Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Rumors of War

"I'm working on something, and you're going to love it, and it belongs in Richmond, Virginia."

Honestly, I'm not so sure about the point that Rumors of War actually "outflanks" discussion of removing monuments bought and paid for toward a racist political and social agenda. I hope that the idea of removing such so-called monuments (to insurrectionists who rebelled against the United States and lost) isn't just *over*. But I do appreciate the strategy, and not least because this is the most breathtaking kind of  art.

Side note ... given how lazy/racist it is to use chocolate and coffee imagery in describing characters of color in fiction, how do we feel about the "silky, dark patina" comment from a white journalist? Hmm.

Monday, December 2, 2019


Here is a plot bunny giant enough and strong enough for me to want to saddle it up and gall-hop away: on "crones" in sci fi. YES, PLEASE.

(N)o person inherently deserves to have a larger psychological piece of the universe than another person

I would add: or physical piece. Walk like a man, talk like a man - get crashed into by men, my friend! This phenomenon is the WORST in grocery stores, and it's always white men.

the brittle tedium of being yourself in a foreign place

This is an exhibit I might have to visit, Hopper and hotels. (Initially, I used the term "go see" in that first sentence, but changed it to "visit" ... both because my brain insists upon certain rhythms - but also because it seems, in the dingy gradation of color words have for me, a better choice for the picture.) What Sebastian Smee reviews as problems are part of what I see as the strengths in Hopper. The unfinished stories these pieces evoke. The "clunkiness" of his female figures strike me as, in fact, similarly honest to the rest of his images; celebrating bodies which are not artistically or aesthetically perfect. The strands of hair, the skin tones and shadow are impeccable. I can see muscles and bones where Smee apparently cannot.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

"... Dad?"

Look, I know the answer is NO.

But today I have been distracted from the American impeachment inquiry testimony today ...

Seriously, is Sting David Holmes's father? Uncle? Older brother?

Image: NBC News

Image: Huffpost


I have been in this room, but we were with Cicero, not Spock. An elegiac, good read. "The logic of mercy" ... yes ...

It's not news to me that the fashion industry produces a massive amount of the garbage we create, but ten percent is still an eye opening figure. Also, just a bit more for my TBR pile; thanks, Nature!

Speaking of fashion ... it's been some time since I linked an American Duchess piece, but how about - oh, sixteen pieces? Looking at the capsule wardrobe. Love the "just one black frock" image!

History which, not only did they fail to teach this in my schools, I literally have never even heard of these HUNDREDS of takeovers, or the IAT, before now. It seems like that's burial. It seems like that is colonial power and prejudice, still alive and well.

(T)rans joy is real

What a beautiful essay. Go click and be blessed

Monday, November 4, 2019


Synesthesia, misphonia, repetitive motion, ASMR - all threads in the skein of my family, and each one fascinating. For the record, 7 and L (lower case as well) are yellow and sometimes paler. Never bright. 4 is more a buff. And at least one person in my family has misphonia badly and copes with it, and another one has it intermittently and just doesn't. (None of us into ASMR that I know of: we are a deaf lot!)

Adventures in Teh Intarwebs, People Have Time On Their Hands edition: someone took the trouble for this. *SMH* Honestly, it's just bewildering.

Happy birthday to Nature, turning 150 this week! A few great links from the past couple of daily emails from them - one, on an astonishingly promising therapy for cystic fibrosis, a disease very closely related to the pulmonary fibrosis which had a hand in the deaths of four people I have loved very much. Another, pointing to the immune damage measles can cause, exposing victims to risk from diseases to which they were formerly immune. Thanks again, anti-vaxxers.

When I was a kid, it may have been anywhere from when I was eight to twelve or so, my aunts and maybe even my grandma were visiting. Mom had a bushel, perhaps even more, of tomatoes to can, and she was manning the pot on the stove. My memory is that I was at the back side of the table next to my aunt V, and mom gave me the bright chrome knife. A small knife, it's a heavy one, gleaming, and that day it was freshly sharp, and my job was to slit and skin the cooked tomato bodies, crushing them with my hand and pulling off the skin, and take out any part of the flesh not good for preserving. The tomatoes were terribly hot, and the acid would burn if you had a cut on your finger. But my only memory is the cacophany, the steam, the sitting around a brown formica table with my family, mom running the show.

Why tell the story above? Because this makes so much sense to me. (Though, to be fair: I have a *peninsula* in my kitchen, and it is spiff.) 

As we come to the season of holidays, treats, great meals and small ... what are your kitchen table memories?

Edited to fret: I fear there is a new addiction in the offing. Science Daily has an article about dingoes, AND an article about Ötzi. Hooray for twin obsessions!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Right now

One year ago, it was clear and golden and dazzling, and I was holding the hand of my friend as she died. And then I was watching them disconnect her, de-intubating her, taking her finger out of the monitor, settling her arms and head and sheets. It was quiet, the beeping done with.

I came to work today. There seemed no point in not coming. I don't know why I did.

That day, I went home, after being with her husband, her friends, her family. Witnessing one brother's pain, because he missed her last moments. I sat on my couch, insensible to the Poobahs, and I knew they smelled her on me, smelled the hospital, smelled death. They were subdued, and I was inert to even their gentlest, inquiring, sweet attentions. The next night, my mom came over with food, and we ate, and we gave out candy to the neighborhood kids. I am grateful.

Jesus, babe. I miss you. My girl.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Morning walk

The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. instead of 5:40, and I rolled over out of habit, then found I actually felt like getting up. Pum came to the bedside in the dark, her ritual morning greeting, and I felt the strong, tight curl of her tail on my wrist as she padded away again, back to her bed.

Dressed and hair wrestled down, the kit and pup kibbled, I pulled on a sweater coat and light gloves, and we were off.

Penelope is a good girl on walks, and today was so quiet I had time to notice the tall oak to the southeast was not lit from below, as it usually is on autumn and winter mornings. Against the fathomless teal just outside the bare halo of sunrise, its bent branch and filigree were achingly lovely. I had time to muse - is that quiet sound, of minimal sand on damp asphalt under my soft shoe, is that a crunch, or something gentler? I had the time to muse, but did not find the word.

Just last night, talking with mom about her puppy and my now older baby girl, I'd said how funny it is: dogs' communication is most chancy not in the dark, but at twilight and dawn - when light is there, but they can't quite see the cues dogs signal each other with. This morning, we passed a shepherd going our way briefly, but across the street, and though she clearly saw the other dog, Penelope had no response at all. No pulling, "Mom, I want to go see the other dog - and thereby make friends with its person."

Dark, still, when we got home, Pum had her sniffs and her business done, and I had all my shoulder and back muscles intact. Seven years old now, she's powerful and big enough, this still is important.


One week from today, it will be the first anniversary of my best friend's - my sister's - death. Someone who loved her hard has gone to a place the rest of us who love her can't join him, and it is heartbreaking. Two of us - two of the three who made up our little Musketeers - cling to each other, and count ourselves blessed we ever had her. We are angry still, and yet able to laugh at the ways she haunts us.

Mostly by sending Def Leppard songs at incongruous - or entirely TOO congruous - moments. She remains an inveterate smartass. And she remains with us.

