Friday, January 29, 2010

Vehicular Musings

I drive a 1993 Chevy S-10 pickup. I'm a pickup kinda person anyway....I frequently have large and unexpected things to tote around, and very few humans. Plus, I have a pickup person personality. You can sort of tell what kind of person a person is by what kind of car they buy, unless they're so poor they buy any $500 vehicle that runs. That tells you something too, but more about their checkbook than their psyche.

Camry people are sensible and secretly a little self-indulgent, but embarrassed by it.  SUV people?  It depends. Dodge Caravan? Lots of kids, no money. Lexus SUV? One kid, $1000 stroller, lots of money. Honda Passport? 2 kids, one at Montessori preschool, the other plays T-ball. Badly.

Cameros/Corvettes/two-seaters of any kind? Assholes. Although the exception is possibly the Honda Del Sol, owned by middle-aged people who "never got anything fun, dammit, and now I want something fun for the first time in my whole life!"

Lori drives a Sebring convertible that used to be showy-offy, but now looks a little bedraggled, like a 50 year old stripper clinging to her job at the dive bar across the street from the explosives factory. It's become an ongoing source of frustration for her. It's main computer has gone rogue and has taken over the car ("I can't do that, Dave."), the peeling chrome plating on the wheels tends to let the air out of the times at inopportune moments, and recently it has begun to spontaneously jettison it's bodily fluids. Sometimes. And then not for a few months. And then again for a while.

It's next on our list of things to get rid of, right after the two-gallon water heater.

My truck is a lot like me, I think. It used to look a lot better when it was younger, but it still gets up and goes to work every damn day but it bitches about it the entire time. It's one of those vehicles nobody ever borrows because of the list of tricks required to make it go, and then keep it going, which currently looks like this:

1. The starter is dead. Like, since last July. So I park it on an incline and when I want to start it, I let it roll, put it in second gear, and pop the clutch. I'm so good at this I can start it on a two degree pitch. My criteria for deciding where to go is whether it has I hill I can park on. Wal-Mart? Hill...okay to shut it off.. Kroger? No hill, so unless I'm just running in for one thing and can leave it

2. The power steering leaks fluid like crazy, so sometimes it works,and sometimes it works but it moans like the aforementioned 50 year old stripper rolling out of bed in the morning after a double-shift of pole dancing, and sometimes it's an excellent arm-and-pec workout.

3. There's a large-ish rust hole in the corner of the floorboard that gets a little nippy on those 20 degree nights, because:

4. The heater works, but the blower doesn't. Which is fine at 60 miles per hour, as it makes it's own air movement with the vortexing from the hole.

But it always starts and it always goes, I've never hit a deer with it nor put it in a ditch, and it cost me $1500 three years ago and it's still running 100,000 miles later. Sure, it's showing some age and rough living, but hey...I own a mirror. Time hasn't exactly been my best friend either. And if it needs a little extra lube? Well...when you get to be a certain age...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Danger is my Middle Name

Who just ran out of gas in the gas station parking lot??

Thank the Prime Mover for manual transmission. At least when a person runs out of gas 20 feet from the pump that person can coast in. Not that I know a person dumb enough to do that. But I've read about it. In books. Books about stupid people. Of which I'm not one.

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Before the Seed There Comes the Thought of Bloom.

It's the last week of January. It's been cold and rainy for maybe two months. The dogs need exercise, I need exercise. Even eating Heath Bars and drinking beer are beginning to lose their allure.

But then...?

Treasury of Gardening arrived from It's a bible-sized hardcover tome with suggestions and instructions for planting and landscaping, and orgasm-producing photos of lawns and gardens and flowers and shrubs and annuals and perennials.

So now I'm getting my Springtime yard fantasy in order. Only two more months until Spring officially arrives.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Coming Out, Part 3. The Family

I have an odd fractured family and we hardly ever talk to each other. Not, I think, because of any animosity, but mostly due to ennui and out-of-sight, out-of -mindedness. The exception to that for much of my life has been my mother. She's sort of a willful, bitchy know-it-all, as mothers (including me, I'm sure) tend to be. She's also got some mental health issues that cause her to drop into my lap periodically with no notice and stay for a few years and require at least some casual supervision.

For a long time she lived 100 feet away in a trailer we'd put on our property. After a few years we moved a couple of miles down the road and she stayed in the trailer, but she would come over every day and watch the kids after school until I got home. Then I'd cook supper for all of us and she'd go home again. It was a nice saved me a fortune in childcare and we had just enough interaction to be enjoyable but not so much that we'd have to kill each other.

