Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Book of Hope 3: Halloween in Hell House

Actually, Christina and Jo were not our first housemates in Chicago. The very first was named April, but she wasn't with us long. Just to give you an idea of what a total princess she was, the first week she moved into our apartment (the one in Hyde Park), she stopped up the toilet, I never even wanted to ask how. So she ran into the living room all like, "Omigod, the toilet's overflowing, and there's water everywhere!" Kerry just stared at her and said, "OK, so deal with it the way you would at home." So April went back into her bedroom, then came back out a few minutes later and left for class. That's when we noticed water flooding out under the bathroom door and onto the carpet. Great. We spent the afternoon fixing it and cleaning everything up. Then when April got home, we lectured her about what she had done, just leaving us with a big mess like that. And she was all surprised! "I thought you said to just act like I was at home," she told us. "Well, my parents take care of everything for me there!"

As Kerry put it afterwards, April was always like "Oops, I f--cked my uncle!" about everything.

After we finally got rid of her, we had the even more horrible job of interviewing replacements. You'd think in a college bedroom community that would be no big deal, right? Wrong. It was exactly like a TV sitcom. For example, in spite of the fact that we had specifically advertised for a woman, three guys showed up, including one who was "in sort of a transition stage about my sexual identity" (he was taking female hormones.) The women weren't much better (several of them needed female hormones, too, hee hee), but we finally settled on a Marketing grad student named Sharon, who seemed like she might be cool because she was also an artist. Big mistake. The first thing she asked was whether she could paint the room black, then it turned out that, in addition to being a total psycho-bitch, she was into some Satanic cult called 'Thelema', but not in any cute, harmless Goth way, in more like a robbing local graves sort of way. We kept finding things in the refrigerator that science just could not explain. When we finally got rid of her, she went postal, threatened us, etc etc, and afterwards, we discovered she'd stolen all sorts of things including clothes, jewelry and computer disks. So it was a big relief when Kerry met Jo at a party. The only problem with her moving in right away was that she had this friend (Chris) that she'd promised to find a place with. They ended up sharing the master bedroom, which had its own bathroom, but obviously that arrangement wasn't gonna work out forever. So. since we all four got along so well, we started looking for a new place together, a house, so we could all have our own space. It took us about a year to find one--and renting it turned out to be the biggest mistake any of us ever made in our lives, bigger even than letting Sharon in the front door.

Just so you know, the house in the pic above is not the right house. When we were allowed to break the lease, we had to sign a legal statement saying we would never mention its address or publish any photographs or descriptions of it, so I just used a pic of me walking down a street a few blocks away. But the row-houses all look pretty much the same in that neighborhood, so you get the picture. Bronzeville was originally a very Bavarian-style old neighborhood of stone-brick houses and department stores, and then was settled by African-Americans from the South in the 1920s, which is how it got its name I guess, and gradually turned into a total slum. Lots of the old blocks were torn down for projects, but a few years ago gays and yuppies moved back and started rehabbing the row-houses. So we rented one from a professor at UChi who was supposedly in Ireland on sabbatical (technically we rented it from a rental agency), but there's one thing I've learned the hard way about academics--they are probably the least honest people on earth, especially when it comes to money. Or just telling the truth in general, like whether they're really married or not. Or really out of the country.

At first everything was pretty cool, and it was awesome for each of us to have our own bedroom, even if they were a bit on the cramped side. We had a fun housewarming party, too, the only downer was that none of the neighbors, black or white, seemed to want to have anything to do with us. Oh yeah, and our cars kept getting broken into. But otherwise things were OK, really. That was in September. It was in October that things started to go wrong bigtime. One cold sunny morning I woke up to this incredible buzzing noise--it was a wall of flies next to the bed. Thousands of them covering like the inside of the window and the whole wall around it, not flying, just crawling around all over each other and buzzing. So naturally I totally freaked, and we spent the morning killing them with swatters and bug spray. I mean, I've lived in lots of houses on bases in places like Florida, and, growing up, my family suffered infestations of all kinds: ants, termites, hornets in attics, etc etc, but I'd never seen anything like this before. It was so sudden. And the flies were all adult, so they hadn't all just hatched. Where had they come from? I still have no idea. It was really gross and spooky, and I had a lot of trouble sleeping in that room again after that.

