today's tangential

The tangential news posts all comes from my hometown newspaper -- the illustrious Democrat Herald. In fact, the title of this whole endeavor comes from the name of the small, northwestern city of my origin. Anyway, the DH has been edited since time and all creation by one crazy balding fellow named Hasso Herring. I don't want to totally trash it as a source of news, they did after all give me my first byline as a high schooler (where I authored columns on such pressing topics as what it means to be "goth" and "my trip to new york"). The odd thing about the Democrat Herald is that often when I'm searching google news for breaking world news, a site to them always pops up. Is that because I read it online? Or in some alternate universe, they are on the forefront of journalism?

Anyway, today's news item from the homefront spans many days of the editor's mailbag. It all started with this letter from Harold and Dyann Kliewer about their 45 days of service with the Minute Men organization in Arizona. These small town paranoid retirees expressed their blatant racism by assuring residents of small town Oregon that Arizonia's citizens were overwhelming grateful:

Until you have spent time on the border or surrounding area, it's impossible to form an educated opinion on the issue of illegal immigration and its impact. People in the area thanked us over and over. For the first time in years, they were able to check their mail without carrying a gun for protection. They started sleeping all night without awakened by a patrol of illegals crossing their property.
But the best news of all, the Kliewers assure us, is that they are coming to a town near you:
Minute Men are coming soon to Linn, Benton and Lane counties to verify if employment services, farmers, canneries, potato processors and government agencies are following immigration hiring laws. We will be equipped with video cameras and necessary legal resources to document immigration status.
Great, just what the West needs, a return to cowboy justice. The Kliewers are right, we didn't totally obliterate the "brown menace" back in the day when we overan the West and stole Texas, Arizona, Nevada, California, and parts of Oregon from Mexico...but do they realy think the Minute Men can do it now? At least Marla Lawrence replied to them in a sufficiently sarcastic tone. I was choking on all the "thanks for serving our country" letters the whacked out Sam's Clubbers were receiving. Marla, you made my day by pointing out the history of border patrols (KKK, neo-nazi Tom Metzger, etc). I can always count on my hometown paper to offend, but you, dear Marla, your response made it worth it.

speaking of the closet

I've always had mixed feelings about outing people. Wait, that's not true. Other people have always had mixed feelings about outing people. I have barely palpable qualms occasionally, but I find it to be such a rare practice (mainstream media and celeb magazines totally willing to stalk the straights, but rarely do they run front page photos of Jody Foster making out with her "nanny" (...oh wait i mean "personal assistant"...I mean my "closest friend and business partner who lives with me, with whom I'm raising a family, and who I occasionally make passionate love to.")

Anyway, if there is anyone who does deserve outing, it's right wing anti-gay activists who duke it with the devil on the side. And so there is blogactive. Where you can find out about Rich Santorum's gay assistant and Rep. David Dreier. I don't know if claiming these closet cases as "gay" is entirely useful -- we end up claiming sleazes like Spokane's mayor Jim West.

In some ways, I don't consider these people to be gay at all. They definitely have sex with men (so few far right wing lesbians have been outed so far, maybe that should be my project), but they also are self-hating, angry, dangerous people who have little to do with the community, the politics, and the identity that make up what being "gay" is. I think we should out them as people who have sex with men, while trying to make life difficult for other people who do -- the real gays.

Anyway, if we are sniffing out the fey amongst the right wing. . . has anyone taken a close look at John G. Roberts bio? Not married until he was in his early forties (and just as he was starting to climb into the upper echelons of the right wing) and two adopted kids. Normally that wouldn't raise my eyebrows too high, but since that Luther Vandross thing slipped by me I've been really alert, and I don't know of another Republican who is that cute or has a haircut that good. I'm not saying he is cutting edge, but still there's something boyish..."I just bought a fixer-upper in the Catskills" about him, no? For god's sake he played Peppermint Patty in an all-boys high school production!

I'm not the only one who thinks so: <...manhattan offender>


someone beat me to it

The day Luther Vandross died, i was watching the evening news when Roz Abrams (rumored to be a diver herself) announced that "Luther Vandross had only one true love in his life. . . (pause). . . music."

Then there flashed a picture of a lighter, demure Vandross singing, then bashfully ducking his head, smiling.

