Monday, June 29, 2009
Did you read the comments on my last blog, the one entitled Pride? Please take a moment to go read them, but especially the one from Anonymous, who's gone to Pride events for thirty-two years.
Hellooooo? Jeeze. I didn't say read the blogs all the way back to June 2008!
Well, at first, Anonymous was talking about how he (yes? he?) loves to taunt "them." I thought he meant the gay people celebrating Pride. As I read on, I got more furious. "What does it take to discourage These People?" he asks. Ooh! I'm incensed!
Okay. The term tract should have tipped me off at the very beginning, but it didn't. I don't even remember when it finally hit me that Anonymous was agreeing with me. Oh. Oh, then everything was fine. The Good News is that the right-thinking man was on my side. The Bad News is that the guy was a narrow-minded, ignorant, bigoted puke-ball ... right up until he agreed with me.
Let's revisit that beautiful but entirely creepy grasshopper, okay? If you read those comments, you'd see that I'm in the minority by wanting the critter out of my space. Yeah. I want 'im on Facebook. Heh. Heh.
Well, the truth is that I lifted up that bucket the next day, and the creature was still there, still beautiful with its yellow-and-rust tapestry, still as creepy as all nightmares rolled into one, accented with an episode or two of The Twilight Zone as seen by a twelve-year-old. It didn't hop away immediately -- not away from me or towards me -- so I mashed it with the rim of the bucket. More than once. Yes. I split it in two and killed it.
Maybe two hours later, I was back out there, and I saw that, to my horror, the thing was about a foot apart. I mean, it was beside itself -- ten, twelve inches away.
The next morning, I couldn't find it at all, not the end piece, not the front piece. Hm. One friend told me that her grasshopper carcass lasted for over a year.
Well, the next day, I saw that another grasshopper was trying to hide on the Mandeville. Dang! The first experience was so awful -- feeling squeamish about it and killing it and listening to all you bug-lovers -- that I just didn't want to deal with it. But dammit! I want that Mandeville! I want it healthy and happy so I can plant it when I move. Well, I was on a mission, so I didn't have time to handle it then. I shook the plant but the bug didn't fall off, and I went on my way. Hours later, I returned. I found a stick and knocked the critter off the plant and into the base of the pot.
The Good News is that it wasn't a grasshopper after all! The Bad News is that it was -- I swear! -- HALF a grasshopper! No kidding. The front half of that first one had managed to crawl back to the plant and hang out in it until it had what we all hope was a peaceful death.
Can you imagine that? And now do you see why I'm terrified of them? They have too much power. I actually do believe in reincarnation, although I've never considered that we reincarnate as things other than humans. Surely that version is for Hindus, not lapsed Christians. We switch genders and races and circumstances, but not species. I mean, we don't, do we? We stick to the same species? Right? Because if we don't, and that bug comes back as a sort of Ironsides version of that grasshopper, and I'm back as a gorgeous but icky bug, he'll probably aim those wheels right at me. At the very least, he'll break my glasses.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
That's the heartfelt email I sent to WFLA, Channel 8, here in the Tampa Bay area.
I got notice of Silencing Christians from Equality Florida, a gay activist organization, via email. After I signed and sent the email they provided, I also forwarded the thing to friends I thought would be interested.
In their thank-you note, Equality Florida asked me to go further and call WFLA to ask them to refrain from showing the infomercial. Well, actually, they told me to "insist," which is something I'm usually quite good at, but it didn't feel correct in this instance. The phone was answered right away -- by a human, of all things -- but it turned out to be the Online line, so I was transferred to Programming. If I'd been counting, I'd know how many times a phone rings in sixteen minutes. Programming never did answer. I prefer to see that as a good sign, that the line was clogged with thousands of insistent gay people and the people who love them. That's certainly a more desired scenario than the kid who answered Online just shuffling me off to some department that isn't even open at this time of day.
I'm grateful I have T-Mobile's unlimited calling plan. Plus my writers' group is tomorrow and I haven't written anything yet. Holding onto my phone and listening to sixteen minutes of rings is as good a way as any to procrastinate on that. It's as good as writing a blog entry, for instance.
And yes, I did say infomercial. You can watch the thing yourself at
http://www.silencingchristians.com/ but why would you want to?
I feel a bit helpless -- or is it hopeless? -- in the face of things like this. The hostess smilingly talks about "homosexual propaganda," inviting us to smile (condescendingly?) with her. She talks about how homosexuals have "changed the language" by calling themselves gay and others homophobic.
