It has been a long week, and it’s only Tuesday, so I am abdicating the CODE WORD to the fastest, best commenter. However, we’re all in a great mood around here, so I thought I’d post a picture I found on the internet. Of the CUTEST DOG EVER.*
That had to be one of the most miserable days of travel we’ve had in a long, long time, and god knows we’ve traveled a lot. The LA-NYC jaunt is always a drag, but there’s something so constantly dehumanizing about the entire flying process: pretty much everyone is an asshole who thinks they’re doing you a favor by letting you fly at all.
Security is a nightmare, a two-hour kabuki dumbshow that only serves to inspire ideas about how easy it would be to outwit them. The gate agents are so surly that you feel ashamed to ask them anything; they are so practiced at deflecting requests and dispensing quick, useless information that you don’t even realize you’ve been had until you’re already walking away.
They overbook every flight by 20%, and in this country, they could care less if you have a baby – in fact, this only makes you more annoying. The actual flight attendants remain chipper and therapeutic, but even they know they’re serving a fickle master.
And the seats – O! The seats! So fucking uncomfortable and contorted, they spawn hemorrhoids by the basketful, allowing only a fitful, migraine-inducing “half sleep,” leaving you less capable of your duties – which, as parents of toddlers can tell you, are many and legion.
The cab ride home… another cramped, hot hour of expensive misery. Tessa and I had a fight just because it felt like the right thing to do. And now we lie flat on our beds, back in Brooklyn, our day having started two days ago, wondering if it’s all worth it.
And of course it is. The one day of abject wretchedness fades from view as soon as we see our family, it melts in the warm familiarity of our old haunts. But the airlines have us captive. Technology will cure paralysis, Alzheimer and baldness, and we may soon magnetically levitate to the moon, but flying will always be mired in horseshit. Does it always have to be this way?
I was trying to take a picture of us both, and of course, Li’l Punkinboots had to walk two paces in front of me before the second flash:
Anyway, we’re coming back to New York today for the entire holidays, and thus the blog is open to your myriad topics. How about this: where are you spending Thanksgiving, and what will be the most challenging aspect of it?
Does anyone mind if we talk about homosexuals for a second? God knows I love to anyway, but a few things happened on Tuesday night that directly affect tons of our friends, and tons of yours too (even if you don’t know they’re gay yet).
I’ve read several reports that the election’s referendums on gay marriage actually contain good news: homophobes failed in Arizona, which is the first time that sort of legislature has ever been rejected. It only passed by 52% in heretofore-deep-red South Dakota, and in many other states, the opposition managed to break forty percent. Some would call that a country moving in the right direction.
I call it head-hangingly shameful. Frankly, I can’t believe we live in a country where even 10% of its population are willing to pull the lever for this kind of bigotry. David and I were talking about this in the car yesterday: why are so many Americans willing to cast votes to restrict freedom? It goes against the essence of American character.
But there’s always the anal sex thing, I guess. Or the french kissing in public. Or the mustachioed men wearing black mesh tanktops whipping each other on top of floats in the Gay Pride Parade. Or… well, whatever. I have no idea what “mainstream America” thinks when they conjure up a gay couple. I’m just at a loss for why so many people get off on punishing those who were born a little differently.
I have chosen this battle precisely because I have no dog in this fight: by all measures (except for my love of the Smiths and expensive hair care products) I am the most heterosexual man on earth, in the most heterosexual marriage on earth. I have self-abused to the pages of the Sears bra catalogue, proudly, since 1981. I love the ladies and really don’t crave cock. Our “perfect” family ensemble, complete with WASP-y wife and blonde daughter, makes us the perfect spokespeople for the brutal way in which gays are treated.
I’ve been told that America just isn’t ready to accept homosexuals as real people yet; we need another generation of patience. I say we just need one major respected leader to come out and say that it’s time for this bullshit to end. We needed Clinton to say it, and he didn’t. Now we need Obama to say it, but he probably won’t. At this point, even ONE CURRENTLY ACTIVE PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL OR FOOTBALL PLAYER coming out could make a huge difference. When will that human being finally stand up?
