Where's the village?

Monday, February 26, 2007

More hearting of Neil Gaiman

That man. That boy, more like. In so many ways, Neil Gaiman comes across in his writing as someone who decided quite soberly and deliberately to Not Grow Up. And I'm loving that choice of his. At times, but not too often, his literary writing is too dark and twisted for me, but I can respect it and even see a reflection of my own dark and twisted side (which isn't allowed to see the light of day, but stirs and mumbles at times when I read Neil, or some Harlan Ellison for that matter). Which is probably why it makes me uncomfortable. But for the most part I really enjoy his stuff. American Gods sucked me in from beginning to end. And in Good Omens, the way he balanced out the almost-too-goofiness of Pratchett? Gold, people. But that's neither here nor there, nor why I'm writing this entry.

What I specially love about Neil Gaiman is his blog. The writing on his blog. Some people have a beautiful, lyrical, almost poetic writing style which carries you along like a leaf on a lazy river, and you get lost in the music of it. And I love writing like that. But you can't really hear anyone speaking like that in everyday life. Neil's writing, at least on his blog (or journal, as he calls it), is like your favorite smart-and-savvy friend plopping down on the coffee shop couch next to you and just chatting about this and that for 3 or 4 hours that feel like 3 or 4 minutes.

He's at once irreverent and respectful. Playful and direct. He writes what's on his mind, but he does it cleanly and clearly. He has super cool links (like this one) and he actually answers his fan mail. And now and then, some of that delightful British-ness that so fascinates me (and much of America, I'll warrant) will shine through. Who but a Brit can call a party "a lovely bash with nibbly bits" and get away with it? I totally didn't even snicker when I read it. (BTW, you have to scroll almost to the end of the post to see the quote and its context.)

So he already gets more traffic than Atlanta at rush hour, but here's yet another plug for the delightful Neil. Go forth and read.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Less hearting of I Heart Pgh

I miss the halcyon early days of iheartpgh.com. Or at least the early days of my readership. When the Folks Who Started It All were posting in an endearingly random way about places they loved in and around tahn. Piquing my interest, making me want to like this place after all. Exposing the little hidden gems like the local-mama-owned Pittsburgh Candle Company, the fun little dive bar Big Jim's in the Run, the places in Pittsburgh that were smoke-free before it was required by law. Things like that.

I applaud the fact that the originators of i-heart are gainfully employed (and moving up in the world, too), and I still enjoy reading the "Git Aht" posts by Patrick. I mean, who wouldn't love someone who can write like this:

Well, regardless, the Pittsburgh Lunch Club is the local chapter of the larger social networking site “The Lunch Club” which says it ain’t about the hookups, so right there, I mean, bad marketing. There’s a reason Tom sold myspace to Fox and skated out on all the emo kids with a half billion pieces of silver or whatever it was strapped to his Web 2.0 back… Still though, seems like a good idea, a way for people to network a bit, get out and press the flesh, even if said flesh-pressing is meant to be platonic.

But lately? That's all there is. Weekend to weekend it's a bit of a desert, and then some todo's for the twenty-something crowd for the F-S-S timeframe. And it's not like I can start submitting or something. Even after 3 years here I still feel like a newbie, and besides, I have no life outside of the dajamou.

So someone, out there, please. Jump on the iheartpgh.com bandwagon and start submitting. Tell me (and everyone else) about your favorite hole in the wall, your fondest childhood Burgh memory, your version of Pittsburgh's Best Kept Secret. Because lately, I feel like Pittsburgh's Best Kept Secret is Pittsburgh.

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Monday, February 19, 2007


My doctor told me that I suffer from adrenal fatigue. Among other things. And one of the things recommended for relieving this adrenal fatigue is releasing "toxic" emotions.

So here's one for you.

I'm just starting to read this biography of C.S. Lewis called The Narnian, not even through the introduction. I had to put it down and go do something else for a while, because according to this book, while Lewis was writing The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, he living a life that the author called "very miserable." And what made his life miserable? He was taking care of two people who were "dependent on him for their care."

