Thursday, March 30, 2006

My Toes Are Giddy With Anticipation

Moving is like finals. No matter how much prep you attempt to do, it is always a last-minute, late-night cram job. I've been stressing for the last week, trying each night after work and during the weekend to organize and pack as much as I could. Little by little, I was starting to see signs of progress. But tonight, with Raj's help, I have finally seen the apartment begin to transform from my home into an emptyish blank-walled space in transition.

Despite the progress, it's still a certifiable disaster area. It's filled with boxes, odds and ends for which I have not yet managed to find homes, and dust bunnies the size of Godzilla lurking defiantly in the corners. In less than 48 hours I will be DONE moving into Raj's apartment. Thank God.

Granted, I will be in the midst of unpacking craziness, but that will be so much better than the packing, cleaning and lifting that has to be done in order to get all of my stuff into Raj's place. Tomorrow, I need to wake up, get an enormous cup of coffee, finish packing, and then head across town to pick up the truck and start my day of lifting boxes.

Currently, I am living for the pedicure, manicure, and massage that I plan to have on Saturday while Raj is watching the Final Four games. Here are some of my pictures of inspiration. I. Can. Not. Wait. A splurge, pampering, relaxation, and some serious snuggling time are definitely in order.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Comments From Cabbies

This morning, Raj and I had some "issues" relating to the impending move and our relationship come up while we were both at work. We were both tired and far too stressed out to deal with the issues in a mature, rational and loving manner. He said he couldn't talk. I freaked out. I did not handle myself well. I was not mature. I was not balanced. There were tears, some raised voices, and some nasty expressions of hurt and anger flying at one another over email. It was not pretty. Email fights are just not a good idea. It's too easy to pound the keyboard and hit the all caps button when you're feeling hurt and angry, and hardly anything positive ever comes out of it. There's always a need for extensive cleanup to fix the mess of bruised feelings and ragged emotions.

After work today, once we had both calmed down enough to remember that we care about one another, we met at Raj's office and grabbed a cab to go to his house to "talk." The cleanup process began in the cab, while we were still thawing, not quite ready to smile at each other. He told me that one of my particularly angry emails was "unacceptable," and that it made him question whether he wanted to be in a relationship with "the kind of person" who could write that email. I told him that if he was questioning whether he wanted to be with me, then we probably shouldn't be in a relationship. I said I didn't want to be with someone who brought up breaking up every single time we had a fight. It's impossible to feel secure in that type of situation. The conversation was calm, but weighty.

In New York, riding in the back of dark cabs speeding through the city, with cabbies who are often far too busy talking on their cell phones to pay more attention to their passengers than is required to ask "where to?," I often get lulled into feeling secure and safe in what oftentimes feels like your own private, albeit tempory, space. It's relaxing and calming, a brief respite away from the din of the cars and the throngs of people rushing up and down the sidewalks. I often take advantage of those moments of relative peace to catch up on my phone calls to friends and family, or to just relax.

In almost a year and half in New York, until tonight, I had only one negative experience with a cab driver. That time my cabbie was either mentally unstable, a daredevil driver, or on drugs. He took me on a careening trip through the city, alternating between speeding and violently breaking, causing me and the car to jerk around uncomfortably. Each time this would happen, he would cackle and burst into laughter. I'm serious, the man actually cackled. Repeatedly. On that occasion, I was genuinely alarmed, and a little afraid, and considered taking my chances on opening the back door and rolling out onto the pavement. Ultimately, I reached my destination safely, but it was unnerving. With that one exception, and excluding tonight, every cab driver I have ever had the opportunity to ride with in New York has been either friendly, professional, or has paid no attention to me whatsoever.

Tonight, however, I met a mean cabbie. When Raj and I reached Raj's apartment building, I got out of the cab and stood a few feet away on the sidewalk waiting for Raj to pay. Raj was looking through his bags for singles, so a few moments passed before he was ready to get out of the cab. I was standing on the sidewalk, trying to politely wait for him as a show of good will, twisting my feet back and forth. I turned away from the cab and then turned back to see if Raj was making any progress.

As I turned back around, my eyes met the eyes of the cab driver who was staring directly at me out of his open window. I saw him clearly for the first time. He was a brown-skinned man with a white turban wrapped around his head. He was glaring at me and had a nasty look on his face. His stare was aggressive and I felt like he was giving me the evil eye. I felt uncomfortable, but then shook my discomfort away and told myself I was just being silly.

I broke eye contact with the cab driver, who was still staring at me, and walked towards the open door where Raj was still counting his money. He seemed to be fumbling, and he asked me to help him with one of his bags, which I did. He was a bit brusque, but I thought it was because we had just started our thawing process. Raj got out and shut the door and as we were walking towards his apartment, and as the cab was driving away, Raj told me that the cab driver had said something about me. I asked him what the cab driver said. Raj told me that the cab driver had asked him in English whether I was his girlfriend. Raj had replied, "yes," and then the cab driver said something nasty about me in hindi. Raj doesn't understand hindi, so he didn't know what the cab driver said, but he felt sure that it was nasty and that it was directed at me.

The minute Raj told me, I started to cry. It was too much. All the stress about moving, all the work I have to get done, trying to have fun with my mom while she is here, and then all of the other relationship issues that Raj and I have, including the fact that he is Indian and I am white, and his family would prefer that it was otherwise. On top of all that, this Indian cab driver takes it upon himself to tell Raj something nasty about me. How mean! I'm always nice to cab drivers. I would never judge him because he is brown or because he's wearing a turban, yet he judged me because of the conversation that Raj and I had, and because I'm white and I'm dating and Indian man. Granted, I don't know this for sure, but that's what it seemed like. For the third time this week, I find myself wanting to cry and say it's not fair. Because it's not.

When we got upstairs, I blubbered out that the "hindi cab driver hates me and he doesn't think we should be together, and he thinks I'm nothing because he heard you say that you didn't know if you wanted to be with someone who wrote that email, and that's a horrible thing to say - to say that you are going to break up with someone over just one fight - and you shouldn't say that lightly because it's mean and it hurts me, and the cab driver knew it was mean, and he was mean to me too, and he starred at me like he hated me just because I'm white and because I'm with you, and he thinks the same as your family, that you shouldn't be with me..." Cry. Cry. Cry.

Raj said, "First of all, the cab driver was a Sikh. Second of all, I made clear that I was having none of it. Damn it, I shouldn't have tipped him. Third of all, your race and my race have nothing to do with the problems we're having related to moving... Sweetie, can you please forget about the cab driver?" He also suggested that the cabbie may have made that comment because he was of a variety of male that believed that women should be silent and obey their boyfriends. Raj said that I'm "spunky" and that's the way he likes me. Sweet of Raj to say, but whether it was because I'm white or a spunky woman, it was still unnecessary.

I tried to forget, and we talked and we resolved some things, but not everything. After an hour, when we had mostly defrosted, I had to leave. He has work to do, I have work to do, and it's my mom's last night in town. I already feel intensely guilty for not being able to spend enough time with her during the last few days, and for being stressed and a brat during the little time that we actually got to hang out together. I hate feeling like a horrible daughter, but that's often how I feel when we hang out. I get too easily annoyed at little things. I should be better and more understanding. I love her a lot and I should communicate that better.

So I left him, even though I hate letting things go when there are still things left to be said between us. Still misinterpretations that need to be unravelled and hurt feelings that need to be soothed. I hope we'll be able to do that during the next few days, and I hope we'll get through this moving stress and that things will calm down and we'll find that we're happy sharing the same space. I think we will, or I would not have contemplated moving in together. But man is it hard to remember that in the heat of hurt feelings.

One thing we do not need during this stressful time, or ever, are mean stupid cabbies sticking their nose into our business. Even if we did bring it onto ourselves by talking about such weighty issues in the back of the cabbie's cab. He still should not have said anything, and he should not have given me the evil eye. Mean cabbie.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Dishonourable "Honour Killing" in Italy

Every now and then, I come across a story that makes me want to snatch up all the men in the world (except for those proven to be good and worthy) and beat the living shit out of them until I turn them all into unrecognizable piles of bloody pulp. My brothers, father, boyfriend, and other men I know and love, excluded (and yours as well, if you can vouch for them). Today I came across such a story: "Mafioso Shoots Sisters Over "Dishonour."