Okay. I'll agree with that hideous woman about the gay thing. Yes. The language changed. In addition to meaning merry, it means homosexual. I imagine most people used "gay" -- in my generation anyhow -- as often as they used "merry" in normal life -- outside of December anyhow. That is, hardly at all.
But I'm not buying the homophobic thing. I don't think gays invented that. Hah. Perhaps those Silent Christians invented it. To me, homophobic is sort of like using the prefix "mini" with another word. If I think you're being a little idiotic, I might refer to you as being mini-stupid but I don't think I should be credited with having invented a word.
I often call myself an afrophile -- usually when I'm talking about my painted car -- and some people act as if I created that word, since they'd never heard it before. I don't think I invented it. I think I just used it. Or I just picked it up off the ground. I mean, it was waiting to be used. So those Silent Christians are just making themselves look stupid -- and not even in a mini fashion.
I hope they're no more dangerous than average stupidity is dangerous.
The thing is, I was driving to a meeting today and noticed a lot of people walking on Central Avenue, when usually no one is walking there. Then I recognized it as part of the Gay Pride celebration breaking up. I drove five blocks through dispersing crowds. I actually got choked up with pride (I swear!) because we'd come so far -- we gays, we friends and families thereof. Good for us! I thought.
And then this ignorant paid-for hourlong piece of dribble* from the Silent Christians showed up. According to Equality Florida, tv stations in Michigan and Ohio have refused to air the thing, even for pay. (And according to Mike, according to Steven, Equality Florida did something stupid with the funds and stopped the same-gender marriage law from going through, but that's for a blog I'll never write, and I doubt they did it on purpose.)
Anyway, since I couldn't call the station, I went to the website, to the Contact Us place, and sent them the message at the top of this blog. I don't know who reads those things, or when, but my message would probably lose a little credibility if they knew I don't even own a television ...
And one of many reasons that I'm tv-free is that I hate getting all fired up about stuff like this. I've chosen a few organizations that I support with money and clicktivism (Amnesty International, the ACLU, the Quakers, the International Rescue Committee, okay and maybe more than a few) but I don't even really want to know what they're upset about. I want to hit ENTER with my eyes shut because I simply don't have the stomach for it anymore, if I ever did.
Years ago -- maybe fifteen, maybe more -- I was driving with a friend. We went past a car accident, complete with backed-up traffic and multiple ambulances. My friend, a newly sober woman, started crying. I thought, Fer crissake! You don't even know these people! I really thought she was sensitive to the point of psychosis. Well, I have since had the same reaction -- not so much since I got fired and the depression lifted, but still, yes: my heart bleeds.
[Whoa. Let's take a moment to admire the punctuation in that last sentence.]
Despite my short temper and my speedy reactions, I really don't like confrontations. I do, however, want to know how people think about certain things. For instance, the people who are otherwise kind and smart -- how is it that they "hate" homosexuals? I've never met someone I could talk with calmly about this. Or maybe I've never met a homophobe who's kind and smart.
I have a gay friend who says he thinks "queers" are aberrations. Why? Because they can't reproduce. My thinking is that since about ten percent of the population is gay, it can't be an aberration. Well, okay. Webster says someone who is aberrant is someone who deviates from the standard. I'm spinning my wheels here. My god! who doesn't deviate from the standard? And shouldn't we want to, at least in some categories?
Anyway, I actually can't understand why people get upset about gay people, and I don't have much hope of finding someone who could talk reasonably to me about it. But today, a man I really like, told me that the Bible says we're not to disfigure our bodies. That is, we shouldn't have tattoos or tribal scars or piercings. Because God said so -- in both Testaments, according to my friend. He's teaching his child this. In the end, I think he's using the Body As A Holy Temple thang and interpreting it to mean no tats.
I met a little boy in Ghana who had scars radiating from the outer edges of his eyes like the sun in a child's drawing. He was so marked because his mother had had five miscarriages before he was finally born. The scars were a sign of thanks for his life, thanks, one assumes, to, um, that God who doesn't want tattoos.
I don't really want to examine this, but I suspect I have dozens of ridiculous beliefs that I'd defend most fiercely (as long as no one loses an eye) but I refuse to look at them because ... it's too much work? I don't like to be wrong?
Well, anyway, I've accomplished my goal: I don't have time to write anything for the writers' group. I'm off to Billy's on Tierra Verde.