Is any of this sounding familiar? On the next page there's a quote from Lewis that "Dog's stools and human vomit have made my day today: one of those days when you feel at 11 A.M. that it really must be 3 P.M."

Welcome to my fucking world.

I don't want to belittle Lewis or his troubles; what really gets my ire up is the way the author paints this picture that being a primary cargiver for someone (adult or child) is so exhausting and heart-wrenchingly burdensome for such an important, intelligent, gifted man as C.S. Lewis.

Why doesn't someone write a God Damned Book about how exhausting and heart-wrenchingly burdensome it is to be a mom? That it's not all love and Pooh and giggles and kissed scrapes? That wiping butts and planning meals and teaching manners and soothing feelings can Burn. You. Out. within a handful of years, but somehow you have to keep going and keep going and keep going and pour it all out, and at the end of the day still find a way to give some more.

I'm absolutely positive that Lewis wasn't a wuss for collapsing after years of the care he gave to his brother and the elderly woman who lived with him. What I'm objecting to is this implication by the author that his situation was so unique in its direness. We should all clasp our hands to our breasts and sigh at the travails of the Poor Tortured Genius who had to set aside his career and his creative endeavors for a time because someone needed him, needed him until he had to escape to a hospital. And then turn around and thank God that nobody we know has to deal with that.

Well. Let me tell you something. Almost every mother you have known or will know in your life has to deal with that.

Toxic enough, doc? I'm not feeling much release. Maybe if I sleep on it.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I swear this person crawled inside my head.

Everybody: This is what I need from you! Descend into your slough of pointless pleasure and be sure and wallow long enough to fail to accomplish much in your life. Please? Pretty please? It will make me feel so. much. better. I'm not even sure what I was doing when not accomplishing. I wasn't even wallowing, there was very little pleasure. And I've still never written a book. So as long as none of us ever writes a book I might be able to avoid the incessant self-recrimination.

I done found me a new blog.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ranting and raving and foaming at the mouth

”The blueprint for Bush-era governance was laid out in a January 2001 manifesto from the Heritage Foundation, titled "Taking Charge of Federal Personnel." The manifesto's message, in brief, was that the professional civil service should be regarded as the enemy of the new administration's conservative agenda. And there's no question that Heritage's thinking reflected that of many people on the Bush team.

“How should the civil service be defeated? First and foremost, Heritage demanded that politics take precedence over know-how: the new administration "must make appointment decisions based on loyalty first and expertise second."

Second, Heritage called for a big increase in outsourcing—"contracting out as a management strategy." This would supposedly reduce costs, but it would also have the desirable effect of reducing the total number of civil servants. “The Bush administration energetically put these recommendations into effect. Political loyalists were installed throughout the government, regardless of qualifications. And the administration outsourced many government functions previously considered too sensitive to privatize: yesterday's Times article begins with the case of CACI International, a private contractor hired, in spite of the obvious conflict of interest, to process cases of incompetence and fraud by private contractors. A few years earlier, CACI provided interrogators at Abu Ghraib.

The ostensible reason for politicizing and privatizing was to promote the conservative ideal of smaller, more efficient government. But the small government rhetoric was never sincere: from Day 1, the administration set out to create a vast new patronage machine.”

This stuff totally pisses me off. So much so that I can't even read the news very often. Because I either get so angry I can't function, or I get so depressed I want to down a fifth of rum and watch [insert your fave crime show here] until my eyes bleed.

But this? This I can do: point people (whoever stumbles on my blog) at articulate people like David Brin, who has a knack for pointing out the glaring (but still blindly ignored) flaws in what's going on today. He also writes some verra nahce science fiction, which is why I sought him out but not why I keep going back to his blog. Credit goes to him for the above quote.

Where are my priorities?

