Friday, November 13, 2015


At 4:00 this afternoon, I was on a conference call with an unhappy customer.  And I was trying to reassure him that everything was OK, but while I was doing that, I was clicking relentlessly through Internet tabs, trying to get my head around the chaos and devastation happening in Paris.  It reminded me of 9/11 - all this work is so meaningless when the sky is falling.

When I got off the phone, Don told me that we needed to make sure to keep our eye on the release of a video of a white Chicago policeman firing 16 bullets into the corpse of a 17 year old black kid.  It could tear Chicago apart, he said.  But it needs to come out.

Scared. Shaky.  So sad.  I said on Facebook that it felt like the world was flying off its axis.

In the middle of these dire thoughts, Laney came in to remind me that I'd promised her that we could go to GameStop to sell our old Wii consoles.  I'd told her that if we made enough money selling them, she could buy a new Zelda 3DS game.  So we stacked the Wii stuff in the car and drove over to Gamestop.

I live in a neighborhood that I love a lot.  I really do. It has beaches and personality and all kinds of different people.  But there is also a lot of gang activity and when you drive down Howard Street, you'll see a lot of cops, and the threat of violence seems to loom large.  Parlous times.  World flying off its axis.  Violence and anger everywhere.

I walked into the GameStop with a laundry basket full of old Wii stuff.  A young white guy with a hipster beard helped me with my basket and told me he worked there, but wasn't presently working.  I'd dealt with him before at this GameStop.  He's very sweet. He looked in my basket and said, "Aw, they won't take those Wii boards."  And I said, "Will they throw them away?"  And he laughed and said, "Yeah.  But Terry might want them too."

Terry, it turns out, runs a nearby after school program.

I was all for Terry taking them.

One of the guys who was working came over and said, "I'm sorry, but he has to help you because I can't do buy backs."  He was sweet too.

Laney and I had to wait for about 45 minutes before the guy who was able to do the buy back finished with the other family he was helping. During that 45 minutes, I kept scrolling through news stories about Paris.  World flying off its axis.   But, when I looked up,  all the other people in the store were OK.  All different ages, races and genders.  But they all just liked games.  So no one was rolling eyes or sighing about the wait.  They were talking to each other about games.

When it got to be my turn to sell my stuff, the guy who waited on me was so nice, I actually said, "You guys are always so nice here!'  He smiled and chatted with us about little things while he checked out the games we were selling back and the equipment.  At one point, Laney pointed out some anime thing and said to me, "I liked that show until it got terrible."  He laughed and said  "It did get terrible! But the first two episodes were great"  I had no idea about this show, but Laney lit up.

Terry from the after school group wandered in and I got to meet him.  He was a young guy - much younger than I expected, maybe 25 or so.  The GameStop guy asked me if I had the original backs for my Wii motion controller.  I didn't but I was all, "Seriously, I was going to put this stuff in the alley.  If there's anything you can't buy, don't feel bad."  Then Terry said, "I bet I have some."

Because gamers just have things like Wii motion controllers back panels in their backpacks and are happy to give them to you.

There was a guy waiting behind me, he was maybe 35 or so and just waiting to buy something.  Poor guy ended up waiting for like 30 minutes while I finished my transaction.  I said, "Just your luck, huh?  To be stuck behind the woman selling back every piece of Wii equipment ever."  He chuckled.  I repeat - no eye rolls, no sighs. He just chuckled.

Laney and the GameStop guy chatted about Zelda and Pokemon and anime.

In the end, my stuff was worth about $50 which was more than enough to buy Laney's new game.  I gave Terry a Wii remote charging station.  His after school program sounded pretty amazing. I bet Laney would like it if because it was just a bunch of middle schoolers who like games.

Everyone there was so nice.

Back home, I can't stop watching the news.  I bet lots of people can't stop watching the news.  The world does feel like it's spinning off its axis.

But there was a brief respite for me today, in some dumpy little storefront, in a gang-ridden part of the Chicago, where everyone around me was just too busy liking something to be hateful.

Didn't matter age, nor race, nor gender.  They all just liked games.

A total oasis in a desert of strife and sadness.

This is probably a stupid blogpost.  I don't know. Terrible, awful things are happening and a bunch of gamers being nice is inconsequential except it's not.  Kindness matters.  Liking people is harder and so much better than hating people.

Later on, I'll get in bed and watch dumb TV while Laney plays on her 3DS.  Dumb TV and a 3DS are  silly, stupid distractions - but they are also one of our grandest privileges.  I am goddamn grateful for them.