And it hit me. Luther Vandross had one love in his life that he talked about! He is a HUGE GAY. It was stunning to me. I felt like there wasn't a single star or celebrity who I hadn't accused of being gay, let alone not spotted a closeted one who was so clearly, clearly gay. I've been milling it over for weeks, racking up evidence, listening to all the tributes. But apparently its just one of those things that slipped under my radar while I watched him all those 8,700 times on Oprah. Maybe I was distracted by his stroke or by the strange way that everyone seemed to love his cheesy romance soaked lyrics (I'm not denying the man can sing. . . but the content was sometimes lacking).

Anyway, the Village Voice beat me to it.
"Though he never came out as gay, bisexual, or even straight, you had to be wearing blinders--as many of his fans, particularly female, must have been--to overlook his queerness. The sequined Liberace suits were a clue, as were the highly publicized bitch fights he waged on tour with Anita Baker and En Vogue. The dead giveaway for me was his admission that his high school grades plummeted because he was in anguish over Diana Ross leaving the Supremes. "
awwww, so cute. Apparently, he nurtured a longtime friendship with disco master Sylvester

and felt that the anguish of the closet is what fueled the success of his songwriting. So viscious is the closeted circle.

In honor of Luther, go tell your co-worker your gay. (I don't care if it's true.)


the daily hate

The one, the only (how did a Mormon get to be governor of Massachusetts anyway?)

Mitt "the Pit" Romney

Who yesterday vetoed an Emergency Contraception expansion bill.

If we are looking for Republican "flip-flops", check out Mitt who in 2002 told Planned Parenthood, in response to a questionnaire, that he supported the substance of Roe v. Wade, but in today's Boston Globe claims he is a "pro-life governor" who thinks that states should determine their own stands on abortion.

Mitt has been the number one opponent to gay marriage in MA, as well as trying to reinstate the death penalty and a genius scheme to penalize people who don't have health insurance .

How, how, how is he still governor?

Boston, Northampton, Worcester -- rise up.

(the Globe published an editorial the next day about "Romney's Choice" in which they call his inconsistencies "blinding." sexy.

library card

As of this morning I am currently reading: The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Margaret Duras.

Recently read:
Florida by Christine Schutt
Where I was From by Joan Didion

The connection between the former is cash. As in, a plenitude of it. Florida's stark account of a life led knowing who will get what, who has what, and what one is worth seems to mark the deaths of the less affluent characters with a sense of tragic poverty (that their tropical nursing homes do not confirm). It is just that they did not die with as much as they could have, that remains the rub. This mocking aside -- or not mocking, this discomfort with the extremely rich. (Let's me honest, I made uncomfortable by wealth. Resentful of its artifice, but more so of its presumptive powers.) There was a sparseness to the text that I appreciated greatly, but the whole book flew by in a few subway rides. It made the air conditioned confines feel like a strange reflection of New England winter -- the descriptions of which always seemed more acute then those of desert. There was something empty about it to. Sad little rich girl. Really, I'm not mocking, there was something immensely moving about the sad little semi-orphaned rich girl.

Where I Was From is a mixed non-fiction/autobiography that talks about a California I've never known. Not that I was ever a resident for real. I was born in Camp Pendleton, that stretch of beautifully preserved land just north of San Diego, or as I always thought of it as a child, south of Disneyland. Still, it was a military stint which ended in my family's return to the land of grass seed and mushrooms. Still, both sets of grandparents came from the mid-west (Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri) usually via California. Family reunions are held in Merced, relatives live in Redding, San Diego, Modesto, Stockton. Small cities on stretches of highway that undulate in the rearview when we drive there -- which is always in the height of summer.

And here is the rest of it.

Aside: Once, dashing down I-5 after not visiting my grandfather, the window of our minivan burst, throwing glass into the backseat, filling kt's carseat with small pebbles, but leaving everyone unscathed. We laughed the whole way home that this grandfather (mentally ill or just mean?) saw us driving past and volleyed a warning shot of sorts.

Back to the book: The California I know is post-dust bowl. It is following the crops North, living in tents, it's my grandmother laughing with her sisters that Grapes of Wrath made it look too easy -- it's me knowing that my grandmother didn't learn to read until she had worked for many years and has certainly never read Steinbeck. California is a mix of myth and sadness -- weather everyone loves and histories they want forgotten (fleeing the foster care agents, the car crash no one speaks of, my aunt disappearing south with a pool shark...California is marked by booze, booze, booze.)

Where I Was From is not about migrant farm workers. It isn't Okies fleeing drought or African-Americans fleeing the South. It is not the migrant story, but the pioneer.