And I am so not making this up! Frankly, all of what I'm gonna tell you (and I haven't really spoken much about this, because the four of us made like a pact not to because no one would believe us), was such a bummer that I've mentally blocked it out kind of, so I'm having some trouble recalling exactly what happened when. But I think next was the fleas hatching. We didn't notice this at first so much, but after awhile we realized we were all scratching our ankles. Then we started getting bites in other places and, you know, dashing out of the shower to get dressed quickly and stuff. But then they seemed to go away again, because the heater furnace in the basement broke during a cold snap. So now the fleas were gone, but it was freezing, and the rental agency was taking forever to send a guy over to fix it. Days went by, then a week--and we were all camping out inside the house, wearing coats and gloves all the time, even to the bathroom, lighting a huge fire in the fireplace every night, leaving the kitchen oven on and open, filling up the house with space heaters, which kept blowing the fuses, etc etc. Not good. In the middle of all this came Halloween.

Now we had been warned by friends that the one thing you did not do in Bronzeville was ignore Halloween. Huge gangs of local kids from the projects roamed around, some of them in their late teens, and if they didn't get candy or money, they would vandalize the place. Cars and even houses had even been torched on 'Devil's Night' in the past. So we took this very seriously and bought enough candy to start our own 7-11 and even made a jack-o-lantern and wore little masks. So then we waited. And we waited. We could peek out the windows and see tons of kids passing by outside, but none of them even glanced at our front door. A couple of times younger kids (they were the only ones in costumes) would start to come up the front gate and steps, but someone would always yell at them or pull them back. Finally, I went across the street to talk to the only neighbor who would have anything to do with us, a white librarian at the university. Her house was as noisy as a gaming arcade, there were so many kids coming and going, so I asked her what was up with ours.

"Oh, I guess the local people don't like it very much," she said. She was all like super-vague when I asked why not. "I really couldn't say." What was she, a lawyer? I hate it when people talk like that. Just then, her partner ran out of candy at the front door and came running back looking for more.

"Oh shit!" she said, when she couldn't find any, "Now we'll have to hide." And she wasn't kidding. For the next few minutes there was like a constant roar outside and a loud pounding on the front door. I swear I actually saw it bending inward, just like the hall gates in the mines of Moria. Some of the kids out there must have been like basketball players! Finally I snuck out the kitchen door and brought them back a big bag of our unwanted candy. Then when I went back home again, I saw that somebody had spray-painted 'Amitevil' all over the wall under the front bay window.

Since the agency was useless, we decided to call a furnace repairman on our own and just deduct the expense from our rent. But we couldn't find anyone who would come to that part of town, even though it was being gentrified. Finally, we convinced one very old guy to show, so he came, took one look at the furnace, and was like, 'You're out of oil." But the oil truck had come the week we'd moved in! Where had it all gone? He couldn't find any leaks. So the truck came again (and wow, is oil heat expensive!), so now we had heat. But as soon as we did, we had the fleas back, too. After that, so many things happened that it's sort of like a blur. For one thing, the electricity was now totally whacked. Lights turned themselves on--sometimes you'd come downstairs in the morning and half the lights in the kitchen and living room would be on, like a burglar had snuck in just to turn them on. Or you'd leave them on in the bathroom and go back in to find it dark. Weirdest of all was what happened to me a couple of times when I was trying to study: suddenly my hair would all stand straight back on end like one of those electro-magnetized glass globes you see in school science fairs was being carried back and forth behind me. Both times this happened when I was like totally alone in the house, and there was no one else there to see it, but it felt incredibly spooky. Because I have a lot of hair! And of course, there were always the fleas, which were now like a grey swarming cloud in the air and bit us everywhere--our only defense against them was to wear long johns soaked in Deet.

