Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Just Take a Walk Already

You know how sometimes you just don't feel right?  I've been feeling that way for a while.  Can't take any pleasure from playing the piano or reading a book. Can't get to feeling accomplished by writing or having success at work. Can't stand to follow politics because even if the Congressional GOP hasn't worn out Obama, they have sure as shit worn me out. I feel jangly and out-of-sorts. Do you think it's the ennui? Aren't I insufficiently French for that condition.

An hour or so ago, I was sitting on the couch.  I was sick of sitting on the couch, sick of being in my own skin.  I knew what I had to do: I had to take a damn walk.

I haven't taken a walk in forever.  I've let the cold scare me away from walks.  I know those of you who live in places where you have nice weather all the time feel like you've discovered The Secret, but I promise I'm not whistling through graveyards when I say that feels like some next level Sartrean hell to me.  Cold, real cold, hot, real hot, rain, snow, dry, wind... all of these are friends of mine that I enjoy until they linger (I'm looking at you, winter). The only weather I am not friends with is the tornado. The tornado is too scary.  Tornadoes are scary, crazy bitches.  They can stay the hell away.

The cold is not an excuse for me to avoid taking a walk.

So I took a walk.

Oh, winter, she is a nasty bitch, but she is very beautiful.  That's all lake up there, not land. Just ice and snow shaped by the wind and the water into lovely shapes.  I snapped some pix and kept walking and let my mind turn a little.  And my mind turned, as it does, right to my little girl - my heart, my soul, and likely the source of all this malaise.

I do not have the ennui.

Laney is hitting very real milestones that make it crystal clear that this time is coming to an end.  Her little girl time is coming so swiftly to an end. I admit that I am a person who feels hard the passing of time (you guys know that - I have whined about this very thing in this very space many times before).   But as I set one foot in front of the other and kept walking in the cold, it occurred to me that ever since I walked out of the orphanage with Laney in my arms, being her mother has been the Main Thing I Am.  Soon soon soon she'll be out of my house, on her own and while I'll always be her mother, I'm going to have to find another Main Thing to Be.

Probably won't be rockstar.   That's OK, though. That seems like an exhausting life.

But what will I be?  Who will I be when my main job is not being Laney's mother?

I love change. I hate change.


I was staring at my feet, navigating puddles, crying a little, when a flash of color appeared in the corner of my eye and I saw a woman in a red coat taking a picture.

There was an ice bridge over the lake in Evanston.  That one right up there.  I'm not much of a photographer, so maybe you can't tell, but it was weird and beautiful and I would have missed it if I hadn't just looked up.

I told myself: calm down, calm down.  You must take it more lightly, you obsessive weirdo.  You are not mainly Laney's mother.  You are mainly You.

I told myself: keep your eyes open, keep looking for things that are beautiful, enjoy moments, stop talking yourself out of taking walks.

I didn't so much solve the problem as decide it wasn't really a problem.  I still feel kind of sad, but that's OK. I feel better.  It was awfully pretty out there.

(That last one is a good picture, right?)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Chicago is Not as Nice in Winter as Hogwarts

I should not complain about the cold. It's Chicago.  It's winter.  It's cold.

But I have words!  I have reasons and words!  I have things to say.  And this is MY blog.  Dammit.

I just went out to bring my recycling bin back to our back porch and it's gone.  I dragged the damn thing out this morning when it was A DEGREE outside (with windchill of eleventy-million and twelve below) and almost got frostbite on my thumb because I am a good goddamn citizen.  But now I don't have a recycling bin because SOMEONE TOOK IT AWAY.  WHO DOES THAT?!?!   I threw my recycling into the regular trash.

Why,  you may be wondering, did I almost get frostbite?  Well, I'll tell you.  My left glove has a hole in the thumb.  You know what you can't buy in Chicago in February?  Gloves.  You can buy a bikini at Target, but you can't buy gloves.   A bikini.  

Like I could put a bikini on anyway.  All I want to do is lie under a blanket and eat things.  

And I know - it's all a matter of attitude.  I should embrace the wild beauty of Chicago's winter.  

But my gloves have holes in them and some asshole stole my recycle bin and and and and...

I'm going to get into a bath with a bourbon.  I'll get out in April.  Otherwise:

Stupid winter.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Last night I watched best picture front runner Birdman.  I'd had an exhausting week and was really tired.  This morning, after having slept for 9 hours, I got up and did a workout while watching last week's Empire.  I enjoyed Empire a lot more.

Now, let's first of all not understate the importance of attitude when partaking of artistic endeavor. When you're tired and raggedy, nothing is going to be as good as the thing you're watching while your endorphins are all revved up and you've gotten plenty of sleep.