My mother had taken up religion in a BIG way in middle-age. She was Jesusing a couple of evenings a week because she couldn't get enough Jesus on Sunday* alone, and she was also getting an extra Jesus fix on Christian television all week long. Sometimes when she was watching the kids I'd hear one or the other say, "Oh, Gammy! Do we have to watch the Jesus show?  I hate the Jesus show!"

I'm not sure what she thought was happening when Carol moved in, but we were observing a strict "don't ask, don't tell" policy. I was nervous about how she would react in light of her religious zeal, but at the same time, Carol was obviously living with me and we weren't trying to hide the relationship.  My solution was just to set another place at the table and not mention it. It worked great for a couple of months.

Carol and I planned a long weekend in Panama City, Florida during the semester break after we'd been living together for a few months, and my mom agreed to watch the kids. I stocked the fridge for her, and we had cable tv, which gave her access to even more Jesus channels and she was a happy little Holy Roller.

We went to Florida and had a great mini-holiday. We got home early Sunday evening and I hugged the kids and asked my mom how it went. "Fine.," she said tersely, then picked up her stuff and quickly hurried out the door.

"What's up with her?", I asked the kids. They told me they didn't know, she'd been that way all day. It seemed weird, but I thought maybe she had something of her own going on and I just sort of blew it off.

Later that evening when we were getting ready for bed, I realized that she had gone through a wooden box on my nightstand and read a pile of fairly steamy love letters from Carol, and she had left them sitting out on the bed.  I said, "Uh-oh. Now she'll be in therapy for the rest of her life! That'll teach her to stay out of my stuff."

Since I was between semesters, mom didn't come watch the kids for the next few days and I didn't see her. But I had agreed to take her to the oral surgeon at the end of the week for a procedure that would leave her doped up enough that she wouldn't be able to drive herself home afterwards.

I picked her up first thing in the morning, and she was quiet in the car. We got to the dentist's and she went in for her procedure while I waited outside in the waiting room with a book. Finally a hygenist brought my boneless mother back to the waiting room and explained that she'd required some extra anesthetic, so she was pretty loopy. I took her and her post-op instructions and prescriptions out to the car and poured her into the passenger seat, where she promptly fell asleep. She was sleeping so soundly that I thought I was safe stopping at the drugstore to fill her prescriptions.

When I got back in the car, she surprised me by being awake...sort of. She rolled her head sideways towards me and spoke in a slurred mumble, "You know...iss alrigh' wi' me if you're a....ho...ho...ho-mo-sek-shul." Then her head rolled back  and she was sleep again.

Huh. Well.

I took her back to my house and put her to bed in Katie's bed, and she slept all day. When she woke up, she was popping pain pills and drinking her tea lukewarm, but she was pretty much back to normal. She stayed and drank tea at the kitchen table while we ate supper, and afterwards, when the kids went to watch tv, she said, "You know, this is the best relationship you've ever had. I'm glad you found each other."

This is exactly the reason I never shot her for all the other misery she caused me later.

We never have really talked much about Teh Gay...I can't see much of a reason to. I yam what I yam, in the words of the philosopher Popeye. I realized while writing this that I rarely made the announcement of gayness, except to my friends who didn't live close by. Otherwise it never even occurs to me that I might need to seek approval or permission or whatever else people seek. And it's not like it's a secret to the people I meet now. Look at me. I'm such a dyke. Duh.

It also occurred to me now that it might have been bad manners to not make a formal announcement. This is the first time I've had that thought, so it might require another minute or two of thinking.

*She changed churches soon after that. I asked her why, since she loved her church. She told me that when her church elders heard I was gay, they told her she would have to shun me. She quit her church on the spot.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Musical Interlude

One of the great things about living with Ev is that, every so often when I get in my car to go somewhere after she's been driving it, something wonderful and unexpected comes out of my stereo. Sometimes it's something I've never heard, sometimes it's a new rendition of something I have, and often it's something I've forgotten I loved. Tonight was sort of a jackpot.

I got in my car to run errands and I couldn't find my usual NPR station. After flipping up and down the dial a couple of times and finding only the Jesus stations, I punched the input button and a CD that's been in there for a little while started playing. We've had it on while we did other things, but I hadn't paid a whole lot of attention to it, and cut 11 wasn't really doing a lot for me, so I hit the "next" button and heard ... really heard ... an old standard sung by Rosanne Cash, and then remembered Ev telling me the story of her latest album, "The List" ...

