Monday, July 31, 2006

blame it on dave

dave convinced me to listen to a bit of country. it's a long story, but the point is that i came home tonight and downloaded Cry. It's absolutely excellent, and frankly, the song Free is good enough to join the ranks of Morphine's You Look Like Rain. i'm posting the lyrics, but honest: you so have to hear it.

I had it tough when I was just a little kid
It didn't matter what I thought
It didn't matter what I did
I felt the doubt for what I lacked right from the start
It did a number on my head but it could never touch my heart
'Cause I had just enough imagination
Just enough to keep the faith
That somehow I would think of what to do
When I'd get lost in a momentary weakness of emotion
All the angels came around to help me through
Life blows fast changes, wind blows past pages
All I see is I don't need this
High strung tightrope walk, ticking time bomb clock
Scratch my name off, cut these chains

I'm free.. kicking out of that prision
I am free.. singing those words of wisdom
Let it be.. nobodys gonna put the blues inside of me

And in the stress to be the best I've done it all
I've slammed the doors, I've jammed the locks
I've laid the bricks, I've built the walls
Nobone could tell me back then why joy eluded me
Kept bumping into that misery locked up deep down inside of me
Took that rage and I, turned that page and I
Packed my tools, went back to school
And I passed my graduation, and I hold my PH.D
In crash test blues I paid those dues

Time flies by in photographs and paper scraps and songs
Here I stand in ruby slippers, three taps takes me home


three years ago, i went rappelling and rock climbing and caving and tubing, each of them all for the first time, all in a single day. it was brilliant, and i think did more to help me find who i am than anything.

here's what i wrote the day after:

Beautiful skerry

At the top of the rock’s steep face, I looked out across nearly a mile of visibility of the New River as it wended toward me and then away again, falling over the rapids. People in innertubes landed on the gentle skerry, basking in the sun before descending the rapids, the rocks part of the same ridge which rose so high above them once out of the river, on which I now perched. I was wholly fetched with the view. The people were small, but not tiny. It was a perfectly good rock face, a delightful spot for something mundane, perhaps a picnic by day or star gazing by night. It was a perfectly good rock face.

It seemed a shame to jump off it.

The river wasn’t there to catch us. We had climbed and at points scrambled (I did more scrambling than the others, I’ll warrant), up this beautiful rocky ridge, this piece of it called Fool’s Face. It was a face indeed, one which angled back under itself at the outcropping. I loved being up there. I wasn’t so thrilled at the idea of going over the edge.

Granted, we had rappelling ropes, and people who had done this before, and I signed up to do this. I really wanted to just slip so easily over the lip of the rock, balancing my weight on a single rope, held by a harness of a strap knotted in bizarre and intimate configuration about my hips. "Call out: ‘Rope One, Ready To Rappel,’"he told me. I could hear the title case, and I opened my mouth to repeat the words, innocent enough as they seemed. But my throat simply closed up, not willing to lie. I wasn’t. I wasn’t ready to rappel. I wasn’t ready at all. I wasn’t ready.

"What if I accidentally let go with my right hand?" I asked. Aaron looked at me, all calm as he leaned back into his harness, one hand resting lightly on the rope securing him to the top of the face, only the arches of his feet balancing delicately on the sharp edge of the rock preventing him from plummeting down and down. "You won’t." The quiet certainty of his voice, calm as a spring breeze and as soothing, did little to shed the images of leaning over the Dominion Tower decades ago, of dark thoughts on dark nights at the overlook at the star, or all the times I had ever confused left and right, and all the times I had ever dropped anything. Ignoring the parade of my own clumsiness going along in my mind, I scooted backward on my knees again toward the lip. I got closer to the edge this time before the survival instinct sent images my way once more, my mind a mute, passive receiver of all the reasons I really should find anything else to do.

I sat back and faced him again. "I’m scared." I looked into his face through my sunglasses, as honest about anything as I had ever been. The calm blue sky received the clouds drifting across its canvas, nearly apace with the current lapping along, just behind his shoulders. He seemed more a part of the world which framed him than of anything remotely related to my swiftly beating heart and swirling thoughts. "It is scary." I was surprised not to hear anything other than recognition in his voice. No shrugs, no dismissal, nothing other than naming something for what it is. "This is the hardest part. And we can take all day if that’s how long it takes. Or we can turn it around and not do it." That calmed me down. He told me about John with the rope at the bottom, acting as a belay. He told me he would go down with me, right next to me. The rush in my ears was gone as he looked at me. "It’s really just whenever you find enough gumption to go over. Take all the time you need." With all the patience of a glacier, he rested, looking at me, leaning back against the lip. I wasn’t convinced he wouldn’t be able to fly if he chose to.

Oh hell. I’m sort of known for gumption.

