Saturday, May 24, 2008
This morning, I took the band-aid off and honestly? I'm vaguely concerned. There seems to be a not insignificant portion of my finger that isn't really attached to the rest of my finger.
How, you ask, did I not realize this was a touch more than a paper cut?
I have this bizarre tendency not to panic when injured. When I got hit by a car, I called my mother, and had the following conversation.
Me: Hey. I'm not dead, or hurt, or anything. But I just got hit by a car, and so I think maybe I shouldn't take the bus home. But I mean, I can. I just think maybe it would be better if you came and got me. So, is that an option?
Mom: incomprehensible screaming.
Me: Okay. So you'll call me back?
Likewise, when I stabbed myself in the foot recently, I stood there and stared at it for quite some time, before saying simply, "Huh. That probably isn't good." Then, I pulled it out, looked at the blood for a moment, wrapped a towel around it and went about my evening.
Most of the people in my life seem to think this is an enviable trait, this seeming inability to panic or freak out in the face of painful and possibly severe injury. But I'm starting to see how it really has some pretty negative side effects.
The worst of those side effects? Is the fact that nothing ever gets treated or fixed. Nothing. Ever.
The cut on my finger? I really think I probably should have had stitches. The stab wound in my foot? Only very recently healed, likely because it should have been seen and dealt with by a doctor. I had to be coaxed into going to the ER when I got hit by a car.
I wonder how long it's going to take for my finger to heal.
Monday, May 19, 2008
(click on title)
I genuinely find myself baffled when confronted with the kind of hatred and ignorance contained in this sort of nonsense. Baffled, sad, and enraged.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
I watched the Super Bowl today. Actually, there's more to it than that. I left work early, after missing the entire first half and realizing I was actually upset by that, and raced home to watch the Super Bowl today. With my dad, some curry powder popcorn, a beer, and a lot of enthusiastic shouting.
As little as three years ago, I cared more about Britney Spears' latest drama than I did about sports, and you all know how much of a flying fuck I've ever given about that.
So how did we get here? It seems like an awful long leap. How did I go from being a person who not only didn't care about sports in the slightest, but was proud of that fact, to being an actual fan? Not a person who would casually watch a game if drinks were on offer, but a fan. Someone who cares. Who goes out of their way (sometimes WAY out of their way) to watch a game, to find out the scores, to rehash a particularly good (or bad) game with likeminded people?
I think it started in Las Vegas. In fact, I know it started in Vegas. For my twenty third birthday, I went on a lovely weekend trip to Vegas with Jalene and Patty, who are both huge sports fans. This trip happened to be during the MLB playoffs. Patty is a Red Sox fan, and Jalene a Yankees fan, mainly because her husband is. As both teams were in the playoffs, they insisted on frequent stops by the ESPN bar in New York New York to check up on things. This was an incredibly boring prospect to me. Until. To kill the mindnumbing boredom, I decided to make this into an epic struggle, in my head, not between the Sox and the Yankees, but between Patty and Aaron, J's husband. I took a side, Yankees, as you could all guess by now, and against all odds, found myself oddly emotionally invested in the outcome.
Once we were home, I slowly began asking Patty, Aaron and Jalene, my sports loving friends, the occasional question about baseball. This eventually led to my going to a game with my dad ( I got rockin' free tickets from work, and was loathe to let them go to waste.) Prior to going, all I cared about were the following two things: The fact that I was able to TEXT MESSAGE the waitress to bring me beer, and obtaining a gigantic foam hand. However, I found myself doing this very strange thing: Caring. About the game. The outcome, and even, slightly, the mechanics.
A few months later, these same friends wanted me to go to a football game. I had absolutely zero interest in football, and was only convinced when they promised me bloody mary brunch before the game and beer at it. Sitting in their very expensive, 6 rows behind the endzone seats, that strange feeling of being...interested came over me again. During the game and for the next several months, I asked ridiculous questions, and my friends were kind enough to indulge me.
