Category: navel gazing

On Robin Williams & Giving Thanks

Posted by – November 26, 2014

Robin Williams was in my dreams last night.

Robin Williams was in a movie, maybe, in my dreams last night.

He was playing someone like himself or like one of so many characters he played – like Perry Williams in The Fisher King – a disappointed but joyful romantic of sorts, wound up and anxious but reluctantly hopeful.

And he was with a woman – I don’t know who, but the kind of actress who could play against his manic energy with something like bemused compassion – and she had finally told him she was his.

Their figures were framed by a mountain range, romantic, sunny, cold. Every word they said could be seen by the breath that encased it. I think they were the Grand Tetons, because my brain has its own sense of humor. I don’t think she said anything but waited, instead, for him to understand that they were for each other, and he did, and he realized it the way only he could have acted that scene – with a dizzying monologue about how he had always wanted and always known and disappointment had taunted him and kicked him but fuck you disappointment and he looked at her and pulled her shirt up and exclaimed, loudly, “boobies!” with that kind of barbaric yawp that he was such a master of.

There are still a lot of days when I think about him, his life’s work, all that joy and enthusiasm he kept throwing up against despair. He must have terrified so many people all his life – I don’t mean most people, who just laughed at his antics and didn’t seem to know he was a depressive – how could anyone not have known? That look in his eyes all the time – he looked like a good, honest kid who has just discovered how cruel people can be, how depraved the world is – and it is. It’s as if his whole career was about that second of realization, of knowing how beautiful it can all be and delighting in it only to realize cars hit dogs and deer and people act in the shittiest ways most when they’re scared. It’s only as a kid you realize how fragile and beautiful a bird is and that you probably know someone who seems perfectly normal who would kill one just because they can.

There are days when the burden of enthusiasm is too much for me; I can’t imagine what the weight he carried was like if he had to conjure such amazing energy and fun against it. I have always felt fortunate that I can live in the world something like sober most of the time and that I have never needed a whole lot of illusion for what is and what isn’t, what can and can’t be. I had a Buddhist once tell me I was a natural Taoist; the world is bad and that’s just how it is: people kill birds because they can, and beat children, and rape women, and bash queers, and all of what they do is about suffering and feeling insubstantial and alone and scared, and everything the rest of us do in response is, too.

You can’t really teach gender studies – which is, after all, the study of oppression – and not go through life knowing exactly how fucked up things are. They are. It’s not okay, and it’s never going to be okay. Sometimes, in darker moments, I expect that things are going to get worse as our resources become scarce, but then, too, I know we will see remarkable acts of kindness and generosity at times when you’d expect the opposite. Look at every hurricane, tsunami, bombing: you see extraordinary acts of love and the heroic. You see what Mister Roger’s mom called “the helpers”. Disasters are some of the only times that people can actually live as hugely, as passionately and compassionately as they want to all the time. Most of us aren’t Robin Williams; we are self conscious and want to fit in, keep our jobs, not freak out the neighbors. We want quiet kinds of joy, maybe a contented happiness, instead of the extremes that lead to or are expressions of depression and euphoria.

But wow does his memory make me want to live harder and happier and with far more defiance in defense of what I know to be right. With joy and wild enthusiasm, wild, untamed, amazing enthusiasm, I would like to be able to live in the world as that child who can see how amazingly, stunningly, unbelievably beautiful every single thing is but who knows how all of those things are only ever tentative when they’re not momentary.

That kitten you hold in the palm of your hand will be the cat you will bury if life goes according to plan, Neil Gaiman once wrote. Whose plan? What plan? What the fuck kind of plan is that?

I woke up this morning stuck somewhere between a sob and a laugh. The holidays are upon us. I miss the innocent, joyful ones I used to have. I have no family nearby but for my wife this year; no lover; two of my friends I’ll spend Thanksgiving with are very ill; a third won’t be around because his parents are. And that’s it, isn’t it? I know there are people who have so many things – their parents still alive, their spouses’ parents, beautiful children, heterosexual privilege – and I can’t imagine it anymore. I had a couple of years like that, when I was partnered and then married and everyone I loved was still alive. Some days it makes me want to try again, to go back to being heterosexual so that I can have again the luxury of complaining about having to spend time with my family. Now? It breaks my heart that I can’t, not just because of geography but because my family of origin is estranged within itself, and my family of choice is everywhere all over the globe.