The face bit and grabbed back at my handhold as I slipped over the edge, then let go with my left hand altogether, bumping, sliding, gliding down the rope, the face slipping away under itself until I couldn’t even push it with my feet. The stone was beautiful, impervious and austere as the wind caressed me, the world dropping away and all its cares with it, an oasis of stillness enveloping me where only the face, the rope and my suddenly-comfortable harness cradled my body. I wasn’t convinced I wouldn’t be able to fly if I chose to.

The ground found me, disappointed me as I let go of the rope and found Aaron looking at me, a smiling question all over his delighted, no-quite-smug face. "That was wonderful." I handed him the rope after I loosened my eight from it. [all these new terms and words: eights, belays, 'biner; it’s all really about not dying. And about living on your own terms.] It was wonderful indeed.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Men's rules

A friend and i were talking, and i was called out on quoting from the men's rules. True enough. I did some digging and found a copy complete with my responses.

  • Women, learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
    • YAY! I’m all about personal responsibility. Now, when the cat knocks your razor into the drink, don’t complain. And no, I will not be fishing it out.
  • Birthdays, Valentines, and Anniversaries are not considered by us to be opportunities to see if we can find the perfect present . . . . again
    • How about presence instead of presents? Give it a try.
  • Sometimes we are not thinking about you. Live with it.
    • Cool. Sometimes I’m not thinking about you. Sometimes, I’m even thinking of another man, even in intimate situations. Live with it.
  • Sunday = sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.
    • Great. Which team are we rooting for? If you want it to be a guy thing, that’s cool too. Just don’t expect me to be thrilled when you invite them all over, especially if that means I come home to trails of popcorn, beer cans, and sweat sock stains on the coffee table. It’s not a locker room, it’s a living room. Grow up or go to the sports bar down the street where people are paid to clean up your mess.
  • Don't cut your hair. Ever. Long hair is always more attractive than short hair. One of the big reasons guys fear getting married is that married women always cut their hair, and by then you're stuck with her.
    • Really? How cool is that. You could let us know before you pop the question, of course. That would fall under “general communication” in the relationship pages.
  • Ask for what you want. Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
    • Nice. Take me to a nice restaurant and a play on our anniversary. Tell me I’m more beautiful than the day we got married. Tell me you have known many women, but only one worth knowing. And don’t game while there are dirty dishes in the sink.
  • We don't remember dates. . . .Period!!
    • Cool, me either. But that’s what calendars are for. Introduce yourself to the concept.
  • Most guys own three pairs of shoes - tops. What makes you think we'd be any good at choosing which pair, out of thirty, would look good with your dress?
  • Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
  • Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
    • Neat! We’re glad you get it. Dispel your road rage and your work-related ulcer before you walk in the door. Mention being stressed out only if you want to talk about it. It’s what we do. Don’t expect to have grudge sex when you walk in the door just because some creep cut you off in traffic or you got passed over for a promotion. It’s not our way. Deal.
  • A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.
    • Amen!! And please do not try to lay siege to my clitoris. There are other things that need to go on. Like talking, or letting go of my day, before I can embrace you, let alone let you down on the girl. And please, please please, do not do The Same Old Thing.
  • Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.
    • I’m sorry. Did you say something?
  • If you won't dress like the Victoria's Secret girls, don't expect us to act like soap opera guys.
    • What? Having affairs pop out of the woodwork every third season? No thanks. But if I dress like a Victoria’s Secret girl, don’t tell me the game is on and you’ll be back later.
  • If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us. We've been tricked before!!
    • There is only one answer to the question “Is my butt big?” The answer is no, and you should be able to deliver it believably in the middle of sound sleep, even while dreaming of angelia jolie. Yes, I know her butt is smaller than mine, even when she is pregnant and I am not. The point is that I’m not in my right mind, or I never would have asked the question.
  • If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
    • YES! Us too.
  • Let us ogle. We are going to look anyway; it's genetic.
    • YES! Us too.
  • You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.
    • Fair. How about never having to hear that you could make X when I want to buy it unless it comes with a delivery date and a cost estimate?
  • Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.
    • What was that? I was reading.
  • Christopher Columbus did not need directions, and neither do we.
    • Unh, huh. And when you can’t find my clitoris, I’m supposed to let you fumble for half an hour, get sore from the looking, try to say gently once again no, honey, that’s still not it, and then hear that I am frigid since I didn’t get off in the right way to make you want to continue having sex. Please reconsider this attitude. Or not. It’s your sex life.
  • The relationship is never going to be like it was the first two months we were going out. Get over it. And quit whining to your girlfriends.
    • Pffft. My girlfriends and I, like girls the world over, talk about the real things: sex and money, and in great detail. Get used to it.
  • ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.
    • Good. I will no longer have to paint my nails, as they come in colors only seen by dogs.
  • If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.
    • If it bleeds, it bleeds. We’re okay with that. Don’t ask us to be otherwise.
  • We are not mind readers and we never will be. Our lack of mind-reading ability is not proof of how little we care about you.
    • Policy suggestion: I won’t ask you to read my mind and in return I won’t read yours. Frankly, it’s not fit for a public library in there, anyway.
  • If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.
    • Ditto. SO quit grousing because you had a shitty day at work. I didn’t do it to you.
  • If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.
    • Agreed.
  • Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as navel lint, the shotgun formation, or monster trucks.
    • Don’t ask me what I’m doing unless you are prepared to hear about stock plan optimization, home repair, schooling issues, or how cool it would be if you sucked on my nipples more often. That’s where our heads are. All the time.
  • Foreign films are best left to foreigners. (Unless it's Bruce Lee or some war flick where it doesn't really matter what they're saying anyway.)
    • Fine. But foreign films are sexier. You might get lucky if you put up with one a couple times a year.
  • BEER is as exciting for us as handbags are for you.
    • Please. Handbags are not exciting except that they allow us better organization of all the paperwork detritus that you can’t be bothered with. We are starting a movement to go to wallets and nothing more. Beer is still not exciting unless you are brewing it yourself.
  • Thank you for reading this; Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight, but did you know, it's like camping.
    • Only with fewer bugs. Don’t disturb the dog.