It doesn’t help that Republicans have delayed the acceptance of gays by at least 20 years with their despicable tactics – these state referendums were, by open admission, the way they intended to energize their base. In what way is it cool to demonize – and dehumanize – 10% of the populace in order to solidify your power? The Italians lent us a word for it: fascism.
Civil rights issues have no place in a voting booth; if it had worked that way in the past, blacks would still be using separate bathrooms and Liddy Dole wouldn’t even be able to vote for herself. The masses, even supposedly-enlightened ones like Americans, need to be led on this issue, not allowed to follow their reptilian hindbrains.
In what way does gay marriage harm regular marriage? We live only a few miles from Massachusetts, where it is legal, and I have to say, Tessa and I are doing great. No amount of Gay Marriage Gayness seems to have rubbed off on us. We still engage in heavy petting, regardless of the Faggy Gay Fumes wafting over the state line.
Someone tell me when this crap is going to end. Someone tell me why it’s still okay to deny homosexuals the same rights as anyone else. And if you voted for this amendment in your home state, please out yourself here and tell me why.
Lord knows there are a million other places to turn if you’re looking for punditry concerning yesterday’s stunning election, and a blog entry like this will no doubt age poorly, but there are several people around the world who (I’m told) use this site as a touchstone for what Americans are thinking – God help them – and it has been a day of awesome reflection.
Let me say first I didn’t think America possible of such flexibility. I figured we would win the House with 16 or 17 seats and get 4 Senate races. Winning around 30 House and grabbing six in the Senate is a lot to digest. Our candidate, Kirsten Gillibrand in New York’s 20th district, was down eighteen points six weeks ago, and part of me still sees her that way. Of course, now she is going to Washington to be our proud representative, and it still has the ephemera of a dream.
Progressives and liberals rarely find a parade too small to rain on, or enough feet to shoot. Our way of thinking felt so endangered, especially during years like 2002, that we emerged from last night’s election like a hermit peering out of the basement, squinting from the sun. I’d like to go ahead and wallow in our victory, because this sort of vindication comes but every decade or so.
There are those who don’t see the election as the triumph of progressivism, but an example of Democrats winning by being conservative. If you’re gay, you’re no doubt disgusted with last night’s referendums. But in every other way, this election was a celebration of unabashed progressivism. Hell, the only real “conservative” Democrat we ran ending up losing, the creepily homophobic Harold Ford in Tennessee. Sure, some of our red-state victories were won by guys I don’t particularly like, but the national mood is changing.
The abortion ban in South Dakota lost. Santorum was run out of PA on a rail. The gay-bashing amendment in Arizona failed. Stem cell research won. Tester? Webb? These guys are pro-choice populists. Columnists who claim that Democrats appropriated conservatism for the win are deluding themselves, but after a night like last night, maybe I’d be grasping for answers too. Poor dudes. Hopefully they’ll enjoy the next six years like I enjoyed the last six.
The Republicans also lost for two other reasons: one, Iraq (duh) – and two, they behaved like such fucking assholes for so long. They were meaner than shit. That sort of behavior pays huge dividends in the short term, but they were surviving on J.K. Rowling’s unicorn blood, living a cursed half-life, only surviving as long as their next kill.
The Democrats, at least at first blush, have learned this lesson and spent all day using the word “bipartisan.” In no way did anyone say “mandate” (even though they could) and certainly nothing as vein-bulgingly infuriating as Bush’s “I’ve earned political capital and intend to use it” from 2004. Sure, there will be the usual poorly-written screed on how the Democrats only won because the Republicans were so bad, but today the Dems immediately put forth their intentions for the minimum wage, prescriptions, alternative energy, the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, pay-as-you-go fiscal discipline and planned an immediate summit on Iraq. ROCK and ROLL!!!
While talking to Sean today, I had to agree – in the back of our minds, there is still something unsettlingly flaky about the American mindset. There is no information this country had last night that they didn’t have in 2004. In the interim, thousands of Americans have died, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, New Orleans was all but lost.