"When I was 18, I was on the road with my dad. One day, we were sitting in the tour bus, talking about songs, and he mentioned a song, and I said, "I don’t know that one." He mentioned another one, and I said, "I don’t know that one, either." Then he started to get alarmed, so he spent the rest of the day making a list on a legal pad, and at the top he put "100 Essential Country Songs." And he handed it to me and he said, "This is your education."

‘It just didn’t interest me," she says. "I learned all the songs, but then I set on my own course as a songwriter, and set about separating myself from my parents, as you do when you’re young."

The year was 1973 and it took her a little over three decades, and brain surgery that put an end to her songwriting for over a year, to get back to those "essential country songs."

I guess I've always known this song, but never fully appreciated it before. I love the way the chorus slowly climbs less than an octave in whole steps up and half steps back, like a country waltz, combined with a unique rhyme scheme in the lyrics that just rocks my socks off. Have a listen. You'll be happy.

Coming Out, Part 2. The Rest of the World

When last we left our heroine:

Okay...not so much. No being tied to the railroad tracks or carried away by Snidely Whiplash's sister, Snooty Whiplash. Not that Snooty would have talked to me anyway.  I'm not very cool.

So...coming out to the rest of the world.

Remember I'd been living for years in a small town in Nowhere, IL. My lesbian options were slim. After The Best Ex-Husband Ever and I got divorced, I spent some time alone. I didn't have a clue where actual lesbians were to be found in Nowhere, but it was clear there were none in Alto Pass. Luckily two things fell into my path: the Internet and the Forest Service.

The Internet gave me access to message boards full of lesbians who were smart and kind and supportive. I found a community of woman to talk about life with who could understand what I was going through and talk about it without being judgmental (Compare that to the AOL boards of the last few years. Shocking, eh?)

I fell into my Forest Service job accidentally. I had a friend who worked for the Forest Service and after my divorce I was working at a crappy student apartment complex in Carbondale, showing apartments, answering the phones, and hauling away the detritus of students who skipped out on their rent. I hated the job, but it paid every week.

My friend Kelly worked for the Forest Service Ranger District in Jonesboro, IL and she thought she could get me on for the summer because of my Biology degree. Nevermind it was a microbiology degree, like so many jobs, the degree was just to get you through the door. I got hired as a summer tech and found the coolest thing ever: the Forest Service is lousy with lesbians! You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a lesbian in a sporty green uniform. It was like a smorgasbord of healthy, tanned, outdoorsy dykes with pickup trucks, chainsaws, steel toed boots and hardhats. Dykes who liked power tools and backhoes and firefighting and all the finer things in life. It was dyke heaven, dyke mecca.  It was dyketastic!

That is, of course, where I found my first girlfriend. She wasn't really much of a girlfriend anyway, she was more like a lesbian spirit guide. She introduced me to lesbians culture and more importantly, to lesbian sex. And what a brilliant idea that was!. If someone could bottle it and sell by the half ounce, they'd be rich in a week. 

She was older than me and farther up the F.S. chain of command, but I was a lot hotter back then, so it sort of evened itself out on the power scale. She got five extra points for income and five more for experience, but I got ten for hotness.

I met my first live-in girlfriend when I went back to school for a graduate degree after I figured out that no one could raise three kids on $8 an hour. I courted her with my Internet access, my keen grasp of calc-based Physics and my excellent Forest Service tan, and in short order she moved in with me.  At this point, two girlfriends and three years down the road, I was still not out. That is, until the day that my neighbor Molly came to the door. Katie answered it. and said, "My mommy can't come to the door right now. She's taking a nap with Carol."  I looked over at Carol and said, "Well...we're out."

It's a small town. By the time I put my pants on, there wasn't anyone over 10 years old within a five mile radius that didn't know I was a lesbian.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

And now for something completely different ...

We take a break from teh Gay to bring you yet another political rant, because ranting about what's happening in the country is about all the blogging I'm fit for these days. Nothing seems very funny anymore.

I just stumbled across yet another comment on yet another political blog whining that everyone is trying to blame Bush for the mess we're in. The whiner noted that the current administration has spent umpty trillion dollars "all on its own" which can't, of course, be laid at the feet of Bush.

Except that it can, and unless you're a complete idiot you already know that.

Here's an analogy, because I love analogies and they work fairly well when some people have to be hit over the head to grasp a simple concept.

