Hear the grass, it sings

18 11 2019

Oy, this semester.

I think I bitched earlier in the term about the hassle of creating new notes for a new textbook, but holy mother of pete, whattafuckin hassle.

And I’m teaching a writing-intensive course for the first time, which, while I enjoy, is also more work than a non-writing-intensive course.

(Not too much more work: given that the regular version already required two 10-page research papers, the add-ons are just that, add-ons. Still, more work.)

Then there’s the second job, which is fine, I like who I work for, the work is even sometimes interesting, I get along well with my boss, but, y’know, it’s hours on that that I don’t have for. . . anything else. As I told my parents: it’s good that I have so much work, but it also sucks that I have so much work.

Next semester should be so much better (notes written!), but in meantime, I’ve used some of that money I’ve earned for one of my favorite Speyside whiskies—and may end up picking up an Islay whisky, to boot.

~~~

When I was young I sang all of the time. I wasn’t a great talent, but I was good enough.

Then I kinda stopped—apartment living will do that—so that when I sang one season for a local choir I was aghast at how bad my voice was. I got better in the singing, but still, aghast.

Then I pretty much stopped singing altogether, and SURPRISE, my voice now sucks.

Well, mah friends, I am here to turn that around. It is now winter, which means the windows are closed, and while I have little time I do have enough to shower every day so: shower singing!

I am presuming that my voice wobbles because I haven’t used it, and that if I sing every day in the shower it should get stronger. I’m thinkin’ it’ll be like my (long unused) guitar: you gotta work to keep it in tune.

I think I forgot this lesson because I used to sing so often that it didn’t occur to me that I was, in fact, keeping it tuned up. Then the choir thing left me so aghast that I couldn’t really admit that my voice wobbled. Then I finally got over myself and thought, Criminy, Terri, just sing, already.

Lynda Barry once wrote in her old comic that if you want to sing, you should sing, even if you can’t.

(Maybe it wasn’t her, but I think it was, because Lynda Barry is sensible like that.)

And if it wasn’t her? The wisdom holds: If you want to sing, you should sing, even if you can’t.





I wandered out in the world for years

4 11 2019

Apparently, a show I never watched and have no opinion about featured a Waterboys tune in their finale.

Which is as good a reason as any to showcase that Waterboys tune.

It is, like so many Waterboys songs, too too much.

The relative restraint of Fisherman’s Blues arguably made for a better record, but there is something so wonderfully everywhere-and-everything to This Is The Sea.





And kingdoms fall

21 10 2019

I’m not a hipster, although I do admit to sharing the annoying trait of establishing my bona fides that I listened to something before it became cool.

Not liking something once it gets popular? Not me at all: I’m thrilled that others can confirm my good taste.

Still, it is the case that with some long-running bands or authors, I just get sort of tired of following them. It’s not even that they get bad or boring—although they sometimes do—but that I’ve just had my fill.

With U2, it’s both that I’ve had my fill and that I just fuckin’ loved their early stuff. Boy, October, and War never fail to yank me by the short-hairs, even today, as does Wide Awake in America and “Under a Blood Red Sky”. I really liked Unforgettable Fire when it came it, thought Rattle & Hum was okay, and while I think Joshua Tree is amazing and, like the early work, still listen to it, it was also the end for me.

They changed their sound and focus, which, honestly, if you’re gonna stick around, is better than just revisiting the same old shit. But as they moved hither, I went yon, and the messy, raging, joyous U2 I adored then and now is the one they left behind.

Anyone, the song that gave the title to October:

Overwrought? Maybe, but sincerely so, which was part of the beauty of U2 back then.





Baby, baby, please let me hold him

16 10 2019

Yet another absurd (-adjacent) baby: James Mark!

Like his big brother (my habibi Henry) and cousin (the angry spud Lyana), Sweet Baby James decided to pop in on the world a bit early. This necessitated tubes and lines and monitors, and after a week he’s still in the NICU, but as he’s now merely a “lazy eater” (per his mum), he should be heading home sooner rather than later.

Henry is apparently anxious to meet SBJ, and told his pop he wanted to get a toy for him. (According to my sister, the last thing that household needs is another toy, but whatchagonnado?) Let’s see how long before he wants to send the baby back.

~~~

Two things:

One, I am deeply grateful that my nieces were able to avail themselves of the best that medicine has to offer. There’s more to these birth stories; suffice it to say that what was merely momentarily dramatic could have been tragic had they not been at the hospital.