I’ll go to a north Wisconsin town and drink with writers and queer friends. I’ll get into a hot tub, maybe, if I can get past my own self consciousness and feel safe enough to do so, and I will feel very, very lucky and full of gratitude that there are people whose sense of thanks includes me.

I wish all the same to all of you out there. Boobies, like the dream Robin Williams said. Let your joy fly in the face of your disappointment.

On Not Writing

Posted by – October 13, 2014

I’ve been working on Book #3. Recently I’ve been calling it Giving Him Up. My anniversary post was part of that writing. So are other little pieces of what’s on this blog (“Hyenas” comes to mind, as does “Just Like That”) but blogging is like a journal, not like writing. Writing is where you really want to piece something together that makes it feel like a whole thing, not a flash, or a tweet, or even lightning. It should feel, a whole work, like a really good thunderstorm from start to finish: darkening sky to cleaning up felled branches in the sun the next day.

There is a lot of writing out there – people speaking various truths, like the one I’m about to publish by the ex wife of a trans woman who assaulted her. There is a lot that needs to be said, and in her case, by people whose experiences are otherwise covered up in other people’s commentaries and the real story of the thing gets lost. What you want is to get to the real story, the uncomfortable one – not the ideological argument, or the rush to judgment; not the gossip, but the compassion.

And living here I realized I have ingested something like shame in a way I’ve never known it.

When I wrote the first two books, I was surrounded by old friends, family, the trans community – even though it wasn’t called that then. I ran a support group online and then, of course, the boards, where I had a lot of good input and a lot of love and a lot, a LOT, of really smart critique. That is, I lived in universes where I felt supported, not judged; I hung out with people who wanted me, and my marriage, to succeed, and I didn’t imagine a world where I could feel judged for having a feeling.

But as our marriage has grown, some of the feelings I’ve had are not as generous, perhaps, as they once were. Maybe before I was the hero of my own story, even if I was judged as less than feminist or, my very favorite, as just “getting it wrong” by impatient activists. But I knew all of that – I worried some people, and pissed others off, but I have had so many people thank me for so many years for helping them in some way or another that I am finding it difficult to remember that to say what you mean in order to tell what happened is a Very Difficult Thing.

It is one thing to write an anti hero’s story, as Bechdel did with her father, and another to write yourself as that anti hero.

I don’t yet fear people thinking I’m a horrible person. That’s familiar territory. I have been criticized by activists and crossdressers, ex wives and feminists. But my secret is that I believe we are all horrible people: most just have the good sense not to mention it in public.

And that’s what I fear: not being judged for who I am and what I’ve done or how I feel. I fear being judged for not having the good sense to keep my mouth shut about things that I am supposed to feel ashamed of. There are so many people telling stories their mothers and neighbors would ask them not to tell, but they find a way. I just can’t find mine: I don’t own the kind of rebellious antagonism of “I’ve fucked all the people” kinds of memoirs or the “I’ve struggled and carried on” autobiographies, either. I don’t have that placid, New Englandy, “here are the unfortunate things I’ve found in the attic of my soul” detachment, nor the “we must do something about this” determination of the muckracker and activist. What I have is a lot of hurt, a lot of tired, and too many excuses for who and what I am.

Getting there. Or spinning in circles. I’m really not sure which yet.

Writing Again

Posted by – August 19, 2014

So I’ve been writing again and feel, simultaneously, like I’m disappearing. It’s a thing. It’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, but the feeling is this: I go to things and talk to people and make plans and I’m not there. I’ve heard everything and enjoyed the company and the food and the jokes, all of it. But it’s as if there’s a whirring sound in my head the whole time, the way it can feel when you’re trying to listen to quiet music in a loud bar, and it’s not any one voice but the murmur of all the voices that prevents you from really hearing the band.

It’s as if the whirring gets louder and louder gradually, over time, sometimes over days, sometimes minutes, sometimes months, as the urge to write in a focused way comes over me. I don’t write every day the way they tell writers they should. That is, I write something every day, no doubt, but it’s emails or blog posts or other bullshit that doesn’t actually count.