Let's say there's a house on the market. That house is 200 years old. It's had a lot of owners and residents in that 200 years. Some of them have been good caretakers (as evidenced by the fact that it's still standing) and others have been less good. Let's assume the owners before last left the house in really good shape when they turned it over to the last jokers, who completely sucked. The recently evicted folks lived in it for nearly a decade (in which a lot can go wrong with a 200-year-old house if you aren't careful) and they let it go completely to hell. Now the roof leaks, the pipes leak, there's water damage everywhere you look, termites and carpenter ants have made a good start on destroying the foundation ... in short, these assholes generally let it go to rack and ruin before they went into foreclosure, and then they tore out the appliances on their way out. Along comes a new family who can see that the house has a lot of problems, but it has "good bones" and it's worth saving, so they go ahead and buy it. They not only have to pay off the old debt the last owners left behind, but they're going to have to put new money into bringing it back to livable conditions. (A side benefit of this, by the way, is that it pleases the neighbors to no longer have to look out their windows and curse the sonofabitch who last lived there.) But livable isn't really enough, and doing actual restoration takes a fuckload more money. So, whose fault is it that the house has become a money pit? I submit that it's the fault of the previous owners, not the ones who took it on as a rehab project.

To add insult to injury, let's suppose that the previous owners (and their friends who helped trash it) continue to hang around the neighborhood complaining about the eyesore and the length of time it's taking to restore it and trying to convince the neighborhood folks that the damage to the house didn't happen on their watch and is really the fault of the new people. You'd have to be a real moron to buy that story, wouldn't you? Especially if you'd been living there watching it happen? Well, there are a lot of morons in this country.

Coming Out, Part 1

I was up until the wee hours of the morning talking with an old friend last night, comparing coming out stories.  She, like me, was an "LLL", or late-in-life lesbian.

Coming out, obviously, is a huge deal fraught with emotional baggage and fear of rejection for everyone who does it. For grown-up women with marriages and children and grown-up lives tightly intertwined with other lives, it's tricky and complicated and messy. It's hard on your family, and it's hard on your self-esteem.

Every gay person I've ever known has the coming out moment indelibly stamped in their mind.  It's right up there with "where were you when the Twin Towers fell"?
No one ever forgets telling the person they most worry will disappove. For a lot of people, that means telling yourself.

There are three levels of coming out:
1) When you recognize your own gayness.
2) When you come out to your family.
3) When you come out to the rest of the world.

I had my gay epiphany later in life.  I think I never knew any out lesbians growing up, and I chalked up my huge childhood crushes on women to just one more sign of weirdness. I think I would have married my fifth grade teacher if I could have. But then, she was extraordinarily hot. I'll bet 90% of the class would have married her, all except for maybe that girl with the white sweater with the pearl buttons. What was up with her? Why didn't she sweat??

By the time I was in my 20's I had sort of decided that I was an emotional cripple and couldn't feel love like other people talked about being in love. By then I was married to a wonderful guy who my friends now call The Best Ex-Husband Ever, and Lori and I refer to as "our ex-husband."

I spent my early adulthood never being alone with my head...I had kids and college and a job and friends and a million other things to keep me busy.  Looking back, of course, it makes sense to have avoiding too much introspection. It was scary and dangerous for me inside the deep depths of my psyche.  But one weekend the ex-husband took the kids camping with his brother and I was alone. All weekend.

And what do other people do with a quiet weekend alone?  Read? Nap? Take long walks? I spent mine having an existential crisis. It took me about 6 hours alone in a house with no distractions to realize that I was a lesbian, and the next 42 to figure out what to do with that information.

My answer was...nothing. This was so much not a part of my plan. I liked my life, I liked the husband, I had 3 small kids and I wasn't ready or able to make any big life changing leaps. So I spent as much time exploring it as I could, then put The Gay back in the closet. I remember feeling shaky when they got back, and wondering if I looked as crazy as I felt.

But I could do it.  I'd spent 25 or so years pursuing a life of self-deception...I'd had a bad weekend of internal honesty, but I wasn't going to let that interfere with my life. And aside from the emotional cripple part , I was an excellent mother. A lousy wife perhaps, I did as good job as I could have under the circumstances.  Eventually our marriage fell apart because in the world with a marriage and three kids is hard enough, but a marriage, three kids, and a HUGE life-altering existential secret? Too much. Even for The Best Ex-Husband Ever.

Next: Part 2. Coming out to the rest of the world.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pup Help?

We've been feeding our dogs Diamond brand dog food for the last couple of months. It's supposed to be a high quality, decently priced food, but they have had ungodly bad gas since they've been on it. I mean, the kind that make you jump up from your chair and run around the house to see who crapped on the floor. Cooper is middle-aged and has lousy digestion so I could chalk it up to her bad plumbing, but even Pickle has had digestive woe on this food and she's only a year old.

So...can anyone recommend another decently priced high quality dog food with a hypoallergic version for goofy-looking sensitive doggies?

