They Think They’re Heroes

One hilarious side effect of working your tush off to – y’know – work your tush off is that your middle-aged weight shifts. Weight doesn’t melt off the way it used to. The pants that fit last week droop here and tug there; one or the other is vexing but both wreck your chances of putting together an outfit you don’t throw on your cubicle floor before lunch. By you I mean me, and of course if my clothes are on your cubicle floor, someone’s got some ‘splainin’ to do. Thus, my bras snapped like rubber bands, and by the grace of Foundation Garment Goddesses, replacements arrive on a UPS truck. About half usually fit. Back go the others. Replacements arrive. It sounds like an unending pain in the ass, but it’s miles better than the frantic public humiliationfest that is a Saturday afternoon trying on clothes in a department store dressing room with bad light and mirrors in Sensurround. Jesus Christ, remind me to do that if I need a shove off the ledge.

It’s A Competitive World

Lovely Topaz gives you the boo boo eyes. You are helpless before them!

Tonight, Mom reports that Grandpa’s become very frail. He sleeps a lot, she says. That’s good, I said. It means he’s not distressed. She says he wasn’t hungry for blueberry muffins a couple of days ago, but yesterday ate chowder with gusto. He’s fading, she says. I’ve been down this road, I said, fairly recently. I know, she says. You should try not to worry, I said, often things are worse when we worry than when they actually happen. I’ve been worried a lot, she says. There’s only one question left to ask, I said, did you open a bottle of wine yet? What, she asks. Red coping mechanism or white coping mechanism, I said. Actually, she says, I found a stray gin and tonic and gave it a good home. Call me tomorrow, I said.

This Blackboard Lacks A Piece Of Chalk

To say that our backyard is the size of a postage stamp is to insult stamps. If it were up to me, I’d rototill the whole tiny thing and plant vegetables, but it isn’t up to me. Recently, a new tenant started putting her cat in the backyard on a tether every day, much to our chagrin and the dismay of stray cats we’ve been feeding. It never occurred to me someone would fight us for our yard space utilizing an unstoppably adorable rescued tabby cat. The cat is called Chase. He sits under the white lilac tree or the picnic table or wrestles with the pretty stray we call Woim, and so far, Chase leaves my spinach, arugula and squash alone.

Because we’ve had so much rain, Pete and I could not regularly feed our plants. In fact, it was a regular struggle to keep some of them from drowning. This year we chose to grow most things in containers we could move around the yard to fend off varmints and adapt to changing light conditions. We’ve found that window box size containers for lettuce and herbs work beautifully, but most plants need more root space. These squash plants are in a wooden box we found in the basement. Perhaps it should only contain one plant, but these thrive in this odd, small space. Once the flowers turn into little squashes I’ll rig them little hammocks to keep them out of the dirt. This, I believe, is the only reason a sane person buys pantyhose.

No, really. This is a small container, sitting on a small picnic table Pete made, sitting in a small grassy spot in a tiny backyard. I rather like the mysterious rustic box. Pete’s decided to elevate it for better drainage and to prevent the picnic table from shrinking. You can also see, lower and to the right, a large planter filled with vibrant spinach. Last year, we couldn’t grow enough spinach to feed the groundhogs, let alone steal a leaf here and there ourselves.

We don’t have a lot of time to work on the gardens. The gardening classes we signed up for have not panned out. I’d like to learn more about what makes some things grow like gangbusters while others grow sort of as an afterthought. Monkeyfister offers good ideas and resources, though I feel like a poor student. Despite our efforts, these squash blossoms feel like luck, not knowledge. I may pout!

Love You Save May Be Your Own

The Jackson 5’s Greatest Hits was the first album I ever bought with my own saved pennies. These songs were so important to me as a little girl my parents took away my second record Ben. It wasn’t until the last year of his life that Dad told me what’d happened. It was a shameful business: my parents were afraid that because Black is beautiful I would think only Black was beautiful, and I would never see my own beauty. Fortunately, I grew into my undeniable EXTREME! BEAUTY! I can’t really explain any of that. No matter how strange things got for him, I always had a soft spot in my heart for Michael Jackson.

