I can't wear that. It clashes with my maroon bike. Got anything in silver?
Bike Guy: Here you go!
Tata: Dude, that was eight feet off the ground. You should audition for Cirque du Soleil.
Bike Guy: That one's got a visor. It comes off!
Tata: Pete, the silver helmet looks like it's going FAST!
Pete: It's going, all right.
Tata: See the thing that's keeping brains inside my head?
Pete: Ah, yep.
Tata: It's flattening my hair!
Pete: My dear, that'll never happen.

The kickstand comes separately.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Newsman Sang His Same Song

As I left the family store tonight, I stood on the sidewalk talking with Anya about a disk full of images for the website. I work on the store's website. The toughest art is getting good images of merchandise from manufacturers because artists and artisans are suspicious, for which we can't really blame them. This disk, then, would be a boon to me. It was in a bag in Corinne's car at Anya's house. I said I'd stop by and pick it up. Fifteen minutes later, I was sitting in my living room wearing pajamas when I remembered. Corinne is so used to this she wasn't even surprised when I called and said I'd forgotten before I even crossed the street.


Friday, February 15, 2008

You Better Shop Around

The Grand Am to which I will one day glue gold-painted macaroni.

A conversation.

Tata: You're good with babies. I believe in delegating. Wouldn't you like to go meet my grandson for me? He's still got that 'new person' smell.
minstrel: i loves me some babies. especially when i can spoil the living shit out of them and hand them over to their parents to calm down and do all the scut work.
Tata: I told Miss Sasha I'd take a special interest in the boy when he was old enough to drive his Grandma to the liquor store. My son-in-law is transferring to North Dakota by the second week of April, so I thought I'd visit during that week that is summer. Nobody listens anyhow. If you wave a cigarette around in the air, put on red lipstick and say "fuck" a lot, they'll think you're me. Wear a hat. It'll be hilarious! I quit smoking years ago and no one believes it for a minute!

Another conversation.

Tata: I'm thinking about sending every person I know in California over to my daughter's house one at a time to do a stirring impersonation of me evincing maternal interest. I'm not very motherly. I'm more the Let's Take the Kids For Tattoos type. The other day, I explained to my eight-year-old nephew how to cause volcanic reactions with common ingredients and my sister told him to NEVER LISTEN TO ME AGAIN. I said, "Sweetheart, I'll always have bail money." Filming these visits might finally get us our own HBO special.
minstrel: i could wear bright red lipstick and certainly say fuck enough to fool anybody.
Tata: Awesome. Road-test dialog like, "Sweetheart, I hope you kicked that greengrocer's bony ass," "I love you to pieces. Now, get the hell off me and do your own damn laundry," and "Mommy's had enough bullshit. Who's got the remote?" How do you feel about a red sequined dress with spaghetti straps before tea time? You could carry it off. I once arrived in the Milwaukee airport wearing it, fishnets and jump boots. They closed the schools.
minstrel: one notorious halloween party in vegas i had sadjian (a top drawer heterosexual female impersonator, dude was so good he held a female lead spot at the MGM's "Hello Hollywood, Hello) fix me up with a black and scarlett tina turner minidress, wig, springaltor spikes. i shaved the chest, the legs, everything, and went out. our doo-wop line was black boys in drag from the show, all i had to do to bring the house to its knees was look to my right, and growl into the mic "sing it girls". i can do red, in any shade.
Tata: Rock on, sister!

Paired socks stolen by the cats, found on the living room rug.

A third conversation.

Tata: I picture a parade of my friends arriving at Miss Sasha's house, impersonating me. And the subsequent phone calls...
Sharkey: Count me in. I won't even have to shave!
Tata: You'd look divine in red sequins.
Sharkey: I always have...
Tata: Sure, princess. And since Miss Sasha knows you, it won't at all surprise her when you show up in my clothes, put your feet up and say, "Darling, bring Mommy the scotch."

Drusy and Topaz chase a pen on a glass table.

Wanted: Pretend Me Nos. 3, 4, and 5. Applicants must be acquainted with my body of work, able to sit or stand for 30 minutes and smell suspiciously like fresh fruit. No experience being Me necessary. Strong English vocabulary a plus but fluency in any language is a bonus. Must live in California and have own transportation. Must wear red with aplomb and lack constricting personal dignity. Contact the management before happy hour to participate in this exciting project. And if you see Miss Sasha, zip it!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

You Should've Left the Light On

Jeaneane Brennan
Clear Channel Communications

Dear Ms. Brennan,

Greetings to you from the glorious present day, where the sun always shines, people treat each other fairly and even goth kids are happy. It's 2008! Hooray!