I'm From the Government. I'm Here to Help.

Why exactly do the Democrats have to wait until Scott Brown arrives in Washington to get back to the pressing business of doing nothing? Can't the earnest pursuit of no meaningful legislation continue while Brown loads his backpack, futon and mini-fridge into the back of his pickup and heads down I-95 to his first week at Senator sleepaway camp?

The Senate should be able to spend this week doing nothing with a 59-40 Democratic majority and then when Senator-elect Brown arrives next week they can seamlessly transition to doing nothing with a 59-41 majority. That seems like it would be more efficient use of government resources and in this weak economy, efficiency is the key.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


So the Mormon church has been exposed financing the Prop 8 anti-gay marriage campaign and trying to cover up it's involvement. And Cindy McCain hearts the gay. It's been all gay all day in the news today and I want to join in the fun while I drink my coffee.

One of the most interesting things about the Prop 8 trial is all the machinations that went into passing it in the first place. Even if I were to buy the Prop 8 premise that marriage inequality is the right policy because the majority of Americans are in favor of it, it's clear that the will of the people has been driven by a sophisticated advertising campaign. And while I appreciate the efforts of fair-minded people like Cindy and Meghan McCain, their paltry efforts can't compete in the spin battle with behemoths like the Mormon and Catholic Churches.

That's offensive on two levels. First, the churches are asking their members to turn their backs on their gay sons and daughters and friends and coworkers and keep us in a separate plane, living among, but not quite equal to, our friends and relatives. That's caused more than a little cognitive dissonance for straight people who clearly see the injustice for what it is.

Secondly those churches continue to enjoy their tax-exempt status in spite of the their involvement in political activity. They are clearly and demonstrably engaged in the financing of candidates, referendums, and "grassroots" organizations, as well as passing out "voter guides" on specific campaigns and speaking from the pulpit on political issues. Their 510(c)(3) status requires churches to abstain from political activity in exchange for preventing government involvement in their church affairs.

Of course if they want to be political they are more than welcome to give up their tax exemption and dive into the fray with the rest of us. But as long as they are receiving taxpayer support for their spiritual mission, they have to stay out of our secular political scrum.

So WTF Feds? Now that you have actual tangible evidence of illegal Mormon and Catholic political activity in the United States, isn't it time to get busy revoking their tax exempt status? Could it be any clearer? Do we need to wait for yard signs showing Brigham Young and the Pope arm in arm, saying "God Hates Gays, Vote Yes on Prop 8"?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


With another 12 hours worth of perspective behind me, the Democratic meltdown in Massachusetts looks like the Democrat failure in health care reform all over again: a massive failure of willingness on the part of elected Democrats to stand by progressive values.

The Dems had a chance to come roaring out of the gate in 2009 and make serious headway on Progressive issues. They should have scaled back the wars, enacted some regulatory oversight on the banking and insurance industry. repealed DADT and DOMA, and created meaningful health care reform legislation. That's what they promised to do, and that's exactly what we elected them to do. We gave them a Democratic president, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the largest House majority in 20 years, and a mandate for change. We were very clear and cohesive for the first time in decades. We said "Get in there and take back our moral standing in the world and repair the damage done by the Bush Administration."

And instead, they wasted the entire year and all that momentum shuckin' and jivin' to the Republican tune, begging and whining for bipartisanship until their fillibuster-proof majority was gone.

All that compromise has accomplished exactly nothing except that they managed to give away Ted Kennedy's seat to a Republican who vows to oppose health care reform. Ted Kennedy, who spent the last 40 years promoting meaningful health care reform. That Ted Kennedy.

So today while the Dems are all wringing their hands about the Massachusetts Senate seat and blaming each other, and the media is crowing about the voter's rejection of liberal values, I'm wondering why the Dems never did figure out what we wanted from them. Could we have made it any clearer?

Health care reform is essentially gone from the health care bill. It's lost any chance to control the insurance companies with competition from a public option, but does give them millions more customers by mandating coverage. We're still studying DADT, in spite of the zillions of reports and top military officials urging Obama to dump it. We're spending more money on the unwinnable war in Afghanistan. Oh...and Obama has declared his opposition to marriage rights for gay couples and his Justice Department is still filing legal briefs in support of marriage inequality in the courts.