So now we've clearly stepped away from the stance of "caring less than you would think possible". But. We're not yet anywhere near fandom. This is about becoming a fan. This is about how it is I ended up at a dear friends house one night, refusing to hand over her remote until I saw the score on the Seahawks AND the Steelers game, while she yells at me to "Turn that shit off". How did I become a person who actually bailed out of work to go watch a game? And screamed themselves hoarse during that game? How am I a girl who has to be yelled at to rejoin the conversation because I noticed that the hockey game I was interested on is showing on the television nearby, and I can't help but pay attention? I always pictured those girls wearing sweatpants and scrunchies, swilling beers and belching. I never thought that I would be jumping up and down in heels and a skirt, hair and makeup perfect, while screaming "Holy fucking SHIT, did you SEE that? Did you even SEE what Manning just did? Are you paying attention? Are you fucking dead? How do you not react to THAT?" That. Was not something I ever could have imagined myself doing, and really, neither could anyone else who had ever met me. Ever. Even if they'd only met me once, this was not a fathomable happening.
So. Back to the journey. After all my questions and occasional interest, I still couldn't tell you who was in the playoffs, of anything. I still could not understand how watching a game on television could possibly be interesting or even fun. But, when invited to a friends house to watch an important game, I went, largely because they have the most well stocked home bar I've ever seen. To my surprise, and pleasure (the pleasure led to more surprise), I had to ask few questions. I understood what was going on. In a football game. I got it. I even found myself shouting a time or two, but I tried to chalk it up to the influence of vodka and peer pressure.
Now I would occasionally note the score of a Mariners game or Seahawks game with pleasure or vague dismay. I was still not a fan. I was a casual observer. This suited me just fine.
However, following both my Vegas experience and going to a game, I had decided that I quite liked the Yankees, and paid attention when I happened to hear them mentioned. This thrilled Aaron, so he got me reading firejoemorgan.com. (Which is stellar and hilarious, and responsible for the phrase "fuck the heck", so you should all read it, sports fans or no).
Then, a stroke of luck. Aaron had convinced his wife that they SHOULD spend several hundred dollars on great tickets for the three game series the Mariners were playing at home against the Yankees. On the day of the second game, he got sick, and I was invited to take his place. Three rows behind the Yankee dugout, I discovered what it was like to truly love a game, and to genuinely have feelings about your team winning or losing. I yelled, I cheered, I jeered, and when the Yankees won? I screamed my lungs out and I felt it. I felt every moment of that joy.
So I guess I was a fan. But of baseball only. And I was quick to point that out to any and every person who I talked to about sports. Of course I was. One of the main, if subconscious, reasons I was so proud not to care about sports is that we tend to judge not just the people who play sports, but the ones who watch them, as not terribly smart, and not terribly deep. It's just not an intellectual pursuit, not something that serious, interesting, artistic people spend their time on. This judgement is one I've been subjected to since coming out as a fan, and now it strikes me as fairly hilarious. A friend yelled at me one day, while attempting to convince me that I didn't actually care about sports, "BUT YOU'RE AN ARTIST!!!" That was the moment I realized how ridiculous it is to think that an interest in sports somehow has an impact on a persons intelligence or depth. How is it possible that, at the point I was at, the point of very pointedly letting people know that I only cared about baseball, and not that much anyway, I was still buying into this idea that having varied and diverse interests was somehow a negative thing? I'm not at all sure...but I digress. Back, again, to my journey to becoming someone who knows what a cheesehead is, and thinks they suck.
Now we come to the real bridge. All of these tiny things had been conspiring to make me a fan, but they hadn't succeeded. Not really. They had all occurred months and even years apart, and they had not yet made me truly care. Not just care in the moment that I was paying attention, but actually, genuinely give a damn. Check the scores, know when the game is coming up, understand the whole package, know the standings, care. Just was not, as far as I was concerned, ever going to go that far.
Enter a guy. It's always a guy, right?
One day, much to my surprise, (I tend to be surprised a lot, as I wander around with my head in any number of clouds) I realized that I was, unfortunately, incredibly attracted to someone I had known online for years. I hadn't noticed being attracted to him before, although I'd noticed that he was clever, funny, interesting, and kind. But all of a sudden and seemingly out of nowhere, this someone hit me like a mack truck. I'd tried to get him to talk to me before, because I really did think he was terribly interesting, but I'd always failed. One day, though, we got to talking. One of the most startling things I quickly found out was that he was a sports fan. How could this possibly be, seeing as to how I knew that all sports fans were just not very smart or interesting? Given that knowledge, it seemed impossible that this chemist who had great taste in music and books could possibly be into sports, in a serious way.