In Italy this weekend, 24 year old Giovanni Morabito, a member of the Calabrian Mafia, shot his sister, Bruna (32), 4 times in the face in an effort to murder her for having a child out of wedlock. Amazingly, the sister is still alive. She had given birth two weeks ago. The despicable prick of a brother showed no remorse and admitted:
I shot her, I shot my sister...She had a child by a man she was not married to. It is a question of honour. I would have shot her in the back, but she turned round. I am not sorry. On the contrary, I am proud of what I did. [I waited until she had given birth because under Mafia code] you don't kill pregnant women.
This man deserves to have his testicles and penis cut off and fed to him while he is alive to know what he is eating. We'll see then if he continues to feel pride for shooting his INNOCENT sister in the face 4 fucking times. Somehow, I think that if the punishment for honour killings was castration, we would see a lot less of them. This story makes me furious because it is so unjust.

Investigators believe that the sister was targeted, not only because of the child, but also because she had tried to distance herself from her Mafia family. Figures. Honour killings as an excuse used by males to settle unrelated scores are not news. I guess what enrages me the most is that this is an accepted excuse to commit murder. One dick is pissed that another dick put his dick near his sister, mother, daughter. So the first dick shoots the sister, mother, daughter (and sometimes the other dick) to avenge his so-called honour. Where the hell is the honour in killing anyone, least of all your sister, mother, daughter? It makes me want to cry. That poor woman.

How could a brother or father do this to his daughter or sister?

Apartment Moving Angst

It's Sunday evening again and I'm thinking where did the weekend go?? It's already a fading blur and I can't believe it's Monday again tomorrow. Today it hit me in the hardware store in Chelsea, around 2 pm, when the Russian woman behind the counter told Raj and I to enjoy the rest of our Sunday afternoon. I felt my chest clench slightly and I turned to Raj and asked wistfully, "Is it really Sunday already?"

We had just purchased sand paper and a bath tub plug, both integral elements of our apartment-improvement-make-Raj's-space-our-space-and-both-of-us-happy plans. Bubble baths are very important to me. The sand paper was for a bar that Raj and I put up in my closet today to hold approximatley 1/3 of my clothes. Also incredibly important. We put it up all by ourselves. We also detached this unefficient wall monstrosity from IKEA leftover in Raj's apartment from the previous tenant. It will be replaced on Thursday with a far more space efficient book shelf and bureau. Oh happy day. The weekend flew by because I was constantly busy either packing, carting things to Raj's via taxi, or trying to spend some QT with my mom.

Yesterday, my Mom and I decided to go stand in line in Times Square to get 1/2 priced tickets to a Broadway Show. This is the second time we've done this, and each time it's a bit too much effort for what we wind up with. I had envisioned a relaxing Saturday beginning with brunch in Soho and then leisurely strolling around, people watching, and shopping. However, as anyone knows who has gone in for the whole 1/2 priced Broadway thing, the whole experience takes up pretty much the whole day. We got up, had a quick breakfast, and then headed over to Times Square which was packed. After making our way to the end of an extremely long line, I ran and got us coffees from Starbuck's while my mom saved our spot. I was actually enjoying the Times Square vibe at first. I hadn't been to that part of the city for a while, and I have to admit I am always rather dazzled by the spectacle of all the lights and 40 foot ads. Who wouldn't be?

After waiting for a little under an hour, we finally got up to the ticket booth and found that the only musicals available that we hadn't seen were obstructed view seats for the Producers and full view seats for Ring of Fire. We went the full view seats and what we thought would be a Broadway version of "Walk The Line," complete with cute Reese/June and Johnny/Joaquin look-a-likes, drama and dancing. From Times Square we zipped down to Union Square because my mom wanted to find some dress pants at Banana. That was really an error on my part, because we should have gone to the Banana near Macy's on 34th street in light of the fact that we had only an hour and a 1/2 before the show started. Because of my poor planning, we ended up with 15 minutes to grab a bite to eat before the show. We opted for the only food in site, which happened to be a divey pizza place. Decent pizza, but pizza nonetheless. Alas, not the scrumptous brunch I had envisioned.

After taking our seats in the theater, we learned that "Ring of Fire" was actually "the songs of Johnny Cash." One after another. No drama. Minimal dancing. There were some look-a-likes, 3 of each to be precise, but no cohesive story attached to any of them. It was a bit disappointing for both of us, although to be fair to the show, the cast had incredible voices and much of it was entertaining. The second act got a little slow, especially with all the prison songs. My favorite Johnny Cash songs (judging only from Walk The Line and Ring of Fire) are the ones he and June Carter sang together, and they did a few of those in the first act. I liked that song about getting my loving when I've got loving on my mind. I think the main problem for my mom and I wasn't with the show, but rather that we were more in a "Beauty and the Beast" kind of mood than a foot-stomping country singing kind of mood. Talking about it later, we both concluded that it's probably worth it to just pay the full price to get tickets for a show that you actually want to see, instead of running around all stressed for a 3rd place choice.

Saturday night was a lovely dinner at Doc's with Raj and my mom. My mom had two cosmos, her drink of choice. Since I'm lacking a signature drink, I went with wine. The meal was good, though not as yummy as the meal my mom and I had on Friday at Ulrika's. Now that place is awesome, whether you're Swedish or not. And they sell Swedish candy. Yum!! I have to give it up the key lime pie at Doc's though. Delicious.

After our day of apartment-improvements, a tired Raj and I watched Sopranos and Big Love with my mom, his sister and her boyfriend. Tony's awake!! Has anyone figured out the meaning of his whole coma-dream parallel universe sequence yet? I have no clue. Who is Kevin Finnerty? On Big Love, I have only one thing to comment upon: That disgusting older man Roman with a fifteen year old?? Oh my God. So gross. At least she has an ipod to listen to now. The evening was fun, but over too soon, and in the background of all of it was this low wave vibration of stress that I know won't stop until Thursday comes.

I can't believe I move in 4 days!! I still have a lot to do, and I'm worried about the space at Raj's. I want both of us to be happy and comfortable, a challenge in fairly small quarters with limited closet space. I'm also feeling pangs about my apartment. At one point today, I came back to my place to grab the rest of my clothes. I moved them to Raj's pre-move to get them organized before the chaos of Thursday descends upon us. My place is currently a disaster area, with odds and ends strewn about and covering the entire floor space. Clothes for good will are piled up against the walls, and boxes, some packed, some empty, are everywhere.

Despite the mess, when I walked into my place, all I saw was everything that I'm going to miss about it. It's enormous and spacious (relatively speaking and for an L studio), it has 2 giant closets with tons of shelving, shelving, cabinets and a medicine cabinet in the bathroom, a wall of windows that look out onto the Empire State Building, acres of empty hardwood covered floor (that I used to view cynically as wasted dollars), a bed side table on each side of my queen sized bed, a kitchen table, my bike with the flat tires, two book shelves, and space for all of the things that I have collected over the course of these last 31 years. And until Thursday it's all mine. How is it going to feel to not have any space that's just mine anymore? A very small part of me wonders if I'm going to freak out, but I try to not pay that part much attention. I would hope I'm more mature and balanced than that.

I gather that the way couples live together on top of each other like Raj and I are about to do, is through the powers of communication, patience, compromise, and compassion. I hope Raj is compassionate and understanding on Thursday, and on the days that will follow, because though I am very excited to move in with him, I'm a little sad to be leaving my space. He probably feels similarly.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Morning Goddess: Kali

The Goddess Kali is worshipped in Hinduism as a ferocious manifestation of Parvati, an incarnation of the Devi or Mother Goddess. She is the Divine Mother, Goddess of Destruction, Conqueror of Time, and Triple Goddess of creation, preservation, and destruction. She is a Destroyer of Demons.

Kali is fearsome in appearance. She has wild eyes, a protruding tongue, and she wields a bloody sword. Kali holds the severed head of a demon, and she wears a belt of severed heads.

Kali is described in the Devi-Mahatmyam (also known as the Chandi or the Durgasaptasati) from the Markandey Purana written between 300-600 CE, where she is said to have emanated from the brow of the goddess Durga (slayer of demons) during one of the battles between the divine and anti-divine forces. Kali is considered the 'forceful' form of the great goddess Durga.

The unleashed form of Kali often becomes wild and uncontrollable. According to legend, only Shiva is able to tame Kali, a version of one of his consorts. Shiva tames Kali by challenging her to the wild tandava dance and outdoing her, or appearing as a crying infant and appealing to her maternal instincts. While Shiva is said to be able to tame her, the iconography often presents her dancing on his fallen body, and there are accounts of the two of them dancing together, and driving each other to such wildness that the world comes close to unravelling.