My heart breaks for the devastation and terror.  I am so lucky for my oases.

Be kind, people.  Like things. That matters so much more than we give it credit for.

Monday, November 9, 2015

I'm Not Rebooting My Life - I'm Maybe Just Shutting Some Tabs Down

I read this blogpost by Will Wheaton recently.  You guys, Wil Wheaton is delightful! If you'd told me in 1991 that Wesley Crusher would grow up to be delightful, I'd have straight up scoffed at you.  Color me surprised! Also, Autocorrect: he SPELLS HIS NAME WITH ONE L.  GOD!

Back to the point - he wrote this blogpost about how his life wasn't going how he wanted it to, and so he decided he'd do seven things to reboot his life.

Me?  I'm less aspirational.  I've spent too long thinking that a few changes will make me like this:

But ending up like this:

I'm a growed up lady and well past the point where I think it could all be different.  Besides, my life is generally pretty good.  My kid seems to be growing up into an interesting, ethical, intelligent person.  My husband still seems to like me pretty well.  I'm making it work professionally.  

But, my body hurts a lot and I feel like I'm always running out of time.

This is likely because I spend too much time, as the French might say, farting around. Sipping a drink and clicking around on the Internet. A little focus, a little discipline, and maybe I could grab control of my own personal Enterprise. So, inspired by Wil Wheaton, here's my list:

1) Exercise daily
2) Stretch
3) Drink less alcohol
4) Write more
5) Read more

Let's tick them off.  

1 and 2 go together.  I, like I'm pretty sure every single lady who has ever lived, have spent a good chunk of valuable time hating the way I look.  For all of my 20s and 30s, eating better and exercising were all tied up with GET SKINNY, YOU GODDAMN LOSER OR YOU WILL NEVER DESERVE LOVE!  But, here into my 40s, I've decided that GET SKINNY, LOSER is maybe not the best way to approach physical health.  Some might suggest yoga.  I haaaaaaaate yoga. Here's me at every yoga class:

But I can stretch.  I can spend 20 minutes a day just stretching out a little.  I can spend 30 minutes a day bumping up my heart rate, getting moving.  And to make sure I am consciously not doing it under the auspices of GET SKINNY, LOSER.  It's a losing proposition, and not the way I want it to be.  As I told my sainted mother when she was here over the weekend, "I'd sure like to weigh 20 pounds less.  But not enough to diet."  I am at peace with my spare tire.

But I can bend and move and shake my body with the goal of feeling looser and more energetic.  That I can do.  I will also continue eating.  Carbs.  

3. Alcohol.  I really love alcohol. I love the way it tastes.  I love the ritual and treat of it.  I don't want an alcohol-free life  But moderation is key. Right, Wesley?

Wesley might not be on board with his one.  But I am. No more wine with dinner.  No more cocktails with the laundry.  But every night at 9:00, I'll pour a whiskey over ice and take it to my bed, where I'll watch TV for an hour or so before sleeping.  This is how I end my days. Like a boss.  

4 and 5.  Reading and writing. Writing is good for me.  I use it to air out the cobwebs, silence the voices inside my head.  Burnish the intellect.  And nothing makes you a better writer than reading. If I were still aiming for reinvention,  I'd probably try to commit to tackling Proust or The Brothers Karamazov.  Maybe Ulysses.  But, shit, you guys, I'm tired.  I work hard.  My days are already a long slog of obligation.  I'm not studying on turning reading into another one.  I'm reading strictly for fun.  I just finished The Gunslinger by Stephen King.  I'm now on what looks to be an awesome bent domestic drama by Lauren Groff. If I want to read 17 YA novels in a row because I like 'em, that's cool.  

You're not better than me, Data, with your big old positronic brain.  You've only ever read Dickens - but you never felt him.  (did that sound just a little dirty?)

So this is the plan.  Who knows if I'll be successful?  Will I actually manage to ease up on the farting around and live just a little more purposefully?  

Lucky you!  Since, I do plan to write more,  I'll let you know!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hey There D-Backs Announcers! I Have Some Selfies For You

First an anecdote: when I was about 25 I was at a Cubs game and a guy sitting near me said I wasn't really a baseball fan.  I told him I was indeed a baseball fan.  He scoffed, "I bet you can't even tell me who bats sixth for the Cubs."

Ladies and Gentlemen, this fellow was hitting on me.  His technique was to shit all over my fandom and then, I guess, I'd be so charmed by his vastly superior baseball knowledge that I'd just do him right there in Wrigley Field.