I will mark her passing in a couple of ways, across the miles with our third sister, and alone - and in figuring out exactly how to dress for Hallowe'en. She always LOVED Hallowe'en, and if dressing up is memorial to her now, it is a joyous celebration.


The dark season has begun, and that means not just winter's advent. It means not just cooling and sweatering and cozying and contemplating. It means BOO, it's Hallowe'n. It means grappling and reckoning with her loss. Trips to the cemetery, and always, always down memory lane.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


But our stories are about resistance, resurgence and badass MMA fighting congresswomen, reconnecting with our grandparents, fighting for future generations, building pathways for our fish, our children and our more-than-human relatives to thrive. It's time to represent our stories, our voices, our insights, our languages and our words for ourselves. In most of our Indigenous languages, our terms for ourselves translate to "the people." "Who are you?" someone asks. "What is the name of your tribe?" Our word usually translates to "We are the people. We are people, human beings." It's how we have represented ourselves since time began. It's about time for the media to catch up.

Once again, I'm confronted with a scientific expression of that system/spirit intuition I've been working within for the past two years at least. This article is a beautifully put ... sense of self, if you will.  "‘you’ are more than the contents of your chromosomes. The human body contains at least as many non-human cells (mostly bacteria, archaea and fungi) as human ones. Tens of thousands of microbial species crowd and jostle over and through the body, with profound effects on digestion, complexion, disease resistance, vision and mood. Without them, you don’t feel like you; in fact, you aren’t really you. The biological self has been reframed as a cluster of communities, all in communication with each other." This is worth the click for the writing, too, which is wonderful.

Banana. Plastic. Cool.

Edited to go beyond the bananas.

We all need hope, and I am willing to be persuaded it's worthwhile. So - yes, the environment as it existed before human intervention is in TROUBLE ... but the rate at which we're recognizing and seeking to rectify our errors is increasing every day. That is a good thing.

We're figuring out strategies to capture CO2. We're insatiably curious, even as we're scared, and that means we're fighting the consequences of our own blunders. Because homo sapiens are innovators.

Yes, there will be more unforseen consequences. Yes, there will always be greedy bastards who don't believe and don't care what has been manifest for decades - and is exponentially dangerous with every year that passes. Yes, it's sad we all look to (my niece, whom I shall not name here), Autumn Peltier, and Greta Thunberg - and feel stupid and scared and ineffectually guilty. The stupids *are* real.

Those who contemplate the groceries and trash we use are often paralyzed by the solutions that make their way into our attention - out of reach financially and/or geographically. When even the solutions aren't solutions, some, overwhelmed, just throw out plastic when nobody's looking - the new "throw up our hands and give up."

But there is HOPE. We are more than the contents of our chromosomes. And we're more than the consequences of our hubris.

And we're smart. And we're fascinated. And we're thinking about this. There's never been more focus on the problems stemming from and leading to climate, ecological, specie-al change.

Hope. Hope. HOPE. And learn.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Collection of Happy-making-ness

I just subscribed to Nature's daily briefing. Best idea I've had in ages; it's already brought me joy, and that's worth dusting off this old blog, even though I know it's not exactly The Bullhorn of Teh Intarwebs 'round here ...

Happy birthday to Trillian & company.

“Zachary Taylor was there. George W. Bush was there. Jimmy Carter was there,” Jacoby said, and then paused to think. “Oh, uh, Hillary Clinton was there! I believe Chelsea Clinton was there. I think Alexander Hamilton was there, too.”

Not merely non-horiffic news about something happening in the environment, but teeming, JOYFUL news. With dolphins (failing to say so long and thanks for all the fish, which is a good thing).

Okay, moving on from the links I got from Nature - but not stopping with links to provide hope and the-happy ...

Coral farming. It's slow, but even just seeing that humans *try* to bring back this habitat and life and beauty is hopeful.

Repatriation stories always make ME happy, how about you?

One last link, again from The History Blog ... would you like to actually DO something to preserve America's unique history? Welp, because I have been remiss in checking the HB, we're too late to donate to this particular cause ... HOWEVER ... the saving has been DONE (see comments section - one of the few comments fora on the internet where it's always safe to keep reading)! One of the last Hopewell sites in Ohio has NOT been sold for McMansion development. A win for all of us, and one I am so glad to see.

And, if it were not obvious: The Archaeological Conservancy did not go *poof* with the gavel bang above. There are other opportunities to participate in saving material cultural heritage, and for some things it may become "too late" at any time. Consider donating, becoming a member, or learning more. I'm definitely adding this to my special lists of give-to organizations.

Monday, September 30, 2019

White Gentrifier Guilt

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been tooling around Teh Intarwebs and the real world, getting a feel for real estate. Watching my mom, aged 80, continuing to grapple with the question of whether to leave the home she shared with my stepfather (answer: almost certainly not) has me thinking about what I'd like my own old age to look like, and it's possible it might not look best in the house I've got.

When I purchased my home in July, 2001, I never imagined being in it 18 years. It was meant to be starter equity, to be traded in when I found some hapless victim man - really very nice, but nothing I meant to become permanently attached to.

Well, my equity is now old enough to vote, or to die in a foreign war (but not drink!), and I find myself wondering whether it might be best traded on at some point. The house is two steep storeys, AND has a full basement: and the laundry is located all the way down there. Being of a moronic and stubborn nature, this means I regularly huck hundred-pound loads of clothes up and down stairs in varying states of safe clearance. Oh, in my fantasies, some engineer appears magically and offers to build a motorized dumbwaiter in a convenient spot. But then, in my fantasies I also have a slate-floor screened porch, a brick car port with electricity, and the house is suddenly not located in a super-white neighborhood either.

Yeah, I am 51 years old, and have realized that MOST of my life has been lived in a White Flight bubble. The schools I went to were named for old white politicians, proponents of Massive Resistance (we could have been Edgar Allen Poe high, but ohhh no - must be a politician!). The suburbs I spent most of my time in were without diversity.

So I don't really want to live my entire life in the economic, cultural, and personal bubble that is White Fragility Comfort. If I do sell, I'd love to see my place go to people who don't look exactly like me. When I bought, I was still a little afraid to buy in neighborhoods with bars on the windows.

Now, I'm more afraid to buy in those neighborhoods because, inevitably, those of us who grew up like I did are seeing how nice the houses were, that our parents or grandparents left behind in heading for the suburbs ... and they're coming back, displacing historically Black neighborhoods, denuding beautiful homes of vintage architectural details (white shaker cabinets that do not reach the ceiling and theoretically high end finishes that clash with and poorly cover older homes' interiors - what I call "stick on" kitchens), falling for ugly and disrespectful flips. Gentrification is killing family businesses and families, pricing people out of places they have lived maybe for generations.

I don't want to be that person. The notation "yoga studios and coffee shops are popping up everywhere!" in a listing, translated, means "don't be scared, lil' white folks, you can come back to the city because we're papering over what it used to be as fast as we can destroy lives!" It also means ramping up economic inequality - and, cringe-ironically, sending those who'll no longer be able to stay to cheap apartments ... or maybe the midcentury ramp crappy flips we're leaving behind now that they're no longer fashionable.