But still.

Birdman had these amazing performances.  Ed Norton, Emma Stone and Michael Keaton were all so good.  And Amy Ryan should be way more famous than she is.  I thought those long tracking shots were interesting and made everything feel really exciting.  But fundamentally, I just don't think neurotic, desperate asshole actors are nearly as interesting as Hollywood does.  Birdman is a movie about actors for actors, I think.  Which is fine.  It's why I really like The IT Crowd.  

Empire is a primetime soap.  It's Dynasty meets The Lion in Winter where Henry II is a Russell Simmons-style hip hop mogul (it is not King Lear and everyone needs to stop saying that).  And it embodies the main way TV is beating movies nowadays, in that its breakout character is a hot, fascinating, talented, complicated 40-plus woman played by an actress you can hardly stand to take your eyes off of.  I am so #hereforCookie.

You never see stories about people like Cookie.  That show, in its glitzy, soapy way is showing us something I really don't think we've seen before in mainstream pop culture. And I cannot get enough!

Empire is telling us a new story in an old, but tried and true way. Birdman told us an old story in an exciting, daring new way.

Or maybe I was just tired last night and feeling good this morning.  Either way, Michael Keaton and Taraji P Henson are both world class actors.  I'm just way more interested in Cookie than I am in Riggan.

Who died.  Come on.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Here's To Confidence

Let's have a toast for the douchebags
Let's have  toast for the assholes
Let's have a toast for the scumbags
Everyone of them that I know

There's a game show on TBS called King of the Nerds that we watch en famille.  I love it.  It features  real nerds nerdily committed to various nerdy things.  I thought I'd be fully on Team Colby because he's from Chicago and is (was?) a public school teacher and I watched him on Jeopardy and he seems like a really good guy.  But instead, I find myself firmly on Team Caitlyn (I'm not sure if I'm spelling her name right or if she lost on Friday, because I haven't watched yet and I don't want to be spoiled). I love her because she is supremely confident.  She's all "I am smarter than everyone else here." This is Caitlyn:

(Every season there's at least one contestant that ascribes to Bronyism.)

Yesterday I was at 7/11 waiting in line to pay for my Diet Dr. Pepper, standing perfectly still.  A guy ran into me.  I apologized.  I apologized to him.  He graciously accepted.

Because I am a person who craves approval, I really admire people who don't.  I would love to be like Caitlyn.

Because I am a person who craves approval, I feel an affinity and a sympathy for people who crave approval.  I also like rap music a lot.

This is why I love Kanye West.  It's not just that he's good (and I am far from alone in my opinion that he is brilliant), it's that I feel like he's the kind of guy who squelches the urge to apologize when someone else runs into him by asserting that he's a much better shopper.  And he believes he is a much better shopper at the same time that he wants to apologize. He is such an interesting dude.

And no one is more aware of Kanye's bullshit than Kanye:

Man I promise, I'm so self conscious
That's why you always see me with at least one of my watches
Rollies and Pasha's done drove me crazy
I can't even pronounce nothing, pass that versace!
Then I spent $400 bucks on this
Just to be like n***a you aint' up on this!
And I can't even go to the grocery store
Without some ones thats clean and a shirt with a team
It seems we living the American dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings

I just love him with one caveat: I really wish he'd stop rushing in to defend Beyonce.  Kanye, she is a grown-ass woman more than capable of taking care of herself.  You have GOT to stop doing that. But don't stop that if it means you're going to get boring, OK?

Here he is rapping through a wired jaw.

I  just love him.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I'm Done With the Whole Damn Pritchett/ Dumphy/ Tucker Family

I got into some mild Facebook trouble around the Emmy's last year when I noted that I thought Modern Family was being mistaken for a much better sitcom.  This isn't to say that I thought it was a terrible show. I didn't.  I thought it was fine, good for a few chuckles. Ty Burrell is delightful.

And that's not a bad thing for a sitcom to be.  Not everything has to be Community or Parks and Recreation.  Sometimes a show can be fine, a pleasant way to pass the time.

Until it becomes unpleasant.

Cam and Mitchell have always been the most problematic characters on the show.  They are the kind of bitchy, sexless gay partners that you'd expect from a sitcom 20 years ago.  Worse, they clearly hate each other and are raising a horrible, bratty kid.

Which brings me to tonight.  Cam and Mitchell are giving a painting they love to another couple and have this exchange:

Cam: This was probably how Lily's birth mother felt
Mitchell: Yeah, but we didn't have nine different paintings by five different painters

God, no wonder Lily is such a little monster.