I get why people are leery of medicalizing birth—goddess knows I’ve voiced my own critiques—but it’s not 1968, women aren’t being knocked out before delivery, and birthing rooms, midwives, and doulas are now an ordinary part of the hospital birthing experience. And good medicine saves the lives of mothers and babies alike.

Two, I’m thinking of going to the Twin Cities in January to meet these new babies and reacquaint myself with Henry (and see some old friends).

I know: the Twin Cities in January?! But the flights have gotta be dirt cheap—most folks aren’t scrambling to travel to the below-zero—and I’m not teaching then, so why not? Plus, I want to see if I can still handle the forsaken cold.

Y’all know I dig New York (most of the time), but winters here are often merely dreary. I look forward to the bracing.





Did you ever see such a sight in your life

8 10 2019

Started my morning by hoisting a dead mouse out of the back of my replacement fridge.

How was your day?

~~~

I started reading Jonathan Bernstein when he wrote ‘a plain blog about politics’, then when he moved to Bloomberg, and I follow him on Twitter. I think he’s smart and knows a great deal about how American politics has worked.

I didn’t always agree with him—he’s been far more bullish on Madisonian federalism than I—but as a non-Americanist and grump, I thought—and think—it worthwhile to pay attention to an optimistic Americanist.

However, that optimism can skew the fuck out of his thinking:

Good government is tremendously important, but positing that the best way to get Republicans—a party Bernstein has recognized is FUBAR—to go along with impeachment is to take Pelosi out of the chain of succession is  . . .  what? getting high on his own supply? the slateyist of #slatepitches as ever were? at the level of “I’m not saying aliens, but. . . “?

Not it, chief.

~~~

I got the replacement fridge yesterday, after a months-long campaign to convince the super that my old fridge was, in fact, on the fritz. (The thermostat was rather too free-form, allowing it to get warm enough for ice cubes to melt, then powering on so fiercely anything in the back half of the fridge would freeze. This likely had something to do with the drip from the freezer into the fridge.)

A new one would have resulted in a rent increase; I told him I just wanted one that worked.

~~~

Again, I’d like us to get back to functionality, but I don’t see how Dems smashing their own kneecaps will do that.

No, the system has broken down—the Republicans broke the system down—and inviting Dems to break themselves as a means of repair is. . . not it, chief.

~~~

So the supe brought up a working fridge from the basement. And yes, it does work! Yay!

But it had also been in the basement for awhile. A basement in a building in Brooklyn. A basement in a building in Brooklyn next to a subway line. The chance of infestation was high, is what I’m saying.

Which I didn’t think about, because Yay! It works!

~~~

I’m leery of offering advice to people who don’t ask for it, and especially not to people I don’t know.

So let’s call this “Terri stating her preferences” for Dem actions: Yield nothing to Republicans. Nothing. Not one thing.

I don’t trust that any kind of compromise is going to be honored by Republicans, and that they won’t go back to SMASH!! the second they get the chance. At this point, we’re dealing not with an opponent willing to engage in reasoned debate, but bad-faith actors who will only forced back into line.

And it’s up to the Dems both to draw that line and punish them for crossing it.

~~~

But by last night something smelled rotten, and I thought, ohhhhhh, I bet there’s something dead in the fridge.

Shiiiiiiit.

It was late, and I thought, do I really want to confront . . . whatever is there at night?

No, I do not. And the smell didn’t reach my bedroom.

~~~

That said, the punishment must be to a greater cause than just payback. I’m not against payback—as much as it’s not my thing (I’m more the walk-away/freeze-out kinda gal), I can recognize the satisfactions—but I think it far better to do something productive with power, if/when the Dems finally achieve it.

~~~

This morning the smell was pretty bad, so before I had my breakfast or coffee, I pulled the fridge out, then with a sigh began to unscrew the lower back panel. It was with a fair amount of trepidation that I pulled it out: just what the hell would I find? or worse, what would come racing out at me?

I peeked in. Nothing. Nothing. Ah, yes, there it is: mouse corpse. Only one, that I could see, and nothing else moving.

~~~

So, my preference would be for Dems to add more judges at the district and circuit courts of appeals levels and, yes, to add 2 seats to the Supreme Court. And to fill them.

~~~

Grabbed some tongs, reached in, tugged the corpse out. I cleaned out the back while I was at it, then swept up and took the dusty funeral cortège to the garbage chute.