In just a few weeks' looking at my own future and driving around trying to suss out the worst of the gentification, I haven't figured out how to puncture the white economic bubble I've spent an awful lot of my life in, versus avoiding landing like a lummox on an even more delicate neighborhood ecosystem without damage.

One thing I know: whatever comes, I'll have zero use for boo-teeks, coffee shops, or yoga studios, so at least I don't have to feed THAT aspect of economic flux.

But I don't really know if there is an answer. It's entirely possible the answer is, "Sit down and shut up" - and, the fact is, I'm entirely willing to take that answer. Eighteen years in, I let my eye rove, and what I find when I come literally home is, home is a really nice place. Maybe I ought to hope my own environs might diversify with time, and save money for that dumbwaiter, that porch, that car port. A person could do far worse.

For now, I'm educating myself, and it's already working. I'm getting a feel for what the real priorities would be, what it would take to take me away from the house where I have loved my Sweet Siddy La and Pen and Goss, where I endured my father's and my stepfather's and my best friend/sister's deaths. Where I felt Mr. X's hands across my back as he held me, the day dad died, the first time he ever visited here. It wouldn't be easy to strip my home and leave these walls, these bricks, these good bones.

Maybe at some point I'll figure out the balance. Maybe (it's remotely possible) Mr. X and I might even find a home together someday.

Eh, maybe I'll be hit by a bus tomorrow. It's unlikely. But in the meantime, I gotta live.

And my place isn't a bad one for doing that...

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


You don't need to know what Tisah B'Av is, if you just know that America is suffering. Find an event this weekend; I have found mine. And I plan to wear mourning, go, be quiet ... and, most likely, weep. Where is your event - or would you like to plan one?

... and, should you need an antidote to American atrocity ...

High comedy? Or low - as in that personal space we so often call "down there"? Medieval satire, or: when a lady breaks up with her down-there amid arguments with her. Some satire is evergreen. Or ever-rosy! Never accuse The History Blog of being dry and boring ...

This week in Trek tech - that sun ship I first heard of on DS9, and found bewildering, turns out (like so much Trek tech!) to be a thing. Sailing on a sunbeam. COOL.

But, seriously. Recognize where we are. If that means joining communities of faith this weekend. If that means choosing to give to those who are suffering. If that means prayer, or just reflection. Understand the world, and that it is filled with humanity. And, if you can, if there is an event near you: go. And do.

Sunday, July 28, 2019


That backpack could be saying “I’m about to trek through the jungle for a Louis Vuitton photoshoot” but it could also be “could I get my cappuccino with oat milk and the WiFi password?”

MY NEW FAVORITE BLOG - it has Trek, it has Teh Funnay, it has the subtle joy of yaaaassss-queenisms. It has Picard. It even has the click beyond.

Beautiful photography in Appalachian Ohio. It's not the part of Ohio where I spent so much of my life. It's not where my dad came from either. But Ohio means a lot to me; and some of these are still and perfect and small and exquisite.

How have I never heard of Sapphire and Steel before? Terribly intrigued. DVRing some episodes, I'll report back if it's fantastic.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A story

"My dad used to take us camping," she said to the curious group at the booth in the bar. We began to quiet down to listen to her. "We would hike up this mountain all morning in summer. It took hours, and we would be so hot, and so tired and hungry by the time we got where he was taking us. You had to go up rocks, and through these trees. But then, breaking out into the sun ... there was this lake. Perfectly clear. The most amazing blue. It was beautiful..."

The story, as my friend K once told it, was actually several minutes long.

It's the closing line I can never forget.

"And that ... is the color of Diane's ex-husband's eyes."

All I ever managed, in praise of his startling, Nordic baby-blues was to say they were "like Windex." Even that I stole off of Carla Tortelli.

My mom once amusedly scoffed that he must wear contacts. I countered with Paul Newman. Even just a few years ago, I showed a somewhat recent pic of him to my Aunt, and the exclamation she made indicating how good he looked was a familiar, memory-claiming, "Those eyes!"

Beloved Ex's eyes are still that shade of extremely bright, clear blue. But it got weird, too. Not so long after that pic I showed my aunt, he was in an accident and injured, and suffered what he and I generally just refer to as Bowie eye. No eerie, glamorous alien rock god, BEx *has* been a hellacious front man in his day; even just last year, seeing him perform for (my) first time in 24 years was a revelation. He's a great performer.

Last year was also the first time I ever saw him with the eye dealio. Dear as our friendship is, neither he nor I ever pretends we're not exes, so we talk and email and text, but we haven't visited in many moons. He wanted to come for dad's memorial, and had car trouble, and so the last time we were in the same room before last year had been in 2002. (He did get to see dad before he died; maybe that is right, and better.)

The Bowie eye thing is cool, of course - but BEx isn't much of that opinion. What many of us might feel as a distraction to people we meet, he feels as an embarrassment - and, too, he certainly has to squint more than he used to. The shades stayed on a lot. And, not actually doing the rockstar thing after all, one does understand how he doesn't embrace the visual oddity. Like most things people dislike in themselves, or worry about anyway, this isn't as exceptional to see as it is to own.

Lately, I keep running by movies we saw together, when I flip channels. They take me back, not so much to Ohio, or even particularly the late 80s/early 90s, but just to him.

If it seems hard to understand why someone I like so much, and love so much, is in any case still an "ex", rest assured it's been brought up to me before. Given how he talks about those people in his life who haven't met me apparently respond to him talking about *his* ex, I assume that I am not alone. And, as old age with nobody but a cat and a dog in my life looms, the fact is I query myself whether I could live in Ohio again after retirement. Once mom goes (assuming I actually outlive her; it's just possible), I will be essentially alone in the world wherever I am. Of course, I don't expect to be able to retire before age 78.

At the end of the day, though - and as much as seeing him last year was GREAT - it also reminded me of a fundamental way we are incompatible.

BEx was not raised in a house of yes. Even going back to college at what he feared was the "old age" of like 28 came in part under the influence of my dad - not his. His default expectation is of frustration and failure.

During the year or so of our functionally being married, we ran up against ... me. I was restless. I wanted to see some "other side" to Ohio - to get out - to not be so poor we had to discuss, "Hey, can we afford toilet paper?"

I also saw myself turning into a pretty awful person. This probably owes to sabotaging us: I wanted out so badly I flailed. When a cherry business offer came from his then-employers - "Buy our music store, we'll make you a deal" (they were lovely people and really cared for him) - I saw two things. One, that I didn't want to stand in the way of that. And two, that it meant a pretty deep root in Ohio.

Restlessness turned to nagging and discontent and nastiness. I went home, got work, we stayed married and hoping, but I also succumbed to that most impossible of urges - I wanted "to grow."

That was 25 years ago, and I am still at it of course, but what revealed itself relatively early is the major problem between me and him. He is wary and wise, facing life with bets hedged and expectations low. This is completely right and fair.

But I became, somewhere along the line, not only a practitioner of gratitude, but actually spiritually invested in counting my blessings.