Progressives don’t dwell on the past, as they see the natural course of the world to be from darkness to light. I can only ask that we never catch the faintest whiff of complacency, and keep a mental note of how truly awful Congress has acted for the last decade. This election has cowed even Bush into temporary deference, but we can never forget what this man – and his friends – are capable of when they think we aren’t looking.
I posted the above picture on a blog I wrote back in March 2003, when we first started bombing the shit out of Iraq. In those days, when we spent winters along the icy Roeliff-Jansen Kill running behind our land, I’d hike over our hill, close my eyes, and listen to the water. It was a cooling salve when I’d get too angry contemplating my role as an American, powerless to do anything about a government that was elected for me.
But I post the picture of the roaring Roeliff-Jansen Kill (“kill” is Dutch for “creek,” hence “catskill,” “Fishkill,” etc.) because that particular stream runs unabated through several counties in New York’s 20th Congressional District. Usually surrounded on all shores by old-school Rockefeller Republicans, Roe-Jan now runs through uncharted territory – possible Democratic lands.
For the first time, polls showed our candidate Kirsten Gillibrand up three points on that miserable (alleged) wife-beating crook John Sweeney, and the stream has taken on a fresher, bluer hue. As I have oft said when discussing this race, I have mild expectations, but even the whiff of change in those parts signals a country that just might not want to self-destruct.
One term they use in AA (I’m told) is “when the pain of staying becomes greater than the fear of change, you will take action.” The question for today’s election is this: how much do you fear change? If it petrifies you, then perhaps you should vote Republican. That’s the only advice I have left to give.
And in the community spirit, I’d like to leave the comments open to everyone who would like to add One Thing to Consider when voting in today’s election. It can be anything. Simply write down the one element you would like every fellow voter to know before they pull the lever. It’s your last little whisper in the ear before the curtain closes.
This is an exhortation to Start Your Kids Early on anything you want them to do, because I just got back from Palm Springs and played my dad to a draw in tennis. I mention this because my dad is actually quite good and takes lessons all the time, and I play every two years, usually with him. Yet we still tie every year. I credit this to three years of lessons from the age of 8 to 11, imbuing a skill set that has never really left me. If I had, say, played basketball in those years, my current mercurial frustrations would be held in check.
Now, anyone who has played tennis with me in the distant past knows that any bit of talent I showed was grossly overshadowed by my temper; I’m still amazed anyone bothered to take me on. The lands behind Hinton James dorm are now VIP parking lots for the Dean E. Smith Center, but they used to be tennis courts. I can assure you that they found at least five of my tennis racquets while digging up that soil, twisted shards of metal, fiberglass and strings.
My tantrums were violent, profane, embarrassing, self-immolating, and always resulted in the sacrifice of a racquet. People within earshot complained. When we played on the courts next to Joyner Dorm, I would frequently launch a couple of balls into the cemetery. While I’m on the subject, I’d like to apologize to Chip, Bud, Scotty, Sean, and most of my cousins for my behavior.
The nice thing about Celexa is that it takes away the desire to pummel your $145 racquet into the clay. As I was playing my dad yesterday, I thought back upon those days of constantly inclement tempers, and was astonished at my cataclysmal past. I destroyed walls, heater fans, chairs (hence the “thank you, chair” story) and pretty much anything else I owned. I never broke something that didn’t belong to me, and I certainly never contemplated raising my hand to another human being, but I was, for lack of a better phrase, a total fucking baby whackjob.
Once during high school I got pissed off about something and broke a wooden bat against a maple tree. My mom was disgusted, and when I came back in the house, she said, with dripping sarcasm, “Now do you feel better?” I took a few seconds to contemplate it, smiled, looked her in the eye and said, “Actually, yes. That felt awesome.”
It wasn’t just Celexa that disavowed me of that silliness, it was two other things: the mellowing of age, and the fact that Tessa and I made an agreement that if I put my hand through another wall, she could sleep with Chip. Now that Chip is married himself, that would just be bad for everybody.
For some reason, I’m still a raging butthole whilst playing basketball, but I’m working on it. Every year, my tantrums get a little shorter. I’m hoping to have them cut down to a scant couple of minutes when I’m 45.