I was reminded of that today when this video began making the rounds:


To recap, this happened:

The girls start snapping selfies.  And the announcers react with a level of disgust commensurate with, I dunno, like masturbating in the stands.  Or pooping in the aisles.  Can you believe those narcissistic girls?  People are playing baseball and these vain girls are taking selfies and not paying attention!  

I listened to the commentary like:

You know what?  Selfies are fun. Selfies are fun to take and they are fun reminders of the day you had.  And they're great because you end up with a picture of you that you like -  hugging on your best girl, eating a churro.  Selfies. Are. Fun. And if those girls want to treat their day at the old ballpark as an opportunity to eat fried dough and drink beer outside in cute "for her" sports clothes, that's no skin off Bob Brenly's nose.   Christ on a cracker, the D-Backs are in third place, four games below .500.  It's not like they were taking selfies when Bobby Thompson's shot was flying around the world. 


But what really pisses me off about the whole thing is that the tv camera is always going to find a pack of cute girls in the ball park.  But the cute girl has to be cute in the way she's expected to be cute. Goddammit, cute girls at the D-Back game! Your job is to look cute for whatever middle-aged white guy is choosing where the camera goes.  If you look cute for yourselves, you're just RUINING the whole thing.

Last year a guy tweeted at Janelle Monae that he was "tired of those dumbass suits.  You fine but u too damn soulful."  And Janelle Monae said:

You go and get it, Janelle Monae. 

Lemme tell you something, young women of the world: you have the right to look how you want, to dress how you want, to wear your hair how you want, to talk how you want, and to take as many damn selfies as you want without feeling the need to care about the disgust or approbation of middle-aged men who are disappointed that you won't fit into the model that is comfortable for their consumption.

And if you're not as pithy or as quick with a tweet as Ms. Monae, may I recommend:

That is all.

By the way,  I knew then who generally batted sixth for the Cubs.  I don't know who bats sixth for the Cubs now.  And I can still enjoy a motherfucking ballgame.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Middle

I've been thinking a lot about the Middle - not the sleeper ABC comedy that comes on TV tonight (which, incidentally, I quite like).  I've been thinking about being in the middle of life.

I just dropped Don off at the bus because he's going out with some work friends tonight.  After I dropped him, I went to the grocery store to get some goddamn expensive grain-free dog food, because the dogs have to have grain-free dog food for reasons I've forgotten, only I know they were important.  The grocery store was in an AT&T dead zone, so when I tried to text Laney to see if she'd started her homework, I couldn't get through.  I thought about panicking that she was dead in a ditch since I go from zero to dead-in-a-ditch faster than any other human being alive (I'm thinking about adding that to my LinkedIn profile).  But I decided to forestall the panic because the check-out line was pretty short and I could text her from the parking lot.

So I did.

You'll be glad to know that Laney was not dead in a ditch.  She had not, however, started her homework.  She's started this extra math thing at school that starts at 7:45, which means we have to get to school an hour earlier than we had been accustomed.  This, in turns, means that we're trying to get Laney fully abed by 10:00 - even though, if I were a good mother, she'd be in bed with lights out by 9:30.  (I know I'm a good mother... I'm using that expression ironically). But we have yet to even make 10:00 since she started this class (to be fair: she started the class two days ago) because the homework is never done until 9:15, and then there's bathing and going through her Instagram feed and hanging out with me and Pokemon Pokemon Pokemon.

So, leaving the grocery store parking lot aware that Laney had not started her homework, I knew that when I got home I was going to have to nag her about starting her homework.  I HATE being a nag.  I want to be that parent who is all super chill and then when the kid gets in trouble for not doing homework is all, "well, lesson learned" and then the kid does her homework from that point only without being nagged. But I'm pretty sure that parent is a damn fiction and that when we're raising children we just have to nag them to do their homework.

And so I was prepared to, sigh, nag when I got home.

The traffic was gnarly, but "Midnight Train to Georgia" came on the radio and so I sang along to that with the windows down.  That was fun. I didn't even care when people looked at me like I was weird when I made the train-whistle motion during the "whoo whoo" part (I tend to sing the Pips part instead of the Gladys Knight part, which I think exposes some sort of psychological weirdness).

When I got home the dogs had wrecked the garbage because they are dogs and dogs do shit like that  no matter how much goddamn expensive grain-free dog food you buy them.  Also, one of them had peed on the floor, which I accept as my own fault for not letting them out before I left.

I'm still pissed at them, though.  They haven't gotten any of that goddamn expensive grain-free dog food that I brought home yet.