It begins with the journey west in the 1800s by California's "first families" and traces various family objects, cites passages from the Donner party, generally marks what it means to leave, to flee, to always drop dead weight (be it chests, children, history) on the way. This is the standing metaphor for the rest of the text as it explores what makes up the psyche of the West, one that is marked by such retreat, but which wants to stave off the influx of the new migrant.

Didion tells of a few families, the rich and powerful, who sold their enormous ranches and began the subdivision of land that marks the present make up of Cali. We see that in her descriptions of the industrial suburban south, the vast highways that lead into nothing, the aerospace industry, the shipyards.

It was a strange text -- so removed from the California that I know because it was marked not by the working of the land, but by the surveying of it. Even in her intense self-criticism, Didion still seems imbued with a sense of entitlement -- one that allows her to take in vast landscapes and feel something like ownership.

Didion illustrates the way the sunshine state's view of itself -- as fiercely independent, maverick, strong -- masks a reality that is marked by dependence, cruelty, and denial. In some ways, its an articulation of the general myth of America, but made small (or at least, smaller). There is a sense, in the end, of how it all fits together. How that history marks the present, how the Donner party and the Spur Posse are hopelessly entangled, but you have to read the book to understand that. Not being Californian, but feeling sprung from there, the book goes toward a lot of what it means to be from the far west. There is a severance from history required to move to the edge of the country, to find oneself as far West as possible. There is an obstinance in it, there is fear. If I am anti-Freudian and refuse to believe that it has been passed to me directly from my parents, I will argue that culturally it is ingrained. There is a generational sense that running is the answer, that poverty and struggle must be left behind. There is also the reality that there is no where else to go.

Maybe there is something more than money that links the two books. Schutt's Florida is marked by a mentally ill mother who dreams of fleeing New England to live in that other citrusy state. She ends up in California, struggling to pay the bills, surrounded by the burnt out leftovers of the America's 1960s optimism -- strip malls, empty warehouses, grass filled lots.

The beautiful old West.


tangential news

"The trial of Fred Smith, a long-time Brownsville resident accused of stealing dirt from the city right-of-way, started this morning in Brownsville Municipal Court. The case could wrap up by this evening."
Always good to keep on top of crime, cause it starts with dirt, but what's next? Weeds? Gravel? Bark dust?


feminist 4 eva

I'm mad that anti-choice people stole the phrase "feminist for life" for their crazy biz, cause it would make a really good t-shirt. Although, I guess I could still do Feminist 4-Eva(ala markie mark in "Fear").

All this is to say, that if we have any questions about John G. Roberts views on abortion -- which he seems to have kept mum on over the years -- maybe we should check out wifey. F4Life doesn't litigate anymore, but Mrs. Roberts (who is a lawyer) has offered them pro bono work in the past and helped to "redefine" their mission.

There are so many ways that I wish I could connect with feminists for life -- in that most pro-choice orgs are working to ensure that women have more options (including comprehensive sex education, access to birth control, a more ecumenical world in which they have power over their sexual lives) but they do it so disingenuous. There's a hypocrisy and a stridentness to their actions, their rhetoric, that is so wholly self-righteous that it makes it hard to make connections.

In other SCOTUS news -- John G. Roberts acted as cooperating counsel with the ACLU on a number of different cases. I hate to agree with all the cheesy shiny coverage the guy has been getting, but there does seem to be something less than typical and not easy to characterize about him. We'll see. . . we'll see.


oh, ethics!

When a Man Dies in a Sex Act with a Horse -- What's a Reporter to Do?

I'd say if anything ever needed to be sent in a mass forward, that would be it.


the little got big. and then she left.

by the way

What's up with natch?

Blogspeak is really weird, but the throwback eighties boy terms are strangest. A Kevin Smith film, okay, appropriate venue, but in writing about judicial nominees. I don't even think gawker should be messing with natch, its too. . . easy.

I am going to resist using the term "natch" as well as ending sarcastic comments with NOT! and PSYCH!

. . . and the winner is

The Supreme Court nomination blog has all the best info and links about John G. Roberts.

My feeling is this: it's as bad and less bad then I was expecting. It isn't someone from the 5th circuit, nor is it someone who is lacking in decorum and intelligence. One might assume that would always be the case, but not necessarily. Some of Bush's runners ups could really wow you with their crassness and their inability to articulate solid judicial opinions. I may disagree with Roberts on most points, but at least his arguments are crafted in a way which demands engagement and often respect.

