It is what it is

20
Jan
2010

I started out this morning writing a post that was filled with venom and vitriol, aimed especially at certain Democrats who I perceive to be in the pocket of corporate interests to the detriment of the populace at large. But the more I thought about this, the more unhappy it made me. And the more I questioned why I have to live this way. Why take these defeats so personally? Sure, many of these policies do affect me personally. And many of the decisions taken in the halls of power are an affront to the image of a decent and just society. But the anger, the frustration, is merely the result of a feeling of impotence. And it in itself is vulgar and corrosive. I need to find a way to support the causes I think are just without feeling personally injured when they don’t come to pass. And I need to find a way to not vilify those I think are standing in the way of progress or working against it. I need to regain more of the Buddhist compassion and detachment that brought me such peace during my travels. And by detachment, I don’t mean that we don’t strive for a better world and work towards that goal. I mean that whatever the outcome, we accept it with equanimity and calm. We focus on what can be accomplished and plod along without the anger. This anger is corrosive and paralyzing. Questioning the motives of others does no good at all except to raise our temperature and encourage a mean spirited reading of the world. A reading that is rife with conspiracy. I suppose that reading makes it easier on the one hand, for in imagining a dark, vast, invisible and malevolent power controlling things, we make ourselves feel better that we were outgunned or that things were out of our control. We feel small and powerless and although angry, a little less to blame for what has occurred. But this much I know: Our attitude affects everything. We can take the exact same circumstances and make them into something horrible or wonderful. We are best served not by questioning the ethics or morals of others, but to react with equanimity to their actions. The first victim of one’s anger and resentment is oneself. So let us get up, without exasperation, and push the rock uphill once more. And try to enjoy the landscape along the way.

Wrong Diagnosis

19
Jan
2010

Brown may win in Massachusetts. Coakley is a shitty candidate. And this may be a bit of a referendum on health care, but not the way you think. I maintain AGAIN that if people are upset with the health care bill, it is not because it is some sort of socialist/communist takeover. They are upset, nay pissed off that it is such a win for the vested interests of insurance companies and drug makers at the expense of the people it is supposed to help. Lawmakers do deserve to be punished for this. I am sick to death of hearing that this “backlash” has anything to do with some leftward lurch of the country when it is so demonstrably false. The problem is that the people got shafted, again. The way large industries control the policy making in Washington, we might as well just pay our taxes directly to them. As it is there is only the thinnest veneer of paying them to the government, so quickly does it pass to those who need it the least. Unfortunately, electing Brown will just make a bad situation even worse.

MRI / buried alive in a coffin

17
Jan
2010

A couple of weeks ago I was at the doctor and told him about this ongoing shoulder pain I have been having for the past six months. After asking me to raise my arms in a circle, he concluded that I should get an MRI of my right shoulder to see what the problem was. A week later after finally getting pre-approval from my hateful health insurance company (that has denied 50% of claims in the last 6 months), I made my way to the MRI lab yesterday.

I entered the building and went down to the basement where the lab was located. I didn’t notice then how appropriate it was that this place should be underground. Like a dungeon. After filling out scads of paperwork and assuring them for the umpteenth time that I was neither pregnant nor packing heat nor fitted with a secret pacemaker, they showed me to a small room where I could lock away everything remotely likely to upset the result or be destroyed by their machine. (this included keys, credit cards, metro card, cell phone and coins.)

I then made my way to the MRI room where the attendant fitted me with all manner of bracing material and strapped me to the gangplank. I asked somewhat nervously what the severely claustrophobic do in these situations and she chuckled a little and said they usually take sedatives of some sort before getting into the machine. She pushed a button that slowely began to squeeze the gangplank and me into the very small tube of the machine. I cleared my throat and asked her to pause for a minute.

“I don’t suppose you have any of those sedatives handy do you?” I asked in a slightly thin voice.

“No”, she said “Didn’t your doctor prescribe one before coming?”

Alas, I hadn’t thought to ask and he didn’t. So I focused as much as I could on the hole at the end of the tube, took a breath, and nodded for her to continue. At the moment I was almost completely inside, she informed me that this would only last for 20 or 30 minutes. Jesus, I thought, that is a long time!