Which is why I was taken aback by this snippet form an article about memoir and status updates by Dani Shapiro:

I haven’t unburdened myself, or softly and earnestly confessed. Quite the opposite. In order to write a memoir, I’ve sat still inside the swirling vortex of my own complicated history like a piece of old driftwood, battered by the sea. I’ve waited—sometimes patiently, sometimes in despair—for the story under pressure of concealment to reveal itself to me.

So that’s what the whirring is: the sound of the swirling vortex of my own complicated history.

Exactly. In person, or on the phone, or whenever you might see me, if I seem tuned out, I’m not exactly. I’m just listening to the whirring, trying to quiet it temporarily so I can be present, but often, I will be failing altogether.

Ferguson

Posted by – August 14, 2014

It’s at times like this, on nights like this, your brain scrambles for some sense, tries to find some order, some belief, some kind of light. But it’s been such a hard week – one of the kindest, gentlest men who raised us all, despite his own pain, died – and tonight, thinking about why and god can we just go back in time so someone could help and instead, we have the photos and reports from Ferguson.

And then your heart just sinks. An Appleton police car drives by my house, as one does almost every night, and instead of feeling safe in this peaceful little town I feel afraid. I know some of the cops here, you know? And they’re nice guys. And I bet the guys in Ferguson are too, and yet look at what’s been happening there this week, what’s been happening all over the US this month – Mike Brown was the fourth unarmed black man killed in this country in the past month by police – and you wonder how any of this happens.

But you know how. I mean, I teach how. This is institutionalized racism. There’s no way around it. All of the reports of what happened the night Mike Brown got shot – even the “official” ones that don’t smell right – tell me there was something happening there, an abuse of power, a moment of hate and fear that became the death of this young man.

You watch the Anonymous video and it sends chills up your limbs. I agree with them. I am secretly happy someone is doing something, and wonder, too, what happened to the FOI Act, and why it doesn’t seem to work anymore. But Anonymous terrifies me, too. That’s a lot of power. An awful lot of power. And people who have and want and use that much power really worry me, no matter how much I agree with their politics.

So what do you do on a night like this one, when the clown who might have made some sense of the violence going on in Missouri is gone? What do you do when the smartest, most compassionate people are speechless, astonished by the brutality of it all? As my friend Loree Cook-Daniels asked: As human beings, do we want to pay and arm some people to kill other people? Do we have an answer to that that makes any sense? Because sadly, I think our answer is yes. It shouldn’t be.

I don’t know. I know it’s always darkest before the dawn, and that there have been times in recent history, in recent memory, that have felt something like this, when the world seems to have gone especially dim and humanity seems especially cruel. I know there have been nights like this before, weeks like it, and I know there will be again.

So all I can do is feel thankful I am not having gas canisters lobbed onto my front lawn, that I have the luxury of even thinking tonight in a way that no one in Ferguson really can right now. All of my privilege, all of my luck, all of my security is mine tonight no matter how scared of the world I might feel.

Tonight is a night, one of those nights, when the wolves feel like they’re at the door. And all I can do is make sure the doors are locked, read the news reports, look for some sense of shared confusion and hope from my friends, and at long last, listen. There’s this song, one of the prettiest songs I know, and I’m just going to keep singing it to myself tonight while the people of Ferguson and the people of Iraq try to stay alive.

Hang in there, folks.

 

 

 

Godspeed Robin Williams

Posted by – August 11, 2014

I wish I were even a little surprised it was an apparent suicide. But he did so, so much good in his fight against depression. So much. So many great roles, so many of my favorite movies, so, so much.

I wish genius talent didn’t suffer so much, but god, they do so often.

I am surprised I’m crying, but he’s been making me laugh and think for nearly the whole of my life.

So I guess now is the right time to admit that I never missed an episode of Mork & Mindy when it first aired. Yes, that makes me old. But I didn’t miss one single show for the first two seasons, and not many after that.  And it was his routine a year after 9/11 that made me feel like something might be okay again eventually.

Thanks, Mr. Williams, for making it all suck less while you were here. Carpe Diem, indeed.

Facebook Blue

Posted by – June 25, 2014

Amphibious

Posted by – June 6, 2014

CAN MONITORING DECLINING SPECIES BE DEPRESSING?