So why, in 2008, can I turn on Q104.3 and still hear crap like Under My Thumb? Why does Q104.3's website, which is a shrine to testosterone-soaked hatred of women, have a whole section called Babes? I realize scores of young models make a living pretending to be simultaneously anorexic, well-endowed and thrilled about both, but here in the world where we live and work with men, this is a really stupid display of soft-core porn.

To quote George Carlin, "There are two knobs on the radio and television: one turns it off, the other changes the station." Ordinarily, I'd chalk this crap up to the normal, day-in and day-out, anti-woman malarkey and dismiss it, but when I heard the intro to Under My Thumb I happened to be on my way to the drug store to buy a bottle of wine for Valentine's Day and the backseat of my car was piled high with clothing for a women's shelter that's rebuilding after an arson fire. My patience with misogynist crap may be a little thin. So I shut off the radio and today I'm writing to you, because the program manager's name isn't on the contact page and because your email address is above the words -
It is the policy of Clear Channel Radio to provide equal employment opportunity to all qualified individuals without regard to their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by law, in all personnel actions.

What an enlightened place to work Q104.3 must be. The faces on your gallery page are all white and mostly male, with the notable exception of a few women in some state of undress. There's some mention of oysters. Way to be equal! Way to pander to that crucial blockhead demographic! And you helped.

Frankly, I'm surprised this shining tower - woohoo! - of dudely privilege hasn't been sued into the ground in some hugely public and embarrassing employee action. Judging by the evidence at hand, I have little doubt at least karmic justice is on its way.


Yes, that is me, upper right. Did you think I was just stuffy?


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All the Money Ere I Had


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This Tightrope's Gotta Learn How To Bend

Pete drove me to work this morning so I could walk home in the snow storm we could feel coming. He has known me a little, he has known me all my life, so he expected a call and a change of heart that did not come. I walked home into strong flurries while cars churned in paralyzed traffic, my face wet and my mind free. I have been very concerned with conversations. What is said. What goes unspoken. What we leave hanging in the air. This one between Sadly, No! correspondent Mister Leonard Pierce and a stranger plays on my mind.
He’s sitting next to me in the lobby of the Omni Shoreham, typing furiously into a Sony laptop. He has a striped shirt with a popped collar and an ‘80s haircut he cribbed from Shadoe Stevens. For a long time, he says nothing; even when some steak-and-brandy fatass rumbles through the joint and disconnects the cable to his computer, he just eyefucks him and mutters to himself. But after a while, we strike up a conversation, borne of the boredom of waiting. His name is Tony, and he’s a stockbroker.

Why is Tony so mad?

“That fuck-stick Romney dropped out. That just leaves us with McCain.”

You don’t have any affinity for the Senator, then?

“He’s a weak sister. He won’t have the guts to invade Iran.”

Iran must be ripe for invasion. It seems like we’ve been waiting forever. But what of Iraq?

“Iraq is over. Iraq is somebody else’s problem now.”

The problem of the Iraqis, I would guess.

“Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Iran is the issue. Iran has the Islamic bomb.”

A bomb that follows a religious ideology is a terrifying concept indeed; but what about Pakistan?

“Pakistan is our ally. But even if they weren’t, Iran is the destination.”

Not according to my travel agent. But what makes you say that?

“Iran is where the money is.”

What money?

“Look, Iraq has been good to us. Everybody knows that. Construction, defense, telecoms, it’s a whole new market.”

It’s a real success story.

“You’re telling me. But compared to Iran, it’s nothing.”

A trying five years for nothing. But what do you mean?

“It’s a bigger country. It’s a richer country. It’s a country with a market class and a rich and developed economy. It wasn’t living under Stalinism like Iraq. Once we get our hands on those markets, we’re finally going to see a payoff for all the effort we’ve put into the wars.”


“Well, America.”

America put in the effort, but you’ll get the payoff.

“Not if that fucking McCain gets in.”

Well, we can only hope.

“That’s the problem with the conservative movement these days. Too much hope.”

I could not excerpt because every line offers me a new reason to wonder what the fuck is wrong with Tony that the words sovereign nation ring hollow, that people's lives are utterly meaningless, that he stupidly believes he'll always find himself on the sunny side of oppression. He won't, and he won't understand what he is and what he's done until he's forced to choose which of his children goes to the crematorium.

No one does.

The other day, I stood in the family store as a man with a heavy accent walked around in circles. He wanted a particular Buddha head statue, and when one of my sisters bargained him to a standstill, he spoke to me again about the town. He said, "It has such potential." I froze.