Here is one story of the manifestation of Kali: "The Gods were not able to kill the demon, Raktabija. Each drop of his blood that touched the ground turned into another Raktabija. Thus, every time he was struck, millions of his duplicates appeared all over the battlefield."

"At this point the Gods were totally desperate, and they then turned to Shiva for help. Shiva, though, was so deep in meditation that he could not be reached. The Gods then turned to Shiva's consort Parvati for help. The Goddess Parvati immediately set out to do battle with the demon, and it was then that She took the form of Kali."

"Kali then appeared, with Her red eyes, dark complexion, gaunt features, hair unbound, and Her teeth as sharp as fangs. She rode into the midst of the battle on a lion, and it was only then that the demon Raktabija first began to experience fear."

"Kali then ordered the Gods to attack Raktabija, while she spread Her tongue over the battlefield, covering it completely, and preventing even one drop of the demon's blood from falling. In doing this, Kali revented Raktabija from reproducing himself again, and the Gods were then victorious."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Feminine Beauty Is NOT A Load of Pornographic Crap

For the past few days I have been thinking about a post that Morphing Into Mama ("MIM") wrote on "false advertising" and the firestorm of discussion it provoked, some thoughtful and some nasty, that you can read about here, here, and here, as well as in the comments to MIM's post. In her post, MIM made the point that when people project themselves one way during the dating phase of a relationship, and then dramatically alter themselves after marriage (i.e. by cutting off their long luscious locks or significantly changing their weight), their earlier behavior is at least arguably a type of "false advertising." This did not strike me as controversial in the least. Of course it's false advertising to project an image of yourself while dating that you plan on unilaterally rejecting once you have "settled down" with a spouse.

It's false advertising in the same way that it's false advertising when single and dating to add the appearance of 1 or 2 cup sizes to your breasts with the aid of water bras or removable gel pads before you go out for an evening of scoping and flirting. If your breasts catch a boy's attention (because he's into that), it's natural that it might be somewhat disappointing at the end of the evening when you take out your gel pads and show yourself as a bit less buxom than you had previously advertised yourself to be. Not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with boob-enhancing devices. If you're happy and it works for you, then by all means go for it. There's nothing wrong with playing dress-up.

There's also nothing wrong with little boobs. I have 'em and I love 'em. But, it's realistic to appreciate that someone else, upon discovering apples, might be a tad let down if in fact they were expecting melons. This is just common sense. Personally, my boobs are of the small and perky variety, and though I do use push up bras for cleavage now and then, I've never been partial to heavily padding up my boobs because I never wanted to attract a boy with a promise that I couldn't deliver on. I much prefer being upfront with who I am. It's more fun that way, and it's far simpler. It is also, as MIM suggests, a bit more fair.

In MIM's false advertising post she candidly discussed her own body consciousness and admitted that she works to stay healthy and fit for herself and for her husband (emphasis added). I don't want to add to the pile of words that have been shoved into her mouth, so here is the actual language she used:
"I am conscious of my weight, so I don't snack, and I exercise...I work to maintain my figure for myself and my husband. If I had been 160 pounds when we married that would one thing. Then it would be totally unreasonable for him to want me to be 120 pounds. But it would be false advertising if he’d married his 120 pound girlfriend and ended up with a 160 pound wife.” She then commented, "Personally, I think it would be unfair to Husband if I gained a bunch of weight and did nothing about it.”

In a follow-up post, MIM explained that her main point was that: "people in an intimate relationship should be considerate of each other and understand that their physical appearance, and any MAJOR change to it, can affect their partner and their relationship." Seems to me, that's not very controversial either. Of course, people in intimate relationships should be considerate of one another, and of course major changes to one's appearance can affect your partner. There is nothing novel or surprising about this.

However, to my surprise, MIM's post sparked off a blogger controversy, and she was scathingly villified by several writers as a complicit victim of the patriarchy. For example, in an astonishing post that grossly and flagrantly mischaracterizes, misinterprets, and twists MIM's words, "Twisty" of I Blame The Patriarchy accusesd MIM of "capitulat[ing] to the patriarchal feminine hotness imperative," and being unable to "reject the authority of the Male Gaze."

Twisty also attacks MIM for her alleged "weight-specific brand of sexy conformity to patriarchal hotness standards," and suggets that MIM is displaying herself "according to male standards of fuckability as defined by pornography." Twisty ended the post by imploring "all women, regardless of the degree to which they have been assimilated by Dude Nation, to extricate themselves with all possible speed from the prison of male fantasy. Feminine beauty is a load of pornographic crap."

I'm down with rejecting the Male Gaze, and after reading many of MIM's posts, I have a funny feeling that she might just be down with that too. MIM never suggested that she was conforming to anyone's notion of beauty except her own. All she said was that the way she looks affects her partner, just as the way her partner looks affects her. This is not rocket science. Since when does acknowledging that the way you look might affect your partner mean that you are a prisoner of the Male Gaze?

MIM's crimes, for which Twisty appears to believe MIM deserves to be drawn and quartered, apparently consist of being slender, having nice hair, looking hot, and being so "fuckable" that she could appear in a porno. What's going on here? Who exactly is imposing comformist definitions of female sexuality? Is it the Patriarchy, is it MIM, or is it Twisty? I don't think it's MIM because she never made any reference to feeling any pressure whatsoever to conform to any image of female beauty, patriarchal or otherwise. She appears to be doing her own thing and trying to be healthy and fit up to her own standards in a way that works for her.

Does the fact that she is also cognizant that her maintaining her figure might be something from which her husband could derive some pleasure as well mean that she is a victim of the Patriarchy? I don't think so. MIM herself makes clear that she thinks it would be equally unfair if her husband significantly changed his weight. Clearly, in their relationship, the notions of fairness, consideration, and of "checking in" go both ways. There are no draconian, patriarchal views of feminine beauty or "wifely duties" at play.

It can not be, as Twisty suggests, that any time a woman acknowledges that she is somewhat motivated by wanting to appear attractive to her lover that she must be a brainless, conformist, prisoner of the patriarchy. Take for example me. I wax, shave and lazer because I want to, and because I find myself sexier sans hair. That is my decision. It has not escaped my attention that porn stars and strippers are often hairless, nor that many men find hairlessness sexy. My Boyfriend among them. Does the fact that I wax my pussy while being aware that my Boyfriend is going to like it make me a prisoner of the Patriarchy? Not to me. What about if he preferred hair down there? Would I be less of a prisoner of the Patriarchy if I bucked cultural notions of feminine beauty by being hairy (and conformed to the Twisty Gaze), but conformed to my Boyfriend's personal tastes and rejected MINE?

That would just be plain silly. Refusing to do something you want just because you don't want to appear like your conforming to patriarchal notions of feminine beauty does not make you any less of a slave to the Patriarchy. It just makes you an unhappy slave. Doesn't this all come down to figuring out what YOU want, and then following YOUR desires regardless of what the Patriarchy, Husband, Boyfriend, Twisty, or Bloggerdom say? That's what MIM appears to be doing, and that's why I like her. She does not deserve to be trashed by Bloggerdom for her honesty, introspection, and her stating of the obvious. Tsk, tsk to those who attacked her maliciously instead of trying to figure out what she actually meant.

All About Hazard

Today was a terrible day. Just 1 month shy of his first birthday, Hazard went under the knife. I hear you Miss Nibbles…I would have rather gotten a female and breed my pup with another lab but 1) I am not financially stable to worry about all of a sudden having pups that need shots/food and may not sell and 2) 2 dogs that mate would be a handful to take care of especially if it means a litter down the road. Poor Hazard had no idea what was going on today. He knew that when I turned on the highway it wasn’t any normal day going to work. He gave me a questioning look. At that point seeing his beautiful face so unknowing of the events to come, tears fell down.

We made it to the vet, Silver Creek Animal Clinic and I cried in the car; almost decided to say fuck it and keep my pup's manhood. But I knew I would get a phone call to reschedule and in the long run, this is better for his health and will avoid any law suit for my stud impregnating another dog (which I would have no money to deal with). He was as puppyish as ever with his facial features and hyperactive qualities. We couldn’t get him to calm down so they gave him a sedative. Well, it didn’t really work. I waited for everyone and their dog to clear the area prior to entering the building after walking him to get some energy out because Hazard would want some booty or want to play. The sedative did nothing to calm his hormones when a female was around. The vet came out again and gave him some pain medication to see if that would work, and in 15 minutes he was feeling calm. So I walked him to a cage in the back and said goodbye.