Everything Else But Us Is

My co-workers are talking in one corner of the room about something wildly improbable, so I hit the Great Gazoogle and –

Wallabies get high in poppy fields, make crop circles

Jesus Donkeypunching Christ. Why do I get up in the morning? For stuff like this:

WALLABIES are breaking into Tasmania’s poppy fields and getting high. The strange occurrence, revealed in a State Government Budget Estimates hearing, has also solved what some growers say has spurred a campfire legend about mysterious crop circles that appear in northern Tasmania’s poppy paddocks.

In true X-Files-style, Attorney-General Lara Giddings said the drugged out wallabies had been found hopping around in circles squashing the poppies, creating the formations – and hence solving the mystery.

This morning, I was walking into the library and most of the sky was gray but a big part was a really beautiful blue-blue. Naturally, I thought, ‘I feel great! Crap!’ but we can also attribute that to getting up at stupid o’clock and making Pete take pictures of the squash blossoms in our backyard before dew evaporated, which I totally did. Stoned wallabees! I’m set till lunchtime.

Siobhan has mad cheesecake skilz.

Sometimes, what you need is precisely what you don’t. I know. The thought of it makes my eyebrows ache. Picture this: famous desert horrorscape and resort, where the problem is a little fresh water.

The parched moonscape, famous as the site of biblical Sodom and Gomorra, is the lowest point on earth and runs more than 60 miles through Israel and the West Bank. Large sections of the coast are fenced off and signposted in Hebrew and English: “danger, open pits” and “sinkhole area ahead.” But it’s too expensive to inspect every place for danger. Just two months ago an Israeli hiker wandered into an area that had no warning signs and was critically injured when he fell into a sinkhole.

While such accidents are rare, Raz says there are up to 3,000 open sinkholes along the coast and likely just as many that haven’t burst open yet. And they’re having a big impact on Israeli development plans.

The collapsing terrain has forced authorities to close a campground, date groves and a small naval base, and to scrap plans for 5,000 new hotel rooms, said Galit Cohen, director of environmental planning at the Ministry of the Environment. The holes, also found on the Jordanian side of the sea, are the result of the Dead Sea having shrunk by a third since the 1960s when Israel and Jordan built plants to divert water flowing through its main tributary, the Jordan River.

The holes form when a subterranean salt layer that once bordered the sea is dissolved by underground fresh water that follows the receding Dead Sea waters.

I’m no geologist, but it sounds like the earth’s surface may not be where the people walking around on it think it is. For safety’s sake, everyone should consider carrying around thirty-foot inflatable stilts and a bicycle pump. Taking into account the trouble our Northern European brethren are having with global warming and rising ocean levels, I bet you can find these useful appliances at Ikea. Or what about piping the stormy North Atlantic straight to the parched spa oasis, hmm?

I kind of live in fear of having to explain that was a joke.

Did you know there were such things as “mad cheesecake skilz”? Because I did not. This cake is covered with glitter dust. Richard Simmons was not harmed in the making of this cake – only in the eating of it.

What else is bugging me?

Kimberley Vlaeminck from the city of Kortrijk, 90 km (56 miles) northwest of Brussels said she fell asleep during the procedure, and woke up in pain when her nose was being tattooed.

But the 18-year-old was caught off camera on Dutch television when she said she quite liked the tattoo, but lied about asking for all 56 stars when she saw her father’s furious reaction.

A teenager lied, the sky is blue and this is news. That could bug anyone.

Am Everyday People

This is vile. It happens all the time, which only makes it worse.

Request for Action from the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA):

Cirila Baltazar Cruz gave birth to her baby girl in November of 2008 at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, MS. She speaks very little Spanish and no English, as her native language is Chatino, an Indigenous language from Oaxaca, Mexico that is spoken by some 50,000 people.

The hospital provided her with an “interpreter” who is from Puerto Rico and does not speak Chatino, the language of the mother. Because of the language barrier and the misunderstanding by the hospital’s interpreter who only spoke Spanish and English, a social worker was called in.

The hospital’s social worker reported “evidence” of abuse and neglect based on the following:

* The “baby was born to an illegal [sic] immigrant;”
* The “mother had not purchased a crib, clothes, food or formula.” (Most Latina mothers breast feed their babies).
* “She does not speak English which puts baby in danger.”

Ms. Baltazar Cruz’s baby was snatched from her after birth at the hospital and given to an affluent attorney couple from the posh Ocean Springs who cannot have children.