"NO," I said. "It's a small town, and it's going to stay that way. Some our families have been here for more than 100 years, there's no more land, and we have no stupid ideas about expansion."

"I just got here," he apologized, confused by my refusal to consider soulless prefab sameness. Some people will always fold and leave, but most people here like the small town feel, and temptation isn't tempting. If you want that crap, go where they already have that.

"My great-grandfather bought one of the first houses on South Fourth. I will never buy coffee from Starbucks or eat at Papa John's. Quiznos just went bust on the Main Street. Why should anyone eat that crap when Mom and Pop restaurants serve real food and support real families?"

"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't think."

"Thank you," I said, "for supporting a local business."

Tonight, I listen for the gentle whisper of snowflakes striking the ground.

It can feel like distant thunder.


Better Learn How To Kneel

Our Southwest Bureau correspondent Johnny should write children's books.
Surgeon postpones my appointment last Friday. I am disappointed. Whether he’s going to be able to fuse my neck vertebrae and cure my headaches and make me a permanently forward-looking person or not, I can cope, I just need to know. I go to Pawn City to look for Indian bracelets to salve my soul. Murmuring cabinets quietly repeat the stories of people who came here, went native, bought the silver jewelry and the adobe houses and the pickup truck and their life looked like a photo shoot from the Sundance catalog, but the brown summers and the brown winters and the brown springs and falls wore them down and they hocked it all and went back to California and Houston and New York and Boston. That’s okay. More for the rest of us. There’s a bald eagle nesting in a bare tree over the spillway just past the dam, soaring around and picking off the unwary fish. I saw a crow the other day the size of a turkey, eating a sandwich. Meanwhile, there’s snow on the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston. The Berkshires seem dreamlike on account of that frosting. At least they say so on the radio. I say good night, you moonlight ladies. Rockabye sweet baby John. Dope pills and booze is the diet I choose. Excuse me if I pass out on your lawn. And rockabye sweet baby John.

I can't write like that, but I hope someday to write near it. And have a lawn.


Monday, February 11, 2008

That Bette Davis Ease

Life is confusing. For instance, we talk to each other like real people, though few of us have met. It is not our way! And we like surprises. You, I suspect, are surprised that I remember I proposed a lengthy project dignifying the City of New Brunswick photographically in a manner it perhaps no longer deserves. New Brunswick is a $2 whore in a $10 dress no matter your perspective, unless you sit on the edge of the river and ask, "Um...can someone explain to me where that tunnel under Route 27 is goes besides the other side of Route 27?"

Since I came back from vacation, I've had an exciting turn of vertigo. At first, I thought I could as they say still feel the boat motion on land. It's a cheap souvenir maritime travelers enjoy for a day or two after travel's end. One goes along all bipedal and suddenly - whoa! - the landlubber feels a stray swell in Dubuque. As the week at home wore on and vertigo did not wear off, I made an appointment to see my doctor, who has laughed at my medical problems for a couple of decades. As she should.

Today, in 11 degree weather, I marched across the river, taking four steps forward and one to the side and therefore forming my own silent conga line. Up on a hill slightly visible in the photograph above is my doctor's office, where my doctor was surprised to see me this morning because I like playing to tough crowds, but the crowd in her office looks like it was searched for weapons and plague bacillus. Anyway, some time later, after exhilarating tests involving turning my head really fast and trying to make me throw up, my doctor pronounced me afflicted with yet another comic ailment: situational blahbitty blah vertigo, which will go away all on its own. In the meantime, I should enjoy all the festive directional merriment. Yahtzee! And no one should be surprised.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Caturday Night's Alright, Alright, Alright

This morning, I awoke to the penetrating stare of Ceiling Cat. I considered renouncing Eeeeeeevil, but we all have our limits. I renounced Eeeeeeevil before witnesses at my nephew Sandro's baptism and waited for lightning to strike; that didn't go well. Today, I said, "Topaz, sweetheart, please come here and try not to smite anything on your way down." It's never unreasonable to fear locusts, frogs and murain. And speaking of plagues:

Today Show

To Whom It Concerns:

This morning, the show was introduced including Ann Coulter. I immediately turned off my television. If her form of hate speech is good for your ratings, I pity the audience you're not pandering to; in any case, Coulter's free speech is not at issue. I simply will not subject myself to her rabble-rousing vitriol.