But he was.
I saw it as something to talk to him about. I happened to know some things about sports, it was baseball season, the Yankees were doing well. Hell, I was on a roll. I had material a-plenty. But yet again, something very strange was about to happen.
I found that I liked talking to him about sports. I liked knowing things, I wanted to learn more things, and I liked that he was able to teach me things. This was great. My opening gambit became, instead, a genuine shared affection for a thing. For once, shock and shame played no part. I rolled with this. I watched more games on tv. I read more sports blogs. I knew A LOT about baseball, and not just the Yankees. But about the Yankees, man, what did I not know? I knew about the games, the politics, the trades, the A-rod crisis, the Joe Torre situation. And I didn't just know. I cared. I cared a lot. I got genuinely pissed off at the idea of Joe Torre losing his job, and the possible loss of A-Rod struck me as a tragedy too horrible to bear.
But then baseball season ended. Somehow, we kept talking about sports. Hell, that we kept talking at all shocked me, but that we kept talking about sports...whoo. And furthermore, I kept caring. I kept wanting to know more. Now I asked this guy all my stupid questions, and he patiently answered every one, sometimes twice. I learned about football. I tried to learn about hockey, but we soon agreed that would have to wait until we could watch a game together.
Some months after we began talking, about sports and really about a million other things, I flew to Chicago to spend some time with this man. It was lovely, and he did teach me some things about hockey. But lovely things end, and so this one did. We tried to remain friends, but for some reasons I do understand and some I can't even begin to wrap my head around, that was a failed effort.
But I walked away with something. Somewhere between Las Vegas and crying my eyes out over Mr. Chicago, I had become a fan. I can't pinpoint the moment it happened. It may have been the day I rushed home from work to watch the Yankees play in the playoffs, alone, on television. Even alone, I screamed, I cheered, I did a little dance, I said a little prayer. My heart leapt when they won, but all those moments when it looked like they might not felt like tiny tragedies.
It may have been the next game, when they lost, and I found myself slightly angry about it still the next day.
Maybe it was when Abe Frohman (previously known as Mr. Chicago) gave me a rubber bracelet with a Penguins in-joke on it, and I wasn't faking my delight upon receipt. Or maybe even later that weekend, sitting in a bar in Chicago, eating nachos and having watching those same Penguins play while I was taught remedial hockey by the incredibly cute, kind of geeky, chemist/sports freak across from me.
It could have been during the NFL postseason this year, when I not only watched the Seahawks games, but found myself watching other playoff games, and knowing how they impacted the standings.
I honestly do not know when it happened. No light shone down from the heavens, there was no ribbon ceremony, no choir sang as I joined the legions of people proud to call themselves fans.
But I know this: Tonight's game? Was incredible. I lied to my boss to get to watch it, and I have no regrets. Manning made an incredible escape, followed by an amazing catch by his teammate. I watched this game, and it was not just fun. It was a nail biter. It was exhilarating. It was some of the purest entertainment I've ever seen.
I know many of my friends will mock me for this, either quietly or openly. That's fine. I still have a little kneejerk reaction to being passionate about sports. But I am. And now I've taken that last step out of the closet.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
It seems absolutely certain that I’m going to rot in hell. Now, depending on precisely what flavor of god is your poison, what that hell is going to look like, how many levels it may have, and how long I’ll hang out in purgatory, drinking bad wine and watching reality television, changes. It hardly seems to matter, though, as all the colors of the god/flame-filled, stinky, polyester-tastic hell sound pretty not okay to me. I’d just as soon not rot there. Any of the theres, really. I mean, given my druthers.
So it seems like my only choice is to believe in god. Okay, easy enough, right? Not really a tough task, when stood against some of the mountains life gives us to climb. Believe in smiling, benevolent happy man in sky, avoid rotting in hell. Easy math, easy decision. Right? Right. Riiiiiiight...
But then it turns out it isn’t quite as simple as all that, I guess. First I have to choose which god I’m going to believe in. Apparently, not all gods are created equal and happy and smiling and sitting in the sky wearing sandals and looking disturbingly Jerry Garcia-esque.