I then carpeted the whole area with baking soda, screwed the back panel back on, and shoved the fridge back into place.

~~~

The concern with court-packing is that the GOP would do the same when they next get power.

Now, I think they’ll do whatever it takes to tilt everything in their favor, so the idea that they might behave badly in response to the Dems doing something they don’t like is unpersuasive: they’ll behave badly anyway.

~~~

It still doesn’t smell great in here—I think it’ll take time for the baking soda to absorb all that corpse nastiness—but I’m pretty confident I got the source of the stink out.

~~~

That said, I do think the incentive to fuck with the Supreme Court can be reduced: at the same time Dems expand the Court to eleven, they introduce a Constitutional amendment to limit SC terms to 18-to-21 years (I’ve seen various proposals for why x or y-number of years, but it’s late and I’m too lazy to look up the arguments)—and they could write it in such a way that the term limit would apply to any justice who takes a seat after the date of introduction.

So, for example, Dems could in February or March pass legislation expanding the Supreme Court effective May 1, 2021. The amendment could state that term limits would apply to any justice confirmed May 1, 2021 and after.

~~~

Then again, if the smell doesn’t dissipate, I’ll have to go back in and search for more nastiness.

I really don’t want to have to do that, but I don’t need my apartment smelling like death.

~~~

I have no idea if this could work, and who knows if the Constitutional amendment would pass, but I think term-limits for Supreme Court justices is not a particularly partisan issue; having them apply to the new Dem-appointed justices might just help take just a bit of the sting out of the court-packing.

Oh, who am I kidding: the GOP will scream regardless. Tough shit. But maybe this will, over the longer term, help to take some of the partisan pressure off of Supreme Court picks: if every president is assured (more or less) of 1 selection per term, then this nonsense of holding open a seat (Merrick Garland!) or rushing to fill one (Kavanaugh!) might taper off.

In my dreams, I know, but what the hell, why not some late-night political dreaming?

~~~

And you, too: sweet dreams.





Fever all through the night

2 10 2019

Man, Peggy Lee was somethin’ else, wasn’t she?

Hot and cool, urgent and dispassionate, all at once. Man.

Anyway, my fever was not so luscious, just the usual uncomfortable mess. Bleh.

Hannah Arendt has a riff on pain as “the most private and least communicable of all.” Great bodily pain, she writes, takes us out of the world, into a privacy which is really privation. We are thrown wholly unto ourselves.

Well, my cold this past few days has involved more discomfort than pain, and I’ve stayed in contact with “the world.” Still, there is a kind of haziness attached to negligible illnesses, a fish-eye look at one’s life (and yes, the world) that squeezes to the sides anything which is not immediately in front of oneself. It’s not quite like the drunk trying to walk a straight line, but you are aware that your ballast is wandering a bit too to and fro.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Regardless, before my befogging, I happened upon this ad:

Good Christ, do people really want this? To have nearly every last bit of one’s life monitored by a fucking corporation?

Yes, of course they do. Muttering *Jesus, Terri, where have you been the last decade?*

In a different kind of fog, I guess.





I will try not to breathe

23 09 2019

I’ve lost weight. This pleases me.

It’s not much—as I mentioned back in February (I think), I hadn’t gained much so wasn’t looking to lose much—but paying attention to what I was eating and going to the gym even when I wasn’t in the mood has, ever so slowly-but-surely, paid off. Yay.

That said, I’m still dissatisfied. And I wonder about that, about body-acceptance and “growing old gracefully” and just letting things be.

That’s not really who I am, of course, and I accept (ha!) that, but maybe I could ease up without quite giving up. I mean, I’m in my early 50s and I still dye my hair: would it kill me to let it go grey? Or maybe there’s something to hanging on to a few tendrils of vanity?

I am vain, but it’s not expressed in the usual ways. I don’t wear makeup or do-up my hair, and my dress is. . . pedestrian, so it might seem as if I accept, even welcome, my plainness. But it’s more that about practicality—I rub my eyes a lot and like to splash my face with water, so makeup is more hassle than it’s worth, for example—than any larger peacefulness with my appearance. Ditto with loose clothes and flat shoes: I like to be comfortable, both when sitting and on the move.

Still, while I’m not the guy at the gym who (honest to Pete) kisses his biceps before doing pull-ups, I will occasionally flex in the mirror at home. And, yeah, I like that I’m a wee bit less round than I was earlier this year.

Anyway, this is all on the margins. I might be in good shape for someone my age, but I’m still. . . someone my age. Whether this means I ease up or hammer down, pffffft, I’ll likely never figure that out.