*Forgive me, but I just watched Burn After Reading. Twice. I couldn't help it.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
We brought Benji with us. The vet had said bringing the sibling pets is for the human's sake, not the animal's. In that case, I would have left Benji home. But then Mike rightly pointed out that, really, how do we know at all what animals are thinking? At least we can know (can't we?) what we're thinking, and so Benji came, too.
Sunny's leftover medicines -- and there were lots of them -- were left with the vet, to be donated to animal shelters.
And then Mike stopped at Eileen's so I could drop off the proofs for the playbill, and he brought me to the library to return some movies and a book.
Life goes on, see? as they always say at funerals.
Yeah. Except for the dead ones.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I just went off to research -- only in my kitchen -- that FD&C thing. Is that the agency that approves and disapproves of color in food and health products? Or is it the actual color code like PMS in four-color printing? Or what, please? Well, I'm amazed, but I couldn't find any food item in my cupboards that had color added. I have canned goods, but there was nothing there. I have boxed mac-n-cheese, but it's organic so its color is natural. Before we all bow to my superior eating habits, let me remind us that I can hardly remember where I left the stove.
Anyway, yes: We are all One. The Earth and me. You and me. Critters and me. Oh yah? Guess what this is:
Well, sure, it's the bucket I use when I mix up the Secret Bubble Formula Sonny Fenwick (www.bubblebus.com) whispered in my ear one time. But it's also the containment for the critter below. Now, if the creature had been standing on a nice shiny black surface like that, looking all fresh-from-the-showroom, still having that new-bug smell, I might not have squeezed an eeek from my tightened throat and gone running back into the house, acting as if I were being chased by the Four Horsemen.
I came back out with the pruning shears. I don't know what my intent was. Several weeks ago, I was so deeply offended by seeing the smaller, black grasshopper -- the one with a thin orange dotted line running up its back like a please cut here coupon border that is the adolescent version of the one in the photo -- that I knocked it off the plant with Benji's leash and then just smashed it with my flipflopped foot.
But this creature, this giant, adult one? No. I simply saw it lurking on the Mandeville and went screeching into the house for a weapon. I did knock it off the plant with those shears, but it started hopping away. I smacked the ground a couple of times, trying to smash it, but I was really too creeped out to keep a decent aim. The larger part of me didn't really want to connect with it anyhow. What a huge mess such a big bug would make. Plus, it turned around and started coming at me and that's simply too awful to tolerate, so I tossed the bucket over it -- and I didn't get it right the first time, either. I doubt very much that I have the guts to remove the bucket. Even if I did, I'm sure the thing would have found its way out.
I had wondered why the Mandeville, above, had stopped thriving.
Fernando from Colombia's mother says you have to cut off the head of these grasshoppers, that cutting them in half -- at the bellybutton, say -- won't make them die. I believe her.
While I'm at it, what do you suppose came up out of this hole? Or yipes! do you think something went down first? Wow. It just now occurred to me that I do indeed think something came up first. I wonder how I thought it breathed. Or did I think it didn't even need air? Or that it breathed dirt? Well, jeeze, does that mean the thing is still down there? Doing what? My ignorance is vast.
Whatever it is, I have a lot of them. I just don't know if they're out or in.
I've often wondered just how big the bug would be if you could combine all the bugs I've ever killed into one giant bug. I'm not even talking about the bugs that are killed when The Bug Man comes over. I just mean the ones who died by my hand, as long as we understand that that hand usually had something in it like a spray can of poison or a fly-swatter or a paper towel, and also that that hand could have been a foot, surely clad. Would it be as big as a dog? a bear? Surely not an elephant. I'm unsure of its size, but I think I have a good idea of what its attitude would be.
Speaking of attitudes, go back and look at poor Mo on May 8 of this year (KT's birthday revisited!). Now come back and look at him as of today.
Yep. He had cancer surgery one day and then again six weeks later. Poor thing! He's really a great cat, though, always ready to be affectionate, rarely upset by anything. He's so lively so soon after the operation that it makes me think if I ever have to return for surgery, I'll go to the vet instead.
Mike's coming home from Colorado today, so Benji got a bath despite all his protestations. Mo will stay at least until his stitches come out next week, and maybe longer. Mittens has licked her paws of the whole thing. First Pook, then Mo. She's disgusted. There's talk of running off with Nero but I've warned her I'll only feed one stray.
I just read How Far to Bethlehem?, an historical novel by Nora Lofts. I used to read her all the time. I probably haven't read one of her books in more than twenty years, but I quite enjoyed this one.
My writers' group meets Sunday. I hope I write something by then. I wish my blog would count.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Of course you recognize my car, in the forefront. The other red car, in the foreback, belongs to Melanie, who is back in D.C., for her father's funeral. I sympathize. I empathize.
