Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year's List!

Oh I love lists...and dear Lolabola has posted on here.

And lovely there's no tags...just something fun to do without any pressure at all.

The rules:
The categories:
Things you learned this year
People you met
Things you don't want to take with you into 2008
Things you want to hold close as you pass into 2008
Things you're looking forward to in 2008
Things that were life changing in 2008
Things you hope to accomplish by the end of 2009

Now you can either give two answers for each category OR you can choose two from that list and give seven answers.

Things you learned this year
1. Sometimes you have to seek help no matter what bias you hold and what bias you may face.
2. Boundaries can be a good thing.

People you met
1. Patrick! And I got to reconnect with H's siblings and Gabriel which was wonderful.
2. Rebeka!

Things you don't want to take with you into 2009
1. Depression so crippling I can't function.
2. Insecurity.

Things you want to hold close as you pass into 2009
1. My beloved family both nuclear and extended.
2. My friendships from all over the world.

Things you're looking forward to in 2009
1. Finishing my master's degree.
2. A whole summer with Horacio and the kids.

Things that were life changing in 2008
1. Antidepressants.
2. Revisiting Mexico.

Things you hope to accomplish by the end of 2009
1. Finish the bloody thesis.
2. Write more set limit just to write more of it.

Phantom People

This post has been half composed since last summer. Actually the real history goes back quite a bit further...maybe when I first meet my friends from an online parenting group. But really my affair with the internet and the people I meet over the internet goes back much further. This post has never really felt right though, and I've aborted several efforts to put into words my thoughts about "online" vs "real life" friends. I have no doubt that this post will fail to satisfy as well but for some reason I have to put it out there. For one thing, it's been rattling around in my brain for too long and making me crazy. For another, I realized when I was putting together a casual gathering for a New Year Eve's party, that I don't know anyone whom I could invite. I have meet some people at the kids' school, and become pretty good friends with one of the families (who is coming). There's another family I like but I'm not sure how they feel about us...and there are some others that have promise. And of course my friend D is coming because he's like a part of the family now...much more than a friend. But coming up with a list to invite made me feel kind of sad because most of the people I'd like to be here just can't. They live too far away and our friendship developed over the ether of the internet.

I've been fascinated with the possibility of the internet for along time. Being an avid scifi reader, it was hard to not imagine the possibilities. And of course William Gibson's Necromancer just made those fantasies all the more vivid. The idea of a whole separate world intrigued me. I love the idea of worlds existing beside each other not just parallel but drifting into each other, enmeshing in such a way that it is hard to separate the threads of one world from the other. My exploration began when I was twenty-one, I was introduced to a board, DOS system, black screen, green type. Of all the boards I joined this one was the one that meshed the most with my real life. After about a week of posting online I meet most of the people. The meshing was made complete in that these people knew me by my board name as opposed to my real name. Even once they knew my real name, they continued to use my online handle. My identity felt marvelously fluid. I created a persona that traveled not just online but with me when I went out with these people.

And the affair with the internet has continued from that moment on...not all positive of course. There was the Irish man I meet online at a Scottish online cafe. Over the internet and telephone, everything was perfect. It was intense but when we meet, there was on connection, no chemistry. You could almost hear the hiss of air escaping the balloon...not even a dramatic pop. From this to various parenting boards to myspace to blogging to facebook....all these people, all these connections, meshing into my life in the subtlest way. Some of the people I came to know through this wireless connection I have meet in "real life" while others I still only know through the black type of the computer.

What amazes me though is that I feel closer to many of you that I have not meet than I do to people I see nearly everyday. I used to worry about this. I thought it reflected an inability to connect to people. I grew concerned that I felt a safety with this kind of bodiless connection. I wondered if I had some kind of psychological disorder that made phantom people easier to touch than real bodies, real flesh.

But when I began to seriously take on my depression and what it was doing to my family, I posted here. It was not, as so many cultural critics claim, a desire to reveal my most personal details to the world--a kind of expose egotism. Rather it was because my readers have become my close friends. I knew that I would find the support that I needed here. I felt safe disclosing this information because there were so many people who cared about me...cared even though they had never encountered my body. It made me realize that the people I know through the internet are not phantoms. In too many ways we have touched each other, we have fought, we have loved, and in some ways held each other...all virtually. And for me this brings into question the idea of real life. What does this mean? Real life? Is it not real life when you leave comments, or I leave comments, when we reach across the ether for human contact?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Yule

From about the age of ten on, Christmas was not much fun. Having your dad walk out on Christmas Eve does not set a precedent for wonderful Christmases. But having children has definitely changed my view. It's not just the joy of getting that moves me but rather their embracing of the whole season. They love the tree, love baking with me, love making cards and picking out presents. Their enjoyment in the whole process has made it easier for me to relax. In the past, I became what H dubbed the "Christmas bitch." This involved an almost manic desire to make everything perfect. But the kids don't care about perfect, and their joy over the simplest things makes it easier to not have to relive my own bad Christmas. This year Umberto became conscious that there others who have much less than he does, and he gave on his own initiate. Plus this year was a bit special because for the first time ever I managed to surprise Horacio with a gift. Horacio is wonderful generous. He urges me to spend money on my hair (a hugely expensive proposition because I am quite vain about my hair), my camera obsession, stuff fro the kids, etc. However he is cheap when it comes to spending money on himself. He's been eyeing Ipods for about a year now but would never consider spending the money to get one. So I got him a Classic and managed to keep it hidden from him for about a month. It felt good to do something like that for someone who is so generous and who has been working a yucky job to keep us fed.

Happy Holidays to all!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another Tedious Update

My plans to write have been consumed with the usual busy seasonal stuff like shopping for presents, baking yummies, and trying to clean after two weeks of utter focus on school. This place has become a sty. My bathroom? Argh. Plus with the kids in school we did the whole kids' in plays thing. It always feels so strange to go to things like that...H and I both tend to feel like posers. It's kind of a grownup thing to do I guess, and I, at least, don't really feel like a grown up.