That doesn't mean he doesn't have opinions on record that are shocking to anyone left of the far-right -- many of his findings have been downright gross in areas of concern to women, workers, defendants, the environment. . . the list goes on. His seeming lack of stupidity does nothing to prove that he is anything less than a movement conservative. Remember, Scalia's nomination hearing was

"so dull that one Democrat cajoled: "Let yourself go. It's pretty boring so far."

He made it onto court without anyone so much as coughing very loudly. Scalia!
Whatever the scenario, Bush Jr. getting a Supreme Court nomination when Clinton didn't is a travesty. The fact that he may get two or possibly three (hold on Judge Stevens, I know you were born before the Great Depression but so was Bea Arthur and she's still working. . . right?) is something that I literally have nightmares about.

This guy has clerked for Rehnquist, worked in the Reagan administration, argued vocally against an interpretation of the 4th amendement right to privacy. I take back what I said earlier: it's all bad news. If you have any soothing stories, comforting advise, or cynicism to offer -- do. herwise I'm going to be up all night watching CSPAN.

Department of Justice nomination info
NARAL's take on Roberts
People for the American Way's report
Under Their Robes (the best gossip colum of all the judicial gossip columns.)

the kid is alright

The NY Times Sunday Style and Salon.com have both featured stories about "Zach" a 16 year old kid from tennessee who posted on myspace about coming out to his parents and being forced to attend "Love in Action" the premiere ex-gay brainwashing facility in Memphis, TN. They are not only idiots who do serious psychological damage BUT this is also a rule

" In addition to the General Attire above, the following items apply. No torn, ragged, or stained clothing is to be worn at any time while on campus. Monday through Thursday, clients must wear pants, a clean shirt, and shoes or sandals with socks."

What kind of a place would require stylish gay boys to wear socks with sandals?

Not to joke too much, I feel really upset for this kid. Let's hope national media attention does him some good rather than more harm.

Zach's page is adorable.

Salon article is light and airy.

"Gay Teenager Stirs A Storm" from ny times style section (I don't understand why it was there either.)


the daily hate

Carl Rove showing us how much he's working with.

the morning commute

i had one of those awful incidences this morning where you feel the world falling apart, where you watch other people make mistakes, compound one another's mistakes, and you are stuck there, mute, under-thighs sticking to the subway seat at a total loss about what to do next.

when i get on the train there are three cops standing in the car. Two in one doorway, one in the other. At the next stop a young kid gets on -- he's really tall and big, dark skinned. From far away he would seem adult, mid-twenties, but if you look at him closely you can tell that puberty happened post-Y2K. I'd say 17 tops. So when the kid gets on, he has to step between cop A and cop B, who sort of fold in around him, give him the stare down. He sits next to me, in the seat next to cop C's doorway. The kid returns the hard stares of the cops. He slumps way low in his seat, kicks his feet out, and clucks his tongue. It is the best possible reaction to have in that moment - one in which you do not return the obvious hostility of the cops, nor do you fold into yourself so much that you feel invisible, disapeared by their glares. The guy is taking up space -- probably a bit to macho for my taste -- but it is fair, his desire to be seen in that moment.

The train goes a few stops. The kid at some point stretches out one leg and puts it on the pole (between the two groups of cops) in order to twist around a remove a cd from his back pocket.

"You comfortable" Cop A sort of jeers in his direction.

"WHAT?" the kid asks.

Cop A steps forward and puts one hand on the pole. " I said, ARE YOU COMFORTABLE?"

The kid shakes his head, mumbles under his breath and lets a heavy boot drop back down to the floor. He is slumped now, spread out. He's at least 6'3" and he isn't the thinnest of men. At Atlantic Avenue the car gets more crowded, someone has to step over one of the kids legs and just as they finish doing so, Cop B steps forward.

"Sit up or get off the train."

"What?" The kid is jeering, snarly, hurt.

The cop steps forward and leans into his face, suddenly barking, angry. "I said sit the fuck up or I'll haul your ass off this train."

The kid has to sit up, to accomodate the frame of the cop's body, now so close to his. The cop smells like aftershave, he is that close to me to, but not fresh. He does not smell good. The cop glances at me sidelong, reassuring,. I feel worried that this is somehow related to me, to my proximity to the very large black man, that this is some demand of respect for the young white lady seated next to him.