Some gods have beards and sandals, some gods have elephant heads, some gods have tridents and some gods apparently have four arms and severed heads and cups to catch the blood.
How to choose?
Aesthetically, I gotta say I dig the severed head/catching cup image. But, I’m not sure how much I love the ritual sacrifice/murderous bitch element. That seems like it could present a problem somewhere down the line.
But if that’s a criteria, hey, even my happy dancing hippie god is a bit of a problem. Turns out he’s a homicidal fuck too, and vengeance is something else these two seem to have in common. Problematic, that. Although it does seem that if I chose the Catholic flavor of happy hippie, I could fuck up just as often as fucking up caught my fancy, and if I did some manner of apology dance, then this funky wacky great thing they call absolution would be granted, and I’d get to skip right on up to heaven after all, upon my death. So far, the Catholic patchouli sniffer is my guy. Although I have little to no desire to rape children and murder their parents, I quite like knowing that I’d be forgiven and would then get to spend my afterlife sipping martinis with a good book, if I decided I just couldn’t get through my day without murder and sodomy. That sounds nice and reassuring. It seems like a handy insurance policy to have on hand.
Which means, if we grant that I’m going to finally settle on some version of anglo-american god image, I can’t then choose the subdivision of Mormonism.
I’m pretty fond of the following things: Coffee, alcohol, pre marital sex. All of these seem to be out within the confines of Mormonism, so I’m out too. Although I have to admit the idea of polygamy is appealing, when I dug further, I found that it was limited to men getting to marry multiple women. That turned the appeal right off, there. I mean, polygamy is only really appealing if it means I get to enjoy a garden of cocks at a whim. I can just imagine strolling through, picking a lily-like cock on Monday morning, and one slightly reminiscent of a rose on Monday afternoon. And hey, couldn’t I also choose a bouquet of cocks, say, on Saturday night? When I felt like getting a little wild? But no. Apparently only vaginas get to be flowers here. Moving on, then.
Muslims pray five times a day, and so much for that, then. I’m a busy girl, and I can’t be expected to get down on my knees in Starbucks, or while I’m having a pedicure, now can I?
That Catholicism I was so enamoured of seems to be out, as well. Upon further inspection, it seems they are not only also opposed to the pre-marital sex I’m so fond of, but also the birth control that will be necessary to keep me from spawning lots of screeching little monkey like creatures that drag my attention away from the aforementioned coffee and pedicures in much the same way that pesky constant prayer would.
This is so much more complicated than I would have thought.
But, to conquer this hurdle, I’ve settled on a nice, vanilla version of god. I’m going to be a non denominational christian. They seem to be okay, generally speaking, with my penchant for getting drunk and then possibly having sex with a man that isn’t my husband, and even with my desire to be on the pill while doing so. Score. I guess this means I have to give up my beloved absolution, but hey. You gotta give a little to get a little, right? I choose martinis and drunken one nighters over child rape and a touch of murder any day.
On to the next hurdle.
How do I, in the face of amazing and vast scientific evidence, choose to believe that we just arrived, shiny and naked and new, one day, on this earth, because some all powerful being (who we’ve just learned I’ve decided it’s okay to just call GOD, as opposed to Allah, Yahweh, Krishna, Zeus, or anything else) decided he was sick of playing chess with stars and needed a new form of entertainment? How do I force my rational brain to cooperate with the idea that this bored god now possesses the attention span to hear and listen to and respond to the prayers of every single praying person on earth all at the same time? Everything all at the same time?
I asked some preachers, I asked some priests, I asked some rabbis.
The resounding and common answer? FAITH. I just need to have faith and everything’ll be all right. No pesky logic, no pesky doubt, no rotting in hell.
Alright. Okay. Let’s say I find some faith.
But what then? What of the times I notice that religion, beyond just not making any goddamned sense, also seems to be causing emotional distress, murder, pain, family splits, and hey-o, even most of the worlds wars?
What do I do about that?
Faith again, is apparently the answer. Take 1 cup faith, add 1 cup faith, stir, then gradually add more faith. Cook until faith. Enjoy, but not without saying grace.
When it’s pointed out, (by me? Noooo, never) to these preachers and priests, that none of this makes a goddamned bit of sense, what do you think they told me?
