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Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Finishing the Year Off with One-Liners

Let's just admit that a lot of people near-and-dear died this year. Icons die, and that's a large part of how they get to be icons--if, say, Jim Morrison had lived to a ripe old age, he would've been doing Cialis commercials. Except some who died this year icon'd before they DOA'd, like Prince.

Let's also admit that the death of celebrities is, at times, just as painful as the death of people personally known. Yes, I know, I know: celebrities are not always important, in that they are abstractions. Celebrity is a shallow pool in which we all drown.

Celebrities I have mourned over the years: Robin Williams. Kurt Vonnegut. Michael Jackson.

That's about it.

Oh, I think I might've gotten a bit teary-eyed when Judy Garland died. I wasn't alive when she died--I just saw a documentary about her last days and was sad.

Elvis. I was alive, barely, when he died. It was a comfort throughout my youth to know he wasn't actually dead--he was living on an island with a brain-dead JFK and Marilyn Monroe.

Anyway, celebrity deaths affect us. We don't like to admit it but it is true. I have no shame in being affected by the death of anyone.

So in a year that made Aleppo a question--"What is Aleppo?"--I am not afraid to say the death of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds has upset me. More than Prince. More than Bowie. More than George Michael.

George Michael, a man who gave birth (figuratively) to one of the best jokes on Arrested Development. In season four, much-maligned but unfairly, George Michael Bluth declares he no longer wants a name associated with a sex crime and says he is now George Maharis.

Google 'George Maharis.'

I'll wait.

Done? See! Brilliant joke.

Back to celebrity deaths.

Where was I? Oh! Carrie Fisher.

Carrie Fisher was someone I didn't know but, more importantly: Carrie Fisher was someone who didn't know me. We met once, of course, but it was of no consequence to her--she was performing, and Greg and I just happened to be in her presence--but it isn't like we sat down for brunch and had a conversation. Or we did, but both G and I were polite and smart enough to just listen.

We were Freudian shrinks, and Carrie was our patient.

(Except of course the more she talked and the more we listened, the more we learned about ourselves.)

Greg, my husband of four years and my life-partner of nearly 15, has a mental illness. He is, like Carrie was, bi-polar; he prefers 'bi-polar' but Carrie preferred to be called 'manic-depressive.' It's the same thing. Carrie insisted bi-polar sounded like a gay bear in the Arctic. Greg says manic-depressive sounds like going home for the holidays. I'm not bi-polar or manic-depressive, so I let those with it self-identify.

I know it is bipolar and not bi-polar. Officially there is no hyphen. But there should be. The splitting of the word is integral to the comprehension of the... I don't even want to say 'the disease.' Or the sickness. So I'll just say 'the state of mind.'

Carrie helped me understand my husband, is what I mean. First, she helped me understand myself--I always thought Leia was the best character in Star Wars, and grew up pretending to be her rather than Luke or Han--and then, when I adulted, she helped me understand Greg.

Prince, Bowie, George Michael. There are many things I could say about each of them, and about many others who died this year, celebrity or civilian. But it is Carrie Fisher who matters most to me.

This year has been a dismal year. And since I promised a one-liner, here it is:

I imagine when President-Elect Donald Trump is fisting someone, that someone invariably calls out, "IS IT IN YET?"

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Arguments, Closing

In New Hampshire, election places are now open (and possibly closing--NH seems to exist in dogs-life moments), and we're well on our national path to a new fate. As usual, we have two paths even when a few among us in need of corrective lenses see at least four paths. And no matter the amount of paths, each leads deeper into the vagueness of a snow-covered wood (only one of the paths will, of course, lead us to a denuded forest, but that's not what I'm discussing right now, you climate denying assholes).

Since those of you who are not interested in voting for Hillary Clinton are not interested in facts--or have some weird interpretation of facts--I won't bother using facts. Voting has begun, after all, and what you've heard is what you believe.

I'll just say this: Hillary Clinton is a terrible campaigner. She is not good at stumping, she is not good at debating, and she is not good at making you feel good about yourself. She is not someone you'd want to have a beer with, and she is not someone you'd trust if you went shopping with her. None of those things is her job. And when she's actually doing her job, she's quite good at it.