I nagged at Laney to start her homework and since she was a little worried that I was going to fly off the handle because of the wrecked garbage she started it right away.  Put that in the old win column.  I did not fly off the handle, though.  I just glared at the dogs, which they don't understand because, again, they are dogs.

Now I have to go [technobabble speak deleted. Replace with: do some work work].  Then it'll be time to feed the child, the dogs and the me, finish the laundry, put the house back to rights.

There is no small level of banality involved with being the mother in the middle. But, I picked this life on purpose.

And, guess what? I love it.

Later on tonight, when the homework is done and the house is put to rights and the dogs have been let out for their final ablutions of the day, Laney will come and lie in bed with me while we watch some TV (probably "The Middle") and she'll tell me about Pokemon and I'll nod like I understand, but will really just enjoy that she wants to be with me and snuggle. The dogs will snore and fart contentedly on the floor, digesting their goddamn expensive grain-free dog food.  Later on, Don will come home and get into bed with me (depending on how much he has to drink, there may be some snoring and farting there too).

And then I'll have that moment where I know that everyone I love is safe and fed and taken care of and tucked away for the night.

And that, I think, is what this middle part of my life is all about.  Turns out, I love taking care of people.  And dogs.  More people than dogs.  The dogs are OK, though.  If they'd just stay out of the damn garbage.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Berning the Emmys

I enjoyed last night's Emmy's a lot. I was fully on board with Samberg as host.  The opening number was great - a little Hamm, a little Kerry Washington, pretty solid Castle joke and, you know, there ARE a lot of shows about wives!  Samberg dropped a pretty solid Trump burn during the monologue.  And then after that he showed up briefly and not too often and was funny every time.  All in all, well done.

Three black women taking home trophies was pretty awesome, and that speech Viola Davis gave was one for the ages!  And even when the person I wanted to win didn't win, I still liked who won.  To wit:

I was obviously all in for Titus Burgess:

But, come on, Tony Hale is great!

And how does Amy Poehler not win for her last chance as Leslie Knope?

Well, here's why:

Yes, you are, JDL.  You are really fucking great.

Veep is such a good television show.  Firstly, it is really so very funny  To wit:

But the second thing it does is satirize brilliantly how focus-grouped and sterile and bullshitty American politics are.  

You never know what party Selina Meyer is.  Typically, I abhor "both sides do it" talk as its own super special kind of mega-toxic bullshit because generally one side is worse than the other.  A lot. (Hint: it's the grand old one).  But when it comes to spit shining every last ounce of genuineness out of policy-making, well, both sides do it.

A quick Molly Ivins aside:

Politics is not a picture on the wall or a television program you can decide you just don't care for.  Our entire lives are set into and written by the warp and woof of politics.

Political decisions affect your life every day in thousands of ways - whether the food you eat is safe, what books your children read in school, how deep you will be buried when you die, if the lady who dyes your hair is competent, how safe your money is in stocks or banks, whether you have a job, whether your kid has to go fight in a war, who is qualified to prescribe your eyeglasses - that's all politics.
(Man, I wish Molly Ivins were still around, don't you?  She would fucking love Veep! ) 

I think this is a thing a lot of us grok on a fundamental level.  Politics matter and our politicians do not take them seriously enough.  The things that matter matter less to our politicians than whatever shiny object is bouncing around the 24 hour news cycle and their own ambition.

Enter: Bernie Sanders, a dude who cannot keep his hair combed and says things like:

And I think that he does find it vulgar that we're having a war of billionaires.  I believe when he says:

He doesn't mean it because he thinks it will play well for some sought after demographic.  He means it because it's true and it's right.

Look, I know I'm too old to be a true believer.  I know I'm supposed to take my lessons from the very successful Obama presidency and remember that you have to play the game to win.  But after eight years of competent executive government endlessly fucked with by incompetent reactionary congressional bullshit, I am sorely ready for someone willing to shovel the bullshit away.   

I know the Beltway pundits and pols turn their nose up at someone like Bernie.

But I really like him.  I'm all in for #Bernie.  You?

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Stupid Season

I guess, for me, it started getting really stupid around the time of the Hanging Chads.  Or maybe it was the Lewinsky debacle.  Or, shit, I dunno, maybe it's always been this stupid. I'm not a historian.  Maybe the Lincoln/Douglas debates were really just a couple of dudes in hats flinging poo at each other, arguing over who had the bigger dick.  I don't know.  I guess I could look it up.

We are still more than a year away from the election and the stupid has already gotten so thick, I can hardly stand it.  But I'm calling an end to one piece of the stupid now.

Donald Trump will never be president of the United States.