But we survived, and it was cute. Camille had a really great time while Umberto suffered through...he's not really into these things. The child really is 8 going on 13.
In anti-depressant news...the Welbutin has done it's job. The first week was kind of interesting. The drug made me feel like I was on acid without the hallucinations. It was kind of cool for one day but by day four I was over it. Luckily that went away by last Thursday. I still feel like just the edge has been taken off, and while I'm definitely happy I'm not a zombie or bouncing off the walls. I just feel like it's going to be okay. Like I can make it through the day.

I realized the other day that one reason why I think Zoloft makes people think "zombie" is perhaps really about them rather than the drug. I know that drugs work differently on each person, etc but hear me out. What I was thinking about is how when you're depressed it takes really intense emotion to penetrate the fog. I know that for me in order to feel anything but the depression I had to these burst of extreme emotion...anger, falling in love, etc. If it was a mild feeling, I just didn't feel it. But on Zoloft I feel like I can feel things, not intensely but just everyday things. At first it was strange because I'm used to only feeling things intensely but I'm starting to realize that this might be how normal people feel things.

Some pictures.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ginger Does Exist

But she's been busy doing life.

And what a life....

Papers, readings, kids' school, the list goes on but it's living, and I am trying to do more of it.

Week three on antidepressants...I refuse to call them happy pills because they do not make me happy. All of my expectations have been blown apart, and that's a good thing by the way. Zoloft does not make feel like a zombie, it does not make me feel overjoyed, nor does it suck up my creativity. What Zoloft has done is taken enough off of the fog and depression so that I can function. It's hard to write when you're so miserable you can not even muster the energy to type out a sentence. I've not screamed at the kids, so much. And I'm starting to slowly ease myself back into the land of live people. It's been interesting...painful but interesting. I've really isolated myself over the last couple of years. The world sort of revolved around H and the kids. We really had this sort of insular wall around us. We let our friend D in but that was about it. Now that I'm forced to interact I'm slowly making friends's not easy in some ways, and there are days when I honestly long to just be back in the womb we created. But this is life, and I've already meet someone who I know is going to be a good friend. It's nice but scary because it involves opening up not just myself but opening up to her pain as well.

Bad thing about Zoloft...sexual zombie. The only thing I can't feel is sexy. I'm talking totally turning off my sex drive! It was very unpleasant, and felt so foreign to me. I did however feel a kind of safety in that void, and that scared me almost as much as losing the sex drive. It's strange to walk around the world and not feel any sexual attraction whatsoever but then it's also safe.....I don't know but the doctor gave me Welbrutin to counteract the effect of the was as he said "A Christmas gift your husband."

Thanks for checking in. I'll be writing more over the holidays.

Friday, November 28, 2008


"Culture is a discourse, a language, and as such it has no beginning or end and it is always in transformation, since it is always looking for the way to signify what it cannot manage to signify." Antonio Benitez-Rojo.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day

When I was little, we always called Thanksgiving "Turkey Day." Thanksgivings were wonderful when I was a child. We had a ton of food (a big deal when you're poor), and the whole extended family gathered. We played with our cousins all day. My uncle was the great organizer for ball games of various sorts (I ended up the ER one Thanksgiving due to a rousing game of basketball). Today, most of all, I miss Maine, and I miss my family.

But we still had a wonderful day that is continuing into the early evening. We went to see "Bolt" at the theater. Going to see a movie has become a tradition for us. It's a rare treat because it's a tad expensive for all of us to see a movie. We had a good time, even the grownups. Now I have a turkey breast in the oven, which we'll be enjoying with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, rolls and of course pumpkin pie (which all the kids help make)...and maybe a few glasses of wine for the grownups.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mid Year Update

It's been a while since I posted. I have lots of things to write about and I need to change the name of my blog. I'm not sure freeing is the right word for knowledge (although it can do that but that's another post). But I need to update on my darlings now that we're at the midyear mark, and since Erica left such nice questions.

Mornings are horrible! The kids are so used to waking up and just mellowing out before having to face the day. Now we have a mad rush no matter what time I get them up. They won't eat, they won't get dressed, they want to fall back asleep on the chair, the couch, the floor. Camille has sensory issues about her clothes, and now they must all be pink or at least have pink in them. Things that were okay last week are not okay this week. Certain shirts have to go with certain pants, etc. And she won't wear a coat which isn't a big deal here. Her teachers make it a big deal but that's on the other blog. Umberto spends most of his morning groaning about how he hates school, wants to stay home, etc. By the time we get to the car, I'm raging, yelling too much, etc. I try to keep a good attitude because I know it effects them but I'm not really a morning person. But we do manage to get to school on time with everyone alive and no one crying.

Umberto moved to another room last week. I LOVED his teacher but we both felt that Umberto would get more of the reading help he needs from another teacher. This teacher is also awesome, and she's a literary specialist. Now he has this teacher, special reading classes, and he'll be doing after school tutoring. All of this will add to up interventions which can be used to argue his case for testing. And maybe just maybe it will all click and the testing will be unnecessary. His former teacher told me when I talked to her about moving him that Umberto could do anything if he could read. He's taken the move well but he misses his friends from his old class. I noticed today at their Thanksgiving Feast that he hung out with his old friends. But he has already shown a lot of improvement, and he actually talks about what he did in class as opposed to what his friends did during lunch and recess. He is making some slight improvements but he still gets frustrated easily and has a hard time with memorization.

Camille has overcome her friend issue. She now has several friends both girls and boys. She's also learning to read, and does well academically. Her classroom is horrible though, and right now I'm about to go to battle because of her teacher. I try to not be a perfectionist when it comes to teachers because I know it is a hard job but there have too many incidents that concern me. I want her moved to the teacher Umberto has now next year. She has some kind of anxiety, obsessive thing going on where she licks her hands. It's more pronounced when she's nervous, agitated or upset.

Both kids are doing drumming with the world's best music teacher. They love it. Music is awesome at CCS. They sing, make up ballets and musicals, play all kinds of different instruments, and just have a really good time. The teacher is excellent about teaching them traditional stuff but combining that with improv.