The authorities made no effort to locate an interpreter in her native tongue. MIRA located an interpreter who is fluent in Chatino in Los Angeles CA and has interviewed the mother extensively with the interpreters help. The mother has been accused of being poor and not being able to provide for this child. No one has asked the mother to provide evidence of support. She owns a home in Mexico and a store which provides both secure shelter and financial support, not counting the nurturing of a loving family of two other siblings, a grandmother, aunts, uncles and other extended family.

Meanwhile, there is word in the Gulf Coast community that the “parents to be,” have already had a baby shower celebrating the “blessed arrival” of this STOLEN child!


If you believe this is unjust and outrageous and goes against all moral and religious beliefs and values, please call or write to the presiding Judge and the MS Department of Human Services to STOP this ILLEGAL ADOPTION! Stealing US born babies from immigrant parents is a growing epidemic in the United States. Many Latino parents have lost their children this way!

Honorable Judge Sharon Sigalas
Youth Justice Court of Jackson County
4903 Telephone Rd.
Pascagoula, MS 39567

Children’s Justice Act Program
MS Dept. of Human Services
750 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202
Call (601)359-4499 and ask for Barbara Proctor

For more information please call MIRA at: (601) 968-5182

MIRA Organizing Coordinator
Victoria Cintra at (228) 234-1697 or Organizer Socorro Leos at(228) 731-0831

Between 800-1000 people read this blog every day. You could do some real good in the world by making a couple of polite phone calls.

Your Future: It’s Gonna Rain

My brother Todd, who sent this cartoon, is quite a card.

For the most part, the men in my father’s family either live well into their irascible nineties or they turned 43 and keeled over. I reminded Todd of this during an exchange of pizza recipes recently because mine – and this seemed significant in this context – wouldn’t stop your heart, what with Todd being 43 and all. He says times have changed. He runs all the time, eats lots of seafood and vegetables and knows his cholesterol numbers. He’s highly motivated by his two little children to stay active and vigilant. I don’t really worry about him.

Meanwhile, last week, I upped the resistance on both the rowing machine and the stationary bike, which predictably affected my appetite. I went from Hormonally Hungry to Glamorously Ravenous. This morning, I had not one but two small grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches on whole grain toast rounds, and my biceps feel beefy! Which I love! But I sure would like to get a handle on this worrisome hunger thing. This is not the kind of bad example I like to set.

Stretch A Band Between His Toes

On Saturday, Pete had a delightful encounter at the toy store.

Pete: I looked up and there was this little girl, about nine or ten. She looked like your niece.
Tata: Which one? Lois?
Pete: Lois! Light blond hair, blue eyes, skinny. She was wearing a little girl t-shirt, a little girl sweater, jeans and sneakers. And a big fake mustache like that movie critic –
Tata: Gene Shalit?
Pete: Yeah! She was completely serious, so I said, “Can I help you, sir?” She cleared her throat and said in a deep voice, “Yes.”
Tata: GET OUT!
Pete: I didn’t smile or anything, I just kept going. “Would you like me to gift wrap this for you, sir?” and she said, “[deep voice] That would be nice.” She was alone in the store but her mom kept peeking her head in from outside.
Tata: I’m so happy! Did you recognize the little girl?
Pete: How could I recognize her? She was in disguise!
Tata: Omigod, you should have taken a picture!
Pete: I wanted to but I would’ve had to let on I knew she wasn’t a grown man.
Tata: Then what happened?
Pete: She got into a van with her parents and her sister and they took off.
Tata: I’m so jealous! I wish I’d seen her. Oooh, you know who are going to be mad they missed that? Anya and Corinne! My sisters are going to be steamed!
Pete: She’s my favorite customer ever. “[deep voice] That would be nice.”
Tata: I love that you didn’t tell her to take off the mustache or pretend it wasn’t there. That’s the most fun: seeing something coming and letting the adventure unfold.
Pete: And it was way better than my other idea: there’s a man wearing a little girl suit and forgot to cover his mustache.
Tata: Hmm, suddenly this has gone all Cinemax.

All She Wants To Do Is All She Wants

A long time ago, far, far away, a friend took a job in Tewksbury, MA, and from distant New Jersey, I saw this for what it was: an opportunity for a scandalous road trip.

Johnny’s always been the pretty one.

