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January books

1. Last king of Texas
2. Devil went down to Austin
(Both Riordan, who more recently wrote the Percy Jackson ya novels. These are serviceable mysteries, though I prefer Percy).
3. No mark upon her- Crombie
Pretty solid.
4. land of the living- Nicci French. Eh.
5. The way men act- Elinor Lipman. Reread. I love her.
6. Mean little deaf queer- Galloway- a pretty good memoir
7. A kiss gone bad
8. Cut and run – both Jeff Abbott and reasonable thrillers
9. Size twelve a d ready to rock- Meg Cabots Heather Wells books are a huge guilty pleasure
10. Freud for beginners – a comic book. Decent.
11. Charm city – Laura Lippman- a reread, the Tess Monagan books are a favorite!
12. Ariadne’s thread- case studies in therapy. Quite interesting.
13. No easy day- mark Owen. I skipped bits and pieces because I was mostly interested in the raid that got bin laden. I was quite uncomfortable with a lot of the book. I have Peter bergens account to read and will have more to say after that I think- but basically the rah rah yay we killed bad guys part made me feel weird. I know I know it’s war but….
14. The nightmare thief- meg gardiner- also a reread.

This was a light month book wise because I was at school for a week and didn’t read at all!

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Eleven.

when I was sixteen, I had been begging my parents for a dog for a solid decade. They had tried to pacify me, and my younger sister Nicole, with some birds, and then a pair of kittens, and some ferrets, and all of that, but what I wanted was a dog.

as ocean wears down a rock, Nicole and I wore them down. We went to the Humane Society but were rejected for reasons i still don’t understand (2 responsible teenagers! 1 parent who worked at home! fenced in yard! WHATEVER, humane society!) and it was sad when we fell in love with a certain dog and all of that, but then it turned out that a neighbor’s sister’s dogs were having puppies.

(NOW: you should NEVER EVER EVER do what we did. do NOT get a dog from a backyard breeder. it is a terrible idea, the “breeders” we used were pretty terrible as dog owners and thus as people, and this is why Z has such hip problems. If you must use a breeder rather then rescue, do your research etc. Now let’s move on to my dog).

 

ANYWAY. we went out to their house and chose the smallest black female. The litter was huge–12 puppies, half black and half yellow, all Lab. Our girl was a disgustingly cute little thing who dragged the camera case across the room.

 

When she was seven weeks old we brought her home. That first night Nicole started to sleep with her downstairs to let her out and then decided that she was too tired (she was only 12!) and I did it, instead.

Zoe was basically the cutest puppy ever. She was so easy to train. Having decided that her name would be Zoe (it means life) I started researching training methods like whoa. and it was SO MUCH FUN. we did clicker training and we went to the dog park near our house almost every day. She played with her friends Tonka and Darby and Nelsonm fetch and tug and chase. It was adorable.

 

Now that we’ve lived by ourselves since May I have a new appreciation for how much work a dog is. It turns out that it can be stressful, always having to arrange to make sure the dog is being cared for. But it also makes living alone so much better. In the morning, Zoe and I have snuggs times; she curls up next to me so I can rub her belly and scratch her chin and play with her delicious, soft ears. It’s such a great way to wake up. And in the evenings, she slides against me, and rests her head against my shoulder while I fall asleep. It’s delightful. 

I sometimes call her my Mary Poppins dog, as in practically perfect in every way. Oh sure, she barks sometimes, and occasionally she is agitated and wants All The Attention. OK, and she will steal food, especially from children since they are easier targets.

But she never runs away. and she stops at the street. and she is so good at cuddling. and she is so adorable. It slays me that she is starting to have Health Problems. that I have to give her frequent pain pills, that her leg vibrates sometimes because her arthritis is so bad, that she sometimes won’t eat. I hate seeing her any less vibrant.

It’s a good thing she is still so damn cute, eh?

 

Imagepuppy Zoe! Image thirsty baby dogImageLOOK HOW TINY

 

and here is my little banana girl, today, on her eleventh birthday, holding a toy. Though not her birthday present today, because the platypus toy is too new to take outside

ImageHAPPY BIRTHDAY ZOZO!!!!

 

Rage

When the shootings in Newtown first hit the news, I felt all the things I usually feel at a mass murder: a pang of sadness, a jolt of fear. I didn’t realize at first that it was a school, and I didn’t realize at first that it was young kids, and I didn’t realize that it was twenty.

All day Friday, I curled up in bed—I had the day off—and watched twitter and facebook and eventually the New Yorker, NYT etc, watching as details trickled out. My horror mounted. Twenty children. Twenty first graders.

In the days since I find that I cannot get it out my head. I’ve always been a sensitive sort, and when I was a kid I vaccilated between reading very sad books and not being able to read books that contained words such as cancer, because they reminded me that those things were out there, that our lives are so very fragile.