I bumped into an older woman today. She's regal and a Southern expat like myself, and about Hillary's age. I've known her for years, and we've had quite a few fun and animated political discussions. She said this, after I made a joke about perhaps never seeing her again after Wednesday: "I just don't know what we're going to do. Both of them [guess which both] are corrupt as all get-out, and neither of them care about it."

It saddened me that this woman felt both Clinton and Trump were equally corrupt.

"And she is a war hawk!" the woman said, placing her hands to either side of her head. "Thanks, I really need more war!"

As I nodded, shrugged, and winced, the elderly woman continued. "And Bill will be prowling the White House. Who knows what he'll be doing."

"Or not doing," I suggested.

"Imagine the future Monica Lewinskys he'll accumulate!"

"Maybe," I said, "they should sprinkle saltpeter in his food."

The elderly lady, perhaps the only person I encountered today, got the joke, and laughed. "There's an idea!" she said.

Except it wasn't an idea. It was a reflexive comment on how women use Bill Clinton's actions to justify their own distaste for Hillary Clinton.

(Which is, I should add, not my man way of discounting Bill's actions.)

One of the weirder things about this election is that women are more concerned with defending Donald Trump's recorded admissions of sexual assault than Bill Clinton's, and pretending either men have anything to do with Hillary Clinton's ability to govern.

"Honey," one can almost imagine Hillary saying. "I know it's late and I'm about to negotiate a trade deal with Hitler's younger kid, but could you put the hooker down and go to bed?"

There are four paths diverging in the wood, and which one will you take?

There's this path: "I don't know, President Stein, but I took a vaccination and guess rather than developing autism I hallucinated you being President."

There's this other path: "President Johnson, D.C. is not in the actual state of Washington."

There's this twisted, dark path: "It's not for me to say, sir. I'm just the Press Secretary. But I do have Putin on the line."

And this other path: "Madame President, Bill's in the secretary pool again. And Prime Minister Trudeau is on line three."

There are many reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton. None, I'm afraid, involve her ability to do the job assigned to her. Most, it's true, involve reasons having nothing to do with her public service. Refusing to vote for her on principle is like refusing to breathe because someone farted.

Or like refusing to cite a certain Frost poem at a high school commencement because it's been done before.

Look: my point is, one can take the road not taken. But you ultimately know who's woods these are, and when the path diverges into a rather startling four paths, the only difference it makes is what you tell future generations which path you voted to take. And that you get your eyes checked.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Art of the Trump in the City

My relationship with Donald Trump is complicated. The most expected complication is that I have no real relationship with Donald Trump.

Yet here we are.

When I was a kid, Trump's Art of the Deal was a thing. Art of the Deal (more formally known as The Art of the Deal, but we'll skip formalities) was a best-selling book about bullshit before there was a best-selling book about bullshit, which is called On Bullshit.

On Bullshit is a much better book because it cuts through bullshit rather than making it into an art. It also has the benefit of being 100% less bullshitty as it is written by someone other than Donald J. Trump.

This was prescient, btw.
Art of the Deal was left out on coffee tables around America and other unsuspecting countries, and was possibly translated into other languages but no one speaks about that any more. It was on bedside tables. It was in the floor next to suburban toilets. No one got rich from reading it, but it was as widely-read as Peyton Place in its day. (A lot of people at least got laid from Peyton Place.)

The only people who got rich from The Art of the Deal are those who ghostwrote it, those who published it, and those who appeared on the cover of the book. None of them, ironically, read the book.

My parents bought the book. They left it laying about like casual porn for me to find. To their credit, they also let me read my Bloom County books in peace--and Bloom County truly had a different view of Donald Trump.

Seeds planted.

Some years passed--in Trump years, some wives passed--and I moved to New York City.

From a small town in Alabama, littered with Art of the Deal books, I fled to a place littered with Trump buildings. And one of my first interviews for a job was with a man who eventually said, "Have you seen Apprentice?"

Again, informal. What the man meant was The Apprentice, but when it comes to Donald Trump, the only time 'the' is required is when saying The Donald. Or, of course, The Litigant.