For the most part, I really like CCS. Most of the teachers are superb. The staff is mostly welcoming and friendly. Piper has become a part of the family, and is treated like a student. The other parents are funky, cool, and friendly. The school's small size is nice, and I know kids from all grade levels at this point. When I walk the halls, I hear "Hey Ms. Ginger!" a lot which is kind of neat. So if I can deal with Camille's problem I'd say we picked a good place for us to be.

And do I miss homeschooling? I don't know. Sometimes I do. There are days I miss the lazy, in bed mornings with the kids all around me. I liked being such a huge part of their learning process and definitely feel a bit left out of it right now. There was a freedom to how we learned things that has been lost. I miss random park days and unplanned adventures. It seems like we don't do the park as much as we used to. On the days I teach, I don't see the kids much which makes me sad. But I wasn't able to do homeschooling the way it should be done. I just didn't' have the time. And I think we were very isolated onto ourselves which I'm not sure was such a good thing.

But we're working it out just like we worked out homeschooling.

Days Blending Into Days

I'm waiting patiently for the drugs to kick in...right now they leave me feeling a tad dopey and sick to my stomach. The fog is still there but I'm used to that...just wishing it would clear a little so I could do all the things on my list. I have three things I MUST write this week, and have done little to work on them. I read a good article about Cortez, and am still plowing through his letters from Mexico. They always leave feeling a bit sick. And it's strange now that I've been to Vera Cruz and have done, by the road, the trip he made to Mexico City.

Mostly, though my whole world is revolving around concern for Camille. Camille has, what might be, the worst K teacher on the planet. I feel a bit betrayed by our otherwise wonderful school as this is not what I was sold on. Camille's room is dismal and depressing not just in decoration but in actual work done. There are lots of worksheets and boring lessons. They are often asked to sit still with nothing to do while the teacher does her planning. The aide yells a lot and says grossly inapprioate things to the children. Monday there was a huge issue about Camille wearing her coat. I wanted to just let her not wear it but they insisted that she did, and then made comments about how she never acts like this unless her mama is around. By the time we got back to the school Camille was sobbing. I took her home. The issue isn't the coat. It's about making Camille do what they want. I just don't get dominating children. Why do people invest so much power in this kind of thing? I've watched Camille become increasingly more anxious. Her behavior is horrible at home due to, I think, the strain of having to be "good" all day at school. She has this kind of compulsive thing where she licks her hands when she's nervous which lately has resulted in her chapping her cheeks. It's painful to watch, and I feel agonized about doing the right thing. I know if she can just make it through this year I can get her to a better teacher. Of course, I wonder if I'm just making this into a huge mountain because of all the shit I'm going through. I tend to exagerate things when I'm in this state. I second guess my concerns. Wonder if I expect too much. So this is weighing on me, and trying to deal with while wading through this fog is hard.

And of course it sucks what little energy I have, and leads to an increasing state of anxiety. I wake up at night worried about her, about the economy, about everything. And I have to keep saying to myself "It will not fall apart. Everything is going to be okay." Living life this fragile is draining. I realize that so much of my energy during these times is spent trying to not let myself break into a thousand pieces. I feel Piper bears a big brunt of this because often we come home from dropping the kids off and I sleep. I don't give her nearly as much as I should. And this cycles into more anxiety. But it will get better...

And thanks everyone for the words, encouragement, and concern. I am not going to off myself or end up with a breakdown. I made sure I got help before I hit bottom. I knew it would take some time to figure out a potion so I got help early. I know I'm crazy John, and it's okay. I've been crazy for awhile, and still manage to find so much love. It can't be all that bad right?

Sunday, November 23, 2008


The Friday appointment was uneventful really. For such a dramatic step in my life it was actually very anticlimactic. But in my experience life is all too often like that. I remember my friend Tyler used to wish her life was a musical. We would imagine music for all the mundane things we did (imagine having a chorus of dancing girls as you brushed your teeth). There were no dancing girls at my point only a rather plumb, balding, man about my age who blushed profusely when I said "Look my sex is about the only good thing going for me right now and I don't want to ruin that." But he talked me into the Zoloft for three weeks. I have to get counseling which I feel rather indifferent about. Before drugs, I really felt that people on antidepressants should always get counseling. But now I don't know. I guess it's going to depend on what I can find. I leaning toward cognitive therapy because you know I have spent years talking about all the fucked things that have happened to me, and I'm kind of over it. Now I'd just some coping mechanisms please.

But what this post is really about has been every one's reactions. H has been supportive. I don't think he's thrilled about antidepressants as a whole but he respects me enough to honor my choices. My "alternative" friends haven't come outright and said anything but I think they're horrified. I've had subtle hints that maybe I should try Yoga or get a massage. And you know those are all good things to do and I will do them. I'm not against holistic medicine, but I'm not anti Western medicine either. I like an approach that utilizes both. But these friends really see antidepressants as the prime example of the problem that Western medicine poses. Then I have the friends who were me a few months ago. The antimediciation period friends. These are the friends who spent a lot of time trying to persuade me from going to the appointment. And they're the friends who can't understand why I just don't other things to make myself better. I think they also might think there is a bit of weakness to taking a pill to "feel happy." I can't really complain about them because this was my attitude not that long ago. I didn't look down on those who took antidepressants but I think back in my mind I saw it as a weakness.