So why did we stay there? That's always the 'doh!' question I want to scream at actors in slasher flicks, you know when they're being stalked and murdered one by one, but they still insist on staying at the hotel or sorority house or summer camp or whatever. And I don't really have an answer to that. I mean, part of it was that it was all sort of gradual, really, and we kept thinking things would get better. I mean, we thought they HAD to! How could they get any worse? And part of it was stubbornness, because you know, we had just moved in, and really it was the landlord or the agency's responsibility to fix things. But mostly we were just really busy with classes and schoolwork and stuff--the pressure academically was super intense, and we just didn't have time to focus on it. Plus Kerry (as usual) and Jo had boyfriends that semester, so they pretty much moved out at that point and slept over. Kerry's boyfriend was so afraid of the fleas that he made her strip down and 'de-tox' every time she'd been at the house. Chris and I spent most of our spare time at the library or the student union. Chris had an LDR with a guy back in Lund, Sweden, she was being faithful to, so that left me the only completely manless one because I was 'too picky', this in the immortal words of a guy who tried to hook up with me at a party who was the spitting image of 'Bottom' in some Kansas high school production of 'Midsummer Night's Dream', even to the hair on his nose and pointy ears. I swear to god, he even snuffled! So yeah, I was picky, but that's pretty much all I had to work with on that campus. At night, whenever the other two were gone, Chris and I bunked together in her attic room, where the fleas weren't so bad, out of mutual fear. But then a couple of new things happened. And these were way, way worse.

Continued here...

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Friday, October 27, 2006

The Book of Hope 2: Mea Tulpa

Jo is amazing. When you think of the typical Aussie, you think of a big blonde Amazon, right? But she's not like that at all--she's small and dark and brilliant. But she is definitely a typical Aussie in that she's a compulsive globe-trotter. She's traveled literally all over the world. That night at the beach in front of the fire she started telling us about going to Dharmsala (sp?) in India and even meeting the Dalai Lama--this wasn't just a non-sequitur, though, because she was making a point about gods and creation (I know this kind of stuff may be boring for you, but it's like the whole point of this blog, because mythology is what I'm really into. Sorry.)

"The Buddhists believe in beings called 'Tulpas'," Jo said. "They think that if something's existence is believed in badly enough, then it comes to life."

"You mean like a mass hallucination?" (Christina).

"I do believe in fairies! I do!" (Kerry, clapping her hands.)

"Well, it could be just a single entity projected through will-power, like our 'perfect man'. Or it could sort of be like believing in a whole religious system. The Dalai Lama told us that even our Judeo-Christian god was really a tulpa, and that as more and more people stopped believing in, you know, an almighty Jehovah, he actually became less and less of a real physical force in the world." This reminded me of something I'd read in a Diane Johnson novel, Le Divorce, I think it was, where the younger sister has an affair with an older man and says "it was like being f--ked by God".

"That's what I want," I told them. "To be f--ked by God" (well, not in the way we all are normally, I mean. Pardon my French, or whatever.)

'Uh huh, bitch, we know all about you and older men," said Kerry. 'Bitch' is her affectionate nickname for all three of us, but I guess you gotta hear it the way she says it, all teasing in her warm, still slightly Southern drawl. She makes it sound so cute I've been tempted to try using it that way myself, but I have a feeling I'd get my face punched. It's just a Kerry thing, I guess. "So if we all agree on this perfect man, and concentrate on him hard enough, he'll actually come to life? Or do we have to convert to Buddhism?"

"All it would take would be one person." Well, it would have to, in our case, because all four of us can never agree on anything anyway. There was no way we were even going to agree to actually finish the exercise. For example here's Kerry's version (I found this scrap of notebook paper she'd been scribbling on the floor when I was packing to go home:

"Sensitive. Strong enough to be [erased]. Not gay. Willing to stand up to me. Willing to be nice to my family. Must like driving long distances, preferably in a luxury SUV. Must LIE convincingly! Especially about how I look in the morning. And whether he's been cheating or not. Or whether he's noticed that I have. Civilization is built on the polite lie--and I want a man who's totally civilized and polite. Preferably with thick glossy dark hair, just the color of a favorite shoe. And baby blue eyes, that's non-negotiable."