Yes and no. I am fascinated by life, but I don’t enjoy seeing so much just slipping away. Every generation thinks that now is normal. It isn’t. But I’m glad I am the age I am. I have seen things no one will see again and I have loved doing it. But I see things happening now on the planet that will not end well.

WHY DO YOU SAY YOU’RE GLAD?

Because I won’t be around.

- from an interview with Darrel Frost, the chief herpetology curator for the American Museum of Natural History

I was just having this conversation with a friend – that this is one of a million reasons I chose not to have children. I will feel lucky not to be around for the disappearance of the elephants, myself.

Hyenas

Posted by – April 11, 2014

I write memoir. Sometimes people ask me why I would publish such deeply personal things, and I never know how to answer that question. Because I can? Because I think shame is the single most limiting factor of our lives? Because I want people to know the same sense of relief I have many, many times – that relief when you read something, or see something, and you think, “maybe I’m not horrible.” But often it’s because writing about something is a way of taking control of it. Owning your own story is empowering. Having someone else tell it to shame you is not.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot today because I’ve been watching two good friends have their lives dragged through social media in horrible ways.

And I think about all of these news stories – politicians’ dick pics, barebacking requests, grindr photos – all of these things, the real world of desire and shame and love and risk and identity – and we all make jokes about them, judge them, maybe sometimes feel sorry for the parties involved.

But really, we should all ignore them. We should ignore them on the proposition that these things could happen to any one of us.

Anyway, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, first of all. Second of all, read with compassion whenever and however you can. This current story is tragic and personal and painful, and this is all I will ever say about it.

Back off, hyenas. Even you may need to rely on the common decency of other people someday.

Public Names & Private Lives

Posted by – March 12, 2014

Interesting piece in the NYT by a porn star about the disctinction between public and private. She says some interesting things that reflect my own experience having a pen name very, very well.

Maybe it would be easier to navigate the dissolving boundaries between public and private spaces if we all had a variety of names with which to signal the aspects of ourselves currently on display.

and

The strangers who call me Jessica at publicity appearances lean in far too close. They hiss it as if they have top-secret information. All they’re doing is letting me know that they had 30 seconds to spend on Google and no sense of propriety — which may sound funny coming from a woman who flagrantly disregards it herself.

and

My stage name is less about withholding parts of myself or maintaining privacy than it is a symbol of the idea that I am more than just my job or any other isolated slice of my identity.


and still:

The whole kerfuffle doesn’t need to be as dramatic as people seem to think. For me, choosing a stage name felt less like concealing my identity (especially since I’d just turned over my Social Security number to strangers) and more like deciding on a user name for any Internet service or website.

In my case having a pen name which is not the same as my legal name has done one additional thing: gives me something in common with the community I work for. I am regularly asked (1) what my “real name” is – it’s the one I just told you when I introduced myself, thanks, or I would have said something else – which trans people get all the time and which is rude no matter who is asking, or why. Similarly, I hear (2) “were you embarrassed that everyone knows so much about you?” – um, yeah, no, but like every other human being, I do prefer talking about myself over having other people talk about me in negative, gossipy ways, which is part of the huge reason trans people don’t tell you their former name, because they don’t want you going off and gossiping about it to someone else, or worse yet, using it like they’re “in” and then, finally, (3) “does anyone still call you G?” and yes, some do, but until or unless I ask you to, please call me the name I introduced myself to you with, or, See #1.

Helen’s my real name. It happens to be my legal middle name. I am not “hiding” anything but instead trying to have a tiny bit of personal life and am not, always, The Helen Boyd Show. I’m sure both me and Stoya occasionally like to be at home, eating a can of soup, wondering when we’re going to get around to doing our taxes.

Mom

Posted by – February 17, 2014

So today’s my mom’s 84th birthday. I’m so happy she is still with us because there have been some real health concerns the past few years, moreso since my dad died.

& I’ve decided, because she has often reminded me that I have always had great taste in friends, that I want to start a new tradition: to thank the people who have really been amazingly good to me, or for me, in the year past.

See the thing is I really had a spell there where I realized having good friends is not something I could take for granted. That is, my good taste, or my great luck, in choosing good friends took a wild vacation and left me in the lurch. I got hurt badly, and that has been such a rare occurrence in my life that on top of being hurtful it was disorienting and disquieting in a way I’m only now coming back from.