And now I'm on antidepressants. I haven't been on long enough to see any difference. It makes me a little dopey right now, nauseous and gives me a headache but I've been assured this will past. I think it is already starting to soften my moods a bit. Yesterday I was starting to get real nasty about the time I needed to take another pill but since I've also quit smoking....well who knows where the nastiness was coming from! But the thing is I don't feel weak for doing this, nor do I feel like I'm just taking a happy pill that will make my problems go away. I'm doing something that might help be able to work at the problems. Right now I'm so fucking low I can't even function. I realized I was addicted to Facebook because it requires minimum mental activity. If taking a pill will give me some space to breath so that I can work on what needs to get worked on is it really a bad thing? Am I weak? Maybe but you know I've spent a long time trying to work through this on my own, and it didn't help. If being weak is going to help me to function than I guess I'll have to live with being weak.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


America responded that yes we are ready for an African-American to be president. Last night, I watched and listened to Obama's acceptance speech alternately weeping and smiling. This is history unfolding before us, we are walking into the future. My sincerest hope is that this is a moment of racial healing for the United States. No, it won't happen over night but we made an important step in unification and healing of the horrible past that has plagued this countries founding. For once, we have lived up to the ideals at all humans are created equal. For the first time in a very long time I am proud to be a citizen of this country. Like most liberals, it is very easy to get caught up in the game of horrible the U.S. is, and yes, like all countries, we have our ugly side. And that side is magnified because of our size, miltary, etc. But too often it is easy to forget that it not all evil. Tonight I was reminded that Americans can make incredibel things happen. We did it.
Look at these little faces when we asked who our next president was going to be...they all yelled out "Obama!" Of course the adults spent a few hours in a state of anxious anticipation but it was fairly clear early on that Obama had this one. The kids shortly after this picture burst into what they called their "Obama" dance.
And a very sleep Umberto just awoken to hear his man had won. He got to see a bit of the speech before drifting into sleep again. I am so proud that my son gets to see this.
Yes I did disable comments. I'm apologize to the last commentor. He knows how to get in touch with me if he wants to discuss why.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Umberto and I did our thing at about eight ten this morning (note the "I voted" stickers). I got up at six, and watched as people began to file in across the road. We went over at 6:20 to a small line, discovered the real line was out back, and ended up waiting awhile to actually vote. It was one of those moments when the excitement and tension filled the room. I let Umberto pressed the green confirm vote button. I want him to remember the day we elected the first African-American president in the U.S. YES WE CAN!

For all my U.S. readers, I'm assuming that most of you are voting but if you're on the fence please vote for Obama. Our country needs something new and while we have all become cynical of politics for good reason, Obama represents so much. Even if he does nothing, he will show the world that we can get beyond our racial issues, that we can elect someone with a "foreign last name." And I think he will do important things. Just the fact that he's a lot less war crazed than McCain is big. We have a chance to walk into the future...let's do it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Doing a Small Part for Change

How can you not vote for change when you see a face like that? Seriously.

First, sorry about the awkward half-video on the side bar. I couldn't figure out how to embed it a post. It's worth listening to no matter the awkwardness. Williams is a gifted poet, and his words capture so much of what I've been feeling about this election.

Second, we went canvassing for the campaign today. We weren't intending on doing so...we arrived at the station thinking we'd sit at a table or something with the kids' music teacher. We waited around a bit and he didn't show up. We had already signed up so we figured what the hell, we'll go out. It was amazing. The few people who were home were pumped. Many had already voted, and those who hadn't had plans for Tuesday. But the best part was a "wrong address" hit. The guy had just moved down to Charlotte, and didn't realize today he was the last day that he could register at the polls. We gave him directions to the nearest early voting station, and as we were leaving, he was leaving to go vote. He made sure we knew he was heading out. Just one person but still it felt like a really big deal. The kids went along with us, and Umberto left fliers on the doors of those who weren't home.

Being in our area's headquarters was an amazing experience as well. There were people of every color in the restaurant (which the owner had shut down until Tuesday so it could be used as a meet up place for Obama supporters). Everyone was friendly, chatting, and united. This is a pretty unusual sight in Charlotte. I made me realize how much this campaign has brought people together. And about how much this campaign is not just about Barak Obama. It is about hope, change, and moving into a new century more united than divided. I felt this surge of faith, and realized that if Obama loses due to dishonesty, the protests will blow this country apart because it will be protest not riots. It will be about people of all colors uniting once again. And if he is elected, it will do a lot to heal the racial scars that our nation has shameful brought upon itself. As I stood there surrounded by all these people, I knew this was the future I wanted for my children.

And we got to see the early voting lines that extended blocks down the road. Today was the last day for early voting in North Carolina, and the turn out was unreal.

Last night as the kids trick or treated with our friends' kids, they all burst into a spontaneous chant of "Obama, Obama!"
We'll be having an election day gathering on Tuesday. Food, drinks, and company as we watch the results come in. I hope to be having a celebration/victory party on Saturday. If "that one" doesn't win, we'll be using Saturday to plan a mass exodus to Mexico or Canada (although the dark side seems to be taking over in these places as well).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ginger's Totally Fab to Do List

It's that time of year when I must bring out the "to do" lists. I've had a very lazy least academically. It's been quite hard to motivate myself to do anything. But making a commitment to write here as helped me to ease my way back into academic writing, and to perhaps conquer my thesis.

1. Sew Camille's princess outfit for her class party tomorrow. Also need to get a stick for her Mexican hobby horse, and design a horn for it as Camille insists she must be "a princess riding a unicorn."

2. Buy glittery make up for Camille and me! I love glittery makeup and with my new glittery black fairy wings, I MUST have glittery make-up.

3. Buy a coat for Umberto as he has managed in the last two weeks to lose both his sweatshirt and his fleece.

4. Buy an Indian feast from Trader Joe's.

5. Finish reading an article on Buddhist/Christian integration.

6. Finish reading Edward Said, and get more Spivak articles. She is so difficult to read yet her thoughts are so provoking and interesting.

7. Finish Cortez's Letters from Mexico.

8. Rewrite my thesis introduction. Look over the chapter I wrote so many months ago, and see if I dare send to new improved adviser.

9. Find time to help the kids' extra fab. music teacher run an Obama table on Saturday.

10. No facebook tonight. Just lots of cuddle time with adorable children and sexy wonderful husband.

11. Breathe. Look at the fall leaves, and enjoy the beauty of that endings bring.

12. Go to the ever fab. Amber's house for Halloween feasting and celebration (tomorrow night).

13. Vote.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama Love

I am not sure when I started to really get excited about Obama. I know way back when he was elected to the Senate, I was impressed with him. His speech at the 2004 Democratic Rally was inspiring, and I was still reeling from the shock that he was only the third African-American senator to be elected since Reconstruction (WTF!?). But I didn't really see him as much more than a news blip on my radar.