Last year, watching his progress through an iffy day up to that Really Big Show, I was powerfully reminded: BEx can't take yes for an answer. The weather was perfect, the crowd was GREAT, the band was tight. It all was sensational - and a good time. But even afterward, his focus was on details he wasn't satisfied with. As I said at the time, "He can't take yes for an answer." Never could.

Which means that BEx, as it turns out, is a striver. Maybe "a little depressive" as he and I actually used to have a personal joke about. But very much in service of his ambitions, his needs and hopes and expectations.

I am decidedly *not* a striver.

I need to be happy with what is (and, no, the irony isn't lost on me). In nearly twenty years' homeownership, this is why the hardwoods REMAIN un-refinished. It's probably why I abide in loving Mr. X, at that - someone who ruined all the other boys for me, but who also may literally never reappear, physically, in my life. The fact that I don't quite believe that doesn't mean I don't comprehend it's possible.

Not unlike BEx, Mr. X is not easily prone to taking yes for an answer.

Me, apparently I'll take "no" till the day I die. Pollyanna, just too busy to be distracted by failure, or insistently practicing that gratitude that keeps me focused on what actually does work in my life (think what you may about romantic delusions - what actually does work in my life is remarkably extensive). All of the above.

BEx is hardly monomaniacal on the subject of what doesn't work in *his* life. It's just that my need to thank my lucky stars makes his entire perspective irksome.

I would get in the way of his pragmatism and ambition. He would get in the way of my practice of gratitude - and it is, a practice.

And so, we are exes, and friends, and I actually do still think he is the ginchiest.

As, all those years ago, my friend K also did. Eyes like deep, still mountain lakes. Or Windex.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Paradise, Sugar, summer, and X-ness

The time was gone when we'd actually sit in someone's family room and watch MTV, but Paradise City's images still made up a big part of listening to that song. We knew Axl was a jerk, but the *song* was still summertime. That was the year we cruised DMV drive.

Val had taken me to Grace Street before, and I was used to venues, dating my rock star at college, going to gig after gig with him and all our musician friends. So cruising really seemed pointless to me, just driving around a wide block, traffic at a standstill, and only one stretch of it really populated. It was usually impossible to get a spot on that stretch; so you'd crawl through the crowded, merc-lit street, and then it was half an hour around a boring circuit to get back again. If you *could* get a spot, though ... it was a fun way to blow an hour before actually going somewhere.

That year, it was Paradise City - Axl in his white jeans; the ageless avatar of Slash stripped out of black and hat, actually sexy under there - and Pour Some Sugar On Me. Every idiot with a too-large spoiler and giant speakers rigged in a hatchback serenaded the entirety of the cruising audience, and I can't remember a single other track that dominated. Those two songs were THAT. SUMMER.

Valerie died to the strains of Paradise City. And Def Leppard was her favorite band.

It is my punishment, and my poignancy, that Axl's damned white jeans will make me cry forevermore.

I miss my girl. She was my sister. Her husband, now - I guess he's my brother.

The orangey light outside the huge HQ building for the Division of Motor Vehicles. Me and Val being cute and using fake names. I was Sabrina because I'd liked that cartoon as a kid, and the name seemed exotic to me. Valerie used Penelope.

Sometimes, now, loving on my dog Penelope, it's not just her I am hugging. She's my girl too.

I never did know why she used Penelope - just, it amused her. It was so unlikely. And boys. Boys trying anything will believe anything. I mean - Sabrina? We both dared 'em to disbelieve. They never bothered to; honesty beside the point, when you are cruising.

Pour Some Sugar On Me.

Both the songs are anthemic, and impossibly catchy. Cryin' is playing at me right now - and we loved us some Aerosmith. (Val had a story about being a groupie and chewing gum.) But Sugar and Paradise, that was all anyone ever heard. When your car was inching forward, and the heated dark breeze of a Richmond summer night carried the distant strains of either of those songs back to us on the long slog through the boring 75% of the circuit - that was the promise. "You're almost there." Almost to the relevant part. The part that is lit, and full of people (boys) and music. The interesting bit.

Scent of hot asphalt hanging in the air, and not a little exhaust, including diesel. Voices, shouting, unrestrained singing. That kid on the skateboard, the first person I ever TOLD I was named Sabrina.

Valerie's laughter.

My girl.

We'd make a few turns. Or park, if we could. Then the lateral move, more parking, more crowded blocks, and The Jade Elephant, or Newgate Prison (hilariously, a dive bar unbeloved by Virginia Commonwealth University Police - now their headquarters - I guess they won). Dirt Woman sitting on his porch. "You can get the dirt off Donnie, but you can't get Donnie off the Dirt!" The Lee X theater, I think defunct already by the early 90s. Grassy scrub lots. The 7-11, maybe convenient for some, but impossibly distant and useless for those of us in heels.

That guy who made his friends drive him around in an old limo. He was cute. He'd give us rides to our cars. Every boy Val ever dated, or was thinking about it. The night I brought The Elfin One, and she laughs to this day about how I zeroed in on someone and said, "I want THAT one" and got his attention. It's all in the wrist - you just pick the one who appeals and is most likely *to* pay you some attention. He was tall. Dilliest smile you ever saw. He was ... unfortunate. Sigh.

My Val.

It's funny. Since she died, I talk to her - "Vally" I call her. I NEVER called her this in life. Some part of it is necessary now, and some part of it almost offends me for being unprecedented. Too cutesy, perhaps. But she's so dear. She was so damned small, in her hospital beds. I miss her.

Summer nights.

Right now, it's so humid in Richmond you just feel WET. Even walking the dog at 6:45 a.m., the humiture is intense. Even at ten o'clock at night, letting her out for the last time, dark - maybe even breezy - it is HOT outside.

Summer used to be what my dad called "soft" nights. Oh, it was still warm, even back then. But it didn't seem punishing. Maybe nothing does when you're half the age I am now, healthy, and ignorant of the future. Not that our future was bad. Val found the best husband she ever could have had. She had joy and SO much love. She and he knew what could come, and agreed.

No regrets.

That summer. Not regrettable. Not even a guilty-pleasure memory. I'm not ashamed we were hair-band chicks, into that kind of guy, brash, loud, laughing. As much as Val's laugh still rings, I never ever faded beside her. Neither of us ever did second-fiddle. We were the Cinderella twins from their old videos. We were catty, and open, and good in our skin, and interested and interesting. We were the 80s. We were the 90s. We were good with it all (and, no - neither of us was ever into the big-hair thing for *ourselves*).

The one time V ever faded into the background around me.

She was with me when I met Mr. X. It actually took about a year or two, that meeting.

It was the crack of the new millennium, and as an 80s throwback we went up to a bar in Springfield, to see the Bullet Boys, who sucked and had ZERO crowd. It wasn't even any fun for making fun of those who'd never gotten the memo that the 80s were over, because almost nobody was there. One other table - us two girls, maybe three guys. I don't remember most of them, because a *CLICK* happened. Mike. It wasn't sexual, but I've rarely experienced chemistry like that. He was fun to talk to, we stayed in touch on email and by phone, tried dating ever so briefly, then he met his wonderful, gorgeous, immensely generous wife.