Her fans are vocal. I'm sure you receive piles of misspelled thank-you notes whenever you include her in what passes now for political discourse. Know that I will turn off my television wherever I see her. Maybe I'm alone and maybe I'm not. Maybe reasonable people find more factual news sources when you book this irrational entertainer.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Drusy waits for us at the window.

Feel free to crib it, change a few words and get a B+ on your term paper. Being small and covered with fur, I sometimes get flustered and can't find the words to say what I need to about a complex issue. This even occasionally keeps me from writing to my Congressmen, who by now ought to have me in their Five. I call and stutter if I have to, but I'm not going to shut up. Anyhoo, this was simple: if I see Ann Coulter's face or hear her voice, I'm either changing the channel or shutting off the TV. The people who thought I'd find her bullshit exciting should know they shouldn't expect my tacit approval for broadcasting it.

Next time Coulter turns up, I'll smite a few advertisers.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Evil Is An Exact Science

Being Carefully Correctly Wrong

Click play, read on.

This week, the news out of Washington confirmed what we have long believed: we have become our worst nightmare, a totalitarian nation of the kind we once fought because we believed in our innate goodness and rightness; no more, and not again in our lifetimes.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Waterboarding is necessary though probably not legal, CIA Director Michael Hayden told Congress Thursday as Attorney General Michael Mukasey said he would not open a criminal investigation into the CIA's use of the technique.

Strapping a person to a surface, covering their face with cloth and pouring water on their face to imitate the sensation of drowning could be used if "an unlawful combatant is possessing information that would help us prevent catastrophic loss of life of Americans or their allies," said Hayden.

"In my own view, the view of my lawyers and the Department of Justice, it is not certain that that technique would be considered lawful under current statute," he told the House Intelligence Committee after publicly disclosing that the CIA had used waterboarding on three of the enemy combatants.

He explained that the method was used because of "mis-shaped and misformed" political discussion about waterboarding.

In the jungle of the senses
Tinkerbell and Jack the ripper
Love has no meaning not where they come from
But we know pleasure is not that simple
Very little fruit is forbidden
Sometimes we wobble sometimes we're strong
But you know evil is an exact science
Being carefully correctly wrong

Priests and cannibals prehistoric animals
Everybody's happy as the dead come home
Big black nemesis parthenogenesis
No one move a muscle as the dead come home

Hayden reiterated that the technique is not part of the interrogation program now and that the waterboarding techniques, when they were used in the 2002 and 2003, were limited to three top al Qaeda suspects

Also Thursday, Attorney General Michael Mukasey told lawmakers he will not open a criminal investigation into the CIA's use of waterboarding on terror suspects.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers asked Mukasey bluntly whether he was starting a criminal investigation since Hayden confirmed the use of waterboarding.

"No, I am not, for this reason: Whatever was done as part of a CIA program at the time that it was done was the subject of a Department of Justice opinion through the Office of Legal Counsel and was found to be permissible under the law as it existed then," he said.

Mukasey said opening an investigation would send a message that Justice Department opinions are subject to change.

We feel like Greeks we feel like Romans
Centaurs and monkeys just cluster round us
We drink elixirs that we refine
>From the juices of the dying
We are not monsters we're moral people
And yet we have the strength to do this
This is the splendor of our achievment
Call in the airstrike with a poison kiss

Priests and cannibals prehistoric animals
Everybody's happy as the dead come home
Big black nemesis parthenogenesis
No one move a muscle as the dead come home

"Essentially it would tell people, 'You rely on a Justice Department opinion as part of a program, then you will be subject to criminal investigations ... if the tenure of the person who wrote the opinion changes or indeed the political winds change,'" he said. "And that's not something that I think would be appropriate and it's not something I will do."

Conyers, D-Michigan, and Mukasey argued over whether the Justice Department will provide documents on the waterboarding opinion to the committee.

Mukasey refused, saying the documents are highly classified and that he had already said he is not going to open an investigation.

Conyers and other House Democrats then called for the criminal investigation.

How bad it gets you can't imagine
The burning wax the breath of reptiles
God is not mocked he knows his buisness
Karma could take us at any moment
Cover him up I think we're finished
You know it's never been so exotic
But I don't know my dreams are visions
We could still end up with the great big fishes!

Priests and cannibals prehistoric animals
Everybody's happy as the dead come home
Big black nemesis parthenogenesis
No one move a muscle as the dead come home.

Okay, let's practice a little intelligent selfishness, just for black-humored kicks:

What do you think this means to our troops, taken prisoner?