Then I cried some more on the way to work feeling very guilty for doing this.

They said he would be ready at the earliest at 3 pm…I got a call at 12:00 saying that Hazard really wanted to go home. The tranqs had worn off quite a bit. My pup always talks like “Arrr, arrr…” (kind of like a Scooby Doo talk), I was nervous that taking his manhood would hurt his personality and verbal abilities, but no, I went to pick up my “baby boy” and I could hear him talking up a storm in the back. He stopped talking as soon as he heard my voice approaching. It was difficult for him to get in the car…but he made it. He has to wear a “volcano thing” around his neck so he doesn’t lick himself.

I feel absolutely horrible and hopefully over the next two weeks, he will be back to my precious pup; playful, and talkative. I hate looking at him with his big eyes looking at me thinking “what did you do to me?” I want to cry every time. More so today seeing his pain, I don’t want to have kids for a long time…Granted I won’t neuter them, but I know I will be more passionate about them than my pup (if you could believe that) and that means many more times of crying and perhaps times of feeling helpless.

These are actual pics of my precious pup. I love him so much. Figured it would be nice to use real ones instead of random pics.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Following In Scarlett's Footsteps

My mom arrived at my apartment this morning at 7 am after taking the red-eye from Bean's (the technical genius behind this blog) place in Utah. Two weeks ago, my mom single-handedly packed up her entire house in Savannah, Georgia and moved all of her belongings to Houston, Texas. It was a damn impressive feat. Unfortunately, as her house in Houston won't be ready until May, my mom had to put all of her belongings in storage. She's going to be living out of several large suitcases for the next two months, bobbing between my brothers', bean's, and my place before her house is ready. Being forced to hobo it out on the road isn't ideal, but it's nice for us kids because we get the opportunity to spend some quality time with her. One-on-one time is quite different than the normal holiday crazyness when all 4 of us + significant others are around stuffing our faces with sweet potatoes or ripping open Christmas presents. That's great, and I wouldn't trade those times for anything, but it's still special to have some time with her just for me.

At first I didn't hear her knocking this morning because I was completely zonked out. This week has been draining at work, and I still haven't recovered from staying up until 4 am on Monday night reasearching. After knocking a few times, my mom smartly called my cell phone. I woke up and let her in, gave her a hug, noted that she has become a full on uberbabe skinny minny due to the South Beach Diet and her amazing self-discipline, and stumbled back into bed. She climbed over the boxes and piles of things scattered about my in-the-midst-of-being-packed apartment and crawled into the other side of the bed. We groggily chatted between yawns for about 20 minutes, before we both fell asleep. I went to sleep thinking how nice it was that she was here.

Since I moved out of my house to go to college 13 years ago, I have generally only seen my family on summer vacations (when I had them), during the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays, and on other random occasions. This past year and a half, since I moved to New York - a place where I have felt very alone for most of my time here - I have spent a good deal of time thinking about how far away my family is and wishing that I was closer to them. During this past year, my mom has been living in Savannah, my brothers, Dad, and Stepmom in Houston, and my little sister in Utah. All of us have been far away from each other and sometimes, when I was lonely, it seemed so silly. For example, there was one afternoon where my brother, mom, and I all went to see the same movie on our own. We text messaged one another prior to the movie and then after to share our thoughts on it. Doing so made me feel connected to them and less alone, but it was no replacement to actually seeing them and spending time together.

Three months ago, when the large case I was on finally quieted down enough for me to breathe normally again, I started seriously looking for jobs. Faced with the decision about where to look, I contemplated Houston, as there is now a critical mass of my family members either living their or in transit to living there. It was strange to find myself thinking seriously about the possiblity of moving to Houston. All through law school, I had only one city in mind to move to from Michigan: New York. Every other city paled in comparison and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else, certainly not the traffic-choked, strip mall covered, Bush-infested, urban sprawl of Houston!! Puh-lease!

Since moving to New York, I have confirmed that it is fact one of the greatest cities in the world. I love it here. Or rather, I should say, I love New York, and I love all the opportunities here, the energy, the people from all different places, the languages all around you, the fact that I can walk anywhere I want to or need to go, and the sense that everything anyone could possibly desire or wish to experience could be found here if you took the time to look. Except for mountains, trees (Central Park is still just a park), and front porches, New York has pretty much everything I would want in a city. However, I discovered to my complete surprise this year that that wasn't enough.

I realized that living in a fantastic city when your community of friends and family is far away, can seem less than fantastic. It was hard for me this past year when I would go on my aimless wanderings around the city on the weekends. I would eat in a cute little restaurant or find a shop I liked or visit a museum that was wonderful. Weekend after weekend (when I was not working or too tired from work) I would wander about, with only myself to enjoy everything with. I think I'm great and all, and I generally have an impressive ability to keep myself entertained, but even I have limits to how much of just me I can take. There were many days where I wished I had someone around with whom to share this city.

So after a year of this, I find myself having done a complete 180, and would now actually consider moving to Houston to be near my family. The radical shift in my thinking still shocks me. It's funny though how life works, because just as I reached the point of realizing that I had been too far away from my family for too long, something happened to make me stay in New York, at least for the immediate future. Raj came back into my life. Three months after we got back together, we decided to move in together, and now my thinking has shifted even more to the point where I found myself the other day asking Raj whether he would ever consider moving to Houston with me. He said he would consider it. He then asked me if I would ever consider moving to Detroit (where his parents live). Ouch. I said I would consider it, and then promptly decided that we didn't need to worry about those things just yet. Those things, we could think about tomorrow. How in God's name do couples figure out those big life decisions?

Movies, NCAA, and Hazard

A week ago I was ecstatic…my mom was on a plane to see me for a whole week. She left last night and is now with Buttercup. We had a blast together. We saw three movies, 2 with Tex, and one solo with just my Mom. The Hills Have Eyes was a good movie, genuine horror…meaning, stupid people doing everything they shouldn’t do. Eight Below was good. I love dogs, absolutely love them, so inevitably, I cried. I would never be able to leave my dog behind anywhere! Last but not least, The World’s Fastest Indian. This movie was good; Anthony Hopkins is always an excellent actor.

If anyone watches NCAA, I got you all beat…ESPN locked me out, so I was unable to get me final picks into the “competition” of friends and family online. But I was able to find tickets online, so Saturday night my Mom, Tex, and I were off to the NCAA. It was awesome. First game was Boston College vs. Montana. In a full crowd of Montana fans, literally, Boston College was booed when they came out on the court or shot the ball… My Mom and I cheered on Boston College from the start of the game till the finish. And I had a grin on my face when each and every Montana fan was let down by their team. Boston College opened a can of whoop-ass and beat them not just by one basket. Second game was Gonzaga vs. Indiana…I have never heard about Gonzaga prior to this tournament, but they were unbelievable on the court. Both teams played great on the court. Gonzaga is now moving up in the bracket.

Hazard had a great time…my Mom would walk up the driveway or on the grass and I would stand about 30 feet away, Hazard would run back and forth and back and forth. He loves my Mom and the attention he gets from her. We “sat” for my cousin’s dog to see if perhaps Hazard could have a friend to play with more frequently. This blew up in my face. Hazard isn’t neutered so all he wanted to do was “get her done…” I was happy that he still obeyed with such distractions like his hormones and this female “piece of meat” (Buttercup: he is a dog, they don’t converse prior to sexual engagement, so yes this female dog was strictly a piece of meat to Hazard). Fortunately this did not happen, well he “got on her” a little bit and then we separated the dogs for bedtime. The next morning between my Mom saying “You’re crazy. Hazard is a perfect dog and you are going to ruin him.” And Tex saying “I am not walking that dog, you can take care of both…we are not keeping this dog”… I was very comfortable to drop my cousin’s dog back off at his place.

I felt badly for Hazard unable to control himself and now seeing how he reacts to females at least when brought to the house, Tex and I agree that we need to take care of this issue while he is still a pup. Instead of ruining Hazard by getting another dog, we are going to completely deplete his chances of performing in a competition, and breeding this wonderful dog. He has an appointment with the vet tomorrow and they are going to snip him of his manhood, his desire for “booty”, but I am hoping it doesn’t strip him of his awesome personality, and slim handsome figure. If he gets fat I am going to be pissed.