I cuddled my dog. The Onion nailed it.

I went to a party for a little boy turning seven on Saturday. I watched the children run around in a church basement, learning to dance, coloring. One girl cried quietly, missing her dad, and I sat with her, trying to cheer her up. I hugged the children I know close to me, squeezed them as hard as I could.

On Sunday I went to church. I talked to my youth about it. I told them that I knew that it was scary, and overwhelming, and sad. They were mostly angry. I told them that I was angry too.

On Monday, I held a newborn for four hours as she slept on me. I kissed the soft down of her head, her starfish hands and her seashell ears, and I said a silent prayer.

On Tuesday I played with a young toddler. She shrieked with delight when we did TIMBER and peek-a-boo, found my eyes for me, sang songs and ate lunch, and I held out my arms for a hug, capturing that moment when she crashed into me and snuggled up, patting my back, and I hoped like hell.

 

And here we are.

 

It’s been a few days. This afternoon I was flipping through the Post and I came to an article about the children, with their pictures, their stories, the one who loved superheroes, the one who carried markers with her. There is no bad picture of a child that young. They are all so full of promise. So full of life.

 

I can’t say anything about twenty children being slaughtered that hasn’t already been said. And oh, I know, I know it happens all over the world. I know that children die all the time, of all sorts of things, many—even most—of which are entirely preventable, if only humanity didn’t suck quite so much. And I know that part of the reason Newtown is getting so much attention is that the children were white (although I refuse to believe that if the kids were black we would not mourn so fully. I’m halfway convinced that the only reason Anne Frank said people were mostly good is that she hadn’t yet spent a lot of time with the Nazis, but I still have a tiny bit of hope). And I know that kids are killed with guns all the time. I know.

 

And yet. There is something about an entire classroom of first graders being hunted down, in school, that just guts me.

 

So I’m sad. I cannot imagine what their parents and siblings are going through. It is unspeakable, to lose a child. It is my greatest fear, I think. I don’t know how anyone goes on living after that.

 

But mostly, now, I am angry. I am so, so angry.

 

I have always been pretty anti-gun, but I’ve been willing to tolerate those who are not, or those who feel that we don’t need gun control. No more. Oh, I’m not going to automatically hate anyone who owns a gun—although I don’t like it—but if you think for a second that your right to own a semi automatic or assault rifle, to use high volume magazines, is greater then the right of children not to be massacred in school—then you are scum. I am not kidding. I don’t want to hear any of this bullshit about how more guns would make us safer and if only teachers were armed (this is simply not true anyway. If you are part of the gun lobby, if you are part of the people who have actively fought against commonsense gun laws, then you are complicit in the murder of children.

 

How does that feel? How do you live with yourselves?

 

 

I know, I know. This is not how we make progress. We make progress by understanding, by building bridges. But I am too angry to care. There is no excuse.

 

And the mental gymnastics these people go through is just astounding. One person I know posted the following on facebook: “would you rather have all your fingers chopped off by a madman or be shot to death? If those were your options for your child, would you prefer they be killed or live a life unable to do even the most basic things independently, and be forced to live with that trauma?”

 

Are.you.fucking.kidding.me.

 

But since you asked: I would rather my child be attacked by a knife then a gun, yes. You are damn right, I would. Do you know why? Because knives are a hell of a lot less lethal, you fuckwit.

 

Someone else, on the comments of a thread somewhere—never read the comments, and now I don’t even remember where I read it—that he always uses a semi-automatic when he hunts, because what if you miss the bear (WEEDS CLIP).

 

THEN DON’T HUNT BEARS.

 

And of course, Mike Huckabee (R-prehensible) as well as one former fb friend, suggested that we just need god back in our schools.

 

Then there’s the mental health stuff.

 

Now look. Mentally ill folks are far more likely to be victims . They are usually not dangerous. Psychopaths more often are dangerous, but not always, and we have NO IDEA what was up with Adam Lanza (and btw, you are not Adam Lanza’s mother).  

 

Do we need mental health reform in this country? Duh. Do we need to deal with the fact that there may well be some kids who have very, very serious issues and that are a danger to their families and that we offer almost no support for those families? Obviously.

 

And I’m sure that our absurd culture of toxic masculinity doesn’t help, and yeah, obviously, obviously, we should look at that.

 

As Dave Cullen points out, there are basically three types of mass murderers: the truly insane, who are utterly out of touch with reality (the Tucson and Virginia Tech shooters) the sadistic psychopath (Eric Harris, Columbine’s mastermind) and most commonly the suicidally depressed. So yes, we should be screening all adolescents for depression, duh.

 

But you know what? In every culture, there’s always going to be a segment of the populace that is mentally ill. Probably there will be a segment that’s psychopathic. Every culture will have its dangers.

 

You know what really, really helps negate that danger?