The interview was in a Midtown studio pretending to be a Midtown office. There was a beautiful view of buildings looking out at buildings looking out over the Hudson. And there was a table as long as a deli window, and as unappealing--rather than meat, across the table were slabs of humans, sitting in chairs like pools of olives, like cheese awaiting a grating.

Each of them, from olive to cheese, had a greasy copy of my resume in hand, and each read it in their own way, some as a dramatic interp and some as a class assignment.  The olives pitted it. The deli cheese sliced it. 

Some weeks before, I'd spoken to my little brother. I was living in a terrible apartment in Morningside, and he'd just seen Donald Trump approach lower Manhattan in a helicopter, so he wanted to know if I, too, had seen Trump's helicopter.

"He flew in over Lady Liberty," my brother said in a voice that implied a swooshing hand gesture.

"Ah... yeah, I saw that." I hadn't--I was too far uptown and too buried in buildings to see much of anything. But it seemed important to him, so I pretended. Twelve years living in NYC, I understand: you see the city so often when you're not in the city, you sometimes just need a reference point. I was the reference point.

"Did you see him waving?"

"No. But I have terrible eyesight. I'll ask Greg if he saw the wave."

"Cool."

Two days later, sitting across from a phalanx of slick hair and pitted olives, I was in an interview going so badly that I was advised to take lessons from Apprentice episodes.

The position, so far as I could tell, was for a medical concern. It was my understanding that I would be tasked with forcing hospitals in Manhattan to purchase useless software, and then making sure they properly used the software to more inadequately serve their patients. As the man, sitting at the end of the deli window table like a butcher explained to me--while his collection of olives and cheeses and human meats nodded--they were a Company, and the Company required a person to go out into the world and make sure Things Got Done.

I nodded along with the deli selection.

"We need you... Marcus. May I call you Marc?"

"Up to you."

"Marc. We need you to make sure," and here the man templed his fingers over my resume, "each client agrees to use our product in a way beneficial to the Company."

"Perhaps," I replied, "I'm wholly unqualified for this."

"Let's see. Let's role-play."

Jobless, living in what I think Dickens would call penury, obligated to help my future husband make ends meet, and I said, "No."

"It's just a formality." One thing about the man at the end of the deli window table: he had a hairline almost down to his eyebrows because his constantly-furrowed brow drove it there. Looking at his collection of olives and cheeses, I knew instantly why the man kept his brow furrowed: it gave the impression of deep thought when, in reality, there was no thought more deep to him than an PowerPoint slide.

"I'm not gonna role-play."

The man un-templed his fingers and sighed. He nudged my resume a bit as if testing it for life. "You know, this." He flicked the resume. "This is a work of art." Then he looked at a young woman sitting off to the side--she'd been taking notes, and when the man looked at her, she stopped noting much of anything other than the man's gaze. "It's not your fault," the man said, and I then understood it had been she who had asked me to the interview. "This resume would fool Donald Trump."

Not making that up. The man actually said my resume would fool a man known as a fool.

Then the man turned his gaze back to me. "Have you seen Apprentice?"

"No."

"Watch it. You could learn from it."

And that is how my younger brother gave me a point of reference.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

On One Half of All Men

On behalf of all men, I would like to apologize for Donald Trump.

Not because I represent all men, and not because I am an enlightened individual open to ideas foreign to my gender, but because I am a human being, and someone should really apologize for a man who cannot apologize for himself.

Donald Trump has an undiagnosed disorder that prevents apologies. It happens. I once knew a woman incapable of saying the word 'juxtaposition' without gesturing wildly and then spitting on a knuckle--any knuckle, not just her own. I once knew a guy who could not say 'Jesse Jackson' without following it up with a racial epithet.

Speech impediments are real, and are not always limited to speech. Gestures matter.

And Donald Trump, I'm sad to say, lacks the ability to understand both basic speech and token gestures.