The middle car is for sale and I want you to buy it. Blue Book says $12,000, but Leone says $11,300. There are fifty thousand miles on this 3.7-liter 2003 Jeep Liberty. White leather interior. Moon roof. Satellite radio, if that's what it is when the radio displays the pieces that are currently playing. That's a little spooky. God. I remember when Caller I.D. was new. Charlie would pick up the phone, saying, "Hi Barbara!" and I thought he was intuitive. No. He just was -- and presumably remains -- a gadget junkie.
Anyway, the Jeep needs new tires and an alignment, but not desperately so, and there's a small scrape on the front fender, nothing a reasonably-priced artcar paint job couldn't remedy.
As long as we're in consumer mode, please show up for Vicki's yard sale this upcoming Saturday, June 13, starting at eight in the morning. There's a spa or whirlpool or whatever they call it for sale, and I think a washer and dryer, too. Lots of wooden things. Plants. Stuff. She's moving to North Carolina in a week, so come help her do it at 4751 Sixth Avenue South in St. Petersburg (but just barely), 33707.
And now to support the arts ... My friend Veronika Jackson, whom I've known for years and years, has earned a scholarship for a five-day intensive workshop at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, West Virginia. Congratulations, Veronika! Alas, the scholarship just covers the workshop, not the transportation or room and board while there, so she needs to raise between eight hundred and a thousand dollars by early July. Please send her some money. Even ten bucks will make a difference.
Yep. I know Times Are Hard but that just means charity is needed more than ever. Send your donation to her at:
PO Box 374494
Decatur, Georgia, 30034
and check her out at:
This picture was taken at a blues festival in France. Ooh la la!
Let's see ... the Book Report. I read the fourth in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I needn't say more. And I bought a book from the Friends of the [Gulfport] Library: The Iron Girl by Ellen Hart. It was okay. The sleuth, which is a word I've never said out loud, is a lesbian, as are -- believe it or not -- the people she dates. I like that about Hart.
Speaking of which, I just read the new bumper stickers from Stamp and Shout (dot com). I love this one: Want to protect marriage? Make divorce illegal. Really, now. How can a culture with a fifty percent divorce rate also wring its hands over the sanctity of marriage? Well, I know from bitter personal experience that hypocrisy takes a lot of energy.
June 7 -- last Sunday -- was not only a full moon but my wedding anniversary. Sometimes I feel just awful that I can remember that, given that the sanctity of that date was destroyed four years later. I want to smack myself for cluttering up an already scattered brain with irrelevance.
But look at this -- and here's where hypocrisy raises his or her or its sly head -- I don't mind it at all that I remember that Danny Chastek's birthday is August 5. I was in love with him in sixth grade. In fact, I wrote his name on my Pink Pet eraser. Wow. Was that really the brand name? Yep. Still is. I just looked it up. Yay, internet (I guess ...)!
I remember Ronnie Green from first grade, which I think is the last time I saw him, which is about fifty-three years ago. So why should I think remembering my wedding day -- "the most important day in a girl's life" -- is neurotic? I suppose if I'd remarried right away (as opposed to the current never), I might have forgotten the date.
You know those business cards that are printed on flat little magnets? Well, I saw a bunch of them clinging happily to a painter's truck today, hair blowing back, eyes squinting as the air rushed by, smiling and feeling free. I think that's a brilliant idea. When the truck is parked at Home Depot, people who need their houses painted can just pluck off one of the cards and call the company later.
Here's something that isn't a good idea, though: drooling cats. You'll remember Mo recuperating at my place. Well, when he really got into a good massage, he'd drool. My ninety-second research said that it's a sign in some cats that they're really, really enjoying whatever's going on. Okay. Well, Pook's been here since Friday, and yesterday I discovered how much she loves her face, in particular, to be brushed. Her drooling makes Mo's look like a drop in the bucket (heh). She drools like a faucet has been turned. No offense, dear Pook, but it's gross. On the other hand, I really like her, so I just wrap a paper towel around the brush handle and stand back.
Some of you have noted that I've not nattered in a while. I've been having a hard time, feeling blue. I think it started with accidentally hearing some television news on May 26. I wrote about it for my writers' group and now I'm going to post it here, too. Yeah. I want you all to suffer with me! No. It's more like an explanation, not that you asked for one. Or maybe it is some sort of cry in the void, hoping someone can respond with an answer that will kiss my boo-boo and make it all better. In any case, feel free to stop reading NOW.