During the primary run, I was not excited about anyone. I knew H. Clinton was totally not my pick. She wanted this too badly and as a result was not standing up for anything. Her wish-washy views didn't leave me with much faith. I was sad because I used to love H. Clinton. I still admire her spunk and I used to admire her willingness to stand up for what she believed in but it seems that politics do corrupt. I had friends who were nuts about Obama from the beginning, and spent hours trying to persuade to be nuts about him too. It wasn't enough that I planned to vote for him in the primaries. I had to love him too.

And now a few months later, I am pretty crazy about the guy. There was no blinding light moment on the road to Damascus. Rather it was a gradual process. His speeches were inspiring. The man can talk. And there was something about the message of hope that made me want to believe. His stance on the Iraq War has always been consistent--we need out. And while his tax ideas are no way as liberal as mine (sorry folks, the guy is so not a socialist) they were enough to convince that he has a social conscious.

And then there is Michelle. Cause dear readers my Obama love is not just for Barak. It's for her too. Her story is right out of the "American Dream" history book. Poverty, overt racism, you name it, she faced it, and came out strong. Her intelligence and integrity are apparent in every interview she gives. I told a friend that maybe we should have her running for president. If there's any anger (and I've yet to see what white people are so damn scared of), I would say it is a righteous anger. Personally I have no problem with righteous anger. It is good to have some fire in politics.

Yeah, I know she would "only" be a first lady but when I see the love and respect that exists between Obama and Michelle, I suspect she's going to be a hell of a lot more than a "just."

Lastly, there's my son. Umberto is definitely Obama crazy. He has posters. He wears pins and stickers. He's busily designing a banner for our house to hang on election day. He makes sure, daily, that he's coming with me when I vote for Obama. He watches the debates! He knows Obama's platform. And a few weeks ago, he said "You know Obama has the same color skin as daddy." It is a big deal to Umberto that he is seeing someone who looks like his daddy run for president. It's a big deal to me because I want to be able to honestly say "You can do whatever you want." For too long that doing what you wanted has been limited because of racist, sexist views. And no Obama is not going to wipe that slate clean but he is a start.

So yeah I'm getting excited and scared. I feel like we're on the brink of history and that's a scary exhilarating feeling. We have a chance to elect someone who is different. No matter what your political bent, this is not politics as usual. This is an African-American male about to become the PRESIDENT. It's huge, and we get to watch it. I want to believe. I want to have hope. I want change, and for once, I'm going to push my cynicism aside, and just let myself go.

Added a bit later: I'm chatting with yet another old friend from college, and he was saying how Obama's message is positive, and he said "The details, as long as he stays true to his character, are almost irrelevant." I agree with the emphasis on "almost." What drew me to Obama, initially, was definitely his message. And I think that his going back to that positive, hopeful vibe, is wise. It's a reminder of why so many us have come to have hope again.


Pumpkin carving "fun" last night. I really should have been working on my academic to do list (revise introduction, look over Ahmed chapter, look over old paper on Cortez, grade response papers, write out test 3). Instead, I followed my horoscope which suggested I needed to pay attention to my children. So we went to the pumpkin patch, picked out some pumpkins, and came home to happily carve away. Piper's nearly killed my hand for the night.

I've always had a fantasy of having front steps where I could line up the kids' pumpkins! Yet another reason why this house rules.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sharp Memories

As I get older it is becoming harder and harder for me to remember things. Yes the stereotype is true in my case. H laughs at me because I forget where I put my keys, my wallet, my papers for school. Monday I forgot the movie I was going to show in my class. And I can't tell you how often I forget my supper. And as I grow further from the past, my memory of events fade. I have dim recollections of my childhood but nothing very vibrant. They are imagined fragments, ghosts, made up of stories and old photos.

But the other day I was chatting (instant messaging) with a good friend from college. This friend and I went through a lot, and he wasn't always the greatest person to be around. However, when you go through shit with someone you have a special bond. And this person is like my brother. Even though there has been a silence of many years, I found it totally comfortable to ease into conversation both on the computer and on the phone. When we talked on the phone, he laughed, and it just flooded me with all the images from Farmington, and the summer I turned twenty-five. Just the familiar even after something like 10 years of silence.

As we chatted, he mentioned another person we both knew. In that space, I remembered one of my first meetings with that person. It was very clear in my mind. I had driven to Bath for the day. It was an unplanned trip because I had a lot of work due but I was in the middle of getting out of my rental situation. Because I was living with my best friend it was not an easy move out. She was angry, I was angry, and we were both hurt. So I decided to take Rick up on his offer to visit, and headed out to the coast to meet him. I liked going to Bath. It was (likely still is) one of those charming sea towns once you got to the shore. The drive through was up this big hill lined with fast food places and strip malls. Not pretty. In the distance as you drove this wreckage of capitalism, you could see the towering masts of battleships brought in for repairs at Bath Iron Works. But I really liked about Bath was Rick and his friends. They were, in my eyes, very cool, people I wanted to be like but could never quite manage the cool the way they did.

So I picked Rick up at his parents' place. He was going to teach me to play pool so we went to a billiards place. I kept telling him I sucked at pool but he wouldn't listen. He was determined that anyone could learn, and that he would be the one who could teach me. We played for something like three hours before he finally admitted defeat in the face of my awfulness.

We ate out, and then meet his friends for drinks at this bar I loved. It had chairs and couches in one area so you could sit and drink like you were at a party. It's a bar I still look back upon with great longing, always wishing everywhere I go, that there was another one like it. After a few drinks there, we headed to another bar, a more sporty type bar that had pool tables. We drank more, and I was pretty tanked when we decided to actually play pool. Rick refused to play on my team, and let everyone know I sucked bad. I was embarrassed, more so because I was drunk and these were people I wanted to be like, and people that I wanted to like me. I was irritated at my friend even though we both played this kind of nasty sarcasm with each other quite often.