More gratitude is often a good answer to self pity, I’ve found, so let me say thank you to some people for being kind beyond measure, or sweet in some specific way, or who have just been rock solid in the last year or so and reminded me that faith in people may sometimes be misplaced but only in the specifics – not in principle.

All of my Sarahs, Celia, Jen, my sisters, my brother in law Ian, Mary, Erica, Darya, Lynne, Quince, Coby, Maurice, and Alex. My wife, of course, and my mom, with whom I’ve always had an amazing friendship, a particularly cool bond that only the youngest of a very large family gets, I think. I’m sure I forgot someone or many someones, and if I did, I’m sorry.

There’s this saying: let life bring me people I can help. Well, these are the people who got handed my mess of a self and who saw they could, and did.

More on Dunn, & Racism, & Injustice

Posted by – February 16, 2014

I posted the news of the verdict on Facebook and wound up writing about it off & on all night. As I explained to a friend, sometimes a particular case just reminds you of how lamentable a loss of life can be, & this one is that, for me. His poor parents.

So despite the fact that the jury hung on the top charge not because anyone thought he was totally innocent but more because some wanted first degree and others, manslaughter, I still see a travesty here. This young man is dead because this guy thought shooting into a car full of teenagers was a legitimate response to someone’s music being too loud.

I just keep thinking that there should be some addition of guilt because this situation never had to happen at all. It’s different from winding up in a situation where you feel threatened. He could have just left them alone. Just so much fucking privilege on his part. I’m glad he’s doing time but it’s so, so sad that he wasn’t actually convicted of killing that man. It’s just such a painful reminder that young black men’s lives are always on the line. He was in a car listening to music with his friends, you know? & He died because someone else decided that was unacceptable. I understand there are always legal issues but you know, sometimes there just shouldn’t be, and absolute disregard for others’ right to LIVE should be accounted for. Just sad tonight that white people persist in seeing young brothers as scary. & that we live in a culture that validates that fear instead of insisting on an end to this racist bullshit.

I’m not blaming the jury. As white people we really have to start owning this shit. Quit grasping your bag tighter, and locking your car doors when you see a black person, and all of the rest of this crap that we do, all the time, because we don’t examine our privilege. And so racism persists, and an environment where young black men are always suspect, for no reason other than that we suspect them, all the time, no matter what they’re doing.

& It tires me in a bone-deep kind of way, of knowing I’m guilty of it as well as the next person. But we can’t keep pretending that this atmosphere isn’t rancid, that it criminalizes some people no matter what. I hate it, & just wanted to renew my commitment to not shutting the hell up about skin privilege and the way it creates an unjust environment. I can’t afford to think of myself as innocent because when I do, someone else becomes guilty for no fucking reason at all. We have to do more to stop the criminalization of young black men. Whatever we can, whenever we can.

UnValentine: Another Note

Posted by – February 15, 2014

Another note/update from the partner who was excluded from a women’s-only dance yesterday:

UPDATE: It’s been quite an emotional roller coaster. I want to make a clarification: This is a private group of women holding a fundraiser. It is NOT a PFLAG group. PFLAG, itself is trans-inclusive and trans-friendly. In addition, trans-women are welcomed at the dance. (Not sure about people who don’t identify as either binary but that’s a different issue.)

I was really trying to express how I felt as a partner who has lost this part of her community. It just hurts.

I understand that we no longer belong as a couple in a women’s-only space. In the meantime, if this helped spur a little more discussion, I’m glad.

I love my partner fiercely. He’s very brave and loving human being and I’m lucky to have him by my side.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

So this isn’t PFLAG’s problem, but it’s still our community’s problem, in my opinion. In reading over the comments – I know, I know, I’m not supposed to do that – over at AmericaBlog where John Aravosis wrote about it, the one thing I’m struck by is how quickly this became about the trans guy’s identity and why he would want to go to a women’s only dance.

And you know, that’s the whole problem, isn’t it? Why should someone’s transition negate the partner’s identity as a lesbian? The whole idea that they wouldn’t “look like” a lesbian couple is infuriating – the same argument was made against butch/femme couples back in the day.