 

NOT GIVING EVERYONE ACCESS TO GUNS.

 

Can we just do that, first? Because if the folks working for change get distracted by the very valid roads of mental health reform, we will lose track of gun control. And the very first thing that we can do, the thing that we can do most immediately, is to push like hell for that.

 

Look, I’m not happy with ANYONE having guns, but I really do understand that some people are responsible gun owners, and that there is some Constitutional basis for this (although I think you could very easily argue that the Founders meant something very, very different, and none of us should have guns. Since that fight is not going to be won anytime soon, though…)

 

 But there is NO reason not to immediately ban assault and semi automatic weapons and high capacity magazines. Start with that.

 

I am glad to see that Obama has been angry. He should be. We should all be angry. And angry Obama is the one that gets shit done. But he is going to have to step up, as our all of our political leaders, and make change. To do otherwise is simply unconscionable.

 

There is no excuse for not acting. Have you no shame?

 

If you need a reminder, well, you can remember these names:

 

 

 

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Olivia Engel, , 6

Josephine Gay, , 7

Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Madeleine F. Hsu, 6

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison N. Wyatt, 6

there but for the grace of simply everything go i

I went to Washington Episopical School for grades 6-8. At the time, the head of the middle school was a man named Chris Kloman. He taught me geography (well, sort of, I never really learned much…) and he gave me a discipline notice, I think, or at least a warning, for wearing a non-uniform sweatshirt. It was at WES that I my tumultuous adolescence began and it was Mr. Kloman who told my parents about my self-injury, that very first time.

Yesterday, my sister (also a WES alum) shared a link to a news story. Mr. Kloman–my middle school principal–was arrested for child molestation charges, including “abduction with intent to defile” (they are using charges based on the laws written at the time of the alleged abuse, in the very late 60s).

It was such a weird feeling. I want to state at the outset that I was certainly never abused by Mr. Kloman, or anyone else. I never witnessed abuse. This is NOT a witch hunt, and I have absolutely no personal knowledge, whatsoever. And yet I find that I am not particularly surprised, despite the lack of evidence that I personally possess. Part of it is statistics: false accusations are rare, its not exactly uncommon for victims of child sex abuse to wait many, many years before reporting, schools and religious institutions are notorious for hiding–intentionally or not–sex offenders, and many sex offenders come across as professional, good people. So the statistics are not on Kloman’s side. And although again, I want to be completely, utterly clear that I NEVER witnessed anything, on some visceral level I am not surprised.

What it really makes me think about, though, is narrow escapes.

If the accusations are true–and I have no reason to doubt them, and in fact the comments on this piece make me believe them even more–then it makes me wonder why I was not a victim, why as far as I know no one I know was a victim. It makes me think about all the narrow escapes in my life. My adolescence went badly wrong in several places, but it was never irredeemably so. I was lucky. It’s the same finally I get when I hear about another teenager who attempted suicide: I don’t know what put me into the category of not trying that; by all rights I should have. All I can do is feel grateful that I was not.

And also, I do not want to hear any victim blaming nonsense. I don’t know for sure that Kloman is guilty, although as I said I certainly believe it. But I also know that false accusations are rare, that coming forward is very difficult, and that victim blaming is as much a cultural meme as McKayla is Not Impressed, only much much more dangerous.

Tour Takeaways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I went to the famed Kellogs Tour of Gymnastics Champions last night. Thank the sweet lord, I went with someone who knows gymnastics, because I think only someone else who knows the sport could really appreciate the horridness and lurid spectacle.

recap:

First there were a group of kids from local clubs doing some sort of weird dance and waving red flags. Then the gymnasts came out, all wearing that absurd flag leo Aly sported in EFs. The star visitors–one boy and one girl, from local clubs–did a little on bars. The girl was clearly level 5, maybe, didn’t even do a flyaway, although she was cute and Jordyn and Aly were “spotting.” Oh, one of them on beam did something too. The boy actually did a full out off HB while Jo-Ho (that’s what I am calling Horton these days) “spotted” although she did a poor job not catching the kid when he handsplatted. Still, that part was cute.

Then…Chellsie I think came out and did some floor! Chellsie, I love you. Girl is a stone cold badass. I want to put Chels at her peak against Aliya Mustafina at her peak. Gymgasm just thinking about it. She did her arabian! She looked good. COME BACK CHELLSIE. God, USAG did fuck her over. Anyway.