Knowing Kerry, this was probably her total output for the week. Of course that didn't stop her from critiquing everybody else's! But those magic words--'sensitive', 'strong', 'gentle'--got mentioned a lot that night. Christina insisted that he had to talk a lot and be in touch with his emotions, Kerry said she mostly preferred silence, and Jo claimed she wanted an Albert Einstein--but she wanted to use Chaos Theory to invent him. According to her, perfection is a random event and our perception of it changes from moment to moment. So her tulpa's personality would change and fluctuate constantly. "Great, your perfect guy is a schizo!", said Kerry. She then reminded us all of Jo's thing for big blonde guys in suits, recounting the story of how one night Jo went up to the top floor of a NY skyscraper on a date with a dull, boring but blonde junior investment banker and was so seduced by the luxurious office and the view that she later said, "He could have done anything he fancied to me right there on that desk--he just didn't know it!" "He just didn't know it!" then became a kind of slogan around the house. We all agreed, however, that the incident illustrated Chaos Theory, because it was so unexpected. So the first quality we expected in our perfect man was...the unexpected.

"Swedish men are rarely unexpected," Chris said, and then told us some dirty jokes on the subject which I won't repeat here. For Christina, creativity was what she responded to most of all in a man, she said. Therefore, he must be an artist, but at the same time practical and with a good sense of humor. He must love children just like she did. Swedes didn't expect fidelity from each other--they were too practical for that--but they did expect loyalty and commitment, so he must be very loyal. And healthy. Jo added that he needed to always be learning new things. The way a tulpa became a monster, like in horror flicks like Hell House, was when his creator died or lost interest, leaving him all alone and only half-formed. So he had to have a strong sense of curiosity and a moral kinship with the rest of humanity in order to grow into a real person. Adolf Hitler, for example, could have been nothing more than a tulpa, created from the crazy obsessions of German racist crackpots and then abandoned to wander around on his own. Maybe politics attracts them (or even creates them, spooky thought!) Later I did some more research on tulpas--here's an interesting link: http://www.davisanddavis.org/harvey/tulpa.html. And Iris Murdoch, the woman that totally depressing flick Iris was about, wrote a cool novel on the subject called The Green Knight. So loyalty, not just to his partner, but to all of humanity, was quality number two. Plus a sense of humor, of course. I mean, he'd need one, once he realized one of us had created him...

When Mary Shelley wrote her book she called it Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus. Prometheus is what mythologists call a 'universal symbol' because he occurs as a fire-bringer (which is a metaphor for divine wisdom) in almost every culture and religion, even Christianity. My own personal bible is the book Hamlet's Mill (http://phoenixandturtle.net/excerptmill/santillana.htm) by Georgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, which, among many other fascinating things, discusses Prometheanism. My own particular area of interest is the parallels of this ancient Indo-European figure to Norse and particularly Finnish mythology (where he is known as Vainamoinen, sorry no umlauts on this keyboard), but the novel Frankenstein has probably inspired far more interest in the subject than any other book. Most writers and commentators pretty much take it for granted that Victor Frankenstein is the hero of the book, and the 'Prometheus' of the title, taking the divine spark that is God's prerogative and using it to create life, thereby drawing down upon himself the same sort of punishment as the Greek titan did--remember, Zeus chained him to a rock? But I guess I've always seen the story a little differently. Maybe Shelley intended Frankenstein to be the protagonist--and the Prospero of the tale--and his creation, the new man, the Caliban, but somewhere along the line, the process reversed itself. To me, by the end of the story, it's the monster himself who has become Promethean, trying to share his dwindling wisdom with others of his kind, while Victor himself has become a secondary, almost uninteresting figure to the story, if that makes any sense to you.

And so, while the other three were drinking wine in the flickering firelight and talking about their perfect man, I suddenly felt like the qualities they were debating made him totally uninteresting to me. I pointed out that none of the things they were listing as virtues actually made their dream guy attractive. To me what mattered was how he made me feel inside, weak at the knees or whatever--and that depended on chemistry, good looks, obviously, and things like smell. And what about his skills as a lover? All women agree that they want a great lover, but what exactly does that mean, really? I mean, there's only one way for a guy to gain that kind of experience--and that means he'd have to break a lot of hearts along the way, which doesn't exactly fit the profile of 'sensitive' and 'gentle'. Jo pointed out that wasn't necessarily true--for instance, he could be the one getting dumped all the time--but we all agreed that would make him seem like a weepy, whiny wimp. And it wasn't just about sex or whatever, either. I wanted a guy who was really wise and cynical and way too selfish and tough-minded to fall for anyone but me. Or if he did, to be too enslaved by me to do anything about it. "'Too old', you mean." said Kerry. I guess we were all getting a little drunk by then, or she wouldn't have kept bitching me out about older men. The reason she does, and I'm gonna make this as brief as possible, is that I sort of had a thing with an older professor at UChi the last year we were all there. So now you know.