Every so often, Siobhan pipes up with tales of another episode from our freewheeling life together that I’ve totally forgotten. Yesterday, she went a step further and produced pictures I evidently captioned by hand. That’s a new twist, even if the words themselves are Johnny’s longtime motto. In any case, I had totally forgotten that the unnamed, over-employed friend on a business trip used my nail polish to paint symbols on his forehead. If Siobhan has pictures of that, that might be a career-ender for our friend. Ah, youthful exuberance! You’re as young as you feel until the cops show up and you hand them an AARP card.

Don’t forget to floss, kids!

In point of fact, Ivan and I donned those Santa suits at the drop of a hat for years. We bought them for Santacon a bazillion years ago. Come to think of it, I should have mine bronzed. He should have his fumigated.

When Siobhan reminded me of this scurrilous excursion, the only thing I recalled was sitting outside a waffle house on a Sunday morning, all five of us blisteringly hung over and paralyzed while Ivan read us the chapter from Steve Martin’s book Pure Drivel about memory loss. It was obvious to the locals we had not just come from church and our presence was suspicious. Breakfast both saved and imperiled our lives. That, I remember.

A Vacant Lot For Any Spirit To Haunt

Oh brudder:

A passenger told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that she noticed Sicily was missing – while she was on a flight to the island. Smaller islands, such as Sardinia, were in the right place on the map.

Alitalia was re-launched earlier this year under private ownership. It had been a state-run company for more than 60 years before going bankrupt.

One Italian Senator, Riccardo Villari, said it was unfortunate the big advertising campaign surrounding the re-launch had been followed by “unpleasant” errors. The magazine editor, Aldo Canale, said: “We have run lots of editions on the beauty of Sicily and we would never dream of eliminating it from maps of Italy.”

This reminds me of that time on a genealogical bulletin board when someone said my great-grandfather never existed. I recall shouting a lot, “The proof that he lived is that I’M SITTING RIGHT HERE.” See, he married a divorced woman, which was cause for little old ladies to slather White Out all over the family records. Hope Sicily reappears or floating through baggage claim in the Mediterranean’s going to be VERY FREAKING TRICKY.

You’ve got to give it to Chris Dodd. He knows he’s about to fuck up so bad Connecticut’s voters might finally put him out of a job, and yet he sounds so calm about it.

On the one hand, Dodd expressed his strong support for a public health plan that would compete with private insurers and give Americans to buy into an insurance system that doesn’t fatten corporations’ bottom line. On the other, Dodd signaled his willingness to accept a “compromise.”

“We have the votes to pass a bill that expands coverage to millions of Americans, improves quality, protects patient choice, cuts costs, and averts disaster for our economy and our families,” Dodd wrote. “But, as frustrating as it is to you and to me, I don’t know if we have the votes to pass a strong public health care option. What I do know is that whether we can get there or not is still an open question. What I do know is that I plan to fight hard to convince my colleagues on the committee and in the full Senate that we need a public option. What I do know is that I’m going to need your help.”

I’d sound a little more nervous if I were saying to Americans, “Dudes – can I call you ‘Dudes?’ – Dudes, we’re going to expand coverage by forcing you to buy it, refuse to help pay for it and sit around with our collegial thumbs up our asses while the insurers refuse claims and make your lives an exorbitantly expensive living hell.” In fact, knowing that this plan will actually make the lives of Americans much worse would prevent me from saying it at all.

So who knew I had some dignity? Not Siobhan, who just sent an old picture of Ivan and me in Santa suits in a Tewksbury, MA hotel room where she, Ivan and I met up with Johnny and drank Boone’s Farm out of bowls. Apparently, paper cups were illegal within the city limits – but whatever: dignity, motherfuckers! Like the Portuguese, I guess:

Notably, decriminalization has become increasingly popular in Portugal since 2001. Except for some far-right politicians, very few domestic political factions are agitating for a repeal of the 2001 law. And while there is a widespread perception that bureaucratic changes need to be made to Portugal’s decriminalization framework to make it more efficient and effective, there is no real debate about whether drugs should once again be criminalized. More significantly, none of the nightmare scenarios touted by preenactment decriminalization opponents — from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for “drug tourists” — has occurred.

The political consensus in favor of decriminalization is unsurprising in light of the relevant empirical data. Those data indicate that decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal, which, in numerous categories, are now among the lowest in the EU, particularly when compared with states with stringent criminalization regimes. Although postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically. Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens — enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization.

You had me at postdecriminalization, Mr. Greenwald.