Monday, July 17, 2006

yet another quiz

Which CSI Character Are You?

You're Warrick Brown.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

birthday update pending. for know, just know that it was a ball, all weekend long.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

follow up

Future Boy's article on San Francisco planned walking neighborhoods tells an account that is both interesting and possibly very lucrative, all while being better on the environment. Walking neighborhood development is quite the industry, and one I would rate as a Very Good Investment. Of course, i haev to disclose that i already feel that way, and bought a house in a walking neighborhood for that very reason. The only real thing that will work against such neighborhoods is the inherent laziness that we have come to evince as a group. When one lives in a walking neighborhood, it doesn't make good sense to drive to the mall to shop: not only does such activity go against The Plan, it also leaves neighborhood businesses without the business they require to stay in business. While it's a nice feeling to have participated in the local economy, it is also very good sense. Communities that thrive have lower crime rate, and property values continue to rise. All that and hand-dipped ice cream, too. What could be better?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

lonley americans?

Robert Putnam, author of the notable Bowling Alone, is at it again, only this time he might actually get it right. Instead of tackling lack of membership in a bowling league though, this time he is talking about those with whom we talk [free registration required, or use mine. user: whatsit4 pass: nytimes]

One hopes that Putnam's latest analysis will point out that before the 50's, families didn't move around, who was picking up the kids from daycare was never even a topic, let alone a worry, and healthcare issues weren't really issues. Frankly, Generation X and beyond has found itself the inheritor of a society that has dashed its old ways without really thinking about how it will create new ones. We know what we want (friends and family, not coworkers and commutes; community not coporate suites; homes, not mass-marketed houses; and leisure, not paid time off) but we aren't certain how to go about getting it.

The good news is that as more of us join forces, even if only as two spouses, or the small-but-true family of a single parent and a child or two, we are making our preferences known. It's not a movement; it's a reality. the pressures of rising gas prices and daycare prices (especially when combined with diminishing quality and increasing fear of abuse in centers) has combined to generate a picture wherein it borders on pushing us out of the traditional workplace altogether. We aren't "ganging up on the system" as Hippies did in Woodstock Nation. but Gen X'ers have had to live together in uncoventional ways since they graduated from college. Steve Jackson's wonderfully hysterical and all-too-true Chez Geek is built on that weird nineties reality where we all crammed two-to-a-bedroom in the apartment and had a job or three. Now that the first of them are graduating to their forties, they come with a different perspective, and the way they choose to solve their problems will be different historically, but won't really seem that way to each other or to the generations which immediately follow.

Housing realities have hit the bizzare realm. In larger cities, sometimes it doesn't seem to matter if you do everything you are 'supposed to do,' you still find yourself on the outs.

The neat thing is that there are places and devlopers that are taking these preferences into account, and deliberate walking communities are being planned. In other places, young people are moving into older traditional neighborhoods, buying homes at lower-than-average market prices, and turning the whole thing into a revitalized neighborhood center. I don't see many lonely Americans in my neighborhood, even though i might not know or celebrate the birthdays of everyone on the block.

I work 20 hours a week. Is it enough to support my family? Heck no, but i'm not going to change it, either. in a world where health benefits are a pipe dream and public schools an emotional and educational wasteland, I really don't see how I could feasibly work more than that regularly. I would like to qualify to work at my skill level, which would more than double what I make without requiring an hour more of my time at the office. I like homeschooling the boys. I like being part of my neighborhood. I like seeing my home during the daylight hours. I like not being so wiped out when i get back from the office that i can't cook or play games with family and friends.

Call me crazy.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

On July 15, world leaders have the opportunity to honor their committments to make poverty history, all with a stroke of the pen. Every three minutes a person dies from poverty-related illness. This isn't just a statistic, but a person. How many people do you know? If we had been born in a poverty-stricken area, how long would it take before everyone you knew were gone? Sign the petition to let the leaders of the world know that everyone deserves independence from poverty. Your voice matters.