November, 2002. I've just broken up with the "should be good on paper" guy with the SOUL PATCH (good grief, I though I was getting old at 34, and shouldn't be "picky"), and Mike's band is playing that same club, opening for - I think - Blind Guardian. The line this time wrapped around the building, and it. was. cold. Val and I get out of the car and end up in an alley around back, walking by hundreds along our way, wondering why the doors haven't opened, and hearing lots of grumbles. Only one attractive guy in the whole lot, and he's probably way too young. We take our places. And wait. And wait. I actually sent her back to the car at one point, to get my big wool coat. I hadn't wanted to wear it in the bar, but out here, waiting interminably, a little plastic jacket is not doing the job. The cold stabs from below. Val and I are shivering, miserable.

It turns out, BG's equipment was not compatible with American electrical systems. Which one might have thought could have been solved before several hundred people ended up stranded in the cold, but so-eth these things go-eth. Once we are inside, I go to touch up my face, and find the blackberry lipgloss in frozen shards, bleeding, and recalcitrant about remediation. I feel annoyed and Of Constrained Attractiveness for the rest of the night. And just as well, for the most part I can't find that hot guy anyway. We hang with Mike and the lovely (seriously - she gave me a FOOT MASSAGE, that wonderful woman) Mrs. Mike, and the night ends up being a lot of fun. Good company goes a long way.

At the end, coming out of the venue itself, there is an outer bar. Pool tables, flourescent lighting for my already not-so-flossy-feeling self, and ...Val pulls on me, "Diane, get a load" - and it's that guy. Definitely too young.

I dither and linger, Val takes a bathroom break, I'm on my own by some pool table, make eye contact, smile. He still doesn't come over. When she comes back, I grab her and make a beeline because it is late and we've got a hundred miles to go.

And, not being but so selfish, I leave the opportunities (between chicks hitting on him) open. "We just have to know. Are you single?"

"Sure!" he says.

And, Val told me, she might as well not have been there. "He lit up." "He was only looking at you."

I got his email and we booked it.

That's how I met Mr. X. Who turned out not to be 25 after all. What his age *was*, relative to my 34 at that time, we shall not discuss, because he's a coy one. But I won't say I wasn't glad he wasn't a baby.

Ahh, my Vally.

She was fun.

Saturday, July 13, 2019


Haha - Tom Williams best book review I've read in a good while. Spoiler: it's atrocious!

Oh my gosh, Herculon. That's one of those words guaranteed to take me to a very specific period of childhood, like heatilator. Cool posts, both, and the first link is smart, warm, and very in-depth about the world as some of us remember it - scratchy, brown, not always forgiving, and warm.

 Strange Company has been a simmering new favorite for a while now. This post is a great example of why - a nicely written, in-depth look at one of the oddments of history - in this case, a look at the gruesome depths to which vanity can take us . Fun!

Edited to add more from Tom Williams - this post about Ely Cathredral is a wonderful piece of history. Part 2 here. Both have stunning photographs, and the architectural story, as it tends to do, is also the story of politics, people, and the land itself.

Thursday, July 4, 2019


While thunder rumbles and rain roars, I am glad to be "unable" to participate in any quasi-happy jingoism today. I spent time with my mother, and now am getting down to the most patriotic activities for the day. Doing something with my privilege, to share it with those being punished by our country for the temerity to wish to become a part of it.

I am embarrassed by my federal government. That we are run by bigots and charlatans.

This is what we can do.

Here is where I am going, to share the smallest pieces of my American Dream.

At the top link, there are these and MANY other ways to provide support to those on our borders who are in need.

Monday, June 24, 2019

I miss ... and therein lies everything

I miss her. She and I weren't truly close until our twenties, but we knew each other from the age of twelve. In high school, we shared that certain world of boys we liked (I have never been famed for liking the same boys as everybody else, so this actually does have specific meaning). She seemed brave to me, more daring. Once we got out of school, and were together because we wanted to be, we were daring together - more and more often, until she was my sister.


She's in my DNA. And she is gone. And I hate that. Even practicing gratitude, even counting the blessing that she was - that she IS, dammit. Even being glad I got to love that girl, and was loved by her. Nope. It's not enough, because I was only good enough on my own schedule. I was too little, and too late, and we both did that, but the last too-late was mine.

She's left us all to deal with these scurrying circles. She, bless all of her ashen bones, is at peace, I pray.

Today, I listen to old music, and Dokken seems to be transforming to make me think of her. Alone Again and Heaven Sent, no longer cis/het/sexual love songs, but longing strains of my lost friend.

I miss her.

She was SO alive.


I miss him.

Even in a dream, all I have left is "that you ARE" - telling myself in a dreaming brain, that it is enough only knowing he exists, and telling myself that by way of "telling" a chimera of him: "just knowing you exist."

It *is* enough - knowing whom I have loved, knowing I was loved. But distance. Depression. Distortion. They make it hard. He's a Daemon of air and darkness, and I miss him. It's all we have, to make life bearable.

If only he could be alive as she was. I pray it for him. Never sure if it does any good.

He's in my heart and head and soul. He isn't "gone" - not dead; only curved into himself; too distant. I can't even know whether to love that or hate it. The wall I am pressed against is blank.

Scurrying circles. Small ones. Vicious.

I shift to Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here - and it is nothing like him. And its drawn-out softness, its langour and melancholy and desolate gorgeousness transform me. And I am quiet.

I miss him.


I miss writing.

It means so much, and it means nothing. Gets me through, and on the other side of "through" I find nowhere.

Even so.

I miss writing.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

"Passion" is dumb

The English language once had a word expressing romantic or apopleptic fervor, a word that even sounded like a sibilant storm, opening with a plosive, ending with softness. It denoted special extremity.

Now we have this.

My brother and I discussed the bewildering primacy of the term "passion" back when we attended the second JRW conference, many long years ago. Agents reacting to first pages, or discussing what they were looking for in queries and stories, bandied it about almost more than any other word. I began to wish it were possible to mute words on the entire internet, early in my first experience of querying.

Even when I was young (again, this was many moons ago), the word actually embarrassed me. Maybe because it still did have some power - and implications - back then. But I've never in my life said or thought or felt I was "passionately" in love with a person, and as proud as I am of my career and invested as I am in my work, "passion" is not and I actually hope never will be a word I apply to doing it. That would be ridiculous.

So The Atlantic's takedown of the absurdities we attach to job listing and hunting resonates with my cranky old heart - passionless as it may be.

Like that job, and like so many things, I spent a decent span of my twenties and thirties under the impression that I was supposed to feel apologetic. I didn't have a sexy job for which I held a white-hot torch; I hadn't even gone through specific education geared toward it. My teen years: I was a kid. I didn't know what I wanted to do or "become" and, as much as it was clear I was supposed to, I honestly didn't care enough to develop any fake passions for business or law or even the arts. Majoring in theater where I did cured me of interest in going into THAT - though it probably laid some groundwork for me as an author.

