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.





Sunny came home

16 09 2019

Hi! Hi! Hi!

Sorry I’ve been away for so long, but I was:

*Away, for a bit, in Chicago. I really like Chicago—it’s the place I’ll move to if I ever get chased out of New York—and every time I visit I think “Ohhh, maybe I should just move now.” But that’s just because NYC can suck hard, and when you’re in a likeable city for a few days it’s easy to think that that city won’t also have its sucky moments. Anyway, I was there with friends from Sheb Falls, and it was fun.

*Trying to cram in all of my hours on my second job. Whenever I work at my long-standing second job, I feel the need to work every last hour they give me, not least because these gigs are only temporary. I try to bulk up my bank account, because I just don’t trust the work, be it teaching or freelancing or this job, will keep coming.

*Prepping for classes. I’m using a new textbook for my American govt and politics course, so I have to take all new notes. It’s my contention that all American govt textbooks are mediocre, and that new editions are a scam—usually the only thing that gets changed (besides the price) are the 1- or 2-page intros to each chapter—but the text I was using was 5, 6 years old. I have tended to use the second-most-recent version, in order to keep the costs down for the students, but as American politics in the Trump era are occurring at hyper-speed, I thought I’d best go with the newest version of whatever text I chose. I looked first at the new version of my old text, but, jeez, that cheapest version of that one was 75 bucks; other books were even worse. So I said to hell with it, and went with a (legit) free online textbook, and, y’know, it’s fine.

*Writing an ‘intro to politics’ essay for those same govt-and-politics students. I’d long led discussions of ‘what is politics’ for relevant courses, and this essay pulled together a number of those ideas into a less-fractured format. In fact, this was an excerpt of an incomplete draft of what I plan to develop into a short-ish manuscript I’m calling “A Partial Politics” (have I mentioned this before? I think I’ve mentioned this before). Once I get a bit of breathing room, I want to get back to the manuscript; I may try to pitch it to the same online publishers as that textbook.

*I have a new great-niece! My second niece gave birth to Lyana Rosa two weeks ago. She is a wee angry potato, and it is all I can do not to pester her mum for more pics. No, I wasn’t there so I can’t really excuse her birth for my absence; it’s just good news.

So now that we’re all caught up, I’ll try not to fall behind (again). . . .

 





Hot summer streets and the pavements are burning

14 07 2019

I am a dope.

I hate hot weather, hate being sticky, own an air conditioner, muscled that air conditioner into a window a week or so ago, and. . . I don’t use it.

I hate being hot and sticky and have a way to be neither and I don’t take it.

Right now I’m sitting in my chair with a fan propped in a window and angled toward me. Still, I’ve got my shirt half rolled up and if I move a body part even a smidge out of the blowing air it will start to sweat.

It’s not that bad out, actually: temps should fall below 70 overnight and it’s not humid, so sleep (with, again, the fan angled toward me in bed) should be fine. It’s just that it takes awhile longer for the cool of the outside to push aside the day’s accumulated heat.

And tomorrow, tomorrow shouldn’t be bad, either. Tuesday will suck, and Wednesday, even more so; my line for turning on the a/c is over 90 and humid during the day, over 75 and humid at night, and it looks like that line might be breached.

And yet odds are even that I’ll rely on my fan to wave around hot air rather than shut the windows and let the a/c clear out all concerns about the weather.

So, yeah, I’m a dope.





School’s out forever

14 06 2019

I wasn’t much for graduation ceremonies: I went to my HS graduation, but skipped both my undergrad and grad ones.

And my high school ceremony kinda sucked. I mean, it was fine, but we voted on a class song—Van Halen’s version of “Happy Trails”—and the administration nixed it as too, I dunno, fun. And the speech—which, again, was fine—was more for the parents than the kids.

Anyway, here’s a speech worth listening to. The first half is the usual thank you thank you thank you, but then it gets. . .  interesting.

Brava.

h/t Jezebel





As sure as your sorrows are joys

26 04 2019

Reading something else, I came across this, and decided, what the hell, let’s listen:

That’s nice. Long, languid, a bit of a urgency, then easing back; fits a late-night mood.

~~~

I didn’t know much about Traffic, so wasn’t really a fan, but my college therapist, N, was.

I remember her referring to “Stevie Winwood.”

Stevie. I knew “Steve Winwood,” who’d come out with a solo album in the ’80s. I had a copy, and must have mentioned it to her.

Huh, I just looked him up on YouTube, and one of the suggestions was for “Arc of a Diver.” I think that was the song she mentioned, described to me. I can still see her motioning her arm over.

That wasn’t my song, though.

It’s not that I was a huge Steve Winwood fan, but there was one night, at the Regent St Retreat, when “Higher Love” came on, and I just, I just danced.

In a time I mostly stumbled, this night, a regular week-day night, after work, I just danced, closing my eyes and wrapped in the glow of the dance floor lights.

I don’t know if I told N that—I told her so few good things—but wouldn’t it be nice if this was what I mentioned to N, that this is what prompted her to tell me about her own fondness for Stevie Winwood.

I’d like to think that this was something good that we shared.





Hush, hush, keep it down now

10 04 2019

Over 8 years ago the economist Robin Hanson wrote a  post on “gentle silent rape.”

It was a thought experiment, an attempt to understand why rape is punished more often and severely than cuckoldry, something he found “puzzling,” given that, as he had argued in a previous post

Biologically, cuckoldry is a bigger reproductive harm than rape, so we should expect a similar intensity of inherited emotions about it.

Men would rather be raped than cuckholded, he’d said—no mention is made of what women prefer—but in trying to figure out what, besides sexism, could account for the discrepancy in the social response to rape and cuckholdry, he wrote that

It occurred to me recently that we can more clearly compare cuckoldry to gentle silent rape. Imagine a woman was drugged into unconsciousness and then gently raped, so that she suffered no noticeable physical harm nor any memory of the event, and the rapist tried to keep the event secret. Now drugging someone against their will is a crime, but . . . .

Now compare the two cases, cuckoldry and gentle silent rape. . . . Consider also that it tends to be easier to prove cuckoldry than rape, so if we avoid applying the law to hard-to-prove harms, that should favor punishing cuckoldry more than rape.

I cut out all sorts of nonsense—by all means, go read the entire, short, post for yourself—as it focuses on what should be the appropriate punishment for cuckholdry (fines? torture?), and I, like so, so many others before me, want to focus on the gentle silent rape.

Why now? Well, I heard a couple of interviews with Miriam Toews, a Canadian author who wrote a novel based on the real-life mass drugging and rape of Mennonite women by Mennonite men in a Bolivia, a years-long ordeal which was only exposed in 2009.

I’d never heard of this before, and I won’t go into the entire, horrifying and enraging tale here—again, click on the links to read what happened—but upon listening to an interview today I was reminded of that old Hanson post: Hey, didn’t some economist write about the relative non-harms of rape of which the women have no memory?

It was a bonkers post, one which Hanson continues to defend (while declaring that any mention of him as pro-rape is “bordering on slander“). Hey, he’s just, y’know, asking questions.

I’m all in favor of asking questions, and it’s important for scholars to turn conventions inside-out. To analyze a phenomenon fully, it makes sense to poke at it from every angle, to press even on the sore spots.

But if, as Hanson claims, you’re simply “trying to understand the world and work out puzzles and theories,” then you’ve got to bring those puzzles and theories back to the world you’re trying to understand.

He says he’s a “nerdy intellectual type” who’s “probably personally less able to and inclined to think those things through,” which is a helluva statement from someone who’s trying to understand the world.

It’s also irresponsible as hell.

By all means, apply your “simple evolutionary heuristic to ask roughly what would we guess the overall level of concerns about these things to be”, but then you need to, as the economistically-minded are so fond of saying, “mark to market”, to see if that heuristic or puzzle or theory actually does tell you anything about the phenomenon you’re prodding.

Had he done so, Hanson might have come across the story of the Mennonite women in Bolivia, might have considered whether gentle silent rape was even a thing worth conjuring, and whether he had any understanding of harm, much less the world, at all.





I try to imagine another planet, another sun

4 03 2019

JT introduced me to Rickie Lee Jones back in Sellery A.

Those were the days of vinyl and hanging out between classes and Terri, Terri, you gotta listen to this, the needle placed just so on the first track:

And as that fades, the notes slowing into silence, this kicks in:

Eighteen in a dorm room in Madison, the sun flooding in, and just JT and me, just listening.

The lyrics scatter across the music, a mosaic less of sense than mood, and then there’s this:

I’m not asking so much

I try to imagine another planet, another sun

Where I don’t look like me

And everything I do matters

To be nothing and everything, to run away and be fully there; I’ve been scampering across that teeter-totter ever since.

I wonder if that’s why, even though I’m middle-aged, I don’t quite feel grown: isn’t growing up about managing, getting past, that all-or-nothing? To come to terms with one’s presence in the world?

I haven’t, yet. Over 50 years old and I haven’t, yet.

It’s not all bad; it’s not even mostly bad. It’s okay, it’s fine.

But how can that be enough? Shouldn’t there be something more to this, one, life? I want that something more, to leave my fingerprints on something beyond me—not (just) to be remembered, but to have known something beyond myself.

I used to, back in those days. It wasn’t complicated: there were things I wanted and so went for. Not everything, (not everyone. . .) but a lot, and maybe it was running but it felt toward, not away.

Well, then the ground gave way, and gravity was suspended. Took a long time to learn how to walk again.

But it’s also been awhile since I’ve been walking, and I know, I know, I’ve written variations on this theme too many times before, but my steps don’t always reach the ground and I could use a bit of gravity.