"I said sit up or get off," Cop B shoves at one of the boots with his own foot. He is in his face, close, his eyes darting all over the boys face, not stopping long enough to really look at him.

The kid slowly, achingly slow, lifts his body up slightly. The cop steps back. As he does, the guy says "You ain't never going to break my spirit."

"What did you say?" Cop A steps forward, eager now, they both seem so eager to have this escalate, they both look so intent on forching some concession from the kid. It has been clear from moment one that humiliation is what they are pushing for.

The kid starts mumbling, kicks at the under part of the seat. It's quiet and subdued, but he doesn't sit still for an instant. Cops A & B fad back into the doorway. The kid shoves his hand under his t-shirt, toward the waist of his pants and the cops tense, their hands slide around their belts slowly. The kid sits there, mumbling slightly, with his hand under his shirt - clearly holding nothing, making sure there is no mistaking his motive, but also expressing a sort of desire, a small dangerous wish being communicated.

There are a few more exchanges. "What are you lookin' ats?" and "What's your problem?" spit across the aisle until the kid stands up, pacing slightly back and forth.

"I'm not afraid of you!" He shouts. "You not going to break my spirit and I am not going to be afraid of you. I will be." He keeps talking. "Not going to, not going to stop me doing."

By now there is an elderly black woman standing over me. She winces, closes her eyes and her body jerks with every word. We make eye contact, we both try not to cringe. Though I agree with him, I am afraid.

Cop C, who up to this point has been pretty mute leans out to the kid and says, "Why don't you chill out?"

The kid repeats himself. "Because I don't have to be afraid. I can sit and I am not afraid of you," he turns back to Cop A and Cop B, "I am not afraid of you mother. . ." he lets his voice fade and smirks. Cop C seems worried, more respectful. "Just..." he puts his hands out, palms down, and motions. Cop A and B have hands poised over hips, thumbs rubbing the snaps of their holsters.

Cop C says "Why don't you chill out, just sit back down. Just let it go." Good cop/bad cop.

The boy at this point seemed less eloquent, less sure of himself. He was walking close to Cop C, generally pacing, trying to appear menacing, but he was holding it all back at the same time. He was making no sudden gestures, he was walking up to where it might be uncomfortable and hovering, then moving away. He was flirting with something horrible, something that still would be entirely the cops fault for beginning. He was looking at it, he was considering it.

Then he just got off the train. He walked off at the next stop. Cop A & B came across the car to sort of stare him down as he walked toward the exit. They were not smiling, but they seemed happy. I kept thinking "Why, why, why are you doing that?"

Just then one of their radios crackled. "Park Place stop on the shuttle, there's a baby with no mother. There's a baby alone in a carriage on Park Place."

The woman over me shook her head, as she had been doing during the whole incident. We locked eyes again and she said, "A world where someone can do that, a world where they can just do that," loud enough for the cops to hear. "Is a world where babies get left out in the sun."


the little is coming

In a few days, my littlest arrives for a ten-day stay in the big apple. This is complicated not just because of the strange layout of our railroad apartment the peek a boo doors (bedroom adjacent to living room, french windows in every door, general teeniness) but also because I will be working for most of the week when she is here. The original plan was to have her come over July 4th and extend my three-day weekend during her stay. However, my mother’s time away from home, followed by her desire upon her return to once again reclaim her inalienable rights to control everything in her visible world meant that she wanted to step in and play mother. That is, she wanted to step in and make small complaints, resist the idea of the visit, and generally make a fuss so that it would seem like she contributed to decisions and/or action. She did neither. What she does often accomplish is the complete ruination of events and the spoiling of plans.

Last year, when little was coming to n.y.c. with an 8th grade trip, it made perfect logical sense for her to stay for a long weekend with her old and glamorous city-living sister. I would get to pick her up and escort her away from her overly chaperoned peers, sweep her into a subway and generally play happy host. First, my mother balked. She claimed that Katie was too young (not, apparently to travel, but to. . . ? that aspect of her argument quickly fell apart), then it was too expensive (my father stepped in to say it was important for Katie to spend time with her older sister and so the expensive could be swallowed), then I was a failure, unstable, too busy. Accusations fly subtly but with extreme force from my mother’s lips. At this point, she is starting to use benzodiazepines heavily again and so those lips are often loose, swollen, and thick with extended sleep. She calls in hazes and, upon cleaning up, claims to have no memory of the many things she has said over the years. After these accusations are tearfully recounted to my father he demands that plans be made (thanx for the last-minute martyr intervention pa, would love to have you be a regular player on the team, but understand that ego only allows for guest performances as the “go-between”.) Then my mother informed us that it was too late – her plane ticket could not be changed. This I believed, for some reason, for two months. Then I asked my father to research. Turns out, the lady never called little’s teacher, never asked about changing plane tickets, never researched costs, never did anything but sit by the phone and create excuses. Two months previous, the plane ticket change would have been more than easy; it would have also been free. However, due to the late date (one week before departure) the ticket change cost all of $50. Fifty whole bucks. Even an unstable, unsuccessful (two degrees at 23), no-good, slutty lesbo daughter can afford $50.