Here’s the thing: as a community, could we maybe start to acknowledge that people transition, and that they have histories, and identities, and life experiences, all of which may not tidily map onto our models of “straight” and “gay”? Can we allow trans couples to decide how to negotiate their own identities as individuals and couples instead of everyone else telling us where we belong? Can a trans guy honor his own past and his relationship’s past without other trans men telling him he’s sold out his gender and trans people everywhere? Are lesbians really not used to guys transitioning yet?

A little compassion would be awesome from groups who are now and who have been, historically, excluded discreetly and explicitly, kindly and hatefully.

Trans partners are often a wrench in the homo/hetero works, but sometimes we get eaten by the gears.

Deep Dark Fears

Posted by – January 24, 2014

more here. h/t io9.

Interview with Yours Truly

Posted by – December 21, 2013

I haven’t done one of these in forever and a day, but here’s a brief interview with me by a very lovely crossdresser named Vivienne who asked me a bunch of questions. I answered most of them.

Here are the questions I did answer:

  1. It’s been several years since She’s Not the Man I Married was published. For those of us who don’t know the latest, could you give us a brief update on where things are with Betty’s transgender journey? … Does this mean hormones and surgery, or something short of that? Legal gender change?

  2. I completely understand your desire to write My Husband Betty, but did you realise or suspect at the time the impact it would have on you? Did you foresee that it would become part of your identity, at least your public one? And is that OK?

  3. What are your plans for your next book?

  4. What else do you write about which isn’t to do with gender? From my point of view, you seem like someone with a point to make, and I suspect you would have made it in a different area if the cards had fallen a little differently. I just wonder what that area might have been.

  5. I admit to feelings of envy when I read your books and realise how open you are to the idea of Betty’s transgender status. I suspect that a question you get asked frequently by crossdressers is: “How can I get my wife to be more like you?”

  6. But my question to you is this: has your acceptance of Betty ever led to problems? Have you been the subject of hostility for your views? …Why do you consider yourself a pain in the ass?

  7. What’s the most difficult thing for you about having a trans husband?

  8. What’s the best thing for you about having a trans husband?

  9. What advice would you give to a woman (perhaps a wife) whose partner has just told her about his crossdressing for the first time?

  10. A theme of my blog has become my (qualified) acceptance of the Freund-Blanchard autogynephilia model. I wondered what your current view about this hypothesis is (you touch on it in My Husband Betty, but I wondered if your views have evolved). … Old men? You mean scientists? Or perhaps priests?

  11. Most crossdressers insist they are straight men attracted to women. Yet some gay men crossdress. What’s your take on that?

  12. What famous person would you most like to meet and why?

Do go read the whole thing. It’s a very smart blog.

Mental Illness Isn’t Cancer

Posted by – November 9, 2013

I found this short reflection on the difference in experience for a family when first the mom/wife went through breast cancer, and later a daughter went through addiction treatment and recovery.

Because of course, addition is an illness, as are mental health issues. But we don’t treat it, or them, as if they were.

When the wife had cancer, people brought casseroles.

Maggie was disciplined by her college for breaking the drug and alcohol rules. She began an outpatient recovery program. She took a medical leave from school. She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, diagnosed, released. She began years of counseling, recovery meetings, and intensive outpatient rehabilitation. She lived in a recovery house, relapsed, then spent seven weeks in a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.

No soup, no homemade loaves of bread.

When the daughter was fighting addiction, people brought none.

I have often wondered how sane a world it would be to live in one where we helped people with an illness instead of criminalizing them. Nutty, I know. But we persist in thinking of addiction as a moral failure, a failure of discipline.

Getting Thanks

Posted by – October 10, 2013

I just wanted to say: there is rarely anything that makes me as happy as hearing a thank you from a reader, especially a wife or partner, for my books. It’s entirely humbling, but it is the kind of thing that I look at when I’m worried about everything or down about everything and I can think: well someone’s day sucked a little less because of what I wrote and published.

And that is not even something I thought would happen and certainly never expected but am still regularly very, very proud of.

This Just In: Relationships Fail.

Posted by – September 30, 2013

This is a pretty miraculous little article about relationships but moreso, about love, and about the limits of intimacy. It blew me away. She starts at a place that most people would consider pessimistic, but the older I get, and the more couples I have known, the more I feel that she is just stating the obvious.