Students in the 80s who seemed into business degrees bewildered me for directing their lives at, basically, just making money - not even making actual things, or having any impact on anything. Graduate school seemed like a lot of work, so a lot of what are referred to as "The Professions" (as if nothing else is) didn't draw me for a second. School for creativity seemed oxymoronic, and yet was the only way I could comprehend to become any sort of artist, and so if there ever had been a visual or musical or other sort of artist inside me (there wasn't), I'd have killed it myself, striving for it.

I never developed a groove that had anything to do with making my living.

Beloved Ex, now. He was a different story. He wanted very much to find a way to make a living that energized him mentally, emotionally. It didn't help our brief marriage, unfortunately, because by the time a truly stunning opportunity came for him - it meant rooting ourselves in Ohio, and I freaked out hard core, and ... yeah, I didn't want to sabotage his opportunity, but I did, AND I didn't want to stay in Ohio. And I didn't. Lots of birds killed with that boulder, and that boulder ... welp, it was passion, in its way.

For me, life's always been lived outside of any office. I make friends, sure. I have experienced strong loyalties and many emotions, in a hundred offices from here all the way back to Ohio. But, at the end of the day, I would never have gone into any of them if they weren't paying me.

Passion's for poorly written poems. It's been no way for me to get things done.

Doesn't make me any less excellent at what I do for a paycheck. Doesn't mean I do not care. I'm not a customer service ninja (which sounds like a bad idea, honestly, what with the kill-y parts of ninja-dom - though, really, the Orientalist stereotyping of "ninja", "sensei", and "guru" is a problem, and also, why are so many of the terms noted like this?), I don't lose sleep at night dreaming naughty dreams of vendor management or the passionate joys of meeting preparation. You want an obsessive or any other kind of job-extremist, I'm not your candidate - and, honestly? I think MOST PEOPLE aren't.

MOST JOBS, let's be candid, are just jobs. They're not sexy, they're not hot lovers, they're not things that get our motors revving. If we're fortunate, and have the right kind of approach, the best most of us can expect from employment is the opportunity to work a good puzzle. Figure out how best to do a thing, then do it, and feel like a rockstar for widgeting, or networking, or calming down some numbers that get uppity.

"Job" is not a word stormy with sibilance. It doesn't start plosive, but with a chop. It ends utilitarian, not reassuringly with a nice, soft N. It's short and ordinary and gets its work done efficiently, nondescriptly.

And it's one of the great words in most of our lives, when we're lucky enough to get one that doesn't beat us down but does provide security. Maybe it gives more than merely that. Great!

But work is work.

They don't call it rapture, for good reason.

Sunday, June 9, 2019


Fella babies, today we start off with the direct line from representation to racism. (The click beyond.)

Marketing ten thousand steps for fifty years. Man, what a triumph - but not of healthcare information.

It's been my policy to view actual moving/sound footage of Trump as little as possible, so I rarely end up seeing Melania either. However, during his recent visit to the U.K., I caught a little of their welcome to Charles and Camilla ... and was car-wreck fascinated. Go to about :45 and watch her attempts to maintain a smile. It's eerie.

And then there's the light FIST she makes as she turns to enter the house. Yikes.

Welp, and if like me looking at those two (not meaning Charles and Camilla, but hey, YMMV) makes you feel dirty ... maybe it's a good thing. On the relationship of microbial bacteria and depression - not what you might think! (Or: hooray for pets!)

And here we have the final nail in the coffin as to my old argument with my bro: I am NOT a(n) historian.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


"(T)he falling cost of renewable power changed the calculus" of energy sources. A pretty compelling statement about nuclear power, from the guy who headed the NRC for years. Okay, then.

Sarmatian mortuary objects came up, for me, as I was researching The Ax and the Vase many years ago, and I've remained intrigued at this culture. Recently, a burial was found - looks like a VIP ... worth the click if only to take a look at the absolutely exquisite horse's head ornament found in the grave. Clovis' father, Childeric, had a horse burial (as well as a bee burial)

Swear to Maud, K.D., I just bought a wrap dress. (To be fair, I am nobody's idea of a romantic heroine.) On writing quibbles, rage-inducingly bad ideas, and other fun, from K.D. James. (Also, yes, the date of this post gives some idea of how long it's been since I was doing my regular blog rounds. Apologies to those I have neglected.)

Of more recent vintage, hooray, a new post from The Arrant Pedant! It doesn't even matter what it is, just go, read, enjoy. He's OSUM. (Okay, what it is is a linguist's view from a uniquely spelled name. Now go read!)

Now. Here's the thing about history: it's not a game, not even a dynamic with winners and losers, good and evil. It's deep and complex, it's diverse and layered. It's MESSY. There isn't anyone alive who doesn't simplify it with their slightest allusion to it ... but not all of us get punished for that. But lately? Any punishment in a storm, and the political era we're enduring is one long shit-storm. We need to be careful about punishing people with, or about their invocation of, history. Click on, for a well-organized, concise history of the origins of the modern country of Israel.

Finally, can the literal dress of a racist, patriarchal past be reclaimed from its worst implications? Yes, fella babies: for the first time in a long time, it's a fashion link at last. And don't forget the click beyond, an interview about the Little House books, and the Wilder women.

Monday, May 13, 2019


Plenty of folks are willing to treat fetuses as precious citizens, but seem to regard the bodies that nurture them as embarrassing slums.
If you don’t understand how female bodies work, you might end up believing some really harmful things about women.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Rest in, across, and exploring all the heavens, Jerrie Cobb

“Yes, I wish I were on the moon with my fellow pilots, exploring another celestial body,” she wrote in a 1997 autobiography, “Jerrie Cobb, Solo Pilot.” “How I would love to see our beautiful blue planet Earth floating in the blackness of space. And see the stars and galaxies in their true brilliance, without the filter of our atmosphere. But I’m happy flying here in Amazonas, serving my brethren. Contenta, Señor, contenta. (I am happy, Lord, happy).”

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

... wait for it ...

... because, for my writing friends, this is a REALLY good column about writing.

It's also good for the advice-column that it actually is.

Layers. Mmmmm.


I'd apologize for the headline on this post, but hey - y'all know I am already obsessed with the archaeology of poo, so this one should be no surprise. Just thank me for not linking the headline punning about this discovery almost "whizzing" by ...

Anyway, so at last, at last, poo has met its match, so to speak. Article. Article. Article. Abstract, for the truly dedicated. Wheeeee!

Yeah, no pun intended. ("... or was it ... ?")

Edited to add: but wait, there's more. Not merely the salts indicating where urine was once deposited, but the stuff itself. Yes, I mean the story about the horse.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bewildered, Bewildering

I was five when the impeachment hearings against Richard M. Nixon commenced. By the time I was fifteen, he had gained a foothold in discourse, seemingly revivified, and I did not understand it. We had spent what felt to me like endless years "watching Watergate". I thought it was an unbelievably bad TV show, and longed for Hogan's Heroes or *anything* to take its place, but understood that in fact it was taking everything else's place because it was a really big deal, bigger than Walter Cronkite's half hour, bigger than syndication or prime time or even Masterpiece Theater. Being bigger than Alistair Cooke - that's big stuff, in the Major household of 1973.