Dems, voters are still looking for change. You've pissed away your mandate, but now at least you've got someone to blame for your complete absence of political will. Remember this moment. This is the day you lost both the White House and the Congress again for the next decade. Welcome back to the wilderness. It should look very familiar.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Prop 8 supporters, Scott Brown voters, mealy-mouthed Democratic health care weenies, and Republican fucktards of every stripe:

You can have it. I give up. Just don't come crying to me later because you thought it would be more fun. When they said they were taking back the country, they didn't actually mean for you Teabaggers, white-trash Republicans, Dittoheads, and protectors of sanctity. They actually meant that you would be protecting it from us, and they would be cashing the checks.

We'll still be here, unmarried and uninsured, when you're done with our country. Just please take out the trash when you leave.

Pride Goeth. But Funnel Cake Stayeth Forever.

How often do I ever post twice in the same day? Never-ish? But I wanted to write this down before I forgot. I read a post about Gay Pride in one of my favorite blogs, Be Gay About It.

I don't dispute anyone else's experience, but here's mine.

I know that among some of our gay friends this will put me squarely in the company of Hitler and Pontious Pilate. I also understand that I may sound like the love child of an unholy union between Roseanne Roseanadana and Andy Rooney.

I don't get gay pride.

Gay pride is right up there with blue-eyed pride, short pride, and funny hair pride. Pride, IMO, should be reserved for things a person actually does. I'm proud of my college education because I achieved it under the influence of three children and one brain injury. I'm proud of my wonderful kids, because I believe I had a hand in their wonderfulness.

I'm not particularly proud of my gayness. I'm not unproud either. It's merely a fact of my being. I didn't do anything to cause it and so I can't take credit for it. I like it, but I'm not any more likely to hang a Gay Pride banner off my house than I am a Right-Handed Presbyopic Pride banner.

I like a nice parade and a street party, and I love any event that causes funnel cakes to happen, so I can appreciate a Gay Pride festival. And gay people are generally fun, in a neurotic, politically correct, every-moment-is-a-potential-diversity-teaching-moment kind of a way. But a nice VultureFest or Pancake Day is just as meaningful as a Gay Pride day...unless a person is hunting her next girlfriend. In that case she's much more likely to find her at Gay Pride Day than at Pancake Day.

In Which I Find a Reader in an Odd Place

Hi, DMV Lady. Thanks for your help today.

Now that I know you're here, it's going to be your responsibility to let me know if we get any of the Cairo details wrong. Oh, and in case it'll get me any perks with the State, I just want to say: I Heart Illinois.

(Hey, it worked for George Ryan. A girl can dream, can't she?)

Friday, January 15, 2010

When Sesame Street Becomes A Communist Plot

The Prop 8 folks made a compelling case for discrimination this week, and provided further proof that Barney hates America:

In cross-examination, Protect Marriage lawyer David Thompson labeled Lamb a "committed liberal," citing his membership in such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women, and his financial contributions to the Public Broadcasting System.

In Which We Keep a Child, but Lose a Cat

It's been a challenging couple of weeks around here. First we had the magical exploding girlfriend with the blood pressure of 210/110 and then Katie tried to put her head through her windshield.

Thankfully, both of these potential disasters have turned out okay...Lori got on blood pressure meds and has brought her b.p. down to a sedate 125/70 and Katie's Rubinas Head of Steel turned the windshield to mush and not the other way around.

So here's the story:

Katie's been having her own trying week. She was in Tucson visiting friends over the winter break and one of them was in a fatal car accident. She stayed over for the funeral, then arrived here on Wednesday to pick up her cat and a spare...we're generous that way.

We left her here Wednesday afternoon while we went to Lori's doctor appointment. She finished eating, gathered her stuff and her cats, and headed north for her apartment in Carbondale.

We were sitting in the waiting room at the rural health clinic when I got a call from Katie, telling me she'd been in an accident and she was being taken by ambulance to Union County hospital. I asked her if she was okay and she said there was blood on her face and her head hurt.

She was pretty upset and I could hear the EMTs in the background, so I told her I'd meet her at the hospital. She said, "Mom...I've got the cats." Crap. I told her I'd still meet her at the hospital, then head back and pick up the cats from the truck.

The clinic is next door to the hospital, at the bottom of a steep hill. So I left Lori and ran up the hill. I went to the E.R. and was filling out the paperwork for Katie when a teenage girl came into the waiting room and said, "Uh, we were just at an accident by Pizza Hut and we have these cats...?"

I raised my hand. "That would be me. She's my daughter." The girl and her mother had been in the intersection when Katie had her accident and had jumped out of their car to help. Katie's driver side door had come to rest up against the truck she'd hit and the passenger door was caved in and couldn't open. The mother made soothing mother noises at Katie, then ripped the passenger door off it's hinges like a big-haired Jaws of Life. She said, " have cats. Don't worry, honey...we'll take care of them."