So let’s take a hard look at why relationships never seem to pan out. I mean, really—have you ever seen a functional relationship? There are some that seem to be functional, or possibly even very good, but we never really get to know too much about them. Then later, we discover the seedy underbelly—often when the couple splits—and are disillusioned all over again.

This one had domestic violence in it. That one has been a sexless marriage for the past 10 years. This one had one partner lying and cheating on the other. That one was more of a business arrangement, waiting patiently until the kids were out of the house. The list goes on and on.

So, um, yeah. There’s that.

Then she talks more about the why, and here’s it’s not hard to tell I found this in a buddhist journal:

Relationships are based on the fallacy that I exist, you exist, and that my happiness, connection and fulfillment can be met by something from the outside—that there even is an outside.

That might sound esoteric, but stick with me.

When we look at our experience we can’t actually find a “person,” or even a “self.” In any experience we can find what we call color, the sound of a voice, the experience of a touch, etc. Without a belief in a self, other or time—which are all just thoughts and images in the mind and have no substance—all we have is this moment. More

Kittens

Posted by – September 11, 2013

We happen to be fostering three kittens at the moment, all of them goofy, clumsy little ninjas, hungry and recently weaned. One orange, one grey, one tortico. And they have been amusing the hell out of me, like kittens always do.

But today? They are running all over the place & so I’m reminded of that day 12 years ago when I looked down at our hardwood living room floor in Brooklyn and noticed that our kitty boys – who were then about a year & a half – had left footprints while they played.

& That was when we noticed the light coating of ash on the floor.

& Then it all comes back: the smell, god the smell. But the phone calls, & my family gathering on Long Island that following weekend, to look at our wedding photos – we’d just gotten married in July. Walking down the street in Park Slope & a woman stopping to take a call on her cellphone & watching her go ashen & cry & fall to her knees right there on the sidewalk. Finding a day a few months later to shop up on 7th Avenue and running into a funeral for a Rescue One firefighter.

It was a lot of that. It wasn’t a day.

It was months, now years, more than a decade, & yet the shock of it, and the sadness, never goes away.

So today, tears, and kittens who leave no footprints.

 

Adam Ant on Tour

Posted by – September 2, 2013

his current badass self rocking a skirt for London’s Fashion Week.

There are only a few US dates left, and I am pleased as punch I got to see him in Milwaukee. He still has so much stage charisma it’s ridiculous, and he’s doing a ton of the old punk songs – like “Zerox Machine”! – which makes antfans like me seriously happy.

If anyone out there wants to buy my round-trip airfare to the Pacific NW, I’d love to go see the Seattle & Portland shows which happen this upcoming weekend! Really. I’m not kidding. Even a little. I nearly drove to Minneapolis the day after the Milwaukee show to see him again.

Here he is doing a cool version of “Antmusic“, and for those of you who never saw him, this is the beauty that was Adam back in the day, doing “Physical (You’re So)” (which some of you may know from when NIN’s Trent Reznor covered it).

Here he is in the late 70s, back in the punk days, in the Derek Jarman film Jubilee, with the band that would eventually become Bow Wow Wow, playing “Plastic Surgery”.

& The best part of this clip is all the aging punk rockers doing the “Prince Charming”.

I can’t even begin to explain how or why this man saved my life, but he did.

Becoming White

Posted by – August 4, 2013

As per usual, a good post at Abagond about American whiteness: this article details the way ‘my people’ became white in America. I’m both Southern European (Italian) & Eastern European (Polish) and also German & a tiny, tiny little bit Irish (who weren’t white either when they first came to the US, of course). Here are some highlights, but do go read the whole thing.

The Third Enlargement of American Whiteness (1930-1980) was when the Jews, Italians and others from southern and eastern Europe became White Americans, when they melted into the melting pot.

. . .

Late 1800s: Crossing the Atlantic becomes cheap. Suddenly anyone can come to America: unlettered peasants from Italy, penniless Jews and others from southern and eastern Europe. They fill the slums of New York and elsewhere. The government fears they will be stuck there forever – a permanent underclass.

1910s: They are called “alien races” … they bring crime and poverty. They have too many children. They do not understand freedom and democracy, voting for corrupt political machines. Skull measurements (and later IQ tests) prove they lack intelligence.

. . . More