John Macready was sadly already there, wearing his flag suit and looking like an idiot, although not as utterly moronic as he would look later. Then OMG. Aly, Jordyn and Gabby came out in tiny tiny black and pink shorts and pink bras and did some sort of “dance” to some song about girls running the world. A bunch of the girls then chalked up in disco ball chalk bins and hopped on UB, and wow. Just wow. Becca Bross, who I always have a soft spot for, was there, and easily recognizable from her knees. Anna Li was on tour but sadly apparently not allowed to do anything b/xc of her neck–my companion thinks USAG is afraid she’ll sue which would be awesome. Sue, Anna, sue! So no Li on bars. But a few of the girls actually did real dismounts–I think I saw a DLO from Gabby, and there were several decent releases. Both Becca and I think Aly fell, which I found amusing. Then the girls did more “dancing” and then the boys brought out their mushrooms. They were apparently pretending to be all “street” in their hoodies, because in the ghetto everyone does pommel skills. McCready came out and for reasons I will never understand whipped off his suit to reveal a red skirted leo, so that was a nice bit of absurd misogyny. THEN the boys started “dancing” to some song about being sexy as they ripped off their shirts. The takeaway here is that girls have vaginas, boys have muscles.

Anyway.Jordyn  did a watered down floor routine that included, I believe, at least a double pike. But otherwise it was all layouts all the time. Then the rhythmic and acro folks came out and I must say I do not understand rhythmic but acro can be cool. Then Nastia, with her very blonde very Texas hair extensions, decided to pretend that she too was a rhythmic gymnast, which, ok, whatever. More fake floor from Aly, although I think she did a full in? Maybe? Her floor routine is oddly less offensive then Gabby’s.

The boys came out in what looked like a combo of tinfoil and saran rap to do p-bars. There was a little real gymnastics although pbars doesn’t do a lot for me. Then OMG. Nastia “I’m still relevant dammit” Luikin came out and did something in a silk in which she was lifted to the ceiling? doing splits and spinning a lot? It is true that I don’t understand how she didn’t get dizzy. Oh lord, then everyone–except McKayla who really can’t do much of anything–came out in absurd costumes and “danced” and somebdoy else got lifted to the ceiling, and THEN Jordyn, Aly and Gabby came out and did MORE fake, really horrid dancing. Oh my god it was awful.Also, Gabby is just really, really, really tiny.

There was a little tumbling though, including Chellsie BAMF Memmel and her DLO.Blah blah the boys did stuff on rings while fawning scantily clad girls watched. The acro pair did something. And then BEAM HOLY SHIT. So for beam, the beams were arranged in a cross and the girls were wearing all white. Nastia, in flesh colored sparkles, did nonsense on the silk in the middle while the girls were on beam. Gabby did a nice front tuck. Becca did a front aerial, wobbled and caught herself the exact same way she always does, and then did a BHS LOSO. Aly and Jo both did basic tumbling as well. Then they all stopped and stared at Nastia in the middle, and wow, who the hell thought it was a good idea to put Nastia in charge? Girlfriend, it’s NICE that you can still do a front aerial, but please, enough. Go back to Texas. I;m over you.

As usual high bar featured the most actual gymnastics, with a few of what I think were Kovacs and even a triple back dismount! Gabby did her AWFUL floor routine, which is usually good only for the tumbling but her “passes” were: bhs LO, double back, and…BHS LO. So. not exciting. Then because somebody put Nastia in charge she climbed into the Olympic rings with the other Fierce Five (Kyla is not on tour) and they arched their backs. Luckily, Chellsie had a turn on the rings as well, with the rhythmic girls; unluckily her costume was just…unspeakable. The shirtless boys hopped on the rings, Becca did a little more bars (she actually looked better here then she did at Trials, maybe because Valeri was not in attendance; side note, I really, really want to take Becca home, feed her milkshakes, and reassure her that she does have worth. They were all “introduced”–Anna Li was out finally–and then the remaining Fierce Five hopped in the rings. McKayla is moving OK–she didn’t have any sort of boot or cast on, which is a good sign. She really needs to master a TTY or Y double back and get that shit in the CoP next Worlds.

I didn’t mention John McCready’s stupid, stupid baby act–in which he came out TWICE wearing a “diaper” and pretending to be a baby, if babies can shake their hips suggestively–because it was just so disgusting and offensive that the only redemptive thing would have been for him to just splat. Ugh. I have no idea how that man is married.

So. Was it worth it? Well, I wouldn’t have paid to see it, that’s for damn sure. We need to stop pretending that ANY of these girls can dance. They cannot. And we also need to stop wildly appropriating rich white Texans ideas of “urban” culture. That said, it is always fun for me to see Chellsie, and Sac, and Li, and Becca, and the Fierce Five. I really wish they had done more actual gymnastics though. Nastia did nothing but front aerials and butt shelves, and the other girls did more (except McKayla and Anna, but they are injured, so) but surely not what they COULD do. If I were in charge we’d do more gymnastics–even if it were basics, it can be gussied up in a cool way–and less pretending to dance. and John Macready would never, ever be allowed out in public again.

The pics are pretty bad because of the lighting but might give you a sense. You should be able to find Becca from her knees and Aly from her feet!

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