Once inside and with my earplugs firmly in place, she mumbled at me via speaker from the next room that she would begin. I could hardly move and that was the way they liked it, because they need you to stay quite still to get a good reading.  All I could think is that it was very close to that scene in Kill Bill, where Uma Thurman is buried alive in a coffin, except that Uma had more room than I did. I weighed the pros and cons of crawling out/crying out, but tried to focus elsewhere and imagine that the machine gun-like sounds issuing from the device were like the reassuring swooshing of blood a baby must hear in its mother’s womb. A couple of times the technician came over the speaker to tell me that I was moving too much and I thought WTF? I am just breathing. A little nervously perhaps, but man it is tight in here and I am sweating. I don’t know how fat people get MRIs, because they sure weren’t doing so in this model. After having to redo one of the tests messed up by my selfish need for respiration, she told me that the torture session was over, and pushed the button to pull the gangplank out of the machine. After she untied me I got up, (and like those suffering from Stockholm syndrome I suppose) I thanked her, and went on my way.

Thank you notes

16
Jan
2010

Recently a friend of a friend did a professional favor for me (hooking me up with the right person for an interview) and my friend suggested I send a thank you note. I was going to send a note along electronically when my friend suggested that an actual thank you card/note on paper with pen (handwritten no less) would be better. I have no actual thank you cards on hand and I am loathe to kill trees this way and most importantly, I detest my own handwriting. I haven’t handwritten anything other than very short notes in a very long time. Everything is tapped out on a keyboard and perfectly legible, except my signature, which is never meant to be legible. A signature is not about communication, it is artistic self-expression, and no matter how little it resembles your name, it is clearly your own.

I believe my aversion to handwriting first developed when I was living in France almost 20 years ago. There they practice (or at least practiced) the pseudo-science of Graphology (handwriting analysis), and believed they could glean all manner of things about the psychological profile of someone by whether or not they dotted their i’s or crossed their t’s and so forth. If someone was sloppy in handwriting, they were sloppy in life. I spent painful hours writing every cover letter over and over again until it looked almost perfect, oftentimes writing against the edge of a ruler. Better to be seen as too detail oriented and OCD than not enough, especially when applying for a job in an Architect’s office.

To this day, other than the occasional diary entry, I am loathe to write out long letters for other people’s consumption. And my handwriting has suffered I am sure from the years of non-use. These days I think my handwriting looks as if it were scratched out by a blind Tourette’s patient with a meth addiction. I have no intention of sending something of that sort to someone I actually want to thank. Far better to use my verbal/writing skills composing something that can actually be deciphered when viewed, and where the form will not get in the way of the content.

As a compromise, I told my friend that I would embed the whole thing in a lovely card-like pdf that he can print out or send along if he so desires, and I will even affix an electronic image of my signature to it, giving it that homey, creative, just slightly insane touch. Etiquette and propriety maintained, crisis averted.

Status Updates for 2010-01-14

14
Jan
2010
  • I hate to, but have to, agree with this article. Obama has squandered an enormous opportunity. http://bit.ly/4PTvHu #
  • reverse engineering someone else's design work can be challenging. #
  • If one ever needed proof of life's essential unfairness, look no further than poor Haiti. #
  • I worry this is how the case itself will break, with exactly these justices, when it makes it to the Supreme Court. http://bit.ly/92Kqpk #

Status Updates for 2010-01-12

12
Jan
2010
  • Would I have cared if Reid used a word like "queer", or "homo"? If he had also voted for my equality, not so much. #
  • fine. I'm crazy. #
  • A fool and his money are soon parted…http://bit.ly/7ol1PE #
  • Wow, so NJ is more comfortable legalizing pot than legalizing gay…http://bit.ly/77SGg1 #
  • Now put your hands up… #

All the Single Ladies…

12
Jan
2010

Tonight I was invited to a lively dinner party for single gays put together by an acquaintance of mine named Rob. He culled a Facebook list of 20-some (not to be confused with 20-something) single guys and we all met at a Thai restaurant in my neighborhood. Rob guessed  from the various friend connections on Facebook that no one would know more than 5 people, but some people clearly knew more. It is always amusing to hear a group of gay men recount how they know each other. There is usually a fair bit of throat clearing and waiting for someone else to set the tone and break the ice. Everyone always wants to know who dated whom, who slept with whom, who knew whose roommate, etc. Personally, I always rely on my trusty fallback response that stops further questioning: I simply say “we met in prison”, and they can imagine the rest according to their preferences, be they sweet or (un)savory. In any event, there were indeed a lot of handsome and interesting (and supposedly single) guys in attendance, and with but a drink (or two) in hand, everyone was quite friendly. Part of the idea of these, according to Rob, is that since we all know a lot of really nice guys that may not be right for us, perhaps they are right for someone else. Usually he invites ten guys, each of whom must bring one other that the group (hopefully) doesn’t know. I really like the idea of mixing things up in this manner, as I think getting to know people over a meal is one of the best ways to do so. I am looking forward to attending more of these get togethers in the future.