And they did. They brought the cats to me. I transferred Apa to my car just fine, but underestimated Porch's hysteria and let her claw her way out of my arms. We hunted around for her for a while, but she was gone. I still feel crappy about that.

I ran back up the hill to meet Katie's ambulance. They'd just arrived, and the receptionist said, "She's being triaged. Take a seat and they'll call you in a few minutes." I was thinking, Oh, don't want to make me go all Mommy on you. You'd better open the damn door, but just then they called me in. I hurried into Katie's room. She was conscious, but shaky. I petted her head and held her arm and looked her over for signs of overt damage.

She actually looked better than I expected. Her face and the front of her head were caked with dried blood and she was strapped to a backboard, but there were no bones sticking out anywhere and she still had both eyes, one nose, and a mouthful of teeth. The rest of her was wrapped in blankets, but the nurse assured me that they were all there too. She told me she'd hit her head on the windshield and broken a bottom tooth, but no other damage was apparent.

We talked while the nurse cleaned up her head wound, and finally we were both calm enough to joke a little and blow off some of the fear. She told me what had happened. She'd been driving northbound and was going through an intersection with a green light and a truck pulling a horse trailer that was travelling southbound had turned left in front of her. She was worried about whether any horses had been injured. The EMT told her that there was a cow in the trailer, not horse, and the cow was unhurt and not even particularly concerned.

By this time Lori was there. We hung around for a couple of hours while she was cleaned and x-ray and shot full of drugs, and then finally we were able to take her home. She'll be spending a couple of days with us to rest and heal and have someone change her bandages and make jokes with. We're extremely grateful and relieved that she's going to be okay. I credit her rock-like Rubinas head.

Yesterday I spoke with the other driver's insurance agent and she said he'd been ticketed and they weren't going to dispute the claim. There would be an adjuster at the wrecking yard on Friday to assess the damage and they'd cut Katie a check within a week. We went to clean out the truck yesterday afternoon and marvelled at the damage. The front end was shoved a foot back, and the windshield was shattered and bowed out at the point where her forehead had made contact with it. Yikes. It could have been so, so much worse.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Tribute of Sorts

I have this really, really long commute which, I know, is nothing next to you urban commuters. But for us out here in Nowhere, driving an hour to your job is a really, really long way. I like it though; it gives me time to gear up for and wind down from my job.

I enjoy the time: I listen to NPR or to my faux iPod, and sometimes I just listen to the quiet and let my mind wander. And today on my way home I was thinking about this:

Long ago in a land about 50 miles up the road, I discovered the Internets. It was an expensive discovery...$2.99/hour for AOL dial-up, plus long distance charges to Carbondale to connect. But my crappy overpriced AOL connection brought a whole community of lesbians into my life, which was something I would never have experienced in Alto Pass, IL, pop. 350, of whom at least 250 were over 80 years old.

My snazzy AOL dial-up connection was instrumental in the wooing of my first live-in girlfriend. We were grad students together at SIU and she would come over to do research on my computer...oh, and make out. Eventually we were able to dispense with the $2.99/hr-plus-long-distance-charges-to-Carbondale dating, move in together, and get on with the making out in earnest. That saved me a fortune.

Anyway, when I first realized that the Internet was lousy with lesbians it was an epiphany. Coming out had been hard for me, a single mommy in a small town with no other gay people that I knew of. Lesbian chat rooms and lesbian message boards made me swoon with the realization that I was a part of a larger community. I made a lot of online friends and a few real live friends. I met some people, I slept with a few of them (but not all, in spite of what you've heard), and I enjoyed being part of this group of smart, funny, supportive women.

That was back in the 1990s, when PCs weren't yet in every home and before every idiot with a cell phone could send pictures of their genitalia whizzing around the earth at a gazillion megafucks an hour. Back then, computers were mostly still in the hands of people who could spell with real words.

By the beginning of the 21st century, however, computers were in every home, and the chat rooms and message boards began to fill up with, well...morons. People devoted to proving Godwin's Law:

(From Wikipedia)

Godwin's Law "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."

Chat rooms and message boards were still places where nice people and interesting conversations could be found, but they were increasingly home to trolls and nutbags.

Enter Webbie.