And the friend he reminded me of, was the one who let me be on his team. He was a player who held his best until people weren't expecting it. It looked for awhile like we were going to lose. But he brought up our score until we were tied. And the last shot was a real bitch. My friend was dancing around, shouting that they had already won, that there was no way I'd make the shot. But I made the shot. I remember my friend kind of standing there shell shocked, and me laughing at his face. It was a good moment, and I remember that the guy who took me on was always nicer to me after if he knew I felt like an outsider.

That night, I can not remember how we got home. I was way to drunk to drive home to Vienna. My friend and I tried to sleep together on his tiny bed but it was uncomfortable...not just physically. This friend and I had spent several nights in the same bed but it was my bed...a big bed that allowed us to keep some distance. Being that close to my friend's body made me a tad uncomfortable, and I remember lying there almost afraid I'd be attracted to him. I made a bed on the floor. It always felt to me like there was a distance to our relationship after that night.

And as we typed, I remembered all this so clearly. I could hear Rick laughing after he got over his shock. I remember being squished in that bad, and feeling so miserable and uncomfortable. I didn't dare let myself feel anything because I was so terrified of rejection. And I couldn't bear to be rejected by someone I cared so much for. That had already happened with a friend earlier and I was too fragile to undergo any more hurt. I don't think I would have felt anything...he was too much like my brother but I can remember that fear, can even still taste it on my mouth with the lingering taste of beer.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just When You...

thought it couldn't get any more insane...more madness.

Skinheads plotting to kill Obama. I'm sickened and disgusted because while the whole plot was amazingly stupid, it just underlines the racist attitudes of too many people in the U.S. And yes I get that most of us are not racist skinheads this whole race has brought out all those latent racist tendencies that too many of us possess. There are people who will see the above mentioned, half-assed plot as a reason to vote for McCain. You see the logic being that if we elect Obama he'll just get assassinated so let's vote for the white guy who may die and leave us with a religious extremist in charge. Yeah.


North Carolina has finally been touched with coldness. Today, I woke up to three snuggley bodies curled about me, blankets pulled up to our chins, limbs interlinked. This is something I missed from our homeschooling days. Waking up to cozy warmness generated by three tiny bodies. Now we have few of these kinds of mornings.
Even now as we creep towards the early afternoon, it is still cold. The sun disappears, periodically, behind rather ominous gray clouds. And my feet are cold from walking barefoot across hard wood floors. Soon though we all be warmed from the dryer busily at work, and the oven making supper. Tonight I want to figure out my gas fireplace, make smores, and sit snuggled in blankets. Instead I will be teaching, working on my thesis, and buying emergency milk at Trader Joe's. Perhaps I will get some snuggle time in after all my chores...
Yesterday we spent a chilly but nice afternoon walking to NODA, and enjoying an oatmeal porter.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Is it just me...

Or is the whole McCain/Palin thing just a whole bunch of weirdness rolled up into a campaign type fruitcake? I've avoided writing about the campaign because there are so many other bloggers who are doing it much better than I. But with the headlines lately, I've just been unable to remain silent. Everyday something else occurs that makes me just shake my head at not just at McCain/Palin but at their supporters. I honestly just can't imagine why anyone who stopped to think for more than a minute would want the country run by a bunch of insane people. I'm not going to pretend I respect McCain like so many people do because frankly I don't. He's a liar, a rich man pretending that he understands the working class, he's slimy, and he's arrogant. Not, I think, admirable qualities. And lately the total craziness of the McCain campaign just drives me further from finding it even dealable to think of this man as winning.

First, let's take a look at Palin. Here's a woman with no experience to speak of, a woman who kills things with high power rifles, a woman who may or may not be lying about her youngest son's paternity, a woman who thinks it's great to marry off her teenage daughter to the guy the daughter happened to have sex with...ummm okay. But what I want to point out here is the fact that she is a religious extremist. Now Republican voters have a real bug up their ass about religious extremists which in Republican speak translates to Muslims. But they've been amazingly silent about Palin's religious beliefs. Palin is a member of the Assemblies of God which is a Pentecostal affiliated church. They believe in being born again, speaking in tongues, etc. They also believe that the mission of Christians is to convert the world. In other words, everyone needs to be a born again Christian with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This often takes on a rather militaristic tone as anyone who has seen Jesus Camp can attest. Like many Pentecostals, Palin is a creationist meaning she believes that God created the Earth in seven days just as stated in the number 1 tale of creation found in the Hebrew Bible. These people tend to veiw wars with Muslim countries as "holy wars" (sound familiar?). I know this group rather intimately as my family spent much of my youth in various Assemblies of God churches. I remember marching around the Church with the adults as they sang a song about being in the "army of the Lord."

. The group tends to have an escathological apocalyptic world view .These are the beliefs held for example by Tim Lahey and Jerry Jenkins, authors of the Left Behind series. Beliefs such as these include an end time world viwe in which Jesus will return to bring up the 'saved' to heaven aka. The Rapture. After the rapture, the Antichrist will rule the world for seven years before returning again to battle Satan, in what I guess could be called the ultimate slamdown. This kind of thinking lends, I think, a certain urgency to "saving" the would be sinners of the world.

I will acknowledge that a, AOG has become a bit less charismatic as they become more established. However, if you follow the link I offered, you will read that they publicly advocate the beliefs I've mentioned. Also Palin no longer attends a AOG church but she does return to give speeches as evident in the video floating around of her speaking of Iraq as a war from God. She now attends Wasilla Bible Church which if you read their statement of faith, you'll discover that their beliefs do not really deviate much from the AOG.

My problem is not so much that Palin has a religion but that it's an extreme religion that would find its way into her governing. She would not think about representation of all Americans but rather representation for "God" would be her top priority. For a group of people who profess fear of religious extremism, I find it ironic, and yes weird, that they would pick someone who is a religious extremist but then I guess most of these types don't think Christians can have religious exretmists...hmmm...crusades anyone? Abortion clinics bombing?