So today, a week after my Mom coming into town, I have a headache from lack of sleep and the sadness of her leaving me. I brought Hazard to work with me to keep me company but I absolutely feel horrible that he is going to go in to the vet tomorrow and have his testicles removed. Each time I look at him, I am grateful that tranquilizers and painkillers do exist, because he is going to be knocked out completely for that procedure. The NCAA games rocked or rather Boston College and Gonzaga rocked, and even though I didn’t win in the online competition, I saw two games with my Mom that I will never forget. ( I found some cool pictures but am unable to upload them now...maybe next post.)

If Only Maverick Were Here To Save Katie From Scientology's Fantatical Clutches

I'm seriously worried about Katie Holmes. What in God's name is she doing?? Look at this picture. She continually dangles around Tommy Boy like a piece of clinging cotton candy, all squinty-eyed sugary smiles, while Tommy Boy has eyes only for the crowd watching him put on his courtship show. If your man is looking elsewhere when he's smooching you, I have news for you: He's not that into you. Katie needs to wise-up and ship-out before he gets his greedy little hands on his seed-child and tosses her unpregnant ass to the curb.

Also note the hard set of his jaw and his aggressively pursed lips. He looks like he's having about as much fun as I did the last time I went to the dentist and stubbornly clamped my mouth shut after my dentist grazed a non-novacained tooth with her spinning drill bit. Tommy Boy's piercing eyes are steely and cold, and his nose has to be poking Katie's cheek uncomfortably. At least he looks like he's clean shaven and not ripping up her face with his stubble. Though Katie's face is radiating her usual star struck lovey-doveyness, the girl's shoulders look tense, and she's leaning away from Tommy Boy. Could this be an unconscious cry for help? Maybe she realizes deep down that she's made a pact with some kind of devil, and that it's not going to be so easy to get her and her baby out of the little psycho world she went skipping into.

Normally I think it's kind of unfair - but amusing - to analyze the body language of celebrities based on a single photo. Everyone takes a bad picture occasionally, and one's body language changes from one second to the next. However, in this instance, I feel no guilt whatsoever in using similar tactics to analyze Katie and Tom's (I refuse to refer to them as "TomKat") "relationship." First of all, it was difficult to find a picture where Katie was not swooning all over Tom like a giant tinkerbell high on fairy dust, so this picture is far from an anomaly. When Katie's not clinging to him, she's allowing him to contort her body into odd unnatural publicity poses - all of which I suspect have as part of their agenda an effort to disguise the fact that Katie is 4 feet taller than Tommy in addition to proving how much these two "love" each other. Yeah, right.

Second, I have decided that Tom Cruise is an unequivocal and fanatical whack-job with far too much power and far too much time on his hands. He has made me afraid. Not just for Katie, but for all of us. Take the recent stunt he pulled by intimidating Comedy Central into yanking a repeat of South Park's Scientology Episode off the air. Who does that? A freaking lunatic member of a cult who believes in aliens, and has voodoo mind-power, that's who. Not that I'm suggesting that everyone who believes in aliens is a nut-job. I happen to believe that aliens quite possibly exist somewhere out in the universe, and will admit to entertaining the fascinating notion that maybe aliens visited earth a long, long time ago and helped out our ancestors (either that, or tagged them for review and possible future extinction ala Independence Day).

It's not the alien component that freaks me out about the Cult of Scientology. Rather, it's that I just don't get it. I gather Ron Hubbard is the founder, and they believe that people get a build up of negative/evil thoughts and must somehow be purged of that negativity. Apparently, all of this is measured by an apparatus which resembles two coke cans attached by wires to some kind of electronic device. Sounds very scientific. I have so many questions about it. Why is it called Scientology? Who gave Scientology permission to imply that its beliefs are grounded in science? Why do we only hear about rich celebrity members of the cult? Why is John Travolta, who looks so innocent on the surface, a member of this cult? Maybe he's been suffering under the same kind of voodoo magic that Tommy Boy is currently using to brainwash Katie? Why does nobody state the obvious and call it a cult?

Even if I liked Scientology, I would be supremely annoyed at Tom Cruise's audacity in forcing Comedy Central to pull the South Park Episode. What was he afraid would happen? Maybe this has more to do with the fact that the episode poked fun at his sexuality, rather than it's treatment of Scientology? Regardless, has he not heard of the First Amendment and the fact that the United States does not engage in outright censorship? At least not of cartoons that regularly make fun of all religions and ethnic groups equally. And what of that chef who resigned in protest. Puh-lease. This chef had no problem with South Park poking fun at the Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. But the minute they poked fun at Scientology, this guy went ape shit and started blathering about the importance of "tolerance." Give me a freaking break. I cannot stand hypocrisy, specially not when it's tossed up to defend a freaky-deaky cult.

Here's something funny though from the boys of South Park as reported by NPR. In response to Tommy Boy's fanatical freak-out, the boys of South Park released the following statement:


Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for Earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!

-- Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I Refuse To Spend One More Second Trying To Prove That Dodo Birds Do Not Exist

I spent hours yesterday researching a question that I knew there was no answer to. The endless quest that lawyers are repeatedly asked to go on: the quest to disprove a negative. This question is very different from trying to prove a positive. To prove a positive, all you have to do is find some cases out there that stand for the proposition for which you want them to stand for. An example might be: "Find a case saying that there is an attorney client privilege." This would be no problem because (1) the attorney client privilege actually exists, and thus you can be fairly certain that cases exist discussing the privilege and (2) it's relatively easy to prove that something that you know exists actually exists.

Disproving a negative, however, is much more difficult to do. It happens when you are given the following assignment by an incredibly annoying senior associate: "Find a case saying that there is no privilege between party x and y." This is basically the equivalent of being asked to prove that Dodo Birds do not exist. It is impossible to prove that Dodo Birds do not exist, because all one can say, despite endless hours of research, is that one has not found any evidence that Dodo Birds do exist, so the annoying senior associate should infer from the lack of evidence that Dodo Birds do not exist. Of course the annoying senior associate would never do that. Instead, the annoying senior associate would say, as they do all the time, "I know there has got to be a case out there saying that Dodo Birds do not exist. Keep Looking."

This kind of pointless searching for a needle in a haystack that you know DOES NOT EXIST is one of the most frustrating aspects of working for a law firm in which you have no say over the nature of your work assignments. It is so ridiculous and demoralizing to waste hours on something you know is so completely and utterly INCONSEQUENTIAL, and such a god damned waste of your time, energy, and intellect. There are about 1,000 things I could think of that I would rather do, including doing my dishes (which I hate), running 8 miles, catching up with friends, and applying for a new job.

The major thing that pissed me off about this last night was not that most of what I was assigned to do was a complete waste of time, but rather that the bullshit work took time away that I could have applied to actual worthwhile projects. For example, I found out last night that two clients that I am representing in asylum proceedings, who are currently residing with their abusive parents, are showing signs that they may harm themselves unless they are removed from the situation. The problem with removing them is that if we do it too soon, it could result in the girls being returned to their abusers, a result which would be devastating for the girls.

I am so upset about this case, and I want to do everything that I can to help them. However, my work insists upon filling up my time with one bullshit project after another, despite my protestations. When I say that my time is filled up and that I can not possibly take on another case and still be able to complete all my work up to the standard that I would like to complete it at, they shake their heads at me and say that I can take on more work. And guess what, as recently as Friday I meekly accepted yet another assignment. I knew that I would not have enough time to do everything that I needed to do this week even without that additional Friday assignment and I told them that, but it made no difference to them. No difference at all. They did not give me a choice, and I accepted it... at least on Friday.

Well fuck that and fuck them!! It is flat out impossible to do an excellent job when you are asked to do 500 things, or even 6, at the same mother-fucking time (no offense to the mamas out there). I wish I was one of those people who could blow things off or get by with the bare minimum but I can't. I care about my work product and I want to do my best, even if it is on a bullshit project. But I know my limits, and what can you do if you tell people your limits in all honesty, and they refuse to respect them?

Last year I made myself sick and depressed, worked all the time and had no life. But I just don't have the energy to do that any more, nor the patience. My life, and working on issues and for people that matter to me, are far more important than making some senior associate think I'm a star because I can slave away without complaint (I have actually never been able to do that) searching for proof that Dodo Birds don't exist. I already know that Dodo Birds don't exist, and I just can't fucking bring myself to spend any more time trying to prove it, especially not when I have more important things to do.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Pity Party Monday

I am super grouchy today. It is not helping matters at all that it is Monday, nor that I had a minor meltdown at Boyfriend's place this morning over our lack of sleep last night and was unfairly flipping out while he was calm and sweet and reassuring. The more I think about it, he was truly a paragon of calm, comforting virtue while I was a freaking brat. Not that I meant to be a brat, or felt like I was being a brat at the time. After 3 hours and a cup of coffee, I'm starting to get some perspective on the morning.