YES, he was married, and yes, I was an idiot, and yes, I got my heart broken, and yes, maybe I was looking for my father in him, or whatever. Well, it makes sense, since my dad died just five years ago, when I was still really pretty young. So yeah, I guess it's a perv thing on my part in some way that I 'do nut' want to go into here (maybe in a later post. Or maybe not). All I can say is, my dad never had a little grey pony-tail, or wore flip-flops around campus to show off his pedicure. "Or wore an ankle bracelet," added Kerry. Yeah, thanks for that reminder. Anyway, my point is, it's natural for women to like 'bad boys', right?. The worse they are, the better. We just want them to change out of love for us.

And that was when I suddenly realized--I actually didn't want a nice, sensitive, gentle dream guy at all. I didn't want Victor Frankenstein or Albert Einstein. I didn't want a genius, I wanted a monster!

Continued here...

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Book of Hope 1: The Villa Neodati

Everybody knows how the story of Frankenstein was written, right? Well, not everybody, maybe just English Lit majors. The way it happened was that Alfred Lord Byron invited his fellow-poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, Shelley's wife Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly, her stepsister (and also her husband Shelley's mistress) Claire Clarement, their fellow-writer Matthew Lewis, and Byron's own personal doctor, John Polidori, to spend the summer at his house, Villa Diodati, on Lake Geneva, Switzerland. The weather sucked, so they spent a lot of time hanging inside doing drugs and group sex or whatever (sorry dudes,no parallels here!) One stormy night, after listening to Byron dramatically read a scary poem about ghosts, they started talking about the sorry state of ghost stories, or what modern readers would call horror fiction, I guess. So they all sort of dared each other to write one.

Obviously, Mary Shelley's effort got finished and published, but so did Dr. Polidori's, which was called The Vampyre, and was the beginning of vampire fiction. And later Matthew Lewis wrote The Monk, which features demonic possession and Satan flying off with people. Actually, it's my favorite of the three books. So, it was quite a momentous literary evening--though, spooky thought, none of these folks, except Claire Claremont (who was the inspiration for The Aspern Papers), lived to a ripe old age!

Fast-forward to last June, exactly 190 years to the day since that dark and stormy night, to a rented 'villa' on Delaware Street in Rehoboth Beach, DE. The occasion was the annual reunion of me and my three best friends, who try to meet at least once every year, sometimes at New Year's or at the end of August just before school starts. This past year, the only week we could all arrange to get together was in early June. 'We' are me, Kerry, Chris, and Jo, all housemates for two years at UChi, first all together in an apartment in Hyde Park, then a rowhouse in Bronzeville (more about that later). I've sent out invites to this site to all three of them, so I'm pretty pissed that none of them has even left a comment here yet--and until they give me permission to I would feel funny about posting any pix of them, either. So for now, here's just another of me. As you can see, the weather was cold and rainy, so just like for Mary Shelley "it proved a wet, ungenial summer". Actually, it cleared up by the end of the week, and the sun even came out. But too late to do any tanning or body-surfing!

OK, I can't upload any pix of them yet, but maybe I can sort of describe the three of them for you. People usually say that I'm the shy (and the gullible) one, Kerry is the loud one, Chris is the serious one, and Jo is the sarcastic one. Kerry is originally from Savannah, GA, she's basically followed the same exact 'cursus honorum' as me, and is now getting her PhD in Mythology at NYU. Christina is Swedish, and after she got her MA here she went back to Sweden, where she now teaches in a Waldorf school near Malmo (sp?). Jo is an Aussie, and after totally dropping out of her MA English Lit program at UChi, she went back to Perth--and is now in Med school! So, as you can guess, we had a lot of catching up to do our first night at the 'villa'. Which was just as well, because it was freezing, even by Chicago standards. Jo had flown into JFK just that morning and rode down with Kerry (in her red Saturn), and Chris flew into Dulles where I picked her up and drove the two of us to the beach in my (correction, the Mothership's) boring old white Toyota. So as a group we were already half caught up, or is that one-quarter? I can never do the math.