So just now, I was reading a story on dooce about how her daughter puked for the first time, and I was laughing in that hunched-over, vintage-Eddie-Murphy kind of way that I do when I don't want to attract the dajamou's attention, because then she'll come over and ask me about it, and I'll have to explain that I think a story about puking is funny, and she'll ask me over and over to explain to her why it's funny, and I've only had one cup of coffee and no shower and no vitamins so that's not gonna turn out well.

So I'm really into this story, right? And I hear the dajamou calling from the bathroom (she's taking a bubble bath) that she wants more hot water to warm up the bath again, and for some reason I called out (while still reading dooce), "I'll be right back!"

The first thing I thought was "That's a dumb thing to say, since I'm not in the bathroom with her, or leaving the bathroom."

The second thing was, "Maybe I was talking to my computer."

And the third thing was, "Hey, I'm going to write this on my blog so I won't forget!"

And that's progress, ladies and gents.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My hero is back

OK, I've been a little slow on the uptake, lazy about researching it, and so I haven't heard anything about what's going on in the life of one of my favorite blog heroes, Liz. She used to have a wonderful blog called Granny Gets a Vibrator, but that fell by the wayside when she was diagnosed with lymphoma last year. Even the archives were taken down. I would check the page sometimes, and look at her son's blog once in a while to see if there was any news, but there was very little.

Until I went there today and found that she is in NED-land. And that she has a whole other blog.

And so, I have spent this entire, snow-filled morning allowing the dajamou to watch extra TV -- allegedly because she's coming down with a cold, partly because I have a red-wine hangover, but mostly because I had this visceral NEED to read all four months of archives at the new blog to find out what's been going on.

I can't tell you how much I admire this woman. I know that I am seeing about one one-hundredth of one percent of what her life is about. But she is so articulate, so witty, so open, so freaking REAL in the way she writes and shares that .01%, that I feel like I know her, and want to know her better.

Reading her cancer blog has a new relevance for me as well, since my friend was just diagnosed with leukemia. It could not have come at a better time to read that someone else I know and care about (however remote and unreal the knowing and caring allegedly may be) is fighting and so far winning the battle with cancer.

My friend's journey into The Big Ick is just beginning, and I know absolutely nothing about what she's going to go through, besides what I've seen in movies and TV shows. Which? Not the most reliable or accurate source of knowledge. But something in my heart has eased a bit, knowing that Liz is kicking the ass of her tumor. And I'm feeling a little stronger knowing what my friend might be dealing with, and perhaps knowing a bit more of what I might be able to do to help.

It's probably transitory and I'm probably still harboring a lot of misconceptions and I just might be blowing sunshine out my ass. But I'm going to cling to this feeling while I can.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I just found out that one of my dearest friends in the world has leukemia and I'm having some trouble dealing with it. I want to be a help and support to her but I don't know even where to start. This is totally out of the blue and of course my culturally trained gut reaction is to hear that "L" word and immediately feel like she's already gone, which she totally is NOT, she's of course going to fight it but I worry about her, and her two boys, and them living with their dad instead of her because he has anger issues, and I don't want it to be about me and my feelings and my reactions but I think it's natural to have some self-reflection when you find out that someone's life is suddenly threatened like that, and I don't want to thrust my help on her if she really wants this to just be a time for her to be close to her family, but she has a history of not asking for help even when she could use it so I don't know what to do.

I don't know what I'm saying but if there's any random goodwill floating around out there in the blogosphere I'd really appreciate some of it being pointed in the Cincinnati direction.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Nothing nothing nothing

Nothing is coming to me. I try every day to write something here and I can't even think of anything to say to myself. I started this as a place to vent, to quantify or qualify or textify my thoughts. But all my thoughts are of escaping, getting out, turning away and I can't bear that so I do things that help me think of nothing instead. Like let the dajamou watch hours of TV so I can watch hours of video online. Or read 20 some odd blogs for some kind of vicarious life. Or lose myself in a novel.

But those things don't give me much to write about.