Second, the whole campaign worker story. Heard this one? A white female McCain campaigner goes to the police with this story about how she was mugged at an ATM by...wait for it...a black man (surprise, surprise)...a big black man as well. He sees her McCain sticker on her car after she's given him her money, hits her in the back of the head (now I admit to being tempted to do this when I see McCain stickers), beats her, and then CARVES a letter B into her check telling she better vote of Obama. Police said later this week that the story was a lie, and that this woman carved the letter B (which was backwards) into her own cheek. Ummm okay. Not only are the people running fucking nuts so are the people campaigning for them. I know this shouldn't have a bearing on McCain and Palin but it does make me wonder what kind of lunacy is going around is floating around ya know?

Third, from weird to sick...the supporters who shot a bear cub, pasted Obama signs all over it's head, and left in front of a college in NC. Again, one has to wonder why people are doing these things in the name of McCain...maybe it's the crazy air that surrounds McCain and Palin. Who knows?

Even since McCain choice Palin, this whole campaign took on a farce like atmosphere. The woman is an idiot with scary extremist views. She strikes me as a racist (which I've heard from a great many people). McCain with his snide sneering and his borderline racist comment during debate number 2 has just come across as someone smelling faintly of desperation. They've both become SNL skits of themselves. The overlty racist mentality that lingers over Repubicans right now leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I am honestly flabbergasted that Obama does not totally have this campaign in the bag.

Oh and just an end note...the latest NRA ad against Obama...cause you know that the fact you've never killed an animal with a gun makes you totally UNDESIRABLE as president. And yeah hunters really really need semiautomatic to bring down those ferocious deer....

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Place To Bury Strangers Redux...Part II

A Place To Bury Strangers
The Grey Eagle, Asheville, North Carolina
October 20, 2008

There is a certain stretch of highway as one drives up the mountains that opens up the sky. You're driving along, darkened forest, and suddenly a blast of red, orange, gold blinds you as what feels like the world opens up on you offering glorious expanse of mountain and that blazing sunset. It's becoming a deja vu sight as this is the third time I've headed to Asheville for a show just in the past year. This time I went up with my friend Amber. D and H both had childcare duties...plans fell through so it was a ladies' night out. I was disappointed that the guys couldn't make it but it was great to get to now Amber better, and I felt we left each other as friends. Always a good feeling.

Now I had cut a deal with myself that I wouldn't do this show if I hadn't finished revising my thesis intro. And anyone who regularly reads my blog knows where I was on that project. When D called Sunday morning to say he couldn't make it, I felt a little maybe I just wouldn't go. It was a torn feeling but the funk I've felt towards writing was creeping into every aspect of my life. The thought of going to see the show, even though it was APTBS, was a bit overwhelming. But when when I called Amber, she was determined to figure out a way for us to go (thank you Amber). Not one to ignore signs such as these, I surrendered to my fate.

We got there early, and Amber ate while I dealt with my ennui. But eventually the familiarity of the Grey Eagle won me over. The club is a great venue, and the people who run it, along with Matt from Harvest Records are friendly and welcoming. It's hard to not just relax once you're there. I got to talk with Matt, the owner of Harvest Records and he's great too. Knowledgeable and interesting. We talked about how APTBS has got back into all the older music we used to love. I wish, wish there was a venue like this in Charlotte but alas I guess I'll have to keep driving up to the mountains.

Opening band #1 was amazing. Initially, I was sitting in the bar area when they started. I have to admit I wasn't overly excited...I've had some disappointment with opening bands. But the moment, I heard the drums, I was there. The drummer, Jim, was fucking crazy. He pounded on those drums so hard, I kept waiting for the set to break. It was heavy, loud with the vocals rising almost ethereally over the noise. But it really was all about the drums. I like drums as much as the next girl but it's not normally an instrument I get giddy over. I was giddy. It was impossible to not move to those drums. And the drummer was compelling as well...I like live performances because I like watching the performers. Some are worth it, others make me think I'll stick with their Cds. This was a worth it performer. (Added note: H and I were talking about experience shows and APTBS was about an experience...same with this group...defintely going to be getting a lot of playtime from me). And yes I got a chance to talk to him. Great guy. Nice. And best yet they have played Charlotte, and will do again. Hurrah for me. They're called All the Saints. Go give them a listen.
Good thing is that this opening got me excited. I could start feeling myself relaxing, opening up to the music. All the shit that I've felt has dragged me down was starting to fall away. I was on longer against the wall. I was in the music, it was in me, lifting me away from all the shit that had me flattened.

I can't say the next band did that for me. They were okay. Moments when it was good, seemed like it would get better and for me just didn't. I got to meet some of Amber's friend who were very cool, relaxed and just comfortable to be around immediately. We ate sweet potato fries and fried green tomatoes...and I saw Oliver....ah...Oliver.

I hung around outside, it was freezing but I get to smoke during shows...Jim, from All Saints, came out and talked with me. We talked about music and venues. Then Oliver came out, and I went through my silly fan girl thing...should I talk to him? Should I not? I finally did, and he claimed to remember me, and I got a hug. Okay I have to admit...I do have a big crush on the guy. I just can't help myself. He was still sweet, so nice to know that touring with NIN has not turned him into a superstar.

Finally, the moment came. I staked out a spot right in front of where Oliver would play, and held my ground. I didn't mind waiting because from the first screeching wave of feedback, I was gone. I've come to the conclusion that I'm one of those people who likes to be assaulted by music. There's something about that sound slamming against me that lifts me. It's raw and hard and I like that but then APTBS does something else, something not softer but more sensual. Some of it is Oliver's voice which comes to you so indirectly under that pounding assault. Last time, I found myself wanting to hear him louder but this time, there was something so intense about hearing that voice coming through this sheer noise that left me breathless. It was such an unlikely combination but one that worked well. And his voice sounded even better this time around. And then some of it is the melody that comes through the feedback, and the screaming of wires being ripped across guitar strings. I could always make out the songs, could sing them from memory, pull them out of my head as I felt my body literally being vibrated by the sound. There was a familiarity even as Oliver and crew worked their magic creating new sounds, new ways of playing the songs, because underneath there was this core sound that I knew.I found myself thinking about floating in the ocean in Vera Cruz. I have always been a little scared of the ocean. I'm terrified of drowning anyway, and the vastness of the ocean does not make me comfortable. But in Vera Cruz I found myself floating in these warm gentle waves, being lulled by this gentle motion but even as I allowed myself to feel this embrace, I found myself always aware of the power that rocked me. It was a pleasurable moment but not a safe moment.