Wait, what was I saying? Oh yeah, start your kids early on tennis, violin and Mandarin. They’ll be better-adjusted than I was, and irresistible at parties.
Lucy, my dad, and the full moon in the desert last night
A late evening and a busy weekend are forcing me into a CODE WORD question.
How about this: If you’re currently in a relationship, think back to before you were in your current situation, back when you were just dating around. You’re on a “first date” again with someone interesting.
What is the one thing you’d never want your date to know, at least right away? Feel free to use a pseudonym in the comments section if you’re bashful…
This is another letter for you, because guess what? You turned 18 months old while we were in Scotland, a whole year and a half! I’ve written to you every three months since you were born, and will keep doing it until it bugs the crap out of you, because it’s important to give the sense of an era while it’s happening.
What is truly hard to fathom is that you will remember absolutely none of what has come before. You may have a feeling, or the faintest flavor of this year, but it will remain a dream, something you can’t put your finger on. I have the same reaction to the late ’60s – the apartment we had in San Jose, and some of the music that was on the radio.
My very first actual memory was at eighteen months old: my dad and mom standing over me, with my dad’s hairy chest and the crossbeams in the ceiling. It’s a memory that could only have happened at a specific time, so it’s easy to date. Sometimes I look at you, as you have a faraway look, and wonder: is this that singular moment for you? It will be something tiny, like a dropped apple, or your mother emerging from her bedroom with a smile. For no reason, that will be your first permanent inkling, and it will haunt you like a lovely song.
As for your accomplishments, they are storied, sure. You counted to ten last month (after a week getting stuck on “eight”) and now threaten twelve. You spelled out the entire alphabet last week – you know, casually, like it had always been there. You also identified the alphabet song as the same tune as “Twinkle Twinkle,” something I didn’t realize until college.
Of course, I’ve tried to get you to say the alphabet on camera all week, which has led to thousands of gigabytes dedicated to making me look like a total jackass. I’m now convinced that I’ll get you to do it, but by then you’ll be sixteen years old and it won’t seem quite as impressive.
You do spell your own name, however, half of which I did manage to get on camera:
Your circle of friends has widened immeasurably – not only do you have a pretty constant understanding of Uncles Sean and Steve, but also David, Mark and Rick. You remember your English mates Annie, Molly and Charlie, and can name your grandparents by picture. What I really like about your social nature is your self-curation: you speak Spanish to the babysitters from Mexico and your mom, but you don’t speak Spanish to me, because you know I’ll have no frickin’ clue what you’re saying.
Your have a special affection for pictures of Hank, and old pics of Jack and Polly, but you think your California friends Finley and Noah are too goddamn funny for words:
When we travel out into the world, I’m getting used to you not being the youngest anymore. These days there is almost always a little piker smaller than you, which fascinates you endlessly – especially the burning question of whether or not their diaper has been changed (you also like putting diapers on your Homer Simpson doll, and occasionally the Los Angeles Dodger Monkey). You used to be the mewling infant, like here with Georgia last year:
And now you’re the wizened toddler, showing babies like Esme the ropes last month:
Around the house, you’ve become something of a benevolent tyrant, quite picky about the way things ought to be, but not apoplectic when we tell you you’re being crazy. You still have an obsession with shoes, you like your objects to be in nice rows, and you occasionally obsess about bizarre minutiae. Tonight, as you drifted off to sleep, you suddenly bolted upright on my shoulder and demanded that your stuffed alligator wear socks.
It’s truly odd to hear your opinions. I mean, where did you get them? I certainly don’t remember giving you any, and neither does your mother.
But mostly you’re such a beacon of light, my little Luz, carrying bucketfuls of affirmation to anyone who lets you climb up them. You wave to strangers. You let – nay, demand – anyone in the house hold you and read you books. You never met someone that didn’t interest you in one way or another. You expect a lot out of the world, and it rarely disappoints.
Your mom and I look forward to seeing you each morning, and talking to you all day; you are slowly developing into a fabulous companion. Your sentences are choppy, but always contain the right number of syllables, like a well-known lyric just out of reach. I can’t wait until you put it all together so we can chat, and you can truly understand what it means when I say I love you.