Thursday, February 07, 2008

And Murmur Vague Obscenities

Part I.
Part II. Electric Boogaloo

Part III. The Embarkening

The week before we took a cab to Newark Pointless Security Airport, Siobhan and I studied the regulations and packed. I borrowed half of Daria's summer wardrobe because she wouldn't need it here in winter. We bought tiny bottles of expensive products and became convinced that Halliburton quietly cornered the sample size shampoo market. There can be no other reason why Customs cares about 4 oz. tubes of curl defining pomade when that whole Formulate A Bomb On Board The Plane process was demonstrated to be impossible YEARS AGO. Later, I spent a week losing the battle with frizz.

Also that week: I was so tense my shoulders were glued to my ears. I didn't want to go! I wanted to be on the boat but I didn't want to travel there! Anyway, at about this same point of near hysteria, I had a fine talk with Me about ridiculous overeating.

Tata: Hey! HEY! WHAT are you DOING?
Tata: Uh...mmmmph mmmmumph mummph...nothing!
Tata: Put that down! You're not even hungry.
Tata: I'm not what? Of course, I'm hungry.
Tata: No, you're nervous.
Tata: Uh...mmmmph mmmmumph mummph...What are you talking about?
Tata: I mean it! Put that DOWN!
Tata: Okay! Okay! What is your problem?
Tata: I'll tell you what my problem is: your inexplicable fat ass, that's what!
Tata: Bite me. I have a fabulous ass!
Tata: Really?
Tata: Yep.
Tata: Let's go look.
Tata: Now the healing can begin...

I put down the plate and went back to the exercise cycle. It can be tempting when traveling to forget one's newfound resolution. On the day we traveled - Saturday - I discovered that I'm no better at flying than I have ever been, and once we got to the hotel in Miami, boat-related parties and events were planned. At a party, where most all I could do was marvel that I was standing outside in a t-shirt staring at palm trees, I also located the hotel's gym. I hate gyms. But there it was, taunting me. The next morning, I sat my erstwhile fabulous ass on an exercise bicycle and pedalled for all I was worth. Since the bicycle was in the back of a room without the usual wall of horrifying mirrors and nobody paid the slightest attention to my presence, I actually enjoyed the whole thing. It was a revelation. That day - Sunday - we braced ourselves for the ordeal of going through Customs, since Newark had been an ordeal, but Port Miami wasn't. Whooosh! Hundreds of our fellow passengers were through so fast I turned around, blinking. What?

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I used the various exercise cycle types on the boat. At first, I avoided the mirrors and eye contact with other people because I was afraid they were judging me. Later, I avoided the mirrors and eye contact with other people because I didn't give a damn what they thought. That's a giant step forward. See? A bad attitude can represent progress!

Also on Monday afternoon, Siobhan said something like, "Blah blah blah after I pushed the skinny twigs off the jogging track..." which I only half-heard because she's always assaulting someone and after a while it's all a blur.


After dinner Monday night, I took the elevator to the top of the boat and walked 15 1/10-mile laps. Then we saw that Vanity Project show that took the wind out of my sails. Tuesday, I woke up with a different plan in mind, but we went to Grand Cayman, then I cycled, we had dinner, then I walked. Wednesday, I had an idea that was both genius and appallingly stupid. Isn't it funny how that happens?

I was eating fresh fruit and salads with every meal, avoiding the buffets when I could and skipping dessert entirely unless it was more fruit. For the first time in ages, I finished a book, started another and finished that. I was getting just enough sunlight to turn my skin a fetching golden brown. Then I declared that for the rest of the cruise I'd only wear shoes to the formal dining room and to the gym. It was genius! I hate shoes! So I walked 17 laps Wednesday morning, bicycled in the afternoon and walked barefoot on the jogging track that night.

During the day, the jogging track was a sunny, social place where people ran, walked, lay on deck chairs and read books. The warm sea air felt fresh on the skin, and only lightly breezy. At night, the feeling was totally different. Every night, the boat sailed at an impressive clip. Up at the top, the wind rushed over the higher surfaces with some force and I walked half of each lap with the wind and half against it. On the first night, the wind grabbed my left foot and I wondered for a half-second if I might go over the side. Rather than discouraging me, this made me mad.

Think you can scare me, do ya? Now, that right there is a sign of genius.

The next night, potheads lighting up where they wouldn't be on camera gave me the Evil Eye each time around the track. That didn't scare me either. Then Wednesday night, I walked barefoot, with the idea that - pffft! - screw it, I'm walking. About lap 16, I felt like there was dirt under my feet that didn't come off. A lap later, I tried scraping it off. A lap after that, I had to quit. The jogging track had tiny metal bits embedded in the finish and they'd cut pinholes in the soles of my feet. Naturally, I had to find Siobhan immediately and declare my genius.