Do you think they told me to have more faith?
If you think that they told me to have more faith, I think that you probably deserve ten thousand cookies.
In the face of this, the rational mind is, of course, dying a thousand painful deaths, screaming all the while as though being...you guessed it, burnt by the flames of hell.
Prepare my bed. D’ya suppose it’s too much to hope that there will be mints on our pillows, in hell?
It’s a Tiny Hole, Yeah, But You’d FitI've spent a lot of time recently attempting to explain to my little sister why her teacher has been discouraging her from picking "difficult" topics for papers. Why he doesn't, instead, make sure she's aware that she's taking on a challenge, and then commend her for at least trying to do something thought provoking and interesting. It's hard to explain, in large part because I get so angry about it that my head explodes, and then we spend a couple of hours scooping the bits and pieces of my head off the floor and walls, and then spend a few more trying to put my Humpty Dumpty head back together. It's a process.
The best I can do by way of explanation is to point to the larger trend of dumbing things down in American public schools, and try to make her aware of why she shouldn't slide through, doing only what they require from her, which, from what I can tell, redefines the term "bare minimum". Why she should actually put forth the effort to learn as much as humanly possible about the world around her, the world behind her, and the world ahead. It's not always an easy sell, but bless the child, she's actually willing, 99.9% of the time, to go far further than they ask her to.
The other night, while thinking about how stupid our schools are encouraging our youth to be, I saw a commercial. Now, ordinarily, as you well know, I view the discussion of television commercials as a crime punishable by death. It may well be that this is one of those instances, and if you feel it to be, hey, if you know where I live, come dole out my due.
In this commercial, two young women, I'd say early to mid twenties, are sitting in a coffeeshop. They are well dressed, city dwelling folk. The conversation is approximately as follows:
Girl 1: Did you know that McDonald's serves lattes now?
Girl 2: Mcdonalds? That's so...
Girl 1: FANTASTIC.
Girl 2: Now we don't have to come here anymore.
Girl 1: I don't even LIKE jazz music.
Girl 2: I can wear heels again.
Girl 1: I don't even know where Paraguay is!
Girl 2: Finally, a not snobby place to get espresso!
I'm sorry...what the fuck?
I mean, this isn't really painting McDonald's in a good light, for one thing. They're basically saying, if you are an uncultured, undereducated idiot, please please please come to us, O target audience.
But more disturbing to me is the implication that enjoying jazz and actually knowing basic geography automatically makes people "snobby". I can all but guarantee that the genius behind this hideous ad was not only Republican but male as well. What sane person would actually imply that educated, cultured women don't wear makeup and heels, and cannot be feminine, whereas feminine women in heels obviously wouldn't be interested in anything other than heels and makeup and their husbands dinner?
Ah, media and massive corporations, I do so love how much you contribute to the world, and to the constant progress of the collective consciousness. Because young women are definitely the demographic most in need of reinforcement of the importance of image. Yep. It's also an awesome idea to reiterate that knowledge and intelligence is to be scorned, rather than revered. Yeah. That's superfantastic, folks. Thanks.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
60,000. That number is fucking staggering, and doesn't even address the number of people left homeless and unable to gain access to food, shelter, clean water or medical aid in the wake of this disaster.
60,000. People. Dead. And climbing. Climbing, climbing, climbing the death toll pop charts.
The situation there worsens daily.
For once, I'm not going to point a finger at the US and European governments and scream j'accuse. From what I've read and understood of the situation, we're actually trying to help. I don't know how pure our motives are, or if we're going far enough in our efforts to assist these people, but I know that we aren't standing by twiddling our thumbs and sipping our lattes while calmly reading news reports. When I say we, though, I mean the government. For once, and just this once, probably, I am not as upset with our government as I am a couple of other entities.
Who, you ask, am I fucking furious with? Made ill by?
First, and to get this out of the way, the junta. Obviously. I'm not even going to launch into the reasons behind that anger, because I believe that if you don't already know and grasp that they are evil, sick bastards who are killing their own people through premeditated neglect, you are an idiot. And you will never understand.