When I was a kid, I had a lisp. It's true. I lisped, and I followed up my lisping with limp-wristed gestures. Fortunately, there was a special class at my elementary school where I was sent, twice a week for one hour, to learn how to avoid my lisp and--by extension--lose the limp-wrists. After two years, third and fourth grades, I became a man qualified to apologize for Donald Trump and all the other men who cannot bring themselves to say the words "I am sorry" without following those three simple words up with a "but".

But.

It is true, in my non-lisping, firm-wristed post-fourth-grade life, I have said a lot of things about what I'd like to do to various men, and I've said those things well beyond a locker-room setting. I've said, for instance, and in a movie theater, that I would like to fuck Cillian Murphy.

I've said I would like to give head to the guy downstairs who is a dancer and yet who smokes like a chimney and probably shouldn't be both a dancer and a smoker--seriously, eventually one must pick one or the other, or else you'll Fosse yourself into a coma--and I said that in my own home. To my husband!

I have said, perhaps more than once and in many places non-adjacent to locker-rooms, that I would like to get butt-fucked by the entire cast of Hamilton and would provide the strap-ons to the Schuyler sisters if needed and accepted.

When I was getting rid of my lisp and limp wrists two hours a week for two years, I learned the difference between 'I would like to...' and 'I just do.' For Donald Trump, and those who suffer from his debilitating speech impediment, it is a challenge to separate the gesture from the action.

It is a shame Donald Trump never had the chance to go through Apology Conversion Therapy--if he had, he may have learned how to be a human being and apologize. As with my speech therapy, Apology Conversion Therapy teaches one how to pretend to be someone you are not. It teaches you to avoid your natural self, to pass, to get along. ACT reminds one that the gesture is more important than the words.

Yet here we are. Donald Trump, a presidential candidate of a major party in the United States' political bicameral system (let us stop pretending tricameral is a thing this election), cannot even ACT his way into a genuine apology, and that is a sad thing. He cannot apologize for something he said 10 years ago, as a 60 year old man, instead assuring us that--as a 70 year old man--he's changed his ways. If only Donald Trump had gone through a similar two hour class in elementary school as I, perhaps he would understand, Dude, you don't need to actually change; you just need to fake it til you make it.

In my case, I learned to fake it til I got cock. In Trump's case, he just needed to fake it til November 8th.

So. On behalf of all men, I apologize for Donald Trump--and not because, as I said, I am a man. But because humanity itself has failed to give Donald Trump the tools needed to say 'I am sorry' and shut the fuck up. Instead, Trump suffers from a common ailment: Inability to Apologize.

If only we could've ACT'd sooner.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Dead II

Waf is fast asleep.

His head slips ever-so-slightly from his house-within-an-apartment, a tiny cloth and foam home sitting on the floor just before me as I sit on our kitchen floor. He's dreaming.

Not in house
What, I sometimes ask myself, does Waf dream? In his tiny little home, inside of a larger home, surrounded as he is by cushions and squeak toys. Surrounded, as he is, by a larger world of which he has no knowledge, except on occasions where he ventures out into it, strapped to a human, harnessed in a vest, taking one step after one quick step, indulged in sniffs and squats, until returned again to the bigger house that encloses the smaller house and the cushions and the toys.

What does Waf dream?

His legs shake the cushioned house. He emits a tight, vague 'Marf." Then a stuccato follow-up as the tiny cushioned house shakes.

Perhaps he is remembering his previous owner. A young woman, sad. A young woman with kindness in her eyes and a story of icy silence when asked, Why are you giving us this dog? Perhaps he is remembering his youth as Tobey, his first name before his final name. Tobey. I say it, and he still stirs in his sleep.

You're talking about me. Goddammt.
Waf is asleep. Greg, my husband, is asleep. We are all in a spacious room on a giant planet in an expansive, if not depleting, universe, but Waf is in his house inside the limitless space of everything.

Outside that house, there are complications and squirrels and chemical reactions. And there's Tobey, Waffles' first name, inspired by I do not understand because who the hell names a dog Tobey?

And there's Greg and myself, who have a dog named Waffles. In a world more large and terrifying than Waf can dream. And the dreams fall faintly on Waf, and fall, like descent of their last end, upon all the Tobeys and the Wafs.

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