I don't remember how, but I spent some part of Wednesday evening with my feet in the pool and a drink in my hand. Later, at karaoke again, I was so appalled by those California housewives' rendition of Super Freak I curled up into one of those positions normal adults don't assume in public. When Youlia our waitress appeared, I had one foot on the table, one leg hooked under my hips and, since it was Pajama Night, a hideous red sheer polyester robe falling everywhere in a cascade of terrifying ruffles. I apologized for being folded in thirds. Then switched to gin in pint glasses.

The next day: walking, cycling, walking. Feet in pool, drinks in hand, Siobhan and I saw a band called Great Big Sea that was loads of fun. I put my time on the boat to good use. I read, changed my diet, exercised more and got some sun. I napped every afternoon and disengaged from politics for a while. I came back feeling healthier and stronger than I have in ages.

First one making an 'Odette to society' joke gets a green manicure to the kisser.

On Tuesday, Siobhan and I returned to our cabin and found this terrifying creature on the edge of my bed. Note its proximity to our balcony door! We screamed!

Tata: Get back! It could be feral!
Siobhan: What do we feed it? Do you have any beer?
Tata: Beer will not protect us from this beast.
Siobhan: I'll get my camera while you disable the thing.
Tata: Thanks, Marlon Perkins. I'll just do that.

As we later discovered, that was only the first wave of the towel animal assault.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

You Never Had A Sister That I Didn't

Hello, Panky!

You will no doubt be pleased to hear that when I bought Pete a t-shirt on Grand Cayman I also picked up a souvenir of my vacation for Panky here, who will treasure it until after lunch, when the vomit, it shall fly! This souvenir wends its way across the United States at this moment in the loving care of the postal service. Because Miss Sasha sometimes reads this blog, I'm not giving away the plot. I will say however the souvenir in itself is utterly meaningless, I bought it mostly to keep up slovenly appearances and this thing is smaller than a breadbox - not that Miss Sasha has ever lived in a house with a breadbox. Have you?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Be Real, Got To Be

Part I.

II. Wednesday-ish

The motion of the boat is both amusing and reassuring. At first, I wondered if Sunday night’s dinner was going down. Then I wondered if it might come back up. Then we started drinking, which had the unexpected side effect of making unsteadiness on my feet relatively normal.

On Sunday, we met Youlia, our waitress. She might be 22, speaks four languages and hails from Kiev. She’s obviously very bright. She suggested I buy beer by the bucket. I considered making out a will and leaving her my jewelry but Monday night, I didn’t order the bucket of beer. No, as Siobhan and I annoyed a random German kid and a Christian family during Steven Page’s Vanity Project show, I nursed a beer I would have preferred smashing over the sound man’s head. After an hour of soul-crushing boredom, I allowed as how the Vanity Project show had been a bland aggregation of mid-tempo songs about agonizing breakups unfolding in slo-mo and never actually concluding. The German got up in a huff and stomped off. We assumed it was over between us and him, or for that matter anyone offended by my hugely charitable critique.

The little theater was packed but emptied. We stayed, moved closer to the stage by joining a mother-son pair we’d met at lunchtime We understood who we were dealing with when he said he lived in Georgia but once made a pilgrimage to Kevin Smith’s comic book store. She ranged between pleasant company and socially toxic at unexpected intervals. She made a fried chicken and watermelon joke that left me positively speechless, so I turned my attention to ambushing a waiter since there was no way for us to leave. We were comfortably seated in a cushioned round booth while around us hundreds of people pressed body to body, waiting for the next show. When I turned back to Siobhan, she appeared to be mouthing words that made no sound. The son, somewhat aware of our shock, said, “Now, Mom, people don’t say those things anymore.”

The show we were waiting for was both simple and complicated: BNL’s Steven Page and Harvey Danger’s Sean Nelson presented the songs of Paul McCartney. Siobhan and I had seen Sean Nelson earlier. He is a rumpled giant whose hair makes him even taller. He looked like a Far Side character wandered into the bar, was taking offense at something said by the piano, and I don’t mean near it.

I did not at all mind Page and Nelson talking about how they as young musicians suffered for their love of McCartney. The stories were vastly more interesting than the songs. Siobhan and I both enjoyed hearing Let ‘Em In and Just Another Day, but it was late by then. Enough people had lost interest that I could see an almost clear path to the door and did not doubt my ability to clear the rest of it, so we went. It was after midnight and we had a 7:15 wake up call, which I assure you is always an authentic, crappy experience.