Second, the media. When this first hit, there was very, very little media coverage. I watch the news every morning, switching from channel to channel, and I read the paper, and what I saw, over and over, from outlet after outlet, was the following: Presidential politics, oil prices, presidential politics, 20 seconds of Burma coverage, presidential politics, oil prices, oil prices, presidential politics, sex scandal, oil prices.
It shouldn't surprise me, still, that Americans and really, the English speaking world, care about nothing beyond their own backyard. It shouldn't. But it does. It appalls and disgusts me. That we, as a people, collectively care more about paying 3 cents more at the gas pump and the dogfight between the Democrats than we do about an entire nation helpless and suffering, makes me so sad and angry that I can hardly bear to discuss it. I'm not saying that oil prices, the economy, and the presidential race don't matter. Of course I'm not saying that. What I am saying, however, is that we seem to have lost, or maybe we never had, any sense of perspective.
The comparison I keep coming back to is this. When less than 3,000 people died in downtown New York, we saw nothing else on television for weeks. The news coverage, the outrage, was amazing and relentless.
Now, go back to the death toll that is being reported now from Burma. The death toll that everyone acknowledges is inaccurate in that it will rise. That number. That staggering 60,000. The corpses floating all over the country. The people who have lost their entire families, homes, villages. The sick, the hungry, the dead.
Where is the outrage? Some people will tell you that it's like comparing apples to oranges, that in New York we had someone to blame, a target for our anger and heartbreak, and here we don't. Those people are wrong on so many levels. The first would be that we do, in fact, have people to blame here. The death toll is rising BECAUSE THE JUNTA WILL NOT ALLOW THEIR PEOPLE TO BE HELPED. I can't imagine a better villain at which to direct your rage than that. The next level is more complex, and at the same time, revoltingly simple.
We, and I'll only speak of Americans, as they are the group with which I am most acquainted, simply do not care as much about foreign citizens as we do other Americans. It is as though we cannot force ourselves to remember that they are actual, living, breathing, loving human beings. They have families and jobs, successes and failures, hearts and minds, JUST LIKE WE DO. We forget that we are only where we are and who we are by a simple accident of birth. We forget, to use a phrase that you all know means little to me in the literal religious sense, that "there but for the grace of god go I."
To re-rail my train, let's go back to the media. There is another reason that I wish the media could be represented by one single human form, simply so that I could go to that person and punch them repeatedly in the genitals until they gained some common sense. That reason takes us back to our earlier simple math, "junta = bad, duh." Every media account that you read, watch or hear mentions, repeatedly, that the junta are bad, bad guys who won't let us, the good, good guys, in to help save their people. Okay. It's totally true. And it's a point that should probably be hammered home...at some point. However, incessantly calling them meanie-face douchebags? Is probably not the best way to get them to allow us in to deliver aid. Is all I'm saying.
I don't know how much the average person can do to help with this situation. I do know that there are things that can be done. I know that there are groups in Burma, already on the ground, able to actually reach some of these remote areas and help the people who so desperately need it, and that ten minutes of research would have you in contact with one of these groups. I know that for as much money as you would spend on having a coffee every day, you could send a donation to one of those groups and DO something. I know that, barring a monetary donation, you could spend your time. You could talk about it. You could mention it to as many people as possible, as many times as possible, with the knowledge that increased awareness of a situation undeniably leads to increased action towards resolving that problem.
I hear, in times like these, from many people, that it's too sad to think about, it's too depressing. People simply don't want to think about it, don't want to talk about it. They want to think happy thoughts, because really, their lives are so stressful. To these people, I should direct a gentle reminder that the stress in their lives in no way compares to the stress people in countries like Burma live under every day, even without an event like a cyclone to make things worse, and that now, the stress level the people of Burma must be experiencing simply cannot be described. That's what I should do. I should be gentle and diplomatic and attempt to cajole these people into giving a shit about anything but themselves.
Instead? This is all I have to say: Fuck you. There is a not insignificant part of me that hopes that something horrific happens to those you love, and that it happens somewhere and sometime where it is impossible for you to get help. Then, I want to be able to grin at you and say "Welcome to the rest of the world, you smug, self involved cunt."
But more than that, I hope you wake up one morning and realize that your comfortable existence stands in sharp contrast to a large portion of the lives of the people in the world. And that it might not be the worst idea in the world to help out a touch.
Go here...read...maybe even help?