In the beginning, before I even knew Lori, Webbie was Lori's own personal Internet stalker. I was vaguely aware of her and her story...she had apparently had some sort of medical mishap that had caused her some brain damage and left her physically crippled and a little crazy, with very poor impulse control. Because the denizens of the AOL message boards were an incestuous community, everyone knew someone who knew someone in real life. Thus, I got the lowdown on Webbie. She was a Texan named was Lisa Tr**sd*ll, who had once been an attractive, athletic young woman before some sort of brain injury had left her partially paralyzed and more than a little crazy. I'd seen her crazy in action; she had a pattern of attaching herself to the smartest people on every message board and hounding them with nastiness and paranoid accusations until they threw up their hands, left AOL, and created private message boards elsewhere. That was bad for AOL, but good for the rest of us. Those refugees created communities filled with wonderful, disparate groups whose only common trait was that they'd been stalked by Webbie. Over time the origins of the groups faded, and they just became groups of friends.

I was not very involved in online groups at that point. During that period of my life I was raising small children, moving around the country with my military girlfriend, and going to school for my Med Tech degree. I was still reading the message boards, but not very frequently. After my breakup with the military girlfriend I had a chance meeting with Lori which ultimately blossomed into what we affectionately call The Love That Won't Shut Up.

In addition to discovering the woman who was to become my life partner and best friend, I also acquired her stalker. Now the deranged Texan proved her ability to multitask by stalking us both. She trolled, she flamed, she stealthed, and she made us the center of her universe. For. Years. Wither we goest, so goeth Webbie. Everywhere. Message boards, chat rooms, name it and she was there with us, with bells on.

Finally, even we, the tireless Kwevs, gave up. After 12 years on AOL message boards, we threw in the towel, deleted AOL from our computers and rode off into the sunset to our other (private) communities. I thought our Webbie years were finally behind us.

Until now. She's ba-a-a-c-k.

So all that history was just to bring me to this one point:

Why? What in the world could we possibly have that draws her to us after all these years?
Youth and beauty? Not so much anymore.
Wealth? Not hardly.
Lively banter? Maybe...that's pretty much what we do best. And it's free, so that's a plus. But really...I don't delude myself by thinking a clever turn of phrase can't be found elsewhere. Perhaps even in Texas.

So today on my way home, I was thinking about the phenomenon that is Webbie and her incredible stamina. She has toted around her festering dungheap of irrational nonspecific hatred for more than a decade. The object of her obsession has changed more than a dozen times in the last 12 years, but the intensity of her wrathful focus has never wavered. And oddly, perversely, I have to sort of admire that. Say what you will about Webbie, she's not a quitter.

So, Webbie...this is my tribute to you. You may be crazy, but I've grown accustomed to your particular techniques in exercising it, and like a cross between a rottweiler and a chihuahua, your slobbering full-throated growls and incessent shrill yapping have become the background music to our history together. You are our Kodak commercial: you're the Times of Our Lives.

And oddly, I feel a pang of nostalgia. I've missed you.

P.S. We're on Facebook. Friend me, okay?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Winter in Cairo

I wish I'd had the camera with me this morning.

At least once a week we take a ten mile drive across the bridge over the Ohio River to buy gas and kerosene in the pretty little town of Wickliffe, Kentucky. Wickliffe overlooks the Mississippi River about two miles south of its confluence with the Ohio. Cairo sits right at that confluence, which gives us a bird's eye view of the very cool phenomenon that occurs when the waters of the two rivers meet.

Generally what you see is a distinct line where the brown water of the Mississippi runs smack-dab into the blue-green water of the Ohio before they combine and head for New Orleans. That dark green patch of town hugging the shoreline of the Ohio is Cairo. Pretty view, huh?

It's so pretty, in fact, that whatever else we happen to be talking about, it's become part of our driving-to-Kentucky ritual for one or the other of us to spontaneously declare our love for this place every single time we get to about the middle of the bridge, at the spot where the view is maximized. Either it's the water or the barges or the foliage (or the goofballs who somehow managed to drive their camo-clad trucks out into the river before it rose and left them stranded on a little island), but every trip in every season has had something about it that's made us stop in mid-conversation to congratulate each other on having the excellent sense and good fortune to be living here.

Of all the seasons, winter in Southern Illinois is not generally the prettiest. We're too far south to get big drifty winter wonderlands of snow, so we mostly get dead trees (which have their own sort of stark beauty), but we did get some snow this week and the sub-zero temperatures have kept most of it on the ground. So imagine this scene covered in snow, and imagine the Mississippi River looking like a big white frozen slushie being poured into the clear blue Ohio River. Now imagine intrepid little pilot boats mightily pushing their strings of barges up river through the ice. That was our view this morning.

I think I'll try to get down to Fort Defiance tomorrow (that point of land poking out into the exact spot where the rivers meet in the photo) and climb the tower to get a picture.