So the fact that he was wandering the Earth aeons later, when I was fifteen, was bewildering. He got a library, and I thought "but he had to resign - wasn't that 'in disgrace'?" and began to resist the rehabilitation of public crooks.

I resist it still, in the belief that Ms. Nielsen does not deserve the sinecure some outlet or think tank or company may well give her. This is the monster who presided over the jailing of children.

Which, itself, seems to have mellowed, like Nixon, in the public imagination already. It's been less than a year, but GOP outrage faded instantly, and the rest of us are pissing in the wind, fewer and fewer reminding the world that this was appalling for a week or so last May. From that Fetid Sepulchre in the White House, to McConnell, to her, and all across the board, this atrocity has been papered over with Trump's inevitable distraction stories, and the revulsion felt round the world, ignored, is left curdling in fewer stomachs every night. This is repulsive.

There are days it feels like nothing can dent this administration, never mind derail it.

There are days it seems hopeless, knowing the conversation will always be Tweet-dominated, directed away and away and away from the countless crimes and sins and infractions and moral repugnancies of this administration.

It is possible to take the narrative out of the short-fingered hands, though. It is long past necessary. But here we all still sit, in the thrall of a compromised so-called leader, whose government is ever-less staffed by those actually vetted and confirmed by due process, who leaves the government under-staffed for years at a time now, whose use of threats and tyranny, and reckless, dangerous cries of treason (contravening his Oath of Office, never mind the Constitution itself) really don't even teeter anymore on a "brink" of authoritarianism. We are, THERE, folks. It's already happened. The DoJ, headed by a crony who enthused for 19 pages for impunity for Trump, has been hobbled.

Imagine a world in which Ken Starr's investigation ended with a 4-page memo from Janet Reno, explaining how she was not going to hand over his report.

Imagine, ever, Michelle Obama living in a golden tower in NYC, away from Washington, totting up millions in security costs for American taxpayers, and expecting to get away with it. Or President Obama taking golf trips costing us in excess of $96 MILLION DOLLARS, and expecting to get away with it ... never mind the time such travel takes away from the business and work of government.

Given that "But her emails" survives as a complaint against Hillary Clinton  over two YEARS after her electoral defeat - imagine if she had taken office, but refused to use secured devices. Trump has never acquiesced to using a properly encrypted, protected device. Outrageous. But only for a woman. Only for a dem.

The Trumps, all of them, make security questions surrounding the Clintons look unbelievably puny.

Still he is in office. Using his almost-certainly-compromised-iPhone to control discourse.

I would be willing to die, resisting authoritarianism.

Every day of my life, it comes up at some point: I do not believe that could never come to pass.

Monday, April 1, 2019


WOW, this is a fascinating piece of legal history and a wide-ranging look at civil forfeiture. When journalism goes this deep into stories, I can't tear myself away. And the story is a moment of "bipartisan" cooperation (yes, theoretically the SCOTUS is not supposed to be party-based, but we all know perfectly well that's hogwash). An excellent read because it's great writing, engaging storytelling, relevant and hopeful history.

T-Rex at the American Museum of Natural History. NEATO-SPEDITO! Don't even pretend you don't want to see this.

I grew up with the affectionate use of "am" in my house. White and Southern and old as I am, this wasn't correlated to Black American speech, though we were familiar with the stereotypes. The "am" was just linguistic overlap, though its tone of juvenilization/baby-talk usage has a distinctive paternalism, viewed alongside the hideously racist exaggerations of blackface speech. In our family, it was our intimacy: dad would ask us or our friends, "How am ya?", but it was certainly not a greeting he used with colleagues. I'm fascinated to see the roots that am between us. I'm also reminded of the long-held belief that Appalachian American speech preserved Elizabethan English for centuries - the truth of which is delightfully more complex than "yes, it did" or "no, it didn't." The lineage of Black American English is more complex than its reception has generally allowed. It's hard not to want to protest, "but my dad wasn't racist" ... even as it's impossible not to see the Colonial heritage of a language long-shared only because of slavery.

Once again, Diane's fascination with the archaeology of poo ... oh man - "comes to the fore"? "raises its head"? I'm not sure how to put this that isn't lame scatalogical humor. Anyway: NEATO, it's excremental science again! This time, on the moon. <Resists the Schrödinger's poo joke> Go! Learn the wonders of human contamination in space ... or the secrets of seeding (cue echo-boom voice effect) LIFE ITSELF.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Faith, now. That's a different thing.
Most human conceptions of divinity are doomed attempts to grasp at the ineffable. It's ineffable. Not mythology.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Sturm und Traum

This morning, it was one of those utterly implausible, plausible, detailed dreams. I was shot in a mass shooting - four times. My right flank, side (right in the imaginary tattoo - though I do have one on my left), shoulder, and right below my eye. As happens in dreams, I was initially terrified of death, but my dream kept going. Something about getting to my house (the one I grew up in, but now mortgagetually "mine"; that address seems to have appeared more, through the past year, hmm), getting to my mom, protecting someone else, and failing, failing, failing, failing to get ME to a hospital. At some point I was driving myself, again through the old neighborhood, not apparently to get care.

In the dream, the medical upshot of my injuries was unclear apart from bruises rising up from each bloodless bullet hole. One wound, indeed, couldn't be seen for the bruising and the tattoo. Even in the dream, I dismissed the caliber as a small one, since I could keep moving. For what seemed like hours.

The thing is, the real impact of the dream was that first moment: that fear of death. The shock.

The stunning truth of it.

I'm not special. ANY of us is subject to dying this way, in the United States. Land that I love. Sigh.

2019 has not been the worst year, for me, in recent memory. Yes, we still endure under the increasingly authoritarian and demented regime of the puppet Drumpf. Yes, there is much still to do. But even with that, much is happening, too. HR8 passed last week, and in a time of inured sensibilities, Cohen's testimony was scathing. (His redemption narrative, I could personally live without, but perhaps the benedictions he has received are not positivities best dismissed.)

And but personally, so far this calendar year is kicking 2018's ass.

The time I have taken off (quite a bit, so early in the year) has been for VACATION, not illness and death and mourning. So far.

I have spent time with far-flung friends, and family-by-adoption, people I love, and a new puppy I don't have to train. Mom's doing better, and my house has not fallen down around my ears. Yet.

Three four-day weekends in, I have celebrated a birthday, a bar mitzvah, and a long-distance visit.

2019 ... well, to quote something I said about 2009: it's been better than it had a right to be.

Breathing is good.

Now if I can just avoid being shot.

Saturday, March 2, 2019


I am a fifty-one year old woman, and this very blog reflects that experience. Take a look at the history of the vanity tag; it tells a story.

A reduced sense of visibility does not necessarily constrain experience. Associated with greater empathy and compassion, invisibility directs us toward a more humanitarian view of the larger world. This diminished status can, in fact, sustain and inform—rather than limit—our lives. Going unrecognized can, paradoxically, help us recognize our place in the larger scheme of things.

Yep. This is, more and more, informative of my spirituality.

My personal favorite Hawai'ian deity is Kamapua'a, but this guy actually does hang on one of my walls. (My print is definitely worth less than $5k.) Another interesting tale of repatriation and also a story about provenance.