When I woke up this morning, I was feeling frustrated, exhausted, stressed and emotional. I had a horrible headache, my head was all stuffy, and I just wanted to go back to my house and cry instead of going to work. I'm not talking an every day cry. I'm talking sobbing, hysterics, a heaving chest, and wailing into my pillow. That's what I felt like I needed. To let everything out. I didn't mean to take that out on him, and he is a better person than I am for being sweet to me when I was incapable of doing anything productive in the way of communicating my frustration.

Sleeping was an issue last night in part because I was anxious for Monday, and that always makes it hard to relax. I've gotten to the point where I can feel the dread start building in my chest around Sunday afternoon. Yesterday I had this moment where I thought to myself with relief that yesterday was Saturday and I had a whole other day before Monday, then was completely disappointed when I realized I was mistaken and it was already Sunday. Where did the weekend go, and how did it go so fast?

Raj and I spent Saturday and Sunday going through my clothes (him giving me a nod for keepers and a thumbs down for goodwill donatable rejects), packing my things into boxes, and watching basketball games and movies as we worked. He also cleaned my entire kitchen, for which I will be eternally grateful as I utterly despise doing dishes and my mom is coming on Wednesday so the dishes had to get done. He basically spared me 2 hours of agony. The weekend was actually good because we were productive, but there's still a lot of work to do, and only one more week in which to do it in. That's stressful.

Raj and I capped off the weekend by going back to his place last night to watch the Sopranos. We had sushi and mint chocolate chip ice cream while watching the second episode of the new season, which was pretty awesome by the way. No worries, I won't spoil any of the details here. After the Sopranos, we watched this new show on HBO about a polygamous family. I can't remember the name of the show, but I was equally revolted and fascinated while watching it. The man with the three wives is truly disgusting. He rotates between his three houses, each with a different wife, and has tons of sex with each wife each night. He pops Viagra to keep up with all the action.

The wives try to be good Mormon wives and to "conquer their feelings of jealousy" but they are all filled with jealousy and insecurity. The way they handle this is not by beating him to a bloody pulp, which they should and would be entirely entitled to do, but instead by fucking his brains out at every opportunity! In one 60 minute show, this despicable male got loud screaming sex in the morning with one wife, a quickie with another wife in the bedroom of the first wife, evening sex with the third wife and a blow job the next morning from the third wife for giving her "such a wonderful night." Are these women on fucking crack???

But I digress. Watching HBO with Raj was so much fun, and it was relaxing, but the minute I lay down in bed all of the feelings of dread about work started creeping over me. I was able to go to sleep but slept fitfully, in part because there were whacked temperature issues going on. The heater, which is one inch away from the edge of his bed, was blasting into my face and making me all dry and stuffy, while the rest of my body was freezing cold because he was monopolizing the too small comforter.

There were also space issues: I was smashed against the wall because he has a full-sized bed (in contrast to my Queen-sized bed), and he was sleeping towards the middle of the bed. I kept trying to curl over onto my side but couldn't do it because there was not enough space between Raj and the wall, and my knees kept jamming into the wall. I can not sleep when I'm cramped. I'm fanatic about this and I know it. It's one of my flaws or charming eccentricities; however you want to look at it. On top of that, Raj has pale white curtains that let in all manner of light, so between the street lights and the early morning sunlight, I was pretty much destroyed. I'm one of those people who need silent pitch blackness to sleep. I tried sleeping with my head under the covers, but I was simply no match for the heat, space, and light issues. It sucked.

I woke up this morning feeling like I had been repeatedly run over my 40 Mack trucks. After I had my shower and started to get dressed I realized that the shirt I had packed to wear today - the only shirt I had to wear this morning - was see through. This was almost as bad as last week when I realized I had forgotten all my make-up. I don't wear that much make-up, but I do feel pretty much naked without mascara and a touch of cover up. I mean come on. The lack of make-up I got away. No one appeared to notice at the office and I enjoyed feeling like I was camping for the day. But a see through tight black shirt through which I can see my bra? Pretending I'm camping is one thing; pretending I'm in a strip show is quite another. I had to grab an old ratty navy blue zip up hoodie with "Michigan" embroidered across the front in gold to wear over my see through slutty top before I left for work. So much for attempting to look professional.

Then I battled the morning commute carrying my heavy bags filled with work that I did not do this weekend because I was either packing or relaxing with Raj. Commuting via subway to work is a new thing for me and I am still not used to the chaotic throngs of people. I find them jarring and discordant. I thought things would get better when I reached my firm and got my coffee and breakfast. However, because I was running late I missed breakfast in my cafeteria and had to go with a fat-laden and nutritionally bereft coffee cake instead of my raisin bagel, 1 egg, and Swiss cheese breakfast sandwich.

When I finally reached my desk at 10:05 a.m. I realized that I had missed an 8:00 am conference call this morning. I wouldn't have felt so bad except that it was an 8:00 a.m. conference call to Nepal to get a supporting affidavit for one of my Tibetan asylum clients. The call was important, and it's not the easiest thing in the world to arrange calls to a tiny little village in Nepal. I feel morally bankrupt that with all the packing and the selfish-HBO watching I completely forgot about the conference call. What the hell is wrong with me? Feeling overwhelmed is no excuse, and it just feels selfish in comparison to my client's situation where her life and future are at stake in this case.

There is one more detail that makes this Monday suck: Today is Prue's first day of her last week at the firm. We started on the same day and went through a year of hell together. I know that I would have been far more miserable last year if I had not had her to share at least part of it with. She and her husband are moving back to Houston. I'm thrilled for her that she's leaving this place, and also that she's moving back to Houston because I think it's a great thing for her and her husband. But I'm going to be very sad to see her go. I also wish that I felt a bit closer to giving my two-weeks notice, but alas I'm not there yet.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Saint Patrick's Shamrock: A Co-opted Symbol of the Triple Goddess

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Seeing all the green cupcakes, cookies and bagels as I rushed through Grand Central this morning on my commute to work made me happy. I know green food coloring doesn't make them taste any different, and it's really quite silly, but it adds an undeniable festivity to the day.

According to the Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Saint Patrick is probably a fictitious figure built on the image of a Roman priest. However, Saint Patrick has numerous pre-Christian pagan precedents. One of those is the old Irish god of the shamrock, Tefuilngid Tre-eochair, "The Triple Bearer of the Triple Key," whose plant bore all edible fruits including the apples of immortality. Eve's apple in an earlier form?

The god of the shamrock was believed to have been the son-consort of the ancient Triple Goddess (called Briget in Ireland) whose triple "yoni" had been represented by shamrock designs from the time of the earliest civilizations of the Indus valley. Thus, the story that Saint Patrick explained the Christian trinity to the Irish by showing them a shamrock is entirely apocryphal. The Irish had the Goddess, and her shamrock symbol, long before Saint Patrick and his fellow Christians set out to convert them and co-opt their pagan symbols.

Approximately 13 years ago, before I heard that the shamrock was a symbol of the Goddess, and long before I believed in Goddesses, I went with my brother Thor and my friend Mace to get a tattoo. I was seventeen years old. It was the summer before my junior and senior year of high school, and the three of us were working together at the Town Park in our small town in Connecticut as life guards. Mace decided to get a flower, and Thor chose a dark purplish shark in the shape of a circle - with the mouth of the shark just about to close on the shark's tail - on his shoulder. I didn't want to get a flower (even though Mace's was very pretty) because everyone got flowers. So instead, after much thought and flipping through books filled with pictures, I decided on a - drum roll please - four-leaf clover. I was a little dreamy back then, and to me it symbolized far more than luck. It represented destiny and fate, and some sort of magic out in the universe that connected me to some higher purpose that I had yet to discover, but was confident that I would eventually figure out. No, I was not on drugs.

Since that time, Mace has had her tatoo removed, and my ideas about spirituality and the meaning of life have grown and matured. I recognize now that the ideas I was just beginning to explore back then were my very early post-Christian (I rejected the white male Christian sky God at the age of 13) Agnostic/Atheist/Buddhist conceptions of Karma, reincarnation, and the notion that we are all connnected and each of us has a purpose on this earth. I still haven't ironed out my spiritual beliefs, and I most certainly have not yet figured out my purpose in life, but I'm working on both.