Cam and Mitchell adopted Lily from Vietnam, from an orphanage.  A woman, who was likely poor and without much power, gave up her baby to be raised (badly) by these mean, petty people and this is how they speak about her.

The Modern Family writers forgot about the whole international adoption and landed on a joke about the shiftless whore who gave Cam and Mitchell their daughter.  This is a mean joke.  This is punching down.  This is exactly the kind of ethos that is ruining America: people have less than you because they are bad people.

Lily's birth mother does not deserve to be spoken of like that.

I am profoundly grateful to Laney's birth mother.  She made mistakes.  Laney had a rough start in life.  But without her, I wouldn't have Laney. Just like Cam and Mitchell, I have no way of knowing what led my daughter's birth mother to the decision to give up her daughter. But I am grateful to her. And the very least I can do is to extend her the courtesy of assuming she loved the baby she gave up.  The very least I can do is to give my daughter the comfort of believing that there's a woman in Russia who loves her and who would be glad to know she is happy.

Cam and Mitchell and the rest of that over-privileged, shitty family can fuck right off.

God, I wish Ty Burrell were on another show.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In The Middle

Note to the Reader: I have had a LOT of off-brand Mucinex and am just cold medicine stoned enough that my cousin, Shawn, says I may not make sense.  So bear that in mind - if I'm not making sense, I'm not drunk.  I'm high. On cold medicine.

As you guys may know (or may not know... I'm not sure because, as I may have mentioned, I'm pretty stoned), I really hate this idea of the middle. The notion that there's some middle area between radical sides is the most toxic myth of the modern age.  Well, second most toxic after the one about how Reaganomics were behind a robust economic recovery.  Well, third most toxic after the one about how Reagan caused the fall of the iron curtain.  Well, fourth most... You know what: let's just nutshell it as most toxic aside from any part of the current tea party Reagan mythos.

So it's weird when I find myself wanting to take a middle part anywhere. I like the radical sides.  But I'm gonna move to the middle here; and, like all people who claim the middle, I'm going to feel very smug and self-satisfied about how reasonable and rational I am.

Side One says, "I left the house, jumped on my bike without a helmet and rode around all day and didn't come home until supper and I am so much better of a grown-up than your dumbass helicoptered kids are gonna be."  Side Two says, "Oh my god, that 12 year old is in the car with the windows rolled up in July.  I should probably call the cops."

Look, can't we agree that it's probably a net positive that our babies come home from the hospital in car seats instead of on their mothers laps?  Childhood mortality has gone down quite a bit since the halcyon days of my youth when (this is a true story) a kid broke her arm on the playground in the midst of a P.E. class where we were playing (I swear to the FSM this is true) "Smear the Queer" and the P.E. teacher shook the broken arm and said (just to reiterate: I am not making this up), "You're ok. Walk it off."  It's probably better now that our kids have those rubbery soft things under the jungle gyms and knee pads, etc.  This is a net positive.  This is a good thing.

On the other hand, it's OK for our kids to walk home from school despite the increasingly alarmist news stories about child abductions.  The world is safer now than it was when we were kids.  There's not a boogie man around every corner waiting to snatch our babies away.  And if you think the world is more dangerous now than it was when you were a kid, this is probably because the world always feels safer to a child than it does to a grown-up.

There.  The Middle.  Now that I've written this down it all seems painfully obvious.  But you guys will forgive me because, you know, I have a cold!  The "Smear the Queer" story was pretty good, though, right? I'm pretty sure that it's true.  To be honest, it was 35 years ago and I'm high.  But this is how I remember it.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Blogpost About Privilege, Made Palatable Via Addition of Dreamboat Gifs

I think we can all safely agree that people are weird.  That's OK, though:

But sometimes a particular subsection of the general populace engages in a kind of weirdness that is disheartening and annoying.

For example, there is a disheartening and annoyingly pervasive reaction to any discussion involving privilege.  I know. It's a tiresome word.  

But I still want to talk a little about it.  Here's the thing: privilege isn't a choice.  Privilege exists entirely outside of your control.  So when discussions of it arise and you go all:

It makes me go all:


Even worse, when examples of institutional sexism or racism arise and you go all:

Then all sensible people go:

Privilege isn't some kind of rhetorical, weaponized guilt dispenser: 

  It's just a real thing that exists and that we should all be aware of.

Because the only way to fix a flawed system is for the folks within the system, especially the folks for whom the system is, uh, systemically advantageous, to be aware of the flaw.   Got it?

I know you'd get it.  You're so smart.  Also:

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