It is worth noting that the television in our room has ABC, NBC, CBS, Discovery, and TNT subtitled in Spanish. In the afternoons, I can indeed catch a few minutes of All My Children before I konk out but even that does not come without an undercurrent of extreme weirdness: these channels come from Colorado. They’re two hours earlier than Eastern Standard Time and they warn constantly of blizzards and 58 degrees and pleasant. I can’t tell what time it is or if I need mittens to step onto the balcony. I have mixed feelings about this, knowing that Pete shivers in the pitched gray of New Jersey while I’m slathering goo on sunburn. This, like everything else about the trip, has been for me a sharp lesson in whom I’m oppressing and how. Last night, a drunken woman at the next table in the lower level formal dining room who kept shouting, “I know what I’m saying! Sweet poontang! Poon-TANG! Poon-TANG!” Boy, did I want to oppress her. Tonight, another table full of drunks held a symposium on their relative anatomical strengths at the same improbable volume, causing Siobhan and I to swear off the lower level dining room for the remaining duration of our journey, but not before the waiters put on a dance extravaganza we could not actually see. This was fine by us until one of the drunks turned to our waiter, a dignified, professional waiter of some years who happened to be black, and slurred, “Aren’t you going to dance?” Yes, I wanted to oppress that asshole with a baseball bat.

It’s another story when we get off the boat Tuesday in bathing suits to lie on the beach on Grand Cayman. I awoke to find the Disney Magic, taller than anything I could see on the island, parked about 150 yards outside my bedroom window, two more cruise ships further away and, as I discovered later, three more on the ship’s other side. They reminded me of cattle, so I named the boats Matilda, Martha, Bessie, Bertha, Edna, Enid and Cowpurnia. Then I went to breakfast, because it’s hard to sunbathe glamorously on an empty stomach unless you’re a famous anorexic.

Siobhan and I took the water taxi, mysteriously called a tender, to the shore, where we were herded into a caged room plainly decorated by Albert Speer during his seldom-documented tropical period. Then we were herded to an outdoor concrete bus stop thing, after which we were marched to a parking lot. By this time, I expected cocktails by I. G. Farben, but we stuffed ourselves onto small, exotic buses. A bored woman in an ill-fitting uniform drove us through a traffic pattern that put Rube Goldberg to shame to a stretch of highway lined with evidence that every major conglomerate owned a piece of Grand Cayman, and no scrap of property was too scrubby to be left for the people who lived there. At least, this was my impression as we passed the Blockbuster Video, Subway, Quiznos, KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, pre-fab malls and a slew of familiar chain hotels. After we disembarked, we were herded to a small section of beach with deck chairs and left to our own devices for several hours, during which Siobhan took odds on the domestic dispute two rows over. Yes, the beach was pretty. Yes, the water was gorgeous. Yes, we turned interesting colors on a Caribbean beach, but the whole thing is and was a shamefaced lie, and it was harder to talk to our bus driver when at 10 a.m. we passed smashed tourists hanging from every window and deck of Margaritaville and The Hard Rock Café. It’s either Percy or Geertz who said that our presence as tourists changes the place, and though I knew that, I was ashamed of my complicity in the theft of this island from its people, not to mention two KFCs within a shitty one-mile stretch. Naturally, I bought Pete a t-shirt so we never have to go back.

Siobhan waves goodbye to an island that's already lost.

The show the night before and the episode on Grand Cayman convinced me that I was done going along to get along, and from then on, I went my own way – often on the jogging track. And it went pretty well until I went my own way barefoot.

Part III.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Stories Are Told, Rumors Are Started

This morning, I awoke in my bed, staring up at tiny Topaz staring down at me from atop a set of old stage flats that passes for the headboard of my bed. This would have been more remarkable if I had known how she came to be seven feet straight up above my head. Later, I saw her climb hand over kitty hand to the top, which explains why in a week Topaz looks fitter. Thus, my first thought this morning was, 'Holy crap, how'd she get there?' and my second was about canned tuna.

"But Ta," you're saying, "Where've you been?" Ah! This strange story may take a bit of telling. I wrote some notes. Join me in a bit of fresh time travel, won't you?

I. Last Monday-ish

We had breakfast on our balcony. I can hear Anthony Bourdain scoffing at the pure pasteurized excess that is having 6 tiny wedges of grapefruit and orange join a grape on a plastic plate for complimentary room service on an 8’x4’ janitor’s closet open to an outside wall, but I can’t deny the mind-bending beauty that was sucking down coffee in 78 degree sunlight as Cuba rested peacefully on the blue horizon. Goddammit, it was wonderful.