What do you do at the beach when you're dead? There aren't exactly 100 things or whatever to do there, but there are a couple. You can go shopping, for one thing, and you can pig out. So the next night, after we had sushi and tempura at the 'Cultured Pearl', we bought a lot of wine and a bunch of Presto-Logs at Lingo's Market, because the house came with a fireplace, and in spite of the little note the landlady had left taped to its hood ('Do nut open the flue!'), Kerry was, as usual, super-determined to have her way and build a fire. So we did (Sorry about that, lady, whoever and wherever you are). Lucky thing we did, too. Because later that night while we were chilling (literally) and watching TV, a huge storm blew in, lightning, thunder, the works. Actually, the four of us traditionally have a little TV-watching problem together: we almost never do it because we can never agree on any program to watch! That night we compromised on The Birth of Frankenstein on the Learning Channel--and halfway through, the electricity went out. So we lit candles, the remains of which you can see in the pic of me below taken the next morning, and drank the wine and talked around the fire.

What we *did not* do is tell ghost stories! There is a reason for this, and I'll get into that in another post, but for now, just take it on faith that we are all total wimps about anything to do with the supernatural. Well, all of us except Jo, as you will see. So what do four Lit-chicks talk about? Aside from clothes? Books, of course, and more books. And guys. OK, mostly guys! As in how come none of us had any at that particular time in our lives. Which really was kind of weird, I gotta admit, because Chris and Jo always seem to have a BF, and of course, Kerry attracts men like flies. The men in my life, on the other hand, have always been more like ticks or fleas. Anyway, there was the usual "What about...?" and "Why didn't you ever give...a try? He really liked you," and ".... was so hot!" etc, etc. But the upshot of it was that we all realized at the same time we were collectively suffering through a super-dry spell, kind of the opposite of what was going on with the weather outside. So then Kerry suggested that since we were all stuck in the 'Villa Neodati' together, we should all four of us write stories about our 'dream guy', which really was pretty much what Mary Shelley was writing about, psychologically speaking, in Frankenstein. I mean, she was creating a man, one who seemed all fresh and pure and even godlike--and then the 'process reversed itself', which it always seems to do in horror flicks, and he slowly turned a monster, kind of like her husband Percy. Or most men, really. I'm just saying.

Actually, to be fair 'dream guy' isn't really how Kerry put it. "Since none of us have a man, let's invent our own," were her exact words, as I recall. Usually, we just play 'Consequences'. And whenever we play anything, the way it works is: Christina makes the rules, I diligently try to follow them, Kerry pretends she doesn't remember them, and Jo thinks up clever ways to get around them. The rules were that we were all to spend the rest of the week writing a short story/novella (or in my case, War and Peace) about a man. The man we most wanted to spend the rest of our lives with, or in other words, a man who didn't exist. "Yet," said Kerry. But we all agreed, this fictional creation didn't have to be perfect or even particularly awesome ("How can he be, if Hope's creating him?" said Jo)--he just had to be the ultimate guy we were each individually the most into. Our Frankenstein's monster. So I shared with the others the Mothership's own solution to the man problem, which I have dubbed 'The Frankenstein Syndrome' (god, I so pray she NEVER reads this.)