And yes this all came to me while Oliver was going fucking insane during "Ocean". I remember at one point, Oliver had thrown his guitar around, beat on it, tortured it with wire, and just literally messed it up, when he stopped playing. He just stood there staring into the darkness where the audience was, his eyes wide and almost crazed. He wasn't there with us anymore, and it was a disconcerting feeling to be so close to him, and yet feel so far away from wherever place he was. This was the man who was about to suck us all into that place where he was, and for a moment, I wasn't really sure if I wanted to go. I felt that same feeling as floating...this time it was with noise, sound waves, and the danger lie in the person (people really) manipulating those sounds. He played some more but it still felt like something bigger was about to come. Best part of that moment was that you got to hear very clearly the bass. JonoMofo is an amazing bassits but I often feel like the bass sounds is like a foundational sound that is almost missed if you don't listen carefully. The drums and guitar in APTBS are totally at the forefront in most of the songs but when the guitar went silent, you realized how vital the bass is for this group. It's really the sound that carries the melodies through those almost discordiant moments. Then the guitar came back but I'll never lose the bass again...and yes I was lost in the music. Waiting for that something more to come...and they left...
Just like that he left. It was too soon, and it felt like something was going to break but it didn't. Instead we were all standing there...waiting, knowing there was something more. I almost walked away, almost but luckily I was too shell shocked too move, too disorientated to even walk. I couldn't hear anything, and couldn't really see through the smoke and the strobes. I wasn't expecting an encore as they had not done one the first time we saw them...but they came back. And I'm pretty sure they played "My Weakness" which in recent weeks has become my favorite song. It was not a familiar version of the song but I thought I could detect the melody under the most intense noise they had produced all evening. At one point, Oliver was rubbing the microphone against the speakers creating the loudest, shrillest feedback I've ever encountered.

What fascinated me along with the music was the crowd. People had been dancing up until that point. They stopped. There were several with kind of horrified looks on their face. No one walked away but they stopped connecting. For me, it was the ultimate connection. It was the body meeting noise not mean to be music, and turning that sound into music, into expression, maybe not of a rational kind but it was expression. It was raw, hard, and real. It was like that moment when you feel physical pain, and everything comes into this kind of intense focus. It was those moments of clarity so brilliant it hurt to contemplate it too much. And it was painful. Physically. My ears still are not okay. If possible, they were better than when we saw them in April. I think the show was a lot more crazed, intense, and loud. I can only imagine the next show I get to if I can only persuade them to play Charlotte.

I got to say goodbye to Oliver (and even get one more hug...which you all know I am not going to bitch about) and I got to get all fan girl on JonoMofo (or "I'm Jonathan"). He's nice as well as being an incredible bassist. And he totally sounds like he's from Brooklyn (a wee bit of sarcasm here).He remember me as the reviewer who thought he was "Mugging it up for the cameras." But he graciously allowed me a picture, and even invited Amber and I to the party at the bar later (can I even began to describe my disappointment in not being able to go?

Why oh why can't I take a decent picture? I look so dreadful. Smug, and bloated or something. Dreadful. I so wanted this picture....sigh, at least he looks good.

And yeah I needed that show. Amber said her friends call her a music whore, and I'm afraid that what's I'm becoming. I love the shows, the music, the whole experience really. Going last night, inspired me, made me feel like I was a part of something wildly creative and exciting. I came home and was ready to write...write not just this review which had to be good (they deserve nothing less no?) but to write all the stuff that has been building within me for months. All those stories I have to tell but have been too afraid to write. It's going to be alright you know? And I woke up to this life, made my kids' lunches drove them to school with all that music inside of me.

Guys, if you read this, play Charlotte so I can go drink with you. Please?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Up Against the Wall

For the last two weeks, I have held onto an introduction. An introduction critiqued. An introduction that was written nearly a year ago...revised once already. My new improved adviser assured me I wasn't in left filed over this one. I thought hearing that it was still workable would some compel me to start working on the damn thing.

But here it is two weeks later, and I am nearly paralyzed with fear. I have tried to read the damn thing and I can't even get past the opening quote. I've tried to analyze the fear. I've dismissed the fear, decided it was boredom, beat myself up for being uncommitted. I misplaced the fear. Past issues with old adviser were surfacing. I was terrified of facing the old comments, what I had felt pressured into writing.

Maybe it's just the know depression time. I hate the fall sometimes. It feels so hard to get moving. There days when I feel like I can barely function. Right now it's hard to just get the kids to school. When I get home from walking, I often go to bed. Sometimes I motivate myself to clean the house. I do the work for my class but pushing myself for the thesis...nope.

And yeah I am depressed. But that's not what's really keeping me from revising. It's the writing. I am terrified. And this is why I can't write here. I try but I end up either not publishing or deleting what I wrote. How is that something I love so much terrifies me? And why? Is the fear that it will just suck?

No. I think it's a bit deeper than that....I think it's the fear that writing always stirs in me. Even academic writing. There is the fear that I will just not be good enough. An intense fear that nothing that I write is making any sense. It's more than just being good; it's about conveying. Deep inside there is a fear that nothing I write will be interpreted in any kind of sensible if the words that form in my mind are not finding their way onto the computer screen. I imagine there is this disconnect between my thoughts and my hands. I am two separate entities, and they do not seem to be communicating lately.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mexican Food

Yes, E, it was there first taste of Mexican street food!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Place To Bury Strangers...Redux Part I

Remember this?
Well, it's happening again. In what will no doubt be a serious case of deja vu, I am going to the Grey Eagle on Sunday to see APTBS. Way excited as those of you know my obsession can imagine. This time I might go all fan girl on JM if I can find him that is....

Postscript: Why is that when I title a post "A Place to Bury Strangers" I get a larger number of hits than normal? This could lead to some fun fun experimentation...

A Picture for E

Tuesday, October 07, 2008