And so the visit commenced. I met little at Radio City Music Hall, pulled her away from the visor-wearing mother who was guarding all the middle-schoolers like a frazzled coyote and we took the subway to my house. We didn’t do much on her visit. She told me she would try all different kinds of food – a generous offer since most of my family sticks to the “meat and potato rule” as if it were doctrine and not simply choice. I got her to eat Thai food (we went easy with basil chicken med. spicy), falafel, and fancy cheese and hummus (she had never eaten a pita before and then I packed two meals full of them), Indian food (samosas satisfying the potato requirement), and a few other sundries she had simply never had the chance to try.

We watched too much TV and made cookie dough. We slept in and were exceedingly lazy. All the things I love to be with my littles, but at my parents home never feel at ease doing. At “home”, I am drained, scared, and overwhelmed by an adolescent anger that somehow never finds its end. I am fifteen, snarky, and determined to prove my parents wrong about everything all over again.

It’s an exhausting, humiliating space to enter. Not only am I ashamed of myself, I am quite aware that my parents main struggle is with their own disappointments – in their lives, their children, their choices. Pointing these out, in repeated and painful ways, often makes them wince.

I wish I could say to them: when I am away from you I am full of so much more benevolence. I wonder at the fact of how many children you had, so young, of how strange and kidnapped your life must have seemed to you when you were my age, how many things you gave/give up, how odd it must be to find yourselves approaching fifty, facing one another as near-strangers, your children running as far from you as possible with the college educations you bent over backward to give them. How odd, how sad, how strained. How I love you sometimes, I wish I could tell them. How I admire.

But in Oregon, I am only angry. About the things they said, about their opinions, their politics, about not being allowed to wear tank tops when I was younger. Useless things sometimes, but they seem pressing. Not always for myself, but for the kid they still have at home.

Through these battles it has become clear that my mother does not like me. The way that hurts is nebulous; it rotates around my head and lower intestines, making me dizzy and my bowels loose. If there was something I could do, to win her affections, without completely losing my self respect, there are days when I might. There are other days when I decide that my errors are inexorably wound up with my identity: my queerness, my politics, the fact that I do not live in a small town, that I am not interested in People magazine (at least not in the same way she is accustomed to). Sometimes I think her animosity comes from the belief that I think I’m better then her. I am alternately convinced of this fact (that I am) and terrified that I might feel that way. The strange distance between my larger family and myself – in situation, in experience, in world view – is one that causes the most psychic stress for me. I often reference and use the things my family are – middle and working class, rural, addiction-riddled, big, religious – as markers of my identity. But I also define myself in ways that I don’t even know how to explain to them. “Gay” is one thing, but how do I explain “queer” to my parents without giving them hope that I am a bisexual who will one day see the light, marry well, and make babies for their consumption? The places I go, the music I listen to, the movies I go to see they are all alien to her the way that "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" will remain an alien thing to me. The main difference being, at least I hear about her world, her movies, her music. In much of my family's mind, I might as well be making up most of what I care about.

Is this class shame – I hope not. I hope it is more and less than that. The first time I brought ladyfriend home to meet my fam she said that she could not imagine me coming from anywhere else, but she also could not understand how I came from there at all.

Accordingly the distance between my mother and I continues to grow – I can say little that I feel she deeply understands, she can say little to please me.

The result is that my mother knows nothing about my life, but she has imagined me as some kind of libertine monster, who lives in an unfathomable city, who does crazy things daily that would shock and horrify my grandmothers. She resists giving my little over to me, even for a short period, for fear I might infect her. In her anger about her lot, she has developed a manic drive to push her children toward more and resent their having gone after it.