I GET IT
I am outraged. I am furious, enraged, angered, vexed, shocked, scandalized, incensed, provoked, maddened, galled, affronted, and offended. Thanks, Monsieur Roget.
I am sickened, puzzled, and frustrated.
I took a friend to get her first colonoscopy and was therefore subjected to television news, something I rarely see, for about fifteen minutes while she filled out the paperwork. Four middle school students had raped a classmate. I glanced at the screen. It showed what looked like two white and two black men, but since I’d heard “middle school,” these must have been boys. I don’t even know what middle school is. Is it the old junior high? Are these kids twelve? thirteen? older?
I ran my eyes around the waiting room. A man my age said, “They’re going to try them as adults because rape is an adult crime.” I just shook my head. Everyone else was filling out papers or talking on cell phones or paging through ragged magazines. I wondered if the facility would appreciate my old, still unread Smithsonians.
Then the newscaster told me that the rape had been committed with hockey sticks and a broom handle. I see.
I muttered something like, “In my day, kids didn’t need weapons.” I have no idea what I was saying. I hadn’t known any raped girls when I was a kid. Maybe I was upset because these boy-men didn’t even make their crime personal, as if that would make it better somehow.
“They picked on him all the time because he was fat,” said the man.
Oh. Oh, now it makes sense. Of course. Those boy-men would want to use tools because they weren’t sexually aroused by a frightened, squirming, crying fat boy. I get it. But maybe the fat boy was angry and fighting and resisting the whole time. Maybe he was punching and cursing their mothers and twisting and flailing even as he was overpowered by their numbers. Maybe he was raped but not beaten.
No. He was a fat boy. He couldn’t have been that bold. He was surely blubbering (get it?) and begging during the whole thing, until finally, for some reason, they stopped and went away, leaving him in a humiliated, painful mound of despair.
Imagine the next time he goes to school. Now instead of being picked on for being fat, he will also be picked on for having been raped. Now they’ll be calling him a homo or whatever the middle school word is. Now kids will be asking him about hockey scores and squirting him with Preparation H.
I wonder if the boy’s parents will move out of town, make a new start. I wonder if new starts work. Will the kid lose weight? Probably not. Probably he’ll gain weight, searching for more armor that doesn’t work.
Usually when I can’t stand something, I’ll make up a story about it. I’ll invent a way, for instance, that those four boy-men could have arrived at the point where they were okay with shoving sticks up a poor boy’s ass. I’d look at their horrifying childhoods and at least understand, at least a little bit.
But this time, I either can’t or won’t.
Hey, but that’s not all!
After my friend’s procedure – the nature of which is not lost on me – I returned to pick her up. This time, the television wanted to tell me about foster homes. Oh goody, I thought, more about sex abuse in the very homes that are supposed to protect kids.
But no. This was about the need for foster homes, as witnessed by one mother who tortured her two little girls by, among other things, using an eye dropper to put bleach into their eyes. Mom apparently thought the girls were vampires.
I don’t need to think of a story for this. I get it: Mom’s a nutbag. Anyone else would have known to use liquid silver on a vampire.
See how I distanced the atrocity with humor? Pretty good, huh?
I thought I would rant and rave here about the media in general instead of harping on the actual events with these kids. For instance, why do we need to know these stories? Is there a benefit anywhere to anybody to hear about these things? I can’t think of one. With the possibility of the so-called copy-cat crimes, it’s not as if we can claim that knowing about these transgressions will help prevent reoccurrences.
I have recently wondered if my ban on television and newspapers in my world is still okay. Maybe I’m being too much of a candy-ass. How can I possibly be a good dinner companion if I’m not up on the latest news? Heck, during that same colonoscopy day, there was something – I started listening too late to know what – about North Korea. What I did see, though, was their odd, extravagant way of marching, so I was able to put forth the theory that armies who march weird – like Hitler’s goose-stepping troops – are armies to squelch as soon as possible. That little tidbit was worth sitting through the rape and torture, wasn’t it?
Of course not. And so when I took a nap the other day, I woke up from a dream of crying. There was no context in the dream, no framework or visual cues. I was merely sobbing in the dark, mourning for I knew not what. I was simply and heartily crying. Weeping. Wailing. Keening. Howling. Bawling. It wasn’t a good cry, either. It was a bad cry. It provided no relief, got no attention, received no solace. It was a lamentation in an unknown wilderness that no one heard, that had no effect, that left my chest still thick and heavy with helpless sorrow.