A thousand years ago, I struggled as every freshman comp student does with the anthropologist’s notion of authentic experience. I can’t remember if the writer was Walker Percy or Clifford Geertz, but I do recall apprehending immediately the difference, lost now on many Americans, between touring Europe and It’s A Small World. Yesterday, we whooshed! through customs in the Port of Miami like the country couldn’t get rid of its nerd rock fans fast enough, while two days ago, Newark Airport – I am NOT calling it by its Newspeak name – was an armed camp full of unsmiling automatons. It’s all bullshit, you know. There’s no such thing as safety, which if you didn’t know before you might finally understand when at karaoke the first night of the cruise two utterly unconscious California housewives did a horrifying 6-minute rendition of Rapper’s Delight. One thing you should know about Barenaked Ladies fans: they are white people. I’m not saying their skin is on the melanin-light side; no, I mean they are white-white-white people who look like they’ve never even held open an elevator door for a black person. It’s like a frat party exploded on this ship, with exciting harmonies. I don’t know what to make of it. The two or three black people I’ve seen on this boat out of uniform looked a bit annoyed and, though I’m not black and I can certainly sometimes be blind to the glaringly obvious, I stared open-mouthed at those two women pretending to be the Sugar Hill Gang. Don’t get me wrong. I’m old. I went through one of the best-integrated school systems in the country at the time, and I know all the words to this song. I would never in a gold-plated million years stand up in front of a crowd and pretend to be black. How does doing Rapper’s Delight differ from doing a karaoke version of Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff, as a drunken damsel did two performers later? I don’t know. It just does, and I was astounded to realize I was in a room full of people who might not make that distinction. Then again, someone had the butt-clenching bad taste to torture us with My Heart Will Go On on a fucking cruise ship. I begged our waitress to bring me another beer. “I am not drunk enough for these people,” I sobbed. “Next time, get one of those buckets of four beers,” she said sympathetically. Live and learn!

Siobhan's view from Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman.

What does this have to do with authentic experience? Absolutely nothing. In fact, cruising like this is designed to eliminate authentic experience of any kind. I just left 26 degrees and raw. Why is my cabin air-conditioned? There’re piles of Canadians on this boat – so pale you could read the paper through their ski – if there were newspapers. There aren’t. Contact with the rest of the world is prohibitively expensive. It costs $2.49 per minute for me to call Pete, which become much less shockingly exorbitant if I eschew swearing:

Fine. You?
Fine! Miss you!
Miss you! Tomorrow at 11!

It’s too expensive to ask, “What?” No, that is the kind of clarification one does not demand when subject to international roaming rates. Further, texting is cheaper but when we talked about staying in touch that way, both Pete and reflexively told those kids to get off our lawn. We are essentially out of touch then because internet service runs250 minutes for $100, and I spend that much time every week reading and re-reading Orcinus because Dave doesn’t just make a point. No. Dave sharpens his point of the lathe, sending sparks flying everywhere and skittering across the floor, honing that point to razor-sharpness, to the microns-wide point beyond which there can be no narrower, sharper point without a nuclear collider and Kali help us which is wildly unlikely, arguing is a waste of time when your argument lies bleeding on the floor before you’ve noticed the filleting. Being small and covered with fur, I have to work to understand what’s going on there. This week, Dave Neiwert is a very expensive date, let alone Pete, who, no question, puts out.

Please know that in the months since we met again in July Pete and I spent two whole nights apart until I got into the cab for the airport. Siobhan and I have traveled together before: to the S.C.A.’s Pennsic War a bunch of times, to Syracuse, to radio conventions, and to Vegas. We have shared rooms, cabs, bathrooms and beds, in a pinch, not to mention a stray boyfriend or two or four. Eh, so personal boundaries can’t be a big issue with us. Even so, I left home to rest in the sun. Siobhan came here to boogie all night. What a wild duet! I spend almost every waking moment on the boat in some state of needle-pinning emotion. The boat is GIGANTIC. The ocean is SO BLUE. Breakfast on the balcony is ASTOUNDING. Dinner last night was SCRUMPTIOUS. Omigod, I’m exhausted, just thinking about leaving the cabin. A few more STUPEFYINGs and I might pass out, and while all this is thrilling, it’s 85.7% less fun than it would be if Pete were standing next to me, giggling, because I suck at math.

My heart might stop, with that much excitement. That sounds like an authentic experience.

Part II.

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