Sigh. When you check your stats, and all the Russian and UAE bots seem to be swarming to the post you wrote about your best friend, who just died. The post you wrote in 2015, when that wasn't even conceivable.

Ahww, man. Guilty ...

In this moment of political division, Garry sees a spiritual test. The temptation to discard others has always been strong, and in some ways it is stronger than ever. But this is an old problem, maybe the oldest, he says. The Bible is all about overcoming the temptation to discard, to dismiss, to unfriend. If it were always easy to love your neighbor as you love yourself, it wouldn’t be a commandment. “We trust anger. We believe anger gets things done,”

Monday, February 11, 2019


Ralph Northam didn't get my vote in the primaries, because I found his past appreciation for Dominion Virginia Power's finances problematic, but I voted for him for Governor. In January of 2017, when he appeared and marched with us at the Women's March, I was impressed, and more on board with him than before. He is a former Republican, and the voices deriding him as a present Republican, given that party's increasing lockstep behind the racist-in-chief, are perhaps hard to hear, but not 100% off base.

He has to go. Why he refuses to is bewildering in a painful way.

I don't want to bog down in a long post about all this, because frankly, the personal impact of Virginia politics right now is a fresh bruise. It's painful to live here these days.

When, in 2008, Virginia went presidentially blue for the first time, I didn't quite believe it. When we went Obama for the second time, I began to feel used to it. To tentatively own that I finally didn't live in a backward, reactionary state. And then we did it again, in 2016. There was still Dave Brat to contend with (I signed the petition to get Abigail Spanberger on the ballot at that march mentioned above), but I finally felt like Virginia was breaking away from the all too recent past of White Flight and reactionary thinking I had grown up surrounded by.

In 1982, when I entered high school, it was the Reagan years. Helped by a punk rocker in the house, who was having none of it, and the fact that I was the child of a scientist and the taunts on the schoolyard, "YOUR DADDY CAN'T BELIEVE IN GOD, HE'S A SCIENTIST!" I came to a different sort of politics than have been common here for most of my life. (My daddy, as he told me all his life to take away the sting those kids gave me, was a scientist precisely because he had such awe in the workings of a universe he believed to have been brought to us BY that God those kids underestimated so cruelly. Not an Intelligent Design guy by any means, dad's enthrallment in workings of all sorts was a major part of his faith in anything; and he did have religious faith.)

So I was extremely aware, in 1982 at the age of 14, and have been ever since, of the fact that my preppie high school was the product of White Flight, and the entitlement I saw all around me was not earned. I didn't know the phrase white privilege, but it was instantly recognizable once it appeared.

(W)e lay claim to a wisdom that people just a few years ago lacked, and accuse the recent past of deep ignorance.

I've been loath to actually look at old yearbooks this past week or so. Sure, the only thing that HAS brought me to look at them in about thirty years was the death of my best friend of 38 years, but even then my glances were pretty cursory. But now, the *apathy* of memory, thanks to a life of much greater richness after my K-12 years, has become an *agony*. From having no interest in looking back at the snobs I went to school with, I now have real fear of looking back at the well to do white kids I went to school with. Heck, the school itself.

I went to school with kids who absolutely would have donned blackface, as quickly as the Key Club (so enthusiastically) donned cheerleader outfits at every opportunity. Crappiest drag show ever. There were guys who drank, plenty who probably went on to become frat guys who sexually assaulted drunk girls, entitled asses who think they're nice guys and entitled asses who care not one bit about being good, decent, or anything else tolerable to the human race at large. They weren't my crowd (obviously), they weren't the whole of the student body, but they were crowd enough and then some.

Think I hated my school because it was so preppy? I hated my school because it embarrassed me. It embarrassed me then, and no less so now. They went with naming the place for a Massive Resistance spearhead instead of Edgar Allen Poe; this exposes the taste level - and "judgment" - of decision-makers in our community at that time.

So there doesn't even need to be blackface in my yearbook. The very name of the school said aplenty, and without a doubt some of us knew and despised what that name said. He himself was deplorable then, and I deplored him most especially on the occasion my best friend (a model student often trotted out to meet important people) was obliged to shake his hand, and I was introduced too, looking every bit as unimpressed as I was unimpressive to principal and politician alike, I'm sure.

The link above ...

The link above. I offer it without much comment, and not even necessarily endorsement, though it would be soothing for someone like me right now. There *is* a spectrum of ugliness, but for me as a privileged, relatively well-to-do white woman Of a Certain Age ... growing up where I did ... it is beyond my scope to say "this is right."

Oh, how I wish it could be knowably right, though. That would ease my liberal guilt.

Based on what I clipped for the quote highlighted, the real resonance for me is this: the sentiment accords powerfully with my general rantings about The Dirty, Stupid Past. By this, I'd love to absolve myself of all my own privileged complicity. There are stories I have debated recounting in public for years now - and, when I think about how I have aired out the most sensitive things on this blog, it's extremely plain that some of what I have held back owes to the same privilege Northam and Herring have had. So I should open that up, unpack that.

But that first link ... I'll lean OUT for a moment, lean back, not go all in. Not make anything about myself which absolutely is not. Not come up with any judgments.

I'm as fraught as the history of my state, these days. And ashamed as I was during the Reagan years, going to Beautiful Suburban White Flight High. So very ashamed, and frustrated.

Edited to add ...
Then I remembered our production of West Side Story, which I do think was in 1984. Teen after teen in brownface. Ugh.

THE CLICK BEYOND - good coverage of multiple aspects of this morass, for your analysis.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Was I ... ?

My gods, was I writing as recently as November? Surely I was a liar, surely I picked up the manuscript and put it down again as quickly as I enthused about writing. Impossible to invoke any sense-memory of writing, happening so close in time as November.

Happy new year. So I'm late: I still do wish anyone left reading here, or who accidentally stumbles in, a good 2019.

This blog has been Crickets-ville for a long time now. This isn't so much because life is so terrible as it is just *life*. Since some point in December (when someone I love very much went back on anti-depressants), things have been going well. Work is good, the house is not falling down, I am regularly paying bills. I even got together with friends recently. Progress.

Of course, I have also already attended the funeral of someone I loved (more than she could possibly have realized) this year. Family gathered, warmed, dissipated. Ebb and flow.


It's got a lot of death in it.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have a lot of creation in it of late, and the tragic part of that is I don't even stop to care.

Is it possible I was writing less than three months ago ... ?

Is it possible I will write again?

Saturday, February 2, 2019


#TFW a "Housewife" begins to discuss any treatment she has discovered for any possible ailment, real or imagined or self-inflicted ... (No, this isn't as clickbait sketchy as some of those "gawk at vintage advertising stories you see on Teh Intarwebs.)

Brain scans on rappers ... discovered that during freestyle rapping, brain activity increased in the brain areas that engage motivation, language, mood, and action.

This piece is a wistful one for me, as a writer who knows what I CANNOT do; I do not have the chops. But man would I love to read this story from the perspective of the kids whose world this already was.

NSFW ... since about 1600 (science-ing the what out of what?). Ahhh, I love it when The Arrant Pedant gives us glorious etymology. Enjoy!