Reading today about Saint Patrick's pagan precedents, it made me smile to realize that even in my ignorance at 17, by stamping my body with the image of the shamrock (granted a 4 leaf clover instead of a 3 leaf one, but give me a little slack here), I was unknowingly tapping into a spiritual image that I would only years later begin to connect with. Who knows, maybe the Irish Triple Goddess Brigit (having forgiven me for my extra leaf because she is no doubt a forgiving Goddess) has been watching over me for the past 13 years. In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, I think I'll light a candle to her today to say thank you. Just in case. Then I'll go out and drink some green beer. I'm sure she would appreciate that too.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Unmasking Of A Handyman

This morning I was late for work. Raj spent the night at my place last night, and this morning when we woke up neither one of us was in a rush to get to work. I was sleepy and the bed was so comfortable. We lolled around talking for a while, and then finally forced ourselves to get up and start the day. He's more conscientious about work these days than I am, and actually cares if he's late, so I let him get ready first. By the time he was out the door, I still had to blow-dry my hair. This is all to explain how I came to be at my apartment at 10:20 a.m. this morning, instead of in the office, when my building's handy-man, Tony, knocked on my door to fix my air conditioning unit.

Tony saw my wet hair and said that he could come back to fix the unit after I had left for work, but added that he had done all the other units on the floor and that mine was the last one. I didn't want my lollygagging about to hold him up, so I told him it was ok if he came in and did the work while I finished getting ready. After all, all I had left to do was blow-dry my hair and grab my things.

Until this morning, Tony had always struck me as a "nice guy." During the past year, whenever I had drain troubles or any other minor work that needed attention in my apartment, he always fixed what needed to be fixed immediately. Occasionally, we would have brief conversations when he would come and fix things. One time, I was working from home and hadn't slept for a few days because of work. I remember telling him that I hated my job and asking him about Brooklyn (where he lives), because I was thinking about moving there to escape the golden handcuffs of my apartment. Occasionally, I would get the vibe that he had a slight crush, but it never struck me as more than harmless flattery, and I always put it out of my mind.

Today, once he was in my apartment I realized I had made an error in saying that he could do the work while I was still getting ready. I felt too awkward to blow-dry my hair while he was stepping around the clothes my boyfriend and I had left strewn across the floor in order to fix the air conditioning unit. Instead, I busied myself by tidying up the apartment (which is a freaking disaster area what with all the sorting/tossing/packing work that has been going on). We chatted a bit as he worked and I tidied.

Tony told me that he had heard that I was moving out of the building and asked me where I was going. I told him that I was moving in with my boyfriend, and continued to put clothes and shoes away. He asked, "the Indian guy?" I turned to him and smiled, and said, "Yes," because thinking about Raj makes me smile. (Incidentally, it makes Raj smile that I chose the name "Raj," which means "King," to refer to him in this blog). Tony's question didn't strike me as odd because I just assumed that he, like many of the doormen and other workers in the building, were familiar with seeing Raj and I together. I said I was a little sad to be leaving because I loved my apartment, but that it was a good thing. He replied, "I'm sad too," which made me feel a little bit weird.

After a few minutes, Tony completed his work. I was relieved because I was watching the minutes on the clock tick by and I was becoming nervous about how late I was going to be today. Even I have my limits about that sort of thing, and I am not impervious to work-guilt. As Tony (who is white, and yes, race now becomes relevant in this story) was about to leave, he told me (I'm also white) that he had once dated a half-black girl, and that his Uncle had hated her so much because she was half-black that he refused to allow Tony to bring her into his home. I commented that that was horrible. Tony asked me whether my parents "were bothered" that Raj was Indian. I responded, "No, my parents don't care about that at all," but added that Raj's parents would prefer it if he was not with a white girl.

I didn't mean this as a pejorative comment about Raj's parents. I happen to like and respect both of his parents very much. This issue is just a detail that Raj and I have to deal with as part of our relationship, and I mentioned it because it related to the conversation I was having with Tony. I suppose my guard was let down because I was late and was thinking more about that than the conversation I was having, and Tony had just told me that he had had difficulties with prejudice when he was a part of an interracial couple, so I thought he was coming from an enlightened perspective about these things. Boy was I wrong.

Tony said, "You know, I know it's wrong to have prejudices, but that's one I have. I hate those people. They are arrogant and they think they are better than everyone else. I just can't stand them." I was stunned and just looked at him for a second. Before I could say anything, he added, "If your boyfriend ever acts up, give me a call." That, of course, would never happen in a million years for a variety of reasons too numerous to list here. I couldn't believe that he had just attacked Raj like that, and I felt as if I had been struck. I looked at him and said, "My boyfriend is wonderful. He's nothing like that," thanked him for fixing the air conditioning unit, and ushered him out of my apartment.

It always shocks me when I encounter prejudice, because I just don't understand it. I don't understand how you can stereotype an entire group of people and how you can hate or dislike each member of that group because of a single characteristic they share (like skin color, culture, gender, or sexuality). It's mind-boggling to me. People are so different from one another, and it's impossible to truly know what a person is about unless you actually get to know them on an individual basis. I also can not comprehend how anyone could find Raj's brown skin anything less than beautiful.

This exchange with Tony was particularly shocking to me because he apparently knew I was dating Raj, yet that did not stop him from expressing his racist views to my face. I thought society had reached a level of political correctness (if not tolerance) where the racists had figured out that, even if they had racist beliefs, they were not supposed to express their racism to others who clearly did not share their racist beliefs. But apparently not.

The encounter with Tony left me feeling sickened. It also made me feel very protective of Raj. I hate that there are Tonys in the world, and I hate that they can sneak up on you like that when you aren't looking. Now that Tony has revealed himself to be the loathsome individual that he is, I will do my best to keep him and his racism as far away as possible from Raj and I. Short of a plumbing disaster, that should be easy, especially since I'm moving out of the building in less than two weeks (yikes!). But although in this case there's an easy solution, it's still disconcerting to realize that you never know what people are thinking and you never know what kind of prejudices might be lurking under seemingly non-threatening facades.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Justice Is Blind to Domestic Violence

I spent most of today in court waiting for the Judge to call my client's case so that we could get on with her efforts to divorce her husband. The husband is a scary looking man who physically, verbally, sexually, and financially abused my client during the eight years in which they were married and living together. Whenever we go to court, the husband throws me nasty death stares across the courtroom. Sometimes it makes me a little afraid, although I would never share that with my client. I always tell her that we have nothing to worry about, and remind her about the presence of the court security guards and the metal detectors that everyone has to pass through to enter the building.

I know from my client that her husband has "traditional" (read "sexist") beliefs about gender roles. The husband believes that women should be servants to their husbands, that they should stay at home and cook and clean, that they should have a curfew, and that they should be beat and hurt if they refuse to comply with the demands of their husbands. Based on his actions, the husband also believes that women should be told that they are "worthless" and accused of being "adulterous whores" when they express a desire to work outside of the home, and that they should be prevented from having any control of the couple's financial resources. He's a real piece of work.

I'm sure the husband despises me. I'm a woman working outside of the home. As a lawyer I am in a position of power and he no doubt suspects that I'm making a boat-load of cash. Perhaps he thinks I'm a whore based on those crimes alone. In addition, I'm representing his wife and trying to help her put this man and everything he's done to her in her past, while at the same time trying to force him to give her a fair financial shake. I'm conscious of how much he must loath me every time I catch his eye in the courtroom and everytime I have to speak to him (he's representing himself pro se so I do not have the luxury of dealing with opposing counsel).

I'm also conscious of the fact that the last time he was alone with his wife, he held her hostage at gunpoint and nearly strangled her. In court, I find myself keeping half an eye on the husband throughout the proceedings to make sure he doesn't suddenly whip out a weapon and go postal in the courtroom. Sometimes I imagine ducking under the desk and saving only myself. Other, more valiant times, I imagine grabbing my client and pushing us both behind the wooden railings of the jury box. We've had 7 court appearances, each time escorted by armed security officers, and so far everyone has come out intact.

The awareness of risk that I feel is nothing compared with the terror and anxiety that my client experiences each time she has to face her abuser in the courtroom. Her fear is also not limited, as mine is, to the dates of our court appearances. My client is afraid each and every minute of the day that where ever she is and whatever she's doing, her husband could find her and kill her. I cannot imagine what that must feel like to live with that terror each and every minute of the day. I cannot imagine that level of stress.