Story for illustration: growing up my mother always treated me like a sensitive, delicate thing that trembled when yelled at. She would swoon over my stories and drawings. She told me I had a “poet’s soul.” This made me feel smart and intuitive. But when that sensitivity cast her in doubt, when I observed things she did not like spoken about or when she hurt me, she would turn on me. She would call me a liar, a storyteller, and suddenly “imaginative” – the thing I fancied as my gift – was a fatal character flaw, the thing that proved me a listless liar full of self-servicing egotism.

End of saga that ensues every time an interaction with my little is at stake: I get some compromised version of what would be best. My mother stalled so long the trip had to be postponed (and postponed and postponed). I get her for the middle of July, rather than mid June, and for less time then I wanted.

Still I’m excited. I don’t get to see her enough and one on one time is revelatory. I get to see all the little aspects of the person she is untainted by having to act like an angry teenager moping about my parent’s house. She gets to see the city, a different way of living, a tiny apartment, new people, new food, and art. I want more to do with her – I want a more glamorous life, more glamorous activities, more money to afford theatre tickets and fancy dinners. I’m not sure what she thinks of me – I’m not sure what she hopes for herself. I only remember coming from such a small place that even now I feel like the world becomes a larger thing everyday. Where once the variety of grocery stores and brands of mayonnaise I saw when I went away to college caused me great pain and anger at the limited nature of my upbringing – I want her world to be as large and as available as possible.

She is this amazing little beast – so much like me and separate that I could spend days looking at her, talking about her, planning her future. Our relationship is often maternal – our ten years difference and the amount of caretaking I did when she was small – and friendly. I get to be the person who gives her advice, but also the one she asks for said instruction. It is a privileged place, one that my distance helps me to occupy. Strange and sad, how I wish to be closer to my siblings, but sometimes I think that if I were, all our pining and affection for one another might begin to grate, to dissolve, that we would be revealed to be as opposite and alien to one another as we are from our parents.

Of course, I’ve always conjured the most terrible of nightmares for myself. When I was small, my mother used to sit by my bed and wipe my head with a cool rag. She would say “No, no, no. You imagined it. You made it up. Let it go.”


well i never

The best thing i got called today "multiculti counter-tribalists" From our good friends at the National Review, which at some point I could have argued was at least a decent place of conservative debate, but which has become a neo-con rag of really half-rate puns and half-assed thought.

Still, multiculti really does have a ring to it.

sandra day o'connor breaks good golly's heart

O'Connor retires The best Supreme Court blog is by far www.scotusblog.com That's where most of the below is shamelessly cribbed from.

Possible replacements for Sandy? Let's do a short list of dismal prospects

  • Judith Hollan Jones Judge Jones currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Prior to her nomination to the Fifth Circuit by President Ronald Reagan, Judge Jones was a lawyer in private practice with Andrews & Kurth of Houston (1974-85).

    She once commented during oral arguments in Waltman v. International Paper involving female plaintiff who had complained of a hostile work environment that included verbal and physical inappropriateness, that the behavior of a man who had pinched the woman?s breast was not so objectionable because he had subsequently apologized and at least she hadn't been raped.

  • If Janice Brown takes the bench, you can say goodbye to the New Deal:

    "I have argued that collectivism was (and is) fundamentally incompatible with the vision that undergirded this country’s founding. The New Deal, however, inoculated the federal Constitution with a kind of underground collectivist mentality. The Constitution itself was transmuted into a significantly different document...1937...marks the triumph of our own socialist revolution...Politically, the belief in human perfectibility is another way of asserting that differences between the few and the many can, over time, be erased. That creed is a critical philosophical proposition underlying the New Deal. What is extraordinary is the way that thesis infiltrated and effected American constitutionalism over the next three-quarters of a century. Its effect was not simply to repudiate, both philosophically and in legal doctrine, the framers’ conception of humanity, but to cut away the very ground on which the Constitution rests... In the New Deal/Great Society era, a rule that was the polar opposite of the classical era of American law reigned" [Federalist speech at 8, 10, 11, 12]

    More on Ms. Brown here and here .

    The others are only worse. Edith Brown Clement currently serves on the 5th Circuit -- a court whose decisions are continually rebuked by SCOTUS for being

    1. crazy
    2. unconstitutional
    3. nasty

    Others on my radar are J. Harvie Wilkinson III and (prepare to gasp in horror) Mr. Alberto Gonzales himself.

    As a friend just pointed out in an email, as Spain (a majority Catholic nation) legalizes gay marriage , we prepare to outlaw abortion.