After my dad died, my mother went through a number of gears in her attitudes about dating again. First she was all like, "I'm never under any circumstances going out on a date again--I'm too old" (she was 54). Then, of course, a few of my dad's so-called friends tried their luck with her, and I'm guessing she caved a few times. Then suddenly she's all like, "Honey, show me how to register at Match.com." So, many bad dates and a few embarrassing (and very short) relationships later, the Mothership has invented her very own lifestyle. See, my dad did everything for her, he was the complete package--he took care of her, handled their finances, booked their vacations, found their restaurants, fixed the roof, repaired the cars, did the yard work, etc, etc. Plus he was cute and funny and wonderful and a colonel in the Marine Air Corps. So where's she gonna find all that again? The easy answer is...'never'. But she's only human (well, sometimes), so naturally she needs company, attention, her cars fixed, and whatever. Sex. She can't find the perfect man, so she's created a composite one, a Frankenstein's monster--one guy takes her on cruises, another hangs around fixing up the place on weekends, another owns a landscaping firm, another a car dealership. They're all nice enough guys, the ones I've met anyway, and this arrangement suits them, too. Most of them are like 10 years older than she is, divorced, with kids, so nobody wants to rock the boat and get married again. Instead of one man, she uses the spare parts and the spare time of several. And from what I've seen, this is very typical of folks her age, so the Syndrome is pretty universal. If you're really old, of course. But after I told this story to everyone, they all agreed that they knew someone our age who was already assembling a relationship out of spare parts. In other words, already settling for second-best.

"All the greater reason," said Chris, "To clearly define your goals in a man--and never settle for anything less than what you want! That is a good excuse for this exercise."

That was when Jo said, "And maybe if we create him, he'll come to life."

Continued here...

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Hey, It's Only a Post, Man!

Eek! When I went back to David Brin's blog (http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2006/10/past-shines-light-on-future.html#comments) for code I made the mistake of replying to a post of his comparing the war on terror to Rome's war on the pirates and predicting that it would lead to an evil dictatorship (his POV, not mine). I just pointed out that it was actually a better historical comparison to our war against the Barbary Pirates--and he went totally ballistic! He wrote all kinds of nasty stuff about how I was showing off, then he deleted the first post and wrote a second:

Historical pedantry can be used to illustrate, as I tried to do.

Or to make EXACT (and therefore false) parallels - which is what you accuse me of doing.

Or it can be used to obfuscate and preen, as you have just done.

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm way too shy in person to 'preen' or even enjoy a good argument. When someone gets mad at me it's like everything just flies out of my head and I can't keep my facts straight, even when I know them. I guess his problem is that he lives in Oregon and doesn't get out much. I was in Eugene a few years ago, and that is a very unreal state, you always feel like there are gnomes and trolls lurking in the woods there. So here's what I wrote him back:

Wow, I had no idea you were sort of famous. My friend Carlos says you wrote the book the movie 'The Postman' was made from--but I didn't think it was fair to judge you on the basis of that, so he loaned me the paperback, which I am one-half of the way through. I thought I'd read it in case I am being insulted by somebody like Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov ;) Being called names can be sexy sometimes--but only when the right person is doing it. Not that it would work with Arthur C. Clarke.

In the meantime, I gotta be honest with you..I'm not really sure what there is on this site that's appropriate for putting into a 'blook', as you say you are going to. Don't people pay for those? As I understand it, a blook is either a narrative like a novel, or a non-fiction series like 'Demon Wife' in Japan--either way, it seems to me that it's about people. And a story. In fact, I bet I could write a blook myself, and I've just this minute decided I will on my own blog site! Thanks for giving me the idea!

I double-dare you to come 'have a blook' sometime ;)

That's right, I'm going to tell my story! I've been thinking about writing down all the weird and amazing things that happened to me in Finland last summer anyway, but I guess I didn't really know how to structure it. And no one will believe it anyway, I guess...even I still don't, actually. But setting it all down here is the perfect solution (not that anybody's reading this--yet!) So I'll start tomorrow, when my class schedule is less crazy!

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Banner Day

Thanks to Carlos at work, I finally figured out how to upload a banner jpeg onto my new blogsite! The pic, for those of you who might be wondering about it, is a detail from my very fave painting, The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke by Richard Dadd, who spent most of his life inside an insane asylum after murdering his own dad. He was totally obsessed with it in a lot of his paintings–-check out the axe in this one? ;)

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Yay! My very first post!

This is so neat! Except now I've done it I can't think of anything to say really. Just that I'm still apartment-hunting so I can live closer to my new job--and oh yeah, move out of the Mothership, because she is so driving me crazy! But that's her job, right?

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