After each hearing, I always end up feeling that our judicial system is inadequate and unjust. My client has a restraining order out against her husband, and she had one in place during the last time that he attacked her. It didn't stop him then, and there's no guarantee that it would stop him now. He was charged with assault for attacking my client, but he pleaded it down to harassment and as a result only had to go to some anger management classes. He never had to serve any jail time for doing something that had he done it to me, or anyone else other than his wife, he would have been locked up... at least for a little while.

My client wants someone to listen to her story, to believe that the abuse she says she experienced actually happened. However, the Court only wants to hear concrete details about dollars and cents. The Court wants things to add up nicely to a quantifiable pot of cash that he can then split in half between my client and her husband before he pronounces them ex and ex. Under the law violence is not a factor that is taken into account in splitting up the marital assets, so there's no incentive for the Court to waste precious judicial resources hearing the details of a story that doesn't matter in the final analysis. I can understand why the Court doesn't want to hear he-said-she-said stories about the past that are inconsequential under the law (apart from establishing fault), and wants to focus on identifying and dividing up the marial assets.

I can understand it, but it just doesn't seem right because my client's story should matter. It should make a difference to her divorce settlement that her husband abused her. She should get something for enduring her husband's abuse, and he should be made to pay at least a little bit for all the pain that he caused my her. But unfortunately, that's not the way the law works. In the end, my client is going to get her divorce, and she's going to get (hopefully) at least half of the marital assets, but she will get absolutely nothing to compensate her for the harm that her husband inflicted upon her for the last 8 years of her life. That's just not the way our judicial system works.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Beware of Wolves In Men's Clothing

A few days back, I heard a man on CNN talking with Soledad O'Brian about so-called "men's rights" with respect to pregnancy. I was rushing around trying to get ready for work, so I only caught snippets from the program. From what I gather, the man was discussing a scenario in which a man impregnates a woman, and the woman wants to carry the fetus to term and keep the child, while the man does not want her to do so. He doesn't want to have a child, so he doesn't want her to have one either. Sounds a little juvenile, doesn't it?

According to the man, allowing the woman to keep the child, where the man who had impregnated her did not want to be a "father," would be an infringement upon the so-called "men's rights" of the impregnator. To protect the impregnator's rights, the man argued that the woman should be forced to both (1) carry the fetus to term and (2) give up the child, upon its birth, for adoption. This takes infringement on reproductive rights to a whole new level. It's not enough to force women to carry a baby to term, and deny women rights to abortions in South Dakota. No! Now, some men want to force women to give up the baby as well so that their male consciences can be eased in some way!

Never mind the fact that despite adoption, the man in this scenario would still be a father. He would be a father of a child who had been adopted and to whom he did not legally owe financial responsibilities, but a father of a child nonetheless. That my friends - money - is the crux of it in my humble opinion. This jackass wants to be able to have sex sans risk. He's figured out that birth control is not 100% effective, so now he wants a guarantee that he will not have to pay for the consequences of his ejaculations for the next 18 years of his life. This would be fine, except that his guarantee comes at the expense of a woman's bodily integrity, not to mention the well-being of future children.

In addition to being completely and utterly BONKERS, and riddled with logical flaws, this argument is based on an overreaching sense of male entitlement and a dehumanizing and utilitarian view of women. It would be quaint and pitiable that this man thinks of women as disembodied wombs that should be forced to incubate a fetus against their will, as well as stripped of their biological rights to motherhood according to the whims of men, if it wasn't so damn scary. How is it that he didn't get the memo that the "Handmaid's Tale" is a dark and twisted distopia? Distopias are visions of the future that society should not want to happen. That book was published in 1986 (shocking for us 80's babies) but that is twenty years ago!

The feminine mystiqe has long since been thoroughly demystified, yet still, to this day, basic conceptions of gender equality continue to elude the masses. Between the persistant signs of gender inequality, the war in Iraq, mad cow disease resurfacing again (the result of turning herbivores into unwilling cannibals!), President Bush, and everyone and their mother running around trying to build nuclear weapons, I feel increasingly as if the world is going to hell in a handbasket. (Where does that phrase come from?) Somebody, help.

Here's a solution that this man clearly overlooked in his demented rationalization for risk free sex: Don't have sex. Pretty simple. Or alternatively, if you feel the need to ejaculate, do it in your hand and not near a woman's vagina. The funny thing about sex is that it has a high propensity to create zygotes, which develope into embryos, which turn into fetuses, which after 9 months pop out of the birth canal as miniture little humans. You can't send them back, and the truth is that by engaging in sex, you created them. The audacity of this man, who doesn't want to take honest responsibility for the consequences of his actions, is astounding. That he would add insult to injury by then trying to control and dictate the life decisions of the women who might be so unfortunate as to enounter his sperm is incredible.

Thank the Goddess he went on CNN and blithered about all of this nonsense in front of the cameras. At least now, women know what he looks like (sorry I don't have his name), and can avoid sex with him at all costs. Ladies, beware.

Life, Fear, and the Subconscious...Meaning?

I usually have about 1-2 nightmares in a week. Usually it is of my hometown, or me running as fast as possible from some horrible beast. Occasionally I will not remember the whole dream but I will remember tid-bits as well as the fear and anxiety associated with the dream. I don’t see it as an issue yet…but the one that I had the other day really bothered me.
The other night I awoke just before 6 in the morning. I was frantic and felt like I was a nut case. My pajamas were soaked with sweat and the back of my neck, right at the hair line was drenched as well. I quickly looked over to see Tex right next to me sleeping peacefully. In the nightmare, Tex had died. I don’t remember how, or why but I remember feeling all choked up and empty, and completely out of control. Once conscious, I was able to calm myself down and take control of my brain. I snuggled up next to him, put my face on his shoulder and his arm around me and closed my eyes. I was able to fall right back asleep.
Unfortunately for me, it was a shitty night and I ended up having a similar nightmare again for the remaining one hour of sleep available. But in this one, he was just gone from my life, I don’t remember much but again I do remember feeling absolutely empty with no strength and no real life exuberating out of me like usual. I don’t like having fucked up dreams about my spouse, my best friend, and my other half. It has been really pissing me off. I am starting to think that this is one reason why I enjoy drinking a few drinks before bed. They won’t knock me out but they will do a good enough job so I won’t wake up. And rarely will I have a nightmare if I have a few drinks to tame my soul. I’m not sure how to interpret this horrible trippy nightmare but the one idea and song that has stuck in my mind is “If Tomorrow Never Comes”:

...Sometimes late at night
I lie awake and watch her sleeping
She's lost in peaceful dreams
So I turn out the lights and lay there in the dark
And the thought crosses my mind
If I never wake up in the morning
Would she ever doubt the way I feel
About her in my heart
If tomorrow never comes
Will she know how much I loved her
Did I try in every way to show her every day
That she's my only one
And if my time on earth were through
And she must face the world without me
Is the love I gave her in the past
Gonna be enough to last
If tomorrow never comes...

I have since been very lovey-dovey with Tex. Instead of my usual snide remarks and quick vulgar comebacks, (we have a good time but we are both very sarcastic with one-another), I give him a hug more often and while he studies I have gone into the “study” to keep him company. I fear a lot of my life. But I guess the major fear is not having a chance to say what I need to say, hug who I need to hug…When I was younger I knew a fair amount of people who died and I always despised their passing for the simple fact that I fear uncertainty and instability. Every life is uncertain and everything that involves living your life will never be set in stone.

I have realized now that perhaps this is the shifting in my life of people whom I take care of or feel I don’t appreciate enough…aloud. I used to have nightmares consistently in high school and college about my mom needing help and I was unable to protect her or help her. One time, 2 psychos raided my mom’s house in my nightmare. I tried helping her, running to her side but they did the unthinkable in front of me and I was useless and then I was dead too. This specific nightmare I have had many times and each time I had done something different, the last time I had this nightmare was a year ago and I went running down the hallway to save her, and I died...but it was like my sacrifice saved her because they ran out once I was shot.

Perhaps you believe that dreams mean nothing, but I am skeptical of them. I think they have meaning and my conclusion for now is that it is telling me to be more appreciative of the people whom I love in my life. I would be one pissed off angel if I died tomorrow and the persons close to me didn’t realize how much they mean to me. Life is tough and I hate being a softy, I feel too vulnerable, and God knows I am not a pushover. But a nightmare that hits too close to home definitely will open my eyes for at least a little while to analyze a part of myself.