I know.  I know.  It isn't impossible, per se. Nothing that does not violate the laws of physics and nature is impossible.  But it is extremely unlikely.  It is less likely than President Palin, and that is extremely fucking unlikely.

Please, let's stop quaking at the specter of how totally embarrassing it's gonna be when Trump refuses to attend the G8 until President Hollande publicly states that Ivanka Trump is hotter than Hollande's wife or mistress (ladyfriend?  partner? The French are so sophisticated about les affaires des coeurs!).  Instead, let's start quaking at the really scary stuff.

As Albert Burneko so ably laid out over in the Gawkerverse today, the GOP is spread out over Business-y Libertarians (by the way, I know who John Galt is: he's that asshole at the party who never chips in for beer and also never fucking SHUTS UP) and the Megachurch Jesus people (not your normal Christian, I'm talking about the one who believes that the best way to show Jesus how much you love him is to loudly yell at all the whores and homos that Jesus doesn't love them, and then wait for the Jesus money to start flowing.  Amen.).  And that makes for a splintered, fractured party.

They have just the one cause they can all rally behind: all the babies need to stay inside of the mommies from the moment the daddies put their penises inside the mommies until the babies want to come out.  

I doubt any of the GOP candidates care about abortion one way or another, the whole thing is just a damn front to cover up the fact that they have nothing else to offer as a party - except giving all the money to rich people and moar war for everyone!!!  

And so they lie. They lie and say that Planned Parenthood profits off harvested organs.  They lie and say that abortion causes breast cancer.  They lie and say that abortion causes infertility.  They lie and say most women regret abortion.  They lie and they lie and they lie and they lie.  

And they get away with it!     

I'm not worried about President Trump.  But I am worried that my daughter is going to grow into a woman in a country without safe, legal abortion. And, oh my god, that is SO STUPID.  

But it's also very serious.  

I'm going to spend this godawful, long, facacta, stupid stupid stupid election season making sure I call out every goddamn dirty lie those soulless, cynical power-brokers on the right make about abortion.  

I hope you do too.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Socks and Proscrastination

I'm working on a book.  The story is that there's a woman and a man who were best friends and bandmates back in the 90s.  But they drifted apart and now she's a Mommy blogger with four kids and a husband who does the kind of work I actually do and he's a guy who got to the verge of making it as a rock and roller but didn't quite and is now sleeping on his sister's couch.  They reconnect in their mid-40s and figure out that they're not, in fact, failures.  It's done in POV - like she talks and then he talks and then sometimes the husband talks.

And, you know what, you guys? I would read the shit out of this book.  What I've written thus far is a damn entertaining read.

But oh my god writing is a DRAG!  I keep putting off accomplishing anything and doing things like writing on this blog or making Spotify playlists.

I made a Spotify playlist of 90s music which I listen to when I write (or goof around on Facebook and not write).  The song "Lightning Crashes" by Live just came on and I remembered buying that CD when I was like 24 and listening to it while sorting laundry and reassessing my failure to be a writer.  Inspired by warm laundry and the band's weirdly specific lyrics about childbirth,  I  dumped a whole bunch of unmated socks onto the floor and ignored them in favor of writing an essay called "Too Many Socks."

I don't know what happened to it.

These days I am manifestly more organized and responsible than I was when I was 24.  I was mostly drunk when I was 24, living in squalor and prone to making really terrible romantic and sexual choices.   Nowadays, I am mostly sober, I pick my socks up off the floor and only have romance and sex with the guy I'm married to (who, it is worth mentioning, does not pick his socks up off the floor, but whatever).

I still have too many socks, though. They float around in a basket (not even a drawer), unmated and unworn.  I am a sloppy sock person. I am a sock wastral. I own socks that have not seen a foot in fifteen years. I may still own some of the socks I dumped out onto my bedroom floor in 1993.

(The socks are a metaphor, people!  Keep up.)

There are people out there that always have their socks perfectly mated; people who always have an even number of socks in the dryer.  This is not a matter of faith for me. I am related to a person whom I would bet dollars to donuts has a sock drawer that would make me weep from the beauty of its organization (hi, my brother).

But, alas, I'm a person who has likely never pulled an even number of socks out of the dryer.  I have a basket by the laundry that is teeming with unmated socks.  And I can't help but think if I could get my sock shit together, I'd be up to the task of mastering the drag that is writing this book.

I can't help but think if I could get my sock shit together, I'd be less prone to straining metaphors like this.

I guess I should go work on my book.  I don't wanna.  What would Kim Kardashian do?

I like the way you think, Kim!

Yo! Share This!

Sharey links!